Categories
Antivaccine nonsense Autism Bad science Medicine Popular culture Pseudoscience Quackery

The Dunning-Kruger effect, antivaxers, and the arrogance of ignorance

Thanks to the Dunning-Kruger effect, many antivaxers think they know more about vaccines than doctors, scientists, and other experts in infectious disease, immunology, and vaccines. It is this arrogance of ignorance that fuels their antivaccine activism and makes them resistant to disconfirming evidence.

There’s a famous saying by Alexander Pope from 300 years ago that applies to antivaccination activists. It’s commonly truncated to: “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” However, I don’t like that short version of the quote, because it implies that learning is a dangerous thing. The full quote gives a much better idea: “A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.” The basic idea is that a superficial knowledge (“a little learning” of a subject can be dangerously intoxicating. We think we know more than we really do and as a result are far more confident in our knowledge and abilities than we have a right to be. “Drinking deep” of knowledge “sobers us up” by forcing us to acknowledge the limits of our knowledge and abilities. In essence, even though we know a lot, we appreciate how little we know. In modern times, we have a term for this phenomenon, namely the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Basically, the Dunning-Kruger effect is named after (who else?) the social psychologists who first proposed it, David Dunning and Justin Kruger, and describes a form of cognitive bias in which people with low knowledge of a topic and/or ability in at a task develop illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their knowledge and ability as greater than it actually is. Basically, people who know a little about a topic often think they know a lot more about it than they, in fact, do, and people who are knowledgeable or even expert in a topic tend to underestimate their knowledge and abilities. Before I had ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect, I had already started using a term that sort of describes the effect, but not quite. Specifically, I’m referring to the “arrogance of ignorance,” particularly with respect to the antivaccine movement and people such as the “Thinking Moms’ Revolution.” Then, after I discovered the term “Dunning-Kruger effect,” I started using it to describe antivaxers. Basically, in the antivaccine movement, the Dunning-Kruger effect tend to take the form of parents who think that their University of Google knowledge trumps the knowledge of physicians and scientists who have dedicated large swaths of their lives to the rigorous study of conditions such as autism and the question of how vaccines work. But is the Dunning-Kruger effect really associated with antivaccine views?

Last week, I learned of a new study that sought to examine that very question. The study, by Matthew Motta of the University (Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center), Timothy Callaghan (Department of Health Policy and Management, Texas A&M University), and Steven Sylvester (History & Political Science Department, Utah Valley University) is hot off the presses in Social Science & Medicine and entitled Knowing less but presuming more: Dunning-Kruger effects and the endorsement of anti-vaccine policy attitudes. The basic idea is that the safety, efficacy, and benefits of vaccines are widely recognized by medical experts but public opinion towards vaccine policy is becoming less supportive. Their hypothesis is rather interesting. The authors refer to it as their Overconfidence Thesis:

Pursuant with the discussion above, we break down the Overconfidence Thesis into two sets of testable hypotheses. Hypothesis 1 suggests that individuals low in autism awareness – that is, low in autism knowledge (Hypothesis 1A), and high in autism misinformation endorsement (Hypothesis 1B) – should be more likely to express over-confidence in their own knowledge about autism, relative to medical experts. This hypothesis represents our attempt to integrate Dunning-Kruger effects into the study of citizens’ attitudes about vaccines and autism, as well as to provide an empirical test of Camarago and Grant’s theorizing on the subject.

As a result of Hypothesis 1:

We also suspect that overconfidence has important policy consequences. People who believe that medical professionals know less than they do about autism should exhibit more reservations toward mandatory childhood vaccinations against MMR – an expert endorsed policy (Hypothesis 2a) – and the role that experts play in the vaccination policymaking process more generally (Hypothesis 2b). Although there are many paths by which experts can influence the policymaking process, we focus on two here; their indirect role in informing the public and policymakers about technical issues, and their direct influence in constructing public policy. We refer to negative attitudes toward these roles as “expert discounting.”

To test these hypotheses, the authors used an online survey in December 2017 via Survey Sampling International. The survey asked respondents to answer questions on several topics relevant to health policy and current events, including the safety of genetically modified food, attitudes about plans to combat prescription opioid abuse, and climate change. The company invited 1,529 adults to take part in the study, and the survey had an 85% completion rate, for a total of 1,310 participants. Data were weighted to reflect population benchmarks on gender, race, income, and education, and autism awareness was estimated using two sets of questions: knowledge about autism and misinformation about the link between vaccines and autism. First, knowledge about autism was assessed using a ten question true/false test developed by the National Alliance for Autism Research. Next, they assessed autism misinformation based on responses to a survey asking, “Can vaccines administered to children at young ages cause them to become autistic?” Responses were given on a four-point scale, coded to range from “They definitely can” to “They definitely cannot.”

The next part of the survey examined overconfidence. The first item in this section asked whether the respondents think they know more or less than “medical doctors” about the causes of autism. A second item did the same for “scientists.” Response options were numerically coded to range from “I know a lot less” to “I know a lot more” on a six-point scale and averaged together for the two groups. Then, antivax policy attitudes were assessed based on the extent to which respondents agreed or disagreed (using a standard five-point Likert scale) with the following statement: “Parents should be able to decide NOT to vaccinate their children against measles, mumps, and rubella.” This part of the survey, combined with the part before it, provides an estimate of the Dunning-Kruger effect in this population, and this provides a basis for the next part of the study, whether the Dunning-Kruger effect impacts views towards vaccine policy and who should make it.

After that, expert discounting was examined using two different sets of measures. First, authors asked respondents how much they trust several different groups to provide them with “information about vaccinations.” Responses were given on a four-point numeric scale ranging from “Not at all” to “A great deal.” Trust in “medical experts” combines responses to two items (“The Centers for Disease Control” and “your personal doctor”), while “non-experts” combines response to two other prompts (“Friends/Family” and “Celebrities”). Finally, respondents were asked to state what role (if any) various groups should have in “making decisions about policy issues related to the vaccination of children under the age of 16.” Responses were given on a three-point numberic scale ranging from “no role at all” to “a major role” for two groups: “medical scientists” and “the general public.” As you would expect, the authors also tried to control for relevant potential confounders. These included political ideology; religious service attendance; gender; educational attainment; race; total yearly household income; and age.

Depressingly, the first result shows that there are a lot of people out there who think they know more than scientists and doctors about autism:

When we decomposed the overconfidence measure into its two constituent parts (described in the methods section), we found that more than a third of our sample believed that they knew as much as or more than medical doctors (36%) and scientists (34%) about the causes of autism. The idea that a substantial number of U.S. adults think that they know more than medical experts about the causes of autism is well-reflected in our sample. The statistics further suggest that many respondents trust information from experts and think that they should play a major role in the policymaking process (Table 1). However, many also place high levels of trust on information from non-experts (42%) and feel that non-experts should play a major policymaking role (38%). We also noted that while our sample was moderately well informed about the causes of autism, misinformation endorsement was also fairly high.

The authors also found that both knowledge and misinformation were correlated with increased confidence in one’s own knowledge relative to experts. Using a conservative estimate, moving from low to high levels of autism knowledge was associated with a 39% decrease in overconfidence, while moving from low to high levels of misinformation endorsement was associated with a 17% in overconfidence. (Only 17%, I ask? That seems low.) Basically, people lowest in autism knowledge, on average, viewed themselves as somewhat better informed than experts, a number that dropped precipitously as knowledge about autism increases. Other interesting findings related to this part of the study were that religiosity was associated with increased overconfidence. The authors note that this finding is consistent with previous studies showing that more religious people are more likely to hold anti-expert attitudes. Oddly enough, the authors also found that wealthier and older individuals were less likely to exhibit overconfidence in their models. This latter result surprised me a bit, because it seems to go against my anecdotal experience.

Another interesting finding is that overconfidence didn’t seem to affect attitudes towards the role that experts play in formulating vaccine policy, with no statistically significant effects of overconfidence on support for the role that experts play in vaccine policymaking. I wouldn’t have guessed that. I would, however, have guessed this result:

However, we did find positive and statistically significant effects of overconfidence on support for the role that non-experts play in constructing public policy about vaccines in both the knowledge and misinformation models. In the former, moving from the minimum to maximum observed values of overconfidence translates to an 18% increase in the likelihood of respondents thinking that non-experts should play a “major role” in policy-making decisions about vaccination; from 32% at low levels of overconfidence to 50% at high levels. We found a similar pattern of effects in the misinformation model, with overconfidence shifting support from 31% to 53%.

