The Canary Party and Rob Schneider versus the Vaccine Court: Guess who wins?

My goodness, when it rains, it pours, to use a cliche. (And I'm not about anything if not throwing in the odd cliche in my writing from time to time.)

Just yesterday, I discussed the resurrection of an antivaccine zombie meme, namely the claim that Maurice Hilleman admitted that the polio vaccine that was contaminated with SV40 in the early years of the polio vaccine causes human cancer and that the polio vaccine also brought AIDS into the US. That came hot on the heels of another antivaccine zombie meme three weeks ago, specifically the claim that Diane Harper, one of the main clinical trialists involved in testing the efficacy and safety of the HPV vaccine, had an attack of conscience and "admitted that the vaccine was dangerous." She didn't. Then, yesterday morning, I was perusing my usual quack newsfeeds, which I monitor regularly to know what's hot and what's not in the quackosphere, thus providing me with a heads-up for new quackery and providing me with copious (sometimes overwhelming) blog fodder, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a third antivaccine zombie meme. Actually, maybe it's not a zombie meme because it never really dies. It just keeps getting repeated and repeated and repeated by antivaccine loons without ever "dying" for a while to be resurrected.

I'm referring to broadsides directed against the Vaccine Court and the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). This time around, the antivaccine quack attack against the NVICP was right there on the front page of the biggest, baddest quack website of all (well, at least one of the two biggest, baddest quack websites of all), it came in the form of an article with an accompanying video from some old "friends" of ours. I'm referring, of course to The Canary Party. It's even narrated by the most recent celebrity to let his antivaccine freak flag fly in an incredibly brain dead fashion, namely Rob Schneider. Basically, it's Mike Adams ranting and asking Do vaccines cause autism? Must-see new video reveals the systematic suppression of evidence of vaccine-damaged children:

Truly, a font of burning stupid doth flow most egregiously from YouTube. (Sorry, I've been reading my old Thor comics. I'll stop. Unfortunately, the napalm grade stupid from Rob Schneider won't stop flowing.) Of course, you know right away that The Canary Party has an opinion of itself much higher than is warranted by any reasonable criteria when it advertises this video as a "viral video." When I wrote this last night, it had been viewed 15,763 times, which is not too shabby but hardly "viral."

The video starts out asking the question, "Do vaccines cause autism?" If the makers of the video had any knowledge of science, evidence, and reasoning, they'd just answer now and end the video, but we're talking about antivaccinationists here. So naturally they just blather on and on. The first part of the video is so standard-issue that it's not worth much discussion. It's basically nothing but the typical confusion between correlation and causation, with Schneider claiming that the childhood vaccine schedule has tripled over the last thirty years "while the U.S. autism rate has skyrocketed." Of course, the U.S. autism rate didn't start "skyrocketing" until the early to mid-1990s, which is only around 20 years ago; so even then The Canary Party's correlation isn't so tight. Neither is it's understanding of evidence, as Schneider intones that "dozens" of studies have shown that vaccines and autism are linked. I suppose if you say they're linked in that there is no correlation between vaccines and autism greater than one would expect to find through random chance alone, he might have a point, but if he means that vaccines and autism area actually correlated in a way that suggests causality, not so much. Schneider also neglects to mention that the studies that do link vaccines to autism are uniformly crappy and have been discredited. Indeed, the list of studies published on The Canary Party website is truly amusing if you happen to be someone (like me) who's been paying attention to antivaccine claims for several years now. Indeed, I've blogged about quite a few of these studies. A lot of them don't show what The Canary Party thinks they show, as a brief perusal of the abstracts makes plain to someone with some scientific and medical knowledge.

None of that stops him from intoning that the "debate rages on." It's more like, "The manufactroversy rages on. But why does it rage on? Is it because there's a real scientific controversy over whether vaccines cause autism? Of course not. There isn't. They don't, as far as large epidemiological studies have been able to tell. There isn't a whiff of a hint of a correlation between vaccines and autism. So maybe the "debate rages on" because emerging science is starting to cast doubt on the scientific consensus that vaccines do not cause autism. Nope again. Oh, sure, that's what antivaccinationists would like you to think, but in reality every decent study that comes out once again fails to find a link, thus strengthening, not weakening, the scientific consensus. No, to The Canary Party, the "debate rages on" because of the Vaccine Court.

Facepalm. Double take. Jaw drop.

Seriously? Yes, seriously.

