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Jennifer Margulis: Another rising star in the antivaccine movement

I’ve mentioned Dr. Paul Thomas before as a rising star in the antivaccine movement. A month and a half later, it occurs to me that I haven’t given proper due to his co-author, Jennifer Margulis, as an equally prominent rising star in the same crank movement. Here, I rectify that oversight.

About a month and a half ago, I took note of Dr. Paul Thomas, an antivaccine pediatrician following in the footsteps of “Dr. BobSears and “Dr. Jay” Gordon by representing himself as “not anti-vaccine” while peddling antivaccine pseudoscience. Dr. Sears, in particular, has made catering to antivax fears the centerpiece of his medical practice by writing a book promoting a “safe” vaccine schedule that, not surprisingly, advocates fewer vaccines and “spreading out” the vaccine schedule by delaying certain vaccines. Meanwhile, ever since SB 277, the California law passed in 2015 that went into effect for the 2016-2017 school year and eliminated non-medical exemptions to school vaccine mandates, Dr. Bob appears to have been running a side business selling non-science-based medical exemptions—and doing it online, if a parent report that I received a couple of years ago is any indication. Antivaxers love him, and he is not alone.

When I wrote about Dr. Thomas’ book, The Vaccine-Friendly Plan: Dr. Paul’s Safe and Effective Approach to Immunity and Health-from Pregnancy Through Your Child’s Teen Years, I noted how it resembled Dr. Sears’ own book with an “alternative vaccine schedule,” The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Choice for Your Child in that it peddled many of the same antivaccine tropes that Dr. Sears Did and lots of the same antivax pseudoscience and misinformation, using misinformation as a basis to suggest an “alternative” vaccine schedule not based in science. At the time, however, I neglected to comment on Dr. Thomas’ co-author, Jennifer Margulis, PhD. She, too, is a rising star in the antivaccine movement, and it was both too MD-centric (and possibly unintentionally sexist) of me not to have commented on her sooner, either at the time I wrote about Dr. Thomas or shortly thereafter. So I thank that wretched hive of scum and antivaccine quackery, the antivaccine propaganda blog Age of Autism, for drawing my attention back to Dr. Margulis with a post praising her for a blog post she wrote entitled Medical Doctors Concerned We Are Giving America’s Children Too Many Vaccines Too Soon. This post was the “gateway” that led me to look at the sorts of antivaccine misinformation Margulis has been laying down on her website and elsewhere and to give her the proper attention that she deserves, not just as Dr. Thomas’ co-conspirator spreading antivaccine pseudoscientist, but as a rising star antivaccine crank in her own right.

Let’s dig in:

When Mark Zuckerberg posted a photo of his baby daughter on Facebook with the chipper caption, “Doctor’s visit–time for vaccines!” last January, the post garnered an enormous amount of attention: 36,255 shares, 3.4 million reactions, and 83,000 comments.

The extensive comments on the post caught the interest of some scientific researchers, who analyzed over a thousand of them. Their analysis yielded what media outlets described as a “surprising” result: the “anti”-vaccine comments were more scientifically based and carefully worded than the “pro”-vaccine comments.

In the words of the researchers: “Although the anti-vaccination stance is not scientifically-based, comments showed evidence of greater analytical thinking, and more references to health and the body. In contrast, pro-vaccination comments demonstrated greater comparative anxiety, with a particular focus on family and social processes.” (My emphasis.)

Not having seen that paper before (hey, I can’t cover every study, paper, or review related to vaccines and the antivaccine movement, although it does surprise me that I never sas this paper), I naturally had to look it up right away. One thing I noticed right away is that the authors seem to be rather naive. Take a look at this excerpt from the introduction of the paper:

Because the scientific data clearly support the safety and efficacy of vaccines, we hypothesized that comments expressing opposition to vaccinations would have less evidence of analytic thought. Because vaccine hesitancy is often associated with heightened perceptions of risk and concerns about safety, we hypothesised that anti-vaccination comments would also use more risk-related, anxiety, and health words. Finally, because vaccinesceptical websites often include arguments about responsible parenting, possible vaccine-caused harm to the immune system, and profit-related conspiracies [17], we hypothesized that antivaccine comments would contain more family-, biological-, money-, and work-related (the category including medical, scientific, government, and corporate references) words.

Of course, if there’s one thing that antivaxers crave, it’s scientific respectability. To that end, they frequently try very hard to sound analytical, cite scientific literature, and the like. It’s a common denialist tactic that denialists other than antivaxers use; indeed, anti-GMO activists and climate science denialists in particular like to do this. The problem, of course, is that, superficially, the language used can appear more analytical, but if you get down into the weeds, you quickly find that the studies cited are cherry picked, misrepresented, and misunderstood, with the much larger body of evidence.

The investigators analyzed the language using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC), whose dictionary comprises psychologically meaningful word categories, and output includes the percentage of words within a given text that belongs to each category. According to the authors, applying this technique “allows for a direct comparison of emotional content, cognitive processes, and areas of particular importance in proand anti-vaccination (and unrelated, control) comments.” Looking at Table 3 in the study, I was struck at two examples of “analytical” thinking in the pro- and anti-vaccine comments:

  • Pro-vaccine: Since the introduction of vaccines, American life expectancy nearly doubled.
  • Anti-vaccine: Vaccines cause death! Look up the vaccine injury court! It’s a disgusting sham but it exists. Every disease was in the decline before the vaccine.

Huh? Neither really strike me as particularly good examples of analytical thinking, but the antivaccine stance is clearly less analytic. Now here’s a part of the authors’ conclusion that Margulis left out and that most certainly does not support her claim that antivaxers are more analytical:

Efforts have focused, albeit with less-than-spectacular success, on changing the attitudes and behaviours of vaccine-hesitant individuals [39]. Because the scientific evidence regarding vaccines appears clear, the anti-vaccine viewpoint is often viewed as overly emotional, irrationally suspicious, and angry – and anecdotal illustrations of these qualities certainly exist. The current findings indicate, however, that such irrational and emotional qualities do not typify the argument-style or language of Facebook users who make comments indicating opposition to vaccinations. Instead, the antivaccination comments contained linguistic markers of analytical thinking, characterised by categorical language use, often appearing as factual (or in this case, pseudo-factual) and logically structured statements that mimic valid scientific information. This, as well as relatively lower use of anxiety-related words (giving the impression of confidence in one’s correctness), may make antivaccination arguments particularly compelling for uncertain parents seeking information about childhood vaccinations. Such language use gives the appearance of certainty and analytical thinking, even though the conclusions that have been reached are not scientifically based.

Exactly. No one who’s paid any attention to how antivaccine activists argue for their pseudoscience would be surprised to see an example of them trying very hard to sound scientific on a public post on Facebook, where they know a lot of “the other side” will be reading. Margulis clearly only read the abstract and did not bother to read the whole study. To be honest, I blame the investigators, who should have made the point above in the abstract as well, or at least pointed out that the use of analytic words does not mean that the actual content of antivaccine comments is any way analytical or scientific.

