Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A blogoversary; the Good, the Bad, and the Hypocrisy

In the midst of my after-Christmas lethargy, I came to realize that I’ve had this little blog for a year now. So much has happened, some good, some bad.

For example; my son is beginning to understand that he can use a toilet to urinate. This is a fascinating endeavor for him, made more-so by his mother’s gleeful reactions and the handful of treats he receives as a reward. The bad, though, is that we cannot seem to break him of the habit of playing with his feces and smearing it everywhere. And I honestly have no clue how to correct this behavior.

More good; we recently got a very nice house, much larger than our previous one with an enormous yard. The bad; other than having to mow this enormous yard, we had to move, change our number, and various other things in order to hide from a very loathsome and creepy internet stalker. The fact that I completely ignore this worm and he continues to try to harass me speaks volumes about his lack of maturity and intelligence. Really, I think he has some weird obsession/vendetta. Perhaps he’s a closet homosexual who has fixated on me. While I have no problems with homosexuals (under normal circumstances I would think that such attention is flattering if misguided), coming from this guy, it is extremely nauseating and disgusting. Not to mention how badly his fixation disturbs my family. My wife has had to purchase a gun, and she’s taking shooting lessons (which she greatly enjoys), and our new house has an alarm installed in case his strange obsession crosses the line more than it already has. Sadly, there is very little I can do to retaliate other than ignore him and do what I’ve already done. But, if I find him on my doorstep, then he has a very nasty surprise waiting for him.

Good; the Nate man loves his new house! He has a nice bed (a racecar…and he actually SLEEPS in it…will wonders never cease?), a nice front porch that runs the length of the house that he uses as a runway. The bad: We have a pond in the back that he decided to try to jump into. Scared the shit out of both myself and my wife, because this is one of the greatest fears she and I have concerning his safety. However, it is my hope that his realization of how freakin’ cold the water was will curb his enthusiasm to jump in again.

But, I digress. Reflecting on things from the past year has made me remember why I started blogging in the first place. It was at the suggestion of Kim Wombles that I start this blog, and it is one thing that she offered that I truly am thankful for. Sadly, Kim has descended into hypocrisy and rhetoric, so she and I no longer have correspondence. Occasionally, though, I take the opportunity to check out her blog and see what she’s been up to. And also, continuing with the topic of false skepticism and pseudo-skeptics, I thought I would write a little about what I read there.

Recently, she wrote a piece about Christmas cheer. While I found it quite interesting, I felt I should point out the good and the bad in her article (you’re noticing a theme here, I suspect).

On the subject of where the Christmas cheer is in our little community, she begins with the following:

“I think we know it's not in the angry places. I wish it were. I wish sincerely, fervently, that each person over at AoA would have a merry Christmas, one in which they are surrounded by their loved ones and able to celebrate that they have each other.”

This is a lovely sentiment, and coming from almost any other person, I would take it as sincere and heartfelt and express the same sentiments in return. However, coming from Kim, it seems to ring hollow. Let’s continue with her article and you’ll see why.

“I was commenting at Laura's this morning that it's depressing as hell to read them, and it is. It's also interesting, though, that on the blog AoA put up to illustrate that the anti-vaccine label is misapplied (quoting from Harold's post refuting Kev Leitch's post), that so many of them are proudly anti-vaccine. 

Can't we move past this? Can't we, for gods' sakes, stop beating the hell out of each other? No? Okay then. Right.”

The anti-vaccine label IS misapplied. You see, the pseudo-skeptics apply this label to anyone who questions in any way the safety of vaccines, even if they have vaccinated their family.

And yes, it is depressing to read AoA. I have a lot of respect for many of the people there, but I’ve noticed recently that they are just descending into personal attacks and vengeful rhetoric. I can’t take that anymore. It saddens me greatly that they have had 3 strikes with me, and now they’ve lost someone who willingly defended them.

But, on the other hand, can we not see why they do so? I certainly can. But looking at Kim’s above comments, we can see that she doesn’t understand. More on that in a moment.

“There's real rancor here between some of these folks who've been on the interwebz slinging this shit out for years. There's swagger and bluster and whipping it out to see whose is the biggest of all. Are they fighting for king of the interwebz?  Is there a medal, a trophy? No? If I felt like photoshopping one, I could make one, but I don't.

No, instead, I am frustrated.

Frustrated that people can write things like
this: "PharmaKorp Nazi Drug Troopers has a nice ring to it. Hey? Has anyone explored the connection of the Pharmaceutical industry with Nazi Germany? Seriously."

Seriously disturbed that AoA's unabashedly anti-vaccine poster person can write
this: "Autism will come raping or should I saw wrapping at their door, and they will soon find themselves in the oh shit position." Bless her, she's more than drank from "the bitter cup"; she's bathed in it, steeped in it. And her rhetoric hurts to read.”

See, she thinks it is ok to call someone a dumbass or mock and ridicule someone because they feel that their child’s condition is caused by vaccines, but it isn’t ok for these people to defend themselves or retaliate in a similar vein. That, boys and girls, is called a double standard.

Yes, the comments were bad. But, are they any worse than someone comparing members of the AoA team to the Nazi leaders? Or saying that they hope that all of our children die of vaccine preventable diseases? Or having someone spit in your face because you were passing out flyers about vaccine ingredients? Or having some creep continually harass and stalk you after you explicitly told them to stop contacting you? Oh, right…I forget. Such tactics are ok only if you follow the dogma of those who claim to be science and evidence based.

No, I don’t think that this should be happening, and that’s one of the reasons why I spoke up against AoA, especially after the threatening post they did on their facebook page about Skepchick. But, if you’re going to attack AoA for their rhetoric, you should acknowledge and attack those whom you agree with about theirs. But, we don’t see that here, do we? It’s terrible when AoA makes what I perceive as threatening posts, but it’s perfectly ok when people she agrees with do the same. Yes, the hypocrisy is thick.

“Are all the commenters at AoA anti-vaccine or off the deep end? No. And the reality is that we can not assess how well these comments reflect the day-to-day lives of these people, either. Is their behavior situational and egged on by the close-knit community they have built there? Are they victims of group polarization? I suspect, based on the science regarding both personality and group polarization, that this is accurate. We see only one dimension of these people; we may not see them at their best. They may be venting, and the group they find themselves in reinforces a shift to the more extreme end of things. Certainly these two commenters I've singled out are the extreme end there, although there are several more who are close seconds.”

Here, she and I are in agreement. I truly believe that some of what goes on over at AoA is just venting. Hell, I used AoA quite a bit to vent some of my anger and frustration out. It was cathartic and in many ways comforting to know that I had people going through many of the same things I was going through. Now, I mostly use my blog.

“Should we hate these people? No.”

But she does. It shows every time she writes about AoA. It shows every time she calls someone a dumbass or bat-shit crazy. Or calls them anti-vaccine, an epithet that is synonymous with someone who is despised. Whether she believes it or not, those insults are hateful.

“Feel disgust? Yeah, those two comments are worthy of disgust, but if that's where we stop, we won't understand them, and for me, understanding these individuals is important.”

But she doesn’t understand them. And that’s the important distinction here. She doesn’t understand that these people are angry and frustrated because they feel as if no one is listening to them. They try and try to make people understand that their children may have had serious adverse reactions to a vaccine, and they are immediately called insulting names and labeled as fringe elements or compared to tea-baggers and birthers. Ever watch a non-verbal autistic child grow angry and frustrated because they can’t tell you what is wrong? It’s very similar.

“Can we change them, move them back from the brink? Oh, no I don't think so, but maybe if we understand how they got there, we'll be able to help others not go there. 
And that's where it is for me: understanding them so that we can create a community that stands in front of that abyss and lets no more go over.”

As long as you do not (or refuse to) understand them, you won’t be able to reach them. As long as you continue to treat them as inferior or as someone less than human, you won’t understand them. That is a simple fact of life.

“Mocking them is easy. Deriding them even more so. Compassion is harder, but if you look at them and realize that they have been broken by what they perceive as their burdens, then you must feel compassion.”

But that’s what she does. She mocks and derides them, which as we all know, is very compassionate. And she should also understand why they return the favor. I mean, we all know it is so very compassionate to call someone a dumbass or bat-shit crazy, right?

She goes on to discuss some of the blogs she visits, about the trials and struggles of these parents. And that is all fine and good. But, then she follows it up with this:

“We must look to those who do this so that we can help others do this, too. We must provide a community built on compassion and respect. We must continue to allow ourselves to feel just as keenly for those who dwell in the angry places as we do for those who get up and reject the angry places.”

Compassion and respect? She keeps using those words, but I do not think they mean what she thinks they mean. Compassion is the deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. Is that what we see from her? Take a moment to read some of what she’s written here and decide for yourselves. Is what she does respectful? Is she showing deferential regard or esteem to those she writes about? Is she trying to relate to them or show them concern? Again, consider some of the names she calls those she disagrees with and then decide for yourselves.

“So, today, I ask that if you read this blog, you spend a moment in contemplation for what it would take to lead you to the angry places, to dwell there. I ask that you picture yourself in the midst of that bitterness that has pervaded all and how you would ever see a flicker of light from down there in the abyss. And I ask you to have compassion. Yes, they're wrong. Oh my. Yes, they're damaging, but they do far greater damage to their own psyches than they can ever do to us. After all, we can still walk away from the edge of the abyss.

If you cannot feel compassion for those who have lost all hope (and so many there have), I think you lose an essential part of yourself and step just a little bit closer to that abyss.”

Wrong how? In their spiteful rhetoric? Yes, I agree. But so are the people she is so chummy with, those whom she idolizes. They are just as guilty of the same hateful rhetoric. Or is she alluding that they are wrong in their beliefs about how their child(ren) developed autism. How does she know this? Has she seen their medical records? She’s making some pretty definitive claims in the absence of evidence. That isn’t very science and evidence based, is it? They are damaging to whom? The pharmaceutical companies? By the fact that they are trying to change a corrupt industry’s out-of-control vaccination policies, then these people are somehow evil in her mind. At least, that is what I am gathering from her little diatribe here.

