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Dr. Kelly Brogan’s e-book “Vaccines and Brain Health”: A cornucopia of antivaccine misinformation and pseudoscience

Last week, while discussing the antivaccine stylings of “holistic psychiatrist” Dr. Kelly Brogan, I promised to revisit her e-book “Vaccines and Brain Health.” Never let it be said that Orac doesn’t keep his promises.

Last week, I wrote about how Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop had doubled down on quackery and antivaccine misinformation by featuring “holistic psychiatrist” Dr. Kelly Brogan as one of the keynote speakers and prominent panelists at its upcoming in Goop Health Summit in New York in late January. At the time, I noted the copious evidence on her website that she is indeed antivaccine and took note of an e-book that she had recently written. At the time, I briefly alluded to the e-book and some of the nonsense therein and promised that I wanted to look at it in more detail. Brogan became even more unfortunately relevant when SXSW announced the advisory panel for its 2018 SXSW Wellness Expo, and it included Dr. Brogan:

This is the post where I will do that.

Here, I will focus on the 23-page e-book that Dr. Brogan authored entitled Vaccines and Brain Health. Some of Dr. Brogan’s fans might think it unfair of me to characterize her as “antivaccine,” but her e-book provides copious evidence that this characterization is accurate, as you will see. You can get an idea of where Dr. Brogan is coming from right from the very first paragraph, in which she proclaims:

As a passionate believer in the power of informed consent, I feel that we have a right to know the full breadth of available data so that we’re empowered to make our own decisions about our bodies and our children. As a practicing psychiatrist, my major concern is how vaccines affect brain health, behavior, and cognition. As a mother and a woman, I bring special entitlements to the conversation about bodily integrity, health choice freedom, and autonomy. To make your own judgment, it’s important to understand how vaccines work, who is recommending them, and why – and to ask questions. Because no one should be threatened by the process of further inquiry.

Excuse me, Dr. Brogan, but I think you have a typo. I think you meant “misinformed consent,” that perversion of informed consent favored by antivaxers in which the risks of vaccines are amplified by many orders of magnitude and their efficacy downplayed by orders of magnitude, all through the citation of pseudoscience and misinformation, as well as the misrepresentation of real studies. Note how she also invokes “health freedom,” another favorite trope of the antivaccine movement in which children are basically viewed as the parent’s property without rights of their own as autonomous beings separate from the parents.

Dr. Brogan seems especially proud of a “peer-reviewed” article that she published, “Psychobiology of Vaccination Effects: Bidirectional Relevance of Depression,” in which she tries to link vaccination to depression. Not surprisingly, this publication was in a bottom-feeding alternative medicine journal, but even by that standard it’s not very good. Yes, I actually did look up the article, simultaneously grateful and angry that my university has a e-subscription to the journal. To say that the article is speculative is to insult speculation, which is a valid activity in science. Speculation based on solid existing science is how promising new hypotheses are generated to be tested. That’s not what Dr. Brogan does, however. Her article is chock full of citations and discussions of what to readers of this blog will be familiar as antivaccine pseudoscience, with many of the citations also familiar as having been deconstructed here before. Examples include Theresa Deisher’s dubious research claiming to have shown that DNA from the cell lines (derived from fetuses used to grow virus to manufacture vaccines is taken up by neurons and recombines with their DNA to provoke neuroinflammation, Tomljenovic and Shaw’s fear-mongering about aluminum adjuvants, Laura Hewitson’s execrable Macacque monkey study (later redone, with a result showing no correlation between thimerosal-containing vaccines and behavioral changes) of the vaccine schedule, and Stephanie Seneff’s laughably supported claims that glyphosate and GMOs and/or vaccines (she can’t seem to make up her mind) predispose children to autism. You get the idea. The quality of a speculative review article on a scientific topic is judged largely by the quality of the science cited and how that science is woven together to suggest hypotheses. Dr. Brogan fails on both counts.

Continuing her lack of scientific critical thinking skills, Dr. Brogan writes in her e-book:

Perhaps even more compelling is an April 2017 scientific article, the first of its kind, that compared age-matched vaccinated and unvaccinated children to determine if there were significant differences in the diagnoses of acute and chronic illnesses. Researchers polled the parents of over 650 homeschooled children, aged either 6 or 12. In this mostly-Caucasian group, 39% of children were unvaccinated, 31% partially vaccinated, and 30% fully vaccinated. Using sophisticated statistical analyses to control for other variables, researchers determined the likelihood of acute and chronic illnesses with respect to vaccination status.

In terms of acute illnesses, vaccinated children were significantly less likely to have had chicken pox, whooping cough (pertussis), and rubella (though the rubella incidence was not significant). Vaccinated children were more likely to have suffered from otitis media (ear infection) and pneumonia, and there was no difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups in terms of Hepatitis A and B, high fever, measles, mumps, meningitis, influenza, and rotavirus.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. Vaccinated children were significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with a variety of chronic diseases. Perhaps most alarmingly, children who had received vaccines had higher incidences of neurodevelopmental disorders, including learning disabilities, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder, at a rate of 10.5% compared to 3.1% of unvaccinated children.

I couldn’t help but chuckle as I read this passage, particularly the part about how the study used “sophisticated statistical analyses to control for other variables.” Why? Because I recognized the study instantly, before I even clicked on the link and knew that the study was anything but “compelling” and that the statistical analysis was anything but “sophisticated,” as was the study design itself. Dr. Brogan was citing an utterly awful study by Anthony Mawson, one of two that he published recently, purporting to show that unvaccinated children are healthier, with less neurodevelopmental disorders and chronic illnesses. Basically, it was an Internet survey that was published in 2016, retracted, and then rose from the grave again in 2017, only to be retracted again, only to be back online again after (or so it was joked at the time) Mawson’s check finally cleared. I also note that the study was funded by the rabidly antivaccine Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute (CMSRI), funded by Claire and Al Dwoskin.

The rest of the article follows a similar path. Basically, it’s an antivaccine greatest hits compilation. Ranting against a “one size fits all” approach? Yes, it’s there. “Too many, too soon”? It’s there too. There’s even that hoary oldie but not-so-goodie, the “no placebo” gambit:

Furthermore, the vaccine schedule is a one-size-fits-all approach that has never (not once) been studied in its ever-growing entirety. Additionally, vaccine formulations have never been studied against a true placebo for FDA approval. These studies can be even further compressed since the introduction of ‘fast- tracking’ in 1992, a method that pharmaceutical companies can pay extra for to accelerate FDA approval of their vaccine candidates, like Gardisil. These fast- tracked vaccines are often studied against false ‘placebos,’ like aluminum or another vaccine, raising the background rate of adverse events and ultimately making it impossible to identify the true risks of the vaccine relative to non- intervention. When they are, like in the Cowling et al study of the flu vaccine, the results are not industry-favorable – this study showed a 4x increase risk of non-flu infection after receiving the seasonal shot.

This is all nonsense, of course. What antivaxers mean when they say that vaccines aren’t tested against a placebo control is that many vaccine studies look at the vaccine versus vaccine minus the actual antigens. That means both control and the test vaccine groups receive whatever adjuvants are being used, such as commonly used aluminum hydroxide adjuvants. This is, of course, the most scientifically rigorous way to do such a trial: Use controls that have everything except the “active ingredient” of the vaccine in order to see if it is the antigens in the vaccine producing immunity to the disease being vaccinated against. The rationale, of course, is that we have copious data regarding the safety of aluminum adjuvants, meaning that a third group receiving a saline-only control is an unnecessary extra expense and waste of precious clinical trial volunteers. It would also be harder to justify a trial in which two thirds of the recipients are left potentially vulnerable to disease. However, antivaxers who fear aluminum and ascribe all sorts of evil to this particular adjuvant claim that the reason aluminum-containing placebos are used in some vaccine trials is to obscure adverse reactions due to the aluminum. Of course, for most vaccines, it’s not too hard to find randomized controlled clinical trials using saline-only controls. Whenever an antivaxer says that there are no studies using “correct” controls, they’re either lying, parroting antivaccine talking points, or ignorant.

