Categories
Autism Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Pseudoscience Quackery Skepticism/critical thinking

The CDC “whistleblower” manufactroversy: Twitter parties and another “bombshell” e-mail

Remember yesterday how, I referenced the ever-awesome bit about the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and how after pulling the pin you must count to three, no more, no less, before lobbing the grenade at thine enemies? The implication was, of course, that I was on my third post in a row about the so-called “CDC whistleblower” and that was enough.

I lied.

Well, no, actually I didn’t lie. (But look for a crank to quote mine that two-word sentence.) Rather, I changed my mind. The reasons are three-fold. First, this is a crank storm that just keeps on giving when it comes to grade-A blogging material. The other reason is that this story isn’t going away, and there are still issues I wanted to touch upon. True, because the story isn’t going away soon, I won’t be blogging about it indefinitely until it finally fades into the background noise of antivaccine conspiracy theories that are always buzzing around us like pissed off bees chasing after someone who knocked over their hive. I do think that one more installment is in order, though, the third reason being an observation last night of just how desperate the antivaccine movement is to have Brian Hooker’s incompetent “reanalysis” of a ten year old vaccine safety study and Andrew Wakefield’s despicable race-baiting video gain traction in the mainstream media. The failure of this conspiracy theory to do so is driving antivaccine activists into ever-greater fits of lunacy online, plus another release of a letter that I’ll discuss after I get through the more amusing stuff.

For those who might be entering this saga right now, I’m referring to a claim, being flogged to death right now by the antivaccine movement, that there is a CDC whistleblower who has made “devastating” reports that the CDC hid data that showed a 3.4-fold increased risk of autism in African American males, based on a “reanalysis” of a 10 year old CDC study that found no evidence that children with autism were no more likely to have received their first MMR vaccine earlier than neurotypical controls. Although the status of the “whistleblower,” senior CDC scientist William Thompson, PhD, is unknown because we have no one’s word for what it is other than Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield, we do know that Brian Hooker’s “reanalysis,” which is at the heart of this conspiracy theory, is a fetid pile of dingo’s kidneys, from a statistical and epidemiological standpoint.

Perhaps the most hilarious example of the lengths to which antivaccinationists will go for attention came in the form of a “Twitter party” last night using the #CDCwhistleblower hashtag. Indications that this was going to occur hit social media sites Monday night, but yesterday the Not-So-Thinking Moms laid down the instructions for this “Twitter party,” to hilarious effect. Let’s just put it this way: A mix of antivaccine loons plus antivaccine Twitter newbies = comedy gold! Particularly hilarious were these instructions:

  • Do not use profanity, defamatory language, or make lewd comments.DO NOT engage with nay-sayers, pro-vax people or pharma trolls. I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH: DO NOT ARGUE! If you feel the need to reply to them, simply repeat #CDCwhistleblower with no other wording. DO NOT ARGUE.
  • Do not refer to lawsuits, personal or class action. That talk is way too premature.
  • Do not express negativity toward William Thompson. Just don’t.

Naturally, the Moms provided a bunch of prepackaged Tweets with links to antivaccine talking points about William Thompson as the “CDC whistleblower.” Not unexpectedly, try as they might, several of the antivaccine Twitter champions couldn’t resist arguing with pro-vax people. They also Tweeted at a bunch of news organizations, who, I bet, recognize cranks when they see them, and Rob Schneider, who is an antivaccine crank. A lot of the usual suspects were there, as well, spewing the same sort of nonsense we normally see them spewing on their blogs and Facebook pages, such as:


No, Brian Hooker’s “reanalysis” of the Destefano et al study showed nothing of the sort.

Of course, no antivaccine trope was too dumb or discredited to be pulled out, dusted off, and presented as Truth:

You get the idea.

That wasn’t the only bit of craziness going on. You knew it had to happen, but I noticed yesterday that Patrick “Tim” Bolen got into the act with a typical screed of his entitled The CDC Whistleblower…The Story Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want To Run… Perhaps the only amusing thing about Bolen’s tiresome post is just how much he dislikes me. I always say that I know I’m effective when the cranks take the time to attack me personally, and Bolen definitely does that. Unfortunately, he is too uncreative and unimaginative to come up with an insult worse than calling me “big pharma’s bought and paid for man.” (The pharma shill gambit? Really? How disappointingly…predictable.) Also apparently, my commenters are all sock puppets of me trying to generate support for my posts. If there’s one thing about Bolen, he never fails to be an ass. His worst sin, though, is that he is not even a particularly entertaining ass.