And:

We uncovered a strikingly similar pattern in our final set of analyses, focused on who citizens trusted to provide them with information about vaccines. We tested this aspect of Hypothesis 2b in Columns 7–10. Again, we found no significant effects of overconfidence on trust in information provided by medical professionals (in fact, the parameter estimates were nearly zero in both cases). However, overconfidence was associated with large increases in trust in non-experts. In the knowledge model, overconfidence boosted trust by 21%, from a predicted trust level of 36% at low levels of overconfidence to 57% at high levels of overconfidence. We found an even stronger pattern of results in the misinformation model, with overconfidence associated with a 26% increase in trust (from 35% to 61%, respectively). Again, both models reveal strong evidence of partial mediation.

Thinking about this more, I’m starting to see the sense of it. If this study reflects what is really going on, overconfidence in one’s own knowledge engendered by the Dunning-Kruger effect doesn’t necessarily have to mean that one discounts the expertise of real experts. It just means that one now considers oneself as knowledgeable (or nearly as knowledgeable) as an expert and thereby provides the confidence (or, as I like to call it, the arrogance or overconfidence) to contradict what experts say about the science showing no correlation between vaccines and autism. It also makes sense that such a willingness to challenge experts, even if the person doing the challenging doesn’t know what he’s talking about, would correlate with more trust in the knowledge of non-experts.

Of course, as with all studies of this type, this study has significant weaknesses. For one thing, it’s a single cross-sectional study. That means its one measure at one point in time of one population. It could be a fluke. More importantly, it doesn’t really shed much light on the origins of the misinformation about autism that leads to antivaccine views.

But what does this all mean? First, I was surprised when the authors pointed out that their analysis is the first to find evidence that people’s lack of awareness of what they don’t know about autism (i.e., the Dunning-Kruger effect) and their acceptance of misinformation regarding vaccines and autism can “alter how citizens’ view their own knowledge, compared to that of medical experts.” That seems like such a potentially obvious conclusion that I’m surprised there isn’t more evidence for it.The authors also note that their results “indicate that overconfident individuals in our sample are less supportive of mandatory vaccination policy and tend to elevate the role that non-experts should play in the policymaking process.” That’s a conclusion that I had made myself based on anecdotal experience dealing with antivaxers, but it’s nice to see some evidence in favor of it.

Finally, in an op-ed, the authors note that their results point to an “uphill battle” being faced by the scientific community. (Tell me something I didn’t already know!) They note that, even though the “mountain of evidence” exist supporting the safety and efficacy of vaccines, many Americans think they know more than the experts trying to correct the misinformation. Unfortunately, these attitudes seem to be prevalent about more than just vaccines and autism. Trust in nonexperts and distrust of experts seems to be a feature of the age we are living in, fed by the ease with which everyone can be an expert on social media and the proliferation of “fake news.” Countering the assaults on science and reason resulting from humans in the thrall of the Dunning-Kruger effect is the central challenge of this age.

Bertrand Russell on the Dunning-Kruger effect

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]

116 replies on “The Dunning-Kruger effect, antivaxers, and the arrogance of ignorance”

Trust in nonexperts and distrust of experts seems to be a feature of the age we are living in, fed by the ease with which everyone can be an expert on social media and the proliferation of “fake news.”

As Isaac Asimov once wrote:

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge”

Disdain for expertise has always been a toxic influence holding human civilization back, but it seems especially popular and widespread in the U.S. Perhaps the obsession with individualism is involved?

I don’t know if anyone has studied this seriously, but it seems likely that respect for expertise has greatly lessened as a result of ‘experts’ telling Canadians and Americans that signing trade deals with dictatorships a) would induce those countries to go democratic and b) that everyone in Canada and USA would get better, higher-paying jobs. Those ‘expert’ economists are still making excuses.

And of course, the anti vax crowd are dismissing this study as nonsense because vaccines DO cause autism – they know that, and the experts don’t. Oh, the irony.

I suspect it has always been this way. For anti-vaxxers, the only way they can continue to deal with the world is to believe they know more than the experts. Dunning-Kruger is an essential part of true anti-vaccine thinking.

Re. effect of age, a few potentially testable guesses:

The older you get, the greater the number of people you encounter, who you acknowledge are smarter than yourself and/or more-knowledgeable and/or more-expert than yourself in whatever field. Over time, this sums to the conclusion (felt as well as thought) that your own expertise is limited in various ways (such as, limited to your own field of work, etc.).
This is already widely discussed: The current crop of older people have more direct experience with life before vaccines, when measles and suchlike were rampant and widely feared.
As well, the current crop of older people have more direct experience with the period in the 20th century when scientific focus on “the mysteries of the mind” (such as psychiatric illnesses, notably schizophrenia) was widely publicized. Thus they are more likely to have picked up those cultural memes, and regard psychiatry and its allied fields as areas of expertise that are grappling with truly difficult subjects.

Re. effect of religion:

Very often, spokespeople for science-based thinking take a visibly dim view of religion, that is likely to be highly off-putting to religious people. This creates something of a backlash. Speaking of Dunning-Kreuger and objectivity, scientists (who are not theologians or otherwise experts on religion) should be careful to not conflate their personal views with their areas of expertise, particularly when doing so will have negative impacts on public acceptance of scientific findings.
Much depends on which religion someone is engaged with, and the teachings of one’s local clergy. In the well-known example of anti-vax conspiracy beliefs and resulting measles outbreak among Somali immigrants in (if I recall correctly) Michigan, public health scientists provided high-quality information to local Muslim clerics, that convinced them of the facts of the matter, and they in turn convinced their congregations of the need to vaccinate their kids. On the other hand, denominations and congregations that are self-consciously identified with polarized political positions that include anti-science beliefs, are virtually impossible to reach by anyone they think of as not part of their reality or their tribe.

Knowledge vs. understanding:

“Knowledge” is public, objective, testable, and transferrable to others. It exists “out there” in the world.

“Understanding” is the purely subjective emotional state (“Aha! now I understand!”) that occurs when a set of perceived facts and relationships satisfies one’s internal consistency-checking mechanisms.

Very often humans conflate the two. The feeling of understanding is a response to exposure to knowledge, but for humans whose consistency-checking is substantially flawed, and whose starting knowledge is very limited, “understanding” can and does occur upon encountering even a scant and sketchy set of “facts and relationships.” The bar is already low, and satisfying it does not take much effort. This is a self-reinforcing problem in many ways, the D/K effect being one visible sign.

Rats!, paragraph breaks went missing in the first two sections. “This is already widely discussed” refers to the sentence following, not the paragraph preceding. “As well..” also begins a new paragraph. As does “Much depends on which religion…” Grr, grr, edit, grr, grr.

“Very often, spokespeople for science-based thinking take a visibly dim view of religion, that is likely to be highly off-putting to religious people. This creates something of a backlash.”

This is frequently asserted, but I never see any actual evidence for it. It’s plausible, but I’d like to see some evidence.

“…there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance?” – Roman Hruska

I can’t access the full study, so I’m unsure of my thinking here, but there may be another reason then Dunning-Kruger for people to claim more knowledge then “doctors and scientists”. Many people know more about autism and its causes then most scientists who are specialists in non-autism related studies. The physicist telling biologists how to beat cancer comes to mind. I also had more base-line knowledge then my family doctor had. He had never been asked about autism in his 30 year career, and had to hit the books to answer some of my questions regarding risks of autism within a family with a history, and older parents.

So if the participants are being pedantic about what they are reading and the questionnaire did not specify the doctors and scientists being referenced were working on autism related works, you could easily get false positives. I’m assuming that Motta, Calaghan and Sylvester did specify their experts specialties in the study, but assuming is never a good thing.

I agree that this is a potential confounding factor. But it cuts both ways. Celebrities are experts, too, even if the thing they are expert at is merely “how to stay in the public eye” (e.g., the Kardashians). Their expertise doesn’t transfer to other areas any better than that of a physicist, or a doctor whose field of practice does not require them to stay abreast of developments in the areas of vaccines or autism research. But too many Americans will put their faith in celebrities anyway–that’s why celebrity endorsements of commercial products are a thing. It’s also why Robert Young, the actor who played the title role in Marcus Welby, MD, always reminded people that he was not a doctor, he only played one on TV. At least Young had access to actual experts who made sure that Dr. Welby’s TV recommendations were consistent with best medical practice at the time.