According to The Canary Party, the whole reason the "debate rages on" is because the nefarious government created passed the nefarious National Child Vaccine Injury Act in 1986 creating the NVICP and the Vaccine Court, both of which are, of course, pure evil (at least to antivaccinationists). Passed by the evil big pharma (excuse me, in response to the lobbying of the evil big pharma), the act is apparently all that's standing in the way of legions upon legions of parents of "vaccine-injured" children from achieving a measure of justice (not to mention compensation). Yes, back in 1986, if The Canary Party is to be believed, big pharma paid off the government to create a program to compensate the vaccine injured.

History tells a different tale, of course. In reality, thanks to a flood of lawsuits in response to the DTP vaccine, which contained the whole cell pertussis vaccine as one of its components, vaccine manufacturers were at risk. At the time, a 1982 TV news report Vaccine Roulette implicated the whole cell pertussis vaccine as causing permanent brain injury. It turns out that it almost certainly doesn't. Unfortunately, it took 15-20 years for studies exonerating the vaccine to be published showing that, although the whole cell pertussis vaccine was associated with febrile seizures, it is not associated with long term adverse neurological consequences. Of course, in 1986, this hadn't been worked out yet, and there were enough anecdotal reports that authorities were concerned. So was the government. There was a real fear that the vaccine program would collapse because no manufacturer would make vaccines anymore.

So the government acted. Unlike what Schneider claims in The Canary Party video, it didn't act to shut down lawsuits, but rather acted to try to compensate legitimate vaccine injuries quickly and fairly by creating a no-fault system to do so. So, while Schneider is trotting out the trope that the government knew that vaccines were "unavoidably unsafe" (which is a distortion of a recent Supreme Court ruling) and painting the Vaccine Court a grand conspiracy to protect vaccine manufacturers from liability, in reality it was a plan to save the vaccine program. It requires:

In addition to establishing the VICP, the Childhood Vaccine Injury Act requires that vaccination records be included in a patient's permanent medical record and that they include the following:
date of vaccine administration
vaccine manufacturer and lot number
name, address, and title of the healthcare provider
The act also requires that doctors report all adverse events occurring within 30 days of vaccination to the VAERS. About 12,000 vaccine-related adverse reactions are reported annually; however, it is estimated that less than 10 percent of doctors file such reports.

That's a rather funny requirement for the government to make if it's trying to cover up vaccine injuries.

Schneider discusses the fictional case of a child with "vaccine-induced autism" and intones that, had the child been injured by a pharmaceutical product his parents could sue the manufacturer:

To see how this tilted the law in big pharma’s favor, let’s look at Eric, a child suffering from vaccine-induced autism.

Had Eric been harmed by a pharmaceutical product other than vaccines, his parents could sue the manufacturer in civil court, entitling them to the standard legal process with a judge, jury, private attorneys, legal precedent and discovery, all within public view.
But for kids like Eric, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act says NO.

Instead of suing the pharmaceutical company directly, parents of children like Eric are forced to “petition” the Department of Health and Human Services and, if federal health officials oppose compensation, the case is argued before a special master in the U.S. Claims Court. Many refer to this as "vaccine court”—though it isn’t a court at all, but rather an "administrative procedure" in which the family asks the government to admit the vaccine caused their child harm, and requests compensation for the child’s care.

Nonsense. It's true that the NCVIA requires that parents who think their child has been injured by vaccines to go first to the Vaccine Court. However, that's not a bad thing compared to going to regular court. In the case of regular court, the parents would have to pay for a lawyer or find a lawyer who would take their case on a contingency basis. If they lose, they'd get nothing. In the case of the Vaccine Court, if they lose their lawyers get paid. Indeed, there's a veritable cottage industry that's sprung up around the vaccine court of lawyers who bring cases before it. It might not be as much money as one can get suing in regular civil courts, but it's guaranteed cash, win or lose. Lawyers don't mind that at all. Some have racked up some impressive bills.

Even better, in the Vaccine Court, the rules of evidence are a bit more lax. The Daubert standard isn't always enforced. "Expert witnesses" whose testimony would likely not be permitted in normal court can testify in Vaccine Court. Moreover, there are injuries for which compensation is mandated. In 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that an award should be granted to a petitioner in the Vaccine Court if the petitioner either establishes that a “Table Injury” of injuries that are generally accepted as potentially being caused by vaccines) occurred or proves “causation in fact” by proving the following three prongs:

  • a medical hypothesis causally connecting the vaccination and the injury;
  • a logical sequence of cause and effect showing that the vaccination was the reason for the injury; and
  • a showing of a proximate temporal relationship between vaccination and injury.

