Baby food and autism — do the lawsuits and internet claims have merit?

baby food autism

For Facebook users, “targeted ads” are a way of life. I ignore them until I saw one from lawyers who were suing baby food manufacturers for causing autism. I guess that they weren’t getting anywhere with the trope that vaccines cause autism (they absolutely don’t), although the quack Del Bigtree continues to push the myth.

As I did for vaccines, I’m going to show you that baby food may or may not be linked to autism. There seem to be some problematic issues with baby food manufacturing, but that does not show a direct link to autism.

Oh yeah, one basic principle you need to understand — lawyers and judges do NOT establish science.

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ICAN lawsuit against CDC statement that vaccines do not cause autism

vaccines autism

This article about another ICAN lawsuit disputing the CDC statement that vaccines do not cause autism was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who 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 a 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 diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On March 31, 2022, a federal district judge dismissed the Informed Consent Action Network‘s (ICAN) lawsuit demanding that CDC remove the statement that vaccines do not cause autism. The judge dismissed the lawsuit because ICAN failed to show that the alleged harms it claimed were caused by anything CDC did, or that removing the statement would fix the problem that they claim they identified. 

The claim never got to be examined on the merits, and for the purpose of dismissal at this early stage, the judge is required to treat ICAN’s claims as true. But it’s worth reminding readers that extensive data shows that vaccines do not cause autism.

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Jury rejects malpractice claim that a vaccine caused child’s autism

malpractice vaccine

This article about a Tennesse jury rejecting a malpractice claim that a physician who gave a vaccine caused autism was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who 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 a 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. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On February 18, 2022, a jury in Tennessee rejected a malpractice case filed by Rolf Hazlehurst for his son Yates, in which he claimed that the child’s doctors, by giving him a vaccine, caused the child’s autism. The case was rejected because the doctors did not violate the standard of care, did not commit malpractice in giving the child a vaccine. The case never got to assessing the causation question – did the vaccines cause Yates’ autism – but the chances of prevailing on that were also low. 

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When does correlation equal causation in the research of vaccines?

correlation causation

One of the frustrating things when discussing the science of vaccines is the misuse of correlation and causation. Too many people accept that correlation implies or is even equivalent to causation.

One of the foundations of biomedical science is whether correlation implies causation. Anti-vaccine activists often conflate or misunderstand the two, rejecting or accepting correlation as long as it fits its narrative.  The “correlation implies causation” story is often abused, misused, and confused by many people who are examining studies that involve vaccines..

One thing we do know about correlation is that if you can’t establish correlation, despite numerous attempts, it is nearly impossible to claim causation. If you have a correlation between X and Y, you need a lot more data to establish causation between X and Y. Dumpster diving into VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System may show a correlation between an adverse event and a vaccine (and I would contend you can’t even really do that), you are a long ways from showing causation.

But there are powerful scientific methods to establish causation from observations of correlation. Correlation can imply causation if hard scientific work was done to establish that the correlation equals causation. This article will try to walk the reader through the methods to determine causation between an adverse event and a vaccine. But again, it’s not going to be easy.

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Autism and vaccines – 160 peer-reviewed scientific articles say no link

autism and vaccines

Autism and vaccines 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. 

Ever since MrAndrew Wakefield published his fraudulent, and subsequently retracted, study that seemed to show a link between the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the anti-vaccine crowd has embraced it as if it were a scientific fact. 

This Wakefield chicanery has spawned a cottage industry of other anti-vaccine zealots like Del Bigtree and his fraudumentary Vaxxed, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Christopher Exley, Christopher Shaw, James Lyons-Weiler, Tetyana Obukhanych, and many others. 

This article presents 160 scientific articles, published in high-quality, peer-reviewed journals. Almost all of them are either primary studies that include large clinical trials or case-control or cohort studies. They also include numerous systematic reviews, which represent the pinnacle of biomedical research.

All of these articles, from some of the top vaccine scientists in the world, show that there are no links between autism and vaccines. None. 

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Gayle DeLong, anti-HPV vaccine and anti-autism, died from breast cancer

Gayle DeLong, who wasn’t a scientist, let alone a vaccine scientist, and who wrote an article that tried to claim that the HPV vaccine causes infertility, recently died of breast cancer. Of course, she blamed her breast cancer on her childs’ autism.

In general, I try to forgive people for their mistakes, especially when they are no longer able to respond to criticism. But, I just can’t. Her unscientific rants against the HPV vaccine probably lead to enough people refusing to get the vaccine, and that will lead to additional deaths from HPV-related cancers. That is unforgivable.

Despite that, I don’t wish she had died, especially of breast cancer. No one deserves that fate.

But I wanted to take one last look at her disinformation campaign about the HPV vaccine and some of the things she said in her life. She shouldn’t be remembered as a hero to the anti-vaccine world, but as someone whose words ostensibly have led to cancer and the deaths of too many people

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Aluminum in vaccines not linked to autism – James Lyons-Weiler begs to differ

plate light art industry

Here we go again, anti-vaccine pseudoscientist, James Lyons-Weiler, publishes a paper that says something about aluminum about vaccines, and the anti-vaccine crowd genuflects in his general direction. The anti-vaccine side has nearly zero evidence supporting their claims, so they have to cling to anything they can get.