Oh, I know what some people are going to say. They are going to say I’m being a hypocrite because I use insults and belittling language with those I disagree with. Yes, I do. I freely and openly admit that. But, I don’t preach about being compassionate and pretend that I’m that way on one hand and then spew hateful insults and rhetoric on the other. I make no secret of the fact that I don’t like these people, and that they have done nothing to earn or receive my respect. The best way for me to respond to these hypocrites is with as much contempt and derision as I can muster.

She doesn’t feel compassion. She feels that because she is “science and evidence based,” then those she disagrees with are inferior to her and therefore should be pitied. In fact, if you look at her hateful rhetoric and the way she treats those she disagrees with, you can see that she is falling into the very trap that she warns you of in the previous passage. And this, my friends, is yet more hypocrisy. Do as I say, not as I do.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

False Skepticism

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a substantial post about the king of the anti-science shitheads, David H. Dorkski. Today, however, I’m taking a different approach and instead of attacking his insipid, drudging and puerile blog posts, I think I will address his beliefs and the falsehoods behind them. In fact, you can easily take what I am about to discuss and apply it to all of those who follow Doucheski’s vapid talking points.

Orac, and those who worship him, espouses himself as a skeptic. I think that to understand what this means, we must first look at the definition of the word and why he would believe himself to be a skeptic.

What does this mean, though? What is a skeptic?

First off, let us look at the meaning of the word as defined by several English language dictionaries. We will further compound this definition by examining their philosophical outlooks. Then, we will compare that with Orac’s interpretation and see if they match up.

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of Skepticism is as follows:

1: an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object

2a: the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain

b: the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism characteristic of skeptics

Let’s start with point one. Does Orac exhibit an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object? For the most part, I will say yes. But, this only goes so far. Before I explain why, let me continue with our analysis.

Looking at points 2a and 2b, does he follow the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain? Does he follow the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism characteristic of skeptics? Consider the following statements that I’m sure that you’ve all seen Orac say on numerous occasions:

“The Science has spoken. Vaccines do not cause autism.”

Ding ding ding!!!! We have a winner, folks!

Now, re-read points 2a and 2b. Is he following the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain (he claims with absolute certainty that vaccines cannot cause autism using flawed studies)? Does he follow the method of suspended judgment, etc. (the science has spoken…there is no more need to look further)?

Before I go any further, let me go back to point 1 again. Does Orac exhibit an attitude of doubt, etc.? As long as it does not defend his personal bias, yes he does. Anything that opposes his personal views, whether it be alternative cancer treatments, mercury dental amalgams, or the vaccine/autism link, then he is extremely doubtful and critical of it. But, when it defends his personal bias, then he does not turn a critical eye to it. Does that fall under the definition of skepticism? No, it does not.

Really, this is a human failing. I do not fault him at all whatsoever for having this selective skepticism because we all have a tendency to defend things that correspond with our own biases. AoA does this, I do this, and most people I’ve seen online do this. But where I take exception is when I see him mock and ridicule someone for being biased. As I have clearly demonstrated, he is just as biased. And I take great glee in pointing out such hypocrisy. This type of double standard is pathetic and should not, in any way, be taken seriously. But, Orac’s feeble-minded and drooling lickspittles soak it up as if it is a gift from the Gods. Disgusting and laughable.

Anyway, let’s move on. Let’s have a look at the Skeptic philosophy and the skeptic movement in general, and then we’ll see if this applies to David.

The closest approximation to Dorkski’s paradigm would be Scientific Skepticism. These types of skeptics are off-shoots of the philosophical skeptics from ancient Greece who believed that they should critically examine whether the knowledge and perceptions that they have are actually true, and whether or not one can ever be said to have absolutely true knowledge. Scientific skeptics are very similar, but they use the scientific method and critical thinking as a basis for testing the truth of their knowledge.

I’ve already addressed David’s lack of critical thinking skills, so let’s bypass that and verify whether or not he meets the definition of a scientific skeptic.

Let us begin by clarifying what we know about scientific skepticism.

Scientific skeptics attempt to evaluate claims based on verifiability and falsifiability and discourage accepting claims on anecdotal evidence. Ok, good so far. I can certainly acknowledge that David follows this rationale.

Skeptics often focus their criticism on claims they consider to be implausible, dubious or clearly contradictory to generally accepted science. Ok, again, I can say that David does this. However, things start going into the grey area here. For instance, he doesn’t question or criticize any claims or studies that defend his paradigm when those claims and studies are clearly contradictory.

Scientific skeptics do not assert that unusual claims should be automatically rejected out of hand, but rather they argue that claims should be critically examined and that extraordinary claims would require extraordinary evidence in their favor before they could be accepted as having validity. And, here we see the flaw in his mindset. Scientific skeptics do not make definitive claims without reviewing as much evidence as possible. David rejects the possibility that autism and vaccines could be linked in some cases, but he hasn’t seen or reviewed all of the evidence. He hasn’t looked at the medical records of the children of the parents making these claims. Hell, he has never once in his life even seen an autistic child, most likely. How can he make such definitive claims without reviewing all of the evidence? By going on the incomplete studies that have been funded by parties with vested interests? The same studies that call for more inquiry? But, Doucheski says that more study is unnecessary. The science has spoken!

That doesn’t sound like scientific skepticism, does it? It’s more like a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith. That’s not science; that’s religion.

Let’s move off on a tangent for a moment. Trust me; this is related to my point. I feel it is necessary to share with you an email I received from the good “doctor” a few months back when AoA posted his personal information. What does this have to do with my observation on his pseudoskepticism? I’ll get to that in a moment. Enjoy the email.


As much as you despise me, never let it be said that I don't notice and voice appreciation when someone sticks to their principles on my behalf, as you did in the recent slimefest in the comments of Jake's idiotic post. (There's so much wrong there that it would easily take an Orac-length post to deal with it all.) You are absolutely correct. It is cowardly and despicable to take a blog disagreement, no matter how heated, into trying to make trouble for someone at their school or place of work. You may recall that I said as much standing up for Jake against David Brown.

The irony is that I stood up for Jake in the comments of my own blog, even though he despises me and I'm not too thrilled with him, either. Then Jake repays the favor by being complicit in trying to do exactly the same sort of thing that I defended him against. Never let it be said that a good deed goes unpunished. Here's hoping your good deed is an exception to that rule.


P.S. As much as you don't believe it, we are not enemies.

Now, dear readers, I’ll leave it to you to formulate an opinion as to the sincerity of his email. Personally, I didn’t feel it was very sincere. David saw that I was “taking his side” and wanted to cultivate a potential ally in these online autism wars.

However, what I see here is someone who is supremely arrogant and full of himself. He is ultimately proud of his knowledge and gladly and gleefully throws his credentials and assuredness in the face of anyone he talks to. He’s a doctor, damnit, so you had better listen to him because he knows more than all of us combined.

But, this isn’t science (ah, now he gets to the point!). Science is defined by an intense curiosity about the world around us. One of my favorite authors and scientists (and someone who David and I share considerable admiration for) Carl Sagan, to me, epitomizes what a scientist should be. He was knowledgeable. He was intensely curious about the world around him. And he was awed and humbled by what he did not know. Arrogance was not part of who he was because arrogance is the antithesis of science. He followed the philosophy of “the only thing I know for certain is that I don’t know everything.”

That, my friends, is what a scientist should be. Does this apply to David H. Gorski and his mob of mindless minions? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Monday, December 6, 2010

AoA Goes too Far

This is my last post about this for a while, but I wanted to bring to your attention something that I noticed AoA did recently on their Facebook page.

So, I understand that they are angry about having their PSA attacked by the Pseudo-science false-skeptic nutjobs. I can see why they are pissed about AMC refusing to show the PSA because of this. I can even understand that the attacks against the PSA was unwarranted, especially considering that the PSA was encouraging vaccination, and informing the audience that safer, thimerosal free vaccine alternatives were available. No fear-mongering involved here, and no conspiracy theories implied despite what King Quack and his band if moronic minions would have us believe.

But, going after this Skeptchic person the way they did is going too far.

They posted a picture of this person holding her child and said that she was the one responsible for the campaign against the PSA. The comments are worse. Someone suggests breaking off a few thermometers in a few key orifices?

Really? Dubya Tee Eff!!!!

I've never met this girl. I've never talked to her or corresponded with her or anything. But, even if I did; even if I thought she was the most horrible piece of crap walking this earth, I would NEVER do something like that. I don't care how much you despise someone. You NEVER bring their children or family into the argument. That is a line you DO NOT CROSS! Ever!!

I really wish they would quit pulling this shit. All it does is muddy the waters and it gives King Idiot's doltish fuckwits reason to generalize and loop everyone who thinks that vaccines can cause brain injury into the same group.

Skepchik, while I don't really agree with what you have to say, please understand that I fully condemn and am officially appalled at what AoA has done to you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's Time to Step Away from the Accusations, AoA

I was once a fairly regular commentor at AoA. Much of what they had to say resonated with me, and reading the stories of all of these parents who had experiences similar to mine was both troubling and comforting; troubling in that there were so many like mine, and comforting that there was a place where I could discuss these experiences without snark or ridicule from those who erroneously claim to be science based. Back when my son was having some very serious health and behavior issues, Kim and others over at AoA were very kind and understanding and sent me personal emails of comfort and advice, something for which I have nothing but admiration, respect, and gratitude.

However, several months ago, several of the people over at AoA made some pretty disturbing comments, leaving the address, etc. of the loathesome and disgusting Orac in and attempt to get him fired for his blogging activities. It doesn't matter how much you despise that horrendous little scum-bag, no one deserves that. Not even him. I felt it was my duty to tell them, "Hey, this is wrong." I even wrote about it in an earlier post (Sorry, I would link, but I have discovered that Blogger and IE9 are not very friendly...I will likely edit this post later).

