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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

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December 4, 2013

More Vaccine Fearmongering

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Posted by Derek

Seth Mnookin's The Panic Virus is an excellent overview of the vaccine/autism arguments that raged for many years (and rage still in the heads of the ignorant - sorry, it's gotten to the point where there's no reason to spare anyone's feelings about this issue). Now in this post at PLOS Blogs, he's alerting people to another round of the same stuff, this time about the HPV vaccine:

Over a period of about a month, (Katie Couric's) producer and I spoke for a period of several hours before she told me that the show was no longer interesting in hearing from me on air. Still, I came away from the interaction somewhat heartened: The producer seemed to have a true grasp of the dangers of declining vaccination rates and she stressed repeatedly that her co-workers, including Couric herself, did not view this as an “on the one hand, on the other hand” issue but one in which facts and evidence clearly lined up on one side — the side that overwhelmingly supports the importance and efficacy of vaccines.

Apparently, that was all a load of crap.

Read on for more. One piece of anecdotal data trumps hundreds of thousands of patients worth of actual data, you know. Especially if it's sad. Especially if it gets ratings.

Comments (57) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Autism | Infectious Diseases | Snake Oil


COMMENTS

1. a. nonymaus on December 4, 2013 10:31 AM writes...

There has been an ongoing push against this vaccine, specifically because it prevents an STD. I wonder how much of this specific anti-HPV scare is being pushed by social conservatives who think that the threat of cancer will stop teens from having sex. I wonder also how much of it is from social conservatives who think that cancer is the just punishment for women who enjoy sex.

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2. Anon for this one on December 4, 2013 10:45 AM writes...

@1: I agree with you that there are probably a lot of social conservatives who disagree with this, because they have the risk/benefit calculation incorrect, i.e. they overestimate the risk of this vaccine, and they underestimate the risk that their kids will be exposed to HPV and the risk of cervical cancer.

Also, I implore you to consider the possibility that all social conservatives aren't as cruel as you've caricatured.

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3. Redlich-Kwong on December 4, 2013 11:02 AM writes...

The second I read "Katie Couric's producer" I already knew what was coming: a placating heap of dung. This type of pseudo yellow-journalism is fraught with the glorification of the minuscule and feckless. What's troubling is the complete lack of concern for public health; rather, only rating/advertisers are of any focus. It seems just as the Wakefield's and Duesberg's (likely pronounced as "Douche") have been muzzled, some other jerk steps in and obliterates decades of science for their own vanity. Sometimes I think we too should take the Hippocratic oath, or some derivative of it. Then again, Mr. Wakefield likely did.

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4. Vader on December 4, 2013 11:16 AM writes...

When I was attending junior high and high school, some of the girls (typically those who were, shall we say, not strong in the Force) were so desperate for attention that they would engage in some fairly outrageous behavior to attract it. (Some guys, too, but I noticed it more with the girls.) Some of this behavior fell under the rubric of what we, in that more civilized age, called "slutting around."

When I graduated to college, I noticed less of it, but then I was attending a private religious college. But it wasn't entirely absent even at the Jedi Temple, thought it often took subtler forms.

It strikes me that the very model of the modern media anchorwoman comes out of that group. Desperate for attention (ratings) and willing to engage in outrageous behavior (pushing junk science) to get it.


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5. DV Henkel-Wallace on December 4, 2013 11:28 AM writes...

@2 (Anon for this one): When I read #1's term "social conservatives who think that..." I saw "that subset of social conservatives defined by their belief that..."

In other words no implication that all social conservatives might be cruel.

More on topic: it seems likely that this vaccine would be beneficial for males and females outside the recommended age group as well.

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6. Vader on December 4, 2013 11:30 AM writes...

@#1, #2,

"Also, I implore you to consider the possibility that all social conservatives aren't as cruel as you've caricatured. "

This.

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7. Chris on December 4, 2013 11:32 AM writes...