Exactly.
I have an issue with this type of questions. In general, my knowledge of medicine is worse than that of a M. D. However, I had an asshole GP who thought that every of my complaints was “in my mind” or “the nerves”, or, sometimes, due to me being overweight, these diagnoses being used randomly. The result once was walking around with pneumonia for months, so me versus this person, erm, well, certainly I had better knowledge of what was wrong with me (n=1, sure) than her.
I used to work as an editor so I would state the question differently. Probably; I am vaguely aware that the language of polls and questionnaires is somewhat specific and there might be reasons that elude me.

Also, in my native tongue, “science” would mean not only natural sciences, as it is mostly perceived in English, but also humanities. Indology, sociology or archival studies are thus sciences too – and well, in that case, I cannot be smarter than a scientist as that would mean that I would be smarter than myself.

But I think that working or more often messing with language makes me think in a bit odd way.

Downplaying the intellectual abilities of caring non-experts, having unorthodox views, only leads to mistrust.

Replacing the Dunning-Kruger hypothesis with a financial incentive (i.e., donation) may lead to trust and cooperation.

For example, eliminate Federal tax form political-contributions and add a National Vaccine Compensation Injury Program (NVCIP) contribution.

An NVCIP contribution on the Federal tax form would allow vaxxers and anti-vaxxers to work together, assisting individuals injured through vaccination.

“An NVCIP contribution on the Federal tax form would allow anti-vaxxers to scam more effectively, picking the pockets of Americans through anti-vaccination nuttery.”

FTFY

“An NVCIP contribution on the Federal tax form would allow vaxxers and anti-vaxxers to work together, assisting individuals injured through vaccination.”
How about a charitable deduction to help the logic- and sense-challenged? I’d go for that. If it didn’t get you off here altogether, maybe it would help you make sense now and again,

I found it kinda funny that MJD got the name of the NVICP wrong, but then maybe “compensation injury program” was a Freudian thing… as in “antivaxers misrepresent the compensation in their efforts to discourage vaccination, thus leading to injury.”

I think this comment in pretty much exactly in line with the results from the study. Especially the part where MDJ would like to ditch the science in favor of not hurting people’s feelings.

There was no discussion of “the intellectual abilities of caring non-experts” either in the OP or in the excepts given. Learn to read.

The link between increased knowledge and decreased overconfidence is interesting, and can also highlight a problem we have all seen in science communication where people with less expertise can be more confident and less cautious, which might make them, ironically, sound more authoritative to laypersons.

I also appreciated the point made in the comments here that knowledge actually has to be on point. Being very knowledgeable and educated in X doesn’t justify being overconfident in Y.

I do see parents who refuse vaccine for their children who are self-proclaimed “experts” on vaccines. They are this study. They have a degree from Google. There is no debating them. They could lose a child to meningitis and they still wouldn’t vaccinate.

But I see a lot of parents who have been scared out of vaccinating by experts (aka quack physicians who continue to retain their licenses and have published best selling books and have large social media presences) who deliberately spread lies about vaccines using their medical position in society. This is not Dunning-Kruger. This is medical incompetence and harm to the public by physicians that state medical boards and other groups with the power to sanction refuse to act upon.

We’ll never get everyone to vaccinate, but if we could pull back even just a few percent of those scared into not vaccinating by legally taking down anti-vax docs, it could bring us back from this brink of VPD outbreaks that awaits us now.

Can you cite some science showing that it is safe to inject infants with 4000mcg Al adjuvant in the first year or so if life?

Can you cite some science showing that it is safe to inject infants with 4000mcg Al adjuvant in the first year or so if [sic] life?

Interesting maths. You have to try really hard to achieve 4000mcg of aluminium in the first year; one can do so by following Dr. Bob Sears stupid schedule. Or, in reality infants receive half that with combination vaccines. Next, aluminium adjuvants have been in use for several decades with no harms shown so the question is, can you cite some science showing that it is unsafe to inject infants with 2000-4000 mcg Al in adjuvant in the first year of life?

Can you cite some science showing that it’s safe to allow children to go unvaccinated and contract illnesses like measles, polio and diptheria?

“Parents should be able to decide NOT to vaccinate their children against measles, mumps, and rubella.”

Even I agree with that. I’d have to see the whole survey to see whether it would have been somehow addressed as a confounder.

It’s one thing for parents to take such a risk with their child. It’s quite another for them to take that risk with other people’s children. Which is why vaccination requirements for schools are generally a good thing, and why the only exceptions to the rule should be children who for medical reasons cannot or should not be vaccinated.

As with most surveys, a lot depends on the exact wording of the question.

I’ve been interested in exactly who falls victim to D-K in this regard – what makes a person vulnerable?

As you may know, as kids become adolescents, they develop a whole set of new abilities – using abstractions, self-evaluation, evaluating others, self-management of emotions etc. these skills are collectively called executive functioning. At this time, secondary schools may add more SB material and higher levels of mathematics as well as foreign languages**

I would guess that D-K is a massive malfunctioning of one part of these skills. A child learns to self-evaluate their own performance through self-observation over years. Even primary school kids can tailor their messages to different audiences
( adults vs younger kids) so they are able to observe differences in skill in other people. They can tell if they themselves are making progress in new skills to a degree.

So what goes wrong? (There studies that suggest that certain personality/ cognitive styles are implicated for anti-vaxxers. I won’t go into that here, let’s leave their to their therapists- whom they probably won’t consult)

I observe that with the rise of the internet ( 1990s) and social media (2000s), once obscure woo-tossers can now easily get international exposure which is entangled with a change in the definition of ASDs ( mid 1990s) and a particular study ( 1998.)

More….

** of course, these can be done earlier

A woo-meister calls it the cult of the professional, that is, when a person trusts an actual expert. **

For years, the people I survey ( you know the list) have been preaching this gospel:
“YOU know better than doctors.
YOU can be a scientist by consulting google/ woo books, lectures.
PARENTS know their child better than researchers.
WE are the real experts
Soon the whole corrupt superstructure of SBM and MSM will come crashing down”

Vulnerable people take this to heart. In addition, some of them, are battling low self-esteem. This is manipulated as well by altie propaganda:
“The experts have NO right to tell YOU what to believe. You’re better than they are: they’re corrupt and evil”.
So we have “science experts” like Theresa Conrick at AoA and the Prof at TMR.

This is shared over the net and on social media ( TMR started on facebook). Followers reinforce each others’ beliefs. Some anti-vaxxers find secondary careers as speakers, writers and advocates.

I see great similarities to some Trumpians who battle the “elites”.
Recently, two of the biggest woo-meisters I watch are telling parents and young followers to stay away from universities and to move away from the cities to farms.
I swear, people take advice from these idiots.

** PRN.fm has had a whole series of anathema against Wikipedia and SBM – especially Orac.

Recently, two of the biggest woo-meisters I watch are telling parents and young followers to stay away from universities and to move away from the cities to farms.

That should set off alarm bells in the mind of anybody who is even moderately familiar with 20th Century world history.

Most of the people who would follow such advice are probably unaware of that history. Some of the leaders, notably Trump, may also be unaware. But I suspect that some of the people making these calls may be consciously emulating Chairman Mao.

But I suspect that some of the people making these calls may be consciously emulating Chairman Mao.

That’s a real stretch. The USA, as noted in the comments here, has its own very strong strain of anti-intellectualism. I see it in my family, I’ve seen it for my whole life, and it’s been around a lot longer than that.

As the first person in my family to pursue higher education, I can tell you that pride is definitely not the only reaction.

@ Eric Lund:

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a shift away from targetting nature-loving hippies to more right-leaning religionists and libertarians although they sometimes attempt to have it both ways because I suppose everyone’s money is good.

Null, who used to court older leftists in NYC through radio, many of them Jewish or Black, seems to want a more libertarian even rightist audience- often, his diatribes are peppered with invective aimed squared at The Clintons or about “ghettoes”: he claims that his most prevalent group of listeners ( via other venues like phone-in or computer access) are 30-something female college grads- but that wouldn’t match his message at all.

