Tag Archives: thiomersal

Vaxxed review – my personal take on that fraudumentary

I was given the opportunity recently to watch  MrAndy Wakefield’s fraudulent  and self-serving anti-vaccination documentary Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Controversy. After getting physically ill and angry, I thought it was my duty to do my own Vaxxed review, something more in-depth than the general criticisms I’ve done with this piece of junk in the past.

I don’t have it in me to write about everything wrong with this “documentary” – to be honest, I heard not one single bit of science based fact presented with respect to the MMR vaccines and autism spectrum disorder. The fraudumentary mostly presented lies, misinformation, anecdotes, and, notably, no real science. Worse yet, it tried to make Wakefield into a hero – maybe a deity of some sort.

So, let’s be clear – this movie is about Wakefield. Not children. Not identifying real causes for autism. Not anything important.

There are a lot of excellent reviews of this “documentary,” including a recent one by David Gorski (you know, my doppelgänger according to certain crackpots on the internet) in Science Based Medicine, “Andrew Wakefield’s VAXXED: Antivaccine propaganda at its most pernicious.” It’s a long review, so read it if you prefer.

Continue reading Vaxxed review – my personal take on that fraudumentary

Brian Hooker’s vaccine injury claim denied by NVICP

Brian Hooker holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and has a background that involves researching and teaching in related areas. He is also the father of a boy – now almost young man, at 16 and a half – with autism. Brian Hooker believes his son’s autism was caused by vaccines, and he has been vocal about it.

He is the one who initiated the most recent claims that the CDC conspired to hide a link between vaccines and autism because of calls he had with a CDC scientist (the so called CDC whistleblower)– claims shown, on examination of the data, to be incorrect. He has also, in recent years, published (problematic) research articles claiming a link between vaccines and autism. One of his articles has been retracted because of undeclared conflicts of interests and methodological flaws.

In 2002 Brian Hooker filed a claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), the special administrative program created in 1986 to compensate vaccine injuries. On 19 May 2016, the court rejected his claim in a detailed, comprehensive decision. The Special Master explained that “this is not a close case.”

This post explains the decision, explaining the legal framework and the application of it. In short, the claim was rejected because:

  1. The evidence suggested that SRH – the initials by which Hooker’s son was known – had symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) from early on. In fact, these symptoms appeared long before receiving the vaccines alleged to cause his harm. Moreover, there was no evidence of regression or other severe reaction to the vaccines.
  2. The evidence does not support, and in fact, contradicts, Hooker’s contention that thimerosal-containing vaccines cause autism. This evidence consisted of scientific studies and expert reports. Hooker’s experts’ had questionable credibility and qualifications, and were, at least, far surpassed by the Respondent’s, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, experts.
  3. This decision follows the thorough and detailed Omnibus Autism Proceedings, along with many other decisions that found the same.

Continue reading Brian Hooker’s vaccine injury claim denied by NVICP

Basic vaccine chemistry – help for science deniers

If you read almost any anti-vaccine screed, and if you have even a minimal chemistry background, you will assume that the anti-science vaccine deniers are also chemistry deniers. Therefore, I thought I would create a quick list of basic vaccine chemistry for those who have to deal with the vaccine deniers.

About a year ago, the website, The Logic of Science, published an article about five simple chemistry facts. I thought I’d take their list and apply it to an article about basic vaccine chemistry.

I know that we are oversimplifying chemistry. But I think most of us, who focus on the overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe and effective, know that there are fundamental principles of chemistry that are the basis of biomedical science.

Without further ado, let’s look at basic vaccine chemistry.

Continue reading Basic vaccine chemistry – help for science deniers

Autism and vaccinations not correlated in 1.3 million kid study

If you were paying attention to this website over the past couple of weeks, you’d know that the actor Robert De Niro has come out as a vaccine denialist – he thinks that autism and vaccinations are somehow linked, despite the robust and broad scientific evidence that they are not correlated.

The return of this zombie manufactroversy, and De Niro’s involvement, arises from the inclusion of the anti-vaccination fraudumentary, Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Controversy, at the Tribeca Film Festival. And if you’re unfamiliar with the fraudumentary, it is from the cunning swindler, MrAndy Wakefield who attempted to “prove” that autism and vaccinations are linked, by inventing a so-called CDC whistle blower incident and other out right lies. If you are interested, you can read about this movie here, here, and here.

