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    Festival Of Idiots #5: Jenny McCarthy For Vaccines, Chelation, And Autism (Playmate Week Edition)
    By Josh Witten | February 26th 2009 11:13 PM | 150 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Josh

    Welcome to the home of the rugbyologist. Come along as I wander far and wide (and near, too), stop to smell the roses of intellectual fancy, and...

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    Due to the use of her celebrity status to promote potentially dangerous
    chelation therapy as a "cure" for autism, we eventually had to knock
    her off the FOI To Do List.   On Monday, we rucked over a Wired Magazine article claiming that Playboy's
    insidious plan is to turn us all into robotophiliacs.  On Tuesday, Jenny McCarthy was nominated for admittance to the Festival of Idiots due to the use of her celebrity status to promote false claims about vaccines causing autism as well as potentially unsafe and worthless chelation therapy for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  On Wednesday, we
    decided that we might as well declare this "Playmate Week" and knock Jenny off the FoI To Do List (cause you know it was going to have to happen eventually).
    Jenny McCarthy from Wikipedia Commons
    In 2005, her son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or autism, for short.  Since then, Jenny has been a spokesperson for Talk About Curing Autism and a board member of Generation Rescue, organizations that promote unscientific theories of ASD etiology and therapies.  She has also written books and toured talk shows peddling her nonsense.  What follows in an imagined, FoI admittance interview* with Jenny.

    RUGBYOLOGIST: Jenny, what do you believe causes autism?
    JENNY MCCARTHY: Wow! Well, it differs for
    a lot of people. But -- or opinions. But I believe that's -- it's an
    infection and/or toxins and/or funguses on top of vaccines that push
    children into this neurological downslide which we call autism.
    RUGBYOLOGIST: Are you aware that it is fungi not funguses?
    MCCARTHY: That's a good question. I mean I don't know.
    RUGBYOLOGIST: What evidence to supports your claims about ASD?
    MCCARTHY: I went online, researched, I typed in Google and then autism. And what came up is autism is reversible and treatable.
    RUGBYOLOGIST: Do you have any scientific evidence?
    MCCARTHY: Well, I believe that parents' anecdotal information is
    science-based information. And when the entire world is screaming the
    same thing -- doctor, I came home. He had a fever. He stopped speaking
    and then he became autistic. I can't -- I can see if it was just one
    parent saying this. But when so many -- and I speak to thousands of
    moms every weekend and they're all standing up and saying the same
    thing. It's time to start listening to that. That is science-based
    information. Parents' anecdotal is science-based information.
    RUGBYOLOGIST: Do you have any clue about the actual definition of science or the scientific method?
    MCCARTHY: That's a good question. I mean I don't know.
    RUGBYOLOGIST: Do you recommend that parents vaccinate their children against otherwise common and deadly childhood illnesses?  The kind of illnesses that have been virtually eradicated in developed countries with high vaccination compliance?
    MCCARTHY: And I don't know what to tell them, because I am surely not going to tell anyone to vaccinate. But if I had another child, there's no way in hell.
    RUGBYOLOGIST: You honestly believe that your son's ASD was caused by a combination of diet, fungal infection, and the MMR vaccine?  That mercury poisoning from the MMR vaccine triggered his ASD?
    MCCARTHY: That's right.
    RUGBYOLOGIST: Are you aware that your son's MMR vaccine contained no thiomersal, the ethylmercury containing preservative?
    MCCARTHY: Are you saying there's no mercury in the vaccines right now?
    RUGBYOLOGIST: Yes.  Are you aware that ethylmercury does not accumulate in the human body?  That it is methylmercury that accumulates?
    MCCARTHY: That's a good question. I mean I don't know.
    RUGBYOLOGIST: Why then did you have your son treated by chelation therapy for heavy metal poisoning?
    MCCARTHY: Too many shots too soon.
    RUGBYOLOGST: Because chelation therapy is not approved for treatment of ASD, many parents rely on alternative practitioners.  Were you aware that a 5 year-old boy with ASD died in 2005 from a hypocalcemia induced cardiac arrest during an incompetently administerd chelation therapy, despite there being no evidence or theoretical support for the use of chelation therapy to treat ASD?
    MCCARTHY: In a heart beat. In a heart beat I'll take it. You know how
    many parents would?
    RUGBYOLOGIST:  You also treated your son for fungal infection?
    MCCARTHY: A lot of these kids have Candida, which is yeast --
    overgrowth of yeast. By giving them anti-fungals, like Diflucan. After
    I cleaned out [My son]'s Candida -- and I'm going to say this very clearly
    -- he became typical. He started speaking completely. His social
    development was back on. He's now in a typical school.
    RUGBYOLOGIST: Did you know that 80% of people carry Candida albicans, but most people do not have ASD?  Or that pathogenic infections are only common immunocompromised patients?  Or that pathogenic Candida infections have high mortality rates?
    MCCARTHY: That's a good question. I mean I don't know.
    RUGBYOLOGIST: How else have your treated your son's ASD?
    MCCARTHY: [My son] started on a gluten-free, casein-free diet, which is pretty close
    to a wheat-free and dairy-free. And in two weeks he doubled his
    language and his eye contact came back on.
    RUGBYOLOGIST: Wait, you are claiming that three different therapies - chelation, anti-fungals, and diet - cured your son's ASD.  Which one was it?
    MCCARTHY: That's a good question. I mean I don't know.
    RUGBYOLOGIST: Are you aware that some people think your son has Landau-Keffler syndrome, which can be misdiagnosed as ASD, and changes the expected progression of your son's development?
    MCCARTHY: That's a good question. I mean I don't know.
    RUGBYOLOGIST: Did you know that vaccine compliance rates have been falling since your appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Larry King Live in 2007 and 2008?  Did you know that those decreases have been directly connected to Measles outbreaks in the UK, Australia, and Switzerland, as well as the deaths of a 12 year-old and a 7 month-old?
    MCCARTHY: Give me Mumps and Measles.
    RUGBYOLOGIST: Even though there is no scientific evidence for a vaccine-ASD connection, you would prefer to risk your child's health with measles and mumps?  You would also prefer to risk the health of everyone else's children due to loss of herd immunity?
    MCCARTHY: In a heart beat. In a heart beat I'll take it. You know how
    many parents would?
    RUGBYOLOGIST: Although I can't speak for the board, Ms. McCarthy, based on your disregard for scientific evidence, willingness to endanger the public health of children, eagerness to expose your own son to unnecessary medical procedures, and use of the bully pulpit of celebrity to spread misinformation about ASD and vaccines, let me be the first to say, "Welcome to the Festival of Idiots."

    *All Jenny McCarthy quotes derived (Fair Use and Satire) from CNN.com transcripts for Larry King Live interviews on 26 September 2007 and 2 April 2008.

    Comments

    Absolutely! Immunizations can cause autism, If they don't turn the kids into vegetables. My son had a seizure from his DPT booster shot. Another girl at the age of 3 and was fine until her DTP booster now she is in a nursing home, having lived and is wheelchair bound and know absolutely nothing!

    Just last month I asked an RN about the mercury in the immunizations. She point blank told me, "we quite putting mercury in the immunizations." "They are safe now", she said. What is that, mercury in the immunizations? You bet! Is it good for humans. No.No,No.... I think we all agree mercury isn't good for humans.

    People that are autistic can't process metals in their bodies like others do. Immunizations put these people at a higher risk of major damage!

    Throwing a few facts out there...

    jtwitten
    You have presented neither facts nor data.  You have presented fear-mongering anecdotes.  While some children do have adverse reactions to vaccinations due to allergic reactions or fever, these are exceedingly rare and numerically pale in comparison to the lives saved by broad vaccine compliance.  These individuals would also be very likely to experience the same effects due to a non-vaccine stimulus, such as exposure to the allergy inducing antigen or fever inducing infection.  This does not minimize the personal tragedy experienced in those rare cases.  Several diseases first present detectable symptoms at times similar to scheduled vaccinations.  In fact, it would be hard not to with the regular immunizations.  This relationship deteriorates as medical science gets better at diagnosing diseases.  The purported and falsified connection of the MMR vaccine with increased autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnoses can be attributed to an expanded definition of ASD.  The temporal association is collapsing as doctor's are becoming able to diagnose ASD in increasingly younger children.

    Mercury (thiomersal) has been removed from the few vaccines it was in to begin with on the standard pediatric schedule, with no effect on the rate of ASD diagnoses.   There are also two, basic kinds of mercury.  Methylmercury is the mercury we are trained to be wary of in our fish consumption.  The body clears methylmercury very slowly.  Ethylmercury is the type that was in thiomersal.  The body clears ethylmercury very quickly.   Even if these individuals could not clear mercury from their bodies, the levels of mercury are far below the mandated "safe" levels, which are far below the empirically determined levels of toxicity.  Dose matters.  If these individuals really are as sensitive to heavy metals as you suggest, they would succumb to environmental exposure anyway.  Unfortunately, we would not be able to help them. 

    Vaccinations are arguably the most important medical intervention in the history of humanity.  The near doubling of life expectancy over the past century is largely attributable to massive reductions in juvenile mortality due to infection. 

    There is no quality research supporting the claim that vaccines cause ASD.  If you are aware of research to support your claims that I have not seen (and I have read widely on this topic), please cite it and make me aware.  As a parent, I am very sympathetic to the suffering your son's seizure caused for your family.  That personal tragedy does not absolve you of responsibility for unfounded fear-mongering against a medical intervention that is scientifically proven to save millions of lives, especially while hiding behind the Anonymous pseudonym.
    The fact of the matter is that it did indeed happen. The MD is the one who told me it was from his DTP booster. In order to make it more factual his name is Dr. Rowe who has been a pediatrician for some forty years of practice. There was no change in said child's diet or environment.....

    As for data:

    The use of Thimerosal/mercury & the first medical report written on Autism was by a Leo Kanner in 1943. The first child in his study in 1931, which was also the first year Thimerosal was used in biological products. This must be a Historical coincidence!

    Ethylmercury in fish can also be deadly if the percentage is to high.

    Here is a little snip it from the National Toxicology Program (NTP) US Department of Health and Human Services.
    Thimerosal - Poison by ingestion. They report that among the symptoms of exposure include mental retardation in children, loss of coordination in speech, writing, stupor, irritability, bad temper progressing to mania. It does sound like Autism!

    I wonder what California's Proposition 65 was about?

    If you have an hour and a half, here is a very interesting link by a medical science professional, with much data to back it up.
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6890106663412840646

    Josh Witten : unfounded fear-mongering

    That might be your assumption, I think we know about assumptions and what they do? Next thing you know I'm a hysterical mother.... or so you assume

    Josh Witten - especially while hiding behind the Anonymous pseudonym.

    Sincerely,

    Alisa Klingemann

    jtwitten
    The MD is the one who told me it was from his DTP booster. In order to make it more factual his name is Dr. Rowe who has been a pediatrician for some forty years of practice. There was no change in said child's diet or environment.....
    Argument to authority.  Dr. Rowe's credential and opinion do not constitute evidence.  An MD does not make an opinion factual, data does.
    The use of Thimerosal/mercury&the first medical report written on Autism was by a Leo Kanner in 1943. The first child in his study in 1931, which was also the first year Thimerosal was used in biological products. This must be a Historical coincidence!
    Why is this not a historical coincidence?  Why did mercury poisoning
    Ethylmercury in fish can also be deadly if the percentage is to high.
    So can water.  The dose makes the poison.  Ethylmercury leaves the body over time.  Concerns about accumulation do not square with the biology.
    Here is a little snip it from the National Toxicology Program (NTP) US Department of Health and Human Services.
    Thimerosal - Poison by ingestion. They report that among the symptoms of exposure include mental retardation in children, loss of coordination in speech, writing, stupor, irritability, bad temper progressing to mania. It does sound like Autism!
    Actually, this sounds as much like ASD as any other form of mental retardation.  ASD is diagnosed based on:
        -social impairment
        -communication impairment
        -restricted and repetitive behavior

    Since we can agree on the NTP as an expert authority, it also says this about thimerosal:
    The committee concluded that the body of evidence suggested that thimerosal-containing vaccines did not cause autism. Studies designed to determine possible biologic events in the development of autism following vaccination were also reviewed. The committee concluded there is no evidence that thimerosal in vaccines affects biological processes possibly related to the development of autism.
    I wonder what California's Proposition 65 was about?
    It was about making the public aware of toxic chemicals in drinking water.  Glad you asked. 
    If you have an hour and a half, here is a very interesting link by a medical science professional, with much data to back it up.
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6890106663412840646
    Dr. Ayoub is a bit of a conspiracy theorist.  This is the videos description:
    David Ayoub, M.D. goes through the relations of Mercury to Autism as well its connections to “National Security Study Memorandum 200”; for population control. Showing its shocking connections to today’s G.A.V.I. Are powerful forces really trying to help the poor people or could it be for another agenda; the sterilization of the poor? This is an upsetting video, so brace yourself.
    He is also either lying, misinformed, or cannot do math:
    The major culprit today is the influenza vaccine.” About 80% of flu vaccines contain as much as 25 micrograms of mercury per dose. Since the EPA has set a limit of 0.1 mcg/kg (1 kg =2.2 lbs), Ayoub warns, everyone who receives the vaccine will be overdosed.
    EPA limits for the smallest infants (at 6 months) are 65 micrograms, which corresponds to more than 6.5 micrograms/kg or more than 60X what Ayoub states.  25 micrograms is less than 65 micrograms. 
    Josh Witten : unfounded fear-mongering

    That might be your assumption, I think we know about assumptions and what they do? Next thing you know I'm a hysterical mother.... or so you assume
    I assume nothing.  You're evidence does not support your claims (unfounded).  You are mongering fear about vaccines without evidence (fear mongering).  No where do I state that you are a hysterical mother.  You are creating unfounded fear about an important medical intervention that saves lives.  Personally, I do not care about your motivations.  I care about the quality of your evidence, which is low.
    Josh Witten - especially while hiding behind the Anonymous pseudonym.

    Sincerely,

    Alisa Klingemann
    It is good to put your name on your statements, more of which can be read here.

    Speaking of assumptions, you assume that I think ASD is a joke.  On the contrary, I care very much about both ASD and vaccinations.  I think Jenny McCarthy is a joke.  Her positions threaten the lives of innocent children through the re-emergence of deadly infectious diseases and distracts from important research into ASD.  To cling passionately to preconceived notions, is not compassionate.    
    Gerhard Adam
    Since we don't know the causes of autism, I would be cautious about getting too cocky in asserting that we definitely know what it is not.  While there isn't any evidence that would establish a link between vaccinations and autism (and I'm not suggesting there is), perhaps we should be investigating more of the anecdotal stories to find out what their basis is, rather than simply presuming that parents are behaving hysterically.
    Mundus vult decipi
    jtwitten
    Science is a process of eliminating hypotheses by falsification.  The vaccine-ASD link has been studied.  There is no evidence to support a link.  Continuing to agitate against vaccines regardless of the evidence, is, by definition, irrational.  Anecdotal stories can be good ways to develop testable hypotheses (this is the philosophy behind testing folk herbal remedies for pharmacological compounds).  The human brain, however, does some interesting things with memories and in its efforts to create causative narratives.

    We are also not completely ignorant of ASD's causes.  The scientific evidence indicates that ASD is primarily caused by inherited factors and that multiple factors contribute, making the inheritance complex.   Several candidate genes have been identified as well as associated genomic loci on 5 chromosomes.  Researchers believe that there may be causative environmental factors, but vaccines are not one of them.

    Finally, to be completely practical, the relative risk proposed by the strongest vaccination opponents would still validate the use of many vaccinations (including MMR and DTaP) by cost-benefit analysis.
    Hank
    I am with Josh that the evidence does not show a link so working people into a panic about it is not warranted.  Do we make changes to the economy without data?  Sure, and it usually goes poorly so we shouldn't risk lives of kids the same way.   Science had no health impact for asbestos for 40 years either so we have to study things but, in defense of science, a lot more people got mesothelioma from later asbestos removal than got it from asbestos in the walls itself.

    My concern is, and has always been, that pharmaceutical companies are exploiting the value of vaccines in the past to make money today - they are relying on the intellectual honesty of the word 'vaccine' and that will dilute it.    And the more militant people on other science sites are doing the PR work for them by proclaiming everyone who dissents is ant-science.   When you can draw a clear timeline between the latest drug case settlement and the marketing blitz f0r new vaccines, something is wrong.

    Vaccines have been cleared in autism - that doesn't mean it should be open season on the public for every vaccine pharmaceutical companies would to throw at people.   Shingles?  Seriously?
    jtwitten
    Hank, unless you know people who have had serious and recurrent bouts of shingles, I would not mock it.

