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"...and Wakefield was contracted to conduct scientific research for him."
May 26, 2010 1:35 PM   Subscribe

The Facts In The Case Of Dr. Andrew Wakefield. A fifteen page comic about the MMR vaccination controversy. Previously.
posted by ignignokt (87 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Next thing you're going to say is there's no link between autism and the MMR vaccination.
posted by philip-random at 1:43 PM on May 26, 2010


Previous Darryl Cunningham (tallguywrites) on MeFi.
posted by cashman at 1:43 PM on May 26, 2010


posted by philip-random Next thing you're going to say is there's no link between autism and the MMR vaccination.

Well, there's clearly a link between Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, and stupidity.
posted by mattdidthat at 1:48 PM on May 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'd be interested to compare autism rate rises with the introduction of aspertame into our food system. And to contrast that with areas of the globe where aspertame isn't found frequently in food and their autism rates.
posted by hippybear at 1:50 PM on May 26, 2010


Why? Autism rates have been on the rise for the last 30 years. Anything that was introduced in that time frame will therefore correlate with autism rate rise. For example, I can pretty much guarantee you that autism rates correlate with bottled water consumption. And that areas of the globe with lower rates of bottled water consumption have lower autism rates.

Does that tell you anything at all about bottled water and autism?
posted by Justinian at 1:54 PM on May 26, 2010 [25 favorites]


I'll just leave this here ...

Jenny McCarthy Body Count.

Also ...

Vaccinate your kids. Thanks.
posted by grabbingsand at 1:55 PM on May 26, 2010 [18 favorites]


Autism rates have been on the rise for the last 30 years.

holy shit, it's the independent music scene.
posted by philip-random at 1:57 PM on May 26, 2010 [33 favorites]


It might. Correlation is not causation, certainly, but the whole X=Y thing got blown WAY out of proportion in this whole MMR thing for years before it was finally untangled, and in the meantime, autism rates are still on the rise, for reasons which remain unexplained. And while I don't know for certain that areas around the globe with lower rates of, say, aspertame or bottled water consumption have lower autism rates, I do think it would be worth looking at any and all factors to try to figure out what exactly is going on.
posted by hippybear at 1:57 PM on May 26, 2010


Charlie Brooker feat. Ben Goldacre in The media's greatest ever science hoax has been the MMR story, something which they almost invented entirely for themselves.
posted by Skorgu at 1:58 PM on May 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know, I was going to say "Dear god, not another Vaccine/MMR thread", but that (comic?) illustration is gold. Thanks!
posted by cavalier at 1:58 PM on May 26, 2010


The thing that really bothers me is that the anti-vaccination movement approaches cult-like status in certain cliques. Have you ever read the forums on most parenting sites? It's absolutely discouraging. Most of the people (usually mothers) simply refuse to listen to reason under any circumstances.
posted by Justinian at 1:59 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wakefield is speaking at an anti-vaccine rally in Grant Park in downtown Chicago today. Live stream from the organizers. There is a counter-protest.
posted by enn at 2:01 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do think it would be worth looking at any and all factors to try to figure out what exactly is going on.

But you can't look at them in isolation, which is what you're asking about. If we did that we'd conclude that the rise in autism rates has roughly one million causes. There is no reason to consider aspertame a likely cause. In fact there is some reason to suspect the opposite; how much aspertame does an infant consume?

If the argument would be that the parents consuming aspertame leads to autism in children, well, good luck with that.
posted by Justinian at 2:01 PM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why? Autism rates have been on the rise for the last 30 years.

Autism diagnoses have been on the rise. Autism has been around at current levels for a while.
posted by stavrogin at 2:02 PM on May 26, 2010 [16 favorites]


posted by Justinian Autism rates have been on the rise for the last 30 years. Anything that was introduced in that time frame will therefore correlate with autism rate rise.

Clearly, autism is caused by Mount St. Helens, Rubik's Cube, New Coke, and Star Wars!
posted by mattdidthat at 2:05 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is an Anti-Vax Rally going on in Chicago right now, organized by The American Rally for Personal Rights. The speaker will be none other than Dr Wakefield.

