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Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield complain to the CDC about its vaccine research. Everyone yawns.

conspiracy-theories-everywhere

The antivaccine movement and conspiracy theories go together like beer and Buffalo wings, except that neither are as good as, yes, beer and Buffalo wings. Maybe it’s more like manure and compost. In any case, the antivaccine movement is rife with conspiracy theories. I’ve heard and written about more than I can remember right now, and I’m under no illusion that I’ve heard anywhere near all of them. Indeed, it seems that every month I see a new one.

There is, however, a granddaddy of conspiracy theories among antivaccinationists, or, as I like to call it, the central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement. That conspiracy theory postulates that “they” (in the U.S, the CDC) have known for a long time that vaccines cause autism, but “they” are covering it up. In other words, the CDC has, according to this conspiracy theory, been intentionally hiding and suppressing evidence that antivaccinationists were right all along and vaccines do cause autism. Never mind what the science really says (that vaccines don’t cause autism)! To the antivaccine contingent, that science is “fraudulent” and the CDC knew it! Why do you think that the antivaccine movement, in particular Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., went full mental jacket when Poul Thorsen was accused of financial shenanigans (i.e., fraud) with grant money from the federal government? It was a perfect story to distract from the inconvenient lack of science supporting the antivaccine view that vaccines cause autism. More importantly, from the antivaccine standpoint, it was seen as “validation” that the CDC studies failing to find a link between autism and vaccines were either fraudulent or incompetently performed. Why? Because Thorsen was co-investigator on a couple of the key studies that failed to find a link between the MMR and autism, antivaccinationists thought that his apparent financial fraud must mean that he committed scientific fraud. They’re the same thing, right? Well, not really. There were a lot of co-investigators, and Thorsen was only a middle author on those studies, as I explained multiple times.

Enter William Thompson, a.k.a. the “CDC whistleblower,” or, if you’re on Twitter, the #CDCwhistleblower. There has been a new development sufficiently bizarre as to catch my attention, but first, since it’s been a while, here’s the mandatory recap.

Recall, back in August, that biochemical engineer turned antivaccine activist and epidemiologist wannabe, published a study, recently retracted, that basically provided strong evidence that Andrew Wakefield was wrong about the MMR vaccine being associated with autism. When I first saw Hooker’s study, even I recognized how utterly incompetently it was carried out, and I’m not even an epidemiologist or statistician. After all, it’s pretty obvious that data collected for a case control study should not be analyzed as a cohort study, but that’s just what Hooker did. When I first read the study, I was actually not as hard on it as I should have been. The more I’ve read, and the more I’ve found out, the more I’ve realized just how badly done it was. Contrary to what Hooker apparently believes, simplicity is not beauty in statistics, particularly when you fail to control for obvious confounders and analyze data incorrectly. The result was a “finding” that there was a 3.4-fold increased risk of autism associated with MMR in African-American boys. Never mind that the numbers of this subgroup were tiny and the data incorrectly analyzed. Never mind that the rest of the data were negative as negative could be for even a whiff of a hint of a correlation between vaccines and autism for any other subgroup and that the vast majority of the leaders of the antivaccine movement are your basic affluent white people who never showed much in the way of an interest in the problems of African-American children before. Suddenly, this finding was being likened to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment by Andrew Wakefield himself!

This incompetent study was the result, allegedly, of discussions between Hooker and a psychologist at the CDC named William Thompson. For reasons that are still not clear, Thompson, a co-author on an important study by DeStefano et al, confided in Hooker, who recorded much of what he said, an action whose legality is unclear given that it’s unclear where all of these recordings were made (one party or two party consent states), and then cherry picked bits to make it sound as though Thompson were confessing to some horrible crime of data manipulation to hide this “bombshell” result reported by Wakefield. Thus was born the “CDC whistleblower,” who featured prominently in the video likening DeStefano et al and the “coverup” to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. Later, Thompson released as statement through his lawyer characterizing the whole problem over DeStefano et al as being a scientific disagreement. Nonetheless, a new conspiracy theory was born: The “CDC whistleblower.” Thompson has said nothing publicly since then, and the mainstream media has basically ignored the story other than an interview with Ronan Farrow of MSNBC that basically trashed the claims of the antivaccine movement.

So, after two months of relentlessly trying to get the mainstream media to pay attention and utterly failing, Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker had to try something new. Yesterday, that something new dropped into the antivaccine blogosphere with a massive thud that no one heard outside of the echo chamber confines of sites like the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism. For instance, everyone’s favorite hysterical antivaccine blogger Kent Heckenlively proclaims it as “The Hammer Falls!”:

Dr. Brian Hooker, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, and attorney James Moody announced today they have sent a complaint by Federal Express to Dr. Harold Jaffe, Associate Director for Science at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as Dr. Don Wright, Acting Director of the Office of Research Integrity at the Department of Health and Human Services, claiming research misconduct in the 2004 paper, “Age at First Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination in Children with Autism and School-Matched Control Subjects: A Population-Based Study in Metropolitan Atlanta,” which was subsequently published in the journal, Pediatrics.

The allegations are horrifying, not just for the millions of families who deal with autism on a daily basis, but for the picture it paints of a government agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), devoid of any shred of scientific integrity or what we once used to call “honor” in this country.

If these claims are shown to be true, we will be looking at nothing less than the greatest crime committed in the history of our republic, and a dark page in science which will be remembered for centuries to come.

Let’s just say that Heckenlively is prone to a little…hyperbole. I mean, seriously. Even if every allegation flowing from the fever dream conspiracy theory that is the #CDCwhistleblower were true, does Heckenlively really believe that this crime was worse than, say, slavery? The internment of Japanese-Americans in the early days of World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor? The real Tuskegee syphilis experiment? This is worse? It just goes to show how out of touch with reality these people are. But, then, this is Kent Heckenlively we’re talking about here. Reality and Mr. Heckenlively haven’t been in the same room for at least a decade, not to mention that this is Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield making an accusation of scientific fraud. In what bizarro world does Andrew Wakefield, the ultimate scientific fraudster himself, accuse anyone, much less CDC scientists, of scientific fraud? Then there’s Hooker, who is the most incompetent epidemiologist wannabe I’ve seen aside from his young Padawan Jake Crosby and whose big foray into epidemiology broke records in speed of retraction. Even more hilariously, his article was retracted from a new journal. It was so toxically bad that even a new journal, scrambling to establish itself and attract quality submissions, couldn’t afford not to retract it. Pot, kettle, black, anyone?

The result of their delusional accusations is a 34-page letter to the Dr. Harold Jaffe, CDC Associate Director for Science, and Dr. Don Wright, Acting Director, ORI, along with an appendix. It’s a painful slog to read through, particularly given that it doesn’t discuss much that I haven’t already covered in detail here, here, here, here, here, and here. That’s not to say that there aren’t any new revelations, but most of them have little or nothing to do with the attacks on the science based on methodology, which have been covered, discussed, and thrashed out here and on other blogs until it was quite clear that Hooker had no clue how to do an epidemiological study and went into his “study” with a preconceived notion of what it should show.

The core of this complaint rests on this early paragraph:

We write to report apparent research misconduct by senior investigators within the National Immunization Program (NIP), Battelle Memorial Institute at the Centers for Public Health Evaluation (CPHE), and the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), and to request an immediate investigation.

The Analysis Plan dated September 5, 2001 [Exhibit 2] set forth the objective of the research reported in the above-titled article, to compare ages at first MMR vaccination between children with autism and children who did not have autism, and to test the hypothesis that age of first MMR vaccination is associated with autism risk.

The research team, headed by Dr. Frank DeStefano, MD., (NIP) including Dr. William Thompson Ph.D., (NIP) Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, MD (NCBDDD), Dr. Tanya Karapurkar Bashin (CPHE), and Dr. Coleen Boyle, Ph.D., (NCBDDD) (collectively referred to by Dr. Thompson as “The Group”) found statistically significant associations between the age of first MMR and autism in (a) the entire autism cohort, (b) African-American children, and (c) children with ‘isolated’ autism, a subset defined by The Group as those with autism and without comorbid developmental disabilities.