    While a varicella infection is usually mild (in terms of actual danger) it can rarely kill through encephalitis.  It can be profoundly uncomfortable in many cases.  Alleviating discomfort is a potentially worthwhile reason for medical intervention (orthopedists, cosmetic surgeons, anesthesiologists due it all the time), provided the risk is low.  Varicella is extremely dangerous (33% mortality) to newborns from infected pregnant women.  Other than your issues with the varicella vaccine, there is no fluff in the APA's childhood vaccine schedule.

    I agree with your principle issue, which is that medical interventions should be evaluated on their cost-benefit value, not profitability or marketability.   Each treatment should be evaluated individually and not get a free pass based on what it is called.
    Becky Jungbauer
    Congress is working on that right now - "comparative effectiveness" has been a hot buzzword around town. Oddly enough, language like "cost effectiveness" has been the most contentious in bills, whereas people are okay with comparative effectiveness. But why would we want to consider cost effectiveness in the face of a crumbling health care structure, ridiculous costs, proven discrepancies in treatment and care across the country, and a push for health care reform?
    Gerhard Adam

    While I understand the point being made, the concept of a "cost/benefit" analysis leaves me cold.  This is precisely what drives many people regarding issues like autism.  There is a deep-seated distrust of the government and the pharmaceuticals which makes peoplel suspect that they may be victims of exactly such an analysis.  As a result, it's not surprising when people are skeptical about the science, since invariably we hear things like "it helps more people than it might hurt", etc.  This may be true and I understand what is being said, but you also need to recognize that what a parent hears is ... "sorry, but you're a statistical anomaly that got hit".   There is already a prevailing feeling in this country that people are considered largely expendible when compared to profits for corporations. 

    The prevailing economic crisis right now is sending a clear message that it doesn't matter how much you as a citizen may be suffering, that is irrelevant as long as we can save our large businesses. 

    I have also seen first hand how doctors may suggest a course of treatment that they know isn't going to work.  Without assigning any malicious intent, the fact is that they're hoping that it might produce some results.  In reality, the only thing that occurs is a huge medical bill that everyone wants to collect on whether the treatment succeeds or fails.  Such a health care system is bound to produce unbridled skepticism of any claims it makes.

    Mundus vult decipi
    jtwitten
    You have argued against science-based decision making:
    the concept of a "cost/benefit" analysis leaves me cold
    And not using good science-based medical practice:
    I have also seen first hand how doctors may suggest a course of treatment that they know isn't going to work.
    That does not leave much.  Doctors don't always apply science-based decision making (they should, and the APA's vaccine schedule is an example of how the process should be done).  We also don't do a good job of explaining the evidence and concepts until the statistical anomaly pops up.   Skepticism is always justified.   Allowing one's emotional response to the structure of our medical system to override the data is not, especially when it leads to advocating behaviors that are detrimental to the health of other people, in this case the children, elderly, immune compromised, and unlucky (those that don't develop immunity following vaccination).

    I don't follow your analogy to the economic situation.  In the medical sense, we are talking about how many people we can help.  This is completely different from providing one type of entity and not another.



    Gerhard Adam

    Sorry ... I was trying to convey the idea that people are distrustful and that the current economic decisions are another example that fosters that distrust.

    Regarding the first point about the "cost/benefit" analysis ... let me be more specific, because I suspect you're using it in a different context than I am.  In particular, the point about doctor's not always applying science based decision making, my problem isn't with the "science".  What I have a problem with is that they are quite prepared to still bill you for $30,000 worth of "bad science" decisions.  That is what causes the skepticism and cynicism towards the system.

    While I understand what you're saying about letting emotional responses override the data, let's also consider how the public is routinely informed.  We've seen corporations publicly apologize on behalf of Chinese manufacturers for introducing toxins in toys.  We've seen how the government and corporations didn't want to acknowledge the contamination in pet foods.  We've had a pretty colorful history of the government using soldiers and citizens to experiment on the effects of radiation and hallucinogens. 

    However if these seem too extreme, what about the apparent ignorance of the medical community in abusing antibiotics?  The reluctance to admit the significance of HIV?   The tobacco companies testifying that they saw no link between smoking and cancer?

    I agree with your point that the data should take precedence, but where does one obtain the objective data? 

    This isn't simply a matter of doing a bad job of informing ... this is a system that is so broken that the majority of people trust virtually nothing that comes out of it. 

    Don't get me wrong ... I'm not suggesting that there is a causal link between vaccines and autism.  I'm not remotely qualified to offer a definitive opinion (and I suspect neither are many people that seem to be adamant about the proof).  My point is and remains that people are skeptical about such findings and they aren't always wrong to do so.

    I'll tell what would make a difference.  Address it directly to the skeptical base.  Offer a reward of $100,000,000 to anyone that can PROVE a link between autism and vaccines.  You'll find out in short order how definitive the proofs are.   While I realize that such a thing wouldn't happen, it would be interesting to see if any scientist would attempt it.

    Mundus vult decipi
    jtwitten
    Gerhard, like usual, I don't think we actually disagree much.  We just do our best to willfully misunderstand each other to keep things interesting.

    As a concerned father, at a practical level I just don't care whether people's distrust of medicine and government is justifiable.  I only care about the data.  For that matter, I do not implicitly trust our pediatrician.  Our pediatrician, however, does not expect me to.  Instead, she respects my intelligence and tells me the sources she uses to make her recommendations.  I do realize that not everyone will have a doctor like that, but that is what we went looking for and demanded as customers.

     My point is and remains that people are skeptical about such findings and they aren't always wrong to do so.
    Even if you can defend the "skepticism" (using your language, as much of the debate is from people with preconceived notions searching for support, but unwilling to change their minds), on this debate they are being skeptical for the wrong reasons, which is non-productive.  You can defend their skeptical emotions, not their conclusions.
    If I know 10 people that died right after sneezing (which caused them to lose their grip on the rope and drop a piano on their heads) Is the common cold the cause of their death?
    Children's diagnoses of this (and other) occur around the same time as vaccines, does that mean vaccines are to blame, just as the common cold as stated above? Get real. People used to live to the ripe old age af about 35 not more than a few hundred years ago. Modern advances have doubled life expectancy within 2-3 generations, that's less relative time than it takes for superviruses to evolve/mutate and they are considered to do so at incredible rates.
    Maybe would should be vaccinating the planet against humans......at least a few of them anyway.

    Gerhard Adam
    "People used to live to the ripe old age af about 35 not more than a few hundred years ago.."

    That is simply nonsense.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    In 1872 the average life expectancy was 43 and that was probably not appreciably different than any period prior to that.  I picked 1872 because (a) there were better records than ever before but (b) while Lister had come up with antiseptic surgery in 1865 it was still not commonly used, like it was by 1900, when the average life expectancy had already risen another 5 years due to reductions in the infection rates.

    35 is a number thrown out often because the Greeks spoke of not living much past that, but that was not really scientific.   43 is probably a good number throughout much of the agriculture age.
    Gerhard Adam

    Hank, the problem I have with it is that it is a statistically specific definition that is easily misunderstood and misinterpreted.  Most people don't grasp the fact that it is highly dependent on infant mortality which will skew the "life expectancy" since so much depends on how many survive during the first year.

    While there is no question that the life expectancy during all stages of life improved with sanitation, it is also not true to hail it as anything attributable to modern medicine.  If find it curious that even in studying the life expectancy of aborigines in Australia, the number used is 54 years for which the primary cause of death is illness and disease due to the poverty conditions in which they live.

    There is no question that for any given individual there are critical points in life where the probability of survival will determine whether you live an additional 10+ years, so it's not a minute by minute thing.  However, I don't believe that any individual that survived to adulthood had a life expectancy of 43, in 1872. 

    Why is it that with an average life expectancy of 43 (or 35), we rarely see individuals throughout history actually die at that age?  In other words, dying at such an age is considered anomalous even from a historical perspective.  While I will certainly agree that eliminating diseases will eliminate the tendency for that to be a factor in a fatal illness, it is also something which has a specific statistical meaning.  In other words, does an increased risk of Native American deaths from smallpox tell us anything meaningful about their life expectancy, or only their life expectancy when exposed to European diseases?

    In general, the notion I oppose is the absurd view that somehow humans never lived long enough to raise their own offspring.  Making claims that 35 is "old age", is simply silly.  It would've been considered young regardless of the cause of death and regardless of the time in history.  Even King Tut would not have been considered "middle-aged" by the Egyptians.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    Indeed, once we get to 1900 we can at least see more results more like what we would expect; average number of years remaining by age, etc.

    I was using avg life expectancy because that is pretty common.   43 is still almost 25% more than 35 but I at least understand why that is a common perception.
    Gerhard Adam
    This is true, when when you look at the data for 1900 and 2000 at age 30, we find that the age in 2000 is 78.3, while for 1900 it is 65.51 years.  This represents a 20% increase which is a far cry from the doubling we routinely hear.
    Mundus vult decipi
    jtwitten
    Life expectancy from live birth is very relevant to the topic of the article, which is why I used it (accurately above), because it reflects trends in juvenile mortality.  As the basic topic is childhood vaccinations, it is not at all inappropriate to cite the doubling of life expectancy from live birth in this context.

    On the other hand, I completely agree that the statistic is more often misunderstood and misused than not.
    People didn't live to that age, the average person lived to that age. And the greatest contributor to this mean age was infant mortality. If you made it past then your chances were good. Even the Old Testament, a 3 or 4 thousand year old text, offers up your old age as 3 score and 10 -- 70 years -- so that hasn’t changed much.

    I think Jenny is a courageous mother who is giving voice to the feelings of millions of parents who, rightfully, don't trust their government or drug corporations. Vaccines and safety don't belong in the same sentence. The mounting evidence of malpractice is growing. Two BILLION dollars has been paid out by a "secret" vaccine court. This FACT says it all.

    jtwitten
    Capital letters do not make a fact.  For that matter, neither do court cases.  The legal rules of evidence are not the same as scientific standards.  Your math  and use of the word "secret"indicates that your are referring to cases other than Banks and Poling.  Can you provide information on this court or the cases to which you allude?
    If you search on the VAERS site you will see that over 14,000 reactions are reported every year. Doctors are not required to report adverse reactions. My daughter was diagnosed with bone cancer at age thirteen. As I did research to help her, I learned that a monkey virus called SV40 is being found in bone tumors like my daughters. This is the virus that contaminated 98 million doses of polio vaccine given in the fifties and sixties. I received some of the most contaminated batches. My daughter never received this vaccine, as most other children of today have not, yet this virus is turning up in their tumors. Obviously, these children are inheriting this toxin from their mothers. SV40 is used in cancer research because it is "a little cancer causing war machine." It causes cancer faster than any other virus. To date the government has not notified any citizen of their contamination and the government and Institutes of health have done no research to determine the effects of this mass contamination. A good book about this was written called The Virus and the Vaccine. My daughter's cancer is not the only cancer showing SV40 contamination. Mesothelioma tumors as well as certain types of leukemia are also showing this contamination. In our area we get a stream of tv commercials regarding litigation of asbestos causing mesothelioma. Perhaps the SV40 virus is responsible for the explosion of mesothelioma we are seeing. Bone tumors in children has increased 40% in ten years. These facts point to contamination not genetics, just like autism. These diseases are exploding quickly and there is a reason. So please open your eyes to the deceit of drug corporations as well as the government regarding vaccine safety. It's always about the money.

    jtwitten
    Your reference to court cases is disingenuous.  There are rare reactions to vaccines, very rarely serious.  The importance of vaccines as a public health initiative is reflected in the fact that we have established a mechanism to provide financial remuneration to families affected by one of these rare reactions.  The SV40 contamination of early polio vaccines addresses the issue of unintentional contamination and poor quality control.  At the time the vaccine was administered, it was not known that it was contaminated.  This is very different from the claim that the concept behind vaccines is flawed or that the known and intentionally included ingredients are dangerous, which more accurately reflects McCarthy's claim.

    The evidence in unclear on the question of whether those exposed to SV40 through early polio vaccines have greater cancer risk than those that were not exposed.  The preponderance of the evidence, however, suggests that there is no causal relationship between SV40 contaminated polio vaccine and cancer.  I've also found no data to support your claim that bone cancer incidence has increased 40% over the past decade.

    My eyes are open to the data.  Do you honestly believe that the entire CDC, American Pediatric Association, pediatricians, and biomedical researchers nationwide are actively conspiring to injure our children just to benefit vaccine manufacturers?
    The latest decision in the case of Bailey Banks, again shows that the MMR vaccine caused her autism and she was awarded $810,000 plus annual maintenace of $30,000 to $40,000. A few weeks ago it was spread everywhere that a study showed no relation between MMr vaccine and autism, yet the Bailey Banks decision is barely mentioned. Why is this? It completely contradicts the study. This is reality. There are thousands more cases pending and probably millions more will develop as we are still pushing a practice that harms children and creates acute misery. In spain they have suspended the Gardisil vaccine because of two deaths and other reports of reactions. This vaccine is a human experiment. It was never fully tested for safety. It is criminal and the advertising of this vaccine is dishonest.

    jtwitten
    In the Banks case, it was found that the MMR vaccine caused acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) a known, rare side effect of the MMR vaccine (to reiterate, no one is arguing that vaccines do not have rare side effects).  From the ruling:
    The Court found that Bailey's ADEM was both caused-in-fact and proximately caused by his vaccination. It is well-understood that the vaccination at issue can cause ADEM, and the Court found, based upon a full reading and hearing of the pertinent facts in this case, that it did actually cause the ADEM.  Furthermore, Bailey's ADEM was severe enough to cause lasting, residual damage, and retarded his developmental progress, which fits under the generalized heading of Pervasive Developmental Delay
    The Court found that the ADEM caused Banks' Pervasive Developmental Delay (PDD), which is not an ASD.  This is being confused with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), which is an ASD.  The Court ruling is very clear that it is ruling on the cause of PDD, not PDD-NOS.

    Court cases are not scientific studies.  The court does no tests of direct causation.  Neither Banks nor Poling contradict the science on MMR and ASD.

    Regarding Gardisil, I have said above and will repeat as many times as necessary, that every medical intervention needs to be evaluated individually and judged on its scientific merits. 
    While I understand what you're saying about letting emotional responses override the data, let's also consider how the public is routinely informed. We've seen corporations publicly apologize on behalf of Chinese manufacturers for introducing toxins in toys. We've seen how the government and corporations didn't want to acknowledge the contamination in pet foods. We've had a pretty colorful history of the government using soldiers and citizens to experiment on the effects of radiation and hallucinogens.

    However if these seem too extreme, what about the apparent ignorance of the medical community in abusing antibiotics? The reluctance to admit the significance of HIV? The tobacco companies testifying that they saw no link between smoking and cancer?


    These are valid points for public mistrust about the info that they're fed. But all of the above incidents occurred top-down - officials released public warnings or recalls, and panic took hold. They weren't started by, say, parents who saw that their kids get sick after chewing on toys painted in China; even in the Vioxx case, the risk was identified & recognized rather swiftly, it wasn't like the courts said that the patients needed to provide more wide-scale safety studies.

    But the vaccine-autism controversy has a wholly different flavor b/c it's from the bottom-up. Indeed, what do you do when scientific results don't match the phenomena, which in this case is parents continually claiming that vaccines caused their child's autism? Do you deny the phenomena? Is science so powerful as to deny reality?

    Of course the former playmate hottie sounds pretty unscientific, but she's not a scientist, she's a mother. & like all mothers, she has an intimate & detailed knowledge of her child that science could never approximate. & for some reason, that powerful knowledge of her child has her plus many other mothers absolutely convinced that her child's autism was vaccine-induced. This phenomena is pretty widespread; it's no coincidence that a (seemingly) unintellectual celeb took it up, b/c it was just a matter of time until it happened to one of them.

    Science is a process of eliminating hypotheses by falsification.

    Science isn't about negating falsifiable hypotheses, it's about describing the world. Technically when you negate a hypothesis you're learning nothing about the world. If a study fails to find a relationship between autism & vaccines, then we can't conclude that they're unrelated; we merely conclude that we don't know. This logic works under the assumption that the world isn't random; that if you find a correlation between two things, replicate it over & over, then it's not a coincidence.

    A similar logic, I think, could be used to support the connection between autism & vaccines on at least a superficial level for starters. This is why it's difficult to explain-away the autism-vaccine connection by merely saying that the 2 occur at the same age: you have a lack of specificity. Lots of things - good, bad, emotional, traumatic, medical, non-medical - occur at the same age. Nonetheless, parents - whose knowledge & observations of their children is relatively independent from that of other parents' - keep making a connection between, of all the infinite things in the universe, autism & vaccines. It's not up to science to say whether the autism-vaccine connections that parents are making is true or false; it's up to science to discover why it exists.

    jtwitten
    Science isn't about negating falsifiable hypotheses, it's about describing the world. Technically when you negate a hypothesis you're learning nothing about the world.
    I'm not sure I could disagree with you more.  I know Karl Popper could not.  Hypotheses are about describing the world.  For a given phenomenon, I can come up with an enormous number of hypotheses that could explain the phenomenon.  Science addresses the portion of those hypotheses that are falsifiable by experiment.  By reducing the number of possible explanations, we increase our understanding of how the world works.  Otherwise, how do we know our description is accurate?  Correlations, no matter the number of replications, do not imply causation.   One must directly test the causative variable.