A counter-rally has been organized by Women Thinking Free with alert assistance from Skepchick.
posted by grabbingsand at 2:07 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Autism diagnoses have been on the rise. Autism has been around at current levels for a while.

No, one small study in England has indicated that it is worth further study as to whether there is a real rise or simply more widespread diagnosis. That's a much weaker claim than what you are making.
posted by Justinian at 2:08 PM on May 26, 2010


(enn got here first ... but that's cool.)
posted by grabbingsand at 2:08 PM on May 26, 2010


In fact there is some reason to suspect the opposite; how much aspertame does an infant consume?

Well, I tried switching them to Splenda in their morning coffee bottle, but they kept crying for the Equal.
posted by uncleozzy at 2:09 PM on May 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


I can prevent autism with this rock.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:16 PM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anyone think use of "the pill" has anything to do with birth anomalies?
posted by Cranberry at 2:17 PM on May 26, 2010


ROU_Xenophobe, I would like to buy your rock.
posted by griphus at 2:18 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cashing in on the crazies. probably more lucrative then being a real doctor.
posted by delmoi at 2:19 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyone think use of "the pill" has anything to do with birth anomalies?

It prevents birth defects, actually. 99.97% of the time.
posted by stavrogin at 2:26 PM on May 26, 2010 [22 favorites]


Man, I was going to mention the Chicago "health freedom" anti-vax rally, but enn and grabbingsand beat me to it. Well done.

I will suggest that you all check out Wakefield getting pwned by Matt Lauer on the Today Show. It's astounding that he still refuses to accept that there is no causal link between MMR and autism.
posted by lexicakes at 2:27 PM on May 26, 2010


Dr Wakefield

It's my understanding that Wakefield has been stripped of his medical license for his role in all of this (and rightly so). As he is no longer a doctor, he should not be referred to with that honorific.
posted by jedicus at 2:29 PM on May 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Andrew Wakefield should be in jail. He is directly responsible for hundreds of deaths and yet he is permitted to walk free. He should be met at the airport with an arrest warrant.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:34 PM on May 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I mean, if it was an honest mistake, fine, sure, it's tragic but that's life. But he accepted money to deliberately falsify data to create the appearance of a link and kept plugging away at it, becoming a celebrity and profiting from it, while children died. The man isn't just somebody who had an accident; he is an actively, willfully malignant monster, and that he walks free is an abomination.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:35 PM on May 26, 2010 [14 favorites]


I've been following this story for a long time. I used to read Orac daily, but I got to the point where my outrage was just too painful to bear. Orac is no demagogue, either. I am very grateful that the truth is seeping out. I just wish it didn't take so damn long.

Willful malfeasance, preying on fear and ignorance, is criminal.

"I will keep them from harm and injustice." Wakefield has deliberately done both.
posted by Xoebe at 2:53 PM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


This really makes me want to vomit. This is not hyperbole. I seriously feel like puking after reading this.

The only conspiracy here was Wakefield & the media, making millions in exchange for the wellbeing of children.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:56 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Autism rates have been on the rise for the last 30 years.
I blame PacMan.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 3:06 PM on May 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


No, one small study in England has indicated that it is worth further study as to whether there is a real rise or simply more widespread diagnosis. That's a much weaker claim than what you are making.

I see what you did there, however, this study says there's reason to believe some of the increase is due to changes in diagnostic behaviors, which partially corroborates the UK study.
posted by dw at 3:09 PM on May 26, 2010


Cashing in on the craziesanti-science. probablyALWAYS more lucrative then being a real doctor.
The Shame of the 21st Century.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:22 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Luckily the electromagnetic fields from high-tension power lines destroy the autism-causing properties of MMR vaccinations...
posted by Ron Thanagar at 3:32 PM on May 26, 2010


How many children who contracted rubella as an iintrauterine infection have you known? How many autistic children have you known?

As some1 who as an undergrad worked at the Deaf/Blind annex of a state hospital about eighteen years after a rubella pandemic, and then managed a transfer to a saner job across the street, I've know both.

I have never known anyone who died of measles or mumps because I can't commune with then; I don't know how many people who have lost their chance at progeny I've know because that doesn't come up in casual conversations.

