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“I don’t make assumptions” about vaccines and people’s motives

Every so often, I like to try to get into the mind of an antivaccine crank, a quack, or crank of another variety, because understanding what makes cranks tick (at least, as much as I can given that I’m not one) can be potentially very useful in my work trying to counter them. On the one hand, it’s not easy, because understanding conspiracy theorists, really bad science, and a sense of persecution shared by nearly all cranks doesn’t come natural to me, but it’s a useful exercise, and I encourage all of you to do it from time to time. While it might not be possible (or even desirable) to “walk a mile in their shoes,” it is revealing to try to understand why they behave the way they do.

What provoked this bit of thought (if you can call it that was a recent, rather hilarious Twitter exchange involving everyone’s favorite conspiracy theorist crank (on this blog at least) but perhaps least favorite on a personality level crank, Jake “Boy Wonder” Crosby. In response to being called (along with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.) “mercury obsessed” and, of course, antivaccine, Jake Tweeted:


Yes, that’s right. Jake is actually claiming that he “doesn’t make assumptions about people’s motives.” In fact, that’s all Jake does. His entire online “career” as a blogger and antivaccine activist has been largely based on making assumptions about other people’s motives.

Until recently, Jake was perhaps the most prominent rising star in the “vaccines cause autism” movement. He is young, just out of high school when he started blogging, reasonably attractive, and actually “on the spectrum,” which allowed the antivaccine movement to pretend as though it actually cared about issues of interest to autistic people. In other words, he was a perfect poster boy for the antivaccine movement. Even better (from the antivaccine movement’s standpoint), somehow Jake managed to get into the epidemiology program at George Washington University, which means that, should he graduate, the world will consider him an epidemiologist, although it’s doubtful that most epidemiologists will consider him one, given his propensity for the bad science, bad epidemiology, and in general bad reasoning of the antivaccine movement. So over the last four years or so, Jake has been churning out antivaccine rants for that crankiest of antivaccine crank blogs, Age of Autism, and basking in the increasing adoration of the vaccine-autism tinfoil hat brigade, whose praise of his “efforts” frequently bordered on the nauseating.

In fact, Jake developed an MO whose core is to question people’s motives. Basically, until recently, Jake was a “one trick pony” whose one trick was to impugn scientists’ and journalists’ motives by claiming undisclosed conflicts of interest based on tenuous “six degree of separation” links to big pharma or vaccine manufacturers. Indeed, when I first became aware of Jake’s propensities, he was busily trying to slime the founder of Scienceblogs and Seed Media, Adam Bly, as somehow being in the thrall of big pharma because as a teenager—yes, as a teenager—Bly had been the youngest guest researcher at the National Research Council, a Canadian government body that overseas scientific progress, studying “cell adhesion and cancer. He also suggested that Seed Media, which had in 2004 published a credulously awful portrait of Mark and David Geier as “brave maverick researchers” who did their research in the basement of Mark Geier’s house (one wonders how he got the permits or whether city knew about his doing biomedical “research” in a residential neighborhood) abandoned sympathy to the antivaccine viewpoint because of pharmaceutical company advertisement funding.

And that’s how Jake got started. If you peruse his oeuvre on AoA now, starting at the beginning, you will find numerous instances of Jake doing exactly what he denies doing, making assumptions about people and conspiracy mongering. Examples are legion, including his painting Brian Deer as a “narcissist” who, “starved for attention…knew how to get it – by targeting Dr. Andrew Wakefield” (which is nothing short of pure ad hominem and making assumptions about Brian Deer just because he had a lot of pictures of himself on his website) and his attack on Paul Offit as being “Nick Naylor from ‘Thank You For Smoking’ with an MD.” If you remember that movie, Nick Taylor was an unscrupulous lobbyist whose major client was the tobacco industry, and he would lie for the tobacco industry for money. If likening Dr. Offit to a hired flack who will say anything for money isn’t “making assumptions” about Dr. Offit’s motives, I don’t know what is. Ditto the assumption that Brian Deer posts pictures of himself on his website because he’s a narcissist and that Adam Bly somehow stomped on all blogging sympathetic to the antivaccine viewpoint in order to score some of that sweet, sweet pharma lucre for advertising. The list of vaccine defenders who have been subjected to similar attempts to impugn their motives as deriving from being in the thrall of big pharma (again, due to that sweet, sweet pharma lucre) is long and includes prominent bioethicist Art Caplan, Seth Mnookin, Scott Pelley (who, according to Jake, is responsible for the CBS antivaccine reporter Sharyl Attkisson being “silenced,” all because he sits “on the board of directors of the International Rescue Committee with Susan Susman, director of external relations for Pfizer, “which sponsored Pelley’s 60 Minutes report on H1N1 vaccine production”), and even a judge, Amy Clark Meacham, all because she is married to a lobbyist who has done work for the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (because, apparently, you know, being married to someone who works for physicians who are pro-vaccine is a hopeless conflict of interest that can’t be overcome). Jake even recently touted a talk he was to give at Autism One in which he claims he is “trying to convince people of scientific truth” while at the same time explaining how to look for conflicts of interest in obituaries (nice touch!), wedding announcements, Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles, news articles, and the like.