Then there’s the (mis)use of epigenetics, a science frequently abused by quacks, to produce what I like to call the “special snowflake” gambit. In essence, Brogan claims we are all so unique that it is impossible to tell how any given person will react to a vaccine:

To suggest that a pharmaceutical product should be delivered to all persons regardless of age, weight, health status, and history is to ignore all of the advances of modern science that suggest that biochemical individuality is the key to health and wellness. Many studies have shown that people react differently to vaccines based on age, stress levels,22 health status,23 previous exposures,24 genetics,25,26 and other ‘host factors’ that we can’t quantify – like current mood!27 Yet there have been no efforts to tailor vaccines to specific physiologies. As each person contains a unique signature of interrelated characteristics, people can react in wildly different ways to the same vaccines.

This is the sort of spinning of science that makes individual points that are true and weaves them into a misleading argument that, because biology is complicated and there is variability in response to a medical intervention, we might as well throw up our hands and do nothing until we find out how to quantify exactly how each individual will react to any given intervention. In the case of vaccination, such an argument ignores the billions of doses of vaccine administered over many decades with an incredibly low rate of adverse reactions. Sure, vaccines are imperfect, and not everyone reacts the same to them, but what Dr. Brogan is doing here is the old denialist trip of sowing fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD), not providing a sober assessment of vaccine risks.

You know where she’s coming from when she invokes the “toxins gambit”:

All the flu vaccine components are potentially toxic; thimerosal is a mercurybased31 preservative, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, gelatin and egg proteins are allergens, antibiotics are literally designed to kill cells, and I can’t even imagine how muscle cells respond to an influx of straight sugar.

I can. They do just fine. Again, this is yet another tactic favored by antivaccine activists, to invoke the scary-sounding chemical names of what is in vaccines, ignoring the adage that the dose makes the poison. An infant’s blood contains more formaldehyde than any vaccine, the normal byproduct of biochemical reactions, for instance. Doctors know that some components of vaccines are allergens, which is why people allergic to those components do not receive vaccines containing them. The amount of antibiotics in vaccines left over from the manufacturing process is minuscule. This is basically what I like to refer to as the “toxins gambit,” a commonly invoked antivaccine “greatest hit” that sometimes reaches ludicrous levels.

Of course, Dr. Brogan is also down with fear mongering over aluminum:

The most common vaccine ingredient, aluminum, is in at least 18 vaccines, including the HepB vaccine that’s ‘required’ for infants. Even though aluminum salts have been injected into people since the 1920s, a 2015 scientific review paper confirmed that we still don’t know how they work.32 Aluminum stays in the body for several years, and it has been linked to chronic fatigue and cognitive decline,33 among other disorders. A pubmed search for ‘aluminum’ and ‘human toxicity’ returns over 4200 studies. My colleague, Dr. Suzanne Humphries, has explored the nature of this toxicity extensively.

A 2011 study states that aluminum is a risk factor for autoimmunity, long-term brain inflammation, and associated neurological complications.34 In fact, aluminum has been so frequently documented as triggers for autoimmunity that a new term has been coined: Autoimmune/Inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants (ASIA).35

Here’s a hint. If you invoke the work of Dr. Suzanne Humphries in a discussion of vaccines, you should immediately lose any debate. This is a woman who routinely refers to vaccines as “disease matter” and embraces the most ludicrous antivaccine nonsense out there. As for ASIA, it is a syndrome invented by Israeli antivaccine physician Yehuda Schoenfeld. There is no compelling evidence that it even exists as a syndrome, and it is not an accepted diagnosis.

Just when you think you’ve scraped the bottom of the barrel, though, Dr. Brogan scrapes harder:

Scientific evidence is mounting that shows the link between vaccines and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Most infants die of SIDS at age 2-4 months, when babies are subjected to 11 shots containing 16 different vaccines.

No. Just no. (This is one of the more vile myths promoted by antivaxers.) She even invokes the ridiculous claim that countries with more vaccines on their recommended childhood vaccination schedule suffer higher rates of infant mortality, an argument that relies on major cherry-picking of data.

Then there’s this:

Many will argue that vaccines have been helpful to eradicate diseases like smallpox. However, it’s important to contextualize the onset of vaccines with the decline in disease mortality rates; for example, several vaccines were introduced when infectious diseases, like measles, were already declining for other reasons.

No again. This is what I like to refer to as the “vaccines didn’t save us” gambit. It relies on an incredibly intellectually dishonest argument.

Of course, if you’ve made what Dr. Brogan views as the horrific mistake of vaccinating your child, fear not! She offers you a way to fix it:

If you’re reading this and panicking (a natural reaction!) because you’ve been vaccinated, or you feel guilty for allowing your children to get vaccinated, the good news is that our bodies are remarkably forgiving. I’ve dedicated my clinical practice and beyond to helping people recover from psychiatric diagnoses, like depression, with proper nutrition, meditation practices, exercise, detox, supplementation, and mindset shifts. As it can be difficult and overwhelming to swap inflammatory habits, like stress and sugar, for nourishing ones, I have shared my approach in A Mind of Your Own (most of which is available in blog form for free on our site!) and created Vital Mind Reset Program to gently guide you towards radiant health. One of the best parts of this program is the supportive and energetic community that accelerates healing. Hundreds of people have reversed psychiatric diagnoses, reclaimed abundant energy, and felt their best.

It gets worse, though.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: Germ theory denialist

If there’s one aspect that unites much of alternative medicine, it is the denial of germ theory. I never used to believe that there were people who deny germ theory, often using newly understood complexities of how microbes interact with the body to make it sound as though microbes don’t cause disease. The idea is, in essence, the idea that microbes can’t cause disease unless the body is somehow compromised. Of course that’s true in some cases, but obviously not true in others. For instance, I doubt that all those 18 year old soldiers who died of the flu in the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918 were in poor shape. As an aside, Bill Maher has frequently voiced similar opinions, namely that he can’t get the flu because he does all the right things.

Germ theory denialists frequently like to invoke a “deathbed confession” of Louis Pasteur, in which he supposedly “admitted” that the “microbe is nothing” and the “terrain is everything.” That’s exactly what Dr. Brogan does in her e-book:

Louis Pasteur "deathbed recantation:

Louis Pasteur, famous for his work on pasteurization and vaccination, later regretted his war on microbes.

No. He. Didn’t. At least, there’s no evidence that he ever did.

The claim that Pasteur’s last words were to admit that he was wrong is a myth long promulgated by quacks and germ theory denialists. Denying germ theory is a very common belief among HIV/AIDS denialists and antivaxers, which is why it is not surprising that Brogan goes down that path as well:

And what about contagion? Has it ever actually been proven that germs travel from one person to another and infect them? Does a yawn spread that way? What about women’s menstrual cycles syncing up when they live together? What about fear-induced illness, which is strikingly demonstrated in a study in which women who were convinced that they were inhaling “contaminated air” got sick when they saw others get sick from it – despite the fact that there was nothing wrong with the air[6]. Then there’s people who only get symptoms of the cold when they believe themselves to be unwell at baseline; perhaps they sense not their immunological vulnerability, but the need for their body to take an opportunity to rebalance[7].

Yes, Dr. Brogan. It has been demonstrated many, many times that “germs” travel from person to person and infect them, causing disease. Where on earth did you get your medical degree? Consistent with her invocation of the myth of Pasteur’s deathbed recantation of germ theory, Brogan goes full Antoine Béchamp, only gussying up Béchamp’s idea that “the germ is nothing” and the “terrain is everything” (i.e., germs can’t make healthy people with an “inhospitable terrain” sick):

Germs as pathogens is a complex question that science has contributed rich literature to in the past two decades. With the dawn of the microbiome – our inner ecology that reveals not only our harmonious relationship to but our dependency on the very microbes we have demonized – everything about orthodox medicine should have changed. Including the discovery of so-called viruses embedded in our own genomic material, calling into question whether or not viruses actually exist in the way we have assumed. Has a discrete virus, deemed unable to exist independently, ever been visualized under electron microscopy – or are we still inferring? What about exosomes –the packets of genetic material that travel between the environment and our physiology and influence gene expression? Science is revealing that these exosomes look a little too much like viruses for our comfort, leaving us, once again seeing the enemy as a critical part of ourselves.