Compensation is virtually automatic for so-called “table injuries” (i.e., known injuries that science attributed to vaccines listed on the Vaccine Injury Table) within the correct time frame. Also, compensation can be awarded if plaintiffs can meet a standard of evidence showing a 51% or greater chance that the plaintiff was injured by the vaccine in question; i.e., the same burden of proof that they would face in standard court, only without the benefit of all the extra features favoring the complainant in the Vaccine Court. Finally, if the complainants lose in Vaccine Court, they can still sue in federal court. Basically, victims may still file a civil suit given the following:

  • The VICP petition is dismissed or ruled non-compensable.
  • The VICP compensation offer is rejected by the claimant.
  • The vaccine is not covered by VICP.

Of course, the real reason that antivaccinationists hate the Vaccine Court so much is not so much because it's so unfair to them. It isn't, no matter how much they paint it so. Indeed, the government basically bends over backwards to be fair. The real reason antivaccinationists hate the Vaccine Court is because autism is not recognized as a "table injury." Parents trying to obtain compensation for "vaccine-induced autism" generally lose because there is no scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism. The Autism Omnibus decision pretty much shut that door. None of this stops The Canary Party from claiming:

Legal precedent is limited, so the program issues contradictory rulings. In the case of Bailey Banks, a special master ruled the boy's autism was "caused-in-fact" by the MMR vaccine. Yet in later cases, special masters ruled that vaccines do not cause autism, even though federal compensation has been awarded in at least 83 cases with autism.

Uh, no. This is a lie. What Schneider is referring to is this study by antivaccine lawyers that claimed that the Vaccine Court compensated children for vaccine-induced autism. They didn't. The study was also arguably profoundly unethical.

Antivaccinationists also don't like the cap on compensation and think they can win big in federal courts, which they just might if they get a sympathetic jury and a judge who lets the quacks and cranks testify. As you might gather from the video, antivaccinationists also don't like the fact that they can't face pharmaceutical companies directly, although it's not true that the companies don't pay. (Pharmaceutical companies do pay for the Vaccine Court through an excise tax on each vaccine dose administered.) Antivaccinationists also don't like the lack of an opportunity to go on fishing expeditions in pharmaceutical company records during discovery. Heck, The Canary Party video basically says that, although Schneider doesn't use those words.

There's no doubt that children injured by vaccines deserve compensation. They deserve compensation that is reasonably fast, fair, not unduly burdensome, and adequate to take care of their needs. Through the vaccine court, most real cases of vaccine-induced injury get that. Autism, however, is not a "vaccine-induced" injury, efforts of antivaccinationists to make deceptive arguments otherwise notwithstanding. The science is quite clear on that. As long as antivaccinationists cling to the belief that vaccines cause autism, they will continue to attack the Vaccine Court. What's really hilarious and ironic about this is that it was Barbara Loe Fisher, the grande dame of the antivaccine movement, and her co-founders of the antivaccine group National Vaccine Information Center, who joined with the American Academy of Pediatrics to draft the original National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.

That's right, the NVICP came into being with the help of antivaccine activists. Now they hate it.


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There was a real fear that the vaccine program would collapse because no manufacturer would make vaccines anymore.

To wit.

Finally, if the complainants lose in Vaccine Court, they can still sue in federal court. Basically, victims may still file a civil suit given the following....

This list was basically cribbed from NVIC. Bruesewitz eliminates state-law design-defect claims. In fact, it was precisely the first bullet point that was at issue.

The only path for a rejected claim is a limited-scope review in the CFC, followed by the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, followed by SCOTUS. For the second point, I can only presume that Vaccine Rule 12 does not permit an end run around Bruesewitz.

..and the vaccine manufacturers can still be sued directly if there is an injury stemming from a manufacturing defect or a labeling defect.

Speaking of not-so-entertaining washed-up has-been celebs like Schneider, is anyone keeping an ear what ms e-cig might say as part of her new View-spew gig? I just can't watch that show as it triggers neuronal death.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

How does this "explainer" video, and the money that went into making it, help autistics? Mad props to whomever can give me a good answer.

Drawing attention to your cliche use is so cliched.

One should remember that Mr. Schneider was the trigger for one of Roger Ebert's most scathing movie reviews, which ended up providing the title for Ebert's collection of, uh, very unfavorable reviews, "Your Movie Sucks".

By palindrom (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

"There is a fountain filled with woo
flowing from Mikey Adam's site"**

As if that isn't bad enough, today he bubbles over about formaldehyde ((shudder)) whilst discussing a new law that bans its usage in children's products but EXEMPTS
vaccines, pharmaceuticals, foods, beverages ( he later mentions supplements as well).

AND vaccines are injected "directly into the bloodstream" and in deadly combination with other poisonous ingredients like Hg, Al, MSG and antibiotics.