Yes, we’ve heard this before, but not exactly in this way. The central charge is that the investigators altered the research plan after the study was under way. The charge basically goes this way. The CDC planned a case control study examining the age of receiving the MMR vaccine and whether it correlated with an increased risk of autism using data from the Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (MADDSP). Seeing a result they didn’t like, they allegedly altered the plan in order not to report the “inconvenient” result that the MMR resulted in a 3-fold increased risk of autism among African-American boys. Explaining from scratch why this is BS would take a post of truly Oracian length. Fortunately, Wakefield and Hooker couldn’t keep their mouths shut. Wakefield had to go and make a video outlining the charges before he sent this letter to the CDC:

It came out about 11 days ago, and I actually thought of blogging it at the time, but I was burned out on the whole #CDCwhistleblower thing. So I let this cup pass for a change. Fortunately, Matt Carey took it on about a week ago, and that makes my job easier. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but the Cliffs Notes version is as follows. In the video, Wakefield zeros in on a single sentence that says “The only variable available to be assessed as a potential confounder using the entire sample is child’s race.” Based on that, and allegedly confirmed by Thompson during conversations with Hooker, Wakefield and Hooker claim that “decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data was collected,” further claiming, “Thompson’s conversations with Hooker confirmed that it was only after the CDC study coauthors observed results indicating a statistical association between MMR timing and autism among African-Americans boys, that they introduced the Georgia birth certificate criterion as a requirement for participation in the study. This had the effect of reducing the sample size by 41% and eliminating the statistical significance of the finding, which Hooker calls a direct deviation from the agreed upon final study protocol – a serious violation.’”

I discussed this aspect in my original post, namely how doing this was not the scientific fraud claimed, but at the time I didn’t have access to the original research plan. In any case, notice that that one sentence doesn’t even really mean that the investigators deviated from the plan, as race was always planned to be examined as a potential confounder for the whole group. As Carey put it:

There are two interesting points in the above. First, the sentence Mr. Wakefield highlights doesn’t say what he claims. The only variable available to be assessed as a potential confounder using the entire sample is child’s race. The plan doesn’t say that they will test and report race. Consider the context: this is a section of the plan called “statistical analysis”. Put in context with the entire paragraph, this sentence is clear: the full dataset is limited because it only has one variable available.

The CDC didn’t deviate from the plan when they didn’t report on race for the total sample because that was never in the plan.

Exactly. More importantly, Wakefield and Hooker are cherry picking. As Carey points out, the analysis plan doesn’t include a call to report on race separately in the total sample (the group without the birth certificates), and the CDC “approved analysis plan” did include analysis of a subset with birth certificate data. Use of birth certificate data to look for confounders was always an option in the plan. For example:

For the children born in Georgia for whom we have birth certificate data, several sub-analyses will be carried out similar to the main analyses to assess the effect of several other potential confounding variables.

And:

3) Analyses examining Gender Effects

Males are at substantially higher risk for autism and may be more vulnerable to the exposure associated with the MMR vaccine. We will analyze males and females separately and replicate the main objectives of the primary analyses as well as examine the potential confounders available from Georgia birth certificates.

In the complaint, Wakefield and Hooker even misquoted the analysis plan, as Carey also points out. The plan states, “The only variable available to be assessed as a potential confounder using the entire sample is child’s race.” The complaint quotes this as, “The only variable that will be assessed as a potential confounder using the entire sample will be the child’s race.” He had also verified that he was examining the same document that Wakefield and Hooker had.

Wakefield also tries to do a bit of statistical prestidigitation by claiming that one of the analyses proposed, analyses of “isolated” versus “non-isolated” autism were not done. “Isolated” autism is autism with no comorbid developmental disabilities, such as mental retardations. As Carey convincingly argues, this subanalysis was done. He even explains how, although the raw, unadjusted analysis appears to show an association between age at MMR vaccination (vaccination prior to 36 months) and autism, the adjusted, final analysis does not. Tellingly, Hooker’s study is praised in the complaint thusly:

Dr. Hooker has approved access to public datasets for the original raw data from the study provided by the CDC. Dr. Hooker was thereby able to repeat the original analyses and confirm The Group’s findings of an excess autism risk in African American children. Dr. Hooker’s reanalysis [Exhibit 4] was rigorously peer reviewed and published.6 Dr. Hooker’s paper was reviewed and approved by Dr. Thompson. Dr. Thompson has also supplied Dr. Hooker with his original data output and subsequent data runs of his analyses.

Funny how Wakefield and Hooker didn’t see fit to mention that Hooker’s study was retracted—and retracted over two weeks before they sent their letter to the CDC! Wakefield and Hooker owe me a new keyboard again (or I should know better than to drink anything, even water, while reading anything written by these two) for this, as well:

Dr. Hooker is a scientist, Assistant Professor at Redding University, California, an extensively published vaccine safety researcher, and the father of a child with autism. Dr. Wakefield is an academic gastroenterologist by training and a documentary film producer/director with Autism Media Channel. Both have standing to complain. Both have a strong interest in documenting this research misconduct and in securing a remedy for the severe damage it has caused: Dr. Hooker’s son was, as alleged in his petition for compensation to the NVICP, permanently damaged by vaccines. The ethically required and Congressionally – mandated compensation provided by this program has been denied to many children based in part on the misconduct alleged herein. He has also suffered scientific opprobrium for his position on vaccine safety. Dr. Wakefield first proposed a possible link between MMR and autism,7 and specifically, age of exposure to MMR and autism risk.8 Had The Group’s true findings been published as intended,9 well before their actual publication date in 2004, much of the damaged done to Dr. Wakefield’s career and reputation might have been mitigated. Mr. Moody is an attorney with a longstanding interest in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) and an expert in Whistleblower law.

Hooker is an “extensively published vaccine safety researcher”? A PubMed research reveals five publications that might have anything to do with autism or “vaccine safety,” including the retracted one. Subtract the retracted paper and a paper dismissing paternal age as a risk factor for autism (clearly it must be the vaccines, then!), and only three publications that have anything to do with vaccines remain. That’s hardly “extensively published.” Of course, Wakefield’s standing in this is dubious at best, too, given that his reputation and career were almost entirely destroyed in England, not the US.

So we know that Wakefield and Hooker are dishonestly cherry picking evidence in their letter, but there’s one bombshell that shocked the hell out of me and goes a long way towards explaining something that’s always bothered me about this affair. Why? Why did Thompson confide in Hooker? What drove him to it? It turns out that, if Hooker and Wakefield are telling the truth about this (and I really take anything they say with an enormous grain of salt), Thompson was (and presumably still is) prone to anxiety issues (at minimum), depression, and delusions, which first manifested themselves in a big way a decade ago, around the time he was preparing to present the results of this study to the Institute of Medicine and was facing the likelihood of being called to testify in front of a Congressional committee whose chair was notorious for his antivaccine views. After citing an e-mail from Thompson to Julie Geberding, the then-director of the CDC (which I discussed), in which Thomspon expressed anxiety about appearing in front of a Congressional committee, Wakefield and Hooker write:

In the end, Dr. Thompson signed off on The Paper that was published in Pediatrics [Exhibit 1]. However, his name was withdrawn from the roster of those due to present to the IOM on February 9, 2004. In reporting a discussion that he had had with his whistleblower lawyer Thompson stated:

Ya know, I’m not proud of that and uh, it’s probably the lowest point in my career that I went along with that paper and I also paid a huge price for it because I became delusional.24

In his recorded call with Dr. Thompson of 5.8.14, Dr. Hooker pressed the Dr. Thompson on whether he raised his concerns about the omission of significant data with The Group in the days leading up to the IOM meeting.

Dr. Hooker: Did you raise that…did you raise that issue at the time?

Dr. Thompson: I will say I raised this issue…I will say I raised this issue, the uh…two days before I became delusional.

This reference is important: three days before the IOM presentation Thompson – faced with either presenting false data or taking responsibility for the vaccine-autism link in front of potentially hostile parents of autistic children25 – stopped sleeping, and became profoundly depressed and “delusional.” Crucially, he reports no prior history of mental disorder.

Dr. Thompson went on to confirm, to Dr. Hooker, that the DeStefano 2004 paper was the reason for these acute psychological problems.

Dr. Thompson: It is one of the reasons I became delusional because I was so paranoid about this being published.

