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”

Vaccine settled science – it is not based on faith or belief, just evidence

I decided to write about vaccine settled science, based on comments I saw on Facebook after someone posted an article I wrote about recently polling on American attitudes towards vaccines. The headline of that article said “atheists support vaccines,” but that was not even close to what the article was about.

In fact, the article described how recently polling showed that nearly 90% of Americans thought that the MMR vaccine was safe and effective. In other words, most Americans think that vaccine science is settled. 

Anyway, the comments to the post digressed wildly from the point, because anti-vaxxers wanted to claim that science is based on faith and belief, just like a religion. And that evolution is based on faith, and creationism is really a science. And that atheism is a belief. 

The forum admins shut down the thread because it began to have nothing to do with vaccines. 

Nevertheless, science is not based on faith or belief, it’s based on evidence. Creationism is a pseudoscience with zero supporting evidence.

And atheism was not the point of the article, which convinces me that too many people read headlines and not the article. This saddens the old feathered avian dinosaur who spends several hours researching and writing these articles.

This article will talk about vaccine settled science, but also what constitutes science. And it has nothing to do with faith and belief. Continue reading “Vaccine settled science – it is not based on faith or belief, just evidence”

Tetanus vaccine did not cause mass sterilization in Kenya – anti-vax lies

tetanus vaccine

And here comes another anti-vaccine lie – oft-retracted pseudoscientists are pushing a claim that the tetanus vaccine was used for mass sterilization in Kenya. Yes, you read that right.

This false claim about the tetanus vaccine comes from an anti-vaccine pseudoscience paper foisted onto the world by Christopher Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic. These two University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers in the Department of Ophthalmology (you know, the study of eyes) have no background or training in any area vaccine research, including immunology, epidemiology, microbiology, virology or anything else remotely related to vaccine science.

Along with many others, these two represent the epitome of low-quality anti-vaccine “research” – they are truly false authorities

Yet, every time these anti-vaccine shills publish anti-vaccine pseudoscience articles in low ranked journals, the anti-vaccine religion jump all over it and try to use those articles as “science” to dismiss the scientific fact of vaccine safety and effectiveness.

Shaw and Tomljenovic have a long record of retracted articles, which were generally published in low impact factor, predatory “pay-to-play” journals, and pushing anti-vaccine pseudoscience that has been hammered by respected scientific organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO).

Continue reading “Tetanus vaccine did not cause mass sterilization in Kenya – anti-vax lies”

HPV vaccine benefits – anti-vaxxers pick bad study, ignore positive data

HPV vaccine benefits

I’ve written a billion (± 0.999 billion) times that one of the greatest of HPV vaccine benefits is cancer prevention. This really isn’t in question with cancer scientists, but as you know Dunning-Kruger anti-vaccine zealots think they know more than real scientists, and they look for any reason to bash the cancer-preventing vaccine.

And if you know anything about cancer, there are just a handful of ways to actually prevent any of the hundreds of different cancers. And the HPV vaccine is one of them.

Which leads us to this moment. Two recent studies have been published on HPV vaccine benefits – one supports the vast scientific consensus on HPV vaccine efficacy, the other is so poorly done, it tells us almost nothing about HPV vaccine effectiveness. Guess which one the anti-vaxxers will cherry-pick?

Let’s take a look at these studies, but first, as I always do with HPV vaccine benefits, I’ll start with a few words about HPV, the vaccine, and cancer. Continue reading “HPV vaccine benefits – anti-vaxxers pick bad study, ignore positive data”

Coronavirus facts – crackpot conspiracists claim it exists to push vaccines

Recently, the world press is breathlessly reporting an outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus (termed “2019-nCoV”). It was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. 

Predictably, the second that the story about this coronavirus hit the clickbait headlines across the world, the anti-vaccine conspiracists started pushing all kinds of ignorant nonsense.

You know those conspiracies like the military (unknown which one) created the virus to kill people. Or China is trying to destroy ‘Murica. Or Bill Gates invented the virus (well, if he did, it’s because of Windows 7). Or Big Pharma created the virus because they have a secret vaccine that they can sell for billions of gold bars.

Of course, there isn’t a scintilla of evidence that any of those conspiracies are true. However, if the coronavirus does become a worldwide epidemic (and it hasn’t so far), then the CDC, WHO, and Big Pharma will work feverishly to find a vaccine to prevent it. 

This article isn’t going to spend time refuting such nonsense, but we will focus on the science and the facts since this is a serious concern to people. Continue reading “Coronavirus facts – crackpot conspiracists claim it exists to push vaccines”

Andrew Wakefield is innocent – another vaccine denier trope and myth

andrew wakefield is innocent

The “Andrew Wakefield is innocent” trope that is rising again among the anti-vaxxer zombie claims being pushed recently. Professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss critiques this claim in a 7-year-old article. I guess if the anti-vaccine loyalists can bring back old myths, we can bring back the solid refutation of them. This article also shows why Andrew Wakefield isn’t innocent whatsoever.