Our local newspapers ran a front page article last week about "Woman believes her teenage son was killed by the flu vaccine". The story told how this otherwise healthy 19 year old boy, who had never had a flu shot before, went into a coma and died a few days after having his first flu shot. Now, I do not know what killed this poor kid, and there certainly are documented cases where vaccines cause significant damage (that's the cost part of the cost/benefit analysis), but I couldn't believe that the papers were so irresponsible to run the story with this headline. Just because this woman believes the flu shot killed her son doesn't make it so. And just because she wants to get the word out to other parents doesn't mean she should be given the platform. UGH!

(as a side note, everyone in my family was vaccinated against the flu this year and none of us has died yet)

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8. Chris on December 4, 2013 11:34 AM writes...

Our local newspapers ran a front page article last week about "Woman believes her teenage son was killed by the flu vaccine". The story told how this otherwise healthy 19 year old boy, who had never had a flu shot before, went into a coma and died a few days after having his first flu shot. Now, I do not know what killed this poor kid, and there certainly are documented cases where vaccines cause significant damage (that's the cost part of the cost/benefit analysis), but I couldn't believe that the papers were so irresponsible to run the story with this headline. Just because this woman believes the flu shot killed her son doesn't make it so. And just because she wants to get the word out to other parents doesn't mean she should be given the platform. UGH!

(as a side note, everyone in my family was vaccinated against the flu this year and none of us has died yet)

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9. Chris on December 4, 2013 11:34 AM writes...

Our local newspapers ran a front page article last week about "Woman believes her teenage son was killed by the flu vaccine". The story told how this otherwise healthy 19 year old boy, who had never had a flu shot before, went into a coma and died a few days after having his first flu shot. Now, I do not know what killed this poor kid, and there certainly are documented cases where vaccines cause significant damage (that's the cost part of the cost/benefit analysis), but I couldn't believe that the papers were so irresponsible to run the story with this headline. Just because this woman believes the flu shot killed her son doesn't make it so. And just because she wants to get the word out to other parents doesn't mean she should be given the platform. UGH!

(as a side note, everyone in my family was vaccinated against the flu this year and none of us has died yet)

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10. Doctor Memory on December 4, 2013 11:59 AM writes...

@1: the pushback against the HPV vaccine is actually very oddly bi-partisan, in that it has found a happy home on the fringes of both the left and right. The "social conservative" discomfort with a vaccine that prevents STDs is documented and self-evident, but a quick stroll through the online corridors of the self-identified ecological/organic/etc left will find a roughly equal amount of fear-mongering about Gardasil. It's all pretty relentlessly depressing.

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11. Wile E. Coyote, Genius on December 4, 2013 12:05 PM writes...

@10, I agree. Jenny McCarthy, who seems to be against all vaccines, isn't exactly a social conservative. This isn't a political issue. It is a science illiteracy issue. Those of that phenotype are in all parts of the political spectrum.

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12. Anon for this one on December 4, 2013 12:20 PM writes...

@5: That's fair. My response is that I believe this subset of social conservatives to be quite small; ymmv.

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13. Anonymous on December 4, 2013 12:28 PM writes...

I would say that 90% of people are completely fooled by anecdotal stories without any regard to statistics, and another 9% of people are heavily biased by anecdotal stories with only basic appreciation for probability and statistics. Less than 1% of people have a good enough understanding of statistics to consider anecdotal stories with a critical mindset. So it's hardly surprising that most people are fooled by alternative medicines, astrology, conspiracy theories, religion, miracles, dangerous vaccines, and all the other BS that fills our society.

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14. MTK on December 4, 2013 1:30 PM writes...

IMO scientific literacy has very little to do with all this.

It's a basic distrust of our institutions. People don't trust the government, they don't trust Science, they don't trust industry.

You can trot out all the numbers and methodology that you want, but it won't matter if people think they're illegitimate from the outset.

