Ethylmercury and blood-brain barrier – bad vaccine “science” from the Geiers

ethylmercury

This post examines a newly published article that claims that ethylmercury (in this case, thimerosal or thiomersal) crosses the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Of course, it comes from anti-vaccine non-scientists.

As we recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of the retraction of the fraudulent study from Andrew Wakefield and colleagues [1] (retraction notice), this celebration is only half-tone as we have seen more and more an influx of junk studies coming from a new breed of anti-vaccine “scientists” (such as Christopher Exley, Christopher Shaw, James Lyons-Weiler, Romain Gherardi, Yehuda Shoenfeld, Walter Lukiw, citing the most prolific of the bunch) take over the torch and publish deeply flawed studies, if not completely fraudulent in peer-reviewed journals.

Worse, we have seen indeed that some journals, such as the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry or Journal of Trace Elements, have become a hive of anti-vaccine pseudoscience for studies as presented in their published form. They should not have passed a peer-review filter.

Yet, these journals have accepted these articles, despite their important factual errors, botched experimental design and inaccurate conclusions which are not supported by the experimental results. I recently got wind that the infamous Geiers are up into flogging a dead horse once again, this time with the benediction of the journal Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology [2].

If this article was published in a low-tier or a predatory journal, I would understand. But seeing a paper authored by a quack doctor that lost his medical license to practice in 2012 (you can read the detailed case of his disciplinary action here), as well as the recent retraction of a study, with three out of the four authors accused of gross negligence on the claims made and failure to disclose a conflict of interest.

This should have been a red flag for the editor-in-chief and reviewers. Yet, we have a situation similar to the canary in the coal mine, this time about the canary slowly suffocating from the methane slowly leaking into the shaft, but no one taking action.

Seeing the field of academic publishing allowing such biased and non-sequitur review to be published (albeit being in review/revision for 4 months) is concerning. Quacks and charlatans are invading peer-reviewed journals, with the dangerous blessing of their editors and reviewers.

Does this review which was written by the Geiers, the Thenardiers of “autism treatment” (see Note 1), hold up or is completely full of logical flaws?

Let’s give it a read. Continue reading “Ethylmercury and blood-brain barrier – bad vaccine “science” from the Geiers”

Vaccines and autism – robust, powerful science says they are unrelated

vaccines and autism

Vaccines and autism are not linked or associated according to real science, published in real scientific journals written by real scientists and physicians. But this false claim that vaccines and autism are related is repeated by anti-vaxxers nearly every day.

Let’s be clear – the lack of a link between vaccines and autism is settled science. There is overwhelming evidence, as listed in this article, that there is no link. Outside of anecdotes, internet memes, misinformation, and VAERS dumpster-diving, there is no evidence that there is a link. 

Probably as a result of reports that more and more children are being diagnosed with autism, people seem to be creating a false correlation (let alone causation) between vaccines and autism. So let’s take a look at the science.

Continue reading “Vaccines and autism – robust, powerful science says they are unrelated”

Genes and autism – more evidence that it has nothing to do with vaccines

genes and autism

We have discussed genes and autism before – an article, along with an accompanying editorial, was published in the peer-reviewed JAMA Psychiatry in 2019 examined the genetics of autism. They found that approximately 80% of the cause of autism was genes from the mother and father (since that’s the only way genes get to a child).

Once again, there is no evidence that vaccines were linked to autism spectrum disorder. What’s more important are genes and autism, not vaccines.

Let’s take a brief look at a new paper just published that discusses genes and autism. Spoiler alert, it’s all about genes. Continue reading “Genes and autism – more evidence that it has nothing to do with vaccines”

Jenny McCarthy, with help from Oprah Winfrey, lies about vaccines

jenny mccarthy vaccines

The old Skeptical Raptor is taking a bit of a break over the next few days to recharge his batteries for all of the pseudoscience that will be coming out in 2020. In lieu of new content, I will be republishing the top 10 most read articles on this blog during 2019. Here’s number 3 – Jenny McCarthy.

Honestly, I thought she had faded from the anti-vaccine world, but I guess over 150,000 people still researched her. 

Jenny McCarthy was once the MTV drunk college dating game hostess and former “journalist” on The View. I remember when she joined The View – there was widespread condemnation of her hiring from scientists, journalists, and yours truly because of her loud and annoying anti-vaccine rhetoric. Clearly, no one of any note supported her being hired on the View, except for websites like the Age of Pushing Nonsense To Harm Children. Continue reading “Jenny McCarthy, with help from Oprah Winfrey, lies about vaccines”

Christopher Aluminum Exley “publishes” vaccine pseudoscience again

Christopher Aluminum Exley

Christopher Aluminum Exley, who is just a pseudoscientist who makes his money by creating false narratives about vaccines. He is another in a long line (see Tetyana Not-An-Immunologist Obukhanych and Christopher Retraction Shaw) of false authorities beloved by the anti-vaccine religion because anti-vaxxers have no scientific evidence supporting their “claims.”

So what has Christopher Aluminum Exley done now? Well, he has written an opinion piece, not a real science article, and convinced some obscure journal to publish it.

No, it’s not new “science,” it’s just a rant from someone who has made it his mission to increase the risk of diseases in children and adults by creating fear, uncertainty, and doubt about vaccines.

