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The legacy of Andrew Wakefield continues

Actions have consequences. No matter how much the person might want to try to hide from the consequences of one’s actions, they frequently have a way of coming back, grabbing you by the neck, and letting you know they’re there. We see it happening now in the U.K.

Fifteen years ago, British doctor Andrew Wakefield published a case series in The Lancet in which he described gastrointestinal symptoms in 12 autistic children who were treated at the Royal Free Hospital. His conclusion was that he had identified associated gastrointestinal disease and developmental regression in a group of previously normal children that appeared to be associated with the MMR vaccine. The paper causes a sensation (a panic, actually), leading British parent to refuse to vaccinate their children with the MMR for fear that it was associated with autism. Meanwhile, with a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge,” charisma, and skill at self-promotion, Wakefield promoted the idea that the MMR vaccine causes autism. True, his Lancet paper didn’t exactly say that, whether through the enforcement of caution on its statements by the reviewers who accepted it or through plausible deniability is not clear, but Wakefield himself wasn’t so shy. Nor was the British tabloid press, with its notoriously insatiable appetite for scandal and sensationalism, which eagerly glommed onto the story and promoted it with nearly the same intensity that Wakefield did. Ultimately, MMR uptake rates plummeted and the measles, vanquished in the U.K. in the 1990s, came roaring back to endemic levels within a decade.

These are consequences that persist to today, as a recent story in the Washington Post tells us, Measles outbreaks flourish in UK years after discredited research tied measles shot to autism:

More than a decade ago, British parents refused to give measles shots to at least a million children because of now discredited research that linked the vaccine to autism. Now, health officials are scrambling to catch up and stop a growing epidemic of the contagious disease.

This year, the U.K. has had more than 1,200 cases of measles, after a record number of nearly 2,000 cases last year. The country once recorded only several dozen cases every year. It now ranks second in Europe, behind only Romania.

Last month, emergency vaccination clinics were held every weekend in Wales, the epicenter of the outbreak. Immunization drives have also started elsewhere in the country, with officials aiming to reach 1 million children aged 10 to 16.

“This is the legacy of the Wakefield scare,” said Dr. David Elliman, spokesman for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, referring to a paper published in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues that is widely rejected by scientists.

Indeed it is. This is Andrew Wakefield’s legacy, the resurgence of a disease that, thanks to vaccination, was once under control. Even though 15 years is a long time, the effects of Wakefield’s perfidy live on in the suffering of children who hadn’t even been born yet at the time but who are victims of Wakefield every bit as much as the children whose care he oversaw as part of his clinical study at the Royal Free Hospital. It doesn’t matter to them that, thanks to the dogged investigation and intrepid reporting of investigative journalist Brian Deer, we now know that Andrew Wakefield was in the pocket of trial lawyers who were interested in suing vaccine manufacturers and wanted research to cite in lawsuits. Nor does it matter to them that, as a result of research misconduct, Andrew Wakefield was stripped of his U.K. medical license (or, as the Brits like to call it, “struck off”). It doesn’t matter that two years ago it was revealed that Wakefield had almost certainly committed research fraud in gathering the data he later published in The Lancet, so much so that Deer labeled it “Piltdown medicine” and “inventing autistic enterocolitis.” Nor does it matter that The Lancet, in an apparent effort to atone for the massive mistake it had made in even publishing Wakefield’s case series in the first place, retracted the paper and that ultimately even the quack clinic that Wakefield had helped found decided to give him the boot. Wakefield has fallen into about as much disrepute as it’s possible to fall, short of becoming a Nazi or a pedophile, and deservedly so. Meanwhile, the science consistently fails to support Wakefield’s hypothesis that the MMR vaccine is somehow associated with autism and “autistic enterocolitis.”

So here it is, 15 years later. MMR uptake rates have improved in the U.K., but, thanks to at least a decade’s worth of low MMR uptake rates, there is a generation of children who are not protected against the measles, with sadly predictable results:

Across the U.K., about 90 percent of children under 5 are vaccinated against measles and have received the necessary two doses of the vaccine. But among children now aged 10 to 16, the vaccination rate is slightly below 50 percent in some regions.