Heck, Margulis herself engages in this sort of rhetorical behavior:

The problem responsible scientists are faced with right now is that the evidence is accumulating that the CDC’s childhood vaccine schedule is not scientifically-based. The medical doctors, academic researchers, citizen scientists, and concerned parents who are taking the time to read the science and educate themselves about what we know and what we don’t about vaccines are all coming to the same conclusion: something is very wrong with today’s childhood vaccine recommendations. Our current medical recommendations seem to be harming children’s bodies and their brains.

I couldn’t help but note that all the links to articles in the passage above are to articles on Dr. Margulis’ website. That alone is not a problem (I do the same thing myself). The problem is that each of the articles linked to doesn’t actually support the assertion it’s supposed to support. For instance, the first one is an anecdote of Margulis’ own child, with the only “evidence” presented being a chart of the vaccines for which the virus is grown in cell lines derived from aborted human fetuses. The next link merely asserts that the medical system is making our children sick without actually convincingly arguing that it is, mentioning how Margulis spoke at an antivaccine conference (of course she didn’t call it that, but that’s what it was) featuring antivax luminaries such as James Lyons-Weiler, PhD; Mary Holland, J.D.; Tetyana Obukhanych; Del Bigtree; and many more. The third link was to another anecdote about how Tylenol and vaccines supposedly caused one child’s autism. In other words, there’s no “there” there.

Margulis then engages in a favorite denialist tactic of antivaxers, anti-GMO activists, and climate science deniers. She tries to give the impression that there is a “controversy” about vaccines (specifically, whether children are getting too many vaccines) by trotting out fringe “experts” in the form of antivaccine doctors. One of them, Dr. Kelly Sutton, sounded very familiar to me. A quick search of the blog revealed that, yes, I had written about her before. Indeed, at the time I noted that she was, along with Dr. Sears, selling courses on how to avoid the requirements of SB 277 and how to obtain “medical exemptions” to school vaccine mandates. Also—surprise! surprise!—Dr. Sutton is a major quack, so much so that she practices anthroposophic medicine—and, The One Quackery To Rule Them All, homeopathy. So it’s not at all surprising that Dr. Sutton would say things like:

I see daily in my practice evidence of vaccine injury and I hear stories almost every day of families that vaccinate children and then decide not to vaccinate and the unvaccinated children within the same family are healthier, more socially adjusted and more capable academically even though their parents are older than the siblings who were born first and were fully vaccinated.

Confirmation bias, much, Dr. Sutton?

Before I conclude, I do have to mention that Margulis cites another antivaccine pediatrician, one that, hard as it is to believe, I’ve either never heard of before or have forgotten, which was confirmed when I searched the blog archives and found no mention of him:

“There is clearly a relationship between vaccines and autism,” –Dr. Bose Ravenel, M.D.

Dr. Ravenel is a doctor based in Winston Salem, North Carolina and who has been practicing medicine for over 40 years. He used to be the first to dismiss the idea that vaccines might be contributing to autism. Why? Because he blindly followed the medical establishment and did not bother to do any research for himself. Denying a causal link between vaccines and autism was the most comfortable position to take. He chose his words very carefully when I interviewed him: “to say that ‘vaccines cause autism’ is an inaccurate, non-nuanced statement. At the same time, to say that ‘vaccines don’t cause autism’ is also inaccurate. In certain conditions, like with mitochondrial dysfunction, vaccines certainly can cause autism or contribute to it.”

No, there clearly is not a relationship between vaccines and autism that is greater than what can be explained by coincidence alone due to the fact that there are a lot of vaccines given during the time in development when a lot of autism is diagnosed. This has been studied again and again, and no detectable increased risk of autism has been found that can be attributed to vaccines. If vaccines in any way increase the risk of autism, the effect is so small as to be undetectable even in huge epidemiological studies. That means, for all intents and purposes, there is no relationship between vaccines and autism. The whole bit about “mitochondrial dysfunction” is an antivaccine trope that’s an oldie but baddie from the Hannah Poling days ten years ago.

As for Dr. Bose Ravenel, I wondered who he is. Margulis includes a biography that says he’s been practicing for over 40 years and that he was in academic pediatrics practice from 1976 to 1987. (One wonders why he left academia 31 years ago.) It didn’t take me long to figure out that Dr. Ravenel now belongs to an “integrative medicine practice,” Robinhood Integrative Health, that treats typical quack diagnoses like “toxicities” from heavy metals, mold, and the like; food sensitivities; hormone imbalances; nutritional deficiencies; and more with quack treatments such as dessicated thyroid, IV nutrition, chelation therapy, far infrared sauna, herbal remedies, and, yes, a quackery rivaling homeopathy for the title of The One Quackery To Rule Them All, ionic detox footbaths. In a video on the site, Dr. Ravenel reveals that he discovered functional medicine (a make-it-up-as-you-go-along quackery that combines the worst of both worlds, the overtreatment and overtesting of conventional medicine with the quackery of, well, alternative medicine) after 31 years of private practice:

DR RAVENAL from Robinhood Integrative Health on Vimeo.

Great. Another doctor who discovered quackery late in his career. As described in this news story, Dr. Ravenel retired from real medicine. in 2013 at the age of 75 to practice pseudomedicine.

Near the end of her post, Margulis goes all Galileo gambit with this passage:

Is Dr. Sutton’s an “outlier” position? Does that even matter?

Um, yes, it does. It does matter. Carry on, Dr. Margulis:

The interesting thing about science–and human health–is that 30,000 people can have one point of view and one person can have another point of view. And that one person with the dissenting point of view can turn out to be the one who is right.

Yes, but far, far, far more often, that one person will turn out to be wrong. Pray continue:

As microbiologist Morten Laane points out, science is not a Democracy.

No one ever said that it is. However, it is a discipline where evidence, experimentation, and the results of experiments testing hypotheses matter. Antivaccine views fail on all three counts—and more. Here we go now:

Consider Galileo whose idea that the Earth moved around the sun was in direct opposition to what the church authorities, and the majority of the people, believed and wanted to be true. However unpopular his theories, Galileo turned out to be right.

Ah, the fantasy of future vindication, so beloved by cranks of all stripes!

Of course, Galileo wasn’t persecuted by other scientists for his views. He was persecuted because his views went up against the dominant religion of the time. (The case was actually far more complicated than commonly understood.) To paraphrase something that several skeptics have said about the Galileo gambit, for every Galileo shown the instruments of torture for advocating scientific truth, there are thousands upon thousands of unknown scientists and cranks whose views never pass scientific muster with other scientists.

