Antivaxxers grow increasingly bolder

December 30, 2011

Over the last year, the anti-vaccination movement has grown more bold in their misinformation campaigns. It began Thanksgiving weekend of 2010, where they tried to advertise their propaganda in AMC movie theaters. This effort was thwarted however in no small part because of SkepChick activist Elyse Anders. Then months later, they succeeded in getting a commercial running on the Time Square CBS Jumbotron. And last month, they succeeded in getting Delta Airlines to air their propaganda on flights.

Each time Elyse Anders used a change.org petition to influence those who have agreed to work with these antivaccine groups and I discussed this during my recent SkeptiCamp talk, which was focused on promoting more skeptical activism in NYC because as great as Elyse has been for NYC, she doesn’t live here and I hate needing her to fight our local battles when we have a sizable skeptical community, many of whom I suspect would be interested in skeptical activism.

Well now the inaccurately named National Vaccine Information Center is back to their old tricks and are currently, as well as during New Years, running another dishonest ad in Times Square on ABC Full Circle’s 5000 square foot TSQ Digital Screen. And the ad is scheduled to run during the New Years celebration. Also, Jenny McCarthy will be part of the televised show and has promised to try to draw attention to the ad.

And again, since there’s no organized NYC skeptical activism…yet (hopefully more on this soon!), New York’s protector, Elyse Anders, is back with another change.org petition. Please sign this petition urging ABC to pull the ad at once.

Yay! Sweet, sweet death!

Now unfortunately, that’s not the only antivaccine news story lately. The antivaccine Australian Vaccination Network is currently promoting a children’s book that teaching kids that measles is awesome. I shit you not. The book is called Melanie’s Marvelous Measles, and it’s written by a woman named Stephanie Messenger. I’m reminded of another children’s author who wrote about measles, Roald Dahl. Though he wasn’t marveling at the disease so much as cursing it for having killed his kid. For more commentary on this sickening book, check out PZ Myers, Ophelia Benson and Reasonable Hank.

The other big news from Australia was that the head of the Australian Vaccination Network, Meryl Dorey was originally scheduled to give a talk at the Woodford Folk Festival about the evils of vaccines. After our friends at the Australian Skeptics campaigned against it, her talk transformed into a panel featuring Dorey and a bunch of actual qualified experts with the know-how to demolish her arguments. But the Australian Skeptics didn’t stop there. They amusingly paid to have an airplane fly over the Festival with a sign reading:  VACCINATION SAVES LIVES.

Bravo Australian Skeptics on a job well done. Now we just need to bring the same level of activism to NYC.

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AVN loses its charity status

October 14, 2010

The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN – not to be confused with the Adult Video Network) has been stripped of its status as a charitable organization on account that it’s, you know, not really a charitable organization but just anti-vaccination propaganda distribution center.

Well, the official reason is that the Australian Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) found the organization’s appeals to have not been in good faith. You see, as I’d written about several months ago, the AVN was ordered to post a disclaimer on their website telling visitors that the site should not be read as medical advice and that the site is not an objective source on vaccines but rather is ideologically determined to oppose vaccination.

But you see, Meryl Dorey and her organization chose to ignore that ruling and not advertise their bias. Soooo, that brings us to today, when the New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) revoked the AVN’s charitable status on the grounds it had failed to publish the recommended disclaimer.

“This has led to appeals not being conducted in good faith,” the office says in a letter sent to the AVN.

“The organisation’s website is misleading in that it may lead people making donations to believe they are donating to a cause which promotes vaccination, whereas the organisation adopts an anti-vaccination position.”

This all follows copyright infringement charges made against the organization a month and a half ago.

Suffice it to say, this has not been a good year for Meryl Dorey and her Orwellian “Ministry of Truth.” And unfortunately for Ms. Dorey, this is only the beginning as we will take apart her organization piece by piece. The blood of Dana McCaffery and possibly other infants is on her hands, and we’ll make sure she never forgets it.

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Australian Vaccination Movement steals too

September 1, 2010

Arr! Why didn't any of you skallywags tell me stealing was wrong?

In addition to the charges brought against the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) by the Health Care Complaints Commission over their constant misinforming of parents about health information and harassment of families criticizing the organization, now the AVN has taking to stealing, or more specifically, to violating copyright law by selling newspaper and medical journal articles online without the authors’ permission.