Béchamp, of course, was a scientist who lived around the same time as Louis Pasteur. He was the champion of a rival hypothesis. This idea acknowledged the existence of microbes and tried to explain their presence in the tissues where disease was present in a different way, a way that didn’t involve them being the main cause of disease. Basically, Béchamp’s idea, known as the pleomorphic theory of disease, stated that bacteria change form (i.e., demonstrate pleomorphism) in response to disease. In other words, they arise from tissues during disease states. Béchamp further postulated that bacteria arose from structures that he called microzymas, which to him referred to a class of enzymes. Béchamp postulated that microzymas are normally present in tissues and that their effects depended upon the cellular terrain. Ultimately, Pasteur’s theory won out over that of Béchamp, based on evidence, but Béchamp was influential at the time, and, given the science and technology in those days, his hypothesis was not entirely unreasonable. It was, however, superseded by Pasteur’s germ theory of disease and Koch’s later work that resulted in Koch’s postulates. Besides not fitting with the scientific evidence, Béchamp’s idea had nowhere near the explanatory and predictive power that Pasteur’s theory did. On the other hand, there is a grain of truth in Béchamp’s ideas. Specifically, it is true that the condition of the “terrain” (the body) does matter when it comes to infectious disease. Debilitated people do not resist the invasion of microorganisms as well as strong, healthy people. Of course, another thing to remember is that the “terrain” can facilitate the harmful effect of microorganisms in unexpected ways. For example, certain strains of the flu (as in 1918 and H1N1) are more virulent in the young because the young mount a more vigorous immune response.

Quacks, particularly those inclined to deny germ theory, also love the new science demonstrating the importance of the microbiome (the microorganisms that live on and in us), because they think it demonstrates that it’s the “terrain” that’s the problem. Here’s the thing. There’s nothing about germ theory that’s incompatible with the idea that there are also beneficial microorganisms living on and in us that can protect us from disease or accepting that disrupting this “microbiome” can make us more susceptible to disease. It’s not as though we haven’t known examples of this phenomenon for decades, namely how antibiotics can wipe out the colonic flora and leave us susceptible to C. difficile colitis. As I learned while reviewing for my surgery board exams, fecal transplants are becoming more and more accepted as a treatment for refractory C. difficile colitis.

Consistent with her germ theory denial, Dr. Brogan tells us that “holistic medicine” is a life without fear and that antibiotics are not needed:

In conventional medicine, the body is a faulty machine that needs to be monitored, tinkered with, and saved from itself through chemical and surgical interventions, the avoidance of which could spell disaster. Through the conventional lens, for example, it’s us versus the germs and if we get exposed to one, they get in and try to get us. Our only responsibility is to take antibiotics and symptom-managing over-the-counter drugs while we continue to punch the clock. If we choose not to take antibiotics, well then, infections can spread and even kill! It’s all about FEAR. The unexpected, the devastating, the fatal.

But there’s another story that you can ease into (or snap into in my case).

From this perspective, the body responds purposefully to it’s [sic] internal and external environment. Acute infectious illness – think coughing, diarrhea, sneezing, runny nose, night sweats – mobilizes cellular debris and can be seen as an effective and sophisticated method of detox when needed. In fact, based on our growing knowledge of the microbiome, some theorize that illness is simply a resonant activation of internal microorganisms when detox and recalibration are needed. We grow from the experience of acute illness in important ways – even if this means simply forcing you to pause and get into bed! In fact, you wouldn’t want to interfere with this, but rather support the body through it.

This is, of course, a straw man characterization of modern infectious disease theory, but it leads to scary conclusions, namely that you can heal yourself of dangerous infectious diseases through “detox” and tweaking your microbiome. It is inarguable that modern medicine uses too much antibiotics, but that overuse does not mean that antibiotics don’t save lives or that we can do without them.

SXSW and Goop should be ashamed

Between her HIV/AIDS denialism and her antivaccine views, I’ve only scratched the surface of Dr. Brogan’s quackery, some of which was documented in the Jezebel and Newsweek articles. On her blog, it’s not hard to find claims that antidepressants don’t work and that the root cause of depression is the gut (although it could also be the vaccines, if you believe her). Her anti-psychiatry hostility makes me wonder why she became a psychiatrist in the first place and whether she’s a Scientologist.

She also cites Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez as her mentor. As you might recall, Nicholas Gonzalez was a cancer quack who peddled a version of the Gerson therapy for cancer, complete with lots of supplements, juices, and, of course, coffee enemas to “detoxify” the liver and body. Through a cherry picked “best case series” of twelve patients with advanced pancreatic cancer treated with his protocol who did better than expected, his advocates finagled an NIH grant to do a randomized trial of his protocol. When the results were published, it was a disaster—for patients on the Gonzalez protocol, whose median survival was around one-third that of patients receiving standard-of-care. The Gonzalez protocol was, not unexpectedly, worse than useless for pancreatic cancer. Gonzalez, of course, made excuses for the failure of his protocol, but none of them could explain such a huge difference in outcomes between the two groups in the trial. None of this stopped him from, in his later years, claiming that he could have saved Steve Jobs if only Jobs had come to him.

She’s also very much into the quackery known as the German New Medicine which posits that cancer is actually the body’s healing reaction to some sort of internal conflict that the patient might not even be aware of and that this conflict must be dealt with in order to heal the patient. Actually, it’s not just cancer. German New Medicine is a theory of everything in medicine, postulating that all disease is due to a “shock experience that catches us completely off guard” and that the remnants of these psychic shocks can be visualized on CT as a “lesion that is clearly visible on a brain scan as a set of sharp concentric rings.” This is all utter twaddle, of course, as is the French bastard offspring of the German New Medicine, Biologie Totale. To Brogan, cancer therapy treatment “with chemotherapy and radiation not only disrupts a complex process that needs to actually be supported, but also it induces secondary harm, both psychically and physiologically. When we interfere and war with the body, we keep the fight alive – you can’t win the battle against yourself.” This is the sort of quackery that kills. Worse, Dr. Brogan portrays “resistance” to medication as a form of feminism.

I didn’t expect much from Goop, of course, given its hostility to science and its doubling down when criticized. However, some of us had some hope for SXSW, especially given that this will be its first health-related expo. So Kavin Senapathy contacted SXSW to express concern, and SXSW has responded to her complaints about Dr. Brogan. In essence, the organizers have pulled the “diversity of opinion” gambit and downplayed Dr. Brogan’s role in the SXSW Wellness Expo. I call BS:

Again, I call BS. for one thing, here’s what SXSW says about its Advisory Board:

As part of the SXSW Wellness Expo, we’re honored to present our 2018 Wellness Expo Advisory Board who will help ensure that SXSW is bringing the most innovative companies, ideas, and trends to the exhibition.

And here’s what SXSW says about Dr. Brogan:

Kelly Brogan, M.D. is a Manhattan-based holistic women’s health psychiatrist, author of the International and New York Times bestselling book, A Mind of Your Own, and co-editor of the landmark textbook, Integrative Therapies for Depression. She is board certified in psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, and integrative holistic medicine, serves as Medical Director for Fearless Parent, and is a founding member of Health Freedom Action.

Notice that there is nothing there about her being “just a consultant.” More importantly, Fearless Parent is a rabidly antivaccine group that was founded by New Jersey antivaccine activist Louise Kuo Habakus. I’ve discussed her before, and she features prominently in East Coast antivaccine activities.

Whether either of them is capable of it or not, Goop and Gwyneth Paltrow should be ashamed. By embracing Dr. Brogan, Goop has gone beyond what was mostly lifestyle “wellness” nonsense that probably didn’t do a lot of harm even as it sucked her customers’ wallets dry, straight into the sort of quackery that kills, like HIV/AIDS denialism, antivaccine nonsense, and cancer quackery. The SXSW Wellness Expo appears to be the first time that SXSW is putting on an expo devoted to health. That the only physician on the advisory board is Dr. Brogan does not bode well for even a minimal level of support in science for what is being peddled. I’m predicting that SXSW Wellness Expo will end up being a quackfest every bit as quacky as the Goop Summit, while Dr. Brogan profits. In the meantime, at Goop at least, I wonder what the celebrities who will also be appearing to give talks and participate in panels would think if they knew. Maybe they’re antivaccine too.

