Physician vaccine payments – another “article” from James Lyons-Weiler

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Here we go again, with another lame “research article” about physician vaccine payments from James Lyons-Weiler, one of the high priests of the pseudoscientific anti-vaccine movement. I try to ignore most of his nonsense, because it is nonsense, but I just couldn’t let this one pass.

So what is Lyons-Weiler up to this time? He’s trying to convince us that a physician can make millions by some illicit vaccine payments scheme. I’m sure that pediatricians who are driving beat-up 10-year-old Honda minivans paying off medical school loans would love to know about this, but much like the Big Pharma Shill Bucks™, in which gold bars are delivered to my front door every week, it’s a myth that circulates in the mind of the anti-vax world.

To be honest, Lyons-Weiler ought to spend more of his time hunting for Sasquatch – he’d have more credibility. But let me waste a bit of your time taking down this balderdash.

Who is James Lyon-Weiler

When I see new “papers” from the anti-vaccine squad, I always like to take a meta, 10,000-meter view of the research and the author of said research. Usually, just doing that discredits it, so let’s start with that.

Firstly, if you are not familiar with the anti-vaccine world, you’re probably wondering who is James Lyon-Weiler?

Lyon-Weiler is another one of those anti-vaccine pseudoscientists who have tried to make a name for themselves by publishing drivel in low impact factor predatory journals. The cerebral OracVaccines Work and False Prophets have all written extensively about Lyons-Weiler and his anti-vaccine shenanigans. I and other authors on this website have written frequent scathing reviews of his love of aluminum.

He even claims that he’s not anti-vaccine (Of course, Jenny McCarthy says that all the time, so he’s in good stead with a D-level actress).

Essentially, my issue with this anti-vaccine pseudoscientist is that he represents a perfect example of a false authority in vaccines – Lyons-Weiler has all of the credentials of a scientist, but the only thing that matters is scientific evidence, and that’s where he falls short of any credibility with respect to vaccines.

Let me bullet-point a few items that cause many of us to reject much of what he writes:

  • Lyons-Weiler received his Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biology from the University of Nevada in 1997. He originally described himself as an “evolutionary biologist,” but now changed it to “neurodevelopment disorder research.” He actually has some credentials in evolution (don’t conflate him with a real evolutionary biologist), but he has 0 credentials in any neuroscience as far as we can tell.
  • But most importantly, he has no background, education, or experience in any critical field of vaccines – he has no formal training in epidemiology, immunology, virology, public health, or microbiology. And what he writes often betray his amateur knowledge of these fields.
  • Calling Lyons-Weiler a “scientist” stretches the meaning of scientist. A review of his publication record tells us that he was not the first or last author of any primary or clinical research in vaccines or any other biomedical science. He did not function as a research scientist but he did assist real scientists with statistical analyses of research, which can be important. At best, he helped analyze the data, but he was not a part of the research team that formed the hypothesis, performed experiments, and publishing the data. In papers, he would get an acknowledgement for the important work that the statistician can do for analyzing results. In the world of science, this is called “applied science.”
  • Lyons-Weiler has, other than two recent articles, no history of published research in any area of neurodevelopmental disorders including autism. If we were to make a list of the leading authorities on autism in the world, this anti-vaccine pseudoscientist would not even make the top 1000, unless it’s at Age of Lying About Autism – oh wait, even they think he’s “lost it.”
  • If you think I’m harsh in characterizing Lyons-Weiler as an “anti-vaccine pseudoscientist,” please note one important thing – in the forward of his book, “The Environmental and Genetic Causes of Autism,” he credits the aforementioned cunning fraud, Andrew Wakefield. We all know that Wakefield is the pope of the anti-vaccine religion.

There’s so much more to say about Lyons-Weiler, like his alternative personas on Facebook (really creepy, if you ask me) where he claims he’s in financial trouble. Maybe it was caused by having to pay to publish this new article about physician vaccine payments? Anyway, this isn’t the point of my article. Lyons-Weiler is a false authority lacking any credentials in the whole vaccines and autism story – this must be an important consideration when examining the veracity of his published articles.

In other words, there is no reason to think that Lyons-Weiler knows anything about vaccines, and certainly nothing about physician vaccine payments.

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Photo by Magda Ehlers on

Another pseudoscience journal for Lyons-Weiler

Now let’s spend a moment or two discussing the journal that is publishing this garbage.

This physician vaccine payments article was published in the lofty-sounding International Journal of Vaccine Theory, Practice, and Research (IJVTPR). I am sure that sounds impressive to the average person, but if you scratch the surface just a bit, you’ll see something totally different.

Let’s take a look:

  • IJVTPR is not indexed in PubMed. Now, that could be for a number of reasons, but that means this isn’t recognized as a legitimate journal, for now.
  • As far as I can tell, it does not have a publisher. It is part of something called “Open Journals System,” which is like WordPress, in that they provide the architecture for the journal, but they do not function as a typical publisher. Seriously, it seems to be no different than self-publishing a book on Amazon Kindle.
  • It has no impact factor – in other words, none of their articles are cited by publications outside of the IJVTPR itself.