To stop measles outbreaks, more than 95 percent of children need to be fully immunized. In some parts of the U.K., the rate is still below 80 percent.

It is these unvaccinated children who are bearing the brunt of the measles outbreaks, but vaccinated children are not completely safe. Because it takes an MMR uptake of 90-95% to produce adequate herd immunity to prevent outbreaks and because the vaccine, although very effective, is not 100% effective, all children are being endangered by low vaccine uptake rates. That is the legacy of Andrew Wakefield.

Even after how utterly he’s been discredited, Wakefield still has acolytes who still believe that he is a hero when he is about as far from a hero as you can imagine. If you examine the comments, you’ll see that Anne Dachel, the “media editor” of the antivaccine crank blog that we all know and don’t love so much, Age of Autism, has sent her flying monkeys fling their poo of antivaccine pseudoscience into the comments of the Washington Post article. All the familiar names are there: Anne Dachel, John Stone, Maurine Meleck, and others. The old familiar tropes are there, too: Whinging that Brian Deer is corrupt and evil; that he is being “defamed”; that the Hannah Poling case shows that Wakefield was right; that there is a conspiracy to “suppress” Wakefield’s “inconvenient truth”; and more, such as links to long discredited “studies” (many of which I’ve deconstructed in detail right here on this very blog).

Wakefield’s antivaccine acolytes, spreading misinformation, pseudoscience, quackery, and lies hither, thither, and yon are also his legacy. They are also the reason that I fear that dangerous pseudoscience like antivaccinationism will never quite go away. It might be driven to low levels, such as now in the U.K., where the resurgence of measles is leading parents to stop fearing the MMR jab and to start fearing vaccine-preventable diseases again. But it will never go away.

That, too, is part of Wakefield’s legacy.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

292 replies on “The legacy of Andrew Wakefield continues”

On a recent visit to my home town in Germany I went to see a movie.

There was a public service ad asking everyone born after 1970 to check if they received a measles vaccine.

Asked my mother about that and apparently there is an outbreak at the moment.

Didn’t get the MMR jab as a kid, received the R part at school because I’m female.

Got the MMR jab a few years ago, though. Along with refreshers for DT and FSME (tick born meningoencephalitis).

Still not autistic.

Vaccine Proponents Playbook, Argument Seven: The Wakefield Card

No matter how well reasoned and logical an anti-vaxers arguments are, always rebut them by reminding them that Wakefield was discredited. For instance, they say that tens of thousands of parents report their normally developing child dramatically regressed into autism following vaccination. You remind them that Wakefield was discredited. They say that the autism explosion coincides precisely with the expanded vaccination schedule. Again, you remind them that Wakefield was discredited. They say that autistics have seizures, brain inflammation and other autoimmune issues that vaccines are known to cause, vaccine courts compensate for damages leading to autism, vaccines have never been tested for their long-term safety… (You know!)

No matter how well reasoned and logical an anti-vaxers arguments are, always rebut them by reminding them that Wakefield was discredited. For instance, they say that tens of thousands of parents report their normally developing child dramatically regressed into autism following vaccination. You remind them that Wakefield was discredited. They say that the autism explosion coincides precisely with the expanded vaccination schedule. Again, you remind them that Wakefield was discredited. They say that autistics have seizures, brain inflammation and other autoimmune issues that vaccines are known to cause, vaccine courts compensate for damages leading to autism, vaccines have never been tested for their long-term safety… (You know!)

Greg, you cretinous pustule, you know g0ddamn good and well that none of this shıt is true—so why in the everlasting fu¢king heII do you keep saying it? What is wrong with your brain that you keep repeating the same crap, no matter how many times you’ve been shown to be a lying douchenozzle? What do you get out of it? How much does spamming blogs with lying propaganda pay by the post? I know the Koch brothers pay their teabagging shıtweasels about 50¢ a post—does AoA pay more? I’d really like to know.