But, hey, if Galileo doesn’t support you, you can always invoke thalidomide:

Or Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey, who saved U.S. babies from thalidomide despite the fact that the medical establishment believed it was safe and it was given to pregnant women in dozens of places around the world, including Canada, Britain, and the Middle East. Kelsey’s skepticism and insistence on erring on the side of caution saved thousands of American babies from devastating health problems.

No, no, no, no. The story of Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey does not support antivaccine views. Antivaxers like to invoke her name because of her role in preventing thalidomide, a drug that was approved in Europe and later found to cause severe birth defects, from being approved in the US, but her story was based on a respect for evidence and caution. Basically, she saw a lot of flaws in the data being submitted to the FDA to show the safety of thalidomide and also heard early reports of potential problems from Europe, which led her to demand more data.

In conclusion, I regret not having taken note of Jennifer Margulis more before. It’s true that I have mentioned her before, but I’ve never given her her very own taste of not-so-Respectful Insolence, something she definitely deserves. I’ve also never acknowledged her as the rising star in the antivaccine3 movement that she is. She, along with Dr. Thomas, is someone to keep an eye on.

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]

101 replies on “Jennifer Margulis: Another rising star in the antivaccine movement”

The positive side of Dr. Margulis aligning herself more openly with the antivaccine movement, whose claims she’s been promoting for years, is that it will be harder for her to present herself as “not antivaccine” to innocent observers, which may protect some parents from being misled by her.

Oregon has some of the worst vaccination rates in the US, FYI. A recent article from February 2018 alarmingly notes: “An analysis by The Oregonian/OregonLive shows that nearly 65 percent of the state’s public charter schools lack what scientists call herd immunity against measles” (https://tinyurl.com/y9j94ym3). You can place a lot of that blame squarely on Margulis and Thomas, who are more than happy to host talks to wrongly scare the crap out of parents regarding vaccination (eg, https://www.oregoniansformedicalfreedom.com/2016/09/vaccine-friendly-doctor-speaks-in-ashland-we-are-overloading-americas-children-with-toxins/)

It’s ironic that antivaxers approvingly cite Dr. Frances Kelsey’s blocking thalidomide approval, given that the FDA is one of their bogeymen due to support for vaccines. It’s akin to anvaxers linking to a CDC website listing vaccine excipients as supposed proof that vaccines contain “toxins”, while simultaneously telling us that the CDC is part of an evil conspiracy to suppress the Truth about immunization.

I’d run into Bose Ravenel before in comments made in response to reviews of antivax books on Amazon. Bose has co-written a book (with another doc, John Rosemond) called “The Diseasing of America’s Children” which purports to “expose” the “ADHD fiasco” (apparently both authors believe the diagnosis is “very bad science” and conjured up by the “ADHD establishment”, largely in order to make money from drugs. Rosemond is moderately pro-vaccine, though he thinks there’s “irrationality on both sides” of the “vaccine controversy”.

It’s ironic that antivaxers approvingly cite Dr. Frances Kelsey’s blocking thalidomide approval, given that the FDA is one of their bogeymen due to support for vaccines.

I have resigned myself to the fact that tendentious glibertarians like Megan McArdle will lie about the thalidomide episode and present Kelsey’s actions there as proof that industry self-regulation works and there is no need for the FDA. But Margulis’ fabrication (“the medical establishment believed [thalidomide] was safe”) is a new one.

I feel protective towards Frankie’s legacy and go all SMUT SMASH when gobsh1tes try to coopt it.

Margulies used to be associated with Fearless Parent. All references scrubbed there.

I can’t recall what her PhD was in- I did see it once. IIRC it wasn’t in any life science. It isn’t in her Amazon bio.

I didn’t go into what specialty her degree was in, due to uncertainty. However, from reading her bio on her website and information on other sources, I think—but am not sure—that her PhD is in literature.

@Orac:

That sounds about right. I thought maybe English

Or Journalism: the Encyclopaedia of American Loons calls her a “journalist” and says that she taught in that field as well.
Funny how her bio omits a specific field. I wonder why.

English.

The dissertation is “Swarthy Pirates and White Slaves: Barbary Captivity in the American Literary Imagination.”

Creative Nonfiction Editor, Literary Mama

I have a sneaking suspicion that the University of Iowa was not involved here (the program is actually parallel to the Writers’ Workshop, but without the What Ever).

It’s really hard to find out what her PhD is in. I believe it’s American Literature. It’s definitely not anything to do with science or medicine, I know that.

I notice that she never references the area of study, just “PhD”. Maybe because it doesn’t really qualify her to write about vaccines and health?

Yep. It’s almost as though Margulis intentionally tries to obfuscate what her PhD is in, in order to make it easy to imply that it’s in the sciences and that she has some scientific authority on the matter of vaccines…

I think it’s intended that the phonetic pronunciation be used: fud.

Strangely enough, the LIWC is pronounced “Luke.”

There is an old academic joke: B.S. stands for you-know-what, M.S. means “More of the Same”, and Ph.D. means “Piled Higher and Deeper”.

There is a reason most Ph.D. holders do not go out of their way, as Margulis does, to point out their degree except in contexts where the degree is relevant. The ones that do this imply a degree of expertise that they do not necessarily have, which is a form of intellectual dishonesty. The degree merely means that the holder is an expert in some narrow field, which does not necessarily include the topic under discussion. To use a personal example: I have a Ph.D., but my degree is in physics, so unlike Margulis, I do not claim to be anything more than an educated layman on medical topics. And while I have the right to put “Dr.” in front of my name, I do not do so outside of specific work-related (I am still in the field) contexts.

“Why are we giving children so many vaccines? They get four times the number of vaccines than I got when I was child growing up in the ‘70s. As a parent, I would rather see my child get a natural illness and contract that the way that illnesses have been contracted for at least 200,000 years that homo sapiens has been around. I’m not afraid of my children getting chicken pox. There are reasons that children get sick. Getting sick is not a bad thing.”

That is my favorite quote of hers. Getting sick is good. Says it all.

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/vaccines/transcript/

Yep. Quoth Margulis:

As a parent, I would rather see my child get a natural illness and contract that the way that illnesses have been contracted for at least 200,000 years that homo sapiens has been around. I’m not afraid of my children getting chicken pox. There are reasons that children get sick. Getting sick is not a bad thing.

Ugh.

As a parent, I would rather see my baby coughing to death from whooping cough the way babies have in the past.

As a parent, I would rather see my baby with big, ugly pustules of smallpox, a disease which, in its virulent forms, has a 30% mortality rate.

As a parent, I would rather see my baby choke on a. diphtheria membrane, as so many children have in the past.

What was that hashtag? #saidnomother?

What is it with people thinking that nature is humanocentric and cares more about us than about the germs? Or that dying is less natural than surviving?

She’s a self-serving selfish fool who has never seen infants and children fight for their lives (or die) from these illnesses. It’s shameful that she and Thomas found a publisher for their dangerous bring-back-vaccine-preventable-diseases book.