But here’s where it gets hysterically funny – the editorial board is a who’s who of the anti-vaccine movement:

  • John Oller, Editor-in-Chief. Oller is an anti-vaccine crackpot who believes that vaccines cause autism. They do not, and that’s settled science. Oh, and he’s also a Young Earth Creationist, so you know his knowledge of any science, let alone vaccinology, is rather limited. But he makes an excellent pseudoscientist.
  • Christopher Shaw, Senior Editor. Well, if you’re going to go for a seriously incompetent anti-vaccine pseudoscientist, none are better than the oft-retracted ophthalmologist from the University of British Columbia. He also pushes the debunked link between vaccines and autism spectrum disorder.
  • Gayle DeLong, editor. DeLong is an economics professor who tried to foist one of the most laughably incompetent papers trying to claim that the HPV vaccine reduced fertility – the paper was retracted.
  • Stephanie Seneff, editor. I have not written much about Seneff, except to debunk her pseudoscience about GMOs. She is a crackpot “computer scientist,” who wanders into the fields of medicine, especially vaccines, without any knowledge or expertise in the field. She specifically does not understand epidemiology while completing ignoring basic concepts like correlation and causation. To quote Orac, Seneff “demonstrate(s) that, as an antivaxxer, she has zero credibility when it comes to evaluating science.”
  • James Lyons-Weiler, editor. Yes, he’s an editor, so this makes it appear to be nothing more than self-publishing.

There are many others in that ragtag group of editors that would be familiar to those of you who follow the anti-vaccine world. But I didn’t want to waste 10,000 words just to tell you how little each of them knows about vaccines, medicine, or science. This is just a circle jerk editorial board that is trying to foist anti-vaccine nonsense onto the world so that your local anti-vaxxer will point to an article and say “see, here’s a peer-reviewed paper.”

Don’t conflate their heaping mounds of dung with real science published in real medical journals.

Physician vaccines payments – what Lyin’-Whiner is trying to invent

I’m not going to bore you with the article too much, because after you’ve read everything above, you will note that Lyons-Weiler has no credibility, the editorial staff has no credibility, and the journal has no credibility.

As far as I can tell, Lyons-Weiler examined precisely one unknown pediatrics group and claimed, based on this n=1 data, that somehow in some miraculous way the group would lose $1 million if they stopped vaccinating.

Really James, you came to that conclusion based on…what?

I actually don’t care about the claimed loss because it’s not based on anything realistic. Lyons-Weiler throws in all insurance payments for vaccinations into one lump sum that makes no sense. Most insurance in the USA pays on a capitation rate (if a pediatrics practice has 1000 children in an insurance plan, the group gets paid some set amount per month for each child, irrespective if they see the child or not).

Because insurance companies are actually staffed with smart financial analysts, they know that unvaccinated children are a greater burden to the insurance companies, they do cover vaccinations above and beyond the capitation rate. Some insurance companies ship vaccines to the doctors themselves, or they pay the average selling price for the vaccine to the physician, so there’s no net profit or loss (despite Lyons-Weilers claims).

In California, for example, a large pediatrics buying group establishes contract prices for many vaccines, and those are the costs that any pediatric group in California would pay.

The insurance company, or sometimes the vaccine manufacturer, may cover the cost of ancillary disposable products, such as syringes or bandages, for some physicians, but that’s very rare these days.

Because Lyons-Weiler is clueless about how things work in the insurance industry, doctors cannot make huge profits on vaccinations. A lot of vaccines are provided at no cost through the Vaccines for Children program, and it would be illegal to charge additional for those to Medicaid patients.

So, if suddenly the lies of the anti-vaccine movement caused every parent to stop vaccinating, it would have little effect on an average pediatrics group. The insurance companies would still pay them the capitation rate, but not the vaccine payments which are at cost. It would be a net 0, as they no longer have the cost of the vaccine and are no longer reimbursed for it.

Lyons-Weiler shows that he is as knowledgeable about finance as he is about science.

He also goes on about “post-marketing data” as being unethical for some odd reason. Again, he betrays his utter lack of knowledge of clinical research, FDA regulations, and just about anything else.

Post-marketing research is not really research. It’s the accumulation of data that is supposed to tell the pharmaceutical company or the FDA any issues that might be relevant to the safety and effectiveness of the drug or vaccine.

It is NOT a clinical trial in the classical sense, which determines the safety and effectiveness of the drug or vaccine, it is just writing down data. If, for example, the vaccine manufacturer wants to extend its labeling post-marketing, say eliminate the need for a booster shot, that must come from a traditional clinical trial.

Lyons-Weiler is trying to sell the false narrative that vaccines are inherently unstudied and thus, post-marketing studies should require informed consent like any clinical trial. He is absolutely wrong about that, and it angers me that he’s using the Big Lie to invent something that could cause a parent to wonder about the vaccine.

Once again, all vaccines on the market are safe and effective – that is settled science.

This paper, like almost everything else done by Lyons-Weiler is nothing more than an unscientific editorial-opinion piece. He presents no data whatsoever that a vast majority of physicians will lose profits from stopping vaccinations. He presents no data that they pediatricians profit from vaccines. He presents no logical information that post-marketing studies are unethical.

So like the nonsense we’ve seen from him before, this article is nothing. Absolutely nothing.

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Here’s the paper. It’s garbage.

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The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!