Citation 24 is claimed to be from a phone conversation between Hooker and Thompson dated May 24 2014. That was the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Hmmm. That was during Autism One. Brian Hooker gave a talk at Autism One on May 23. One wonders if he was still there, one does. Why? Because Illinois has one of the most Draconian laws in the country when it comes to being a “two party” consent state with respect to recording conversations. That’s a minor consideration, though. The major consideration is that, if this conversation occurred as represented, then Hooker just divulged highly personal medical information about Thompson, namely that he suffered some sort of mental breakdown, complete with paranoia, delusions, and depression, right before IOM conference ten years ago. This, after having bragged about how he was Thompson’s “confessor,” like a priest. How vile can you get? In order to imply that the magnitude of the “crime” Thompson was being forced to be party to was so massive that it led him to some sort of mental breakdown in the days leading up to the IOM conference, Hooker betrayed Thompson’s confidences about a very personal issue.

Oh, wait. This is Hooker and Wakefield we’re talking about.

It’s now clear to me that Thompson is a bit of a fragile soul, easily rattled. From the sketchy description in Wakefield’s and Hooker’s complaint, he sounds as though he suffered a bout of what sounds like an anxiety disorder, but I don’t know enough to tell. Anxiety disorders can be profoundly crippling and lead to the sort of behavior described. Either way, anxiety disorder or no anxiety disorder, depression or no depression, it’s quite clear that, even at his best, Thompson melts under pressure, and that explains a lot. In the end, though, Wakefield’s and Hooker’s complaint is nothing more than a publicity stunt. Their first play, the video likening DeStefano et al and the “coverup” of “vaccines causing autism in African American boys,” failed miserably. For all the Twitter bombing of the #CDCwhistleblower hashtag, the mainstream media barely took notice, and rightly so. There was nothing to see there. Of course, as I’ve pointed out many times before, Wakefield’s name is so toxic that his involvement with this whole affair virtually guaranteed that no one of any consequence would take it seriously. If Hooker had written this letter, sent it to the CDC, and publicized it out of the blue, he might have fooled some credulous mainstream media outlets into doing a story or two about it. Making this play now, after having been associated with Wakefield and after all the #CDCwhistleblower craziness, virtually guarantees that nothing will come of this.

But it sure will rile up the antivaccine crazies. That’s the point, after all.

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]

351 replies on “Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield complain to the CDC about its vaccine research. Everyone yawns.”

The particular irony for me is that the UK has no institutional mechanisms for the investigation of research fraud and misconduct, and the pursuit of the perpetrators. Thus, Wakefield’s fraudulent Lancet study of 1998, when he excluded data, changed diagnoses, misrepresented pathological findings and outright lied, was no amenable to inquiry until he was arraigned before the ponderous General Medical Council.

Some people have asked whether The Letter by Wakefield to ORI and Harold Jaffe is a publicity stunt. Well, yes, but more importantly it is part of the sick projection that goes on among people such as Wakefield, and his retainers, including many of the parents who make fraudulent claims of having witnessed injury by vaccines. A boutique case of such a parent was revealed recently, but there are many more.

It is this projection which I believe substantially drives all the allegations and smears about “pharma shills” and conspiracies. These people, and especially those around Wakefield, who work with him and lie for him, seek to salve their consciences with the conviction “Well, what we said may not have been entirely accurate, but that’s nothing compared with those mass murderers.”

Wakefield’s activities at present are essentially a revenge attack: a bid to inflict harm on those who have shunned and dismissed him for what he is. Then, of course, if his complaints are thrown out, the conspiracy theory gets bigger, and on it goes.

This rightfully reviled man is no longer speaking to the scientific and medical community. With Wakefield, it has always been about the money as much as anything. Now, he is speaking to conspiracy theorists, crooks, cranks and quacks who he is presently back attempting to sucker for cash.

This is a wealthy charlatan, embittered by his fall, who now projects his own ethics onto others.

At this point it makes me wonder. It is known now, that Wakefield’s Lancet study was funded and results were tweaked to fit the scenario. One has to assume that Wakefield knows that whole vaccines-autism thing is a bunch of phantasms piffle in the wind.

And yet he stands by it. Is it just that there’s so much cash to grab from anti-vaccine movement or did he start believing at some point? I just can’t imagine how it must be to continue the scam for such a long time.

Wakefield must be so hard up for readies at the moment that he has to go and talk about his delusional theories linking them to chiropractic manipulation.

So this has to be about money. I can’t believe that Wakefield would start a lawsuit where his own activities in this mess would come under scrutiny, so this really has to be a publicity stunt to keep the dollars rolling in.

Actually, scratch that. Wakefield might be stupid enough to do such a thing, but surely his lawyers would talk him out of it?

What I am still, almost 24 hours later still chuckling about is the fact that Hooker got his position and university wrong in the letter. How could anyone be that incompetent and then want to be taken seriously?

For someone who lives in a house made of very thin glass, Wakefield seems awfully determined to hone his stone-throwing skills.

“The only variable that will be assessed as a potential confounder using the entire sample will be the child’s race.”

v.

“The only variable available to be assessed as a potential confounder using the entire sample is child’s race.”

That’s not even trying. It also makes it so obvious the whole mess is about generating publicity and keeping the the anti-vax crowd whipped up into a donating frenzy, and nothing at all to do with honest concern about the research process, or making a real complaint to the CDC. I’d hope that the pathetic transparency of the ploy might help some more people see through Wakefield, but I suspect he knows his marks too well. It’s sad, really.

@Grouchy – it is all about playing to the “faithful.” So, Wakefield is doing:

1) Soliciting money for a new “documentary”

2) He’ll charge money to sell this new “documentary” to the faithful.

Pretty sad that the only person who sees this clearly on the other side is Jake, for slightly different reasons.

“Dr. Brian Hooker, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, and attorney James Moody announced today they have sent a complaint by Federal Express”

Well there you go, this has got to be unbelievably significant and important, otherwise they would have sent it by regular mail.

It could foreshadow the start of a new ad campaign – “When it’s really, really bull$hit, it has to go Fed Ex”.

God, if you folk only knew what a buffoon Jim Moody is. He turned up at Wakefield’s GMC hearing, and I had to have him thrown out of the press room on grounds of ludicrousness.

And I love all the cc-ing at the bottom of The Letter. In newspapers, you used to get a lot of stuff like this. By pre-digital legend, they would be written in green ink.

To me, Moody is the clown clone to a similar character we have here called Clifford Miller. Miller’s only half the waistband, but similarly basks in the glow of Wakefield’s approval.

Miller’s letters have so much cc-ing you want to check for HM the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I think it’s all meant to look Very Serious, but it usually makes the recipients laugh. Jim Moody – oooh, I’m scared.

The letter also lets slip that this is really more about Wakefield than social justice. Consider this line:

Had The Group’s true findings been published as intended,9 well before their actual publication date in 2004, much of the damaged done to Dr. Wakefield’s career and reputation might have been mitigated.

Wakefield’s involvement in this is all about getting back at the establishment that called him out for his fraud. The way he exploits others to try to prop himself up is sickening. Not surprising, though.

I forgot to add that Moody wrote a similar doorstop of a letter after Wakefield was found guilty on four counts of dishonesty and god knows how many of unethical conduct towards children.

It was addressed to the GMC and basically wanted half the witnesses against Wakefield struck off for perjury or something. I don’t know the full detail because I could never bring myself to actually read it, and I’m not sure that anybody else did, either.

I think Mr Moody eventually sat on the last copy and it was never seen again.

Of course, we have only Wakefield’s word that this was even sent……

And still, not even mentioning the retraction of the study – well, as soon as anyone looks it up & sees the official retraction notice, that’ll kill things right there and then.

Dr. Thompson: It is one of the reasons I became delusional because I was so paranoid about this being published.

And yet Thompson’s name remains on that study.

Well there you go, this has got to be unbelievably significant and important, otherwise they would have sent it by regular mail.

If there were really anything actionable here, they wouldn’t have sent it by FedEx, they would have arranged for the appropriate county sheriff’s office to serve the complaint on the targets. That, as I understand it (IANAL), is how one normally proceeds with lawsuits.

The bit Orac quoted about Thompson’s mental state only makes sense if the complaint were written by Thompson’s lawyers and he were suing the CDC. But we all know that Hooker and Wakefield aren’t lawyers, and according to Brian Deer above, the one actual lawyer involved, Mr. Moody, isn’t a very good one. But this is apparently not a lawsuit.

well before their actual
publication date in 2004, much of the damaged done to Dr. Wakefield’s
career and reputation might have been mitigated

Did Wakefield not think to spellcheck / proofread this before it was sent? Illiterate rubber-faced oaf.

A. Note that the letter is date October 14, last Monday. If it was sent, Wakefield kept the contents and the act quiet for a week.