    The assumption of independence between parental observations is unsupportable (new parents are inundated by good, neutral, bad, and idiotic advice constantly).   Speaking from only my personal experience, the connection between ASD and vaccines in parental minds is not shocking or surprsing (holding on to the belief despite the evidence is).  For a healthy baby, the inoculations are a relatively dramatic event.  I take The Frogger for all her shots, because Mrs. Rugbyologist knows I am a mean bastard who can handle the screaming.  People do not enjoy being poked with sharp objects, especially when they don't know why.

    Science may not be able to perfectly describe why the connection exists in the minds of some parents.  It can, however, test whether specific reasons for the connection do exist.  In the case of vaccines actually causing ASD, that connection has been falsified.
    Hypotheses are about describing the world. For a given phenomenon, I can come up with an enormous number of hypotheses that could explain the phenomenon. Science addresses the portion of those hypotheses that are falsifiable by experiment. By reducing the number of possible explanations, we increase our understanding of how the world works.

    But it's commonly accepted that "negative" hypotheses border on meaningless (& even when you can statistically construe a study to determine rates of equivalence across groups, its findings are still relatively weak). Which is to say that there's a world of difference between the statement "We found no support for a relation between autism & vaccines" vs. "There is no relationship between autism & vaccines". The latter isn't even a hypothesis.

    The assumption of independence between parental observations is unsupportable (new parents are inundated by good, neutral, bad, and idiotic advice constantly)...For a healthy baby, the inoculations are a relatively dramatic event...People do not enjoy being poked with sharp objects, especially when they don't know why.

    Negative hypothses are fairly useless b/c they do not provide a positive explanation of the world. Even in your statement above, you implicitly assume a *positive* explanation based on a negating one: Broadly speaking, your assumption is that b/c the relationship is *not* biological, it *is* psychological. But there are multiple possible explanations for a given phenomena, and the number of alternative explanations is limited by the human imagination. Which is to say that the negation of one hypothesis (eg, it's medical) provides no support for the other hypothesis (eg, psychological).

    If the relationship were psychological, this would spur psychological research (and clearly, there might be a need for such research in order to describe what the heck is going on). But w/o such research, claiming that the relationship is psychological is as unscientific as claiming that it's medical (rather, it's *more* unscientific than claiming that it's medical, b/c vaccines & autism are thought to belong more to medicine than psychology). Indeed, all we know is that the relationship exists, & there's a pressing to explain it.

    For a healthy baby, the inoculations are a relatively dramatic event.

    And once again, why vaccines & why autism? In a world with multiple possible explanations, you would expect the connection between any given medical procedure & any the onset of any given debilitating condition to be random across all possibilities.

    The throw-away explanation might be that from a random set of possibilities multiplied, over a large population, parents' minds are preset to be on the lookout for autism after vaccines. But there's no scientific support for that. And furthermore, you can apply that same point to science itself - that from a random set of possibilities, multiplied over many instances, scientists' minds are preset to look for certain relationships. In the latter instance, the scientific response is, 'well, yeah, that's we know those relationships exist.' In the former instance, the parents' response is the exact same thing.

    jtwitten
    Negative hypotheses are not being posited.  One is evaluating whether the alternative hypothesis (vaccines cause ASD) is more likely than the null hypothesis (vaccines do not cause ASD).  I am not giving preference to a certain hypothesis.  The null hypothesis is the expected result from randomness (i.e., there is no causative relationship).  Falsification can only be done to a degree of statistical certainty.  That is the nature of our stochastic universe.

    You continue to make several invalid assumptions that are based on assuming human memory is a reliable data source.  For a healthy baby, there are very few medical procedures, but almost all are vaccinated regularly and on the same time schedule.  This is a memorable event.  It is also inflicted by someone else.   Our understanding of the etiology of ASD is incomplete.  The potential for perceived association between a disease of unknown origin and an emotionally traumatic experience is much higher than you indicate.  

    There are two different questions here.  One, do vaccines cause ASD?  Science can test that and has.  The answer is no.  Two, why do some parents think vaccines cause ASD?  I am not aware of any studies on this point.  It should be a lower priority research topic than the first question.  I have simply proposed a plausible explanation and will be perfectly satisfied to have my hypothesis falsified.  Question one is a potential hypothesis for question two, but as above it has been falsified.
    The potential for perceived association between a disease of unknown origin and an emotionally traumatic experience is much higher than you indicate.

    Still why vaccines & why autism? If it’s due to the “trauma” of vaccines, then why autism? Are vaccines really “traumatic”, or are you just going off of experience? Why haven’t we seen parents draw similar connections in other fields? All of these are questions can be addressed by further research.

    why do some parents think vaccines cause ASD? I am not aware of any studies on this point. It should be a lower priority research topic than the first question.

    On the contrary, it’s in the public’s best interest to fully understand what’s going on. Even if it’s “just” psychological, then we need to know that. Say we ultimately find that parents are preventing their children from getting vaccines b/c of in-built psychological fears which have been perpetuated by society at large. Well, that would be big; it might be just as important as finding that vaccines induce autism. But we can't just jump out there proclaim that w/o any support.

    If science is to be conducted for the “public interest”, then it needs to listen to the public. The public has expressed concerns about vaccines causing autism. Scientists have responded with studies which were unable to find the connection. Yet this hasn’t assuaged their fears; consequently, science needs to do more convincing. Theoretically, there’s a logical explanation for this; it’s up to science to actively pursue it, not to outright deny it. Otherwise, what’s the point of having a widespread health intervention like vaccines if the public doesn’t buy into their usage, even if it’s for reasons that scientists see as “irrational”? (& once again, don't I urge you not to underestimate the consumer; parents have a much greater stake in their child’s health than scientists.)

    2 additional historical trends also speak towards erring on the side of the hypothesis that vaccines do induce autism:

    Firstly, most public-health have involved only marginal risk, as they've been perpetuated from the top-down. Look at lead paint in toys - some say any amount is dangerous, others err on accepting a minimal amount. Likewise, some scientists believed in ensuring that all children PJ’s are flame-retardant, whereas others thought this would introduce other dangerous chemicals. These were scientific debates. Unlike the autism issue, they didn’t arise from massive amounts of parents protesting, b/c they were dealing with marginally significant amounts of risk, which – before they were brought to the public’s attention – seemed almost imperceptible. This debate, however, is completely from the ground-up. You have to respect how it’s risen, almost spontaneously, from the public, & how further scientific study has failed to hose it down.

    Secondly, modern medical progress tends to reclassify phenomenon from psychological to medical. Rarely if ever does the opposite occur, where things that we thought were medical turn out to be psychological; and even in that case, the science has been questionable, as with Type A/Type B personalities. The explanation for this is simple: As science grows, it can explain & incorporate more. The problem is that at any given time, medicine has an implicit tendency to toss off what it can’t explain as psychological. The reasoning for this is straightforward: “Medical science can’t verify your condition, sir, so it must be psychological”. Such has been the case with AIDS, MS, & other conditions, & I think this trend will continue for other conditions in years to come.

    The fallacy of course is that this is thought to reflect the true nature of the conditions, when it really reflects the state of science at any given time. It’s understandable that science is ever-growing, & inevitably it can’t explain everything people would like it to explain. Nonetheless, the failure of one explanation doesn't automatically provide support for another. When MS couldn't be verified thru medical science, it was assumed to be psychological; the next step would've been to see if it could be described thru psychological science. Likewise, the inability to detect the autism-vaccine relation doesn’t mean that it’s just in these parents’ heads; in all likelihood, it's merely a reflection of the present state of science. So I don’t mean to be dramatic by claiming that science is not so powerful as to deny reality; by any practical measure, changes in science tend to lag years behind changes in reality.

    I think a valid "scientific experiment would be to not vaccinate anyone for five or ten years and examine the autism incidence rate. It could be evaluated year by year. Of course if parents really wanted the vaccines, they wouldn't be denied them. I think there are millions of parents who would want to participate. In place of the vaccines, children's immune systems could be evaluated and strengthened with good nutrition and vitamin supplementation where necessary. We could then see what happens. We have the testing sophistication now to analyze the immune status of a person. For example, with my daughter, it was determined that something greatly damaged certain immune cells prior to diagnosis of her tumor. It is now possible to repair this damage and prevent tumors from growing.

    Hank
    not vaccinate anyone for five or ten years
    This is more of a mad scientist approach than a valid one.   Who would decide which children are put to death because of this?     You're talking about 40 million kids in that period.    Vaccines have existed for years while the more widespread 'autism' now covers a broad spectrum of things that simply went unnoticed before.

    That is why there are so many syndromes that get named now that come with the 'has symptons similar to' tag.   At some point there is fear-mongering and it is a small minority of people still fighting this fight over vaccines.

    The evidence is clear and I wish people would devote the same enthusiasm and calls for intellectual honesty to dispelling the myth of vaccines and autism that they used when the data were unclear.
    jtwitten
    Your proposed experiment would be the height of public health folly (which is saying a lot).  Part of the strength of vaccination is herd immunity.  If we withheld vaccines from 25% of the population, infectious diseases that we have all but eliminated from developed countries would be able spread through our population.  Not only are you putting the unvaccinated at risk (and I'm ok with consenting adults putting themselves at risk), but you are also putting people who do not respond to the inoculation (unlike in movies there is always a certain fail rate), people with weak immune systems (e.g., infants, elderly, and immunocompromised individuals), and those who cannot receive the vaccinations due to other conditions.
    As there is no "scientific " record of vaccine effects, you cannot scientifically state what the safety record of vaccines really is. There are no long term studies to point to, to support vaccine safety. Regarding SV40 contamination, that has shown up in children 50 years after the it was administered. As the government has chosen to ignore it, we don't know its effects. With an explosion in childhood cancer, could vaccines be the reason? Are we preventing measles but promoting cancer? There is a lot of junk science out there that is paid for by Pharmaceutical corporations and cannot be trusted. Every day there's another report of doctors and researchers receiving large amounts of money to do "research" which invariably enhances the profits of their corporatate owners.

    jtwitten
    ~10% of the population was positive for SV40 before the contaminated polio virus was administered.  The presence of SV40 positive individuals in today's population is not evidence in of itself that the vaccine contaminant has been transmitted across generations.

    We can specifically address infectious disease frequency in vaccinated and unvaccinated populations over time.  Vaccine safety itself is taken very seriously.  It is a constant and continuing effort.  For example, the CDC is allocating funds to specifically research whether rare vaccine side effects are associated with individual variation.  Of course, if one assumes that any evidence that contradicts one's own assumptions cannot be trusted, there is not much science can do.

    Here is a list of nearly 40 scholarly publications on vaccine safety generated from the US Vaccine Safety Datalink Project (designed to improve weaknesses in the VAERS system).
    Becky Jungbauer
    I appreciate that you have had horrible experiences with vaccines, and thus feel strongly about them. But there is scientific record of the effects of vaccines - vaccines cannot be approved without demonstrating safety. Granted, as Gerhard points out, people are justifiably skeptical of what they hear from pharmaceutical companies, as we hear of dubious executives and "junk" science (as you mention) and other problems that seem to always crop up in humanity. But not every scientist is out to trick the world, and not every pharmaceutical researcher is out to falsify data, and there is some good that comes of preventing disease. I have personally interviewed one of the key drivers behind Novartis' meningococcus vaccine program several times, and he is part of their non-profit institute dedicated to diseases in third world countries that typically get ignored by developed countries because there isn't any money in it (malaria, for example). Check out what they were able to do in New Zealand with the MenB vaccine. And what they're doing worldwide with the Menveo vaccine. I am not so naive to overlook that money is a big incentive and a lot of the "me-too" drugs are pushed on us for diseases or conditions we weren't aware we had. But there are good people doing good work that actually makes a difference, so don't paint the entire industry and all scientists with the same broad brushstroke.
    It is not true that vaccines cannot be approved without sufficient testing. A good example is Gardisil. It was studiedin fewer than 2000 girls aged 9 to 15 years and the follow-up has never been established. Reports ofloss of consciousness, seizures, arthritis and neurological problems and deaths have been reported. Gardisil is being given by doctors to girls along with other vaccines at the same time.The Merck insert states that co administration of Gardisil with other vaccines, except hep B has not been studied. Also Merck states "The duration of immunity following a complete schedule of immunization with Gardisil has not been established." This is good science? Do you think the tv commercials indicate the facts stated above? It is not difficult to understand why Spain has pulled this poorly tested and unproven vaccine.

    Hank
    Jeanruss, there is an error in logic (and science) you are using.   I agree that Gardasil should not have billions of dollars of concerned parent money thrown to Merck because of 'you care about your kids, right?'  fear mongering by their marketing department but that does not mean all vaccine studies were flawed any more than one female criminal implicates you.

    I have made fun of shingles vaccine marketing too - yes, there are people who are afflicted in serious ways by it but much of that is also because of chicken pox vaccines.   Yet there is no question polio vaccines were good and there is no question vaccines have not caused autism.     You're using kernels of fact about one thing to bolster shaky reasoning about another - that is what advocates and lobbyists (and pharmaceutical marketing departments) do, not scientists or science readers who just want accuracy.
    Becky Jungbauer
    You need to check your facts before you attack others for missing the point. Gardasil was studied in over 20,000 females - not 2,000. And there are always adverse events reported with drugs - but what you fail to understand and acknowledge is whether those adverse events, which anyone can find in the AERS system, are actually associated with and caused by the vaccine. As for the label stating that the vaccine has only been tested with concomitant administration of HepB, they are required by law to say that and it by no means implies that they neglected to study other vaccines. Besides, think about it, jeanruss - the vaccine is only indicated for females ages 9-26. How in the world would you study a vaccine for that population with other vaccines that are given in infancy? You can't. So they aren't trying to sneak something by you. Why would you test an Alzheimer's drug in two-year-old children? You wouldn't. Besides, the trials were double-blind, placebo controlled, randomized clinical trials - the gold standard for clinical studies. So yes, it IS good science. If you knew anything about FDA regulations beyond what you have focused on, you'd know that there are certain regulations to protect both consumers and manufacturers, and one of them in labeling is to specifically state what they have and have not tested the product in, like pediatrics or the elderly. And thanks to new legislation passed in 2007, which also, by the way, overhauled the AERS system and other aspects of safety and adverse event reporting, drug makers are required to conduct post-approval studies in certain populations or obtain waivers, mainly in pediatrics. That way they can't claim the drug is safe for use in populations for which is hasn't been studied. And if they do, FDA, Congress and the Department of Justice have many means at their disposal to go after the companies. Examine the reports on the recent cases: AstraZeneca, Lilly, Medtronic, Ranbaxy - the list goes on and on. FDA also has a division specifically dedicated to reviewing advertisements, for which standards are increasingly more stringent, and for good reason.

    It is obvious that you feel very strongly about your opinion, and viewed through your eyes the "evidence" seems overwhelming. But it is also obvious that you won't change your opinion, even in the face of all evidence available. That's what I take issue with - if you prove to me that the sky is green, I will gladly embrace the finding despite my personal experience, which suggests the sky is blue. But even in the face of evidence you won't acknowledge that vaccines are not the evil here. And the saddest thing is that parents believe the incorrect and much-hyped claim of vaccines and autism, and don't get their kids vaccinated. How would you feel if your daughter contracted rubella, even though there is a way to prevent it?
    I think Jean's point is more along the lines of the fact it's impossible to discover every potential adverse side-effect before a drug's released - & the new FDA regulation requiring more post-approval study attests to that fact. This is b/c science is imperfect, reality is complicated, & it's always possible to miss something. We can all recognize that.

    The main underlying issue, however, is what do you do when science is unable to validate public concerns. Is this a reflection of the public concern or is it a reflection of the nature of science? Science is always groping for the truth & it's always a far cry from perfect (which is why there's recognized need for post-approval drug research).

    It's not that Jean & other mothers have unwavering opinions that won't yield to evidence, it's that there's is no adequate explanation for what's going on. Consider the world from the perspective of a patient with multiple sclerosis in the early 1900's - everyone is saying that you're crazy, a prominent psychiatrist from Vienna says that you have mother issues, you think 'maybe they're correct, but it just doesn't seem right; it doesn't fit'. Fast forward a century or so, & society finds out that it's not psychological, it's immune-based; & the quality of life of MS patients can be dramatically improved thru immuno-suppressants.