Didn’t you post this exact comment on another thread Greg? The anti-vax playbook is kind of shallow don’t you think? Studies have been conducted and parents believing that vaccines caused their children’s autism/ASD were allowed to round up their bestest experts to be heard in two countries and they failed to produce a modicum of evidence. Your gig is old and vapid.

Rev,
Please know most of us lurkers are chortling heartily at Greg’s stupid posts. I for one look forward to each and every time his dross is smacked down.

See that, Greg? “The lurkers support me in email.”

But honestly, when in the history of the world, there has been just one, and only one, piece of “evidence” for your pet theory, and that has been shown to be not just wrong, but fraudulent, and in fact concocted for pay, what has to be going through your mind to continue believing it? I just can’t wrap my brain around it.

Wait, the UK surpassed France in number of measles cases? After the big outbreaks in recent years there, I had to check this claim out. And, sure enough, it’s true. France comes in a distant third at “only” 679 cases in the last year, compared to the UK’s 2,314 and Romania’s 4,087. France appears to have gotten things under control, after they led the pack in 2011 with 15,206 cases.

Greg,
Do you make up the lies from a wide range of butts or you fed them directly from the festering source?

Study after study has cleared vaccines as a cause of autism. Millions of dollars and many years have been wasted in this pursuit, another legacy of St Andy’s fraud.

” tens of thousands of parents report their normally developing child dramatically regressed”

If so, why is it that in 2007 lawyers representing about 5K such parents couldn’t find a single case that came anywhere near to standing up in court? Why did they pick the Cedillo family, whose child manifestly showed autism before she was vaccinated?

Even on a random association in time you would expect them to find something better than this. But they couldn’t.

And why were the experts for the petitioners such a bunch of cranks, professional witnesses and nobodys?

Finally, who would like to join me in wishing Andy luck today in court?

The only luck I wish him is that the issue before the court is fairly and fully heard, because the result of that will be Andy slapped down so hard and thoroughly he’ll get confused and think he must be wearing a gimp mask again.

Greg:

who would like to join me in wishing Andy luck today in court?

I would. I wish him the worst luck ever.
Oh wait, you mean good luck.

This is the Dachel who helped to orchestrate a (failed) attempt to deny me free speech at a US University. But that’s not the only filthy, gutter, hypocrisy of these people.

Years back, the anti-vaxxers paid a British crank by the name of Martin J Walker to sit through Wakefield’s GMC hearing, and they published on the Moonie Blogger’s site (with Ms Dachel) Walker’s stupid and substantially fabricated accounts of what went on.

The aim in publishing this material was plainly to mislead visitors to their website, allowing them to be exploited and further victimised with the false belief that Wakefield had been treated unfairly.

Both Wakefield and another doctor (John Walker-Smith, a clinician) at the hearing were financed by the Medical Protection Society, which is effectively an insurance company. At the conclusion, Walker-Smith was funded to appeal, on advice from his attorney. Wakefield, on advice from HIS attorney, was denied funding on grounds that he was unlikely to succeed.

In short, even Wakefield’s own lawyers didn’t back him – just as a previous team of his lawyers had pulled the plug on him in a prior libel suit.

Anyhow, this Martin J Walker then wrote an account of how Walker-Smith’s conviction was later quashed on procedural grounds (insufficient reasoning set out in a hitherto standard GMC proforma-style “findings” statement), but noted that the judge had gone out of his way not to assist Wakefield. Indeed, the judge noted (on submission from Walker-Smith) that no “respectable” body of opinion supported the MMR-autism hypothesis and that Wakefield’s paper carried a false ethical approval statement.

Even this wingnut Walker, the only person apart from myself to have observed any significant part of the proceedings, realized that the clinician Walker-Smith’s success on appeal did not help Wakefield.

So what did Dachel and the Moonie Blogger do? They refused to publish Walker’s account. Just as with apparent contributions from the poison dwarf Crosby, if what comes in does not fit with their victimisation of parents, they suppress it.

I read something about this on a news website. The comments were horrendous. Some were quite refreshing, but it quickly got spammed into a train wreck.

