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Dr. Edward Fogarty’s antivaccine rant: Where’s my paper bag again?

Dr. Edward Fogarty is a radiologist who thinks he knows about vaccines. He recently published a deranged antivaccine rant in the form of an open letter to the Washington State legislature, thus bringing shame on his fellow physicians. Where’s my paper bag again?

In May, I will have been a physician for 31 years, and in July I will have been practicing my particular specialty of surgery for 20 years straight. The difference between those times comes from my doing a residency, getting my PhD, and doing a fellowship, which together combined took 11 years. (Yes, I was a glutton for punishment and don’t know whether, if I had it to do over again, I’d go the same way, except that a different path could easily have resulted in my never having met my wife, which is unimaginable and unacceptable). Basically, what I’m getting at is that I was a doctor a long time before I started combatting Holocaust denial on USENET (1998) and before I started the first version of this blog (2004). Since I started combatting medical pseudoscience and antivaccine misinformation, I’ve learned something about my fellow physicians. Far too many of them are prone to believe in medical pseudoscience. Indeed, back in the early days of this blog, I used to joke about wanting to put a paper bag over my head (or even a Doctor Doom mask to cover my face) because I was so ashamed of a fellow physician making a fool of himself supporting creationism, quackery, or antivaccine misinformation. It’s not a schtick that I do any more—and haven’t for a number of years—but I recently saw something written by a physician that wanted me to do more than resurrect an old blog schtick and instead actually put a paper bag over my head in shame. Meet Edward Fogarty, MD, Chairman of Radiology at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine. (Yes, he is a fellow academic physician, believe it or not after you read his post.) Now behold his post on the website of the antivaccine group Informed Choice Washington, Philosophical Exemptions as Behavioral Economic Signals of Fraud: An Open Letter. Here’s yet another example that most doctors are not scientists.

Before I start, let me just remind you that Washington is a state that is currently experiencing a major outbreak of measles, thanks to low uptake of the MMR vaccine. According to the Washington State Department of Health, the outbreak is up to 71 cases as of yesterday, 70 in Clark County and one in King County. I’ve written about this outbreak before. Washington County is across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, and as a result of the outbreak there have been efforts in the state legislature to eliminate so-called philosophical or personal belief exemptions to school vaccine mandates. (Unfortunately, no one is trying to remove religious exemptions.) In any event, Informed Choice Washington is an antivaccine group doing its best to prevent the elimination of personal belief exemptions. (If you don’t believe it’s an antivaccine3 group, just peruse its website for a while; you’ll recognize all the familiar antivaccine tropes.)

So it’s not surprising that Dr. Fogarty is completely down with antivaccine nonsense and lays down a heaping helping of it. However, he does it in a way that I don’t quite recall having seen before. Before I begin, remember that Dr. Fogarty is a radiologist. Radiologists are primarily diagnosticians, and many don’t have a lot of interaction with patients other than through images. True, interventional radiologists do procedures on patients, and many mammographers perform core needle biopsies on women suspected of having breast cancer, but that’s not the same as evaluating and treating a patient from the get-go. Radiologists are invaluable for patient care, without a doubt, but sometimes, like all too many doctors (particularly surgeons), they seem not to know their own limitations, as was the case with Gordie Howe’s son.

So let’s see what Dr. Fogarty has to say. First, he brags about his background:

I am a practicing physician with multiple state licenses who has had the privilege of being the Chairman of Radiology at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine for the last 12 years. My pathways of understanding many issues in medicine and law have dovetailed over understandings of fraud in science and medicine. I am associated with a large network of attorneys and physicians who have the best intentions of employing whistleblower statutes and legal leverage where possible to alert our fellow citizens of Federal and State Fraud, Waste and Abuse practices.

Translation, as Dr. Fogarty admits later: He’s an expert witness for parents bringing action for “vaccine injury.” Why does he do it? Apparently because he has an autistic son whose autism he blames on vaccines. Indeed, he claims that his son “has an epigenetic risk of neuroimmunologic and neurodevelopmental problems related to metals handling in his body due to Methylene Tetrahydrofolate Reductase genes.” Yes, indeed. He buys into MTHFR pseudoscience, which involves dubious conclusions from testing for MTHFR mutations with respect to predisposition to “vaccine injury” that are not based in evidence that’s been called out by genetics experts.