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15. Anon on December 4, 2013 2:01 PM writes...

Its depressing to read the couric website comments. Everyone commenting is a righteous tool. Half claim to be nurses or some other expert. Expert whats? One guy wrote a diatribe of how evil and insulting statistics are? Huh?

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16. Vader on December 4, 2013 2:04 PM writes...

"One guy wrote a diatribe of how evil and insulting statistics are? Huh? "

They're evidently the poissonous tools of capitalist distributions.

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17. Supplement Joe on December 4, 2013 2:39 PM writes...

I was invited to sit in at a conference of chiropractors who had one speaker after another mention in passing that vaccinations were THE cause of most disorders they see in children and that only nutrition and 'adjustments' could combat this.

A litany of healing case studies not dissimilar to the laying on of hands by Oral Roberts were recounted, the relief of the parents, gratitude of all concerned made this the most rewarding part of cracking bones. On the walls were posters of coming speakers Andrew Wakefield, Marianne Moore, Deepak Chopra and other spiritual leaders of our time.

The conference organizer was a hyper-kinetic juicer, surfer, pot smoking, ex crack head true believer with a beer in his hand who made so many rapid fire assertions about the dangers of vaccinations and prescriptive drugs, hybrid foods (GMO's), and the benefits of an 'adjustment' every two weeks that I realized not long into all this that it was an incantation, a cheerleading session for the misbegotten. Lest you think this was fringe, there were hundreds of chiros at this, and his patient 'clinic' dwarfs in size any medical group in the state. There is nothing he does not know, btw if you need a quick answer on a health topic.

Now this is mainstream and #14 has it right - no one trusts anything out there and with the full on liar now in the WH it is only going to get worse. Oddly enough, I think the chiros themselves are now getting on the hit list of the distrustful. The supplements they hand out have only a 10% reorder rate and the adjustments grow tiresome when nothing changes but your bank account. At some point, it seems, everyone runs out of bullshit.

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18. dearieme on December 4, 2013 2:43 PM writes...

"they don't trust Science": alas, over the last few decades they've been given reason not to trust stuff passing itself off as Science. Some of them may distrust it for other reasons altogether, of course: religion, conspiracy theories and whatnot.

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19. T-money on December 4, 2013 2:46 PM writes...

@16: I see what you did there

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20. anon on December 4, 2013 3:46 PM writes...

@16: 60 % of the time, it works everytime

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21. anon on December 4, 2013 3:47 PM writes...

@13, sorry

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22. Anon tired of pharma crap on December 4, 2013 4:02 PM writes...

Maybe, just maybe, there is a chance that Darwinism will finally come into play again? Imagine what a better world this would be if all the anti-science freaks are wiped out......

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23. sciencemonkey on December 4, 2013 4:10 PM writes...

I'm a polymer chemist, so no connection to the profession of chiropracty, but I do have a positive anecdote to relate. I had fairly bad pain in the mid-right of my back, especially after walking a distance. My family doctor and a surgeon referral I asked for both said I should see a chiropractor or physiotherapist.

I went to a local chiro school (so that I wouldn't go over my $500 insurance limit for chiro), and saw a student for a number of sessions. No quackery, just sessions with massage and some back-cracking, and recommendation to do back exercises that I've been too lazy to do. Pain was worse right after the sessions, but for 1.5 years now the pain is 90% reduced.

I wonder if there is internal turmoil in their profession between the back-crackers and the quackery.

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24. Pennpenn on December 4, 2013 6:01 PM writes...

Atopc@22- Unfortunately the ones who are pushing this anti-science madness are the least likely to be harmed or removed from the gene pool because of it. Usually because they are (knowingly or not) benefiting from the very science they're ripping on.

Sciencemonkey@23- No one's (well, most people) saying that things like chiropracty can't possibly have a positive effect, or that things like herbal suppliments or whatever can't help, it's just that there's very little hard data supporting it, and more importantly legions of quacks, frauds, fakes, and clueless "true-believers" out there that it taints the well and prevents objective assessments of the methods, activity, and effectiveness of the alternative methods.