The Australian Vaccination Network, which was the subject of a public warning issued by the Health Care Complaints Commission last month, withdrew 11 information packs from its website yesterday after complaints from authors.

The packs, which were selling for up to $128, included home-made books filled with articles photocopied from journals around the world, information on drugs taken from MIMS, the medical guide used by doctors and nurses, and copies of brochures inserted in medication boxes by pharmaceutical companies.

What’s that conspiracy theorists always say about following the money? Now you might wonder why the AVN would be interested in spreading real medical information from actual reliable sources, given how prone they are to lying to parents for the specific purpose of tricking them into thinking the real medical professionals are part of an evil conspiracy. Well this should explain that:

“‘That article is at least 15 years old so is not based on current information.”

See, the AVN isn’t anti-science. They love science, so long as it’s old, outdated science.

The network is also under investigation by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing after reports it solicited donations without a fundraising licence. If found guilty, the network will no longer be allowed to operate as a charity.

The president of the network, Meryl Dorey, said she was unaware she had breached copyright but accepted there had been problems with her licence.

”We’ve made mistakes but they’ve been honest mistakes. They’ve been out of ignorance rather than fraudulence,” she said.

You see, Meryl Dorey didn’t mean any harm. How was she to know that being a pirate was illegal? Cause that never comes up in any pirate movie ever. Nor is it explained at the beginning of every DVD and VHC. For she’s been living on the moon for her entire life and never heard of such foreign concepts as intellectual property and copyrights. That’s a plausible defense. It’s like that time I ran over that kid with my car. I didn’t know that was a crime. Honest.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 8.3.10

August 3, 2010

Yup, I’m very behind again, so bare with me.

1. Former writers for ScienceBlogs find a new home – I’ve written already about “PepsiGate,” the controversy that led to many of the leading science bloggers on the web to leave their home at Scienceblogs. Well, now at least many of the bloggers who left, including one of my favorites, PalMD, have moved to Scientopia. And their joining other bloggers who had no previous connection to ScienceBlogs, so hopefully this will become yet another hub for amazing science coverage that the mainstream media is failing to cover. And PZ Myers, Orac, and Abbie Smith are all remaining at ScienceBlogs.  I personally don’t really care where they’re posting their material just as long as this incident hasn’t deprived the internet of great science bloggers.

2. New study again proves the Earth is warming -

The 2009 State of the Climate report released today draws on data for 10 key climate indicators that all point to the same finding: the scientific evidence that our world is warming is unmistakable. More than 300 scientists from 160 research groups in 48 countries contributed to the report, which confirms that the past decade was the warmest on record and that the Earth has been growing warmer over the last 50 years.

Oh great! Now even Earth is falling for Al Gore’s evil liberal agenda.

3. Monkeys hate flying squirrels – C’mon, who doesn’t hate flying squirrels. Fuckin’ rodents think they’re so clever because they got built-in hang gliders. Humans had to actually build our flying technology; they were just born with it. That takes no great accomplishment. I’d like to see a flying squirrel build a 747. But maybe that’s just me. So why do monkeys hate them?

This riled-up response is probably just a false alarm, with the monkeys mistaking the squirrel for a predatory bird. On the other hand, male macaques – some of whom give chase and even attack a harmless rodent – might be trying to impress females in their troop.

Although this tough-guy motive was not proved in a new study, “it is possible that adult or sub-adult male monkeys may be ‘showing off’ their fitness” as potential mates, said Kenji Onishi, an assistant professor of behavioral sciences at Osaka University and lead author of the paper being published in the current issue of the journal Primate Research.

I like my reason better.

4. How high can Virgin Galactic take you? – Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic now has two fully operational private spacecraft: SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo (aka Enterprise). And for the low, low price of $200,000, they’ll take you about 68 miles above the Earth’s surface, or 6.2 miles above  the Kármán line, the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. Now’s the time for Captain Kirk to start offering cheaper flights with Priceline.

5, Mind reading machines are science reality -

It is possible to read someone’s mind by remotely measuring their brain activity, researchers have shown. The technique can even extract information from subjects that they are not aware of themselves.

So far, it has only been used to identify visual patterns a subject can see or has chosen to focus on. But the researchers speculate the approach might be extended to probe a person’s awareness, focus of attention, memory and movement intention. In the meantime, it could help doctors work out if patients apparently in a coma are actually conscious.

