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Leaving the cult of antivaccinationism and alt-med

The other day, I got to thinking about cults. The reason is that it’s been clear to me for some time that the antivaccine movement is a quack cult. In fact, a lot of quack groups are very cultish, the example that reminded me of this having been an excellent report published by a young mother named Megan Sandlin, who used to be antivaccine but is no longer. Her post, Leaving the Antivaccine Movement, reminded me very much of the genre of “deconversion” stories, in which atheists who were once fundamentalist Christians describe the process of their losing their religion or cult members describe how they ended up leaving their cult.

Sandlin begins her story by telling first how she became an antivaccinationist when her oldest daughter was about four months old. It was that time that she described discovering the world of “crunchy” parenting, which led her to a world of cloth diapers, “intactivism,” and home birth. It didn’t take her long to notice that a lot of her newfound friends who raised children that way were hostile to vaccines, which led her to a Google University education that provided her with all the antivaccine “knowledge” and “science” that would mesh with her preconceived notions about “natural” parenting, “toxins,” and the like, and fuel an antivaccine world view. And that’s exactly what it did. However, even at her most antivaccine, Sandlin had more self-knowledge than the typical antivaccinationist (like the one I described the other day), as Sandlin’s musings reveal, or at least, in retrospect she understands where she went wrong:

However, my research was very skewed. I was going into it with preconceived ideas – my anti-vaccine friends had put ideas into my head, such as not trusting government websites. I was forced to rely on whatever I could find while Googling, which were often websites like Mercola or whale.to. I even started “liking” anti-vaccine pages on Facebook – pages that I now understand masquerade as “information” centers. I got added to Facebook groups like “Great Mothers Questioning Vaccines.”

Even though all of my supposed research was coming from non-scientific sources, I trusted it.

Hilariously, what ultimately led Sandlin to start questioning her nice, cozy world view and her nice, supportive friends was the phenomenon of crank magnetism, in which a person with irrational beliefs in one area tends to have irrational beliefs in multiple areas. In this case, Sandlin started to notice things about her friends’ beliefs that disturbed her:

However, I’ve always considered myself a skeptic, and I began to notice how some of my anti-vaccine friends believed in some other things that I found, well, questionable. For example, several of my anti-vaccine friends posted about chemtrails pretty frequently. I’d never heard of chemtrails, so I did some research and quickly discovered it was just a conspiracy theory easily explained away by people who actually understood how airplane contrails work. I also noticed that skeptic pages I followed occasionally made jabs about “anti-vaxxers” and homeopaths.

It was a slow process, but I gradually began to question my own anti-vaccine views. I stopped posting about vaccines for several months and began seeking out real science that would show me the truth, either way. What I found shocked me.

She went on to describe her process of seeking out real science and real scientific studies and how, more and more, she realized that antivaccine beliefs were not based in science or reason. Ultimately, she did a complete 180° turn and decided that she should be vaccinating her children. So she took her children to the pediatrician and got them their shots, and her two daughters are now in the process of catching up on their vaccines now, which is a wonderful thing. Not surprisingly, however, the reaction of her crunchy friends was not particularly supportive:

The fallout from changing my views was pretty extreme. Within two weeks of “coming out” on Facebook about my new stance, I lost over 50 friends. People who had cheered me on and supported me through my home birth, who had told me countless times that I was an awesome mother and an inspiration, just dropped me like we’d never been friends at all. I was removed from groups and blocked by people I didn’t even know. I was accused of being brainwashed and told that my girls were going to get autism and have terrible reactions. It hurt.

I now view the anti-vaccine movement as a sort of cult, where any sort of questioning gets you kicked out, your crunchy card revoked. I was even told I couldn’t call myself a natural mother anymore, because vaccines are too unnatural. That’s fine. I just want to be the best parent I know how to be, and that means always being open to new information and admitting when I’m wrong.

Notice the characteristics of a cult that I can identify here:

  1. Authoritarian Leadership: OK, the antivaccine movement, being a diffuse, more dispersed movement doesn’t really have this, although it does have heros that it worships who cannot be spoken ill of without severe consequences, like Andrew Wakefield.
  2. Exclusivism: Antivaccinationists have this in spades. The Thinking Moms’ Revolution is a perfect example, in which only the “Thinkers” who have accepted the antivaccine views of the group are viewed as worthy of respect. Everyone else is the enemy.
  3. Isolationism: The isolationism of the antivaccine movement isn’t so much physical but takes more the form of online isolationism, where the antivaccinationists form online communities that avidly try to keep outsiders away.
  4. Opposition to Independent Thinking: We see this in the case of mothers or other antivaccinationists who start questioning the beliefs of the group, like Sandlin.
  5. Fear of Being “Disfellowshiped”: We see this in Sandlin’s case as well. Until she overcame her fear of losing all her online friends, she couldn’t truly be free.
  6. Threats of Satanic Attack: Antivaccinationists (well, most of them anyway) don’t use fear of an actual Satanic attack to keep its adherents in line. It does, however, have Satan equivalents, like Paul Offit, the FDA, the CDC, the government in general, big pharma, and, of course, us skeptics. They are all the enemy that will tempt members from the straight and narrow of the purity of the antivaccine path.

Obviously, the analogy isn’t perfect. Cults often have charismatic authoritarian leaders who demand absolute obedience. The antivaccine movement doesn’t really have that, but it does have several cults of personality around its heroes. They also aren’t as isolated as real cults in that most of them mingle just fine with the rest of the world, with possibly no other problem other than annoying some of their friends for haranguing them about vaccines. All the while it celebrates these online communities thusly:

Thank God for them. Through the message boards, Facebook pages, and websites. I have met some pretty awesome people. Some of them I have even been fortunate enough to meet up with in person a few times. But what I love most about the online community is when I’m having a frustrating/down day I can go to my phone or computer and send them a message. We can chat for hours about all things biomed. We bounce ideas off one another, or just vent. And it’s okay because we support each other, and know that deep down the other one GETS IT!

It’s very clear that there are other very cult-like groups going under the alt-med mantle. Perhaps the most prominent one of them is the people who admire Stanislaw Burzynski, which is, if anything, even more cult-like than the antivaccine movement. For example, there is more of a single authoritarian leader who is in charge and about whom no ill can be spoken. He is believed to have powers above and beyond that of average men in that he, apparently alone of all doctors, can cure certain kinds of incurable cancers. For those who believe in him, faith in him is unshakable. No matter how much evidence is presented that he can’t do what he claims to be able to do, no matter how much evidence indicating his malfeasance is presented, faith in the Great Savior never wavers. The enemies are the FDA, the NIH, the Texas Medical Board, and, seemingly above all lately, skeptics.

Examples abound of other alt-med practitioners with the same characteristics. The degree to which each of the six characteristics applies varies, sometimes markedly, which is why I’m not referring to these groups as being strictly cults, but rather as being cult-like. Think Robert O. Young, whose defenders have popped up, although unfortunately for him, his cult of personality is nowhere near as powerful as that of Stanislaw Burzynski. Think Jess Ainscough. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

Irrational beliefs have a great deal of power over the human mind. Beliefs such as those at the core of alt-med appeal to our deepest desires, desires for purity, for health, for immortality, for community, for a purpose in life. In these things and others, belief in such treatments shares many characteristics with religion and cults. As imperfect as the analogy might be, it’s still a compelling one. Alt-med, antivaccine beliefs, and the like might not be an actual religion or cult per se, but they share enough with cults for the analogy to help us understand the resistance to evidence, the hatred of outsiders, and the shunning of “apostates” who abandon the religion. Evidence alone can rarely overcome such irrational beliefs, but the case of Megan Sandlin demonstrates, if a member is primed for a deconversion, putting the evidence out there can help it along. It’s part of why I do what I do.

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]

702 replies on “Leaving the cult of antivaccinationism and alt-med”

#1 indeed

as i mentioned on another thread its strange form a non us-ian perspective because everyone has a foreskin…well i should narrow that down. most european states do not practice routine circumcision unless for medical reasons ( such as phimosis or repeated balanitis, and those are not common) or for religious reasons ( in which case its normally not done by a regular doctor IIRC. A trip to a locker room can confirm this for the doubters. I suppose familiarity breeds contempt so the idea of getting that worked up about not having one is strange. Mind you so is the idea of routinely hacking apart penes shortly after birth ( i exaggerate for effect)

Isolationism

I would posit that limited isolationism also counts as cult-like. See the Hubologists* for an example. They are not living a secluded life, but members of this cult are still encouraged to segregate and flee from “negative” people.

* followers of Dick Hubbell. See the Fallout 2 wiki for more info. Any resemblance to a real cult is purely coincidental, I swear.

Threats of Satanic Attack

Calling Sandlin “brainwashed” and promising her eternal damnation her children will become autistic definitively has shades of “lost to the Devil”.
A lot of Alt-Med uses a rhetoric akin to the Evil Eye, of being punished for not following the path of purity. I agree, these are cult-like behaviors.

The World Wide Web was (and still is) the enabler for such cult’s proselytism.

As you have shown, debunking quackery is not enough by itself because converts are members bound to a social group, not just the core doctrine of the group (the quackery). Each member will support and defend their social group irrespective of whether or not they believe its core doctrine(s). The fear of being disfellowshipped is much stronger than perhaps most outsiders realize.

The other problem being that search engines list results in order of their popularity rather accuracy, which is the opposite of science, reason, and best medical care.

Ah, my html tags for striking words didn’t carry out.
Guessing which words I wanted to strike out is left as an exercise for the reader.

Preview, where are you?

Notice what was the first crack in the wall for Megan Sandlin: running into ‘friends’ posting about chemtrails. How easy would it be to get other antivaxxers to loosen up and post their own favorite bits of crank magnstism, the more magnetic the better? ‘Past lives’ as Royalty, radiation from TVs, anything to do with ‘signs and portents,’ etc.

Re. ‘crunchy,’ I’d like to suggest we use the word ‘mushy’ for that and make it go viral. Hard science is crunchy, woo is mushy, like crisps past their expiry date.

Cult alert:

Ray Kurzweil, the AI guru who promotes the idea of transferring your mind to a computer to achieve immortality, is reported to take 120 supplement pills a day, with the full support of his doctor, Terry Grossman. Last year Kurzweil was hired by Google to run their AI research centre, which gives him a much bigger stage for promoting his brands (plural) of pseudoscience among people who really should know better but apparently don’t.

A quick search shows Terry Grossman is head of something called the Frontier Medical Institute in Denver USA, which is listed in Yelp under ‘acupuncture, naturopathic/holistic.’ He wrote a book titled _Fantastic Voyage: Live long enough to live forever_ (no comment needed!). This situation bears watching.

I agree that the anti-vaccine folks don’t have a single charismatic leader- they have about 12. More like the Greek gods:

Tenpenny, Larry Palevsky ,Sayer Ji and Kelly Brogan at Greenmedinfo, Mercola, Gary Null, Barbara Foe Fisher, Dr. Sears, Aviva Romm, Jay Gordon, Mayer Eisenstein, Suzanne Humphries, and Toni Bark.

Of note, most sell their own or directly profit from the sale of supplements, in ways that would make them lose their license if they were doing this with pharma companies.

Truth be told when conversing with antivaxxers cult is very nearly the word which pops to mind.

Nice post, Orac. Just the other day, I had someone comment on my post about the deep pockets of the anti-vaccine movement, saying that they understand how funding from pharma can be a red flag (after all, they’re out to make a profit), but they couldn’t understand why someone (Tomljenovic and Shaw) would jeopardize their scientific careers just based on belief. I tried to explain how powerful belief can be, and how there are other motivations that may not necessarily have anything to do with money.

Then I came across Ms. Sandlin’s account, which perfectly illustrated a couple of the points I was trying to make. Wonderful timing.

How easy would it be to get other antivaxxers to loosen up and post their own favorite bits of crank magnstism, the more magnetic the better? ‘Past lives’ as Royalty, radiation from TVs, anything to do with ‘signs and portents,’ etc

*Anecdote on* My own experience is that they too often go hand in hand. My sister is an anti-vaxxer who hits every stereotype: calls herself “natural” and rails about vaccines, chemtrails, flourination, GMOs, dyes…while smoking her Marlboro (full-tar), drinking a Rock Star Energy Drink, and doubling up on her Adderall prescription. Sometimes reasonable people get caught up in fear and misinformation, but I don’t know if I’ve ever met an antivaxxer who didn’t also hold some crazy ideals while still maintaining a level of cognitive dissonance that is damn near pathological. Of course, my sister’s issues all stem from a simple hatred of authority.

*Anecdote* off

Good for Megan.
If she thinks she was being picked on before for her conversion to rational thinking, she had better be prepared for a hurricane of vicious antivax backlash, now her opinions have been more widely disseminated on the web.

Short list of things that are not natural:
* Clothing.
* Electricity.
* Man made structures – buildings.
* Computers.
* Cities.
* Tools.

So, when can we expect the whole lot of “nature” obssesed alties disappearing naked in the wild?

IMO, like most cults and cult-like organizations, anti-vaccine organizations, and their analogues in the wider world rank quackery alternative “medicine” emphasize the concept of ritual purity, and the formation of a community dedicated to maintaining it, almost above all others.

I mean, what is a wishy-washy concern about “toxins” (as compared to a concrete concern about specific known dangerous organisms or compounds – e.g. measles or lead poisoning) other than a desire to be physically/ritually pure? In this view, a vaccine could be a contamination of one’s purity, especially if one takes the view that vaccines cause a variety of developmental or other disorders.

Admitting a genetic factor in autism spectrum disorders, among parents who say such things as “the light left my child’s eyes”, would be admitting that they themselves are somehow “contaminated”, or inherently impure. Displacing this horror onto vaccines, and the potential self-loathing onto external enemies – doctors, the government, vaccine manufacturers, and skeptics – seems like a very natural reaction if physical/ritual purity is a priority.

The formation of a more-or-less insular community dedicated to maintaining, and even promoting this notion of purity also strikes me as a very natural thing to do. People like to be in community with like-minded people. When the community has a general feeling of being “under siege”, or at risk of contamination from malevolent outside forces, it strikes me as very natural that the reaction would be to close ranks – and to punish or expel doubters in the community’s midst.

All of the above is idle speculation, of course.

This story resonates strongly with Bruce Bartlett’s extraordinary article, “Revenge of the Reality-Based Community”, on the American Conservative site. It’s a great piece, and not too long, either — recommended to all.

I was thrilled to see this article, and yes, “cult” has often sprung to mind when I see the antivax believers sharing their screed. And yes, I think that the loss of community and the “shunning” is probably one of the most frightening aspects of being part of one of these cults. You can put up with a lot of cognitive dissonance if you’re afraid of losing all your friends.

BTW, I didn’t see Jenny McCarthy listed there. . .she was a pretty big charismatic leader there for a while. I don’t know whether she’s still on the hit parade, though.

In 1994 I was diagnosed with tinnitus and told to just “live with it.” Nurses I worked with told me I should be “glad I didn’t have cancer.” NEVER ask someone to make that kind of comparison, the guilt is overwhelming.
So I turned to the alt/med community…bc there is always something they can offer. None of it worked, but I certainly felt like I had some control.For a while.
It wasn’t until I totally fell apart and was put in anti anxiety/anti depressants that my head cleared up, the noise calmed down. -I still hear the noise, but I no longer listen to it
Now—thanks to information on blogs like yours (and with permission from you and yours), I teach my students critical thinking skills in a topic “skeptic’s guide to complementary & alternative medicine.” I haven’t quite lost friends, but my oldest friends are quite into homeopathy, one’s brother in law is a naturopath…it is a challenge, but at 59, I guess you pick your battles.

One of the defining characteristics of religious faith is how it shifts the issue from the rational to the emotional, from the objective to the subjective. The “choice” to believe or not is supposed to be a matter of the heart, not the head. It defines the sort of person you are.

Religious faith involves a commitment to become a believer. It’s not based on insufficient evidence as such. It’s based on evidence which is sufficient for those who can love; it can never be enough for those who can’t. It all comes down then to picking out which group seems to have the best hearts. Choose your identity.

The alt med proponents I know personally are all heavily into Spirituality and the crank magnetism is high. They’re very up front and center about homeopathy or reiki being a matter of faith — or, sometimes, one’s “paradigm.” They’re not just buying into a particular remedy, it’s an entire world view. And alt med is also a self-view.

Sometimes in my coffee group I’ll hear someone bring up a new name. The question is often asked “Is she open?”

That’s a code. They mean “does she believe in alternative medicine?”

A marvelous post and timely too. I’ll be reprising my “Escape from Wooville” talk tonight at the Bay Area Skeptics talk in . . . Berkeley (cue theramin music) the very heart of The Axis of Me-Ville™.

#11 I enjoyed your list and I’d like to add the following:
* Sex for any purpose other than reproduction.
* Antibiotics.
* Pain medication.
* Hospitals.
* Cooking.
* Artificial lighting and heating.
* Reading and writing.
* Religion.
* Telephones.
* Television.
* Toilets.
* Transportation.
* General knowledge.
* And last, but not least, critical thinking skills (the only item on our lists that all cult members seem to have successfully avoided using).

Composer99 wrote:

I mean, what is a wishy-washy concern about “toxins” (as compared to a concrete concern about specific known dangerous organisms or compounds – e.g. measles or lead poisoning) other than a desire to be physically/ritually pure?

I wonder if this may explain in part aversion to food additives. While, of course, there can be legitimately harmful food additives, the automatic assumption that an additive tested for safety has to be worse for you than an unstudied natural ingredient makes more sense from the point of view of ritual purity than that of toxicology.

@ Pete Attkins

Just to split hairs:

The Bonobo tribe next door would have liked to lecture you on the naturalness of your first item, but they are busy having an orgy.
(on second thoughts, let’s not start a debate on which type of sexual intercourse is natural – quite a hot topic)

I would also nitpick on your last item, critical thinking, and move it into a different list: “things which are natural but apparently the all-natural brigade didn’t get the memo.”
A bit long for a title, but self-explanatory.

@Helianthus: Who appointed bonobos to be the arbiters of naturality? Any animal that does cultural transmission of behaviour is on the slippery slope to Big Pharma if you ask me.

Until people accept their their “noggin” is a deception engine and embrace the evolutionary path it has taken and the reasons we are wired that way can a person truly begin to develop critical thinking skills. And it is only then that a person can truly be free of the shackles of irrationality and magical thinking. Acknowledgement of my ability to be fooled is what has helped me in my path to a greater understanding of what ot means to be truly human.

I’ve been slumming again, at AoA. Yesterday’s post was about the supposed new information that SafeMinds had located in the Simpsonwood transcripts. There is only one link to the SafeMinds website…and it is a dead end link. Which one of the AoA editors is moderating the comments and which editor checked the copy, before the article went online?

http://www.ageofautism.com/2014/02/cdc-more-evidence-of-a-mercury-over-up.html

Go and view the comments, filled with all sorts of invective, conspiracy, theories of genocide, and vows to criminally prosecute each and every researcher ever involved in vaccine development.

Finally, one commenter tried to open that dead end link and posted this…

“When I clicked on the highlighted “See Simpsonwood transcript p.p. 41-42” here in Jim Thompson’s article it brought me to the SafeMinds website but the message read:

“Sorry, “The page you are finding seem doesn’t exist”

Is anyone else having a problem accessing it too?
(Also note the ungrammatical phrasing.) Seems to me it’s being blocked.

Posted by: Julie Penny | February 13, 2014 at 01:00 AM”

More proof that most of the commenters on AoA don’t actually read the articles and just post their usual dreck on every article that appears. Pathetic.

P.S. The broken link still has not been fixed.

A “friend” of mine of facebook who is rabidly antivax has absolutely no problem taking bong rip after bong rip of marijuana all day long. She also is very grateful for the new mouthful of dental implants she got and for the anti-nausea meds she took all throughout her pregnancy. When I asked her about that, she told me that her doctor assured her it was safe during pregnancy.

Yes that is just an anecdote, but I am sure she is pretty close to representing the deep thinking skills of most antivax moms. They absolutely do not reject modern medicine at all; when it is convenient and rewarding for THEM, then they absolutely love being in the pockets of big pharm and big medicine.

Another antivax “friend” immediately took her baby to the hospital when she suffered a bad burn. But then she was having a huge ethical and moral crisis when the doctors said her baby needed a tetanus shot. You could tell from her post that when she made the decision not to vaccinate, that it never even occurred to her that there is a very real reason why babies need vaccines. Until it happened. To HER. This is the selfishness, the obsession with one’s own brilliance, and the belief that YOU always know what is best for YOUR baby that has sparked the whole thing.

Reminds me of the GMO crowd. Or the animal liberationists who invade the mice labs and turn rodents loose all over the streets.

There is only one link to the SafeMinds website…and it is a dead end link.

Seems to be working now. IIRC, Thompson is “sdtech,” which would add amusement value to the screwup.

While there are fully immersed, fanatical alt med communities who depend on one another (re: cults), many are much more casual about it, all on their own. They are uneducated dabblers who know it is frowned upon but have their secret hopes for a cure, or are just covering their bases. I know many of these.