B. The complaint actually did address the retraction – in an extremely problematic manner. Note 6 says: ““Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young African-American boys: a reanalysis of CDC data,” Translational Neurodegeneration, 2014, 3:16. Following publication, this paper was withdrawn, allegedly due to Dr. Hooker’s failure to disclose his board membership of Focus
Autism, the study sponsor. Dr. Hooker did disclose that the study was funded by Focus Autism. At the time that Focus Autism agreed to fund the study Dr. Hooker was not on the board and was not under consideration for such. The matter remains under review. See Dr. Hooker’s full statement [Exhibit 5].”

For comparison, here is what the actual retraction – which I know was put on this site before, but to save people time – says: “The Editor and Publisher regretfully retract the article [1] as there were undeclared competing interests on the part of the author which compromised the peer review process. Furthermore, post-publication peer review raised concerns about the validity of the methods and statistical analysis, therefore the Editors no longer have confidence in the soundness of the findings. We apologise to all affected parties for the inconvenience caused.” http://www.translationalneurodegeneration.com/content/3/1/22

When I first read through AJW and BH’s magna opus, I was struck by the use of the word ‘delusional’: was Thompson truly delusional or is he trying to garner our sympathy?
Having delusions is quite serious, a break from reality usually associated with SMI; of course, anxiety is no walk in the park either but was he suggesting something more- perhaps to beg off appearing and thereby excusing himself from any criticism, then or now?

And though I take that particular descriptive with a grain of salt, I’m sure that he did have real problems and suffered.

And wouldn’t you know, in walk BH and AJW: the latter has made a career manipulating the emotions of people who also have psychological issues or who suffer from extreme worries about their autistic children

Like the alt media creatures I survey, AJW has made a fortune off of worry and fear. And now, he’s in the movie business spreading the cheer. Perhaps he’ll go the film festival** route as another altie conspiracy monger has because they award prizes which you can display conspicuously on your woo-filled website.

I can see it.

** smaller festivals obviously.

Dorit Reiss: Nice catch:

“The complaint actually did address the retraction – in an extremely problematic manner. Note 6 says: ““Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young African-American boys: a reanalysis of CDC data,” Translational Neurodegeneration, 2014, 3:16. Following publication, this paper was withdrawn, allegedly due to Dr. Hooker’s failure to disclose his board membership of Focus
Autism, the study sponsor. Dr. Hooker did disclose that the study was funded by Focus Autism. At the time that Focus Autism agreed to fund the study Dr. Hooker was not on the board and was not under consideration for such. The matter remains under review. See Dr. Hooker’s full statement [Exhibit 5].”

Has Mr. Hooker provided documentation in the form of the actual letter, which detailed the reason(s) for the retraction from the Journal of Translational Neurodegeneration?

Hooker failed to mention that he has a twelve-years-pending claim on behalf of his autistic child for “vaccine(s) injury” in the United States Court of Federal Claims….a claim which is being stalled by Hooker and his attorney who keep making motions for extensions to produce more medical records.

That letter of retraction from the Journal would also explain why the undeclared COIs of the (unnamed) peer reviewers is a factor for retracting Hooker’s “reanalysis”.

@lilady – Hooker seems to be holding that particular piece of information very close to his vest…..I’m sure he doesn’t want the faithful to fully understand what he did, so he can continue to spin the messaging behind the retraction.

Through the magic of Windows 7, I have found Mr Moody’s document after Wakefield’s GMC hearing.

It is headed thus:

Before the General Medical Council
London, United Kingdom
______________________________________

In the Matter of:
Dr. Richard Charles Horton (#2927877)
Dr. David Maxwell Salisbury (#1413890) Docket No:
Dr. Arie Jeremy Zuckerman (#0870254)
Dr. Michael Stuart Pegg (#1560424)
Dr. Michael Llewellyn Rutter (#0639943)

FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT
(Breach of duty of honesty and candor; False Testimony; Misuse of Professional Position, Failure to Disclose Conflicting Interest, False Expert Testimony)

…..

104 pages. Similar eccentric typeface and pompous tone. Similar droning on and on about everything and nothing.

He gives his DC bar credentials at the end, so, if he is writing on behalf of a client, he has a rich client or his rates are so low that he is doing it as a recreational pursuit.

Anyhow, it’s what in England we call “bollocks”. I think, after it was archived, they had to call the plumbers to the GMC’s toilets.

Best Documentary “Who Killed Alex Spourdakalis”

Two friends, Jordan and Quincy head out on a Saturday night in New York City. Jordan, who was recently dumped out of a relationship and Quincy, who recently took a I.T. job link up for the first time in months hoping to have a good night. However, by the end of the night, the term ‘good’ becomes entirely subjective. Neither of them could have imagined the chaos that would ensue.

Um… whut?

Hmmmm – looks like for some reason they posted the story line from A Saturday Is a Terrible Thing to Waste.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3021518/?ref_=ttpl_pl_tt

It would be cool if the story line was from the real winner, and A Saturday Is a Terrible Thing to Waste was the real winner of the ‘Best Documentary’ award, but it looks like A Saturday Is a Terrible Thing to Waste is a comedy.

@ Johny:

I stand corrected. He’s at it already. Shades of Gary Null ( see website for list of his awards from other luminous fests)

AND it is one of the smaller festivals ( disclosure: I have a relative who knows about these things and I’ve attended a few of the more well-known affairs which are also hilarious ).
And I’m glad you love me.

@ Rebecca:

Perhaps the reason his film won was because it mixed up with the one about Jordan and Quincy.

Judged best documentary at one of the dozens of film festivals in NYC, out of a field of two.

Polly Tommey, Wakefield’s partner at the Autism Media Channel did the honors of interviewing those who viewed the film. The film is being promoted on several events sites and on AoA.

Who do you think those film viewers are?

Here’s another weird thing. The Letter from Wakefield etc, begins with a reporting of “apparent research misconduct”, elsewhere described as “alleged”.

But isn’t this the Andrew Wakefield who made a YouTube video complaining that it was conduct worse than the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and saying that the CDC was worse than Stalin, Pol Pot and Hitler?

Oddly, the Wakefield joint appears to have been titled “b.c.d.” on the schedule, as well as others.

Judged best documentary at one of the dozens of film festivals in NYC, out of a field of two.

There look to have been three: Wakefraud (not listed on the main program page), The Eastenders, and Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic.

there were undeclared competing interests on the part of the author which compromised the peer review process

Being on the board of the funding agency would indeed be an example of an undeclared competing interest, but the retraction note does not specify the nature of the competing interests, so we don’t know if that was an issue. I suspect the editors can’t be more specific than that, out of reasonable fear of being sued. Of course, there is also the bit about the post-publication peer review. Usually that would be handled by a comment and reply exchange, but this case was apparently found too egregious for that route–again I can only guess, but probably the editors, on reading the paper, agreed with the commenters who were asking, “How the #*@$ did this get past the referees?” (A question I have asked myself several times regarding papers I have read.)

Detail on why this letter would appear to a publicity stunt rather than serious complaint:

Huge chunks of the letter are a narrative supposedly related by William Thompson, yet Thompson himself does not confirm any of it, nor do his previous public statements. Throughout this narrative are select fragmented quotes allegedly from Hooker’s recorded conversations with Thompson. The quotes are so sparse, we can guess Thompson actually uttered those words, but we have only Hooker and Wakefield’s word that they are representing the context properly.

Unless Thompson himself comes forward to say, “Yes, I said that about that. The letter is an accurate representation of my conversations with Brian Hooker.” or Hooker releases full copies of his original digital recording files to the public, there’s no reason to think the narrative in the letter is accurate. I doubt Thompson will break his silence voluntarily, especially since his ‘priest’ has violated the confessional by cherry picking quotes where Dr. Thompson refers to himself as “delusional.” Of course, it was only Hooker who claimed a confessional type relationship with Thompson. Thompson himself has said nothing of the sort.

If this was anything but a publicity stunt, why would they divulge their Whistleblower had become “delusional” before he even spoke to them? Wouldn’t that undermine any testimony he might give in support of the claims? “Dr. Thompson, how do you know that your recollections of events are accurate, and not the product of your mental distress?” Of course, Thompson was undoubtedly using “delusional” figuratively, rather than as defined by the DSM. But if this was a real complaint, and the authors expected to get anything supporting it from Thompson in the future, you’d think they’d make that clear, yes?