I can't handle the truth!

6. Anti-vaxxer Meryl Dorey is a lying bitch – The other day, Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN – [snicker] ) responded to the accusations made against her that her organization misinforms parents and that they’ve harassed the McCaffery family, whose 4-week-old baby Dana died of pertussis because she was too young to be safely vaccinated and those around hadn’t been vaccinated either. Of course, she denied any wrongdoing of any kind. But now the McCaffery’s have responded to her response. And big surprise. She lied…a lot.

7. Self-sustaining robot has artificial gut – I do love my robot news. A robot, Ecobot III, eats dead flies for sustenance. It’s pretty inefficient now but it’s hard to imagine the possibilities for how far this research could take robot technology in the future.

8. Supplements found to be unsafe – I know it sounded like a great idea for supplements to not be regulated to confirm they are safe and effective but it turns out that, shockingly, not verifying these products are actually safe is a really, really bad idea. I know. Who knew?

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Australian Vaccination Network condemned by health authorities for harassing & misleading parents

July 13, 2010

I’ve written before about the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN – [snicker]) and its despicable leader, Meryl Dorey. Now it seems that Australian health officials have something to say about them as well. The New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) has produced a report condemning the claims and activities of the AVN.

Unfortunately, the HCCC is only demanding the AVN to place an easily ignorable disclaimer on their website. According to the HCCC’s AVN Final Report (PDF):

The Australian Vaccination Network should include an appropriate statement in a prominent position on its website which states:

  1. the Australian Vaccination Network’s purpose is to provide information against vaccination in order to balance what it believes is the substantial amount of pro-vaccination information available elsewhere;
  2. the information provided should not be read as medical advice; and
  3. the decision about whether or not to vaccinate should be made in consultation with a health care provider.

The report also makes reference to the alleged harassment of the parents of Dana McCaffery, a 4-week-old Australian infant who died of the easily preventable pertussis specifically because she was too young to receive the vaccine and the disease was allowed to spread by irresponsible locals who chose not to vaccinate.

ABC covered the story here:

And you can hear more of Meryl Dorey spouting out dangerous misinformation on a radio show where fortunately, the hosts weren’t buying her bullshit.

Meryl Dorey and the AVN are so despicable they make the Westboro Baptist Church seem pleasant by comparison.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 5.15.10

May 15, 2010

1. One thing I never could stand about New Zealand was all the damned vampires – Two people in New Zealand have been arrested and charged with “wounding with intent to render a man unconscious” following a report from a man who claims he was attacked by vampires after waking up in a park after a night of drinking to find bite marks on his neck. But don’t worry. They totally had a good excuse.

2. New fossil find reveals secrets of ancient marine life -

Paleontologists have discovered a rich array of exceptionally preserved fossils of marine animals that lived between 480 million and 472 million years ago, during the early part of a period known as the Ordovician. The specimens are the oldest yet discovered soft-bodied fossils from the Ordovician, a period marked by intense biodiversification.

And for those keeping track, that’s between 479,994,000 and 471,994,000 years before the existence of the entire universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

3. Australian church rejects vaccine denialists at the AVN – Meryl Dorey and her goons at the misnamed Australian Vaccination Network (AVN [snicker]) were told to get lost by a church after the AVN requested to use their church as a venue for spreading propaganda about the evils of vaccines. It turns out that prominent church members are experts in the field of ethics and public health, and they felt the AVN is not in line with the ethos and values of the Uniting Church of Australia. And so no Uniting Church venue will be made available to them.

4. Mirin Dajo had a lot of guts – This guy didn’t just swallow a sword; he had himself run through with numerous fencing foils…to entertain people!

I’m reminded of Todd Robbins, one of the few remaining sideshow vaudeville acts from the Coney Island tradition. I’ve seen Robbins swallow swords, perform the human blockhead (pounding a nail up the nose – I’m told not actually that hard), and most impressive of all, eating glass for your amusement. But I’d say Marin Dajo deserves recognition as an indestructible bastard except that he died at the age of 35.

5. Revenge is a dish best served with pubic lice – A British website has come up with a pretty badass way to help people get revenge on those who have wronged them…by selling pubic lice. The site, crabrevenge.com, has a disclaimer but a pretty insincere one:

While the disclaimer says the website creators “do not endorse giving people lice,” and the lice are for “novelty purposes only,” the website talks about using them for revenge.

. . .

The website says the company was started “by a group of fellows who happen to know a thing or two about biology and revenge.”

Well I can’t argue the revenge part. So please, don’t give me crabs.

6. New book further blows the lid on $cientology – Escaped and recovered $cientologist Amy Scobee has released a new book called Abuse At The Top, where she reiterates the now ubiquitous claims of leader David Miscavige’s violent assaults on members and gave some fun stories about Tom Cruise.


Australian Vaccination Network still struggling

April 6, 2010

AVN leader Meryl Dorey

Back in December, the anti-vaccination group, the  Australian Vaccination Network (AVN – yes, that’s their actual acronym), and its founder Meryl Dorey ran into a problem. They became subjects of an investigation by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission:

The AVN is accused of ‘engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct with the intent of persuading parents not to vaccinate their children,’ by Ken McLeod, a member of a group known as Stop the AVN.

. . .

And while the commission may take several more months to complete itsinvestigation, the ABC last month released a statement to say that information supplied by Mrs Dorey which was broadcast on ABC Mid-North Coast local radio in September was found to be misleading.

. . .

The investigation found the use of these statistics, about whooping cough, was misleading as they were ‘drawn from different data sets and related to different groups of children’.

The statistics were also presented as vaccination rates for 1991, when they were, in fact, for 2001, the ABC said.

It was also around this time that Dorey started begging for money on behalf of the AVN, which was allegedly going bankrupt.

And now new reports are coming in that suggest Dorey and the AVN are still in dire straits. Allegedly, parenting magazines, home of their primary demographic, are refusing to publish AVN advertisements. Now the intended ad would have cost $8000, which Dorey was all ready to pay, which raises an important question:

At question here is how the AVN came to have a spare $8000, after their recent donation drive initiated apparently to keep them from going under. Meryl apparently needed the cash to cover debts, so just a few weeks later she has enough in the coffers to blow eight grand on advertising?

Will someone soon be banging down Dorey’s door to break her thumbs in the near future? Who knows? Given the news I reported last week that the AVN is now selling $cientology propaganda films, nothing would surprise me anymore.


Australian Vaccination Network linked to Scientology?

March 25, 2010

AVN leader Meryl Dorey

It appears that not only is the Australian Vaccination Network anti-vaccine and anti-medicine in general but possibly also L. Ron Hubbard-worshiping cultists.

It’s unclear at this time precisely how large their connection is to $cientology but one thing that is certain is that they’re selling on their website propaganda produced by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), one of the many well-known $cientology front group, which now openly admits their $cientology affiliation.

Specifically, their selling the “documentary” Making A Killing: The Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging. Here’s what their website says about it:

Psychotropic drugs. Its the story of big money- drugs that fuel a $330 billion psychiatric industry, without a single cure. The cost in human terms is even greater- these drugs now kill an estimated 42 000 people every year. And the death count keeps rising.

Containing more that 175 interviews with lawyers, mental health experts, the families of victims and the survivors themselves, this riveting documentary rips the mask off psychotropic drugging and exposes a brutal but well-entrenched money-making machine.

Features

  • Psychiatry’s Drug Push
  • Disease Mongering
  • The Experiment
  • Peddling To Prescribers
  • Pitching to the Public
  • Side Effects
  • Psychiatry’s Prescription for Violence. This graphic video reveals the disturbing truth behind the wave of violence devastating our homes, shcools and communities.
  • Sounds an awful lot like that other CCHR produced “documentary” Psychiatry: Industry of Death (also the name of their “museum” of alleged mental health atrocities throughout history caused by those evil psychiatrists) :

    To see the rest of that “documentary” [snicker] click here. And you can watch a series of videos debunking that “documentary” here.

    Whether this means that $cientology’s influence over the AVN reaches the very top or if this is just an example of two different cults uniting against their mutual enemy, science, I don’t know. But when $cientology is your ideological ally, you’re in big trouble.

    This is the true face of the anti-vaccine movement, the one they desperately try to hide when the cameras are rolling so that they can pass as rational by insisting all they want are safer vaccines. No, what you want is the tear down all of medical science and replace it with your own nonsense. And this is why you and your friends the $cientologists will be destroyed.


    This Week in Epic Fails 2.10.10

    February 11, 2010

    1. Utah passes bill allowing women to view heartbeat of their 3-week-old fetus before abortion – Hope the anti-choicers are happy with the result because 3-week-old fetuses don’t have heartbeats:

    Before HB200 cleared the chamber in a 53-15 vote, Minority Leader David Litvack, D-Salt Lake City, unsuccessfully attempted to amend the bill to delete language he believed to be flat-out false, referring to viewing the heartbeat of a fetus at three weeks.”It is not medically accurate,” Litvack said. “It’s not possible. It does not exist.”

    Litvack read from a physician’s e-mail that said you could expect to see embryonic cardiac activity at about six weeks from the woman’s last period.

    Rep. Carl Wimmer, the bill’s sponsor, disputed Litvack’s claim.

    “There are arguments on both sides of the issue,” Wimmer, R-Herriman, said.

    I’m sure there are, Carl. The problem is that reality is only on ONE side, the side that says that there isn’t a human fetus on Earth that has a heart at 3 weeks, let alone a heartbeat.

    2. Left Brain/Right Brain demolishes J.B. Handley’s latest moronery – Yup, Handley trots out the old “too much too soon” gambit and gets a detailed response explaining precisely why it’s complete garbage.

    Oh, and speaking of anti-vaccine lunatics. . .

    3. The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN–that’s really their acronym, hehe) is being audited – It couldn’t happen to more deserving folks:

    THE BANGALOW-BASED Australian Vaccination Network will undergo a full audit by the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing following complaints it has been unlawfully fundraising.

    Charity inspectors are expected to soon visit the organisation’s office to examine records and interview staff to check if it has been operating in breach of the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991.

    Awwwwwwww! That’s a shame, a damned, damned shame.

    4. Evolution Fucked Your Shit Up: The World’s 50 Freakiest Animals – Step right up, folks. And welcome to the greatest show on Earth. See the Sea Pig, the snake with legs, the Aye-Aye (which I called the MonkeySquirrelRodent a year and a half ago), the Hairy Frog, the Human-Faced Carp, the Axolotl, the Chinese Giant Salamander, the Thorny Devil Lizard, the Hagfish, the Seadevil, the Goblin Shark, the Purple Frog, the Pygmy Marmoset, the Sea Dragon, the Tarsier, the Angora Rabbit, the Blobfish, the Wrinkle-Faced Bat, the Dumbo Octopus, the Liger, and many more–they’re all here!!!!

    Mother nature is a mad scientist!

    Made of pure cute


    Australian Vaccination Network begging for change & other anti-vaccination nuttiness

    February 6, 2010

    I’ve already reported that the anti-vaccine propaganda organization, the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN–I can never type that acronym without giggling), is going under. Well now its brainless leader, Meryl Dorey, is begging for change to save her precious AVN [hehe]. This woman has no shame and neither do the folks at Age of Autism. And in case anyone thinks I’m straw-manning Dorey, she begins her begging request by referring to her opponents as the “anti-choice movement.” Nobody is arguing against choice. It’s your lack of science to back your ideological claims that we object to.

    Also on Age of Autism today was a message directly from Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy, the king and queen of crazyville themselves. They begin:

    Dr. Andrew Wakefield is being discredited to prevent an historic study from being published that for the first time looks at vaccinated versus unvaccinated primates and compares health outcomes, with potentially devastating consequences for vaccine makers and public health officials.

    Nonsense. Wakefield has been discredited long ago and it’s only now catching up to him. Further, we’ve already compared the health outcomes of vaccinated and unvaccinated populations in epidemiological studies. We’ve even got studies that compare autism rates specifically between these two types of populations. Just one example of this was published in the Lancet, the very journal that published (and has now retracted) Wakefield’s original study. (See:  “Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association” The Lancet, Volume 353, Issue 9169, Pages 2026-2029 – B.Taylor, E.Miller, C.Farrington, M.Petropoulos, I.Favot-Mayaud, J.Li, P.Waight).

    It is our most sincere belief that Dr. Wakefield and parents of children with autism around the world are being subjected to a remarkable media campaign engineered by vaccine manufacturers reporting on the retraction of a paper published in The Lancet in 1998 by Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues

    Yes, no one doubts your sincerity. We doubt your facts. The Lancet would be the first to call bullshit on your accusations as they’re the ones who finally decided to retract a study they’ve known for some time to be utter garbage. And the timing almost certainly was connected to the GMC’s verdict, not any alleged studies Wakefield happens to be working on. But if this study is so amazing, as you claim, then for the good of the research, Wakefield can always take his name off of it so it gets a fairer hearing. After all, it’s for kids and not his personal glory, right?

    The retraction from The Lancet was a response to a ruling from England’s General Medical Council, a kangaroo court where public health officials in the pocket of vaccine makers served as judge and jury. Dr. Wakefield strenuously denies all the findings of the GMC and plans a vigorous appeal.

    LOL. Yeah, it’s all of a sudden a kangaroo court because they ruled against your messiah. Can we say sour grapes? As always, it all just boils down to the conspirators ate our evidence. It must be so great to be able to spout off baseless conspiracy accusations without feeling the need to back up anything you say with evidence. How responsible of you. And Barbara Loe Fisher has the audacity to sue Paul Offit, Amy Wallace, and Conde Nast for Offit’s statement that “she lies”? This is far worse and they’re attacking officials in England where the libel laws are far harsher on the defendent side. It makes me hope someone sued Jim and Jenny in England.

    Despite rampant misreporting, Dr. Wakefield’s original paper regarding 12 children with severe bowel disease and autism never rendered any judgment whatsoever on whether or not vaccines cause autism, and The Lancet’s retraction gets us no closer to understanding this complex issue.

    Ah here we go. This is the new party line. Fortunately, Orac has already crushed it in response to Kim Stagliano’s statements on CNN:

    Let’s go back and see what Wakefield wrote, shall we? First, there was this interpretation:

    We identified associated gastrointestinal disease and developmental regression in a group of previously normal children, which was generally associated in time with possible environmental triggers.

    And what was this “trigger”? Clearly, Wakefield wanted to implicate the MMR vaccine. It is true that he did write:

    We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described. Virological studies are underway that may help to resolve this issue.

    However, after you’ve been in the science biz a while, you come to recognize statements that are almost certainly there not because the author wants them to be there but because the reviewers of the manuscript forced the author to include them in the revised manuscript if they wanted their paper published. The above passage strikes this surgical scientist as being just one of those statements demanded by reviewers. One reason is that it sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the discussion; it caught my attention when I read it because it didn’t jibe with the rest. Moreover, Table 2 in the paper explicitly tries to link MMR vaccination to subsequent autistic regression and bowel symptoms. What the paper is trying to show is very clear, that one disclaimer notwithstanding, and those who know how to read scientific and medical journal articles can recognize that. Reinforcing that impression is what Wakefield writes later in the manuscript:

    If there is a causal link between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and this syndrome, a rising incidence might be anticipated after the introduction of this vaccine in the UK in 1988.

    And

    We have identified a chronic enterocolitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most cases, onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps, and rubella immunisation. Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.

    Basically, the entire discussion comes across to me (and I’ve been in the science biz a while) as the result of reviewers reining in the more–shall we say?–speculative interpretations of Wakefield’s study. In any case, it’s very disingenuous of Wakefield and the anti-vaccine movement to claim that Wakefield never said that the MMR causes autism in the Lancet paper, given that the paper isn’t how the public learned about the study. It was the press, starting with the the press conference he gave upon the release of the study. In that press conference, Wakefield went far beyond what he wrote in the manuscript. Indeed, appearing in a 20-minute video released by the Royal Free Hospital, Wakefield laid down these gems:

    No, the work certainly raises a question mark over MMR vaccine, but it is, there is no proven link as such and we are seeking to establish whether there is a genuine causal association between the MMR and this syndrome or not. It is our suspicion that there may well be but that is far from being a causal association that is proven beyond doubt.

    OK, not so bad. Yet. Let’s see what else Wakefield said:

    And I have to say that there is sufficient anxiety in my own mind of the safety, the long term safety of the polyvalent, that is the MMR vaccination in combination, that I think that it should be suspended in favour of the single vaccines, that is continued use of the individual measles, mumps and rubella components.

    Uh-oh. Not so good.

    INTERVIEWER: So you’re saying that a parent should still ensure that their child is inoculated but perhaps not with the MMR combined vaccine?DR ANDREW WAKEFIELD: Again, this was very contentious and you would not get consensus from all members of the group on this, but that is my feeling, that the, the risk of this particular syndrome developing is related to the combined vaccine, the MMR, rather than the single vaccines.

    So Wakefield clearly believes this syndrome of autistic regression and bowel problems is due to the MMR, and he basically says so right here:

    INTERVIEWER: Of course there’ll be many parents whose children have had this MMR vaccine who will now be concerned about what may happen to their children. What advice would you give to them?DR ANDREW WAKEFIELD: Well, the interesting thing is that the damage, the behavioural or developmental change tends to occur quite soon after administration, and this is where, why parents or GPs or paediatricians have been able to make the link, the association with MMR. So if that hasn’t happened then it is extremely unlikely to happen.

    INTERVIEWER: But there are going to be parents now whose children are about to have the vaccination, and they’re gonna say: I’m not gonna risk it. What would you say to them?

    DR ANDREW WAKEFIELD: Well, my message is for the Department of Health and the regulatory authorities, and that is that this needs urgent investigation; it needs funding and it needs the appropriate level of commitment in terms of basic scientific research and clinical research to answer the question. And until that time we cannot offer any definitive evident, any definitive message to parents about this.

    INTERVIEWER: Sounds to be saying, you seem to be saying perhaps don’t?

    DR ANDREW WAKEFIELD: My opinion, again, is that the monovalent, the single vaccines, measles, mumps and rubella, are likely in this context to be safer than the polyvalent vaccine.

    BZZZZZZT! Wrong answer! In fact, as Dr. Mary Ramsay points out, this recommendation that the MMR vaccine be broken up into its separate components came out of nowhere. It wasn’t based on any evidence, either in Wakefield’s Lancet article or from anywhere else.

    In any case, parents got the message Wakefield was laying down; only he didn’t lay it down in the paper itself. He was laying it down in his public appearances, aided and abetted by the sensation mongering credulous British press. Wakefield was telling them that the MMR could cause autism. Oh, sure, he qualified it with enough weasel words to appear cautious, but basically recommended that parents get single vaccines, rather than the trivalent vaccine (MMR), because the MMR was somehow not as safe, because he thinks it causes autistic regression. It’s all there, and it’s all clear. It’s also why whenever I hear an anti-vaccine loon like Kim Stagliano oh-so-piously and condescendingly proclaim that Andrew Wakefield never said that the MMR causes autism and said that it didn’t in the paper, I become quite annoyed at the half-truth and how they almost always leave out the press conferences Wakefield gave back in 1998 in which he wasn’t anywhere near so circumspect.

    And antivaxers aren’t shy about pointing to the 1998 Lancet study as evidence of autism. Let’s take a look at what Generation Rescue’s deceptive 14 Studies website has to say about the study:

    This study demonstrates that the MMR vaccine triggered autistic behaviors and inflammatory bowel disease in autistic children

    D’oh! Maybe Ms. Stagliano should tell Mr. Handley that he’s wrong in his interpretation of this study. Wakefield never said that, right?

    Alright, now back to Jim and Jenny:

    Dr. Wakefield is one of the world’s most respected and well-published gastroenterologists. He has published dozens of papers since 1998 in well-regarded peer-reviewed journals all over the world. His work documenting the bowel disease of children with autism and his exploration of novel ways to treat bowel disease has helped relieve the pain and suffering of thousands of children with autism.

    If by one of the world’s most respected, you mean most disreputable and least likely to ever work in medicine ever again, then I agree. His name is toast. He might was well be living in the McCarthy-era under the name Andre Wakefieldov. And if his reputation really was secure, he wouldn’t need dopey celebrities to defend him.

    For the past decade, parents in our community have been clamoring for a relatively simple scientific study that could settle the debate over the possible role of vaccines in the autism epidemic once and for all: compare children who have been vaccinated with children who have never received any vaccines and see if the rate of autism is different or the same.

    There’s nothing at all simple about the demands made by the anti-vaccinationists. First of all, David Kirby stated that once the thimerosal was gone, we’d see a decline in autism. The thimerosal has been gone for nine years and autism is continuing to rise. Kirby is still not satisfied. But regarding the alleged study that will satisfy the anti-vaxxers, this requires keeping thousands of children from getting medicine, which is highly unethical. As David Gorski has pointed out in another blog, this demand is damned near impossible to deliver.

    I could go on but what’s the point. This is the same old garbage these cranks continue to feed us and now that the world is beginning to recognize how crazy they are, it’s probably better to just let them hang themselves.


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