A while back, I predicted a bright future for Jake as an antivaccine “brave maverick scientist” (as a real epidemiologist, not so much) on par with Andrew Wakefield or even worse, churning out bad study after bad study linking mercury in vaccines or vaccines themselves with autism, all to the adulation of the vaccine-obsessed conspiracy mongers that AoA claims as its base. Unfortunately for him, his tendency to ascribe evil motives extends even to his allies, leading to a rift in which Jake attacked his erstwhile allies for not being antivaccine enough and allegedly engineering a switcheroo that eliminated his favored “scientist” (Brian Hooker) from testifying in front of a Congressional panel. He even went so far as to insinuate that his former mentor Mark Blaxill was fooling around on the side.

Believe it or not, I didn’t write this just to have fun discussing Jake’s utter lack of self-awareness and propensity to engage in conspiracy mongering and attacking his enemies as hopelessly compromised and in the thrall of big pharma (although there is no doubt that it is fun to do so), but rather to provide an example to demonstrate what I think to be a larger point. Even though to us (and anyone with two neurons to rub together), Jake is a conspiracy theorist whose main technique is to impugn the motives of his enemies (which inherently involves making assumptions about their motives, by the way) is antivaccine to the core. Just perusing his AoA archive will produce numerous examples to illustrate both points. Yet he really, really doesn’t believe that he is antivaccine, and he really, really believes that he does not make assumptions about people’s motives, although I’ve just shown multiple examples showing that he does just that. I could produce many more if necessary. In this, he reminds me of Eric Merola, the film producer responsible for the antivaccine propaganda “documentary” Burzynski The Movie: Cancer Is A Serious Business, Part 2, who appears to honestly believe that he is not a conspiracy theorist, that he doesn’t engage in ad hominem attacks, and that he is an “objective” journalist. Other names that come to mind are Stanislaw Burzynski (of course), Andrew Wakefield, Sayer Ji, Dana Ullman, and many, many others. All share characteristics to a greater or lesser extent, specifically a denial that they are cranks and a complete lack of self-awareness.

True believers don’t think they are cranks. They believe, as Jake does, that they don’t attack science, don’t attack people, and don’t make assumptions, even though in fact that’s all they do. That’s why I rarely try to change the minds of such people. It’s a fool’s errand. The odds of succeeding at it are almost as slim as the odds that there is still a molecule of an original homeopathic compound in a 30C dilution. The strategy instead has to be to expose the fallacious arguments, demonstrate the crankery for crankery, and counter the ad hominem attacks. The goal, of course, is to show the fence sitters or those with little knowledge of the issues involved. It has to be.

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]

875 replies on ““I don’t make assumptions” about vaccines and people’s motives”

“I don’t make assumptions about people’s motives.”

This statement from Jake Crosby has so much Irony, you can use it to forge weapons for the armies of Isengard.

I saw in your twitter exchange that Jake continues to believe that I threatened him with physical violence. I believe that he is talking about the “dis rap” blog post I wrote a few years back. In fact, that must be it since he made such a stink about it in his email to the dozens of people at the health department where I worked at the time. I took his letter and what I’ve written about him to a lawyer. I am assured that nothing I wrote can be reasonably construed as a threat. On the contrary, what he wrote to my bosses can be interpreted at tortuous interference with a contract. Because my bosses at the time and I laughed it off, Jake didn’t hear back from me about it.