By extension: “As a parent, I would rather my child get all-natural cholera and dysentery, than be subjected to drinking water that’s laced with government-mandated evil chemicals such as chlorine, or be subjected to the anti-poo prejudices built into every house under oppressive building codes that require toilets and covered garbage containers.” Great, just super!

That was one of the programs that persuaded me to stand firm in my decision not to financially support PBS! I think it was mainly the pretense that she was just a “concerned parent.”

She’s also been touting a connection between prenatal tylenol and autism and adhd diagnoses, although the evidence seems pretty flimsy to me.

She’s the daughter of Lynn Margulis who was a very influential biologist (though it appears that she also held some crank views including borderline HIV denialism).

It wasn’t “borderline” HIV/AIDS denialism, as I recall. It was full-on, super crank HIV/AIDS denialism. Basically, Margulis denied that HIV existed and attributed AIDS to syphilis, waving away the observation that most AIDS patients do not have any detectable syphilis spirochete (Treponema pallidum) by saying that the bacteria become a permanent symbiont:

The idea that penicillin kills the cause of the disease is nuts. If you treat the painless chancre in the first few days of infection, you may stop the bacterium before the symbiosis develops, but if you really get syphilis, all you can do is live with the spirochete. The spirochete lives permanently as a symbiont in the patient. The infection cannot be killed because it becomes part of the patient’s genome and protein synthesis biochemistry. After syphilis establishes this symbiotic relationship with a person, it becomes dependent on human cells and is undetectable by any testing.

Convenient that. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, it would appear. Indeed, Margulis was a 9/11 Truther as well:

http://rockcreekfreepress.tumblr.com/post/353434420/two-hit-three-down-the-biggest-lie

https://youtu.be/p1CJrBywGuw

I miss spoke, but Lynn was married to Carl

And Doctress Neutopia stalked Dorion Sagan, so re Usenet, all the ends are tied up.

Thanks for the unpleasant heads-up on that. Lynn Margulis also created the phrase “Gaia hypothesis” for James Lovelock’s hypothesis that ecosystems are self-regulating through negative feedbacks.

In its most basic form (as described above), the Gaia hypothesis has apparently become canonical in ecological science. So far, no problem.

However, various woo-meisters have stretched it like salt-water taffy, into a blob of nonsense about Earth as deity, based of course on the name Gaia, the name of an ancient (Greek?) Earth-goddess. And predictably, militant atheists have objected to the whole thing on the basis of that name. All of which is a pernicious distraction from the empirical issues of the theory, pro and con.

As I understand the history, Margulis was at one time a friend of Lovelock, and suggested the name Gaia when the two were out walking and Lovelock asked her for ideas about what to name his new hypothesis. I had previously envisioned that conversation as basically innocuous, with no bad intent on Margulis’ part: no intent to sneak a ghost into the machine by the back door.

So now it turns out that Margulis is a rather complete crank (I read your linked article about her 9/11 CT and it’s a doozy). To my mind that consigns her to the proverbial dustbin of history. And, by extension, it makes me suspicious that her suggestion of “Gaia” as the name for Lovelock’s hypothesis, may not have been nearly as innocent as I’d thought.

So the question is: Is Lovelock himself also a crank who should be similarly dismissed?

And the reason I ask is: Lovelock is on record about climate change, saying that +5 Celsius above historic mean, will produce a near-extinction event for humanity. Lovelock is also on record supporting nuclear fission as part of the clean energy future. I support fission as well, and was quite happy to see Lovelock on-side with it. And I took him seriously about +5C.

But if you have good reason to dismiss Lovelock as a similar crank to Margulis, I want to know, as consistency would obligate writing him off as well.

Drat. Inconvenient truths. But there is no avoiding reality. Which is why I read your blog and other similar blogs in the first place.

She’s the daughter of Lynn Margulis who was a very influential biologist (though it appears that she also held some crank views including borderline HIV denialism).

I was so hoping this was not true! Lynn Margulis was one of my science heroes as a young undergrad. Sigh….

Margulis couldn’t science her way out of a paper bag, and when anyone calls her out for this on any her social media pages she censors them ruthlessly, like all anti-vax Luddites do.

How ironic she cites Galileo when she is no more intelligent than a flat earther.

To be honest, I blame the investigators, who should have made the point above in the abstract as well

It’s not even clear to me that LIWC was the right tool for the job, although it appears that Pennebaker has been dining out on it for years.

Instead, the antivaccination comments contained linguistic markers of analytical thinking, characterised by categorical language use, often appearing as factual (or in this case, pseudo-factual) and logically structured statements that mimic valid scientific information.

This is exactly what they (and other cranks) do. They do it for a simple reason: it works. It is difficult for a layman to tell the difference between such pseudo-factual arguments and genuine arguments without having some independent knowledge of the topic, and the effect of these pseudo-factual arguments is to muddy the waters even further.

It goes beyond the anti-vax crowd. Homeopathy and naturopathy advocates use the same trick. Climate denialists use the same trick. The people who brought us the 2003 Iraq invasion used the same trick. Et cetera.

It is difficult for a layman to tell the difference between such pseudo-factual arguments and genuine arguments without having some independent knowledge of the topic

Time for a relevant joke.
“I often use large words I don’t understand to look more photosynthesis.”

Right, Eric:
with those I survey, it’s common to rely upon a linguistic cargo cult in speaking and writing-
they choose the terminology, idioms and format of SBM or research in general. Thus. they are research studies, research fellows, board certification ( even for quasi-professions where it doesn’t exist), * clinical trials*, labs,post- docs ( mail order PhDs), institutes and protocols galore.

Amongst adepts of this practice, every now and then a lab coat – or even a lab- appears.

Margulies’ obfuscation of her degree is similar to what Adams does: he talks about a degree in science – which was in writing ( I find it hard to believe it has much value because his writing is abysmal). AoA/ TMR rely upon people who studied English ( Rossi), Education ( Dachel, Jameson), Business (Blaxill, Larson), Marketting ( Kuo Habakus), Journalism ( Olmsted), Counselling ( Wright), Social Work ( MacNeil) and O’Toole ( Physics IIRC or Acting)/

And then there’s Jake who actually studied a life science. Oy.

I’m inclined to think that for most of the supporters of this nonsense, it’s not deliberate fraud, but sometheing more along the lines of trying to argue their beliefs in a manner that they believe will be respectable to us and to undecideds. Most of them are sincere though dangerously misguided.

The above doesn’t include fraudulent quacks such as Mikey Adams and Gary Null et.al., whose blatant venal self-interest is obvious. Add to that, people who produce fraudulent or misleading studies and “research.”

The overt quacks and fraudsters produce the raw material that the “useful idiots” innocently believe and regurgitate. As with Russian trolls promoting Brexit and Trump, and recruiting legions of “useful idiots” to their causes.

