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Index of articles by guest author, Professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

dorit-reiss

 

Updated 2 March 2015

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines (generally, but sometimes moving to other areas of medicine), social policy and the law. Her articles usually unwind the complexities of legal issues with vaccinations and legal policies, such as mandatory vaccination and exemptions, with facts and citations. I know a lot of writers out there will link to one of her articles here as a sort of primary source to tear down a bogus antivaccine message.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination–she really is a well-published expert in this area of vaccine policy, and doesn’t stand on the pulpit with a veneer of Argument from Authority, but is actually an authority. Additionally, Reiss is also member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

Below is a list of articles that she has written for this blog, organized into some arbitrary and somewhat broad categories for easy reference. Of course, she has written articles about vaccines and legal issues in other locations, which I intend to link here at a later date. This article will be updated as new articles from Dorit are added here.
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Your one stop shop for real science and myth-debunking about Gardasil

Gardasil-vaccine-virus

Updated 11 February 2015.

Recently, I read a new article published in Pediatrics that described how educating either teenagers or their parents about HPV vaccinations had little effect on the overall vaccination rate for the vaccine. Essentially, the researchers found that it was a 50:50 probability that any teen would get the vaccine, regardless of their knowledge of HPV and the vaccine itself.

So I thought about why that Pediatrics study found that education about HPV and Gardasil didn’t move the needle on vaccination uptake. It’s possible that the benefits of the vaccine is overwhelmed by two factors–first, that there’s a disconnect between personal activities today vs. a disease that may or may not show up 20-30 years from now; and second, that the invented concerns about the HPV quadrivalent vaccine, promulgated by the usual suspects in the antivaccination world, makes people think that there is a clear risk from the vaccine which is not balanced by preventing cancer decades from now. It’s frustrating.

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Incompetent Italian Courts know nothing about science

Gavel  and Flag of Italy

Updated 2 March 2015.

Professor Dorit Reiss recently posted an article here about a 2014 ruling from an Italian court in Milan that awarded compensation to a child that was claimed to have developed a neurological deficit after receiving GSK’s hexavalent vaccine, which protects children against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), Haemophilus influenzae type B and hepatitis B. Essentially, the decision was based on one so-called “expert” who seemed to think the tropes of the antivaccination world were scientifically based.

Professor Reiss pretty much debunks the legal arguments for that case by actually reviewing the court ruling rather than accept the word of various biased blogs and “news reports” out there in the world.

Of course, I’m not a legal scholar (nor do I play one on the internet), but Italy’s reputation as the center of legal interpretation of science is almost at the level of good comedy. Remember, a previous Italian provincial court decided that vaccines cause autism, by accepting MrAndy Wakefield fraudulent claims over the consensus of science–vaccines do not cause autism. Update–an Italian appeals court overturns this ruling because of the lack of scientific evidence.

And let’s not forget about the Italian court that convicted six geologists for manslaughter because they could not accurately predict earthquakes (which no one can do, unless you’re a psychic). If this weren’t actually true, you’d think I was making this stuff up.
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Manufacturing a controversy about the MMR vaccine

MMR vaccines and the manufactroversy

First published 25 June 2012, updated on 2 March 2015.

Here we go again with the trope that the MMR vaccine causes autism. The Daily Mail, a British middle market tabloid, has published an article, MMR: A mother’s victory: The vast majority of doctors say there is no link between the triple jab and autism, but could an Italian court case reignite this controversial debate?, that is attempting to create a controversy out of thin air about the MMR vaccine for mumps, measles and rubella. The article is referring to an insane Italian court ruling which, despite all evidence to the contrary, blamed a child’s autism on the vaccination.

Update–in February 2015, an Italian Court of Appeals overturns the decision by the Provincial Court, so the vaccine denier claim that “Italian courts state that vaccines cause autism” can be dismissed. Mostly.

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Italian MMR-Autism Decision Overturned

italy-autism

This article was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, CA. 

Dr. Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. She is also member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

This article reviews a recent ruling from an Italian Court of Appeals that overturns a widely ridiculed decision by a Provincial Court in 2012 that claimed that the MMR vaccine (for measlesmumps and rubella) causes autism. Apparently, that court rejected all other science, and only accepted the fraudulent work of MrAndy Wakefield to validate the claims about the vaccine and autism.