Adams demeans university students as the lowest form of life and rails against abortion rights.

Simultaneously though, they brag about their own credentials as university-educated scientists or as professors.
Right, them and my semi-feral outdoor black cat.

Adams demeans university students as the lowest form of life

Well, at least back in my day they knew how to flush a toilet. Generation Z at the University of Chicago seems by and large to be a fairly sorry lot. I’ll bet not a one of them has been in the steam tunnels.

Eric: Eh, I think there’s an important difference between people choosing to go live on a farm (and how long will that last when they find out how early you have to get up?) and being forced to farm. (One of the more feared math professors at my college had been forced to work on a farm, and had her hands broken, for the crime of going to university. In class she was fearsome, but one on one, provided you hadn’t done something stupid, she was a really good teacher.)

My wife found a harrowing essay written by a mother who accidentally left her baby in the car when she went to work and came out afterwards to find the child dead from heat exposure. This was a woman who loved her baby and didn’t think it could happen to caring parents. The simple lesson she was trying to teach with her essay is that all people are fallible and we all can’t believe others do stupid things until we accidentally do them ourselves. She also gave some genuinely sage advice about how to avoid her situation by simply finding a way circumvent the existence of simple human cognitive flaws which can lead to profound oversights like the one she experienced.

This essay left me thinking. What if that had been me? It is an anecdote, but… what if?

The democratization of information distribution via the internet has left us all in the dangerous position of assuming we are all competent enough to make good judgments by the available information, which isn’t necessarily true. It can take a lot for a person to challenge the preconception that everyone is able to appropriately make decisions when confronted with the right information. People who don’t or can’t aren’t necessarily stupid, they’re just people. Smart people make bad decisions, even if they are profoundly smart in certain ways. Many of us rarely face a situation where our hubris comes back to bite us hard enough that we fundamentally question our own fitness or face our own preconceptions. I think woo-peddlers prey on this: because homeopathy is essentially just water, its effect on any given situation is usually small enough that profoundly bad outcomes directly attributable to the woo that would have someone second guessing the choice to use it are relatively infrequent, even if they do happen. To the contrary, people who use it want to see that it worked, and so rationalize that it worked! Nobody on any side of it is actually truly stupid, just barred from seeing the value of choices they’re making.

I think that everybody can afford to be open to error checking and it too often seems that a special maturity is needed these days for those rare people that are. What’s really scary to me is that people are able to construct blinders for themselves and invent rationale to support holding stances that are totally flawed or illogical, and be absolutely incapable to seeing themselves as flawed –hence the danger of filter bubbles.

It may not seem it, but this thought is one that has been years in the making with me. I think I’m still learning the value of being able to consult a true expert. Free discourse between people with wildly different opinions when both parties are willing to hear what the other party is saying is precious.

DW citing a prevailing mentality: “PARENTS know their child better than researchers.”

Jay Gordon has been flogging (FAAPing?) that one for a long time. The exact wording from his website is “No one knows your child better than you do.”

I’ve always assumed that to be true, in that a doctor (pediatrician?) on SBM once said that parents are, in general, the expert on whether something is wrong with the child. However, the doctor, or a specialist if need be, should be the one to say what is wrong with said child.

I’d wager even the nematode C. elegans with its 302 neurons knows pediatrics better than Gordon.

A major part of the issue is the willingness to believe. Who would you rather believe – some dusty old guy in a lab coat, or an attractive TV star who you are used to seeing on TV playing sympathetic or loveable characters?
Jenny McCarthy’s TV roles have made her familiar enough that people feel they know her, maybe even better than their neighbors. Lab coat guy (I’m not putting anyone down – I was an assistant lab coat guy.) is probably dry, not more than normally attractive and maybe less (Fortunately, that’s not me.), and probably doesn’t project a sympathetic personality. I have occasionally face-palmed watching experts fail to make a more appealing presentation.
How many astronauts fell in love with space because of crewcut, white, military-type astronauts, and how many because of Captain Kirk or Lieutenant Uhura (not counting how many people fell in love WITH Kirk and/or Uhura)? How many people only began thinking about science from watching Cosmos?
Sanjay Gupta, Lee Salk, and other doctors come into our homess and become familiar – “Oh, yeah, he’s the guy on channel —, I like him.” Unfortunately, that’s how Dr. Oz oozed his way onto our screens.
People who distrust the government are more willing to believe in conspiracies and “false flag” events; 9/11 troofers come from both left and right.
It’s largely a matter of what pre-existing beliefs, what predispositions people have.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but there appears to be one important factor that these scientists overlooked here, in particular as the research focuses heavily on the vaccine-autism myth: scientifically speaking, autism is largely defined in negatives. Scientists don’t really know what causes autism, or what exactly distinguishes the really severe cases from less severe or high-functioning cases in a neurological/clinical sense etcetera. Yes, it has been proven that hereditary factors play a role, but there’s still a lot more to it than just that. It’s just not known what exactly that ‘lot more’ entails.

I’d say that this scientifically correct “We don’t (yet, fully) know about autism” leaves much more room for Dunning-Kruger to step in and assume (or make up) knowledge than, say, the knowledge and expertise of an airline pilot who absolutely knows how to get her plane and passengers safely from A to B.
(At least I never heard of any lay person expressing doubt about the airline pilot’s knowledge and skills, let alone that they claimed to know better how to fly a plain than aforementioned pilot.)

So my hypothesis is that Dunning-Kruger is more likely to rear its ugly head in circumstances where the situation is more or less defined by a lack of knowledge on the part of science, such as in autism research… In other words: people can’t accept “We don’t know”, so they start making up their own ‘knowledge’.
The same applies to many other conditions falsely attributed to vaccines: the vast majority (and perhaps even all) have no single known cause, which leaves the door wide open for anyone to simply assume a cause (i.e. vaccination). And then search for any evidence or support to confirm this ’cause’, no matter how weak.

At least I never heard of any lay person expressing doubt about the airline pilot’s knowledge and skills

I suppose it’s usually the crew who report when they’re boozed up. Still, being a commercial pilot seems like a job that’s both boring and wearisome. Modern planes can land themselves, so it’s mostly ATC running the show.

OK, a brief bit of surfing reveals that autoland is mostly used in low-visibily conditions such as heavy fog and is enough of a pain in the ass to monitor that the vast majority of landings are manual. At least I learned something.

Even before the advent of computers flying planes, a pilot’s job was “ninety-nine parts sheer boredom to one part sheer terror”. There have been reported cases of one or both pilots falling asleep at the controls. So yes, I agree with your assessment.

I recommend the “Ask the Pilot’ blog https://www.askthepilot.com/ to shake out some of the mythology (Planes flying themselves, crews having nothing to do, etc.). Patrick Smith is an experienced and well-traveled pilot. He also writes well about aviation in general, the places he’s visited, and airline logos.
Given how airlines tend to prioritize profit over safety it seems to me that crews are more likely to fall asleep from overwork than boredom.

Richard: There is actually a lot of solid information about the genetics of autism. A lot of it is inferential, in that you have to look at the statistics of gene expression, but such data do exist. This is the limit of my familiarity since I have not done a literature search for a while now, but the science (both medical, biochemical, and behavioral) shows that autism reveals itself a long time before all those immunizations that the kids get and a long time before the parents often recognize it.

@ Bob G:

Right. There’s stuff about brain wave differences, differences in brain development/ architecture, early movements shown in videos, eye movements, cranial size, facial structure etc. Even on the cellular level in PFC. Genetic studies. In utero stuff.

ALL observable prior to administration of the MMR or earlier vaccines.

Anti-vaxxers conveniently avoid discussing those studies.
But somehow we manage to find them, heh?
.

“heritability estimates are based on twin studies”

And here is where you fail spectacularly. Those studies were done decades ago, and there have been more better studies, and presently there is a huge one being conducted by the Simons Foundation. You have been told this multiple times, yet you choose to ignore it and stay stuck in the past.

Stop being a D-K dinosaur and try to catch up.