ADDENDUM

After I wrote the above, I found a great five-part series of videos on YouTube by Jeff Holiday deconstructing much of the nonsense that Dr. Brogan lays down. Unbelievably, she’s even worse than I thought just from reading her website and about her views in other places. I liked the series so much that I decided to tack the videos onto the end of this post.

Here’s Part 1: Muh Genes:

Part 2: Coffee Enemas:

Part 3: Medicine Is Religion:

Part 4: All the Conspiracies:

Part 5: The Final Cringe:

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]

105 replies on “Dr. Kelly Brogan’s e-book “Vaccines and Brain Health”: A cornucopia of antivaccine misinformation and pseudoscience”

As a practicing psychiatrist, my major concern is how vaccines affect brain health, behavior, and cognition.

The intended message here is “as a practicing psychiatrist, I don’t want to deal with people who have genuine problems, and I only want self-absorbed hypochondriacs and narcissists for clients.”

“as a practicing psychiatrist, I don’t want to deal with people who have genuine problems, and I only want self-absorbed hypochondriacs and narcissists who can pony up $4k for an initial consult for clients.”

FTFY.

Jeezums. The most I’ve ever paid to see a shrink is a $20 or $25 co-pay. And I actually saw the best shrink I ever had for free at UHS. (Not that he doesn’t get a nice salary, he teaches and works crazy shifts in the psych ED in addition to his one day a week at UHS.) And I’m difficult.

The most I’ve ever paid to see a shrink is a $20 or $25 co-pay.

I’m at $3.90, but I still have to write the check.

In my first year of grad school, our copay was actually $15, which was manageable. Then it kept going up.

If you’re seeing a therapist once a week plus a shrink at $25 bucks a pop, and then you figure in copays for meds, it really adds up. It was something I used to bring up in GEO meetings, and I see that the union has now secured a $700 yearly cap on copays, which is good.

What about exosomes –the packets of genetic material that travel between the environment and our physiology and influence gene expression? Science is revealing that these exosomes look a little too much like viruses for our comfort, leaving us, once again seeing the enemy as a critical part of ourselves.

I had seen “exosome” increasingly adopted as a content-free Worship Word by scammers and Alt-Med frauds, so it was inevitable that Brogan would coopt the term as well, but this is the first time I’ve seen someone so blithely unconcerned for truth as to pretend that researchers confuse them for viruses.

She rather famously has a graph she presents showing 100% of children born in 2050 will be born with autism.

Although the Comic Sans is a nice touch, there are versions of this routine at her site that are more parsimonious than a 59-page download.

In addition to glyphosate, GMOs and vaccines, she also concludes that aluminium, acetaminophen, and cholesterol sulfate deficiency all cause autism

And in the minds of Seneff and her followers, every time she finds a perfect correlation between Prevalence of X and Prevalence of Autism to prove that X is the Cause, this does not undermine her previous correlation-based proofs that Y, Z, Alpha and Beta also cause autism, it reinforces them.

I fear anti-vaccinationists have reached a critical mass (analogous to a compost pile catching fire, which then sends flaming embers of compost all over) of anti-vaccine doctor, publications and internet presence. None of the anti-vax doctors are vaccine experts and all the publications are either retracted or appearing in bottom-feeding/predatory journals. If it were that alone, it would be manageable, but given the level of science illiteracy in America, there a lots of other compost heaps just ready to be set off by these embers, with the biggest compost heap of all having decided to undertake censorship of science at the CDC late last week (addressed so very well by someone close to this blog–thank you!).

Ultimately the vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks coming our way will bring enough parents back to vaccinating, but I weep for the infants and children who will suffer and die before the pseudoscience is repelled. It will be far worse if that compost pile in DC gets 8 years as clearly a framework is being laid for far worse things.

As far as I can tell, by anti-vaccine logic, the correct way to test the outcomes related to infant formula would be to compare infants fed formula to infants fed distilled water. Which is about how ethical their coveted “vaccinated vs. unvaccinated” study would be.

Another good source of grass-fed, coconut oil-infused Brogan superwoo can be found here:

https://www.lotuswei.com/drkellybroganinterview/

My favorite quote: “But curiosity has also driven me to the point of over-consumption of information, which I would say is the shadow side of that quality. Sometimes it feels like there is so much more for me to learn that it’ll never end; I have a stack of books a mile high on my desk and another next to my bed. So I think it’s a necessary complement to curiosity to also trust a sort of receptivity that doesn’t come through information.”

Yep, don’t get overinfluenced by that evidence thing (Brogan for head of HHS!).

*in the linked interview she shares her admiration for such luminaries as Christiane Northrup and her “beloved mentor”, Nicholas Gonzalez (of pancreatic cancer non-cure fame).

Kelly Brogan went to Cornell and NYU for med school. She isn’t even remotely artiulate and openly worships Gonzales; how did she get into and graduate from these programs? Scary. Maybe she used to be okay and had a breakdown.

Breakdown? I doubt it. I think she’s looking for attention and a quick buck. Real medicine is hard work.

I ever increasingly see the likes of Brogan as people crying out “lookit meeeeeee!” and “send me money.” I think a good deal of the blame for the rise of the yappers and their yappage falls squarely on Oprah. Don’t really know much of anything but can flap your gums and gull some rubes – you’ll become rich and famous. Fools will suggest you should be president.

Maybe she used to be okay and had a breakdown.

How about: worried wealthy patients, private only, charge huge fees, fancy Manhattan office, no on-call duty, less than banker’s hours and fame. Lots and lots of fame.

As Mark Knopfler sang: “That ain’t workin’! You get your money for nothin’…”

Orac’s deconstruction of Dr. Kelly Brogan was articulate, educational, and entertaining.

Jeff Holiday’s (a.k.a. Shit Lord) deconstruction of Dr. Kelly Brogan was often crude and unprofessional.

@Orac,

Jeff Holiday’s video(s) insertion is like adding monosodium glutamate (MSG) to a sweet and sour sauce. No more, please!

There was a Chinese restaurant half a block down from the City of Lights bookstore in San Francisco that had sign out front proclaiming “No MSG”. To this day, I have no idea what the restaurant’s name was. We just called it the NOMSG place and ate there often. Never worried about the additive but always remember the sign.

If Pasteur actually had emitted a deathbed recantation, its sole effect would be to tarnish his memory.
This sort of thing is just profoundly stupid. Brogan’s recitation has marked her as an idiot. Had Pasteur died a couple of weeks ago, when his work was very new and unreplicated, a recantation might mean something. But a lot of time has passed since he passed and a vast array of scientists has been working on “germs” ever since.

I have previously recommended John Baez’s Crackpot Index, which, though originally designed for physics, has much that can be applied to medicine. Dr. Brogan is easily into triple digits on her Crackpot Index score. Statements widely known to be false: quite a few. Statements that are logically inconsistent: quite a few. She gets the 10 points for pointing out that she has gone to school (she advertises her M.D.). Inventing a new term without properly defining it: check. Cutting edge of a paradigm shift: check. She gets the 30 points for claiming that Pasteur secretly (on his deathbed) opposed the theory he publicly supported. Claiming a conspiracy on the part of the scientific establishment: check. And she gets the 50 points for her revolutionary theory that offers no concrete testable predictions.

As for things of value in the real world: I feel dumber after reading those quotes from her. I award you no points, Dr. Brogan, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Vaccinated children were significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with a variety of chronic diseases.

Yup, this makes sense. Because vaccinated children get better health care than unvaccinated children, and thus have a significantly better chance to actually see a doctor in case of health issues — a difference that will also be more pronounced with regard to less acute ailments.
Or to turn the argument around: if your unvaccinated child never sees a doctor, it won’t be diagnosed with anything, period.

“he rationale, of course, is that we have copious data regarding the safety of aluminum adjuvants, meaning that a third group receiving a saline-only control is an unnecessary extra expense and waste of precious clinical trial volunteers.” Could you please provide some links to the copious data showing the safety of aluminum adjuvants as they are used in vaccines? Thank you.

Beth, you have been directed to numerous references and the ones you want to believe have been thoroughly rubbished so go play your coy little game elsewhere. I think Dan “Vaccine Papers” Steinberg could use some company.