It’s a fair question to ask, though: How far can/will he go before someone decides to take legal action against his statements? He keeps coming close to stalking, to slander, and to threatening people’s livelihoods by accusing them of misdeeds and professional misconduct.

I’ll never see Jake as an epidemiologist, mostly because he makes a mockery of the profession. And I have to wonder if his family has the resources to back up and support the checks his writing out in his rants.

Jake doesn’t make assumptions. He thoroughly researches his statements and only provides well documented facts. If there’s any criticism to his method it’s that he considers whale.to a valid source.

I don’t think that word (assumptions) means what Mr. Crosby thinks it means. He and RFK Jr. have continued to push the mercury-in-vaccines-causes-autism line long after mercury was removed from vaccines and the autism diagnosis rate failed to drop as their model would have predicted. Calling them “mercury obsessed” is an opinion, yes, but it is an opinion based on facts, not an assumption.

Jake became fixated on mercury when he was 16 years old. Here, one of his earliest posts at AoA, “Discovering I Was Toxic”, he reveals how momma Nicole Crosby believed it was the mercury in the vaccines that Jake received in early childhood caused his thimerosal-induced-Asperger Syndrome:

http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/01/discovering-i-was-toxic.html#more

“…When my mother mentioned chelation last summer, I finally told her about the news report. She said she believed thimerosal was responsible, having known about it since I was 12. When I asked why she hadn’t told me then, she said she didn’t want to upset me; I had frequent meltdowns at earlier ages. The news program I saw was disturbing. Nevertheless, I began to see it as good news: relief that I knew both what had been causing my problem and that it wasn’t “me.”….”

Jake, I know you are lurking here. If your mommy told you that your Asperger Syndrome was caused by mercury…she is wrong. If your mommy told you that your paranoia caused your “six-sixty-six hundred degrees of separation” conspiracy rants and your stalking behaviors…she lied.

BTW Jake, I hope you keep pushing RFK, Jr. to publish his book on the mercury-autism connection.

@ Ren: I know nurses, doctors and others who have undergrad degrees in biology, chemistry and other sciences who have gotten their MPH-Epidemiology degrees, but never met a student or graduate of a MPH program, who had a BA, with a double major in History and Health: Science Society and Policy.

Orac links to a post by Jake that has intrigued me- the infamous Narcissus painting**:
you’ll notice that the subject of the painting has something to be narcissistic about – he’s lovely. He’s admiring himself rightfully- and so do we.

If you research carefully, I’m sure you could find other paintings that mock a self-idoliser or find artwork to convey arrogance and self-involvement. So why this painting?

If I dislike ‘Jane” and think her work is awful would I choose to portray her as Venus? Or might I opt for a more comic image? Or something that mocks her metier? MY choice of a Botticelli image would reveal more about ME than about my target, Jane.

Jake – unbeknownst to himself- probably also admires BD who is an accomplished journalist having had a long career which he’s proud of- and rightfully so. Is that narcissism or a healthy self-evaluation?

Sometimes adolescents outgrow their focus upon external traits as markers of personality. Jake apparently hasn’t yet.

I would venture that all of Jake’s targets are people he envies: scientists and journalists- trades he unsubtly apes by attemptingsimulotaneously to explain research and uncover scandals. Think of how he feels when he writes about DOCTOR DG or DOCTOR Offit or PROF of Journalism Seth or EPI Ren etc?

Like alt media ‘investigative reporters’, he questions the powerful and reveals their corruption and COIs.
When I watch him or the usual suspects, it reminds me of old movies in which the upstart journalist bursts upon the scene, revealing dirt etc. It’s as cargo-cult as you can get: both for science and reportage. Window-dressing and mimesis rather than substance
.
-btw- he didn’t like me or other minions much either. We narcissists hang together- looking good!
We can have a lot of fun with that moniker – nearly as good as ‘elitist’ and ‘pharma shills’.

** disclosure- prior to social sciences, I studied art and lit.

One thing that sticks out to me is that he seems to be implying that Orac is a conspiracy theorist. I’m confident Orac and most people here see the anti-vax community as an irrational woo subculture, not a coherent conspiracy with a devious hidden agenda. They’re not exactly hiding their agendas, or at least not doing a good job of it when they try. Even if they’re a borderline conspiracy by some definition, it’s certainly not on the same scale with those connoted by “conspiracy theorist.”