Here they are,

True/False questions:
“There is no one recognized treatment for Autism”
“Many scientists think that heredity and genes play a role in the cause of Autism”
“Autistic children havepoor communication and social skills because they are geniuses in math.”
“It is estimated that as many as 1 million Americans suffer from Autism.”
“Autism occurs in roughly equal numbers of boys and girls.”
“Over half of cases of autism in children has been found to be the result of poor parenting.”
“Typically, autistic children can outgrow Autism.”
“There is currently no medical test to diagnose Autism.”
“The biggest problem with diagnosing Autism is that symptoms do not appear until age 5 or older”
“Most scientists and doctors know what causes Autism.”

Misinformation:
Can vaccines administered to children at young ages cause them to become autistic?

The problem you have here is that “doctors and scientists” (like the distinction) have such an appalling track record with chronic disease, a history littered with sometimes lethal mistakes and a medical literature and body of evidence that is increasingly seen as untrustworthy. No surprise, really, that people choose to ignore “expert” opinion.

…“doctors and scientists” (like the distinction) have such an appalling track record with chronic disease…

Diabetes is today very manageable, many types of arthritis can be dealt with or even cured, and even AIDS patients can enjoy greatly extended lifespans thanks to ARVs and other therapies.

…a history littered with sometimes lethal mistakes…

1) That is true of every field of human endeavour.
2) The medical field learnt from that and got better.

…and a medical literature and body of evidence that is increasingly seen as untrustworthy.

Seen as untrustworthy by whom, exactly?

“The problem you have here is that “doctors and scientists” (like the distinction) have such an appalling track record with chronic disease, ”

You’re kidding, right?

Whilst we’re on D-K:

Kim ( I guess) at AoA critiques Dr Offit’s Salon article on celebrity anti-vaxxers.

She knows better than he does..
So does Jake.

I rest my case.

In other anti-vax news..

RI’s/ SBM’s friend Joel Harrison is commenting at Jake’s Autism Investigated
Jake perseverates on as per usual.
Go. Watch. Enjoy.

The autism twin studies overestimate heritability because they assume (contrary to the evidence) that gene X environment interactions do not occur in autism.

I believe that vaccine injury (i.e. autism) is a GXE interaction. The vaccines injury people with susceptibility genes. Think about how this would impact the heritability estimate.

Tick states:

““The assumptions are that: (i) MZ and DZ twin pairs share their environments to the same extent; (ii) Gene-environment correlations (passive/active) and interactions are minimal for the trait in question (if not they get incorporated into the other variance components, e.g. GxE interaction effects will increase the E variance, but GxC interaction will increase the heritability estimate) (iii) Twins are no different from the general population.”
-Tick 2016

I have an article on this topic. sorry dont mean to plug my website, but this is the easiest way to link the relevant studies:
http://vaccinepapers.org/autism-not-fate-twin-studies-overestimate-genetic-contribution/

The autism twin studies overestimate heritability because they assume (contrary to the evidence) that gene X environment interactions do not occur in autism.

Twin studies do no such thing.

This is another thing you don’t understand.

Chris preston.

Twin studies Do assume GXE interactions do not occur in autism. A consequence of the assumption is that, if its wrong, the GXE interaction falsely inflates the heritability estimate. This is indisputtable math.

See this paper (Kim 2015): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4260177/

Here are more citations:

a review paper on twin studies and heritability (Kaprio 2012) says the same thing:

“In basic twin models, gene–environment interactions are assumed not to exist, and if present, they are included as part of the additive genetic variance, inflating heritability estimates.”
AND
“In some contexts, gene–environment interactions, i.e., that environments modify the effects of genes on the trait being studied, may account for a substantial part of the apparent heritability.”
-Kaprio 2012
Paper (Kaprio 2012): Twins and the mystery of missing heritability: the contribution of gene-environment interactions

As another example, a large twin study of autism (Colvert 2015) reports high heritability (56-95%) and states that GXE interactions may be responsible:

“…genetic modeling assumes that no gene-environment interactions or correlations exist; if they exist, the estimates of environmental and genetic effects may be inflated.”
(Colvert 2015): Heritability of Autism Spectrum Disorder in a UK Population-Based Twin Sample

Autism research is increasingly pursuing GXE interactions. Publications in recent years report evidence for interactions in human and animal studies. Kim 2015 continues:

“Both human and animal studies suggest that GXE plays a role in ASD pathogenesis.”
AND
“…one group reported three GXE from the same study population. In the study of 429 children with ASD and 278 typical children, maternal MTHFR 677TT (rs1801133), CBS rs234715 GT1TT, and child COMT 472AA (rs4680) genotypes conferred greater ASD risk when the mother did not take vitamins periconceptionally…”
AND
“[another study] reported interactions between high pollution and nitrogen dioxide and the MET CC genotype (rs1858830) in 251 cases and 156 control subjects.”
-Kim 2015

Another review paper on GXE interactions in autism (Chaste 2012) states:

“[Additional] evidence for the contribution of G×E to autism risk comes from animal models. In a first study, 106 mice haploinsufficient for the TSC2 gene demonstrated a lack of normal social approach behavior only when exposed to maternal immune activation.”
AND
“In another animal model, prenatal maternal immune activation and expression of a mutant DISC1 protein interacted to produce an altered pattern of sociability. This neurobehavioral profile was absent in untreated mice expressing the mutant.”
-Chaste 2012
Paper (Chaste 2012): Autism risk factors: genes, environment, and gene-environment interactions

Here are more papers supporting a role for GXE interactions in autism and other neuro/psychiatric disorders:

“GeneXenvironment interactions play critical roles in the emergence of autism and schizophrenia pathophysiology.” (Michel 2012)
Paper (Michel 2012): Immune system gene dysregulation in autism & schizophrenia

“These studies have demonstrated that genetic predispositions for a number of psychiatric disorders interact with environmental influences to manifest disorder.” (Dick 2011)
Paper (Dick 2011): Gene-Environment Interaction in Psychological traits and Disorders

“Growing evidence supports GxE interactions in these disorders.” (referring to schizophrenia and bipolar) (Geoffroy 2013)
Paper (Geoffroy 2013): Gene x environment interactions in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder: evidence from neuroimaging

“Multiple lines of evidence suggest that the roles of genetic and environmental factors depend on each other. Gene–environment interactions may underlie the paradox of strong environmental factors for highly heritable disorders, the low estimates of shared environmental influences in twin studies of serious mental illness, and the heritability gap between twin and molecular heritability estimates.” (Uher 2014)
Paper (Uher 2014): Gene–environment interactions in severe mental illness

Orac

I suggest that your writing about the vaccine-autism controversy demonstrates the D-K effect. I say this because your articles express certainty that vaccines do not cause autism and at the same time show an unfamiliarity with the most relevant science. The science I refer to shows that autism and other neuro/psychiatric disorders are caused by early-life neuroinflammation (acute-intense or chronic-persistent). The Al adjuvant in vaccines can cause this neuroinflammation.

The D-K effect is characterized by the combination of 1) high belief confidence, and 2) ignorance of the facts and scientific evidence. Your articles on vaccines-autism epitomize both.

Your professional research interests are outside the scope of this relevant science (immune activation, neuroinflammation, aluminum toxicity etc). From your articles, it seems clear to me that you have not read the literature on these topics. And yet you write about autism and vaccines with absolute certainty. This is the D-K effect.

Critics say that the D-K effect applies to me. This argument fails because I have read the relevant science, and because I do not declare certainty about some aspects of the hypothesis that are still awaiting validation. But the evidence so far is strong and continues to accumulate.

Critics are unable to provide scientific evidence showing the Al adjuvant-autism hypothesis is wrong, or that Al adjuvant is safe.

A study showing that Al adjuvant is safe should meet these criteria (in animals or humans):

1) long term follow up for neuro disorders. (long term=at least 2-4 years in humans).
2) Al adjuvant dosages comparable to the CDC vaccine schedule.
3) unvaccinated controls (I know this cannot be done with randomized/prospective trials, but epidemiological methods can be used)
4) statistical power sufficient to detect autism (about 1% incidence)

Why hasn’t Al adjuvant been studied according to these criteria by mainstream medical institutions (MMI)? It is a fact that such studies have never been done by MMI, and that in itself is an indictment. Studies of Al adjuvant safety are grossly inadequate.

I am still waiting for you to address the evidence that autism is caused by neuroinflammation, and that Al adjuvant can create this neuroinflammation. It seems you prefer to talk about easily debunked pseudoscientific nonsense from the stupid side of alternative medicine (like the idiotic Goop website by Paltrow). FYI, I generally agree with you on these issues. Alt medicine has a lot of dumb and wrong ideas.

