Is Vaxxed producer Del Bigtree credible on vaccines? Not really.

vaxxed del bigtree

This article about Vaxxed producer, Del Bigtree, 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.

Over the past few months, Vaxxed producer Del Bigtree, who formerly worked on the show The Doctors, has made numerous statements about vaccines and vaccine safety. His claims about fraud by the CDC have been addressed in the past, and the evidence doesn’t support his beliefs. But the claims he makes about vaccines go beyond the movie, and he makes an effort to present himself as an authority on the issue.

Mr. Bigtree’s statements are consistently inaccurate, suggesting he is not a good source of information about vaccines. It’s impossible to address every single wrong claim Mr. Bigtree has made about vaccines, of course. But these problems should demonstrate that Mr. Bigtree’s claims about vaccines cannot be relied on.

Continue reading “Is Vaxxed producer Del Bigtree credible on vaccines? Not really.”

The facts about vaccine chemicals – debunking more pseudoscience

scientist in laboratory

If you spend any amount of time on the internet researching science and pseudoscience, you’ll find alarming claims about toxic vaccine chemicals – you know, aluminum, mercury, formaldehyde, and whatever unpronounceable molecule are all the rage for the anti-vaccine crowd. Of course, we obsess over substances not only in our vaccines, but also in our foods, air, water, and coffee. Many of us try to present scientific evidence about those toxic vaccine chemicals. It can be frustrating and time-consuming.

Generally, the pseudoscience argument proceeds along the lines of “these unpronounceable chemicals are going to cause cancer.” Followed by a new trope or meme that something in vaccines does something, often without a picogram of evidence. 

But what the vaccine deniers are pushing about vaccines is based on a lack of knowledge about how toxicology – the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms, determines what is or isn’t toxic.

Paracelsus, a 16th-century Swiss-German physician, alchemist, astrologer, is traditionally thought to have founded the discipline of toxicology, an important branch of medicine, physiology, and pharmacology. Paracelsus wrote one of the most important principles of toxicology:

All things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison.

In other words, if you’re speaking about substances in foods or vaccines or anything, the most important principle is that the dose makes the poison (or toxin). Everything that we consume or breathe is potentially toxic but most important, the overriding principle must be the dose.

So, I’m going to do a disservice to the whole field of toxicology, which takes a lifetime of research and study, and I will attempt to digest it down to a few paragraphs, especially as it relates to those vaccine chemicals.

Continue reading “The facts about vaccine chemicals – debunking more pseudoscience”

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.

Continue reading “Aluminum in vaccines not linked to autism – James Lyons-Weiler begs to differ”

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.

Continue reading “Aluminum in vaccines is not linked to autism – James Lyons-Weiler is wrong again”

Christopher Aluminum Exley, anti-vaccine “scientist”, gone from Keele University

Christopher Aluminum Exley

Anti-vaccine crank and self-proclaimed aluminum expert, Christopher Exley, has announced that he’s departing the University of Keele (Staffordshire, England) for unknown reasons, but since he’s an anti-vaxxer, I’m sure he will blame Bill Gates and Big Pharma.

I have written about Exley quite a bit over the years, mainly because he keeps “publishing” opinion pieces about aluminum adjuvants in vaccines while making claims without a femtogram of clinical or epidemiological data that sits at the top of the hierarchy of biomedical research.

Unfortunately, because the anti-vaccine world lacks any robust scientific data to support their preconceived beliefs, they have to cherry-pick pseudoscience from not only Christopher Aluminum Exley but also from Tetyana Not-An-Immunologist Obukhanych and Christopher Retraction Shaw. These are just some of the false authorities beloved by the anti-vaccine religion.

Let’s take a look at the very strange “resignation letter” from Christopher Exley. And I’ll try to keep the celebrations to a minimum. Or not.

Continue reading “Christopher Aluminum Exley, anti-vaccine “scientist”, gone from Keele University”

COVID-19 vaccine essentials – I stopped worrying and loved the jab

two covid vials on pink surface

This article about COVID-19 vaccine essentials was written by Dr. Frederik Lermyte, Ph.D. (Twitter) Dr. Lermyte is an assistant professor in the chemistry department at the Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany). He is interested in all things science, although he focuses on understanding the structure and chemistry of proteins, especially those relevant for human health and disease.

Disclaimer: While I’ve tried to make this discussion about COVID-19 vaccine essentials as accurate as possible for something meant for a general audience, one or two mistakes might have crept in. I’m obviously also simplifying some things here for brevity. Also, all of this is only my opinion, and obviously not medical advice.

Someone reached out to me a while ago through Twitter as they had an appointment to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and were feeling anxious. I explained some vaccine essentials to them as a series of direct messages.

I’m adapting and sharing this article on COVID-19 vaccine essentials now (with permission from the person who originally reached out to me) in case it’s still useful to anyone. I actually thought it was all fairly well known by now, but I’ve been hearing more nonsense about these vaccines again lately, so perhaps this is still useful after all.

Continue reading “COVID-19 vaccine essentials – I stopped worrying and loved the jab”

Vaccine adjuvants – another misguided FOIA request from ICAN

vaccine adjuvants

This article about an FOIA request for information about vaccine adjuvants 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.

In August 2020, the anti-vaccine organization, the Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), posted on their site a letter from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) dated July 19, 2019, under the (misleading) title that “NIH Concedes It Has No Studies Assessing The Safety of Injecting Aluminum Adjuvants.”