As we do here at the secret lair of the feathered dinosaur, mocking and ridiculing the anti-vaccine “heroes” makes us happy. I hope it does the same for our loyal readers. Continue reading “Christopher Aluminum Exley “publishes” vaccine pseudoscience again”

Dr. Jim Meehan anti-vaccine rant – examining his claims

Jim Meehan

An anti-vaccine doctor from Oklahoma, Dr. Jim Meehan, wrote an online post about why he would no longer vaccinate his children. It’s pretty clear that his post is not so much a discussion of his own children (most of whom are adults) as an attempt to deter other parents from protecting their children from preventable diseases. His post is basically a set of claims trying to convince parents that vaccinating is very dangerous.

His claims are nothing new – they are strictly out of the anti-vaccine playbook. But the post has received some attention in the anti-vaccine world and was shared several thousand times, likely because many people treat an MD as an authority on the subject. So I decided to take a few minutes to explain why his claims are not good reasons to reject expert opinion and not protect children from disease.

Dr. Meehan’s claims fall into several categories (which will be discussed individually below):

  1. The diseases we vaccinate against are not dangerous, and it’s okay, even good, to encounter them naturally.
  2. Vaccines have toxic ingredients.
  3. Vaccines are dangerous to children.
  4. The science behind vaccines is corrupt because the pharmaceutical industry controls it and then corrupts it.
  5. We should listen to him because he is a doctor and knows what he is talking about.

Note: Dr. Meehan’s post doesn’t present these claims in that order. I have changed the order because I want to address the claims in a logical order, that is, first his claims about vaccine safety, then the conspiracy theory that underlies them, and finally, his appeal to authorityContinue reading “Dr. Jim Meehan anti-vaccine rant – examining his claims”

Del Bigtree vaccine safety complaints – HHS Vaccine Program responds

Del Bigtree Andrew Wakefield

On January 18, 2018, Dr. Melinda Wharton, Acting Director of the National Vaccine Program Office in the Department of Health and Human Services, sent Mr. Del Bigtree, an anti-vaccine activist, and producer of the anti-vaccine film Vaxxed, a response to questions he raised about vaccine safety.

The response is a very informative description of the substantial efforts regarding vaccine safety, and can and should reassure parents that there is abundant data – and many monitoring mechanisms in place – to examine and address vaccine safety, and that the expert consensus that vaccines are very safe is well-grounded.

This post will shortly describe the background to the letter from Dr. Wharton, then provide some of the highlights. I do, however, encourage people to read the full letter, available here (pdf), for themselves, to understand many vaccine safety issues. Continue reading “Del Bigtree vaccine safety complaints – HHS Vaccine Program responds”

Elizabeth Warren supports vaccines – she’s been very clear about it

elizabeth warren supports vaccines

Senator Elizabeth Warren supports vaccines, one of the few politicians who makes her point of view very clear. Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts is currently either leading or close to leading the field to become the Democratic Party nominee for President in 2020. Her support of vaccines should be an important consideration for those who want politicians who are pro-science.

This article isn’t going to be about Senator Warren’s progressive bonafides, because, I don’t usually blog about politics, except in the context of science support or denialism. Vaccine denialism is the bailiwick of the left, right, libertarians, and various other nutjobs and crackpots. These people want to go back to the time of dirt roads, children working when they’re eight, no rules, no regulations, and other such 1700s thinking.

For those of us who care about vaccines, the fact that Elizabeth Warren supports vaccines is important. So, let’s take a quick look.

Continue reading “Elizabeth Warren supports vaccines – she’s been very clear about it”

Glyphosate causes autism – another debunked vaccine myth

glyphosate causes autism

Another one of those pseudoscientific tropes from the anti-vaccine religion has reared its ugly Bigfoot head – glyphosate causes autism. And, of course, the anti-vaxxers believe that vaccines are filled with that nasty chemical, so by some weird transitive logic, they think that vaccines cause autism because of glyphosate.

Yeah, no.

Of course, the belief that “vaccines cause autism” has been thoroughly debunked by powerful, robust, repeated clinical and epidemiological studies. It is “settled science” (and read the link, so that you actually understand what is meant). Now we have the oft-repeated myth that glyphosate causes autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The evidence that supports that claim is fairly weak, possibly nonexistent.

Even if it did, and most scientists are highly skeptical of the claim, we still know that there is almost no glyphosate in vaccines. And once again, even if there were and even if glyphosate causes autism, we know that there is no link between vaccines and autism. None. 

A few years ago, Emily Willingham, Ph.D., whom I consider to be one of the leading ASD scientific experts on this planet, wrote a hysterical and scientifically skeptical article about all of the popular causes of ASD – Dr. Willingham noticed that there were new claims about what causes autism. Parents need to blame someone for their child’s neurodevelopment, so that’s how vaccines got into the crosshairs.

But let’s look at some of the science, and figure out if there’s any mechanism by which glyphosate causes autism. Continue reading “Glyphosate causes autism – another debunked vaccine myth”

Pesticides cause autism – the scientific evidence is quite weak

pesticides cause autism

Along with the thoroughly debunked “vaccines cause autism,” a related trope is pesticides cause autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The evidence that supports that claim is fairly weak, possibly nonexistent, but that’s what we do here – examine the evidence.

For reasons beyond the scope of this blog and my interests, parents need to find blame for why their children may have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.  A few years ago, Emily Willingham, Ph.D., whom I consider to be one of the leading ASD scientific experts on this planet, wrote a hysterical and scientifically skeptical article about all of the popular causes of ASD. Older mothers. Older fathers. Depressed mothers. Fingers. Facial features. Facial features?

Today, I keep seeing the new claim that pesticides cause autism. Time to see what kind of science supports this claim. Continue reading “Pesticides cause autism – the scientific evidence is quite weak”