Then, today, I read JB Handley's post about Sullivan/Bonnie Offit.

For the longest time, I had the utmost respect for JB. I admired his tenacity and the way he never held anything back. I loved the humor in his posts, and laughed heartily as he gave certain egomaniacal douchebags the ridicule they deserved. But this article today?

I begin to wonder if JB's detractors may be correct in some respects. The article today claims that Sullivan is Bonnie Offit. Reading this article left me feeling quite depressed, especially seeing such paranoia and jumping at shadows as I saw there. It saddened me to see this from someone I once had a great deal of respect for.

To me, this is nothing but a smear campaign against Sullivan. While Sullivan and I have only had a few exchanges, they were always respectful and informative, and I feel this was a bit undeserved.

So, AoA, it's time to step back from the baseless accusations. I still consider many of you friends, but I cannot condone what you've done today. I'm sorry, but you've lost a reader.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

To the Family and Friends of FreeSpeaker

Yesterday, I was quite shocked to learn of the passing of one of the people that many of us have had encounters with; some friendly, many not so friendly. The man known as FreeSpeaker died on Monday, though I do not know the cause. I was unaware that he had any health problems, so his passing seems to be surprisingly sudden.

I do not want to go into too much depth about our differences of opinion. I do not agree with much of what he had to say, and I certainly don't agree with the way he said it. However, I can say that he was passionate about his beliefs, though I feel he was misguided. He truly believed he was doing what was best, and such passion I can certainly respect, even admire. Despite our differences, he was a human being, and he deserves to be treated as such. Such respect is sadly lacking on all sides of our little debate.

If Freespeaker's family ever gets the chance to read this, then please accept my deepest and most sincere sympathies. If his death was as unexpected as I think it was, then I hope that my well wishes will help you through this trying time.

Farewell Freespeaker. Good journey.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Once More Into the Fray

Ok, this is my last post concerning the Hannah Poling concession, but there are a few more things I’d like to point out concerning this.

Over on Lisa Jo Rudy’s site, About.com, there is a very heated discussion on the decision and what it actually compensated Hannah for. Several people showed up, including Kev from LB/RB, Twyla from AoA (who was kind enough to give me a link…appreciate that, Twyla), Paul Offit’s puppet Allison Singer from the Autism Science Foundation, and the witless wonder.

Kev, of course, again says that Hannah does not have autism. This was taken apart not once, but twice.
Someone named Sandy-2000 pipes in with this comment:

“Hannah Poling did have symptom’s prior to those vaccines, but most parents or doctors don’t always do genetic testing unless those symptom’s present as very severe. And like the show Mystery Diagnosis, diagnosis sometimes takes a while to get.
Encephalopathy causes can be a few things, one of them mitochondrial dysfunction.”

Where is her evidence for this? There is none. According to the Polings, she had no symptoms prior to vaccination.

Then we have the ever arrogant and condescending White and Nerdy blather with his usual idiocy and hypocrisy:

“The situation has become completely surreal.

We have this long history of completely bogus character assassination of legitimate scientists.

On the other hand, we have a long list of the most egregious moral failings on the part of the vaccine critics which we are suppose to ignore.

So Dr. Poling acted unethically and flagrantly dishonestly to his co-works and his editor.
His apology (http://jcn.sagepub.com/content/23/9/1090.full.pdf+html) is a remarkable read.

1. his excuse is the forgot he was suing.

2. He complains about third-parties divulging his child’s identity. Wouldn’t that be Mr. Kirby acting completely unethically by publishing without permission a minor’s confidential medical information?

3. Just to set the record 100% straight, Dr. Poling tells us exactly what the concession was: encephalopathy. Not autism.”

He complains about bogus character assassinations against legitimate scientists, then he proceeds to character assassinate Dr. Poling. Oh, the hypocrisy! Or, is this a No-True-Scotsman fallacy? Hard to tell. I’ll talk more about the medical information comment a little later, but let’s talk about what Dr. Poling ACTUALLY said.

Dr. Poling has gone on the record saying that Hannah has Autism, and that her autism was the result of a vaccine-induced encepalopathy.

At one point, Terri Poling shows up and soundly smacks down Ms. Singer for trying to present speculation about Hannah’s condition as fact. Then, we get to some interesting comments.

The Witless Wonder chimes in and demands Hannah’s medical records to end the speculation. Then, several other people echo this notion, as well as asking why Dr. Zimmerman has not been released to speak about the case.

These people are such morons! Why should she release her daughter’s records? She has the right to privacy, just like everyone else. She doesn’t have to release or reveal anything to intrepid pseudo-reporters and Science Poseurs if she doesn’t want to. But of course, Moron Supreme takes that and twists it, insinuating that she is lying and has something to hide (his usual tactic). He somehow feels he’s entitled to her personal medical history!

Several times, it’s mentioned that if David Kirby has access to these documents, then everyone should. David had access to the concession documents, not the medical records. Concession documents != Medical Records. Can we all hear the resounding “Duh?”

Even if she wanted to release her daughter’s medical records, she can’t. Why?

Because it was the Government who sealed the case, not the Polings. This is also why they can’t let Dr. Zimmerman speak about this case.

Now, I will take the time to mention a much-deserved kudos to a former friend. She also mentions this article and is rightfully appalled and some of the things said there:

“The Poling case is irrelevant to the larger population; it is a specific case that applies to one person. And it isn't any of our business what the details are; it really isn't, and if you think you have a right to it, you don't. It's a court case that was settled as a table injury and it's NONE OF OUR BUSINESS.

The Polings were diligent, they followed through, and their case was settled. It is not okay that it took them so many years to reach a resolution. For something that was set up to be a quick and fairly painless process to provide parents whose children have been damaged by vaccines, it failed here, especially since it was a table injury.”

Well done, Kim! It is absolutely none of our business. You may want to tell your buddy, Moron Supreme (aka the Witless Wonder).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Guest Blogger: Schwartz Chimes in on the Poling Decision

My friend Schwartz decided to chime in on my post yesterday. As always, Schwartz, your input is welcome and appreciated.

After reading Craig's post yesterday, I thought I might summarize what I see as the top few myths and mis-information floating around:

1) This decision wasn't about vaccines and Autism

Craig posted this comment from LBRB: "No. Hannah had a mitochondrial disorder, not autism."

In reality, Hannah had (she no longer has it) a mitochondrial disorder and after the vaccine damage she had Autism. So, Hannah Poling had and has Autism. Now, some people continually argue (LBRB included) that the ruling did not determine that the vaccines caused Autism. What did the government actually rule? That she suffered "regressive encephalopathy and features of Autism Spectrum Disorder" as a result of vaccine reaction. Another section of the concession reads: "features consistent with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder".

Let's first review the meaning of the term consistent: "Being in agreement with itself; coherent and uniform"

So she suffered features uniform with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder? Given that Autism is defined as a person meeting a specific set of criteria or "features", "uniform with the features of Autism" pretty obviously means that someone has Autism. The government conceeded the vaccines caused her to suffer brain damage resulting in features of Autism. Any way you slice it, the decision certainly was about the vaccine damage she suffered and her ensuing Autism among other issues. Those who continue to deny this have questionable credibility.

2) Hannah poling was rewarded for a standard table injury encephalopathy

This unsupported claim appears to be centered around the crowd at LBRB as well. It seems to be an attempt to blame the Polings for the length of time that the case took to resolve. The argument seems to be that had they just applied for a table injury as the special masters advised in a general statement, a similar outcome would have occurred much earlier. Unfortunately, the evidence available does not support that argument at all. In fact, the only weak evidence used to support this is the fact that the concession notes that Hannah suffered a "regressive encephalopathy" and the claim is that encephalopathy occurring between 5-15 days is a table injury. Now, let's review the evidence against this poor argument:

a) Hannah Poling did not suffer from Acute encephalopathy according to the advice of the special masters.

Autism cases involving Table Injuries have been compensated under the Program. If in a particular case there exist medical records demonstrating that such a qualifying "acute encephalopathy" occurred within the appropriate time frame, the petitioner or counsel should bring that to the assigned special master’s attention so that, if appropriate, the case can be processed without delay as a Table Injury.


Note that the special master is talking about acute encephalopathy, not the regressive encephalopathy that Hannah was diagnosed with. If we review the vaccine injury table it also talks about "chronic encephalopathy" as well. However, there is a catch in the fine print: "If a preponderance of the evidence indicates that a child's chronic encephalopathy is secondary to genetic, prenatal or perinatal factors, that chronic encephalopathy shall not be considered to be a condition set forth in the Table."


I now refer to the concession where the government states about Hannah: "... significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder, which predisposed her to deficits in cellular energy metabolism,..."

It seems that there is a lot of evidence that Hannah's injury were NOT a standard table injury as they involved a secondary factor and they didn't meet the diagnosis of either acute or chronic encephalopathy.

I am truly surprised that the much heralded research skills of Kathleen Seidel they reference at LBRB didn't point out these problems for them.

b) Hannah Poling's case was not determined by a special master

If Hannah Poling had applied for a table injury, it would have been a special master who would have performed the evaluation and made the decision. In the Hannah Poling case, the government actually had their own science team evaluate the case who decided to conceed it. That is a fundamentally different process. It is pretty disingenious to assume that the outcomes would have been even close to the same.

c) Hannah Poling's legal position likely benefited significantly from the Omnibus hearings

The possibility of a strong Omnibus case setting a precident for a vaccine damage/Autism connection would have been very damaging for the government. Given the circumstances, it is very clear that it was in their interests to conceed the case rather than have it become a public standard for future decisions. In these circumstances, they not only conceeded the case, but they were forced to recognize the outcomes of Autism and the outcome of seizure disorder which undoubtedly led to the large financial compensation package awarded. I highly doubt they would have done this in the case of a table injury. Even with Hannah Poling, they tried to avoid the outcome of seizures, but later conceeded that point as well. Does anyone really think a special master would have done the same? HINT: read the omnibus transcripts

In summary, the only evidence being used to support the claim that she suffered from a standard table injury is centered on one word: encephalopathy. Unfortunately, they seem to be missing the adjective and fine print.

