The clueless cite the ignorant to argue against vaccines

Remember Medical Voices?

It’s a group that I first discovered a year and a half ago that represented itself as a group of physicians and medical professionals who wanted to produce the “most comprehensive educational center on the Internet for physicians seeking the truth about vaccines.” Of course, it didn’t take me long to realize that MV was packed to the gills with the usual characters, antivaccine loons all, people such as Sherri Tenpenny, DO; Mayer Eisenstein, MD, JD, MPH; Harold Buttram, MD; and Leo Rebello, MD, ND, PhD. So copious were the utter nonsense, pseudoscience, misinformation and lies that populated that site, that reading Mark Crislip’s deconstruction of just a small portion of it in three classic posts:

  1. Nine Questions, Nine Answers
  2. Mumps
  3. Medical Voices: Always in Error, Never in Doubt

As a result of Mark’s work, Nick Haas challenged the crew at Science-Based Medicine to a “debate,” with hilarious results. I myself couldn’t resist having a bit of fun with Medical Voices by asking I know you are, but what am I?

I tell you this not so much to brag, but rather to give you an idea of what I’m about to deal with here. Sometime between a year ago and now, Medical Voices rebranded itself, dropped the “Medical Voices” moniker, and returned to its roots as the International Medical Council on Vaccination (IMCV). It’s a new/old name, but the anti-vaccine propaganda is the same. So is the way it’s served up on a slick website with people with a lot of letters after their names. This, of course, tells me that MDs and PhDs are no guarantee of critical thinking skills or an understanding of science. To get an idea of the intellectual bankruptcy of IMCV, consider this. Nearly a year ago, I utterly deconstructed a completely deceptive claim that vaccines didn’t save us written by one Raymond Obomsawin, PhD. When this dishonesty was pointed out to Dr. Obomsawin, he stated that he had had problems doing the graph correctly in Excel and that he would correct the graphs. He hasn’t. They’re still there. Not only are they still in their original location, but they’ve metastasized. Where, you might ask, have they metastasized? Well, if you read the link, you’d know that they’ve metastasized to the IMCV website in the form of a webinar entitled Graphic Reality: The Charting of Truth. Not only that, but he never changed his graphs.

So much for any pretense of intellectual honesty.

The reason I bring this up is because this week the IMCV appears to have teamed up with another font of anti-vaccine nonsense. With whom has the IMCV teamed up with? I’m half tempted to see if you can guess, but I’ll end the suspense and just tell you up front:

Mike Adams:

Today, the International Medical Council on Vaccination (www.VaccinationCouncil.org) has released, exclusively through NaturalNews.com, a groundbreaking document containing the signatures of over 80 family physicians, brain surgeons and professors of pathology, chemistry and immunity, all of which have signed on to a document stating, on the record, that vaccines pose a significant risk of harm to the health of children and that there is no real science backing the “vaccine mythology” which claims that vaccines are somehow good for children.

This groundbreaking document, called Vaccines: Get the Full Story, is available as a free download from NaturalNews.com. Click the report cover image on the right to go directly to the download page, where you’ll find downloads available in 9 languages, including Spanish, French, Hebrew and Russian.

You have permission to share this report. Please also share the download page with others so that moms and parents can get educated about the risks associated with vaccines and thereby protect their children from the risk of harm caused by vaccines.

Consider it done, Mike. I’m happy to share this report, because deconstructing anti-vaccine lies is what I do and this report is as big a pack of anti-vaccine lies as I’ve seen in a long time. Here is the link to download the report. Here is the direct link to the report in English. And, of course, in case Mikey decides to try to make the report disappear down the old memory hole, I’ll keep a copy of the PDF for myself.

