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The great vaccine debate – only exists in the brains of anti-vaxxers

Frequently, anti-vaxxers like Robert F Kennedy Jr and Del Bigtree demand a great vaccine debate between whomever they’re targeting, like Paul Offit or our friend Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, and themselves. I find it amusing, and if anyone asks, I tell them that a vaccine debate is worthless for lots of reasons.

The problem is that if you pay attention to any scientific topic, like climate change, evolution, and, yes, vaccines, you’d think that some scientific principles were actually being debated by scientists. The unfiltered information about important scientific subjects allows the science deniers to use a false equivalency to make it appear that the minority and scientifically unsupported point of view is equivalent to the scientific consensus which is always based on huge amounts of published evidence. And for vaccines, the safety and effectiveness are settled science.

From listening to the screaming and yelling, you would think that there is a great vaccine debate. Or an evolution debate. Or a climate change debate. 

There aren’t any debates on any of those (and hundreds of other) scientific topics. Just because someone, like RFK Jr or Bigtree, thinks that there is some “debate,” it doesn’t mean there actually is one. All that happens is one side, almost always the science deniers, use misinformation, lies, anecdotes, and pseudoscience while attempting to scream and yell as loud as possible, then claim they’ve won.

Science can’t be debated. And a corollary is that there is no great vaccine debate.

Read More »The great vaccine debate – only exists in the brains of anti-vaxxers
CDC whistleblower

CDC whistleblower – zombie anti-vaccine trope still lives

Today is Valentine’s Day, 2016. For many of you, it’s all about roses and chocolates. But for a bunch of us, it’s all about The Walking Dead and zombies. And in honor of the return of The Walking Dead, let’s talk about zombie anti-vaccine tropes that never die – the infamous CDC whistleblower oh my.

If you haven’t noticed, any time I can tie something I’m writing to zombies or The Walking Dead, I’m happy. So bear with me.

The antivaccination cult, lacking any real evidence for their unscientific beliefs, tend to grab on tightly to the flimsiest of stories. They love to scream “GOTCHA” to anything that shows up on the internet that puts vaccines in a bad light. A few years ago, they were jumping for joy regarding some comments from Dr. Diane Harper, who was promoted by the antivaccination crowd as the “lead researcher” for Gardasil. Except, the story was a lot different than they claimed.

Or promoting an “Italian court” that decided that MMR caused autism, relying upon the discredited and retracted study by one of the greatest scientific criminal frauds of the past 100 yearsMrAndy Wakefield, who alleged a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism.

Or trying to push the story of a French businessman, who claimed to have intimate knowledge of Merck’s data about Gardasil–all of it negative. Except he never worked in Merck’s R&D department and was made redundant when his company was acquired by Merck.

So what now? What zombie trope has come alive again?
Read More »CDC whistleblower – zombie anti-vaccine trope still lives

vaxxed

Vaxxed – a guide to Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent film

This week, the Tribeca Film Festival, a New York City based film festival that focuses on independent films and documentaries, is highlighting one documentary, MrAndy Wakefield’s fraudulent anti-vaccination movie “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Controversy.

The movie, directed by the cunning con-man Wakefield, promises to feature “revealing and emotional interviews with pharmaceutical insiders, doctors, politicians, parents, and one whistleblower to understand what’s behind the skyrocketing increase of autism diagnoses today.”

There’s been a lot of criticism by the pro-science community about  this film, including this series of three articles by the enigmatic and inscrutable Orac:

Although you should definitely read all three articles, the Delphic Orac’s response to Tribeca’s implication that the movie represents part of the “debate” (there is no debate) about vaccines and autism is legendary:

It’s a common excuse made by, for example, reporters for “telling both sides” about scientific issues. Here’s the problem. This sort of attitude might make sense for social and political issues, but science is different, because in science there is often a right and a wrong answer.

You can have all the “dialogue and discussion” you want about a scientific topic, such as the question of whether vaccines cause autism, but at the end of the day there is a correct answer based on science.

In other words, there is no debate in science.

The Los Angeles Times, which has a long history of fighting the ignorance against vaccines, published an editorial entitled “Has Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival sold out to anti-vaccine crackpots?”  They follow the trail of Andy Wakefield from his fraud to this “documentary.”

And of course, the website, Age of Lying About Autism, made up of Wakefield sycophants who deliver deceitful garbage about vaccines, is having a huge orgasm over the featuring of this movie.

I don’t want to tread on what other’s have written. From the oracular Orac, you can get the whole story, the criticism, and the debunking of the “this is censorship” nonsense.

I just wanted to give people a quick list of the facts about this story, a quick debunking tool, if you will. Let’s talk about Wakefield’s Vaxxed.

Read More »Vaxxed – a guide to Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent film

Vaccines, autism, Italian court of Cassation

Vaccines. Autism, Italian Court of Cassation – they get it right

Twice before we have examined a decision by a low-level Italian court that claimed a link between vaccines and autism. One decision was already overturned on appeal. The other appeal has not, to my knowledge, been decided yet, but the decision is just as ill-founded.

In spite of their problems these decisions were heralded by anti-vaccine activists as demonstrating once and for all that vaccines cause autism, despite the extensive science showing otherwise. I have said this elsewhere and will repeat: if your best evidence that vaccines cause autism are two (badly reasoned) low-level court decisions from another country, you have a very weak case.

Now, even that weak case has suffered a serious blow.