Next, Dr. Fogerty abuses the concept of “As Low As Reasonably Achievable” (ALARA):

From an overview perspective of medicine by way of interacting with every specialty in multiple states, my profession of medical imaging has a unique observational role and its practitioners a unique voice in medical ethics and public health. The profession of radiology relies on a primary principle of ALARA in the protection of public health. This is especially relevant on a developmental continuum in pediatric radiology. This acronym stands for As Low As Reasonably Achievable.

At its core, the ALARA concept imparts the understanding that we should strive to reduce the dose of toxins in our practice of medicine to achieve the therapeutic goals of Interventional Radiology or the goals of Diagnostic Imaging for our colleagues tracking disease via the most advanced machines of modern physics in medicine.

Whether those toxins are purely waveforms, or a mix of waveforms from injected metals (radioisotopes), or a non-radioactive metal such as gadolinium, we must always strive to protect our patients from this genetic and immunologically harmful substances under our Hippocratic Oath.

“Immunologically harmful substances”? You and I both know where this is going. He’s about to discuss vaccines as harmful. I know he’s about to lay down a whole heaping helping of antivaccine pseudoscience, which is exactly what he proceeds to do. But first he has to claim that there are parallels between pediatricians and radiologists when it comes to ALARA, and, yes, the parallel to him is between radiologists minimizing exposure to radiation and contrast agents used in imaging studies. Hilariously, he brags about the role of radiologists in diagnosing “vaccine injury,” as if that were something to be proud of when the “injuries” attributed to vaccines by antivaxers like Dr. Fogarty are not caused by vaccines. Let’s put it this way. Blaming autism, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), asthma, autoimmune disease, and other conditions that aren’t caused by vaccines is nothing to be proud of. Dr. Fogarty opines:

Increasingly, vaccine injuries are being diagnosed by the world’s radiology community. The well characterized Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants (ASIA) is often documented in MRI images as Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA). This has resulted in the occupational disability of many healthcare workers around the nation in recent years with the push for 100% compliance in healthcare for the use of influenza vaccines.

I must be behind on my antivaccine pseudoscience. Of course, I’m well familiar with ASIA, the bogus autoimmune syndrome supposedly caused by aluminum adjuvants that was invented by Israeli antivaxer Yehuda Shoenfeld. Also, SIRVA is a real syndrome, basically long-lasting shoulder pain after vaccination that’s associated with inadverent injection into the deltoid bursa or joint space and thought to be due to an immune reaction. It has nothing to do with ASIA which is a nonexistent syndrome that’s so vaguely defined as to be useless as a diagnosis.

Next up, some fear mongering about influenza vaccines. Yes, according to Dr. Fogarty, we should be worried about covert biological warfare. I must admit that I laughed out loud when I read this:

This is not only a costly loss of worker productivity, influenza vaccines are a yearly unethical experiment because of the lack of any safety studies on these medical products. Influenza vaccines are distributed within weeks of their development and have repeatedly been found contaminated aftermarket release in the last 20 years. Our national healthcare security through the workforce of physicians, nurses, laboratory and radiology technologists is placed at risk for political espionage even as more vaccines are manufactured in jurisdictions that could use these products as Trojan horses for slow viruses or prions. Epidemiologically, my colleagues in public health, Neurology or Infectious Disease will need years and many exposures to identify a signal if such covert biological warfare is occurring even now.

Yes, you read that right. Dr. Fogarty thinks our vaccine program is being infiltrated and vaccines might be used as Trojan horses for slow viruses or prions. As for inadequate testing of influenza vaccines, the components of the vaccine remain the same every year except for the proteins used to provoke an immune response, which vary depending on the predicted dominant flu strains. This is not unethical experimentation; it is public health.

I must admit that Dr. Fogarty is talented at the Gish gallop. He invokes bioinformatics in an impressive-sounding but scientifically vapid manner. He tries to paint traumatic brain injury (TBI) as being really due to aluminum from—you guessed it!—vaccines. It’s the same sort of vile gambit that antivaxers have used by trying to claim that shaken baby syndrome (SBS, now known as abusive head trauma) is a misdiagnosis for “vaccine injury.” He also claims to have “published several neuroimaging statistical analyses of brain injury from metals linked through TBI and dementia.” So I went to PubMed and looked for his publications. Dr. Fogarty has six publications listed, which is not very impressive for the chairman of a department. One advantage, though, is that this small number allowed me to peruse the abstracts of all of them. All I can conclude is that Dr. Fogarty likes to study MRI and/or SPECT images of the brain before and after hyperbaric oxygen therapy for head trauma, drowning, and Alzheimer’s dementia. There’s nothing there that I can see that has anything to do with aluminum.