I also know those for whom alt med is a religion, and years ago they had me buying into the supplement scam for a few months until I realized that:
1. I felt no different whether I took supplements or not
2. Despite their “purity of body,” there was no difference anecdotally in who contracted cancer, arthritis, thyroid issues, bad colds, etc.
3. The government conspiracies were beyond belief with the slightest whiff of critical thinking
4. I found this website!

Or worse Brock, the morons in the UK that turned loose thousands of Minks (who are rather vicious to begin with) into the wild, only to see most of them get run over by cars & numerous others attack small children, pets, etc….these people really don’t have a rational bone in their body.

@Helianthus #22
I was aware of Bonobo behaviour, but just for a change I succumbed to using poetic licence instead of science 🙂

I totally agree with your nitpick regarding critical thinking because it’s something I take very seriously in the domain of health care and other vitally important domains that I occasionally comment on.

Until people accept their their “noggin” is a deception engine and embrace the evolutionary path it has taken and the reasons we are wired that way can a person truly begin to develop critical thinking skills.

Oh, I’d dispute that. In fact, I’d never even come across this seeming article of faith until running into self-labeled skeptics. There’s no evolutionary explanation needed for a simple desire to avoid being wrong and directing attention to recognizing when you don’t actually know something. It’s not as though analytical thinking didn’t exist before evolutionary theory.

(In the third grade, we actually had a weeklong exercise that culminated with a prize of being awarded a small pin with text reading something like “when I don’t know, I look it up” around a question mark. The eight-grade science teacher did something similar every Friday, handing out completely optional questions designed to send us scurrying off to the library. I think the prize was exemption from the next week’s quiz. Two of the questions were “What are the bond angles in H2O?” and “What’s the world’s largest wooden structure?” It’s just cultivating basic research skills.)

Lurker @5: “Crunchy” is meant to suggest granola, a breakfast food associated with hippies and other anti-authoritarian types. It’s an allegedly natural food that actually isn’t that much better for you than many of the highly processed alternatives.

And it’s a good analogy for lots of alt-med types. They promote certain remedies as being “natural”, implying that these remedies are somehow better than what science-based medicine has to offer, but most of them have no demonstrated effect, and most of the ones that do are actually harmful.

#32 Narad,

Am i right that the answers to the questions are about this much ( waves hands vaguely) and George W Bush?

but also although an evolutionary knowledge is not necessary for critical thinking the avoidance of wrong is not the same thing- thats what the antivaxxers do. they avoid being wrong by making sure that their version of events is trumpeted by the choir.
I suspect that past a certain level a knowledge of neuroscience is necessary to understand how wrong our instincts are, and why.

One of the most telling features of altmed/ anti-vax cults is that they instruct followers into what is taboo to eat or drnk and what particular foods/ beverages increase your ‘mana’ or chi** ( so to speak). Obviously they also subscibe to a variety of ritual purifications.

Ingesting food and drink enables us to incorporate parts of the external world and transform them into *ourselves*: symbolically this is a big deal- altho’ it is strictly true on a chemical level: we eat calcium and turn it into bone and need iron for haemmoglobin, etc.

But the religious aspect of alt med declares that there are ‘good and bad’ choices that go beyond whether they are nutritional or not: in particular quarters, meat, dairy products, processed foods or GMOs arescorned and characterised as quite evil and damaging to life; I occasionally hear more than a hint of self-righteous indignation that people who eat fast foods and standard fare are somehow corrupt and decadent, being made so by their dining choices. Thus they deserve their ultimate fate: the wages of sin is death.

** many arcane vegetable-based nutrients too numerous to name but easy to merchandise.

What irritates me about crunchies — and I apologize in advance if I step on the toes of any parent regulars here whom I respect — is that assumption that motherhood automatically confers a mystical knowledge and some spiritual and cognitive gifts that no one else possesses*.

So you’re a mom (or dad although warrior daddies seem to be thinner on the ground). Big fat hairy deal. You spread your legs, popped out the kid, and now you’re an Oracle? Hell, my cat can do that.

(*Mandatory disclosure statement; I am childless but I work in the public sector; if having children automatically turned the average woman into a loving and omniscient goddess, we wouldn’t need DCFS, would we.)

#35 your answers may be superficially true but mine have a deeper spiritual meaning

You spread your legs, popped out the kid, and now you’re an Oracle? Hell, my cat can do that.

That’s not exactly the posture during feline delivery.

if having children automatically turned the average woman into a loving and omniscient goddess, we wouldn’t need DCFS, would we

I happen to be reading this (PDF) at the moment. It might be more accurate to say that we wouldn’t need something like what DCFS is supposed to be.

@ Shay:

But you see, giving birth is a rite of transformation changing a woman into a demi-goddess. If you have more than one, you are officially a full** goddess- these things add up.

What did Goethe’s Faust say: “The Mothers!” (( shudder))

** which may be spelt differently if referring to TMR.

Granola may be not very “healthy” but it is delicious.

Denice – at my local grocery store they sell a bottle of concentrated cherry juice for twenty-three bucks. You can get ordinary 100% cherry juice in another aisle for three-fifty, but it doesn’t come with all those over the top health claims. Or hey, you can get cherries in the produce department.

You’re the one in a cult, Orac. And your god is vaccine. Everyone else just wants to be left alone but you and your cultist followers have to use the law to force vaccination on the public. Vaccine extremists such as yourself tell each other what a miracle vaccines are, imagine mild illnesses to be killer diseases and celebrate occassions such as teen vaccine week, adult immunization month etc. Most of you have no lives and vaccine worship and or fantasizing that you are saving lives is a mechanism you use to delude yourselves into thinking your lives have meaning. They don’t. You’re simply a bunch of science nerds and or germaphobes rejected by mainstream society that have developed a fixation on vaccies in order to generate a false sense of self importance. This is usually the case with people who must meddle in the lives of others

Right, cherry juice concentrate is currently being hawked as an arthritis med, sleep aid, method of rejuvenating collagen and hence the appearance of aging skin- and probably has other miraculous uses for its antho- and/ or proanthcyanidins of which I am unaware.

I’ve got a bottle of that regular cherry juice in my fridge right now. Good stuff, but I don’t need an excuse to drink it.

Most of you have no lives and vaccine worship and or fantasizing that you are saving lives is a mechanism you use to delude yourselves into thinking your lives have meaning. They don’t.

Project much, Mr. Schecter?

You’re simply a bunch of science nerds

And you’re simply a bully.

your answers may be superficially true but mine have a deeper spiritual meaning

“One morning, during Yong Maeng Jong Jin at the Providence Zen Center, a student walked into the interview room and bowed to Seung Sahn Soen-sa.

“Soen-sa said, ‘What is the true way?’

“The student shouted ‘KATZ!!!’

“Soen-sa said, ‘That answer is neither good nor bad. It has cut off all thinking, so there is no speech, no Buddha, no mind, no way. Tell me then: what is the true way?’ The student said, ‘The sky is blue.’

“Soen-sa said, ‘That’s true enough, but it is not the way.’

“Then, holding up his Zen stick, ‘What color is this?’

“‘Brown.’

“‘Yes. When I ask you what color is the stick, you don’t answer, ‘The bell is yellow,’ even though that’s perfectly true. It would be scratching your left foot when your right one itches. It’s the same when I ask you what is the true way and you answer, ‘The sky is blue.’

“‘Go ask a child about the true way. A child will give you a good answer. Zen mind is children’s mind. Children have no past or future, they are always living in the truth, which is just like this. When they are hungry, they eat; when they are tired, they rest. Children understand everything. So let me ask you again: what is the true way?’

“The student stood up and bowed.

“Soen-sa said, ‘This is the Great Way, the Buddha Way, the Tao. It is not the true way. Do you hear the sounds outside the window?’

“‘Yes.’

“‘What are they?’

“‘Cars.’

“‘Where are these cars driving?’

“‘Over there.’

“‘What is the name over there?’

“The student was confused and said nothing.

“Soen-sa said, ‘It is Route 95. That is the true way. Hope Street is the true way. Doyle Avenue is the true way. The way is only the way. There is nothing beyond.’

“The student bowed and said, ‘I understand. Thank you.’

“Soen-sa said, ‘You’re welcome. Now what is the true way?’

“The student said, ‘Route 95 goes from Providence to Boston.’

“Soen-sa closed his eyes.”

Most of you have no lives and vaccine worship and or fantasizing that you are saving lives is a mechanism you use to delude yourselves into thinking your lives have meaning. They don’t.

When’s Pigasarius Publishing going to release its next first title?

@Narad
Building the fan base first. Almost 45,000 Facebook fans. It’s called business.

This “Leaving the Anti-Vaccine Movement” article cited here is great! I’ll save it in my tool bag (weapons arsenal) for use when countering anti-vax inanity.

Building the fan base first. Almost 45,000 Facebook fans. It’s called pretending to have a business.

FTFY.

President
Pressarius Publishing

March 2009 – Present (5 years)

Groups and Associations:

Book Publishing Professionals
Book Writing, Self Publishing, and Marketing for Business
On Startups – The Community For Entrepreneurs
Publishers & Book sellers association
ThoseinMedia

These aren’t even real trade associations, they’re LinkedIn “groups.” You’re a random dildο with a Facebook page and delusions of grandeur, not the president of a publishing company or, for that matter, seemingly competent at your self-identified specialty of “writing and editing.”*

How are your engagement numbers? Oh, right, you can’t afford professional metrics.

* Check out this declaration of war on style and usage.

Narad…I already checked out Offal’s most recent blog post. How proud he must be that L. Hubbs posts comments on his blog.

“You spread your legs, popped out the kid, and now you’re an Oracle? Hell, my cat can do that.”

I’ve always wanted an Oracle cat. You should put him/her on Twitter.

You’re the one in a cult, Orac

A cult supported by 30 years of legitimate research, dickwad.

Denice @36:

But the religious aspect of alt med declares that there are ‘good and bad’ choices that go beyond whether they are nutritional or not: in particular quarters, meat, dairy products, processed foods or GMOs arescorned and characterised as quite evil and damaging to life;

This is well illustrated by the fact that you can, if you wish, purchase “GMO-free” salt. Whenyou pointed out that salt cannot be genetically modified, the anti-GMO loons tell you that the GMO-free label is applied to the minute amount of dextrose filler added to packets of table salt; you point out that dextrose is just a chemical molecule without any genes and get the reply is that it’s derived from corn, which *can* be genetically modified.
In other words, ordinary chemicals can be magically contaminated and made ritually impure by second-hand and even third-hand contact with GMOs. It’s as bad as the purity rules of the Roma; worse, in fact, as the Romas’ rules have a basis in practical hygiene

I got my flu vaccine a mere 49 days ago, and now I am struck with the dreaded coryza AND steternation AND tussis WITH sputum. It’s a vaccine injury, I tell you.

She’s not as smart as a Gumbie cat but she’s much more photogenic.

You should see the cheesecake-photo poses my penultimate rescue kitten (well, ~8 months) is putting on offer now that her belly fur is growing back in. It’s shameless.

Further to Mrs Grimble #59:

This is well illustrated by the fact that you can, if you wish, purchase “GMO-free” salt.
[…]
In other words, ordinary chemicals can be magically contaminated and made ritually impure by second-hand and even third-hand contact with GMOs.

“Support for my theory continues to accrue at an alarming rate.” 🙂

/(hyperlinks provided to provide context for reference)

Mrs Grimble,

In other words, ordinary chemicals can be magically contaminated and made ritually impure by second-hand and even third-hand contact with GMOs.

Years ago I remember a chap on some CAM forum I used to peruse mentioned that he could not tolerate corn, especially GM corn. This caused a problem as he took huge amounts of vitamin C, which is mostly made from glucose derived from corn. He explained that he had found a solution, and bought his vitamin C from a company that offered an expensive, corn-free, organic variety of the panacea.

Curious, I dug a bit deeper, and tracked down the source of this amazing vitamin C from information on the company’s website. It was made from good old US GM corn, of course, hydrolyzed to glucose with acids, then put through some extremely unnatural sounding industrial processes. I never had the heart to tell the corn-intolerant person this.

Mrs Grimble @59: Two days ago I listened to a man talk to himself (or his phone, it was hard to tell) about if he should buy the regular saline nasal spray, or the organic saline nasal spray. I desperately wanted to ask how any carbon-free chemical could possibly be organic, but I’ve learned not to ask chemistry questions of the possibly crazy people at my grocery store.

Just wanted to say thanks for discussing my article! Your commentary was spot on. The cult similarities became so apparent once I began questioning the antivaccine movement.

“Sid’s” facebook page ( i.e The Vaccine Machine) does have about 45K friends BUT I wonder what that has to do with business:

parents who doubt SBM and wish to evade vaccinating their children** frequent this page and trade information about how to get exemptions, find anti-vax tolerant doctors, ask for and discuss natural cures for all-wot-ails-ye.

Although he might be building an audience for like-minded patrons (like AoA or TMR sell books and ads for supplements and services), it seems that one of this site’s selling points is that it IS free. People trade information w/o fact checking or SB peer reviewing. They just talk.

So how do you make money off of that? I guess he could set differently ( off FB) and sell ads.

** sometimes their pets also like today.

Rustichealthy found naturalmomma

http://naturalmomma.tumblr.com/page/2
Thank you for your response

So, you’ve not tried vitamins and natural remedies for yourself, and that’s what I was wondering. I’m in process of writing (trying to finish:) a book on what I call “rustic” healthy i.e. natural health 🙂 having lots of information, (based on science too 🙂 I’m not a professional, just my experience, and what I’ve found in the last few years. But, thank you again, wish you the best, hope your little one is doing better. Peace.

———————————————————-

Whoa whoa whoa. You don’t have my permission to use anything I’ve said in your book. I have tried natural remedies for myself, some of them at least, but I do not give you permission to use anything in your book. Asking me a question meant for a book without telling me is dishonest.

@ Mrs Grimble:

According to its website/ labels, Celtic Sea Salt is GMO Free, raw, Kosher Pareve, vegan and gluten free.

It apparently doesn’t contain any Celts either.

@ Bill Price:

HOWEVER he who insists upon this product is of the keltoi.

Actually the salt doesn’t taste half bad: at 10 (?) times the price of regular salt, it’d better.

The other day my hubby went into a grocery store for bread, and the woman at the cash register enthusiastically told him that they had organic bread. He said, “Oh, good. That must mean that you also have inorganic bread.” She paused, and said, “I’ll have to check on that”. Heh.

@ Megan Sandlin:

To me, the most important common feature is that alt med/ anti-vax advocates seek to LIMIT informational sources that their followers might encounter-
so they teach that-
standard references are all ‘compromised”: experts are ‘in the pocket of Big Pharma’, governmental agencies, medical associations and the media are also out of the question.
That leaves only their woo.

Ms Klemperer-Wells: “Rustichealthy found naturalmomma”

Oh, deer. Rustichealthy is very special:

WLU….small pox, diptheria, viruses, measles, mumps… even polio..are all actually nutrient deficiencies…babies/children, especially, with low immunities contract them..of course, if they’re living in climates that don’t have all the healthy food they need. Today we have not only the food available, but the vitamins to boost immunity. They’re vitamin deficiencies. Perhaps before the discovery of vitamins..vaccinations (called immunizations) were warranted..not now.

Chris you just don’t understand — those of us Baby Boomers who got measles, mumps, and all those other childhood diseases back in the 50’s and 60’s did so because places like Scranton and Pasadena and Ann Arbor were cesspools of malnutrition 50 years ago.

Plus, vitamins hadn’t been invented yet!

Rustichealthy on SBM was so very special. Fortunately she did not have as much tenacity as Thingy.

Rusty on SBM promised to move out of the United States, if President Obama got reelected.

IIRC, Rusty couldn’t define the differences between fascism, socialism and communism.

Yeah, that ol’ “I’m moving to Canada if (fill in the blanks) is elected!”

It never seems to occur to these nimrods that Canada probably doesn’t want them.

Whether skeptic or antivax there’s a lot in common with teen gangs and fringe churches. Violate the code, and you’re an outcast, or worse.

@T. #18
I started reading up on that and it sounds like another case of misapplying the law to muzzle a critic because you can’t find any evidence to back up your own claims. I’m surprised it hasn’t been more widely reported on.

@squirrelelite #75
Ah Berkeley, where cutting edge science and naturalistic fallacy spewing fools collide head first. I’m really shocked that an unvaccinated student was allowed to attend classes, and worried because BART carries almost half a million passengers every day all around the Bay Area. I truly hope this doesn’t start an outbreak.

Yeah, that ol’ “I’m moving to Canada if (fill in the blanks) is elected!”

I must admit, I now scratch my head when I see this claim. Generally, the people who make this threat/claim/whatever are of a Republican/Conservative bent, correct?
Yet Canada is far more liberal than the US, correct?
I can’t see the logic.

You’re simply a bunch of science nerds

Well yes, that’s true for a number of us. And your point?
You say it as it is a bad thing.

L[email protected] Go and view the comments, filled with all sorts of invective, conspiracy, theories of genocide, and vows to criminally prosecute each and every researcher ever involved in vaccine development.
This sounds pretty much like what we get some of the more ‘extreme’ anti-fluoridation activists, here in NZ. Plus, of course, the inevitable claims about corruption & being bought by Big Fluoride (who, frankly, could take a leaf out of Lord Draconis’s book – long may his scales be bright – when it comes to regularity & quantity of largesse 🙂 )

Generally, the people who make this threat/claim/whatever are of a Republican/Conservative bent, correct?

It was pretty common at MDC whenever their Vaccine Freedom was being perceived as threatened. It never seemed to occur to anyone that professional mommies maybe with Etsy shops are not high on the immigrant list and the “refugee” angle wasn’t going to fly.

I suppose Orac will start telling us to eat more fruit next. Shilling for Big Banana.

@ Alison: Right after I posted that comment, an “erratum” was added to the blog, with a link that worked, directing the AoA readers to a proper link.

(The AoA editors and denizens do lurk on RI), and ~ 18 months ago, I posted a comment at one of the editors advising her that her dating of certain well-known conferences were dead wrong. To her credit, she did correct her copy (but didn’t post an erratum).

Another theme that I see is when some of those “mommies” claim that the diagnosing physician who provided an ASD diagnosis for their children when they were younger, actually told the mommies that there children would never progress and would have to be institutionalized at some time in the future…pure unadulterated b.s.

Their children had the benefit of Early Intervention Service and a host of traditional services such as ABA , OT and speech/language therapies, but, according to the mommies, progress was slow. When the warrior moms shlepped the kids to DAN! doctors or other quacks and were “tested” and found to have yeast, fungal and untreated viral and gut problems and the mommies put their kids on very restricted diets and the children were prescribed unnecessary extended yeast/fungal/antiviral medication regimens….the miraculous “recovery’ occurred. No mention is ever made about intensive Early Intervention, traditional therapies and the childrens’ maturation, which ameliorated their problems and resulted in “recovery”.

They all inhabit la-la land and lack the ability to understand the nature of most ASDs diagnoses and they need that self-affirmation as well as validation from their “group”, that they know more than the doctors. Such is the nature of these warrior moms.

@reader #80,

Whether skeptic or antivax there’s a lot in common with teen gangs and fringe churches. Violate the code, and you’re an outcast, or worse.

That really isn’t true of skeptics. There is lots of disagreement, but dissenters aren’t “out”, unless they insist on promoting views that are not supported by evidence, and even then no one is usually banned in any way for simply holding a dissenting view.

On this blog, for example, dissenters are tolerated, though anyone putting forward unconventional views can expect to be asked to support them. There are semi-regular commenters here who hold fringe views, such as insisting that everything medical somehow relates to nitrogen oxides, that acetaminophen in infancy causes various problems or that acupuncture works for cardiac arrhythmias. Their assertions may be challenged, some of us may roll our eyes when we see a comment from then, but they aren’t outcasts.

Even Greg is tolerated here. He clings desperately to his idée fixe, playing a weird deranged game* in which he is the one with the truth and everyone else secretly knows it, though his claims have been repeatedly and comprehensively dismantled. He is also sometimes quite offensive. Try doing what he does here on AoA, or (in my experience) even post a polite comment that disagrees with anything they have claimed, and your comments will never appear.

* I sincerely do hope it’s a game. If he really does believe what he claims, I have concerns for his mental health.

The wonders of social media and GMO-free salt. I found this entry on Facebook: “… This one is not only GMO-free, but doesn’t contain any chemicals either!”

Correct me if I’m wrong: salt that doesn’t contain any chemicals would have zero mass.

Dietary salt (sodium chloride) consists of at least four chemicals: 23Na, 35Cl, 37Cl, and trace amounts of the radioactive isotope 36Cl. I would have thought that those worried about “chemicals” would be raving about the benefits of “low radiation salt” rather than GMO-free salt.

Pete Attkins,

Correct me if I’m wrong: salt that doesn’t contain any chemicals would have zero mass.

If it’s really special salt it might have negative mass, and levitate, on account of the ormus it contains. (By the way, the “ormus” in those bottles has “the consistency of milk of magnesia” because it is milk of magnesia i.e. magnesium hydroxide, precipitated from sea water solution by adding lye).