But just because of the first paragraph here I will tell everyone that buys this stuff, STHFU.
posted by Some1 at 3:41 PM on May 26, 2010


I see what you did there, however, this study says there's reason to believe some of the increase is due to changes in diagnostic behaviors, which partially corroborates the UK study.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if virtually all of the rise in diagnoses is simply that; a rise in diagnoses rather than disease. There are indications that may be the case but it still hasn't been proven. Hell, that very study says:
More children are being diagnosed with ASDs today than in the past. Some of the prevalence increase is undoubtedly attributable to changing diagnostic tendency; however, there are insufficient data to determine whether this can explain the entire increasing trend.
Which is all I am saying.
posted by Justinian at 3:59 PM on May 26, 2010


On the rise for 30 years?

Hmm. R.E.M., Depeche Mode and Laibach have all been around for 30 years. It could really be any of their faults.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:44 PM on May 26, 2010


Clearly, the answer is to delay feeding ones children any autism-containing foods until they are at least 7.
posted by gjc at 4:59 PM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Another relevant study. Based on a study of children in special education, rates of autism diagnosis are increasing, but mental retardation is decreasing.
posted by Humanzee at 5:02 PM on May 26, 2010


I'd be interested to compare autism rate rises with the introduction of aspertame into our food system. And to contrast that with areas of the globe where aspertame isn't found frequently in food and their autism rates.

I think you might be unintentionally misspelling aspartame to make it sound more like "Asperger."
posted by Thoughtcrime at 6:21 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm annoyed by the 'vaccines cause autism' people for a number of reasons. In addition to the obvious issues of herd immunity and allowing celebrities to speak as if they were medical experts, I am on the autism spectrum. I hate that a part of me, that is a neurological condition that often causes challenges, but is still part of my personality, gets served to me as the fault of the eeeeevil medical establishment.

Well meaning people including my now departed great aunt clip news articles to give, repeating this hogwash, and I grind my teeth.
posted by Phalene at 6:25 PM on May 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Very nice. Thanks, ignignokt.
posted by unliteral at 6:35 PM on May 26, 2010


> But just because of the first paragraph here I will tell everyone that buys this stuff, STHFU.

I'm rather thick, but can you restate your whole argument there so people can understand it? Are you against vaccination or what?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:07 PM on May 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


I looked into measles mortality - here's the WHO report:

Deaths from measles

"In 2008, there were 164 000 measles deaths globally – nearly 450 deaths every day or 18 deaths every hour."

Holy crap.

"Targeted vaccination campaigns have had a major impact on reducing measles deaths. From 2000 to 2008 nearly 700 million children aged 9 months to 14 years who live in high risk countries were vaccinated against the disease. Global measles deaths decreased by 78% during this period."
posted by storybored at 8:21 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


storeybored, thanks for that WHO report. I now know how to calculate the number of manslaughters wakefield should be charged for.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:53 PM on May 26, 2010


Justinian: "The thing that really bothers me is that the anti-vaccination movement approaches cult-like status in certain cliques. Have you ever read the forums on most parenting sites? It's absolutely discouraging. Most of the people (usually mothers) simply refuse to listen to reason under any circumstances."

Mothers tend to handle healthcare for the family. Tracking developmental milestones, scheduling well-care visits, taking time off work when kids are sick...women generally handle this. This means that mothers are often the first ones to notice problems and bring it to the attention of everyone else. So, you'll see more women speaking about it in parenting forums, not because mothers aren't reasonable, but because more women deal with this on a day to day basis.

Just to be clear, I'm pro-vaccine all the way and always wonder if the anti-vaccine people are susceptible to conspiracy theory stuff in other areas as well. For instance, it wouldn't surprise me if they wanted to see Obama's birth certificate and think Rand Paul has lots of good ideas.
posted by victoriab at 9:05 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Rise in autism = older parents (especially older fathers) and simply more diagnosis of the disease? That's my theory and I'm sticking to it no matter what!
posted by cherrybounce at 9:13 PM on May 26, 2010


> Rise in autism = older parents (especially older fathers) and simply more diagnosis of the disease? That's my theory and I'm sticking to it no matter what!