Yes, a "chemical holocaust" has been unleased upon us, which OBVIOUSLY betrays its TRUE purpose, to create a future market for "cancer drugs, kidney dialysis, liver transplantation" and other pricey medical procedures. And I suppose that fire will rain down from the sky and the graves will open as the dead are re-animated as well.
Pharma executives will go to any lengths to make a profit.

NaturalNews is the spring that never runs dry , forever quenching our thirst for the stupid and for endlessly uninformed hilarity.

** I hope Christians won't be offended by my nicking of their hymn themes/ imagery. It might be Methodist.
Surprised that I knew that, huh?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

Shouldn't they be called "The Canard Party"?

By Chris HIckie (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

So is Mike Adams selling products that are packed with formaldehyde?

There is a long, long tradition of repurposing tunes for other purposes in Christian music. (Martin Luther wrote a lot of songs, but the tunes were mainly ones he'd picked up beer halls, including his most famous, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God".) So I'd say it's fair game, Denice. ;-)

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

Ah, formaldehyde, one of those other myths that just won't go away.

I got into a Twitter tussle with Schneider a while back. At the time, the arguments he used made him seem like a wee babe of the anti-vaccine movement, trotting out some of the oldest, easiest to refute nonsense. Doesn't seem like he's matured much at all.

I do find it amusing that the Health DeRanger apparently still doesn't understand that formaldehyde isn't a contaminant in food and drink, it's a natural component. All plants and animals that synthesize and/or metabolize amino acids that have methyl groups* will contain some formaldehyde, as will any organisms that eat them.

The most organic vegetables in the world will contain quite large amounts of methanol and formaldehyde, certainly more than any vaccine shot every has. This paper lists formaldehyde content of some foods: apples contain up to 22.3 mg/kg, pears up to 60 mg/kg and "immune system stimulating" dried shiitake mushrooms up to 406 mg/kg. A single vaccine shot contains at most 0.1 mg (apart from the Japanese encephalitis vaccine which contains a terrifying 0.2 mg).

You could no more legislate against food and drink containing formaldehyde than you could against it containing glucose.

* Alanine, leucine, phenylalanine and tryptophan, if memory serves.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

Burning stupid, yes. But at least it was relatively entertaining to watch the cartoonist at work.

@ Jeff1971:

He sells supplements, freeze dried fruits, powdered organic nonsense ( see Natural News Store)... so you never know but also, I doubt he wants to run anti-supplement propaganda in large print or in the first paragraph.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

@ Krebiozen:

I guess he hasn't discovered any formaldehyde with HIS microscope in HIS products in HIS forensic food lab though,

I'm sure that there is a weasel-way to respond to the fact that foods contain the evil, corpse-preserving substance- it's all natural and from the earth, thus, it is formaldehyde blest by Gaia herself.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

It seems to me that the 'Vaccine Court' is yet another example of antivaxxers being given an inch and them taking a mile. Any attempts to please them or assuage their fears seems to be spat back in the faces of those who try to help. Similarly anything that is intended to reassure those who are incapable of assessing relative risks is taken as a concession that they are right in their deluded beliefs. They are beyond reason, and have no scruples about lying and twisting the facts to further their stated aims of reducing vaccination uptake.

The Simpsonwood conference is a good example; scientists met to discuss the possible health effects of thimerosal in vaccines, as I understand it largely because of the concern being spread by antivaxxers. They discussed worst case scenarios, and speculated on possible mechanisms that might barely conceivably mean that the minuscule amounts of thimerosal in vaccines could cause problems, all very admirable.

The antivaccine brigade then quoted (and continues to quote) these speculations and worst case scenarios as actual facts that were being covered up. Of course when thimerosal was later phased out, this was taken as evidence that it really was toxic and was causing problems.

The whole cell pertussis vaccine and the Urabe mumps component are also continually dragged out as 'evidence' that all vaccines are dangerous. As we saw yesterday, they are still writing about SV40 which has not been found in vaccines for over half a century and was not harmful anyway. Similarly I noticed that on the SBM blog recently Dr. Jay was citing the discovery of some vaccines production problems as evidence that vaccines cannot be trusted. I see it as a reassuring sign that safety standards are being monitored and enforced.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

Agree, Krebiozen. They do nothing but rant and rave about how their concerns aren't addressed, then when their concerns are addressed and the results are 1) there is no significant risk, 2) we don't really have enough yet to determine a risk but we'll do something as a precaution, 3) we accept that there is a small risk of something legitimate, so we will compensate based on these small, legitimate risks, or 4) it was fraud, they scream they the goverment doesn't care. The government and vaccine companies caring enough to research and adjust fuels the conspiracy theories that they are covering things up. Like McCarthy's defense of Wakefield, asking why someone is demonized when questioning the safety of a vaccine. They investigated! They did the studies! They didn't brush him aside, they just couldn't replicate what she wanted him to. Then they found out he lied, so it was a waste. But of course we know all these studies and interests mean is that they're looking for new ways to cover it up. What level of investigation will be enough? What level of safety? When will they realize that them changing the schedule is an example of them being non-rigid? I know I'm preaching to the choir, so to speak, but typing this here is far more productive and less illegal than finding an antivaxxer to punch.