You’re simply a bunch of science nerds
That’s so not fair. We also have grammar and spelling and history nerds.

@Helianthus #83
Perhaps some commentators have’t yet realized this website is called ScienceBlogs, not Anti-Science Blogs. I guess proponents of anti-science can’t understand why anyone would bother to learn science, its methods, and critical thinking skills.

@Pete Attkins – I’m amused at the concept of chemical free salt as well. However, you’ve listed isotopes instead of chemicals. I’m sure isotopes are even scarier than chemicals because some of them might be radioisotopes (the older cousin of TVisotopes?). Table salt also contains ions (typically Na+ and Cl-, though possibly a few others as well depending on impurities); I suspect ions may be OK but they are suspect and bear watching.

@Krebiozen, I’d be delighted to purchase negative mass special salt: the more kilograms of it I buy the more money I’ll receive from the supplier (according to UK Weights & Measures legislation). Thanks for the link.

So Thinking Moms Revolution sold itself for a paid advertorial and a bunch of links, telling parents that coconut oil treats autism?

What disgusting assholes.

@ Pete Attkins

and trace amounts of the radioactive isotope 36Cl.

Should we point out to the natural crowd that potassium and carbon atoms all have natural unstable isotopes? They do give the human body a nice aura of radioactive decay.
Not a reason to go visit the core of a nuclear power plant, mind you. There is something as too much of a good thing.

As for the anti-science crowd, it’s people being proud of being anti-elitism – smarter than the guy/lass in a position of authority.
However, there is a lot of conformism in their anti-conformism stand, to paraphrase Umberto Eco (talking about hipsters rather than alt-meds, but there is some overlap).
And conformism brings us back to cult-like behaviors.

@72
I imagine inorganic bread would be like the dwarf battle bread in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld stories? Made with only the finest grit!

@ Rebecca Fisher:

Right. That was written by Dragon Slayer, a TM from Malaysia, who just recently ( in the past month?) wrote a long epistle trumpetting the merits of an essential oil ‘first aid ‘kit ( I won’t give them free adverts by mentioning their name- ALTHO’ @ RI, it would automatically become an anti-advert): seems she and her family visited Japan and the magickal oils enabled them to avoid hospital for food poisoning and as well as exhibiting all other sorts of miraculous powers that made their travels just SUPER!

So she’s a shill for Big Oil.
Not THAT Big Oil. That’s BIG Big Oil: this is the smaller one.

@Jeff1971 – That’s certainly how it looks to someone who works in publishing…

I like aspects of attachment parenting, but I’m sorry, but being anti-vaccination isn’t logical when you look at the actual science and history behind it. As for infant circumcision, I hate it and I think people should be able to decide when it comes to their own genitals.

But vaccines are useful, I’m sure chemtrails don’t exist, GMO fear is probably exaggerated and people need to SCIENCE more.

@Helianthus #97: Good point, see below.

@Mephistopheles O’Brien #94
Some chemicals have no known isotopes, but sodium and chlorine do have known isotopes. The sodium component of sodium chloride is 23Na (its only stable isotope), but the chlorine component is approx. 76% 35Cl and 24% 37Cl (both stable isotopes), and a trace amount of the unstable radioisotope 36Cl.

IIRC, salt ions exist only when in solution e.g. in our “wet” bodies. Ions are essential to all cell-based organisms.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ion_channel

A point continually missed by those obsessed with “natural” is that humans consist of many radioisotopes (carbon-14 being just one example). Humans emit enough alpha and beta particles each day that even just shaking hands with someone does increase one’s likelihood of getting cancer (albeit minutely in my opinion). Sleeping every night with a partner multiplies this risk manyfold, as does having close contact with pet animals. Do I worry about this risk? Of course not, but I’m not an alarmist who constantly worries about GMO salt (whatever that is) or the incredibly low probability of harm that might result from immunization.

The long-term effect of raised cortisol levels in those chronically stresses by fears of GMO, vaccines, etc. will be many orders of magnitude worse than any possible harm done by the things they are worrying about. Marketing does, of course, rely almost entirely on messing around with our cortisol level and our fight-or-flight and reward mechanisms.

Organic quackery may be turning into the quackery to control them all rather than homeopathy. USDA gives this quackery a veneer of acceptability but under it lies pure quackery. Vitamins and vaccines, if used, must not be made in any way by GMO even if it is a purified molecule. Organic vets push homeopathic remedies and acupuncture. Organic is the gateway to all other quackeries.

@Pete Attkins,
Just to go chemical geek for a moment, all salts are a different class of compounds from molecular compounds like water or CO2.
The metal atom like sodium is fully ionized, giving it a positive charge, while the electron(s) tightly bind to the electronegative element in the compound like chlorine. These ions are arranged in a crystal lattice which is overall neutral.
As you pointed out, the ions are freed up to float around in a solution like water.
And, as you noted, all humans are naturally radioactive.
I have a shirt I got from the ANS that points it out like these stickers:
http://www.ans.org/store/i_750046/r_a

It also amuses me when health food sites tout Brazil nuts as one of the healthiest nuts. I think they’re grown in a region that has a lot of uranium in the soil and they’re the most radioactive nuts in the world, mainly from radium.

Except at least one of them is not: the bond angles in H2O are 104.5.

That was just sloppiness on my part. After 35 years, I only remembered 10x.5 and “hangar.”

Even Greg is tolerated here. He clings desperately to his idée fixe, playing a weird deranged game* in which he is the one with the truth and everyone else secretly knows it, though his claims have been repeatedly and comprehensively dismantled.

Does anyone know if Greg has ever made a statement of fact that has been verified to be true? It’s no doubt confirmation bias on my part, but I don’t recall an occasion.

@mike #103, you may be right. My observations of recent trends in pseudopsychology make me think that anti-science business empires are still relying on the divide and conquer approach, which history has shown to be more effective than a collaborative attack on science. Anti-science in general seems to also rely on the cyclic model used by the fashion industry.

@squirrelelite #104, many thanks for your reply and the link showing your very apt shirt. I could add many things supporting what what you’ve written about nuts being healthy, but I think it wise for me to refrain from further giving the “all natural” crowd more doses of their own “medicine” 🙂

Squirrelite isn’t the only nuclear geek in this here crowd, yanno… 🙂

Any examination of the yearly annual radiation dose for a given location has to take into account all that lovely natural radon seeping out of our radioactive planet.

You’re right, Scottynuke!

And back in the 20’s, people used to deliberately get dosed with radon because they thought it was healthy!?!?!?

Nowadays, it’s still a concern in basements with so-so air circulation, like the one I set up my study in when I was at U of M.
And, you’re welcome, Pete Attkins!

Don’t forget thorium toothpaste to “radiate cavities away”.

But seriously, it’s an article of faith with the crunchy-granola crowd that there was no such thing as radioactivity before 1945, and that it’s all manmade.

@108: I’m pretty sure that the Greg entity has felt something approximating mirth while entering “hee hee hee,” if that counts at all.

Believe it or not, Mikey is now publicising results from his “lab” that show how often natural foods have deadly radiation. ( Natural News)
None of *his* products, of course.

@ Mewens:
I’ve owned Italian shoes that were more clever than the entity you describe.

ha ha ha, I’ve no doubt of that, Domina Walter. Of course, simple velcro tennies are cleverererer than our dear friend – you might actually be damning your (undoubtedly fantastic) trompers with faint praise.

@RobRN,
I wasn’t aware of that, but I see he got his MPH there before going to instruct at UCSF.

Too bad. Berkeley and the LBL have a great tradition in science. But, it seems the area is awash with free non-thinkers.

And back in the 20′s, people used to deliberately get dosed with radon because they thought it was healthy!?!?!?

There are examples from the ’60s. One nice tidbit from the mine: “Additionally, this modality is effective for – but not limited to – the following conditions and symptoms… Circulation.”

@Denice #116 — I wonder if Mikey has all his sooper-special equipment set up on real granite countertops? I wonder, I does.

@ Mewens:

I can’t wear the cleverest shoes for more than an hour as I hurt my foot 2 years ago so I have to think either more ‘Marie Antoinette’ or “Expeditionary Forces’- both of which work surprisingly well. Also smarter than you-know.

@ Scottynuke:

I would guess that he’d have no idea whatsoever ‘scientist’ that he is and all.

However he is very worried about the hidden metals in Chinese rice. Mikey and Food Babe ( I swear I didn’t make that nym up- she did) are busy confronting companies who sell bad, contaminated stuff that they laughingly call ‘food’.

Denice @124 – Mikey and the like are, of course, fullovit, but arsenic in rice is a legitimate concern.

Apparently arsenic can have measurable effects on public health even at very low exposure levels.

#88 Rebecca, I have made a similar comment about the incestuous nature of the ads for coconut oil appearing along with the article touting its benefits; mine is also “in moderation.” Some nut named “Free People” on NaturalNews recommended I try it for my “dementia.” Of course, she/he also discusses chemtrails, so.

@squirrelelite #75

I hadn’t heard about the measles case. As a regular commuter in BART with a parent undergoing some heeeeeavy chemo (leukemia, bah) I need to know this. Thanks!

@ palindrom:

Of course.
HOWEVER Mikey seems more concerned about *other* metals than arsenic. He has a petition up about those ( @ Natural News).

He would have you believe that NO ONE looks at levels of lead et al in foods. He’s the ONLY one concerned about public health ( Don’t trust governmental agencies or universities) and he ISN’T being paid off by Big Farmer. He praises small concerns- like a rice company founded by nice Swedish people in California- which is surprising as he usually writes how toxins in the wind from massive, polluting industrialisation in China and radiation from Fukushima settle in the agricultural valleys of that state.

Mikey’s greatest concern is about how these metals show up in rice protein products like those that he and his followers consume several times a day as many of them shun meat and/ or dairy- so rice protein it is!

Interesting how natural food gurus ™ ingest mountains of dried vegetable and fruit powders and vegan proteins from rice or soy in order to get “back to Nature’.

You’re welcome, Johanna.
I just happened to notice that news on msn.com. It will be interesting to see if many measles cases turn up in the next few months.

@palindrom
Arsenic in drinking water is a concern in some areas including here in Albuquerque. Until recently, virtually all of the city’s water was pumped from underground sources.
These have been augmented with water transferred from the Colorado River into the Rio Grande.

http://www.abcwua.org/Arsenic_Compliance_and_Health_Effects.aspx
The water is now being treated at a pilot plant that started in 2007.
One source I saw noted arsenic as a risk factor for cancer. I also noted alpha radiation from the water and radon gas in various areas of the city as concerns.
On windy days like today, I don’t worry about the radon concentration too much.

He praises small concerns- like a rice company founded by nice Swedish people in California

Sure enough, it’s Lundberg. They’re not all that small.

The bit about the “secret phone meeting” is a riot, though. And I’m sure Lundberg would be fascinated to know that Mikey’s “tests” yielded results for arsenic that are drastically elevated compared with their own, particularly given the amount of effort they’ve already put into establishing credibility with consumers on this subject.

Perhaps he didn’t have any money left over to test other brands.

Perhaps he didn’t have any money left over to test other brands.

He probably spent it all on quality assurance.

At the risk of inflating Gurg’s already delusional sense of self-importance, I must say that “hee hee” makes me mental. I had a secretary for a few years who was fabulously competent and organized. That said, she would do this sort of little girl voice and would say “hee hee” whenver she thought something was cute or funny. Not actually laughing, but just saying it. I think it was totally unconscious and I knew if I said anything about it I’d be the bad guy. So I let it slide until I was two or three “hee hees” away from exploding when she announced that she was moving to a new company. Saved by a competitor.

^ The results from Mike-o and the Magic Massy Machine* are here, for comparison. The multipler from micrograms per serving to ppm is 0.022.

* See here for the reference. It’s fairly obscure even in the U.S.

I must say that Olmsted may have something of a talent for puzzling attempts at metaphor. In today’s “Weekly Wrong Wank Wrap,” the lede is

Mainstream medical and media types have decided to kick Andy Wakefield in the terminal ilium [sic] again.

Does this mean Wakefraud’s already down on the mat? The slot must have loathed him when he worked as a reporter: “Yong [sic*] is a junior fellow at Emory University [beg pardon?] in Atlanta, a virtual [sic] assisted living facility for emeriti [double sic] CDC vaccine officials like [sic] Walt Orenstein and Robert Chen [whoops]. I’m sure they cabled [sic] their approval.”

* He actually gets the name wrong all four times.

Wasn’t it Olmsted that the father of one of the Wakefield case children wrote to and told him that Wakefield’s paper was a “complete fabrication”?

Sounds like evidence to me.

@ Narad:

He tested a US product in contradistinction to those from
China ((shudder)): he seems to really loathe their products esp supplements so I guess rice should also be a polluted monstrosiity.

I believe that he has business concerns with the *other* China.

I think that MIkey’s Meister plan is to serve as an altie FDA for the woo-centric: he’ll tell you which woo is the better woo as that is not the business of a governmental organisation.
So previously, he “educated” his followers about how miserably deficient *standard* foods are and NOW he’ll “enlighten” them about the pitfalls of *other* people’s woo/ product lines.

Perhaps he’ll discover that several rice protein powders utilise Chinese rice.

Wait’ll he gets to green tea.

@ lilady:

I saw that!
Perhaps he should re-name his blog “Blaxill Investigated’ or “Where the Loons Come Home to Roost”.

Oddly enough, Mikey( and Food Babe) attack/s companies that sell ‘toxin-laced’ rice protein whilst he himself sells Rejuvenate Plus – green or red- which both list ‘rice protein’ as the protein ingredient.
Must be pure as the driven snow.

Someone should give Dan a lesson in basic human anatomy

I doubt that he realized he was also invoking this, but yah, you’d think he would at least have figured out where it is by this point.

Uh-oh, Danny Boy extends his ignorance and telescopes his game plan to boot (emphasis added):

Now, as his libel case against Deer twists in the jurisdictional wind in Texas, where an appeals court is taking a suspiciously long time to make up its mind on this simple issue….

Maybe he should try hanging around here sometime. Of course, the notion that the issue is “simple” kind of overlooks the nature of the contortionism on the part of the plaintiff-appellant.

Ooh, Jenny Allan is even more clueless:

Yes- This IS suspicious. To recap, the three judges in Texas are NOT judging the Wakefield V BMJ Godlee and Deer litigation

Well, to the extent that he’s already lost, sure.

but are deliberating over whether or not this action should be heard in a Texas Court.

Apparently, the whole of the case record has sailed over Ms. Allan’s head. Wakefraud is hanging his hat on the notion that the jurisdictional claim was waived by virtue of the filing of the anti-SLAPP. It’s not really about the long-arm statute any more, but whether Wakefraud can make an end run around it.

Godlee, Deer & Co are trying to convince the judges this is an ENGLISH issue and should be decided in the UK.

Not even close.

Dr Wakefield has lived in Texas for the past twelve years and has brought up his family there. The BMJ article was published Jan 2011, and was available in both online and hard copy form in Texas at that time. Non BMJ subscribers worldwide could access the article free via the internet.

You don’t understand that you just shot yourself in the foot, do you, Jenny?

There are several legal precedents. In theory at least, all Dr Wakefield has to prove to the court is that Deer’s BMJ article was available and delivered to Texas subscibers.

You might actually want to read those precedents, which, y’know, state the opposite.

Judge Amy Meacham took only a few hours to ‘throw out’ the Wakefield case, stating this did not come under the ‘jurisdiction’ of the Texas Courts.

This is apparently a novel definition of “hours,” given that it took eight months from start to finish.

Dr Wakefield’s faith in ‘Texas Justice’ appears to have been misplaced, from my side of the Atlantic. I pray I am wrong!!

If you mean you hope he wins the appeal, so does everybody on the sidelines, Jenny, because that anti-SLAPP would leave a mark in more than one place.

The last time I corrected copy on AoA, ~ 10 days ago, our Ilium-Kissing Troll sped over to AoA to inform the editor about the broken link.

Where’s Kent Heckenlively? He’s an attorney and could be checking the status of the Texas lawsuit for Dan.

Where’s Kent Heckenlively? He’s an attorney and could be checking the status of the Texas lawsuit for Dan.

I wouldn’t leap to assumptions; he’s only an ‘attorney’ if he’s actually representing someone. There’s not really anything to check about the Wakefield suit: Wakers seems to be getting antsy, so they submitted a postsubmission brief and exhibits with no sign of having been asked for anything, in which case a good bet is that the net effect will be simply to annoy the court.

One legacy of disease promoters, stimulated by Wakefraud amongst others, is outlined in this article from the Sunday Times (UK). The article discusses spikes in the incidence of measles worldwide.

Unfortunately, you need a subscription to read the full article but I was pleased that in the print version reproduced in The Australian newspaper, Wakers was consistently referred to as “Mr” Wakefield, having been struck off by the GMC (General Medical Council UK).

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Health/article1376354.ece

He may have been struck off, but they cannot remove his medical qualification, so he remains a doctor, unfortunately.

I see the Times article has 5 comments so far (but cannot view). What’s the bet at least 2 or 3 of them are from John Stone, Wakefraud apologist?

Lilady, I can’t find any recent comments over there – they all seem to be 5 or 6 days old at the most recent. I have posted a few comments – all in moderation.

dingo 199: Go back to see the oldest comments on top where I and some other posters have commented back at Parker…and she keeps on posting back at us.

Our Ileum-Kissing Troll just posted a comment at Parker, complementing her for her carpet bombing strafing remarks on the CNN site.

He may have been struck off, but they cannot remove his medical qualification, so he remains a doctor, unfortunately.

Not in the U.S., if he’s referring to himself. Use of the title is regulated by state law; as I often point out, in Maine he can’t even append “M.D.” to his name.

Sure, he can’t practice, but he can still call himself a doctor.

The degree of the restriction varies by state, but broadly speaking, no, he cannot safely use the title as a professional asset.

Antivaxers are undoubtedly stamping their little cultish feet in frustration over publicity for the new C. difficile vaccine. Recruitment is underway for 200 clinical trials around the world:

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/Feb/03/cdiff-vaccine-san-diego/

What a great thing this will be if susceptible people have a way to protect themselves against life-threatening C. diff colitis. If I fit the study criteria I’d definitely sign up for a trial in my area.

Antivaxers are undoubtedly stamping their little cultish feet in frustration over publicity for the new C. difficile vaccine.

The objection is already set up:

“A healthy human gut contains a wide variety of bacteria. Though we tend to define some as ‘good’—probacteria—and others as ‘bad’—pathogens—the reality is more complex. What’s important is the right balance, which is far more complex. Any bacteria can become problematic in excess, meaning that even so-called good bacteria can cause problems if they’re in too great abundance. Therefore, even so-called bad bacteria, like C. bolteae’s cousin, C. difficile, which can be life-threatening, has a place in the healthy gut of many people. In fact, C. difficile is not necessarily an invasive pathogen. It’s often found in the gut of perfectly healthy people. It’s only when it’s out of balance that there’s a problem.”

I note from the Dachelbot’s latest “Media Review” that it was unable to “post a comment” here. I wonder if it’s just been banned on this site or if Disqustink has an overarching reputation system.

Re: use of the title, “Dr”

In the UK, where Wakers qualified, the basic medical degree is a bachelor, not a doctorate. Only a minority go on to obtain a higher degree, eg PhD, MD etc. Technically, therefore, the appellation “Dr” is an honorary title for most UK qualified
physicians. I don’t know if Wakefraud obtained a PhD or similar. If not, it is perfectly correct to refer to him as “Mr”.

In the Texas appellate proceedings, he styles himself as “Dr. Andrew J. Wakefield, MB, BS.”

“Yog Hurt!” is the Lovecraft equivalent of Stan Lee’s “Hulk Smash!”

‘Nuff said.

@Dangerous Bacon

Considering that C. diff infections can kill 14,000 in the US alone, I’d say a vaccine against this would be welcome. Also, the spores are difficult to kill

Also, considering the isolation procedures that a patient at the hospital with C. diff infection has to go through, as well as the horrible diarrhea that goes with it, I don’t think anyone would want to suffer through that.

@DrBollocks, I understand that Wakefield has the basic medical degree, not a doctorate. He therefore is not entitled to the honourific.

In the UK, where Wakers qualified, the basic medical degree is a bachelor, not a doctorate. Only a minority go on to obtain a higher degree, eg PhD, MD etc. Technically, therefore, the appellation “Dr” is an honorary title for most UK qualified
physicians. I don’t know if Wakefraud obtained a PhD or similar. If not, it is perfectly correct to refer to him as “Mr”.

In deference to “Doctor” Wakefield, and his advanced degree and current status, I, speaking only for my self, shall refer to him as “Doctor” Wakefield, scare quotes and all.

@ Narad

C. difficile, which can be life-threatening, has a place in the healthy gut of many people. In fact, C. difficile is not necessarily an invasive pathogen.

I would be interested to know if the original writer thinks the same thing of Candida albicans. You know, this awful fungus (yeah, I know), source of all ills.