But the comment that stood out to me the most was from an anti-vaxer. He was asked about the deaths from these diseases. His response was, “I’d rather have a child dead from something I couldn’t control, then be guilty over a brain dead one”.

Besides the bad argument and fallacy there, that really chilled me.

Does Peter Doshi say that the MMR causes autism? The article doesn’t and I’ve never read a comment by him supporting the notion. Since the article does not, why is it relevant to a discussion of Wakefield?

I wish Andrew Wakefield luck that he doesn’t get a parking ticket…or that his supporters aren’t contagious with measles and start an outbreak in Texas.

He’s already made his own luck by milking this frivolous lawsuit for publicity.

@Orac: Don’t forget Wakefield’s chilling effect on legitimate research linking vaccines to other conditions. About a month or so ago, secondhand studies confirmed that a link exists between the H1N1 vaccine and cases of narcolepsy. The guy who first established the link was pretty much ostracized from the scientific community and was himself reluctant to publish his findings, out of sheer professional fear that he would be unfairly lumped together with Wakefield. If ever there is a vaccine that comes along that does indeed cause a serious condition on a massive scale, the anti-Vaxxers will ironically only have themselves to blame that people didn’t take it seriously sooner.

“I’d rather have a child dead from something I couldn’t control, then be guilty over a brain dead one”

That is chilling. The sort of opinion that feeds the maltreatment of autistics with junk-science based “therapies” which sometimes cross the line into abuse. Worse, it feeds the viewpoint that the murder of the disabled is justified.

I. Rony Meter — Every time I see your handle, I’m reminded of “I. Ron Butterfly”, who composed “In the Garden of Eden”, a “hymn” that Bart Simpson and Milhouse substituted for the real one at a Sunday church service as a prank, causing Pastor Lovejoy to exclaim “Wait a minute! That sounds like rock and/or roll!”

Anyway, here is a piece that I am passing on from AoA. I would like your reactions.

What does that have to do with Wankfield Greggy? Certain car models are found to have performance and safety issues. Does that mean that all cars have the same issues?

Brittany: But the comment that stood out to me the most was from an anti-vaxer. He was asked about the deaths from these diseases. His response was, “I’d rather have a child dead from something I couldn’t control, then be guilty over a brain dead one”.

Sadly, it’s completely unsurprising. Anti-vax parents can’t stand the idea that their genes might have contributed to autism, so they invent all sorts of reasons why, and pursue all manner of harmful cures. And yet, they claim to love their children.
I’d also just like to point out that Wakefield is not the only “doctor” who was stripped of their license. The Geiers, who have publically aired lots of harmful theories of the ’cause’ of autism, and sell even more dangerous cures, have lost their licenses in dozens of states. And I imagine that Sears and Jay Gordon are sailing pretty close to the wind as far as their licenses go.

“I’d rather have a child dead from something I couldn’t control, then be guilty over a brain dead one”.

How revealing. This poster equates autism with being brain-dead. Never mind that the kid is presumably able to walk around, eat food provided to him, etc.; at least one of his parents sees him as no more functional than Terry Schiavo was. I’m having trouble making the leap of logic necessary to reach that viewpoint.

I came across a study done in North East London in 2003, five years after Wakefield’s fraudulent paper was published, which I thought was interesting:

A total of 567 children with ASD were identified, born between 1979 and 1998. Of these, 278 (49%) had childhood autism, 195 (34%) atypical autism, and 94 (17%) Asperger’s syndrome.

The estimated prevalence of atypical and childhood autism was 19.3 per 10,000 children. Of these children 118 (27%) had regressive autism, and:

In 44 (42%) of the 106 children with detailed information on regression, a specific trigger was mentioned as a possible cause. The most common (13 children) was a household or social change such as the birth of a sibling, then vaccination (12 cases). Other triggers mentioned were: viral and bacterial infections (n = 7), seizures (n = 7), postsurgery (n = 2), and other causes (n = 3). The MMR vaccine was mentioned specifically in eight of the 12 cases where a vaccine was suspected. Although families would not have been directly asked about this possibility, this finding suggests that very few parents (less than 2% in this cohort) considered that MMR vaccine might have triggered their child’s autism.

