Tuesday, January 15, 2013

David Gorski is Spouting More of his Nonsense, and his Anti-Science Stupidity Induces…Laughter

Ah, false-skeptics…

If there is something that is a repeated theme to my blog, it’s pointing out the hypocrisy and unscientific behaviour of people who claim to be “science based” or “skeptics.” In fact, it was such an amusing diversion that, for a time, I had too much material to blog about. And then, I realised that I was way too busy in my own personal life that I really didn’t have time to focus on making fun of these hypocritical and duplicitous douche-bags. And before I knew it…6 months had passed since I had updated my humble little blog.

Then, yesterday, an announcement was made. The NVICP awarded two children compensation for injuries that resulted from a vaccine. Both of these children were fine prior to vaccination, and both children developed an encepalopathy post vaccination that resulted in seizure disorders. One was diagnosed with ASD, the other with PDD-NOS.

I’ll get more into that later. Right now, I want to discuss the reaction.

Predictably, David Gorski had to say something. And his dismissal of these two children is so mind-numbingly stupid that I was contemplating watching “Jersey Shore” or “Honey Boo-Boo” to find something more intelligent.

In David’s latest shart-fest, “David Kirby’s back, and this time his anti-vaccine fear mongering induces…ennui,” Gorski begins his shrill and foaming-at-the-mouth rant with his usual logical fallacies, i.e. poisoning the well.

I sense a disturbance in the antivaccine Force, which is, of course, by definition the Dark Side.

Whenever I sense such a disturbance, there are a number of possible reactions that it provokes in me. One such reaction is alarm, as when antivaccine activists say something that is just clever enough to sound plausible enough that it might cause trouble. It never is, of course, but it often takes a close reading and some research to figure out what the game is and deconstruct the nonsense. Sometimes, my reaction is amusement, as when an antivaccine activist says something that is so hilariously dumb, so over-the-top in its scientific ignorance that it provokes chuckles or even guffaws as I read it, as, for instance, whenever Vox Day jumps into the antivaccine fray. Such excretions have a tendency to provoke some amused not-so-Respectful Insolence; that is, when I’m in the mood. Sometimes, my reaction is boredom, pure ennui. Such reactions are generally reserved for antivaccine nonsense that is so unimaginative, so derivative of lies and misinformation that antivaccinationists have been flogging before, that I’d really prefer to let the cup pass. However, I can’t, because I feel duty-bound, knowing that supporters of science-based medicine opposing the quackery that is the antivaccine movement are about to be buried in a tsunami (word choice intentional) of utter nonsense.

You know such a moment is fast upon us whenever David Kirby decides to address the vaccine-autism manufactroversy.”

A disturbance in the force? Seriously? Are we really sure this guy is a doctor, much less an adult? Then he starts wailing about how the nonsense is “unimaginative, so derivative of lies and misinformation” that he’d prefer not to talk about it. But poor David, who is such a busy “doctor” and “researcher” that he writes on his hate-blog daily, is such a martyr that he has to do this. Oh yes he does. Let’s not mention the heaping dose of hypocritical bovine faeces regarding lies and derivative misinformation. Observe.

Of course, David Kirby is so 2005 or 2006. That was back when hardly a week passed without a dropping by Kirby appearing on that wretched hive of scum and quackery, The Huffington Post. These days, he rarely dips his toe into the antivaccine pool, but when he does he twists the catch phrase of the “most interesting man alive” from “stay thirsty my friends” to “stay stupid my friends,” which is just what he’s done this time. In a way, it’s oddly comforting to know that, even after all these years David Kirby can still bring home the stupid, flaming like napalm, and bring home the stupid he does in a post on—where else?—HuffPo entitled Vaccine Court Awards Millions to Two Children With Autism. He begins with what is, in essence, a bait and switch that is apparent in the title. You can see right there that what Kirby is going to try to convince people is that the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) through the Vaccine Court has “admitted” that vaccines cause autism by compensating children for vaccine injuries that include autism. We’ve heard this ploy time and time again. The routine is well-established and trotted out every so often to convince the credulous that somehow the government is “hiding” the “truth” that vaccines cause autism while paying off the parents of vaccine-injured autistic children.

It’s a transparent ploy for a variety of reasons. For one thing, the standard of evidence for the Vaccine Court is what has been referred to as “50% and a feather.” Basically, it’s the same standard of evidence as any other civil court: a preponderance of evidence.”

Ah, where to begin…

I love how Gorski accuses Mr Kirby of being so “2005 or 2006.” Certainly ironic considering that Gorski has been spewing his idiocy for how long? I also enjoy how he calls HuffPo a “wretched hive of scum and quackery” (Weeee!! Another childish Star Wars reference…how trite). But, of course, his site is totally science-based and unbiased, correct? Finally, notice the final comment there…a preponderance of evidence. This is very important in this case because we have all heard, time and time again, that Gorski is evidence-based. Except when there’s evidence that contradicts his previous bias. In other words, he’s “science and evidence based,” except when he doesn’t like the evidence.

He begins discussing Mr Kirby, throwing out his usual fallacies and vapid insults, then goes to the actual meat of the article (after about 1000 words).

Here’s where it gets hilarious.