None of this stops him from claiming:

Mild recurrent encephalitis from trauma with iron is being defined as CTE in our athletes and on MRIs with specific sequences (SWI), capturing the virtual history of this recurrent chronic encephalitis by medical imaging techniques recoding iron/hemosiderin deposits. It is no stretch to suggest that autism in some children may be a complex metals detoxification impairment syndrome from stepwise recurrent encephalitis. This relates to a myriad of environmental toxins such as lead, mercury and aluminum as well as cytokine stimulus from viral illnesses, some being proprietary live infections from a corporation named Merck. Basic immunology and periodic table politics aside, would you as a legislator mandate YOUR OWN participation in a marketplace that has no liability for its products? There is no liability for these products and thus the best real economic mechanism we have left to discern fraud is consumer choice.

I’ll give Dr. Fogarty more credit. Not only is he very good at the Gish gallop. He knows how to weave a bunch of unrelated findings together in a superficially convincing-sounding way. Scientists with any actual knowledge of the relevant sciences know it as biobabble. Remember technobabble from Star Trek:The Next Generation? Techobabble was scientific-sounding nonsense that the writers of the show were fond of to describe and resolve plot problems. Think of biobabble as the same thing, only with biology. Or maybe I should call it immunobabble instead. Either way, it’s nonsense dressed up in science-y sounding gibberish.

Oh, and Dr. Fogarty believes that the useful idiot to the antivaccine movement, Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, is actually on to something, rather than being part of a silly conspiracy theory cooked up by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and antivaccine journalist Sharyl Attkisson.

He then finishes with a hyperbolic flourish, addressing the Washington legislature:

If removing philosophical exemptions to participation in fraudulent unregulated markets are what your collective actions bring to bear in your state, you may find liabilities that you did not anticipate. I can say this without reservation, the most pervasive molecular crime against humanity in the last 20 years has been the use of aluminum injections on day one of life which have no medical indication. Diagnostic medicine has long ago marked the crime of medical assault on American babies whose mothers’ obstetric laboratory panels have shown millions of times over that they are delivering antibodies against the Hep B vaccine itself to their fetuses. There is no medical indication for a vaccine on day one of life outside of active infection of the mother. The rest of my colleagues in medicine would be sued or lose their license for serial billing of the state or insurance companies on completely worthless un-indicated interventions like Hep B on day one, or for that matter, at 2 months of life.

Aluminum in vaccines are the “most pervasive molecular crime against humanity in the last 20 years”? (One wonders what the other “molecular crimes against humanity in the last 20 years” were.) But don’t call Dr. Fogarty antivaccine. Don’t you dare call him that! As for the hepatitis B vaccine on day one after birth? Actually, there are a number of very good, scientifically justifiable reasons to administer it.

Then:

I believe you can all see now that the only check and balance in the system against fraud in vaccine science is a public consumer (parents) becoming aware within our nation discourse regarding these issues. Please hold the line on the philosophical exceptions for the greater good of Washington’s political well-being. Forcing your youngest citizens to participate in a fraud and racketeering scheme is a violation of basic human rights. We first need ethical corporate leadership in the vaccine industry before we can trust our genetically-disabled to the gross negligence of entire generations of humans being treated like cattle. Thank you for your time and attention, may the wisdom of the great decision makers of history help you discern the best for your state regarding philosophical exemptions.

Now that’s some seriously over-the-top antivaccine ranting! I particularly salute Dr. Fogarty for his use of the term “cattle” and his self-restraint in not using the term “sheeple.”

Now where was that paper bag again? No, this one’s bad enough that I need the steel Doctor Doom mask. My embarrassment over my profession elicited by Dr. Fogarty’s ignorant, immunobabble-packed rant demands nothing less, as antivaccine doctors, particularly ones who lay down such pseudoscience on an epic scale, are among the worst of our profession.

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]

90 replies on “Dr. Edward Fogarty’s antivaccine rant: Where’s my paper bag again?”