    Go back in time, & what do say to the humiliated patient who could've sworn "this isn't just all in my head"? Do you tell them that they have an unwavering opinion that would not sway to medical evidence? Well, in a sense they did.

    There are many similar historical examples for other conditions as well. The lag-time between recognition of the condition & its acceptance as a medical entity can be a matter of decades.

    The lesson I think is that science proceeds best with a strong degree of humility; skepticism is important, but it's important with regard to science's internal progress. If you concocted a fancy machine to tell you what color the sky was, and it says the sky is green, but you & all you friends could swear it's blue, who do you trust? And why?

    Becky Jungbauer
    Science is definitely imperfect. And it's a fact that things are missed - you can't know the various adverse events, unfortunately, until it goes on the market and is used in a larger, less controlled population (take Avandia, for example, or Bextra). And you make an excellent point, that people suffering from a disease that wasn't understood were considered crazy. I don't mean at all to dismiss their experiences, nor call them crazy. I had a personal experience with this, in which I knew something was not just in my head and it took a whole summer of going to doctors to figure out the problem. But instead of insisting that I had condition x, when something that was ruled out, the doctor went on to the next idea - we had to move forward and think outside the box instead of trying to make the evidence fit what the symptoms initially suggested.

    In the proposed fancy machine example, however, I would side with the evidence. If we don't, then there isn't a standard to which we can adhere. My eyes tell me differently, but maybe I have color blindness or just don't know what the color green looks like. Science progresses in fits and starts, continually refining and exploring and re-examining. Heck, people thought the sun revolved around the earth, and now we know differently. But we can only know what the marketplace of ideas, scientific research, tells us. In this case, science tells us that vaccines do not cause autism, at least in the cases that have been studied. Could some seemingly inocuous ingredient in the vaccine have trigged a cellular cascade that led to something on the autism spectrum? I just don't know. And maybe one day science will tell us the answer. But if we don't have confidence in the evidence, if we don't agree that evidence X is what we should get behind, how can we move forward? I get frustrated when people believe some things but not others - they believe that eating a lot of Big Macs and living a sedentary  lifestyle, for example, will probably lead to weight issues and perhaps cardiovascular problems; but they don't believe that vaccines don't cause autism? I don't understand how you can pick and choose. Whatever it is, though, why can't we focus on research that will find treatments and maybe ways to prevent autism, instead of discussing whether science is good enough?
    I get frustrated when people believe some things but not others - they believe that eating a lot of Big Macs and living a sedentary lifestyle, for example, will probably lead to weight issues and perhaps cardiovascular problems; but they don't believe that vaccines don't cause autism? I don't understand how you can pick and choose.

    People know what they're familiar with. It's not a clean system of knowledge, but it worked well enough over evolutionary history. This is a very powerful tool if you know how to you use. For instance, in medicine doctors ultimately work off of the patient's subjective knowledge of their symptoms. They use more objective & scientific tools to aid them in this, but the end all & be all is the patient. If a patient feels physically miserable, but all the medical tests are in the normal range, then would you conclude that he's alright? Yes, all the scientific evidence suggests that he's fine, but it doesn't take more than common sense to see that he's not. All of those medical tests originated, after all, from people - at various stages of various conditions - who, likewise, were obviously "not alright". (For a recent, simple, & profound example of this, see http://aboutmecfs.org/News/PRJan09Pacific.aspx).

    The danger however is when you manipulate scientific evidence to work against people. This occurs very easily, & it's a major flaw in using science to guide policy. For instance, we know that eating unhealthy calorie-rich McDonald's foods makes people fat, but these foods also tend to be less expensive; subsequently, a sizable portion of the variance (but not all) of the relation btwn unhealthy diet & obesity is due to poverty. But what would occur if you replaced poor communities' sources of cheap unhealthy food with expensive health food? Sure they might lose weight, but they'll have even less income. What is more important, eating healthfully or paying apartment rent? The worst part is that the researchers who would've pushed for such a removal of all unhealthy foods would likely miss the deterioration in their lives. Indeed, just looking at obesity rates in poor areas, they might even see their policies as a stunning success.

    If we don't, then there isn't a standard to which we can adhere.

    This is a legit concern, but it's purely hypothetical, particularly b/c all of our standards are man-made anyway. IQ tests for instance are recalibrated every so often. If they're tweaked incorrectly, or not frequently enough, then the population at large might start looking overly smart. Furthermore, as 20th century philosophy will tell you, it's impossible to create a purely logical representation of the world (which is why science truly depends in part on empiricism).

    The latter is a fact of the world, not a knock on science; it's a source of ambiguity, a "growth area" that's ever-present, upon which to build. A key to science's ultimate success is in recognizing its limitations, not denying them; such recognition leads to true progress. Often in my head I anthropromophize science as a grumpy old man who refuses to admit his mistakes. But the ideal is someone who knows how to take responsibility (with character not unlike Obama, tho I disagree w/his approach to using science); who doesn't alienate his critics, but rather fully considers & incorporates their viewpoints. Unlike the hypothetical example above, with the researchers claiming they've done well (by stripping unhealthy foods) when they've actually done harm, science I think needs to open its eyes & keep its ear to ground, rather like Darwin, who saw evidence of evolution literally everywhere. If we did that today, medical researchers I think would find the cries of these mothers piercingly loud & very very real. All criticisms & name-calling aside, I think they would see that we have a problem, & it hasn't been solved.

    Becky Jungbauer
    But what would occur if you replaced poor communities' sources of cheap unhealthy food with expensive health food?
    This is a great example of why I left bench science for public health - while I loved learning and experimentation, I needed to be in the real world among "big" problems. (And this is not to say that bench science isn't amazing in its own right. For me personally, public health was a better fit.) We did a lot of work in the community looking at the variables tied to one decision that seemed like a good idea - educating people in low-income neighborhoods about eating more healthy foods. Great idea in theory, a failure in practice. These families couldn't afford expensive fresh produce and organic whole grain preservative free everything, couldn't obtain it at the local market, couldn't afford to take the bus with all of their kids to a grocery store in the suburbs that stocked such produce, etc. As you say, what is more important, eating well or having a roof over your head?
    A key to science's ultimate success is in recognizing its limitations, not denying them; such recognition leads to true progress.
    I agree completely. I think sites like this allow for respectful discussion by people with myriad views, and we can learn from each other and hopefully take our expanded minds back to our respective disciplines.
    jtwitten
    It's not that Jean&other mothers have unwavering opinions that won't yield to evidence, it's that there's is no adequate explanation for what's going on.
    Lack of explanation is not grounds to cling to any explanation.
    You're missing the point. Do you think that this amount of testing in young girls was sufficienT? Do you think that the co-administration of Gardisil with other vaccines should have been tested?

    Gerhard Adam
    I think one of the serious problems is that, as a parent attempting to research this issue one is invariably drawn to a number of Autism organizations (i.e. Autistic Research Institute, Autism Society of America, etc).  In fairness, none of these sites has closed the book on vaccine-related causes of autism.

    When this information is coupled with the fact that often there are doctors (or other PhDs) papers associated with this, it is quite understandable that there should be a schism between the opinions that people will gravitate to. 

    If science does not speak with a unified voice, then there is little to suggest that people should listen to a singular opinion.  Unfortunately, I suspect that despite the recent rulings, the conclusions aren't nearly as solid as people would like them to be.  It appears that even the CDC hasn't closed the book on additional research to try and determine what effects, if any, are possible. 

    This isn't to suggest that there is a link, or that it is such an open-ended debate that all hypothesis are equally valid, but it is important to recognize that while there may be strong evidence negating the link between vaccines and autism, it is hardly fair to criticize the parents when other "experts" are telling them that their concerns are reasonable and plausible.
    Mundus vult decipi
    jtwitten
    This is why argumentum ad verecundiam (appeal to authority) is a logical fallacy.  It is also what makes wading through the research and opinions difficult for parents.  Many of the ASD organizations support a wide variety of non-scientific treatments and/or explanations.  Simply having a PhD or an MD doing a piece of research does not mean the research is quality.  Each piece of research should be evaluated on its merits.
    Gerhard Adam
    Yet, isn't that precisely what the ruling of Feb 12 is (U.S. Court of Federal Claims)?   
    Mundus vult decipi
    jtwitten
    Later you argue that legal decisions are made in a completely different framework and are, therefore, not relevant.  I happen to agree.  Legal standards are different than scientific standards.  While the decisions are important legally and from a public health policy perspective, they do not provide scientific evidence.
    Gerhard Adam
    Just to make sure we're talking about the same thing .... my point was in reference to your argument's appeal to authority.  This was not directly based on your post, but rather on the feeling I have that, because of the court's ruling, that this was taken (by many) as a definitive statement indicating that there is no casual relationship between vaccines and autism. 

    I've read through much of the brief and I have to agree with the findings, that the arguments attempting to link vaccines with autism are implausible.  However, it is precisely this kind of forum that gives rise to conspiracy theories and false hopes.  Often the losing side will view this simply as a matter of having different attorneys or different expert witnesses.  In truth, they may well be right.

    If it wasn't your intent to go down this path, then I apologize for misunderstanding where you were going with this.  My only point of contention is that there are parents that have serious problems to deal with and a large monolithic bureacracy that has never been overtly helpful.  It is no real surprise that these parents would cling to any hope that some authority figure provides, and consequently my position is that science needs to be more assertive in ensuring that good reliable data is provided so people can make informed decisions. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Becky Jungbauer
    I do think it's important for people to realize that the court ruling means these particular cases lost on the merits set forth by law, and the judges aren't scientists. But I'm not so sure you can separate the law and science in this instance, considering the law ruled directly from evidence based on science. Science does need to be more assertive, though, you are correct.
    If science does not speak with a unified voice, then there is little to suggest that people should listen to a singular opinion. Unfortunately, I suspect that despite the recent rulings, the conclusions aren't nearly as solid as people would like them to be. It appears that even the CDC hasn't closed the book on additional research to try and determine what effects, if any, are possible.

    I think you're dead on here. The difficulty is that science is given 2 fundamentally different hats: describing the world, & prescribing change. Think evolution - perfect for describing the world, bad for bringing prescribing change (at least, in a direct manner). The 2 roles don't easily overlap, & what's good for the one objective isn't good for other. Ambiguity for one - not only acknowledging it, but embracing it - is key for describing the world. It spells out problems to be solved; contradictions (which really just exist in our head) to be grappled. But ambiguity is the last thing you want when prescribing change.

    The more I think about things, it seems like science's role of describing the world is the good science, and that of prescribing change is, well, the bad science. I mean, science has always been messy, but the latter is really messy.

    Does that mean should we put a temporary ban on vaccines? Damned if I know, I'm just glad that I'm not in a position where I have to decide. Does that mean that we currently have a (scientific) problem in how s specific area of medical science has described the world, which is intellectually pressing yet far from being resolved? Heck yeah.

    Gerhard Adam

    I'm not sure about classifying "good" or "bad" science in that sense, but it certainly falls into the realm of science and public policy. 

    When science weights costs and benefits, it is completely acceptable to say that 90 or 95% of people will benefit from a particular technology or medicine.  However, this presumes that 5-10% negative impact is also acceptable and from a statistical perspective it makes sense.

    However, the problem I have is that people should have access to the best information to make informed decisions about what the impact is if you should happen to be in that 5-10% category.  If there is a risk, then people should be aware of it.  Even when people are misinformed, it doesn't automatically convey authority to a bureaucrat to make that decision on other people's behalf. 

    If we consider the issue of vaccines and autism, we have people that are following the rules and suddenly find themselves in a situation that is devastating to them as a family as well as financially.  They deserve a better explanation than a court case that is simply established to determine whether they qualify for financial help in caring for their child.  Life isn't fair and oftentimes bad things happen regardless of how many precautions are taken.  

    As I've said before, the evidence suggests that there is no connection between vaccines and autism, but the point remains .... that science needs to be definitive about it.  It is no victory if the forum is a court of law.  That simply isn't science. 

    Mundus vult decipi
    jtwitten
    In the face of data, not all hypotheses are equal.  The term is prior probability.  The vaccine/ASD link is a false correlation in the minds of parents going through a difficult situation.  Bear in mind that the phenomenon that this link is intended to explain (a massive increase in ASD) exists only as an artifact of expanded definition (why I use the clinically correct term ASD, not autism) and better monitoring. There is no phenomenon.

    While unfortunate and rare vaccine injuries do occur (5-10% is overstating it by 2-3 orders of magnitude, for example the allergic reaction rate of the "dreaded" Gardasil is 0.0026%).  Scientists are actively trying to figure out why people have these reactions.  Hopefully, in the future, we will be able to predict who will have these reactions in advance and act accordingly, but we can't do that yet.  The fact that we cannot explain rare adverse reactions to vaccines (ASD is not one of these) does not give one license to make up an explanation and call it equally legitimate to all other hypotheses (see prior probability above).  Although the system may not be perfect (but who is, really?), it is admirable that we have put in place a system to compensate people injured doing what is best for the group.
    As I've said before, the evidence suggests that there is no connection between vaccines and autism, but the point remains .... that science needs to be definitive about it.
    Science is definitive on this.  Don't be distracted by badly done studies (e.g., the Griers) or possibly fraudulent research (e.g., Andrew Wakefield) or politically motivated money to placate lobbying groups (e.g., motivation for an abandoned chelation/ASD study).  If you insist on getting everyone in the world with a degree to agreee, well then I can't help you, ever, on anything.

    While individuals have a right to be misinformed in their private lives, once they venture into the public sphere to spread their misinformation (regardless of intent)
    There is no phenomenon.

    There is a phenomena. It just has yet to be validated by scientific study.

    I'd be interested to know what things folks think are scientifically proven?

    I think it's well-established that if you look at the general population, there's no correlation between incidence of autism & vaccinations, nor is there a correlation between incidences of autism & vaccines containing specific suspected risk-factors such as mercury or thimerosal.

    Does that contradict the ongoing cries & suspicions of these thousands of parents & Autism organizations? The answer is 'no', you have to assume that it's 'no'. An aside on the nature of contradictions:

    They don't exist in nature. They're a product of the mind, & they're usually b/c people are thinking about the world in the wrong way. Likewise, in the grander scheme of things, as if from the perspective of God, no study results should be "surprising". To the degree that any study seems surprising, it's again b/c we had the wrong pre-conceived notions.

    That's not to give free-license to any hair-brained idea, but you can't underestimate the role that intuition plays in science. Yes intuition is variable - at one time, the idea that we weren't in the center of the universe was intuitive, now it's not - but it's powerful nonetheless. & in many areas, particularly those involving human subjects, science tends to lag far behind it. (That's why there are so many medical/psychological studies whose results are just common sense.)

    Looking at both sides of the contradiction (we'll simplify it as science vs. mothers), I think the mothers are getting the short end of the analysis. Yes, what they're claiming has yet to be scientifically verified, & yes they've been through a "traumatic" experience. But is that enough to pose a positive explanation for why they're specifically focusing on autism? Other childhood conditions afterall have emerged in recent decades.

    & don't underestimate the power of mothers. Seriously, we talk a lot about evolution here, so I'd think you guys would take to this point. Moms know, especially in matters of health; they have that fine-tuned sense for their own children when something's just not right. When it seems 'off'. Granted, it's not always correct, but I would wager that it's accuracy (for present conditions) is at least comparable to that of modern medicine, if not much greater; the mother might not know exactly what's wrong or what to do treatment (or research) wise, but she knows something's up. (Do regular pediatric medical studies don't use this tool? If not they should.)

    This motherly sense is key to the debate. Even if ultimately we find out for sure that there's no link, then the whole controversy can be seen as a miss-firing of this powerful intuition. & those missfires are certainly possible, they do occur. But they're not to be underestimated; & by definition they're the exception (which "surprises" us) not the rule. So that's why I think for now science (basic science, I don't know about policy science) has to assume that those mothers are correct until they have substantial evidence to the contrary.

    Presumably the next step after general large-scale epidemiological studies would be to narrow the focus, hone the hypotheses, perhaps seek out moderators, & draw more distinctions across the population.

    Gerhard Adam

    Just to be clear, the 5-10% figure I was using had nothing to do with anything beyond the fact that I made it up and was not attempting to use it in any context except as an arithmetic example.

    Nevertheless it is not simply a matter of disagreement when a parent can go on a web-site (i.e National Autism Association) and be greeted by a banner from the University of Calgary, Faculty of Medicine, etc.  A little further prodding and one gets a list of doctors (M.D.s and PhDs) that are part of the scientific advisory board.  