While I have made similar requests in the past, I haven’t yet been given references that support the statement I quoted. If you feel that information has been provided previously, then you can prove me wrong by linking to those responses. It’s possible I’ve missed them. If the research in support of the safety of using AL adjuvents is copious, it shouldn’t be hard to provide some cites showing that.

Yup. What satisfies medical scientists doesn’t satisfy antivaxers. They always move the goalposts and want more, more, more, regardless of how solid the evidence is.

Knock off the Polly Anna routine Beth. I know for a fact you have been given numerous citations but you choose to reject them because they aren’t your holy grail of vaxxed v. unvaxxed. You defend crap science like Exley’s recent “study” though.

So, there are multiple responses to my query above but they only complain about how I keep asking for that safety data you claim exists. But no links to any sources that would back up the claim are provided. Why am I supposed to believe that it’s been extensively studied with the safety of our current use well documented? Show me the data.

If this information was previously supplied to me on this site, why don’t you link to that response, proving both that the safety studies exist and that I’m ignoring that research? Instead, I’m pilloried as ‘moving the goalposts’ for having the temerity to keep asking despite not getting satisfactory answers in the past. It’s OK though. I think of it as practicing respectful insolence.

Beth – if you want a little “I think of it as practicing respectful insolence” try the search feature on this site with the word “aluminum” and when you are done reading all 165 references with the context, get back to us with a summary on where your goal posts are.

Thank you for the reply. So far, you are the fourth person in this thread to respond to my request, but no one has yet offered any supporting evidence of this copious data, only complaints about my asking.

I’ve been reading RI for many years now and have participated in discussions of the matter in previous posts, I’ve looked for the data myself and failed to find it, but that could just be my own inexperience, as it’s not my field of study. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask ORAC to specify the sources that he bases this opinion on or to ask the question again when he repeats the claim in a new post, such as this one. But I have yet to see anyone provide cites supporting the claim “copious data regarding the safety of aluminum adjuvants”. If it exists, why isn’t anyone providing links to the supporting studies?

@ Ross Miles – Apparently we have reached the limits of nesting so this is out of order.

You did not provide me with 165 relevant references. You suggested I do a search on this site. That is not the same. I’ve done searches myself, but haven’t seen convincing evidence yet.

I don’t post on all threads. If I didn’t post on a thread such as the one you looked at, you can reasonably presume I didn’t feel that the study in question was worth defending. That bad anti-vax studies exist, does not, in any way,provide evidence that Al in vaccines has been studied sufficiently to feel confidence in the conclusions of safety. If you feel there exist relevant studies to show this, then provide them. What studies convinced you? Or do you just have faith in other people’s interpretation of the existing studies?

Complaining that I don’t have the chops to understand the material is a poor excuse for not providing relevant sources to back up the claim made. I am willing to conclude I’m wrong about the current state of research. Show me the data. I’ll take a look at it.

Could you please provide some links to the copious data showing the safety of aluminum adjuvants as they are used in vaccines? Thank you.

Why, so you can ignore them again? The fact that you don’t like the answers doesn’t mean they weren’t provided to you.

I don’t think I’ve ignored any links. Some were posted that were not sufficient to justify the statement. I recall was one on infants that only looked at for adverse reactions for a few days after vaccination. There was one for a single vaccine (HPV maybe?) that included a very small number of saline only controls with insufficient data to draw conclusions. It had results showing more adverse reactions in the AL placebo wing, but were not statistically significant given the sample size and the small % of adverse reactions. There have also been some animal studies used to justify assumptions regarding the calculations that were made for the how much AL could be safely included in vaccines. But I haven’t see any empirical studies supporting those assumptions. I haven’t seen studies designed to test the safety of A including delayed or cumulative reactions to vaccines over time. Did you think that what was presented was adequate to justify the claim that copious amounts of data supporting the safety of using AL in vaccines? If so, we’ll just have to disagree on the adequacy of the research supplied. Or was there some additional information I missed, or failed to adequately consider that you find convincing? Show me the data. I will take a look at it. My field is statistics.

Beth -You are a misrepresenting intransigent troll. I gave you 165 references without any complaint. What do you do but move the goal posts again, in addition to fundamental contradictions. If you have been reading RI, for years, you have not demonstrated much learning ability. Then you want studies while admitting that you probably lack the ability to even evaluate them. You claim that you have been participating, so I will cite, picked randomly from the list, a post from Orac “I love it when an antivax “study” meant to show how “dirty” vaccines are backfires so spectacularly” from Feb 2, 2017 complete with 396 comments. Could not find your name anywhere. So at least read the afore noted which contains more reference material than you will probably understand. Prove me wrong with an analysis from what is not your field of study. Right now I am going to read the ebook of Dr. Brogen which stands the possibility of making more sense than you, and from what I have seen, not a very high bar.

Orac wrote: “Consistent with her germ theory denial, Dr. Brogan tells us that “holistic medicine” is a life without fear …… ”

So, in the spirit of the Christmas edition of BMJ, where we learned that “Man Flu”, in a feature article, is real, with a good description of mice and men; we have:

Sun-Blessed Turkey Mist and other items at Gwyneth Paltrow’s holiday dinner party

Probiotic Brussels Sprout Prayers

These glorious green miracles have been braised in balsamic vinaigrette and then almost too thoroughly tossed in a probiotic truthdust and finally arranged on a bronze platter into the shape of two hands praying. There’s simply no reason why we can’t improve our gut flora while practicing gratitude at the same time. Blessings!

http://www.bmj.com/content/359/bmj.j5560

http://www.cbc.ca/comedy/sun-blessed-turkey-mist-and-other-items-at-gwyneth-paltrow-s-holiday-dinner-party-1.4426929

Dr. Brogan seems especially proud of a “peer-reviewed” article that she published

Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine is a hoot. Dana Ullman is on the “editorial board.”

^ “In 2006, 2007, and 2008, ATHM had the highest impact factor ranking of any independently published peer-reviewed CAM journal in the United States—meaning that its research articles were cited more frequently than any other journal’s in the field.”

BTW, I found this discussion on a notorious antivaccine site, with the interesting thing being that the study Flarend discussed here actually disproves the whole aluminum-adjuvant-ends-up-in-the-brain thing, quite contrary to what the author there claims.
Now let’s just see what happens with my somewhat, erm, ‘controversial’ comment there… (can mods delete Disqus comments?)

Dr Brogan’s appearance reminds me of an irreverent pathology staff member when I was a resident. A fellow resident commented on a colleague’s youthful appearance. Staffman’s response: “Of course he looks good. He doesn’t do any work!”

I’m pretty sure that Brogan’s stats are bull. Aside from the fact that it’s Brogan, of course. But you know, growing up, I knew no kids who had pnuemonia at any time. Actually I’d be almost certain sure that pnuemonia cases in anyone below 25 have dropped like a rock since the MMR was developed. I’m not sure about ear infections, and I think some of that ‘increase’ might be due to better diagnosis and quicker treatment. And you know, I think most people would take ear infections over pneumonia. Don’t get me wrong, ear infections are absolute misery, but they’re survivable, and in most cases don’t cause permanent damage.

MJD: Wow, tone police much? He uses only a couple of swear words, aside from the hat. And frankly, she’d drive me to profanity too. How does a doctor graduate when she’s completely and utterly ignorant of the difference between viruses and bacteria? Not to mention, she seems to have spent her undergraduate days in hibernation. I suspect her parents were rich.

I haven’t seen studies designed to test the safety of A including delayed or cumulative reactions to vaccines over time.

Is that where the goal-post resides at this time?

Did you think that what was presented was adequate to justify the claim that copious amounts of data supporting the safety of using AL in vaccines?

Yes.

If so, we’ll just have to disagree on the adequacy of the research supplied. Or was there some additional information I missed, or failed to adequately consider that you find convincing? Show me the data. I will take a look at it. My field is statistics.

Yes you’ve missed a lot and because you choose to believe cranks like Shaw and Exley, you think there’s something there. You want a fishing expedition without considering that there isn’t plausibility. Just because you and your fellow anti-vaxx, JAQ-off travellers can’t grasp that doesn’t mean it’s incorrect.