So out of 567 autistic children, parents blamed vaccines in only 12 cases, that’s 2.1%. Out of these 12, 8 believed the MMR vaccine was to blame, something that was disproven by a previous study by the same authors.
It’s also interesting to see how parental reporting of the timing of regression changed after the media reporting of Wakefield’s fraudulent paper began, suggesting parental recall bias:

Widespread public concern about the possible relation between autism and MMR began in August 1997, with the pre-publication release of information about the Wakefield study, which attracted considerable and ongoing media attention.[…] From August 1997 the reported presence or timing of regression changed in 13 cases. For six of these, regression was mentioned for the first time after August 1997, even though many health professionals had seen these children before this date. In seven cases the recorded timing of onset of regression changed in relation to MMR: six closer, one further away.

re “Wakefield’s antivacinne acolytes”

it seems that they fall into two categories, general woo-meistery and vaccine-specific woo ( which sometimes adds generalised woo to its menu). If anything, they seem to be getting louder, if that is indeed possible.

Today at TMR:
a self-aggrandising video- with music yet**

-btw- “poison dwarf”
Good one.

** if it really makes you ill, I prescribe you-tube dosage with either “Elephant” by Tame Impala or “The Way” by Fastball. Should do the trick.

I would. I wish him the worst luck ever.
Oh wait, you mean good luck.

For Wakefield, losing the appeal would be good luck. I’d love to see him staring into the jaws of the anti-SLAPP. Then again, I’m not the one stuck with ponying up the lawyers.

[quote]” tens of thousands of parents report their normally developing child dramatically regressed”[/quote]

Tens of thousands people report being abducted by UFO.

I’m also hoping Wakefield’s appeal is upheld and the suit goes forward–in addition to opening the door to an anti-SLAPP lawsuit I’d love to see what he’s forced to cough up during discovery.

Dachel…the same one who alerted the flying monkeys to send scurrilous filthy emails to the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, last October to protest Brian Deer’s invitation to conduct seminars in responsible investigative journalism…and to attempt to have Wakefield appear to turn the occasion into “a debate”:

Here’s one example from the founder of the Canary Party/colleague of Mark Blaxill…and Brian Deer’s reply:

http://briandeer.com/solved/vanderhorst-larson.htm

Dachel “manages” to keep her skirts clean, by first spamming articles appearing on the internet, then notifying her monkeys to continue posting…while she makes a quick exit.

http://www.cjr.org/feature/sticking_with_the_truth.php

Another unsuccessful campaign promoted by AoA to drum up support for Wakefield’s “debate”, using the tragic outbreak of measles in the U.K. has been foiled again. He remains the disgraced and discredited former medical doctor, who committed research fraud.

I think it is worth noting that Mr. Wakefield’s efforts to link the MMR to some novel adverse reaction go back to before his Lancet paper. As early as 1993 he was claiming that Crohn’s disease was linked to a persistent measles infection.

His colleagues at the Royal Free noted how that effort had reduced MMR uptake in the UK before his 1998 Lancet autism paper. In fact, they used that to urge him to be more responsible when the autism paper was published.

His autism work has sadly become his legacy. He admitted that the Crohn’s and IBD proposed link was not supported by evidence and, possibly due to this, people tend to point to his later work as the start of his MMR efforts. But, in reality, it is really 20 years, not 15 that he has been building a sad legacy.

“I’d rather have a child dead from something I couldn’t control, then be guilty over a brain dead one”

Sure it is easy to criticize any parent that would choose to have a dead child than a handicapped one that will cause him/her untold hardships. Still, the sentiment is not alone when we consider that over 90% of pregnant parents choose to abort a fetus screened positive for Down Syndrome. But really, are you guys any different? Heck, I will put it to you in another question and ask for my famous one word response. Would you abort a fetus if you know the baby will have Down Syndrome, ‘yes’ or’ no’ — one word? I would respond ‘yes’. Now your turn. I can’t wait to see you guys lie, squirm, and complain that I am asking another ‘are you still beating your wife’ question.