    The first page then provides the "facts" regarding the role of mercury in the vaccines and autism.  While you and I may agree that most of this information is incorrect or, at best, misleading.  I think it is asking alot of a desperate parent that is trying to get information about this, and asking them to maintain a skeptical eye towards the claims being made.  Interestingly when doing a simple Google search, the first site that actually indicated no link between vaccines and ASD was Wikipedia.  However too many of the other sites actually still push the idea, or are quite low-key about indicating the link doesn't exist.  

    Even going to the NIH and CDC sites doesn't provide much information (or at best may be difficult to navigate).  As can be seen there are a couple of publications at the NIH site dated from 2005 which don't exactly go out of their way to provide something useful.

    "Research has also shown that environmental factors, such as viruses, may also play a role in autism."

    "There is a great deal of research and discussion on the topic of vaccines and autism—too much to cover here. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts and supports most of the federal epidemiological studies that seek to answer questions about vaccines and autism."

    Mundus vult decipi
    jtwitten
    I'd be interested to know what things folks think are scientifically proven?
    Becky Jungbauer
    That Star Wars Episodes IV-VI are infinitely superior to Episodes I-III. And to most other movies, for that matter.
    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but I'm a sucker for the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.....   Hmmm ... I also liked "Sneakers" and "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension"
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    Normally I agree with her.  Heck, if she endorsed Hitler and vampire babies I might go along with it ... but dancing friggin' Ewoks 'better' than most movies?   Puh-leeeze.

    Buckaroo Banzai is, of course, among the greatest movies of all time.  I patterned my whole life after that guy - except the neurosurgery, which I replaced with Renaissance Faire juggler.   
    Gerhard Adam
    You and me both.... although I was a bit closer as a licensed EMT for a time.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Becky Jungbauer
    Note I said "most" movies. I heartily endorse the Lord of the Rings trilogy - man, when Sam and Frodo are laying on the ruins of Mordor, thinking they're going to die...*sniff*...it still gets me. And Sneakers - great movie! Redford did some amazing work. Anyway, for me, Star Wars is up there in the top 10 of all time.

    And while I will not endorse Hitler, I will consider vampire babies, provided they are snot-free and don't turn into teenagers.
    Gerhard Adam
    Sam and Frodo???   What about when Perfect Tommy tells Buckaroo ... "Don't embarass us."
    Mundus vult decipi
    Becky Jungbauer
    When I move, I'll see if the Hong Kong Cavaliers are planning any events in the area. I'll get you an autograph.
    Gerhard Adam
    Well, I think we can agree that, neglecting air resistance, if you fall from a 10 foot height you'll hit the ground at about 25.3 ft/sec.  However, my point is that there is a distinction between something being "proven" to the point of being useful in a scientific sense, versus what people are entitled to know if it may affect them (i.e. public policy).

    I don't think anyone would question that there is a strong linkage between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.  However one cannot say conclusively that all smokers will get lung cancer, nor can one say that non-smokers won't get lung cancer.  There is simply a strong linkage (and probability) that a smoker has a greater chance of getting lung cancer than one who doesn't smoke.  Is this relationship proven?  It is, only in the sense that there is a higher probabilistic outcome of one over the other, but it isn't definitive since it offers no reliable means of predicting any particular outcome.  This is no basis for denying the relationship between smoking and cancer, but neither is it one to presume results either.

    In the realm of public policy, science needs to be cautious and conservative.  If something isn't definitively known then we have consider the rights of the individual to make their own decisions.  In many cases we may run into conflicting objectives (i.e. vaccines to reduce disease versus fears of side effects).   As long as the individual is making these choices of their own free will (and presumably they are reasonably informed), then the consequences are acceptable.  

    In the case of vaccines and ASD, there is no causal linkage between them, so it seems to me that parents that have a concern should be allowed to "opt out".  After all, 48 states allow religious exemptions and 15 allow philosophical exemptions.  It seems that if public policy is going to allow this kind of variance, then we are on thin ice if we are suggesting a public health concern.  After all, the argument about the risks of children's diseases to a parent who fears ASD, ring hollow when a mere religious objection paves the way to the same end.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Becky Jungbauer
    As long as the individual is making these choices of their own free will (and presumably they are reasonably informed), then the consequences are acceptable.
    True. But what if the individual is not making the choice? For example: children have no say over whether they will be vaccinated. And other parents have no say over whether another parent's child is vaccinated, thus protecting immunity of the herd. Should my child be in danger of contracting mumps because another person had religious objections to vaccines?
    Gerhard Adam

    I understand, but my point wasn't whether it was right, but simply that it is already the law and an available choice.  How many people are informed about that?

    Also, in this society, the perogatives of choice only apply to adults (for the most part), and I don't see any way around that issue, since by definition, a child at that age can't be informed.  One of the more serious problems I see in our society is the increasing pressure to prevent parents from making choices for their children.  Admittedly some of them may be quite foolish, but it is a dangerous presumption to make that someone else is better equipped to make such decisions than the parents themselves. 

    Part of the problem is that we live in a society where it is virtually impossible to know your neighbors (or others you interact with) and we are inclined to allow a central authority to try and make us as homogenous as a village would have been.  If you happen to agree with the central authority position, then things look great.  If you disagree, then it's the worst form of tyranny there is.

    In the end, society isn't simply an engineering problem to be solved.  We can't just tweak this parameter or prod that individual and suddenly get the desired behaviors.  But back to the original point .... there are no guarantees.  Even the eradication of smallpox involved infringing on many people's rights to achieve the objective, and it is highly unlikely that such an effort would ever be duplicated (I believe it took nearly 12 years to achieve). 

    In other words, there is little likelihood that any disease being vaccinated against will be eradicated, so there will always be a risk of exposure.  However, your child should be protected by having gotten the vaccine, so the risk should be minimal.  At risk are those people that "opted out".

    Mundus vult decipi
    jtwitten
    A big failure in our effort ot educate the public is that we do not make it clear that we live in a probabilistic universe.  Unlike the movies, giving treatment X for condition Y does not equal a cure for everyone.  Smoking causes lung cancer, but not everyone that smokes gets lung cancer.  These are not contradictory statements in a probabilistic world.  For the record, I'm not saying that this failure to educate lies with anyone other than the scientific and medical communities.  We overhype ourselves too.
    In many cases we may run into conflicting objectives (i.e. vaccines to reduce disease versus fears of side effects).   As long as the individual is making these choices of their own free will (and presumably they are reasonably informed), then the consequences are acceptable. 
    Gerhard, you are missing a major point regarding vaccines as compared to other public health policies like fluoride in the water.  If you don't want fluoridated water no one but your family's teeth suffer.  If you opt out of vaccinations, the percentage immune in the population drops.  If the percentage drops below herd immunity levels (~95%), these preventable diseases can persist in the population threatening those without immunity.  This prevents the eradication of the disease (like we did with small pox) and puts not only those who "opted-out" at risk, but also those who either could not be vaccinated for medical reasons, those for whom the vaccine was not effective, or those with weakened immune systems.

    Small pox was beaten with a voluntary vaccination program with high levels of compliance, probably because people could remember the terrors of a small pox outbreak in their lifetimes.  Perhaps we should allow polio and measles immunity to decline for educational purposes?
    Gerhard Adam

    Josh, my point is that people can already "opt out" for religious or philosophical reasons, so while I can appreciate your point, it isn't relevant.  I wasn't suggesting this, it's already available legally.

    Similarly, the eradication of smallpox worldwide was often NOT voluntary.  While I'm sure there was a high degree of compliance, it wasn't absolute and the success of eradicating smallpox depended on coercing cooperation at some points (specifically in Southern Asia).

    I agree with you, especially regarding the issue of "herd immunity levels", however it is a bit difficult to take it seriously when there seems to be an implicit hope that there aren't a sufficiently large number of religious exemptions to counter it.  If we are to consider this a public health policy, then there shouldn't be allowable exemptions except where the risk outweights the benefit (to the individual).  If we aren't prepared to step on religious or philosophical toes, then what's the point?

    Mundus vult decipi
    Actually it isn't true any longer that everyone has the option to "opt out". In Maryland last year a group of parents did not want to vaccinate their children. Ultimately they were threatened with arrest as well as having their children barred from school if they didn't comply. Also in New Jersey they have changed the law and parents are protesting as we speak. When my daughter was getting chemo for her cancer, her response was very poor, so we used alternative therapies very successfully. Before I pulled her out of the hospital, they threatened me with obtaining custody of her if I stopped her treatments. You will hear of these cases in the news. I told them I welcomed the opportunity to put their treatment protocol on trial and they immediately stopped talking about it. The reason they stopped is that they knew they could not prove any benefit from chemotherapy. Parents are really starting to feel the pressure of the "state" over their own bodies as well as their children's bodies. Actually, we used vaccines as part of her therapy for her cancer. The difference being, that the facility that produced her vaccines was in house, used only her blood and urine and were toxin free. I certainly am not anti-science, I am just anti JUNK science and polluted science where money plays a key role in the truth of outcomes. It is shown too often now, that many doctors and researchers are selling out pure science for money, and politicians have been a lost cause for a long time. Science is a beautiful thing when it is done properly.

    Hank
    That may be the case in California also.   You can opt out but that means not going to school, which is odd reasoning since if everyone else is immunized you can't get them sick.   California is also a lot more militant about government and doing what the crowd decides than most states so any parent who doesn't get it done is likely going to get hate mail.

    But society may also be smarter than you think they are.     You have knowledge of opposition to vaccines not because you are a scientific vanguard but because a lot of other people were skeptical first - and I personally think (as I have said before) that Merck's rush to set up a whole vaccine division and market them because they see a goldmine will end up causing more problems for legitimate vaccines that come.   Like Al Gore and global warming, some may feel that all attention is good attention but really not much gets done because no one trusts the other side yet a whole lot of people get rich talking about it.

    A little reasonable skepticism is good but when all medicine is doubted - like your unwillingness to accept that vaccines do not cause autism - it can end up badly for kids.
    Gerhard Adam
    From what I got:

    California Health and Safety Code Section 120365, which reads as follows:


    Immunization of a person shall not be required for admission to a school or other institution listed in Section 120335 if the parent or guardian or adult who has assumed responsibility for his or her care and custody in the case of a minor, or the person seeking admission if an emancipated minor, files with the governing authority a letter or affidavit stating that the immunization is contrary to his or her beliefs
    Mundus vult decipi
    jtwitten
    which is odd reasoning since if everyone else is immunized you can't get them sick
    Hank, review your Prisoner's Dilemma.  If you do not punish mooching (getting the benefit without the effort), you get a population of moochers, then no one is safe.  In order to maintain herd immunity, societal rules need to be set up to prevent mooching from being the stable strategy.

    Also, remember that states have (under the US Constitution) a lot more power to regulate individual behavior than the Federal government.
    jtwitten
    my point is that people can already "opt out" for religious or philosophical reasons
    To reject vaccination as part of religious belief is not analogous to rejecting vaccination due to biomedical misinformation.  Currently, religious dissenters are of low frequency and tend to live in isolated communities where they are mainly a threat to themselves.  Notably, most outbreaks in the US of preventable diseases until recently have been associated with these communities.  The potential use of religious exemption by frightened parents has the potential to force a reassessment of this religious liberty.  People with true religious beliefs can at least be engaged in discussion based on the moral and ethical implications of their beliefs, whereas science denialism cannot.

    Smallpox vaccination was not universally voluntary.  It was, however, voluntary over large areas, including countries where mandatory vaccination would have been legally difficult, and had high compliance in those areas.  The point is that compliance is motivated by risk awareness and that, due to the success of vaccinations, the perceived risk of these infectious diseases is currently low.
    Gerhard Adam
    "To reject vaccination as part of religious belief is not analogous to rejecting vaccination due to biomedical misinformation."

    Sorry, but it is precisely analogous.  Since disease doesn't differentiate by religious affiliation, it is of little relevance where the source of the misinformation comes from.

    Your point is directly referenced by my earlier statement, which is that public policy seems to allow exemptions as long as the group claiming the exemption is of such a low volume that no impact is perceived.  This creates the schism in public policy where people (rightfully) can be upset that some individuals can "opt out" while others can't. 

    This is a far bigger problem than most people realize, because we have a society that doesn't fully embrace science and yet we have public policies based on science that we're hoping no one notices the loopholes in. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    jtwitten
    Gerhard, they are not analogous for one simple reason.  Religious and philosophical beliefs, generally, cannot be tested scientifically.  Biomedical beliefs can.  While I cannot tell you with scientific certainty that your religion is wrong, I can tell you that the belief that vaccines cause ASD is. 
    Sorry, Josh, you are wrong. Whatever the source, misinformation is misinformation and doesn’t get special status because they can claim religion. Giving that mush is tantamount to surrender and opens the door to any and all groups to make outrageous claims. This issue isn’t about what religion is right, it’s about a measurable scientific property and so is as outside religion as religion is outside science.

    jtwitten
    Rob, you can scientifically test the veracity of the claim, "God said not to get vaccinated"?  Personally, I think a god that would say that is an idiot and an ass, but I can't do anything in my lab about it.  This is not misinformation.

    Now, if the divinity uttered, "Do not get vaccinated because vaccines cause autism spectrum disorder," we can bring science to bear on that.  This is misinformation.

    We can debate what to do about untestable religious belief when in intersects with public health policy, but that is a fundamentally different debate than addressing misinformation about the biomedical costs and benefits of a treatment that impacts public health.

    No of course you cannot test what "god said" and that is why it is misinformation. Someone said that god said it, and that is attributable to misinformation. I think that is obvious. Since obviously god was not the source, attributing it to god does not extend special consideration.

    Yes, this is a discussion about vaccinations, so why then make statements about religious sources are actually not misinformed? It's nit-picking and parsing meaning where there is no true difference.

    jtwitten
    Since obviously god was not the source
    You are assuming that their god does not exist.  I cannot disprove that the source of their moral code exists. 

    Saying that their god disapproves of vaccinations may or may not be misinformation, since I cannot find out what the god thinks or if it exists.  If they also believe that the research supports the claim that vaccines cause ASD, then they are definitively misinformed.  Both groups are making bad decisions.
    Then if god does exist and he says vaccines are bad, then he is misinformed too. Push the fault wherever, misinformation rules the day. The source of it doesn't matter.

    This is a meaningless semantic tap-dance to give religious misinformation a pass. You cannot have it both ways.

    jtwitten
    The nature of the claim matters.  You must define bad.  Bad is a qualitative value word.  If this god says you will go to hell for using vaccines, then they may or may not be misinformed.  I have my own opinion on the matter, but I have no facts.  If they say vaccines cause autism, then we can know that they are misinformed.  It depends on whether the religion is making a claim that is scientifically testable.

    I have to disagree with you, Josh. This kind of logic makes anything ok simply by saying "You can't discuss what I'm saying with science" and that is a copout we can not afford to make. There is no excuse for acting on misinformation and it can come from the Vatican or a dream dictionary for all I care. The accumulation of knowledge has always been about getting rid of misinformation: Darwin, Galileo, Copernicus; all of them had to deal with the misinformation of religion. Just because vaccines have the whiff of a personal decision -- which they in fact are a public responsibility -- does not mean they get that semantic free pass. Ignorance and misinformation are exactly that.

    jtwitten
    I don't agree that you get to say, "You can't test what I am saying."  You make a claim and the limits of the scientific method (which can change with technology) determine whether it can be tested or not.  In fact, you are welcome to attempt to test any hypothesis, but you may find that your fellow scientists disagree that you have actually tested your hypothesis.  In all the cases you cite, you are talking about religious claims that directly tested and disproved by science (e.g., sun rotates the earth).
    Yes but that was not my point. Erroneous claims were made when religion had no business discussing evolution, gravity or the mechanics of the solar system. Making any statements by religious authorities in those areas was ignorant and misinformed. Just as religious footprints into vaccinations is ignorant and misinformed. The scientific method does not change with levels of technology, by the way, only the questions we are able to effectively answer. The scientific method has been unchanged since it was codified; only the tools it employs have changed.

    jtwitten
    On this we do not disagree.  Many religious objections to vaccines, however, originate in value claims completely dissociated from scientific evidence.

    I did not intend to imply that the scientific method changes with technology, only the questions it is able to address.
    But, Josh, the erroneous claims as to the structure of the solar system and the diversity of life were both made and maintained by a religious community completely dissociated from scientific evidence. And they were ignorant and misinformed. I fail to see how to get around that whether it's related to major concepts and theories in nature or vaccination usage.

    jtwitten
    They weren't misinformed until science could be applied to the question.  Prior to testing the hypothesis, geocentrism and heliocentrism were both unevidenced beliefs.

    By the time Copernicus was writing the evidence was quite bountiful and only the church continued to keep itself in the dark. The evidence was mounting since Eratosthenes in the 3rd century BC and only the ecclesiastical breaks on knowledge kept us ignorant and misinformed.