Critics like to say that the vaccine-autism link has been thoroughly disproven. This claim is ridiculous and wrong, because only MMR vaccine and thimerosal have been much studied. Studies of ONE vaccine and ONE vaccine ingredient do not support the sweeping claims about all vaccines or vaccines in general. This is a simple concept but vaccine promoters fail to grasp it.

respectfully,

VP

The science I refer to shows that autism and other neuro/psychiatric disorders are caused by early-life neuroinflammation (acute-intense or chronic-persistent).

What science would that be? You didn’t post any links. You should know by now that argument by assertion doesn’t cut it here. Nor does the blatant JAQing off in your comment.
You’re far more D-K than Orac.

here is a long list of abstracts.

http://vaccinepapers.org/response-to-charges-of-cherry-picking/

And here is a book on the subject, with hundreds of citations: http://a.co/7RKHcyw

Review papers:

1) Estes et al, 2016, Maternal Immune activation: implications for neuropsychiatric disorders, Science Mag. Maternal immune activation: Implications for neuropsychiatric disorders

2) Kneusel et al 2014, Maternal immune activation and abnormal brain development across CNS disorders, Nature Reviews-Neurology. Maternal immune activation and abnormal brain development across CNS disorders

3) Estes et al, 2015, Immune mediators in the brain and peripheral tissues in autism spectrum disorder, Nature Reviews-Neuroscience. Immune mediators in the brain and peripheral tissues in autism spectrum disorder

4) Deverman and Patterson 2009, Cytokines and CNS Development, Cell. Cytokines and CNS Development

review papers:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5650494/

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2015 Aug;16(8):469-86. doi: 10.1038/nrn3978.
Immune mediators in the brain and peripheral tissues in autism spectrum disorder.
Estes ML1, McAllister AK1.
Author information
Abstract
Increasing evidence points to a central role for immune dysregulation in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Several ASD risk genes encode components of the immune system and many maternal immune system-related risk factors–including autoimmunity, infection and fetal reactive antibodies–are associated with ASD. In addition, there is evidence of ongoing immune dysregulation in individuals with ASD and in animal models of this disorder. Recently, several molecular signalling pathways–including pathways downstream of cytokines, the receptor MET, major histocompatibility complex class I molecules, microglia and complement factors–have been identified that link immune activation to ASD phenotypes. Together, these findings indicate that the immune system is a point of convergence for multiple ASD-related genetic and environmental risk factors.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25311587

Nat Rev Neurol. 2014 Nov;10(11):643-60. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2014.187. Epub 2014 Oct 14.
Maternal immune activation and abnormal brain development across CNS disorders.
Knuesel I1, Chicha L2, Britschgi M1, Schobel SA1, Bodmer M3, Hellings JA4, Toovey S5, Prinssen EP1.
Author information
Abstract
Epidemiological studies have shown a clear association between maternal infection and schizophrenia or autism in the progeny. Animal models have revealed maternal immune activation (mIA) to be a profound risk factor for neurochemical and behavioural abnormalities in the offspring. Microglial priming has been proposed as a major consequence of mIA, and represents a critical link in a causal chain that leads to the wide spectrum of neuronal dysfunctions and behavioural phenotypes observed in the juvenile, adult or aged offspring. Such diversity of phenotypic outcomes in the mIA model are mirrored by recent clinical evidence suggesting that infectious exposure during pregnancy is also associated with epilepsy and, to a lesser extent, cerebral palsy in children. Preclinical research also suggests that mIA might precipitate the development of Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases. Here, we summarize and critically review the emerging evidence that mIA is a shared environmental risk factor across CNS disorders that varies as a function of interactions between genetic and additional environmental factors. We also review ongoing clinical trials targeting immune pathways affected by mIA that may play a part in disease manifestation. In addition, future directions and outstanding questions are discussed, including potential symptomatic, disease-modifying and preventive treatment strategies.

Vaccines cause immune activation, which is the topic of the immune activation papers. This research shows unequivocally that immune activation/neuroinflammation causes autism and other neuro/psychiatric disorders.

Specifically, the problem is Al adjuvant because it persists in the body for years.

Nanotoxicology studies show that nanoparticles travel around the body and into the brain. Al adjuvant travels into the brain.

Science mom:

The abstracts are a response to a request for science on the topic of immune activation.

Other citations make the link between vaccines/Al adjuvant and immune activation. Vaccines work by causing immune activation. The connection is basic and obvious.

QUOTE:

“And what does a vaccination do? It activates the immune system. That’s the point of vaccination.”
-Dr paul patterson of CalTech.

Patterson was a leading autism and immune activation researcher. He is responsible for many seminal discoveries, such as the important of the cytokine IL-6 in mediating the bran damage.

Vaccines cause immune activation, which is the topic of the immune activation papers. This research shows unequivocally that immune activation/neuroinflammation causes autism and other neuro/psychiatric disorders.

Is there a difference between immune responses in wild-type diseases v. vaccination? Is there a difference between mice and humans?

Specifically, the problem is Al adjuvant because it persists in the body for years.

Please do elaborate and reconcile this with your previous statement. All without a stupid link to your blog. Surely you are capable of discussing it here.

Nanotoxicology studies show that nanoparticles travel around the body and into the brain. Al adjuvant travels into the brain.

Again, please reconcile these rather disparate brain barfs especially since aluminium adjuvants are not nanoparticles.

Science mom:

The abstracts are a response to a request for science on the topic of immune activation.

Other citations make the link between vaccines/Al adjuvant and immune activation. Vaccines work by causing immune activation. The connection is basic and obvious.

If that is what you have grokked from the studies you have cited then you are the epitome of D-K. Not that you’d recognise that of course. The connection is only “basic and obvious” to someone who doesn’t have the first clue of immunology. Now answer this, compare LPS or Listeriolysin O with say aluminium adjuvanted vaccines. Describe the differences in innate immune responses.

QUOTE:

“And what does a vaccination do? It activates the immune system. That’s the point of vaccination.”
-Dr paul patterson of CalTech.

Patterson was a leading autism and immune activation researcher. He is responsible for many seminal discoveries, such as the important of the cytokine IL-6 in mediating the bran damage.

And none had to do with vaccines. While I can’t speak for Dr. Patterson, I do know and know of many scientists who roll their eyes and are disgusted at how their research is abused by sophomoric self-interested ignoramuses.

Al adjuvants are made of nanoparticles.

Measuring the Surface Area of Aluminum Hydroxide Adjuvant

CLIFF T. JOHNSTON,1 SHAN-LI WANG,1 STANLEY L. HEM2

1Department of Agronomy, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907

2Department of Industrial and Physical Pharmacy, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907
Received 14 February 2001; revised 21 February 2002; accepted 22 February 2002

ABSTRACT: The traditional method of determining surface area, nitrogen gas sorption, requires complete drying of the sample prior to analysis. This technique is not suitable for aluminum hydroxide adjuvant because it is composed of submicron, fibrous particles that agglomerate irreversibly upon complete removal of water. In this study, the surface area of a commercial aluminum hydroxide adjuvant was determined by a gravimetric/ FTIR method that measures the water adsorption capacity. This technique does not require complete drying of the adjuvant. Five replicate determinations gave a mean surface area of 514 m2/g and a 95% confidence interval of 36 m2/g for a commercial aluminum hydroxide adjuvant. The X-ray diffraction pattern and the Scherrer equation were used to calculate the dimensions of the primary crystallites. The average calcu- lated dimensions were 4.5 2.2 10 nm. Based on these dimensions, the mean calculat- ed surface area of the commercial aluminum hydroxide adjuvant was 509 m2/g, and the 95% confidential interval was 30 m2/g. The close agreement between the two surface area values indicates that either method may be used to determine the surface area of aluminum hydroxide adjuvant. The high surface area, which was determined by two methods, is an important property of aluminum hydroxide adjuvants, and is the basis for the intrinsically high protein adsorption capacity.