While we are on the subject of AOA, Autism One has discreetly removed the slides to Jake Crosby’s presentation on its online schedule. Perhaps they are about to dump him at the last minute?

Greg: No. Also, neither I, my autistic daughter, or my more classically autistic son are brain dead.

Adopt smug, self-righteous tone.

Claim vaccines cause autism.

Draw comparison to Einstein.

Describe everyone with an autism diagnosis as “brain damaged.”

Insist that parents’ anecdotes are the highest form evidence possible.

Describe opponents as liars.

Call for “fair and honest exchange.”

Repeat.

Repeat.

Vary order as desired.

Repeat.

Cripes almighty, isn’t about time that this Troll who spams every article put up here, is banned or ignored?

Still, the sentiment is not alone when we consider that over 90% of pregnant parents choose to abort a fetus screened positive for Down Syndrome.

Greg, are you really unable to comprehend the difference between a fetus and a child?

I would not terminate a pregnancy if it were determined the child if carried to term would have Down’s syndrome.

Greg,
Autistic isn’t brain dead. Down’s Syndrome isn’t brain dead. There’s a world of difference between brain dead and autism and it’s very chilling, at least to me, that someone would rather their child be dead then autistic.

As for your question, my answer is, I don’t know. I haven’t faced that situation and I could say “yes” or “no” here all I want, the fact is that my mind may change if it ever did come up, so the best I can say is I don’t know.

Wait a second…someone actually paid for Wakefield to try to sue Deer in TX again? I thought this was already shot down once.

So, Greg is basically accusing us of being liars, who don’t vaccinate our children & regularly abort “less than perfect” fetuses…..

And what was that about an “honest” discussion?

“I’d rather have a child dead from something I couldn’t control, then be guilty over a brain dead one”

Not to beat a dead horse’s ass but the “something I couldn’t control” is bullshit too. You can control measles very nicely – by getting vaccinated. False dichotomy at it’s finest. (Look that up Greg so you can understand it.)

Thx for responding JGC. Surely many more Orac’s vaccine pushers could weigh in on the matter. Would you abort a fetus screened positive for Down Syndrome? Yes or No? Will you guys follow the 90% skew for the general population that does, or will you ‘show’ yourselves to be more ‘humane’.

Interesting that the “better dead of a VPD than autistic” crowd don’t mention that contracting measles during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or pre-term delivery, and rubella can cause serious birth defects, including intellectual disabilities. I thought they were all about protecting the children!!

@Edith Prickly

Didn’t you know that people who are sick have big neon signs that appear over their heads while they’re contagious? And those who are contagious automatically know they are contagious and stay at home? Oh, and don’t forget that simple hand hygiene is enough to stop the spread of airborne diseases like measles and rubella. So sayeth the antivaccine mind.

Speaking of rubella, Japan’s currently in the midst of rubella outbreak because the country a) does not require vaccinations and b) went completely without rubella vaccinations for a period of time. Don’t forget that CRS is one known cause of ASDs.

@Todd W. – I’ve also heard that you can’t catch measles if you stay on the sidewalk all the time.

Hey, “the poison dwarf” (“intellectual midget”), hasn’t been “tweeting” recently.

So did PD/IM actually present his MPH thesis…and did the epi-wannabe attend the GWU-School of Public Health graduation ceremony that took place this past weekend?

Is he staying with his mommy in Austin to attend today’s oral arguments in the Austin courtroom? He previously stated on AoA that he would be staying with mommy to attend the trial.

While we’re asking yes or no questions, greg: here’s one for you.

Can you offer any evidence that the children you’re labeling as vaccine damaged actually were damaged by vaccines? Yes or no (and please note I’ve asked about actual evidence)?

@ kruuth:

I wonder about his money situation myself however it’s possible that one of his legal reps is a friend ( Parrish).

Interestingly, there was no fundraiser for him at AutismOne this year.