MTK@14- Well, one does tend to lead to the other, one way or another.

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25. John Cochran on December 4, 2013 7:27 PM writes...

Frankly, this doesn't surprise me at all. And once you know the answer to "What product does the mass media produce?", it shouldn't surprise you either. The answer to that little question is "Ears and eyeballs. Or to be more precise, exposure to ears and eyeballs. The audience. The customer of the mass media is the advertisers. Not the viewers. The viewers are the product." The mass media doesn't produce entertainment, it doesn't produce news. It produces viewers. The entertainment or news is the bait. So if they do something that causes a larger audience, then that's "good" to their way of thinking. Vaccines preventing illness and cancer? That's boring. No one gets sick, no one dies, no tearful parents. Just plain old cold hard facts. Won't attract an audience using that. Let's get some tastier bait that will actually get an audience.

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26. Curious Wavefunction on December 4, 2013 7:53 PM writes...

I tried to engage with a few commenters on the Couric website but it's hopeless. Once they play the emotional and moral card it's essentially impossible for you to convince them, no matter how much science and evidence you trot out. And that is precisely why Couric is doing grave damage to the cause of science and reason; the impact of one mother's anguish easily exceeds that of a hundred convincing clinical trials indicating otherwise.

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27. Lunar landing on December 4, 2013 9:18 PM writes...

Don Imus and his track star wife have also been a major source of this un-informed fear mongering around vaccination. In the end, those who are willing to say such blatantly irresponsible things and ignore the vast preponderance of scientific evidence, will have to live with the fact that they are ultimately responsible for actually causing significant harm to people. For these people higher ratings and increased advertising revenues manifestly trumps truth and morality. Nice way to make a living.

Understandably the vast majority of the public cannot sort through these complex issues. As such there is something to be said for educational and professional pedigrees I.e. do not take medical advice from vapid TV talk show hosts or decrepit radio shock jocks and their large breasted track star spouses.

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28. Lane Simonian on December 4, 2013 10:14 PM writes...

I am not anti-vaccine, but one needs to look very carefully at the neurological damage that vaccine components such as mercury and aluminum hydroxide can do to people who cannot process mercury or have problematic immune systems. It is only an anecdote when it does not affect you or someone you know. It is possible to have effective vaccines that do not contain potential neurotoxins.

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29. Anonymous on December 5, 2013 8:52 AM writes...

Lane, are you a complete idiot, or merely an imbecile? Vaccines don't contain mercury, or any other neurotoxin, any more than the food you eat. And that's because the bugs that are engineered to produce vaccines are fed on stuff that is just as pure and fresh, if not more. And mercury doesn't just appear from nowhere. It is a chemical element that cannot be created except in the hottest of stars.

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30. Lain Simian on December 5, 2013 10:24 AM writes...

Lane is referring to the fact that SOME of the previous generations of vaccines, predominately those packaged in multi-use vials, contained thimerosal, an antiseptic agent. It was phased out in 1999. Of course the rate of autism diagnoses continued to increase after that date and to this day.

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31. Lain Simian on December 5, 2013 10:59 AM writes...

Lane is referring to the fact that SOME of the previous generations of vaccines, predominately those packaged in multi-use vials, contained thimerosal, an antiseptic agent. It was phased out in 1999. Of course the rate of autism diagnoses continued to increase after that date and to this day.

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32. Lane Simonian on December 5, 2013 11:04 AM writes...

#30. Thank you--that is exactly what I am referring to (clever take off on my name). The flu vaccine still contains thimerosal. Thimerosal is metabolized into ethylmercury. For the potential risks of ethylmercury to the brain see Julia R. Barrett, Thimerosal and Animal Brains: New Data for Assessing Human Ethylmercury Risk.