Jake Crosby is the poor man’s anti-vaccine version of James O’Keefe.

I should note before I run:

in feminist research about person perception ( 1970s on), subjects often disputed the validity of statements like, “Mary was first in her class at med school” by asserting that Mary wasn’t a real person or not a ‘real woman’ ( hint- homophobia rears its ugly head/ and misogyny- “her proper place is at home”) or that she had cheated somehow, slept with her prof and other nonsense.

In other words, deny her achievement and smear her.
Just like SB supporters are called “compromised shills”, not really experts, liars, cheats etc etc etc.

Obviously this makes alties feel better about themselves.

If vaccines cause Autism why isn’t there a wave of newly Autistic teenagers who just got their booster shots? Or a bunch of newly Autistic fellows in the military? I can tell you from experience that the military hands out vaccines like there is no tomorrow. I mean how can the vaccine/Autism tell the difference between an infant and a teenager?

Wow, the first few sentences are pretty similar to how I study the insanity of pro vaccination fans. I find it so fascinating how people can be so crazy in their vaccination support and I like to see how they think mentally. Vaccines go against everything that is human health. The body absolutely hates them.

Zen’s “retort” (such as it is) is what PeeWee Herman would call the “I know you are, but what am I?” gambit.

Sure, Zen. So the body hates vaccines but loves measles, pertussis, polio, influenza, etc better?

Talk about insane. Thinking people are better off getting sick, than avoiding illnesses with a tiny few antigens from a needle.

zen, from what evidence does your assertion “The body absolutely hates vaccines” derive from? Be as specific as possible.

I find it so fascinating how people can be so crazy in their vaccination support and I like to see how they think mentally.

OK, “Zen,” who makes these people? Please note that I am taking your pseudonym to actually connote something, rather than just being a really dumb choice.

Vaccines go against everything that is human health. The body absolutely hates them.
Gosh, the number of people I know who are vaccinated and have no side effects aside from immunity to life-threatening diseases… They must be lying or something.

I will go against my usual policy and actually answer in good faith.

Here’s the secret beyond the “insanity” Zen. If I admit that I am scientifically illiterate and need to be convinced about the issue, what will happen? I’ll tell you – “Orac’s Vaccine Pushers” will gladly link copious studies, with data readily accesible, and explain why those studies seem sound. Antivaccine crowd will maybe link something, but most probably will just start evading, projecting or telling about FDA supressing the evidence. And if there are studies posted, supposedly supporting the various “vaccines are evil” agendas they are either so faulty even person with basic knowledge can poke holes in them, they don’t mean what the antivaxxers thinks they mean and it is obvious from the conclusions of researchers or they are long discredited (aka Wakefield).

So there you go, here’s the insanity.

How many people die from prescription drugs
Or medical errors each year
Why do drug company funded trials have a perceived belief that they work 90% of the time compared to 50% to non drug company funded trials ???
Conventional medicine kills more people
Than illegal drugs ,guns ,wars ,car accidents,alcohol and cigarettes combined
YOUR EVIL GORSKI

What if Andrew Wakefield was right?

Is this a gag? The non-proofread press release pointing to a “PR firm” whose domain that was registered two days ago and which points nowhere seems like a bit much.

Dumpster diving a bit this AM, over at the Bolen Report. I was just curious to see if Jake has published there recently. Nothing about Jake in particular, but interesting tidbits about Autism One:

__
“Instead, as the AutismOne meeting in Chicago a few weeks ago shows us, they get together, pose, position, preen, and posture, for what few parents of Autistic children show up for the event – and VERY FEW are showing up these days. The attendance is dismal – less than fifteen hundred people including the posers, preeners and posturers.

Then, to close the event, in front of those same Autism parents, they get falling down drunk at a Karaoke night, leaving, as you might expect, a solid impression with those parents of what the Autism Community leadership REALLY has to offer.

Nothing. ”


Ah, almost up to our host’s standards of insolence. What is interesting here is that the attendance is so low at A1. Let’s hope it keeps dropping.