My guess is that Hooker will never release the recordings voluntarily. For doing so will make it obvious that they are greatly exaggerating, mischaracterizing, or just outright lying about what Thompson said, and the proof is the highly selective audio editing in the videos AMC has already put online.

In gambling terms, they’re bluffing, and if anyone calls the bluff I guess they’ll fold.

If they had any cards, wouldn’t they play them now? (sincere question; anybody got a plausible explanation?) If they’re still BFFs with Thompson. wouldn’t he issue at least some hint of verification? If any part of the recordings could put any of those short quotes in a context even consistent with the narrative in the letter, wouldn’t H&W release those selected longer segments now?

One particular grammatical ambiguity caught my eye:

The following narrative is based upon contemporaneous documents including study protocols, analysis plans, notes, emails, and other communications from the respective participants and their managers at the CDC, provided by Dr. Thompson to Dr. Brian Hooker Ph.D and Dr. Andrew Wakefield MB.BS.

What this language implies is that Thompson had some direct exchange with Wakefield, that WT sent documents directly to AJW. But it could just mean that Thompson supplied documents to Hooker and Hooker only, which Hooker then passed on to Wakefield. That distinction strikes me as a pretty big deal, and if I was Andy Wakefield, and William Thompson had indeed sent me documents directly, I’d be damn sure that was unambiguously stated in my letter of complaint. From what Brian Deer says about AJW — and who knows Wakefield better? — he’s way too smart to let an opportunity to pad his credibility slide by, and he’s more than slick enough to construct a clever phrasing that implies more than he’s got, but doesn’t actually pin him in a lie. (‘Well we meant the documents were provided to the team of BH & AJW which in practice just meant sending them to Brian.’)

About the provenance of the letter:
Hooker’s employer and title are mis-identified in the body of the letter in a way that is devastatingly insulting to Hooker. He’s identified as “Assistant Professor at Redding University, California.” There IS a Redding University — a notorious online diploma mill scam that doesn’t have a mailing address anywhere on its website. Hooker is actually employed by Simpson University, located in Redding, California — a small 4-year Christian College founded in 1925.

Simpson’s website lists his job title as Associate Professor of Biology. His CV, however, says Assistant Professor, but it’s dated November 2012. What this means, for those not familiar with American academia, is that Hooker has recently advanced to Tenure, and now has lifetime job security. Promotion and tenure from Assistant to Associate is a big deal, and it is inconceivable that Hooker would not correct that, AND the name of the school, if he were paying attention at all.

However, Moody, as an attorney, and AJW as a Brit, wouldn’t know the difference between a diploma scam existing only in cyberspace, and an accredited Christian college with a real campus, sports teams 1200 resident students, ranked #153 out of 236 among Four Year Colleges in the US by guidance counselors, (tied with Alma, Burlington, Centenary, Lycoming and Ripon, if those mean anything to anybody).

In short the fact Hooker has tenure at a real college (even a not particularly distinguished one) gives him MUCH higher status than “Assistant Professor at Redding University” (which would actually be a bad thing).

What this suggests is Hooker wasn’t involved at all in drafting the text, that the letter was written by attorney Moody based on discussions/exchanges with AJW (seemingly confirmed by BD’s catch that the letter is set in a typeface idiosyncratic to Moody.)

So this just confirms what most of us have already concluded:

1) A stressed-out and misguided William Thompson confided some stuff to Brian Hooker, who thoroughly abused Thompson for his agenda — getting his paper published to legitimate the vaccines-cause-autism narrative.

2) The only character in the tale suffering from actual long-term delusions is Brian Hooker. He shared what he got from Thompson with Andrew Wakefield, who thoroughly abused Hooker for his agenda — promoting Andrew Wakefield as anti-vaccine hero who has been wrongly discredited by a media/CDC conspiracy.

As Orac notes, by glomming onto the ‘Whistleblower Revelation’ as soon as he got the chance AJW virtually guaranteed Hooker’s paper would get withdrawn. Had AJW held onto his powder, the journal would likely have been none the wiser, the paper would have gone up online long enough on to get some measure of legitimacy, some citations, yada yada. But, nooo! It’s all about AJW.

Wakefield has so little concern for his supposed wingman neither he or his legal flunky bothered to vette their letter and get his credential right, at least to the point where they didn’t connect him to ludicrous academic scam.

I was thinking the letter is 34 pages of blather built around one sentence on page 4, as an excuse to re-broadcast and legitimate that sentence to the anti-immuno faithful: “Had The Group’s true findings been published as intended, well before their actual publication date in 2004, much of the damaged (sic) done to Dr. Wakefield’s career and reputation might have been mitigated.” But then, if that was the point, you’d think somebody would have proof-read that sentence, so… well, I don’t know.

Shades of Gary Null
I hope you are not secretly writing slashfic; the world has done nothing to deserve “50 Shades of Gary Null “.

At least there are some anti-vaccine advocates who concede this whole thing has pretty much been an epic failure for the anti-vaccine crowd.

“The whistleblower issue has been poorly handled from start to finish. I don’t think it will ever be taken seriously. Unfortunately as soon as Wakefield’s name was attached to it, it was probably doomed to failure.

The illegally used recordings by doctor Hooker, the information being dealt out piece-meal in a sensationalist manner rather than just delivering all the obtained information up front….. This has done nothing but give scientists/society at large the “proof” they’ve been looking for that vax skeptics will not let something like the truth or ethics stop their agenda. Puts them on the same level as the CDC as far as I’m concerned.”

The complaint is dead on arrival. It serves the purpose of gathering publicity, at least within their own community.

What else might it be for? Some speculation:

1) to pad out the “documentary” that Mr. Wakefield claims to be working on.

He doesn’t seem to have much content now, does he? Especially once he leaves his “Tuskegee Experiment” video out. Adding a few minutes on the complaint and the response might get him to 10 minutes of total time.

2) Notice the cc list. Includes Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and an African American member of congress. I think Mr. Wakefield could be trolling for some reaction that he could use. Rather than sending them, oh, say, his “The CDC are worse than Pol Pot” video, he gets the legitimacy of a complaint to the CDC.

Notice that Mr. Wakefield waited over a week to release his complaint. That gave the people he sent it to the chance to read without pesky blog articles like the one above popping up on search engines.

Since announcing the complaint he’s only gathered another $85 for his “documentary”
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/film-exposes-massive-us-governmental-fraud#pledges

Between Wakefield’s facebook page and the AoA facebook page, they got about 80 shares.

And if you look at earlier posts by Mr. Wakefield on his FB page, you can see his own supporters getting pissed off with the way he’s dribbling information.

Which is all to say, this has not been a big PR win for Mr. Wakefield.

He’s been turning out these kind of documents for a decade now. Most of them have come my way, and I’ve spent much of that decade analysing them and preparing replies.

It’s reasonably well-paid work, but is a huge diversion from journalism. I think I’ve now reached the point when I write most fluently in numbered paragraphs. The annoyance for me is that, while I get abused by everyone from Ben Goldacre to malignant cranks for my relatively modest published output in numbers of words, I have written many hundreds of thousands in my duties in dealing with Wakefield for lawyers, media executives, regulators and so forth. Journalistically, it leads nowhere, because mostly its only read by a dozen people, if that.

The fact is, Andrew Wakefield is not an intelligent man. Even his mother told me he had to retake his high school exams in order to get into medical school. All of his research findings failed. He was utterly incompetent in laboratory, his peers tell me. Other researchers have practically formed a queue to tell me how they tried to explain things to him, and he took no notice.

I have long since given up attempting any kind of dialogue with anti-vaxxers, because they will lie and distort, intercut video clips and do anything to manipulate and damage. But, years ago, I did point out (and was more recently quoted saying) that if I wanted to show that MMR caused autism I wouldn’t go through the gut. It’s always the defendant who wants to string out the chain of causality.

A lawyer pulled out Wakefield because he was the only person in Britain with any kind of theory – ridiculous as it was – as to how MMR could do any harm. He was a former trainee bowel surgeon doing – failed – research in a medical school. Of no distinction or relevance really to anyone. But the lawyer was desperate because he wanted to be in the big league – trips up to London, meetings with counsel etc – but he had no case. So Wakefield got control, and the hopes of 1,600 British families and then 6,000 American families were raised and then dashed in litigation that could only ever have failed. Many of these are the angry, bitter voices that you see on blogs, who don’t know whose been hurting them.