As always, personal anecdotes seem to override mountains of empirical data. Maybe that’s what we should be finding a cure for…. headshake

Our national healthcare security through the workforce of physicians, nurses, laboratory and radiology technologists is placed at risk for political espionage even as more vaccines are manufactured in jurisdictions that could use these products as Trojan horses for slow viruses or prions.

OMG The Russians are coming or possibly an invasion by Togo? I have read that sentence three or four times and it still is crazy.

OMG The Russians are coming or possibly an invasion by Togo?

You haven’t heard about the Chinese hamster ovary scandal? Good sherson.

Shhhh….no one tell him the xray tube anodes in his dept come from the Lednikovy-Sarmaka mine in Russia and are secretly releasing slow neutrons to subvert his staff.

on American babies whose mothers’ obstetric laboratory panels have shown millions of times over that they are delivering antibodies against the Hep B vaccine itself to their fetuses.

Gah? I must be missing something here.
If he meant that a number of babies are protected from getting hepB infection at birth because the mother has somme immunity and passed on her antibodies, well, good for them, I would guess? But it’s like the measles antibodies the baby received from its mother: it’s only a transient protection. At some point in time the antibodies will run out and the child lose whatever protection they may have provided.
The ‘million of times’ also seem to say that every mother have these protecting antibodies. I’m not so sure about that. But I may be reading too much into it.

reading again

No, wait, he is talking about antibodies against the viral particles from the HepB vaccine itself. Err, yes? He said it like it’s a bad thing.

<< At some point in time the antibodies will run out and the child lose whatever protection they may have provided.>>

Yup … because even the crunchiest, hippiest mamas out there stop nursing their children well before the kids reach adolescence, much less middle age.

LOL—long ago and far away, when I was a bit more into hardcore LaLeche League, I was nursing one of my brood past the usual time, until one day my Mom came by and said, “for Chrisssesake Mimi, when she goes to kindergarten, are you going up to the school and hang your tit through the fence?”

Mom never minced words. i weaned the child, Same child had to be entirely revaxxed due to lost shot record, and she STILL DOESN‘T HAVE AUTISM!

Instead of worrying about prions being introduced into mandatory flu vaccines for hospital medical staff*, we should be more concerned the addition of psychotropic agents into the Bismarck, N.D. water supply, causing such an outpouring of weirdness from a department chairman at a medical school (and not the usual source of academic crazy, an emeritus prof).

According to a Texas “medical freedom” website, Dr. Fogarty is “an advisor to Robert F. Kennedy’s ad hoc vaccine safety team. His concept of Ethical Vaccinomics is a model for the middle ground of cost savings and improvement in vaccination timing. Ethical Vaccinomics respects the autonomy and consent issues of patients and families whose individual immune system conditioning can be more optimally performed by medical professionals under Hippocratic principles than any public health derived guidelines that ignore individual epigenetic risks of vaccination that have clear inappropriate developmental timelines for these critical immunological interventions.”

https://www.texasrighttoknow.com/stop-forced-vaccines

*some docs and nurses are bitterly opposed to mandatory flu shots for med staff (a policy in effect at my hospital and as far as I know, all the other major hospitals in the area), but I haven’t heard of anyone locally fulminating about the risk of bioterrorism from a flu shot.

A. Even as a non-doctor, I can’t help but cringe at connecting ASIA with SIRVA. A shoulder injury from bad administration technique (which should not happen, and is something we really should prevent) is an autoimmune disease? Is that something most doctors would even take seriously?

B. There is no complete bar to liability. There are liability protections but they’re not absolute. He’s wrong there, too.

I like to pharse it as you cannot give someone the permission to commit a crime against you. Even if you consent to a risky medical procedure your u have not consented to medical negligence, let alone assault.

If you wanted to torture us all with prions and had so much control over a whole industry that you could keep thousands of dedicated professionals in the ignorant for decades…wouldn’t you go for the beef industry?

I wrote a comment the other day about how the antivax crew was being disingenuous by taking out billboards suggesting people educate themselves about the vaccine issue. At the time, I suggested that I didn’t have much faith in people being able to educate themselves because most people don’t seem to know how to self-check effectively or sort true information from false information if they have no quality metric for discarding crap –which I think is very difficult and have continued to elevate in my own experience as I’ve confronted my own limits. I suggested that the billboard would have been a more honest appeal if it has said “Got questions about vaccines? Speak to your physician.” I lamented that the bid of antivaxxers was to circumvent expertise, which I feel does have an important place in this world.