Why no matter what? What happens if a certain combination of environmental toxins is found to be the general cause?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:25 PM on May 26, 2010


I had both measles and mumps (but not, thank god, rubella) as a young child in the early 1970s. I don't think I got the MMR until a few years after it came out, so I was lucky to have been trivially sick (by comparison with many people). I've had no lasting effects, but I remember how awful it was. The pain and fever were astounding, and worse than anything I've experienced since.

Fortunately, my parents believed in vaccination and gave us whatever was required, whenever it was available. Really wish I was young enough to have had the chickenpox vax - I'd give anything not to have had chickenpox 4x as a child and shingles once already.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:08 PM on May 26, 2010


Burhanistan: do you really not know what happens to people, human beings, that are exposed to rubella prenatally?? Do you really not understand what the lives of adults born deaf and blind is like? (Hint" Helen Keller was not; not even close.) Do you not know how many such people were born into the world during the mid-sixties? Do you think your ability to remain ignorant of that came at no price to others? (there were easy and simple clues to find out what I was talking about, if you truly could not follow.)

Do you think that such things are a joke? Is being deliberately obtuse, some sort of new cool?
posted by Some1 at 10:35 PM on May 26, 2010


Some1, I don't think I'm being deliberately obtuse, and I also am having trouble understanding what you meant. You seem to be reading a lot into Burhanistan's comment that isn't there. Respectfully, you could get your message across much better if you stated what it was clearly rather than demanding that people follow "clues."
posted by grouse at 10:54 PM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


You're probably right, grouse. It's not been a good night (and that doesn't even include the other thread on which I'm (unfairly of course being lambasted).

OK, I'm guilty of assuming others have knowledge I have. Here is the whole story. During the mid-sixties there was a world wide pandemic of rubella. Yes, that is usually a fairly mild disease, a couple of days of fever, some aches and blahs. When their were millions and millions exposed to that illness all at the same time, some of them were pregnant. To an embryo, to a fetus, rubella is not a minor problem. It destroys the developing the developing ocular and aural nerves. These children never hear anything, they never see anything. In truth, I think they never feel anything either, but the medics and nurses disagree.

So many of these children were born so close together during the 60s that special units were constructed for their care, in some states of the US they were larger than in others, and I went to a University near one such place. It was not a fun place to make a few bucks and buy books as an undergraduate - and I guess I still don't like going into it if I can help it.

After that I worked with mid-level (toilet timed, echoic) and low-level (body suits to prevent self distraction) autistics. I didn't stay at either place long I confess; I'm week.

As horrible as the latter is, guess which one is worse. At least there is a connection, no matter how weird, with the world in that second group, at least so it seemed to me. I don't dismiss the horrors of autism, I mean get real, nor the horrors to the parents that have such a child. But to me, just and only me, that is all I can speak for, the other existence is worse. And every un-inoculated child presents the possibility of another child having that existence for absolutely no damn reason.

I'm sorry if I confused people, that wasn't my intention at all. But I must say, if I can goggle the obvious references to hip hop and other pop culture things that people use, I don't think I asked too much.)
posted by Some1 at 11:31 PM on May 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Single data point, here: I got mumps in 1967, when I turned three, the very year that three-year-olds got routinely vaccinated for MMR. As a result, I became single-sided deaf (not an especially onerous handicap, as far as these things go, which I share with Brian Wilson, Rob Lowe, Alan Moore, and Stephen Colbert, among others), as well as probably sterile. Again, there are worse disabilities, but I sometimes wonder at the convos that I may have missed, the social connections that I may have fumbled because of a covert but limiting breach of communications, and so on.

So, to the ex-Playmate and her latter-day Jerry Lewis wannabe: fuck you straight down a garbage disposal. For what it's worth.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:35 PM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Which is all I am saying.

What you said was:

Why? Autism rates have been on the rise for the last 30 years.

Which is, to paraphrase your later comment, a remarkably strong claim given there's no evidence of any such thing; the research of autism rates you're so cavalierly dismissing is founded on a great deal more evidence than your claim.

