Editor’s note – this index of articles by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss has been updated and published here. The comments here are closed, and you can comment at the new article.
Dorit Rubinstein Reiss – Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA) – is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines (generally, but sometimes moving to other areas of medicine), social policy and the law. Her articles usually unwind the complexities of legal issues with vaccinations and legal policies, such as mandatory vaccination and exemptions, with facts and citations. I know a lot of writers out there will link to one of her articles here as a sort of primary source to tear down a bogus antivaccine message.
Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination–she really is a well-published expert in this area of vaccine policy, and doesn’t stand on the pulpit with a veneer of Argument from Authority, but is actually an authority. Additionally, Reiss is also 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.
Below is a list of articles that Dorit Rubinstein Reiss has written for this blog, organized into some arbitrary and somewhat broad categories for easy reference. Of course, she has written articles about vaccines and legal issues in other locations, which I intend to link here at a later date. This article will be updated as new articles from Dorit are added here.
Continue reading “Index of articles by Prof. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss”
This week, the Tribeca Film Festival, a New York City based film festival that focuses on independent films and documentaries, is highlighting one documentary, Mr. Andy 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.
Continue reading “Vaxxed – a guide to Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent film”
On October 19, 2016 a press release appeared in several outlets claiming – naming Mr. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. as a primary source – that the CDC “blocked” (his term) the appearance of Dr. William Thompson, the so-called CDC whistleblower, in a medical malpractice case. This was done, apparently, in a letter Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC Director, sent in response to attorneys asking that Dr. Thompson testify in a malpractice case. Several articles, based on the press release, troubled me because of numerous clear inaccuracies. I therefore asked for, and obtained, the CDC’s letter (pdf) and read it to understand the CDC’s decision.
This post proceeds in three parts:
- I will explain some of the warning signs – the clearly inaccurate claims – in these articles, using the longest article, in Ecowatch, as the main source.
- I’ll explain what the CDC letter actually said, and why the decision was well-reasoned and not unusual.
- I’ll explain what the standard would be on appeal, if Kennedy and his colleage, Mr. Bryan chose to appeal to federal court, and why they’re unlikely to meet this standard.
There is one more part to this puzzle. This article will examine a lawsuit was filed for Yates Hazelhurst, whose claim – that vaccines caused his autism – was rejected in detailed decisions by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, by a Court of Federal Claims judge on appeal, and by the federal circuit on further appeal (Hazelhurst v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, 604 F.3d 1343). I would like to be able to address that suit, but have not yet been able to obtain the complaint, and would rather look at the primary materials than rely on press release with the kind of warning signs these have. Continue reading “CDC refuses to allow William Thompson to testify – business as usual”
On 19 July 2016, New York Attorney Patricia Finn filed a complaint in a federal district court against the pharmaceutical firm Merck, officials in the Department of Health and Human Services, and Julie Gerberding (formerly director of the CDC, and currently Merck’s Executive Vice President for Strategic Communications, Global Public Policy and Population Health). This Merck vaccine lawsuit, called Doe v Merck, is an amended complaint that was filed on 20 July, and will be the one examined in this article.
While the complaint was filed in the name of a Jane Doe and Baby Doe, the text of the complaint made it very clear that Jane Doe is in fact Maria Dwyer, and Baby Doe is her son Colin Dwyer. Colin Dwyer’s case was one of the test cases in the Omnibus Autism Proceedings (OAP) for the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). The Dwyer case, like the other five test cases in the OAP, was rejected.
The Doe v Merck complaint makes two demands. First, that Merck’s license to produce the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (M-M-R®II ) be revoked.
Second, it asks for damages for Colin’s alleged vaccine injuries. The complaint is problematic from three aspects:
- The story it tries to tell is full of holes;
- as a legal matter, it makes no case; and
- it includes many factual inaccuracies.
In short, the Merck vaccine lawsuit is bad work. However, the complaint is being shared widely, and a discussion of its shortcomings might be of value to many readers. Continue reading “Merck vaccine lawsuit – implausible narrative, bad law and facts”
I was given the opportunity recently to watch Mr. Andy Wakefield’s fraudulent and self-serving anti-vaccination documentary Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Controversy. After getting physically ill and angry, I thought it was my duty to do my own Vaxxed review, something more in-depth than the general criticisms I’ve done with this piece of junk in the past.
I don’t have it in me to write about everything wrong with this “documentary” – to be honest, I heard not one single bit of science based fact presented with respect to the MMR vaccines and autism spectrum disorder. The fraudumentary mostly presented lies, misinformation, anecdotes, and, notably, no real science. Worse yet, it tried to make Wakefield into a hero – maybe a deity of some sort.
So, let’s be clear – this movie is about Wakefield. Not children. Not identifying real causes for autism. Not anything important.
There are a lot of excellent reviews of this “documentary,” including a recent one by David Gorski (you know, my doppelgänger according to certain crackpots on the internet) in Science Based Medicine, “Andrew Wakefield’s VAXXED: Antivaccine propaganda at its most pernicious.” It’s a long review, so read it if you prefer.
Continue reading “Vaxxed review – my personal take on that fraudumentary”
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 years, Mr. Andy 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?
Continue reading “CDC whistleblower – zombie anti-vaccine trope still lives”
The zombie anti-vaccine trope of the CDC coverup of vaccines and autism – tied to a so-called CDC “whistleblower” – has risen again from the dead. I thought it was time to bring back my zombie-killing snarky, sarcastic, and humorous debunking of that trope. Let’s have some fun.
I and about 20-30 other pro-science bloggers wrote articles about a strange story, pushed by all of the usual suspects in the antivaccine universe (starting with Natural News, Green Med Info, and the Age of Lying about Autism). Despite new information, press releases, claims and counter claims, nothing has changed in the facts about vaccines and autism as a result of this somewhat entertaining story that included fictional claims with real people.
What are the facts? Vaccines do not cause autism according to boatloads of evidence.
Nevertheless, this story is provocative, laughable at some level, and filled with rather disreputable characters – it gives all us bloggers, who focus on the real scientific evidence behind the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, a great subject for writing.
As I surmised when I first wrote this article over a year ago, this zombie trope has risen again!
Since much of this story has strong fictional elements, I think we should examine this story as if it were a synopsis for a screenplay behind a proposed new superhero movie. You know, The CDC vs. the Evil Cult of Antivaccination.
Hey, I ought to copyright that, just in case someone does turn in into a movie. Because this synopsis has all of the important parts of a movie–unsavory characters, a fool, the superhero government agency dedicated to saving lives, and the geeky nerds who think science trumps lies. No cool spacecraft or benevolent aliens unfortunately. I’ll work on that.
OK, let’s get with the story. Continue reading “The fictional CDC coverup of vaccines and autism – movie time”
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 years, Mr. Andy 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. Continue reading “Great CDC Coverup–suppressing evidence that MMR vaccines cause autism?”