Personally, if I was an anti-vaxxer, I would dump him. Find somebody – virtually anybody. Offer Marcel Kinsbourne double his present income from vaccine court, and an electric wheelchair, if necessary. But you only have to see how Wakefield (Stalin, Pol Pot and Hitler) killed the Thompson/Hooker thing to understand what a liability he is to them.

But he’s very good at getting money out of people – whether its the drug industry, lawyers, distraught mothers of disabled kids, or Barry Segal – and what he does with that money is live the life of Riley with his hard drinking, globe trotting English friends who have turned autism into a cash crop.

Never mind that the rest of the data were negative as negative could be for even a whiff of a hint of a correlation between vaccines and autism for any other subgroup and that the vast majority of the leaders of the antivaccine movement are your basic affluent white people who never showed much in the way of an interest in the problems of African-American children before.

Hey, Mike Adams was on it.

“When I first read through AJW and BH’s magna opus, I was struck by the use of the word ‘delusional'”

What’s striking is how delusional Hooker and his antivax allies must be, to think that any complaint or media stunt co-organized by Andrew Wakefield could ever be taken seriously.

I feel like I should get some popcorn, as this is great reading. I find this whole thing fascinating. It’s like a never ending soap opera. Even the comments here in are educational and fascinating.

What I wonder is what is it going to take to turn the tide for the parents who are so utterly convinced that their child is damaged by vaccines and can be cured? Is there anything that will convince them or are they always going to glom on to these crazy Wakefield projects?

Great catch Dorit.

@ Dangerous Bacon:

You are correct, oh dangerous one, but I would bet real money that these antics will pad AJW’s coffers – although I’m not sure exactly how. Direct donatiions possibly? Invitations to speak at events? A new book? Consults?

Here are some figures:
amongst the faithful, AoA counts about 10K facebook** and TMR about 30K. The Vaccine Machine ( not as dedicated to ASD per se but anti-vax) counts 50K IIRC. Most likely the first two overlap greatly as they do with the Canaries/ Health Choice.

Not everyone is exactly otaku*** about Andy or The Cause but at dedicated events, he can fill an auditorium ( Autism One) – he has a fan base. Recently one of the TMs died and the others were able to raise 25K USD in a week or two. They sponsor e-conferences frequently at 40 USD. AoA recently had an education (heh) conference and is involved with a book talk ( with Skyhorse)- these cost more than the above.

Thus he has an audience who will pay to see him or buy books or send money to defend him or his cause.

I’m sure that his spread in Austin requires landscapers, pool boys and cleaning help. I doubt he does these chores himself.

** I am loathe to rely upon facebook numbers because not everyone uses it ( but the cohort most amenable probably does) and people can add other family members etc. Not the greatest measure but bear with me.
*** obsessively engaged

Send a bill out for that new keyboard. Custom made by Orange County Choppers style would be sweet!

Everytime I go to the USA I have to assert that I have never engaged in “acts of moral turpitude” which wiki tells me in the USA specifically means:
“conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals.”

So why exactly are you letting him stay there guys? Not that I particularly want him back, but I suppose we should take care of our own bad eggs

@JCL
That crap is so the folks barring the gates have an excuse if they don’t like the look of you but have no other evidence to bar entry. Sort of like disorderly conduct charges used far and wide by lazy or ignorant cops to detain and annoy people who most often get those charges dropped after the fact.

@MikeMa – indeed – though I’d be a bit surprised if anyone actually ever answered ‘yes’.
Still, if Wankfield did ever answer ‘no’ then I assume its some kind of offense to lie about it and maybe some nice fellow in Beaumont could explain the error of his ways before you chuck him out 🙂

I’d be a bit surprised if anyone actually ever answered ‘yes’

According to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations:

Before he [Gilbert Harding] could go to New York he had to get a US visa at the American consulate in Toronto. He was called upon to fill in a long form with many questions, including “Is it your intention to overthrow the Government of the United States by force?” By the time Harding got to that one he was so irritated that he answered: “Sole purpose of visit.”

I have also seen that attributed to Quentin Crisp, if memory serves.

At my naturalization interview, I asked if anyone ever said “yes” to that question and got the reply “We catch the stupid terrorists pretty easily”…

That reminds me of the Freakonomics guys who pointed out that suicide bombers never buy life insurance from their banks, which is one way of finding them, along with unusual deposit and withdrawal patterns. It was only in a later book they admitted that this was a trick, and that security agencies watched for people who tried to buy life insurance from their bank after the first book and several interviews with the authors mentioning this were published. As they also pointed out, who goes to their bank to buy life insurance?

[email protected]: I don’t dispute the legal definition you give, but in the US, “moral turpitude” is almost always associated with sexual activity. Meaning that running a house of prostitution (even in a country where it is legal to do so[1]) will get you excluded, but research fraud won’t. Many of the English who settled Massachusetts were religious fanatics, and religious fanaticism has played a large role in US history ever since.

Krebiozen @46: Life insurance via your bank is frequently sold in this country, but rarely bought. Periodically I get offers to buy life insurance from the banks where I have accounts. The first $10k is free to me, but I have no need for more than that. I’m sure some people have bought life insurance that way, but I would think “There’s one born every minute” would be an adequate explanation.

[1]Even if that country happens to be the United States. Prostitution is legal in some counties in Nevada, but employment in that profession has been used as grounds to deny a green card or US citizenship.

At my naturalization interview, I asked if anyone ever said “yes” to that question and got the reply “We catch the stupid terrorists pretty easily”…

My understanding is that most of those questions aren’t really so much about catching ‘stupid terrorists’… it’s so that if they later discover that you did do something you claimed you didn’t, they can throw you out on the grounds of making false statements to a federal agent even if nothing else you did was actually illegal.

I have the feeling from recent events, and Brian Deer’s last post that AJWs days as anti-vax avatar are just about over. He really pulled he rug out from under Hooker, and I can’t imagine anyone trying to propagate a plausible-seeming vaccine-autism link will be foolish enough to go near AJW again. As BD notes, there are plenty of other vaccine-autism theories out there, and conspiracy theorists don’t need any kind of intellectual consistency.

They can easily denounce AJW as being part of the conspiracy for his own profit and move on to another prophet. After all, AJW didn’t get involved until there were already enough parents into vaccine mythology that they’d hired the shyster who arranged the kickback scheme for Andy.

BD wrote above:

So Wakefield got control, and the hopes of 1,600 British families and then 6,000 American families were raised and then dashed in litigation that could only ever have failed. Many of these are the angry, bitter voices that you see on blogs, who don’t know whose been hurting them.

I just don’t see how Wakefield has hurt these people. I think they’ve been hurting each other by mutual reinforcement. Hopes for the litigation they initiated were going to be dashed AJW or no, as vaccines do not cause autism, yes? They BELIEVED, and went looking for someone to back up their belief with some pseudoscience. If AJW was the only “Dr.” in Britain with any kind of theory at the time, is that still the case? Obviously, here we have/had Brian Hooker, whose CDC “re-analysis” doesn’t depend on AJW’s gut-problem theory.

Denise: Since you watch these things, do you see any candidates for an AJW replacement and/or a gut-theory replacement waiting in the wings? More importantly, do you gauge these folks even need a plausible theory to go on? Isn’t the origin story supplied by the template enough: “My son got his shots and then I saw the life go out of his eyes!” Isn’t the rest just frosting on the cake of an absolute need to have some specific conspiratorial evil to blame for the ‘destruction’ of their should-have-been-perfect kids? A need that will be answered one way or another, by hook or by crook?

Prostitution is legal in some counties in Nevada, but employment in that profession has been used as grounds to deny a green card or US citizenship.

That’s not actually filed under moral turpitude, though.

@ sadmar:

Let me think about that for a while.
I also have to go to buy food which can be an intellectual burden as well.

Andy Wakefield’s favorite investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson has scrubbed her blog clean of any and all comments that question her authority about vaccines and epidemiology.

She’s now an expert on Enterovirus D-68 and she weighed in with this gem:

http://sharylattkisson.com/cdc-polio-like-enterovirus-spreads-linked-to-8th-death-in-u-s

“The U.S. death toll from the mysterious Enterovirus D-68 continues to rise.

The latest CDC update on the current outbreak of the polio-like Enterovirus D-68 states that it has now been detected “in specimens from eight patients who died and had samples submitted for testing.” That’s one more death than was disclosed in last week’s update. The CDC account does not provide any information as to where the patient died and does not disclose his/her name, age or other details.”