Before I look at the report itself, I have to ask: What is it with cranks and petitions? I mean, seriously. Cranks promoting pseudoscientific nonsense (as the IMCV is) seem to love various petitions. Creationists, for instance, love them, so much so that the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) produced a list of defenders of evolution named Steve, as a parody of the various lists that evolution denialists produced of scientists who allegedly “doubt Darwin.” Despite the fact that limiting the list only to Steves limits the number of potential signers to less than 1% of the population, Project Steve has far more signatories and, among the signatories, far more real scientists than any creationist list. Currently Project Steve is up to 1,153 signatures. Denialists of anthropogenic global warming are also fond of such lists. The most famous such list among AGW denialists is without a doubt U.S. Senator James Inhofe’s list of scientists who “doubt” AGW. Of course, the vast majority of the scientists on the list are not climate scientists, and a lot of them are meteorologists, but that’s par for the course for crank lists like this. Perhaps the most amusing example of such lists is Patriots Question 9/11, which is a website that lists a bunch of people who “question” 9/11.

And now we have the anti-vaccine movement weighing in with its own list.

And what a pathetic list it is! After all, the 9/11 Truther list has a couple of thousand signatories. Inhofe’s list has over 600 signatories. Unfortunately for the anti-vaccine movement, apparently all the signatures the IMCV could scare up were around 80. I mean, come on! With All those crunchy docs out there falling for “complementary and alternative medicine” and its attendant tendency towards antivaccine views, they could come up with only 80 people to sign, many of whom aren’t even doctors or nurses but homeopaths or chiropractors. This is the best the flaks at IMCV could do? Only less than 90? And or old friend Dr. Jay Gordon isn’t even on the list! But, hey, tiny numbers aside, the IMCV has a brain surgeon; so the list must have validity, right? Oh, wait. Creationists have a brain surgeon too. Remember Dr. Michael Egnor, a neurosurgeon so obtuse about evolution and dualism that the skeptical blogosphere even coined a term for his special form of idiocy, namely Egnorance?

So who signed the IMCV list? Well, perusing the list, I don’t see any real vaccine scientists, but I do see a lot of names I recognize, anti-vaccine loons all: David Ayoub (known for his belief in black helicopters); Russell Blaylock (who’s into HIV/AIDS denialism, too); Rashid Buttar (who’s as dubious and nasty as they come); Harold Buttram (one of the promoters of the idea that shaken baby syndrome is in reality vaccine injury, not to mention also a prominent member of the crank organization AAPS); Mayer Eisenstein; Boyd Haley; Suzanne Humphries; Sherri Nakken (who describes herself as a “Hahnemann homeopath“); Andrew Maniotis (not a physician but he is an HIV/AIDS denialist); Christiane Northrup; Veira Scheibner (also a proponent of the view that shaken baby syndrome is in reality vaccine injury); Bruce Shelton; Sherri Tenpenny (of course!); and Renee Tocco (a chiropractor well known in the anti-vaccine movement, particularly, alas, in my home state). On the list, there are six naturopaths and nine chiropractors. In other words, these are not people whom I would describe as having much in the way of qualifications. It is rather interesting to note, however, that Christiane Northrup has finally let her freak flag fly high, signing an explicitly anti-vaccine statement.

Upon reading the statement, I was actually surprised by it. No, I wasn’t surprised by what it said. Rather, I was surprised at how transparently pathetic it was. The claims made on it were either really easily refuted or trivially true but meaningless. Take, for example, this claim: “These are some of the diseases that have documented associations with vaccines.” After this, a whole lot of diseases and conditions are listed. Of course, the key word is “documented.” All that means is that there has to be someone who has either published a study or claimed to have data that show an association. It says nothing whatsoever about the quality of the data or studies supporting an association. As I’ve discussed many times on this blog, the evidence anti-vaccinationists produce in support of links between vaccines and all these diseases tends to be of the poorest quality. Alternatively, as with the “package insert gambit,” the conditions tend to be rare and rarely associated with vaccines.

The rest of the list is so full of common anti-vaccine tropes that I actually laughed as I read it. I really did. For instance, IMCV plays the “toxin gambit”:

Some Vaccine Ingredients: How is it possible that vaccines will not be harmful to your health?

  • Stray viruses and bacteria from the animal cell cultures that vaccines are made in.
  • Mercury, a well‐documented neurotoxin, is still in the multi‐dose flu vaccines throughout the world. Trace amounts remain in several other vaccines.
  • Aluminum, a poison that can cause bone, bone marrow and brain degeneration.
  • Animal cells from monkeys, dog kidneys, chickens, cows, and humans.
  • Formaldehyde (embalming fluid), a known carcinogen.
  • Polysorbate 80, known to cause infertility in female mice and testicular atrophy in male mice.
  • Gelatin, from pigs and cows, known to cause anaphylactic reactions, is found in large quantities in the MMR, chickenpox and shingles vaccines.
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG) in inhaled flu vaccines, is known to cause metabolic disturbances (e.g. diabetes), seizures and other neurologic disorders.