In June 2012, a labor court in Rimini, Italy granted compensation to the family of a child named Valentino Bocca. The family alleged that the MMR vaccine Valentino received as part of his childhood immunizations caused his autism, and the court compensated them on that theory. The lower court’s decision was never on very firm grounds: it depended in part on testimony of an expert decision who relied, in turn, on Andrew Wakefield’s debunked study. But it was used by anti-vaccine activists as part of their claims.
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What does science say about GMO’s–they’re safe

scaremongering-Wordle

Updated 1 March 2015.

The science deniers of the world, whether they deny evolution, global warming, vaccines, or GMO safety, spend their time inventing pseudoscience to support their beliefs and claims. As I have written previously, “Pseudoscience is easy. It doesn’t take work. It’s the lazy man’s (or woman’s) “science.” But it has no value, and because it lacks high quality evidence in support of it, it should be dismissed, and it should not be a part of the conversation.”

Alternatively, real science is really hard. And it takes time. And it’s based on high quality evidence. And it is repeated. And it is almost always published in high quality journals. As I’ve said a thousand times, real science takes hard work and is intellectually challenging. You just don’t wake up one day and say “I’m a scientist.” No, it requires college, graduate school, teaching, working in world class laboratories, publishing, defending your ideas to your peers, and one day, if you don’t stop, you will be an authority in your little field of science.

The anti-GMO crowd is mostly lazy. They have this luddite belief that all technology is bad, but have absolutely no evidence to support it. Sure, they pick out one or two poorly done articles and then shout for all the world to hear “GMO’s are dangerous to…bees, humans, babies, whales, trees” over and over and over again.  Yet what do the GMO refusers really bring to the table? 
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The hidden costs of vaccine denial, co-starring Rand Paul

vaccines-cash

 

Updated 27 February 2015.

There are actually people out there in the world who think there’s a “debate” about vaccines. On one side, the ignorant, the uneducated, and the logical fallacy lovers, without any evidence whatsoever, invent some dubious and truly head shaking nonsense about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

On the other side (as if there really are two sides), are the educated, the logic lovers, and the skeptics who value published scientific evidence as the most important and fundamental guide to determining a scientific consensus. This scientific consensus has determined that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, that all organisms on this earth have evolved from a single organism 3 billion years or so ago, and that vaccines are safe and effective. A scientific consensus exists not because I say it, it exists because a vast majority (not 51-49, more like 99-1) of experts in the field agree to this consensus.

There’s one “writer” on Medium who conflates political consensus with scientific consensus, idiotically assuming that a scientific consensus is based on some vote, political maneuvering, without understanding that a consensus in the US Congress (as if that’ll ever happen) is almost the opposite of how science works, and eventually arrive at a scientific consensus.

If there were a debate about vaccines, the pro-science/pro-vaccine side would score about 1547 points to 1 pity point for the deniers. In other words, it would be a world record victory for the real science side. The journalistic hacks at the Toronto Star, who essentially lied about Gardasil (then mocked and lied about anyone who said they lied) and may have destroyed a lot of positive momentum regarding the cancer preventing vaccine are an example of how the science denier side works–in lieu of real published evidence, lie. Then shower invectives of all sorts on those who point out the lie. I hope the writer and editors from the Toronto Star all end up in prison, but that’s just my opinion.

But let’s move on from this asinine imaginary debate that truly only exists in the heads of F list actors and actresses and lunatic science deniers. We forget that not only is there no debate about vaccines, but they save lives, and by extension, save money. Lots of it.
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Vaccine Informed Consent, Mandates and Liability

I would need informed consent if my physician was trying to inject 25 cc of fluid through a huge needle. In other words, typical of stock photos, they get it all wrong.

I would need informed consent if my physician was trying to inject 25 cc of fluid through a huge needle. In other words, typical of stock photos, they get it all wrong.

Updated 27 February 2015.

This article was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, CA. 

Dr. Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. She is also member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

Several people have asked me whether having school mandates is in tension with the idea of informed consent. The answer is no. While school mandates have some effect on parental autonomy, the doctrine of informed consent should not be conflated with autonomy.