@lilady; It seems Angus Files, AKA Gus the Fuss is back as well, and off his medication / back on the booze again.

decided to kick Andy Wakefield in the terminal ilium

When I was younger (and not held back by a sense of decency and decorum) my business card proclaimed me to be a representative of the ‘Topless Towers of Ilium’, a novelty tow-truck company.

DrBollocks,

In the UK, where Wakers qualified, the basic medical degree is a bachelor, not a doctorate. Only a minority go on to obtain a higher degree, eg PhD, MD etc. Technically, therefore, the appellation “Dr” is an honorary title for most UK qualified physicians.

It’s funny how often this comes up. I know what you mean (and if I recall correctly you are a UK doctor), but I wouldn’t say that ‘Dr’ is exactly an honorary title in the UK, it’s just you don’t need a doctorate to be a doctor, you need a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS or MBChB) degree instead. From an educational standpoint, a US MD and a UK MBBS are accepted as equivalent by both countries. My point is it isn’t an honorary doctorate of the sort given to Prince Charles for, er, whatever it is he does to deserve them. I wouldn’t want anyone thinking we let people with nothing but a Bachelor of Science degree loose on patients.

Anyway, more to the point, Wakefield still has his MBBS so I suppose he could argue he is still entitled to be called ‘Dr’.

To complicate matters, Wakefield was a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, so he would traditionally have been called ‘Mr’ in the UK anyway, just as dentists and obstetricians are here, because they are surgeons too. Since he is no longer a member of the RCS, having been stripped of his membership, he is no longer entitled to call himself ‘Mr Wakefield’*, either.

I suggest he should be referred to as ‘Struck-off Doctor Wakefield’, just so everyone is clear.

* In the weird UK sense of being a surgeon, I mean. I don’t think anyone can be stripped of their right to be called ‘Mr’, though it’s an interesting concept.

Off topic, sorry, but relates to the Cia Parker CNN post earlier of Lilady.
I see Cia has left 1300 antivaccine comments on the CNN board Impressive. Doesn’t she have a child to care for, or something?

Krebiozen

Good points, well made. Personally, it provides me with a small amount of amusement to refer to the odious git as “Mr Wakefield.” Unfortunately, my sense of outrage at the damage he has wrought usually overwhelms the shred of amusement.

One minor clarification: I am indeed a UK trained doctor, but I now practise in Australia.

I see Cia has left 1300 antivaccine comments on the CNN board Impressive. Doesn’t she have a child to care for, or something?

Seriously? All that to make what, a few fringe friends for AoA?

Alain

I usually refer to the creature as AJW, Andy or Wakefield because using ‘Mr” implies respect or that he’a surgeon; ‘Dr’ implies that he’s either a physician or a scholar- which is why the alties afix that title frequently even if they acquire their degrees by mail-order.

I DO however like the sound of ‘Wakefraud’- nice ring to it.

I see Cia has left 1300 antivaccine comments on the CNN board Impressive.

According to Parker, her daughter was deprived of oxygen before birth by what Parker termed “a true knot” in the umbilical cord that necessitated an emergency C-section. (She wrote, “So my baby was asphyxiating both during and between contractions, and probably would have died without the C-section.”) This can only mean that her daughter’s developmental problems have nothing to do with being deprived of oxygen before birth via emergency C-section: it’s the vaccines!

According to Parker, she and her brother have autism, her brother’s son is autistic, and her daughter is autistic. Since Parker denies that autism has a substantial genetic component. this can mean only one thing: it’s the vaccines! This is similar to AoA editor Kim Stagliano’s claim that since her two older, vaccinated daughters have autism and her third, unvaccinated daughter is autistic, it can mean only one thing: it’s the vaccines!

@brian – that’s a new one on me. I hadn’t seen Ms. Parker’s claim that her baby was oxygen-deprived during birth….her entire story just doesn’t make sense (and never has).

Brian: Since Cia’s claim of autism is a really recent thing, and she is known to lie like a rug, I’d take the claim of her ‘autism’ with a salt lick. It’s extremely possible that she made it up to score sympathy points. I find this lie especially disgusting given her known hatred of people with autism.

But wait…
if SHE has autism isn’t she one of those people who Dachel says doesn’t exist ( over age 30)?
So how can they use her comments if she does’t exist?

@ Lawrence,

Yes, it’s weird that Parker chooses to blame vaccines for her daughter’s autism, while ignoring both the genetics and the the risks associated with her daughter’s difficult birth (e.g., abnormal presentation, umbilical-cord complications, fetal distress. [Pediatrics Vol. 128 No. 2 August 1, 2011: 344 -355])

It’s weird, too, that Parker bangs on about HepB vaccine-induced (Parker-diagnosed) “encephalitis,” while ignoring that hypoxia (such as caused by a “true knot” in the umbilical cord) is a common cause of neonatal encephalopathy.

But it’s always the vaccines.

Has Big Pharma done a study of prenatal hypoxia and then vaccines tipping it over the edge? I think not.

@brian – and unless her obstetrician was a complete idiot (and woefully negligent) everything she says happened would have been caught either at the delivery or before she left the hospital…..

According to Parker her mother was diagnosed with an ASD…and was diagnosed with Alzheimer disease…all caused by teh ebil vaccines.

Parker also claims that there are older people on her family tree that have been diagnosed with severe/profound developmental disabilities…who were institutionalized. (Anne Dachel take note)

Parker posted a comment about her own history of measles contracted in 1963, when she was six years old; she’s 56 years old, according to her claim and she was 43 years old when her only child was born.

Wouldn’t a prudent person, with her family history and at her age, (and her partner), undergone genetic counseling, to determine the risks of having a child with an ASD/developmental disability?

Parker’s latest “theory” about her own ASD and her family members’ ASDs/developmental disabilities, is that they have a gene…which cannot handle any vaccine. It’s the anti-vaccine gene, folks.

@lilady – her family would make for a great genetic research project, if it was actually true…..

I know a woman whose nephew supposedly died from an MMR vaccine. She always goes on about how vaccines are evil and how her four youngest kids are all unvaccinated. The youngest three are triplets… who are also all autistic.

@ dedicated lurker: You could ask that woman for the name of her nephew who supposedly died from an MMR vaccine, google the child’s name and add “United States Court of Federal Claims”, to see if a claim was file in the Vaccine Court, for that MMR vaccine death.

The perfect example of an totally unvaccinated child being diagnosed with autism is Kim Stagliano’s youngest child. She did not have her third child vaccinated, yet her youngest child is the child most severely impacted by autism, according to her.

@lilady,

A good blog post.
I saw your comment and added a couple of my own to the fray.

I’m not a reader of Mother Jones, but I am impressed that the writers managed to piss off some of the anti-vax people who are!

Lilady, I know they were never compensated for it. The family is apparently trying to sue whoever made the vaccine. I asked why they didn’t go through the vaccine court. Guess what, they tried and were denied. (The boy died months after the vaccine, so I’m not surprised.)

notation & dedicated lurker: I never ask a troll about claims for vaccine injuries, unless I have researched the U.S. Court of Federal Claims website.

Go back to Mother Jones…”Wynena” never made a claim for her infant’s death.

That doesn’t necessarily means she’s lying, Lilady. She comes across as not particularly sophisticated, and her claim of being unaware of NVICP is plausible. I’m willing to accept her story. That doesn’t make anything she says about vaccines accurate.

Dorit…I don’t know whether or not her infant died. I do know that she’s lying, when she stated that her doctor and the “coroner” told her that her baby died as a result of the vaccine(s) she received.

When did you count Parker’s 1,300 comments on the CNN board?

There are fewer than 1700 comments total. The 1300 figure seems improbable, and Disqustink does not provide any convenient method that I’m aware of to extract such numbers. (D’stink lives in a JavaStink wrapper, so there’s no indexing by search engines.)

Dorit: “That doesn’t necessarily means she’s lying, Lilady. She comes across as not particularly sophisticated, and her claim of being unaware of NVICP is plausible.”

She was a lawyer, plus she has a PhD in Spanish. Unfortunately something has happened to her that has nothing to do with vaccines. I have seen it in our extended family. Something that happens to at least one in a hundred in the population, and no one knows why.

Our relative did spend several weeks in our county’s psyche ward. When she was released after treatment from real doctors she reverted back to quacks, and deteriorated. But due to state laws her family could not help her.

The resolution was not pretty. Yes, I can now visit her a few blocks away. But that is just because that is where the local Catholic cemetery is located. She is under an incredibly beautiful rhododendron next to her step-father. A site chosen for him because he was a wonderful gardener.

This is why I beg her and her sock puppets to get real help. Not for herself, but for her family.

(Narad, I doubt she posted over a thousand comments, but when she does post she is very prolific. It is much like our relative during her manic stage. While I spent almost an hour scrolling quickly through the comments this morning, Ms. Parker actually posted several… the site’s website notified me there were more comments, most were from her.)

@ Chris: Dorit and I were discussing “Wynena” who is posting on the Mother Jones blog. (Yeah, I know it’s late for you…but it is 4 AM for me) 🙂

Wynena just posted a vicious post at me i.e., “you don’t walk in my shoes” and claims that her older child just received the separate H1N1 vaccine which caused narcolepsy, while swearing that she gets all her information about vaccines from the WHO and the CDC.

Drug Pushers,

How is everything going in ‘autism denialism land’? My pals over at AoA are sensing a shift in your time tested strategy of denying that there has been a real increase in autism, to now admitting it, but explaining that it is due to other environment factors and not vaccines. Anyway, just curious: Is the no real increase argument officially dead? Or, will you continue to make use of it now and again, and even if it contradicts the new argument of other environmental factors causing an increase except vaccines?

Your ‘friend’, Greg

Glug. You need to get a basic education. Because you were never able to accomplish that, there is too much that you don’t understand.

You may think it is somehow funny to make your points, or that, for all your lack of knowledge, you are somehow, deep down, very smart. But you are not. People here pity you.

Lilady, I generally assume people are telling what they believe is the truth until I have strong evidence otherwise. The human mind is an amazing thing, and I think – and hope – most people don’t consciously lie. I’m going to give Wynena the benefit of the doubt on her child’s story.
Not on the misinformation about vaccines, though. That needs correction.

Greg: so now you and your buddies are to the point of inventing arguments for the other side? I suppose it saves you the bother of actually listening to the other side, though one has to wonder what point your arguments have, then, other than your own self-aggrandizement.

Dorit: “The human mind is an amazing thing, and I think – and hope – most people don’t consciously lie.”

And that is the problem when the human mind goes haywire. The young man in the link I gave sincerely believed he was being chased by zombies.

As always, Dreg mistakes being argumentative for having a meaningful argument. I’m deconstructing this ‘effort’ of his less because there’s anything there to deconstruct, and more because the work I’m avoiding is actually (if you can believe it) more brain-stultifying than Dreg’s idiocies.

Humans are suggestible. Let someone say, “hey, don’t those three spots in the marble floor look like eyes and a smile?” and we will see a face there forever – even though there is no face, only random veins in stone. Even when common sense tells us “faces belong to organic creatures; that is not a face in that inert marble”, we still see that pattern.

And we see other patterns that aren’t there, just as readily as we see faces. We see cause-and-effect patterns that don’t exist – between our wearing of ‘lucky shirts’ and the victories of our sports teams, between what our horoscope predicted our day would hold and what actually happened, between our violation of social taboos and natural disasters that feel like the wrath of angry deities. And worst of all, if you are trying to figure out what’s real and what’s just the illusion of our perceptual systems – merely being aware of this tendency to see patterns where they are not, does not prevent it from happening.

So where does this leave us? Helpless? No. Because sometimes, when you can’t stop your own nature from fighting against you, you can still even the odds, by figuring out a way to make it fight for you as well.

Which brings us to the null hypothesis. When we think we see a pattern in data and we want to be sure, we instead put our over-eager pattern-matching imagination to work, searching for evidence that matches the pattern of our starting hypothesis being false (and its opposite, the null hpothesis, being true.) If what we think we’ll see is test scores going up after everyone studies with the new flash cards, the pattern we look for is test scores staying the same overall or even going down.

When we look for evidence that matches what we already believe, it paradoxically is not very strong evidence – because we are so prone to seeing evidence that matches what we believe, whether it’s there or not. When we look instead for evidence that counters what we believe, and can’t find it, the evidence it provides is much stronger.

The problem for Dreg is that he desperately wants to believe the hypothesis vaccines are causing autism, so desperately that he will grab at anything and try to spin it as support for that hypothesis. “They’re changing their story!” he screeches. “They used to say the apparent increase in autism rates was only an illusion caused by changing diagnostic criteria! Now they’re saying there may be an actual increase after all! That’s massive support for the idea that vaccines are causing a huge epidemic of autism!”

But every effort Dreg and his crowd have made to show more evidence for their hypothesis than for the null hypothesis has failed. Dreg talks a huge game about the rise in autism corresponding “precisely” with an increase in vaccinations, but ask him how that “precision” is measured and he won’t answer. Dreg will assert loudly that “autism is an immune-mediated condition” and that this somehow supports his crowd’s hypothesis, but ask him point-blank how it supports his hypothesis better than the hypothesis that vaccines protect against autism and he has no resort except to change the subject.

So whether the null hypothesis is there is no actual rise in autism or whatever actual rise in autism there is has no connection to vaccines, it actually makes zero difference to the hypothesis Dreg’s crowd has staked all their dignity on, because they still can’t support it.

Dorit: The human mind is an amazing thing, and I think – and hope – most people don’t consciously lie.

You’re too smart to be that naive. Humans lie all the time.

I know I am behind on this but I wanted to thank you for this article. It is true, it is a major cult. As a mom, I am happy you are reporting on this and I hope “new” moms tread carefully.

#87 -Lillady, you are absolutely correct!! They will NEVER, EVER credit therapies, school, or just the fact the child matures. NEVER. You will meet parents that go on about their list of biomedical treatments and how it is “recovering” the child but fail to mention the child is doing 30 hours a week of ABA! Worse, I’ve met many who DID NOT pursue Early Intervention, etc, and rely 100% on this quackery!!! These groups like AoA, AIM and Thinking Moms Revolution are dangerous, in my opinion. Furthermore, you have mentioned AIM is lead by nurses. How can they dispense medical advice without losing ther license? Parents are vulnerable and these people are persistent.

Wynena just posted a vicious post at me i.e., “you don’t walk in my shoes” and claims that her older child just received the separate H1N1 vaccine which caused narcolepsy

Pandemrix, which was never used in the U.S.?

My pals over at AoA are sensing a shift in your time tested strategy of denying that there has been a real increase in autism, to now admitting it, but explaining that it is due to other environment factors and not vaccines.

You do not get any reboots. Go back to your previous mess and start answering questions.

In any event, allow me to guess: They’ve glommed onto Grandjean & Landrigan’s sequel. I’m not aware of G&L’s having adequately addressed the original objections, not that they would be of any help to AoA if that’s what they’re carping about.

@ Narad…

“Pandemrix, which was never used in the U.S.?”

Yup. There was a separate H1N1 pandemic influenza vaccine that was developed and only available in the United States, during the 2009-2010 flu season and it was never implicated in the onset of narcolepsy, in the United States.

The H1N1 strain of pandemic flu, has been incorporated in every trivalent and quadrivalent seasonal flu vaccine for use in the Northern Hemisphere during the 2010-2011, 2011-2012, 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasonal influenza seasons:

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/h1n1_narcolepsy_pandemrix.html

^ Yup, Gerg is channeling the utterly deranged “ottoschnaut.” Since he’s cackling about “silence,” Gerg, perhaps you’d like to ask him why his long-standing Schnautlove for Pattimmy has suddenly disappeared.

Re Wynena on Mother Jones:
I have no reason to think she did not have a child who died after vaccination – i is possible, though such events are extremely rare. I too sense her frustration and I think english may not be her mother tongue, so some things may get a bit lost in translation.
But there are gaping holes in some parts of her narrative:
1. “H1N1 vaccine given last year causing narcolepsy in her daughter” (She lives in the US; and Pandemrix was only used in Europe, and single H1N1 vaccine has not been given since 2009 during the swine flu epidemic)
2. “Doctors saying if her child had not been brought to hospital it would have been classed as a SIDS death” (This a child with among other things projectile vomiting and seizures – features quite incompatable with SIDS/”cot death”)
3. Her repeated assertions she went to a library and copied down the contents of a paper from the Harvard Medical Journal, in order to tell us about it (the text in question is a commonly encountered one in the online antivaxosphere, and very easy to track down. Are we to believe she could not find this online, or that the libary she visited did not have a photocopier for her use?

Pretty implausible.
Rather like Cia Parker, the more she reveals of the web she has spun, the larger the holes become.

btw, have you seen how the vaccine came to cause narcolepsy? Fascinating. All to do with molecular mimicry and autoimmune destruction of hypocretin producing cells in the brainstem. Haven’t the reference just now, but its quite elegant an explanation.

Our lilady has quite the reputation among the anti-vax community (and I assume, earned a place in whatever hell they’ve conjured up for the pro-vaccine folks) – if I could only be enough of a thorn in their side to earn a spot as well…….maybe someday.

Greg: so now you and your buddies are to the point of inventing arguments for the other side? I suppose it saves you the bother of actually listening to the other side

The point of trolling is to provoke the other side into maximum effort while investing as little of one’s own effort as possible. If the giggler broke a sweat reading arguments, or staying consistent, he’d have failed in trolldom.

PGP: everyone lies occasionally, I agree. But I think only few people can or will consciously live a lie all the time. There are enough studies on the effects of cognitive biases to suggest that many (most) of our anti-vaccine interlocutors may well sincerely believe what they say – in the face of all the evidence brought again, and again, and again.

I’m going to keep working on the assumption that most of them are sincere. Just dangerously, very dangerously, wrong. Again, I maybe totally wrong.

@ dingo 199: I stated that I do know if her infant died following immunization(s)…but her posts about SIDS (later changed to myocarditis) and the claim that a physician and a “coroner” told her that her child’s death was caused by a vaccine/vaccines, convinced me that she is a b.s. artist.

http://www.chop.edu/service/cardiac-center/heart-conditions/myocarditis.html

@ Lawrence:

“Our lilady has quite the reputation among the anti-vax community (and I assume, earned a place in whatever hell they’ve conjured up for the pro-vaccine folks) – if I could only be enough of a thorn in their side to earn a spot as well…….maybe someday”.

You’re well on your way Lawrence. 🙂

Dorit: But I think only few people can or will consciously live a lie all the time.

Trust me, as someone who *is* living a lie all the time, it really isn’t that hard. I’ll elaborate on that tomorrow; I really need sleep.

@ notation

The “hee hee hee” makes Dreg appear to be 13.

I have had more enriching conversations with some really smart 13-year-old teenagers than with a few “thinking-to-be-smart” adults.

For some reason, when reading the troll’s prose, I’m seeing a slimy slug.

i thought science was supposed to be objective now really i don’t get shots like that im grown i could honestly care less
but …
i have looked into it a little and learned there is in fact mercury in these shots, which i find a bit disturbing
so are we here denying that there is mercury or
accepting that is ok if so let me ask
if i put a little mercury on a spoon swirled it around let it slide off
then told you to put that spoon in your mouth and swallow who here would be willing to put thier mouth were there money is ?

@will motil, it’s thimerosal, not mercury. Thimerosal is a compound that has mercury as a constituent.
So if you put thimerosal on a spoon, swirled it around let it slide off then told meu to put that spoon in your mouth and swallow, I would.

C`mon guys — what`s with you drug pushers and not answering straight questions? Is the ‘no real increase’ meme officially dead? Again, just a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will suffice.

@Helianthus
“For some reason, when reading the troll’s prose, I’m seeing a slimy slug”

But you are still reading! What a perverse fixation. Perhaps that old saying that likes attract applies. (Hee hee hee.)

@herr doktor bimler

I did recall you referring to us somewhere as a ‘dirt-bag’, sir. We do consider that sinking to such base insults is unbecoming of a wise old sage. Confucius would have definitely known better.

Anyway, sir, I recall we did humbly request something of you that you have been negligent in providing. Again, kind sir, let’s have no further delays. We ask that you fulfill our request.

will motil:

if i put a little mercury on a spoon swirled it around let it slide off
then told you to put that spoon in your mouth and swallow who here would be willing to put thier mouth were there money is ?

Metallic mercury? Why yes, I would do that. You mentioned money. How much are you offering?

Let’s see if Dreg can construct a syllogism or a sorites in which one of the premises is the answer to the question he keeps badgering for a one-word answer to, and the conclusion is “Therefore, there is an actual increase in autism AND vaccines must be the cause.”

If he can’t perform that feat, which should be simple for one who “excels in logic,” then there is no point in answering his “simple question” (not that anyone really expected there was.)

@Gregger #200:

My pals over at AoA are sensing a shift in your time tested strategy of denying that there has been a real increase in autism, to now admitting it, but explaining that it is due to other environment factors and not vaccines.

AoA has a propensity to see what they want to see, regardless of what the evidence actually says. So I’m going to need supporting evidence for the claim that someone has admitted that the ratio of autistics to neurotypicals is increasing.

Is the no real increase argument officially dead?

Until you stump up the evidence I asked for above, no.