This current blog post shows the difficulty of expertise. If experts come out saying crap, then who can laypeople ever trust? Two time Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling went for vitamin C hyperdosing. Luc Montagnier went for Homeopathy of all things. Roger Penrose shoved quantum mysticism into biology. There are so many great scientists who seem to later come into odds with scientific consensus. And, even so, sometimes it’s true that scientific consensus needs to be knocked down once in a while, but the weight required to do that is usually much larger than laypeople would like to believe it is. Experts turning against consensus had better have very good reasons. It makes me wary about the blind stamp of expertise. How many Dr. Jays are out there giving bad advice from a position of trust?

What is a responsible recommendation for when to disregard the advise of an expert without altogether undermining the role of expertise? Every time an expert opens his or her mouth, they are treading on needles.

Science Mom writes,

“Well stated Foolish Physicist. These “Brave Mavericks” are enabling if not encouraging some to create their own realities.”

MJD says,

Is this a classic example of Science Mom’s “skeptic-babble.” In reality, foolish Physicist’s are not often well stated and brave Maverick’s often create and share their own reality.

” If experts come out saying crap, then who can laypeople ever trust?”

That’s very important. Several times a week, I listen to a woo-meister who constantly invokes Nobel laureates like Pauling, Mullis and Montagnier to support his own brand of hooey. In addition, he makes use of actual research in real journals ( most of them bad or unrelated), sometimes distorted to fit, sometimes dodgy in itself, all whilst waving his “doctorate” about and touting his career as a “research fellow”. Obviously, this is cargo culting BUT what if the proselytiser is an expert or professional? Every time I hear the name, Jordan Peterson, I cringe and want a paper bag of my own, even if it would muss my hair.

I think that we can advise newbies to look further into the current state of science involved: using AGW as an example, naysayers may laud the “many scientists” who doubt it BUT it’s easy to see that the great MAJORITY of them in the most related fields are not deniers. Long ago, hiv/aids denialists conjured up a list of “2000 experts” who were expert only at their denial of the reality of hiv and aids. If you look carefully at that list, you’d discover that many of them were not scientists at all. Similarly, anti-vaccine “science” is “supported” by parents and a few scientists, often not in relevant fields, as well as a few maverick physicians. We would have to point out their inconsistencies within their work as well as how they stand out from the vast majority of people educated and trained in relevant fields- like medicine, virology, epidemiology.

I’ve always said that woo needs conspiracy theories to exist because how else can you explain why your brilliance is not recognised by the vast consensus of experts and accepted as standard. Every objection to the current state of the art is not a harbinger of paradigm shift.
Of course, we can point this out.

With regard specifically to AGW, I’ve been treading this line with a relative. He’s finally admitting that climate warming is occurring, which I regard as a victory, but is still hesitant to agree with where the science is attributing blame. What worries me is that he, for all of his truly genuine and earnest willingness to look for information, really can’t seem to appropriately weight his sources. Like so many other people that I know about, his first recourse when considering what someone says is “Well, this guy is a PhD and he has all these books,” and this despite the fact that I pointed out that the first paragraph of an article he’s given me has basic physics problems.

I think people genuinely want to know. I just wish there were a way for expertise to enter a discussion completely without varnish. If the source says what they want it to say, they look for the PhD and say, “See, there, this guy knows what he’s talking about.” But, if it says something different than they want, they look at the same information and say, “Well, this guy is a professor at a liberal college; he has a Left leaning agenda, I’m not agreeing with that.” or maybe, “This guy is an academic, when was the last time he was in contact with the real world?”

When I’ve got bit of down time, I’ve been trying to track down big climate papers in high impact journals on Web of Science. I figure, if he wants to read, the best I can do is hunt down the quality information for him. Is there some way to convince Big Tech to do this with their search results?

“What is a responsible recommendation for when to disregard the advise of an expert without altogether undermining the role of expertise? Every time an expert opens his or her mouth, they are treading on needles.”

From what I’ve witnessed, the only cure to an expert going astray is being called out on his bullshit by the skeptics.

I also believed that the landscape has changed quite a bit over the last few decades. Experts a generation or two ago were rather entrenched in their belief to know the truth, and often came out speaking publicly in rather grandiose terms, thus abusing authority. Younger experts seem to be much more cautious about their choice of words. To me it’s a rather positive development that I believe is going on.

the most pervasive molecular crime against humanity

Oh this is a keeper.