Alhydrogel® adjuvant, ultrasonic dispersion and protein binding: A TEM and analytical study

J. Robin Harrisa,b,∗, Andrei Soliakova, Richard J. Lewisa, Frank Depoixb, Allan Watkinsonc,1, Jeremy H. Lakeya,∗∗

a Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK b Institute of Zoology, University of Mainz, D-5509 Mainz, Germany
c PharmAthene UK, Billingham TS23 1YN, UK

Aluminium-based vaccine adjuvants have been in use since the 1920s. Aluminium hydroxide (alum) that is the chemical basis of Alhydrogel, a widely used adjuvant, is a colloid that binds proteins to the particular surface for efficient presentation to the immune system during the vaccination process. Using conventional TEM and cryo-TEM we have shown that Alhydrogel can be finely dispersed by ultrasoni- cation of the aqueous suspension. Clusters of ultrasonicated aluminium hydroxide micro-fibre crystals have been produced (∼10–100 nm), that are significantly smaller than those present the untreated Alhy- drogel (∼2–12 m). However, even prolonged ultrasonication did not produce a homogenous suspension of single aluminium hydroxide micro-fibres. The TEM images of unstained and negatively stained air- dried Alhydrogel are very similar to those obtained by cryo-electron microscopy. Visualization of protein on the surface of the finely dispersed Alhydrogel by TEM is facilitated by prior ultrasonication. Several examples are given, including some of medical relevance, using proteins of widely ranging molecular mass and oligomerization state. Even with the smaller mass proteins, their presence on the Alhydrogel surface can be readily defined by TEM. It has been found that low quantities of protein tend to cross-link and aggregate the small Alhydogel clusters, in a more pronounced manner than high protein concentra- tions. This indicates that complete saturation of the available Alhydrogel surface with protein may be achieved, with minimal cross-linkage, and future exploitation of this treatment of Alhydrogel is likely to be of immediate value for more efficient vaccine production.

“Is there a difference between immune responses in wild-type diseases v. vaccination?”

Yes of course. Wild diseases do not come with an injection of Al adjuvant nanoparticles. The Al adjuvant is persistent. It remains in the body for years, causing inflammation. Wild diseases cause short-term inflammation. The persistent of the inflammation caused by Al adjuvant is what makes it harmful to the developing brain.

“Is there a difference between mice and humans?”

Not really with respect to neuroimmune development. Neuroinflammation during brain development causes brain injury in humans just like it does in mice.

Immune activation experiments have been replicated in monkeys, with the same results.

IL-6 is a key cytokine that causes autism. There are no known differences of IL-6 in mice and humans. Appears to be identical in structure and function.

The immune activation animal models are accepted as good, valid models of human disease. They satisfy all the requirements: construct, face and predictive validity.

“These MIA (maternal immune activation) animal models meet all of the criteria required for validity for a disease model: They mimic a known disease-related risk factor (construct validity), they exhibit a wide range of disease-related symptoms (face validity), and they can be used to predict the efficacy of treatments (predictive validity).”
–Dr Kimberley McAllister, UC Davis MIND Institute, Science, August 2016 (i.e. this paper: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/353/6301/772 )

The Al adjuvant is persistent. It remains in the body for years, causing inflammation.

Citation needed.

The persistent of the inflammation caused by Al adjuvant is what makes it harmful to the developing brain.

Citations needed. How does the adjuvant get from the injection site to the brain? How does it cause neuroinflammation?

“Is there a difference between mice and humans?”

Not really with respect to neuroimmune development.

Ah ha ha ha ha ha! Oh wait, you’re serious. Let me laugh even harder.
AH, HA HA, HA HAAAA!!!

IL-6 is a key cytokine that causes autism.

Citation needed.

Al adjuvants are made of nanoparticles.

When separated out they have a nanometer measurement but used in aqueous solutions they form micrometer particulates and that is what happens in vivo. Nanoparticle aluminium adjuvants are experimental and not used in any licensed vaccines. Another thing you don’t know what you’re talking about.

“Is there a difference between immune responses in wild-type diseases v. vaccination?”

Yes of course. Wild diseases do not come with an injection of Al adjuvant nanoparticles. The Al adjuvant is persistent. It remains in the body for years, causing inflammation. Wild diseases cause short-term inflammation. The persistent of the inflammation caused by Al adjuvant is what makes it harmful to the developing brain.

That’s it? Thank you for sharing your obvious and stunning ignorance of immunology. You are disseminating false and dangerous information. Your repeated claim that vaccine response mimics wild-type disease response and adjuvants are nanoparticles fools your fellow anti-vaxxers but not biomedical scientists and that’s why you will continue to dwell on the fringes and derided.

“Is there a difference between mice and humans?”

Not really with respect to neuroimmune development. Neuroinflammation during brain development causes brain injury in humans just like it does in mice.

Immune activation experiments have been replicated in monkeys, with the same results.

IL-6 is a key cytokine that causes autism. There are no known differences of IL-6 in mice and humans. Appears to be identical in structure and function.

The immune activation animal models are accepted as good, valid models of human disease. They satisfy all the requirements: construct, face and predictive validity.

“These MIA (maternal immune activation) animal models meet all of the criteria required for validity for a disease model: They mimic a known disease-related risk factor (construct validity), they exhibit a wide range of disease-related symptoms (face validity), and they can be used to predict the efficacy of treatments (predictive validity).”
–Dr Kimberley McAllister, UC Davis MIND Institute, Science, August 2016 (i.e. this paper: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/353/6301/772 )

Emphasis added to highlight this incorrect statement. That is not what your source stipulates and furthermore, your citation is regarding, yet again, wild-type disease response in utero. I look forward to using this comment as a reference to demonstrate your ignorance of immunology and D-K.

Critics say that the D-K effect applies to me. This argument fails because I have read the relevant science, and because I do not declare certainty about some aspects of the hypothesis that are still awaiting validation. But the evidence so far is strong and continues to accumulate.

Irony meter destroyed. Yet again.

😂😂😂

Orac

Once again you hide behind a wall of snark. Thats a great way to avoid uncomfortable truths you would rather not talk about.

You cannot handle an honest debate.

Cite some science, please.

VP

chris

Nothing on your linked page is relevant to immune activation or Al adjuvant safety.

Orac has never addressed the safety concerns about Al adjuvant, or provided a defense of its safety.

That is because the adjuvants have nothing to do with autism! The real researchers are actually finding the real causes and treatments for the several dozen or hundred types of autism.

You are accused of cherry picking because you refuse to accept anything, including real scientific research, that goes against your fractured beliefs.

Try to open your mind to actual factual science. It might help if you actually learned some biology and chemistry.

“That is because the adjuvants have nothing to do with autism!”

Can you please cite some evidence for this?

Vaccine-autism studies have focused on MMR and thimerosal. MMR does not contain an adjuvant, and thimerosal is not an adjuvant. None of the MMR or thimerosal studies are relevant to Al adjuvant safety.

The studies of antigen exposure are also not relevant.

Dan, write it up and submit it to a respectable journal or just stick to bootlegging papers in your hole.

You should see his blog post on the Exley study that you (and others) deconstructed. Dan’s mental gymnastics are medal-worthy, not to mention he’s got a bee in his bonnet about you. Greggums and Dr. Hyphen (life biomed guru) love Dan which is very telling.

Oh, Christ, Danny has crawled out of the woodwork again.

Your professional research interests are outside the scope of this relevant science

Irony, the breakfast of champions.

Lets see some science, Narad.

Show me some scientific evidence that aluminum adjuvant is safe and does not cause brain injury when injected into infants.

I know, and his bit about how he’s not suffering from Dunning-Kruger but I am so fried my irony meter that I actually made an exception to my usual rule not to feed the troll and responded. Mea culpa. I was weak, and his lack of self-awareness was so epic that it threatened to rend the fabric of the space-time continuum.

Orac

Nice load of snark!

Hey, here is another paper for you.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29751176

It shows that the Hep B vaccine causes long term brain inflammation and behavioral abnormalities in experimental animals. An interesting finding in this paper is that it reported Al adjuvant by itself produced no adverse effects. This may be because transport into the brain did not occur.

QUOTES:
“the present study provides direct evidence by means of neutralization of IL- 4, supporting that IL-4 mediates a delayed neurobehavioral impair- ments induced by neonatal hepatitis B vaccination that involves the down-regulation of the IL-4 receptor in the hippocampus.”