3) The government didn't hide the details of the case, the Polings did

This is a myth that originated at LBRB way back when the initial concession was leaked to the press. The reality is that after the original concession, the Polings motioned to make the decision public. Since it is standard to seal the records of the cases, the government objected to the Poling motion. The Polings subsequently motioned for full disclosure. The government offered full disclosure only from the point of time AFTER the concession (in other words it would not have included the concession). The Special Master adjudicating the motion defered the ruling, but published an opinion supporting the government position. The Polings later withdrew the motion in the face of almost certain defeat.

Somehow in the minds of those at LBRB, this translated into the Polings trying to hide the details of the case because they couldn't get access to her medical records.

The latest rendition of this myth has manifested itself in the article quoted by Craig where Sullivan states: "The government did not "seal" the case—it is standard procedure to keep this information confidential until the settlement is completed."

Let's review this for a moment. The standard procedure dictated by the government is to seal the cases. In this case, the government specifically rejected an offer for full disclosure by the Polings. So it wasn't the government who sealed it, it was the procedure that did it.


Friday, September 10, 2010

The Hannah Poling Decision, and Hilarity Ensues.

There’s been quite a bit of buzz around the interwebz about a certain decision concerning a beautiful little redhead and the money she’s been paid by the government for her vaccine injury.

Now, many of the autism sites are talking about it. Most of them agree that the payout was substantial and just. $1.5 million dollars, and, according to some sources, about $500,000 a year (I’m not saying they are incorrect, but I would like to see where it says so). This is a good thing! It’s about time the government got their thumbs out of their asses and helped an autistic child. I am truly happy for Hannah and her family, and I fervently hope that they can use that money to get Hannah the help she needs. Bravo, Poling family!

But, I’m not here to talk just about that. I’m actually here to talk about what some of the people are saying about this decision.

It’s interesting to see some of the reactions. Take this comment left by the utterly clueless Mark Probert on Sharyl Attkinson's CBS Blog for example:

“What is weird about the award, though, is the "pain and suffering". I know a lot of autistic kids and none of them are in pain, and none of them are suffering.”

Then he obviously has never met a child like my son. He probably knows lots of higher functioning autistic children, so he has no clue that the lower spectrum children tend to have gastro-intestinal problems, very painful ones! And then, he obviously is unaware that many children like my son and Hannah are unable to speak and lack the ability to convey their wants and needs in a way that people can understand. This tends to frustrate them, and they suffer from a lack of communication. And, on top of that, he's using an anecdote as data. Ah...such hypocrisy from someone who claims to be "science and evidence based."

Here’s another comment from the same idiot in response to a person posting the vaccination schedule today compared to 20 years ago:

“It is not the number of vaccines, but the number of antigens, which is way down to a small fraction. Check it out.
Note the AoA mouthpiece does not mention this. They never do. If they did, they would have a lot of explaining to do.”

No, idiot. It’s not the number of antigens, but the number of adjuvants, which is up a considerable fraction. Adjuvants, I might add, that the manufacturers have admitted knowing little about. Check it out. Note that the Scientist poseur does not mention this. They never do. If they did, they would have a lot of explaining to do.

And a third:

“No, both sides are not right and wrong. One side is right. Vaccines do not cause autism. There is no evidence what-so-ever that shows that "combining" vaccines causes any problems. Not all of us know that vaccines can cause an allergic reaction since there is no proof of that. As for the imagined increase in autism, it is just that: imagined. The change in vaccine schedule over the years also parallels the widespread use of Wi-Fi, flourescent bulbs and more frequent space shuttle fights. Correation is not proof of causation.”

Let’s pick this apart.

“Vaccines do not cause autism.”

Such a definitive statement is unscientific when all of the evidence is not present. He cannot so definitively make this claim without knowing what CAUSES autism. Such extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof. Besides, Probert, aka DuhProbe, aka FreeSqueaker, is not a scientist, not a doctor.

“There is no evidence what-so-ever that shows that "combining" vaccines causes any problems.”

That’s the point, you frikkin’ moron! There is not science proving otherwise! And if you’re going to continue increasing the vaccination schedule, then clinical follow-ups on this would be necessary. Are there any? No!

“Not all of us know that vaccines can cause an allergic reaction since there is no proof of that.”

Ah, so using this logic, that means that everyone can eat peanuts and not have an allergic reaction. Good thing we have Mark “Not a Doctor, Not a Scientist” Probert easing our fears. At least he pointed out to another commenter that the "idiot parents" of Hannah Poling are Doctors (well, one of them is; the other is a Nurse and Lawyer). Maybe he hasn't been completely assimilated into the Oraccolyte collective.

Now onto other sites. Here’s an interesting comment left over on LeftBrain/RightBrain:

“No. Hannah had a mitochondrial disorder, not autism.”

This was actually said several times in the comments. She doesn’t have autism, according to these clowns. Just “features” of autism.

And this is the meat of what I wanted to talk about.

To understand what autism is, we must first define it. This includes how it is diagnosed, and what behaviors, or features, it entails.

Let us start with the DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria:

(I) A total of six (or more) items from (A), (B), and (C), with at least two from (A), and one each from (B) and (C)
    (A) qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
      1. marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction 2. failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level 3. a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people, (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people) 4. lack of social or emotional reciprocity ( note: in the description, it gives the following as examples: not actively participating in simple social play or games, preferring solitary activities, or involving others in activities only as tools or "mechanical" aids )
    (B) qualitative impairments in communication as manifested by at least one of the following:
      1. delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gesture or mime) 2. in individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others 3. stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language 4. lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level
    (C) restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least two of the following:
      1. encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus 2. apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals 3. stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements) 4. persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
(II) Delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas, with onset prior to age 3 years:
    (A) social interaction (B) language as used in social communication (C) symbolic or imaginative play
(III) The disturbance is not better accounted for by Rett's Disorder or Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

The key item here is the first sentence. To be diagnosed with Autism, a person must meet a minimum of 6 criteria from all 3 groupings, with at least 2 criteria from the first group and at least 1 each from group 2 and group 3. If they meet those criteria, they are given a diagnosis of Autism.

According to Hannah Poling’s father, a Doctor, Neurologist, and Scientist, she meets those criteria. Therefore, SHE’S AUTISTIC!

So, if an encephalitis causes brain damage, and the brain damage causes behaviors that fit into the above criteria, then the person with the brain damage IS AUTISTIC!

Autism is ONLY defined by behaviors, or features. If a person has those behaviors or features, then they are autistic.

Let me repeat that for clarity. If a person has those behaviors or features, then they are AUTISTIC!

Dr. Poling made an excellent analogy on the Huffington Post last year in response to moron supreme.

“Let me give you an example we commonly encounter. Let's say, hypothetically, that a year ago you recovered from a gunshot wound (GSW) to the head that only damaged your right frontal lobe. You made a full recovery except for some unusual behavior, like going to conferences and secretly recording others’ conversations, and maybe some weird perseverating commentary on blogs.
However, tonight you have a grand mal epileptic seizure and go the ER. At the same time a 20 year old student also goes to the ER with her first epileptic seizure, likely from genetically inherited epilepsy. I get called and treat you both with Dilantin. Both of you do fine and your seizures stop if you remember to take your medicine.
So Ken, do you have epilepsy? Both of you exhibited the same type of seizure behavior. No, in actuality you have a seizure disorder secondary to your frontal lobe GSW. Hold on, since epilepsy is genetic, GSWs to the head don’t cause epilepsy. This is the same type of circular reasoning you espouse on the autism issue and its pure nonsense.”

Well said, Dr. Poling. Well said.

So, since autism is only defined by behaviors, we can now understand why children with Down’s Syndrome are also diagnosed with autism. And, honestly, I can see why the increase in autism diagnoses are confusing the scientific poseurs so much. I think that the first thing we need to do is investigate how many cases of idiopathic autism there are. We do know that the increase is real and not explainable by the tired old, “It’s better diagnosis” screed.

This Orwellian double-speak from the Scientific Poseurs got old a long, LONG time ago. Is it any wonder why so many people are distrustful of them and their dogmatic adherence to a false religion?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Musings on the Farcical Compensation Program.