Maybe there was an indirect mention of Jake – chez Bolen:

“I wasn’t at AutismOne. All of my information came from those that were there, and were angry enough to call me. “

@ Denice Walter

in feminist research about person perception ( 1970s on), subjects often disputed the validity of statements like, “Mary was first in her class at med school” by asserting that Mary wasn’t a real person or not a ‘real woman’

For a more recent example (although not related to misogyny, but to racism), we have the reaction from certain circles to President Obama’s good results as a student at Harvard. Something about him cheating because he really is a Keynesian*.
Different places, same mechanism to deny someone’s achievements…

  • or was it a Kenyan?

@ Broken Link:

That article is hilarious.
Bolen does get one thing right: the activities of A1 are not very interesting to most parents of kids with ASDs. Most of them know that autism isn’t caused by vaccines- one of our regulars ( Kreb, I think) showed that only about 2% did.

About Karaoke and drinking:
last year the thinking moms did a good job of publicising that. ( check last year’s posts).

Bolen himself is part of the health freedom movement: they have their own axes to grind at conferences- perhaps he sees A!’s audience as potential followers for his own. They have a few conferences a year, one just a week before A1 at Chicago as well, I think. His earlier article promoted the idea that anti-vax belonged under the health freedom umbrella, i.e. his venue.

The activities of the congressman might be a good story for a political blogger/ television host of the liberal persuasion.

I guess we know where Jake is hanging out .

“I like to see how they think mentally.”

As opposed to how they think physically?

Of course Orac is evil. That’s why this blog is fun. 🙂

@Paul #24:

Conventional medicine kills more people
Than illegal drugs ,guns ,wars ,car accidents,alcohol and cigarettes combined.

Citation REALLY needed, and from a credible source. That means NOT Mike Adams, and NOT Gary Null.

@ Helianthus:

Sure. It’s a way to make themselves feel better about their own lot in life. Woo-meisters like to disparage fields and professions into which they had no chance of entering- thus their anger at the establishment and people who do well.

Venom-laced diatribes a la Adams or Null display their own inability to deal with reality: they couldn’t make the grade and they hate those who did.

And, -btw- I am also a Keynesian..
or it is a Kenyan? I forget which.

A key issue here is the stance/activity/demeanor to take against these pseudoscience people.

I think a lot of academics prefer to sit in their institutions and ignore the issue using any/all of the following excuses: (1) head buried-in-the-sand hoping it will all go away, (2) “nobody could possibly believe that crap”, and, (3) “I’m too smart/good/busy to be bothered having to counter those wackos.”

The problem is, ignoring it won’t make it go away, and silence can be viewed as assent. But engaging these people runs the risk of getting dragged down to their level and the inevitable ad hominens that will occur. And they’ll immediately act like your attention gives them legitimacy (because if they were total flakes, you would have ignored them–damned if you do ignore them, damned if you don’t take them on, I, guess). You also run the risk of threats and stalking by some of these people (eg Jake Crosby on Orac, anti-vaxxies on Dr. Offit,). If you open up on them with full force, they’ll claim persecution and incivility by you towards them, but if you try to engage on pure logic (with science and citations), they throw back some ridiculous citations from “journals” that aren’t worthy of bird cages and twist the science on you.

It stinks because (and sadly mostly due to a level of science education in many countries that hasn’t kept up with science) that a lot of what is done in SBM isn’t understood well enough by the average person to allow them to distinguish the science from magic. And when you try to explain the science to keep them from following the magicians, you lose their attention, such as when I’ve tried to give parents the Offit & Moser 2009 Pediatrics article “The Problem with Dr. Bob’s Alternative Vaccine Schedule”. I’ll get the strangest looks from parents when I hand them this article–as in “you want me to read this?” It’s depressing, especially if I’ve just spent 20-30 unsuccessful minutes telling them why they shouldn’t skip/delay vaccines, and they then balk at reading 8 more pages after they’ve presumably somehow digested all of Dr. Bob’s 352-pages of unhealthy verbiage.

I read an article (can’t remember where) the other day about Alan Alda’s Center for Communicating Science at Stonybrook (http://www.centerforcommunicatingscience.org/health/) and was thinking maybe something along these lines might be more helpful, but yet, when you spend most of your day communicating with patients and parents and seem to be able to get everything else across well to them, you have sometimes just shake your head on vaccine hesitancy and silently scream “WTF?!?”