As in the past, ICAN’s use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request result is highly misleading, in at least three ways. First, FOIA is not a mechanism for science query, only a way to get existing administrative records, and this is a misuse of FOIA. Second, there are abundant scientific studies on the safety of aluminum vaccine adjuvants, but this request was not a way to get them. And third, even if there were no studies on the safety of aluminum adjuvants in vaccines, vaccines are tested as a whole, and the safety data on them cover all their ingredients. Continue reading “Vaccine adjuvants – another misguided FOIA request from ICAN”

Vaccine scientific knowledge – how to review and understand papers

vaccine scientific knowledge

This article about vaccine scientific knowledge is from a series of tweets from Lucian DiPeso, a Ph.D. candidate in the Hatch Lab at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where he studies chromothripsis and micronuclei.

Below is a slightly edited version (with links) of the thread. Continue reading “Vaccine scientific knowledge – how to review and understand papers”

Physicians for Informed Consent goes after aluminum in vaccines again

physicians for informed consent

Recently, Physicians for Informed Consent (PIC) claimed they hold a bombshell, by claiming there is an erratum in the study published by Mitkus and colleagues (1). Using some PR mouthpiece (such as PRNewswire) to spread the breaking news around, PIC, under the patronage of Shira Miller (who runs PIC), claimed they provided a rebuttal to the study of Mitkus stating that there is an important factual error.

In this breaking news, Physicians for Informed Consent announced that a study published by Mitkus and colleagues (1) contained a major flaw in the estimation of aluminum burden, using differences in oral bioavailability used in the study (allegedly 0.78%) and reported by the FDA (0.1%). In their conclusion, the authors claim that such differences were significantly underestimating the exposure of aluminum from vaccines with the claim that the actual “safe” level is 7.8X lower than Mitkus established.

Is there any part of the truth in it? And does the PIC statement hold any scientific evidence? 
Let’s figure this out. Continue reading “Physicians for Informed Consent goes after aluminum in vaccines again”

Flawed Lyons-Weiler vaccine study further critiqued by a real scientist

This review primarily stemmed from my previous blog post in which I pointed crucial experimental flaws in the most recent study published by Lyons-Weiler and colleagues [1]. The reply was swift and expected, a diatribe written on his own page that was vociferous, slanderous and completely inappropriate for a public statement.

I was surprised that a man claiming to be from science, and that should be “seasoned” by now about handling on critiques from reviewers would have shown an unmeasured tone in such official communication.

Surprised? I was not, and confirmed the reason why I use a pen name. Before submitting it as a post, I considered directly sending my letter to the editor of the journal, only to recuse from it by fear of retaliation and harassment from Lyons-Weiler or by some random anti-vaccine person to my institution.

In this delicate period of my academic career, such a decision can have devastating consequences on unfolding events related to my career. Shall I be in a better position, I would not have hesitated to send the letter to the editor.

Interestingly, such a slanderous attack of the messenger seems a staple amongst anti-vaccine crowds, but not expected from scientists. Yet, such slanderous behavior is not exclusive to the author. Recently, a letter to editor written by peers of the authors (in the name of Christopher Exley, Christopher Shaw, and Romain Gherardi as they co-authored the retracted counter-letter) was judged so slanderous against a scientist that raised important and valid concerns on a study published by Crepeaux and colleagues in “Toxicology” journal [2].

It is important to note to the reader not familiar with academic publishing that the retraction of a letter to the editor is so rare, that it suggests the extreme gravity of the slanderous claims made.

More recently, a similar behavior (albeit less slanderous) came from the recent retraction of the recent study by DeLong and colleagues [3], following critiques and concerns on PubPeer. Instead of addressing directly the stipulations raised by readers, the author underwent a series of diatribes while failing to address the major flaws of the paper.

During my professional development, learning to accept rejection and criticism from peer-reviews (be it a manuscript submitted to a journal or a grant proposal) is part of being a scientist. We do not mince words, and we will say bluntly (but with academic finesse) when a study or grant is not considered “competitive” and “compelling”.

We learn to undergo the stage of grievance and learn to deal with it several times a year. Yet, we also learn to never ever write a reply in the spur of the moment, in the full rage and anger. One day, my department chair told us (in one of these lab meetings) to never ever send an angry letter because you may regret (and will likely regret) it later.

Sending an angry letter will not change the editor or program officer to accept your paper or your grant proposal. Worse, it will backfire on you and reduce your chance of having your manuscript or grant proposal accepted in the future, as you will be labeled “that annoying scientist”.

Sure, write that angry letter. But don’t send it. Leave it to sediment overnight on your desk and come back to it the day after and re-read it. You will be surprised once the haze of anger is gone how callous and slanderous the letter was and failed to make a constructive and detailed counter-response to the reviewers.

This post is not intended to be a counter-response to Lyons-Weiler, that would be futile and sterile. However, I want to use this as a learning experience by using a study cited by the author [4] that Lyons-Weiler used against me as it claims it vindicates him (*spoilers* it does not, quite the opposite indeed. Read the rest of the post to have a detailed explanation) and discuss on why this study is indeed adding an additional stone in making the point of the overall safety of aluminum adjuvants in vaccines.

For those coming from his page, I want you to come with a neutral and objective mind and read carefully the following sections and follow me through my review. To the authors of this study, I would like to address you my fullest gratitude for your recent work published by your research group in helping advance the (very) complicated and punctuated literature on the pharmacokinetics of aluminum adjuvants over the last 40 years.

My apologies if I use your figures in this post, but I consider it essential to provide these to the readers that may not have access to your publication. Continue reading “Flawed Lyons-Weiler vaccine study further critiqued by a real scientist”