Hello, my friends. It’s me again, and I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. I was once told by a very famous author that writing is a daily chore, just like cleaning the house or washing dishes. Well, I’ve been slack of late, and there is really no excuse other than I’ve been horrifically busy.
What do I have to write about today, you ask? Well, lately there have been a few rumblings around the interwebz about the Cedillo vs. HHS case. This was one of the NVICP “test” cases that would measure whether or not the MMR vaccine had anything to do with Michelle Cedillo’s autism. This got me to thinking about why so few parents are filing claims with the NVICP.
Let me use myself as an example.
In 2004, when we learned of my son’s diagnosis, I was living in Mississippi. Now, if you aren’t familiar with the Mississippi school system, specifically their special education department, let me just say that this is probably one of the worst places in the world to have a child with autism. Their “solution” to my son’s problem was to institutionalize him.
Anyway, the whole process of learning about the diagnosis, researching things like physical therapy, ABA, etc., and then having to fight with the insurance companies to get these therapies, then having to fight with the government to get these same therapies; all of this was a time consuming and exhausting situation. I began to do research on the various internet sites and newsgroups to find answers and get advice from parents who were going through what my wife and I were. We were doing this, you see, because the doctor who gave us his diagnosis said that he had no advice, that he had very little experience with Autism, and that parents of autistic children probably knew more about the treatments and the condition than he did. At least he was honest. Before I knew it, 3 years had passed.
My son was sick, and he needed help. That simple. At the time, I was going through my second go around in college and working a part time and full time job to pay for my son’s therapies. It was 2007, and I had gotten involved with the people at Age of Autism and had also had numerous encounters with a certain egomaniacal douche-bag that we have all learned to loathe and despise. It was during this time that I was asked by a certain nameless moron why I hadn’t pursued my son’s vaccine injury with the NVICP.
Here’s the deal. First off, the statute of limitations to file a claim with the NVICP is 3 years. Secondly, my goal during this time was to make sure my son was receiving the care and support he needed. A lengthy and prolonged court battle would not have achieved that goal. It would have taken too much time away from my job and my family.
So, what’s the deal here. Cases that go to the NVICP can take years to resolve. And if there is a reward for injury, it is a pittance in comparison to the lifelong debilitations that children like my son suffer. They have to face a dog-and-pony-show of a “trial” that is not actually a trial, is not presided over by a real judge, and have to face off against the best attorneys that Pharma can buy. On top of that, if they lose the case (which is likely if autism and vaccines appear in the same case), then the pain and tragedy these families have faced throughout the lives of their children is broadcast all over the world so that it can be ridiculed by the likes of Orac and his Mob of Mindless Minions, the Oraccolytes, and wannabe scientist poseurs like AutismDeadBeat, Josephius and White&Nerdy.
Is it any wonder why parents don’t file with the NVICP? It’s a farce!
You have a 3rd party that is the sole decision process as to whether or not the vaccine caused the injury. That’s it! It’s supposed to be an unbiased 3rd party, but there are no checks and balances to prove this. The Science-ologists (those that worship science) say that Science should be the sole arbiter of this process, that science is the only answer to this. Well, guess what? Scientists are humans, not Gods. They make mistakes. They are prone to bias and misinterpretation. Science is NOT a religion, and the minute these hypocrites vomit forth the whole “Science has spoken” screed, then it ceases to become science and becomes a religion. This is a lesson that so many of these “science and evidence-based” cretins and pseudo-skeptics need to learn, and learn quickly.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Crossing the Line

I thought I would try out Sheldon’s suggestion to use Windows Live Writer for my blog, so here is my first post using that tool. Sheldon, again, my sincere thanks for your suggestion.

Onto what I want to write about. Now, I know I may ruffle a few feathers with this post, but I think it needs to be said that one of the things that people must learn during their lives is when to recognize that a line has been crossed. I’m of the firm belief that when I recognize a friend or a group of friends have crossed that line, it is my duty and obligation to express that they have done so in an attempt to have them correct the errors in their ways, even if it is only to make an apology for their actions.

Monday, Age of Autism posted an article written by Jake Crosby about David Gorski. It essentially explained what David does at his place of employment, and then explained how the project that David works for is funded by his college, which is funded by Sanofi-Aventis. Really, I have nothing bad to say about Jake’s article (I thought it was well written), but instead have to discuss some of the comments posted in regards this article.

As many of you may know, I don’t like Gorski. Not one bit. I feel his arrogance, his hypocrisy, and his venomous attacks on parents who have reason to believe their children have been injured by vaccines is a danger to his profession. In my opinion, he is undermining faith in doctors by posting the hatred and filth that he posts on his site. His elitist attitude and dismissal of any science that disagrees with his paradigm is a danger to public health. His laughable attempts at deifying science is simply pathetic. In essence, he is the living embodiment of what is wrong with the Medical industry.

However, when I read the comments on Jake’s post, I was appalled to discover that there were people posting information about the place he works. They were attempting to get people to call David’s employer to get him either fired, or at least reprimanded. Maybe it is just that I’ve had the experience of people calling CPS concerning my children’s vaccination status that colors my perception of this, but I have to say that they have crossed a line. Such tactics are underhanded and, dare I say, cowardly to the extreme. It is degrading and brings them down to the level of those they are opposing. It saddens me and disappoints me, and I have to step back and say something accordingly.

I’ve had this done to me! It is infuriating when someone is trying to attack you through your work or through organizations like CPS simply because they don’t agree with you. Frankly, I have no nicer way to say this, but it disgusts me. This is something that those that follow Orac do to us! And these commenters are going to engage in the same tactics? This is wrong with a capital W.

I do hope that Age of Autism either posts an apology or deletes those comments. No matter how much you loathe and despise that horrid little scum-bag, attacking him like this is morally wrong. I can freely say that I would never do something like that, no matter how badly I want to punch that egotistical little prick in the face.

I don’t think they will, though. While this realization saddens me, I can’t say that I completely blame Age of Autism for not doing so; Gorski has done horrible things to the parents at AoA. I just wish that they would not resort to doing things like this.

Speaking of egotistical little pricks, I got a very pleasant email from said prick. Now, I won’t post it here because he has not given me permission to, and I will honor the spirit of his email. Essentially, he thanked me, in his usual arrogant way, for posting my comment at AoA concerning what I wrote above. However, I can’t help but feel that it was a bit insincere, though I will do my best to take as genuine. Perhaps if he were to apologize for some of the things he has written about yours truly, I might be a bit more sympathetic to him. We’ll have to wait and see, I suppose.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Yet Another One in the Revealing of Orac's Stupidity; And, a Countering to Countering.

I don’t often get the time to blog. It’s a nice diversion and all, but I find my time is far better spent with things that I find more important; things like work and family. I honestly don’t see how so many people have the time to blog once, maybe twice (or more) a day. Take Orac, for example. He’s a surgical oncologist, yet he somehow has plenty of time to blog several times a day with work, his marriage, and being sodomized by his enormous ego. Or Kim “Orac-in-a-Skirt” Wombles, who has a family, school, work, and somehow manages to blog several times a day.

But, occasionally, they provide me with interesting fodder for my blog posts. Sometimes, their stupidity and hypocrisy is so profound that I have to say something. So, today I will provide you, my dear readers, with a double-shot of my sarcastic wit that I gleefully aim at 2 different opponents.

Let’s start with Mr. Gorski’s latest case of the verbal Aztec two-step.

Time and time again, anti-vaccine activists respond to charges of being "anti-vaccine" with a self-righteous wounded whine that goes something like this: "We aren't 'anti-vaccine.' We're pro-safe vaccine." Alternative claims are that they are "vaccine safety watchdogs" and that they'd vaccinate if only the government would "green our vaccines" or "space them out" or that they think the government isn't listening to them or whatever. Of course, all of these are smokescreens for their true agenda, which, at least among the activists, is anti-vaccine to the core.

In fact, so engrained are anti-vaccine attitudes in the movement that claims that vaccines cause autism against all scientific evidence that strongly argues otherwise, that its members frequently make inadvertent slips when writing that reveal their attitude. Examples include J.B. Handley crowing about "bringing the U.S. vaccine program to its knees" and Julie Obradovic advocating in essence destroying the vaccine program in order to save it.

David’s little mewling diatribe here starts with a concept that is known as poisoning the well. Essentially, he is pre-emptively posing his own biased interpretation of what Mr. Handley and Ms. Obradovic are attempting to accomplish so that he can ridicule and discredit anything that is being said by these individuals. Not only is this a logical fallacy, it is also a very good example of argumentum ad hominem. But, as we’ve all come to learn, this is one of Mr. Gorski’s normal tactics when writing about anyone he disagrees with.

Here is yet another in the annals of such quotes. This time it comes from Anne Dachel "Media Director" at the anti-vaccine crank blog, who is gushing over Dr. Mayer Eisenstein's new book on vaccines. (Oh, goody.) In her post, Dachel writes:

And as someone who's been active in the national autism community for a long time, I've seen tremendous changes. More and more people are speaking out. We are now an organized and united group, thanks mainly to the power of the Internet. Our message has severely eroded confidence in the cornerstone of health care: THE CHILDHOOD VACCINE PROGRAM.

She says that as though it's a good thing, as though she's proud of it, just as J.B. Handley was clearly proud of "bringing the U.S. vaccine program to its knees." Fortunately, this is hyperbole, but unfortunately "eroding confidence in" and "bringing to its knees" the U.S. vaccine program are clearly what Dachel and Handley freely admit to be their goal. If it wasn't, why be so proud?

That's because she, like J.B. Handley, is anti-vaccine, all the denials notwithstanding.

I’ve deconstructed this before. David is of the mind that he can magically predict and read the minds of people like Ms. Dachel and determine their motivations. Not only is this laughable, it is incredibly narcissistic. Essentially, he is saying that because Orac says it is so, then it must be so. Let’s not forget the veiled “No Real Scotsman” fallacy that he hurled at Dr. Eisenstein; according to Orac, no real doctor would question vaccine safety.

Mr. Gorski is under the impression that Ms. Dachel, Mr. Handley, and anyone with whom Orac disagrees, is anti-vaccine; i.e. they want to get rid of vaccines entirely. Ms. Dachel is not saying that the erosion of the confidence in the vaccine program is a good thing; she’s saying that this confidence needs to be shaken. She’s saying that the vaccine program is corrupt and interested in profits more than they are in the health and well-being of their consumers. She, like Mr. Handley, is pointing out the flaws in the system, and THAT’S what is eroding the confidence in the Vaccine industry. That is not a good thing, but a necessary thing. She is calling for more oversight, more accountability, and better control of the vaccine industry. They are not anti-vaccine, but anti-vaccine INDUSTRY.

But, as we can plainly see, Orac is opposed to the dreaded accountability (Oh, the Horror!). He is opposed to better oversight (Oh, the humanity!). He despises better controls over the corrupt Pharmaceutical industry (Oh, I feel faint!!).

If I'm in the mood, maybe I'll address the canard of the VAERS reports. Or not, given how many times I've pointed out before that VAERS reports are unverified, self-reported "complications" of vaccines and how easily it is distorted by litigation and the anti-vaccine movement.

This is just him being lazy, so I won’t expound. Since I refuse to give that moron any hits, I only put it here for the sake of completeness.

Some of his commenters are just as ridiculous. Check out these two:

I don't even have the energy to go through all the selective VAERS citations, but it seems to be the usual song and dance.
 AoA: "#298905: A 6-month-old boy received a flu shot and collapsed while eating breakfast the next day. He was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead."