Paul – what about my evil Gorski?

When you discuss the harm that prescription drugs can do (and I think everyone will admit that they can do harm), it’s also important to keep that in the context of the good they can do. Any drug that does more harm than good should rightfully be thought of as either unsafe or ineffective. While there are too many such drugs, there are a great many that save lives, reduce suffering, and improve life overall. Your blanket condemnation is silly.

they then balk at reading 8 more pages after they’ve presumably somehow digested all of Dr. Bob’s 352-pages of unhealthy verbiage.

If the trolls on here are representative, the antivaxxers don’t read

they then balk at reading 8 more pages after they’ve presumably somehow digested all of Dr. Bob’s 352-pages of unhealthy verbiage.

If the trolls on here are representative, the antivaxxers don’t read

they then balk at reading 8 more pages after they’ve presumably somehow digested all of Dr. Bob’s 352-pages of unhealthy verbiage.

If the trolls on here are representative, the antivaxxers don’t read “Dr. Bob’s 352-pages of unhealthy verbiage”; they just pick up a few paragraphs off the Internet. Of course they don’t want to read eight pages. That would be too much work.

How many people die from prescription drugs
Or medical errors each year

I don’t know, exactly–why don’t you tell, being sure to provide the source of your figures?

Why do drug company funded trials have a perceived belief that they work 90% of the time compared to 50% to non drug company funded trials ???

I’m unaware such a perceived belief exists, nor who might hold such a perception–citations needed.

Conventional medicine kills more people
Than illegal drugs ,guns ,wars ,car accidents,alcohol and cigarettes combined

Show your math: what were the total deaths due to conventional medicine in 2012, the total deaths due to the illegal drug use and trafficking, wars, etc. and most critically what are the sources for your figures?

I mean, say what you want about the tenets of Antiscientism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos. I find it laudable that Paul does not bother with attempts at feigning sanity and goes for the jugular with ad hominem and nonsense.

One has to admire the commitment to the motion, even if motion itself is rather abhorrent.

JGC – I won’t speak to the actual numbers, but there are well reported issues with publication bias. Companies do tend to publish the more positive trials, and these can skew the perceived numbers. See Ben Goldacre’s blog at http://www.badscience.net and the All Trials web site at alltrials.net for a discussion of this and the push to publish all the trial data for any drug.

There may be publication bias, but the idea that we’d expect 90% of drug trials conducted by pharmaceutical companies to be successful is news to me–and I’ve worked in the industry providing assay support for Phase II and III clinical trials.

Perhaps he means we would expect drugs that have already jumped multiple hurdles, having successfully survived nultiple rounds of pre-clinical testing, then Phase I and Phase II clinical trials, to have a reasonable likelihood of succeeding in Phase III trials? That’s true, because you’re talking about a pool candidates that have demonstrated real promise for success, but that likelihood still doesn’t come close to 90%. Lots of drugs still fail in Phase III.

According to Paul:

Conventional medicine kills more people Than…

The annual figures in the USA (all figures from CDC or other government sources) are:
illegal drugs = 17,000
guns (intentional and accidental) = 32,000
wars = 1,000
car accidents = 38,000
alcohol = 75,000
and cigarettes = 443,000
combined = 606,000

A reasonable estimate is about 33,000 deaths due to medical injuries from all causes annually. That needs to be improved, of course, but gross exaggeration isn’t helpful.

Yes, Zen, I am sure my body hates vaccines. On the other hand it loves poliomyelitis that it has never forgotten its brush with it and 58 years later it cherishes the memory with a perceptible limp. If you think that vaccine-preventable diseases are so wonderful and natural, you can demonstrate your love by taking your children to one of those anti-vax havens in northern Nigeria and exposing them to polio. I’m sure they’ll have plenty of occasions to thank you later.
You are living proof that apparent intelligence and arrant stupidity can coexist in the same brain quite nicely. Idiot.

Another problem with Jake’s riposte is that, in addition to being contradicted by his blogging career, its characterization of Gorski’s Tweet is inaccurate, or at least incomplete: “mercury-obsessed” and “antivaccine” are not just ascriptions of motive, they are also descriptions of behaviour.

Indeed, the ascription of motive follows from the obseved behaviour.