Um, Sharyl. Where were you when journalistic integrity courses were being taught and why do you believe that the CDC would violate patient confidentiality laws and regulations, to satisfy your need to report “the truth” to your readership.

Scroll down to see the comment that Sharyl hasn’t scrubbed from her website:

“drjohn
October 23, 2014 at 9:57 pm #

Enterobama virus kills”

Is it any wonder then, why CBS booted her out the door?

I just don’t see how Wakefield has hurt these people. I think they’ve been hurting each other by mutual reinforcement. Hopes for the litigation they initiated were going to be dashed AJW or no, as vaccines do not cause autism, yes? They BELIEVED, and went looking for someone to back up their belief with some pseudoscience.

Christ on a cracker. Wakefield used his title and position at Royal Free to not only validate the GSK lawsuit parent’s belief but crafted the mechanism and precise vaccine component responsible and convinced them that he could treat and cure their children. He convinced them they were right rather than use his position responsibly. That is just the start of how Wakefield hurt these people. It’s a really stupid argument to claim that, “well, they were already hurting themselves.” Sheesh.

Science Mom:
” Wakefield convinced them that he could treat and cure their children.”
Yes, I see that is hurt. And it’s disgusting. Thank you for the correction. I meant no apology for the scumbag to begin with, but if he did that he surely made things worse, added injury on top of injury, and is thoroughly inexcusable for that.

However, it’s ‘really stupid’ to just call an argument “really stupid.” Even if you can refute its points, which you have not, you might might better refer to it as “mistaken” or “inaccurate” reflecting a more rational, science-like engagement with the question.

“He convinced them they were right rather than use his position responsibly.”
I shall ask you for evidence that they were not entirely convinced of their rectitude before he showed up, and that responsible use of his position would in any way have changed their mind.

I would assume a number of other physicians in Britain had opined that no link could be drawn between MMR and ASD. Had AJW added his voice to that chorus, I doubt it would have meant much. Perhaps one could argue that having been approached by the attorney to engage in what he knew to be fraud, Wakefield should have reported the scheme to the authorities, participated in a ‘sting’ operation that would have put the attorney in jail and scuttled the lawsuit, and this would somehow have helped the families. That would strike me as quite a reach…

But my argument is that Wakefield is secondary. My claim was the parents were “hurting each other by mutual reinforcement” of vaccine mythology. If anyone cares to build an argument to the contrary, please present it. I shall even offer two tips to anyone so inclined: 1) anticipate the counter-argument; ask yourself what evidence and lines of reasoning will likely be employed to support the opposite case and rebut your position; 2) assume the party you seek to engage has a handy checklist of logical fallacies and false argumentation at hand, and prepare your case accordingly.

I wonder, with all these cases, is there some sort of vexatious litigant status that can be conferred on some of these folks to prevent them for wasting the court’s time? It would seem like this is eating up a lot of court resources.

sadmar :
“But my argument is that Wakefield is secondary. My claim was the parents were “hurting each other by mutual reinforcement” of vaccine mythology. If anyone cares to build an argument to the contrary, please present it. I shall even offer two tips to anyone so inclined: 1) anticipate the counter-argument; ask yourself what evidence and lines of reasoning will likely be employed to support the opposite case and rebut your position; 2) assume the party you seek to engage has a handy checklist of logical fallacies and false argumentation at hand, and prepare your case accordingly.”

Science Mom can speak for herself, but I find your comment insulting.

How about we do it this way : 1 – You show that the parents were “hurting each other by mutual reinforcement” and that AJW had no significant impact on their hurt (quality and quantity). 2 – We will attempt to refute your demonstration if we find flaws in it.

And remember, we are looking for evidence!

EBA

Sadmar: I’m afraid you’re not getting it. The lawyers and the parents and the journalists and the public BELIEVED Wakefield when he said he had found evidence that MMR caused inflammatory bowel disease.

He basically pulled that out of his ass after sending a series of blackmail letters to the UK department of health, generally along the lines of: “I have no evidence that measles virus in MMR causes bowel disease, but I might publish to that effect; you must give me money”.

Then, after making good on his threat, a lawyer approached him and they did a deal: the lawyer wanted to show MMR caused brain damage; Wakefield wanted to show it caused Crohn’s disease.

So Wakefield (after failing to find Crohn’s once he’d got into the small bowels of a bunch of autistic kids, some of whose mothers would have let him cut their arms off if they thought it might help) made up a story about how it caused a new kind of bowel disease that went on to cause brain damage, and then concocted clinical and pathological data in the 1998 paper, to try to show it.

He is a very plausible individual, and he convinced very senior lawyers that he could prove this. In the end, £26.2 million of British taxpayers’ money was thrown at this, all of which was pocketed by a ragbag bunch of so-called experts (the drug industry had bought up everyone with any real credibibility) and lawyers.

Parents – who had been led to believe they could get up to £3 million each – got nothing.

It was all bullshit, all various kinds of fraud. Not one bent cent of reputable work in the whole thing.

The vaccine court re-run in the US was pretty much along the same track.

Wouldn’t the fact that Wakefield falsified the dates when autism was first noted, necessarily imply that the paents themselves, at that point, hadn’t decided that the MMR had caused the autism, and therefore that he convinced them that it did?

@ sadmar:

Well**, I don’t see anyone filling Andy’s shoes YET -more on that later.

These advocacy groups sponsor conferences where there’s beaucoup de woo : AJW appeared at both Autism One’s event in May and the new Autism Educational Conference ( last weekend- see websites for lists of speakers). The TMs offer e-conferences ( see the TMR website for speakers) on Energetic Healing/ GMOs, Organics and Food Allergies/ Homeopathy. Take a peek at their offerings.

As you can see, the GI hypothesis is alive, well and producing crap as would be expected: these folk spin folktales about physiology wherein the connection betwixt the brain and the digestive system resemble a Rube Goldbergian machine and not at all like anything I studied in neurophysiology. MInd- boggling!

Because of this angle, food becomes an important concern for both ‘damage’ and repair- thus,many presentations orthorectically focus on diet, bizarre meals and handfuls of supplements for children who have ASDs.

Now getting back to Andy:
he holds a distinguished position for anti-vaxxers as Scientific Revolutionary, Blessed Martyr and Celebrity Hottie- all rolled into one. Women fans seem to love him although I can’t see why- he’s not really good-looking, he’s too slick and he seems more concerned about his own appearance ( how he looks personally as well as his lifestyle) than anything or anyone else.

He functions as a figurehead for the movement as well as a role model for the many doctors, woo-meisters, parents and advocates who would ascend to his level. Although WE may view him as an arrogant, corrupt, awful charlatan- his loyalists see him as the answer to their problems.

** how can I follow BD?

Smart lady, Denice. No one can follow Brian Deer, when it comes to the history of Wakefield’s anti-vaccine movement in the U.K….and no one can follow the many science bloggers (Orac, Dr. G and his colleagues at SBM, Matt Carey, Science Mom/Catherina, Ken Reibel and so many others) who’ve researched and accurately reported Wakefield’s leadership of the anti-vaccine movement in the United States.

Kudos to all the RI Regulars who have posted tens of thousands of comments on science blogs and on mainstream media blogs, as a counterbalance to Wakefield’s groupies’ and troll’s comments.

@ lilady:

What I DO see happening over the past few years is that the line between autism woo and generalised woo is becoming more and more indistinct:
the TMs and AoA / Canaries/etc talk about chronic illness as well as ASDs so perhaps they’ll be able to reel in a few concerned parents of kids with asthma or even adults with allergies and arthritis ( and that’s only the conditions beginning with A); they also discuss issues concerning the parents’ health ( esp TMR/ MacNeil) and address worries about the purity of foods ( and of essence, I suppose).

On the other side, astute woo-meisters like Null and Adams and Health Freedom Fighters like Bolen et cie attempt to draw in autism parents to more generalised woo for both children and adults which is a lucrative business.

I think you’ve hit upon what the anti-vaxxers and scammers are doing. They definitely have blurred the lines in order to appeal to a wider audience. Add some key phrases (“health freedom”) and a generous helping of “Big Pharma/Farma” conspiracies…and they have positioned themselves appropriately for assorted cranks.

The Canary Party has all sorts of other-than-vaccines topics on its website such as Count Stan’s cancer treatments, anti-GMO articles, environmental toxins and such. As if….Ginger, Mark, Jennifer and the other Canaries give a damn about these non-vaccine issues. With them it is the vaccines and the vaccines and the vaccines.