I came up with a question while driving home- perhaps someone can provide material although I already have a rough idea- ( e.g. Mnookin’s US/ other recent UK figures)

We may observe antivax groups apparently on the rise in the past few years – there appear to be a proliferation of groups and web activity-
BUT are they actually getting others to comply with their wild ideas? ARe their numbers really growing?

I believe that between 1998 and now, MMR uptake in the UK followed a path that resembles a ‘V’, down, then up again.

If anti-vax rhetoric and histrionics are truly effective- we might expect to see a drop in uptake of the MMR in the US, UK and perhaps AUS where these proselytisers may be most active.

Although there are pockets of mistrust ( see Swansea, Wales and Sonoma, CA, US), most people are not marching to the beat of their drummer.
Are there graphs for other countries similar to the famous UK ‘V”?

Abortion for Down’s? I don’t know. I certainly wouldn’t wish that a child of mine who had Down’s was dead. Down’s kids are sweethearts.

A child like Greg, on the other hand…

Frankly, I find the use of the term “dwarf” and the like offensive in this context.

“Sure it is easy to criticize any parent that would choose to have a dead child than a handicapped one that will cause him/her untold hardships”

It’s not “easy”. It is appropriate.

“But really, are you guys any different? ”

Yes. Having faced the question head on and made the decisions I made, I can say firmly, yes.

“Would you abort a fetus if you know the baby will have Down Syndrome, ‘yes’ or’ no’ — one word? ‘

No.

A child like Greg, on the other hand…

how about we start genotyping the Greg of this world? 😀

Alain

Down’s kids are sweethearts.

Agreed. In addition, medical and social advances have greatly increased both the lifespan and quality of life for individuals with Down syndrome. I routinely see Down’s adults during my daily commute, travelling independently and going about their business like anyone else.

Not that anyone asked of course, but I refused an amniocentesis during my sole successful pregnancy (with my doctor’s full support) because I was far more worried about triggering a miscarriage than I was about Down syndrome.

@Alain – is being an ableist douchebag genetic? I had no idea!

I wonder about his money situation myself however it’s possible that one of his legal reps is a friend ( Parrish).

He’s on the hook for real appellate lawyers, though. The current team is Brendan K. McBride (who will be presenting the oral argument), Jay D. Ellwanger, John D. Saba, Jr., and Parrish.

He’s on the hook for real appellate lawyers, though. The current team is Brendan K. McBride (who will be presenting the oral argument), Jay D. Ellwanger, John D. Saba, Jr., and Parrish.

Somehow, I strongly suspect that Wankers isn’t paying out of pocket for these either. That would be his ‘more money than brains’ backers who shell out a couple hundred quid for the ‘privilege’ of dining on tacos at the same table as his eminence.

Greg: “No matter how well reasoned and logical an anti-vaxers arguments are (pausing here to replace another busted irony meter), always rebut them by reminding them that Wakefield was discredited.”

Actually, it’s the general public who (if they remember Andrew Wakefield) would tell you his case demonstrates the bogus nature of antivaccine claims. People who’ve been following these matters for a long time know that Wakefield’s retracted article is only a small part of the defective science, anecdotes and outright inventions that make up antivaxers’ arguments that vaccines are useless and harmful.

It is semi-hilarious that antivaxers get steamed over Wakefield’s case being brought up by pro-vaccine advocates (as though he’s yesterday’s news), when antivaxers themselves can’t stop publicly worshipping the man, inviting him to speak at their conferences, sending him money for legal appeals etc. Stop propping him up and giving him a platform, and the embarassment and damage he’s done to your cause will have a chance to fade from people’s memories.

Do not feed the Greg troll.

By the way, Peter Doshi is the new anti-vax “hero.” Do not be fooled by his post-grad position at the Johns Hopkins medical school, his real educational background is in history.

I wonder if Ren will run into him?

@ Dangerous Bacon:

But if they don’t use Andy’s work to buttress their cause, who’s left?
Blaylock, Humphries, Natural News, Sayer Ji, the Vaccine Machine?
Not exactly stellar.
Andy is a star- albeit a star fraud, prevaricator, VPD promoter etc.