“early postnatal time is a critical period of brain development, when immune activation during this period could exert a long-lasting impact on brain development and behavior [2–5]. However, the exact mechanism of the critical period for immune activation affecting the brain is not fully understood yet. Here, we found not only the permeability of the neonatal BBB for IL-4 before P14 but also the prolonged permeability of the BBB for IL-4 by neonatal mIL-4 over-exposure.”

“Our current research demonstrates that IL-4 mediates the delayed neurobehavioral impairments induced by neonatal hepatitis B vacci- nation, which involves the permeability of the neonatal BBB and the down-regulation of the IL-4 receptor. This conclusion was made ac- cording to these major results: 1) neonatal hepatitis B vaccination in- duced delayed hippocampal neuroinflammation and spatial cognition impairment after an instant anti-inflammatory cytokine response in the hippocampus; 2) neonatal IL-4 over-exposure imitated all the HBV-in- duced neurobehavioral effects; 3) peripheral IL-4 is able to penetrate into the hippocampus during the neonatal period; and 4) the perme- ability of the BBB in neonatal mice might explain the penetration of peripheral IL-4 into the brain and 5) the decreased levels of IL-4R in the hippocampus by neonatal IL-4 over-exposure.”

“These findings suggest that clinical events involving neonatal IL-4 over-exposure, including neonatal hepatitis B vaccination and asthma in human infants, may have adverse effects on neurobehavioral devel- opment.”

The science I refer to shows that autism and other neuro/psychiatric disorders are caused by early-life neuroinflammation (acute-intense or chronic-persistent). The Al adjuvant in vaccines can cause this neuroinflammation.

It does no such thing. Please stop passing your imbecilic interpretation of mostly non-related studies off as accepted theory. We have all seen the studies you use to flog this hypothesis of yours and roundly reject it.

The D-K effect is characterized by the combination of 1) high belief confidence, and 2) ignorance of the facts and scientific evidence. Your articles on vaccines-autism epitomize both.

Critics say that the D-K effect applies to me. This argument fails because I have read the relevant science, and because I do not declare certainty about some aspects of the hypothesis that are still awaiting validation. But the evidence so far is strong and continues to accumulate.

Ha ha ha ha aha ha ah ha…
Those who exhibit D-K don’t know they are exhibiting it. Duh. Now what is your relevant expertise that allows you to correctly parse biomedical science?

Critics are unable to provide scientific evidence showing the Al adjuvant-autism hypothesis is wrong, or that Al adjuvant is safe.

Haloooo? It is your hypothesis. It’s up to you to provide replicated evidence.

And I will repeat, what is your area of expertise?

“It’s up to you to provide replicated evidence.”

Already provided. See the VP website.

You claim that vaccines and Al adjuvant are safe, so you also have a burden to show evidence. Vaccines are recommended by the CDC and approved by the FDA, and this requires safety evidence. Where is the evidence?

All i have been able to find is a bunch of junk science like Jefferson 2004, Mitkus 2011, and Karwowski 2018. There are no studies of long term or neuro/psychiatric outcomes for the vaccine schedule or Al adjuvant.

For example, Karwowski 2018 says “The safety of aluminum adjuvants used to increase the effectiveness of childhood immuniza- tions routinely given during infancy has been well established 9…”

Ref #9 is Mitkus 2011! Like so many other papers in the field, the citation trail is a dead end of junk science.

When I search papers and textbooks on Al adjuvant, I find lots of statements asserting safety, but few citations to actual research, and no citations for research relevant to 1) todays dosages, 2) long term of neuro outcomes. Sometimes, the citations are to other reviews where Al adjuvant safety is assumed. SO it appears that the scientific community has deceived itself. Nobody has checked the literature. Everyone assumes that Al adjuvant safety was studied and settled long ago. This is a myth.

Already provided. See the VP website.

Seen it and I stand by my statement that it is you who assert harm from aluminium adjuvants so it is up to you to demonstrate that. Give us citations here that support your claim instead of whining about all the studies that you don’t like.

I agree the research at your link has nothing to do with vaccines. Thats the problem. Its irrelevant as far as I can tell, and so it does not move the needle either way. The website does not have anything about immune activation for example.

However, this page discusses GXE interactions in autism. GXE interactions falsely increase the heritability estimates for autism. So the twin studies of autism are wrong. This is important because it means that the impact of environmental factors (like vaccines) has been underestimated.
https://sparkforautism.org/discover_article/study-spotlight-gears-study/?category_selected=&page=4&keywords=

I agree the research at your link has nothing to do with vaccines. Thats the problem. Its irrelevant as far as I can tell, and so it does not move the needle either way. The website does not have anything about immune activation for example.

D-K and a stunning lack of self-awareness. What is your expertise by the way? Or is your claim to fame a vaping device and a masturbatory blog?

“Its irrelevant as far as I can tell, and so it does not move the needle either way. ”

Which is why you are a prime example of D-K. You have your one reason of what causes autism, and nothing will sway your convictions. Even though science has marched ahead, and left your ideas in the dust bin where they belong.

Grow up, learn some science and catch up with the actual research. You are now just a typical science ignorant dinosaur.

Vinu, you spend so much time posting nonsense here, I have to wonder . . . .

What are you doing to get the company you work for ready for the recession that is likely on the way?

Stick to software. It’s what you know.

Panacea, Vinu is a different anti-vaccine join-the-dotter more akin to MJD than Dan the vaccine papers man. Vinu thinks it is milk allergies causing autism.

Vaccines cause a lot less immune activation than disease. There is no clear causal link between immune activation in a child and autism – there is some evidence that immune activation of a pregnant mom is linked to autism, but that is immune activation from actual infections, not vaccines.

Nor is there any good basis for blaming adjuvants for autism, which is why experts are not trying to disprove this, just as they do not try to disprove the link between eating pistachio ice cream in pregnancy and autism.

Many at AoA/ TMR/ woo sites consider immunological responses to vaccines as a cause of autism:

here’s what I don’t get-

even if there were a live virus in the vaccine ( mostly, there isn’t- it is inactivated) that would not be anything near the spectacular rate of replication of viruses when a person is infected with the actual disease.
There are such concepts as viral load wherein the number of viruses/ their growth can be ascertained. External signs such as fever and rash which last for days can signal this process.

I’m saying this as someone who didn’t get a measles vaccine because I got the measles first and was sick for weeks ( or so my older cousins tell me because I don’t really remember much of the experience)

@vaccinepapers: Autism is more prevalent amongst boys than amongst girls. How aluminium adjuvant is more dangerous to boys than to girls. What difference their immune system have ?
Cite aluminium injection experiment with a realistic dose.
Cite possible mechanism of neuroimflammation aluminium causes.
Check EPA aluminium daily allowed intake.

Curious thing is that nobody claims to know more about software engineering than a software engineer. They always ask questions, usually at RTFM level. Why they think that they know more about medicine than doctors.
(RTFM means read the f***ing manual)

Too bad Dan, not a scientist, Steinberg didn’t consult with his hero Exley before spouting off. Come to think of it, he could use a copy of Janeway but that would be way too over his head.

@vaccinepapers: EPA regulates aluminium in drinking water, and thus has NOAEL
and LOAEL for aluminium. Here:
https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/pprtv/documents/Aluminium.pdf
For developmental neurotoxilogy NOAEL was 95 mg Al/kg-day and LOAEL 133 mg Al/kg-day. A bit more than vaccines. And EPA does not like metals in water, I quarantee.
(NOAEL stands for no obversed adverse effect and LOAEL stands for least observed adverse effect)
For nanoparticles, you cite powder crystallography and electron microscopy studies. But powder crystallography is about powder, that is dried material, and electron microscope specimen must be prepared. Neither means that you picture what happens inside of a vial of liquid vaccine.
Genetic studies compare homozygous and heterozygous twins. Both of these have same environment. Paper I cited noticed that in case of for heterozygous twins, you can change correlation by changing autism prevalence. A possibility of environmental effect is there.
As for your knowledge for immunology, last time you did not understand basis of desenzitation therapy, cited unrelated Nobel lecture delivered before ww1, and did not grasp concept of immunological self. And thought that there is no difference between gram and nanogram. I am sure that Orac knows more than that.
Vaccination indeed activates immune system AGAINST a pathogen. Usually immune system does not attack self, but there are exception. So a bit detailed theory is needed there.

Comments are closed.