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Christopher Shaw

Anti-vaccine pseudoscientist Christopher Shaw retracted – shocking news

If you hang out around here reading the ruminations of the feathered dinosaur, you’d have read about the anti-vaccine “researchers” who continually get their fake science retracted by journals, even really low-quality ones. This brings us to the fourth publication over two years authored or co-authored by Christopher Shaw and his shoddy anti-vaccine research.

I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that I could probably run a website just writing about the antics and pseudoscience of Christopher Shaw, and his sometimes co-conspirator, Lucija Tomljenovic. In fact, I’ve written about Shaw about 40 times over the past six years – his false facts are perfect fodder for this blog.

But Shaw’s newest foray into retraction has got to be the strangest. It was a letter to the editor that was retracted. Honestly, it’s the first time I’ve heard of it, so lets jump right into the fray.Read More »Anti-vaccine pseudoscientist Christopher Shaw retracted – shocking news

fake science

Fake science about Star Trek accepted by predatory journals – anti-vaccine researchers happy

One of my pet peeves, of which there are many, is when a fake science paper is published by a low ranked journal and trumpeted as if it is Nobel Prize-worthy research. You can read about anti-vaccine fake science published in these journals from notorious anti-vaccine “researchers” like Shaw and Tomljenovic, Exley, and Shoenfeld.

One of my pet loves is Star Trek, all versions, all the time. In fact, I occasionally have secret conversations with my fellow Big Pharma shills about Star Trek, in which vaccines are never mentioned. I am a self-confessed Star Trek Nerd, who has watched almost every episode of Star Trek ST: TOS through the current Star Trek: Discovery (see Note 1).

So when I get the opportunity, falling into my lap, to combine Star Trek and the anti-vaccine nonsense, I am happier than a pregnant tribble. And when a fake science paper about the Star Trek universe gets accepted by low ranked predatory journals, ones that are beloved by pseudoscience adherents across the world, it’s what I live for.Read More »Fake science about Star Trek accepted by predatory journals – anti-vaccine researchers happy

Jessica Ericzon

Jessica Ericzon death is not linked to the HPV vaccine based on evidence

This article about Jessica Ericzon 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.

This post revisits another sad, sad tragedy, the death of Jessica Ericzon, which was blamed on vaccines – this time, Gardasil, the vaccine that prevents infection with high-risk strains of HPV. Once again, the claim has no real evidence behind it. The concern, of course, is that these stories will lead to parents who are not already anti-vaccine refusing to protect their children against an infection that causes cancer.

Not protecting children against HPV infections that kill thousands and cause tens of thousands of cancer each year is putting them at unnecessary risk and setting the stage up for preventable tragedies. Doing it because of a painful death that no good evidence links to the vaccine, is doubly tragic. However painful, we owe it to future victims of preventable HPV cancers to set the facts straight

Read More »Jessica Ericzon death is not linked to the HPV vaccine based on evidence
Anti-vaccine scientists

Anti-vaccine scientists (cough, cough) republish a retracted article

Here we go with the same old story that I’ve pursued for years – the one about University of British Columbia researchers, Christopher Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic, who are amongst the most laughable anti-vaccine scientists (and I use the word “scientist” very loosely) to ply their pseudoscientific nonsense onto the world. Their articles are regularly retracted by even minor journals, but like zombies, those articles return to life in even more obscure, minor journals.

Despite the utter junk that Shaw and Tomljenovic publish, the anti-vaccine religion embraces them like they are prophets of the impending apocalypse of vaccines. Every time one of their pseudoscientific papers gets published, even after devastating critiques, the anti-vaccine zealots embrace it without reservation.

So one more paper by the University of British Columbia team gets retracted, and then comes back to life in some other obscure journal. Do you really think I’m going to ignore piling on to Shaw and Tomljenovic? Oh hardly. This is why I have this website.Read More »Anti-vaccine scientists (cough, cough) republish a retracted article

Gardasil killed colton berrett

Gardasil killed Colton Berrett? The evidence does not support this claim

As I mentioned in a previous article, reading articles about vaccines leads to many tragic and heartfelt stories. But as a scientist, I have to separate the emotional aspects of a story from the science-based evidence. This post is particularly tough because this story is so devastating, that I wanted to ignore it (and have ignored for a few days), but it has become a rallying point for the anti-vaccine religion against the HPV cancer-preventing vaccines. The internet is saying Gardasil killed Colton Berrett, but the scientific evidence says otherwise. Time to take a look.

The anti-vaccine religion hates almost all vaccines equally, but they hold a special level of hatred for the HPV cancer-preventing vaccine. There are boatloads of rumors, myths and outright lies about the vaccine, that I have debunked one by one over the past six years – unfortunately, these stories lead many people to say “no” to the vaccine.

Despite the vast body of evidence from huge case-control studies, that have established that individuals who receive the HPV vaccine are no more at risk for serious adverse events than the general unvaccinated population, there is a small group of people who try to convince the world otherwise.

Christopher Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic have notoriously pushed “published” articles that have hypothesized that the HPV vaccines have some inherent danger. Yet, the anti-vaccine forces conveniently ignore the fact that their articles have been frequently been retracted for being of poor quality, or, having faked data.