His rantings invoke a statement from an NVICP decision regarding the testimonies of Tenpenny and Moulder that I’ll paraphrase:
His open letter was interlaced with the rustle of chiropteran flapping in campanological spaces.

the most pervasive molecular crime against humanity in the last 20 years

What are the other molecular crimes against humanity?

Orac writes,

“I’d go the same way, except that a different path could easily have resulted in my never having met my wife, which is unimaginable and unacceptable”

MJD says,

Your wife’s path also played into the “meet” equation.

Q. What’s unimaginable in a skeptic’s thought process.

A. An unacceptable variable.

@ Orac,

Is atypical adaptive-immunity, after vaccination, a co-morbid factor in the etiology of allergy-induced regressive autism?

MJD:

Do you really think that mentioning Ms O will make Orac smile benevolently upon your pet BS?
I would think the opposite.

Just commenting on something Orac brought up in the post, Denice Walter (minion #1).

@ lesser minions,

When Orac brings his wife into the conversation during the post, isn’t it within respectfully-insolent rules to make a valid point based on her inclusion?

FYI – Orac has already rejected one (1) of MJD’s comments directed at “other molecular crimes against humanity”

He did. He did! The dochniak has distimmed the doshes again!
The man is a machine, I tell you!

FYI – Orac has already rejected one (1) of MJD’s comments directed at “other molecular crimes against humanity”

Ah, faux legalese. How cute.

The dochniak distimms the doshes twice in one post’s comments. Will he go for the hat trick?

Old Rockin’ Dave asks,

Will he go for the hat trick?

MJD says,

In an article from PLOS Blogs Network (2017) titled, “Controlling disease outbreaks in the National Hockey League,” author Atif Kukaswadia writes, “Interestingly, nothing is mandated, with a statement from the committee encouraging ‘booster shots’ of the vaccine and recommended changes to ‘bench and locker room behaviour’ but noting that decisions for mumps and any other diseases are made at the club level [referring to the NHL’s 31 franchises].”

https://blogs.plos.org/blog/2017/08/21/five-for-fighting-three-to-six-for-mumps-controlling-disease-outbreaks-in-the-nhl-part-1/

@ Orac,

Convince the NHL to mandate vaccinations and the rest of the uncivilized world will follow. 🙂

Whether those toxins are purely waveforms, or a mix of waveforms…

Urk? What the bloody h… kind of utter made-up gibberish is this? Is he somehow trying to introduce quantum duality in the field of toxicology? Like toxicles? Or wavins?
And this guy is still allowed to work with patients? shudder

And this guy is still allowed to work with patients?

I would imagine that being chairman involves a lot of administrative work. What surprised me was the length of his tenure in the position — it usually rotated in the fields I was in and was considered more of a duty than anything else.

That’s not how it generally works in clinical departments, where being chairman is a lot more prestigious and chairs hold a lot more power. It’s not like a lot of humanities departments, where various senior faculty take turns being chair, and being chair is more a burden than anything else.

There are less than a million people in North Dakota and about 62,000 in Bismarck, a pretty dismal place, so maybe no one else has shown interest..

Actually, I lived in Minot ND for two years. We’d drive down to Bismarck for outings as it had more to offer than Minot did at the time (1998-2000). I liked North Dakota. Too cold and not enough opportunities long term, but well worth the time I spent there.

He’s a radiologist. He’s referring to therapeutic or diagnostic radiation as a toxin, since it has a risk of harm as well as a benefit.

Another radiologist who seems to be into woo is Dietrich Grönemeyer (brother of the German singer and actor (Das Boot) Herbert Grönemeyer). Alas I can only find some German stuff.

I also enjoyed Fogarty triumphantly citing his being licensed in multiple states as an indication of expertise (it actually only means he had the patience to fill out forms and pay fees).
Heck, I am licensed in multiple states but that doesn’t mean I’m qualified to do surgery, though technically I could if I wanted to.

“…as a result of the outbreak there have been efforts in the state legislature to eliminate so-called philosophical or personal belief exemptions to school vaccine mandates. (Unfortunately, no one is trying to remove religious exemptions.)”