@Lawrence

Our lilady has quite the reputation among the anti-vax community (and I assume, earned a place in whatever hell they’ve conjured up for the pro-vaccine folks) – if I could only be enough of a thorn in their side to earn a spot as well…….maybe someday.
——————————————————————————-
(Julian’s blockquote tip didn’t work. Bad Julian — bad!)

Hey Lawrence, I think you are giving Lilady a little too much praise there. The anti-vaxx community simply regards Lilady as a repugnant shill that should not be taken seriously. Further, it appears that even fence-sitters are starting to find her offensive style a turn-off, and to the point that she is becoming a liability to you guys. She is desperately in need of a make-over, turning her into a softer, more approachable Lilady.

Lawrence, Dorit better fits the billing as your big-gun. She is persistent, knowledgeable, and can sometimes come across as surprisingly personable (and even if it’s all a charade).

Hey, and Lawrence, don’t worry about not being an inspiration. In some ways, you are a hero to me. I will leave it to you to guess why.

He thinks people here are like Wakefield: they know the answer in advance of research.

Thanks. I appreciate that, Lillady. I try to keep track on here as much as I can but it can be hit and miss some weeks. ;). Thanks for the link and reminder of the disgust I feel for how this group interfered in that boy’s life and how they glorify murderers. I’ve noticed Orac has been threaded about his conflict of interest (I don’t see any) with writing this blog, I am amazed no one sees a big issue with people with nursing degrees recommending doctors and treatment options. Crazy world.

Oh Dreg, it must be that I am the proud father of two fully vaccinated (on schedule) boys who both excel at school and sports, with a wide social circle of friends – all of whom have been vaccinated on schedule as well & are doing great.

It must also be that I am part of a community that embraces Science and Education – where community vaccination drives are extremely well attended, in a state with one of the highest vaccination rates in the country.

I’m glad that you idolize me Dreg – perhaps with a bit of jealously, that you too want to be part of such a community as well – too bad your stuck with those guys over at AoA – such venom and self-pity, especially aimed at their own children & those with autism in general.

Maybe one day Dreg, you might just be as happy as me – if only you can get past your own childish insecurities.

I’m not entirely sure where to add this as Orac’s newest also involves involves the resurrection of dead theories….
and I’m not in the mood to write up an OT but ™

Jake @ Autism Investigated writes of Brian Hooker’s delving into FOI material about mercury ( what else?)
but here’s a new twist in an old skein of yarns- he has a new sponsor/ site, courtesy of Focus Autism ( i.e. Barry Segal).

Thus Jake and other anti-Blaxillites have a new hero to worship at Autism One.

@Denise – now that Jake has his own forum, it does highlight his “one track” thinking about vaccines – it is always about the mercury, all the time….and he has certainly collected an interesting group of followers as well – they Godwin every single post within one or two comments.

@Lawrence
‘Proud father of vaccinated on schedule boys’?
Whose schedule — Sears’ or Gordon’s?

Dingo199: At mother Jones, after being pushed to explain why she claims to have some familial predisposition to vaccine damage in her family history, Parker has finally announced they have the “NRXN1 gene deletion”.

Is that actually a thing, or is it something else Parker made up? At this point, if she said the sky was blue, I’d break out the fact-check.

@PGP – nothing I am seeing about this “gene deletion” has anything to do with vaccines…..

@ Lawrence:

You are correct.
Wasn’t it your ‘alter-ego’, BD, who noted that anti-vaccinationists are divided into 3 parts ( like Gaul) with the Mercury Mavens being the most outlying of this outre assemblage- welcome to Jake’s outer limits.

I find it intriguing that Barry’s money has found a new home. AND a few of these creatures will be swanning around at AutismOne. It should be interesting. Don’t we have a highly esteemed minion ( Narad) who lives near that woo-fest?
Heh.

@ PGP:

Perhaps this is a minor step towards belief that genes are implicated in the causation of ASDs ALTHOUGH she still needs the intervening external causation of vaccines in order to ‘save face’.

Can’t these people see that if several family members have similar qualities genetics just might possibly be involved?
My father’s family are all white like friggin’ sheets but we don’t blame it on toxins or the moist atmosphere. It’s who we are- we deal with it and make jokes about it.

@Dorit – so am I. If she does in fact have that condition – it does blow huge holes in her already swiss-cheeselike story.

Glerg says: “Hey, and Lawrence, don’t worry about not being an inspiration. In some ways, you are a hero to me. I will leave it to you to guess why.”

I just threw up a little in my mouth.

will motil: “i have looked into it a little and learned there is in fact mercury in these shots, which i find a bit disturbing”

Do tell. So when you looked into it a “little” what vaccine on the American pediatric schedule only comes with thimerosal. Be specific and provide link.

-btw- Hooker’s website is called ( wait for it)…….
‘A Shot of Truth’
And they address vaccines contaminated by mercury.

I reckon Parker just plucked that particular “genetic” problem out of her backside.
She had said on several occasions that there was a family history of “problems” she ascribes to vaccines – her own “MS”, her father’s schizophrenia, her child’s autism and so on. She then said there was a genetic defect in the family which explained the “susceptibility to vaccine reactions” causing the problem.
Then, when repeatedly asked what it was, she eventually came out with the NRXN1 deletion concept. I think she “borrowed it from Age of Autism” where Blaxhill had been pretending to be a genetic expert.

But now she has said that, it throws even more water on her idea that her child has vaccine induced damage.

We have the intrapartum hypoxia secondary to umbilical cord problems, now we have genetic syndromes…whatever next? I can’t wait to see what pops up next.

Dorit: People think I’m a good person. I’m not, I merely pretend to be one. I mean, I don’t harm anyone or go on crime sprees, but I’m not fond of people, I’m an incurable pessimist, and I tend to get caught up in *my* or my family’s issues to the exclusion of everything else. The only reason I have friends is that they think I’m a good listener.

@ Lawrence:

I think that Dorit is referring to what PGP said about herself @ # 223.
Although what PGP says might be- in some sense- true for everyone who lives in society and doesn’t want to rock the
boat- we all don’t reveal everything about what we think or feel to anyone we happen to meet. I wouldn’t necessarily call that ‘living a lie’- it’s social aplomb or caution..
If I spoke about my politics or some other beliefs, I’m sure I’d get into many pointless, unproductive arguments. And I live in Leftie-Land.

(Whiny voice) Excuse me — excuse me, but can I say something here? Aren’t the ‘cranks’ and ‘quacks’ right in arguing the basic scientific fact that there is no such thing as a genetic epidemic? Shouldn’t thus also be obvious to you guys?

@notation
I see you shadowing me of late. Perhaps in another time and place we could’ve been soulmates. If only truth didn’t have to intercede.

@ PGP:

And who gets to define ‘good person’?
What’s wrong with being ‘not fond of people’ or a pessimist?
What makes their set of beliefs or how they behave COUNT more than your own or what you do?
Do you think that that’s the only reason that people tolerate you? Maybe you need to meet other people.

I find you very interesting and would enjoy talking with you.

@Dreg – you are still too funny…..why the hell would I put my kids at risk by following a schedule (like Sears or Gordon’s) that has no basis in scientific fact or supported by any evidence whatsoever?

My wife and I have the type of relationship with our pediatrician that we can discuss any and all issues or concerns we might have (not that we’ve had any) – and the only change we had to make was when my oldest got the flu (at 3 months old – to young to vaccinate) which meant we pushed the 3 month vaccines to 6 months.

Again, I’m glad that you idolize me Dreg – perhaps one day you’ll be able to act like a normal human being and not a complete douchebag.

“I did recall you referring to us somewhere as a ‘dirt-bag’, sir We, blah, blah, ….”

Methinks someone is channeling Garth of Izar

To expand on my earlier point, mostly out of boredom on the morning commute:

Suppose that we all agreed for some reason that the Dalai Lama was the ultimate arbiter of scientific truth (this is simply for the sake of argument; in the real world, his virtues as a spiritual leader don’t give him scientific credibility.)

It would then be possible to construct a syllogism in the following form:

1) Anything the Dalai Lama says about scientific matters must be true.
2)
3) Therefore, vaccines cause autism.

What goes in that blank space for premise 2? In this case, there’s only one thing that can go in there and make a valid syllogism: “The Dalai Lama says that vaccines cause autism”. (“Valid” means that the form is correct, so that if the two premises are true, the conclusion must be as well.)

If we tried putting in instead something like “The Dalai Lama said ‘autism appears to be an immune-mediated condition'” and called it a syllogism, it wouldn’t be. The form would be as follows (substituting letters for entities such as “the set of all scientific declarations that the Dalai Lama makes”):

1) All A are true.
2) B is a A.
3) Therefore C is true.

B is “autism appears to be an immune-mediated condition” and C is “vaccines cause autism”. They are not the same statement. You cannot construct a syllogism around B and then swap in C at the last moment.

Which brings us to the sorites. Technically a sorites has a structure more specific than “a set of syllogisms, some of which prove conclusions that will be used as premises in the other syllogisms”, but let’s just keep things simple. Our “syllogism” which swaps out B for C at the last moment is not a syllogism; however, it could be the conclusion of a valid sorites if we introduced a second syllogism, the conclusion of which was “Every case in which B is true, is a case in which C is true as well.”

So, putting things together, and still accepting for the sake of argument premises we’d have no reason to accept in the real world, we could construct the following sorites:

1) stipulated for sake of argument
2) stipulated for sake of argument
3) Therefore: If autism is an immune-mediated condition, then vaccines must cause autism.
4) The Dalai Lama says autism is an immune-mediated condition.
5) Therefore: The Dalai Lama says vaccines must cause autism.
6) Any statement the Dalai Lama makes on scientific issues is true.
7) Therefore: “Vaccines must cause autism” is true.

Now that is a valid sorites, meaning its form is correct. If a sorites is valid, and all its premises are correct as well, then it is not just valid but sound, and its conclusion must be correct as well. Of course, here the premises are not correct (we have no reason to think the Dalai Lama’s scientific pronouncements are always correct, as previously said.)

Now Dreg has previously told us that he “excels at logic” in his own opinion. If that were true, why has he never shown any ability to put together even a single simple syllogism, much less anything more sophisticated? He’s harassed us endlessly, badgering for one-word answers to his Procrustean questions (and twisting the answers when he gets them) but … why? What does the ‘master logician’ think he’s proving, or would prove if he actually got the answers he wanted? “One word, do you believe vaccines can cause autism, yes or no” – well, f%ck, does he think I’m the f%cking Dalai Lama whose word determines scientific truth? Does he think me believing that vaccines cause autism proves anything, other than “someone has the belief that vaccines cause autism”? Why is someone who ‘excels in logic’ diddling off on what people “believe” and other such irrelevancies?

If Dreg is the expert logician he claims, he will have no trouble putting forward his arguments in syllogism/sorites form. If he is in reality just a mealy-mouthed crap artist, I predict hilarity in one of two forms: either he’ll try to produce syllogisms of his own and fail miserably and hysterically, showing he doesn’t still grasp what a syllogism is and how things are actually proven; alternately, he could opt for the bravura fail we’ve seen from others, trying to assert that the test of logic is not “can it be expressed as a sound syllogism/sorites?” but “does the person advancing it make puerile comparisons between himself and Einstein?” and other worthless criteria that I wouldn’t even try to guess at. Either way, it should be an impressive display of incompetence on Dreg’s part.

Julian’s blockquote tip didn’t work. Bad Julian — bad!

So you’re too stupid to follow the explicit instructions you required for a trivially simple task, and it’s Julian’s fault?

Lawrence: My wife and I have the type of relationship with our pediatrician that we can discuss any and all concerns.

Definitely went with Sears!

Politicalguineapig: from the viewpoint of the rest of the world, it doesn’t matter whether you refrain from attacking people because you don’t want to hurt them, because you believe doing so would be wrong, or because you’re afraid of getting caught and punished. What matters is that you do not attack people. Similarly, if someone does attack their neighbors, “I didn’t want to, but the voices in my head told me to” doesn’t do their victims any good; it might mean the attacker gets locked up in a mental hospital instead of a regular prison.

What you’ve described doesn’t make you a bad person; it may make you an unhappy person, which is unfortunate but in different ways.

PGP: I’m with Vicky. I am sorry, if your worse faking is that you keep your mouth shut in order not to distress and hurt others, I wouldn’t call that living a lie.

1) Anything the Dalai Lama says about scientific matters must be true.

In practice he’s doing reasonably well — his pronouncements about scientific matters seem to be limited to (a) quantum theory has nothing to do with mysticism, and (b) if scientific discoveries come into conflict with the tenets of Buddhism, then Buddhism must adapt to reality. But this could change.

LOL – what a maroon……

I don’t listen to idiots that design vaccine schedules (like Sears or Gordon) that don’t have the first clue about actual Science…..

Come to think of it, only someone like Derg would give them the time of day…..

will motil,

i have looked into it a little and learned there is in fact mercury in these shots, which i find a bit disturbing
so are we here denying that there is mercury or
accepting that is ok

Perhaps you are not aware of how little mercury there is in any vaccine shot. There is 50 micrograms of thimerosal, a mercury-containing compound, in some (but not all) flu shots, which is the same as 0.05 milligrams. A teaspoon* of water weighs 5,000 milligrams, and a single drop of water weighs about 35 milligrams, or 35,000 micrograms. You should now have a better idea of just how vanishingly tiny the amount of mercury in that flu shot is.

Put simply, the thimerosal in 700 flu shots weighs as much as a single drop of water. That is too little mercury to hurt a mouse, much less a human (I estimate the lethal dose of thimerosal in a human to be in excess of 5 million micrograms)

* More or less. It’s not my fault that teaspoons (and drops of water) are not always the same size.

quantum theory has nothing to do with mysticism

Too bad the Lamaists can’t get to “mysticism has nothing to do with Buddhism.”

“For example, he refused to accept that we cannot know which path a photon takes in a two-path quantum interference experiment. Zeilinger notes that continuity of existence is very important to Buddhists because it leads to reincarnation.”

Yah. Maybe if you’re running a syncretic franchise based on reincarnation.

@Narad
I executed the blockquote trick exactly as Julian explained. Nothing happened except the prompt going missing from the text when I posted.

I have to laugh at all the fear of mercury. I remember reading, back in the days we all had mercury thermometers, that a woman tried to kill herself with it. She broke some thermometers and injected the mercury into her arm. Not only did she NOT die, she wasn’t even very ill. Some time later, she had plastic surgery to remove the area where she had injected the mercury because she it was confined by scar tissue to the area in which she had injected it.

If pure, elemental mercury can’t kill you, the tiny amount in thimerosal iwas of no risk. And, of course, I’m of the age where we used Mercurochrome on everything…

Greg still is ridiculous.

Derg is completely ridiculous – I find him to be a great case study, a stereotypical anti-science anti-vaxxer.

Hi Antaeus,

You sucked me in… here is the basic syllogism that I have in my head.

A) Autism appears to be an immune mediated condition (at least in a subset of individuals)

B) Vaccines can modulate the infant immune system, including the innate arm of the immune system.

C) The immune system is a critical component of normal brain development.

D) Immune system dysfunction/disturbances during this critical period can have long lasting effects on behavior and cognitive functioning.

E) Therefore, we should explore the possibility of vaccines contributing to both the prevention and etiology of autism within this conceptual framework.

Since you have a strong grasp on syllogisms and the like, would you be able to comment as to the validity of the above. ( I probably screwed something up)

Thanks much,

Skeptiquette

First, one would need to explain how a vaccine that has not yet been given can “create” an over-abundance of neurons found in autistic brains, in infants, in the womb?

“A) Autism appears to be an immune mediated condition (at least in a subset of individuals)”

Why, and how?

Though, if one tried to find out “how” vaccines cause autism, they first need to show that there is a correlation between vaccines and autism. So far that has not been shown.

And the answer to “why and how” should not be: “The Dalai Lama says autism is an immune-mediated condition.”

The fact that the Dalai Lama is nasty anti-homosexual bigot has no bearing on his qualifications to pronounce judgement on the causes of autism.

MI Dawn, as kids, we were e allowed to actually play with the mercury from a broken thermometer for a little while, rolling it around in our hands and marveling at its silvery liquid beauty. Horrors!

@Glurp: “I see you shadowing me of late. Perhaps in another time and place we could’ve been soulmates. If only truth didn’t have to intercede.”

Yeah, sure, if only you weren’t a complete asshole who is sickeningly moronic.

So how many minions has the creature already imagined as possible friends, drinking pals, heart-to-heart confidantes, soulmates, lunch dates et al?

Ok, Narad, lilady, Dawn, Kreb…

Denice: I made certain that The Troll would never imagine me as his friend, drinking pal, heart-to-heart confidante, soul mate or lunch date, shortly after the wretched refuse from AoA arrived here, ten months ago.

There was a pediatrician who tried to connect with me right here on RI. Somehow, I managed to turn him off//sigh.

Aren’t the ‘cranks’ and ‘quacks’ right in arguing the basic scientific fact that there is no such thing as a genetic epidemic?

No, but that’s neither here nor there.

BYW, since you idiotically decided to mention Confuscious again, were they right in arguing that 2009 H1N1 wasn’t pandemic?

Are you familiar with the Rectification of Names yet? It might come in handy here.

@ lilady:

Now how could I mix up a contrarian with Dr Jay?
Silly me!

At any rate, perhaps he thinks RI is a social meet-up.
I KNOW we’re all intriguingly brilliant conversationalists and gorgeous but that’s not what we’re here for.

-btw- there are a few more on my above list ( me- tennis, PGP, maybe Antaeus..)

@Denice

So how many minions has the creature already imagined as possible friends, drinking pals, heart-to-heart confidantes, soulmates, lunch dates et al?

Ok, Narad, lilady, Dawn, Kreb…
——————————————————————————-

I see you hinting that you may need some attention there, so maybe I will throw you a bone and pay you a little visit.

I don’t know how to say this Denice, but it’s over between us. O-V-E-R!

Yes, at one time I found it quite interesting that we both studied psychology (even though you have your Masters, and I only have a piss-ass Bachelors); as well, we both like tennis. At one time, I got thinking that maybe we may even be kindred souls. With summer approaching, I was even thinking of inviting you as my partner for our annual mixed-doubles tourney.

And then Denice, everything went sour. You went on with your ‘woo-meister this’, ‘woo-meister that’ comments, and how the loser ‘quack’ moms are all just jealous of you intellectual elites. You went on with this non-sense over, and over, and over. And, I got thinking that I could never last playing tennis with this woman. I would probably dump the water cooler over her head during the change-overs. And, I realize that this wouldn’t be a very nice thing to do to a lady, so I had to call off your tennis invite. It’s over Denice! OVER!

So, is there any female VCADODer –other than Denice– who knows how to play tennis? Vicki, do you know how to play? C’mon Khani –what about you? How about Heliantus? Anyone but Denice! Heck — Lilady do you know how to play tennis?

Now Lilady, if all goes well (and you are not actually a dude in drag as the librarian type) maybe we could grab a bite after the game. I know Lilady — who am I kidding?- it would never work out between us! We would be like oil and water: I am a staunch anti-vaxxer, and you are a vaccine zealot. We would probably start shouting over the topic during our restaurant date and get kicked-out.

Even if by the oddest chance, it things proceeded further, imagine gift exchanges between us. It would be an absolute disaster. I would give you the latest DVD movie exonerating Wakefield –you would give me Offit’s book collection. And God forbid if there were kids in the picture, Lilady. Imagine the fun we would have at the pediatrician’s office around vaccination time.

Anyway, I got off topic there. Yes Denice, you bore me, so I am no longer paying you any mind.

Reading Kreb’s post at #264, I am absolutely shocked. I thought only the flu vaccine contains mercury. Now you are conceding it’s in all vaccines. Oooohhh you guys are so evil! Orac, you are the head drug pusher, what do you have to say about this?

I strongly suspect Greg doesn’t have any friends, not since grade school, back when he could get away with being a bully without fear of arrest or harassment suit. But everyone else grew up, saw him for what he is, leaving him behind, a pathetic sadistic bully with nothing left for him but trolling what few sites haven’t banned him for life.

Greg:

Aren’t the ‘cranks’ and ‘quacks’ right in arguing the basic scientific fact that there is no such thing as a genetic epidemic?

Narad has already pointed out this is wrong, but I want to dogpile on the rabbit, so…
The comment above assumes that the proportion of autistics in the general population is increasing. I believe that this premise as false.
I don’t know why the blockquote doesn’t seem to work for you. It works fine for me.
<blockquote>

Text to be blockquoted

</blockquote>

By the way, thank you skepiquette for the syllogism in #271. It describes things excellently.

@Antaeus

Ok Freddo –ahem Antaeus!- let me offer this syllogism as it pertains to the vaccine debate and tell me what you think.

1) If ‘experts’ that defend vaccines, denying that they cause autism, do personally believe that vaccines cause autism then this is a very good reason for others (including laypersons) to also believe that vaccines cause autism.

2) Some of you are ‘experts’ and it appears that you do believe that vaccines do cause autism.

3) I and other laypersons then have this good reason (premise 2) then to also suspect that vaccines do cause autism

Ok, thanks Julian, let’s try this blockquote trick again.