...and always wonder if the anti-vaccine people are susceptible to conspiracy theory stuff in other areas as well. For instance, it wouldn't surprise me if they wanted to see Obama's birth certificate and think Rand Paul has lots of good ideas.

Unlikely. Most of the anti-vaccination nutjobbery is part of the lefty portion of the political spectrum that tends to be hostile to science for a whole raft of other reasons. There's a reason why the hotspots of re-emerging childhood horror diseases tend to be tracking places such as Berkley.
posted by rodgerd at 3:05 AM on May 27, 2010


Frontline did a great piece about this last month: The Vaccine War. It's very much worth watching.
posted by Ljubljana at 3:06 AM on May 27, 2010


Autism.

Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough, Polio, Hib, Rotavirus, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Meningococcal C, Varicella, HPV.

Autism.

Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough, Polio, Hib, Rotavirus, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Meningococcal C, Varicella, HPV.

My mind's made up, thank you.
posted by Jimbob at 3:34 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Most of the anti-vaccination nutjobbery is part of the lefty portion of the political spectrum that tends to be hostile to science for a whole raft of other reasons. There's a reason why the hotspots of re-emerging childhood horror diseases tend to be tracking places such as Berkley.

Unfortunately true. We're getting the same thing in Australia, with these childhood diseases reemerging in pot-smoking hippy havens like Byron Bay.
posted by Jimbob at 3:39 AM on May 27, 2010


rodgerd, the anti-vaccine movement has a lot of people who are anti-corporate, anti-government natural-medicine love-the-environment types ... and who thought that Ron Paul was the bee's knees. And greatly distrust Obama and see health care reform as a fascist government takeover. Once you get into the conspiracy theory waters, left and right begin to lose distinction. If you thought 9/11 was an inside job, the federal government has no right to collect income tax, and GlaxoSmithKline is trying to kill your babies for profit, are those positions on the left or on the right?
posted by kyrademon at 4:10 AM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Jimbob makes a damned good point- even if Wakefield wasn't a monster and Jenny McCarthy was right, would you rather your child died of something horrible and preventable or had autism?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:19 AM on May 27, 2010


I despair when I see clever alternative hippy people reject vaccination through some misplace hatred of the man.
posted by handee at 5:32 AM on May 27, 2010


Jimbob: pot-smoking hippy havens like Byron Bay.
I call uninformed bullshit on this statement.
posted by unliteral at 5:41 AM on May 27, 2010


I call uninformed bullshit on this statement.

Sorry to disappoint.
posted by Jimbob at 5:47 AM on May 27, 2010


Unless you were just questioning the pot-smoking hippyness of Byron Bay, that is. I admit it is now beyond yuppified, but my statement still applies to the region as a whole, as you can see from those links.
posted by Jimbob at 5:50 AM on May 27, 2010


Unless you were just questioning the pot-smoking hippyness of Byron Bay, that is. I admit it is now beyond yuppified,
*ding*
posted by unliteral at 6:06 AM on May 27, 2010


I think what really depresses me about this isn't so much the sketchy science. It's something of a truism that no matter what crackpot hypothesis you have, there's at least person willing to bend the evidence to support it.

What depresses me is that this quack not only played fast and loose with his data interpretation, he conducted unnecessary and invasive diagnostic procedures on children in the process, making him not just greedy and dishonest, but sadistic as well.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:02 AM on May 27, 2010


I was vaccinated. I don't have autism. I also didn't get a lot of killer diseases. Same as my son (born in 1996, neither autistic or dying of those childhood diseases). Proclaiming that vaccinations causes autism, in the complete absence of real, verifiable evidence is scaremongering, plain and simple.

I get it: parents are frightened and are looking for something to blame when their kid turns out to be autistic. But it would be more prudent to find out what the evidence yields rather than what a corrupt pseudo-scientist proclaims.
posted by grubi at 7:05 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


about 15% of vaccinated children fail to develop immunity from the first dose.
From storybored's link to the WHO.