Many children with autism have low levels of glutathione and glutathione is the main agent for chelating mercury out of the body and a critical antioxidant in the brain. I cannot say if the levels of ethylmercury previously found in vaccines was enough to trigger autism. Certainly mercury exposure in air pollution, water pollution, and certain foods such as fish pose a major threat to young children with glutathione deficiencies.

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33. surfingscientist on December 5, 2013 11:17 AM writes...

@17 surfers and potheads and Kenyans, oh my! Do yourself a favor and give at least one of them a try, people will like you more.

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34. Dr. Manhattan on December 5, 2013 11:20 AM writes...

"I would say that 90% of people are completely fooled by anecdotal stories without any regard to statistics, and another 9% of people are heavily biased by anecdotal stories with only basic appreciation for probability and statistics."

Yes, that is the basic premise behind casinos and lotteries. One is dazzled by the anecdotal stories of winners, while ignoring the vast numbers of losers in such circumstances. If you give a vaccine to hundreds of thousands of people, it is a certainty that at least one of them will die within a short period of receiving the vaccine. The real tragedy is the number of unvaccinated children who are suffering from vaccine preventable diseases.

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35. Lyle Langley on December 5, 2013 1:42 PM writes...

@32, the Real Lane Simonian...

You are partially correct that the flu vaccine contains thimerosal. The vaccine that is packaged in a multi-dose vial does contain thimerosal; however, the nasal version and single-dose versions do not - a distinction you forgot to mention. However, and more importantly, thimerosal has not been linked (by real science) to any of the issues that others have claimed, yourself included.

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36. Child of Science on December 5, 2013 8:24 PM writes...

@16, that was great. I completely interrupted my daughter's tutoring with laughter. This will be going around my son's AP Stats class at high speed.

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37. Andy on December 5, 2013 9:17 PM writes...

For a lovely visualisation of the HPV debate:
http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2011/is-the-hpv-vaccine-safe-v-2-0/

The side-by-side of 'vaccine vs placebo' would seem to provide compelling evidence that placebo injections cause increased suicide and car crash incidence. A potential cure being an authentic vaccination, if one were of the mind set to extrapolate from minimal data.

I am not responsible if you get lost in the website for several hours (hint, the 20th Century Death and Interactive Snake Oil Supplements are thought-provoking and amusing, respectively).

Permalink to Comment

38. Lane Simonian on December 6, 2013 10:45 AM writes...

Lyle Langley, thank you for noting which forms of the flu vaccine contain thimerosal and which do not.

I am not actually making any claims. To cite from the research I mentioned earlier: thimerosal in monkeys leads to a marked increase in inorganic mercury in the brain. "The researchers emphasize, however, that the risks associated with low-level exposures to inorganic mercury in the developing brain are unknown, and they describe other research linking persistent inorganic mercury exposure with increased activation of microglia in the brain, an effect recently reported in children with autism. They recommend further research focused specifically on the biotransformation of thimerosal and its neurotoxic potential." The researchers are not claiming that thimerosal causes autism; they are indicating a mechanism by which it may cause autism. And that is my only point: people who say there is irrefutable evidence that thimerosal does not cause autism have no more scientific evidence than the people who claim that thimerosal does cause autism because at this point we don't know. At best we can say is that there is a strong likelihood that mercury exposure plays a role in the development of autism in some cases.

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39. Org Lett Reader on December 6, 2013 11:31 AM writes...

Glad I wasn't the only one who thought that comment #16 was great!

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40. fuelair on December 7, 2013 3:14 PM writes...

in response to 1,2,8 - it is not that the noted social conservatives are evil*, it is that they are ignorant and want to thrust their ignorance upon others. Herd immunity and all that.......


*Which, of course, does not preclude evil but neither does it guarantee it!!

Permalink to Comment

41. Sili on December 7, 2013 4:16 PM writes...

Any sufficiently advanced ignorance is indistinguishable from malice.