Thank you for the response. I don’t have goalposts. I think of this as a discussion exploring the relevant research available, not a game where points are scored. In a discussion, positions are clarified and additional questions asked to flesh out the uncertainties and assumptions that the different participants may hold, allowing us to better understand ourselves and one another.

I do think that looking for delayed or cumulative reactions should be an important part of the safety assessment of vaccines.
If you don’t feel that is necessary before accepting a conclusion that Al adjuvants are safe, that’s your prerogative. We’ll simply have to disagree on that point. Thank you for sharing your feelings on the matter.

I’m not sure why you brought up Shaw and Exley. Their research, whatever it’s faults or merits may be, does not provide supporting evidence for the safety of Al adjuvants and that was what I was asking about. What studies did you base your conclusion on regarding of the safety of Al in vaccines?

I do think that looking for delayed or cumulative reactions should be an important part of the safety assessment of vaccines.

Perhaps you could suggest a methodology. After all,

My field is statistics.

Beth – your response directly to me.

“You did not provide me with 165 relevant references” – so you decide before you look when the search word was: aluminum. That was also a suggested departure point for your education, which you are apparently not interested in.

“Complaining” – no that was an assertion which has an entirely different connotation. You should try reading for comprehension rather than an Argumentum ad Ignorantian. That is the one where there must be ghosts because no one has ever been able to prove that there are not any.

” Show me the data. I’ll take a look at it.” – You have been pointed on multiple occasions by many and have failed

Anyway, I wrote the comment before seeing your claim that your field of study is statistics. You have, thus far, failed to demonstrate that, as Dr. Brogan made an assertion of “using sophisticated statistical analyses” while Orac wrote “the study was anything but “compelling” and that the statistical analysis was anything but “sophisticated,” Since one of my weaker subjects is statistics, or at least sophisticated statistics, you missed your opportunity to contribute. Not too late to correct that as comments are not closed yet.

“I don’t have goalposts.”

Then there’s no point in providing you with any data, because you have nothing against which to measure it.

Beth Clarkson: “you can prove me wrong”

Poor Beth – even with an alleged background in statistics, she still doesn’t comprehend basic principles of scientific investigation – including the one mandating that those who make claims (or in her case, insinuations) need to show they’re correct by furnishing evidence, not demanding that others prove them wrong. And when someone bothers to try to educate JAQers, it makes a better impression if they address facts, instead of whining that the evidence isn’t “copious” enough.

This is a pretty good introductory paper on vaccine adjuvants*, including their history, safety testing requirements and summaries of recent “controversies”, including how antivaxers have tried to inflate a microscopic dermal “tattoo” at an aluminum adjuvanted vaccination site into a disease syndrome.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4494348/

*trigger warning for Beth – there are multisyllabic words.

Guineas. One thing I learned from Hercule Poirot is that true gentlemen expect payment in guineas, it’s classier.

I do think that looking for delayed or cumulative reactions should be an important part of the safety assessment of vaccines.

Why? Just because it hasn’t been studied in a manner to satisfy you? What is your hypothesis?

’m not sure why you brought up Shaw and Exley.

Because you defend their “research”. Oh I know you like to portray yourself as a purveyor of reason by throwing in some lame criticisms of their work but then go on to defend it at large. Don’t think you’re fooling anyone here.

<

blockquote>Their research, whatever it’s faults or merits may be, does not provide supporting evidence for the safety of Al adjuvants and that was what I was asking about.
Actually their research which is all faults and no merits does provide supporting evidence for the safety of aluminium adjuvants. They falsify data and game the system with shitty methodology and incestuous or absent peer-review and they still can’t find anything clinically-relevant.

Why do I think that looking for delayed or cumulative reactions should be an important part of the safety assessment of vaccines? Because it’s part of assessing the risks of vaccination. Both individuals and policy makers need complete and accurate information on all risks in order to make better choices. When some sources or types of risk are not assessed, it leads to a systemic underestimation of the total risk and thus,bias in decisions made. Do you disagree?

I still don’t understand why you brought up Exley and Shaw. Even if I were to accept your opinion of their work and my comments in previous posts, bad studies don’t provide evidence in support of the opposite of their conclusions. Why do you think that it would?

Again, I ask what studies you base your conclusion on regarding of the safety of Al in vaccines? You seem quite confident that further study is unnecessary. What have you read that has given you such certainty? Links would be appreciated.

@Narad – There are multiple methodologies that could be used. I would not want to make a specific suggestion without a better understanding of the costs and other issues involved in the various data collection approaches.

@Terrie – Games and debates make use of goalposts. Open-ended learning more about a subject does not require them.

Well, if open-ended learning is the point with no goal measurement in mind, did you know that aluminum, despite being the most common metallic element, was not discovered until 1852, and was at one time more valuable than gold?

There, we have now given you information on aluminium.

Why do I think that looking for delayed or cumulative reactions should be an important part of the safety assessment of vaccines? Because it’s part of assessing the risks of vaccination. Both individuals and policy makers need complete and accurate information on all risks in order to make better choices. When some sources or types of risk are not assessed, it leads to a systemic underestimation of the total risk and thus,bias in decisions made. Do you disagree?

No but oddly you do. You can’t even come up with any hypothesis for what people should be looking for and how to do that. There are hundreds, if not thousands of documents on the safety of aluminium adjuvants and you have been provided with many of them by me and others. It always comes back to they’re not the fishing expedition you want them to be. When you get a science degree, get back to me okay?

I still don’t understand why you brought up Exley and Shaw. Even if I were to accept your opinion of their work and my comments in previous posts, bad studies don’t provide evidence in support of the opposite of their conclusions. Why do you think that it would?

I brought it up because you are still a fawning sycophant over their work for the mere “questions” they’re asking. You don’t properly assess their work and can’t see that even though they game the system, they still can’t find anything clinically-relevant. That should tell you something.

@Narad – There are multiple methodologies that could be used. I would not want to make a specific suggestion without a better understanding of the costs and other issues involved in the various data collection approaches.

Oh you don’t say. Then what business do you have to think others should endeavour to study a matter which they understand to be a non-issue but you don’t?

@Terrie – Games and debates make use of goalposts. Open-ended learning more about a subject does not require them.

Says the jello to the wall.

I signed up for her ebooks and this is my first email:

Kelly Brogan MD – Own Your Body. Free Your Mind.

Hi Ross,

Got a minute?

I know you’re super busy and your time is valuable…but what if this one minute confirms exactly what you already suspect?

That the conventional approach to treating illness is not going to get you where you want to go. And that there has to be a better way. I’m here to tell you that there is, and it turns out that:

…chronic diseases don’t need to be chronic.

…medication doesn’t need to be lifelong.

…symptoms and struggle don’t need to feel oppressive.

…and you don’t need to be dependent on a medical system that is keeping you sick.

I’ve spent a decade collecting the evidence that our medical system is set up to keep you sick, but now I want to share with you what happens when you opt out of the system and opt in to your life experience.

Meet some of the everyday folks who are blazing this trail of radical healing.
Watch Now
They’ve defied conventional medical dogma. You can too.

Yours in health,

Kelly Brogan, MD

Science Mom Writes: :There are hundreds, if not thousands of documents on the safety of aluminium adjuvants and you have been provided with many of them by me and others.

Yet, despite this claimed wealth of documents, you have given no links to support your opinion. Links provided me by others on other threads were read and discussed by me. I haven’t ignored them, I just haven’t been convinced by them and I’ve given reasons why I thought the links given were inadequate. That’s why I’m still asking for more information.

Science Mom Writes: When you get a science degree, get back to me okay?

I have a Ph.D. in statistics. Is that sufficient? Should having a science degree be a prerequisite for contributing to a public discussion like this?

Science Mom Writes: Then what business do you have to think others should endeavour to study a matter which they understand to be a non-issue but you don’t?

Why this is considered to be a non-issue when the data I’ve looked at seems inadequate to justify that stance. I’ll ask for the third time in this thread: What studies do you base your conclusion on regarding of the safety of Al in vaccines? You seem quite confident that further study is unnecessary. What have you read that has given you such certainty?

Science Mom Writes: even though they game the system, they still can’t find anything clinically-relevant. That should tell you something.

Those studies, flawed though they might be, do indeed tell me something, but they don’t provide evidence that Al in vaccines are safe. Why do you think that is a reasonable conclusion to draw? Would a poorly done study showing Al in vaccines was safe convince you otherwise?