For a somewhat different reason, imposing sanctions on those who do not vaccinate is also not a violation of informed consent.
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Elizabeth Warren schools the vaccine deniers

elizabeth-warren-vaccines

Revised 27 February 2015.

Elizabeth Warren, Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is a liberal Democratic politician who is a darling of the American progressives. She came to the forefront while serving as a professor of Law at Harvard University, advocating for changes in financial regulation to benefit consumers.

However, this article isn’t going to be about Senator Warren’s progressive bonafides, because, this I don’t usually blog about politics, except in context of science support or denialism. And with respect to vaccines, science denialism is hallmark of the left and right, though lately it’s been some sort of lunatic rallying cry of the Libertarians, you know, those crackpots who think that there’s too much government. They want to go back to the time of dirt roads, children working when they’re 8, no rules, no regulations, and other such 1700’s thinking. 
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And the Skeptical Raptor has returned from internet hell

bad-internet

For fans, haters, and those looking for information, you probably knew that this website and blog wasn’t working for the last 7 days. Obviously, we’re back.

I won’t give you the long story, but the short one was that I was stressing out the servers for the old web host, because so many people were reading my articles. It’s one of those good news/bad news situations. Daily, I had issues with the website going down, because I temporarily exceeded limits of the servers. My website emails me when it disappears from the internet, and I was getting 50 a day.

I tried to stick with the old web host for as long as I could, but they finally had enough, because there were so many hits here, it was impacting performance on other websites that they hosted. This host were really good people, but they focus on small websites, not like my monster. To protect their server, the old web host locked out portions of my website, which wasn’t fair, but I was violating their terms of service for number of hits. I was over by a 1000X.

So, in one day, I had to find the best host for my needs, determine if they had a good rating (they did) amongst users, pay for it all, transfer my website, then….WAIT. The internet doesn’t work very efficiently, as I’ve found out. Lots of people and things get involved with domain names and transfers. Lots of secret codes need to be emailed. And then you wait.

Now, while I was waiting, I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t run tests. I couldn’t write articles. I just waited. It was like a vacation, except checking with the new web host every hour to see what was going on. I think they were annoyed.

Finally, today, the domain name officially transferred, then…problems. Too numerous to mention, but finally it all worked.

There will be lots of new articles. And we’ll have fun. I’m actually redesigning this website to be even more efficient with new graphics, but I think I’ve done enough this month. If you run into any problems with any links or anything whatsoever with this website, just comment here, or send a tweet to @skepticalraptor.

OK. Time for a little siesta or something.

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Real scientific evidence says–vaccines don’t cause autism

 

Vaccines don't cause autism. And that syringe is too large to ever be used for immunizations. Except for horses. Maybe.

Vaccines don’t cause autism. And that syringe is too large to ever be used for immunizations. Except for horses. Maybe.

Updated 15 February 2015.

On 28 March 2014, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that new data show that the estimated number of children identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a disorder of neural development, usually appearing before the age of 3 years, characterized by impaired social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication, and by restricted, repetitive or stereotyped behavior, continues to rise.  The picture of ASD in US communities is changing.

According to the study:

  1. About 1 in 68 children (or 14.7 per 1,000 8 year olds) were identified with ASD. This data was culled from studies on 8-year-old children living in 11 communities across the country. The data was gathered in this manner to get a detailed analysis of representative subsection of the USA, but it does not statistically represent the entire population of children in the United States.
  2. This new estimate is roughly 30% higher than the estimate for 2008 (1 in 88), roughly 60% higher than the estimate for 2006 (1 in 110), and roughly 120% higher than the estimates for 2002 and 2000 (1 in 150). We don’t know what is causing this increase.

In fact, the researchers carefully clarified the limitations of this study (probably to reduce panic):

Consistent with previous reports from the ADDM Network, findings from the 2010 surveillance year were marked by significant variations in ASD prevalence by geographic area, sex, race/ethnicity, and level of intellectual ability. The extent to which this variation might be attributable to diagnostic practices, underrecognition of ASD symptoms in some racial/ethnic groups, socioeconomic disparities in access to services, and regional differences in clinical or school-based practices that might influence the findings in this report is unclear.

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