Would a law that allowed “religious” exemptions but not those based on a “philosophical or personal belief” survive a constitutional challenge? It would effectively give rights to people based on religious beliefs that would be denied to atheists and agnostics — or to believers whose opposition wasn’t based on their faith — which strikes me as something that might violate the First Amendment.

Any constitutional lawyers out there who might be able to shed some light on this?

Not a lawyer at all, but II do wonder which religion it is that has an established doctrine that objects to vaccinations specifically? Perhaps Christian Science? ( Was there ever a more daftly, and oxymoronically, named religion?)

I do wonder which religion it is that has an established doctrine that objects to vaccinations specifically?

There’s always Kevin Barry’s “Universal Family Church.” The decisions of the New York State Commissioner of Education might make interesting reading in this context.

I’m trying to remember if my CS friend in college said she’d been vaccinated. I can’t remember, but I do remember I was horrified (and didn’t conceal that at all).

I don’t think there are any large/major denominations of any world religion that are against vaccination. It’s usually the smaller, more ‘fringe’ groups (of any religion) or people who are religious but belong to a sect of two families or similarly small group.

Courts have accepted religious exemptions in the past. States may run into trouble, though, trying to justify denying an exemption to someone with a broad philosophical based worldview that includes opposition to vaccines. I have trouble thinking what that would be. A claim against a hospital flu mandate based on veganism (not school) was allowed to go forward under the Civil Rights act of 1964.

Also, some scholars suggest, echoing you, that these exemptions violate the Lemon test, which examines when states are too entangled with religion.

However, at this point, no court had found that religious exemptions are unconstitutional.

Yes, thanks, and I now realize that these religious exemptions are very broad–and probably should be in most contexts. But it IS aggravating that people use them in this way.

Even if they are sure to win, I think most legislatures would be very reluctant to remove religious exemptions, for political reasons. American exceptionalism.

@RJ: I think you’re right. The reason most states have religious exemptions is political: we are a religious country, and that’s unlikely to change easily. It could, however, change if outbreaks are large enough.

However, at this point, no court had found that religious exemptions are unconstitutional.

Mississippi, Brown v. Stone?

You’re right, though the focus there was an equal protection claim, not religious exemption per se.

I would say that the Brown decision is weak – there is a reason it was not taken up by other states: it’s equal protection analysis is minimal.

But yes, you are completely right, and I misspoke. Brown ddi strike down a religious exemption.

In marginally better news, the surprisingly conservative leaning editorial board of the (independently owned and operated) Seattle Times has come out firmly in favor of eliminating PBEs for school vaccines in Washington State.

I can’t wait to see the sea of woo in the letters to the editor tomorrow, complaining.

Ha, I’d forgotten the PI was still around!

Surprisingly the only letter to the editor today was someone saying how great the American Army is (in response to something about Microsoft and defense contracting). (Western Washington is more Navy than anything else, which added a little extra weird to this rant.)

“Firing squad, ready, aim, assassinate character.”

Deserved. A delusional physician is more dangerous than a delusional patient.

The assassination of Fogarty’s character was an inside job.

At least Ball’s character has never needed assassination.

Mr. Ball, why do you think children should suffer high fevers, pain and the other effects of vaccine preventable diseases like seizures and pneumonia? Do you have some sadistic bent that enjoys the suffering of kids?

Seriously, tell me why children, especially babies, need to get chicken pox. Explain why fever, open itchy wounds and a chance of getting shingles later (even in their 20s if they had the disease before first birthday, like my youngest) is so much better than two doses of the varicella vaccine. Be sure to support your answer with PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers.

Also, Mr. Ball, you must be gloriously celebrating and salivating at the over seventy cases of measles in the Pacific Northwest. Most of them unvaccinated children. What does a sadistic child hater do when so many kids have high fevers, light sensitivity and with a chance of permanent disability deal with that much suffering? I can’t imagine what evil things you are doing.

Nobody if forcing you or Fogarty to post the stupid twaddle you do. So sorry if we hurt your widdle feelings.

If you honestly think that the OP consists only in character assassination, the real problem appears to be that you don’t know how to read. This would apply even if Orac’s conclusions were definitely incorrect. Perhaps you should sue your alma mater.

What good will removing the PBE in Washington if only to have the religious one remain? I don’t think anyone is so naive to think that religious exemptions won’t soar through the roof.