Lest we forget how William Parrish (and his law firm partners Jay D. Ellwanger and John D. Saba, Jr.,), got roped into Andy’s lawsuit…

http://respectfulinsolence.com/2012/01/05/legal-thuggery-antivaccine-edition-part-2/

Brendan K. McBride, who is scheduled to present the oral argument is “of counsel” for another law firm from San Antonio…and appellate attorneys do not come “cheap”.

http://www.martindale.com/Brendan-K-McBride/1703453-lawyer.htm

But I can’t control whether or not my kid is autistic. I have a far far better chance of “controlling” whether my kid gets vaccine preventable diseases (to the extent I can — there’s no accounting for idjits that don’t contribute to the herd immunity).

There are lots of wonky genes in my husband and my family tree. Diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and probably ASD if someone were to look carefully at my uncle and cousins. The only option to make sure to prevent all of that is not to conceive.

By the way, Peter Doshi is the new anti-vax “hero.” Do not be fooled by his post-grad position at the Johns Hopkins medical school, his real educational background is in history.

Chris, Dr. Doshi graduated from MIT HASTS programme with a doctorate in science (public health I believe). He didn’t get a post-doctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins for nothing. He can’t help if anti-vaxxers use his work and cherry-pick his quotes. His findings have been replicated by both Cochrane Collaboration and Osterholm et al. of CIDRAP.

Thank you, Science Mom. I stand corrected. But it was hard to find, all I found was that he was at History, Anthropology, Science, Technology and Society program at MIT. It did not scream science to me, more like policy making.

All you need to know about Doshi is in this talk:

http://sellingsickness.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Peter-Doshi.pdf

Look at slide 14 in particular. Yes, it’s the most dishonest antivaccine gambit of all, the “vaccines didn’t save us” gambit applied to the flu vaccine, the very same gambit that Raymond Obomsawin is still using for other vaccines.

http://respectfulinsolence.com/2010/03/29/the-intellectual-dishonesty-of-the-vacci/

http://respectfulinsolence.com/2010/10/31/raymond-obomsawin-is-still-spreading-the/

Yes, basically Doshi shows a slide of flu mortality instead of incidence. He’s antivaccine to the core, IMHO.

@Chris

Doshi has already spoken at an NVIC conference. Jefferson, IIRC, had the sense to realize that NVIC was not the most honest of groups, though a bit belatedly.

Doshi has co-authored papers with Tom Jefferson. How long before he is invited to Autism One?

Orac,

as I recall, years back the NVIC gave Andrew Wakefield some award or other. Also slated for awards were Peter Doshi and Tom Jefferson. Jefferson (reportedly after hearing that Wakefield was getting an award) decided to not attend and not even allow the award to be given in absentia. Doshi stood on the platform with Wakefield. I thought someone wrote about that previously (http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=1723)

As to his recent work, I think that slide 18 in the pdf linked to in #66 is erroneous: “No evidence the “flu shot” is saving lives”

Previously he showed results that the flu shot reduces true influenza infections by 75% when the vaccine matches the current strain and by 50% when there is a poor match (slides 10 and 11). Now, unless one assumes that influenze is *always* “unpleasant but self-limiting” rather than “For the vast majority, influenza is unpleasant but self-limiting”, reducing influenza infections is pretty good evidence of the vaccine saving lives.

re Doshi’s talk:

That last one, Disease Mongering, could have been lifted intact from a PRN show/ article.

Orac,

one thing that comes up a lot with those graphs–if you don’t plot them on a log-normal scale, you miss the effect of the vaccine. Since the mortality was so high previously, any changes in recent years is nearly impossible to see. Similar graphs for, say, measles or HiB show distinct drops in both mortality and incidence with the onset of vaccination. But again only when the y-axis is logarithmic.

While I don’t agree with some of Doshi’s statements and actions, I can’t see characterising him as anti-vaxx, at least yet. He makes some very valid criticisms of flu vaccine policy to whit have also been made by other unassailable researchers. I don’t think we do ourselves any favors by trashing someone for making harsh criticisms of a single vaccine.

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