Testing 1-2-3…..
Shills, drug pushers, pharma whores –oh my!
Testing 1-2-3…..
Shills, drug pushers, pharma whores — oh my!

Greg: First of all, there’s no way you have a Bachelor’s. Secondly, you are the only person who believes vaccines cause autism. The rest of us know they don’t.

@PGP,

Trust me, there are professional dumbasses everywhere with a bachelor degree in something but who don’t even know a scientific publications from an editorial by the health deranger. I know, I was one before my brother taught me how to use ProQuest. Essentially, I owe my brother my career.

Now, given the uncomfortable position of not knowing anything scientific, I turned around and swore that I’d become an expert; thus my scientific work (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21833294).

I’m still far from an expert but I work toward that goal; which is nowhere near what Dreg can do.

Alain

The fact that the Dalai Lama is nasty anti-homosexual bigot has no bearing on his qualifications to pronounce judgement on the causes of autism.

That he is a nasty all of the above is immaterial in this case* — I’m still not going to pay attention until he qualifies as an immunologist.

(*although I’d think twice about inviting him to dinner)

Thank you, Antaeus, for provoking Dreg’s hilarious response at #287.

Greg, in your own words, what is a syllogism?

You fail again, Gregger.

1) If ‘experts’ that defend vaccines, denying that they cause autism, do personally believe that vaccines cause autism then this is a very good reason for others (including laypersons) to also believe that vaccines cause autism.
2) Some of you are ‘experts’ and it appears that you do believe that vaccines do cause autism.

There is a difference between “appear to believe” and “believe”. The fact that you think that we believe something despite our denials does not mean we believe it, no matter what you think.

re the above;
My fellow and sister minions may now understand why I was once hired to interview people… I bring out interesting material.
And I hereby rest my case.

( Oh and -btw- now lilady is also a dude- along with Chris and myself -courtesy of *other* visitors- if there’s another maybe we could play golf!)

Y’know, I’d be all for an RI regulars meetup. The big question would be where to have it! 😉

May I suggest a regular meetup (say once every 2 month) with one occurring in Montreal. I know some excellent brewpub 🙂

Alain

The conclusion of a syllogism is only guaranteed to be true if the form is valid and both premises are true.

We have no reason to believe there is any truth to the conclusion of the syllogism at #287, because this premise of it:

2) … it appears that [some of] you do believe that vaccines do cause autism

is hippo turds. Anyone who wants to argue otherwise is invited to spell out their syllogism to that effect.

Darn – been wanting to get together with everyone in the DC area for a while now……maybe at some point.

@PGP
You’re so predictable. You won’t provoke me. I’ll have nothing to do with you.

Oh, please, please, extend that offer to the rest of us.

Greg: First of all, there’s no way you have a Bachelor’s.

I stated this previously, but will repeat: If Griggles does in fact have a bachelor’s degree, both he and the college he graduated from should be ashamed.

It is certainly interesting to see him wallow in his own ignorance….and sad, really.

Chris quotes and asks:

“A) Autism appears to be an immune mediated condition (at least in a subset of individuals)”
Why, and how?

Well, statement A is a reflection of the multiple lines of evidence pointing towards immune system abnormalities in autism, including clinical studies, epidemiological studies, multiple different animal models, etc. all of which collectively support the notion that autism appears to be an immune mediated condition in a subset of individuals.

In order to offer support for the above and to help answer the how part of the question I will (heavily) reference this recent mini-review paper:

Converging pathways in autism spectrum disorders: interplay between synaptic dysfunction and immune responses.

By Irina Voineagu and Valsamma Eapen, who recently performed a genome-wide assessment of gene expression in multiple brain regions, which further validated previous findings from diverse research groups situated around the world.

What are the molecular pathways that mediate the phenotypic expression of this myriad of genetic variants into a recognizable triad of symptoms? Here we review recent studies demonstrating a convergence of ASD genetic changes toward two main biological processes: synaptic function and immune responses, and discuss their functional interplay, with a focus on immune modulation of neuronal synapses.

We found that the neuronal genes downregulated in ASD, but not the immune/inflammatory genes, showed an enrichment for genetic association, as measured by a large ASD GWAS study(Wang et al., 2009). These results supported the heritability of synaptic gene dysfunction in ASD and suggested that the upregulation of immune and inflammatory genes is likely environmentally mediated or secondary to the synaptic dysfunction.

Although gene expression analyses of ASD brain are just beginning to emerge, several studies have evaluated gene expression in readily available peripheral tissues (blood and lymphoblast cell lines) from ASD patients (Hu et al., 2006, 2009; Gregg et al., 2008; Enstrom et al., 2009). A common result of these studies was the demonstration of increased expression of immune and inflammatory genes in ASD. Moreover, a comparison of gene expression studies of peripheral tissues in idiopathic autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders showed a convergence of gene expression abnormalities on genes involved in immune responses (Lintas et al., 2012).

The involvement of synaptic dysfunction and immune responses in ASD had been demonstrated by multiple approaches (Betancur et al., 2009; Pizzarelli and Cherubini, 2011; Wright and Washbourne, 2011; Grabrucker, 2012; Onore et al., 2012; Zoghbi and Bear, 2012; Ebert and Greenberg, 2013), but it was not until largescale genomic studies that these biological processes could be regarded as points of convergence of the heterogeneous genetic variants underlying ASD.

It has also been proposed that a second wave of microglia, originating from blood monocytes, may populate the CNS during the early postnatal period, a period particularly important for neurodevelopment (Davis and Carson, 2013). Microglia actively survey the brain parenchyma, constantly extending their processes to survey their microenvironment every few hours (Nimmerjahn et al., 2005). Importantly, microglia are required for synaptic pruning during postnatal neurodevelopment (Paolicelli et al., 2011)

Thus immune cells could affect neuronal synaptic function either as a result of their activation during immune responses, or due to a failure of their non-immune roles in the brain (Figure 1). Recent evidence supports the potential involvement of both of these mechanisms in ASD pathogenesis.

While it is not clear what is the cause of microglial activation in ASD brain, the cytokines produced by activated microglia have been demonstrated to affect neuronal synaptic function (Onore et al., 2012). TNF-a regulates neuronal cell proliferation and synaptic pruning (Cacci et al.,2005), and modulates synaptic scaling (i.e., the adjustment of synaptic strength for all synapses on a neuronal cell in response to prolonged changes in electrical activity) (Stellwagen and Malenka,2006). IL-1b regulates long-term potentiation and alters synaptic plasticity (Schneider et al., 1998)

Unlike peripheral macrophages, microglia are long-lived, and thus it has been hypothesized that they could maintain an “immunological memory” of an early immune insult, leading to long-term neuronal deficits (Davis and Carson, 2013).

At the same time, understanding the role of immune cells in regulating synaptic function is also a newly developing field. As discussed above, accumulating evidence supports the notion that immune cells play important roles in normal brain function, outside of neuroinflammation. Of particular relevance to ASD is the role of microglia in synaptic pruning during postnatal brain development, a period that coincides with the onset of ASD symptoms. While it has been demonstrated that increased numbers of activated microglia are present in brain parenchyma of ASD patients (Vargas et al., 2005; Morgan et al., 2010; Suzuki et al., 2013), these studies have not captured the early postnatal development window.

Since microglia and astrocytes have been shown to play a role in synaptic formation and maturation, and mutations in neuronal cell adhesion molecules have been associated with ASD, it is also tempting to speculate that ASD neurons might be particularly vulnerable to immune cell dysfunction in the brain. Given the large amount of data supporting the role of immune responses in ASD and other neuropsychiatric disorders, advances in deciphering the functional interplay between immune cells and neuronal synaptic function will likely provide vital insights into the mechanisms and potential therapy of neurodevelopmental disorders.

I know I blocked out quite a few paragraphs there, but I wanted to make sure that your question was adequately answered and if you need any clarifications or further support for statemnent (A) that I made above, I would be happy to provide you with further relevant references.

So, based on my familiarity and understanding of the relevant literature, I feel comfortable endorsing that statement.

Oops, the last two paragraphs are my writing.

Though, if one tried to find out “how” vaccines cause autism, they first need to show that there is a correlation between vaccines and autism. So far that has not been shown.

I think the better approach would be to assess all the relevant information and research, i.e. consider the entirety of the evidence.

Based on the syllogism I formed above, I would consider information such as I presented above to be both important and relevant to assessing the question and design rational approaches to interrogating the question.

Im pretty sure that most scientists regard epidemiological studies as starting points, circumstantial evidence and if there is more relevant information and evidence from different disciplines to consider, then the diligent course is to consider and weave it into a better understanding.

I would be curious to know why others feel that it is not important to consider?

First, one would need to explain how a vaccine that has not yet been given can “create” an over-abundance of neurons found in autistic brains, in infants, in the womb?

I am certainly not discounting a prenatal origin or contribution to autism.

What research are you referring to regarding the over-abundance of neurons? Courchesne (2011)?

if so, that was a preliminary study and specific criticisms that were levied pointed out that those findings couldn’t be extrapolated to the entire population of autistics.

I think it is more prudent to consider that a multi-factorial disorder could also have post-natal contributions, seeing as both language and social skills are acquired during these early and critical months of development.

Why do you see it differently?

Thanks,

Skeptiquette

Skeptiquette,

Could you produce a thesis of all the publications wrt immune system activation in ASD that you have read? I, for one, am having a hard time digesting individual publications into a coherent whole and such a thesis would be helpful.

Alain

Hi Alain,

A thesis or a list?

I would like to, but I really don’t have the time to write a thesis ( I have a full time job and I am starting to dabble in real estate investment, which is eating up my time).
A list is another story.

I would be happy to email you publications. skeptiquette at yahoo.com

There are a lot of diverse findings wrt immune/autism and integrating into a whole is obviously the next step. I have been keeping up on advances in how the immune system is involved in normal brain development, which has certainly offered more insight into how the findings are implicated and interconnected.

I really think this is the next frontier for autism research (IMHO.) I was actually just thinking that you would probably be really intrigued and find interest in all of this as well.

Cheers,

Skeptiquette

Woo hoo! The weekend is here and I am outta here. Must say I am shocked though to find out that mercury is still in other vaccines. Maybe I did criticise my ‘quack’ friends too much for always harping on about mercury. Perhaps we will have time to discuss the matter when I return.

Hi Antaeus,

You sucked me in… here is the basic syllogism that I have in my head.

All right! ^_^ Let’s look at the premises and the form, and see where we agree and where we may differ… (Forewarning, though: my reply ended up being really long, so I’m posting part one first, and later tonight hopefully I’ll follow up with part two.)

A) Autism appears to be an immune mediated condition (at least in a subset of individuals)

To be honest, I do not feel I’m qualified to say how true this premise is. (I’ve seen it asserted many times, but then again you can find people asserting just about anything about autism.)

However, I’m willing to stipulate it for purposes of argument.

B) Vaccines can modulate the infant immune system, including the innate arm of the immune system.

C) The immune system is a critical component of normal brain development.

D) Immune system dysfunction/disturbances during this critical period can have long lasting effects on behavior and cognitive functioning.

Others have already pointed out some problems with these premises, such as there being evidence that neurological features of autism are formed pre-natally (thus before “this critical [post-natal] period” during which vaccines are administered.) But for purposes of argument, let’s stipulate those premises and move on.

E) Therefore, we should explore the possibility of vaccines contributing to both the prevention and etiology of autism within this conceptual framework.

Here is actually where the big problems come on. You may remember, when I was explaining syllogisms earlier, I said that we could substitute letters for the entities that we were talking about (for instance, “all statements by the Dalai Lama are true statements” becoming “all A are B”, where A = “statements by the Dalai Lama” and B = “true statements”)? Well, if we did that substitution here, this conclusion would suddenly introduce new letters that weren’t used anywhere in our premises, which means we don’t have a syllogism that links our premises together with irrefutable logic.

Let me try to rework it a bit, so that it fits proper syllogism form. Let’s start with the conclusion:

1)
2)
3) Therefore, vaccines are something that should be thoroughly investigated as a possible cause of autism.

And let’s take all the premises we stipulated above for sake of argument, and combine them into one:

1) Vaccines have an effect on the infant immune system during crucial periods of brain development.
2)
3) Therefore, vaccines are something that should be thoroughly investigated as a possible cause of autism.

If we tried letter substitution at this point, we’d find that our syllogism so far follows this form:

1) A (vaccines) is a B (things that have an effect on the infant immune system during crucial periods of brain development).
2)
3) Therefore, A is a C (things that should be thoroughly investigated as a possible cause of autism).

The only premise that makes sense to put into 2, which completes the form of the syllogism and makes it valid, is “All Bs are Cs”: that is, “all things that have an effect on the infant immune system during crucial periods of brain development are things that should be thoroughly investigated as a possible cause of autism”.

So here’s our complete, valid syllogism:

1) Vaccines are a thing that has an effect on the infant immune system during crucial periods of brain development.
2) All things that have an effect on the infant immune system during crucial periods of brain development are things that should be thoroughly investigated as a possible cause of autism.
3) Therefore, vaccines are a thing that should be thoroughly investigated as a possible cause of autism.

Now, it might seem to you like it was a waste of time to go spelling out premise 2; doesn’t it go without saying?

And that’s exactly why it is NOT a waste of time to spell out syllogisms and state the unstated premises. Because even if I stipulate all of premise 1 for the sake of argument, I do not agree with premise 2. I do not think it makes sense that “All things that have an effect on the infant immune system during crucial periods of brain development are things that should be thoroughly investigated as a possible cause of autism.”

@skeptiquette – I’m sure the rest of us would like to know what papers you consider to indicate that autism is caused by immune system issues, so please share.

Both vaccines and exposure to fully potent pathogens generate an immune system response. Do these papers also associate autism with immune system response from exposure to pathogens? If not, why not?

Thanks!

@Skeptiquette,

A thesis indeed; or at least, a resume written by you of each finding in the publications you have read. The reasoning behind that is that no one share your perception of each studies and no one can share the finding of your studies better than yourself according to your perception.

In my case, I would very likely have a different perception of the studies involved. That is the strength of the scientific method; it allow different perceptual mechanism to come to a similar set of conclusion according to the data.

Alain

Antaeus,

Thanks for the response, that helps clarify things more.

And, I would agree with you that:

I do not think it makes sense that “All things that have an effect on the infant immune system during crucial periods of brain development are things that should be thoroughly investigated as a possible cause of autism.”

How do we qualify what is important to look at though?

I will think about this more and I await part two.

Thanks again,

Skeptiquette

MOB and Alain,

I will do my best to provide a reference list with a brief statement of findings (this is basically what the abstract is for) or as you wish, the importance of findings from my perspective.

I’ll try to pump out a short list tonight and add to it as I have time.

Time for lilady’s Media Update And A Warning:

There’s an “opinion piece” up on the Liberty Guardian that is full of false information about vaccines and autism. Many of the RI Regulars posted comments, which were removed by the author.

The author removed at least five of my comments, yet the bot’s Spamming comments replete with links, are posted.

Take a look at the top comment from the owner of the Liberty Guardian, Dr. Durig…who is a publicizing his book. It’s a gem.

Do Not Post There…your comments will be moderated and removed:

http://guardianlv.com/2014/02/what-is-the-true-cause-of-autism/

Skeptiquette:

I am trying to understand the motivation to come up with a causal explanation of a phenomenon that does not occur. There is absolutely no correlation between autism and vaccination, therefore trying to dream up causative mechanisms to explain this nonexistent correlation is a complete waste of brainpower. Isn’t there something, anything, that you could exercise you brain cells with that would be more productive? Sudoku? Angry Birds?

tVRBoK,

I think you have misunderstood my intentions. Im not trying to come up with any causal mechanism. Ive told you guys, I don’t have a dog in this fight, at all… seriously. Who cares if I find it a hobby to read scientific literature.

I definitely don’t find it a waste of brainpower to look at the literature relating autism and the immune system. In fact, I see it quite the opposite.

As someone trained in immunology and microbiology, I am intrigued by the neuroimmunological connections to autism. I am also intrigued by some of the paradigm shifts in immunology wrt innate immunology and the microbiome that have been evolving over the past several years. It just so happens that all of this intersects in very important ways with autism research (another thing that i am interested in.)

I don’t waste my time other places than RI and SBM because Im not looking for an echo chamber, Im looking to better my understanding of science and hone my critical thinking skills.

So, I used to play video games, like mario bros. when I was 8-10 yrs old.

I recently played flappy birds and oh boy is that an addicting sink hole of brain power! I had to give it up (after only 1 day), I swear it sucks you into the obstacles…

Thanks for your concern.

Skeptiquette

Alain: I assume education requirements are somewhat different in your neck of the woods. I can only include that Greggers and his merry band either skipped a dozen or so classes or worked hard at completely misunderstanding every biology and health class they ever took.

Dreg sez: “Perhaps we will have time to discuss the matter when I return.”

Perhaps your plane will take a nose-dive into a pile of manure.

@PGP,

It depend. Most French university go with a specialized bachelor with 84-87 credit in the same stream (bachelors are 90 degree here due to Cegep which are at least 2 years up to 3 years of intermediary schooling between high school and university) while most English university follow the same standards as US school but McGill and Concordia offer a mix of both systems and Montreal University offer major and minor in some basic domain beside their specialized bachelors.

Another thing, you can apply to med school after Cegep and don’t need to do a bachelor to do it though it is often recommended but the alternative is that they offer a pre-med program of 41 credits done in the first year of med school (making it a 5 years program instead of 4 in the US).

Alain

skeptiquette,

I think the better approach would be to assess all the relevant information and research, i.e. consider the entirety of the evidence.

Why focus on vaccines out of all the very many things that affect the immune system? If autism is mediated by immune dysfunction (which is itself a questionable premise, as any unusual immune function seen in autism may not be a cause of the autism, but due to common developmental causes), why would anyone expect vaccines to have anything at all to do with it when they simply stimulate the immune system in much the same way as a million antigens in our environments?

If antigenic challenge by vaccination at a specific age is a cause of autism, why wouldn’t exposure to pathogens at that age also cause autism? I find it hard to believe that we can detect the effect of prenatal valproate or rubella, but not postnatal infection or vaccination.

Antigenic challenges do not generally cause immune dysfunction or dysregulation; they are part of normal immune function. Why not instead point the finger at one of the many substances in our environments that are immunomodulators, broccoli for example? I often joke about broccoli, but I have a serious point too. It contains 3,3′-Diindolylmethane which according to Wikipedia “is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system”. Between 1970 and 2010 US consumption of broccoli tripled, and over the same period the reported incidence of autism greatly increased.

Is it impossible that DIM ingested during pregnancy, or passed to a child in breast milk could not have some modulatory effect on the developing immune system, preventing, perhaps, the usual trimming of neurones that happens in the neurotypical at a crucial moment? I think this is a logical possibility, along with a million others. The mere fact that something is not impossible does not make it a good candidate for investigation. We need a great deal more than that.

It seems to me that not only do we we have no plausible mechanism for vaccines causing autism, we have no epidemiological evidence that this is the case, and in fact a considerable amount of epidemiological evidence that contradicts the idea.

If I had to find areas of research into autism worth spending money on, vaccines wouldn’t even make it onto my list. I think the only possible purpose of further research in this area would be to convince those who are at all persuaded by the anti-vaccine lunatic fringe (who themselves are clearly, like Greg, beyond rational persuasion).

Glerg sez: “Anyway, I got off topic there. Yes Denice, you bore me, so I am no longer paying you any mind.”

I hope, Denice, that you are giving alms to whatever gods blessed you with this reprieve from idiocy.

@ notation:

Whilst I don’t have any gods to thank for this marvelous good fortune, I do intend to take a drive to the sea side as an early rite of spring tomorrow and drink something, gather branches, light a fire, whatever.
Does that sound pagan enough? I hope so.

@Krebiozen –

why would anyone expect vaccines to have anything at all to do with it when they simply stimulate the immune system in much the same way as a million antigens in our environments?

Well, for one, vaccines seem to initiate an innate immune response up and above ‘a million antigens in our environment’.

If vaccines are just like ‘a million things’ why does the DTaP cause a fever in 1/3 of recipients? I’m not sure how many infants you have been around, but I’m here to tell you, most of them don’t have a fever one in three days, but the CDC schedule tells us that DTAP causes an fever in 1/3 recipients. What should we make of this paradox if vaccines are the same as ‘a million other antigens’?

I wonder, why do we add adjuvants to vaccines? After all, if antigens are just like eating broccoli, why bother? What a complete waste of resources, spending all those dollars and researcher hours to develop and study adjuvants when they are completely not necessary to insuring a robust immune response. Those crazy scientists adding all those unnecessary things to our vaccines. Why not just add broccoli?

If antigenic challenge by vaccination at a specific age is a cause of autism, why wouldn’t exposure to pathogens at that age also cause autism?

It certainly could have the same effect, if the timeframe is the same.

Antigenic challenges do not generally cause immune dysfunction or dysregulation; they are part of normal immune function.

Your assertion is at odds with a great amount of literature when developmental timeframe is taken into consideration.