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42. AspiringChemist on December 8, 2013 1:08 AM writes...

I'd hesitate to place myself 100% on either side of the vaccine debate with my opinions swaying for individual situations/circumstances.

I don't get yearly flu shots and am not a promiscuous young adult so I have opted out of getting an HPV vaccination so far. However, if I were traveling to specific regions of the world outside of my native North America, then yes there are certain vaccinations I would not travel with.

Alas, as many of the wildly intelligent people who populate the comments section of this blog look down upon those without a scientific mind and education.....how many of you are aware of the undeniable contamination of polio vaccines with SV-40?

Our knowledge doesn't make us invincible. To be truly arrogant, one has to realize that at any time you can be wrong about anything you believe in.

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43. Anonymous BMS Researcher on December 8, 2013 11:06 AM writes...

A recent study of pertussis in California found a highly significant spatial correlation between clusters of cases and clusters of children whose parents signed papers exempting their children from vaccination:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24082000

"The association remained significant after adjustment for demographic factors. NMEs [Non-Medical Exemptions from vaccination] clustered spatially and were associated with clusters of pertussis cases."

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44. eugene on December 8, 2013 12:04 PM writes...

"Our knowledge doesn't make us invincible. To be truly arrogant, one has to realize that at any time you can be wrong about anything you believe in."

Check and check. I realize I can be wrong about vaccines. Now I can be really arrogant towards you for being ignorant? Maybe once you drop the 'aspiring' in front of your nickname, you'll be able to talk a better (pro-vaccine) game.

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45. Anon on December 9, 2013 2:52 PM writes...

@38 Jebus, Lane, LISTEN: Thimerasol has not been in ANY vaccines given to children since 1999 and there has been no effect on the rate of autism diagnoses, except that the rate has INCREASED. Therefore, say it with me Lane: "Thimerosol cannot possibly be the cause of autism in children". Say it again until it sinks in.

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46. Lane Simonian on December 9, 2013 10:02 PM writes...

This is the equivalent of saying that after a particular carcinogenic agent was banned, the cancer rate still went up so the carcinogenic agent could not have caused cancer.

I doubt thimerosal is sufficient to cause autism in a healthy child. But if that child cannot effectively process mercury and perhaps is exposed to other sources of mercury, the vaccine could have pushed that child over the threshold. I am only stating what is possible not what is fact, but too many people state as fact that which is an opinion.

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47. Anon on December 10, 2013 5:50 PM writes...

Jebus, Lane, can't do math either? It's been nearly 15 years. Autism diagnoses start in infancy.

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48. ab on December 10, 2013 6:01 PM writes...

Lane-

Let me help you with a basic scientific approach to your line of inquiry. Ask YOURSELF:
1. What experiment would determine if there is a causal relationship between thimerosal and autism?
2. Has that experiment already been run?
3. What were the results?

I will help you with #1, and if you are genuinely interested, you will help yourself with 2 and 3. Though I hope you'll forgive me for not holding my breath while we wait to hear from you.

1. What if we took a group of kids and vaccinated them on the standard schedule using vaccines that contain thimerosal? What if at the same time we took a second group of kids, also vaccinated them on the standard schedule, however their vaccines didn't contain thimerosal? Assuming proper randomization, clinical practice, statistical power, etc, if there is any causal link between thimerosal and autism, we'd expect to see a greater incidence of autism in the group vaccinated with thimerosal-containing vaccines relative to the other group. If there is no greater incidence of autism in the thimerosal-exposed cohort, then there cannot be a causal link between thimerosal exposure and autism (within the bounds of exposure levels in the thimerosal-exposed cohort).

Now, I'll leave you to either, a) think of a better experiment to answer the question, or b) find the answer to the 2nd and 3rd questions based on the experiment I've outlined. I can tell you that a simple Google search will lead you to the answers, that this very study has been conducted by a very reputable group with plenty of statistical power. The fact that you apparently have not already taken even the trivial step of searching for this information yourself suggests to me that you're not really interested in the truth. But I could be wrong. Surprise me.