VAERS: "Patient collapsed while eating breakfast at home. He was taken to the ER and pronounced dead. 12/18/07 Reviewed hospital ER records which reveal patient in usual state of health on 11/27 when coughed & then collapsed at home. Was unresponsive in ER & resuscitation unsuccessful. ER COD stated as sudden cardiac death. 1/21/08 Reviewed autopsy report which states COD as complication from congenital cardiac disease (probable arrhythmia."


Posted by: Otto
June 16, 2010 12:57 AM

@Otto: but, but, but you don't understand!!!! The EEEEEEVVVVVIIIILLL vaccines caused the congenital cardiac disease!!! The baby was totally healthy and developing normally until then! /end AOA mind

Ooowwwww. I think I gave myself a headache trying to think that way. I am so glad that my employer blocks AOA or I'd be tempted to read the post and really get a headache - or burst out laughing hysterically which would really confuse anyone who is here at this time.

Posted by: MI Dawn
June 16, 2010 6:52 AM

Funny how they so callously dismiss this horrible tragedy. Not only that, it’s just remarkable how this child’s congenital cardiac disease was completely unapparent until several hours after vaccination. These coincidences are just astounding, yes?

And then MI Dawn’s response is so laughably ironic that I had to comment on it. Yes, the eebil vaccines. But they are so holy and sacred and pure that they could never ever cause such problems. They are made of unicorns and rainbows and sparkle in sunlight. Any of the hundreds of thousands of adverse reaction reports are simply coincidence. It’s never the vaccine.

Now, I must comment on Kim’s blog post. This post of hers just reinforces my theory that she is completely unreachable and has completely sunk into the depths of Orac’s unreasonable megalomania.

Dear Lord (oh accidental cosmos, I like to call it Lord, and I mock it not. I am an atheist who prays. I figure, let's say there is a god. He listens at least as well as my children, husband, and various students, which is to say: not at all--seriously, I asked the boy to START the coffee yesterday, and he dumped the fresh coffee grounds in the trash. I asked him to go to his grandma's and start his chores, and he brought me a paper towel. I guarantee you my accidental cosmos listens better. But I digress).

First off, that doesn’t make you an atheist. An atheist is someone who denies altogether the existence of God. You're an agnostic. An agnostic is someone who believes that there can be no proof of the existence of God, but does not deny the possibility that God exists. But I digress

Dear Lord, can you please give the nutty AoAers something to do off the interwebz for a couple days? Please? Because they are currently engaged in so much mind-glaring stupidity that I just can't keep up (and tomorrow I must begin the not-so-fun prep for Thursday's not-so-fun procedure). Not even Orac can keep up with them. Between Orac and me, alone, over the last couple days, several posts were written on the AoAers' shenanigans. Add in all the other wonderful people, like Todd who writes a blog to post censored comments, and all the awesome, on the ball, commentators over at Orac's who take the time to read the (I'm sorry, two days in a row, I've said this) batshit crazy over there at AoA, our irony meters are surely pegged out.

Since she disagrees with everyone over at AoA, then they are all batshit crazy. Of course, she fails to see the irony in her comment when she declares that there is so much “mind-glaring stupidity,” then follows it with a comment about irony meters. Yes, I do love irony.

I know, I know, the inaccurate and the outright crazy must be challenged. Not all can be left to slide. But, couldn't they take a break? It's summer, after all. Don't they have better things to do, like picket McDonald's or something, for not offering gfcf products?

Don’t you have something better to do? I don’t know, like taking care of your kids? I mean, it’s summer, after all.

Ah, well. Perhaps if I write my wish on a balloon and float it away, it will come true. Or mayhaps, I pray for the wrong thing. I now mentally revise my image of my personified accidental cosmos into giant Thelma and Louise goddesses with big-ass purses and hearts overflowing with compassion. I pray to the almighty T and L of the accidently comsos, purse smack some wisdom into the AoAers, so that they might realize what complete asses they are. And take a big swipe at a certain someone in Maine who proves she's lost it with posting a video of what mercury does to aluminum on her blog, because she really thinks that's happening inside children when they get vaccinated. That kind of misinformation takes hard, hard work. It'll take an all-powerful deity to knock that right out of their heads.

Oh, good grief! Yes, we see how much her heart is over-flowing with compassion. Really, we do. And Kim is just so full of wisdom that she fails to see that there are no safety studies on the effects of mercury plus aluminum within the human body. That kind of misinformation takes hard, hard work. Her love and "kick-ass kumbaya" is so readily evident that we can all see how loving, compassionate, and reasonable it is to call someone a dumbass or bat-shit crazy when they disagree with you. He caring demeanor is so apparent when she laughs about a commentor mocking a father for celebrating his non-verbal autistic child's first word. Not only is this woman an idiot, she's a fucking hypocrite.

Anne Dachel has to, has to, has to, because she just can't help herself, name drop all the authors and truly great wackawoos she now knows, over at AoA, before she gets to introducing the latest wackawoo she calls an acquaintance, Mayer Eisenstein. Dachel, a big fan and believer of conspiracies, writes "Despite the fact that he's up against the powerful mainstream medical community, financially backed by the pharmaceutical industry, he doesn't stop." Oh noble, maverick doctor, we bow before your wisdom, your willingness to blah blah. You get the picture. Yeah, sure, read his book. Has the site degenerated into solely skewering any and all vaccines and being used for "buy my magic products" and "buy my awesome mavericky book"?

Yes yes, like you drop the name of Dr. Offit. We get it, we really do. Go buy his book! Oh, and don’t forget the ad hominem at Dr. Eisenstein there. Wait, right….Kim is so far above all of that! She’s holier-than-thou, don’tcha know? And has her site degenerated into solely skewering anyone she disagrees with?

She goes on to talk about how AoA’s article about the Gene study in Nature was wrong. To be honest, I thought the study was fascinating, as I do with any study that finds a small link with possibilities as to the potential causes of autism. The article in question discusses the Conflicts of Interest in one of the authors of the piece, and while I don’t agree with John Stone as to the relevance or impact of the author in question, I agree that undisclosed COI’s can call the results into question. But, as long as the studies remove Vaccines as a potential culprit in the causation of Autism, then the studies, no matter how riddled they are with COI’s, are perfectly fine and perfect and fart moonbeams. Not only that, but Kim completely misrepresents the results of the Nature study and says that it just gives more of a genetic basis for autism. What she fails to mention is that the study acknowledged that the genes they were looking at weren’t always present and mutated spontaneously, which implicates an external source that could be the potential cause of these mutations. Something environmental.

She closes her satirical post with this comment:

Please, accidental cosmos, please, let the AoAers think they've done so well, are so superior, know so much more, that they all collectively go on vacation to celebrate how well they absolutely prove the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Please take the time to read the hypocrisy in that comment. Then read it again to let it sink in. She is accusing the people over at AoA of being so superior, who know so much more, when she, herself, shits out stuff like this? Oh…my…goodness! If I believed in an all-powerful deity, I am pretty sure he/she/it would reach down and slap that stupid woman upside her head…after pulling her head out of her ass, of course. Since her blog post is so moronic, so over the top, it makes me wonder if she’s actually pulling a Poe’s law.

This woman has the audacity to call the people at AoA batshit crazy? Look in the fucking mirror, lady!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Countering Someone who Claims to be Science-Based

I’ve taken a little bit of time away from the blogging due to a couple of things. 1) I’ve been entirely too busy and 2) I’ve been a little under the weather. Nothing specific, just a bad case of the Blah’s.

However, I wanted to take the time to take apart a post I recently saw on the blog of someone I used to call a friend. I almost never go there anymore because she has grown increasingly hostile, hypocritical, arrogant, and unwilling to listen. In other words, a female version of Orac.

So I popped over there to get a glance of what she has been up to, and I read this horrible piece that she concocted to counter a comment left by one of her readers. Now, the reason I’m taking the time to pick this apart is because my former friend has become representative of those I call the Oraccolytes. They claim to be science and evidence based. They claim to tell you the truth. In actuality, they only tell you part of the truth. They leave out the portions of the truth that counter or weaken their arguments, which means that they are not science-based, as they claim to be.

What I’m going to do is just post her responses to the commenter and pick those apart. No, I won’t link to her because I’ve determined that she is just Orac in a dress and that she doesn’t deserve any hits. I'm sure that anyone who is familiar with the vaccine/autism argument will recognize who I'm talking about.

“Why isn't it plausible to believe that giving 36 vaccines to a child might not be safe?”

You do recognize that the sheer number of pathogens we are exposed to makes the 16 diseases protected against by the recommended US vaccination schedule look like chump change, right?

It makes every bit of sense to help our children avoid illnesses that can be through vaccination. Just because you may not remember these diseases or you remember everyone you know getting them and recovering doesn’t mean that they didn’t once affect, maim, and kill many and have the potential to do so again.

Her response is only partially true. What she doesn’t tell you is that while the number of antigens has decreased, the adjuvants have increased. Adjuvants like Thimerosal (which, despite vociferous protests from the Oraccolytes, is still in vaccines) and aluminum. No one knows, really, what effects these adjuvants will have on a newborn immune system (not even the vaccine makers). No one has studied this. No one knows what synergistic effect these will have, either. But Kim doesn’t tell you that, does she?

The second paragraph is, again, only partially true. It does make sense to prevent diseases, and I agree whole-heartedly. But what she doesn’t tell you is that many of the numbers used to boost the fear-mongering of the vaccine zealots are over-inflated. Also, the current CDC vaccination schedule has never really been tested as a whole (in combination) for safety. Oh, I’m sure she will point to the recent study that looked at delayed vaccinations versus on-time vaccinations and how there is no difference between the outcomes. But what she won’t tell you is that this study is just a re-wording of another study that excludes autistic children as criteria for the study. But let’s not confuse her with facts since she’s already made up her mind.