And this leads us to the tragic story of Colton, a Utah teen who received the Gardasil vaccine, then contracted a neurodegenerative disease, and eventually died. His parents, the Vaxxed fraudumentary crowd, and the whole anti-vaccine world blame the HPV vaccine. And the clickbait headlines from the usual suspects in the anti-vaccine world attempt to scare anyone from getting the cancer-preventing vaccine – “Colten Berrett dies from his Gardasil HPV vaccine injuries” is a typical one.

Of course, I’m a scientist, and I only consider legitimate scientific evidence in applying causality – we need to look carefully at whether Gardasil killed Colton Berrett. And the real story is that no, Gardasil had nothing to do with this tragedy, as much as the anti-vaccine religion would like it to be so.

Despite how sad this story might be to all of us, it is time to examine the claims of a link, by reviewing real medical evidence.

Read More »Gardasil killed Colton Berrett? The evidence does not support this claim
Aluminum toxicity

Aluminum toxicity in vaccines – here we go again with bad science

This year I got a special birthday gift; someone sent me a piece about vaccine aluminum toxicity written by the noted anti-vaccine activist, J B Handley. In part, it reads:

While you were (hopefully) enjoying the winter holidays, a study was published in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry (it went online on December 27th) that could change the autism debate permanently.

I’d actually already been alerted to the paper, which is linked here. Some blogs of which I am a fan do a tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) summary at the end. I’m going to break with this and do it at the start.

This paper by several authors, including the anti-vaccine Christopher Exley and Romain K Gherardi, published in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry (which has been a subject of this blog before) has one of the worst introductions I have ever read. The first paragraph is basically copy/pasted from others and then twisted to fulfill the anti-vaccine tone of the paper. From there on in it doesn’t get any better.

Many of the references don’t say what the authors want you to think they do. Genuinely, the authors introduce papers which conclude that there is a lack of evidence for causality, but the authors act as if they conclude the opposite.

Many other references are items by the authors – the self reference is rampant. They, apparently and willfully, misrepresent the current state of play regarding the EMA and certain members of the Nordic Cochrane group –it is almost unbelievably poor.

Time to take a look at this paper in detail.Read More »Aluminum toxicity in vaccines – here we go again with bad science

Gardasil cancer-preventing vaccine

Gardasil cancer-preventing vaccine is the greatest medical scandal – nope

I am absolutely convinced that of all the vaccines on the market, the anti-vaccine radicals hate the Gardasil cancer-preventing vaccine more than any other. Nearly every day, I see article after article in pseudoscientific websites that make unfounded claims and outright misinformation about Gardasil, including one that crossed my path today.

The article, in a junk medicine website called RealFarmacy, blares this click-bait headline – “Merck’s Former Doctor Predicts Gardasil to Become the Greatest Medical Scandal of All Time.” Oh no, I’m frightened, are you? The article relies upon the Four Horsemen of the Gardasil Apocalypse™ for their fake facts.

In fact, there is robust scientific evidence, gathered from huge case control studies, that the Gardasil cancer-preventing vaccine is incredibly safe, and may be one of the safest vaccines on the market. But we all know what the anti-vaccine folks think of scientific facts – they ignore them unless it supports their preordained conclusions.

This article will tackle the key points of the RealFarmacy (what’s with the spelling error?) article. Read More »Gardasil cancer-preventing vaccine is the greatest medical scandal – nope

UBC responded

UBC responded to retraction of Shaw and Tomljenovic anti-vaccine paper

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is home to two of the most infamous anti-vaccine “researchers” in the world – Christopher Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic. Shaw and Tomljenovic have a notorious history of retracted articles, reprimands, and pushing a pseudoscience in their search to publish misinformation about vaccines. Finally, after their latest article was retracted shortly after publication, UBC responded to the harsh criticism of what appears to be malfeasance.

There have been a lot of comments on various articles about this retraction as to why UBC continues to employ Shaw and Tomljenovic. They must be an embarrassment to the university, yet many reports show that UBC supports them. Anti-vaccine radicals frequently make an argument from authority, claiming that Shaw and Tomljenovic are legitimate researchers because they are at the University of British Columbia.

So UBC keeps a pair of researchers who do harm to children of the world, by making unsupported claims about the safety of vaccines. They represent a clear and present danger to the health of humans.

The only thing I should have read is that “UBC responded to the latest retraction, and terminated their relationship to Shaw and Tomljenovic.” Well, I wish.

Read More »UBC responded to retraction of Shaw and Tomljenovic anti-vaccine paper

aluminum adjuvants

Aluminum adjuvants in vaccines – another attempt for something, anything

Here we go again, another attempt to link aluminum adjuvants in vaccines to something, despite the lack of real evidence for anything. Recently, an attempt by the disreputable pair of anti-vaccine researchers to show a link between aluminum adjuvants and autism was retracted by the journal.

Several researchers have proposed a systematic review (which are considered to be the pinnacle of the hierarchy of biomedical research) to determine if there are any links between aluminum adjuvants in vaccines to some medical condition. Read that carefully – this paper does not provide any new evidence, it is merely a description of their reasons for looking at aluminum along with the meta-review protocol.

Mostly, I’d ignore these type of papers, because they aren’t providing us with any new information about vaccines. But in this case, I wanted to point out a bunch of flaws in their reasoning, which seems to indicate a high degree of bias. Therein is the problem – systematic reviews are powerful tools in science-based medicine, but many of these systematic reviews are filled with a large amount of bias. And this study is starting from a very biased point of view.Read More »Aluminum adjuvants in vaccines – another attempt for something, anything