Here is an example of this:

Acute neonatal infections ‘lock-in’ a suboptimal CD8+ T cell repertoire with impaired recall responses (PLoS Pathog. 2013 Sep;9(9):e1003572. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003572. Epub 2013 Sep 12.)

Here we report that neonatal memory CD8+ T cells mediate poor recall responses compared to adults and are comprised of a repertoire of lower avidity T cells. During a later infectious challenge the neonatal memory CD8+ T cells compete poorly with the fully diverse repertoire of naïve adult CD8+ T cells and are outgrown by the adult primary response. This has important implications for the timing of vaccination in early life.

What might account for the fact that only the treatment group showed differential immune capacities in adulthood, if, indeed, antigenic exposure was not causing persistent immune dysregulation? Do you suppose the treatment group also got broccoli.

Or, alternatively

Postnatal inflammation increases seizure susceptibility in adult rats (J Neurosci. 2008 Jul 2;28(27):6904-13. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1901-08.2008.)

The most exciting finding of the present study is that a mild inflammatory response evoked by LPS during a critical period of development causes a long-lasting increase in hippocampal excitability in vitro, and enhanced seizure susceptibility to the convulsants LI-PILO, KA, and PTZ in vivo. The latter effect was observed over a range of mildly inflammatory doses of LPS and was only evident if administered during the second postnatal week (P7 and P14), and not before (P1) or after (P20) this time.

What might account for the differences observed based on timeframe?

The key here is that the challenge occurs in early life. Lots of our ‘systems’ seem to be susceptible to this, including energy metabolism, stress response, microbiome, and immune.

The facts are that our vaccine schedule is heavily clustered in the first few months of life; that is the timeframe during which persistent dysregulation can occur..

It seems to me that not only do we we have no plausible mechanism for vaccines causing autism, we have no epidemiological evidence that this is the case, and in fact a considerable amount of epidemiological evidence that contradicts the idea.

The critical component is timeframe of exposure; that is the *blind spot* in our ‘considerable evidence’.

I’ve made a simple graphic to demonstrate why this is important regarding our existing research suite:

http://imgur.com/XIm92DZ

Can you, or anyone, detect a difference in timeframes between when the MMR is given and the Hib/DTaP/polio/Hep B? Is there a difference between a two month old infant and a year old toddler? I wonder if there are differences neurodevelopmentally between the two? Probably not.

If you, or anyone, has some studies that contradict this, why not post the links, instead of just insisting that the answer is out there in google scholar? Show me a study that demonstrates 200 kids that got nothing in the first six months and 200 kids that got vaccinated and then the children were evaluated for autism or other developmental issues?

When SBM and Orac and others went over the data on vitamin usage not helping, and in fact, potentially hurting, life expectancy, the cohort size was in the tens of thousands. Now either the people running those studies were overshooting their necessary number of participants by a *lot*, or ‘considerable’ evidence means that you need *big* populations to study for differences. If there actually is ‘considerable’ evidence with those effect sizes, providing a link to said evidence should be a rudimentary task.

Why not instead point the finger at one of the many substances in our environments that are immunomodulators, broccoli for example?

Well, do mothers who breastfeed and eat brocolli report their child has fevers subsequently at rates similar to vaccination? If so, your idea is an interesting one. What percent of two month olds eat brocoli? Is that percentage over our vaccination rate, > 90%?

@ The Reverend BattleAxe –

There is absolutely no correlation between autism and vaccination, therefore trying to dream up causative mechanisms to explain this nonexistent correlation is a complete waste of brainpower

Please see the link I posted above for Krebiozen regarding the MMR and *the rest* of our vaccine schedule. If *you* have some links to demonstrate analysis on autism in regard the vaccine schedule excluding the MMR, why not post it?

@Mephistopoles O’Brien –

Do these papers also associate autism with immune system response from exposure to pathogens?

Well, you might consider:

Association of hospitalization for infection in childhood with diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders: a Danish cohort study (Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010 May;164(5):470-7. doi: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.9.)

A total of 7379 children were diagnosed as having ASDs. Children admitted to the hospital for any infectious disease displayed an increased rate of ASD diagnoses (HR, 1.38 [95% confidence interval, 1.31-1.45]). This association was found to be similar for infectious diseases of bacterial and viral origin. Furthermore, children admitted to the hospital for noninfectious disease also displayed an increased rate of ASD diagnoses (HR, 1.76 [95% confidence interval, 1.68-1.86]), and admissions for infection increased the rate of mental retardation (2.18 [2.06-2.31]).

The authors note that *because* both viral and bacterial assocations were both observed, it is unlikely the infection was responsible, however, if a disturbance in the *innate immune* system is capable of disturbing neurodevelopment (see above studies), then it doesn’t really matter *what* caused the initial reaction, does it?

@AF –

To be honest, I do not feel I’m qualified to say how true this premise is. (I’ve seen it asserted many times, but then again you can find people asserting just about anything about autism.)

Well, do you trust researchers at Yale, the editors at Pediatrics and the people at the NIH who funded a big study?

Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor and Stereotypical Behavior in Autism Spectrum Disorders (Pediatrics 2008, August 122)

Thus, the central hypothesis underlying this research was that a genetic predisposition to a particular level of MIF production, may lead to a pro-inflammatory profile of cell activation that, if present during a neurodevelopmentally sensitive period, might contribute to the etiopathogenesis of autism.

This was a study that genotyped hundreds children with autism, measured their behaviors as well as plasma draws. That is an *expensive ass* study to perform. It was funded, in part, by the NIH. Do you have any idea why these researchers, editors of Pediatrics, and people providing the dollars for this study would have bothered if an immune mediated mechansim of action was just a shot in the dark? Why would they do this if an immune mediated mechanism of action was not justified from the literature? You should seriously consider this question; I get it if you don’t trust me, but one would think the sheer volume of hits based on ‘autism immune’ in pubmed might raise you interest. But perhaps not.

I do not think it makes sense that “All things that have an effect on the infant immune system during crucial periods of brain development are things that should be thoroughly investigated as a possible cause of autism.”

Well, if you are interested in learning things, you might consider looking at the growing literature set on the role that the brain immune cells, the microglia, are playing in forming the structure of the brain. Here is a good one to get you started

Microglia during development and aging (Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Sep;139(3):313-26.)

Microglia are critical nervous system-specific cells influencing brain development, maintenance of the neural environment, response to injury, and repair. They contribute to neuronal proliferation and differentiation, pruning of dying neurons, synaptic remodeling and clearance of debris and aberrant proteins. Colonization of the brain occurs during gestation with an expansion following birth with localization stimulated by programmed neuronal death, synaptic pruning, and axonal degeneration. Changes in microglia phenotype relate to cellular processes including specific neurotransmitter, pattern recognition, or immune-related receptor activation. Upon activation, microglia cells have the capacity to release a number of substances, e.g., cytokines, chemokines, nitric oxide, and reactive oxygen species, which could be detrimental or beneficial to the surrounding cells. With aging, microglia shift their morphology and may display diminished capacity for normal functions related to migration, clearance, and the ability to shift from a pro-inflammatory to an anti-inflammatory state to regulate injury and repair. This shift in microglia potentially contributes to increased susceptibility and neurodegeneration as a function of age. In the current review, information is provided on the colonization of the brain by microglia, the expression of various pattern recognition receptors to regulate migration and phagocytosis, and the shift in related functions that occur in normal aging.

There are probably two dozen articles on how microglia affect the structural development of the brain by this point. Take them for a spin; it is brand new knowledge, post dating the expansion of our vaccine schedule by about two decades.

But here’s the pisser. Microglia change phenotype after systemic immune challenge. That’s right, the cells that are *actively participating in synaptic pruning* have a different morphology under conditions of immune activation. Think about that for a little while. Then, think about the fact that children with autism consistently show biomarkers consistent with *exaggeration* of the innate immune response/problems regulating the immune response (see MIF paper above) [many more available maybe when I don’t have a drink in hand.]

If you don’t think we should be investigating things that interact with the immune system during critical brain development timeframes, you haven’t been reading the same things I have (and probably, skeptiquette has).

Food for thought.

@Everyone –

Good luck!

– pD

@Denise: all my best wishes for your early spring celebration. Can you perhaps find a way to create an effigy of the Glerg to burn as a token of thanks for the blessing of his being absent from your life today and always? It would be only right to do so.

Alain: Thing is, at least in the university I went to, taking at least one general science course was required, even if the student majored in a different field. And you’d expect someone in psychology to at least have a nodding acquaintance with biology; neither Greg or Ms. Conrick, who claim to have degrees and work in the field, demonstrate that they have learned any biology at all- not even high school level!

Also, lilady, your comments are still up, though you’re right that the author seems to be arguing from an anti-vaccine point. I say ‘seem to’ because the art of the coherent argument appears to have eluded her.

Most of my comments are gone from the Liberty Guardian website.

I posted several times about the author’s source, Dr Bob Sears’ “The Vaccine Book”, Sears’ “Alternative Vaccine Book”, Sears’ telling parents to “hide in the herd” and Sears’ deliberately unvaccinated 7-year-old patient who was identified as the “index case” for the 2008 San Diego measles outbreak.

As soon as I read that the author was quoting “Dr. Carley”, I knew it was an anti-vaccine “opinion” piece.

Dachel included the article in tonights “Media Update”.

Wow. Look at the long periods of time that the suspect measles case spent in the emergency room.

Sad, that the measles outbreak in the Philippines, has resulted in so many deaths:

“In San Diego, this is the first diagnosed case of measles in the county since July 2013. Health officials say there is an ongoing measles outbreak in the Philippines responsible for 1,700 cases of the disease and 21 measles-related deaths in 2013.”

For you newbies here, the 2008 measles index case identified after trace back investigation, was Dr. Bob Sears deliberately unvaccinated patient:

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5708a3.htm

Somewhat unrelated question, but it’s going unanswered in the other thread (where Orac needs a day off from blogging) and I am SO curious what the answer is… Are there any penalties/repercussions for an MD (albeit a quacky one) incorrectly citing a study and manipulating it to her own benefit? This appalls me, and being a layperson I have no idea if this is common of quacks, or of I’ve stumbled onto something genuinely worth bringing to the attention of some higher authority…

Perhaps we will have time to discuss the matter when I return.

I see that Gerg’s Colonel Blimp routine continues unabated. One might wonder how many times he’s flounced with such utterances only to forget all about them when he slinks back in, but one would have to give a rat’s ass. Of course, given that it’s transparently obvious that he continues to skulk around despite such bold declamations as “Woo hoo! The weekend is here and I am outta here,” perhaps I’ll get back around to his profoundly stupid suggestion that the magic “vax/unvax” study can be swapped out for some sort of animal study to evade the “ethical problems” that he now hides behind for lack of being able to say anything in the absence of this deflection.

Lilady @336 : I posted without realizing you’d mentioned the 2008 outbreak in the previous comment.
Here is a link to the 2010 Pediatrics article about the earlier outbreak, which includes a cost analysis: “Measles Outbreak in a Highly Vaccinated Population, San Diego, 2008: Role of the Intentionally Undervaccinated”
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/125/4/747.full

We don’t need to go through this again.

Chemmomo: *** Do you remember the discussion I had with Dr. Bob Sears on the Ho-Po?

http://respectfulinsolence.com/2012/03/27/dr-bob-sears-vs-seth-mnookin-measles-out/

@ AC: IMO, doctors who deliberately misinterpret or lie about studies for financial gain, face no repercussions…unless you think that bloggers such as Orac and Seth Mnookin mete out those repercussions to celebrity doctor/authors.

*** I seem to have problems with pediatricians whose practices are located in California.

@ lilady – Thanks! Damn. That seems horribly unfair. The more I read about Dr. Tenpenny, the more I wish Orac would rip apart her website in a way I’m not capable of. She is a despicable human being.

Thanks for the link Chemmomo.it was really interesting/scary to read about how quickly the infection vectors spread. Without a decent herd immunity that could have been a true disaster.

Most of my comments are gone from the Liberty Guardian website.

Well, did they say whose liberty they were guarding? (I note that Christina Waldman has had a dalliance with the “Liberty Beacon” and even appears to have checked in at the very sad “Dr Wakefield’s Work Must Continue” FB page* within the last month.)

Arranga softcore, etc.

* “Supported” in part by Alan Golding’s “CryShame,” .co.uk address dead, .com not far behind.

The more I read about Dr. Tenpenny, the more I wish Orac would rip apart her website in a way I’m not capable of.

You might find something in here to slake that a bit.

@Narad – I searched this blog with “Tenpenny”, and 13 blog posts came up. None directly ripping apart her shoddy website bit-by-bit, unless I somehow missed one. I’ll go back and double check. And try Google.

@lilady – Thank you 🙂 I’ve read posts by other scientific bloggers, which were very good.

Sorry for not being clear; it’s not material on her I was expressing interest in, but an actual deconstruction of her entire website. I don’t actually expect anyone to take the time to do this…

pD,

If vaccines are just like ‘a million things’ why does the DTaP cause a fever in 1/3 of recipients? I’m not sure how many infants you have been around, but I’m here to tell you, most of them don’t have a fever one in three days, but the CDC schedule tells us that DTAP causes an fever in 1/3 recipients.

I’m not sure what your point is, as DTaP isn’t given every day, and neither is any other vaccine. DTaP causes high fever, greater than 105 degrees Fahrenheit in about 1 child out of 16,000, by the way. What child in the pre-vaccine era did not experience a few of those?

Many viruses cause a fever in more than one in three children that get them. I’ve been around enough infants to know that they get plenty of viral infections, especially after they start daycare or school. Infants get on average 5-8 infections such as colds, ear and GI infections every year, and are more likely to suffer fevers than adults. These, and other assorted infections, are likely to provoke a more robust immune reaction than any vaccine on the schedule.

What should we make of this paradox if vaccines are the same as ‘a million other antigens’?

I didn’t say they are the same, but from our immune system’s point of view they are just another challenge. Why vaccines should provoke a qualitatively different response isn’t clear to me.

I wonder, why do we add adjuvants to vaccines?

I hope you know perfectly well why by now. The idea is to provoke an adaptive immune response with the minimum possible risk.

After all, if antigens are just like eating broccoli, why bother?

Antigens and broccoli are in the same class of ‘things that can affect the immune system’. Since there is evidence that ‘autism might have something to do with the immune system’, I don’t see why vaccines are a more plausible culprit than broccoli or a number of other things that can affect the immune system.

What a complete waste of resources, spending all those dollars and researcher hours to develop and study adjuvants when they are completely not necessary to insuring a robust immune response. Those crazy scientists adding all those unnecessary things to our vaccines. Why not just add broccoli?

That’s a rather silly strawman. Cut to the chase: why is your vaccine-autism hypothesis more compelling than my broccoli-autism hypothesis?

Antigenic challenges do not generally cause immune dysfunction or dysregulation; they are part of normal immune function.

Your assertion is at odds with a great amount of literature when developmental timeframe is taken into consideration.

Here is an example of this:

Acute neonatal infections ‘lock-in’ a suboptimal CD8+ T cell repertoire […]

That’s not an example of an antigenic challenge causing immune dysfunction, it’s an example of a less robust immune response by neonatal primary CD8+ T cells to an acute infection (not a vaccine) as compared to adult memory T cells, in mice. This less robust neonatal response is “outgrown by the adult primary response”.

What might account for the fact that only the treatment group showed differential immune capacities in adulthood, if, indeed, antigenic exposure was not causing persistent immune dysregulation? Do you suppose the treatment group also got broccoli.

A less robust response to a specific antigen that neonatal primary CD8+ T cells were previously exposed to does not constitute, “persistent immune dysregulation”. I fail to see even a tenuous connection to your hypothesis.

Or, alternatively; Postnatal inflammation increases seizure susceptibility in adult rats […]

So, injecting bacterial endotoxins into newborn rats increases their future risk of seizures. Is this really surprising? Head injuries in newborn, infant and adult humans increases their risk of seizures. Specific windows of development are interesting, I agree, but they aren’t in any evidence that vaccines are causing autism. Yes it’s possible, yes here’s a vague possible mechanism. Where’s your evidence that this is actually happening?

The facts are that our vaccine schedule is heavily clustered in the first few months of life; that is the timeframe during which persistent dysregulation can occur..

It is also historically the period when infants have been exposed to a much wider range of pathogens than today, though this range has been dramatically reduced by vaccination. As I pointed out above, the number of fevers you might expect to be induced in a child by vaccines is far smaller than the number induced by natural, mostly viral, infections.

Vaccination has markedly reduced the amount of time children spend fighting off (or succumbing to) infections, as well as the severity of their immune responses in general. I don’t buy this idea that fewer and less severe immune responses somehow damage the developing immune system less than more frequent and more severe ones.

It wasn’t so long ago that half of all children died of contagious diseases, and many still do in the developing world. If autism was the result of an immune insult during childhood I would expect there to have been far more cases in those that survived childhood diseases, and far more cases in the developing world than in the developed.

We do see some increased risk of autism with early infection (I see you cited the Danish study that found this), but I think this supports the idea that vaccination reduces the risk of autism by reducing the frequency and severity of infections.

Show me a study that demonstrates 200 kids that got nothing in the first six months and 200 kids that got vaccinated and then the children were evaluated for autism or other developmental issues?

You must know that a prospective study would be unethical, and that a retrospective one would be riddled with bias.

If you are suggesting that vaccination during the first six months of life causes autism, that is a testable hypothesis. It can’t be MMR as that is given too late, and has been around since 1968 in the US anyway. DTaP perhaps? That or the DTP have been around for far longer than the increase in autism incidence, so it can’t be them. If you compare other countries’ schedules, I think you quickly run out of possible culprits. Do you have a specific window and a specific vaccine in mind?

When SBM and Orac and others went over the data on vitamin usage not helping, and in fact, potentially hurting, life expectancy, the cohort size was in the tens of thousands. Now either the people running those studies were overshooting their necessary number of participants by a *lot*, or ‘considerable’ evidence means that you need *big* populations to study for differences. If there actually is ‘considerable’ evidence with those effect sizes, providing a link to said evidence should be a rudimentary task.

You need to educate yourself about statistics some more, especially about statistical power and sample sizes. You can calculate how large a sample of a population you need to detect a specific effect size with a specific degree of confidence. That means you can also calculate how small an effect would have to be for it not to be detected in a specific study. The larger the effect you are looking for the smaller the required sample size.

The vitamin studies were looking for very small effects, and needed large samples sizes. The effect sizes claimed for vaccines on autism are very much larger, with many anti-vaccine activists claiming that most or even all autism is caused by vaccination.

However, if you look at the epidemiological studies on vaccines, you can’t rule out a small effect, but it seems very clear there isn’t a large one.

I do understand where you are coming from. It isn’t impossible that autism is sometimes caused or exacerbated by a robust immune challenge at a moment of neurodevelopmental vulnerability. That would appear to be the mechanism by which prenatal rubella greatly increases the risk of autism, for example – infection before or after that window period does not cause autism or CRS. It isn’t impossible that there might be more than one window of vulnerability like this. However, lots of things are not impossible.

Let me put this a little differently. What evidence is better explained by your hypothesis than my hypothesis that there is no connection whatsoever between vaccines and autism apart from, perhaps, a modest preventive effect?

Sigh, “this idea that fewer and less severe immune responses somehow damage the developing immune system more than more frequent and more severe ones”.

@ notation:

I appreciate your kind words.
My father always told me that delivery is key.
Oh, wait you can’t actually hear me.

Unfortunately, I think that my ‘bonefire’ must remain only an ardent wish because everything is wet and disgusting but I’ll still take one of my cohorts to the waterside to see how much storm damage has occured over the past few months and then get Thai food. Ancient European ritual.

But effigies are ALWAYS a good idea. Instead of Burning Man, it’ll have to be Soggy Man.

@ PGP:

Conrick too? Holy crap. Let’s see: Ginger Taylor, Alison MacNeil, Katie Wright, TMR’s Saint, CONRICK – all have degrees in psychology or related areas and/ or work as counsellors / therapists.

I somehow doubt that they have much bio/ physio background- there are ways to get a Master’s degree without physio in psych – but it may be a degree requirement for a doctorate as are lots of statistics/ research design but more recently, there be alternative doctoral requirements in certain locales. I split my degrees Clinical/ Experimental so I do have a wider background than most. Social work degree requirements may focus on aspects other than medical/ psychological systems.

Thus, these anti-vax creatures do upset me when they parade their job titles and speak as it were *ex cathedra* but I always remember that there are woo-drenched doctors and nurses as well.

@Kreb – I’m still waiting on someone to come up with sound biological mechanism whereas vaccines could cause the changes that we see in autistic brains….swelling and encephalitis are fairly easy to spot & leave extremely prominent indications that they occurred…..since we don’t see that – what exactly is the mechanism that is being blamed?

Saying vaccines doesn’t mean anything unless you can point to whatever “thing” is supposed to be taking place to cause the effect….and I’m not seeing it – from anyone on the anti-vax militia side.

@ Lawrence:

Same here.
I’d like to know how a minuscule amount of mercury can utterly transform brain development :
does it induce time travel, reaching back two years to affect and change pre-natal development, adding cells, moving neural pathways around, re-arranging them and all the while evading detection by CAT scan, MRI, EEG, video and trained observers?