Read More »Vaccines. Autism, Italian Court of Cassation – they get it right

vaxxed by andrew wakefield

In memoriam – fraudumentary Vaxxed by Andrew Wakefield

Late last week the fraudumentary (my portmanteau of fraudulent documentary, you can thank me in the comments), Vaxxed by Andrew Wakefield was going to be a part of the Tribeca Film Festival, then got support from Robert DeNiro, then got trashed by everyone as being old news, then was pulled from the film festival.

Various anti-vaccination activists whined about all kinds of things, including various conspiracy theories, complaints about censorship (without really knowing what censorship means), and just about anything else you could name.

Unless you were living under a rock (and I’d have to ask why), this kerfuffle seemed to have exploded in an instant and disappeared within a couple of days. I think it was the unified indignation of nearly every science writer on the planet that convinced Tribeca to cut bait and run (I’m really on my game for clichés).

I mean it really wasn’t that hard.  MrAndy Wakefield is a fraud – period. Vaccines and autism are unrelated according to all of the high quality epidemiological research – period. And the so called CDC Whistleblower manufactroversy (another invented portmanteau, just to be thorough), a key part of the film, was really much adieu about nothing.

And that whistleblower has stated over and over again, he strongly recommends that all children get vaccinated according to the CDC schedule. Let that sink in.

I’ll but this into terms that should be clear to any reader. Vaxxed is, was, and forever shall be pure, organic, GMO-free, derived from virgin cows, BULLSHIT.

But like most bullshit, the stink doesn’t go away very fast. Let’s see what happened.

Read More »In memoriam – fraudumentary Vaxxed by Andrew Wakefield

Science deniers use false equivalence to create fake debates

This article has been updated and can be found here

If you read a news article, Google a scientific topic, or watch TV, you’d think that some scientific principles were actually being debated by scientists. The unfiltered information about important scientific subjects allows the science deniers to use a false equivalence to make it appear that the often minority, and scientifically unsupported viewpoint is equivalent to the scientific consensus which is based on huge amounts of published evidence.

From listening to the screaming and yelling, you would think that scientists aren’t sure about evolution, vaccines, global warming, and the age of the earth (or even the age of the universe). There are even those who think there’s a debate that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. It’s because some news sources think there’s a debate, so bring one person to represent one side, and one for the other, and the person screams the loudest often wins.

Read More »Science deniers use false equivalence to create fake debates

Manufacturing a controversy about the MMR vaccine

Here we go again with the trope that the MMR vaccine causes autism. The Daily Mail, a British middle market tabloid, has published an article, MMR: A mother’s victory: The vast majority of doctors say there is no link between the triple jab and autism, but could an Italian court case reignite this controversial debate?, that is attempting to create a controversy out of thin air about the MMR vaccine for mumps, measles and rubella. The article is referring to an insane Italian court ruling which, despite all evidence to the contrary, blamed a child’s autism on the vaccination.

Update–in February 2015, an Italian Court of Appeals overturns the decision by the Provincial Court, so the vaccine denier claim that “Italian courts state that vaccines cause autism” can be dismissed. Mostly.

Read More »Manufacturing a controversy about the MMR vaccine

Great CDC Coverup–suppressing evidence that MMR vaccines cause autism?

syringe-vaccine-autism

This article has been updated and the comments have been closed here. Please comment at the revised article.

Oh no, here we go again. The antivaccination cult, lacking any real evidence, grabs onto the flimsiest of stories, disregarding the foul and corrupt individuals promoting the story–using it all to scream “GOTCHA” to anyone involved with vaccines. Last year, it was laughably jumping on some comments of Dr. Diane Harper, who was promoted by the antivaccination crowd as the “lead researcher” for Gardasil, that appeared to say that Gardasil was useless.

Or promoting an “Italian court” that decided that MMR caused autism, relying upon the discredited and retracted study by one of the greatest scientific criminals of the past 100 yearsMrAndy Wakefield, who fraudulently alleged a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism.

Or furthering the story of a French businessman, who claimed to have intimate knowledge of Merck’s data about Gardasil–all of it negative. Except he never worked in Merck’s R&D department, and was made redundant when his company was acquired by Merck.

The Church of Antivaccines, whose god, Mr. Andy Wakefield, should be held criminally responsible for deaths of children who never got the MMR vaccine, are so bereft of any real evidence to support their beliefs, they will either invent, misrepresent, or manipulate any story that even tenuously supports their dogma that vaccines are dangerous.Read More »Great CDC Coverup–suppressing evidence that MMR vaccines cause autism?

“False balanced” reporting of autism-vaccine manufactroversy

In the real world of science-based medicine, the link between autism and vaccines (particularly, the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella) has been thoroughly debunked, quashed, and discredited. In the delusional world of the vaccine denialists, the link between autism and vaccines is based on MrAndy Wakefield‘s paper alleging a connection between MMR and autism that has been retracted by the Lancet medical journal.

Then why is there even a debate about this manufactroversy (a manufactured or invented controversy)? Well, researchers actually examined this false controversy in a recently published article, by Graham Dixon and Christopher Clarke of Cornell University, in Health Education Research. They investigated how the news media and journalists try to “falsely balance” their reporting about the debunked link between vaccines and autism. The journalists create this false balance, “despite a strong medical and scientific consensus backed by rigorous epidemiological studies indicating no link between autism and vaccines.” Dixon and Clarke also state that “research suggests that journalists in the United Kingdom and United States often report this controversy by presenting claims both for and against a link in a relatively ‘balanced’ fashion. In some cases, so-called ‘falsely balanced’ reporting fails to mention which claim is supported by a scientific consensus.” An overwhelming scientific consensus, by the way.Read More »“False balanced” reporting of autism-vaccine manufactroversy