I cannot say this enough – if you know nothing more than just the basics about autism and vaccinations, then your education about it should start with Mr. Wakefield who perpetrated one of the greatest scientific frauds in the history of mankind (and that’s not an exaggeration).

Mr. Wakefield published a paper, subsequently withdrawn by the highly respected medical journal, Lancet, that blamed the MMR vaccine (vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella) for causing autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Brian Deer, a respected journalist at the medical journal, BMJ, wrote extensively about Wakefield’s despicable deceit which you can read herehere, and here. Basically, Deer uncovered the massive fraud by Wakefield, which included things like working for attorneys who were suing MMR manufacturers, and trying to patent his own version of measles vaccine. Of course, this hasn’t stopped Wakefield from unsuccessfully suing Deer and BMJ several times.

As a result of Wakefield’s , some of the most dangerous outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases can be laid at the feet of Wakefield, as parents started to refuse to vaccinate their children against these diseases. And of course, billions of dollars, money that could have been spent on actually treating and assisting children with ASD, was spent to investigate this claim, with over 100 peer-reviewed papers completely dismissing and debunking any link between any vaccine and any type of autism.

Let me make this abundantly clear– the vaccines cause autism myth has never been supported by real science even when we looked hard for evidence. Continue reading Autism and vaccinations not correlated in 1.3 million kid study

Flu vaccine ingredients – not so scary using simple math

This article is #2 of the 12 most popular posts on Skeptical Raptor during 2015. This article dismisses the tropes about those scary flu vaccine ingredients – all with simple math.

When dealing with those pushing pseudoscience, like the antivaccination cult, the most frustrating thing is that they tend to ignore and deny the most basic tenets of science. If denying the fact of gravity would further their goals of “proving” vaccines are neither effective nor safe, they would do so. For all I know, they have.

Sam Harris, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA (which is ironic), and is one of leading science philosophers of our generation, says this about those who cling to pseudoscience:

Water is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. What if someone says, “Well, that’s not how I choose to think about water.”? All we can do is appeal to scientific values. And if he doesn’t share those values, the conversation is over. If someone doesn’t value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove they should value it? If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?

If the antivaccination movement didn’t lead to epidemics of long-gone diseases, which can harm and kill children, the conversation would be over. I would just put the vaccine deniers in the same group as evolution deniers (creationists) or gravity deniers (there has to be some, somewhere). I would mock their pseudoscience, and move on. Of course, their denialism does lead to deaths of children, so we have to do what is right, and stop their lies, misinformation and ignorance in every forum we can.

We have to appeal to scientific values, and despite the fact that antivaccination pushers don’t share those values, we must continue to try. I have gotten enough emails and comments from people that they have started to vaccinate because of what I have written, so maybe some child’s life is better because all of us who support vaccines are heard.

Continue reading Flu vaccine ingredients – not so scary using simple math

Review of Trace Amounts – bad science and conspiracies

This article is by 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, medical issues, social policy and the law. 

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. 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.

Opponents of legislation to tighten school immunization requirements have been promoting a movie called Trace Amounts to legislators and others. They seem to think this movie proves a link between thimerosal – a mercury-based preservative in vaccines – and autism. It shows, in their view, that our vaccine program is corrupt and harmful through and through, and hence is an argument against vaccine mandates. The movie, however, shows nothing of the sort. There is no new evidence in it, and it simply repeats old and disproven claims.

Continue reading Review of Trace Amounts – bad science and conspiracies

Anti vaccine cult uses Hitler’s Big Lie – laughable strategy

 

OK I apologize. I went full-Godwin with the title. In case you don’t know, I’m referring to Godwin’s Law, named after Mike Godwin, who asserted that “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” In other words, in an online argument, it’s almost a guarantee that someone will invoke a reference to Hitler or Nazis as the discussion gets more and more heated.

Because I am all about efficiency, I decided to invoke Hitler right in the title. Actually, given some of the antisemitism and hate speech of the antivaccine fanatics, it’s probably not too far off.

Be that as it may, the anti vaccine cult loves the propaganda technique known as the Big Lie, which is a method of stating and repeating a falsehood, then treating it as if it is self-evidently true with the goal of swaying the course of an argument. Eventually, it is hoped by the proponents of the Big Lie, that it will be taken for granted, and not really critically questioned. Hitler, and his Nazi propaganda machine, used the Big Lie to blame all of Germany’s problems, prior to World War II, on Jews, which may have contributed to the German people’s support, either actively or passively, of the Holocaust.