Many, many years ago I briefly dipped my short alphabetic toes into Usenet to read what was there in the sci.physics.* sub-tree. There was often more crankery than good science. One thing in particular that stuck with me was how often the cranks knew the subject matter better than the average science supporter. They knew the science well, up to a point, even doing extensive and correct calculations if only to establish their credentials when they blithely brushed it all aside as wrong. This was common in quantum mechanics and relativity.

Too many of the science supporters were quick to be cheerleaders for anything science yet when they tried to say anything of consequence they only drew attention to their ignorance of the actual science. They were the ones bluffing. Unfortunately the cranks ran rings around them. Working scientists were rare.

Medicine and biology cranks seem to be able to make inroads through full on bluffing not because the cheerleaders are fools but rather because these fields are far more complex than E=mc^2 and progress is far more provisional. Bluffing can work for awhile (and flourishes in countless fora full of like minded souls) since the published research is extensive, of uneven quality and can be difficult to locate. There is also money as motivation in medical crankery which is rarely the case in physics.

Ahh! That one. I had forgotten him. He used to turn up in sci.math as a Cantor crank. Thought the boundary between finite and infinite was 10^600 or something. No one could decide if he was a really skilled troll or just a nut.

About 15 years ago I ran into something similar with an entire subculture devoted to seeking & building “free energy” devices, that apparently grew out of some early Silicon Valley interest in new physics and private-sector space exploration. These people really did know their canonical science, and then they diverged into wild loop-the-loops of intellectual aerial acrobatics, fun to watch even as they went nowhere.

At the time it occurred to me that the various threads of this resembled nothing so much as religious sects in the strict sense of that term: alternative “denominations” that split off from the mainstream in the manner of new religious denominations. I thought it might make an interesting study, to apply the methods of comparative religion to this, to map out the differences and similarities in these beliefs, and how they originated and developed. Not to provide any excuses for “alternative science” (there’s science and there’s not-science…), but as a way of examining how belief-systems form, spread, and change, and interact with other social phenomena.

So here we are again, with something similar in medicine: numerous schools of “alt med” (there’s medicine and there’s not-medicine…), each with its own body of “theory” and self-interested “research.” Some of the proponents really do know their stuff, even as they fly off into similar loop-the-loops that ultimately go nowhere.

But this time the stakes are higher, as we see with measles and whooping cough outbreaks, and child abuse in the form of bleach enemas and homeopathic rabies (despite Avogadro’s number, can homeopaths be sure that not a single actual rabies virion gets into their power-placebos?).

Faced with that, many of us throw up our hands and publicly cuss out the evangelists of the new dreck, rather than taking the time to “explain ourselves.” After all, in political debate, very often it’s the case that attack wins and “explaining” loses, as recently seen in the 2016 presidential debates. And after all it does get tiresome to have to keep shoveling snow in what appears to be an endless blizzard, except it’s not snow we’re shoveling.

I’m inclined to believe that we need to survey the ground as to subcultures and beliefs, and “denominations” of alt-med, also using a comparative religion or sociology framework (point taken that the social sciences are “imprecise at best” compared to the physical and biological sciences, but none the less). The first step toward successful defense, and ultimately, successful counterattack, is to understand not only the adversary’s “theory of warfare,” but also their larger overall belief systems and social & historical contexts.

@ Gray Squirrel:

I’ve tried hard to reveal what I’ve encountered whilst surveying woo-meisters: what they believe, its origins, how it can sometime relate to political beliefs, how they proselytise, their use of media/ social media and how
they use every trick in the adman’s book to inveigle and entice followers. Oddly enough, both of the major shining lights in this constellation of quackery discuss Edward Bernays’ ( Freud’s nephew) methods to dupe the public- applied to SBM, not themselves. Similarly, they disparage “fake news” whilst creating loads of it.

Another aspect of this approach is how beliefs trickle down to lower level practitioners and clients who add their own layers to the unhealthy mass and communication and support betwixt adherents What I basically observe is 19th Century folk medicine basted in New Age, quasi- “Eastern” religious tropes and a purely “American” brand of self-determination or independence that rejects expertise and scholarship. In addition, there is a variety of Christian Fundamentalism that includes supernatural healing, divinely inspired / gifted healers and methods of conversion. They worship Nature as the supplier of “cures” superior to the mere products of human intelligence and research. There is a Life Force that animates us: “We have Vitalism” says one woo-meister.

That’s funny to call a quack joint “Robinhood Integrative Health”–as in the rob from the unsuspecting and give to themselves.

Dr. Ravenel may have “retired” from the medicine he used to practice to become a full-on snake oil salesman, but he still has an active medical license in North Carolina according to his medical board, which interestingly lists his “publications” including an rant-like sounding book titled “The Diseasing of America’s Children – Exposing the ADHD Fiasco and Empowering Parents to Take Back Control.” as well as an article on MTHFR (which is almost always a major quack-alert sign). https://tinyurl.com/y7m2uqdv

For a grad school project I was asked to write about folate fortification and one of the TAs asked me about any controversies. It was very hard to come up with a polite way to say “I can’t find anything real because any signal is drowned out by the noise of crazy people talking about MTHFR”.

MTHFR? I know it’s not supposed to be, but that looks like an abbreviated form of a common obscenity. Which it probably is, in the hands of Ravenel.

Neither really strike me as particularly good examples of analytical thinking

The “control” example for ‘Risk’ is “you are a dangerous idiot.” Again, I’m thinking wrong tool for the job. This is what happens when social psychologists try to whomp up some code, apparently in Java.

Her mother, Lynn Margulis was a one time reputable scientist who turned into something of a nutcase in her declining years. in addition to being a 9/11 troofer, she was an HIV/AIDS denier and great admirer of Peter Duesberg. Unfortunately, she joined the likes of declining years whackjobs like Linus Pauling and J. Allen Hynek.

Whoa. That is bug nuts (pun intended). Any abstract that starts “I reject Darwininan…” is a big neon sign of “non-logic ahead!”.

Williamson’s thesis is that “It makes no sense for animals to have larval forms, because why would a species benefit from exploiting more than one ecological niche? Larval forms cannot have evolved, but arose from cross-phylum sex, with the hybrids being better able to survive and reproduce than either parent.”

Margulis would fly her freak-flag for any half-baked notion as long as the word “symbiosis” was somewhere in the abstract.

The interesting thing about science–and human health–is that 30,000 people can have one point of view and one person can have another point of view. And that one person with the dissenting point of view can turn out to be the one who is right.

I’ve long wanted to use this quote in this context.
“The race is not always to the swift, nor the fight to the strong, but that is the way to bet.”
Similarly, the scientific consensus has been wrong before, but at this point it is vanishingly unlikely that it is wrong on vaccines causing autism, HIV causing AIDS, or Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming.

If science worked like the stock market I could place my bet by shorting the cranks. Easy money. Well, unless the crankery wows the masses and a crank bubble ensues.