Science Mom Writes:

Is the MJD/PGP inability to use quotation marks contagious? (“If dancing was a brain disease, she would have been a dancing fool.)

Beth – I will call you on the PhD in statistics. As I noted : “.. I wrote the comment before seeing your claim that your field of study is statistics. You have, thus far, failed to demonstrate that, as Dr. Brogan made an assertion of “using sophisticated statistical analyses” while Orac wrote “the study was anything but “compelling” and that the statistical analysis was anything but “sophisticated,” Since one of my weaker subjects is statistics, or at least sophisticated statistics, you missed your opportunity to contribute…”

As someone who took statistics as an engineering course, and later a more general statistics course, I learned that much of left out of the engineering course. Things like ethics in regards to human trials, and epidemiology.

You really don’t need to comply with the Belmont report for most manufacturing quality control projects. I don’t know what kind of statistics Beth took, it could have been more of the stuff Google does for its marketing efforts (I met a statistics PhD candidate who was working on research for Google), but it seems she did not exactly study bio-statistics, which has different requirements for entry (I did look into it).

Yet, despite this claimed wealth of documents, you have given no links to support your opinion. Links provided me by others on other threads were read and discussed by me. I haven’t ignored them, I just haven’t been convinced by them and I’ve given reasons why I thought the links given were inadequate. That’s why I’m still asking for more information.

Yes Beth, we know you find them inadequate but that’s your problem, not the scientific community’s problem. You have yet to formulate a coherent hypothesis and study design to frame your objections to the current body of knowledge. Again, your problem not our problem.

I have a Ph.D. in statistics. Is that sufficient? Should having a science degree be a prerequisite for contributing to a public discussion like this?

In your case, yes. I’m not normally elitist but your continued expression of ignorance of valid publications along with your defence of crap science and your seeming inability to use your stats PhD to dissect the problems with these studies even within that narrow framework leads me to be dismissive of your requests.

Those studies, flawed though they might be, do indeed tell me something, but they don’t provide evidence that Al in vaccines are safe. Why do you think that is a reasonable conclusion to draw? Would a poorly done study showing Al in vaccines was safe convince you otherwise?

Oh good grief, why don’t you try using your “open mind”. I’m not saying that at all. If dodgy studies can’t even find clinically-relevant harm from aluminium adjuvants then the default is to rely upon the quality studies that don’t find any clinically-relevant harm from aluminium adjuvants. Or none of your revered aluminium-adjuvants-are-harmful investigators can find anything useful to justify further study. Do you get that yet?

Science Mom writes; “Yes Beth, we know you find them inadequate but that’s your problem, not the scientific community’s problem. You have yet to formulate a coherent hypothesis and study design to frame your objections to the current body of knowledge. Again, your problem not our problem.”

Yes, it’s my problem, not necessarily anyone else’s. I want to know why people like ORAC and yourself consider the current research sufficient to justify what is being claimed in regard to the safety of Al in vaccines. If you aren’t interested in answering my questions regarding what research you found convincing, you don’t have to. Yet you continue to respond, berating me for asking questions instead of providing the evidence you claim exists in large quantity. Why is that?

Science Mom writes; “If dodgy studies can’t even find clinically-relevant harm from aluminium adjuvants then the default is to rely upon the quality studies that don’t find any clinically-relevant harm from aluminium adjuvants. Or none of your revered aluminium-adjuvants-are-harmful investigators can find anything useful to justify further study. Do you get that yet?”

I’d rely on those quality studies that don’t find any clinically-relevant harm if you would provide some cites for them so I could read them and assess the evidence for myself. I’ll repeat my question for the fourth time: What studies do you base your conclusion on regarding of the safety of Al in vaccines? You seem quite confident that further study is unnecessary. What have you read that has given you such certainty?

What studies do you base your conclusion on regarding of the safety of Al in vaccines?

You have rejected anything anyone has ever provided you without a valid explanation as to why, you just whinge away they don’t answer the questions you want answered. But you can’t explain what those questions are and how to test them. So yes, I’m ignoring your requests and berating you for JAQing off. What took you so long to figure that out?

Science Mom says: “You have rejected anything anyone has ever provided you without a valid explanation as to why,”

I have always provided a reason why. That you don’t agree with them doesn’t mean I didn’t provide a valid explanation.

Science Mom says: “you just whinge away they don’t answer the questions you want answered. But you can’t explain what those questions are and how to test them.”

Actually, as people have presented papers, I have attempted to articulate more precisely what I would like to see. In the previous thread. Hasn’t happened so far in this one. At this point, I’m mainly looking to see what is out there. I’m willing to look at a relatively broad spectrum of papers on the subject. My own searches (outside this blog) have uncovered little in the way of support. The data seems appallingly sparse to me for the strength and breath of the assurances freely given, here and elsewhere, by you and by others.

Science Mom says:”So yes, I’m ignoring your requests and berating you for JAQing off. What took you so long to figure that out?”

It never occurred to I might have a genuine interest in exploring the subject further? Or that no one else reading would be interested in doing so? It’s just so sciency of you, Science Mom, to harass me for asking to see evidence of claims made in the OP. Scientists often belittle and degrade people in pursuit of knowledge in order to weed out those with weak minds. You provided a fine example of that.

My conclusion from your behavior is that you’ve never read a single paper on the subject and are simply repeating the assurances of others who you presume have. That’s fine. You’re entitled to base your opinion on whatever you like. We can’t all read about everything. I’ve picked this particular piece (along with a couple others) to study in my off hours. It’s a feature, not a bug, of science that anyone is allowed to access the source materials regarding such questions and decide for themselves if they want.

Actually, as people have presented papers, I have attempted to articulate more precisely what I would like to see. In the previous thread.

What a load of bollocks. You reject or ignore what is presented and only sometimes offer some ridiculously broad “something” you’d like to see studies. When you’re called upon to refine your wishlist within the scope of a study design, you retreat and complain we’re being meanie pants.

Hasn’t happened so far in this one. At this point, I’m mainly looking to see what is out there. I’m willing to look at a relatively broad spectrum of papers on the subject. My own searches (outside this blog) have uncovered little in the way of support. The data seems appallingly sparse to me for the strength and breath of the assurances freely given, here and elsewhere, by you and by others.

Oh really? And you are an expert in what scientific discipline that allows you to make that determination?

It never occurred to I might have a genuine interest in exploring the subject further? Or that no one else reading would be interested in doing so? It’s just so sciency of you, Science Mom, to harass me for asking to see evidence of claims made in the OP. Scientists often belittle and degrade people in pursuit of knowledge in order to weed out those with weak minds. You provided a fine example of that.

Not in the least. You only appear interested in “gotcha”.

My conclusion from your behavior is that you’ve never read a single paper on the subject and are simply repeating the assurances of others who you presume have. That’s fine. You’re entitled to base your opinion on whatever you like. We can’t all read about everything. I’ve picked this particular piece (along with a couple others) to study in my off hours. It’s a feature, not a bug, of science that anyone is allowed to access the source materials regarding such questions and decide for themselves if they want.

And it’s a feature and not a bug for people like you with confirmation bias a narrow scope of expertise to think they can parse the scientific literature and lecture actual experts in the relevant fields. Yeah sure, I’ve never read a single piece of work on aluminium. Heh.

Actually, as people have presented papers, I have attempted to articulate more precisely what I would like to see.

I for one have missed anything resembling “articulation,” not to mention the “precise” variety. Again:

There are multiple methodologies that could be used. I would not want to make a specific suggestion without a better understanding of the costs and other issues involved in the various data collection approaches.

And then nothing.

P.S. Your CV (PDF) alternately claims a doctorate in mathematics or statistics, but then again, it also omits your dissertation. “NEED more INFO HERE” (and elsewhere), adjunct.

Narad: “P.S. Your CV (PDF) alternately claims a doctorate in mathematics or statistics, but then again, it also omits your dissertation. “NEED more INFO HERE” (and elsewhere), adjunct.”

Ha! I was right. Her statistics are used for manufacturing quality control!

No need for that pesky Belmont Report for composite airplane parts.