Also, since you bring up Dr. Jay from SBM, I can't help but think his frequent returns to post nonsense and be summarily destroyed by the responses are cries for help. Has he switched teams and is trying to do penance but can't admit it publicly? Who is that much of a glutten for punishment? Or is he that obtuse?

By AnObservingParty (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

So is Mike Adams selling products that are packed with formaldehyde?'s natural formaldehyde!!

Alain ;)

The thing that amazes me about the whole VICP/Vaccine Court thing is that Barbara Loe Fisher herself has, in recent years, started calling for the program to be abolished. She claims it shields manufacturers and was driven by them, almost completely discounting her own role in its creation, particularly in the writing of the act itself! It boggles the mind, it does.

There is a long, long tradition of repurposing tunes for other purposes in Christian music.

Joe Hill certainly had some winners in this category at the expense of General William Booth's brigade. (W*k*pedia also reminds me that "The Preacher and the Slave" "In the Sweet By and By" gets a poke in Connecticut Yankee, which pleases me tremendously. I should figure out why Ives was making reference to it.)

Dr. Jay "put me on probation" on Respectful Insolence and then "banned me" on the SBM blog...because I whup his butt every time he posts on those blogs.

He's a proven pathological liar...he posted on R.I. that he was providing the varicella vaccine to children with cancer under a "compassionate use protocol" (before the vaccine was licensed in the United States and during the period of time when the vaccine was undergoing testing on healthy volunteers in Japan).

He's also a misogynist because, I, a lowly registered nurse who worked as a public health nurse clinician-epidemiologist called him out repeatedly on his false statements, his "opinions" based on crappy science and his "Links" section of his website, that provided links to and about childhood vaccines.

@Narad --

There's a long, long tradition of repurposing hymn tunes, as well. Most of them by military personnel and most of them unprintable.

in reality it was a plan to save the vaccine program

You just don't get it, do you? Saving the vaccine program was EBIL!

According to what I have read one of the primary reasons for the NVICP was to protect the manufacturers against safety related financial liability.

The primary reason for passage of NCVIA was to attempt to secure the national vaccine supply. Insulating manufacturers from state civil lotteries by having an up-front tax is a means to this end. (It's not clear to me why that capsule history omits the 1980s.)

^ (This certainly isn't the only realm in which preemption applies, but the field is something of a mess, and different examples have different nuances. If one considers the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which preempted Geier v. American Honda Motor Co., is the conclusion that a "primary reason" for NTMVSA was to "protect the manufacturers against safety related financial liability"?)

It seems to me that the ‘Vaccine Court’ is yet another example of antivaxxers being given an inch and them taking a mile. Any attempts to please them or assuage their fears seems to be spat back in the faces of those who try to help.

Indeed. When the Thompson et al. Pediatrics study on thiomersal and neurological disorders was under way, Sallie Bernard of SafeMinds was invited to participate in the study design and analysis. When the data didn't turn out to what she had hoped, she flounced off and publicly trashed the study.

He’s also a misogynist because, I, a lowly registered nurse who worked as a public health nurse clinician-epidemiologist called him out repeatedly on his false statements, his “opinions” based on crappy science and his “Links” section of his website, that provided links to and about childhood vaccines.

I have to admit that it chaps by bum when misogynist is used so erroneously. Dr. Jay may be accused of being elitist in this context but definitely not misogynist.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

Okay Science Mom. :-)

"He’s also an elitist because, I, a lowly registered nurse who worked as a public health nurse clinician-epidemiologist called him out repeatedly on his false statements, his “opinions” based on crappy science and his “Links” section of his website, that provided links to and about childhood vaccines."

The thing that amazes me about the whole VICP/Vaccine Court thing is that Barbara Loe Fisher herself has, in recent years, started calling for the program to be abolished. She claims it shields manufacturers and was driven by them, almost completely discounting her own role in its creation, particularly in the writing of the act itself! It boggles the mind, it does.

Acutally, it makes perfect sense if you look at it like an antivaxxer. As our esteemed host is always pointing out, it's always going to be the vaccines with these people. Fisher didn't get the results she expected from the creation of the Vaccine Court and since the possibility that she's been completely wrong about vaccines all along cannot be entertained, then the Court must go.