Bolen did remind me, however, that there is a quack cancer conference coming up at the end of this week that I should perhaps look into, and Brian Hooker is apparently going to be speaking there. Why? Because two quacks are stronger than one; so combining this quack cancer conference with an AutismOne event appeals to more cranks? I guess that must be the reason.

Finally, Mike Adams is back in the game with a new e-mail from Hooker to CDC officials from 12 years ago. You know, if I were Andrew Wakefield or Brian Hooker and I wanted to get my message out through the channel least likely to be immediately dismissed as unreliable, perhaps the last site I’d choose would be NaturalNews.com, the crankiest of the crank sites out there, particularly when Adams posts lurid articles with the title Natural News EXCLUSIVE: Bombshell email from CDC whistleblower reveals criminality of vaccine cover-up as far back as 2002. But then, thankfully, I’m not Brian Hooker or Andrew Wakefield. Anyway, here is the letter. It is from Thompson and addressed to Melinda Wharton and several other high-ranking CDC officials:

CDC-DOJ-Investigation-MMR-Vaccine-Autism

Taken out of context, it’s rather hard to know what to make of this e-mail. Apparently in 2002, there was a Department of Justice request for documents relating to the MMR vaccine, thimerosal (which, I note, is not in the MMR and never has been), and autism. What I see here, though, is not evidence of a coverup. Quite the contrary! If you read the letter, you’ll see Thompson relating that he had expressed concerns about some of the “sensitive legal issues” regarding what documents he should provide to the DOJ and was told that he should “apply a very broad definition” to the documents to be provided to the DOJ. In other words, it would appear that Thompson went to the CDC expressing concern about these requests and was told to give the DOJ everything. So that’s what he does, spelling out exactly what he means by that: All his agendas, analysis plans, Excel spreadsheets, SAS programs, draft manuscripts, edited manuscripts, and sensitive results from the MADDSP/MMR Autism study (the study that was ultimately published as Destefano et al and “reanalyzed” incompetently by Brian Hooker). He also said he would be providing any other documents he had related to autism/MMR studies. In other words, he seemed to be saying to the CDC, if you tell me to apply a “broad definition,” I’m going to give the DOJ everything I have.

Most of the issue here appears to be requests for documents from the DOJ, which clearly spooked Thompson, if this letter is any indication. I can understand. If I were an investigator at the CDC and the DOJ were requesting documents from me, I’d be nervous too, particularly after seeing my collaborator raked over the coals in front of the committee of the grandaddy of antivaccine congressional representatives, Dan Burton, as Thompson did Coleen Boyle in 2002. As an investigator in vaccine safety, you don’t expect to be the target of investigations of politically minded antivaccine loons. You expect to do good science and let the science speak for itself. Unfortunately, given the antivaccine movement, anyone who works for the CDC in vaccine safety is a target.

Mike Adams (and the antivaccine loons lapping up his stuff) want you to think Thompson was expressing fear that he and his collaborators had done something wrong. To Adams, it’s the “coverup.” It’s always the “coverup.” I just don’t see that, though. To me, it looks as though it’s probably panic at having the DOJ breathing down his neck and demanding documents. What I see is a plea for help, an attitude of, “WTF? I didn’t sign on for this legal stuff when I became a scientist. Take my name off the manuscript if I’m going to have to put up with this stuff to be part of it.” He then took the step of hiring a personal attorney to protect himself, which is not an entirely unreasonable step to take. After all, institutional lawyers exist to protect the institution, not the individual. Physicians inherently know this, which is why they don’t generally use hospital attorneys to defend themselves in malpractice cases. They hire their own. In this case, it looks as though Thompson is simply informing the CDC brass that he is covering his own posterior. In other words, this e-mail is very much of a piece with his previous e-mail. Thompson was freaked out at dealing with the DOJ and didn’t want to take any chances. Barring more information, that’s what it looks like.

What amazes me today, as it did yesterday, is just how…mundane…this “bombshell” e-mail is. There’s no real indication of a coverup. In fact, it sounds as though the CDC ordered its investigators to be maximally open with the DOJ after Thompson asked for guidance. If this is the best Adams, Wakefield, and Hooker can come up with, it’s thin gruel indeed. One can’t help but wonder if this is the best they have. After all, if they had more damning evidence in all those thousands of documents Hooker got through Freedom of Information Act requests, they’d almost certainly have used at least one of them by now. I understand the “drip, drip, drip” approach trying to build momentum with ever more damning leaks, but there’s really nothing particularly damning so far. You have to start out with something that at least catches attention without its having to be misrepresented as something it’s not, as Mike Adams misrepresented the first letter/e-mail from Thompson. Given how spectacularly the antivaccine movement has failed thus far to garner attention from the mainstream press, they’re going to have to deliver something substantive soon, or the “drip, drip, drip” will rapidly fade into oblivion in all but the most fevered conspiracy swamps of antivaccine websites, blogs, and Facebook pages.