So that's why they recommend two vaccines.
Anyone know if that's an independent chance for each? Because if so, it means that about 2.25% of kids won't be immune after both rounds. Which still seems awfully high to me. If they were to do 3, it would drop to about 0.34%, much more reasonable. Although, it's possible that when you hit numbers like 2%, you're keeping herd immunity effects and thus it's not a big deal. Or I'm just wrong and they're not independent.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:50 AM on May 27, 2010


Most of the anti-vaccination nutjobbery is part of the lefty portion of the political spectrum that tends to be hostile to science for a whole raft of other reasons.

I think kyrademon has it right up thread. The protest that was going on in Chicago yesterday was for a "vaccination freedom" movement. It mixes in a lot with other "health freedom" movements that are led by nutjobs who don't want the government regulating their crazy alternative medicine. There are plenty of "health freedom" people on the left and the right. I think most conspiracy theories can appear to be "left" or "right," but really it comes down to people who don't trust the government, or big businesses, or science. When you're dealing with that level of crazy, "left" and "right" aren't really relevant labels any more.
posted by lexicakes at 8:00 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Timely - my son just got his MMR vaccine yesterday. And meningitis. I have no problem giving my son any and all vaccines that my doctor recommends, but I'll happily send along this cartoon to anybody who tries to tell me not to.
posted by antifuse at 8:13 AM on May 27, 2010


Lemurrhea - I am not an expert, but I believe that is the independent probability for each shot, which is why children are given two shots. The two shots are enough to confer herd immunity, assuming everyone (or at least a large enough percentage) who can be vaccinated is vaccinated. While a third shot would increase the percentage of people who are immune, I don't think that increase is enough to make it worth it. It wouldn't increase protection enough to justify the cost of giving every child an extra MMR shot.
posted by lexicakes at 8:16 AM on May 27, 2010


[few comments removed - please try harder to not be jerkish to each other, thanks]
posted by jessamyn at 9:05 AM on May 27, 2010


I know nothing about anything medical, biological, or child-developmental, but I KNOW that autism is related to the creeping acceptability of the Stelvin closure.

That, and chemtrails.
posted by everichon at 11:04 AM on May 27, 2010


I think most conspiracy theories can appear to be "left" or "right," but really it comes down to people who don't trust the government, or big businesses, or science. When you're dealing with that level of crazy, "left" and "right" aren't really relevant labels any more.

The truly crazy part is that it seems more likely that the conspiracy theory *is* the conspiracy. Has it not occurred to people that most alternative medicines are now distributed by large companies who, of course, LOVE to sell things with unproven efficacy, limited quality control, no adverse event tracking and essentially unlimited scare tactics?
posted by pjaust at 11:54 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's pretty damn clear to me that a large part of the increase in autism cases is due to better diagnostic standards. I only have to look at my own family history to see the evidence.

I come from a family full of people who were considered, in the parlance of 1940s rural Ireland, "queer". Of these, there were several uncles who were the "living in a shack in the middle of the woods" types who were known for being abrupt, abrasive and taciturn; yet they could be very kind once you got past the gruff exterior. They also were known for having a good business sense and upon their deaths, left behind pretty sizable bank accounts. Widespread vaccinations were not around when they were children.

Amongst my cousins, there are a large number of people with advanced degrees which is pretty remarkable when you consider that many of our parents had little more than a junior high education. One of my somewhat distant cousins (his grandmother and my mother are first cousins) is the Taoiseach of Ireland. Among these very bright and accomplished relatives are, no surprise, are a couple of bright but quirky people who lack social graces. Me, I was diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder at 11, and somehow managed to have both "Miss Dictionary" and "retard" as nicknames in middle school. My older brother, who has a masters in electrical engineering, is pretty much a textbook aspie.

My son was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder recently. It wasn't entirely unexpected; I had seen signs of it when he was less than a year old and as I said above I seem to come from a line of folks on the spectrum. I never considered vaccinations to be optional for him and I don't at all think that they're the cause of his ASD. As people have noted above, there are many worse things than an autism diagnosis.
posted by echolalia67 at 12:35 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Has it not occurred to people that most alternative medicines are now distributed by large companies who, of course, LOVE to sell things with unproven efficacy, limited quality control, no adverse event tracking and essentially unlimited scare tactics?