By Edith Prickly (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

(This certainly isn’t the only realm in which preemption applies, but the field is something of a mess, and different examples have different nuances. If one considers the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which preempted Geier v. American Honda Motor Co., is the conclusion that a “primary reason” for NTMVSA was to “protect the manufacturers against safety related financial liability”?) I don't know. Did the NTMVSA set up a fund that adds a surcharge to the cost of each motor vehicle to compensate people who were injured as a result of driving or riding in a vehicle that has a manufacturing defect?

I don’t know. Did the NTMVSA set up a fund that adds a surcharge to the cost of each motor vehicle to compensate people who were injured as a result of driving or riding in a vehicle that has a manufacturing defect?

No. Then again, neither did NCVIA, which, post-Bruesewitz (an important distinction), encompasses only design defects. In that sense, NTMVSA goes easier on the manufacturers than NCVIA does. I think the case law on FDCA preemption is similar.

For a combination of regulatory preemption and indemnification, one can look to the Price-Anderson Act, although you're going to have to read Duke Power and Silkwood to understand the nature of the limitations on state-law claims, which aren't disallowed.

All the anti-vaccers are missing the big picture, the issue was taking the lead out of petrol and replacing it with benzene. Autism-spectrum disorder rates increased substantially after that, so clearly ASDs are a lead deficiency problem not a vaccine-related issue.

/sigh I read quite a bit on how bad people generally are at estimating risk and relationships. I also read how that beliefs are emotion-based, so appeals to science tend to not work very well because they're missing the base. I just wish I knew what to argue instead.

Is some of it peer group effects, i.e. that people holding these wacky beliefs tend to associate and seek out others holding the same wacky beliefs. If so, then it would appear that these people need to change their peer groups, and I'm stuck on how that might happen in large numbers. :(

By Kiwi girl (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

aren't ASDs caused by acid rain, the hole in the ozone layer and Halley's comet? ;<)

aren’t ASDs caused by acid rain, the hole in the ozone layer and Halley’s comet? ;<)

Nah, it's broccoli, DVDs and Justin Bieber.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

Actually the Mercury Hypothesis was partially correct:
rates of ASDs increased dramatically after -

1. it was removed from children's vaccines and
2. after the death of Freddie Mercury -
although none of its advocates could have predicted that Mercury INDEED had had a DOUBLY protective- rather than a deleterious- effect.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

/me think ASD is caused by plain old sex. The more, the better :D


Should I know this guy?

The story showed up on my News Feed page. The original article doesn't have many comments, but the ABC News Facebook page is loaded a thousand or so comments with the usual crap.

OK, who's up for taking the soundtrack in that quasi-"viral" video and replacing it with "Rob Schneider derpa derpa derpa derp...."? (Hey, *somebody* had to mention it.)

'Cause that's what all this anti-vaccine nonsense sounds like to my ears.

According to what I have read one of the primary reasons for the NVICP was to protect the manufacturers against safety related financial liability.

That's akin to saying "The purpose of a heart surgery is revenue for the heart surgeon." It's not inaccurate - I'm sure the surgeon feels, with some justice, that she should be paid for her efforts - but it certainly isn't the whole of the story, or even the most important part. From the point of view of a heart patient, the purpose of the heart surgery is to save his life. You might agree that this is in fact the primary purpose of the heart surgery, and that paying the heart surgeon for their work is a necessary means to that end.

Vaccines save lives, just as heart surgeries do, but with the possible exception of tetanus and rabies, it's less dramatic and visible when they do so. A responsible government realizes the need to have a vaccine program for the purpose of saving its citizens' lives. Yet it needs cooperation from other actors to make this program work and serve its purpose; they need companies to manufacture the vaccines, and they need citizens (who may have been misled to believe in a much higher risk of side effects from the vaccines than actually exists) to get themselves and their children vaccinated.

If you read the link you yourself cited, Curious, you might have noted its mention of many companies that stopped manufacturing vaccines, with liability concerns being one of the big reasons why. (Remember that this was the same era in which Dow Corning was forced into bankruptcy by product liability lawsuits claiming that the silicone breast implants they manufactured caused anything from breast cancer to rheumatoid arthritis to lupus - none of these claims ever being substantiated by scientific consensus.) What would you do, if you were trying to preserve a literally life-saving program, but liability concerns were causing manufacturers to stop making the product on which your program hinged?

What the US government did was to institute the NVICP, which did not shield vaccine manufacturers from all liability concerns, but did offer reassurance against what might be called "the Dow Corning scenario". Parents also got reassurance from the program that if their child was one of the very rare children who suffered actual side effects with lasting harm from vaccines, the government would help them bear the financial cost of that misfortune. In order to persuade cooperation of these stakeholders, the government showed them that the program would look out for their interests, too.