OK, I’m going to try to do something different for my next post. I need a break. I don’t know if I’ll succeed or not, depending on what happens today, but I can’t make this the “all whistleblower all the time” blog.

ADDENDUM: Oh, holy hell. Now Brian Hooker’s showing up on the Next News Network regurgitating the same nonsense about his “reanalysis.” I’m too tired to deconstruct it now. Hooker portrays himself as a hero, as the only one who has been able to “reanalyze the data.” (Remember how incompetently he did it.) He calls for resignation of the Destefano et al coauthors, accusing them of criminality.

There’s really nothing new here. Most importantly, there is no direct statement from William Thompson. Well, actually, there is one interesting tidbit. Hooker claims to have gotten a call on his cell phone from Thompson out of the blue. If what Hooker says is only partially true, it’s hard not to conclude that (1) Thompson was either incredibly naive; (2) Thompson has been at co-opted, either partially or completely, by the antivaccine movement (i.e., has gone, either whole or in part, antivax); or (3) a little of both. At least, Hooker tells us that Thompson was not escorted out of the CDC and that he is still going to work at the CDC. So what is going on? Who knows? No one other than Hooker is talking, and his highly unreliable information is being amplified. More importantly, Hooker lays out the antivaccine strategy quite clearly: Reanalyze more data sets incompetently, as he has with the Destefano et al dataset, to produce more “scientific papers” that find spurious correlations and promulgate the argument that, because of the “whistleblower,” nothing from the CDC can be tested, according to the central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement.

ADDENDUM #@: Oh, goody. The antivaccine group Canary Party is reporting that Representative Bill Posey will be investigating the whistleblower’s allegations. Remember Bill Posey? He’s antivaccine and has even appeared at the antivaccine quackfest AutismOne.

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]

175 replies on “The CDC “whistleblower” manufactroversy: Twitter parties and another “bombshell” e-mail”

I see that Rob Schneider, as usual, weighed in to give his celebrity backing to this nonsense.
Note for people who don’t know him: Schneider is famous for playing a rather uneducated and ignorant buffoon.
He also appears in films.

For your post-after-next then could you PLEASE possibly take apart Megan’s latest -and most crazy rant yet- at Living Whole?
Predictably it’s about the so-called ‘whistleblower’. I can’t bring myself to post the link.
She’s predicting that 1 in 2 boys will have autism by 2024 and her followers are falling for it.
That woman is going to have copious amounts of blood on her hands soon. She’s handing out increasingly dangerous pseudo-medical advice in her comments section as freely as if it were M&Ms!

Are there laws about that in the US?

There’s a rather badly stitched together video from the Autism Media Channel currently on AoA, claiming to be a recording of “CDC Whistleblower”‘s views on Thimerosal / Flu Vaccines / Tics / Autism.

http://www.ageofautism.com/2014/08/cdc-whistleblower-on-thimerosal-in-pregnant-women.html

I don’t get this drip-drip-drip approach. If this was all genuine, why not release the whole conversations alongside the edited versions for those who would understandably have doubts about the veracity of Wakefield / Hooker’s claims. Y’know, releasing the raw data and showing the working alongside the results…

If this is the best Adams, Wakefield, and Hooker can come up with, it’s thin gruel indeed.

They’re taking a leaf from the book of some of their comrades-in-arms, believing that they strengthen the power of their arguments by looking for the most watered-down evidence possible.

It is so disappointing to read and witness persons claiming to write as scientists use such non-scientific emotional language and name calling rather than statements based on evidence and objective analysis. No one should take such a diatribe of insults as a skeptical discussion of an issue, and no thinking person would. Read both sides for yourself people/sheeple and try and look at the facts, data…and style of argument. This “scienceblog” is the opposite of what reason and scientific debate are. There is a real story, real facts, real data that needs a real discussion.

I think the drip, drip is about building momentum. The videos are well polished so this is an organized event. Get the twitter storm going, stoke the fire with more videos, then get their issue in the news.

Re the tweet that said vaccine safety data shouldn’t be trusted because of the lack of placebos. They really don’t understand much about the development vs. the use of medicines, do they?

How would placebo safety data help? Oh, we must reduce the percentage of headaches attributed to vaccine A as this percentage of people who never got that vaccine also got headaches?