Yes, and when anyone pulls the Galileo Gambit, there is always

If I have seen further it is by standing on the sholders [sic] of Giants.

Sir Issac Newton

One has to know the science that has gone before. Science is not really done by lone geniuses locked in a laboratory and who are suddenly struck by a bolt of inspiration.

Just about any researcher who is “struck by a bolt of inspiration” has spent years or decades learning the craft so that they have enough knowledge to recognise that it is a “bolt of lightening” and not a bit of static electricity.

Right. Cognitive psychologists long ago discussed how it is necessary to first lay a foundation- study, experimentation, debate- prior to a period of incubation- perhaps even distancing oneself from the problem- from whence the discovery arrives. So it doesn’t come out of the “blue”- it comes out of WORK.

They laughed at Galileo. They laughed at Einstein. They laughed at Bozo the clown.

Actually, that comparison is unfair to Bozo, who was an expert in his chosen field.

One of my problems with Margulis, having watched in the Truth about vaccines series, is how she blames mothers for any problems in the children. We did not breastfeed enough, we did not give vitamin C, we did not feed our kids well enough, we went to work instead of focusing on our children’s daily nutritional intake for every microsecond of the day – it doesn’t matter. If your child get sick, it is the mother’s fault for not trying hard enough. It’s disgusting.

“It’s disgusting.”

Exactly.

It doesn’t help that we get that stuff from everyone, including our family members. In our area there are informal gatherings of parents, family of disabled folk, plus disabled folk themselves at local coffee shops. Nothing gets the table more loud and raucous than when we recount all of the “friendly” advice we have received. Some of it is as ridiculous of asking a mom of a non-verbal teenager if she tried speech therapy for him… and I am sure the blind mom got some doozies about not wanting to see (at least her autistic adult child could drive). Oh, and I got a phone call after my son’s open heart surgery for an abnormal growth in his heart from a genetic disorder by the insurance company’s nurse about “prevention” (I silenced my rage, and saved it for that gathering).

Margulis would most likely regret wandering into that gathering.

Vaccinesworkblog, re. blaming moms:

That’s an extension of the common alt-med belief that if an alt-med treatment fails, it must be the fault of the patient, not the treatment. This has its roots in new-age beliefs, sometimes expressed as “you create your own reality.” That is not the common-sense idea that emotional biases filter perception, but full-on magical thinking.

It’s used to guilt-trip patients when quackery doesn’t work: if you’re sick it’s because you didn’t believe enough, etc. So it’s not surprising that it’s used to guilt-trip moms when their kids are sick and the moms are emotionally vulnerable. Ugh. Yeah, disgusting.

This has its roots in new-age beliefs, sometimes expressed as “you create your own reality.” That is not the common-sense idea that emotional biases filter perception, but full-on magical thinking.

That depends: ἦθος ἀνθρώπῳ δαίμων.

Side note: I don’t think it was MD-centric or potentially sexist of Orac to not initially mention co-author Margulis when commenting on “The Vaccine-Friendly Plan”. After all, the book is billed as Dr. Thomas’ plan and it’s his voice heard throughout its pages. I don’t recall anything specifically from Margulis (maybe she was mostly there to organize and clean up the prose).

Thomas’ clan of supporters have made much of his supposed “research” proving his less/un-vaccinated patients are healthier. Not that a rigorous study is likely, but has he published anything at all?

Given how Thomas blathers away on his youtube channel like the former Sham-wow pitchman, someone had reign in his mania.

Thomas has yet to publish anything about his claim that he’s eradicated autism in his practice through his vaccine “plan”. Very much like the last anti-vax quack doctor who made those claims–Mayer Eisenstein .

As Dangerous Bacon said, typical that antivaccinationists contradict themselves by mentioning how FDA’s Dr. Frances Kelsey prevented approval of thalidomide in US. However, they still often get the story wrong. It was NEVER scientifically studied. The book by The Insight Team of the Sunday Times of London “Suffer The Children: The Story of Thalidomide” tells how a company in Germany decided to get into the pharmaceutical business, found recipe for thalidomide developed by Nazi researchers and marketed to pregnant women. Almost immediately reports came in about adverse events, not phocomelia (disfigured, missing limbs like seals, infants); but to the women taking it. The company literally bribed and threatened doctors to NOT report. Unfortunately, though not approved in US, samples were given to lots of doctors who gave to their patients. In one case, a well-known radio talk show host from Arizona when news of phocomelia came out tried to get an abortion in this country and couldn’t, so she flew to Stockholm. I own the book; but it was quite some time ago I read it and am too lazy to look up name of German company or radio talkshow host. Netflix currently has a documentary on the Sunday Times investigation entitled: “Attacking the Devil: Harold Evans and the Last Nazi War Crime.” Quite good; but book much better. Used copies probably available on Amazon marketplace. The company was brought up on criminal charges in Germany; but found not guilty. So, what else is new?

However, outcome of thalidomide was strengthening of FDA’s mandate and resources. The point is that antivaccinationists when talking about thalidomide use as example of scientist not getting it right when it wasn’t scientifically studied and FDA getting it right, which is true and as Dangerous Bacon made clear, contradicts their view of FDA.

It was tested in animals; but turns out that had NO effect on some species and devastating effects on others.

I found one website where Jennifer Margulis has PhD in English, another PhD in Literature, actually probably same thing. In any case, it means she can compose well-written gibberish!

According to RationalWiki: “She happens to be the daughter of biologist Lynn Margulis, who was Carl Sagan’s first wife, proposed endosymbiotic theory… and was an HIV denialist and 9/11 truther. Guess it runs in the family.”

It was her endosymbiotic theory that fascinated me as a biology major. Even then (early 80’s) she had clearly taken a damn good theory and pretty well run it into the ground trying to explain any and every cellular organelle as a remnant of an endosymbiont. I did not keep up with her descent into quackery, so this all comes as a bit of a disappointment to me.

“I see daily in my practice evidence of vaccine injury and I hear stories almost every day of families that vaccinate children and then decide not to vaccinate and the unvaccinated children within the same family are healthier, more socially adjusted and more capable academically”

That’s not even confirmation bias; that’s selection bias. Parents with ill children are vulnerable to a story about a cartoon villain, and parents that had a second child who was no healthier than the older sibling (hopefully) come to realize that it had nothing to do with the vaccines after all and get out of the whole slime pit and get their kids vaccinated.

Relevant to the study suggesting that social media commentary on vaccines is more science-y sounding when coming from antivaxers:

A pediatrician’s office in K.C. responded to a local measles outbreak by posting in support of vaccination on their Facebook page. In response (according to the following story) they were bombarded by antivax rhetoric.

https://www.kshb.com/news/local-news/local-pediatric-offices-post-on-measles-vaccine-sparks-backlash

Oddly, when you go to the peds’ Facebook page, their posting is followed up almost entirely by pro-vaccine comments, which makes me think they scrubbed the antivax stuff off their page.