Also if there is no correlation between vaccination and autism why postulate mechanisms?
Immunological difference may be due to whatever causes autism not a cause of autism mediated by vaccines.

Diagramming possible causation can sometimes provoke eye-opening revelations.

Katie Wright has a background in psychology or therapy? But she’s one of the most foul-mouthed abusers of the lot of them.

Altho’ I can’t look it up right now- my computer is a-fussing and unhappy- IIRC she didn’t have a degree in psych but had some sort of training and did rape counselling.
Yeah. I know.

To be honest, I do not feel I’m qualified to say how true this premise is. (I’ve seen it asserted many times, but then again you can find people asserting just about anything about autism.)

Well, do you trust researchers at Yale, the editors at Pediatrics and the people at the NIH who funded a big study?

It’s funny, I don’t think I ever said anything about “gee, I would be completely qualified to assert that autism is an immune-mediated condition, if only someone noted for having an ax to grind cherry-picked an impressive-sounding paper or two that asserted that!”

pD, you sneer real well at people who supposedly haven’t read enough, or understood enough of what they’ve read.

So what’s your excuse? What part did you not understand, when I said I was willing to stipulate that autism was an immune-mediated condition for the sake of argument? Are you too stupid to understand that I’m talking about “if these assertions were true, would these often-said conclusions actually follow as an automatic consequence?” instead of begging you to come and insist for the four thousandth time how true those assertions are? Or are you just so arrogant and self-centered that any time discussion does not center around your favorite hobby-horse, you feel entitle to step in and force it off-topic and back onto your obsession?

I do not think it makes sense that “All things that have an effect on the infant immune system during crucial periods of brain development are things that should be thoroughly investigated as a possible cause of autism.”

Well, if you are interested in learning things …

Take the beam out of your own eye first, pD. You just jumped into a discussion about syllogistic logic and instead of asking, “hmmm, curious, why do you not think all things that have an effect on the infant immune system during crucial periods of brain development are things that should be thoroughly investigated as a possible cause of autism?” – which, you know, could run the risk of you learning something – you just saw it as an opportunity for you to spout off – on a point that, let me emphasize this one more time, was already being accepted for the sake of argument.

If you don’t think we should be investigating things that interact with the immune system during critical brain development timeframes, you haven’t been reading the same things I have (and probably, skeptiquette has).

Or maybe, just maybe, I am doing what you apparently cannot do, and thinking beyond that single point, where you are fixated to the point where you feel entitled to hijack any conversation which doesn’t center on that question.

Here we go- from Safe Minds-
she has an *undergraduate degree* from Boston U ( doesn’t say in what) and a Master’s in Ed from Columbia U and a *certificate* in counselling psych ( doesn’t say from where/ could be somehwere else); she was the director of a sexual assault crisis centre and resigned to take care of her child with autism.

Re: Katie Wright…from Ginger Taylor’s blog:

http://adventuresinautism.blogspot.com/2007/04/katie-wright-joins-naa-board.html

“Katie is the mother of two boys, Mathias, age 3 and 5 year-old Christian. Christian regressed into autism at 2 ½ years old. Katie completed her under-graduate studies at Boston University and received a Masters in Education from Columbia University. Studying counseling psychology, she received her professional license in 2000 and was the Clinical Director of the Sexual Assault Crisis Center in Stamford, CT providing free and confidential counseling services to male and female survivors of rape and sexual assaults. Katie resigned her position when Christian became ill and now, with her husband Andreas, is dedicated to working to improve the lives of children and families affected by Autism. Watch for Katie on Thursday’s episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show!”

Unbelievable. It would be hard to think of a more hate-filled individual ever to expose themselves in this autism thing.

Ugh, it always turns my stomach that such a nasty person was ever let near rape victims. She must have been the worst, most victim-blaming counselor ever.

Oh my. Don’t I feel stupid. Sorry, blushing now…

That wasn’t my intention; I just thought the Craig Egan–Tenpenny interaction, which resulted in her FB page completely disappearing for a while, might provide some alternative entertainment.

Oh, look, I just got scolded for making fun of Parker because she couldn’t manage to post a comment and bitched about it. Some other chucklehead came along and barked about my being from a generation born with a phone in an ear and an iPad in hand. I’m almost 60. I can’t tell you how hard I laughed.

+Krebiozen
thanks i actually had just looked that up

in total im going to have to say
sorry i have to lean to the side of caution and say the effective damaging dose for mercury on a young child is unknown

some facts i found
thiomersal is 50% mercury by weight
mercury affects the brain as a neurotoxin , which IS the most dangerous thing about it but it is fairly dangerous to a few other organs as well
mercury is a very heavy metal
there are alternatives to thiomersal ?

here’s some excerpts i found from different places

* (1 part in 10,000) has been shown to be effective in clearing a broad spectrum of pathogens. A vaccine containing 0.01% thimerosal as a preservative contains 50 micrograms of thimerosal per 0.5 mL dose or approximately 25 micrograms of mercury per 0.5 mL dose.*

so some small examples were civilization became a mass test group experiment to mercury exposure

*The toxicity of methylmercury was first recognized during the late 1950s and early 1960s when industrial discharge of mercury into Minimata Bay, Japan led to the widespread consumption of mercury-contaminated fish (Harada 1995). Epidemics of methylmercury poisoning also occurred in Iraq during the 1970s when seed grain treated with a methylmercury fungicide was accidentally used to make bread (Bakir et al. 1973). During these epidemics, fetuses were found to be more sensitive to the effects of methylmercury than adults. Maternal exposure to high levels of methylmercury resulted in infants exhibiting severe neurologic injury including a condition resembling cerebral palsy, while their mothers showed little or no symptoms. Sensory and motor neurologic dysfunction and developmental delays were observed among some children who were exposed in utero to lower levels of methylmercury. *

source for the above the FDA
http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/VaccineSafety/UCM096228

so is the mercury component in thiomersal provable inert if it were i think it wouldn’t be killing fungi and bacteria right

now i know that holding or eating mercury in fish is not the same as injecting it into directly into your blood.
so if we say its not inert and we are injecting it into the blood it is a minute away from the brain on injection right

to me this seems like russian rulet with a infants brain
maybe it hits a important target in development maybe it doesn’t

well that was my train of thought which makes me very skeptical for the idea of “tiny bit of mercury + baby” = ok

so my question is do we have no alternative ?
why is it so important to remain in the damn shots ?

my point is your concerned for disease so you immunize
if you concerned for edge case’s of neurological damage from mercury remove the mercury seems pretty simple to me

problem solved , so what am i missing ?

@ will

I believe you mean ethyl mercury not methyl mercury, they are not the same. The regulars here can correct me if I’m wrong but most (all??) immunizations are given as intramuscular shots. Someone far more skilled than I can address the rest of your post.

@ will
let me correct that, you are assuming that methyl mercury is a component of thiomersal when it is actually ethyl mercury. They are not the same.

I really wish there was an edit button or preview function, ugh.

Not all vaccines are given via the IM (intramuscular) route. Some are administered via the SC (subcutaneous) route, other are given via the ID (intradermal) route, some are oral vaccines and the LAIV (Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine) is given via intranasal spray. None are administered IV (intravenous) route directly into the bloodstream.

http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p3085.pdf

Thimerosal was formerly used in multi-dose of vaccines, as a preservative. All childhood vaccines are now in single dose vials or preloaded single dose syringes and more than half of the available seasonal influenza vaccines are available without mercury (single doses).

Thimerosal was removed from childhood vaccines, based only on methyl mercury research. In the intervening years the organomercury compound Thimerosal which contains ethyl mercury has be thoroughly researched and found to be a safe, non-toxic preservative.

Here’s a recent statement from the AAP in support of Thimerosal preservative in multi-dose vaccine vials:

http://www.healio.com/pediatrics/vaccine-preventable-diseases/news/print/infectious-diseases-in-children/%7B99e7f569-7e2e-4981-8960-45f4549a1f53%7D/aap-experts-in-pediatrics-support-who-statement-on-thimerosal-in-vaccines

Thank you lilady, for saying it much better than I ever could. The technical details don’t stick in my head as well as they should, which tends to make me generalize things a lot more than I want to. A few more years of reading this kind of stuff over and over again and some of it might take hold enough for me to rattle off the correct details (like all the wonderful regulars here).

shadow1458, unless you are administering vaccines frequently, you do tend to forget. I’ve been retired for eight years and I often have to look up the information about vaccines/vaccines administration.

“Thimerosal was removed from childhood vaccines, based only on methyl mercury research.” – lilady [sorry, I don’t know how to italicize]

I thought it was removed after the EPA directed that all government departments review the presence of mercury, and that in vaccines it was removed after AAP and PHS raised a purely theoretical risk, rather than any specific research.

Jeff1971: I thought I had stated that it was a purely theoretical risk, based only on the available research of methyl mercury. See my second link above to the AAP Statement in support of the WHO policy to continue to use multi-dose vials of vaccine with Thimerosal.

See also the Thimerosal information from the Vaccine Education Center at CHOP, which details the history of using Thimerosal in vaccines and medicines as a preservative, the removal of Thimerosal because of the “theoretical risk” and the recent multiple research studies which show Thimerosal to be a safe and effective vaccine preservative:

http://www.chop.edu/service/vaccine-education-center/vaccine-safety/vaccine-ingredients/thimerosal.html

BTW, Jeff 1971: IMO, the original AAP Statement about removing Thimerosal, “disappeared” from the AAP Policy Statements page just a few short years after Thimerosal was removed from multi-dose vials and the switchover to only single dose vials/single dose preloaded syringes.

My personal belief is that the AAP could have (should have) issued an additional (Interim?) Statement about the completed research studies showing safety of Thimerosal, as they were reported in the science and medical journals, before the AAP finally issued the Statement (December, 2012) in support of the Who policy for the use of multi-dose vials.

Mr. Motill,

Which vaccine on the American pediatric schedule is only available thimerosal? Do not include influenza since half approved for children are thimersal free. Do not mention DTaP, since most are thimerosal free.

Also do you understand that elemental mercury, methylmercury and ethylmercury are all completely different things?

And what is safer for a baby, getting a DTaP vaccine or a pertussis infection? Provide scientific documentation from reputable qualified researchers to support your answer.

@ motil some facts i found
thiomersal is 50% mercury by weight

Table salt is 50% sodium ( In pure elemental form -sodium is explosive when mixed with water)
Table salt is 50% chloride ( In pure elemental form as chlorine gas, will turn to corrosive acid when mixed with water)
So why doesn’t my mouth dissolve or explode off my face when I eat salt?

Because the compound sodium chloride has completely different properties than it’s components alone.

Elemental Hydrogen will explode when ignited.
Elemental Oxygen will give a huge flame when ignited.
So why can I throw H2O on a fire and not create a crater from the explosion?

Because the compound H2O – water – has completely different properties from that of it’s components alone.
See where I’m going with this?

Just like thimerosal (ethyl mercury) has completely different properties from elemental mercury AND methyl mercury.

Now that this has been pointed out to you I can assume there will be no more pesky wilful ignorance.

sorry to play devil’s advocate
but i cant conscientiously get past mercury as a sound means of a quote “preservative”

re:
“I believe you mean ethyl mercury not methyl mercury, they are not the same”

…sorry i suppose so…
looking into the above however didn’t make me feel better as they are not so very different either , one is a ch3 group the other is a ch3 group + ch2… group

the above statements are of no reassurance at best
quote
“Thimerosal was removed from childhood vaccines, based only on methyl mercury research”
…not so good they tested the wrong thing the first time ?
quote
“Thimerosal which contains ethyl mercury has be thoroughly researched and found to be a safe”
….great in extremely small amounts….
quote
“Here’s a recent statement from the AAP in support of Thimerosal preservative in … Multi-dose” ?
…wait are they recommending upping the amount taken in at one time ?

the tone of that article above pointed out is also not very reassuring
http://www.healio.com/pediatrics/vaccine-preventable-diseases/news/print/infectious-diseases-in-children/%7B99e7f569-7e2e-4981-8960-45f4549a1f53%7D/aap-experts-in-pediatrics-support-who-statement-on-thimerosal-in-vaccines
with statements like
“for low- and middle-income countries”
…as opposed to ?
“Future research and partnerships can make our vaccine supplies more accessible, secure, affordable and safe”
… we talking about health or business here ?

if these shot no longer contain it then, it is after all a mute point

but i don’t see any proof that it Thimerosal itself is in fact safe by definition

chemically as a stand alone substance it clearly is not simply due to its mercury component
it is not a preservative
it is in fact a toxic anti-bacterial component that is its purpose and action and that is accomplished by the mercury component directly

@Narad – Oh, it most definitely will! Sorry, I misunderstood initially then. I thought you were taking the piss with the link ..

So, for a newbie such as myself – safe to say the following is correlation and not causation, right?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21623535

And anything mentioning VAERS is a write-off I assume, yes?

or am i wrong that is not its purpose ?
cause i seem to remember that there is some live bacteria in these vaccines ??? so now im really getting confused

ok damn you guys post fast lol

sorry chris
i can only look stuff up so fast if you would post the answer that would be good

ill stop being a pest

@Will – if you take a look at this series of studies, I believe all of your questions will be answered:

http://www2.aap.org/immunization/families/faq/vaccinestudies.pdf

Also, Thimerasol has been removed from all US Pediatric Vaccines, with the exception of some Flu Vaccines….so the issue is really moot at this point (especially in light of all of the evidence that the initial concern was proven to be false).

“Here’s a recent statement from the AAP in support of Thimerosal preservative in … Multi-dose” ?
…wait are they recommending upping the amount taken in at one time ?

No, one vial with enough doses for multiple people. Packaging that way is more efficient than packaging each dose by itself. 

“Future research and partnerships can make our vaccine supplies more accessible, secure, affordable and safe”
… we talking about health or business here ?

Both. Health care costs money just as food costs money, just as housing costs money, just as everything that requires human effort to supply costs money. Many nations have very few resources to spare for health care, so reducing the costs for them allows more people to receive care, in this case vaccines. There are also areas that are difficult to get into and lack reliable refrigeration, and thimerasol can keep vaccines safer under those conditions.

will motill,

so is the mercury component in thiomersal provable inert if it were i think it wouldn’t be killing fungi and bacteria right

Thimerosal is a very effective microbicide at very low concentrations and is very cheap. It has been in use for many decades and there are no reports of any health problems in doses hundreds or even thousands of times higher than those in vaccines – it has been used to preserve immunoglobulins and plasma for transfusions for example. Patients have been given up to 1,800 mg of thimerosal intravenously without noticeable ill effects (the infamous Eli Lily experiments with terminal meningococcal meningitis patients in 1930), that’s 36,000 times as much thimerosal as there ever was in any vaccine.

now i know that holding or eating mercury in fish is not the same as injecting it into directly into your blood.

True, since Ingested methylmercury in fish is rapidly and completely absorbed into the blood stream, while thimerosal iin a vaccine injected into muscle or under the skin is slowly absorbed into the blood stream and quite quickly excreted in urine and feces. Eating fish results in more rapid absorption of the more dangerous methylmercury which is also excreted more slowly.

Someone eating a 50 gram tin of tuna every week might legally ingest (and absorb) 2,600 micrograms of methylmercury over the course of a year*, while in the era before thimerosal removal an infant might have been exposed to 187.5 micrograms of thimerosal, given over the course of 7 months.

so if we say its not inert and we are injecting it into the blood it is a minute away from the brain on injection right

It is most certainly safe in the doses used – the concentration of 50 micrograms thimerosal in 0.5 ml of vaccine is 100,000 micrograms per liter in the vial. The highest blood concentration of ethylmercury measured after a thimerosal-containing vaccine was children post vaccination 5.7 micrograms per liter the day after vaccination, dropping to baseline levels after 30 days. Isn’t it perfect possible that a substance can be safe in children at 6 micrograms per liter while effectively killing microbes at a concentration of 100,000 micrograms per liter?

to me this seems like russian rulet with a infants brain
maybe it hits a important target in development maybe it doesn’t

We have evidence from places like the Seychelles and the Faroes where people eat lots of fish, and have far higher levels of mercury than children from non-fish-eating places who have been vaccinated. Even children who were exposed to high levels of mercury in the womb and afterwards show no clear signs of neurodevelopmental problems**. They certainly don’t have epidemics of autism.

well that was my train of thought which makes me very skeptical for the idea of “tiny bit of mercury + baby” = ok

There is a tiny bit of mercury in the air we breath, the water we drink and the food we eat. It’s always a trade off between the benefits and risks of these things. Burning coal to generate electricity results in mercury exposure. Is it worth the risk? That’s arguable, but I think the minuscule theoretical risk of exposure to the the tiny amounts of thimerosal in some vaccines is greatly outweighed by its benefits.

so my question is do we have no alternative ?
why is it so important to remain in the damn shots ?

There are alternatives but they have not been as thoroughly tested for safety, they may not be as effective and they are more expensive. Thiimerosal is only in use in multi-use vials, that a nurse or doctor will repeatedly stick a needle into to withdraw multiple doses for multiple patients. This makes contamination possible, and the thimerosal prevents any microbes introduced from multiplying. This is particularly important in the developing world where the cheapest options are needed, and where a lack of refrigeration means a contaminated vaccine can go bad very quickly.

The effects of injecting people with contaminated vaccines are very, very nasty indeed. I would much rather my children were injected with a tiny amount of mercury that could not possibly hurt anyone, than exposed to a risk of infection like this.

Why stop using a preservative that is highly effective, and that we know is extremely safe as it has been used for over a century? The only reason seems to be the ignorance of the facts about thimerosal and mercury in vaccines.

You also wrote:

looking into the above however didn’t make me feel better as they are not so very different either , one is a ch3 group the other is a ch3 group + ch2… group

I think you mean one has one carbon (methylmercury) and the other has two carbons (ethylmercury). There is a similar difference between vodka (ethanol) and wood alcohol (methanol). One has two carbons, the other has two. That’s the only difference, just as in methyl and ethylmercury. When ingested one will get you drunk, the other can blind and kill you.

* EPA limit is 1,000 micrograms per kg, 1 microgram per gram, 50 micrograms per 50 grams (approx 2 ounces).
** In the Seychelles no effects were seen in women exposed to 0.5 microgram/kg of methylmercury each and every day. In a 66 kg woman that’s over 9,000 micrograms over the course of a 9 month pregnancy.

I hope the scattering of typos in the above are obvious, “one has one carbon, the other has two”, for example.

Also, thimerosal was patented, as merthiolate, in 1927, so it has been in use for almost a century, not more than a century as I stated. Sunday morning brain fuzz, sorry.

So, for a newbie such as myself – safe to say the following is correlation and not causation, right?

Yes, it’s correlation. Which might be a reason to investigate, and see if causation is behind the correlation, except that in this case the correlation was produced by juggling data, as Orac describes here: http://respectfulinsolence.com/2011/06/08/more-bad-science-in-the-service-of-the-discredited-idea/ . The author adds speech impediments which have no relation to autism to autism, and then draws a correlation between that artificial Frankencategory and vaccines – and that’s just the start of the mistakes which make the paper pointless.

And anything mentioning VAERS is a write-off I assume, yes?

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that any paper mentioning VAERS is a write-off – but VAERS is only one component of our vaccine safety surveillance program, and it’s the component that deliberately casts the widest net, accepting a high rate of what will almost certainly be false positives in order to make sure true positives aren’t missed.

So one would have to wonder, on encountering a paper that cited VAERS data, why they’d be looking there instead of at more reliable endpoints. It’s as if a paper on criminology insisted on using figures on “incidents that set off burglar alarms” rather than “actual confirmed break-ins”; you’d wonder why.

If someone uses VAERS exclusively to try to prove anything, that is a huge problem – since it is merely a reporting mechanism & we have no idea if the reports are true (since the follow-up investigation results are not appended) – and by looking at a number of the most salacious reports (Gardisil Deaths, for instance), we find that many of them consist of:

“Respondent saw on the Internet that someone died after receiving the Gardisil Vaccine. Same respondent made multiple, identical reports.”

Because of reports like this, the anti-vax militia is “stacking the deck” against vaccines, because their tendency to look at reports in total, without considering the actual meat of the individual reports (or merits). So, using the reports in any sort of statistical analysis yields false results (true garbage in / garbage out).

Also, if you look at a good number of the rest of the serious reaction (or death) reports, you find situations where the vaccine has no plausible effect (like a girl who was killed in a car accident, months after receiving a vaccine or drownings, for instance).

Of course, it was also VAERS reports that led to a re-examination of the original Rotavirus vaccine – so legitimate reports are followed up and acted upon.

Again, the anti-vax militia does a disservice to everyone by misusing the VAERS system (both by quoting it as gospel & encouraging others to make what are false reports to inflate the overall numbers).

That’s why we consider VAERS to be a problem….if you rely on it exclusively for anything (hence, we don’t use VAERS as the sole means of saying vaccines are safe either).

I’m thinking someone is playing at being dense. I’d hate to think that someone’s reading comprehension level is at such a low level.