Re. the ‘drip-drip-drip’ approach:

They’re trying to mimic what Edward Snowden did, releasing a little at a time and hoping the press will gobble it up as thirstily as they gobbled the stuff that Snowden released.

I’m highly confident that this is their strategy and that they believe themselves to be Snowden-equivalents.

If that’s the case, then calling them on it in a tone of ridicule, should cause them to howl, squeal, bray, and quack up a storm.

Even FauxNews, who can’t resist going after a government agency for incompetence or mismanagement (not to mention any whiff of malfeasance) isn’t touching this story with a 10 foot pole….that should tell you something about the depths that these guys have sunk, as far as reputation and credibility with anyone outside of their little circle…..

Lurker: They may be trying to mimic Snowden, but they’re really taking their cues from the AGW denialists in “climategate”.

… No one should take such a diatribe of insults as a skeptical discussion of an issue, and no thinking person would. Read both sides for yourself people/sheeple

Doktar, please let us know when your book “How To Fail Completely At Tone-Trolling” will be published. I assume it’ll be shelved with the humor books?

Re the tweet that said vaccine safety data shouldn’t be trusted because of the lack of placebos. They really don’t understand much about the development vs. the use of medicines, do they?

How would placebo safety data help?

There is actually an internal logic there. If you’ll note, she doesn’t say they don’t use placebos, but that they don’t use “true” placebos.

The logic goes like this:

Vaccine A is a combination of antigenic compounds, plus preservatives, adjuvants and other ingredients.

Vaccine A is typically tested for safety and effectiveness vs. Placebo A’, which is all the ingredients of Vaccine A minus the antigenic compounds.

If groups that receive Vaccine A and those that receive Placebo A’ experience equal rates of adverse effects, then it’s concluded that the antigenic compounds are not causing any problems and this is taken to mean that the vaccine is safe.

However, if one of the adjuvants or preservatives is in fact very dangerous, then testing two formulas that both have that dangerous ingredient and comparing the difference between their rates of adverse effects will give you a false negative indicator of safety.

The problem with this logic is that it presumes nothing is known about the safety of the adjuvants and preservatives being used.

In the real world, these adjuvants and preservatives are used in so many vaccines that, if one of them increased the probability of a particular side effect by even a small amount, it would have created an epidemiological signal impossible to miss.

This is a poorly designed scam to direct attention away from mercury as the cause of autism. Naturally, all of the dumbed down autism parents fell for it and followed their controlled opposition leaders to make themselves look foolish by blubbering all over the internet to show how naive they are.
The MMR vaccine was used all over the USA from 1971 onward. However, there was zero autism in MS, NH and D.C. until 1991 when the HepB shot with mercury caused the onset of the autism epidemic. If the MMR shot didn’t even cause one case of autism in those three places where it was used for 20 years, then we can conclude that it never caused autism anywhere.
Of course, everyone on this blog knows that mercury is the sole cause of autism so I’m not giving you any new knowledge. But, maybe you weren’t aware of those statistics from MS, NH and D.C. that prove that the CDC made this whole thing up to dishonestly bash themselves to help them discredit the truth about mercury.

Their “drip, drip, drip” seems much more like the intermittent dribble of gonorrhea.

Do you have a citation for no child ever in all of history in the states of MS, NH and DC had autism prior to 1991?

How are those three states different from all the states that have had autistic kids even back in the 60’s and 70’s when they really only diagnosed the severely effected?

@John – perhaps you’d like to provide the citation that there was not even a single case of autism in those three areas?

Unfortunately, I promised someone I’d accompany him somewhere today so I can’t stay and personally witness the pyroclastic flow of anti-vax which now threatens to engulf us in a smothering wave of stupifying gases. And flow it must because they have nothing else.

First of all, if boys of African descent are sensitised to the ghastly effects of MMR, why, pray tell, doesn’t that show up in OTHER CDC studies that look at autism and race- like one I quoted on the previous thread which even includes figures from Georgia? Actually, it seems that they exhibit a lower rate than white boys**. They are studies from places NOT under the thumb of the CDC- are those kids worse off?
If they were, we’d know it by now and sure enough, some investigator would be making his or her name studying it in detail whether the ‘racial’*** differences were due to genetic, physical environmental or SES sources.

It seems that AJW and Hooker both have a history of exhibiting revelations periodically**** which usually turn out to be nothing- howver, this time, they appear to have synchronised their dripping.

Finally, Bolen slimes our peerless leader and US! At leas tnone of us are littering the lovely Golden State by living in one of its parks.