I have a feeling that any assurances we might provide concerning the safety of Al in vaccines would be rejected by Beth.
( -btw- Orac discusses safety a few paragraphs down- link- in his article, ” Torturing more mice…. Al edition” search fx above)

What the flawed studies about Al tell me is that anti-vaxxers will accept anything that confirms their fears They believe that vaccines are dangerous and any ingredient will suffice to frighten parents away from vaccinating their kids And so-called researchers can get money from the Dwoskins for nearly any crap they can dream up..

Science Mom and others are doing a great job de-bunking fear mongering.

Here’s some good news for Orac and his many minions:

since the move from SciBlogs, anti-vax bloggers ( Kim, Jake, etc) no longer mention him or his posts because they don’t want to increase his traffic**- the new address is such a BIG secret!
So Orac or any of us can critique them without consequence,
Fire away..

** HOWEVER I believe that yours truly and other minions are responsible for a significant portion of hits on these sites
But no one ever thanks me!

You are right. Assurances by random individuals on the internet are not going to convince me. I’m looking for data. Furthermore, I’m looking specifically for data on the safety of Al. in vaccines. So far, pickings have been slim. I have been assured that such data exist in support of our current guidelines. Hundreds if not thousands of studies. Links would be appreciated.

Beth – Notwithstanding my reservations about you, maybe you do not understand the process of vaccine creation. It is not the Betty Crocker kitchen where you take some eggs, a personal sample of snot, add in a half mouldy orange, incubate in the toaster oven, sand down part of an aluminum pot, add to mixture and filter in the coffee maker a get a flu vaccine. I presume you are in the USA, so a link to the FDA “Vaccine Product Approval Process” https://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/BiologicsLicenseApplicationsBLAProcess/ucm133096.htm where your reference journey can begin. After that, the CDC has a decent summary, and lots of references. ( Too many links results in moderation, where our host has to then clear )

PS: would still like to see your statistical analysis as a contribution, rather than a demand to be spoon fed references.

This has been an interesting read. The key discussions appear extremely similar to those between creationists and evolutionists. The former can be presented with the full wealth of scientific data and the full array of fossil evidence yet will continue to ask “But where’s the proof?” Eventually you just have to walk away for the sake of your sanity.

“Appreciated”, but ignored. Apparently the trigger warning about multisyllabic words was enough to scare Beth away from my review link.

85 years of safe and effective use of aluminum-based adjuvants is not enough; a random individual on the Internet is Just Asking Questions, and none of the answers will do.

“Appreciated”, but ignored. Apparently the trigger warning about multisyllabic words was enough to scare Beth away from my review link.

Yes, this is what she does every time, either ignores completely or whinges it’s not good enough but doesn’t offer any logical, scientific rationale for why nor provides any study design for answering her “gotcha” questions.

I will say that her goalposts are 100% consistent. She measures studies by if they agree with her preconceived views

That is very common with engineers and physicists who think they can translate their expertise to medical issues. Example inclue folks like Brian Hooker, Amy Lansky (homeopathy cured her non-diagnosed kid of autism!) and Andy Cutler (who died of a heart of attack because he used his own chelation protocol instead of actual medicine).

I used to be kind of like, despite refusing to take biology in high school (skipped it so I could take physics and graduate a year early). Having a kid with multiple medical issues starting when he was two days old disabused me of that notion. I have since taken college intro to biology and a non-engineering statistics class, and know now how much I do not know!

The link is appreciated. It is the most substantive document so far posted. I will spend some time reviewing it.

I did not notice the link in my initial reading of your previous post. I quit reading after the first insult. I am not assuming that you care but if you do then in the future, if you wish me to read your entire post, save personal insults for the end. If you wish me to respond to a post, leave out the insults altogether. My exchange in this thread with Science Mom has renewed my desire and commitment not to respond to individuals who insult me.

It never ceases to amaze me that so-called “vaccine critics” like Beth here are so oblivious to the research they claim to have read at great length in order to obtain their position. I can’t wait to see what Beth will find fault with in the review replete with more pearl-clutching.

Science Mom – In the words of Beth in this thread: “Games and debates make use of goalposts. Open-ended learning more about a subject does not require them.

Scientists often belittle and degrade people in pursuit of knowledge in order to weed out those with weak minds.

Assurances by random individuals on the internet are not going to convince me. I’m looking for data

has renewed my desire and commitment not to respond to individuals who insult me

if you wish me to read your entire post, save personal insults for the end. If you wish me to respond to a post, leave out the insults altogether.”

SO THERE ( and yes I am insulted that Beth is ignoring me {sarcasm}) From my POV was just trying a little open ended learning but without feedback, have no idea if the material was read for the data.

The greater enigma for me is how a person like Dr, Brogan can go off the ‘deep end’. Started getting Brogen emails from looking at the ebooks, and the only conclusion that I can come to is the easy money. Example is; she has a recipe along with the Paleo pancakes with a link to filtered water which then sells an AquaTru® unit which surprise surprise has been featured on Natural News but for Dr. Brogen customers there is a $100 discount on what appears already to be overpriced.

Speaking of pseudoscience: apparently the New England Patriots are disenchanted with quarterback Tom Brady’s personal woo guru, Alex Guerrero.

“Guerrero is now banned from boarding Patriots jets. His sideline access has been revoked. And he no longer is permitted to treat players other than Brady in his exclusive office at Gillette Stadium…
The Globe reported in 2015 that the Patriots medical and training staff had lodged complaints with Belichick about Guerrero’s expanding role with the team. Their concerns involved Guerrero’s alternative treatment practices often clashing with their own methods as well as his questionable background.

Before Brady made him his business partner, Guerrero had been sanctioned by federal regulators for falsely presenting himself as a medical doctor and deceptively promoting nutritional supplements, according to government records.”

https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/patriots/2017/12/19/bill-belichick-curbs-privileges-tom-brady-associate-alex-guerrero/NgoTiMHsA7UfWyG3jtquVI/story.html

Speaking of pseudoscience: apparently the New England Patriots are disenchanted with quarterback Tom Brady’s personal woo guru, Alex Guerrero.

Good news and you inspired a new term, wooru.

I think that many of Orac’s ( newer) minions (and indentured servants) might be wise to search “anti-vaccine tropes” in the box at upper left: this procedure will result in 102 articles that explain how anti-vaxxers distort research and manage to find ( mostly unrealistic) reasons to question SB research. There is great detail as well as links to research.

You can visit old faves and new memes. Most of us won’t usually go into detail when arguing with trolls because we assume that most of our compatriots have already been there and done that so many times.

I personally enjoy how anti-vaxxers switch to new ingredients to-be-feared whenever SB people demolish one of their older fears. As if people won’t notice. As if we can’t dredge up old articles and scare tactics, We can. It’s easy/

Wonder if peanut oil has a chance of becoming the go-to Dread Adjuvant for antivaxers.

It does get mentioned occasionally. Antivaxers link to the more than 50-year-old squib in the N.Y. Times about invention of a peanut oil adjuvant for a vaccine and the patent application, as “proof” that it’s a Vaccine Toxin. You can patiently point out that it’s not a component of any vaccine (and apparently never was), but they remain certain that the Evil Pharma Masters are using it to deliberately injure innocent kiddies.

*odd that an old peanut oil adjuvant patent application carries such weight with these people, but Wakefield’s much more recent attempt to patent a vaccine competing with the MMR gets ignored.

OK, so, in the main Slate item, by Frederik Joelving, which buries the lede very, very deeply, one finds cited Yoon Loke (also faved by Robert Scott Bell’s joint, but I digress).

He seems primarily to be in the library-science end of the Cochrane routine. One next meets Gerd Wallukat, “a scientist at the biotech startup Berlin Cures” and “heavyset man in his mid-70s” who “has pioneered research into a special class of autoantibodies.”

Berlin Cures seems to just be doing PMID 27375076, but I’m fading fast.

[…] I don’t have to think very hard to come across examples of “wellness” and its intrinsic flirtation with pseudoscience. After all, what is Gwyneth Paltrow‘s “Goop” but a wellness company that exists to offer up high priced jade eggs for women to stick up their vaginas, magic healing energy stickers, and high priced conferences where the faithful can lap up mysticism about life after death and quackery delivered by an anti-psychiatry antivaxer? […]

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