“Why is it not plausible to believe that giving 36 vaccines to All children is safe?”

This is a strawman argument. There are individuals who are immune compromised or who have allergies to ingredients in the vaccines who cannot receive vaccines. There are infants too young to get protected who benefit from herd immunity, from healthy people in the society getting the vaccinations so that there is less likelihood of these vulnerable populations being exposed.

“Why is the vaccine schedule a one size fits all program?”

This, too, is a strawman. It’s not. These are the recommended vaccinations; an individual with his doctor will decide what and when.

I lumped these two together because the counter to the argument fits both points. While the gist of her argument is correct, she neglects to mention that there is currently no testing done to tell if these children are immune compromised before the vaccination is given. They give vaccinations for HepB on the day the child is born (in most cases) and don’t do testing for potential contraindications until a child has a reaction to a vaccine.

“Why did the autism rate start to soar (1991) when the vaccine schedule had doubled in size?”

Why did the autism rate soar when the internet really got going? When satellite television took off? When cell phones really became popular? This is not science; this is faulty conjecture that is worse than meaningless. It shows a paucity of interest in how science is conducted and in what scientists have learned.

Again, only partially true. What she doesn’t tell you is that the same faulty conjecture is used to support the whole “Autism has always been around in these numbers” crowd. Their reasoning is based on very little evidence, and that evidence has been countered in recent years by new studies that show that the increase in diagnoses for Autism is actually real and not diagnostic substitution as they would have you believe.

“Why are countless parents thought of as crazy when they say "my kid was typical" and then started to show autistic behaviors shortly after the MMR?”

Misguided, incorrect, guilty of illusory correlation, but I’ve never thought a parent was crazy for making the connection when so many others feed that idea into their heads, and when it’s such a neat and tidy explanation, and you’ve got a suave, dapper doctor telling them that.

I reserve crazy for folks who are off-the-deep-end, batshit crazy.

What she fails to mention is that many of the parents who witnessed their child regress shortly after a vaccination have been around since before this “suave, dapper doctor” was around. Many parents had not even heard of Dr. Wakefield until well after they had already come to the conclusion on their own. But, Kim has rewritten history to suit her purposes by claiming that Dr. Wakefield was the instigator of the anti-vaccine movement. She doesn’t mention that the Urabe strain mumps vaccine caused all kinds of problems (like meningitis). Nor does she mention the serious and sometimes fatal DTP vaccine reactions that helped to form the basis of the NVICP.

“Why did the gut dysbiosis, seizures, sensory disorders, loss of speech, etc start after so and so shot. Why can't can't it be a possibility that scores of parents observed something that merits investigation?”

It has received ample, exhaustive attention over the last decade and study after study have shown no connection between autism and vaccines.

What she neglects to tell you is that all of these studies that have looked at this connection have looked at only two things; the MMR vaccine and Thimerosal. How many vaccines are there? How many ingredients? She also doesn’t mention that these studies were performed and funded by the very same industry and organizations that promote vaccination; the very same companies that have been caught, repeatedly, lying about the safety of their products. Oh, right…we can trust them.

“What if a child has an inability to detoxify the formeldehyde, aluminum, thimerosol (traces still count), and all the other preservatives in the vaccines?”

Since formaldehyde is produced in our cells, the kid would be thoroughly screwed, even without the vaccines. Thank gods the formaldehyde is used in the production of the vaccines to kill viruses and other things we really don’t want growing along with the vaccine, right? It’s aluminum salts, not aluminum, and unless you’ve made darn tooting certain that you don’t eat anything made with baking powder with aluminum in it, don’t eat or drink from food and beverages stored in aluminum cans, don’t cook with aluminum cookware, I’d say you have bigger problems. I guess it’s a really good thing there are ample studies showing no connection between thimerosal and autism, huh?

Again, she only tells you part of the truth. I’ll agree with her about Formaldehyde, but the aluminum and Thimerosal bear a response. Let’s start with the aluminum first. She mentions that they are salts (true), but doesn’t mention that there have been no studies that clarify the safety of injecting said salts into the body. She goes on to mention that things like baking powder, beverages and foods in aluminum cans, etc. all contain aluminum as well. But she doesn’t seem to understand the difference between ingested versus injected. Yes, I know…2 little letters, but there is a huge difference between them. The body’s digestive tract is designed to help prevent things like metals from entering the bloodstream. But, injection bypasses that defense mechanism. Oh, and about the thimerosal? Yeah, mentioned that earlier.

“Why can't we do testing to identify those kids and hold off on the most important shots until the immune system is more fully developed?”

Because the thousands of pathogens children are being exposed to daily are far more dangerous than the vaccines.

Partially true. What she doesn’t tell you is that the thousands of pathogens children are exposed to daily are far more dangerous than the vaccines for most people. Since there are no studies that have been done to detect children that could have serious reactions to vaccines (other than one, and the Oraccolytes reject it because it shows that there are children who could have potentially serious reactions to vaccines), we can’t safely say that a process that is designed to kick a child’s immune system (which very little is known about) into overdrive is safer than the pathogens they are exposed to. Oh, and not to mention that the numbers that the CDC and Oraccolytes use to say that vaccine reactions are safer than the pathogens are gathered from a database (VAERS) that fewer than 10% of doctors and patients report reactions to.

“What is your explanation of why the autism rate in this country is 1 in 100 and more in boys?”

Well, thankfully it’s science-based, having reviewed the studies dealing with autism and prevalence. It’s way better than relying on pseudoscience and woo.

The irony and hypocrisy in this statement is so astounding that I had to read it several times to comprehend it. The “science” has, for years, been saying that the increase in diagnoses for autism is because of diagnostic substitution and is based solely on speculation and conjecture. So, in essence, she is saying that it is pseudoscience and woo. Yes, I had a great chuckle on that one at her expense.

“Why are children recovering and improving with biomedical intervention if this is a "psychiatric" genetic problem?”

I think this sentence demonstrates your completely inadequate knowledge base of autism. It isn’t a psychiatric problem. It’s a neurological disorder in which a combination of genetic and environmental factors contribute to how it manifests.

Now, I’ll gloss over the insult in her first sentence and move to the gist of her argument. For the most part, the most true statement in her little diatribe. Kudos to Kim for making such a relatively truthful comment. What she leaves out is that vaccines ARE an environmental factor.

“Why is one of the more prominent pediatricians (Dr. Sears) not closing the door on the link between vaccines in his new book, "The Autism Book" and writes about biomedical intervention? (There's actually a picture of him and Dr. Wakefield smiling broadly at a recent biomedical conference - oh no -!!!)”

Because he’s pandering to parents in order to line his pockets? Because he’s also a dumbass? Take your pick.

She offers no evidence of her claims. She offers no counter to the argument. This is an ad hominem fallacy, plain and simple. Oh, and because Dr. Sears (a trained doctor) disagrees with Kim (a nobody) then he must be a dumbass. Yay logic!

“Why is Dr. Offit so revered when he clearly has a vested interest in vaccines and has never treated an autistic child or done any investigations or studies regarding autism as a medical condition?”

He’s not; in fact the evidence-based crowd doesn’t put Offit on a pedestal and make him a saint. He is an infectious disease expert who is eminently qualified to discuss vaccine safety. He wasn’t pretending to be an autism expert, something Wakefield is, by the way.

Well, maybe not those that are TRULY evidence based. But the Oraccolytes certainly treat him like a saint. I agree with the fact that he is an infection disease expert and qualified to discuss vaccine safety, but I also take into consideration that many of his arguments are tainted by his own bias and the fact that it influences his livelihood. These things must be taken into consideration when any expert talks about their own product. Of COURSE he’s going to say they are safe, especially when he makes money off of them. And I have never once seen Dr. Wakefield claim he was an autism specialist. The only thing I have ever seen him claim is that some of the neurological problems evident in autistic children can be attributed to gastrointestinal problems. And, I do believe he is a gastroenterologist, is he not?

“History has shown that pioneers and people forcing a truth that is going to turn things upside down/rock the boat are demonized, maligned, and forced into silence.”

Oh for gods sake; it’s also shown that nutter-butter bars are too. Yeah, Wakefield isn’t being “demonized, maligned and forced into silence.” He’s an opportunist who has managed to cash in on desperate parents.

The first part of her comment; huh? That makes absolutely no sense! The second part of her comment may be true. But what you need to take into consideration is that Dr. Wakefield’s “trial” was publicized all over the world, more so than any other trial that has stripped a doctor of his license. Name one doctor that has gotten the publicity he has. Can you name any of the doctors in the Vioxx scandal? Didn’t think so. How many people did they kill? Did they lose their licenses?

“If not Dr. Wakefield, then someone else would have come along to force the discussion of vaccine safety. Get ready. It's coming-- because 1 in 100 and counting is a very, very scary thing. So, like he said, "These children aren't going away, the parents are not going away, and I am most certainly not going away." --Dr. Wakefield”

Wakefield isn’t concerned about vaccine safety.

And where is her evidence? I thought she was evidence based. Can she prove that Dr. Wakefield isn’t concerned about vaccine safety?

“Ya can't hold back a tidal wave forever!”

You’re right, there is, in fact, an endless stream of dumbasses.

Ah, again, since this person doesn’t agree with Kim, then this person must be a dumbass. And, as I’ve clearly demonstrated, it is quite apparent that Kim is a member of those “endless stream of dumbasses.”

As I said, Kim is representative of the mindset of the Oraccolytes. Most of her arguments (and Orac’s) are based on partial truths and prevarications. And, as I said before, this does not make one “Science-based.”

In the immortal words of Tyler Durden, “Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken!”

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How Safe is Safe -- False Skeptics and Sheep Scientists

MySocratesNote: I will again take the time to thank Schwartz for his excellent rebuttal to Orac's "It can't be done" fallacy. Schwartz, I think that perhaps we should name a new logical fallacy after Orac, yes? Or, do you think that would be giving him too much credit.