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49. Lane Simonian on December 10, 2013 9:50 PM writes...

Don't hold your breath too long--it is not good for your health. This study may indeed prove that thimerosal itself does not cause autism, but not necessarily that thimerosal combined with other forms of mercury exposure is unconnected to autism.

There is a site entitled 30 studies showing a link between vaccines and autism. It is erroneously titled because none of the studies show this, but a number of the studies do show a link between mercury and neurological disease. Here are a few snippets.

Oxidative Stress in Autism: Elevated Cerebellar 3-nitrotyrosine Levels

American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology 4 (2): 73-84, 2008

Elizabeth M. Sajdel-Sulkowska, – Dept of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

Shows a potential link between mercury and the autopsied brains of young people with autism. A marker for oxidative stress was 68.9% higher in autistic brain issue than controls (a statistically significant result), while mercury levels were 68.2% higher.

Excerpt: The preliminary data suggest a need for more extensive studies of oxidative stress, its relationship to the environmental factors and its possible attenuation by antioxidants in autism.”
[nitrotyrosine is a marker for peroxynitrite-mediated damage in the brain].

This recent study demonstrates that Thimerosal lowers or inhibits the body’s ability to produce Glutathione, an antioxidant and the body’s primary cellular-level defense against mercury.

Excerpt: “Thimerosal-induced cytotoxicity was associated with depletion of intracellular Glutathione in both cell lines…The potential effect of Glutathione or N-acetylcysteine against mercury toxicity warrants further research as possible adjunct therapy to individuals still receiving Thimerosal-containing vaccines.”

This study demonstrates the extreme toxicity of the aluminum adjuvant used as a preservative in vaccines.

Excerpt: “testing showed motor deficits in the aluminum treatment group that expressed as a progressive decrease in strength measured…Significant cognitive deficits in water-maze learning were observed in the combined aluminum and squalene group…Apoptotic neurons were identified in aluminum-injected animals that showed significantly increased activated caspase-3 labeling in lumbar spinal cord (255%) and primary motor cortex (192%) compared with the controls. Aluminum-treated groups also showed significant motor neuron loss (35%) and increased numbers of astrocytes (350%) in the lumbar spinal cord. [the adjuvant found in gardasil].

Autism Spectrum Disorders in Relation to Distribution of Hazardous Air Pollutants in the SF Bay Area

Environmental Health Perspectives – Vol. 114 No. 9, September, 2006

Gayle Windham, Div. of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control, California Department of Health Services

284 ASD children & 657 controls, born in 1994 in Bay Area, were assigned exposure levels by birth tract for 19 chemicals. Risks for autism were elevated by 50% in tracts with the highest chlorinated solvents and heavy metals. The highest risk compounds were mercury, cadmium, nickel, trichloroethylene, and vinyl chloride, and the risk from heavy metals was almost twice as high as solvents.

Excerpt: “Our results suggest a potential association between autism and estimated metal concentrations, and possibly solvents, in ambient air around the birth residence.”

To state what should be obvious: heavy metal exposure is not good for the brain. Remember the Mad Hatter.


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50. ab on December 10, 2013 10:10 PM writes...

And that, Lane, is why no one will engage you in this debate, you cannot be convinced. Regardless of what you want to hypothesize about possible links, the outcome study has been done and the results are unambiguous. If thimerosal plus ANYTHING else caused autism, that would show up in an outcomes study, and it does not. Again, what experiment would convince you there's no link?

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51. Lane Simonian on December 10, 2013 11:19 PM writes...

The experiment that would convince me that there is no link would be an epidemiological study of mercury exposure in two populations: one with no glutathione deficiency and one with glutathione deficiency. If the second group does not develop autism at any level of exposure then thimerosal plays no role in the development of autism.