The result is that we have a vaccine program that continues to save lives. I have to look askance at anyone who would overlook that fact, the fact that the program achieves its primary purpose, and fixates instead on what the vaccine manufacturers get out of it. That's like undergoing a successful heart surgery and obsessing over the possibility that maybe you could have talked the surgeon into accepting a smaller fee.

Did the NTMVSA set up a fund that adds a surcharge to the cost of each motor vehicle to compensate people who were injured as a result of driving or riding in a vehicle that has a manufacturing defect?

You failed in your research. Either that, or you deliberately made your analogy poor - but let's give you the benefit of the doubt.

The NVICP is a no-fault compensation system. That information is not hard to discover, and should not be hard to understand. Your hypothetical NTMVSA fund, however, which you suggest would be analogous to the NVICP, presumes that in every case fault lies with "manufacturing defect" of the product. Even if, through another failure of research, you are using "manufacturing defect" interchangeably with "design defect", you're still describing a system which differs from NVICP on the most fundamental levels.

Let me describe a hypothetical case. Suppose petitioners came before the NVICP seeking compensation for their son, who was injured by a vaccine. It's not that the vaccine was manufactured badly, or that there was a defect in the vaccine; the child in question had a condition that should have contraindicated that specific vaccine, and through a mixup of records, he received the vaccination anyways, and was injured.

Is it your impression, Curious, that if that case came before the NVICP, they would deny compensation because the blame did not belong to a fault with the vaccine? If so, then what precisely do you think it means that the NVICP is described as a "no-fault" system? If you get the correct answer, that the NVICP would compensate because compensation is not contingent upon finding fault with the vaccine, then why are you talking about a fund which would only compensate in cases of manufacturing defect, and offering that as if it's analogous to and sheds some light on NVICP, when it differs on the most fundamental levels?

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

Acutally, it makes perfect sense if you look at it like an antivaxxer. As our esteemed host is always pointing out, it’s always going to be the vaccines with these people.

Too true Edith and this is an excellent example of that:
Now check out the money quote from the Dachelbot:

If scientists at UNC really wanted to do something to significantly advance our understanding of autism, they'd conduct a
simple comparison study of fully-vaccinated and never-vaccinated children. If one in every 50 never-vaccinated children also has autism, we'd have proof that vaccines are not among the environmental factors causing autism. There are now so many parents too afraid to vaccinate that the study group is out there. Our health officials do retrospective studies like this all the time but they refuse to call for one that could end the most heated controversy in pediatric medicine. We all should be asking why.

Unless and until this study is done, the question remains open.

Yea right because Dachel and the rest of the AoA braintrust are doing so much to elucidate autism aetiology.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

Alain: "me think ASD is caused by plain old sex". I have spent my entire life trying to have sex that was anything but old and plain, so how do I come to have an ASD?

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

I knew the video was going to be crap when the intro referred to "actor Rob Schneider".
If ever oxymoron there was, it's right there (Not saying anything about just-plain-moron. You can decide that for yourself.).

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

The AI algorithm that goes by the name of Dachel* wrote:

If one in every 50 never-vaccinated children also has autism, we’d have proof that vaccines are not among the environmental factors causing autism.

Like that Generation Rescue phone survey found 6 years ago? I know it was somewhat dodgy methodology, but even so if the claims of the antivaxxers were true, this should have shown up in the results. It didn't. All that they found was a bit of random variation, and several unvaccinated autists who are not supposed to exist. Unless GR are paid Big Pharma shills under deep cover, of course...

* She failed my Turing test, so that's my conclusion.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

@ Krebiozen:

Unfortunately, I am afraid that Dachel is a person albeit an extremely limited, drearily repetitive, one note person but a person never the less. Believe it or not, some people are severely restricted and ritualistic in their linguistic expressions and in their interactions with their fellow/ sister human beings.

I don't think she's an algorithm- that would sound better. Less whiney.

One of these days I might put together a overview of antivax writers' language and expressive styles.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

@ Denice

I shudder and I cringe to think she may well be autist (even most autist are better than her) but hey, she might well be.


I have spent my entire life trying to have sex that was anything but old and plain, so how do I come to have an ASD?

Unfortunately, sex is old (else, we wouldn't exist) but I admit there are several variations of sexual prowess and techniques so I retract my comment and add:

old sex with any of its variation is responsible for autism :D


An Observing Party : "Glutin for penance? Well, I suppose that in his world, since bread and sugar are toxic, consuming them would be a penance.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

For those interested in what the late Roger Ebert had to say about one of Mr Schneider's movies (thanks palindrom!): read this. Quite entertaining.