In addition, although Ryan clearly has neurological problems, as Catherina points out there is no evidence of actual autism. In fact, if you go and look up earlier records, you’ll find that the child did not demonstrate any ASD behaviors on CHAT screenings:

On May 10, 2004, at Ryan’s sixteen month well-child visit, Dr. Armstrong completed a Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (CHAT) screen. Ps’ Ex. 4 At 25. That CHAT screen indicated that Ryan was interested in other children, pretend play, peek-a-boo, points with index finger, makes eye contact, and brings object for show. Id. On January 25, 2005, Dr. Armstrong examined Ryan for his twenty-four month well-baby check. Ps’ Ex. 4 at 31. During the visit, Dr. Armstrong conducted another CHAT screen, and again Ryan postively (sic) performed each of the listed behaviors.”

Which is exactly the point. Ryan did not show signs of an earlier ASD. After his reaction, though, he certainly did. Gorski implies, without evidence, that Ryan did not actually have autism.

“Ultimately, the Vaccine Court ruled to compensate Ryan’s family because he appeared to have suffered a “table injury” of encephalitis. Why it decided to do this is unclear, but Kirby hints at dark conspiracies (in his usual fashion), pointing out that “something changed,” implying that it was new evidence under seal that did it. Maybe. Maybe not. What is clear is that, whatever the reasoning for the court’s final decision, the court did not compensate the Mojabi family for Ryan having an ASD. From the evidence that is publicly available, it doesn’t even sound as though Ryan has an ASD.”

Ryan, indeed, has a diagnosis of ASD, according to his mother and his doctors. He was diagnosed with ASD in 2005. All he is doing here is speculation that he is trying to present as fact; a common occurrence with Mr Gorski

Next is the case of Emily Lowrie. Here’s what the moron has to say:

The second case discussed is Emily Lowrie, whose mother is Jillian Moller. Kirby, as is his wont, presents this case as David versus Goliath, with the government fighting to crush the child and her mother. (It is David Kirby we’re talking about, after all.) The story is actually somewhat different from that of Ryan Mojabi in that there was actually fairly convincing evidence that Emily suffered symptoms within two weeks of having received her vaccinations. She probably did suffer encephalopathy in close enough temporal association with vaccination to be, as the court ruled, a table injury. But evidence of vaccines causing Emily to become autistic? There is none. In fact, unlike the case of Ryan Mojabi, autism or autism spectrum disorder isn’t even mentioned in the ruling.”

First off, I laughed heartily at his description of Mr Kirby’s representation of the case. How many times have we heard how Gorski is attempting to topple the “pseudo-science propaganda?” Project much, Mr Gorski?

I was genuinely surprised that he agreed with the evidence that Emily suffered a vaccine reaction. It was a pleasant surprise. But I wonder if he somehow thinks that since she did receive an encepalopathy from the vaccination and subsequent brain damage, it’s ok as long as it isn’t autism.

My relief is palpable.

He then proceeds to rail against Mr Kirby for repeating the mother’s words in regard to her testimony and the subsequent judgment, calling it “conspiracy mongering.”

It’s a sure fire bet that whenever someone calls you a conspiracy mongerer, they have no interest in addressing your comment in any logical or reasonable way. It’s a way to poison the well and dismiss your claims without actually addressing the substance of the claim.

This is lame, even for David Kirby. It’s pure hearsay, the mother complaining about being “badgered” on the stand. That’s how the legal system works, and I understand how uncomfortable it can be. Your opponent’s lawyers can cross-examine you on the stand, and it can be very uncomfortable; then your lawyers get to cross examine your opponent’s witnesses. From the transcripts I read, there was at least one respondent witness who likely had a hard time on the stand. I realize that it might not seem fair that parents with a special needs child has to be subjected to cross examination, but that’s the way the legal system works. It would be nice if there were a better way, but even various review boards would rely to some extent on a bit of an adversarial system. More importantly, however, what we have here is a plaintiff claiming that her lawyer told her that the judge became very angry that she would have to compensate Emily once she was diagnosed with autism because she didn’t want to give antivaccinationists hope. Seriously? The judge would have to be pretty careless to say something so utterly stupid in front of a plaintiff’s attorney, or even where attorneys could overhear.”

But of course, using the mother’s own words to describe her experience is bad. That’s conspiracy mongering! And, how does he know that the judge didn’t say what she said? Was he there?

Besides, having followed cases going through the Vaccine Court since 2005 or so, I smell hyperbole. In every case that I’ve examined, not only have the Special Masters (who do most of the questioning of parents) not been confrontational, but they’ve bent over backwards to give parents a chance to tell their stories in as non-judgmental a manner as possible. True, various parents’ expert witnesses don’t always fare so well (given that more than a few of them in the Autism Omnibus were anti-vaccine quacks, that’s not surprising), but the parents themselves, as far as I’ve been able to tell, have not been subjected to the same sort of questioning. One wonders if Mrs. Moller simply can’t take having her story questioned even gently.”

This, right here, is the most telling statement in this entire article, and also the most thought provoking. Allow me to explain.

There is documented evidence that priests in the Catholic Church were abusing children. When this was first brought to the attention of law enforcement, the Church tried to dismiss these claims in the following ways:

  1. By dismissing the claims, calling the parents of the children conspiracy mongerers, thereby marginalising the parents and families. They would excommunicate the families.
  2. By claiming that the children were only trying to extort money from the church (read the above comment where Mr Gorski implies this exact thing)
  3. By claiming that there is no solid evidence that this was occurring (covering it up).

There are others, but those three are the most familiar to parents of vaccine-injured children.

Seeing Gorski’s reaction to the revelation of the two cases, I can’t help but wonder why anyone still thinks that this utter and complete fool is considered to be “science and evidence based.” His entire belief structure is based on faith; the belief that vaccines are safe and effective. It’s never the vaccines, and no amount of evidence will ever convince him otherwise.