It’s ironic that some of the basic antivaccination ad hominem hate speech tends to be extremely antisemitic, especially towards the publicly Jewish members of the pro-vaccine/pro-science side. It’s doubly ironic that the anti vaccine cult utilizes Nazi propaganda strategies, while claiming that vaccination, especially mandatory vaccination, is somehow a modern day holocaust. Truthfully, there’s really not any mandatory (and certainly not forced) vaccination of anyone in the developed world. There are so many loopholes for those who refuse vaccines through various exemptions, that mandatory is truly not that mandatory.

Of course, comparing vaccinations to the Holocaust is a form of Holocaust denial, just as dangerous as climate change denial, evolution denial, or all other forms of denialism. In this case, comparing vaccination, which saves lives, to the Holocaust (in this definition, the murder of European Jews), which end the lives 6 million innocent human beings, either betrays their lack of knowledge of vaccines and the Holocaust, or worse, that they think the sharp temporary pain of an immunization is somewhat equivalent to the murder of 6 million Jews.

The fact that there is little evidence that anyone has ever died of a vaccination (stay tuned, an article is coming from here, once all the research is done) compared to mountains of evidence that the Holocaust actually happened makes such comparisons ignorant and hateful. Period. Continue reading Anti vaccine cult uses Hitler’s Big Lie – laughable strategy

The end of the vaccines cause autism myth

Editor’s note – this article has been substantially updated and re-published.. Comments for this article have been closed, and you can comment at the newer article.

If you know none of the details of the antivaccination lunacy, then your education should start with the perpetrator of one of the greatest scientific frauds, MrAndy Wakefield. Mr. Wakefield published a paper, subsequently withdrawn by the highly respected medical journal, Lancet, that blamed the MMR vaccine (vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella) for causing autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

From that one fraudulent article, some of the most dangerous outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases can be laid at the feet of Wakefield, as parents started to refuse to vaccinate their children against these diseases. And of course, billions of dollars, money that could have been spent on actually treating and assisting children with ASD, was spent to investigate this claim, with over 100 peer-reviewed papers completely dismissing and debunking any link between any vaccine and any type of autism.

Let me make this abundantly clear– the vaccines  cause autism myth has never been supported by real science even when we looked hard for evidence. Continue reading The end of the vaccines cause autism myth

Italian Court Blames Autism on Vaccine–Relies on an Unreliable Expert

This article is by 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, medical issues, social policy and the law. 

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. 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.

On the 23 of September, 2014 a judge in the Labor Court of Milan awarded compensation (pdf, translated from Italian) to a child on the theory that the hexavalent vaccine manufactured by GSK – which protects children against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, invasive disease Haemophilus influenzae type B and hepatitis B – caused the child’s autism. Essentially, the court Italian court blames vaccines for autism.

The decision was based on an expert’s opinion that made several extremely problematic arguments, arguments that go against the scientific evidence. It has been criticized by the Italian scientific community (translated summary, pdf), and is, apparently, being appealed.

This post explains the reasoning of the decision, and why it is fundamentally flawed.

Continue reading Italian Court Blames Autism on Vaccine–Relies on an Unreliable Expert

Review of anti-vaccine legislative efforts – 1998-2012

The published article that is the core of this post is a review of anti-vaccine legislative efforts– how the success of the anti-vaccine movement in achieving its legislative goals changed over time. The authors use the term “vaccine critiques”, and I will follow their terminology, though I think the anti-vaccine label fits many of the actors they describe.

The peer reviewed article does two extremely valuable things: describes patterns, and suggests a causal explanation. While the authors are, justifiably, confident in their descriptive analysis, they appropriately warn us that their conclusions about causation are tentative. Their points are, however, very plausible.

This post proceeds in three parts: describing the patterns the authors found, describing their causal conclusions, and asking for a wish-list of further research (an easy enough and somewhat unfair things to do when you don’t have to actually do it).

Note: the authors have expressed their willingness to provide the full paper to individuals, upon request. I recommend it. The paper also states that the database will be made available on request. Continue reading Review of anti-vaccine legislative efforts – 1998-2012