    Gerhard Adam
    I think you're missing the point, since it is highly unlikely that god told anyone what to do directly, then the only conclusion we can draw is what these people believe.  Then we enter the realm of why one set of beliefs should be considered more valid than another.  Simply having the endorsement of a "religion" doesn't constitute validating a belief, and if we allow that as a standard for exemption then any conceivable objection must be considered allowable, whether from ignorance or not.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    "A big failure in our effort ot educate the public is that we do not make it clear that we live in a probabilistic universe."

    All one has to do is view the success of Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and the full range of casinos available across the country to be pessimisstic about the public's perception regarding probability.  When this is coupled with nearly 80% people believing that miracles occur (2007 Harris poll) and further two-thirds claim to know someone that experienced a miracle (2000 Newsweek poll) .... well ...

    I think that science needs to do more to be vocal about findings, be upfront when results are inconclusive, and censure those that are on the fringes.  One thing that public policy can't survive, is the perpetual influx of varying opinions often based on political agendas, financial incentives, or just foolishness.  If science doesn't find a way to police itself better (in terms of getting information out), then it is doomed to an increasing level of skepticism by people that will listen to the most vocal proponents rather than the most informed.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Thanks for the discussion. I won't be posting here anymore. I think we all have learned something and we all, as adults, have the responsibility to not harm our children. I, personally, think science is on the wrong path to ensuring public health. I think vaccination is a bandaid for illness, when we should be looking for ways to bolster natural immunity and working WITH nature, instead of trying to control it for profit. Our food, water and air are so bad now that we are unable to use our inherent immunity to protect us. Again, the reason for this is profit. Corporations disregard the effects of their practices on human health. We are hitting a critical mass and need to change the entire system of how we live. The longer we wait, the more dire things become. This world was just too polluted for my daughter to survive here, and we are seeing ,on a daily basis, that humanity is not in a viable position to survive.

    Becky Jungbauer
    Thank you for your contributions to the discussion, Jean. It's good to have a variety of viewpoints on the site so we can all think outside the box.
    Please don’t blame science. Science is amoral, only those that use it have moral choices to make. Sometimes they are good and sometimes not. But vaccines ARE working with nature to bolster our immune systems. That’s how they work. I think we need to all hope that a universal agreement on what is good for us all can be discerned and acted on not based on profiteering and exploitation.

    Hank
    Phil Plait linked to this excellent student newspaper teeth kicking of Jenny.
    Becky Jungbauer
    Yikes. He isn't what I'd call subtle.
    The whole vaccine-ASD "link" was pretty much kicked off by a single researcher whose analysis was later shown to be flawed (although not before the tabloid press had had its fill of yet another top-selling panic-of-the-weeks).

    Since then, a large number of eminent minds have looked into the possibility, and have gathered much larger samples of population, and done about all they can to come to the conclusion that there is no functional link between vaccination and ASD. I say functional, because as Kerrjac has repeated stated, there is a large amount of anecdotal evidence between the vaccination and a later development. There are problems with this anecdotal evidence:

    1. Autism and ASD have been over-diagnosed in recent history while doctor's have been learning to recognise the symptons of the disorder.

    2. I've known parents who, unhappy at a doctor stating that their child is actually quite normal and healthy, have gone around shopping for a medical label (ASD, ADD, etc) in order to explain why their child is not 'normal' in their parent's eyes.

    3. Thanks to the tabloid publishing the unfounded, inaccurate, and not peer-reviewed findings back at the start of all this mess (and further compounding by publishing half-facts about the mercury used in earlier vaccinations), parents tend to diagnose by media rather than by medical opinion. The media promotes the (false) idea of a link, and parents lap the media up (ironic, that the public so distrust government and medical establishment that they do trust the scientifically illiterate media).

    4. A child will go through a whole slew of developmental changes on their way to adulthood, and at time may be ahead or behind the curve. If a child is 'slow' in development, then parents want to know why - forgetting, or not learning, that the curve is based on a theoretical average and that it is normal to be some way off it. If such a 'slow' patch starts to take place even a few months after a vaccination, parents will link that event as a) they have read the media storm on this, b) it is a memorable event (more so than, say, little Jimmy only started eating eggs recently*).

    Since the growing body of evidence has shown that there is no functional link between vaccination and ASD, we would be better served in searching for the real reason in the raise in ASD diagnoses, and channeling all the money into that rather than listening to some half-baked celebrity dribble about something that has been disproven.

    If we continue to research a link that is not there, we will end up in 5 years not knowing anything more than we know now, and in no better position to prevent it from happening in the future.

    * I'm not in any way suggesting a link between eggs and ASD - just that this is a pretty immemorable milestone in a child's development.

    I have been lied to by my president, my congress, my police department, and the msnbc financial news network.

    Tell me why I should believe the pharmaceutical companies and their paid scientists (which dean of what college stated that for $100,000.00 anything can be proved?) who by their very nature are snake oil salesmen.

    http://commonlaw.findlaw.com/2009/03/drug-studies-bogus-data-for-vioxx-c...

    Pick any ten drugs being advertised on television tonight and listen to the side effects statement that they (corporate) would not tell me if it wasn't for someone standing over them with a big stick, and tell me that the cure is not worse than the...

    Why should I believe someone that calls himself an expert and a scientist who tomorrow will be implicated in a drug study falsification scandal?

    It is my children not some f ing statistic that is getting some unknown and largely untested liquid shot into his/her arm.
    The next pandemic will not be caused by some irrational mother who listens to illogical hysteria, but by the super bugs being bred at this moment in our hospitals and by unethical doctors who give out antibiotics for ear infections and the common cold. Now is the doctor just tired of explaining to the hysterical mom that antibiotics will not do anything for viral infections or is there a profit to be made by just writing the script?

    http://commonlaw.findlaw.com/2009/03/drug-studies-bogus-data-for-vioxx-c...

    If by drawing from the body politic we elect the very best(?) to represent; using those statistics, the same percentage of doctors, lawyers, firemen and scientists will lie, falsify and deceive if for no other reason but  "that's how we roll".

    You may pedalize/pedalate/ cause to be idolize scientists but they are not my high priests. They are human and they make mistakes. But what I cannot and will not tolerate is the corporate faceless greed machine, that above all else are profits. Their veracity is suspect.

    I will be interested to see how people look at Jenny when it is shown that vaccines COULD possibly cause or play a role in autism. In the studies done that disprove the link between vaccines and autism, have any of the participants had autism and were NOT vaccinated? That would be definitive. How can the general population find access to the studies done that completely, without fail, disprove this link? I am truly amazed at the closed-mindedness of some of the posters on this site. Can a scientific study truly happen so quickly and be 100 % correct. Are there no mistakes? I have seen what some of the people whose children have ASD have said about their disease and the physical illnesses and the relation to the time frame of the vaccine schedule and it seems viable that it is a possibility. Jenny McCarthy is trying to help people, not hurt them. She is not an idiot, but a mother with a very sick child. She was told he would never be normal, but she thought outside the box, fought against traditional medicine and brought him out of the world he was in. Why would that make her an idiot. How mean can one person be to actually call her that? I would be ashamed of myself if I wrote that. I always thought science was constantly evolving, dynamic and completely open to new things. I suppose in some opinions it is just a static entity that is not to be questioned.

    Autism existed before vaccinations were common. I'd say most of the kids that were first described as autistic hadn't been vaccinated. So according to you, that does "completely, without fail, disprove" the alleged vaccine-autism link.

    I am honestly curious here...not trying to argue with anyone. I would genuinely like to see the studies done. I want to see how many children with autism did not have vaccines.

    Gerhard Adam
    If you're interest, link to the CDC site to view the outstanding studies and information they have available.

    www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/vaccines.htm
    Mundus vult decipi
    Thank you Gerhard. I will definitely look at that.

    There is no way autism is caused by genes! Tell me why all of the sudden numbers keep rising in autism? I know it is the vaccinations that cause autism and no one can ever change my mind in believing that. Look at how many vaccinations our kids get now before the age of 2 yrs old! The reason the Scientist and researchers scream out genes and other rediculous findings is because if they claim yes it is vaccinations then there will be alot of hell to pay and NO ONE will ever vaccinate their kids again. How could it all of the sudden be caused by genetics? Please that is just a way out for the government to turn down thousands and thousands of cases claiming to be injured by vaccines!! Why would some of the cases that went through the court system be found to be true that yes the vaccines did cause autism in that case. It is the medicine that has caused autism and I will always believe that. I believe all these scientist do is guess what it MAY BE that is causing autism!!! Of course they do not want to admit that the vaccines are the cause, because there are thousands of people that will be owed alot of money. Anyone that believes it is genes is an idiot!!

    logicman
    Re: Anyone that believes it is genes is an idiot!!

    A personal attack is not a valid argument.

    I'll assume that I am addressing  Jenny McCarthy and all who believe her statements on medicine. 

    It is exceedingly dangerous in this litigious world for someone who is not medically qualified to make sweeping generalisations about the causes of disease.

    You will never win the MacArthur prize for this sort of un-researched argument.
    There are many tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of highly trained, ethical and dedicated researchers striving to pin down the causes of autism and to provide a cure:

    Linguists are investigating from damage to the language system to the areas of the brain involved.
    Behavioural scientists are conducting similar investigations.
    Brain specialists are even now narrowing down the regions of the brain affected in autistic people.
    Biochemists are investigating autism at multiple levels.
    There is massive cross-discipline co-operation in these and many other fields.

    No one person, however sincere in their beliefs nor however  great a scientist, can link all of the evidence, the research and the results and declare that they have found the cure.

    It is tragic for any parent to have a sick child.  You have my genuine, sincere sympathy.

    To every mother of an autistic child:
    Please, take on board what scientists are saying. 
    Co-operate with them, discuss with them, debate with them.
    But let your child be a part of the studies -
    your child may provide the exact key to unlock this mystery -
    and will be remembered with great affection in history.
    I have done research on Autism for the past 4 yrs since my 7 yr old daughter was diagnosed with autism. You do not have to be a medically qualified person or shall I say a Doctor to do research on a disability such as autism. My 2 autistic children have seen several different Doctors that knew nothing that is why we have switched Doctors several times. I know there are hundreds and thousands of researches trying to find a cure, however there has been millions of dollars donated to autism organizations to pay for research and still we are waiting to find out what the cause of autism is and yes we hoping for a cure one day. I do believe everything Jenny McCarthy says in reference to vaccinations and there are alot of facts out there that show proof that the vaccines have caused autism. The scientist and Government will never admit to it.

    adaptivecomplexity
    There is no way autism is caused by genes!
    Actually, several specific genetic abnormalities causing autism have already been identified - we already know some of the genes (or genomic regions) involved in some cases of autism. Scientists are not guessing - they have found genes whose alteration causes susceptibility to autism. We've got strong evidence for the involvement of genes - and the so-called evidence that vaccines are involved in autism comes nowhere close to the strength of the evidence for genetic involvement.
    The problem is that any given 'autism gene' explains only a small fraction the cases. Autism, unlike something like say, cystic fibrosis, can have many different genetic causes. The prevailing idea right now is that there are multiple ways of genetically breaking the neurological processes that lead to autism.

    Mike
    Maybe certain genetics mixed with vaccines I can see that, but come on all the sudden the numbers in autism keep rising and now it is in the genetics. Why would the numbers all of the sudden keep climbing in autism? I am not buying the genetic story!

    adaptivecomplexity
    Gene x environment interactions are possible, but in several cases, there are clearly identified genetic effects in populations without high rates of vaccination. Disbelieve the "genetic story" all you want, it doesn't change the fact that there are clear instances of genetic problems leading to autism susceptibility without any influence of vaccines.
    Mike
    adaptivecomplexity
    Why would the numbers all of the sudden keep climbing in autism?
    It's almost impossible to find any study published in a mainstream, reputable journal arguing that the major rise in reported autism cases over the last 30 years is anything other than the result of more widespread recognition and diagnosis. If there has been an increase in the actual occurrence of autism, that increase is extremely minor compared to the increase caused by more widespread diagnosis.
    A search through the recent literature turns up dozens of reviews with conclusions like this:

    There has (probably) been no real increase in the incidence of autism. There is no scientific evidence that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine or the mercury preservative used in some vaccines plays any part in the aetiology or triggering of autism, even in a subgroup of children with the condition.
    The prevalence of autism, which was apparently rising from 1979 to 1992, reached a plateau from 1992 to 1996 at a rate of some 2.6 per 1000 live births. This levelling off, together with the reducing age at diagnosis, suggests that the earlier recorded rise in prevalence was not a real increase but was likely due to factors such as increased recognition, a greater willingness on the part of educationalists and families to accept the diagnostic label, and better recording systems.
    The true incidence of autism spectrum disorders is likely to be within the range of 30-60 cases per 10 000, a huge increase over the original estimate 40 years ago of 4 per 10000. The increase is largely a consequence of improved ascertainment and a considerable broadening of the diagnostic concept. However, a true risk due to some, as yet to be identified, environmental risk factor cannot be ruled out. There is no support for the hypothesis for a role of either MMR or thimerosal in causation, but the evidence on the latter is more limited.

    Mike
    2. Vaccines have real documented risks and the U.S. Government knows this.
    Vaccines have risks and parents are rarely told about these risks. Any pediatrician who represents that vaccines are "completely safe" is not presenting the facts. Many vaccines contain other toxic substances including ethylene glycol (antifreeze), phenol (a disinfectant dye), benzethonium chloride (a disinfectant), formaldehyde (a preservative and disinfectant), and aluminum (another known neuro-toxin). Further, some viruses used in vaccines are cultured in animal tissue including chicken albumin and monkey liver. Click here for a complete list of the foreign substances found in vaccines, and here for a sample of a poster made and sold by Dr. Tedd Koren summarizing vaccine ingredients.
    The CDC maintains a database called the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System or VAERS. This database keeps track of publicly reported adverse reactions to vaccines. In a ten year period (1991-2001), VAERS received 128,717 reports of adverse events, of which 14% were described as "serious" which means "death, life-threatening illness, hospitalization or prolongation of hospitalization, or permanent disability."
    The Federal Government maintains a National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Between 1990-2004, the VICP paid more than $900 million in restitution to persons injured by vaccines, and they provide a list of possible injuries by type of vaccine.
    3. There are legitimate concerns over the efficacy of some vaccines.
    Consider the flu vaccine as just one example of where there may be evidence that the vaccine does not work:
    A recent study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association touting the safety of flu vaccine. Nine of the studies authors had stated financial ties to vaccine manufacturers, and an additional four authors worked for the CDC. The study also stated: "It is also important to note that there is scant data on the efficacy and effectiveness of influenza vaccine in young children."
    On October 27, 2006, the British Medical Journal published an article also questioning the efficacy of the flu vaccine. The article noted: "Evidence from systematic reviews shows that inactivated vaccines [flu vaccines] have little or no effect on the effects measured. Little comparative evidence exists on the safety of these vaccines. Reasons for the current gap between policy and evidence are unclear, but given the huge resources involved, a re-evaluation should be urgently undertaken...The optimistic and confident tone of some predictions of viral circulation and of the impact of inactivated vaccines, which are at odds with the evidence, is striking."
    4. You can't be forced to vaccinate your child or follow the CDC's recommended immunization schedule.
    Parents are often told that vaccinating their child is "required by law". It is important for parents to understand what their rights are as all states offer either a philosophical or religious exemption from vaccinations. You have the right to design a vaccine program that is right for you and your child. Click here for more information.
    Articles:
    1. Attempts At Eradicating Infectious Diseases Are Putting Our Children At Risk
    National Vaccine Information Center
    By Barbara Loe Fisher, President, National Vaccine Information Center
    2. MMR and the Simple Truth about Autism
    Age of Autism Blog
    By Dan Olmsted
    February 7, 2008
    3. What Did the CDC Know and When Did They Know It?
    Age of Autism Blog
    By Mark Blaxill
    December 13, 2007
    4. The Age of Autism: Pox -- Part 1
    By Dan Olmsted, UPI
    April 19, 2006
    5. In the Wake of Vaccines Mothering
    By Barbara Loe Fisher
    September-October 2004
    6. Vaccines: The Overlooked Factors
    Autism Research Institute
    Bernard Rimland, Ph.D., President, Autism Research Institute
    7. DAN! Vaccine Guidelines
    Autism Research Institute
    8. Putting Toddlers At Risk With Mandated Vaccines
    American Association of Physicians and Surgeons Online
    By Jane Orient, M.D., Executive Director, American Association of Physicians and Surgeons
    9.

    Congressional Investigation of Mercury

    US Rep. Dan Burton is the Senior Member on the Government Oversight and Reform Committee. He has led a congressional hearing on the safety of vaccines with a focus on mercury in health care products including vaccines.

    Here is some more information I found interesting in reference to vaccines.