Here is a potential problem with such a study.

The body of evidence gathered through epidemiologic research to date does not currently support a causal relationship between thimerosal in childhood vaccines and autism risk. However, it is very difficult for even the best epidemiologic study to rule out the existence of small susceptible subgroups of children with autism in whom thimerosal exposure may have played a causal role. Unfortunately, there are currently no means of identifying individuals with increased mercury susceptibility nor are there proven methods allowing researchers to separate individuals with autism into groups more or less likely to have different sets of causes.

The thimerosal question has highlighted a number of points whose further consideration should significantly advance autism research. First, although genes are believed to play a major role in autism, more attention needs to be paid to mechanisms where genes exert their influence by altering susceptibility to environmental exposures and mechanisms by which environmental exposures may alter gene expression. Second, there is a great need, when studying environmental exposures, to find ways of identifying highly susceptible individuals. And, third, because autism is a complex condition possibly having multiple causes, researchers need to find reliable ways to distinguish autism subgroups with distinct etiologies.

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52. ab on December 11, 2013 2:16 PM writes...

Lane-
So what you're saying, in a nutshell, is that the current body of research cannot rule out the possibility that thimerosal exposure has played a very small part in the development of autism in a vanishingly small subset of the autistic population.

Yes Lane, that is true.

Now ask yourself, if you had the money to invest in autism research, would you spend it on an outside possiblity for a vanishingly small subset of the autistic population, or would you spend it trying to get to the heart of the matter for the majority of individuals?

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53. Lane Simonian on December 11, 2013 3:08 PM writes...

Yes, that is what I am saying. There are probably multiple factors that cause autism not one major cause. Mercury exposure is likely one of them and thimerosal was a small part of overall mercury exposure.

I appreciate that you base your arguments on actual evidence.

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54. ab on December 11, 2013 5:33 PM writes...

Lane-
You cannot make the statement, "Mercury exposure is likely one of them..." You do not have sufficient data to support it. What you can say is, mercury exposure cannot be ruled out as a possible cause of autism in a tiny subset of cases. Of course, many other factors also cannot be ruled out in a tiny subset of cases. But again, why focus on this tiny subset, which likely doesn't even exist, when there is clearly something else going on in the overwhelming majority of cases?

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55. Lane Simonian on December 12, 2013 12:46 AM writes...

This is a valid point. The type of oxidative damage done in the brains of autistic individuals is consistent with a wide array of environmental toxins of which mercury is just one. This does not mean that one or any of these environmental toxins cause autism, just that a link is possible.

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56. G on December 31, 2013 6:40 PM writes...

#25 gets it pretty close: Media's job is to deliver viewers to advertisers, which entails getting immediate attention.

The most effective way to do this is with _emotionalism_.

Compare: scientist describes findings & statistics, vs. parent tells horrifying story and breaks down crying.

The crying gets more viewer attention. QED.

What to do about this:

Demand that Couric do a segment on vaccine-preventable measles and pertussis outbreaks, featuring tragic stories and crying parents whose kids got terribly sick and/or died.

I'd bet anyone here five figures in cash that such a segment will shift the public debate and opinion, operationalized as "causing a statistically significant [p (smaller than) .05] shift in public opinion polling responses pre/post."

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57. T on April 4, 2014 7:57 AM writes...

I'm not quite sure how to phrase this without sounding trollish, but political (as opposed to personal/private) social conservatism is by definition cruel, regardless of whether the practitioner it intends to be so. I can't think of any constructive political action for social conservatism (by "constructive ", I mean beyond merely vetoing progressive ideas when they come to vote. If that's *all* you do, you're more of a libertarian than anything else) that does not involve denying rights or using taxpayer money to subsidize groups and ideologies that seek to deny rights. Any cause that isn't cruel isn't one that I can imagine being plausibly characterized as, first and foremost, a "socially conservative" idea.

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