Let’s see. Refutations are not hard to find for the “toxin gambit,” the “formaldehyde gambit,” the “fetal cells gambit,” the “polysorbate-80 gambit,” the “mercury gambit,” and thealuminum gambit.” Yes, pretty much all of the misinformation contained in the list above is so common that they have their own names as recognized lies favored by anti-vaccine loons. Basically, this list is utter bunk, pure nonsense, as is this argument:

Autism is associated with vaccines.

  • Autism was rare until the mass vaccination programs were accelerated in 1991, with the introduction of the hepatitis B vaccine and the HiB (meningitis) vaccine. Tens of thousands of parents will attest that autism appeared in their children very soon after they were given these, and other, vaccines.
  • Study the information on the website www.fourteenstudies.org. You will find the studies denying the association between autism and vaccines to be highly questionable.

Let’s see. #1 is the classic confusing correlation with causation argument. In fact, it’s so blatant that I have to ask what the correlation is between autism prevalence and the number of pirates. #2 made me chuckle uproariously, as I recalled my deconstruction of J.B. Handley’s utterly ridiculous Fourteen Studies website. Basically, the website is nothing more than a heapin’ helpin’ of scientific ignorance. Much like the IMCV website, come to think of it.

I could go on and on and on, but I think I’ll limit myself to one last passage. If you really want an idea of how idiotic the IMCV “report” is, just how full of burning stupid intense enough to incinerate whole cities–nay, whole continents!–you have to read this part:

Is there any research that shows the difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated children?

The Cal‐Oregon project sponsored by Generation Rescue surveyed parents of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated U.S. children. Of the 17,674 children included in the survey, the results showed:

  • Vaccinated children had 120% more asthma.
  • Vaccinated boys had 317% more ADHD.
  • Vaccinated boys had 185% more neurologic disorders.
  • Vaccinated boys had 146% more autism.

Girls represented only 20% of the total number of children in the survey. To read the full study for yourself, go to www.generationrescue.org/pdf/survey.pdf.

This is pure comedy gold! Seriously. there’s a reason I can’t go on much longer after this one, because I was just doubled over in laughter that anyone would be so clueless as to cite the infamous Generation Rescue telephone survey from three and a half years ago. I have to catch my breath. While I’m doing that, take a moment and read my detailed demolition of this survey. Then read Prometheus’ excellent deconstruction. Then read Kevin Leitch’s excellent analysis of what is wrong with this study and revisit his spot-on conclusion:

There’s no getting away from this. This is a disaster for Generation Rescue and the whole ‘vaccines cause autism’ debacle. Generation Rescue’s data indicates that you are ‘safer’ from autism if you fully vaccinate than partially vaccinate. It also indicates that across the spectrum of autism, you are only 1% more likely to be autistic if you have had any sort of vaccination as oppose to no vaccinations at all – and thats only if you are male. If you are a girl you chances of being on the spectrum are less if you have been vaccinated! Across both boys and girls, your chances of being on the spectrum are less if you have received all vaccinations.

Of course, the results of this “study” are utter crap and not to be believed because of the extreme methodological flaws. However, for the sake of argument, let’s say the methodology was sound and the results were credible. As Kev points out, in that case, the survey would actually be evidence against a link between vaccines and autism, which is why I chuckle heartily every time I see anti-vaccinationists like the crew of clueless wonders at the IMCV cite this survey as “evidence” for a link between vaccines and autism. Even the most charitable interpretation of the survey is, as Prometheus put it, that the survey says nothing. Again, much like the IMCV report, which relies on known anti-vaccine activists and discredited sources of information designed to flog anti-vaccine fears in order to spread the twin lies that vaccines don’t work and are dangerous.

That the IMCV would cite such nonsensical “evidence” in support of its case should tell you all you need to know about the organization, such as it is.