Readers, please enjoy.

I came across an article recently titled: "Enablers of the vaccine-autism manufactroversy" describing how a group of self designated skeptical scientists from various disciplines (including medicine) have gathered together to coordinate their efforts to shout down and dissuade parents from questioning the mainstream medical establishment about vaccines. The commentary was weighted toward the standard personal attacks and name calling generalizations I've grown used to seeing from this group but I'll be gracious and ignore that part in this piece.

Apparently, these people feel that one should not be welcome to question the existing status quo and that everyone must take a hard position for or against vaccines as if the world were black and white. Of course those who dare question the establishment are arbitrarily classified as "anti-vaccine" (sound familiar to anyone here?) and are also deemed illogical and beyond logical reason. To illustrate this, they have crafted 3 questions that they insist no one is able to answer. Let's take a look:

Question 1) You say you want safer vaccines. OK then, please, define "safe enough." What rate of complications for specific vaccines would be "safe enough"? What rates of various infectious diseases against which these vaccines protect would be acceptable in order to balance the risk-benefit ratios?

This question appears reasonable enough upon a quick glance -- which is what I think they feel their audience will give this stuff -- but if you think about it you realize this is gross simplification of a problem akin to something you would see on a high school math exam. The funny part is they didn't even provide the assumptions required for such a question, which is just dishonest -- a false argument commonly utilized among this group of "scientists".

What is safe enough? It depends; that's the catch. Since we're dealing with the real world and not a simplified model, let's review with the critical information we need to know and consider to answer such a question for each individual vaccine:

A) Under what context is the question being asked?

i) i.e. Safe enough to hold a clinical trial is different from safe enough to mandate application to all citizens or children.

ii) This is an often overlooked question, yet this piece of criteria is critical.

B) What are the negative outcomes of contracting the disease where you live?

i) This establishes the background risk of the disease itself, which is important, because the safety of a preventative measure has to be measured against the risk you are being protected against.

ii) The current numbers provided by the CDC are exaggerated in some cases (i.e. influenza deaths -- read http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/333/7574/912) and in other cases they don't apply to the Western World because they are global statistics that are skewed by disease rates in the third world where they often don't even have basic sanitation, let alone medical care. So don't accept at face value any assumptions provided by your skeptic because the simplified assumptions rarely apply to the real world. I have yet to find credible published numbers for many of the diseases that vaccinations protect against.

iii) It is also important to identify the specific outcomes as well. For example, if death or serious permanent damage is very rare for the disease, then any substantial risk of death from the vaccine is probably an unacceptable safety outcome even if it reduces hospitalizations and saves a lot of money. (and yes, some vaccines are justified from a cost basis, not on a reduction of deaths)

C) What is the efficacy of the vaccine against the desired endpoint?

i) Beware here, as published efficacy numbers from regulatory clinical trials are almost always inaccurate. History and outbreaks -- often caused by vaccine failure despite the misinformation these skeptics distribute -- because the efficacy of the vaccine was over-estimated. So ask for details, and don't accept the assumptions provided by your skeptic who wants to simplify the problem.  The CDC and FDA post the vaccine reaction prevalence using data gleaned from the VAERS. Less than 10% of vaccine reactions are reported to this system

ii) Make sure you're getting efficacy against the desired outcomes as the clinical trials sometimes only measure antibody titers. i.e. influenza vaccines are often rated as effective because they measure anti-bodies, but when tested against reduced hospitalizations or deaths, they are found to have no measurable effect (http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/333/7574/912). Another example: Gardasil has never been tested against the goal of reducing deaths from cervical cancer. Don't just accept the assumptions from your skeptic when you're dealing with questions in real life. In reality, a proper clinical trial must be designed to test this (i.e. comparing vaccinated to unvaccinated people)

iii) Beware of the simple graphs showing a significant reduction of disease since vaccination was introduced. These simplified graphs are littered with confounders and are not an acceptable substitute for quantified efficacy. I've seen the same graphs used on both sides of the argument (for and against vaccination)

D) Are there other treatment options to prevent negative outcomes of the disease?

i) This is often overlooked by many people. If there is an alternate treatment/preventative measure that changes the probability of negative outcomes of the disease, and these treatments have lower risks than vaccines, then the acceptable risk from the vaccine drops. i.e. treating children suffering from measles with Vitamin A (as recommended by the WHO) has been shown to reduce negative outcomes.

E) What are the risks of vaccination?

i) Quantify the short term risks with credible scientific evidence - this isn't always properly done. The control groups must consist of a true placebo.

ii) Quantify the long term risks with credible scientific evidence - this is almost never done and it requires the study of vaccinated vs unvaccinated populations -- no problems were suspected with HRT until independent long term large population testing was done. This doesn't mean there will be a problem, but history has shown us that unless we study the problem, the theories are virtually useless.

iii) Vaccination risks include the risks for the recommended schedules (i.e. concomitant vaccine application) -- i.e. they need to test the schedule

F) What is the biological mechanism in the cases of negative vaccine outcomes?

i) This is almost never done as follow-up and extensive documentation of vaccine damage is rare. However, this is critical to understand the mechanisms where harm is caused because it may very well lead to a drastic reduction in negative outcomes if pre-screening for at-risk populations is performed. This definitely impacts the "safe enough" determination. Why this isn't currently done is baffling. Exactly. There is no pre-screening to determine contraindications for the general populace. They give the vaccines anyway, though, despite the possibility that there could be allergies to the components or other conditions that could cause serious adverse reactions (case in point: Hannah Poling)

G) What mechanisms are in place to identify and address unforeseen problems?

i) This is critical to address the inevitable uncertainty and unknowns. Credible tracking and reporting mechanisms are required here. Why is infectious disease reporting compulsory by law while adverse event reporting of vaccines is voluntary and often ignored by doctors?

Of course, some of the more disingenuous skeptics will try use an Argument of Ignorance to turn these questions around and argue that you don't have this data, and therefore you can't state vaccines aren't safe. Unfortunately that's a flawed argument. A lack of data doesn't imply safety at all. Additionally, they omit the fact that vaccines are an unnecessary medical intervention (i.e. there is no immediate medical reason to get a vaccine) that they are trying to impose on everyone. In these cases, it is clearly incumbent to demonstrate safety for the individual, not the opposite, as they would like you to believe.

Let's examine the next Question this group of skeptics would have you answer.

2) You castigate vaccines for having "toxins." ...what "toxins" would you remove? Be specific, and provide evidence that these "toxins" actually cause harm at the levels used in vaccines.

Here we find the fallacious "argument from ignorance" in full display. The implication is that in the absence of proof of specific harm, safety is implied. I would recommend you repeat the logic required by any critical thinker; that in order to justify an unnecessary medical intervention with risks, you have to demonstrate safety, not rely on a lack of evidence of harm as an argument. This is especially true when discussing some of the more questionable vaccine ingredients.

This interaction would be humourous if the topic wasn't so serious. If I ask an expert about the safety of elements that are known to be toxic to the human body under a variety of conditions, I would expect them to demonstrate that the toxic elements under these conditions had been studied and have them explain the mechanisms by which safety is assured (i.e. they studied the pharmacokinetics). Instead, you are asked to provide information even the specialist hasn't tested for? This is akin to NASA telling to you provide specific proof that foam can damage the wings of the shuttle after mentioned that you heard that foam keeps falling off during launches. Fortunately, NASA has real scientists that actually studied the problem and found -- to their own surprise -- that foam traveling at supersonic speeds can indeed damage (i.e. punch big holes through) very strong materials such as the shuttle wing. If you had asked for their opinion prior to the testing, each one would have said the risks were very low and the scenario implausible. This illustrates quite clearly that without testing, the opinions of the good experts must be judged carefully as it is not based on evidence but belief.

Ignoring the disingenuous nature of the question however, we can still give a credible answer.

Any element or chemical used as a preservative, adjuvant, or other ingredient that is known to be toxic to humans should be safety tested against the target population in the form it will take during vaccination (dose and method of application). Of course, this includes, but is not limited to: Mercury, Aluminum Salts and newer experimental adjuvants.

Lets move on to the last question that no one can supposedly answer:

3) What specific evidence would it take for you to accept that vaccines are safe relative to the risk of disease and to vaccinate your children and urge your friends to vaccinate theirs?

This one is easy. A simplified form of our final risk analysis would as follows:

For any individual person for whom a specific vaccine is recommended,

A) The risk of damage or death from disease must be higher than

B) The risk of damage or death from the vaccine (long or short term) AND

C) the reduced risk of disease

A similar risk analysis methodology can and should be made before deciding on ANY medical intervention, whether it is preventative or not. Vaccines and other preventative interventions typically have to meet a higher safety bar because the risk of damage and death is much lower than that of a more immediate treatment intervention (i.e. cancer treatment).


The medical community continues to provide one of the most glaring examples of hypocrisy in any community claiming to be science based. The scientific method requires a measurement of outcomes. That means running a prospective clinical study of vaccinated populations compared to unvaccinated controls. It also means rigorously tracking and following up on adverse outcomes of vaccinations. The medical community continues to make excuses and fight this critical step in any evidence based practice. When it comes to the pseudoscience of vaccines, the scientific method is clearly MIA.

As the critical thinker has already figured out, the answers to our questions from 1 and 2 above will provide the information required to perform a logical analysis and make a logical decision. These are the questions that your skeptical scientist needs to answer before we can determine "safe enough". I welcome a discussion of these topics as these are the questions I've been asking since I started to research vaccines before my children were born. Unfortunately, most of them are still unanswered. Alas, since this group of skeptic scientists are clearly employing simplistic dishonest arguments here, they have no intention of entering a logical or scientific discussion. Consequently you will likely be promptly labeled as "anti-vaccine" for asking the questions required to actually do a proper analysis. From the evidence it appears that they just want to browbeat everyone into the same sheep-like conclusions they've drawn.

Shame on them.

Conflicts of Interest: None