Meanwhile, at Jake’s blog the weird comments are getting truly bizarre.

Jake provides this link to “Jim Moody’s” involvement with Wakefield going back to his BMC Fitness-To-Practice Hearing. Many of the key players, including the parents of the children in Wakefield’s study, who declared their undying love and devotion to Andy then and now, (but who never testified on his behalf at the GMC Hearing), are mentioned. There are comments posted on AoA from those parents.

When I’ve confronted those same non-testifying parents and John D. Stone on blogs to ask them why they didn’t testify on behalf of Wakefield…I never get a reply. I wonder why?

http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/05/read-complaint-filing-and-parent-letters-in-uks-gmc-investigation.html

Lilady: such is the endless irony of all this that the letter Jake links to is itself fraudulent. Not only in its false claims that the parents were not able to participate – each of them was approached by the GMC’s lawyers and asked for their assistance – but also in the list of signatories.

The stench from everything touched by the mothers Thomas and Kessick in their involvement with Wakefield ought to overpower right-thinking people.

There’s no need to be a lawyer here or in the U.K. to know that to offer up false testimony during an administrative hearing about the sequence of events leading up to the childrens’ bowel scopings and L.P.s, which is fabricated, leaves the witnesses open to charges of perjury.

Yes indeed, those are my show stopper questions which I pose to the mums and to Mr. Stone on science blogs…and which go unanswered.

Finally, after years of misleading other parents who still hold to the now thoroughly debunked belief that their childrens’ autism was caused by leaky bowels which spilled measles vaccines strains into their bloodstream past the the blood brain barrier…and without mentioning that the lawyer Richard Barr, allowed Wakefield and his cronies to loot millions of Pounds Sterling, the bottom-feeding lawyer Richard Barr may be getting his long delayed comeuppance:

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/26/mmr-autism-lawyers-sued-hodge-jones-allen-claim-legal-aid#comments

Thompson – faced with either presenting false data or taking responsibility for the vaccine-autism link in front of potentially hostile parents of autistic children25 – stopped sleeping, and became profoundly depressed and “delusional.” Crucially, he reports no prior history of mental disorder.

Dr. Thompson went on to confirm, to Dr. Hooker, that the DeStefano 2004 paper was the reason for these acute psychological problems.

Dr. Thompson: It is one of the reasons I became delusional because I was so paranoid about this being published.

Sounds like Bipolar,

Sorry for the blockquote fail.

I meant:

Thompson – faced with either presenting false data or taking responsibility for the vaccine-autism link in front of potentially hostile parents of autistic children25 – stopped sleeping, and became profoundly depressed and “delusional.” Crucially, he reports no prior history of mental disorder.

Dr. Thompson went on to confirm, to Dr. Hooker, that the DeStefano 2004 paper was the reason for these acute psychological problems.

Dr. Thompson: It is one of the reasons I became delusional because I was so paranoid about this being published.

Sounds like Bipolar,

@ ann:

You know, ‘delusion’ and ‘paranois’ could also be hyperbole and excuses for wanting out of a presentation and now, for his participation in the so-called cover-up and then, ‘confessing’ to Hooker.
.
Symptoms like paranoia and delusions are usually associated with SMI which is much less prevalent than other garden variety disorders. Also SMI generally shows up at an earlier age than Thompson was and is.

But obviously I can’t diagnose anyone.

@ lilady:

There’s another phenomena I left out:
parents who seek to make a business of their martyrdom-
they start advocacy groups and create blogs, write books or lecture AND advise other parents. I’m sure you know the names as well as I do.

Freud wrote about *secondary gain* or ‘advantage through illness’ when someone utilises a problem for self- advancement, special privilege and gain of all sorts.
Parents trumpet their status as devoted carer and saintly, tireless advocate to perhaps make up for their ‘loss’, i.e. an ‘imperfect child’ ( in their own eyes) and unexpected additional personal involvement in care. It also boosts their wounded self-esteem and relieves their sense of isolation by providing a group for socialising ( and bad group therapy).

Quite a few have written books and try to serve as media voices as well as mentor younger parents. Others hawk food products or woo-ful treatments as we know only too well. AoA and TMR both now list themselves as ‘charities’ ofr which devotees may proselytise and solicit funds. Several actively harangue governmental officials or stir up twitter storms and most likely fritter away their lives on facebook. They might even assist in the production of films.

I understood the description of Thompson becoming “delusional” to mean that he accepted the CDC reality tunnel instead of the one antivaxxers consider to be reality.

We could pick apart Thompson’s story for days on end. Delusional? I don’t think so, because you cannot hide that while you are employed…unless, of course, he was on medical leave.

Then we have the curious case of Thinking Mom/Autism One interviewer “Tex”. Try to avoid concentrating on her odd and inappropriate mannerisms during this and other interviews:

http://thinkingmomsrevolution.com/thinking-out-loud-anesthesia-and-autism/

Tex is a co-author of the TMR book and Tex, IMO, has some business interests in the quack products hawked at the A-1 Conference…but I digress.

Here, Tex informs us that her child’s autism was not caused by vaccines; it was the anesthesia given to her child during a surgical procedure. She fits right in with the rest of the Thinking Moms whose children’s autism is not caused by vaccines.

All the Thinking Moms and the AoA critters who blog and post comments achieve secondary gains within their online communities. Those fixations on their children and the roles they assume as martyrs do not serve them well, in the offline communities where they live. In the real world, people sense that you have some deep emotional problems and they avoid you.

@ Deince Walter #72

The views they express are almost like that of the Puritans, with “toxins” being swapped in for “sin”.

To them, saying that autism is a genetic condition is blaming them for their child’s autism. To them, The Medical Establishment (praise Glaxxon, Profits be Upon Him) is telling them little Sophie/Ava/Mason/Jacob is autistic because of your toxic genes- and because they’re Bad Mothers.

To them, is is all the stereotypes of bad medical conduct throughout the ages being perpetrated on them. It’s the early 1900s psychoanalyst telling a mother that her child is a criminal because she has a toxic womb, and only had a child as an act of revenge against her own mother. It’s a 1950s social worker telling a mother that her child is a juvenile delinquent because you coddled him too much as a child, were too lenient in your discipline, and hugged him too much. It’s the early 1990s child therapist telling a mother that her child is acting out because you were too cold towards her as a child, were too strict in your discipline and didn’t hug her enough.

The mothering forums provide a welcome security blanket. After all, they are Moms (TM) and who knows a child better than their Mom? Certainly not some doctor! Also, it’s the 2010s, who needs a fancy pants degree when you can just Google it! Everyone is an expert!

Just World Fallacy is also strongly present:

Only bad people do bad things, and they deserve whatever punishments they get. People who live a healthy lifestyle and eat only organic, non-gmo, overpric- uh, whole-istic foods can]t get sick, therefore something or someone else must be causing it. Besides, only Bad Mothers have sick children or Bad Children.

Good Mothers deserve perfect children. Obviously, the Good Children are being stolen and swapped with changelings, but a Good Mother can get the Pure, Good Child back if she tries hard enough. It doesn’t matter what the brute, unfeeling changeling is put through to achieve this end (look at some of the comments about “screaming, diapered autistics” that some wonderful people have left) as long as the Good Mother is reunited with her Good Child.

The claws come out too:

Bad Mothers are poor mothers who give their children store brand bread and Kraft peanut butter when it’s on sale. I’m a Good Mother that spends more per week on a family of three then they do in a month for a family of five. I spent as much on my baby’s stroller as they did on a used car.

Bad Mothers are working mothers. I am a Good Mother that spends every waking moment I can with my child, and I micromang- uh, am involved in all aspects of their life.

Bad Mothers give their kids formula and use disposable diapers. I am A Good Mother that breastfeeds, wears my baby, uses cloth diapers…

Bad Mothers trust Outsiders (doctors, teachers, etc) with their children. I am A Good Mother who knows what’s best for my family.

They strive to display all the signs of purity, as surely no Pure Person could have an imperfect child.

This isn’t to blame all mothers, or to say that it’s a mentality that only afflicts women – just look at Mike Adams, the Health Danger. Ultimately, it’s the children that suffer.

i’m also a long time lurker, recent commentator. My younger brother is autistic (diagnosed as Asperger’s), and the things I have seen from organizations like AoA are absolutely disgusting.

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