** oddly enough, one AoA commenter asks what ‘SES’ is!
You can’t make stuff like that up!
*** there’s only one race as far as I’m concerned
**** could that be hormonally based?

Apparently in 2002, there was a Department of Justice request for documents relating to the MMR vaccine, thimerosal (which, I note, is not in the MMR and never has been), and autism.

Could somebody with more knowledge about this say something about what this was about? Such as, what federal statutes were people suspected of violating? Because having the DOJ on the case is serious business. If this was just a fishing expedition on the part of an anti-vaxer sufficiently well placed at DOJ, then that was a major abuse of power. The actual reason for the DOJ’s request might well be flimsy, but there should be one.

That puts the idea of ebohlman @10, that the anti-vax people are using “climategate” as a model for their current action, in a different light. Lying to a federal investigator is a crime, and I’m sure these folks have convinced themselves that the authors on the DeStefano paper were lying to the DOJ (whether or not the researchers actually were lying). So the anti-vax crowd must find it all the more frustrating that the media are ignoring their shouts of “OMG CDC scientists are criminals!!eleven!”

I thought Brian Hooker’s area of concentration is Thimerosal…so why is he sharing the spotlight with Andrew Wakefield whose area of expertise is MMR vaccine-induced-enterocolitis?

Then, there’s Jake Crosby, who, just last week, was singing the praises of Andrew Wakefield. Now he has accused Mr. Wakefield of “outing” the whistleblower.

I’m so confused.

@Eric – it is quite possible that it may have been part of a DOJ Discovery or FOIA request related to either the Omnibus Hearings or perhaps another lawsuit filed with the Vaccine Court (or outside the Court).

Since there is no context provided, it is nearly impossible to tell.

Doing more reading and talking to a couple of people, I think it was the discovery phase of the Autism Omnibus proceedings, but that might be incorrect.

Mqybe context will be provided in the next “drip,” but I doubt it.

Publicity-seeking Congressman + slow news day = major media coverage, at least for those outlets that aren’t concerned about hyping a Wakefield-generated story and ultimately embarrassing themselves.

@Orac – that would make sense. Knowing what I know about Discovery (in general) and DOJ (in particular), it doesn’t surprise me that it was considered an “extremely broad” request for documentation.

Especially if it was for the Omnibus Hearings – which covered pretty much any and every theory about a link between vaccines and autism, it would be, by the very nature of the cases, broad.

Since no one knew how the hearings were going to go, it makes sense that Thompson might have been a little concerned & sent a CYA email just in case.

After thinking about it more, if anything, I interpret this e-mail as Thompson being freaked out at dealing with the DOJ over, presumably, the Autism Omnibus discover phase and terrified that antivaxers would spin those “problematic results” about African American males into allegations of fraud that the DOJ might actually take seriously. I could be totally wrong, but that’s how it strikes me. In such an environment, he was (somewhat understandably) freaked out; so he sent out a CYA e-mail to a bunch of CDC officials and lawyers saying he’s giving the DOJ everything and hiring his own lawyer.

@Orac – that’s the main problem here….the anti-vax brigade is seemingly unable to provide context – only snippets of information.

Which leads me to believe, that if you looked at the information in its entirety – and in context, that you would get an entirely different view of the situation and why this is nothing more than a bunch of nothing.

I am confused. Please tell me where I am wrong. These children would have been diagnosed with autism using the DSM4 criteria, I think. I do not remember the dates when it came into being, but I think it was used in the 90’s. The DSM4 criteria require symptoms prior to the age of 3 in section II. The increase relative risk was only seen in those older than 3. So didn’t they have autism prior to the vaccination?

@Lawrence and Orac

I could see being a bit freaked out by such a request, especially if it involved identifiable patient information. The only way to keep from supplying that is to get a Certificate of Confidentiality, which bars disclosure even due to governmental request. I doubt such a certificate would have been issued to any of the subjects in that research.

I wonder if Orac is downplaying the statement about retaining a personal lawyer. I have worked in academia and in government. Collection of information by other agencies or FOIA requests were routine. To be so worried about something that you would think you need a personal lawyer is pretty troubling. It might just be smoke, but it is a lot of smoke to me.

I wonder if Orac is downplaying the statement about retaining a personal lawyer. I have worked in academia and in government. Collection of information by other agencies or FOIA requests were routine. To be so worried about something that you would think you need a personal lawyer is pretty troubling. It might just be smoke, but it is a lot of smoke to me.