    • Neurological Disorders (NDs) in children are growing at a rate well in excess of population growth and are not the result of better diagnosis or widening diagnostic criteria.
    • Children with NDs exhibit much higher levels of toxicity in their bodies.
    • The ingredients in vaccines are neurotoxic and are capable of creating many of the medical issues children with NDs are suffering from.
    And, yet, the popular press is constantly spreading the same tired myths about autism and other NDs. Namely:
    • There is no known cause and no known cure
    • The link between vaccines and NDs has been disproven
    • Recovered children are almost never acknowledged despite their growing numbers
    The Devil is in the Details
    It’s important for parents to look below the rhetoric of public health officials to understand what is actually true and not true and what has and has not been proven. (Please note that considerably more detail on the controversy surrounding vaccines and autism is available through our sister website, Put Children First.) Specifically:
    1. In the case of autism, it has been proven that we are indeed experiencing a real rise in the number of cases, which means that some external factor must be involved in the case load.
    Commentary:
    The Department of Developmental Services in California is considered to have the best data on the number of autism cases. Their 2002 report slammed the door on the theory that the rise in autism cases is the result of better diagnosis. Excerpt:
    "There is no evidence that a loosening in the diagnostic criteria has contributed to increased number of autism clients...we conclude that some, if not all, of the observed increase represents a true increase in cases of autism in California...a purely genetic basis for autism does not fully explain the increasing autism prevalence. Other theories that attempt to better explain the observed increase in autism cases include environmental exposures to substances such as mercury; viral exposures; autoimmune disorders; and childhood vaccinations."
    2. It has NEVER been shown that the tripling of mercury in the U.S. vaccine schedule and the rise in autism cases in the U.S. are unrelated.
    Commentary:
    There has only been one study ever done analyzing U.S. children and the U.S. vaccine schedule (a schedule far more aggressive than any other country’s). The study was done by the CDC and the results were published in Pediatrics. The conclusion of the study was NEUTRAL. Neutral means that they could neither prove nor disprove the theory that the mercury in vaccines was causing a rise in the cases of autism. Soon after the release of the study, the press began reporting that the study "disproved" the mercury-autism theory. This caused the author of the study to write Pediatrics and explain the results of the study:
    Further, in 2006 the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, at the request of Senator Joseph Lieberman, issued this report which effectively conceded that both the VSD study from Pediatrics and the "Danish Studies" were of poor study design and not reliable in determining whether or not Thimerosal causes autism. As this article from UPI reporter Dan Olmsted noted following the report’s release: "For three years, the CDC has used a study conducted on its own Vaccine Safety Datalink to reassure parents that mercury in vaccines does not cause autism. Now a panel of government-appointed experts says there are "serious problems" with exactly the approach the CDC took." Olmsted interviewed the Chairperson of the NIEHS Committee who was quoted as saying:
    "It's an 'open question' whether anything about vaccines -- timing, dose, preservative -- is related to the rise in diagnoses [of autism]. Some studies are stronger than others. The Verstraeten [Pediatrics] study was an improvement on other studies including the two in Denmark, both of which had serious weaknesses in their designs that limit what we can learn from them.
    Where does that leave us?
    - The study most often cited "disproving" the Thimerosal-autism connection did no such thing, it had a neutral outcome
    - That study and the "Danish Studies" have both had their credibility and usefulness recently questioned by the branch of our government in the best position to render a judgment, the NIEHS.
    3. Mercury has NEVER been removed from the National Immunization schedule.
    Commentary:
    Just as the level of mercury in vaccines for children was starting to decline, the CDC added the flu vaccine to its schedule as a mandatory annual shot. Worse, they recommend the shot for pregnant women and children as young as six months old. Because more than 90% of the flu vaccine supply contains Thimerosal and because the flu shot is now a mandatory vaccine on the schedule given every year, a child born today and following the CDC’s schedule could receive 50% or more of the mercury from vaccines that children received at the mid-1990s peak, as UPI chronicles in this recent story, Mercury Creeps Back in.
    Unfortunately, reporters continually write stories assuring parents that mercury has been removed from childhood vaccines. It has not been removed, the source of mercury has simply moved. For a fascinating survey that demonstrates Americans do not realize mercury is still in vaccines, check out PutChildrenFirst’s flu shot survey.
    4. Mercury in vaccines is the only component of vaccines ever studied (See #2 above). No studies whatsoever have ever been done to consider if the growth in total vaccines given to children from 10 in the mid-1980s to 36 today is responsible for the rise in NDs. To say that the "vaccine-autism" theory has been disproven has no basis in fact.
    Commentary:
    Thimerosal has always seemed an obvious culprit for causing NDs because it is made from mercury, a well-known neurotoxin. However, vaccines have many potent ingredients that could harm children neurologically including aluminum, formaldehyde, MSG, and live viruses, to name a few. To ONLY consider thimerosal from vaccines in causing NDs is like only considering sugar from a cupcake in causing weight gain without considering transfats or other sources of calories. Consider the following:
    • Before vaccines are added to the CDC’s schedule, they are tested individually and children are typically tracked for 6 weeks. Using this methodology, conditions like autism, ADHD, or autism, which are typically delayed onset, would never be captured.
    • Worse, vaccines are never tested in combination, which means the practice of giving six vaccines at once has never been tested for safety.
    • Because the number of vaccines on the schedule grew simultaneously with the amount of mercury in vaccines, saying "a mercury-free vaccine is safe" is not a proven truth, we simply do not know.
    5. Because mercury is still in vaccines for children and because children today receive 260% more vaccines (36 vs. 10) than children in the mid-1980s (when rates of NDs were far lower), the only reasonable way to prove whether or not vaccines are a primary driver of ND growth is to compare the rates of NDs between vaccinated and unvaccinated children.
    Commentary:
    This has never been done, don’t ask us why. Until now. The results of our recent survey comparing rates of NDs between vaccinated and unvaccinated children is available here.
    Biology versus Epidemiology
    Published science is confusing. Epidemiology is a fancy word meaning statistical analysis of population level data. Biological science is the study of the body and what’s in the body. Biological science to date overwhelmingly supports the position that NDs are caused by toxins and the environment.
    Consider this recently published letter by Michael Wagnitz, a scientist and father of an autistic child:
    Research supports mercury-autism link
    By Michael Wagnitz
    It was reported repeatedly in 2006 that the link between mercury-containing vaccines and autism has been disproven. Yet if one looks at the most recent research coming from some of our major universities, one may draw the opposite conclusion.
    What we have learned in the last couple of years is that the underlying medical condition of autism is neuroinflammatory disease. In a study conducted at John Hopkins University, brain tissue from deceased autistic patients was examined. The tissue showed an active neuroinflammatory process and marked activation of microglia cells. Neuroinflammatory disease is synonymous with an activation of microglia cells.
    A study done at the University of Washington showed that baby primates exposed to injected thimerosal (50 percent mercury), at a rate equal to the 1990s childhood vaccine schedule, retained twice as much inorganic mercury in their brains as primates exposed to equal amounts of ingested methylmercury. We know from autometallographic determination that inorganic mercury present in the brain, following the dealkylation of organic mercury, is the toxic agent responsible for changes in the microglial population and leads to neuroinflammation.
    Recently it was shown that in more than 250 examined patients, atypical urinary porphyrins were almost three times higher in autistic patients than controls. Porphyrins are precursors to heme, the oxygen-carrying component of blood. Mercury inhibits the conversion of porphyrins to heme. When the patients were treated to remove mercury, urinary porphyrins returned to normal levels.
    In a study done at the University of Arkansas, autistic children were found to have significantly lower levels of the antioxidant glutathione. Glutathione is the major antioxidant needed for the elimination of mercury at the cellular level. This may explain why some children are more severely affected by thimerosal in vaccines than others.
    While all the government-conducted epidemiological (statistical) studies show no link between thimerosal and autism, the clinical studies examining brain tissue, blood, urine and human cells show a completely different picture.

    Gerhard Adam

    While I am certainly in favor of a healthy skepticism regarding the use of science in public policy, it is not helped when there is simply an "alternative" hysteria that is fueled by misinformation.

    The mere mention of "mercury in health care products" shows how seriously flawed your information is.  If there is a link between vaccines and some susceptibility to autism, then it certainly hasn't been found yet and introducing a vast conspiracy doesn't help matters.

    If, in fact, you've done research on autism, then let's hear what your findings are, assuming they aren't merely reprinting the unqualified opinions of another person with a similar viewpoint.   I have personally found far too many websites that depend on funds being collected by fomenting hysteria rather than disseminating useful information.

    In my previous posts, I've been a staunch defender of skepticism and attempted to explain why people are distrustful of the government and large corporations.  However, I have never been supportive of hysteria, nor blind adherence to self-serving agendas.  If you want to truly find out about autisim, then you must be prepared to acknowledge that your preconceived notions may be wrong.

    The last post was especially disappointing, since it seemed to take a "shotgun" approach to vaccines, by mixing and matching every conceivable issue and attempting to manufacture some sort of an image that vaccines are intrinsically evil.  Not only is that disingenous, but it is simply propagandizing the issue which, quite frankly, we've had more than enough of.

    Mundus vult decipi
    The reason I am believing it is the vaccines is because I have had both of my kids tested by a specialist and both children have been tested for mercury in their body and yes both of my kids have mercury in their bodies. I saw it for my own eyes and both of my autistic kids have been seeing a specialist that took a long time to find. I am skeptical on some of the treatments offered for autistic kids so I have not gone all the way through with chelation yet.

    I would appreciate you not calling me stupid in so many words, because this is something I do feel strongly about! I have done my own research hands on with specialist with my kids! I also have the lot #s of the meds in which show in 2 of the vaccines my children had injected into their bodies contained mercury. That is why I believe Autism which is a life long disability is caused by the vaccines.

    Gerhard Adam
    Let me be clear.  I haven't called you stupid, but you aren't exactly helping much either.  You post anonymously, you mention an unspecified "specialist", you mentioned treatment by another unspecified "specialist", you don't indicate what kind of tests were given, and you don't even provide any date/time related information (like years where this occurred), nor do you specify what specific vaccines supposedly contained the mercury (or what form of mercury it was).

    All this, and I should just take your word for it?  As I said before, whether you feel strongly about it or not, or whether you believe it or not, it takes more than either of those conditions to qualify as evidence.  If you want to help people or generate awareness, being secretive isn't the way to go about it.

    Since you insist on posting anonymously, it isn't even possible to ensure that the proper posts are being responded to.
    Mundus vult decipi
    logicman
    Most frequently an apparent rise in something comes from media hype.
    Just because, of a sudden, the media is jumping onto a bandwagon doesn't add any truth value to the bandwagon's load.

    In science, it may happen that tests become more sensitive.
    In that case there will be an upsurge in scientific reporting of cases,
    but they have been there all along, but not seen.

    Reporting heightens awareness of a problem and so more cases get reported,
    that's a basic observation in all fields.  It's a form of "oh yes, I remember seeing that too." amongst scientists.

    If you allow for all of these and can still demonstrate a real increase in cases of an illness, then there is a topic to study.
    logicman

    In the UK we are becoming more aware of the damage done by the original, and apparently deliberate, misinformation.

    Despite involving just a dozen children, the 1998 paper’s impact was extraordinary. After its publication, rates of inoculation fell from 92% to below 80%. Populations acquire “herd immunity” from measles when more than 95% of people have been vaccinated.


    Last week official figures showed that 1,348 confirmed cases of measles in
    England and Wales were reported last year, compared with 56 in 1998. Two
    children have died of the disease.

    timesonline.co.uk

    In investigations for The Sunday Times spread over a period of some five years, Brian Deer ... sought to crack the riddle of the MMR scare. Why was it that no other scientist or research centre, independent of Wakefield, could confirm  the findings in the paper? Some used statistics to see if autism took off in 1988, when MMR was introduced to the UK.  It didn’t.  Others used virology to see if MMR caused bowel disease: a core suggestion in the paper.  It didn’t.  Yet more replicated the exact Wakefield tests.  They showed nothing like what Wakefield claimed.
    Brian Deer investigative reporter. See e.g. Dispatches:MMR&Solved:the Riddle of MMR.

    I just thought I'd throw in some hard facts and links to research.
    Hello, I came across this discussion by chance when I searched for Jenny McCarthy after watching the CNN Larry King show here in the UK on the 4th of April, I watched with growing irritation it has to be said, with the seemingly fair but actually quite biased tone of the content. This discussion here is a good example I think of Scientific debate, but all too often in the news media, the scientists achilles heel of listening then responding calmly and with reason becomes drowned out by the emotive, personal story, as happened on LKlive, sometimes I wish these nice and reasonable scientists would respond in kind being as strident, and call these people what they are...wrong.
    Whilst I agree with the Scientific argument here, I would like to widen this out if I could, in the process I hope I don't cloud the issue too much. It seems to me that as a parent a simple Cost Benefit Analysis would suffice. How many people will die or have serious side effects with lets say Measles(A), how many people will die or have serious side effects with the Vaccine(B) if A is greater than B even if A is thousands, or tens, or even hundreds of thousands, then by giving the vaccine I am increasing the chances for my child to survive. This simple analysis is all too often overlooked, J McCarthy's child has Autism, Ok I feel compassion for the child but what about the nameless faceless children that recently died from Measles surely LKlive should be giving those parents a voice, I would take an Autistic spectrum child to a dead one any day.
    This "non-debate" is highlighting a growing trend I see in the internet/celebrity age we are in. In the UK this weekend the funeral took place of Jade Goody famous for being famous, she died of Cervical Cancer, doctors are now describing the "Jade effect" more women are now being diagnosed with Cervical Cancer, so did Jade cause the rise in Cervical Cancer? Well yes, but she wasn't Cervical cancer's Typhoid Mary, she appealed to a certain demographic, who previously didn't get tested, I point this out as a positive consequence. The negative aspects of this cultural change, are many. Anybody can now post on the net anything, I see the profusion of conspiracy theory sites as one example, I see the Vaccination/Autism theory issue as another.
    There is to my mind the more insidous problem of the over simplification of complex matters that need a lot of time and thought to understand that too few people seem to want to do. The gulf between science and the general population seems to be growing, take the view that seems all too prevelant that people who believe in science are closed minded and not willing to listen, it is precisely because I believe in science that I am a Sceptic. But and this is a big BUT I am sceptical about EVERYTHING, even vaccination/autism shock horror, what counts is the process in determining the TRUTH whatever that is, this is Science.
    Earlier I called it a non debate, a debate implies an honest engagement with fact if I say and can prove certain facts then I should be listened to, all too often in this debate the Vaccination/Autism responses fail to engage with the scientific facts, this puts me in mind of a debate I once read on of all places the Total War game Forums, it went on for pages and pages, debating the existence of god, on the one hand were the people of faith on the other 'science types', it was an excercise in futility, the science types would use complex physics theories, the faith types would counter with faith, and the debate went round and round with the faith types not listening, but with the science types not understanding this was a futile debate where faith was concerned. This impasse is becoming more and more prevelant today with our celebrity/net culture, alternative medicines, psychics, fengshui, the list goes on, gain an all too easy acceptance. So then, along comes Wakefield, his seriously flawed findings fly around the internet, causing widespread panic his message is easily understood in the soundbite age, however the serious complex rebuttals to these claims are boring and difficult to understand so lets not bother. On a pessimistic note I don't know if it will change soon, far too many people have causes for which they are passionate but sadly also closed minded about.

    Hank
    Skepticism is certainly healthy given what we know about business.   There are some large pharmaceutical company marketing departments who see vaccines as a gold mine because of the decades of goodwill the word 'vaccine' has because they save lives.    However, they won't save lives if the issue becomes a cultural football because scientists close ranks and carpet bomb worried parents.   

    We don't do it here but any number of inferior science sites should practically trademark perjoratives like "flat earther" and "Holocause denier" for whatever their culture war du jour issue is.    It's incredibly counter-productive to have a subset of people defending new Big Pharm vaccines whose marketing began in earnest a few months after a $5 billion settlement for a dangerous drug that also passed the minimum FDA standard but not a common sense one.

    I like that people are skeptical but when the data is in, it's time to move on.    I get that people are scared about autism but, as has been said in other places by other people here too, autism is more prevalent today because it is overdiagnosed, just like ADD 10-15 years ago.  The 'real' autism that was considered autism when I was a kid is no more common.   Kids have quirks, some are more social than others.   I didn't talk or walk until I was quite old but I did both properly right out of the gate, according to my mother (I was just in Florida for baseball spring training and, as every year, I went to the 7-11 near which I spoke apparently my first bits of non-grunting ("Yes, I want an Icee", nearly causing my mother to drive through the window with shock) and got an Icee) but in today's information overload climate I don't know what a kid like me would be considered.