On March 7, 2012, Judge Mitting of the British High Court of Justice quashed the British General Medical Council (GMC)’s finding that Professor John Walker-Smith was guilty of serious professional misconduct. On November 21, 2014, for the umpteenth time, an anti-vaccine activist linked to the decision regarding Walker-Smith as evidence that Andrew Wakefield is innocent when the GMC found him, too, guilty of serious ethical violations.

The problem with this claim is that it is incorrect.

While others have examined the issue, it might be worth examining the decision closely yet again, since several tropes that Andrew Wakefield is innocent continue to come back to life.

Let’s start by examining the charges brought against Wakefield and Walker-Smith, using a side by side comparison of each charge. Continue reading “Andrew Wakefield is innocent – another vaccine denier trope and myth”

Atheists support vaccines – well, most Americans support MMR vaccine

atheists support vaccines

A new survey of Americans showed that they are overwhelmingly in favor of vaccines across all demographic groups. But atheists support vaccines more than any other religious designation.

Of course, this article isn’t really about how much atheists support vaccines, although that should be expected, given the fact that most atheists follow evidence rather than faith or beliefs. This article is going to review the detailed survey because if you’re anyone but Del Bigtree or Robert F Kennedy Jr, you’ll be fascinated to know that the vast majority of Americans support the MMR vaccine. Continue reading “Atheists support vaccines – well, most Americans support MMR vaccine”

Retracted anti-vaccine papers – ultimate list of pseudoscience and bias

retracted anti-vaccine papers

Retracted anti-vaccine papers are a staple of my articles published here. Usually, they try to create some fake link between vaccines and autism, but these papers try to say anything that casts vaccines in a bad light.

As we know, real science has established that there is no link between vaccines and autism. Anti-vaccine papers generally try to show this link without epidemiological or clinical studies – they just try to make some specious biologically implausible claims trying to link something about vaccines to autism.

Much of the anti-vaccine research is so bad, so poorly designed, that it’s relegated to low quality, predatory journals which have laughably poor peer-review systems. Even then, we can find the occasional retracted anti-vaccine papers, because they are often so bad that even these predatory publishers are embarrassed.

So, I present to you, the loyal reader, a list of retracted anti-vaccine papers (and I use that term very carefully). It’s not a comprehensive list, it’s just what I’ve seen over the past few years. If you know of a retracted paper that I missed, leave a citation in the comments. Continue reading “Retracted anti-vaccine papers – ultimate list of pseudoscience and bias”

Dr. Diane Harper, lead Gardasil scientist’s actual HPV vaccine research

Diane Harper

Anti-vaxxers love their false authorities, such as the infamous Tetyana Obukhanych. They also love to invoke Dr. Diane Harper as the authority of choice with regard to HPV vaccines. Obukhanych is truly a false authority, but Dr. Harper is much more complicated.

Because vaccine deniers lack any scientific evidence supporting their unfounded beliefs about vaccines, they tend to rely upon unscientific information like anecdotes, logical fallacies, misinterpretation of data, or false authorities to support their case about the lack of safety of vaccines.

The so-called “lead Gardasil researcher,” Dr. Diane Harper, a former “consultant” to Merck and GSK, had some responsibilities in the clinical trials for their HPV vaccines. But the claims about whether Dr. Harper supports or dislikes those vaccines are substantially more complicated than what the anti-vaccine zealots would like to claim about her.

Amusingly, every few months the social media haunts of the anti-vaccine crowd explode with claims that Dr. Diane Harper, lead Gardasil researcher, hates HPV vaccines.

Let’s take a look at the story and see what we find.

Continue reading “Dr. Diane Harper, lead Gardasil scientist’s actual HPV vaccine research”

Anti-vaccine Informed Consent Action Network requests emails

On January 7, 2020, my school informed me that it received a new Public Records Act request for my emails, this time from the Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), a well-funded anti-vaccine organization headed by Mr. Del Bigtree. The request was submitted via the law firm of Siri and Glimstad in New York, though it was not signed by Aaron Siri, a lawyer who represented groups fighting vaccines in the past.

They were also involved in an aggressive 9-hour deposition against a vaccine expert who agreed to support, pro-bono, a father seeking to vaccinate his young daughter (the father recently won his appeal). The request was signed by Attorney Allison Lucas; but since one of the requests was for emails with the word “Siri”, it is fair to see Attorney Siri as relevant, whether or not he was directly involved. Continue reading “Anti-vaccine Informed Consent Action Network requests emails”