The best part is that most of the companies that sell alt med shit are quietly subsidiaries of BIG PHARMA companies. I bet their marketing people laugh more than anyone on the globe.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:14 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


...is part of the lefty portion of the political spectrum that tends to be hostile to science for a whole raft of other reasons

Bwah-hah-hah-hah!
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:20 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


The best part is that most of the companies that sell alt med shit are quietly subsidiaries of BIG PHARMA companies. I bet their marketing people laugh more than anyone on the globe.

My mantra is that practically all medicine is alternative medicine. Having fought wars with commercial medical products companies as at various times an employee, a grantee, and a consultant, I can tell you it is damn difficult to get them to just straight up test the clinical utility of their products. They want the straightest, cheapest line to market approval and physician acceptance with the lowest risk possible, which means no head to head comparison with products of known efficacy on bottom line clinical outcomes, because these studies cost too much, take too long, and risk showing no effect. I don't trust any studies sponsored by medical products companies unless I'm involved and know them to be clean. There're just too many opportunities to put a finger on the scale by selecting cases, focusing on irrelevant endpoints, and skewing comparisons. Only randomized trials done by independent investigators are credible to me.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:37 PM on May 27, 2010


A minor correction to my comment above: Jim Carrey has broken up with Jenny McCarthy, and while I'm not sure if he's still anti-vax, he's been purged from the "Generation Rescue" site, except for a couple of T-shirts that he designed that are still in the store. Hopefully, anyone who might be tempted to consider the viewpoint of any cause that he takes up in the future simply because he's advocating for it might keep in mind that he's backing it simply because he's sleeping with one of their other spokescelebrities.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:19 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most of the anti-vaccination nutjobbery is part of the lefty portion of the political spectrum that tends to be hostile to science for a whole raft of other reasons.

As others have already pointed out, at this level of nutjobbery, it's pointless to talk about "left" or "right". While this shit is prominent around new-ageish circles which are nominally "lefty", so was homeschooling. The anti-vaxxers have also got support from those among the far right who abhor the cervical cancer jab.
posted by Skeptic at 3:53 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The best part is that most of the companies that sell alt med shit are quietly subsidiaries of BIG PHARMA companies.

Can you give some examples?
posted by storybored at 8:17 PM on May 27, 2010


A vet explains what Wakefield's patented anti-measles vaccine contains, via Dr Ben Goldacre's twitter stream
posted by handee at 11:56 PM on May 27, 2010


The best part is that most of the companies that sell alt med shit are quietly subsidiaries of BIG PHARMA companies.

Can you give some examples?

Ben Goldacre wrote a whole article on that subject. Money quote:

First, despite claims about the true evils of "big pharma", presented as if they were evidence that vitamin pills are effective, there is little difference between the vitamin and pharmaceutical industries. Key players in both include multinationals such as Roche and Aventis; BioCare, the vitamin pill producer that media nutritionist Patrick Holford works for, is part-owned by Elder Pharmaceuticals, and so on.
posted by Skeptic at 3:25 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Dr. appellation is conferred with the degree, not the license. So he is still appropriately Dr. Wakefield, even without a license or practice. /pedantic
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:29 AM on May 29, 2010


The Dr. appellation is conferred with the degree, not the license. So he is still appropriately Dr. Wakefield, even without a license or practice. /pedantic

Like most physicians in the UK, Wakefield does not appear to have an MD degree, only an MB BS. (There is, in fact, an MD degree available in the UK, which may be granted to physicians after a further course of study in research). So he does not have a doctorate, nor is he a licensed physician. It would be therefore inappropriate and misleading to call him "Doctor."
posted by grouse at 8:12 AM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ben Goldacre wrote a whole article on that subject. Money quote:

Thanks for that, Skeptic.
posted by storybored at 6:27 PM on May 31, 2010


Wakefield's First Try: Before the disgraced doctor Andrew Wakefield said that the MMR vaccine caused autism, he thought that it led to Crohn's disease.
posted by homunculus at 7:38 PM on June 3, 2010


Did the Anti-Vaccine Movement Help Create a Whooping Cough Epidemic?
posted by homunculus at 8:39 AM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


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