I must have graduated – having had a razor sharp argument binned at AoA. I had initially asked them how such a large increased risk factor could go unnoticed by front line health workers or interest groups like themselves. They retorted that it was noticed, just covered up. So then I asked how that could even be, given the large figure – its a bit like trying to cover up that women are shorter than men – its informally manifest to anyone that looks, and a piece of piss to verify statistically. (We do have to allow though that government agencies everywhere, of all stripes, are capable of mindblowingly stupid things…). So I asked them why *they* hadn’t noticed it – given their interest in raw incidence numbers, and if it wasn’t at least indictated by their own membership profile. (I suspect that last bit hit hard – I have of course no actual idea, and only my prejudices to go by, but I’m suspecting that AoA, TMR and the rest aren’t exactly showing the glorious rainbow of ethnic diversity in their memberships). There are many possible answers to all that but ‘bin and ignore’ works every time 🙂

@JCL – I asked the exact same question. If there was as huge of a difference between blacks and white (and autism), why isn’t it plainly evident in all of the incidence numbers we have today?

that’s the main problem here….the anti-vax brigade is seemingly unable to provide context – only snippets of information.

Classical online debating trick: make an unevaluatable claim, then act as if your opponent not accepting it as proof of your position proves him an idiot.

@JCL

Someone asked that on another vaccine forum, and this was the response they gave.

“You can have a 3.4 fold increase in autism in those vaccinated early as compared to those vaccinated later in a specific population while still having lowish numbers.

Example, using made up numbers to prove a point:

Male white children

2% have ASD if vaccinted early, if vaccinated on time, or if vaccinated late.

male, African American children:
1% if vaccinated early
0.8 % if vaccinated on time
0.25% if vaccinated late.

My chances of having a child on ASD specturm if I were black (and assuming no diagnostic issues) might be lower overall than a white person, but it is still safer from an ASD perspective (and assuming Hooker is right) to vaccinate late versus early.”

Doktar Statz,

It is so disappointing to read and witness persons claiming to write as scientists use such non-scientific emotional language and name calling rather than statements based on evidence and objective analysis. No one should take such a diatribe of insults as a skeptical discussion of an issue, and no thinking person would.

I entirely agree, that video from Hooker and Wakefield is a shameful piece of emotionally loaded propaganda. Thank goodness for this blog, where the actual science is discussed in detail.

Read both sides for yourself people/sheeple and try and look at the facts, data…and style of argument.

Good advice, which I always try to follow.

This “scienceblog” is the opposite of what reason and scientific debate are.

Now you’ve lost me. This blog is one of the few places I have seen the science discussed and explained in detail.

There is a real story, real facts, real data that needs a real discussion.

How have you missed the “real discussion” about the DeStefano case control study design and how Hooker has horribly abused statistics by trying to reanalyze the data using a cohort design? Not only that, but he carried out subgroup analyses that he failed to correct the statistical significance p value threshold for, and falsely claimed that there is a statistically significant increase in autism among African American males children vaccinated early? This completely invalidates any of his claimed findings. That’s the important message I take from this charade: Hooker is completely and demonstrably wrong.

I wonder if Orac is downplaying the statement about retaining a personal lawyer. I have worked in academia and in government. Collection of information by other agencies or FOIA requests were routine. To be so worried about something that you would think you need a personal lawyer is pretty troubling. It might just be smoke, but it is a lot of smoke to me.

How about requests from the DOJ, which would be a pretty BFD, especially in light of loons like Dan Burton dragging you or your collaborators in front of a congressional committee to try to find evidence of a “coverup”? Remember, this was a time when Burton was putting maximal pressure on the CDC and his political grandstanding was at its height. The discovery phase of the Autism Omnibus proceedings was underway, and lawyers for the complainants were on a massive fishing expedition, casting a wide net for anything they could find to support a causation hypothesis between vaccines or thimerosal in vaccines and autism. That’s hardly “routine.”

This piece is now making the rounds today in the anti-vaccine circles….

http://www.ageofautism.com/2014/08/cdc-whistleblower-and-probability-of-post-mmr-autism-diagnosis.html

Haven’t read the whole thing, but this part was pretty hilarious.

“Since this story broke, it has been stated many times (including by me) that the data indicates a 340% increase in the risk of autism for African American males. 340% is a huge increase. So is 236%, which is actually what we should have been saying. The numbers reported by Dr. Hooker were for Relative Risk.

So… here it is. I’m sorry. We made a mistake. See, CDC… it’s really not that hard to admit when you’ve made a mistake. Thankfully, this error did not go unaddressed for more than 10 years, and thankfully, no children were harmed as a result of our math mistake.