Yeah, there’s that. I mean, maybe there are a few people who would rather get around to protecting their kids rather than be labeled “religious nutter”, but probably not many.

Then again I get the impression that the PNW is a lot of “spiritual not religious”, not that you could tell from where I live, across the street form a church, down the street form a church and up the hill from two churches. So if people really aren’t religious then maybe they wouldn’t use the religious exemption?

So if people really aren’t religious then maybe they wouldn’t use the religious exemption?

The problem one has here is an enforcement mechanism, which is why I referred to the NYSED decisions earlier. Is Washington prepared to scrutinize religious exemptions to the extent that New York State does? I tend to doubt it, but I don’t know for sure.

The Danish research is run on a large population and over a long period of time. And nobody can game the data because in Denmark we have universal health care and everything is registered. So as I understand it all the researchers in Denmark have to do is just mine the data. Who got vaccinated, who has autism, what is the difference in distribution. It really ought to be the last word in the debate about whether MMR causes Autism. But I guess there is some truth to the old saying that it is difficult to logically argue people out of a position that they haven’t logically arrived at in the first place.

“But I guess there is some truth to the old saying that it is difficult to logically argue people out of a position that they haven’t logically arrived at in the first place.”

Or the shorter version: “Reason only works with reasonable people.”

Thank you for the thoughtful comment and the info about the Danish health care system.

(Sorry—I’m going to go off topic here and also get sarcastic) Imagine that—everyone having access to care. It’s like health care is considered a right, not a commodity or a privilege. Why, it’s as if the people and their well being are considered more valuable than politics, or what an economic system is called. Well, here in the US we have our elected pinheads to protect us from the threat of equal access to good health care. Sigh.

OK, rant over.

“Well, here in the US we have our elected pinheads to protect us from the threat of equal access to good health care.”

As a casual outside observer it seams to me the main ones driving the push against universal health case down in the US are the very very rich HMO’s be effectively buy the politicians who will keep their gravy train trundling along.

For the longest time I could never fathom why the US spends something like twice the average per GDP of comparable industrialized nations on health care and not cover everyone for everything, but then I realized the main motivation of so much of the system there is not so much patient care, but corporate care.

So does anyone want to guess how the anti vaccine lobbyists (attempted) refutation of the study will go?
I saw one comment which seemed to be suggesting that the disparity in numbers of vaccinated vs unvaccinated was important; although I read the numbers at approx 4000 completely unvaccinated children in the study with half a million vaccinated, so not too shabby.

My guess is that they will misinterpret or misrepresent the statistical analysis to try and show that the study is too flawed to be taken seriously as these figures are out of the league of most of us (myself included) for easy understanding.

“And nobody can game the data because in Denmark we have universal health care and everything is registered.”

Likely the Danish data is much more difficult to game than American, but impossibility claims are hazardous and unnecessary. We are dealing with people who serially accuse scientists of absurd absolute claims; let’s not give them ammunition.

Just a suggestion; I don’t actually have any substantive disagreement.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, the outbreak is up to 71 cases as of yesterday, 70 in Clark County and one in King County.

It’s now at 206 total. Rockland County in New York seems to be doing the heavy lifting,

There’s also 15 measles cases in Vancouver in Canada, and 1 in Toronto. The 1 in Toronto was unvaccinated, but that was because the child was less than a year old at the time. The initial patients in the Vancouver cases were unvaccinated due to autism fears by the father over ten years ago. (The father, at least, now knows better rather than doubling down.)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/measles-toronto-confirmed-case-travel-1.5043924
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/father-vancouver-measles-outbreak-1.5022891

The father, at least, now knows better rather than doubling down.

Unlike the hospital:

“Bilodeau brought him to B.C. Children’s Hospital on Jan. 21. He said medical staff were aware that the boy hadn’t been vaccinated, but they ruled out measles and instead conducted tests for malaria and influenza.

“His other two sons started showing symptoms soon after, but it took several trips to the hospital before it was determined measles was the culprit although Bilodeau says he mentioned the possibility to doctors.

[…]

“‘Our physicians and staff thoroughly assess each child that presents in our Emergency Department and treat them accordingly. Should a parent raise a concern about a specific disease, including measles, it would be discussed and then followed up on as appropriate,’ said the statement.

“A blood test ordered by VCH has since confirmed his youngest son has measles, and the other two are still waiting for confirmation, Bilodeau said.”

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