Crosby et al are “mercury-obsessed” and “anti-vaccine” because that’s what they write & speak about.

If you think that vaccine-preventable diseases are so wonderful and natural, you can demonstrate your love by taking your children to one of those anti-vax havens in northern Nigeria and exposing them to polio. I’m sure they’ll have plenty of occasions to thank you later.

If they survive it, they may be able to do so, otherwise, not so much.

Renate, why wouldn’t they survive when we’ve got such wonderful medical advances? We’ve come a long way from the days of the iron lung. Why wouldn’t his kids, if any, appreciate such medical marvels as battery-powered wheelchairs with portable ventilators? Hell, they might even make it long enough to get really practical powered exoskeletons to help them move around. I’m sure Zen wouldn’t mind laying out the big bucks in the name of defeating us mindless soldiers to the Big Pharma Army.

In other news, AoA is throwing its support being an anti-Vaxxer documentary raising funds through IndieGogo.com claiming that “new evidence that has been uncovered that suggests [Andrew Wakefield’s] findings were correct.”

http://www.ageofautism.com/2013/06/bought-a-film-by-jeff-hays-and-bobby-sheehan-what-if-andrew-wakefield-was-right.html

I looked into the filmmakers behind this surefire piece of…work. It seems the director, Bobby Sheehan, last made a movie which tried to defend chiropractors from the evil medical establishment. Jeff Hays, the producer, is also behind a couple of conservative documentaries, including an attack on Michael Moore. He also made a Big Pharma movie called “Medical, Inc.”

@ Old Rockin’ Dave
Well, I think polio still can be deadly, but I might be wrong. Recently I read Nemesis by Philip Roth, which is about some polio-epidemic.
I don’t understand why anyone would take the risk of a child getting infected with polio.

@ Sebastian Jackson: I’m already on it. See my posts at # 21 and #27. 🙂

Why don’t you post the AoA update at the SkewedDistribution blog?

“How many people die from prescription drugs
Or medical errors each year”

How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?

Renate,

Well, I think polio still can be deadly

How can that be? After all, all of the best anti-vaccine authorities say that the reason that the number of serious complications from childhood illnesses (up to and including death) in developed countries has decreased so dramatically is a combination of better sanitation, better hygiene, better nutrition, and modern medical techniques. Given that, how could anyone POSSIBLY think that diseases like polio, measles, or pertussis could create any risk whatever in any child who is not already dying of, say, a toxic overload or psychic illness, possibly left over from a past life or original sin? I’m shocked – SHOCKED – to think that these diseases might actually be dangerous. Why even smallpox, tuberculosis, and plague should only be minor inconveniences now!

I know that polio can been deadly…

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs114/en/

Key facts

Polio (poliomyelitis) mainly affects children under five years of age.

One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis. Among those paralysed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.

Polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an  estimated 350 000 cases then, to 223 reported cases in 2012. The reduction is the result of the global effort to eradicate the disease.

In 2013, only three countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan) remain polio-endemic, down from more than 125 in 1988.
As long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio. Failure to eradicate polio from these last remaining strongholds could result in as many as 200 000 new cases every year, within 10 years, all over the world.

In most countries, the global effort has expanded capacities to tackle other infectious diseases by building effective surveillance and immunization systems.

and…

Progress

Overall, since the GPEI was launched, the number of cases has fallen by over 99%. In 2013, only three countries in the world remain polio-endemic: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In 1994, the WHO Region of the Americas was certified polio-free, followed by the WHO Western Pacific Region in 2000 and the WHO European Region in June 2002. Of the three types of wild poliovirus (type 1, type 2 and type 3), type 2 wild poliovirus transmission has been successfully stopped (since 1999).

More than 10 million people are today walking, who would otherwise have been paralysed. An estimated more than 1.5 million childhood deaths have been prevented, through the systematic administration of Vitamin A during polio immunization activities.

YOUR EVIL GORSKI

OUR evil Gorski? I doubt that any of us have ownership over him. Maybe he’s Lord Draconis’, but definitely not “ours,” per se.

Even better (from the antivaccine movement’s standpoint), somehow Jake managed to get into the epidemiology program at George Washington University, which means that, should he graduate, the world will consider him an epidemiologist, although it’s doubtful that most epidemiologists will consider him one, given his propensity for the bad science, bad epidemiology, and in general bad reasoning of the antivaccine movement.