When I realized we had been using the wrong percent increase, I felt a bit ill. My thoughts went to something along the lines of, “Oh crap. We are going to look like a bunch of no-nothing alarmist parents and this is going to be used against us to say we don’t know what we’re talking about.” Well… Why would that scare us? It certainly wouldn’t be anything new.”

@Lawrence yeah I noticed that comment- was thinking that way myself, but I suppose I should have acknowledged your prior art 🙂 But I wanted to see what the AoAers thought – like why *they* hadn’t noticed it – they’re almost anal repeating the supposed incidence rates – why wasn’t it obvious to them? Why wasn’t it part of the ‘anecdotal lore’ of autism? And why, given that its clearly going to be pretty easy to confirm such a finding, why don’t they go do just that? (Also, minor subtext but I was hoping to see if they would comment on the ethnicity of their membership – not that I care you understand, just curious in a general way)

@Annie that there was the piece I commented on. The author also has a mea culpa as you report, then goes on to make some other fairly elementary errors – apparently (semiquoting, can’t be arsed looking it up again) – their head hurts a lot when they do this kind of arithmetic. They did allow one comment from me about a maths error to go through, but only I suspect so that they could reiterate the coverup story, and also because they actually don’t care whether they, or anyone esle. is right in the workings, only if they are right in the conclusions. Unfortunately, aving come up with such a huge number of AfricanAmericans with autism they seem unwiling to say anything about how this *huge* (I say again *huge*) number passed by their scrutiny until a dodgy doctor is said to have revealed it to a dodgy statistician in a video made by an alround dodger

Lawrence

August 27, 2014
@John – perhaps you’d like to provide the citation that there was not even a single case of autism in those three areas?

I learned this a long time ago from statistics that were published by the US Dept of Education that identified cases of autism by year and by state. You can go search for it if you like.

@JCL, ah ok. Didn’t realize that was the post you were talking about.

An anti-vaxer did make a response on another thread as to why/how they may have missed those numbers and why the rates of autism aren’t different (or even lower) for black vs white children. I posted it upthread a bit 😉

This piece is now making the rounds today in the anti-vaccine circles….

How cute. They are obviously reading the criticisms of the Hooker study but they are still not addressing the bigger problem which is the stats application Hooker used to begin with and how he treated the data set. So either they aren’t paying attention or Marcella Piper Terry is continuing to pull the wool over the flock’s eyes with her “dazzling” display of stats chops.

@BD – whoa, that’s huge…..that a clear point that “suddenly” somebody woke up over there & realized what a big pile of crap they published.

Teehee.

I’m not sure how I feel about this new development.

Drat!

Looks like I might have to write another blog post about this whole thing tonight when I get home.

“This article has been removed from the public domain pending further investigation because the journal and publisher believe that its continued availability could cause public harm. Definitive editorial action will be taken once our investigation is complete.”

Wow, the possibilities are endless here. Perhaps a certain Mr. Thompson got in touch with the Journal, or maybe somebody just woke up and did some simple math to see that Hooker’s numbers didn’t add up.

AoA is going to go insane.

On the contrary – retracting it allows the antivaxxers to claim ongoing coverup without the paper there to address in detail – its actually ideal for them. If the publishers do retract it I hope someone has scraped a copy so it can be republished and refuted in detail.

I’m sure, if it is indefinitely pulled, that an editorial will be left in its place, explaining why.

If there was malfeasance uncovered, this could be good – really, really good.

Sorry to add to your workload Orac…..

I’m caught in the middle of some partner negotiations myself, on top of a DIY almost-disaster this morning I am trying to fix.

I predict there will be statements that the paper was pulled by CDC/vaccine industry goons who are engaging in a smear campaign against the authors and the brave whistleblower. I further predict that any silence by any of the above will be interpreted as an indication that they are in mortal peril.

Oh, they’ve altered the message a bit.

“This article has been removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions. The journal and publisher believe that its continued availability may not be in the public interest. Definitive editorial action will be pending further investigation.”

Interesting!

You’re absolutely right. Nothing new here.
CDC lies — as usual — and you claim it’s normal.

Your religion is nothing but scientism — no science here.

So how many vaccinations did you give your kids?
And they still haven’t gotten autism?
BRAVO Doctor Orc

Just keep on sucking down that fluroide tap water and GMO pesticided foods. The ignorant and the pseudo-science quacks should be the first to go…

Did you dowse your overheated brain with ice water yet?
SEE http://www.conspiracyplanet.com/channel.cfm?channelid=36&contentid=11386

I’m with MO’B about how the anti-vaccine crowd will spin this.