Too bad – I would’ve liked to compare the pro and anti views for “analytic thought” processes.

Given how frequently negative feedback gets deleted from Facebook pages (more commonly by woonatics), it must be hard to definitively analyze the differential application of critical thinking among evidence-based and looniness-based posters.

Oh Dangerous One:

There is a way to do this: merely compare commentary from places like AoA, TMR, or scoffers at RI.

Of course this isn’t scientific or controlled BUT I have found that it does give me insight in how their minds work ( to a degree, since they don’t work very much).
One of the most common tropes is to rely upon personal experience only ; ” I saw it happen”. Secondly, they don’t discount their own bias or find ways to circumvent it , e.g. use of measurements/ other observers. ” I gave him a GFCF diet and he got better”.
They display a bias against governmental or institutional sources which illustrates their instruction by their own “experts”

These problems show a lack of adult abilities in executive functioning: they don’t evaluate their own or others’ abilities and they don’t use checks and balance against probable errors.
Adults should be able to differentiate when another’s message is fraught with conflicts of interests/ including their own. ” Dr Jane says that B vitamins help kids to focus: she sells great products”

Actually pretty far off topic. The Bear of Very Little Brain clearly just wanted to join in the discussion, but having nothing relevant to say, is trying to twist things around so he can ride his hobby horse.
Not far off topic, I wonder how Maurice Jones-Drew would feel if he read what nonsense goes out under his initials.

Old Rockin’ Dave writes,

…just wanted to join in the discussion, but having nothing relevant to say…

MJD says,

New CDC data on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs):

ASDs are 1 in 59 in 2006 in 2014.

In simplification, ASDs =1 in (x) in (y) in (z).

Q. What happens to ASDs when (x), (y), and (z) increase.

A. The incidence and prevalence of ASDs decrease.

An increase in (x), in the future, will be a reflection of VACCINE CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENTS.

Old Rockin’ Dave:

Agreed: Hobby horse is correct.

MJD can’t get it through his thick head that the increases in the rates of ASDs might be because of changes in how it is defined, identified and tracked. Even AoA ( yesterday) had something that mentioned the DSMs.
EVEN AoA – with Ann Dachel there yet!.

If you call conditions something else, monitor them or define them in different ways, you’ll get different results. If you call some ID not ASD, then change it; if governments supply schools with the means and personnel to identify and educate kids with special needs, there will be different results.

Despite all of the anti-vaxxers’ yakking, researchers in the UK found the number of adults with ASDs similar to that of present day children there. But the rates looked different when those adults were children.

The more you look, the more you’ll find.

There is a paper about autism amongst children suffering congenital rubella:
Chess S. J Autism Dev Disord (1971) 1: 33, https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01537741.
Rate is 4%, and more,if partial cases are included.
Rubella cannot be cause of autism, but it could explain some cases. This would in turn explain, why MMR reduces rates.
Btw, is congenital rubella one of things Margulis wants her children have ?

Denice Walter says,

MJD can’t get it through his thick head that the increases in the rates of ASDs might be because of changes in how it is defined, identified and tracked.

MJD says,

I sympathize that the increase in the rates of ASDs may be, in part, because of changes in how it is defined, identified and tracked.

Most important, I admire the continuous efforts of vaccine manufacturers to try and understand their safety and efficacy.

You all are aware that people who have had children who have been vaccine damaged may read your commentary and articles?

I see the venom you spew as, well, suspicious at worst, concerning at best..

I was pro vax as they come. Got lots of them happily going into nursing…

One of my dogs even had a reaction that the vet said was her vaccine and we spaced them out but I was and am still pro vaccine.

I am still pro vaccine.. just not for my children anymore. Not after it almost killed my firstborn.

If you keep spewing what you are spewing tho, you are doing nothing to protect my kid. You are endangering him with your rhetoric. Just state facts and be kind and listen. If someone says my kid was ok and then they weren’t ….. why argue with this? It’s a small percent that opt out entirely for ideology and it’ll just keep growing if you won’t at least somewhat acknowledge that MAYBE the doctors are underreporting genuine reactions bc they are afraid of causing a fervor. …. come on….. you KNOW they are !

Why argue with Margulis ? She posts valid statistics .. and anti vax? These people recommend vaccinating .. ok not on schedule, but they recommend vaccinating. Calling them anti for raising safety concerns says to me one thing… you are bought and can’t be trusted. At least, you must be. The alternative is that you are a zealot and you don’t see how your fervor is doing more harm than good…

“I am still pro vaccine.. just not for my children anymore. Not after it almost killed my firstborn.”

How did your claim go with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?

If someone says my kid was ok and then they weren’t ….. why argue with this?

Because all too often when we dig into claims of vaccine injury, things stop adding up. Timelines don’t make sense. The causation hypotheses are implausible. There are mismatches between the medical histories and the “injuries”.

One of my dogs even had a reaction that the vet said was her vaccine

What was the vaccine? What was the reaction?

Why argue with Margulis ? She posts valid statistics

Post the “valid statistics” Margulis has posted.

Calling them anti for raising safety concerns…

Margulis and the other antivaxxers are NOT raising valid concerns. Their “concerns” have been addressed over and over again, and each time they ignore the responses, or shift the goalposts.

I certainly hope people who have children who have been “vaccine damaged” read here. They might actually learn something useful so they aren’t tempted to waste their time and piles of their money, chasing horseshit peddlers and snake oil sellers. Their “damaged” children might be much better off. I realize that makes no sense to a pro-disease person, but it does to those of us who have lived through VPDs and seen others who did not live through them, or did, but were in fact, damaged by the disease.

Please explain!
Or maybe this is… PEER REVIEWED SCIENTIFIC Studies from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health that link Autism to Vaccines-

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3364648/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3878266/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21623535

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25377033

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24995277

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12145534

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21058170

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22099159

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3364648/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17454560

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19106436

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3774468/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3697751/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21299355

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21907498

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11339848

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17674242

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21993250

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15780490

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12933322

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16870260

http://link.springer.com/ref…/10.1007%2F978-1-4614-4788-7_89

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19043938

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12142947

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24675092

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25198681

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21623535

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3878266/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21623535
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25377033
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24995277
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12145534
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21058170
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22099159
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3364648/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17454560
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19106436
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3774468/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3697751/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21299355
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21907498
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11339848
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17674242
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21993250
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15780490
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12933322
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16870260
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19043938
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12142947
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24675092
Home – PubMed – NCBI

What is regressive autism and why does it occur? Is it the consequence of multi-systemic dysfunction affecting the elimination of heavy metals and the ability to regulate neural temperature?
There is a compelling argument that the occurrence of regressive autism is attributable to genetic and chromosomal abnormalities, arising from the overuse of vaccines, which subsequently affects the stability and function of the autonomic nervous system …
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Heheh. A study dump. I wonder how many of those studies don’t actually link vaccines to autism versus the number that were published by antivax pseudoscientists like the Geiers or Chris Shaw. Whatever the ratio, I’m sure my readers will have some fun with your last. After all, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen your tactic before. 🤦‍♂️

To kick things off, I had a look at some of your links.
Link 1: What is regressive autism and why does it occur? Is it the consequence of multi-systemic dysfunction affecting the elimination of heavy metals and the ability to regulate neural temperature?
The title poses a bunch of questions, a technique known as JAQing Off. I then did a search for question marks in the paper. There were numerous leading and loaded questions. There was no Conclusion section. Finally, there was a Statement of Interest:

Graham and Elena Ewing (Dr) are Directors of Montague Healthcare a company devoted to the commercialisation of Virtual Scanning and hence to the diagnostic and therapeutic use of Virtual Scanning.