Oh, dear. This could be no end amusing given that I have an epidemiologist in the family (as in, teaches research methods when she feels like dipping into academia.) And she and a fair number of her friends from grad school would love to sharpen their claws on anything like we would expect our boy Jake to produce.

Insert evil laugh.

Ren – I assumed he was talking about MY evil Gorski. They come in six packs now.

OUR evil Gorski? I doubt that any of us have ownership over him. Maybe he’s Lord Draconis’, but definitely not “ours,” per se.

It’s always like that, you can’t keep him; it’s not as if he were a tame lion.
(Apologies to CS Lewis)

Geez. 1,500 people would be a rather large turnout, and Bolen’s trying to paint it as a failure? TAM probably won’t hit that number. It’s depressing to think that there are more antivaxers than skeptics.

@Orac: I am disappointed that Autism One hasn’t posted any video or transcripts from the 2013 conference, in stark contrast to past years. It’s been a month already. Perhaps because they don’t want to post anything that can be used against them in court?

I was in that conversation on Twitter for a bit, gave me a good laugh at Jake and drove up my Klout score. LoL

Renate, I know polio can still kill, but I think you kind of missed the implied sarcasm.

@ Todd W (67) and @ lilady (#68): I think it was mentioned on poxesblog.wordpress.com about the Hepatitis A outbreak here in the Southwest recently (I think now about 90 cases and interestingly only one child). The source of the outbreak was a contaminated (by pomegranate seeds from Turkey) frozen berry smoothy mix sold by a certain big box store. The CDCs advice (which was easy for all the phone calls we got) to parents was if your child had even 1 dose of the Hep A vaccine, there was no worry.

I can usually get parents to do the Hep A vaccine. I’m not sure if its because it doesn’t have much of a fever risk or because we are close to an international border and Mexico has higher rates of Hep A outbreaks or because it’s just a 2 dose series or some combination of the above. but it was nice not to see any blossoming of this Hep A (such as in a daycare setting).

@ Sebastian Jackson:

I think that sceptics’ tendency of making mincemeat of their presentations might have had something to do with it!

You see, if they put up a video, someone SB can trash it effectively. Therefore, sceptics’ criticisms serves another purpose as well:
it cuts into the amount of propaganda that they can circulate on the ‘net used for “educating” their followers and wooing prospective followers.

Similarly, if we make it known that they assiduously police dissenting comments at websites like AoA and can illustrate it ( sceptics reporting that they never got past the censor; only a few allowed- exceptions that prove the rule)- we force them into a little more honesty.
Oddly, Jake has helped us unwittingly in this by shouting about how much he is “censored” in comments ( AoA/ facebook).
How about that! Jake Crosby assists the Evil Ones in their Evil Plan to Destroy Innocent Children’s Brains, or whatever it is that we do.

@ lilady, #71–

I didn’t want to slam Costco–not their fault for the contamination, but they do a good job on letting customers know about faulty products (I’ve had some LED light bulbs they’ve recalled, and this is where computers and databases earn their keep).

I my office got ~8 calls from parents on this berry mix. All the kids of those parents had at least one Hep A vaccine (thankfully, berry smoothies aren’t part of the under-1-year-of-age diet around here), so we told the parents not to worry about their children, but also what to look for if they (the parents) had been exposed and had not received a Hep A vaccine.

@Denice Walter: Even though I don’t attempt to comment on AoA, I manage to post on a slew of other blogs that have wider audiences. I’m with Jake Crosby…urging Kennedy to publish his book…

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2013/06/robert_f_kennedy_jr_vaccine_conspiracy_theory_scientists_and_journalists.single.html#pagebreak_anchor_2

@ Dr. Chris: I think Costco has demonstrated that they are proactive to get to their customers who purchase a recalled food product. They have also offered free hepatitis A vaccines, administered by their pharmacists and reimbursements for the costs of the immunization when customers go to their private doctor.

Disclaimer: Not shilling for Costco; just a long-term Costco member.

Time to get their spiritual leaders to discuss these issues within those communities.

Sometimes, Haredi poskim are part of the problem. There are a lot of moving parts here.

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