    As an adult, though, I am just considered awesome.   :)
    logicman
    As an adult, though, I am just considered awesome.   :)
    In science we try our very best to be objective, to avoid everything that cannot be supported by hard evidence.  We tend to be skeptical of opinion and anecdote.

    But there are times when we realise just how much science has contributed to the human condition in the areas of medicine, technology, and the quality of life generally.

    It is at times like these, when we see our endeavours 'in the flesh' that it is
    oh, so hard to be humble.
    jtwitten
    Sid, an excellent expression of the true skeptical view of the world - rational, not cynical.  And this . . .
    sometimes I wish these nice and reasonable scientists would respond in kind being as strident, and call these people what they are...wrong.
    nicely sums up the raison d'etre for The Festival of Idiots.
    logicman
    Sid:  you made my day!  By using a web search, finding a debate and joining in you have shown the 'people power' of the web.
    sometimes I wish these nice and reasonable scientists would respond in
    kind being as strident, and call these people what they are...wrong.
    I think you've come to the right site for that.  You will find here that lots of heads are stuck above the parapet - although sometimes those heads do belong to captured enemies.  In fact you might say that there has been quite a body count lately.  Have a browse around the columns here, the Festival of Idiots is just a sample.
    Whilst I agree with the Scientific argument here, I would like to widen this out if I could, in the process I hope I don't cloud the issue too much. It seems to me that as a parent a simple Cost Benefit Analysis would suffice.
    It is strange that the cost-benefit notion creates so much heat in politics and ethics.  In philosophy it seems to me to be another way of expressing pragmatism - measure truth and untruth by the balance of real world results.
    a debate implies an honest engagement with fact if I say and can prove certain facts then I should be listened to ...
    in science that I am a Sceptic. But and this is a big BUT I am sceptical about EVERYTHING

    And because you believe that, you will enjoy your visits to scientificblogging.com
    :)
    Larry Arnold
    Oh Deer! Oh Deer!

    I came to this blogging community in the hope of escaping all that raucous Punch and Judy knockabout debate "Oh yes mercury does cause Autism, Oh no it doesn't etc. ad infinitum...."

    The proponents of 'popular; theories use science as a prop in the same way that the advertisers selling the latest beauty product do, they have little understanding and think a lot of big words, and a list of dubious citations is proof. The men in white coats must be right, because they look the part.

    Although the media savvy people with their cause' celebre are driving a lot of bad science in their wake in terms of diverting research funds from what is really useful, to what is politically expedient to placate their media hungry demands, they can quite possibly be seen as the victims of bad science, and a poor scientific education.

    The real villains to me are those who turn a profit from of the phoney research that informs the celebs and misguided parents.

    For the record I do not call Brian Deer's brand of journalism  particularly scientific or ethical either, merely informative. Journalists do not need ethics committees approval when they go after the "baddies" and live by a different set of standards. Trial by media is not the same as trial by judge and jury, nor are the correspondence columns of a newspaper the same as peer review, but I will say this, what has made Dr Wakefield such a dubious credit to his Alma Mater in terms of the number of citations he has generated, has little to do with the truth of his propositions and a lot more to do with people like me who will cite him as an example of how not to do science.

    After having stated that I shall now return to blogging on the difference between bad (or incorrect science) and bad (or unscrupulous) science, and hope that the google zombies have not found me in my hideout yet :)
    jtwitten
    While you may disagree with Deer's journalistic writings, based on your statements, you should applaud that he has submitted his concerns and evidence about Wakefield to the relevant professional committee for review.  Although I believe the advocates of science should hold themselves to a higher standard, Wakefield has used the media, not peer review, to promote himself and his results.  Deer, at worst, is merely the flip side of the journalists that have given credence to Wakefield and his ilk.
    I wrote here a few days ago about my 31 year old daughter who has developed ADEM....acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. According to her neurologist in his expert opinion she contracted it from being eposed to her 16 mos old son who had received his mmr and varicella vaccine virus. She changes her baby's diaper. Today I took my daughter in to have a rash looked at on her chest (which she had before the start of her prednisone) and is now spreading to her entire face and going down to her neck. The family doctor took swabs of the rash to test for chicken pox, herpes, and he wanted to do a measles culture but the hospital where the testing will take place does not have the measle kit. We shall see what we shall see. I don't know how long cultures take but it would seem to me that if there is varicella in the rash, it would confirm the neurologist's original opinion of how she contracted Adem. Don't hospitals have measle kits for growing cultures anymore? Oh, and when I told the family doctor what her neurologist said about about how it was contracted....he didn't call her neurologist an "idiot."

    jtwitten
    Varicella in the rash itself would not confirm the neurologist's opinion.  There are many possible ways to contract varicella.  It is not yet an uncommon virus.  It needs to be known if the varicella, which it may or may not be, is the same as that from the vaccine.

    Not all hospitals have measles testing kits, because measles has become incredibly rare, because of vaccinations.

    It is unlikely that your doctor would call the neurologist an "idiot" or anything disparaging, even if he thought it.  It is both professional courtesy and a good legal idea.  Calling another doctor incompetent can lead to malpractice suits. 
    Gerhard Adam
    My response was based on the fact that making a difficult diagnosis is one thing, whereas speculating about causes without more definitive information simply has the potential to cause anxiety and alot of second guessing by the patient.  It's no different than a case I just ran into where a patient was diagnosed with cancer, only to be told later that ... oops ... mistake.  That is simply irresponsible.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I just want to say that my 31 year old daughter, mother of three young sons, has just been diagnosed with ADEM (acute dissemintated encephalomyelitis) and she contracted it, according to her doctor, from being exposed to the varicella vaccine virus her 16 mos old son received. Her doctor who is in Pittsburgh, teaches, lectures, and has written books on ADEM. His name is Dr. Galen W. Mitchell. His words were, that although he could not prove it, in his opinion this is how it was transmitted to my daughter via diaper changing. I am so mad. The vaccine releases antibodies into the system and the T-cells attack the myeline sheat on the nerves in the brain. We do not know if my daughter will have a full recovery. She is unable to care for her children. She is a college graduate. We do not know if she will ever be able to work again. Unless something happens to you or your loved ones personally (God Forbid) you can say all you want about how much good the vaccines do. Sure, they say this is rare....but it isn't rare to our family anymore.

    Gerhard Adam
    "His words were, that although he could not prove it, in his opinion this is how it was transmitted to my daughter via diaper changing."

    I'm very sorry for the problems you're facing and having to deal with.  However, the doctor displayed the epitome of irresponsible behavior by speculating about a diagnosis that he can't prove, can't help your daughter, and invariably will do nothing except make you (and everyone) question the choices they made (and potentially even add guilt).

    This doctor is an idiot.  Being told nothing is far better than being told the wrong thing (and it is wrong until he can prove otherwise).
    Mundus vult decipi
    Well here is a question for you....if you were petting a cat that had ringworm....and you got ringworm.....could you prove it came from the cat you were petting? I know it sounds like a silly question. How much money is involved in proving the theory.....who pays that money? Is there even a way to prove the theory? Adem comes from being exposed to a varicella vaccine virus. Her symptoms fell within the timeline of the vaccination date. I will research and see if I can find anyone else this has happened to. Wish me luck, statistics on episodes like this are not readily available.

    jtwitten
    Marie, actually, with the investment of enough time and resources, I could probably tell you where the ringworm came from.  Without the details of the case, it is not possible to make an evaluation of your doctor's statements and, for obvious reasons, none of us should hold him to your recounting of the wording he used, nor should you be held responsible to remember it precisely.

    No responsible person claims that there are not rare and serious instances of side effects from vaccination.  Those side effects do not include autism spectrum disorder, especially at the epidemic level.  The point is that they are rare and that the side effects of not vaccinating are common and serious (e.g., measles, polio, haemophilus influenza B, etc.).  The suggestion that scientists and doctors do not care about those individual cases of side effects is simply not true.  We care very much and very deeply.  A lot of hard work by talented people has gone into and continues to go into making vaccines safe for as many people as possible.  At the national policy level, however, Finally, when we do identify people who cannot be vaccinated, the only thing that protects them from deadly infectious diseases is vaccincation of the rest of the community.  True compassion for the individual involves overcoming irrational fears and getting vaccinated (which has its own personal benefits) to protect those who cannot such as newborn children, like Dana McCaffery.

    Jenny McCarthy's version of compassion is to declare that children dying of preventable infectious diseases is an acceptable casualties for the advancement of her beliefs. 
    Gerhard Adam
    Actually it's not a silly question.  My point is NOT about money or doing the research.  My point is that no one should ever use speculation as an explanation (especially when they are acting in the capacity of an authority figure that could be taken seriously).

    How would it be if a doctor said that you had cancer and then a week later said that it really wasn't, but then he was just guessing anyway? 

    The whole point of being a professional is to keep your opinions to yourself until such time as you can offer good information.  At this point, the only thing the doctor's speculation have done is ensured that you will spend endless hours researching something that may not even be true.
    Mundus vult decipi
    logicman
    Marie Campbell:  I am truly sorry to hear about your problems.  For all that Dr. Galen W. Mitchell is an expert in his field, I wonder if there has been a misdiagnosis.  Now, I am most definitely not a doctor, so feel free to ignore me.  I am, however, a linguist, which means I know how to use language to get the best out of web search tools and to seek to understand specialist technical jargon.  The symptoms you describe are typical of a whole spectrum of related illnesses, any of which may be misdiagnosed as another illness in the same spectrum.  Most specifically, most cases of MS or ADEM which are triggered by a virus or vaccine are so triggered before puberty.  This makes it unlikely that mere contact with a recently vaccinated child by a mother of three children was the cause.  In adults, the cause is believed to more commonly be a complex mixture of environmental factors.

    In your position I would seek other expert medical opinion.  The best advice I can give you is the advice given to British law students about expert witnesses: just because somebody has letters after his name and is an acknowledged expert in his field doesn't mean that he is automatically right, but there is a danger that the jury may think that he is.
    Previously it has been documented that on separate occasions in different households, the varicella vaccine virus was transmitted horizontally to family members. The outcome of those episodes were the disease (chicken pox) was passed to family members from the vaccinated member. In other cases pregnant women were exposed to vaccine viruses from individuals who had been vaccinated. If the varicella virus can be transmitted horizontally to other individuals from the vaccinated person......is it really that much of a leap to think that it could also produce ADEM in an exposed person? Wouldn't that rest more on the individuals immune system and how it would be manifested in them? Chicken pox=ADEM

    jtwitten
    If you are going to make factual claims that you would like to have seriously considered, you must provide links/citations to the sources of those claims.  This is absolutely necessary if you are going to ask us to evaluate how "much of a leap" we think something is.
    I am overwhelmed. I have been researching this since my daughter was diagnosed. I have read so many different websites that included the things I have shared with you. If I who am so new to all of this was able to find this information on the vast world wide web....how much easier for those of you who are experience at doing this. I make sure that when I read a source, it ends in edu, gov, etc. I consider these sites to be reliable. The site that quoted horizontal transmission was from the CDC, 1998. Thank you for your patience.

    jtwitten
    I have read so many different websites that included the things I have shared with you. If I who am so new to all of this was able to find this information on the vast world wide web....how much easier for those of you who are experience at doing this.
    I wish my thesis committee would buy that excuse.  It may surprise you to know that the internet is big and, therefore, undirected searching is rarely productive.  Searching the CDC site for varicella vaccine related horizontal transfer in 1998 did not produce anything.  Without an actual source, we cannot ascertain the veracity of your claims.  Frankly, a .gov or .edu ending to a site is not enough evidence.

    You will be happy to know that full recovery from ADEM occurs in 50-75% of patients and recovery with only small disabilities in 70-90%, usually withing 6 months.
    I found it!!! http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr4806a1.htm

    Transmission of Vaccine Virus

    Transmission of the vaccine virus is rare and has been documented in immunocompetent persons by PCR analysis on only three occasions out of 15 million doses of varicella vaccine distributed. All three cases resulted in mild disease without complications. In one case, a child aged 12 months transmitted the vaccine virus to his pregnant mother (10). The mother elected to terminate the pregnancy, and fetal tissue tested by PCR was negative for varicella vaccine virus. The two other documented cases involved transmission from healthy children aged 1 year to a healthy sibling aged 4 1/2 months and a healthy father, respectively. Secondary transmission has not been documented in the absence of a vesicular rash postvaccination.

    jtwitten
    In terms of plausibility, we are talking about, for starters an event that has occurred 3 times in 15 million doses (P~10-7) that has never caused an ADEM reaction (P<10-7) from a vaccine that has not been proven to cause ADEM, even as a rare side effect.  In science, we cannot say that something could not happen, but the plausibility of this scenario is extremely low (P~10-14). 
    Yes the odds do seem staggering. But there is always a lottery winner. My family seems to have a predisposition to adverse episodes to vaccinations. The daughter who has adem also has a son who seizured after having a pertussis vaccine. He no longer receives the pertussis. I have another granddaughter who has been seizuring since she was three weeks old. The only vaccine she received was the Hep B. She has undergone a temporal lobectomy and still seizures. Plus, I have lost a grandchild to sids after his well baby shots. All of the above events have taken place within the last five years. And my grandchildren continue to get their innoculations.

    jtwitten
    I'm sorry for your family's tribulations.  Due to the schedule of shots for newborns, it is quite likely that an event will generally correlate with a shot, within a month or so.  I'm not a doctor, but I am a geneticist.  Personally, if I were you, I'd be concerned about a familial inherited neurological problem.  Family clusters of neurological problems (seizures, ADEM, and there is limited evidence that SIDS has a neurological component) are more likely to have a genetic cause than an environmental cause.
    Becky Jungbauer
    Hi Marie - I will echo the sentiments of my fellow bloggers and express my sympathy for your overwhelming situation.

    I admire you for your efforts in trying to discern what happened, and what you can do about it. It's difficult enough to do in every day life, but with a totally out of the blue event like this, I imagine it's like trying to climb Mt. Everest. Keep going - sometimes it takes a long time to figure out the truth (and sometimes you may not find it). We need more people like you out there.
    By the way, I found another site where mmr vaccine virus was transmitted horizontally too...
    Maybe it does happen more often than reported. This article is from 2005. I wish more recent findings were available. And yes I do agree with you that it could be a predisposed genetic thing in my family. It would be nice if there was a way too screen out infants, children and families that might make bad candidates for innoculations and not make the parents feel guilty and negligent.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6TD4-4HC15TW-4...

    I am a grad student at USC working on a broadcast piece on the debate over vaccines and autism. Is there someone in the LA area... doctor preferably... who is willing to sit with me for 15 minutes to discuss his/her thoughts?
    I would appreciate it.
    Please let me know!
    Thanks.

    "Those who hold out prevention in the name of science will have neither." Rubeeils finds that salt must be a separate food group. The science underlying this claim can be found in the footnotes of nearly all quality nutrition guides. -Dr. Wendolyn Souchezzer, Loins Institute of Vaccine Redevelopement and Selective Assumption, Helinsinki, Finland. (Home of the Clapper TM).

    Rich Shull
    Perhaps, EVERYONE has missed the point to autism? The autism I know love and hate started out as MR/DD and now has taken me to Einstein is the  yellow brick road in to the human mind.  This vast treasure of figuring out the layers of the mind and what really makes the human mind function  is simply grand but not all that impressive. If psychology would just hear us out and discover what we have 80% , (my best Guess) of the research being done on autism, psychology and medcine would be seen as worthless.   

    The' Zinger' the most obvious point of the enitre charade would be once humans see their thoughts are streamline short cutted simple thoughts that literally shortcut the long hand verson of human thoughts (AKA Autism) they would be quick to self discover their own minds and even quicker to discover we are still in caveperson mode.   Once Autism is truly understood the chemical aspect of it from Vaccines to gluten free diets would fit in their place and their rank of importance would not be real high.

    If We are right and Autism is simply a different kind of human thought process that has never been in a text book before and the link to our cave person roots, Autism will be seen for what it is the one by one thoughts that make the human mind work.  While EEG tech and psycholosist light up with delight when they hook up our brians to monitors (EEG"S?) and see different reagons  come to life they would be even more impressed if they had a proficient picutre thinker in their machine and we could explain the thoughts we were having. I wonder if the two versions of monitored brains would jive?  

    I'd love to see what, me strapped to a machine getting my brain waves taped would look like while I was picture thinking of my Invention of the Turing Motor. I can get 1500 picture thoughts  going at once I bet that would light up the EEG in ways never seen before?  

    If I have seen autism as the simple never in print before sublevel human thoughts we all use unknowingly, man is in for a rude shock as his brain is very primitatve and even a bit backward and yes the TV generatin and those that followed are taking mankind backards down the evolutionary map.  Ignorance is Shockingly Bliss! Rich Shull
    how many times can a person admit that they don't know and still consider themselves an expert?