In other words, the author is a quack selling a diagnostic test.
Verdict: UNCONVINCING

Link 2: A two-phase study evaluating the relationship between Thimerosal-containing vaccine administration and the risk for an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis in the United States
Authors include Brian Hooker, and David Geier and his son Mark. The two Geiers are quacks who sold a combination of chemical castration and chelation as a therapy to treat autism. Mark is in trouble for practicing medicine without a license and David has had his Licenses to practice medicine suspended in several states.
Verdict: UNCONVINCING

Link 3: A positive association found between autism prevalence and childhood vaccination uptake across the U.S. population.
Author is Gayle Delong. That’s a red flag right there. Only the abstract was visible, and the article was published in the Journal of toxicological and environmental health. Another red flag.
Verdict: UNCONVINCING

Link 4: Commentary–Controversies surrounding mercury in vaccines: autism denial as impediment to universal immunisation.
From the abstract:

One of the authors, William Thompson, has now revealed that statistically significant information was deliberately omitted from the paper. Thompson first told Dr S Hooker, a researcher on autism, about the manipulation of the data. Hooker analysed the raw data from the CDC study afresh. He confirmed that the risk of autism among African American children vaccinated before the age of 2 years was 340% that of those vaccinated later.

This is a mix of lies and half truths. Orac covered this several years ago. Calling this comment a misrepresentation would be kind.
Would the other shills and minions please be so kind as to tackle the rest of the link dump? I couldn’t be arsed refuting them.

In other words, the author is a quack selling a diagnostic test.

The sentences from the end of Lynn’s list are also copy-pasted from Ewing’s paid advertisement. In fact “Lynn” is just regurging one of those lists of links that circulates around Faceborg among the lazy antivax eedjits who pride themselves on Doing Their Own Research. E.g.
https://www.facebook.com/VaccinesRevealed/posts/769484673257067

Would the other shills and minions please be so kind as to tackle the rest of the link dump? I couldn’t be arsed refuting them.

Lynn hasn’t actually read any of them; why should anyone else?

Mice! Rats! (which are not humans)

My comment is not properly threaded, and it’s in moderation.

I sincerely doubt Lynn has clicked on any of those copy pasta links. Especially since the last one is the entire index.

@ Lynn:

Not very honest to give the same URLs twice. All the single-spaced URLs are duplicates of those above.

Several are to journal Medical Hypotheses, not a research journal, not subscribed to by most institutions of higher learning, just opinion pieces. I have an amusing book that goes through 100 articles published in Medical Hypotheses. I think the title says it all: Roger Dobson, “Death Can Be Cured And 99 Other Medical Hypotheses”. And, of course, several of your URLs that go to Medical Hypotheses are for articles by Safe Minds, which I interpret as Minds Safely Locked Away!

And, as Orac points out, several articles by Geier, Hooker, and others who have been discredited, not because they are antivax; but simply because their methodologies wouldn’t get a passing grade in any credible college course in research methods.

A couple of questions? Did you actually read each and every article? Or did you just cut and paste from some website?

In any case, I downloaded the pdfs where available and the ABSTRACTS to add to my collection, probably in folder I will create for them entitled “Loonie Toons”.

By the way, I read the pdfs and ABSTRACTS and, just for fun, will try to get the articles if possible.

ooooh oooh oooh! The first random one I clicked on mice… about thimerosal. Well that is almost two decades out of date:

Subject: Thimerosal DTaP Needed
From: Sally Bernard
Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2001 00:01:50 -0400
Yahoo! Message Number: 27456
Onibasu Link: http://onibasu.com/archives/am/27456.html

Hi all:

A group of university-based researchers needs several vials of the older DTaP vaccine formulations which contained thimerosal for a legitimate research study. If anyone knows an MD who might have some of these vaccines or knows where to get them, please email me privately.

Thank you.

Sallie Bernard
Executive Director
Safe Minds

Found the Geier’s… several in fact. There is Shaw! And Hooker! Plus unqualified dudes like Blaxill and Ewing. A random commentary (which is not peer reviewed!). There is even one from Medical Hypothesis… please get a dictionary to learn by its journal name why it is not peer reviewed.

Oh, I loved this: “There is a compelling argument that the occurrence of regressive autism is attributable to genetic and chromosomal abnormalities, arising from the overuse of vaccines, ….”

Followed by link to the entire PubMed index!

Well, my dear Lynn, there is extensive research on the genetics and autism. Though it is in early days, and has nothing to do with vaccines. Here are some articles to get you started:
https://sparkforautism.org/discover/

I clicked on a study at random and it was Shaw and Tomljenovic questioning Al – enough said. Orac has covered them many times ( see search box)- they’re funded by a crank org that supplies money for anti-vax “research”.

“…anti vax? These people recommend vaccinating .. ok not on schedule, but they recommend vaccinating.”

Actually, “The Vaccine-Friendly Plan” recommends avoiding 8 out of 13 vaccines on the CDC/AAP schedule. Not delay, avoid. And the book raises so much alarmism about “toxins”* and other antivax claims in general, that parents are likely to disregard recommendations to have their kids given the few vaccines acknowledged to be useful.

Pediatricians like Paul Thomas, Jay Gordon and Bob Sears like to posture as reasonable middle-of-the-roaders. The rational conclusion from their writing and interviews is that they’re heavily antivax but find it profitable to sell themselves as alternatives to the “extremists on both sides”.

Quite simply, they’re phonies.

*One chapter in the Thomas/Margulies book is titled “Toxins, Toxins, Toxins”.

Hi Bacon–

I was here commenting on the Burzynski post. Mentioning the “Prescriber’s Letter” going south. Thanks for the mention above. No, I’m not a phony. Just someone who disagrees with you.

Be well, Dangerous Bacon. Orac has my email address if you ever want to correspond. I hardly ever get to RI these days.

Jay

Orac has my email address if you ever want to correspond. I hardly ever get to RI these days.

There must be a Pokémon retort lurking here somewhere, but I haven’t had any coffee.

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