Thompson is not the only one who is in grave danger. Big Gubmint is arming those little black drones with those teeny poison darts to eliminate everyone involved in the publication of Thompson’s article.

@Annie – wow, that revised language is even more damning…..

Woohoo – this is hilarious.

@Mephistopheles O’Brien

Oh, it’s already started. Ginger Taylor tweeted about it being pulled, and someone responded about censorship, the TRUTH is terrifying, blah blah blah.

Among the conspiracy minded, there is no answer you can give them that will not feed into the conspiracy. Deny it? “You’re just covering it up!” Retract a study because it is highly flawed and should never have been published in the first place? “Censorship! Cover-up!” Admit to a minor error? “Aha! See! Just like we said!”

There’s just no pleasing them.

“CDC lies — as usual — and you claim it’s normal.”

Bob, amidst your rant, you didn’t notice that if the CDC does le as usual then it is normal. As you didn’t understand what you were writing, I guess no one will pay you any attention.

@Todd – of course.

At least this way, there may be a real accounting of how badly Hooker screwed up.

Brian Hooker probably realized how he had been conned by the CDC and the phony whistleblower. His paper hadn’t accounted for how much mercury the kids received before they had their MMR shots. I guess he came to his senses.

@Lawrence

Possibly. Whatever the journal ultimately decides, I hope that they release a statement making very clear the reasons behind their decision. If they put it back up, state why. If they retract it, state the specific shortcomings that they found.

BOB’s link about the ‘satanic’ ice bucket challenge is hilarious for so many reasons.

no science here.

I’m not sure someone who thinks food can be “GMO pesticided” and who believes what they read on a site called ‘Conspiracy Planet’ is in any position to discuss the actual science.

Regarding the paper being taken down, I predict the editors will find (or have already found) multiple errors. Of course, Hooker’s overall approach of analyzing case-control data as if it were cohort data is bad enough, but there are other problems.

Hooker claims in the Abstract, Methods, and Discussion that he analyzed the data using Pearson’s chi squared test. But all four of his data tables are titles “Fisher’s exact analysis…” Unless I’m badly mistaken, those are not the same test. So, which test did Hooker really use?

Hooker claims he used SAS, which I don’t have access to. Instead, I used a couple of online calculators to perform both Pearson’s chi square and Fisher’s exact test to try to reproduce Hookers “Total Cohort” columns in his Table 1. I got the number of cases and controls in each age group from DeStefano et al. I couldn’t reproduce Hooker’s p values with either statistical test.

Hooker gives what he calls Relative Risk number in all his tables. But at least for the Total Cohort part of Table 1, it’s clear that those are not the relative risk numbers. Instead, they are odds ratios with associated CIs. I confirmed this by doing the calculations using DeStefano’s data, and you can even see that the values Hooker gives for the 36 month cut-off are identical to the odds ratio values in DeStefano’s abstract. (Relative risk & associated CI calculations all give different, lower values.)

Does Hooker not know that RR and OR are different? Does he not know that Fisher’s exact test is different from Pearson’s chi square? Did he lost track of which numbers came from which tests? Whatever the explanation, it’s seems clear to me that his work is fatally flawed, not just in conception, but also in execution.

Translational Neurodegeneration might be ‘a bottom-feeding peer-reviewed journal’ with an impact factor of zero, but I’ll say this for them — they move a wee bit faster than The Lancet when it comes to retracting papers.

P.S. I happened to save Hooker’s manuscript yesterday, before the editors pulled it.

AOA has the article on google docs (I looked at their facebook page)-with the scary warning:
If you want a copy, download here. Quickly…who knows how long it will stay up

So… here it is. I’m sorry. We made a mistake. See, CDC… it’s really not that hard to admit when you’ve made a mistake.

Wonder when can we expect the easy admissions admitting the other mistakes the article made–analyzing the case control study as if it were a cohort study, using the wrong statistical method (Pearson’s chi-square rather than conditional logistic regresion), failing to adjust p-values to reflect mutliple comparisons, etc.?

I learned this a long time ago from statistics that were published by the US Dept of Education that identified cases of autism by year and by state. You can go search for it if you like

I’ll have to interpret this as a terse admission “I got nothing” on your part, John Best

I grew up in Mississippi, long before the 90s. They may not have been officially diagnosed and reported, but there most definitely were autistic kids in my schools.

Last week: big whistle blower, big whistle, big paper

This week: no whistle blower, no whistle, no paper.

I see mike adams has predictably gone off the deep end complaining about book burning. Don’t recall many book burnings where they left info on where you can read said burned book – the link the the draft PDF is down but the ePub is still available.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: