Dear parents, you are being lied to.

Jennifer Raff —  March 25, 2014 — 4,593 Comments

Standard of care.

In light of recent outbreaks of measles and other vaccine preventable illnesses, and the refusal of anti-vaccination advocates to acknowledge the problem, I thought it was past time for this post.

Dear parents,

You are being lied to. The people who claim to be acting in the best interests of your children are putting their health and even lives at risk.

They say that measles isn’t a deadly disease.
But it is.

They say that chickenpox isn’t that big of a deal.
But it can be.

They say that the flu isn’t dangerous.
But it is.

They say that whooping cough isn’t so bad for kids to get.
But it is.

They say that vaccines aren’t that effective at preventing disease.
But 3 million children’s lives are saved every year by vaccination, and 2 million die every year from vaccine-preventable illnesses.

They say that “natural infection” is better than vaccination.
But they’re wrong.

They say that vaccines haven’t been rigorously tested for safety.
But vaccines are subjected to a higher level of scrutiny than any other medicine. For example, this study tested the safety and effectiveness of the pneumococcal vaccine in more than 37,868 children.

They will say that doctors won’t admit there are any side effects to vaccines.
But the side effects are well known, and except in very rare cases quite mild.

They say that the MMR vaccine causes autism.
It doesn’t. (The question of whether vaccines cause autism has been investigated in study after study, and they all show overwhelming evidence that they don’t.)

They say that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism.
It doesn’t, and it hasn’t been in most vaccines since 2001 anyway.

They say that the aluminum in vaccines (an adjuvant, or component of the vaccine designed to enhance the body’s immune response) is harmful to children.
But children consume more aluminum in natural breast milk than they do in vaccines, and far higher levels of aluminum are needed to cause harm.

They say that the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (and/or the “vaccine court”) proves that vaccines are harmful.
It doesn’t.

They say that the normal vaccine schedule is too difficult for a child’s immune system to cope with.
It isn’t.

They say that if other people’s children are vaccinated, there’s no need for their children to get vaccinated.

This is one of the most despicable arguments I’ve ever heard. First of all, vaccines aren’t always 100% effective, so it is possible for a vaccinated child to still become infected if exposed to a disease. Worse, there are some people who can’t receive vaccinations, because they are immune deficient, or because they are allergic to some component. Those people depend upon herd immunity to protect them. People who choose not to vaccinate their children against infectious diseases are putting not only their own children at risk, but also other people’s children.

They say that ‘natural’, ‘alternative’ remedies are better than science-based medicine.
They aren’t.

The truth is that vaccines are one of our greatest public health achievements, and one of the most important things you can do to protect your child.

I can predict exactly the sort of response I will be getting from the anti-vaccine activists. Because they can’t argue effectively against the overwhelming scientific evidence about vaccines, they will say that I work for Big Pharma. (I don’t and never have). They will say that I’m not a scientist (I am), and that I’m an “Agent 666” (I don’t know what that is, but I’m pretty sure that I’m not one).

None of these things are true, but they are the reflexive response by the anti-vaccine activists because they have no facts to back up their position. On some level, deep down, they must understand this, and are afraid of the implications, so they attack the messenger.

Why are they lying to you? Some are doing it for profit, trying to sell their alternative remedies by making you afraid of science-based medicine. I’m sure that many others within the anti-vaccine movement have genuinely good intentions, and do honestly believe that vaccines are harmful. But as a certain astrophysicist recently said “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it”. In the case of vaccine truthers, this is not a good thing. Good intentions will not prevent microbes from infecting and harming people, and the message that vaccines are dangerous is having dire consequences. There are outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses now throughout the United States because of unvaccinated children.

In only one respect is my message the same as the anti-vaccine activists: Educate yourself. But while they mean “Read all these websites that support our position”, I suggest you should learn what the scientific community says. Learn how the immune system works. Go read about the history of disease before vaccines, and talk to older people who grew up when polio, measles, and other diseases couldn’t be prevented. Go read about how vaccines are developed, and how they work. Read about Andrew Wakefield, and how his paper that claimed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism has been withdrawn, and his medical license has been revoked. Read the numerous, huge studies that have explicitly examined whether autism is caused by the vaccine…and found nothing. (While you’re at it, read about the ongoing research to determine what IS the cause—or causes —of autism, which is not helped by people continuing to insist that vaccines cause it).

That may seem like a lot of work, and scientific papers can seem intimidating to read. But reading scientific articles is a skill that can be mastered. Here’s a great resource for evaluating medical information on the internet, and I wrote a guide for non-scientists on how to read and understand the scientific literature. You owe it to your children, and to yourself, to thoroughly investigate the issue. Don’t rely on what some stranger on the internet says (not even me!). Read the scientific studies that I linked to in this post for yourself, and talk to your pediatricians. Despite what the anti-vaccine community is telling you, you don’t need to be afraid of the vaccines. You should instead be afraid of what happens without them.

 

Edited to add: This video is an outstanding summary of many of these issues. I encourage you to watch it.

“Humans try to make sense of the world by seeing patterns. When they see a disease or condition that tends to appear around the time a child is a year or so old, as autism does, and that is also the age that kids get particular shots, they want to put those things together. Parents watch kids more carefully after they get shots. Sometimes they pick up on symptoms then. Just because two things happen at the same time doesn’t mean that one caused the other. This is why we need careful scientific studies.”

Note: For people coming via a direct link, please also feel free to participate in a follow-up discussion
here.

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Jennifer Raff

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Scientist, fighter, reader. In pursuit of the extraordinary.

4,593 responses to Dear parents, you are being lied to.

    • 

      So first the author decries cherry picking, and then post an article by Lucija Tomljenovic and Christopher Shaw published in an inorganic chemistry journal. Really? Are you aware that paper is also funded by two anti-vaccine groups, the Dwoskin and Katlyn Fox Family Foundations? Neither of those researchers are reputable.

      Then we have to only by the author’s word that the studies say something different. Well, gee, why didn’t she provide and explain the actual PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers that show the MMR vaccine causes more harm than measles, mumps and rubella. She and you can start by also providing documentation dated before 1990 that the MMR caused autism in the 1970s and 1980 in the USA coincident to its introduction in 1971, and being the preferred vaccine for the 1978 Measles Elimination Program.

      Then she wrote:

      I typed “austism” and “chelation” into the search thingy and was greeted with non other than a systematic review (the pinacle of the evidence hierarchy) that states “Multiple studies were identified that suggest some individuals with an ASD manifest clinical and behavioral improvements with chelation.”

      But she never mentioned the papers or the authors. Why is that? Were they by a father and son team, where one has been legally stripped of his medical license and the other is being investigating for practicing medicine without a license? They have made a career out of being “experts” for vaccine court cases using their own VAERS dumpster diving “studies”, and recently for convincing desperate parents to treat their autistic kids with chemical castration.

      She did mention “Blood levels of mercury are related to diagnosis of autism: a reanalysis of an important data set”, but that is only a quote in the abstract. You need to read the full paper. Plus both authors are psychologists with known anti-vax sentiments, not actual epidemiologists or biochemists. You might want to read this analysis of that paper, because it does not say what you think it says.

      That is the end of anything substantially evidential the “analysis”. The rest is just the author’s opinion. Now who is the author and what are her credentials? Well check the “About Mel” link we learn: “Hi, my name is Mel Hopper Koppelman and I am a registered Acupuncturist and a practitioner of Integrative Medicine.”

      So this is a person who is not a real medical care practitioner who actually thinks sticking needles in the body works. I’d be interested to learn if she uses bare hands or actually uses gloves and properly sterilized needles.Obviously she was not aware that it takes a very long time to recover from amoebic dysentery, and she could have avoided it if she had boiled or distilled the water she drank in India. Anyone who has traveled and understands germ theory would know this, the New Dehli house my brother lived in had a distiller for the water as standard kitchen equipment.

      • 

        Hi Chris,

        Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

        If my post had been intending to make the case against vaccines, then you would be right about my cherry-picking articles (which I fully disclose that I’m doing) and your suggestions for further analysis would be relevant. However, my post is about the deliberate misrepresentation of research by this author to prove a point. The articles that I “cherry pick” are merely showing that, unlike what the author states, evidence to the contrary exists. I’m pleased that you are capable of a more nuanced view, which is to acknowledge that they do exist. Assessing their quality is a separate matter. I took umbrage that a woman with a PhD did not seem to appreciate the difference between the total absence of evidence to the contrary and poor quality evidence to the contrary.

        Thank you for pointing out that I have forgotten the links to those articles, I will add them this afternoon.

        Your suggestion that somehow my being an acupuncturist precludes me from being research literate is rather ad hominem and incorrect (I’ve earned a BSc and an MSc). Jennifer Raff isn’t a “real medical care practitioner” – does that make her arguments about vaccines any more or less sound? Personally, I don’t think so.

        I’m really pleased to hear that your brother had a water distiller in New Delhi. My accommodation was rather more basic as I was volunteering in an orphanage but I can assure you that the amoeba’s weren’t selective for acupuncturists; we were all drinking bottled and sterilised water, but even the real doctors that I was volunteering with got sick too.

        • 

          “However, my post is about the deliberate misrepresentation of research by this author to prove a point.”

          Which you failed to point out with relevant citations. You can correct that by answering these two points:

          “provide and explain the actual PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers that show the MMR vaccine causes more harm than measles, mumps and rubella.”

          And: “providing documentation dated before 1990 that the MMR caused autism in the 1970s and 1980 in the USA coincident to its introduction in 1971, and being the preferred vaccine for the 1978 Measles Elimination Program.”

          You can also provide the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers that thimerosal is a cause of autism, and that chelation is effective. You should make sure that the authors have the relevant background and have not had their medical licenses revoked. That eliminates papers by the Geiers, DeSoto, Hitlan, Tomljenovic, Goldman, Blaxill, etc.

          Even if Dr. Raff is not a medical doctor, the references she posted are by qualified researchers. Just click on the links provided and then explain why we should not trust those researchers. Prove you are a capable of analyzing scientific documentation by providing some yourself.

          • 

            Chris, I respectfully disagree. Had I claimed that vaccines cause autism (which I haven’t) then a request to back that claim up with reference to the research would be appropriate. However, I’ve only pointed out that Dr Raff’s piece makes a series of black and white claims about “the truth” about vaccines and then she proceeds to back up these claims using mostly opinion pieces, un-referenced blog articles and newspaper articles. When she does use peer-reviewed research, it’s often of a design that isn’t appropriate to support the claim that she’s making.

            If you’re itching for a fight about vaccines, I’m sure there are plenty of people on the internet to pick a fight with. My points were about the mis-leading use of the evidence-base to support an argument. As Dr Raff has a PhD and has written pieces on research literacy, I have assumed that this mis-use was intentional, which is why I decided to write about it.

            • 

              “Had I claimed that vaccines cause autism (which I haven’t) then a request to back that claim up with reference to the research would be appropriate.”

              Then why did you include this: “I typed “austism” and “chelation” into the search thingy”? Now you are back peddling.

              “she proceeds to back up these claims using mostly opinion pieces, un-referenced blog articles and newspaper articles.”

              This is proof you did not click on all of the links. If you had you would have found these:.

              Vaccine. 1999 Oct 29;17 Suppl 3:S120-5.
              Demographic impact of vaccination: a review.

              PLoS One. 2008 Sep 4;3(9):e3140. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003140.
              Lack of association between measles virus vaccine and autism with enteropathy: a case-control study.

              J Pediatr. 2013 Aug;163(2):561-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.02.001. Epub 2013 Mar 30.
              Increasing exposure to antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides in vaccines is not associated with risk of autism.

              JAMA. 2003 Oct 1;290(13):1763-6.
              Association between thimerosal-containing vaccine and autism.

              Pediatrics. 2003 Sep;112(3 Pt 1):604-6.
              Thimerosal and the occurrence of autism: negative ecological evidence from Danish population-based data.

              Institute of Medicine. Released: February 20, 2002
              Immunization Safety Review: Multiple Immunizations and Immune Dysfunction

              MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011 May 20;60(19):619-23.
              Ten great public health achievements–United States, 2001-2010.

              Plus if you had clicked on http://www.autismsciencefoundation.org/autismandvaccines.html you would have found a bigger list of scientific studies. Also, the “opinion” pieces by Dr. Offit were all backed up with scientific references. If you had bothered to read them you would have found them well referenced. As were the CDC, NHS and WHO links. The blog posts were accessible versions of some of the cites that are behind a paywall.

              Now, where is your evidence?

        • 

          Your protestations are hollow; admitting that you are cherry-picking evidence does not make it a sound or serious attempt to come to terms with the totality of the evidence.

          I do substantial research into various irrational ideologies: Bigfoot hunters, creationists, UFOologists, anti-vaxers, crystal healers, homeopaths, and yes, chiropractors (at least some of them). No matter how one-sided the overall evidence is, there is always, always, always “poor quality evidence to the contrary.” Whenever people divide along ideological lines, a division you are actively promoting, the minority will generate its own evidence. It doesn’t make the minority position right or reasonable. Only substantial evidence would do that, which the anti-vax position hasn’t been able to find–that’s why you had to scratch up such dubious research to support your scaremongering.

          Highlighting that exceptionally poor quality evidence and pretending that it rises to the level of a serious rebuttal to the totality of the evidence is indeed an anti-vax position.

          • 

            Colin, reading your comment, I can’t help but get the impression that you haven’t actually read my post but are taking my comment to Chris out of context? I have highlighted that contrary evidence exists, not because I have attempted to equate it to evidence to the contrary, only because Ms Raff’s post on several occasions says that no evidence to the contrary exists and goes through the mock exercise of referencing articles to support this claim. I was merely pointing out that this assertion was false.

            All I have done is a critical appraisal of her article using widely accepted research methods.

            Can you please provide an example of how I have engaged in scaremongering? Again, I think you can find plenty of examples of this on the internet and your comments would be more relevantly addressed to people actively engaging in that practice. I have only pointed out that she’s supported her claims about what the scientific research shows using sources squarely outside the realm of scientific research.

            • 

              “I have highlighted that contrary evidence exists, not because I have attempted to equate it to evidence to the contrary, only because Ms Raff’s post on several occasions says that no evidence to the contrary exists and goes through the mock exercise of referencing articles to support this claim.”

              Except your references were not quality research, as I pointed out. Not all “evidence” is equal. You need to learn how to tell the difference, which is why Dr. Raff has provided some articles about evaluating studies.

              I have also asked you to provide that evidence to the contrary that are from reputable qualified researchers. You have not done that.

              Also, Dr. Raff has a PhD, you might want to use the proper honorific.

            • 

              You are incorrect; I have read your post. It is a good, if uninspired, example of the “just asking questions” school of rhetoric: pretending not to hold a particular position while using rhetorical questions to advocate for that position. It is often distinguished by the nature of the questions, which have little resemblance to the sorts of things people ask when they are actually interested in determining the truth of a difficult question.

              When someone says that no evidence to the contrary exists, they do not mean–and this is obvious to any native speaker of the English (or any) language–that literally no one, anywhere, has taken the contrary position. (Technically, simply the fact that one person makes a claim is evidence for that claim. Just not very good evidence.) What they typically mean, particularly in a scientific context, is that the balance of evidence is extremely one-sided. That’s certainly the case here, where you had to dive into some very shaky research, and even shakier rhetoric, to support your anti-vax scaremongering.

              “All I have done is a critical appraisal of her article using widely accepted research methods.”

              No, this isn’t true. A critical appraisal would involve critically measuring the strength of the two positions you are holding in equal esteem: that vaccines are safe and effective, and that they are not. But rather than analyzing the strength of the various positions, you’ve identified that there are two camps and are insisting that they be treated with equal seriousness.

              Are you aware that a scientist published a paper purporting to sequence the Sasquatch genome? If another scientist said, “There’s no evidence that Bigfoot exists,” would you jump up and claim that they were abusing science? Probably not, because you aren’t trying to convince people that Bigfoot exists. You’ve done exactly that here because you are, despite your protestations, trying to convince people that the scientific consensus regarding vaccines is not a consensus.

              “Can you please provide an example of how I have engaged in scaremongering?”

              Yes. For example, you purport to be examining the question of whether science shows a causal link between vaccines and autism. Dr. Raff linked to a great deal of science showing the consensus that it does not. You “hopped over to Google Scholar and typed in the words “vaccines” and “autism”,” then credulously reported the first anti-vax paper you found. That is not a serious or reasonable attempt to learn the truth–it’s (as you admitted here in another comment) cherry-picking. In fact, if you do just a little bit more Googling, you’ll find that paper has been thoroughly debunked. It’s not on the same level as the serious science done by disinterested experts–it’s an advocacy piece, much like yours, although the authors have better credentials. Holding that article up as a false equivalent to the overwhelming body of scientific research is scaremongering. It’s an attempt to persuade your readers that this is an unsettled scientific question, when in fact–like the existence of Bigfoot–it has been thoroughly investigated and put to rest.

              Another example is your pretense that vaccines are not adequately studied for safety because many vaccine trials use vaccinated controls. This is also not a serious concern; the reasons for using vaccinated controls are obvious and well documented. You can even Google it! (Try “clinical equipoise” if your results aren’t satisfactory.) It does not mean that vaccines have been inadequately studied. Moreover, you disregarded the vast body of pre- and post-licensure safety studies. Why? Because your goal is not to determine whether vaccines are adequately studied (another question regarded as settled by the professional and expert communities) but to “just ask questions” that will scare your readers–and generate pageviews.

              A third example is your claim that “Dr Raff uses this document to support the claim that there is no evidence for a link between the MMR vaccine and autism… Wow, I don’t even know what to say. What the report says is so incredibly different from how Jennifer summarised it, which is frankly insulting to the intelligence of her readers.” You should have known what to say! You should have said, “That document says exactly what Dr. Raff said it did: ‘there is no evidence for a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.'” Please reread the excerpt you pulled from that document. You casually and misleadingly tried to recast the report’s statement that it could not definitively prove that the MMR vaccine never caused autism in any child as a statement that there was evidence of such a link–again, scaremongering.

              A fourth example is statement that you “typed “austism” and “chelation” into the search thingy” and found that chelation can be an effective treatment for autism. I find it ironic, I should say, that you accuse Dr. Raff of “abusing” science when your own approach is “the search thingy.” In this case, you failed to cite the source of your evidence. Is it because you didn’t want people to type the author’s name into “the search thingy?” They would learn that he is the subject of a lawsuit regarding the alleged practice of using tests designed to mislead parents into thinking their children are poisoned by heavy metals and subsequently prescribing chelation over the phone, without an phone. It is, allegedly, a “big business.”

              A reasonable person might pause and think, perhaps this Google result, being the research of a fringe scientist making money off of the fringe treatment his own research, is not quite on the same level as the mainstream academic and clinical consensus–especially since it runs counter to that consensus and is supported by no disinterested research. But not you–you reported it without “just asking questions.” You save those for the conclusions you don’t like.

              • 
                Jonathan Boersema July 22, 2014 at 6:33 pm

                Could you please address Rina Marie’s follow up article. She seems to make some very convincing statements. As well, the website “adventuresinautism” also refers to 84 journal articles that link autism to vaccinations. What can we say about these?

                On Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 7:16 PM, Violent metaphors wrote:

                > Colin commented: “You are incorrect; I have read your post. It is a > good, if uninspired, example of the “just asking questions” school of > rhetoric: pretending not to hold a particular position while using > rhetorical questions to advocate for that position. It is often dist” >

              • 

                I’m not certain what article you mean. The one where she says that measles isn’t a big deal because only sixty-something kids have been hospitalized because of measles? I think I have a different standard for concern than she does–sixty-something kids in the hospital seems like kind of a big deal to me.

                I don’t have the time, training, or experience to review and understand those 80 papers. (That’s true of the blogger there too; she’s obviously not exercising any quality control but rather scraping abstracts for anything that sounds vaguely supportive of her ideology.) Those who do find them extremely poor evidence of the proposition that vaccines cause autism.

                I’m more persuaded by the review of expert bodies like the Institute of Medicine, a division of the National Academies. It reviewed the entire body of literature and found the evidence does not support the supposed vaccines-autism connection.

                As I said above, whenever there is an ideological division, the minority is heavily incentivized to create evidence supporting their position. It happens with UFO stories, it happened with the JFK assassination, it happens with creationism, and it happens with vaccines.

                The test is not, “Has someone ever said something in a journal that supports my position?” The test is, “What do the people with the greatest access to and understanding of the data think on balance?” It’s been asked by government agencies like the WHO and CDC. It’s been asked by non-governmental agencies like the IOM and MSF. It’s been asked by academics, clinicians, and economists. It’s even been asked by courts of law. The answer, for anyone who sets out to learn the truth rather than create support for their own beliefs, is that the experts overwhelmingly reject the vaccine-autism connection.

              • 

                It was discussed here, with Rina Marie being told about the problems in her article. You should also read the comments posted on her website.

                “As well, the website “adventuresinautism””

                That list has also been addressed at this blog:

                http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2013/08/-those-lists-of-papers-that-claim-vaccines-cause-autism-part-1.html

                There are more articles, and some more recent ones where the papers are being looked at individually. You will see I used one above.

              • 

                Thanks, it looks like that Liz Ditz blog is the source for the material I linked to. Better to use that than the secondary material.

              • 

                You are welcome, I am glad to help. Ms. Ditz and some others analyzed through those papers on a Facebook page. I am glad she hosted them where others could see them.

                I have trudged through an earlier list, so I am glad that others took this on. While this is an interest to me because I have an adult child who not only has suffered from actual diseases before the vaccines for them was available, he has other health concerns that require community immunity.

                But even I have my limits of fortitude. One way to avoid additional time sinks to to stay away from Facebook and to never comment on news articles.

              • 

                Ah, blush! Thank you.

                Disclaimer: I was just a structural dynamics engineer (BS in aero engr). I had to quit twenty five years ago to be a mother to a child who had medical issues from the start.

              • 

                Whoops, I apologize. You did cite the Rossignol paper after all.

              • 

                I am not anti-vax (or pro-vax) – I merely object to the use of false dichotomies to artificially oversimplify a complex issue.

                My references were merely used to point out that Dr Raff had over-simplified the issues; as such, they were appropriately used. Critical appraisal of papers can only happen when we acknowledge that they exist.

                Take safety – people are asking are vaccines safe? (And Dr Raff answers this with a simple “yes, they are, look at this single study”). Answering this type of closed question with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is simply not supported anywhere in the research literature or in reality. Vaccines can and do cause serious adverse events. So does infection by vaccine-preventable illness. The only reasonable question about vaccine safety is “How safe are vaccines?” and we need to be clear about how we’re defining and measuring safety.

                a) Safety is relative, so a study can only (indirectly) evaluate if one intervention is safer (using particular outcome measures) than another. The safety studies that I’ve come across do not use an unvaccinated control group. Please explain to me how using vaccinated controls as a comparator answers the question of the relative safety of vaccinating vs not vaccinating.

                And the number of safety studies on the combination of vaccines in the current vaccination schedule in the United States is exactly 0. So on exactly what can you base the assertion that the current vaccine schedule is safe for long-term health outcomes?

                b) Outcome measures – these are indirect proxies of safety and it’s important to be specific about these – the most common measure of ‘safety’ in clinical vaccine trials is how often that disease is caused in the recipient by the vaccine – most often, other concerns around vaccine safety (atopia, autoimmunity, adverse reactions to adjuvants) are not measured. And timescale is an issue – are safety outcomes only measured in the short-term or are long-term health effects taken into account?

                It’s entirely possible that the short-term and long-term safety profiles for the current vaccination schedule are different.

                c) Vaccine safety exists on a spectrum – support for this assertion comes from the simple fact that vaccines are a heterogenous group of heterogenous compounds – in trials, some are found to be ‘safer’ than others

                d) Combinations of vaccines – as stated above, the safety of the current vaccination schedule in the US has simply not been tested by anyone and the National Academies report concludes that the administration of multiple vaccines increases the risk of allergies and autoimmune disease. Are you really saying that you are totally confident that all vaccines are completely safe in any combination and in any number? (And that it’s unreasonable or “ideological” to simply ask the question of why you think you know this?)

                f) How is the study population defined? – Due to biochemical individuality, individuals respond uniquely to vaccines. How people respond is determined by an intersection of factors, including genetics, nutrition status, toxic burden, weight and other factors. The current vaccination schedule is based solely on age and takes none of this into account. One weakness of large scale trials that are not adequately segmented is that they are not sensitive enough to detect adverse reactions in sub-populations.

                In sum, there are a number of complex factors that need to be weighed to rationally discuss vaccine safety. And when we are talking about vaccine safety, we need to define what we mean (what are the outcome measures we are looking at, what are the comparators, and who is the population). To answer in the simple affirmative (or negative) without acknowledging these issues is simply unsupported by the scientific literature.

                So going back to Dr Raff’s piece and my response to it: if we take, for example, her argument that vaccines are safe (a simple ‘yes’ answer) and to support this assertion, her evidence is that a single large scale trial found pneumococcal vaccine caused fewer cases of vaccine-induced disease than the meningococcus vaccine, my point is NOT that vaccines are not safe (scare-mongering). I’m merely pointing out that the evidence she is presenting is woefully inadequate to reasonably and responsibly answer this question in the simple affirmative. This report answers the question “which of these two vaccines caused more cases of vaccine induced invasive illness” (and had a few secondary outcome measures) but it leaves all of these other questions unanswered. Suggesting that it says anything but that is irresponsible.

                Again, my main objection is the creation of this false dichotomy. There are many ways to measure safety and there are enough reasonable concerns that have been raised – according to the Department of Health, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has paid out $2.7 billion in compensation for vaccine injuries (http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecom… and the National Academies report raises reasonable concerns.

                As such, asking questions that acknowledge the complexity of the issues around vaccines is a reasonable thing to do. Claiming that the scientific literature supports a simple “yes” or “no” answer to the question “Are vaccines safe?” is completely irresponsible.

                • 

                  (I’m copying the reply I left at your blog, because it looks like you posted the same comment there–please let me know if I missed a change in this one.)

                  My references were merely used to point out that Dr Raff had over-simplified the issues; as such, they were appropriately used.

                  This is a bizarre and hypocritical assertion. You are using risible papers, both debunked and obviously written to generate a commercial advantage, to claim there is some sort of equivalence between anti-vax and pro-vax research. You are oversimplifying the issue to an absurd extent. In other words, whether chelation treats autism is not an open question. You had to dredge up a poor-quality, biased paper to make it appear as it if is. If you were actually treating the issues as they are, instead of oversimplifying them to make your point appear reasonable, you would have come to terms with the balance of the research rather than cherrypicking papers that support your preexisting beliefs.

                  As for whether Dr. Raff is oversimplifying, I’ll make the same point here I did there. A researcher in Texas claims to have sequenced the Sasquatch genome, and published a paper with her results. If a zoologist wrote that there’s no scientific evidence that Bigfoot exists, would you call her a liar? Probably not, because your ulterior motive is not to increase belief in Bigfoot. But you’re an antivaxer, so you jumped on an opportunity to (a) generate page hits and (b) make it appear, falsely, as if the safety or efficacy of vaccines are seriously questioned in the expert community.

                  In other words, Dr. Raff is assessing the entire body of research. You’re scraping the bottom of the barrel to present a distorted picture of that research, using cherrypicked research and fiery rhetoric. Only one of you is oversimplifying, and it’s not the one with the PhD.

                  Critical appraisal of papers can only happen when we acknowledge that they exist.

                  I would take this statement more seriously if you showed any inclination to actually performing such an appraisal. Nevertheless, I take your point to be that no zoology conference should leave Bigfoot research off of the schedule without first stopping to acknowledge the one paper that concluded that Bigfoot exists. I disagree, and I think I’m not alone in that.

                  You keep referring to my “ideological position” – my only position is against asking and answering closed (yes/no) questions to create a false dichotomy on issues that are complex.

                  This is a rhetorical tactic known as “just asking questions”. Your ideological position is obvious from the context and content of your writing. You aren’t happy that the overwhelming consensus among experts is that vaccines are safe and effective, so you went hunting in the far fringe of anti-vax research and medical woo to find a few papers you could hang your hat on. Then you held them up as equivalent to the body of research overall, and serious reviews by bodies like the IOM and WHO.

                  If you were trying to ask open-ended questions, you would be asking things like what the balance of research says or why it says what it does. Instead, you created exactly what you pretend to dislike: a “closed … question.” Here, you used terrible research and pretended it was equal to the body of serious science in order to, as you say, “create a false dichotomy on issues that are complex.”

                  In other words, a reader of Dr. Raff’s piece who didn’t do any further research would walk away with an accurate impression of the overall body of research: vaccines are safe and effective. A reader of your piece who didn’t do any further research would walk away deceived, believing falsely that there is serious research finding that vaccines cause autism or that chelation treats it. You are deceiving your readers with the rhetorical tactic of false balance.

                  Take safety – people are asking are vaccines safe? (And Dr Raff answers this with a simple “yes, they are, look at this single study”).

                  Are seatbelts safe? Sometimes they kill people by strangulation. And yet, if you asked a researcher that question, “yes” would be an accurate and reasonable answer. They could also say, “Yes, but very rarely they hurt people,” because it is always possible to give a more in-depth answer. But to a reasonable person looking at the totality of evidence, “yes” is an accurate and legitimate answer—whether the products in question are vaccines or seatbelts.

                  The safety studies that I’ve come across do not use an unvaccinated control group. Please explain to me how using vaccinated controls as a comparator answers the question of the relative safety of vaccinating vs not vaccinating.

                  If you don’t understand this, you might consider being more humble about your angry denunciations of others and do more reading yourself. First, check your assumptions—the idea that vaccines aren’t tested against a neutral placebo is an anti-vax talking point. Use your “search thingy” to ask the question rather than assuming the conclusion most convenient to your beliefs. (For example, in the first page of search results for “vaccine placebo saline” you’ll find research reporting the results of a Gardasil trial that involved both a saline placebo and an aluminum adjuvant placebo—two things anti-vaxers often claim are never done.) Saline placebos are less common in vaccine trials than with many other pharmaceuticals, largely because of basic medical ethics. The Declaration of Helsinki prohibits researchers from adversely affecting the health of their subjects, and thus from using a saline placebo when the existing vaccine is known to be safe and effective.

                  Vaccines go through a variety of trials. The early stages do test whether the vaccine alone is safe. Later trials test whether it is safer or more effective than the status quo vaccine. You can’t—and I mean that researchers are not permitted to do this—deprive a test group of the status quo vaccine for the sake of research. It would be an appalling breach of ethics. (Did you study medical ethics in acupuncture school? I’m not trying to be snarky, I’m honestly curious. Since acupuncture is a placebo, I’m not certain whether there’s any focus on this kind of conduct.) Even after a vaccine is approved its safety is tested through post-licensure trials and population studies.

                  I hope you can understand that it’s not just vaccines that are tested this way. When pharma companies develop a new antibiotic, they don’t let a few dozen people suffer untreated staph infections to create a control group. The fact that drugs are tested against the standard of care, rather than unmedicated subjects, does not prevent researchers from testing the safety of the drug.

                  And the number of safety studies on the combination of vaccines in the current vaccination schedule in the United States is exactly 0. So on exactly what can you base the assertion that the current vaccine schedule is safe for long-term health outcomes?

                  I like to go back to the Institute of Medicine’s study, Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety: Stakeholder Concerns, Scientific Evidence, and Future Studies: “This report is the most comprehensive examination of the immunization schedule to date. The IOM committee uncovered no evidence of major safety concerns associated with adherence to the childhood immunization schedule. Should signals arise that there may be need for investigation, however, the report offers a framework for conducting safety research using existing or new data collection systems.”

                  The immunization schedule has been studied, and there is no evidence of major safety concerns. Even anti-vax leading lights like Dr. Sears have been unable to uncover real evidence of problems with it. If such problems do come to light, there is a system in place for detecting them and resolving them (as has been done in the past). I’m sorry to say that system does not really include bloggers; it tends to rely more heavily on experts who can actually engage with the data and contribute to the research, rather than echoing ideological talking points like, “But vaccines aren’t tested!”

                  the most common measure of ‘safety’ in clinical vaccine trials is how often that disease is caused in the recipient by the vaccine – most often, other concerns around vaccine safety (atopia, autoimmunity, adverse reactions to adjuvants) are not measured

                  This isn’t true. How did you even come to this conclusion? I suspect by reading anti-vax blogs; certainly not by actually searching for adjuvant studies—you would have found many of them. Vaccine adjuvants are well studied, both by themselves and in situ as vaccine ingredients.

                  It’s entirely possible that the short-term and long-term safety profiles for the current vaccination schedule are different. . . . Vaccine safety exists on a spectrum – support for this assertion comes from the simple fact that vaccines are a heterogenous group of heterogenous compounds – in trials, some are found to be ‘safer’ than others

                  It’s entirely possible that the short-term and long-term safety profiles of everything are different. But in the absence of evidence for a serious concern, you’re just scaremongering.

                  the safety of the current vaccination schedule in the US has simply not been tested by anyone and the National Academies report concludes that the administration of multiple vaccines increases the risk of allergies and autoimmune disease. Are you really saying that you are totally confident that all vaccines are completely safe in any combination and in any number? (And that it’s unreasonable or “ideological” to simply ask the question of why you think you know this?)

                  It isn’t necessary to run a giant trial of the specific combination of vaccines currently used when population studies show no particular cause for concern. It would be impossible, probably; the schedule changes too often to run a giant trial every time. It’s easy enough to test its safety by, for example, looking to see whether adverse events are correlated to changes in/adoptions of the schedule.

                  I’m not a vaccine researcher, or even a scientist. I’m a layperson—we have that in common. I’m nevertheless confident that the vaccine schedule is safe because those people who are experts are essentially unanimous on the subject. Even anti-vaxers who have tremendous incentives to prove that their doom-and-gloom pronouncements are right, and the resources to test their theories, have been unable to generate any convincing evidence that the schedule is dangerous.

                  In other words, I’m confident that vaccines are safe for the same reason I’m confident that antibiotics, seatbelts, household wiring, computers, cellphones, moderate exercise, and even acupuncture are safe. I’m an expert in none of them, but the people who have studied them have concluded overwhelmingly that they’re safe, and I have no particular reason to believe those conclusions are the result of a giant shadowy conspiracy. (Nor, and I speak as someone who is experienced in detecting and litigating complex fraud, do I believe such a conspiracy would be remotely possible.)

                  One weakness of large scale trials that are not adequately segmented is that they are not sensitive enough to detect adverse reactions in sub-populations.

                  You have yet to persuade me that vaccine trials aren’t adequately segmented, or that such problems wouldn’t be detected in population studies. If you were to cite someone with experience and expertise in the field who shares your concerns, I’d be interested in reading their take.

                  Again, my main objection is the creation of this false dichotomy.

                  Again, they hypocrisy of your complaint is staggering. You have been working hard to create exactly the kind of false dichotomy you’re pretending to oppose, by elevating terrible research to the level of the scientific consensus and pretending there are two equally valid positions to be assessed. There aren’t, and I think you know that—if there were a real dichotomy, as you pretend, you wouldn’t have to dig so deep to find paper with which to wrap your ideology.

                  There are many ways to measure safety and there are enough reasonable concerns that have been raised – according to the Department of Health, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has paid out $2.7 billion in compensation for vaccine injuries

                  This was the wrong argument to make. I’m an attorney, and I’ve studied the NVICP to some extent. You can find my articles about it on Violent Metaphors. $2.7 billion sounds like a lot of money, but to anyone familiar with large-scale litigation the interesting thing about that number is that it’s so small. It’s the amount the court has awarded over decades, in which many, many millions of vaccines were given, in the context of an extraordinarily plaintiff-friendly system. Plaintiffs alleging table injuries don’t even have to prove that the vaccine caused their injury—just showing up and proving that they were vaccinated, then had the injury, is enough to win compensation. In that kind of environment, over many years, with millions and millions of vaccines administered, a $2.7 billion pot is evidence that vaccines really are extraordinarily safe. (You could also look at how few claims are filed, despite the plaintiff-friendly terms and the fact that the government pays for plaintiffs’ lawyers—it’s further evidence that even with the incentive and resources to generate evidence that vaccines are dangerous, the facts just aren’t cooperating.) Manufacturers of any other product would kill for the safety record of vaccines.

                  As such, asking questions that acknowledge the complexity of the issues around vaccines is a reasonable thing to do. Claiming that the scientific literature supports a simple “yes” or “no” answer to the question “Are vaccines safe?” is completely irresponsible.

                  It’s no more irresponsible than saying that yes, antibiotics are safe, or yes, airplanes are safe, or yes, cellphones are safe, or yes, ballroom dancing is safe. All of those things, like vaccines, hurt people from time to time. But a reasonable person actually asking serious questions about how safe those things are would be perfectly comfortable saying yes, they’re safe.

                  It’s a long post, so let me repeat something I wrote earlier: you are creating the very false dichotomy you complain about. A reader of Dr. Raff’s piece who didn’t do any further research would walk away with an accurate impression of the overall body of research: vaccines are safe and effective. A reader of your piece who didn’t do any further research would walk away deceived, believing falsely that there is serious research finding that vaccines cause autism or that chelation treats it.

                  • 

                    “you are creating the very false dichotomy you complain about. A reader of Dr. Raff’s piece who didn’t do any further research would walk away with an accurate impression of the overall body of research: vaccines are safe and effective.”

                    You are conflating how Dr Raff supported her argument with what she was actually arguing. The issue that I initially took with Dr Raff’s blog post is the way she used references to support her conclusions. I may be a lay person in the field of vaccine research (as is Dr Raff, to the best of knowledge) but I have post-graduate training in research methods and two research degrees. You keep arguing that her use of references to support her statements was valid because you agree with her conclusions. These two things are really unrelated. If she had used identical methods to support a conclusion that you happened to not agree with, this would be much more apparent to you.

                    Using your Big Foot example, we both agree that Big Foot does not exist. But that does not preclude someone with a PhD from writing a blog post which seeks to support the conclusion that Big Foot does not exist but does so by inappropriately using the scientific literature (or using the non-scientific literature while implying that it is scientific literature) to support their claims. And, then to continue, if someone comes along as says: “Wait a minute, an unreferenced blog post isn’t appropriate evidence in a scientific discussion about whether or not Big Foot exists. And you can’t use single studies to summarise the evidence base” (unless you do so in context) and then a wave of hate comes down on that person because pointing out the mis-use of the research to support that Big Foot Does not Exist is being equated to saying that Big Foot does exist.

                    All that having been said, now that I have read a bit more about it, I do have my concerns about the long-term adverse effects of the current vaccine schedule. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

                    ‘”Use your “search thingy” to ask the question rather than assuming the conclusion most convenient to your beliefs. (For example, in the first page of search results for “vaccine placebo saline” you’ll find research reporting the results of a Gardasil trial that involved both a saline placebo and an aluminum adjuvant placebo—two things anti-vaxers often claim are never done.)”

                    Ok, are you referring to “Clinical Trial and Post-Licensure Safety Profile of a Prophylactic Human Papillomavirus (Types 6, 11, 16, and 18) L1 Virus-Like Particle Vaccine”? You keep pointing out the inadmissibility of certain “anti-vaccine” articles based on the conflict of interest of the authors. Under the author information for this study, it states: “Supported by Merck Research Laboratories. S.B. and K.R. have received research support from and are consultants for Merck and Co., Inc. S.B. and K.R. have also received research grants from GlaxoSmithKline. M.G. has received research support from Merck and Co. Inc., GenProbe, GlaxoSmithKline, MediSpectra, MGI Pharma, sanofi aventis, 3M, ARIAD, Precision Therapeutics, and Tigris Pharmaceuticals, and honoraria from Merck and Co. Inc., GlaxoSmithKline, MGI Pharma, and Monogen.”

                    In your inexpert opinion, what do you think the likelihood is that the results of this study are subject to unreasonable amounts of bias? And who do you think funds and performs the overwhelming majority of pre-licensure vaccine trials? This is not a conspiracy theory, but you keep pointing out financial conflict of interest as a primary reason for disregarding the results of research studies. What do you think is more lucrative, chelation therapy or vaccines?

                    There is a large body of research into the effects of industry funding on study outcome, but to provide a reasonable summary, I am going to appropriately reference a Cochrane Systematic Review (like any study, not infallible, but indeed the appropriate study design to answer a question about what the literature as a whole shows). The Cochrane study unsurprisingly concludes that when pharmaceutical companies fund their own trials, the results are more likely to find that the drugs are safe and effective than when funding comes from other sources (Lundh 2012).

                    The National Academies Press Report

                    I’ve taken a skim through this and here are some initial concerns. Looking at the chapter on Allergy and Asthma, a couple of things jump out. First, the authors write in the intro: “it is necessary to have a detailed understanding of the relationship between allergic disease and vaccination, because the effectiveness of the immunization program may be adversely impacted by a perception that vaccination is harmful.” So the authors have stated that the purpose of reviewing the literature is to disprove any relationship between vaccines and asthma, and not as one could only hope, to find out if any relationship exists.

                    Then, the authors write: “Though the committee did not undertake a formal systematic review, the quality of individual articles was judged by the validity of the study design, the method by which the research was conducted, and the transparency of methods.” And this makes sense; if you want to summarise the literature in a way to support a given conclusion (and again, not find out what it actually shows), then you would do a narrative, not a systematic, review, and this is exactly what the authors have done.

                    So what’s the big deal? In a systematic review, you have to predefine your methods, including searching and inclusion criteria. You should actually publish and register this before conducting the review. Doing this makes it way more difficult to exclude studies that do not support your desired outcome.

                    The search and exclusions are carried out by multiple researchers and the way any disagreements will be handled is decided in advance. Using this method, you do not exclude studies based on, for example, validity of study design as they have. You include them and then you can account for methods that introduce bias in different ways, such as rating them using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool.

                    The method that I am describing, called the Systematic Review, is universally accepted as a design that when executed well greatly reduces bias as compared to a narrative review. For example, the methods of their narrative review are inadequately described in order to ascertain how easily a study that was identified in the search could be tossed out do to “methodological problems.” The bottom line is, with a systematic review performed according to pre-published methods, if different researchers performed the review, the probability that they would come to the same conclusion is extremely high. With a narrative review, you can literally support any conclusion that you like.

                    “I’m nevertheless confident that the vaccine schedule is safe because those people who are experts are essentially unanimous on the subject.” That’s fantastic, I’m sure you sleep very well at night. You seem to have an enviably naïve, albeit unrealistic, view about how often medical consensus changes. Prasad and colleagues (2011) found that 13% of published studies in NEJM in 2009 constituted reversals of current practice while Ioannidis’ well-respected and highly-cited 2005 paper “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False” lends more reasonable doubt into the solidity of medical consensus.

                    This is not a criticism of conventional medicine – this is a well-acknowledged reality within the field. Dr David Sackett, frequently attributed as the father of evidence-based medicine, said to his students: “Half of what you’ll learn in medical school will be shown to be either dead wrong or out of date within five years of your graduation; the trouble is that nobody can tell you which half–so the most important thing to learn is how to learn on your own.” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC300793/) The certainty that you place in the correctness of “medical consensus” is really not shared by people more familiar with the field than you.

                    “In other words, I’m confident that vaccines are safe for the same reason I’m confident that antibiotics . . . are safe. I’m an expert in none of them, but the people who have studied them have concluded overwhelmingly that they’re safe, and I have no particular reason to believe those conclusions are the result of a giant shadowy conspiracy.”

                    You don’t seem to appreciate, despite a large number of very impressive medical advances, how little we collectively as a species understand about how the human body works. Let’s put conspiracy (and the unfortunate reality that over half of medical research funding comes from the pharmaceutical industry which we’ve already seen significantly effects outcomes) aside. We are just scratching the surface of how our DNA interacts with its environment, how the brain works, how the immune system works, how inflammation affects the brain . . . and on and on and on. Our current conclusions are likely to be changed in the future, not because of conspiracy, but simply because we don’t know everything yet.

                    Your example about the safety of antibiotics is extremely fitting and in some ways analogous to vaccines. Antibiotics are a class of drugs that since their inception in 1941 have saved millions of lives. In some people, they cause life-threating adverse reactions and even death. But these events are sufficiently rare that we generally consider them safe.

                    However, two disturbing trends have begun to emerge. First, over-use of antibiotics (undoubtedly tied to their perception as being “safe” and “effective”) has led to the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria (“one of our most serious health threats”, according to the CDC. The second, is a long-term effect of antibiotics that are just beginning to be explored, which is their short and long-term effects on the gut microbiota. Due in part to emerging technologies, we are now able to begin to see the diversity of a healthy microbiome and the long-lasting effects of antibiotics on the microbiome in a way that we couldn’t a few years ago (a small indication of how recent the research into this area is, putting “microbiome” into the search thingy for Pubmed indicates that over 90% of all hits on that search term come within the past decade) http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0009836#pone-0009836-g008.

                    The role of the microbiome is a rapidly emerging area of research, but a new consensus is developing that indicates it’s central to our health and imbalance is connected with all of the most common chronic illnesses in our society (obesity, depression, CVD, etc). So is there a direct cause and effect relationship between antibiotic use and these illnesses? That’s very difficult to prove because we’re talking about complex systems with multiple interactions. But does antibiotic overuse play a significant role? The emerging evidence suggests that it’s likely to be a contributing factor.

                    So are antibiotics safe? Well, 10 – 20 years ago medical consensus would simply say “yes” (and perhaps people who asked the question “how do you know?” were considered to be very bad, dangerous, deluded people who were ignorers of “truth”). Now, the medical consensus is: if you’re not allergic to them, then taking them when you have a life-threatening bacterial infection or if you’re having surgery would be prudent. But the manner in which they are currently prescribed poses long-term health risks to society as a whole and contributes to our collectively worsening health.

                    “‘Please explain to me how using vaccinated controls as a comparator answers the question of the relative safety of vaccinating vs not vaccinating.’
                    If you don’t understand this, you might consider being more humble about your angry denunciations of others and do more reading yourself.”

                    No dude, your answer explains why large scale trials of the current vaccination schedule against unvaccinated controls have not been done. You have not answered my question, which is how the current available research is able to answer the question about the relative safety of being vaccinated vs not being vaccinated. Do you see the difference? For a variety of practical reasons, there are no scientific studies on the long-term effects of the current vaccination schedule as compared to not being vaccinated (not even in the National Academies Report). You seem to be taking an “innocent until proven guilty” approach (quite similar to what was done in the case of the overuse of antibiotics). But in the US, we have a situation of worsening health outcomes, increasing chronic disease and health care costs, increasing childhood illness, increasing atopia and auotimmune illness, and there’s no data that will allow us to ascertain what role, if any, the increasing vaccine schedule is playing in that picture.

                    And just humor me for a second. I’m not trying to introduce doubt for sadistic reasons. The incidence of autoimmune diseases, for example, is increasing rapidly. We know that these have a genetic component and an environmental component. Vaccines, by virtue of what they do, alter the immune system (create an imbalance between the T1 and T2 classes of antibodies, similar to what we see in autoimmune diseases). Autoimmune diseases are multi-factorial and often take years to develop, making simple cause and effect difficult, if not impossible to establish. Because we do not have data on unvaccinated controls, there’s no way to establish what role, if any, vaccines are playing in the rising incidence of these diseases. And yet, the biological plausibility of such an association is high.

                    I am not a lawyer, so I don’t know what school of rhetoric I have just evoked by posing this question. But I still maintain that the situation is much more complicated than closed questions can adequately or reasonably answer. I do not think that vaccines are “guilty until proven innocent” but caution and humility seem appropriate.

                  • 

                    Could you do something more original that pulling out and tired anti-vax JAQing maneuvers?

                    “You have not answered my question, which is how the current available research is able to answer the question about the relative safety of being vaccinated vs not being vaccinated.”

                    Read it yourself: Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence

                    Plus this review of the literature: Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies

                    (out of links) Also check the publications of the CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink Program

                    “The National Academies Press Report”

                    It is still ten years old. Go and read the IOM report Colin linked to, plus the two links I just posted. The Vaccine Safety Datalink Program has several studies on asthma and allergy, read them.

                    “Due in part to emerging technologies, we are now able to begin to see the diversity of a healthy microbiome and the long-lasting effects of antibiotics on the microbiome in a way that we couldn’t a few years ago (a small indication of how recent the research into this area is, putting “microbiome” into the search thingy for Pubmed indicates that over 90% of all hits on that search term come within the past decade)”

                    Plus you have the typical anti-science rhetoric that papers are wrong, research is bad, Pharma paid is bad… and despite the fact that antibiotics are not vaccines (the latter actually reduces the use of the former by preventing bacterial infections), you pull up that paragraph…

                    and yet still reference the ten year old NAP report! (though admitting you have not actually read it)

                    Now just answer these questions with actual evidence like PubMed indexed studies/articles by reputable qualified researchers:

                    What evidence is there that the MMR vaccine has more risk of injury than measles?
                    Did the incidence of autism in the USA rise sharply in the 1970s and 1980 after the 1971 introduction of the MMR vaccine, and even more when it was the preferred vaccine for the 1978 Measles Elimination Program?
                    Since 2006 National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has compensated 1300 claims out of almost two billion vaccine doses. How does one compensated claim per 1.5 million vaccine doses where the level of evidence required is very small show that vaccines carry an unnecessary risk?
                    If you are going to use the “Pharma paid studies bad” argument, then you need to explain how preventing diseases with vaccines is more costly than treating them. So how much would society benefit financially by not vaccinating any child over the next ten years? See the following papers as guidelines (they are available on PubMed, but I wanted to stick to the two URL limit):

                    West J Med. 1996 Jul-Aug;165(1-2):20-5.
                    Pediatric hospital admissions for measles. Lessons from the 1990 epidemic.

                    Pediatrics. 2014 Mar 3.
                    Economic Evaluation of the Routine Childhood Immunization Program in the United States, 2009.

                  • 

                    The issue that I initially took with Dr Raff’s blog post is the way she used references to support her conclusions.

                    You did so by illustrating what a real false dichotomy looks like. Dr. Raff didn’t purport to present all the research on vaccines; she presented information accurately representing the conclusions of that research. You presented misleading information in an attempt to make it appear, falsely, that there is an open question as to whether vaccines cause autism or chelation treats it. Once again, a reader of Dr. Raff’s piece would walk away with a true impression of the state of the research. A reader of your piece would walk away with a false impression of the state of the research. And not by accident—you went to great effort to create that false impression.

                    Nor do I think that you can claw your way back to moral high ground by pretending you were only complaining about the references Dr. Raff used. This is a blog post, not a formal research article. She used sources that are accessible to most people and summarized the state of the research. Your specific complaints about those sources are ludicrous; you’re unhappy that she used a Forbes article, but she didn’t claim it was scientific research—she used it to illustrate the rhetoric being used by anti-vaxers such as yourself. The “weather.com” article is very well-referenced and sourced, but rather than addressing those references and sources you attacked the URL. And all of these complaints are just the preamble to your attempt to substitute, for the real information Dr. Raff presented, your terrible anti-vax articles. Your complaints are sophistry.

                    I may be a lay person in the field of vaccine research (as is Dr Raff, to the best of knowledge) but I have post-graduate training in research methods and two research degrees.

                    Your “about me” says you have a Masters in Acupuncture. Are you counting that as a “research degree?” Regardless, you don’t need even one “research degree” to understand that (a) a blog post needn’t cite only paywalled articles most readers can’t access; (b) discussing the state of the research overall can obviously involve news media sources; and (c) your own sources are the worst of the worst.

                    You keep arguing that her use of references to support her statements was valid because you agree with her conclusions.

                    No, I’m arguing that your rebuttal is a hit piece, an attempt to slyly insert debunked anti-vax “research” into the discussion. Her use of references is valid because those references are appropriate to the context and discussion, and are founded—unlike your sophistry—on the scientific consensus.

                    All that having been said, now that I have read a bit more about it, I do have my concerns about the long-term adverse effects of the current vaccine schedule.

                    I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! It was immediately obvious that a professional acupuncturist would be heavily incentivized to prefer woo over the scientific consensus, and that your article was thinly veiled anti-vax rhetoric. After all, you’ve invested a lot of time and money in unscientific medical woo, haven’t you? A master’s degree in acupuncture and a practice devoted to it—accepting that scientists know what they’re talking about implicitly devalues your sunk costs. You have tremendous incentives to reject the scientific consensus, but nothing compels you to do it by deceiving your readers.

                    And who do you think funds and performs the overwhelming majority of pre-licensure vaccine trials?

                    This isn’t a serious concern on your part; if you believed this was relevant, you wouldn’t have relied so heavily on anti-vax research funded by anti-vax advocacy groups. In any event, the detection of fraud is something with which I actually have a great deal of experience. Hundreds of trials don’t get distorted without evidence being created to demonstrate it—and despite the furious efforts of anti-vaxers like yourself to find fault with those studies, they still stand. Part of the reason for that is that even if 80% of studies were funded by vax manufacturers (I believe the number is much less than that, but don’t know for sure), and even if all of those studies were part of some shadowy pro-autism conspiracy, that would still leave a lot of independent trials to check their results.

                    Once again, the proof is in the pudding. And when anti-vaxers try to prove their theories, or disprove the scientific consensus, they come up short. It’s not because of a global conspiracy—it’s because those theories are wrong.

                    What do you think is more lucrative, chelation therapy or vaccines?

                    For any individual practitioner, chelation therapy. No individual researcher gets rich doing vaccine safety trials, so they have small incentives to reach any predefined result. They have a very large incentive to reach the true result, since what makes a scientist respected and gives them status in their field is the quality of their work—which they know will be subjected to peer review and replication. Your article, on the other hand, was by someone who directly makes money off of chelation, and would have a hard time finding more patients if there wasn’t research out there he could point to purporting to show that lots of people without the usual signs of heavy metal poisoning need this expensive and dangerous therapy. Unlike vaccine safety researchers, this person had a direct, personal financial stake in the product. And unlike vaccine safety researchers, his results weren’t replicated by disinterested parties. Why is that? Another conspiracy to suppress chelation? Who’s in on this plot? And why?

                    I’ve taken a skim through this and here are some initial concerns. Looking at the chapter on Allergy and Asthma, a couple of things jump out. First, the authors write in the intro: “it is necessary to have a detailed understanding of the relationship between allergic disease and vaccination, because the effectiveness of the immunization program may be adversely impacted by a perception that vaccination is harmful.” So the authors have stated that the purpose of reviewing the literature is to disprove any relationship between vaccines and asthma, and not as one could only hope, to find out if any relationship exists.

                    The more you defend your sophistry the deeper you dig your hole. This statement is absurd. The authors didn’t state “that the purpose of reviewing the literature is to disprove any relationship between vaccines and asthma.” They wrote that “it is necessary to have a detailed understanding of the relationship between allergic disease and vaccination.” They are concerned about the impact on vaccinations, which they should be given how bloggers like yourself distort and deceive people to scare them about vaccines. But nothing in that statement says that they want to do anything other than “have a detailed understanding of the relationship between allergic disease and vaccination.” Your clumsy substitution, in an attempt to ascribe evil motives to the researchers, is plainly dishonest.

                    Then, the authors write: “Though the committee did not undertake a formal systematic review, the quality of individual articles was judged by the validity of the study design, the method by which the research was conducted, and the transparency of methods.” And this makes sense; if you want to summarise the literature in a way to support a given conclusion (and again, not find out what it actually shows), then you would do a narrative, not a systematic, review, and this is exactly what the authors have done.

                    The quality of the articles was judged by (a) the validity of the study design, (b) the research methodology, and (c) the transparency of those methods. I don’t see a (d) in there, but you’re claiming this they’re filtering for study results as well. It’s easy to say that, but hard to explain why it might be true or how this report supports that conclusion. So you don’t try, you just announce it—more sophistry.

                    You go on a bit about the committee’s “searching and inclusion criteria,” but the points you specified above are neither. They’re the criteria by which they evaluated “the quality of individual articles.” The search criteria are defined elsewhere; it looks like an extremely broad literature search. Did they unfairly exclude or malign high-quality anti-vax research? I don’t think so. You could possibly persuade me by locating such research—I don’t think it’s out there.

                    “I’m nevertheless confident that the vaccine schedule is safe because those people who are experts are essentially unanimous on the subject.” That’s fantastic, I’m sure you sleep very well at night.

                    I do, thank you! One reason is that vaccination rates, despite the best efforts of snake oil salesmen, quacks, and shady bloggers, remain quite high in the United States—over 90%. And the consistent failure of said salesmen, quacks, and bloggers to support their scaremongering with anything but angry rhetoric reassures me that this isn’t likely to change in the foreseeable future. We’re arguing over the last mile, the most intransigent advocates of make-believe medicine.

                    You seem to have an enviably naïve, albeit unrealistic, view about how often medical consensus changes.

                    “Albeit” doesn’t mean what you think it means. I expect the medical consensus changes quite often! It was (barely) within living memory that doctors helped advertise cigarettes as good for the lungs. Do you know what changed that consensus? Data. Do you know what anti-vaxers have tried and failed to find to support their ideology? Data.

                    It’s called the Galileo fallacy: they laughed at Galileo, but he was right. That doesn’t mean that being laughed at makes you right—you still have to be right. The anti-vax community has labored in vain for many years precisely because their beliefs aren’t correct. Consequently anti-vaxers like yourself fall back on rhetoric and scaremongering; you can’t point to serious research supporting your conclusions, so you slyly imply that the terrible research is just as good as the scientific consensus.

                    You don’t seem to appreciate, despite a large number of very impressive medical advances, how little we collectively as a species understand about how the human body works.

                    Is it Qi? That’s a big idea in acupuncture, right? Please enlighten us. What knowledge “about how the human body works” guides you in needle placement? Energy meridians? Psychic forces?

                    Yes, “we collectively as a species understand” fairly little about how the human body works. But some members of our species—like the M.D./Ph.D.s who study the immune system—understand it much better than others—like acupuncturists.

                    Your example about the safety of antibiotics is extremely fitting and in some ways analogous to vaccines.

                    Yes. Both are well-studied and quite safe. What issues there are with these medicines are studied by doctors and scientists; the unscientific detractors such as anti-vaxers and deniers of the germ theory of disease are hooting and hollering from the sidelines, but the real work is being done by qualified professionals.

                    You have not answered my question, which is how the current available research is able to answer the question about the relative safety of being vaccinated vs not being vaccinated.

                    Through the use of neutral placebos where possible and population studies where not. My answer may be incomplete; neither of us is an expert in these studies, immunology, or epidemiology. Of course, the people who are experts in those fields overwhelmingly conclude that the data refute your scaremongering. Even Dr. Sears, who has tremendous incentives to attack the safety of the schedule and the deep pockets to do the research, had to admit he had no evidence-based basis for challenging that consensus. Consequently you had to dive deep into very poor research to find anything to support your position. You’ve stopped trying to defend those articles; why is that?

                    And just humor me for a second. I’m not trying to introduce doubt for sadistic reasons.

                    I agree. I think you are trying to introduce doubt to generate pagehits, and because you have tremendous personal incentives to believe that the scientific consensus (which doubts the efficacy of acupuncture) is inferior to magical medicine (in which you have a graduate degree). I don’t think for a second that you want to hurt people, or believe that your scaremongering is doing so. But I think that’s because you are disinterested in seriously analyzing the evidence, especially where doing so would implicitly devalue the time and effort you’ve sunk into unscientific “medicine.”

                    I am not a lawyer, so I don’t know what school of rhetoric I have just evoked by posing this question.

                    I’m no logician, but I’d call it an association fallacy. “Vaccines affect the immune system” does not logically support the conclusion that it’s biologically plausible that vaccines are to blame for an increase in autoimmune disorders. Nor is that a well-evidenced argument; it’s been analyzed and rejected on the merits.

                    But I still maintain that the situation is much more complicated than closed questions can adequately or reasonably answer. I do not think that vaccines are “guilty until proven innocent” but caution and humility seem appropriate.

                    Yes, you’re “just asking questions.” But they aren’t serious questions about whether vaccines are safe; they’re closed, misleading questions that are intended to create the false impression that your terrible vaccine research—so bad that you’ve stopped even trying to defend it—is somehow as meaningful as the vast body of scientific research concluding that vaccines are safe and effective. Let me return to the ultimate conclusion here: a reader of Dr. Raff’s piece would walk away with a true impression of the state of the research. A reader of your piece would walk away with a false impression of the state of the research. And not by accident—you went to great effort to create that false impression.

                  • 

                    Whoops, misread your comment–“albeit” does indeed mean what you think it does.

                  • 

                    “Supported by Merck Research Laboratories. S.B. and K.R. have received research support from and are consultants for Merck and Co., Inc. S.B. and K.R. have also received research grants from GlaxoSmithKline. M.G. has received research support from Merck and Co. Inc., GenProbe, GlaxoSmithKline, MediSpectra, MGI Pharma, sanofi aventis, 3M, ARIAD, Precision Therapeutics, and Tigris Pharmaceuticals, and honoraria from Merck and Co. Inc., GlaxoSmithKline, MGI Pharma, and Monogen.”

                    So now you are flinging about because the FDA requires the drug companies to finance the studies of their drugs? The placebo trials are done by the companies in order to get approval and for post licensure surveillance. The citation on PubMed is:
                    Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2010 Feb;29(2):95-101. doi: 10.1097/INF.0b013e3181b77906.
                    Clinical trial and post-licensure safety profile of a prophylactic human papillomavirus (types 6, 11, 16, and 18) l1 virus-like particle vaccine.

                    The information for the lead author says:
                    1Kentucky Pediatric/Adult Research, Inc., Bardstown, KY 40004, USA.

                    It is not like it is hidden.

                    Then search for other more recent HPV safety reviews we find:
                    MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014 Jul 25;63(29):620-4.
                    Human papillomavirus vaccination coverage among adolescents, 2007-2013, and postlicensure vaccine safety monitoring, 2006-2014 – United States.

                    The authors are all with the CDC. Not exactly Big Pharma.

                    As to my question on the issue you and others have giving money to pharmaceutical companies to prevent diseases, on how much would we save by not vaccinating children for the next ten years, which with four million births each year in the USA that would have lots of vulnerable kids. There has already been natural experiments of that happening elsewhere:

                    Diphtheria in the former Soviet Union: reemergence of a pandemic disease.

                    The result being:

                    Although all of the Newly Independent States were affected, three quarters of the more than 140,000 cases (Table 1) and two thirds of the more than 4,000 deaths reported since 1990 (1-3) were reported by the Russian Federation.

                    Measles vaccine coverage and factors related to uncompleted vaccination among 18-month-old and 36-month-old children in Kyoto, Japan

                    The result was:

                    In Japan, measles vaccine coverage has remained low, and either small or moderate outbreaks have occurred repeatedly in communities. According to an infectious disease surveillance (2000), total measles cases were estimated to be from 180,000 to 210,000, and total deaths were estimated to be 88 [11,12]. Measles cases are most frequently observed among non-immunized children, particularly between 12 to 24 months.

                    So again, the question is about relative risks and real costs. So instead of “just asking questions” answer mine about the actual risks and costs. Because as a parent who had had a child get hospital care for a now vaccine preventable disease, I really want to know why it would be so cost effective to just treat measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis, HIb, rotavirus, influenza, cervical cancer, liver cancer, pneumonia, etc instead of preventing them.

                • 

                  “Take safety – people are asking are vaccines safe? (And Dr Raff answers this with a simple “yes, they are, look at this single study”). Answering this type of closed question with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is simply not supported anywhere in the research literature or in reality. Vaccines can and do cause serious adverse events. So does infection by vaccine-preventable illness.”

                  No, the question is the relative risk. Which is why I asked you to provide the scientific documentation about the MMR versus measles, and about its affect on autism rates in the USA during the 1970s and 1980s.

                  “There are many ways to measure safety and there are enough reasonable concerns that have been raised – according to the Department of Health, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has paid out $2.7 billion in compensation for vaccine injuries …(mistyped link removed).. and the National Academies report raises reasonable concerns”

                  Really? Have you looked at those numbers, especially the table on that page under the title Filed Calendar Year 2006 to Present? If you go to the bottom of the page you find that total number of vaccine doses given since 2006 is 1,968,399,297, and the number of compensated claims is a mere 1300. That is a ratio of over 1,500,000 to one. That is 1.5 million to one. How does that raise a reasonable concern? Sure you can claim big numbers, but you have to read them in context.

                  (By the way, the National Academy report on immunization is now ten years old. The studies that they recommended have been done. See link I included in the penultimate paragraph, it has much of the studies done since then)

                  “As such, asking questions that acknowledge the complexity of the issues around vaccines is a reasonable thing to do. Claiming that the scientific literature supports a simple “yes” or “no” answer to the question “Are vaccines safe?” is completely irresponsible.”

                  The questions have been asked, and answered. Multiple times. And the relative risk of getting vaccine is much much lower (over a million times lower) than getting the actual disease. Many of those answers are in this list: Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence.

                  Go through that list, and see what they conclude. If you disagree with any of those papers then bring up those concerns and discuss them. Do not continue on this “just asking questions” crusade. If you have evidence that any vaccine on the American pediatric schedule causes more harm than the disease then just post the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers to support your claim.

                  • 

                    I think I’ve been transparent since I published my post that I was not familiar with the vaccination literature before I wrote it. To my credit, I still haven not visited any “anti-vax” websites, where I’m sure I could find arguments that others have made and repeat those. Everything I have written or cited is based on my own research, such as it is.

                    I was unaware that the papers that I had referenced were considered to be low quality. You keep saying that referring to them is the same thing as claiming they are of high quality. I disagree, but you’re the lawyer. I still have not had time to thoroughly critically review them or look at others’ criticism of them, which is why I have stopped mentioning them.

                    I chose to write the article because Dr Raff’s post had been brought to my attention as a good way to educate myself on the research evidence around vaccines (perhaps it’s not her fault that it was misrepresented this way). I was aware of a controversy, but did not have familiarity with the published literature.

                    As previously stated, when I first read the post, I did not click the links (I was looking on my phone) but it appeared to be well-researched and well referenced and seemed to address all of the issues. When I did have an opportunity to sit down and follow the links, I identified that most did not point to scientific evidence at all. You correctly point out that it is indeed a blog post, not an article published in a journal. But I still maintain that it was sloppy and misleading. If the evidence is so one-sided and clear cut and you’re making a case as to what the research shows as a researcher, not as a layperson, there really isn’t any need to point mostly to secondary sources (there is a vast array of literature accessible for free) – unless your article is about what the media says or “experts” say about vaccines, not the scientific evidence.

                    JAQing

                    Chris, your request that I stop asking questions about health issues and research (asking questions about study design as a tired ‘manoeuvre’?) is simply so bizarre I really don’t know how to respond. You are turning scientific research and consensus into dogma and evangelism, which is scary and very unscientific. It also reveals your lack of understanding of science in general, which tests hypothesis and always has strengths and weaknesses. If you demonstrated any ability to critically examine the evidence that you use in support of your argument, fairly identifying the strengths and weaknesses that by definition exist, it would be so much easier to believe that you actually know what you’re talking about and actually understand the body of literature that you’re referencing.

                    Using Colin’s previous example, I accept that seat belts are safe even though they occasionally cause injury, but I can’t imagine a remotely similar level of anger and disrespect being attracted by someone who desires to critically review the evidence and ask questions about how “experts” came to that opinion. That I ask questions about study design and point out the research that has not been done (yep, still asking questions), really should not be threatening or anger provoking for rational people interested in the evidence base. I am new to this research, which you say is very compelling and completely one-sided. Rather than ridicule me and call me names for asking questions, educate me. And if you could be a tad more realistic and balanced in your approach to the issue (your overconfidence in what research can and cannot show sets off lots of alarms as to your understanding of scientific methods in general), then I would be able to have more trust that you had actually approached the issue critically, rather than with foregone conclusions due to unfortunate personal circumstances.

                    ““What do the people with the greatest access to and understanding of the data think on balance?” It’s been asked by government agencies like the WHO and CDC.”

                    “I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! It was immediately obvious that a professional acupuncturist would be heavily incentivized to prefer woo over the scientific consensus, and that your article was thinly veiled anti-vax rhetoric.”

                    First, I appreciated your use of the Casablanca quote, very good. =)

                    But second, highlighting that I’m an acupuncturist as a way of undermining what I’m saying is ad hominem and doesn’t add anything to the discussion. You have previously identified the WHO as an example of scientific medical authority, and both that institution and the NIH promote acupuncture as a scientifically evidence-based medical intervention. So please spare me the “unscientific medical woo” rubbish. It has nothing to do with vaccine research and makes you seem desperate.

                    “In any event, the detection of fraud is something with which I actually have a great deal of experience. Hundreds of trials don’t get distorted without evidence being created to demonstrate it—and despite the furious efforts of anti-vaxers like yourself to find fault with those studies, they still stand. Part of the reason for that is that even if 80% of studies were funded by vax manufacturers (I believe the number is much less than that, but don’t know for sure), and even if all of those studies were part of some shadowy pro-autism conspiracy, that would still leave a lot of independent trials to check their results.”

                    Sorry, do you really not understand how a body of research around a medical question or hypothesis is generated? By forcing me to point out the obvious, you’re making me come off as way more anti-research than I actually am. That is to say, by not acknowledging the well-known and widely accepted weaknesses inherent in medical research and how it gets skewed, it’s left to me to keep pointing it out. I really do have great respect for scientific research when applied appropriately.

                    Besides the added bias that comes with pharmaceutical companies achieving outcomes that are more positive than when other people test the same thing, publication bias is a pretty effective way of skewing the results of the literature as a whole away from what is actually happening. So you’re right, there is evidence that demonstrates that hundreds of trials are distorted, the only question is how distorted.

                    Systematic Review of the Empirical Evidence of Study Publication Bias and Outcome Reporting Bias

                    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0003081#pone-0003081-g018

                    Quantifying conflict of interest

                    https://www.iims.uthscsa.edu/sites/iims/files/EthicalIssues-10.pdf

                    Problems with preclinical studies:

                    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v483/n7391/full/483531a.html

                    Ben Goldacre on publication bias – https://www.ted.com/talks/ben_goldacre_what_doctors_don_t_know_about_the_drugs_they_prescribe

                    Take a look at this 13.5 minute video – If you don’t know him already, you’d like Ben Goldacre. He’s a self-described “debunker” like yourself, out to save the world from “quacks” like me, amongst other things.

                    So, the estimate that I have read is that about 55-60% of medical research in general is funded by industry, i don’t know the proportion for vaccines in particular. And we know that those results are more likely to be positive when compared to studies not conducted by industry to an extent greater than “normal” bias would support. This can be due to a number of factors independent of publication bias, such as designing the study in a way to achieve a favourable outcome (in the choice of outcomes measures, for example). But over and above this, it is ubiquitous for drug companies to not publish or withhold the results of negative trials. So we are simply not getting the full picture. And when we summarise the available evidence, the conclusions that we come to are different than what the research actually found.

                    “Yes. Both are well-studied and quite safe. What issues there are with these medicines are studied by doctors and scientists; the unscientific detractors such as anti-vaxers and deniers of the germ theory of disease are hooting and hollering from the sidelines, but the real work is being done by qualified professionals.”

                    Huh? The doctors and scientists originally touted antibiotics for the wonderful achievement that they are and identified them as “safe” (however it was defined) based on short-term outcomes and an incomplete view of human physiology. Now doctors and scientists, with the benefit of more data, better technology and a bit of hindsight, see that the way in which antibiotics have been used and are currently being used, while having saved many lives, have also endangered many other lives. Denial of germ theory doesn’t enter this picture at all. I’m sorry you seem to find it difficult when people point out nuance in areas that you erroneously view as black and white. Your response to the change in consensus around the safety of antibiotics sounds delusional, it has nothing to do with anyone “hollering from the sidelines.”

                    “But I think that’s because you are disinterested in seriously analyzing the evidence”

                    Hold on, back up. Through out your discourse, you repeatedly differ actual analysis of “the evidence” to the “experts”, citing your lack of expertise in the areas of medicine and research. I, on the other hand, have training in research methods and have completed university-level course work in biochemistry (separate from my degree in acupuncture, which included courses in anatomy & physiology, biology and pathology within my University’s department of nursing). Every time I actually analyse the assumptions that have generated those conclusions, which is standard research practice, you say that I’m scaremongering.

                    ““Vaccines affect the immune system” does not logically support the conclusion that it’s biologically plausible that vaccines are to blame for an increase in autoimmune disorders.”

                    What I actually said (actually, I typed it, so I’m not sure why you’re confused about what was communicated) was that vaccines “alter the immune system (create an imbalance between the T1 and T2 classes of antibodies, similar to what we see in autoimmune diseases).” (although, I ‘misspoke’, technically only T2 cells generate antibodies). It can also create an overstimulation of the immune system (too good at what it does), biologically consistent with autoimmune aetiology. But I also said that autoimmune illness is multifactorial, so I am not looking for any single thing “to blame” (so litigious!) I am interested in evaluating potential contributing factors.

                    “The quality of the articles was judged by (a) the validity of the study design, (b) the research methodology, and (c) the transparency of those methods. I don’t see a (d) in there, but you’re claiming this they’re filtering for study results as well. It’s easy to say that, but hard to explain why it might be true or how this report supports that conclusion.”

                    The report states that a systematic review was not performed and does not say why, even though this would be the only appropriate study design to answer the committee’s question (meta-analysis would probably not be possible but systematic review would be). Can you offer me a reasonable explanation for why a narrative review, which is a far more bias-pone prone method, was conducted rather than a systematic review? Your defence of their methods (“I don’t see a (d)) really belies your lack of familiarity with the research methods. The (d), which is bias introduced by the inferior study design, occurs because their methods are not reproducible, too much is left to the individual researcher’s judgment. If you take their admittedly wide initial search and you hand the results to 10 different groups of researchers, at the end your likely to end up with 10 wildly different groups of studies included for analysis. This can and does happen unintentionally because too much of the choice is left up to individual judgment. This design is inherently subjective.

                    With a systematic review, after performing the same initial search, if you handed these initial results to 10 different groups of researchers with the pre-published protocol, the 10 results would be highly concordant.

                    It doesn’t matter if they chose a narrative review for innocent reasons, or otherwise. It is not the appropriate design to answer their stated research question, period. So it’s either due to ulterior motives or incompetence. That you are arguing that their methods were appropriate shows a lack of understanding of their study design, which is fine. But it’s coming off more as a stubborn and uniformed obstinance that does not offer confidence in your ability to assess research literature in any meaningful way, you’re only interested in proving your point, even if you need to pretend certain things are other than they are. You’re position would be much stronger if you acknowledged the weaknesses, and then said you held your belief in spite of those weaknesses, instead of pretending that they don’t exist.

                    Militant Defense

                    It is abundantly clear that your views about what the vaccine literature does and does not show are based on tragic personal experience and a need for things to be black and white – not based on how scientific research actually works. Through out this conversation, you are consistently demonstrating that you always begin with your conclusion, and then back track to find support for it. If that were not the case, you would not find someone pointing out the inherent weaknesses in the evidence on which your conclusions are based so threatening. The weaknesses in the evidence don’t mean that the conclusions are wrong. But saying that the weaknesses are not there because you’re firm in your conclusions is delusional.

                    I find it perfectly plausible that in spite of all of the valid points that I and many other researchers have made about the inherent weaknesses and shortcomings of scientific research in general and the vaccine research in particular (and despite your refusal to admit that they exist even though they are widely acknowledged within the medical research community), that vaccines are, on the whole, more safe and effective than not vaccinating for certain populations.

                    But by labelling any accurate identification of weaknesses, holes and uncertainties inherent in the scientific literature as “scaremongering”, you unnecessarily dumb down the whole conversation in a way that really detracts from your arguments, and gives easy ammunition to “anti-vaxers.” You seem to be a man who requires certainty. If that is the case, then just take the word of the “experts” and stay out of the scientific debate – the literature could never support the certainty that you seem to require and are convinced exists. If you want to actually understand what the research does and does not show, you really need to get comfortable with uncertainty and the presence of bias and stop getting angry at anyone who accurately points them out.

                  • 

                    “I was unaware that the papers that I had referenced were considered to be low quality. You keep saying that referring to them is the same thing as claiming they are of high quality.”

                    Book recommendation: Lies, Damned Lies, and Science: How to Sort Through the Noise Around Global Warming, the Latest Health Claims, and Other Scientific Controversies.

                    In the future you actually familiarize yourself with the issues and click on the links.

                    “Chris, your request that I stop asking questions about health issues and research (asking questions about study design as a tired ‘manoeuvre’?) is simply so bizarre I really don’t know how to respond. You are turning scientific research and consensus into dogma and evangelism, which is scary and very unscientific”

                    No I am not. You are the only one bringing in the dogma, and when I look at what I wrote just above I am the one that actually brought up some actual relevant links. What kind of “dogma” is it that takes a number of compensated claims and finds the actual ratio. If you want to call simple arithmetic dogma, then you’ll excuse me if I don’t agree.

                    “It also reveals your lack of understanding of science in general, which tests hypothesis and always has strengths and weaknesses.”

                    That is rich coming from someone who cannot tell biased research for real research, and cannot even divide “number of compensated claims” by “total of vaccine doses given.” I’d wager a bet that I had more science and labs for my engineering undergraduate degree than anything you’ve had to get a masters in acupuncture (especially when it comes to the real definition of energy).

                    I have actually read that body of literature. Have you even clicked on the links I provided? Why have you not bothered to answer any of my questions? Are you the only one allowed to ask, or are we prohibited because you can’t be bothered to find the answers? Let’s try again, actually answer some, here is a repeat of the financial costs of not vaccinating:
                    As to my question on the issue you and others have giving money to pharmaceutical companies to prevent diseases, on how much would we save by not vaccinating children for the next ten years, which with four million births each year in the USA that would have lots of vulnerable kids. There has already been natural experiments of that happening elsewhere:

                    Diphtheria in the former Soviet Union: reemergence of a pandemic disease.

                    The result being:

                    Although all of the Newly Independent States were affected, three quarters of the more than 140,000 cases (Table 1) and two thirds of the more than 4,000 deaths reported since 1990 (1-3) were reported by the Russian Federation.

                    Measles vaccine coverage and factors related to uncompleted vaccination among 18-month-old and 36-month-old children in Kyoto, Japan

                    The result was:

                    In Japan, measles vaccine coverage has remained low, and either small or moderate outbreaks have occurred repeatedly in communities. According to an infectious disease surveillance (2000), total measles cases were estimated to be from 180,000 to 210,000, and total deaths were estimated to be 88 [11,12]. Measles cases are most frequently observed among non-immunized children, particularly between 12 to 24 months.

                    So again, the question is about relative risks and real costs. So instead of “just asking questions” answer mine about the actual risks and costs. Because as a parent who had had a child get hospital care for a now vaccine preventable disease, I really want to know why it would be so cost effective to just treat measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis, HIb, rotavirus, influenza, cervical cancer, liver cancer, pneumonia, etc instead of preventing them.

                    Now answer that question!

                  • 

                    I was unaware that the papers that I had referenced were considered to be low quality. You keep saying that referring to them is the same thing as claiming they are of high quality. I disagree, but you’re the lawyer. I still have not had time to thoroughly critically review them or look at others’ criticism of them, which is why I have stopped mentioning them.

                    This is that false dichotomy. You complained that Dr. Raff misrepresents the science, but your arguments are deeply misleading. For example, you are upset that she said that there is “no evidence that supports chelation as a safe treatment alternative because autism is not caused by metal poisoning.” You interpreted that statement hyper-literally, and held up as a counter example a “systematic review (the pinacle of the evidence hierarchy)” that supports chelation. But it’s of such poor quality that you’ve given up even attempting to support its conclusions. Dr. Raff is correct—that paper is not good evidence that chelation is a safe treatment alternative. (The lawsuit against that paper’s author has a lot to say about the safety of chelation!) Once again, a reader of her piece would walk away with an accurate impression of the science. A reader of yours would be misled. If that deception was simply the result of your failure to think critically about the research you were citing, then maybe you should start doing so. It’s never too late.

                    I chose to write the article because Dr Raff’s post had been brought to my attention as a good way to educate myself on the research evidence around vaccines (perhaps it’s not her fault that it was misrepresented this way). I was aware of a controversy, but did not have familiarity with the published literature.

                    Shrieking “LIAR!” at her was probably an inefficient way of educating yourself. It would have been much more productive to study the evidence first, and attack second, if at all.

                    You correctly point out that it is indeed a blog post, not an article published in a journal. But I still maintain that it was sloppy and misleading.

                    But you haven’t identified anything that was actually misleading. When you tried, for example by telling your readers that chelation is safe and effective, you failed miserably—and you’re telling us now it’s because you actually had no idea whether the research you cited was reliable or not. So what, exactly, was misleading?

                    If the evidence is so one-sided and clear cut and you’re making a case as to what the research shows as a researcher, not as a layperson, there really isn’t any need to point mostly to secondary sources (there is a vast array of literature accessible for free) – unless your article is about what the media says or “experts” say about vaccines, not the scientific evidence.

                    This is merely your opinion, and a poor basis for calling Dr. Raff a liar. Consider the context of this post. The author is a scientist, but most of her readers are not (including you and I). Citing solely to news sources would imply a lack of scientific support, but citing solely to research articles renders the background material opaque to those who lack the resources, time, or training to read such material. Using a blend of both types of sources is not only eminently reasonable, it’s actually quite common. It would be inappropriate if there were anything actually wrong with the points she made, but that’s what you failed to show—and what you’re now telling us you lack the information to even allege.

                    Chris . . . . . If you demonstrated any ability to critically examine the evidence that you use in support of your argument, fairly identifying the strengths and weaknesses that by definition exist, it would be so much easier to believe that you actually know what you’re talking about and actually understand the body of literature that you’re referencing.

                    Please step back a moment and look at it from the context of those of us reading your piece, in which you attacked Dr. Raff as a liar and used, in support of your mud-slinging, research you now say you didn’t understand and hadn’t thought much about. Were you critically examining the evidence? Do you know what you’re talking about? Do you understand the body of literature that you’re referencing? Your comment is egregiously hypocritical, even by internet standards.

                    Using Colin’s previous example, I accept that seat belts are safe even though they occasionally cause injury, but I can’t imagine a remotely similar level of anger and disrespect being attracted by someone who desires to critically review the evidence and ask questions about how “experts” came to that opinion.

                    You’re seeing passion and interpreting it as anger. I am not, and I suspect Chris is not, angry, and have not been at any point in this conversation. Are you projecting?

                    If there were a movement dedicated to persuading parents not to use seatbelts for ideological reasons—say by asking sly, leading questions about how those Ford-funded research scientists designed the so-called seatbelt safety studies, and by the way have never actually studied whether seatbelts cause autism! —then you would absolutely see the rest of us respond energetically to that irresponsible advocacy.

                    But second, highlighting that I’m an acupuncturist as a way of undermining what I’m saying is ad hominem and doesn’t add anything to the discussion.

                    This is a common mistake, and an easy one to make. Ad hominem, as a logical fallacy, is when someone says something like, “That argument is wrong because the person making it is a jerk.” That’s not my point. My point is that you have heavy personal incentives to disregard scientific consensus, which holds not only that vaccines are safe and effective but also that your chosen education and profession are quackery. Consequently, I suspect your thought process is not an attempt to find out whether vaccines are safe, but an attempt to find a basis for believing that they aren’t safe. There is a direct logical connection between whether your analysis is serious and whether you have misaligned incentives.

                    In other words, I’m not saying that your argument is wrong because you’re an acupuncturist—I’m saying that your argument is wrong because it fails to take into account the totality of the evidence at hand, and that your profession is relevant to your refusal to consider that evidence. I understand completely why you dislike having your profession tied to your arguments here, but it isn’t an example of the ad hominem fallacy.

                    You have previously identified the WHO as an example of scientific medical authority, and both that institution and the NIH promote acupuncture as a scientifically evidence-based medical intervention. So please spare me the “unscientific medical woo” rubbish. It has nothing to do with vaccine research and makes you seem desperate.

                    My understanding, and please correct me if I’m wrong, is that they’ve found that acupuncture is a reliable way to induce the placebo effect. But interestingly, where one places the needles doesn’t make a difference to the outcome—in fact, one needn’t even actually leave the needles in the body so long as the patient believes they’re there. That makes acupuncture an interesting method of delivering the placebo effect, although I’m not sure there’s much need to get a graduate degree in it. I’m curious, does your education involve the concept of Qi? It’s a serious question, I’d like to know whether this is still a concept that acupuncturists rely on, or whether the field is distancing itself from its unscientific roots in the way that chiropractic is.

                    By forcing me to point out the obvious, you’re making me come off as way more anti-research than I actually am.

                    No, I think you’re painting a fairly accurate picture of your approach to research. Yes, bias exists. But of course, the fact that bias exists doesn’t justify reaching whatever wild conclusion you want to reach. It’s particularly absurd to conclude that there may be good, undiscovered evidence that vaccines cause autism when (a) there is no evidence of bias actually obstructing that specific conclusion, and particularly (b) there is a large body of alt-med practitioners with the motive and means to reach such a conclusion who have been unable to do so in any reliable way.

                    Don’t read our reliance on professional research as an assumption that such research is perfect. No one assumes that, and in fact science invests an enormous amount of attention, energy, and infrastructure in the attempt to control biases and other errors. We assume those efforts will fail from time to time, and systematically. But that doesn’t invalidate the idea of scientific research, or create grounds for unscientific, false ideas to arrogate nonexistent empirical support to themselves.

                    In other words, the fact that publication bias exists doesn’t mean that it’s unreasonable to conclude there’s no good evidence that Bigfoot exists, or that it is reasonable to claim that there is good evidence that he does. Those who have invested time and money in the Bigfoot industry will disagree, try to generate evidence supporting their preconceptions, and even post blog articles calling mainstream scientists liars. But the balance of evidence is still one-sided, and still reliable; it will take data, rather than ideology, to shift that. In lieu of such data, it’s unreasonable to conclude that Bigfoot exists or that vaccines cause autism.

                    Now doctors and scientists, with the benefit of more data, better technology and a bit of hindsight, see that the way in which antibiotics have been used and are currently being used, while having saved many lives, have also endangered many other lives.

                    You take my point, then miss it. Doctors and scientists, not bloggers or Natural News or nutritional supplement pushers. The doctors and scientists in this case, who have the greatest exposure to the data, the best training in understanding it, the strongest incentives to figure it out, and the most resources with which to do so, are virtually unanimous in their support of vaccination. They could theoretically change their minds one day on the basis of new evidence. But they haven’t yet.

                    Every time I actually analyse the assumptions that have generated those conclusions, which is standard research practice, you say that I’m scaremongering.

                    Yes. And I’ve explained why. And you’ve failed to justify your complaints, or your reliance on absolutely terrible research (which someone with your training should have been able to analyze more effectively). Your credentials don’t make you an expert, and experts’ credentials don’t make them right. They simply enable experts to engage in a more effective and thorough analysis of the issue—which is something you’ve disclaimed for yourself. You keep telling us that you don’t know what the research says, you haven’t had time to read it, you aren’t familiar with the literature… but that doesn’t stop you from republishing scary anti-vax work to your readers, or attacking the research you say you haven’t reviewed. I think it’s more than reasonable to call that scaremongering.

                    Can you offer me a reasonable explanation for why a narrative review, which is a far more bias-pone prone method, was conducted rather than a systematic review?

                    I would assume that this is why the report noted that “the committee did not have the time or the resources to conduct formal reviews meeting all criteria for systematic reviews for each question of interest, nor did it find substantial evidence to conduct a quantitative synthesis.” I understand your underlying complaint to be that the committee did not publish a detailed description of their inclusion criteria—fair enough! I would have preferred that they did so. It’s a weakness in the report. But that weakness does not justify concluding that the review is inadequate or that the results are wrong. In fact, since they published their search terms and the papers they did review from the results, it would be possible to find out what they excluded. Interested parties, of which there are many, could still identify specifically what research the IOM rejected. They could identify specific problems with the IOM’s conclusions, rather than hunting for a justification for ignoring its inconvenient results. They, and you, haven’t.

                    It’s perfectly reasonable to criticize the IOM report. I can’t imagine a 200-page report that didn’t have room for improvement. But your criticisms do not amount to a valid basis for complaining that the study, or the broader pro-vaccine consensus, are invalid.

                    It is abundantly clear that your views about what the vaccine literature does and does not show are based on tragic personal experience and a need for things to be black and white – not based on how scientific research actually works.

                    Perhaps you are addressing Chris here—I have been quite fortunate in life and suffered no infectious disease-related tragic personal experiences. My interest in anti-vax rhetoric is an outgrowth of my broader interest in the rhetorical and psychological context of irrationality. I’m writing a book on how irrational people, such as anti-vaxers, justify and evangelize their beliefs, and productive strategies for the mainstream in interacting with them. (My own comments to you have been rather harsher than I would normally recommend for such interaction; I have to admit your casual calumnies got my dander up.)

                    The weaknesses in the evidence don’t mean that the conclusions are wrong. But saying that the weaknesses are not there because you’re firm in your conclusions is delusional.

                    It certainly would be. I haven’t said that, and don’t believe it. I naturally expect all research to be flawed—it is, after all, a human endeavor. Simply stamping your foot and shouting that it’s flawed does not, however, amount to a substantive argument for any conclusion other than that it’s not perfect.

                    You appear to have concluded that it is reasonable to believe, inter alia, that vaccines can cause autism, and that chelation can treat it. “The consensus research isn’t perfect” doesn’t validate those beliefs. You’d need some positive evidence to support them, and you’ve been so wildly unsuccessful in finding it that you’ve fallen back on the “just asking questions” strategy.

                    I find it perfectly plausible that in spite of all of the valid points that I and many other researchers have made …

                    You’re a researcher now? What do you research? Not vaccines—you were fairly adamant that you aren’t familiar with the research (despite having apparently come to some very firm conclusions about it).

                    But by labelling any accurate identification of weaknesses, holes and uncertainties inherent in the scientific literature as “scaremongering”, you unnecessarily dumb down the whole conversation in a way that really detracts from your arguments, and gives easy ammunition to “anti-vaxers.”

                    That would be a fair point, had you begun this discussion with “any accurate identification of weaknesses, holes and uncertainties inherent in the scientific literature.” You didn’t. You called Dr. Raff a liar and held up, for example, a flimsy piece of results-oriented research to support your apparent conclusion that there is adequate evidence that chelation treats autism. That’s scaremongering.

                    You seem to be a man who requires certainty.

                    Emphatically not. Practicing law taught me long ago that certainty is a lie; the truth is complex and smarter than we are. If I seem certain, it is because I have very high standards for such discussions, and you have consistently failed to meet them. “Just asking questions” is a tired and weak form of argumentation, and in your case increasingly transparent (although it was pretty transparent from the beginning—chelation, really?).

                    • 

                      Chris, to be honest, after your first couple of responses to me I stopped reading what you’d written for the most part. You demonstrated that you had no desire to have a rational, adult conversation with me. You started rapid firing demands for evidence to support claims that I never made and don’t believe. You started very quickly with lame personal attacks and one totally nonsensical argument “proving” that I hadn’t followed all of Dr Raff’s links (I had) because I accurately pointed out that most links pointed to unreferenced and non-scientific evidence. The evidence you gave for your claim was to highlight links from the post that are to original research. Surely, you can see that this number constitutes the minority?

                      If you would like to engage in a discussion with me, where you respond to the points that I actually make, I could still be open to that. But if you’re only aim is to communicate your “passion” about the anti-Vax agenda, I have no interest. I don’t agree with many of their points or parts of their “agenda” so again, if you’d like to fight that fight, you’ll need to find someone else.

                      Anti-vax

                      I realise now that there has been an honest mis-understanding throughout this conversation regarding the designation “anti-vax”. I keep saying that I’m not “anti-vax” because I don’t oppose the use of vaccines. But according to this opinion piece by a real medical doctor (http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertpearl/2014/03/20/a-doctors-take-on-the-anti-vaccine-movement/“), people in the anti-vaccine movement “continue to question the safety” of vaccines, and I’m clearly doing that. So I obviously fit that description, sincere apologies for the confusion, it was an honest mistake.

                      But, it would be constructive if we could keep the discussion to the points I actually make and away from the wider “anti-vax agenda” as I can’t speak to it and don’t agree with all of their points.

                      Is questioning vaccine safety irrational?

                      Colin, you’ve said that you are writing a book concerning, in part, the irrationality of the anti-vaccine movement. I can’t speak to the movement as a whole, but I’d certainly like to address the question of whether or not questioning the safety of vaccines is irrational. This question seems to at the heart of everything that you’re arguing, is that fair to say?

                      Your main arguments are (I am sincerely trying to represent you accurately and fairly, so please correct me if anything I’m saying is inaccurate):
                      – We know that vaccines are safe and that adverse events are rare. We know this because this is the medical consensus as determined by researchers, doctors, and government agencies. Large reviews of the literature performed by various researchers and government agencies have concluded that vaccines are safe. Research isn’t perfect, as it is a human endeavor, but on the whole we can trust it. Therefor, as the experts say that vaccines are “safe,” questioning vaccine safety is irrational.

                      Is that a fair representation?

                      And from what I gather, the main arguments of the anti-anti-vaccine folks in general:

                      1) Anti-vaxers accused the MMR and/or thimerosal of causing autism. But large swathes of studies have been performed and thoroughly disproved such a causal link. All of the research to support the opposing view is of low methodological quality and was produced by people with ulterior motives. So people who keep banging on about this are bonkers.

                      2) The autism rate only seems to be rising due to more sensitive diagnostic criteria and greater awareness; in reality, it’s not actually rising.

                      3) Vaccines have been thoroughly tested and they’ve been proven safe. Questioning this fact is unscientific and irrational.

                      My main hypothesis, from genomic studies as well as biochemistry, has been that the vaccine schedule as a whole, while reducing the incidence (and mortality) of vaccine preventable illness, is a contributing factor in the increase in long-term health problems in the US. In other words, epigenetic studies demonstrate the effects of “environmental stressors” and how the accumulation of such stressors (toxins, antigens) can lead to disease. Vaccines clearly fit this description whether you are pro- or anti-; they exert their effects by exposing the individual to a group of antigens, and they contain exogenous compounds that the body needs to excrete safely. The question is whether this exposure (and I’m referring to the vaccine schedule, not individual vaccines or ingredients) is sufficient to contribute to illness on a population-wide basis. Epigenetic studies further suggest that it would be more likely to cause illness in some (those who already have a high toxic exposure and those who are genetically predisposed) and that for others it would not be sufficient to cause illness.

                      The overwhelming majority of the counter-arguments I have received so far have not addressed these questions at all. But my main point is not that my hypothesis is correct; my main point is that asking the questions raised by my hypothesis is not irrational.

                      Point 1, that the causal link between thimerosal/MMR and autism has been thoroughly disproven, does not address my points. Indeed, one of the most common pieces of “evidence” that thimerosal does not cause autism is that removing most of it from vaccines has not seen a drop in the incidence of new cases of autism. However, if we remove the focus from thimerosal as a single causative factor and look at the schedule as a whole, the relationship between thimerosal and health outcomes remains unelucidated because the studies do not control for the increase in the schedule subsequent to its removal or the possible effects of the adjuvants it was replaced with.

                      Point 2 is simply not substantiated by the evidence or at least it’s certainly open to debate (Hertz-Picciotto 2009) – changing diagnositic criteria, greater awareness, and diagnosis of milder forms certainly play a role in the rising rate but does not seem to explain the entire increase.

                      Point 3 – I go back to how you define safe. If safe is defined by how often the vaccine causes the illness against which it is intended to protect or by whether or not there is a causal relationship between MMR or thimerosal and autism, then I completely agree that vaccines have been proven safe. However, my first question regarding safety is whether or not the vaccine schedule as a whole is significantly contributing to the overall worsening health outcomes and the steep rise in chronic diseases. And my second question is do vaccines cause autism and other illness in a sub-set of the population. Neither of these questions has been adequately addressed in the vaccine safety literature. The most accurate answer to these questions is, “no one knows.”

                      Is it rational to question medical consensus?

                      One of your arguments has been that it’s irrational to question medical consensus. They’re the experts and suggesting the presence of a huge conspiracy theory is irrational.

                      I would ask you, are there well established and accepted reasons explaining why the medical consensus would say that vaccines are safe even if that’s not the case? Are there rational reasons to question the medical consensus?
                      – I’ve pointed to high-quality evidence about the frequent reversal of medical consensus, which you acknowledge
                      – I’ve pointed out that the omission of negative results from trials, particularly when conducted by pharmaceutical companies, is pervasive and that reviews of the literature are inherently incomplete
                      – I’ve pointed out that there are large concerns about conflict of interest that pervade vaccine safety research – people who are testing safety have significant reasons to over-estimate safety – which no one seems to deny
                      – I was also previously familiar with studies on the quality of clinical guidelines for various conditions. Clinical guidelines epitomise medical consensus. Taking one medical condition, such as diabetes, Holmer et al found a large degree of variability around the quality of the guidelines as compared to the research evidence (Holmer 2013, plos) and most of this discrepancy was attributed to the amount of “editorial control” of the authors and suffered from a great deal of conflict of interest – pharmaceutical companies were able to exert large amount of control over the content of the guidelines. This finding is echoed by a previous study that demonstrated that authors of medical guidelines had significant ties to the pharmaceutical industry (Choudry 2002, JAMA). So having been familiar with this literature before looking at the issue of vaccine safety, it is logical and rational that I would not accept the “medical consensus” on face value without further inquiry. It is not “irrational” to look further and examine what they are basing their conclusions on and how they are defining safety.

                      So in light of these points, I feel that it is not irrational to question medical consensus in general and about vaccines in particular. This is certainly subjective, but in light of these points, I feel that it is irrational to take medical consensus at face value without looking further and hold it up as indisputable fact. Questioning medical consensus does not mean that you subscribe to a conspiracy theory or that you are trying to prove that it is wrong; it can come from an awareness of the factors other than best-evidence or other than an accurate identification of what’s actually occurring that lead to generating the consensus in the first place. These factors are well accepted and pervasive. They do not mean that consensus is inherently wrong or that we should give up on research and guidelines entirely, only that questioning how they arrived at their conclusions is logical and rational.

                      So, as to my first question, does the vaccine schedule as a whole, while lowering the incidence of vaccine preventable illness, significantly contribute to the worsening health of the population?

                      I’ve pointed out that the research that would answer questions about wider health outcomes in vaccinated vs unvaccinated populations has not been done: “few studies have comprehensively assessed the association between the entire immunization schedule or variations in the overall schedule and categories of health outcomes, and no study has directly examined health outcomes and stakeholder concerns in precisely the way that the committee was charged to address in its statement of task. No studies have compared the differences in health outcomes that some stakeholders questioned between entirely unimmunized populations of children and fully immunized children . . . The committee believes that although the available evidence is reassuring, studies designed to examine the long-term effects of the cumulative number of vaccines or other aspects of the immunization schedule have not been conducted (National Academies 2013 report “The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety”)

                      Are you really saying that voicing concerns raised in the National Academies report (before I had read it), a report that while not infallible, you and I both agree is of high quality, is irrational? Do you consider the report itself to be scaremongering by pointing out the research that hasn’t been done (while generally concluding that available evidence is reassuring)? If this document forms part of what you consider to be the medical consensus, is it rational for you to say that someone who shares concerns raised by it is being irrational by doing so?

                      Chris, you linked to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics entitled Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence. Four studies come under the heading “Studies About General Safety and Number of Vaccines”. The rest of the studies are irrelevant to this discussion.
                      – The first study did not use unvaccinated controls.

                      The second study actually found that an increase in vaccination is associated with improved neuropsychological outcomes, suggesting that vaccination actually makes you smarter and have a better personality! Of course, this association went away when they actually controlled for confounders (so why mentioned it in the abstract at all? Super silly). Anyways, again this design is not appropriate to answer the question.
                      The third study, compared rates of adverse effects in vaccinated children with inborn errors of metabolism vs vaccinated healthy controls. Again, this design is not appropriate to answer the question as stated. But more concerningly, this study is full of methodological flaws. The authors say that they are looking at the rate of post-vaccination hospitalisations as one of their outcome measures but buried in the Methods section, they write: “We did not examine post-vaccination emergency-department and hospitalization rates among healthy children because children with IEMs (inborn errors of metabolism) are clinically very different, and comparing adverse events between 2 such clinically distinct populations would not have been suitable.” So the controls they’ve chosen are not suitable for their main outcome measure?
                      What they actually compared was hospitalisations in the sick group 0 – 30 days post-vax to hospitalisation 31 – 60 days post-vax. This is very strange – the results section of the abstract says :“Comparing infants with inborn errors of metabolism (n =77) versus matched control subjects (n = 1540), similar proportions were up to date for vaccines at 2 years of age, and there was no evidence of delay in receipt of recommended vaccines during the first year. Vaccination of children with inborn errors of metabolism (n =271) was not associated with any significant increase in emergency-department visits or hospitalizations during the 30 days after vaccination.” This is highly misleading. If you are going to bother to do a study comparing a sick population using a healthy sample population as a control for a chosen outcome, then you report what actually happened (I’m guessing the sick kids went to the hospital more) and then you explain reasons for this association in your analysis (e.g. “The higher rate of hospital visits in the sick population could be explained by the fact that there sick before they got vaccines” rather than use a population sample (sick kids) and a control group (healthy kids) and then compare hospitalisation rates between sick kids 0-30 days and sick kids 31-60. That’s a no no for a lot of reasons. And if you wanted to actually see what effect vaccinations had on children with IEM, you would compare a vaccinated IEM group to an unvaccinated IEM group. Anyways, the main point is, this study design does not answer the stated question.

                      The fourth study is about measles containing vaccines, does not have an unvaccinated control, and is again, not relevant to the question.

                      So, in summary, the document “Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence”, provides a list of vaccine safety studies, none of which are of appropriate design to answer the concern about the effects of the vaccine schedule on overall health as compared to unvaccinated controls. So I disagree with the statement that the concerns I raise, which are shared by the National Academies 2013 report, have already been overwhelmingly addressed by the literature.

                      My second hypothesis is that vaccines cause autism and other serious adverse reactions in a sub-set of the population and that population studies are not adequately segmented to pick this effect up. This view is echoed in the document “Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality” 2012, National Academies (particularly in the section beginning on p 82: “In some metabolically vulnerable children, receiving vaccines may be the largely nonspecific “last straw” that leads these children to reveal their underlying genotype. It was recently discovered that a large majority of children who developed encephalopathy after receiving whole cell pertussis vaccine have mutations in SCN1A, which are associated with Dravet syndrome or severe myoclonic epilepsy of childhood (Berkovic et al., 2006; McIntosh et al., 2010). While it seems likely that the vaccine triggered symptoms in these children by causing high fever, the particular vaccine antigens do not appear to alter the course of the disease. Rather, the ensuing phenotype could and probably would have been precipitated by multiple other fever-inducing triggers (McIntosh et al., 2010; Wiznitzer, 2010).” The chart depicted on p83 is a really excellent representation of the factors impacting on the risk of AE and raises concerns about why vaccines are more likely to cause an increase in AEs over time – one way to look at it, is even if vaccines were not the original cause of the worsening health of children in the US, the fact that the health of our children is undeniably getting worse puts them at greater risk of AEs from vaccines (again, another legitimate reason for my concern about overall safety).

                      A particular genetic abnormality that affects both autism and the ability to detoxify exogenous compounds is the MTHFR mutation. And indeed, while this area of research is in its infancy, links have been made between this mutation and serious AEs (Poland 2009, Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal). When you consider that the homozygous form of this mutation is estimated to occur in 30% of the US population, you can see that elucidating what role, if any, it may be playing in this picture is significant. And of course, there are many other genes that play important roles in how children react to vaccines or their susceptibility to autism and again, this research is just beginning.

                      So what’s the upshot of this? You have at least hundreds of reports in VAERS and other databases of developmental regression following immunization (Woo 2007, Autism). Dr Raff has put in her comment to Odee: “We humans are very good at seeing patterns, but sometimes that ability fools us. You can’t tell whether something caused something else from just one incident. It’s only when we look at thousands and thousands of cases that we’re able to eliminate different variables that might be complicating the story, and effectively figure out an answer to these questions.” I completely agree. But I’m unaware of any precedent in the modern medical literature for where a specific adverse event has been reported in temporal association with a medical intervention at a similar rate and that this relationship has been explained solely by chance.

                      I would agree that if this relationship is not apparent at the population level, then it may not be strong. But there’s certainly a problem with telling parents who have identified regressive autism directly following vaccination that it’s a coincidence and that they’re associating these two occurrences because they’re overly emotional (“it’s all in your head”) when it’s far more likely that while some cases of autism following vaccines are coincidental, others are a direct effect of the vaccines “revealing their underlying genotype,” even if the rate at which this occurs is relatively small as compared to the number of vaccines administered.

                      In sum, there are many logical, well-documented reasons why questioning medical authority is not irrational. Furthermore, while continuing to point to already thoroughly disproved associations (such as MMR/thimerosal and autism) could be considered irrational, the vaccine literature has not yet shown that vaccines as they are currently administered have been demonstrated to be safe: “Most vaccine-related research focuses on the outcomes of single immunizations or combinations of vaccines administered at a single visit. Although each new vaccine is evaluated in the context of the overall immunization schedule that existed at the time of review of that vaccine, elements of the schedule are not evaluated once it is adjusted to accommodate a new vaccine. Thus, key elements of the entire schedule—the number, frequency, timing, order, and age at administration of vaccines—have not been systematically examined in research studies.” (The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety, National Academies, 2013). Another way of putting this is that the body of literature as a whole has poor external validity as it does not reflect how vaccines are administered in practice.
                      I am not saying that vaccines are unsafe and that we should not use them. But I think I’ve made a compelling argument that, even if you reject the suggestion that the vaccine schedule as a whole may be related to worsening health outcomes (based on what evidence, I’d be interested to see) questioning their safety in itself is not irrational.

                    • 

                      I don’t have the time nor the patience to go through your latest diatribe, especially since you think I don’t know a thing about science or the issues. Despite the fact that in my engineering career I had to use science, read papers, critique test results from vendors (many of whom had failed to read the actual required test procedure) and even write a few reports to convince skeptical supervisors and customers that my analyses of structural systems accurately showed how they behaved and did not become dynamically unstable. Nor the fact that I have been dealing the medical issues of my kids, including the one who needed protection from pertussis in a community with low community immunity. That includes dealing with the anti-vaccine crowd for over fifteen years (see * below).

                      (you can be sure that on the way to learning how to solve multivariable nonlinear second order differential equations and do Fourier transforms, I did learn how to take a simple ratio of “total number of vaccine doses given” versus “number of compensated claims”, you might want to figure out how I did that).

                      But I will note that you claimed: “To my credit, I still haven not visited any “anti-vax” websites, where I’m sure I could find arguments that others have made and repeat those. Everything I have written or cited is based on my own research, such as it is.”

                      Yet, you have been using several common anti-vax claims, including this one: “Department of Health, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has paid out $2.7 billion in compensation for vaccine injuries (http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecom… and..”

                      Yes, they keep making the claim but they never actually look at the NVICP’s statistical webpage, plus the link you included was incomplete. Either you cut and pasted it from some anti-vax website, or you tried to copy it from the actual “.gov” website, but mucked it up. Perhaps you did not understand how to read the tables, or just did not even look at them.

                      Add to that you cited some very bad papers by a practitioner who convinces desparate parents to pay for his quackery, and a pair of researchers who were paid by anti-vax groups to do their bad statistics (and you thought studies done by “Big Pharma” were bad!). Then have the temerity to post “research is wrong, science changes, they did the science wrong, no unvaccinated controls!” diatribes.

                      Perhaps you are just being lazy, or dishonest. One or the other. Needless to say, you have proven to not have a clue and are therefore in no position to “edumacate” Dr. Raff, or anyone else in this discussion.

                      But lets see what howlers you have today: “Chris, you linked to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics entitled Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence. Four studies come under the heading “Studies About General Safety and Number of Vaccines”. The rest of the studies are irrelevant to this discussion.
                      – The first study did not use unvaccinated controls.”

                      This has been explained to you by Colin, though the rest shows you still do not have a clue on how to read a paper about human subject studies (use the “search thingy” to learn about the Belmont Report). By the way, that first study in the list was to answer the “too many to soon” question, you might actually try reading it through.

                      But then there is this: “You have at least hundreds of reports in VAERS and other databases of developmental regression following immunization (Woo 2007, Autism).” Another common anti-vax claim. I know you won’t even bother, but go to the official VAERS database portal with the “.gov” URL and tell us what you need to read and understand about using. Or just take a basic statistic course to understand the validity of self-selected surveys. It is zilch, which is why VAERS is only a small part of the CDC Vaccine Safety Database Project, which I have actually mentioned to you. That database was sensitive enough to see a safety issue with the first rotavirus vaccine, RotaShield.

                      In the late 1990s I joined an email listserv specific to my son’s disability. It went well for while, and then at that turn of the century the anti-vax bunch came. They took over, and one even tried to get me booted off because I pointed out that the MMR vaccine has never contained thimerosal. They really really pushed chelation. I researched it, and even contacted the FDA for information (not helpful), and then got lots of nasty grams for writing an email explaining that chelation was a bad idea. So I left that listserv. Just a week later a little boy was cleanly executed by chelation just because his crime was being born with autism:

                      http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2006/11/07/the-complaint-against-dr-roy-kerry-kille/

                    • 

                      Mel, people aren’t calling you anti-vax because you “question the safety of vaccines.” People are calling you anti-vax because you’re using deceptive rhetoric to scare people about vaccines. As has been explained to you many times, “just asking questions” is not the same thing as seriously investigating the safety or efficacy of vaccines. One key distinction is that rather than looking at the totality of the evidence, you cherry-picked anti-vax research and held it up as somehow equivalent to the total body of scientific research, and even admitted that you did so without critical thinking or analysis. You didn’t do that because you’re curious about whether vaccines are safe and effective, you did it to create the impression that there’s an open question as to how safe and effective.

                      Seriously questioning the safety of anything is, or at least can be, rational. But refusing to accept an answer that is clear, unambiguous, and supported by the scientific evidence simply because it’s inconvenient to your philosophy on “natural” health and healing is irrational.

                      Your summary of the arguments is pretty good—hardly perfect, but of course it can’t be since you’re trying to summarize the positions of various individuals who will have their own individual takes on any particular question. Anyway, I appreciate the effort as a fan of the Ideological Turing Test (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideological_Turing_Test).

                      Your own position seems to be wild speculation. Your position is irrational, in my eyes, because you appear to be stuck on it despite the lack of supporting evidence or even any significant detail in your theory of vaccines somehow causing unspecified damage in an unspecified way for unspecified reasons. If you can’t demonstrate that your position is true, and significant evidence (such as the fact that autism rates don’t track vaccination rates) indicates that it isn’t, then it’s irrational to insist that your questions are valid.

                      In other words, there is some evidence that autism rates closely correspond to the uptake of organic foods: http://kfolta.blogspot.com/2013/02/organic-food-causes-autism.html. I believe that organic foods therefore cause autism. I don’t have any good evidence for that theory, just a correlation. And there is a lot of evidence against it. And it isn’t particularly biologically plausible. And the scientific community thinks the theory is risible. So far, our two theories are neck and neck. They aren’t serious questions.

                      However, if we remove the focus from thimerosal as a single causative factor and look at the schedule as a whole, the relationship between thimerosal and health outcomes remains unelucidated because the studies do not control for the increase in the schedule subsequent to its removal or the possible effects of the adjuvants it was replaced with.

                      The other adjuvants have also been tested, and they don’t cause autism, either. Or did you have any particular scientific reason to believe that they do? This is just more “just asking questions” – your first theory is debunked, so you shifted to another question to maintain your default opposition to the vaccination schedule.

                      As for the increasing number of autism diagnoses, I don’t know enough about the question to have an educated opinion. But if autism incidence is actually increasing, I blame organic food. It correlates much more closely with the increase in autism rates, after all. And it’s known that food can stress the immune system, just ask a kid with peanut allergies. And epigenetics tells us that immune stresses and toxins can cause certain kinds of damage. And no one has ever tested the increase in organic food consumption to see whether it causes autism! No one has ever even done a controlled, double blind study of organic food eaters versus non-organic food eaters to see whether organic food is safe.

                      [M]y first question regarding safety is whether or not the vaccine schedule as a whole is significantly contributing to the overall worsening health outcomes and the steep rise in chronic diseases.

                      If there was good evidence that vaccines were doing that, I’d say they weren’t very safe. You have neglected to provide any; your complaints seem based on something other than empirical evidence.

                      And my second question is do vaccines cause autism and other illness in a sub-set of the population.

                      Is that question based on any evidence that they do, or even an empirical reason to suspect that they might? Or is it based on your cultural identification with the “natural” healing community, which has become affiliated with this position?

                      Is it rational to question medical consensus?

                      It depends on the question. It becomes irrational when the questions are asked for ideological rather than investigative reasons and when the questioner is disinterested in the answers.

                      Your points about medical consensus are based on a logical fallacy. The fact that consensus can change, and the fact that it can be wrong, are not in dispute. But they don’t support the position that the consensus will change, or is wrong. It would take data to do that, which is what the anti-vax community has been trying and failing to develop for decades. In lieu of such data, they “just ask questions,” which is an effective strategy since rhetoric is often more persuasive than science.

                      So in light of these points, I feel that it is not irrational to question medical consensus in general and about vaccines in particular.

                      It would be rational if your goal was to actually investigate the truth of the consensus. But this has been tested, remember? You opened up this conversation by calling Dr. Raff a liar for telling her readers what the consensus is, then holding up some atrocious research to persuade your readers that, inter alia, there is reason to believe that vaccines cause autism and that chelation treats it. It’s rational to ask open questions to find out answers. It’s irrational to ask leading questions for the purpose of persuading people that a certain answer is true, when the evidence doesn’t support that answer. You’ve been doing the latter, rather than the former—your piece is advocacy rather than analysis.

                      Your first “hypothesis” appears to be supported by absolutely no evidence whatsoever. None. Your entire argument is to nitpick four or five specific scientific studies, while pretending—falsely—that the NA report shares your concerns. On the contrary, while it describes the state of the current research, it specifically notes that the committee believes the current evidence is reassuring. There is a world of difference between, “we should study this question in more detail” and “there is reason to believe that the vaccine schedule is causing unspecified bad chronic illnesses for unspecified reasons in unspecified ways in unspecified subgroups.” It would be completely fair and reasonable to want more detailed studies, whether or not they were feasible. Your “hypothesis,” on the other hand, in the absence of any positive evidence to support it, is scaremongering—“just asking questions” as a substitute for such evidence, with the goal of persuading readers that vaccines cause autism and other unspecified chronic problems.

                      Your second “hypothesis” is similarly mere advocacy. You slyly imply that the NA report found that vaccines “cause autism and other serious adverse reactions in a sub-set of the population,” but that’s not true. The report specifically recommends rejecting the conclusion that vaccines cause autism. And the specific section you quoted isn’t referring to autism at all, but (as far as I can tell) known adverse events. This is an excellent example of using a “hypothesis” to distort the evidence and mislead readers. I’m reminded, once again, of something underlying all our discussions: a reader of Dr. Raff’s piece would walk away with an accurate impression of the overall scientific evidence on this question. A reader of your comments would walk away with critical misunderstandings that, not coincidentally, would favor your ideological biases.

                      So what’s the upshot of this? You have at least hundreds of reports in VAERS and other databases of developmental regression following immunization (Woo 2007, Autism).

                      There are also reports in VAERS of vaccines causing Incredible Hulk syndrome and car crashes. It’s a database of correlations, not causative events.

                      But I’m unaware of any precedent in the modern medical literature for where a specific adverse event has been reported in temporal association with a medical intervention at a similar rate and that this relationship has been explained solely by chance.

                      “Solely by chance” is the misleading element here. It’s not solely by chance. Many parents have been mislead by scary anti-vaccine rhetoric like yours. When they see regression in their autistic children, they look for a reason for it, and lots of bloggers are happy to give it to them. They remember, with a little help, that sure enough it was that evil vaccine that caused the first signs of regression. You can actually see this process if you google Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vax stories; her own mother eventually came clean and admitted that no, there were signs of a neurological event long before the child was vaccinated. These parents aren’t lying, of course, but human memory is notoriously and obviously flexible. We distort it constantly without meaning to, and despite our best efforts to remember things (even the most important things) accurately. In other words, the reported correlation isn’t due solely to chance. There’s a nonrandom influence that biases parents of autistic children to report regression as an adverse event. In this case, that influence goes by the name “Mel.”

                      But there’s certainly a problem with telling parents who have identified regressive autism directly following vaccination that it’s a coincidence and that they’re associating these two occurrences because they’re overly emotional (“it’s all in your head”) when it’s far more likely that while some cases of autism following vaccines are coincidental, others are a direct effect of the vaccines “revealing their underlying genotype,” even if the rate at which this occurs is relatively small as compared to the number of vaccines administered.

                      If there were a way to bottle irony and sell it, you’d make us all rich as Croesus. What on earth supports your contention that “it’s far more likely that . . . others are a direct effect of the vaccines”? Not evidence. There’s no data supporting this supposition. It’s just wild guesswork. You want parents to blame vaccines for autism even though you have no evidence to support that theory, while complaining about parents being told truthfully that the data don’t support a causative link between autism and vaccines. Again (and again, and again, and again) the more someone listens to your position on vaccines, the more misled they would be about what that evidence says.

                      But I think I’ve made a compelling argument that, even if you reject the suggestion that the vaccine schedule as a whole may be related to worsening health outcomes (based on what evidence, I’d be interested to see) questioning their safety in itself is not irrational.

                      If you were questioning their safety in order to determine an answer, I would agree. You aren’t. You’re “just asking questions” to push your readers to a certain conclusion—one that happens to correspond with your ideological biases. So you ignore research and evidence that conflicts with those biases, while implying falsely that there is solid research on the other side of the table. For example, on your own site you still have your piece up misleadingly suggesting to your readers that there is good research supporting the belief that mercury in vaccines causes autism, and that chelation treats it. You’ve since admitted that you never actually thought critically about those studies—but you’re more than happy for your readers to walk away from your article with misapprehensions about them. If you were asking questions to get answers, I think you wouldn’t be ignoring and distorting the evidence so blatantly.

                    • 

                      (sorry, I’ve had to reply here cause WP wasn’t giving me the option to reply below)

                      “I don’t have the time nor the patience to go through your latest diatribe, especially since you think I don’t know a thing about science or the issues.” Chris, what I think is that 7 is less than half of 30 something. And I think that you seem to have an aversion to admitting when you make a mistake, not a particularly endearing quality, especially when you’re trying to convince me that I should trust your judgment when it comes to injecting known neurotoxins into babies.

                      “though the rest shows you still do not have a clue on how to read a paper about human subject studies” – are you referring to my critique of the methods of the Klein study? Could you be a smidge more specific as to where I was off the mark? And if you really are defending the methods of this study (which gave anti-vax research a serious run for its money) as being methodologically sound for the stated outcome measures, is it safe to say that you think that all studies that show that vaccines are safe are by definition methodologically sound?

                      “Just a week later a little boy was cleanly executed by chelation” – that is very sad, but aside from the fact that you would have to kill a whole lot more people with chelation for it to come even close to being as dangerous as correctly prescribed conventional medication (http://extension.oregonstate.edu/coos/sites/default/files/FFE/documents/us_health_care.pdf), what on earth does that have to do with the scientific evidence for vaccine safety? I know you said that you didn’t have the time to read my last comment (and yet you still found the time to respond to it) but I simply asked that if nothing else, you keep your comments relevant to the discussion. In case you’ve lost the thread, I’m asking you to point me to the scientific evidence (preferably of good quality, but at this point, I won’t be picky) that demonstrates that vaccines are safe in the long term where the study design tests vaccine administration in a way that even roughly approximates what actually happens in practice.

                      And to my new friend, Colin:
                      “In other words, there is some evidence that autism rates closely correspond to the uptake of organic foods: http://kfolta.blogspot.com/2013/02/organic-food-causes-autism.html. I believe that organic foods therefore cause autism. I don’t have any good evidence for that theory, just a correlation. And there is a lot of evidence against it. And it isn’t particularly biologically plausible. And the scientific community thinks the theory is risible. So far, our two theories are neck and neck. They aren’t serious questions.”

                      Oh, dear me, I hadn’t realised that correlation doesn’t equal causation. Well, if the government had developed a policy based on research provided by the organic food industry that all babies and children in the United States, with rare exception, had to consume only organic foods in order to be allowed to go to school (if only) then your theory would certainly be worth pursuing, in fact it would be unethical not to. And of course, we’d hope that the government had tested the entirety of the recommended diet, and not just parts of it, before mandating it to our children on a national scale to make sure it was safe – not doing so is potentially dangerous and totally irresponsible.

                      As that’s not the case, then if we wanted to find out if your theory that organic foods do indeed cause autism is correct, we could start by looking at autism trends in children who consume only organic foods vs children consuming only non-organic foods while controlling for confounders and see if there are any significant differences. And if we saw significant differences in the two groups, we could even do randomized studies to get a more accurate appraisal of cause and effect. It’s really not complicated. How great is it that we possess the scientific methods to answer such an important question.

                      “Your own position seems to be wild speculation. Your position is irrational, in my eyes, because you appear to be stuck on it despite the lack of supporting evidence”

                      No, see, that’s just the thing. I’m not saying that I know vaccines make kids sick because there’s a correlation between our huge vaccine schedule and our shitty health outcomes. I’m saying that I don’t need to provide you evidence of danger, you need to provide me with evidence of safety. You have failed to provide me with a single study that looks at the safety of vaccines in a way that even remotely resembles how they are actually administered in practice. The best you could do is say that “experts say they’re safe.”

                      You’re saying to me that in order to be a good parent and a good citizen, I need to take my kid to the doctor and have them injected with a load of antigens, neurotoxins, and preservatives. I am not saying to you that I’m sat on stacks of evidence that prove that this could make my kid stupid, sad, and sick. I’m asking you to provide me the evidence to support your assertion that this is safe. The burden of proof is on you to support your position, not on me to justify asking questions about how you got to your position.

                      “In lieu of such data, they “just ask questions,” which is an effective strategy since rhetoric is often more persuasive than science.”

                      You know what’s even more persuasive than asking questions? Answering those questions with data. Rather than showing me safety research that even remotely resembles what gets injected in a single visit, you keep describing my arguments back to me and talking about my tactics and my ideology, continuously identifying my questions as “questions” (seriously, is that what they teach you at law school?) without actually answering my questions. It’s really simple, make like Jerry McGuire and show me the research.

                      At a 12 month appointment, a baby may receive in a single visit: Hep B, Flu, Pneuomococcal, Polio, MMR, Chicken pox, Hep A and others on the same day. Please, I beseach you, point me to a single safety study that looks at the effects of this combination? Seriously, my search thingy is giving me absolutely zilch (and I actually have access to research behind the pay wall because I’m a real researcher). Regarding this practice as the administration of 7 separate interventions that are known to be safe is simply not based in any shared reality – the human body doesn’t care what you call it, all it knows is what’s been injected into it that day. Shut me up by showing me one single safety study on this combination. Seriously, it’s a really simple ask.

                      You keep saying, “You’re being irrational, there’s loads of research, this question has been answered.” Great, I’m relieved, show me. You’ve pointed to a big pile of research and some very nicely typeset summaries of this research that I’ve accurately identified as having very poor external validity. No toxicologist, immunologist, or biochemist on the planet would tell you that we know that injecting a baby with 8 vaccines at once is safe based on the fact that we’ve done safety studies when using 3 vaccines. On that, there is medical consensus. So please, this is your big opportunity to win the discussion once and for all. You claim that I’m letting my “ideological” position that injecting babies with known neurotoxins doesn’t seem very clever on the face of it cloud my senses so that I’m ignoring all the research that tests the safety of what actually gets injected into a baby when they visit the doctor’s. Show me this research.

                      I am asking questions. I question vaccine safety. I am ideologically opposed to untested combinations of ingredients being injected into babies. None of these things need to be pointed out in your response. Just show me a single safety study on the actual combination that gets administered at once, and you, sir, will have check mated me.

                    • 

                      Mel, one major distinction between death from chelation and death from conventional medicine is that conventional medicine is legitimately intended to treat illness. Chelation, at least as used as a treatment for autism, is virtually impossible to defend—it’s a wild, unethical and dangerous experiment at best, and a deadly scam at worst. When someone suffers a deadly side effect to conventional medicine it’s typically despite the strenuous precautions of legitimate doctors. These snake oil salesmen chelating kids are something else entirely. Please see, for example, the details of the lawsuit dogging the researcher whose work you’re promoting in your latest blog piece.

                      (Earlier you were defending your promotion of that research by saying you hadn’t bothered to read or think critically about it. You’ve had plenty of time to do so now, and you’ve chosen to keep promoting it via your website. Have you come down on the side of chelation as a legitimate treatment for autism?)

                      And of course, we’d hope that the government had tested the entirety of the recommended diet, and not just parts of it, before mandating it to our children on a national scale to make sure it was safe – not doing so is potentially dangerous and totally irresponsible. As that’s not the case, then if we wanted to find out if your theory that organic foods do indeed cause autism is correct, we could start by looking at autism trends in children who consume only organic foods vs children consuming only non-organic foods while controlling for confounders and see if there are any significant differences.

                      Your constant complaints about the testing regimen belie—once again—your pretense of being anything other than a typical anti-vaxer. You aren’t asking questions to find answers, you’re asking them to try to persuade readers that vaccines are dangerous and should be avoided.

                      We often compare anti-vax rhetoric to a campaign against seatbelts. “Sure, scientists have tested seatbelts in individual crashes, but have they ever tested whether wearing seatbelts every day for a year causes autism? No! And seatbelts can constrict blood supply, and hypoxia is a known cause of encephalopathy! So I’m not saying I’m anti-seatbelt, I’m just asking questions about whether anyone has proven that wearing seatbelts every day doesn’t cause autism. Because until someone does a trial comparing safety outcomes of the seatbelted versus unseatbelted population over a year’s time, then the government scientists who are funded by the auto industry haven’t even tried to prove that seatbelts don’t prove autism. I’m just asking questions! About how the research doesn’t not show how seatbelts cause autism.”

                      If you were asking questions because you were curious about the answers, or for any reason other than to make a rhetorical point, I think you would have considered the answers to your questions by now. Scientists can’t deprive kids of vaccines with proven safety and efficacy records for the sake of research—it would be grotesquely unethical. And there’s not much point to it when safety studies have never found reason to believe that the vaccine schedule is dangerous.

                      You keep insisting that there’s reason to believe vaccines are dangerous in lieu of a total study of the schedule, but you’re omitting an important part of a serious inquiry: reason to think the schedule might be dangerous. You haven’t identified any biologically plausible mechanism for harm, or any reason to think that harm is actually occurring. Post-licensure and population studies haven’t found reason to believe that the vaccine schedule causes those harms. Woo-peddlers with huge financial incentives to find such harm, and the resources to search for it, haven’t been able to identify any.

                      Given the enormous expense and difficulty of studying a vaccine schedule that changes fairly often, and the enormous amount of study that goes into determining the safety and efficacy of individual vaccines, and the lack of evidence of harm for the vaccine schedule overall, and the inability of anti-vaxers such as yourself to identify a biologically plausible mechanism for harm, I don’t think it’s unusual or problematic that there aren’t studies of the schedule overall.

                      I’m assuming, by the way, that there aren’t such studies. I’m loathe to take the word of anti-vaxers on such topics because I’ve been burned before. But I’m usually willing to accept such representations arguendo. I’m assuming, therefore, that you have reason for disregarding the studies listed here: https://www2.aap.org/immunization/families/faq/vaccinestudies.pdf
                      Smith 2010 concluded, for example, “that on-time receipt of vaccines during infancy has no adverse effect on neurodevelopmental outcomes 7 to 10 years later.” Or DeStefano 2013, in J. Peds., which analyzed vaccine exposure over the first 2 years of participants’ lives and concluded there was no increased risk of ASD? You’re also asking us to ignore the IOM report, which you disparage without coming to terms with the conclusion of the experts on the committee: having reviewed the existing data, there was no particular reason to believe the vaccine schedule is unsafe.

                      I’m saying that I don’t need to provide you evidence of danger, you need to provide me with evidence of safety.

                      Are you going to stop wearing your seatbelt? Or eating organic food? Or giving acupuncture? Or riding in elevators? Or taking pressurized airplane rides? Or wearing synthetic fibers? Or walking on poured concrete? Or sitting under fluorescent lights? Or drinking freeze-dried tea? Or using stainless-steel utensils? No one has provided evidence of the safety of those things over time! Sure, maybe they’ve done some one-off safety studies—acupuncture isn’t any more dangerous than most biologically inactive placebos for any one treatment—but no one has shown you evidence of safety for an entire year’s worth of seatbelts, organic meals, acupuncture sessions, airplane rides or elevators. Surely you have the same questioning spirit for those things you do for vaccines. You don’t just reserve your hostility for a medical treatment that challenges the preconceptions of your natural-healing business, do you?

                      Meanwhile, as you’re fretting over the quality of serious medical research, you’re still giving a pass to the alt-med work touted on your blog. Do you intend to revise your piece and clarify whether the pro-chelation research is reliable? Do you have on opinion on that point yet? I ask because your standards seem very highly situational: research that supports vaccination will never be good enough to overcome your hostility, but research skeptical of the scientific consensus on vaccines needs no critical analysis whatsoever.

                    • 

                      “At a 12 month appointment, a baby may receive in a single visit: Hep B, Flu, Pneuomococcal, Polio, MMR, Chicken pox, Hep A and others on the same day. Please, I beseach you, point me to a single safety study that looks at the effects of this combination?”

                      And yet another common and nonsensical anti-vax complaint. Actually you been shown those, and even commented on one. You showed how well you understand human medical research because you complained that it did not violate the Belmont Report. And it is amusing that a resident of the UK is complaining about vaccines not offered by the NHS. At least one of those a parent has to find and pay for in England and Wales.

                      “(and I actually have access to research behind the pay wall because I’m a real researcher).”

                      LOL Obviously without any clue on how to do epidemiology, statistics, or thinks that 1300 is a significant chunk out of almost two billion.

                      “No toxicologist, immunologist, or biochemist on the planet would tell you that we know that injecting a baby with 8 vaccines at once is safe based on the fact that we’ve done safety studies when using 3 vaccines.”

                      This obviously shows you did not bother reading the first study on the list, nor any of the others. Perhaps you have a better and cheaper way of preventing pertussis, Hib, measles, polio, etc. You might try providing us the “research” you have showing your method would work.

                    • 

                      “At a 12 month appointment, a baby may receive in a single visit: Hep B, Flu, Pneuomococcal, Polio, MMR, Chicken pox, Hep A and others on the same day. Please, I beseach you, point me to a single safety study that looks at the effects of this combination?”
                      “Actually you been shown those, and even commented on one.”

                      Chris, you seem like a nice person with genuinely positive motivations. But none of those studies looks at anything of the sort, and they don’t pretend to. Completely making things up is not an effective strategy for arguing that vaccines have been adequately safety tested. You might as well say that you believe vaccines are safe because the vaccine unicorn fairies told you so. You’re really not helping your cause.

                      “LOL Obviously without any clue on how to do epidemiology, statistics . . .You showed how well you understand human medical research because you complained that it did not violate the Belmont Report. . . . This obviously shows you did not bother reading the first study on the list, nor any of the others”

                      When I pointed out that the studies did not use unvaccinated controls, I was correctly identifying that they were not of an appropriate study design to answer the question I was asking.

                      But while we’re on the subject, can you explain to me the relevance of the Belmont report for using unvaccinated controls in observational studies, which these all are? I’m failing to see the connection. Colin explained that the way the Belmont report is commonly interpreted, it’s considered unethical to randomise children to a group that would not receive vaccines. These studies are examining what happened in the past without affecting vaccination status, which was determined over a decade earlier in the case of the first study. Sorry for being dense at stats and epidemiology and what not, but I’d really appreciate it if you could explain it to me.

                      Colin – The schedule at the time of the Smith study was – 2 hep B, 3 dtp, 3 Hibs, and 2 polio. The current schedule adds to this 3 Rvs, 3 PCVs, 2 IPVs and flu from 6 months. A study looking at the safety of the 1993-1997 vaccine schedule, while not irrelevant, simply does not adequately assess the safety of the current vaccine schedule, which is much larger. I think it is a serious problem if this study is the one that comes closest to actually examining the safety of the current vaccine schedule.

                      Biological Plausibility

                      “You keep insisting that there’s reason to believe vaccines are dangerous in lieu of a total study of the schedule, but you’re omitting an important part of a serious inquiry: reason to think the schedule might be dangerous. You haven’t identified any biologically plausible mechanism for harm, or any reason to think that harm is actually occurring.”

                      Errr, I did a couple of times, but you seem to keep ignoring it. Indeed, I actually wasn’t aware that there was any question about the plausibility of vaccines playing a significant role in immune dysfunction and chronic inflammation (a biological mechanism that underlies nearly all chronic illness). But if you would like to learn more, I urge you to read Chapter 3 in the 2011 National Academies report “Adverse Effects of Vaccines – Evidence and Causality entitled “Evaluating Biological Mechanisms of Adverse Events” – a simple way to summarise many of the findings is that the specific parts of the inflammatory response that are intentionally stimulated by vaccines are consistent with the mechanisms underlying many inflammatory illnesses.

                      So it seems that you were unaware of the obvious biologically plausible mechanisms for induction of chronic illness following an untested combination of vaccines – now that you are, can we agree that researching the safety of the current vaccine schedule is a responsible and worthwhile endeavor?

                      Including a Systematic Review of Emerging Therapies in My Blog Post

                      “one major distinction between death from chelation and death from conventional medicine is that conventional medicine is legitimately intended to treat illness. . . Meanwhile, as you’re fretting over the quality of serious medical research, you’re still giving a pass to the alt-med work touted on your blog. Do you intend to revise your piece and clarify whether the pro-chelation research is reliable? Do you have on opinion on that point yet?”

                      Your argument that this review should somehow not be used as a reference in a blog post to support the argument that the statement “there’s no evidence for the effectiveness of chelation” is incorrect seems to be based on irrational emotion and nothing logical at all. You continue to start with your conclusion (in this case, chelation is an ineffective and an unethical treatment for autistic children with demonstrated metal toxicity) which as someone who has no training in biochemistry or any clinical science is basically uncritically repeating what others have told them, and then going about attacking anything that contradicts your belief.

                      The review itself is of reasonably high methodological quality (it looks as though the author successfully addressed methodological shortcomings pointed out in a previous review), it’s published in a mainstream peer-reviewed journal and has been cited 108 times (a high rate given that it was only published in 2009), mainly by what appear to be scientific studies also published in mainstream peer-reviewed journals, indicating that the scientific community feels that the paper is of high quality. Your argument that studies that come to conclusions that you believe are wrong should not be mentioned is loony-bins. If you have any issues with the methods of the review, please explain. I haven’t found any criticism of the review on the web, try as I may, so I’m not sure what you’re on about. The author is a medical doctor and specialised in the treatment of autism. I’m not exactly sure why you think you know more about it than he.

                      You’ve also been sold this idea that conventional medicine, while admittedly very dangerous, is the “good guy” because, though it has a very high rate of harm, it has good intentions and that “snake oil salesmen” are out to prey on the weak and take people’s money. This is pure fantasy. Both complementary and conventional medicine have ethical and unethical practitioners amongst their ranks and they all have financial interest in their treatments. You seem to be under the illusion, based on nothing factual at all, that off-label treatment is only done by dishonest people who are out to take advantage of the weak. Are you aware that due to the lack of financial incentives of pharmaceutical companies to do trials for pediatric interventions, 30 – 90% of treatment for children is off label or unlicensed? (Conroy, Sharon, John McIntyre, and Imti Choonara. “Unlicensed and off label drug use in neonates.” Archives of Disease in Childhood-Fetal and Neonatal Edition 80.2 (1999): F142-F145.)

                      As for the law suit, we have an autistic child who by his father’s description is thriving, happy and doing much better than his diagnosis would predict. So why sue? 50,000 bucks? A shot at full custody and an opportunity to get back at his ex with whom he was having a nasty divorce?

                      And if these doctors are unethical “snake oil” salesmen, charging big bucks to torture kids, where are all the other angry parents? I mean, they’d have a very sympathetic ear with the media. Why not jump in? All I’ve seen is parents publicly coming to the defence of these doctors, saying that they were the only ones who helped their kids. The only outrage seems to be coming from “Quackwatch” and their readers.

                      If the child had received chelation based on a diagnosis of autism, I would agree with you that this practice would be unethical. But the child received chelation following lab results that showed he had elevated levels of toxic metals in his system, including mercury. This is not a normal finding.

                      I’d also like to point out that the most vocal person against the use of chelation, Dr Stephen Barrett, is himself the subject of a lawsuit. So by your illogical rationale, we really shouldn’t be listening to anything he says either. I’ve read through his article “How the “Urine Toxic Metals” Test Is Used to Defraud Patients” and the articles he references to support it, and he basically contradicts himself through out the entire article.

                      The research literature as a whole indicates that some autistic children have high levels of heavy metals and others don’t, which is pretty much what you’d expect for a condition that experts believe is heterogenous in nature. The problem comes when one group of people set out to “prove” that mercury is THE cause of autism and then another group correctly points out that it isn’t. It’s probably a factor in some cases and not in others. I mean, giardia infection is accepted as a cause of GI upset. But half of people with confirmed infection don’t have symptoms. Does that mean we shouldn’t treat the infection in the symptomatic group? I mean, not everyone has symptoms so doesn’t that mean giardia infection isn’t the cause? No, that would be dumb.

                      Autism is multi-factorial and heterogenous in nature – a significant number, though not all, have genetic defects effecting their ability to detoxify metals. These conclusions are coming from the mainstream research, not from the fringe. So seeing as this is the case, what’s your argument (based on no biomedical training at all) about the biological plausibility that some autistic kids are NOT effected by impaired detoxification of metals? It just simply doesn’t make any sense.

                      Aluminum

                      “Meanwhile, as you’re fretting over the quality of serious medical research” – at least I used appropriate medical research to support my arguments. Let’s look at what Dr Raff’s post again: “They say that the aluminum in vaccines (an adjuvant, or component of the vaccine designed to enhance the body’s immune response) is harmful to children. 
But children consume more aluminum in natural breast milk than they do in vaccines, and far higher levels of aluminum are needed to cause harm.”

                      First, what’s the relevance of the comparison to natural breast milk? Is it because breast milk is the most wholesome substance on God’s green earth and so we’re to understand that because vaccines have less aluminum they’re safe? Or is it that kids are getting so much aluminum from breast milk, that even though it’s an established toxic substance, the aluminum from vaccines is just a drop in the ocean?

                      Neither of these interpretations are remotely supported in the scientific literature. Dr Raff either understands this, and was dishonest by repeating it, or uncritically repeated this piece of what can only be described as non-sensical, unscientific, pro-vaccine propaganda.
                      We can skip over the study she cites about the aluminum content of the breastmilk of 42 Serbian mothers in 1992 (the article actually states that these women have the highest average content ever reported in a study) because it’s beyond irrelevant to the safety of aluminum in vaccines.

                      The other two references are to Dr Offit’s opinion pieces. His 2009 opinion says about aluminum: “Sears’ main argument for spacing out vaccines is to avoid giving infants too much aluminum at one time, writing, “When a baby gets the first big round of shots at two months, the total dose of aluminum can vary from 295 micrograms . . . to a whopping 1225 micrograms if the highest aluminum brands are used and a hep B vaccine is also given. . . . These doses are repeated at four and six months.” Extrapolating studies of patients undergoing hemodialysis and severely premature infants to healthy newborns, Sears claims that these quantities might be unsafe. However, Sears fails to put aluminum exposure in context. By 6 months of age, infants typically ingest 6700 ug of aluminum in breast milk, 37 800 ug in infant formula, or 116 600 ug in soy-based formula.16”

                      As Chris pointed out earlier, this is a referenced opinion piece based on “real science” so what’s the reference for this statement? Why, it’s Dr Offit’s 2003 opinion piece! Talk about opinion masturbation. Before we go to 2003, let’s talk about why comparing 116,000 ug of aluminum of orally consumed contaminated soy-based formula to 1225 ug in each round of injected vaccines is dumb and dishonest. The scientific consensus will tell you that on average, people absorb about .03% of aluminum in orally ingested liquid while we absorb about 100% of aluminum when it’s injected (IM injections will absorb over time but the absorption is still about 100%). So if we correct the math for what toxicologists actually understand about drinking aluminum vs injecting it, we absorb about 348 ug of aluminum if we’re unlucky enough to be raised on contaminated soy-formula and 295 – 1225 ug of aluminum per round of vaccines. Don’t tell me that Dr Offit, America’s number one authority on vaccines, was confused on this point when he wrote his opinion. This is total garbage.

                      Dr Offit continues: “Furthermore, Sears fails to describe scientific studies that led the National Vaccine Program Office to conclude that the amount of aluminum contained in vaccines did not warrant changing the vaccine schedule.17

                      Well this is exciting, because I couldn’t find any scientific studies on this subject. So which studies is he referring to? Why, this reference is to a summary of a workshop held to discuss vaccine safety, not a reference to even one scientific study. And the transcript of this workshop indicates that even the makers of the vaccine schedule policy have no idea how the safe level of injectable aluminum was determined.

                      But back to Offit supporting his opinion with his own opinion. What does Offit opine about the safety of aluminum in vaccines in 2003? First he writes “The safety of aluminum has been established by experience during the past 70 years, with hundreds of millions of people inoculated with aluminum-containing vaccines.” This pretty much echoes the consensus: we think it’s safe because we’ve been doing it a long time to a lot of people and there hasn’t seemed to be a problem. No long-term safety studies have been performed.

                      Dr Raff, you’ve been awfully quiet, which I totally respect, but do you mind explaining to Colin why “it doesn’t seem to be a problem” is not a valid scientific method to determine the safety of injecting a toxic substance, especially one that it has been shown to accumulate in the brain over time because it cannot detoxify it? He seems to prefer hearing about scientific methods from pro-vax PhD’s.

                      Dr Offit goes on to compare aluminum in vaccines to aluminum in breast milk and formulas, citing the Serbian milk study and 3 studies showing how formula contaminated with aluminum at the levels Dr Offit was implying were safe were actually making infants sick.

                      The one study he references that looks at aluminum levels in vaccines for infants, “Aluminum toxicokinetics regarding infant diet and vaccinations”, clearly states that “the body burden of aluminum from vaccination exceeds that from dietary sources” (so Dr Offit surely was aware that his comparison 116,600 ug of aluminum in soy formula was total BS). This study, which somehow manages to come down on the side of the aluminum content in vaccines being sufficiently low, finds that aluminum levels actually rise above the safe level following vaccination, just not a lot and not for very long. It also points out that the mechanism by which aluminum exerts its toxic effects is not understood, so there’s really no one in a position to say whether or not this is a problem.

                      Dr Offit continues: “For determining the quantity of aluminum below which safety is likely, data were generated in mice that were inoculated orally with various quantities of aluminum lactate.42 No adverse reactions were observed when mice were fed quantities of aluminum as high as 62 mg/kg/day. By applying uncertainty factors of 3 (for extrapolation to humans) and 10 (for human variability), the ATSDR concluded that the minimum risk level for exposure to aluminum was 2 mg/kg/day.43”

                      Ah, orally administered aluminum in mice X 3 X 10. Where did 3 and 10 come? Ah, who cares. Sounds robust . . . So all of the safety studies have been done on animals, which is widely recognised to not be an adequate proxy for humans. Chris, tell me about this Belmont report again. Could we do a study where we randomised infants to get injected placebo or the amount of aluminum normally injected into them when they go for a round of vaccines and see what happens? I mean, you can’t use my infant, or even you guys could volunteer for such a study, as confident as you are in the established safety of toxin for which it’s toxic and adjuvant mechanisms are poorly understood and no long term safety studies have been done? Sound like a plan?

                    • 

                      Have not read this last reply, but noticed this: “Chris, tell me about this Belmont report again.”

                      Obviously you are having trouble with the “search thingy”: The Belmont Report.

                      “But while we’re on the subject, can you explain to me the relevance of the Belmont report for using unvaccinated controls in observational studies, which these all are? I’m failing to see the connection.”

                      If you are not going to insist that the controls be randomly blinded, then that is a straight epidemiological study like many listed in Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence. But if you want what is commonly called out for by the anti-vax groups for a randomly controlled blinded study, then you have a problem:
                      The “One Study,” or why the anti-vaccine movement doesn’t really understand science.

                      And there are more reviews:

                      Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies

                      Safety of Vaccines Used for Routine Immunization of US Children: A Systematic Review

                      If you are still unsatisfied with any of the studies linked to above, then do it yourself. Design a study that would satisfy your obviously well thought out criteria, make sure it conforms to the human safety requirements of the Belmont Report, get it approved by an IRB (Independent Review Board), then write a grant for funding. You can then submit that grant to SafeMinds or Autism Speaks (which are both funding studies), and even to your own NHS. Then go do it.

                    • 

                      “Completely making things up is not an effective strategy for arguing that vaccines have been adequately safety tested.”

                      I have not done that. You complained that the matched case control study on vaccine exposure for the first two years did not compare vaccinated to unvaccinated children (the case control study that says: “256 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 752 control children matched on birth year, sex, and MCO”). It shows you did not understand it, and are really insisting on a study that violates the human study ethics outlined in the Belmont Report. I can’t help it if you do not understand ethics, case controls, and statistics in medical studies.

                    • 

                      “But the child received chelation following lab results that showed he had elevated levels of toxic metals in his system, including mercury. This is not a normal finding.”

                      The outrage came from lots of people, which you would have known if you clicked on the link I provided. Unfortunately lots of webpages have disappeared in the last ten years, but one upshot was that Kerry was directed to chelate the child by Dr. Anju Usman (who is also named in the lawsuit linked to by Colin). She would use the Doctor’s Data lab, which has a dubious reputation, especially since it uses provoked urine tests. I did find this summary:

                      http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2010/01/12/board-ordered-suspension-probation-for-dr-roy-kerry/

                      There were many stories by the chelation apologists that appeared after the execution. One of them was that it was the wrong chelator (legal records show it was the only one Kerry used), and that the child had tested positive for lead poisoning, not just “aluminum” (which is not a heavy metal).

                      But the question I asked several times years ago has never been answered: if the child, a UK citizen, actually had lead poisoning, why wasn’t he treated for that very real condition by the NHS in the UK? Why did his mother drag him across the Atlantic to be treated by an ear/nose/throat doctor with chelation?

                      More here:

                      http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2007/07/10/dan-doctor-roy-kerry-chelation-charges/

                      and here:

                      http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/charges-dropped-in-chelation-autism-death/

                      Oh, and I have another question: How can folks claim that any ingredient in a vaccine causes neurological damage or autism when there is no real data that shows a correlation? Why blame aluminum or whatever in a vaccine, when there is really no good evidence the vaccine causes the harm claimed?

                      And here is another study, it does compare vaxed with unvaxed kids: Vaccination Status and Health in Children and Adolescents. The only difference between the two sets of children is those who are not vaccinated are more likely to get vaccine preventable diseases.

                    • 

                      Colin – The schedule at the time of the Smith study was – 2 hep B, 3 dtp, 3 Hibs, and 2 polio. The current schedule adds to this 3 Rvs, 3 PCVs, 2 IPVs and flu from 6 months. A study looking at the safety of the 1993-1997 vaccine schedule, while not irrelevant, simply does not adequately assess the safety of the current vaccine schedule, which is much larger. I think it is a serious problem if this study is the one that comes closest to actually examining the safety of the current vaccine schedule.

                      Yes, the schedule changes from time to time. It’s not feasible, even if it were ethical, to randomly deny some children access to those vaccines to rerun a study on the entire schedule every time. Thus, researchers look for any evidence of harm that suggests the studies that can be done are inadequate, and for other ways (such as epidemiological studies) to analyze the safety of the schedule. There is no good evidence that the schedule is harmful beyond the known and acknowledged adverse events, nor has the alt-med community been able to gin any up. Nevertheless, you will keep demanding that impossible studies be done rather than coming to terms with the evidence that vaccines are safe and effective. As a rhetorical tactic it insulates you from inconvenient evidence, but it also keeps you from arriving at what is the overwhelmingly likely correct conclusion about vaccine safety.

                      Indeed, I actually wasn’t aware that there was any question about the plausibility of vaccines playing a significant role in immune dysfunction and chronic inflammation (a biological mechanism that underlies nearly all chronic illness).

                      Aren’t you assuming that autism is caused by “immune dysfunction and chronic inflammation”, that vaccines cause those things beyond the recognized adverse events, and that they cause those things in autistic kids? I ask because you seem to be waving your hands so quickly I’m concerned you might reach escape velocity. Citing evidence that vaccines cause an “inflammatory response” is an enormous distance away from proposing a plausible mechanism as to how they cause autism. No one seems to be able to do that, going (at least) as far back as Wakefield.

                      When I say “plausibility,” I mean whether there is actually a biologically plausible mechanism by which vaccines could cause the various ills ascribed to them by the alt-med community, like autism and SIDS. Of course, like you I’m neither a doctor nor particularly well trained in biochemistry. I can’t really judge biological plausibility for myself. If you have an actual theory to advance, I’d appreciate a reference to someone qualified to assess it as well.

                      I don’t need a biologically plausible mechanism by which vaccines could cause autism to support research into the safety of vaccines. Fortunately that research has been done, and found no causal connection or significant correlation between vaccines and autism. Nevertheless, you’re “just asking questions” as if those answers didn’t exist.

                      I’m also happy to have more research done on the safety of vaccines–and once again, it’s being done. Not by accupuncturists “just asking questions,” of course, but by real doctors and PhDs who are asking questions in order to learn more about the problem, rather than as a rhetorical tactic. (I think it’s beyond dispute by now that your questions are rhetorical; you began this conversation, after all, by relying on shady anti-vax research that you later admitted you hadn’t even read. If you’re just asking questions in order to find out answers, you’re doing a very bad job of it.)

                      Obviously I haven’t read each of these studies, and no one should take my word on the state of the evidence. I’m persuaded that the evidence favors the safety of vaccines–by an overwhelming margin–party because I have yet to see complaints by anti-vaxers that stand up to scrutiny, and partly because the experts who are qualified to assess the evidence virtually uniformly conclude that vaccines are safe and effective. In other words, the community of epidemiologists reviews the status of the research and generates careful, balanced reports concluding there is no particular cause to be concerned about the safety of vaccines and that the evidence favors rejecting the vaccine-autism hypothesis. The alt-med community gets on blogs and screams about how vaccines are poison, while chelation is a safe and effective antidote. One of these positions is much more likely to understand the complex empirical evidence than the other.

                      Your argument that this review should somehow not be used as a reference in a blog post to support the argument that the statement “there’s no evidence for the effectiveness of chelation” is incorrect seems to be based on irrational emotion and nothing logical at all.

                      You are taking refuge in an absurdly hyperliteral reading of “there’s no evidence for the effectiveness of chelation.” As I said earlier, I doubt you’d bat an eye if someone said there was no evidence for Bigfoot–even though a veterinarian claims to have sequenced its genome. You apply different criteria in order to justify your red-eyed claim that Dr. Raff was lying.

                      Minority positions generate their own evidence. If a community believes something, particularly when their belief runs counter to the mainstream position, it will create its own evidentiary support–papers, theses, blogs, whatever it takes to persuade people on the margins. When somone says “there’s no evidence for X,” they virtually never mean, “no one has ever even claimed that X is true.” And that’s what they’d have to mean, for the statement to be literally true, since just the fact that someone says that X is true is technically evidence for X. The rest of us have no trouble understanding the statement–and I suspect you wouldn’t either, except that you were hot to call Dr. Raff a liar.

                      No, I’m not qualified to conclude ab initio that chelation is ineffective and unsafe as a treatment for autism. I rely on the experts to conclude that–which they have. Just look at the evidence you had to dredge up to defend it: a doctor marketing chelation therapy who is operating so far on the fringes that he allegedly diagnoses children over the phone and uses chelating agents prior to a urine test to create the appearance of heavy metals in the urine.

                      Now you want to defend the paper. Earlier you were claiming you hadn’t bothered to think critically about it. I think the fact that you relied on it, in particular to support your frothing, bilious screed against Dr. Raff’s accurate assessment of the state of the evidence. I think the fact that you posted it without bothering to think about it says quite a lot about your methodology: attack first, think later. Never admit error.

                      Your current defense of chelation is highly misleading. You say the paper has been cited 108 times, but for what? It’s a paper assessing many different “treatments” for autism–chelation, the thing you relied on it to support, is just one. You’re using all the citations to the overall paper to defend the reasonableness of chelation as an autism treatment, but I suspect only a tiny portion of those citations dealt with chelation.

                      And of course, even a scientist who is making money directly off of chelation couldn’t find good support for it. That paper grades autism “treatments” based on the supporting evidence, and it gives chelation a “C” – in other words, all they could find to support it is at least one “level 2b or 3b study, or two level 4 studies.” (Level 2b studies are “individual cohort (prospective, nonrandomized)” studies; level 3b are “individual case-control (retrospective) studies”. Level 4 studies are “case series or reports.”)) The author relies on uncontrolled unrandomized studies of self-reported results.

                      In other words, the evidence for the safety and efficacy of chelation is vastly worse than the evidence for the safety and efficacy of vaccines. But you’re “just asking questions” about vaccines, and angrily defending chelation. Is that because chelation treatment lives in the same alt-med community you do?

                      I haven’t found any criticism of the review on the web, try as I may, so I’m not sure what you’re on about.

                      I don’t think you looked very carefully. I suspect you were disincintivized to do so, or perhaps are not as well-trained a researcher as you’ve suggested. (Your admitted unfamiliarity with the standards for controlled human studies makes me suspect both are true.)

                      First, it’s a review article. If you want to know whether it’s high-quality, look at what it’s reviewing. In this case, the author approvingly cites, inter alia, several studies by Mark and David Geier. That would be Mark Geier, whose “medical license has been suspended or revoked in every state in which he was licensed,” and his son David, who was found guilty of practicing medicine without a license. There is plenty of criticism of their research out there… but not in Rossignol’s review, or your approving citation thereof.

                      As I said, the minority in a scientific dispute will generate evidence to support its position over time. Sometimes the minority is right, in which case that evidence will be persuasive and meaningful. Sometimes the minority is wrong, in which case the evidence will be self-serving and hollow. Which better describes the work of the Geiers, a review article that lavishes attention on it, and your blithely uncritical reliance on that review?

                      You’ve also been sold this idea that conventional medicine, while admittedly very dangerous, is the “good guy” because, though it has a very high rate of harm, it has good intentions and that “snake oil salesmen” are out to prey on the weak and take people’s money.

                      Not at all. I think that scientific medicine is “the good guy” because it tests its interventions, rigorously, and attempts only to do what helps while going to sometimes absurd lengths to avoid doing harm. It can’t completely avoid that harm, but it works to minimize it. I don’t see the same efforts on the part of acupuncturists and homeopaths and reiki masters. For the most part I don’t think those people are trying to harm their patients–I think they genuinely want to help their customers. But scientific rigor is hard, and expensive. I think that in lieu of that, alt-med practitioners convince themselves that they’re helping through a convenient mix of confirmation bias, ignoring the regression to the mean, and other forms of irrationality. And since they’re selling placebos, they typically do fairly little harm if also doing fairly little good.

                      The real horror stories are when someone is persuaded to avoide legitimate, science-based medicine in favor of woo, which appears to be the point of your scaremongering hit piece about how vaccines are dangerous.

                      And if these doctors are unethical “snake oil” salesmen, charging big bucks to torture kids, where are all the other angry parents? I mean, they’d have a very sympathetic ear with the media.

                      We–and I include you–can only speculate. Having spent the last two years studying irrationality, I suspect the answer lies largely with confirmation bias. Most parents’ kids aren’t hurt by woo, so they convince themselves it either helped or at least didn’t hurt. Believing otherwise would entail believing that they rejected their doctors’ advice and put their children in harm’s way, which would be a painful and difficult realization. So most such parents, being human beings, find a way to believe otherwise–that their magical cure worked. The fact that the empirical data don’t support that conclusion is not difficult for a motivated person to ignore, as you kindly demonstrate.

                      Overall, most alt-med treatments are placebos. Most placebos don’t hurt. As long as kids are also getting decent medical care, parents will have a hard time distinguishing between the results. They’ll see their kids getting better and thank the nutritional supplements instead of (or in addition to) the behavioral therapist. The harm that’s done, in terms of wasted time, money, and energy, is diffuse enough that most parents won’t get activated to fight back.

                      Why not jump in? All I’ve seen is parents publicly coming to the defence of these doctors, saying that they were the only ones who helped their kids.

                      Well that’s not true. You’ve seen the lawsuit we’ve been discussing, and if you searched you’d find others. Not as many as I’d like, I think due to the difficulty of proving even medical malpractice cases where there are clear standards of care that don’t exist in the alt-med world. There is little incentive to attack an alt-med provider, though; as I said, it would be psychologically difficult, expensive, and unlikely to succeed in the long run. Not to mention bloggers like yourself jump to attack such people. Your reaction to the lawsuit in question was to sneeringly insinuate that it was just a divorce tactic. Stay classy, Mel.

                      If the child had received chelation based on a diagnosis of autism, I would agree with you that this practice would be unethical. But the child received chelation following lab results that showed he had elevated levels of toxic metals in his system, including mercury. This is not a normal finding.

                      Read the article again; you will notice that the allegation is that the child was given chelating agents first, after which–unsurprisingly–heavy metals showed up in his urine. I’ve read that allegation elsewhere, as well. I think it’s probably a pretty common tactic for doctors selling chelation who need to persuade potential customers that they have heavy-metal poisoning. It’s like a chimneysweep dumping a bag of coal dust down the mark’s chimney before knocking on their door, suggesting an expensive cleaning.

                      I’d also like to point out that the most vocal person against the use of chelation, Dr Stephen Barrett, is himself the subject of a lawsuit. So by your illogical rationale, we really shouldn’t be listening to anything he says either.

                      You have not understood my rationale. I’m a trained litigator; I have no problem with someone who is “the subject of a lawsuit,” many of whom have been or will eventually be my clients and friends. You’ve got to dig deeper than that.

                      [Mercury is] probably a factor in some cases and not in others.

                      “Probably”! How probably? 50% likely? 60%? 99%? Space aliens are probably responsible for most missing persons cases. Meteor strikes are probably responsible for most unexplained fires. Cosmic rays are probably responsible for most of my supposed typos. The lovely thing about make-believe medicine is that you don’t need data to support hand-waving like that. You can just throw it out there and complain about the evil pharma companies if (and when) you have trouble finding empirical data to support your just-so stories.

                      An interesting point about chelation–even if mercury caused autism (a conclusion that virtually no reputable specialists share, and which the medical community overall has found to be contrary to the evidence) chelation wouldn’t fix it. Use your “search thingy” to look up the results of studies on chelation for children suffering from legitimate heavy metal toxicity. Removing the metals didn’t repair their neurological injuries. They didn’t show significant improvements.

                      First, what’s the relevance of the comparison to natural breast milk?

                      I don’t know, I didn’t write it. Probably because that’s what the literature was testing. I suspect the rhetorical point is that there’s not much point in fretting over the aluminum in vaccines when even the crunchiest of parents feed their kids relatively large amounts of aluminum regularly. This illustrates how little empirical foundation there is for aluminum fears. It also points out something that many anti-vaxers don’t understand, which is that “toxic” substances exist all around us and inside us. The dose determines the poison; drinking formaldehyde is rather unhealthy, but apples are good for you. That sort of thing. It’s a rather loose rhetorical point.

                      I think the better argument is simply to point out that there doesn’t seem to be any good evidence that aluminum causes autism or that autistic kids (or a discrete subset thereof) have unsafe levels of aluminum. It’s just more hand waving, supported by yet more terrible research (such as the Tomljenovic paper “plotting ASD incidence in each year (1991-2008) against total aluminium content for the pediatric schedule in that year“).

                      The one study he references that looks at aluminum levels in vaccines for infants, “Aluminum toxicokinetics regarding infant diet and vaccinations”, clearly states that “the body burden of aluminum from vaccination exceeds that from dietary sources” (so Dr Offit surely was aware that his comparison 116,600 ug of aluminum in soy formula was total BS). This study, which somehow manages to come down on the side of the aluminum content in vaccines being sufficiently low, finds that aluminum levels actually rise above the safe level following vaccination, just not a lot and not for very long.

                      Thanks for citing this. I was under the impression that there were no findings of elevated aluminum levels post-vaccination, so I appreciate the information. I find it interesting that even this paper concludes that aluminum levels of the first year of a child’s life, assuming they get all the recommended vaccines, remains below the minimal risk level.

                      Chris, tell me about this Belmont report again. Could we do a study where we randomised infants to get injected placebo or the amount of aluminum normally injected into them when they go for a round of vaccines and see what happens? I mean, you can’t use my infant, or even you guys could volunteer for such a study, as confident as you are in the established safety of toxin for which it’s toxic and adjuvant mechanisms are poorly understood and no long term safety studies have been done? Sound like a plan?

                      I’m not Chris, but it sounds like you’re asking parents to have their kids injected with “the amount of aluminum normally injected into them when they go for a round of vaccines.” Mel, I think you’re going to feel silly when I point this out, but they do that. It’s called “going for a round of vaccines.” Do you understand? When parents get their kids vaccinated, as over 90% do, their kids get “the amount of aluminum normally injected into them when they go for a round of vaccines” as part of those shots. And guess what? The results have been studied. Vaccines don’t cause autism, even with the aluminum.

                    • 

                      Okay, I am biased in really focusing on the bits of the long tracks that are addressed to me, but I am amused to see that she applies lots of vitriol and insults to my comments even after you say:
                      “I’m also happy to have more research done on the safety of vaccines–and once again, it’s being done. Not by accupuncturists “just asking questions,” of course, but by real doctors and PhDs who are asking questions in order to learn more about the problem, rather than as a rhetorical tactic.”

                      Awesome.

                      “I think the fact that you posted it without bothering to think about it says quite a lot about your methodology: attack first, think later. Never admit error.”

                      Again, awesome. She has blamed me for committing many errors, but has not explained what they are.

                      “Not by accupuncturists “just asking questions,” of course, but by real doctors and PhDs who are asking questions in order to learn more about the problem, rather than as a rhetorical tactic”

                      Hey! I want her to go through the procedure. She is not satisfied by the several epidemiological and matched case studies, so she need to design her own study that does not violate the Belmont Report. Or at least explain clearly why the ones done on several continents that included the medical records of millions of children are not sufficient. Complaining that a study of antigen load over two the first two year vaccine schedule that “only” compared ASD kids matched with non-ASD kids was not adequate because it was not a vax vs. unvax study is a lame and quite inadequate criticism.

                      “Use your “search thingy” to look up the results of studies on chelation for children suffering from legitimate heavy metal toxicity. Removing the metals didn’t repair their neurological injuries. They didn’t show significant improvements.”

                      Ah, very true. I used those studies trying to tell the “Mercury Militia” moms advocating chelation that it was a bad idea. One reason I dropped from that email listserv was that one of those was an employee of a doctor who was providing those services trying to drum up business, a doctor that one of the Special Masters of the Omnibus Autism Vaccine cases severely criticized, see http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/vaccine_files/Vowell.Snyder.pdf:

                      <

                      blockquote>To conclude that Colten’s condition was the result of his MMR vaccine, an objective observer would have to emulate Lewis Carroll’s White Queen and be able to believe six impossible (or, at least, highly improbable) things before breakfast. The families of children with ASD and the court have waited in vain for adequate evidence to support the autism-MMR hypothesis. Although I have the deepest sympathy for families like Colten’s, struggling emotionally and financially to find answers about ASD’s causes, and reliable therapies to treat ASD’s symptoms, I must decide Colten’s case based on the evidence before me

                      “The results have been studied. Vaccines don’t cause autism, even with the aluminum.”

                      Um, yeah. You can’t really pinpoint that a particular ingredient causes harm, when the actual end product really does not show harm, especially when compared to the disease it is supposed to prevent!

                      “We–and I include you–can only speculate. Having spent the last two years studying irrationality.”

                      I have spent more than twenty years dealing with irrationality. From explaining that the kid’s seizures just happened, that his lack of speech was not from the lack of me speaking to him (in two languages!), or that just because he communicated in sign language does not mean he is deaf or stupid. Le sigh. And his last seizures were from an actual disease, so it was not a vaccine!

                      Thank you, Colin, for joining the endeavor for healthy rationality.

              • 

                Chris and Colin, I wonder if you will ever understand that you will never convert the anti-vax crowd to your viewpoint for the simple reason that they do not respect your sources – about the history and science of vaccine safety, effectiveness, licensing, monitoring, etc.

                To many who have witnessed breaches of trust by institutions involved with public health initiatives and the development, licensing, and monitoring of vaccines, your faith seems like the first and most compelling evidence of insanity or complicity. For those aware of scandals in the pharmaceutical industry, or who have witnessed injury or mortality as a result of treatments and/or drugs employed by Western medicine, it is a case of, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” For such persons, the tone of your responses comes across as arrogant and blind to the imperfections and corruption that exist in your preferred paradigm.

                For a fact, I don’t see either of you acknowledging reasons for caution when asserting that everyone should trust the dominant medical establishment as much as you do, and it is precisely when you pretend – with arrogance dripping from every word – that there are no chinks in the rationale for your position (while simultaneously disregarding any possibility of effective treatments that might from alternative medicine) that you lose all hope of being respected by those in the opposite camp. And by the way, the ad hominem attacks earn negative points every time.

                Just thought you might like to know what is really at the heart of the disconnect.

                • 
                  drscottnelson2014 September 22, 2014 at 12:10 pm

                  We have a term for alternative medicine that works. Its called medicine.

                • 

                  We do it with actual science and reason for those who are on the fence, and have open minds.

                  “For those aware of scandals in the pharmaceutical industry, or who have witnessed injury or mortality as a result of treatments and/or drugs employed by Western medicine,…”

                  For real scandals, and if you actually have an open mind, read:
                  Protecting America’s Health: The FDA, Business, and One Hundred Years of Regulation
                  by Philip J. Hilts.

                  Also “Western medicine”, at what longitude line on this globe does medicine go from “Western” to “Eastern”? If it goes down the center of the Pacific Ocean, then you should have no problem with the varicella vaccine nor with statins because they were both developed in Japan.

                  “For a fact, I don’t see either of you acknowledging reasons for caution when asserting that everyone should trust the dominant medical establishment as much as you do, …”

                  Another book suggestion, that you should try with an open mind:
                  Lies, Damned Lies, and Science: How to Sort Through the Noise Around Global Warming, the Latest Health Claims, and Other Scientific Controversies
                  by Sherry Seethaler

                • 

                  I think that your logic doesn’t make much sense. It is like saying that baseball is forever corrupt because the 1919 world series was rigged. There are bad apples and evil doers in every industry, including and likely even more so in alternative medicine since there is much less rigor involved in understanding what is going on. The main point is if you can understand the science, read it and make an informed decision. If you don’t understand it, you should rely on people that do vs believing the massive amount of debunked misinformation.

                • 

                  I don’t believe that you have accurately identified “what is really at the heart of the disconnect.” No one pretends that the pharmaceutical industry is blameless in all things, or has never done wrong or harmed a patient. This is an example of a strawman argument: a false position ascribed to the other side of a debate in order to justify disregarding their actual position.

                  The actual heart of the disconnect is, in my opinion, the irrational conclusion of anti-vaxers that vaccines are more harmful than the evidence suggests. In lieu of actual evidence to support this position, the anti-vax movement has relied on scare stories and conspiracy theories to support their preconceptions.

                  For example, you say that you have “witnessed breaches of trust by institutions involved with public health initiatives.” To be blunt, so what? Human institutions are imperfect. The question is whether there is evidence that the accusations made by Wakefield et al are actually true; there is not. Pointing to other failures of related actors is not evidence of the alleged harm in this case. It may feel like evidence, though, which is enough for someone merely looking to justify a preconception.

                  • 

                    “For example, you say that you have “witnessed breaches of trust by institutions involved with public health initiatives.” To be blunt, so what? Human institutions are imperfect”

                    Hence my suggestion to read a history of the FDA. It is made up of human beings, and has had its ups and downs. Though one of the most blatant breaches by an pharmaceutical company was one that tried to convince Dr. Kelsey’s supervisors to ignore her requests for more data on the effect of thalidomide on fetal development (prior to working at the FDA she had studied birth defects in rabbits due to certain drug inputs).

                • 

                  Oh, I just read your linked blog piece about a “middle way.” The one in which you claim a “professor and researcher in the fields of vaccine and therapeutic pharmaceutical development” told you there were no adjuvants in Canadian vaccines, cite Age of Autism for interpretation of scientific studies, and suggest that the “elephant in the room” is that vaccines are unnecessary because we have clean water and nutritious food now.

                  Looking to you for guidance on a “middle way” for public health seems rather like asking the man reeking of kerosene, with matches clenched in his teeth, whether we should turn up the thermostat or light a fire. You’ll have fun, but the rest of us get burned.

                • 

                  Don’t forget that the oral polio vaccine was responsible for the HIV epidemic in the same blog piece. The issue is not that those of us who support vaccination don’t understand the disconnect, we do. We just believe in our hearts that the science that is so convincing to almost everyone will also convince you. It is clear that it is a bridge that is often impossible to cross for anti-vaxxers. Most rational people will look at all of the data in the literature over the course of decades and reason that the overwhelming conclusion to be drawn is that vaccines are almost completely safe and provide one of the greatest risk benefit ratios known to humans throughout the history of medicine. Only antibiotics might rival this. What we also have a hard time wrapping our heads around is that anti-vaxxers fundamentally don’t believe in the hard science that supports vaccination For those of us who are actually scientists, this disconnect is especially difficult to understand. It makes us feel that we have somehow failed in science education somewhere along the way. If you can’t believe that the science isn’t real then there really is no hope. I think mostly that what Chris and Colin are doing is catching those folks who might be on the fence and not the true anti-believers like magellan35.

                  It is also clear from your fundamental misunderstanding of the immunology not only of vaccines, but of infectious disease as a whole, that you are operating from a pretty dishonest place to start. I’d maybe recommend an immunology class at your local community college. Although I’ll warn you, most of what you will learn there was published in the same peer reviewed journals that you purport not to believe so who knows what you will get out of it.

          • 

            Coin, great answer. I’m interested in your research. Can you recommend any good reading on combatting the conspiracy theorist (CT) mentality? I think I am science-literate, and I enjoy discussing/debating the same. But I get so thrown by the CTs, I think b/c we have no shared language (truths, acceptance of basics, etc.), and so I can’t communicate with them. While I can recognize they’re wrong or at least base-less, I have never found the language to discuss this with them. Part of me doesn’t care, but part of me is curious to find a way, if possible, to make the CT understand. (I know many CT’s are pretty average thinkers, but I know some who are intelligent and even reasonably logical–my inability to exchange ideas [and facts] with the smart ones baffles me.)

            • 

              Thanks. Here’s something relatively new I’ve been studying: http://www.culturalcognition.net/

              They work heavily with empirical validation, and have some very interesting ideas on how to persuade irrational people. Perhaps more importantly, they have some useful thoughts on how not to try to persuade them.

      • 

        This above article is the most misinformation filled false vaccine propaganda piece, I have ever read.

        Vaccination Myth 1: Vaccinations Are Safe

        This video is the first in a series exploring myths about vaccination. After an introduction and quick history of vaccinations, the concept of vaccinations being safe is explored. By the dentist, naturopath and author, Dr Alison Adams. For more information about recovering from chronic, serious and degenerative illness go to http://www.thenaturalrecoveryplan.com.

        Vaccination Myth 2: Vaccinations Are Very Effective

        Vaccination Myths Part 3: Vaccination Controlled Polio

        Vaccination Myth 4: Vaccines Have Eliminated the Threat From Most Infectious Diseases

        US Health Officials Back Study Idea on Vaccinated vs. Unvaccinated Children – Will Media Take Note?
        Posted: 04/02/2009 Updated: 11/17/2011 (Obviously ..not; and to date no such large scale study has been conducted, nor even as much as started. Of course not. The CDC knows all to well that the results of that stujdy would destroy them and the enire vaccine program)

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/us-health-officials-back_b_170794.html

        CDC Whistleblower Revealed

        Breaking—CDC whistleblower: “I’ve stopped lying.”
        by Jon Rappoport

        http://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/category/vaccinegate/

        Whistleblower Thompson’s Call to Congress

        Dr. William Thompson, CDC insider and whistleblower on 13 years of vaccine-autism fraud, appeals to US Congress to take action. YOU SHOULD TOO! Get this link to YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE NOW.

        http://vimeo.com/user5503203/review/106398908/44f9634e1b

        To find out how go to, autismactionnetwork.org

        CDC Responds: Admits Omitting Vaccine Data

        The Current Failure of Pertussis and Measles Vaccine

        http://www.vacfacts.info/the-current-failure-of-pertussis-and-measles-vaccine.html

        Dr Andrew Wakefield – MMR Vaccine – Truth and Reality

        http://www.vacfacts.info/dr-andrew-wakefield—mmr-vaccine—truth-and-reality.html

        This current and historical vaccine ineffectiveness, and vaccine injury truth picture is so much bigger than that and just the MMR vaccine. They KNOW that if the vaccine truth picture is EVER known and CDC forced to be admitted to across the board, that they are finished, and as a fact. That is as well why you know have all the paid off vaccine shills going after it, denying it all, and doing what you can clearly see that they do.

        Neurosurgeon Exposes Vaccines, CDC, FDA and Science Fraud in Medicine

        Vaccines: A Complete FRAUD, Marcella Piper-Terry, and also vaccine truth crusader, Shawn Siegel

        Dr. Paul Offit: Pope Of The Church Of The Immaculate Vaccination

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kim-stagliano/dr-paul-offit-pope-of-the_b_329919.html

        The Attempted Suppression of and the Silencing of the Vaccine Truth

        http://www.vacfacts.info/the-suppression-and-silencing-of-the-vaccine-truth-and-reality.html

        Dr. Paul Offit Misinforms and Fabricates the Truth on the Dangers of the Anti-Vaccine [Vaccine Pro Truth] Movement

        http://www.vacfacts.info/dr-paul-offit-misinforms-and-fabricates-the-truth-on-the-dangers-of-the-anti-vaccine-vaccine-truth-movement.html

        Paul Offit – Falsely Defends Thimerosal

        http://www.vacfacts.info/paul-offit—falsely-defends-thimerosal.html

        • 

          I may save this comment to show to people who are on the fence about vaccination. It expresses the core of the anti-vax movement with blunt efficiency: conspiracy theories with a tenuous, adversarial relationship to reality.

        • 

          RE your second to last link, in which is written “Ms. Wallace writes about Dr. Offit, “… he boldly states – that vaccines do not cause autism or autoimmune disease or any of the other chronic conditions that have been blamed on them.” ”

          Offit is a liar. I don’t say this to be insulting, but anyone who would make the claim that vaccines don’t cause autoimmune disease is being dishonest at best. Nearly every vaccine insert includes one or more autoimmune diseases as an adverse reaction. Including ITP, which is the one my son ended up in hospital with after getting the MMR shot. If ever there was a time for someone’s pants to catch fire…

          • 

            “the claim that vaccines don’t cause autoimmune disease is being dishonest at best. Nearly every vaccine insert includes one or more autoimmune diseases as an adverse reaction”

            The diseases also cause autoimmune diseases. Influenza causes GBS. Measles can also cause ITP.:

            The risk of ITP developing as a result of the MMR vaccination is now estimated at 1 in 22,300 doses, but this is considerably less than the risk of ITP developing following the illnesses themselves. Measles induced ITP is common, rubella is estimated at 1 in 3000 cases, and even mumps is occasionally associated with ITP. Of course, there are many more serious complications of these diseases than ITP.

            Please post the PubMed indexed study by qualified reputable researchers that any vaccine on the American pediatric schedule causes more autoimmune diseases than the actual diseases. Do not mention VAERS nor vaccine package inserts.

          • 

            I don’t see a statement from Offit–I see a third-hand casual statement from a blog piece citing a magazine piece. Perhaps you could identify some actual, specific statements Dr. Offit has made claiming that vaccines never cause autoimmune disease, as you seem to be interpreting that third-hand statement?

          • 

            Concerned Mom,
            If something winds up on the list of reported adverse effects, does that convince you that the drug or vaccine has been demonstrated to cause that effect?

        • 

          Thank you for posting this! Some people, and it usually does come from a political point of view, want to spread false information all day so they can attempt to drown out the beautiful sound of truth.

      • 

        I have no problems with the points you make. Actually, I’m for them. But it shows quite the amount of ignorance to think that an scupuncturist isn’t a capable medical practitioner or is not highly learned in medicine. If anything they are more informed and have a better understanding of the body in many ways to modern “traditional” doctors in the sense that as part of their schooling they learn but occidental and oriental medical theory and treatment practices, which includes considering the various systems of the body as a coherent, dependent whole. Not the ridiculous western notion that the various systems are independent of one another and can be treated as such like some machine you can just remove, alter, and replace parts in without affecting the entire summation of the organism in some way (including the mind). On top of that, if you don’t think that sticking needles in the body works why don’t you go test it out for yourself? It’s not expensive. And I’m sure you’ll find relief for things OVC and other non alternative care just can’t help you with.

      • 
        cleverinternetname October 5, 2014 at 11:57 pm

        “My name is William Thompson. I am a Senior Scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where I have worked since 1998.

        I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.”

        (press release dated 8.27.14)

    • 

      All a lot of buts’s and because’s

      • 

        One should never get vaccine information from a chiropractor, especially one who does not know the difference between “morbidity” and “mortality.”

        • 

          Such a chiropractor will eventually know the definition of mortality, but he won’t be blogging his new information at that point.

  1. 

    what a bunch of lies and disinformation. My child almost died after getting shot up and spent the following first year of her life scratching the skin off her flesh. People like the author of this text have no consciousness and likely work for the Pharma-cartell making billions of the shots and even more precious billions for the chronic diseases that need lifelong treatment. Only a sick person is good business, this insane system doesnt profit from health so keeping everyone sick is best suited for the Anglo-American dream of swimming in beautiful green precious paper. If that means injecting kids with a cocktail of formaldehyde,aluminum and formaldehyde(...) that in some cases kills them, then so be it, no problem either legally or morally. Its not like anyone is going to be prosecuted either, once a corporation reaches the billion profit mark it is excused from the law and can poison us or earth as they please. What are the victims going to do? Go to court and face a team of lawyers for the next 20years or until they bankrupt.
    To difference right from wrong seems to be a major issue in modern civilization. Low-lives like the author of the above who
    s name is very likely not Jenifer and maybe not even a female deliberately spread these reports. Sounds like the lies of a sad, barely human creature sitting in an office located in a Big Pharma-Building has put this rubbish to paper, making sure revenue won`t drop and surely to give his masters ass a good licking, the proper way to get to the top and sack the most precious paper.
    You are scum and I hope you get what you deserve. I hope the dead babies you killed eat your flesh in hell for all eternity.

    • 

      Odee–

      I am sorry that your child was sick, and I hope that she is feeling better now. I understand that I won’t be able to change your mind on this issue, or convince you that I genuinely care about alleviating suffering in children.

      The reason that I insist on a scientific, not anecdotal, approach to the question of whether or not vaccines are safe and effective at preventing diseases, is that it’s very easy to see a relationship between two events (a child got a shot, a child got sick) even if something else may be the cause. Did the child get exposed to another illness at the same time as the shot? Did the child have a genetic condition that predisposed him or her to the condition? We humans are very good at seeing patterns, but sometimes that ability fools us. You can’t tell whether something caused something else from just one incident. It’s only when we look at thousands and thousands of cases that we’re able to eliminate different variables that might be complicating the story, and effectively figure out an answer to these questions. But because we’re talking about children, it’s a very emotionally fraught situation, and it’s quite natural to fixate on one thing as the cause–even if that thing is not actually the cause at all. Being upset is very understandable, but the problem is that we can’t move forward very effectively on finding the true cause of certain issues (I’m thinking specifically of autism here) when we have to keep revisiting factors that have already been shown (through research on millions of cases at this point) to not be the cause.

      I don’t know the specifics of your child’s illness, but I hope that you were able to find a good physician to discuss your concerns and to get treatment for her.

      You are free to call me names and wish me to suffer as much as you want. I hope that it makes you feel better, because it sounds like you and your family have gone through a lot of stress. I am sorry for all that you’ve had to experience. But you should know that you’re wrong about your assumptions of me. I really am a female, and my name really is Jennifer. I’ve posted my CV on this site so you can see for yourself what my background is, and who I work for. I don’t work for a pharmaceutical company. And I probably make less money than you do.

      I understand that you’re angry with me, but I’m not some cartoon villain in cahoots with evil companies to kill babies for profit. If you knew me as a person, not just a blog post, you might better understand my good intentions.

    • 

      Wow. I think you need to really calm down and take a less aggressive approach vs the troll approach. I doubt you have any scientific backing, evidence or proof for any of your rant so no one will take it seriously. You make it easy to be pro-vaccination.

      You also might want to work on your grammar and sentence structure to articulate your points and keep personal insults out of this.

    • 

      “What are the victims going to do? Go to court and face a team of lawyers for the next 20years or until they bankrupt.”

      The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program pays for the claimants’ lawyers, and often the expert witnesses. The information on NVICP is included on the vaccine information sheets that federal law requires be provided each time one is administered:

      http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/index.html

      Unfortunately there is no such program for those of us whose children have been harmed by an actual disease before its vaccine was available. Our oldest child had seizures from a now vaccine preventable disease, plus he has a severe genetic heart condition. We know all about ambulances, hospitals, years of speech/language therapy (most not covered by insurance) and special ed. systems. This is why I prefer information comparing the relative risks between vaccines and the diseases, because the diseases are not always “mild.”

    • 

      I am so sorry to read this I do hope however you read the replies to the article as they show the legal system has taken steps to support your terrible position. Per Colin: 1 in 1.5 million case and taken the proper legal steps I am sure you would have been more than accepting of a share in a 2.5 billion dollar pie for those rare cases, like yours, that are effected adversely by vaccinations. I personally was vaccinated, every child in my family was vaccinated and they are well. And while that may not console you, it should raise the question, “Was something different in my child than in their’s that made mine more susceptible?” It happens and it is terrible, but so do car accidents and so do fires and so do so many other terrible on in a millions that could not be predicted before they happened. Clearly when your child was being vaccinated you were comfortable with the overwhelming research and number of children who were safe after being vaccinated. If you truly wish to make a stand please do at least some research on both ends and learn that all this anti-“pharma-cartell” is in itself propoganda for someone else too. I am a full advocate of natural lifestyles, but I also recognize that the safety of my children and others cannot always be fixed by vegetables, breast milk and natural birth… some things are for the greater good and after reading the serious lack of evidence and logic behind anti-vax reports I feel entirely more comfortable with vaccinating and possibly saving the lives of my children and your children’s children.

  2. 

    I found this good resource to contextualize the debate an interactive global map of vaccine preventable outbreaks of measles, mumps, rubella, polio, and whooping cough from 2008-2014.

    http://www.cfr.org/interactives/GH_Vaccine_Map/#map

    btw, is it under-reporting that NSW, Australia would have the highest rate of whooping cough globally at 13,046? Shocking statistic.

  3. 

    Liest sich für mich, wie ein Text, der von der Impflobby geschrieben wurde. Viele Punkte sind oberflächlich & stellenweise falsch angegeben. Fazit nicht glaubwürdig!

    Beispiel MMR Impfstoff: dieser hat teilweise sehr massive Nebenwirkungen, u.a. kann er Epilepsie auslösen.

    6-fach Impfung: ich kenne ein Kind, dass nach der Impfung eine polioähnliche Erkrankung bekommen hat, inkl. einer massiven Entwicklungsverzögerung (Entwicklungsrückschritt). Der Impfschaden wurde abgeschmettert & geleugnet. Die Eltern stehen jetzt mit ihren kranken Kind alleine da & müssen sehen, wie sie klar kommen.

    Man kann einfach nicht so verallgemeinern. Die Krankheiten sind komplex & auch ihre Gefahren. Und genauso die Impfungen. Es gibt Krankheiten mit schlimmen Folgen & es gibt Impfungen mit schlimmen Folgen. Jede Krankheit & Impfung muß für sich, einzeln betrachtet werden, um zu einem objektiven Ergebnis kommen zu können.

    Ich könnte den Text mehr oder weniger komplett zerflücken & fachlich korrigieren. Aber das würde den Rahmen hier sprengen.

    Frau Raff schreibt für mich absolut unwissenschaftlich. Als Wissenschaftlerin, sollte sie eigentlich wissen, dass man die Dinge nicht einfach nur schwarz oder weiß sehen kann & das die gesamte Materie viel zu komplex ist. Unser Immunsystem ist tausende von Jahren ohne Impfung ausgekommen (nur mal als wissentschaftlicher Fakt & Ansatz) & hat auch tausende von Jahren gebraucht, um sich so wunderbar zu entwickeln.

    Was natürlich nicht bedeutet, dass alle Impfungen gleich schlecht sind aber wir sollten sie mit Vorsicht & Umsicht einsetzten. Was wissen wir schon? Was machen wir mit den Impfungen eventl. kaputt? Wir impfen seit ca. 100 Jahren & davor steht die Evolution mit tausenden von Jahren. Nur als Denkanregung.

    • 

      Using Google Translate:

      Reads to me as a text that was written by the Impflobby. Many points are given superficial and in places wrong. Conclusion not credible! Example MMR vaccine: this has some very serious side effects, including it can trigger epilepsy. 6-fold vaccination: I know a child that was named after the vaccination, a polio-like illness, including a massive developmental delay (development backspace). The vaccine damage was shot down and denied. The parents are now with her ​​sick child there alone & have to see how they cope. You simply can not generalize like that. The diseases are complex and their dangers. And just as the vaccinations. There are diseases with dire consequences and there are vaccinations with dire consequences. Any disease & vaccination must be considered individually on their own in order to come to an objective result. I could zerflücken the text more or less complete & correct technically. But that is beyond the scope here. Ms. Raff writes absolutely unscientific for me. As a scientist, she was supposed to know that the things you can not just black or white see & that is all the matter much too complex. Our immune system is thousands of years got along without vaccination (only sometimes as wissentschaftlicher Fact & approach) & also has thousands of years needed to develop so wonderful. This does not mean of course that all vaccines are equally bad but we should they used with caution & care. What do we know? What we do tolls with the vaccinations. broken? We vaccinate for about 100 years and preceded by the evolution of thousands of years. Just as a thought stimulation.

      “Example MMR vaccine: this has some very serious side effects, including it can trigger epilepsy. ”

      Citation needed. Show that the MMR is actually more dangerous than measles. The disease actually causes encephalitis in one out of a thousand cases, see The Clinical Significance of Measles: A Review.

      “Ms. Raff writes absolutely unscientific for me. ”

      Well, this is a blog post not a scientific paper. How about you show us some of the science. For example you next say: “Our immune system is thousands of years got along without vaccination..”, now follow up with a scientific study showing that child mortality was less a thousand years ago than it is today.

      Though here is one video on the joys of measles that you might understand:

    • 

      looooool, anekdotische Aussagen, null quellen. du kannst den text zerpflücken? du hast bisher nicht mal ein einziges argument von ihr zerpflückt.

      und dein letztes argument, oh wei. wir fliegen seit ca. 100 jahren. besser auch nicht machen, oder? wer weiß, vielleicht sind die äther-strahlen bei interkontinentalflügen schädlich für unsere seelen. mal drüber nachdenken.

      dein artikel liest sich so, als wäre er von der anti-impf-lobby geschrieben worden.

  4. 

    This application allows you to keep track of the vaccines that have been applied to our children, nephews, cousins​​, godchildren, etc.
    The immunization schedule is also known as calendar of vaccines or immunization records

    http://goo.gl/tIZJd5

  5. 

    I’ve posted here before, and I am always amazed at the complete dichotomy of opinions and “facts” posted. Those supporting vaccination usually use statistics and published references to the CDC, NIH, JAMA, Journal of Pediatrics, etc. Those opposing vaccinations often quote from websites like naturalnews.com and vactruth.com.

    On April 5, 2014, someone named Jon posted his argument against vaccinations, and included a link to a slide presentation. In addition to the anti-vaccination message, some of the slides compared the medical community to Nazis and a host of conspiracy groups.

    On slide 12 of the presentation a table tried to show that diseases were going away without vaccines. The diseases included Diphtheria, Pertussis, Measles, Polio, and others. This slide is an example of using statistics to enhance your argument, when the statistics don’t really pertain to your argument. For example, the graph on slide 12 indicates that the deaths from polio were declining throughout the 1930s and 1940s. But what this graph did not show was the newer medical interventions that were being introduced to save lives. The graph wasn’t intended to show how many cases. It only showed deaths.

    The fact is, in 1952, there were nearly 60,000 cases of polio in the U.S., and more children died of polio than any other communicable disease. I contracted a very severe case of polio in 1953. I would have surely died if I had contracted polio in the 1930s, 1940s, or even earlier in the 1950s. By 1953, if you were fortunate enough to live in a large metropolitan center with aggressive and knowledgeable medical staff, you would receive a tracheostomy and be placed in an iron lung. I received both of these within hours of diagnosis, and I lived.

    One of the “experts” those opposed to vaccines like to quote is Dr. Suzanne Humphries. She travels the lecture circuit trying her best to portray diseases as minor occurrences and vaccines as the worst thing that ever happened. She told an audience that most of those who are exposed to the polio virus don’t get paralyzed. Then she says that, even if you are exposed, most will just have the sniffles or a belly ache. And then she said, in a scoffing tone, “We’ve all had those haven’t we?” Her tone appears to convey the very false impression that polio is not so bad.

    I guess to Dr. Humphries polio is not bad. It would be an interesting experiment to put her, and the other anti-vaccine zealots, in a time machine and transport them back to 1952. Drop them off in a hospital filled with children and adults being kept alive in iron lungs. See if they think polio is “not so bad” then.

    And, I don’t want to hear any comments by anti-vaccination zealots that claim I would not have gotten polio if I had only eaten better foods, or taken more vitamins, or followed a certain regimen. My mother was a health “nut”. We had no junk food in the house. I was the perfect example of a healthy thirteen year old. Bacteria and viruses don’t discriminate!

    • 

      Thank you for your excellent rant, Mr. Daggett.

      I recently read a book called Extreme Medicine by Dr. Kevin Fong. In one chapter he tells of how the polio epidemic in Denmark spurred on the development to better artificial ventilation, which were initiated by Bjørn Ibsen, an anesthetist and others in Copenhagen. I found an essay about their work.

      It was medical improvements like this that reduced disease mortality. Vaccination just made it so they did not have to be used, since it is better to prevent than to treat.

  6. 

    I do work for Big Pharma. I also have the immune system of a lab rat. I am an otherwise healthy adult that was vaccinated on schedule as a child, but can no longer take new inoculations nor the annual flu shot (which is NOT a vaccine, but an immune booster against the “best guess” as to which strain of the flu will be the worst offender in any given year). THANK YOU for this blog post, I will absolutely share this link on FB and in other venues.

    the vast amount inaccurate and misleading information that is out there is just astounding. I hope y’all will do your part as I will to continue to educate the misinformed about the facts on vaccines.

  7. 

    You create your opposition, pick winners, and reap what you sow.

  8. 

    I met Mark & David Gier. I saw their research. It is solid. I am amazed that their research is automatically discounted not because it wasn’t correct or verifiable but because their license was revoked. Noone says why it was revoked. What a convient way to discredit valid research. Yet cited articles by liscensed scientists that they don’t even pretend to be based on scientific methods is automatically accepted because they still have liscenses? Additionally anyone who questions these unscientific studies is illogical irrational & a conspiracy theorist? Who is the real fear monger?

    • 

      What is your basis for assessing their research as “valid”? Few medical or scientific experts agree; I’m curious what study you did to validate their conclusions.

      If you’re curious about why Mark Geier’s licenses were revoked, the Wikipedia article has links to each of the decisions. I’ve pasted some of the narrative below. David Geier was never licensed; he was fined $10,000 for practicing medicine without a license.

      “On April 27, 2011, the Maryland State Board of Physicians suspended Mark Geier’s medical license as an “emergency action”, saying he “endangers autistic children and exploits their parents by administering to the children a treatment protocol that has a known substantial risk of serious harm and which is neither consistent with evidence-based medicine nor generally accepted in the relevant scientific community.” [30] The board ruled that Geier misdiagnosed patients, diagnosed patients without sufficient tests, and recommended risky treatments without fully explaining the risks to the parents. They also ruled that he misrepresented his credentials, including during an interview with the board. Geier’s lawyer, Joseph A. Schwartz III said the basis of the complaint was a “bona fide dispute over therapy”, and hoped for a fair hearing to challenge the board’s accusations.[31]

      The suspension was reaffirmed in May 2011,[32] and upheld on appeal in March 2012, after a full evidentiary hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings in Maryland.[33] Geier’s licenses to practice medicine in the states of Washington,[34] Virginia [35] and California [36] were suspended as well. In June 2012, Geier was charged with violation of the Maryland suspension by continuing to practice medicine without a license.[37] In August 2012, Geier’s license was formally revoked by the Maryland State Board of Physicians.[38] On 5 November 2012, the Missouri Medical board and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation revoked Geier’s license, both citing action taken by the Maryland State Board of Physicians.[39] On April 12, 2013, Geier’s last medical license in the United States was revoked by the state medical board of Hawaii.[40]“

    • 

      The Geiers lost their credibility years ago, and the Special Masters in the vaccine court cases had lots to say about lack of qualifications as “expert witnesses.” Instead of having you slog through a legal document, someone has posted some of those quotes at Is Mark Geier finished as an expert witness in the vaccine court?

  9. 

    In my humble opinion, and after studying how this this artical has effected children, what autism is, how it works etc, I have decided I’d rather have a LIVING child rather than one that died due to a preventable disease. Because after reading a few comments, I kinda felt like these are adults who think they know what’s best in trying to protect their own children. But I felt like they have forgotten that these are tiny fragile lives who are just starting out in the world. These are the future leaders of the world. We shouldn’t argue over things we get to choose. We are all being watched by if you to generation. What we say and do now will affect them for the rest of their lives whether you give them that vaccine or not. Because the children who do you survive without getting any of these horrible diseases or autism or whatever else is out there is going to be the leaders someday. Be a good example.

  10. 

    May I please translate your article to Hebrew and publish it? (with the credit of course)

    • 

      Yes of course! Sorry for the delayed response–this and several other comments got eaten by my spam filters. Please send me a link to the finished version: jenniferraff (at) utexas (dot) edu ? Thank you!

  11. 

    I personally think that some of the Anti-Vaccine trend has something to do with people not wanting their child getting hurt. 16 years ago I had to go through it with my oldest son, and have recently been going through it again with my youngest son. It’s not fun going into the nurses room and watching her stab your little baby in the leg twice, making your baby cry and you getting to see them in such pain. However, I have always wanted my sons to grow up happy and healthy, so I as a parent choose to take them for their vaccines and hope that they do their job well enough to prevent my babies from getting ill.

  12. 

    And then what do you say about the CDC scientist who just admitted last month in an open letter that they found that a vaccine DID cause autism but they deliberately edited the study results so they could lie about this?

  13. 

    I am ao glad I found this! In my Psychology class we read an article about this. Theres a part in the paper we read that says “It’s easier to scare peoplle then unscare them.” Unfortunately this is true. No one is going to start believing this until reports start showing that millions, possibly more, have died because people were not vaccinated. This will finally be a case were correlation is actually causation. I hope our society wakes up and reads the research before its too late.
    Mt one question to all of the people who are antivaccines… what gives you the right to tale away mine and others to be healthy and live?

  14. 

    Dear Ms. Raff,
    In your blog I noted that you did not know what ‘Agent 666′ means. I’m not 100% certain on exactly what it means, but I believe I may be able to hazard an educated guess. You see, 666 is the number most commonly associated with the christian devil, hell, and all things fire and Brimstone. By logical extension, ‘Agent 666′ would imply that they believe you are an agent of Hell, or even the devil himself, determined to drag all our souls down into depravity.
    I myself believe no such thing, and honestly would be shocked to hear such an insult actually used on a woman of science. I wish you good luck in your work, and offer my support to the fullest extent I can, as this is an important issue to me, although in my current circumstances I cannot achieve much.
    And on behalf of we christians who also have room in our hearts for science, reason, and love, God bless you.

  15. 

    Reblogged this on Randy Broderick and commented:
    Read the article, click on the links, read the citations, watch the video and vaccinate your children

  16. 

    OK im not going to pretend im qualified to really, really get into a debate over this. I dont have a lifetime of committment in studying vaccines. But here is my story, with my ONE question.

    Im in my 30s. I have had a autoimmune disease which has almost killed me. Ive had 7 life saving surgeries, ive had major organs “removed” which has saved me. (Advances in technology in Emergency Surgery in my opinion are phenomenal). Anyway. I am not some smelly hippy sitting under a tree without shoes “blaming big pharma”. Im a middle class, self made millionaire, white collar worker. I have two university degrees, (one in Health Science), self educated type of guy. Basically, the type the medical world have issues with as I question everything. My son had a mild/moderate reaction to his first shot. So with my autoimmune health issue/background, I am concerned that the vaccine MAY have a long term effect and MAY have involvement in triggering an autoimmune disease in himself as well. Now I WANT TO BELIEVE in the safety of vaccines. I truly do. But the reality is I am skeptical.

    I spent MONTHS tracking down all the expert doctors I could find trying to find someone who could show me the answer to 1 question….. and if I had the answer, I would become 100% supporter of vaccines.

    If the medical world make that much money off vaccines, and we are talking BILLIONS, and we are talking shareholders that want returns, then there automatically has to be an element of profit over safety at SOME levels by some individuals. What I want, is a study comparing a mass group of vaccinated, to non-vaccinated, over a long period of time comparing the health of each group. Now if I was a huge pharma company, making millions off vaccines, I would WANT to do such a program, as it would win over THOUSANDS of people who currently sit on the fence (people like me). If there was some form of study over say 20 or 30 years, that showed health and disease comparison of vaccinated to non-vaccinated, and showed there was no difference, then to me it would be case closed and lets get on with it. But EVERY doctor I saw, and I saw over 30 of them over a 3 month period, not ONE could tell me there was even ONE study that met that challenge. Why? Why cant a company, that makes literally BILLIONS off vaccines, run a program that would meet that question head on, and hopefully answer it in their favour? The fact that the pharma companies havent done this, makes me very uneasy and very skeptical.

    There is no doubt vaccines can help the prevalence and severity of disease in infants. Thats not even a debatable subject now. But what effect does vaccines have on the long term health of the individual? What evidence do we have tracking immune related disease in vaccinated vs non-vaccinated through adulthood? No GP I have met has been able to show me ONE single worthwhile study that answers that.

    THAT allows me to draw some serious conclusions about these companies.

    Ive now chosen not to vaccine my child. And again, I ain’t some hippy under a tree. Im a well educated, middle class individual that has studied health science my whole life, that knows how to critique, question and challenge for the pursuit of clean truth. When a guy with my background comes to that conclusion, it has to raise concerns for the mum and dad who dont have a history of academia, havent ever studied health or science or anything remotely close to well being.

    I think theres absolutely every need for vaccinating to save children mortality. But there is currently a grey area that hasn’t been answered clearly yet, which is what does the long term effects create? Is there actually a difference in long term health of vaccinated to non-vacicnated? That HAS to be answered, and answered in a way that can not be challenged, or queried by some extreme anti-vaccine nutter with an agenda. It has to be answered in a way that shows absolutely no influence from the pharmaceutical companies or any other entity that has a financial interest in vaccines and can not be conducted by anyone that has the ability to be linked in a similar way. If that was done, half of these “anti-vaccine” supporters, would likely become “vaccine-supporters”. The rest are never going to be happy, they are the smelly hippies under a tree :-)

    So thats my two cents to the topic. No response/debate is going to change my mind on the matter, until I start seeing company after company after company conduct such mass studies over a long term, nothing will remove that current element of grey that allows the protesters to gain traction.

    James.

    • 

      That’s a great question, James. What IS the long term effect of vaccines? To answer that simply – no one knows.

      But then, what about every other medication on the market? Most studies will follow patients for a period of months but not their entire lives and any post-market effects are meant to be reported to the regulatory body that manages drugs.

      Science is not perfect, but it keeps innovating and keeps trying.

      To be quite honest, I think you chose the question to confirm your conspiracy theory anyway. At least be honest with yourself.

    • 

      James,
      I appreciate the civil tone and the coherence of your statements. Even the few words in caps are clearly to provide a sense of emphasis, that can otherwise be hard to provide in written communication without vulgarities. I recommend the vulgarities, but that’s just me. :-)
      You ask a clear question that deserves the best answer I can give, though I hope others will also provide answers that I’m not qualified to give. Your question, as I understand it, is:
      Why hasn’t anyone done the fairly obvious research study where children who were vaccinated decades earlier have their health history compared to children who were not vaccinated? If I’ve improperly characterized your question, please correct me.

      My answers are these:
      1) Doing a prospective randomized control trial would be unethical.
      I realize you were not necessarily asking for one, but it is the gold standard of scientific healthcare studies, so it should be addressed.
      Given the state of the science and knowledge base about epidemiology, immunology, and infectious disease, it would be entirely unethical to randomly assign one group of kids to be unvaccinated. No agency, university, or any other healthcare related group would permit it. That would be equivalent to the Tuskeegee syphilis study that permitted a group of men with syphilis remain untreated, just so we could know what would happen.

      2) Doing such a retrospective study would be difficult, expensive, and likely provide little useful information.
      I know that sounds like a cop-out, but please let me explain.
      A retrospective study would attempt to match children who were vaccinated against ones who were not, but what led the group to be unvaccinated would make them so unique as to be difficult to find matched control patients because
      A) For many, the reason that they were unvaccinated is because they had specific health problems that precluded vaccination. That means there should not be a single patient with the same health problem who was vaccinated.
      B) For some, the reason they were unvaccinated was lack of access (real or presumed by the family at the time) to healthcare services, which would mean that examination of their health records is not going to be accurate or thorough. If you matched such a patient to a vaccinated control, you are now requiring analysis of two healthcare records that you have already determined are incomplete.
      C) For some, the reason they were unvaccinated was a parental choice to avoid/decline vaccination. If that choice extends to other healthcare interventions, and this again creates a healthcare record that will be nearly impossible to match to a control because of the incompleteness of the record, and the likelihood that some professional interventions that were ignored after prescription, or that there were other interventions applied that were never in the health record, i.e. folk remedies or alternative medicine remedies. This statement is not an indictment of folk or alternative remedies. (I don’t condone them.
      There are medical interventions that work, and there are alternative medical interventions.) This is just about the impossibility of doing careful control matching when you don’t know what interventions were or weren’t used.

      3) Doing such a retrospective study would be enormously expensive.
      That alone is not a reason to avoid doing the study, but it is something to be considered.
      You are correct that Pharma companies are not going to to research they do not have to do. Why would any privately held or corporate entity do that? That very problem is a reason to more competently fund NIH, since we cannot rely on Pharma to do the studies we want on their dime. But under the current system, we cannot reasonably expect Pharma to do such studies. As shown above, the difficulties would make such a study very labor intensive, and that means expensive.
      So why doesn’t NIH take on the task of doing that? See #4 below.

      4) Doing such a retrospective study would provide little useful information for the resouces required. As you see, this is related to #3.
      Let’s take a non-healthcare example. Could we test whether a moon can be created by coalescence of dust as is presumed from the current theories? Sure. Should we. No.
      It would require the use of resources so massive (in labor, technology, money) that it would not be practical. Then the question must me asked, “So would doing a job that big make as big a difference in what we know? Is there any reason to think there will be enough new information to make the investment worthwhile?” In the case of making a moon, not really. In the case of vaccination, not really.
      What would one expect to get from such a study that you do not have from the results of millions upon millions upon millions of observational case studies, i.e. real life?
      Is there a hint of any long term health deficit from vaccination? Is there any hint of a signal of long-term health problems? Is there any realisitic suggestion of a mechanism that might be causing such a problem? No. No. No. No.
      If there is, then I’ll happily sign on to support designing studies that might start to tease out what those signals are and what they mean (long before bothering with a full-blown case control or cohort retrospective study). But there just isn’t one.
      Would it be nice if we could the gigantic study to test every thougthful question? Sure.
      Do we live in the world that makes that possible? No.

      Those are my off-the-cuff answers as to why the study you want has not been done.
      I’m open to correction from Dr Raff, Chris, Colin, or anyone else.

      So, James, way too many words later, let me ask you…
      What study design do you want done? Please be specific.
      Who would do it (so that you would trust the results)?
      How would you fund it?
      Would you raise taxes to pay for it?
      Would you redirect money from other government services?
      Would you insist that vaccine producing companies pay out billions for the study?
      What if they don’t choose to do the study?
      What if they decline to produce vaccines if funding this study becomes a mandate?
      Why would you insist this study be done?
      What reason do you have to believe that such a study would provide useful, important information?

    • 

      James,
      You raise valid questions-but could you provide any studies of the type you suggest for anything else we consume/do you in life, i.e. the long term effects of eating a particular vegetable, type of meat, eating walking driving ect…

    • 

      James – If I understand your question, you want a study that compares long-term health between two groups; those who received a particular vaccine and those who did not. There has already been such a study. It is called history. Let me explain in easy to understand language; the language that even those who oppose vaccines should be able to understand.

      In 1952, there were almost 60,000 cases of polio in the U.S. not one of these individuals received a vaccine. If you survey their long-term health history you will discover that a significant number of these individuals have weakened or withered muscles, have spinal deformities, have reduced pulmonary capacity, and numerous other long-term effects. Some of these 60,000 cannot be studied today because they died in 1952!

      Now, jump to post 1955. Most of the children in post 1955 U.S. received a vaccine against polio. If you survey the long-term health history of these vaccinated children you will find few of the health issues listed above.

      The facts are really quite simple. You receive a vaccine against a disease and it is less likely you will get that disease. It can be equated to wearing a seat belt in an automobile. Diseases and automobile crashes still happen. But, if you are vaccinated against a disease or wearing your seat belt, the diseases and automobile crashes take a less appalling toll. You DO wear a seat belt don’t you?

      • 

        When you put a seatbelt on, do you also force yourself to crash just to know what it feels like?

        • 

          journeyofaspirit – I cannot, in all honesty, decipher what your question is supposed mean. Do you mean that people should not be vaccinated so that they can experience disease? Or, as it appears from your numerous posts, you just like to argue?

        • 

          Mr. Daggett has had polio, so he knows very well what it is like. That is why he does not want polio to come back to injure more kids.

          I have been in a car accident. The seat belt kept my head from either impacting the dashboard with my head or flying out of the windshield. It was only a lap belt, so it hurt.
          But it was lots better than having my skull cracked and getting brain damage.

          So why would you rather kids get sick instead of preventing disease? Do you like to see kids suffer? Do you like the idea of kids ending up in hospitals that cost tens of thousands of dollars?

          Why do you want kids to get sick?

  17. 

    A set of perfect twins go are at the Dr for MMR. Talking, playing and crying bc they know where they are. Both boys get the same shots. A day later one boy stops talking. Over the next couple weeks He stops walking. He won’t make eye contact anymore. No more affection. Can anyone explain that ?

    • 

      Yes, a neurological syndrome has managed to show the day after the vaccination. If they had been taken to be vaccinated a week later the boy would have been mute for a week already.
      What you are trying to do here is called a “post hoc, ergo propter hoc” fallacy: event B happens after event A, so event A caused event B. What you don’t take into account is that neurological problems don’t show up in one day.

  18. 

    One of the more troubling aspects of this so-called debate is how long it has been going on and how persistent the skeptics have been in the face of all evidence. On Dec. 30, 1736, for example, Benjamin Franklin published this brief note (reproduced here with modernized spelling, punctuation and capitalization) about the death of his 4-year-old son, Francis, who had become something of a favorite with his father:
    “Understanding it is a current report that my son Francis, who died lately of the smallpox, had it by inoculation; and being desired to satisfy the public in that particular, inasmuch as some people are, by that report (joined with others of the like kind and perhaps equally groundless) deterred from having that operation performed on their children, I do hereby sincerely declare, that he was not inoculated, but received the distemper in the common way of infection: And I suppose the report could only arise from my known opinion, that inoculation was a safe and beneficial practice, and from my having said among my acquaintance that I intended to have my child inoculated as soon as he should have recovered sufficient strength from a flux with which he had been long afflicted.”
    Forty-eight years later, Franklin still felt remorse over not having his son immunized and still grieved over the death. His autobiography, written in 1784, includes this paragraph:
    “In 1736, I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the smallpox taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly, and still regret, that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it — my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that therefore the safer should be chosen.”
    Among those who agreed with Franklin’s view on inoculation was George Washington, who in 1776 ordered that every soldier in the Continental Army be immunized. Napoleon issued similar orders for the French army in 1805.
    Current vaccines are vastly safer than the smallpox inoculation of Ben Franklin’s day.
    Those who don’t believe what Dr. Raff and Dr. Offit say, should at least trust Ben Franklin and George Washington.

  19. 

    Hello Jennifer – I’m a mom of 6 and the only experience I have is having been through all the regular childhood diseases – I’m not a Anti-Vaccination person or a scientist, researcher or even someone with vast knowledge of anything – just a mom with 25 years experience with kids – I AM however a huge believer that our bodies are built to handle most what we encounter. I do believe Small Pox, Polio, etc should be vaccinated against – these vaccines have been proven to stop these deadly, contagious illnesses – BUT the chicken pox vaccine says it’s only good for 25 years (I read that in the brochure the Dr. gave me about the side effects – YES I read the whole thing) and please correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t chicken pox more dangerous – even deadly – as an adult versus a child? I believe I would much rather have my child contract it and deal with it for a week (like the good old days) where he never deals with it again than to get it (and maybe shingles or worse) as an adult. One of my sons had the Whooping cough until he was like 12 so that is just laughable. Also, the flu – if you have a strong immune system, wouldn’t it be just better to get it “naturally” 3-4 days to build that tolerance of the “local” strain than to take a risk and get a variety of the “man-made’ version which you can get sick off of too? If you had a weaken immune, like the elderly or already sick, maybe then it might be worth it to prevent a harder blow. So I guess, my response to your saying the chicken pox is not a big deal or the flu is not dangerous – it depends – Some vaccines are good because the risk of the man-made injection out weighs the risk of the disease – but some vaccines are still, just not worth the risk – and I don’t care about your credentials or all the data to back you up – The medical and pharma industry has always been one to think they “know” what’s best but they still have a lot (in my opinion) still left to learn about our wonderful human bodies. Peace

    • 

      I’d be willing to bet that Odee didn’t even read your article, she/he just saw the headline and maybe read a few sentences. Too often people make the wrong assumptions based on incorrect correlations. Most people don’t really understand what makes good, sound, solid research. Most people also have very narrow views of the world and only think about how things affect them and not others. Having grown up in the 60s I had chicken pox, measles, scarlet fever and the flu. The measles vaccine came out after I already had been infected but my two sisters and I got the vaccine anyway. We were happy to do it because it meant we wouldn’t get sick again. I do not like being sick and I don’t know many people who do. I’ve read a lot of history on epidemics such as the Spanish flu and polio. I think you are right when you say that the creation of vaccines has been one of the most important tools of modern health care in that it prevents terrible diseases and allows us to remain healthy and ultimately live longer. This is a great article, well written, simple and articulate. I love your advice to people to do their own research and to look at the qualifications of the researchers, their credentials and how the research was done.

  20. 

    Please get your children vaccinated my son was born with SCIDS(google it) . We no longer have epidemics because of the advancement of medicine. I would be devistated if because of one persons choice not to vaccinate their child it could cause the death of mine be a smart and unselfish person think of not just yourself but of the many people that can’t be protected from vaccines. Your poor choice could kill my son.

    • 

      Sally, I’m very sorry for your son’s condition. However, I’m not so sure you truly understand what you are asking, making such a generalized plea as you have done.

      I didn’t vaccinate my children based on family medical history. On my side, there are several close relatives who have had autoimmune diseases and seizures. My children were given some vaccines without my permission, and as I feared, one of them developed an autoimmune disease from one of the shots. The disease he developed is one that is listed as an adverse reaction on the manufacturer’s informational insert. Had my son not been given the vaccine, he would not have spent 3 days in the hospital with a life-threatening disease that caused his immune system to chew up his blood platelets faster than his body could produce them. He wouldn’t have had umpteen gazillion follow-up visits to check and make sure that the treatment for the disease (which had a whole set of potential risks of it’s own and caused him to spend an entire day while in hospital throwing up and pressing his little hands to his head because he was in so much pain, and there was absolutely NOTHING I could do to help him feel better) was working as it was supposed to. His immune system wouldn’t have been compromised. How do you keep a child healthy by compromising his immune system?

      I’m sorry for your son’s condition. But you have to understand that there are more sides to this story. I won’t say that you have no right to ask it, but no one has the right to remove another parent’s right to say “no” in response to such a request. I’ll not risk my child having a relapse of that disease. I won’t risk my other child developing it, or one similar, or for either of them to have seizures. These are all documented reactions that some people can get. The problem with adverse reactions is that you can’t know it’ll happen until it happens. So parents are left to do their own research and make their decisions for their own families. I would never ask another parent to put something into their child’s body because I believed it would protect my child. Someone used the phrase “taking one for the team” in this instance. One of my children has already done that. I could have prevented it, had I stood my ground.

      • 

        “I didn’t vaccinate my children based on family medical history.”

        Then just like Sally you should be encouraging everyone to vaccinate to protect your family through community immunity.

        “The disease he developed is one that is listed as an adverse reaction on the manufacturer’s informational insert. Had my son not been given the vaccine, he would not have spent 3 days in the hospital with a life-threatening disease that caused his immune system to chew up his blood platelets faster than his body could produce them.”

        Which is why it is listed as a table injury. it is still a rare event, and was actually more common in the era before measles, mumps and rubella vaccination.

      • 

        From http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com/2011/04/acute-thrombocytopenic-purpura-mmr-and.html :

        In 1951, Fisher and Kraszewski (PDF) described two cases of thrombocytopenic purpura following natural measles infection. Cines, et al. (2009), describe numerous causes of TP, including autoimmune disorders (e.g., lupus) and chronic infections (HIV, Hepatitis C, H. pylori), as well as following natural infection with rubella, varicella zoster virus (chicken pox) and many other viruses. Yenicesu, et al. (2002), found that following viral infection, ITP occurred about 13.3% of the time. Likewise, Rajantie, et al. (2007) found that thrombocytopenic purpura occurs more frequently following natural infection than after immunization, and that vaccien-associated TP is generally mild and resolves within 6 months in about 90% of cases. Ünal, et al. (2009), also describe mumps as a cause of ATP. Tucci, et al. (1980) discovered subclinical thrombocytopenic purpura in 55% of children with measles, 25% of children with mumps and 30% of children with rubella, among other viral causes. Finally, in the same CDC report stating that ATP occurs in about 1:30,000-1:40,000 (~2-4:100,000) cases following vaccination, it was also reported that ATP occurs in about 1:3,000 (33:100,000) cases of rubella.

  21. 

    As a mother of a child whom I sat with in the hospital for a week after an emergency surgery at the age of four months, I feel new vaccines have not been properly tested. You would definitely have a different out look on vaccines if your child received the rotoshield vaccine and within 4 days ended up in the hospital for intersuception (the floating intestines attached to the stomach wall causing them to telescope within themselves to create a blockage). They pulled the vaccine off the market a week after his discharge from the hospital do to it causing intersuception. It pains me to think that I could have prevented all of his suffering and our being blindsided by the thought of the possibility of losing our only child by saying no to new vaccine that was supposed to help prevent rotovirus. Now they have come out with a new vaccine for rotavirus I certainly hope for those mothers out there who choose to give their child this specific vaccine that it causes a whole lot less heartache than the last one they put on the market.

    • 

      I’m very sorry for your child’s suffering! I hope he or she is doing well today.

      “I feel new vaccines have not been properly tested”

      Do you feel that because you’ve researched the testing regimen for new vaccines and compared it to an acceptable standard, or is it something you feel in your gut? I’m honestly curious; two paths to the same conclusion call for two vastly different conversations.

      “You would definitely have a different out look on vaccines if your child received the rotoshield vaccine and within 4 days ended up in the hospital for intersuception”

      That’s certainly possible. On the other hand, do you feel that such an experience might compromise my objectivity? Or that it’s a substitute for an analytical assessment of the known risks and benefits?

    • 

      “rotoshield vaccine”

      I am so sorry for your experience. Trust me I know about hospitals (my son had open heart surgery a couple of years ago for a genetic cardiac disorder). He also ended up in the hospital after a bout with rotavirus, so the disease is not benign. He was one of the the 137,000 emergency department visits and 256,000 office visits that occurred in 1989. (by the way, that page lies… since the article is more than five years old and it is no longer free to download)

      Yeah, the day before he had the seizure from dehydration he was seen by our family doctor because of the more than a week of rivers of poo, and refusal to drink pedialyte. The doctor noticed he was quite chipper so the kid must have been on the mend. The day after the kid got IV fluids at the hospital our family doctor called to apologize.

      Unfortunately your child was one of the several who was injured by that vaccine. But the VAERS surveillance system did provide an alert that after several thousands of those vaccinated it ended up with a much too high rate of complication, and it was withdrawn in less than a year of use. More information here.

  22. 

    I CAN’T BELIEVE PARENTS WHO DON’T VACCINATE THEIR KIDS AREN’T CHARGED WITH MURDER. VACCINATE YOUR KIDS– THINK ABOUT OTHER KIDS, PEOPLE WITH COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEMS AND PEOPLE WHO DON’T WANT TO DIE BECAUSE YOU’RE TOO STUPID TO READ THE ACTUAL SCIENCE BEHIND VACCINATION. You’re putting your own kids at risk – that’s cool with you? Sick, sick, sick.

  23. 

    Here’s an interesting metaphor: I unknowingly contract HPV, have unprotected sex resulting in a woman contracting the virus, she develops cervix cancer, but no repercussions for me because I was relying on females to have had the vaccine and thus “herd immunity”. <—-What I think everytime an anti-vaccine proponent makes that argument.

  24. 

    Chris & Colin – good on you.

  25. 

    Thanks so much for this post–I fight the same battle every day with patients, and this is one of the most well-writted, evidence-backed arguments I have read. Love your blog!

  26. 

    I have read just now your post (and not beeing able to read exactly all the thousands of comments because my mother language is not english) and I have only a question: can you please suggest to me ONLY ONE study (please choose THE study that you consider best of all in this regards, so I don’t have to read hundreds of studies) that demonstrates that vaccines absolutely do not cause autism? Thank you very much.

    • 

      That is impossible. One reason is that the groups who are campaigning against vaccines first could not decide if it was the thimerosal preservative or the MMR vaccine (which one of the several used on this globe was always unclear).

      Then when studies came out on each mode, they decided to move the goalposts and say things like it was the other ingredients or the number of vaccines. And when those studies were done, they changed their minds again.

      So the best thing is to review the articles in Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence, and try to read the above article. There is a review of the studies that analyzed many of the studies that you might find helpful: Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies (a pdf of the uncorrected proof).

      To get a complete overview of what has been happening over the past two decades read The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin. You might be able to find a copy translated into your language.

  27. 

    There is proof, yes actual scientific proof to back up the fact that vaccines ARE THE PROBLEM. If you don’t open your mind, you won’t be guided towards reading any of that information.

    • 

      What study proves that?

    • 

      Journeyofaspirit,
      Please explain what that proof is, why it is so conclusive to you, and why it is more conclusive than the hundreds of well designed studies published in high quality journals and confirmed by other authors/studies that You have read or written yourself.

      • 

        There are well-established, credible Universities all over the world who have discovered the very real side effects of these vaccines (more than just a rash or fever). Many ill symptoms start way later on in life, and contribute to the growing number of many health problems.

        • 

          “Universities all over the world who have discovered the very real side effects of these vaccines (more than just a rash or fever)”

          Then you can list their PubMed indexed studies. Please do that.

        • 

          Journeyofaspirit,
          Would you please explain why you found that more convincing than the hundreds of studies to the contrary.

          • 

            Sure. Here’s why. All of those studies are supporting some type of political agenda, and I believe those who have nothing to gain from their finds, except to increase the well-being of all. I am a Humanitarian, and an herbalist coming from a long line of Cherokee healers. I believe we were created to naturally defend ourselves from viruses, just as animals were. We must also take account our mental and emotional health, to increase the power of our natural disease-asskicking-immunity.

            • 
              Patrick McDonald October 18, 2014 at 6:14 pm

              Native healing techniques failed spectacularly to protect first nations people from the diseases brought to North America from Europe. Why should they work now if they didn’t then?

            • 

              Journeyofaspirit,
              I really do appreciate you taking the time to answer.

              Would you please cite the exact reasons that you think ” All of those studies are supporting some type of political agenda.” If the connection is that clear to you, then you must have smoking-gun evidence from at least a few of the most conclusive studies. What is that smoking-gun evidence you are holding?

              What is the political agenda you think is being promoted by all the studies demonsrating effectiveness of vaccines from all over the world?

              What political agenda is being promoted by those publishing the website you cited?
              Is it profit? How are the people behind the website you cited paid?

              What was wrong, do you suppose, with the “natural disease-asskicking-immunity” of those who died from bubonic plague, or smallpox, or influenza or polio or syphilis in the thousands of years (okay, millions, but let’s not quibble) before there was an industry to sell us the drugs and vaccines that keep us from dying of those things?

              • 

                If I were to answer each and every one of your many questions, there would still sprout from your mind, more and more circular questions. Let me ask you a question for a change? (not asking for facts here, so you actually have to look into your own Inner Guidance system) Do you believe there is Intelligent Design within nature?

                • 

                  Journeyofaspirit,
                  I’m asking about your understanding of the immune system and how immune system research is done. I’d be happy to answer questions about my thoughts on the topic of this blog.

                  I take no offense at your question, and I don’t think it was meant with any sort of malice.
                  I just think it’s pretty far off topic.
                  However, if you really want to have a discussion about my religious beliefs, I will ask Dr Raff is she would be willing to convey to you a FB page where you can contact me.

                  And now, back to our regularly scheduled program…
                  I admit that I’m asking a lot of questions, but here they are:
                  1) What is the political agenda you think is being promoted by all the studies demonsrating effectiveness of vaccines from all over the world?
                  Would you please cite the exact reasons that you think ” All of those studies are supporting some type of political agenda.” If the connection is that clear to you, then you must have smoking-gun evidence from at least a few of the most conclusive studies. What is that smoking-gun evidence you are holding that is so convincing of this political agenda they are promoting?

                  2) What political agenda is being promoted by those publishing the website you cited?
                  Is it profit? How are the people behind the website you cited paid?

                  4) What was wrong, do you suppose, with the “natural disease-asskicking-immunity” of those who died from bubonic plague, or smallpox, or influenza or polio or syphilis in the thousands of years (okay, millions, but let’s not quibble) before there was an industry to sell us the drugs and vaccines that keep us from dying of those things?

                  • 

                    So you’re unable to answer a question on the topic of your own beliefs? It has much to do with this discussion, from one natural human to another. I haven’t claimed any religion in 10 years. I’m a Humanitarian, is all.

                    • 

                      Unable? No. If I was unclear, let me restate,
                      If you want to have a discussion about my religious beliefs, I will ask Dr Raff is she would be willing to convey to you a FB page where you can contact me.

                      Now, back to vaccines and the immune system.

                    • 

                      Again, I said this has nothing to do with religion. Vaccines and the immune system: okay, vaccines work against the Natural Design for humanity.

                      And since you are comfortable discussing politics in this topic, then it’s safe to assume that it’s painfully obvious that politics has everything to do with mandatory vaccinations.

                      I asked if you believe in Intelligent Design, and you cannot answer. It’s the only question I asked, and it’s important because those who believe in it tend to have more faith in their own immune system, knowing they were created in a fashion that allows them to fight off many illnesses naturally. Those who do not believe in Intelligent design put more of their power into the Government’s hands, and into the Mainstream media. There you will be led to many pushy suggestions, all of which are meant to lead people into sickness, despair, and defeat. That’s all I’m going to say about this.

                    • 

                      Journeyofaspirit,
                      Again, I appreciate your response. You are under no obligation to respond to me at all and I thank you for the time and effort. You’ve been civil and respectful to me, and that is also appreciated. I learn somethimg from almost everyone I meet, even online, and it’s much easier to do that through this sort of civil discourse.

                      You can see from many of my other posts that I’m interested in how people come to the conclusions they did about the immune system and vaccines. In fact, I’m more interested in that decision-making process than I am in arguing or even discussing whether those conclusions are accurate.
                      So I hope you will permit to ask just the one question, but it is the same question for each of the claims you’ve made. Since you made several specific claims, I hope you don’t think it’s argumentative or circular for me to ask the same question about each claim.

                      “vaccines work against the Natural Design for humanity.”
                      Can you please explain how you came to that conclusion?

                      “it’s painfully obvious that politics has everything to do with mandatory vaccinations.”
                      Can you please explain how you came to that conclusion?

                      “knowing they were created in a fashion that allows them to fight off many illnesses naturally.”
                      Can you please explain how you came to that conclusion?

                      “Those who do not believe in Intelligent design put more of their power into the Government’s hands, and into the Mainstream media.”
                      Can you please explain how you came to that conclusion?

                      “There (gov’t and mainstream media) you will be led to many pushy suggestions, all of which are meant to lead people into sickness, despair, and defeat.”
                      Can you please explain how you came to that conclusion?

                      As I’ve mentioned, you are obviously under not obligation to answer any or all of these, but since you wrote them I was hoping you might explain the decision making process that got you to those conclusions.

                    • 

                      Sorry, but you spout quite a bit of nonsense here.
                      “Again, I said this has nothing to do with religion. Vaccines and the immune system: okay, vaccines work against the Natural Design for humanity.”
                      False. Actually the concept of vaccination was discovered by watching what happened to people who milked cows infected with cowpox. They suffered a small reaction and became immune to smallpox. Your vaunted “Natural Design” (as if Nature was able to design anything) already included the possibility of immunization through interspecies infection.
                      “And since you are comfortable discussing politics in this topic, then it’s safe to assume that it’s painfully obvious that politics has everything to do with mandatory vaccinations.”
                      WTF? That you have forcefully included politics in this issue and someone else responded to your arguments on that part DOESN’T make politics have any relationship with the vaccine issue. By the same rule, I could start talking about pink ponies and, if someone called me out on it, pink ponies would have something to do with vaccines. Complete nonsense, sorry.
                      “I asked if you believe in Intelligent Design, and you cannot answer.”
                      In my case, no: I don’t believe in Intelligent Design. Among different reasons, because science doesn’t work on beliefs. That’s the realm of religion and superstition.
                      ” It’s the only question I asked, and it’s important because those who believe in it tend to have more faith in their own immune system,”
                      A faith that didn’t save Christians from the plague or tuberculosis in the Middle Ages. A faith that didn’t save anybody in the Americas from the flu. A faith that didn’t save anybody in Europe from syphilis. Until vaccines and other treatments were developed, that is.
                      Please spare me your faith. It doesn’t heal infections that the body isn’t able to recognize and fight quickly enough.
                      While we are at it, please explain how you can heal gangrene without previous vaccinations and/or antibiotics… and no surgical removal either. Guess what? You don’t. The same happens with rabies.
                      ” knowing they were created in a fashion that allows them to fight off many illnesses naturally.”
                      And does not allow then to fight off many other illnesses.
                      ” Those who do not believe in Intelligent design put more of their power into the Government’s hands, and into the Mainstream media.”
                      Conspiranoid nonsense. We are talking medicine and science here.
                      ” There you will be led to many pushy suggestions, all of which are meant to lead people into sickness, despair, and defeat. That’s all I’m going to say about this.”
                      Which is a whole big bunch of nothing.

                  • 

                    I’m aware of how circular arguments work, and if you want a meaningful response, it’s best to ask one question at a time. Otherwise you appear to be gaslighting me.

        • 

          So are Ms. Thompson’s credentials? Where are her references for the statements she makes?

          I see some familiar people who are mentioned:

          Dr. G.T. Stewart: A doctor who tried to make a name for himself in vaccine litigation, but that ended with a grievous error:

          Mr Machin drew Professor Stewart’s attention to a sentence in his report prepared for the Kinnear case: “Levine and Wenk described a hyperacute allergic encephalomyelitis which occurred in children who appeared to have been sensitised by a previous dose of pertussis vaccine.” Counsel asked Professor Stewart whether he recollected anything about the age or ethnic origin of the children. On checking the reference, Professor Stewart answered that it was an experimental paper on male and female Lewis rats.

          He is also an HIV/AIDS denialist.

          Then there is Harold Buttram, who decided several years ago to defend a man who murdered his girlfriend’s baby by shaking it to death, but decided it was the vaccine.

          She cites “Research by Coulter and Fisher.” Harris Coulter’s PhD was in Russian Political Science, he was a translator for the UN. Barbara Loe Fisher was in public relations. Neither of them are qualified to epidemiological research.

          And on and on… just a bunch of blatant assertions with citation and references to unqualified “authorities.”

          So why should we take Ms. Thompson as an authority instead of the researchers responsible for this list of studies: Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence? Be specific why those researchers from several countries not be trusted.

    • 

      Your assertion that there is “scientific proof” that “vaccines are the problem” is of course entirely false. There is not even any good supporting evidence, and proof ion science goes a very long way past simply the existence of some supporting evidence.

      Always keep an open mind, just not so open that your brains fall out.

  28. 

    I’ve been following this thread & want to say a few things here… First, I’ve shared my story in an earlier comment, but here is a refresher. My oldest son grew up, from 5 months old, visiting a graveyard because his father died of a 100% vaccine preventable illness. So we opt to not play Russian roulette when it comes to protecting our children (my husband currently & our three boys together). Many routine vaccinations have been around long enough to show conclusively that the benefit far outweighs any potential risk. And they have been improved upon over time, making them even safer. Second, I’ve seem others touch on religion regarding their beliefs about vaccination. The thought is only those lacking faith in the Intelligent Design concept choose science & therefore vaccinate and those who belief in God opt-out, believing our bodies don’t need any help from science to stay healthy. Those little boxes may fit some people, but I refuse to be placed in one. I firmly believe in God. There is zero doubt in my mind that I’m fearfully & wonderfully made, on purpose, by a Creator. I also believe we’ve bern given this innate curiosity about the universe by Him. Scientific breakthroughs occur because we have a rational mind, designed for creating cures, medicine, and that includes a desire to create vaccination to prevent illness & death. I will not engage in a bs debate about vaccines causing autism. It’s been repeatedly PROVEN that autism is not caused by vaccination. At best, vaccines may be involved with other PRE-EXISTING factors to make symptoms of autism more discernible when already present in an individual. If you have anything that makes vaccinating medically contraindicated, then don’t do it. But if you are healthy, your child is healthy, vaccines are amazing things that can save your kid from the horrors of once common afflictions, like polio. Or from a sad death from a fulminant form of Hepatitis B, which took a previously healthy 20 year old man, my son’s father, & killed him a mere 6 days after his diagnosis. It’s your choice. Choose wisely. But stop expecting MY vaccinated child to protect your unvaccinated child. You can see right now that the porous American southern border is streaming in conditions we had under control before now. Cases of measles & rubella & if all healthy kids were protected, this may not be happening right now. Your irresponsible decision to not vaccinate is causing those unable to be vaccinated to be at risk due to the fallacy of herd immunity. Choosing not to vaccinate just because you don’t want to is not only irresponsible, it’s stupid. God loves you, but HE isn’t going to save you when disease runs through your town like wildfire. Not when He already gave you the life raft in the form of preventative vaccines. That’s all I want to say.

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