The anti-vaccine religion is littered with these false authorities that have few credentials or experience in vaccines, yet, because of a “Ph.D.” after their name, the anti-vaxxers make it appear they speak for millions of scientists. There’s Tetyana Obukhanych, a former immunologist who has published no peer-reviewed articles about vaccines, who has denied all of her scientific education and training, and who makes egregious and simplistic mistakes about vaccines in all of her proclamations.

Christopher Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic are multiple-retracted “researchers” who shill for the anti-vaccine religion by publishing weak and easily critiqued research that doesn’t even stand up to the tiniest of criticism. We’ve often speculated as to why the University of British Columbia, where they do their “research,” hasn’t ended their relationship.

Look, I’m not impressed by credentials and degrees. I don’t care if someone is a janitor or a Ph.D. in immunology at Harvard University. If you deny established scientific consensus based on your whims, cherry-picking evidence, or rhetoric, you have nothing. You bring nothing to a scientific discussion. If you want to overturn the scientific consensus on vaccines then you better be an expert in the area of vaccines, and you better have a broad, robust body of evidence that shows problems with the scientific consensus.

Now, it’s time to look at this new false authority in the land of vaccines, James Lyons-Weiler, and his ideas about aluminum and autism. Is he another false authority and pseudoscientist? Or does his new paper give us something new to examine about vaccines? Yes. No.

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Aluminum in vaccines is not linked to autism – James Lyons-Weiler is wrong again

James Lyons-Weiler

Here we go again. Anti-vaccine pseudoscientist, James Lyons-Weiler, publishes a paper that says something about aluminum about vaccines, and the anti-vaccine crowd genuflects in his general direction. The anti-vaccine side has nearly zero evidence supporting their claims, so they have to cling to anything they can get.

The anti-vaccine religion is littered with these false authorities that have few credentials or experience in vaccines, yet, because of a “Ph.D.” after their name, the anti-vaxxers make it appear they speak for millions of scientists. There’s Tetyana Obukhanych, a former immunologist who has published no peer-reviewed articles about vaccines, who has denied all of her scientific education and training, and who makes egregious and simplistic mistakes about vaccines in all of her proclamations.

Christopher Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic are multiple-retracted “researchers” who shill for the anti-vaccine religion by publishing weak and easily critiqued research that doesn’t even stand up to the tiniest of criticism. We’ve often speculated as to why the University of British Columbia, where they do their “research,” hasn’t ended their relationship.

Look, I’m not impressed by credentials and degrees. I don’t care if someone is a janitor or a Ph.D. in immunology at Harvard University. If you deny established scientific consensus based on your whims, cherry picking evidence, or rhetoric, you have nothing. You bring nothing to a scientific discussion. If you want to overturn the scientific consensus on vaccines then you better be an expert in the area of vaccines, and you better have a broad, robust body of evidence that shows problems with the scientific consensus.

Now, it’s time to look at this new false authority in the land of vaccines, James Lyons-Weiler and his ideas about aluminum and autism. Is he another false authority and pseudoscientist? Or does his new paper give us something new to examine about vaccines? Yes. No.

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CDC vaccine patents – Robert F Kennedy Jr gets this one wrong too

CDC vaccine patents

If you follow the anti-vaccine world, you will hear Robert F Kennedy Jr often claim that there are CDC vaccine patents that are so valuable that the CDC itself sets aside all morality and ethics to endorse the vaccines developed through these patents just to make more money for the CDC.

Kennedy, who once threw himself at Donald Trump in an effort to head a Vaccine Commission, has made this claim for several years now, but repeated it in an interview, stating that, “the CDC is a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical industry. The agency owns more than 20 vaccine patents and purchases and sells $4.1 billion in vaccines annually.”

Typically, Kennedy provides absolutely nothing in the form of supporting evidence. It makes no sense to argue against an imaginary claim – this is a pretty good example of an opinion rather than facts.

But along comes Ginger Taylor, one of the most ardent and science-ignoring anti-vaccine activists around these parts. In fact, she inspired my article entitled, Vaccines and autism science say they are unrelated

Taylor, who apparently has an autistic child, believes that vaccines “damaged” her child because, as a mother, she knows more than actual scientists. She considers science to be an elitist pursuit, it’s not data and evidence that matter but only her opinion.

Seriously, Taylor has an utter lack of self-awareness, which apparently broke one of Orac’s favorite Big Pharma Irony Meters™. Her opinion of her own scientific knowledge, i.e. her Dunning-Kruger cognitive bias, is betrayed by the reality of the vast mountain of scientific knowledge supporting the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

So this same Ginger, the vaccine-denier that she is, decided to write an article with another torturous description of the CDC vaccine patents conspiracy theory, trying to support Kennedy’s outlandish claims. And she wrote this article in GreenMedInfo, one of the most ignorant anti-science websites on the interwebs, just a bit below NaturalNews in quality.

The problems with Taylor’s article are multi-fold – but generally, like so many other anti-vaccine zealots, they think they know a lot about a topic based on their 15 minutes of Google search time, rather than doing the tens of thousands of hours of actual vaccine research using science.

Taylor is utterly uneducated about and inexperienced with not only science but also patents – she gets nearly everything about her conspiracy theory totally wrong. 

So here we go, debunking the anti-vaccine myth of the CDC vaccine patents.

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