By weirdnoise (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

If she were an algorithm, there would at least be the possibility it could be revised sufficiently that it would generate conclusions reflecting reality.

Offtopic: Is there an expert on learning which would be available for a few emails exchanges on troubleshooting a learning problem that I have?

I'm seeing my psychiatrist next week and the problem I have is related to the field of learning (law) which does not compute to the point that I want to change program (computer science) tomorrow but I'd like to troubleshoot the problem regardless of what I do. It's more in regard to aptitude and the need for logic.


p.s. I'd do it here (nothing's very much personal in my issue) but this is offtopic.

Addendum: might need an increase in Strattera too which is one of the reasons I'm seeing my psychiatrist for.


How in the world do you keep your sanity arguing with those people lilady?

I wish there had been Gardisil when my sisters and I were younger. Just finding out today my sister has cervical cancer. So tell that douche that regrets giving it to their daughter to PFFFTTT off from me.

By Scared Momma (not verified) on 12 Sep 2013 #permalink

@ Scared Momma: Who said I keep my sanity, when I post at the trolls? :-)

I'm so sorry to learn of your sister's diagnosis. I'm send best wishes to you and to your sister.

- lilady

#27 Yeah, I don't think he dislikes women who disagree with him any more than he dislikes men who disagree with him, honestly.

Carolyn @38: This doctor and his ideas are new to me. But I can't believe he won't consider the one big factor that the brain has a big influence on the gut. Besides of course, confusing cause and correlation.
I say this because my gut is sensitive to my moods; when I'm stressed, I get wind, burping, pains and diarrhea. In one memorable episode, my digestive tract decided all by itself that I needed to run right away from the situation and that rapid emptying of itself at both ends would best facilitate this. Fun times!

I posted a couple of comments at but my second went into moderation.

I am still astonished that anyone can argue that measles is good for children when it unarguably causes encephalitis in around 1 in 1,000 cases (5 cases of measles encephalitis this year alone in the EU), not to mention other sequelae such as death.

The same person then claims that MMR is bad for you because it causes encephalitis when the best evidence I have seen, looking at over 2 million children, suggests it doesn't cause encephalitis at all.

How does anyone manage to believe this stuff?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

Actually, sex of any kind can cause autism. Without parental sex noone with autism would have been born.
Also why don't they send donkeys to college?
Because nobody likes a smart ass.
Running and ducking for cover.

@lilady, well, lets just say you SOUND more sane than those crazies! (Thank you, hugs)

One person said (I can't keep track of them) that all you need to do is keep your vitamins up, exercise etc etc etc and you will be fine getting measles. I have to imagine that Native Americans were some of the healthiest people on earth, variety of diet, exercise, fresh air, community . . . yet what wiped them out?! Disease. (and guns, but you get my point)

'How does anyone manage to believe this stuff?'

I was hoping Orac or you guys would answer that for me.

By Scared Momma (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

Well, to be certain, I wont vaccinate my kids. Those who do don't need to worry about that do they if the vaccines work.

@ Antaeus Feldspar - you are overly analytical. As you well know that analogy was introduced by Narad, so I have no idea why you would think I agree with it or support it, I was merely replying to Narad. However seeing as you asked me, "no fault" means blame is not being assigned but it does not mean the product or service is free from defects. And continuing with the analogy, the manufacturing process of an automobile could equate to the vaccination program - both are designed to deliver a finished product to the consumer. In respect of a "manufacturing defect" this would equate to the inability of vaccination programs to identify all individuals who are at risk of experiencing a debilitating adverse event.

@Curious - pharmaceutical companies can be held accountable for "design defects," such as bad batches of vaccines that were manufactured incorrectly.

Holding a company responsible because they couldn't anticipate every single instance by which someone might be harmed by a product (have you seen some of the ridiculous warning labels that some products come with? They are there because of the stupid things people do, plus unintended / unforeseeable consequences).

Vaccine reactions (serious ones) are incredibly rare - and tracked extensively....what you are asking for is what is called a "Perfect World" or "Nirvana Fallacy" where everything is guaranteed, 100% of the time - we don't live in a perfect world & in the case of vaccines, the Vaccine Court is actually a much fairer and easier system to navigate than trying to sue an Automobile Manufacturer in civil court (as a person that works in the Legal World, civil litigation is perhaps the most complicated, expensive and horrific process you could possibly imagine).

@Scared Momma:

I think that often belief in woo is a self-protective, psychological mechanism that denies the lack of control that people have over life events.

One woo-meister I survey tells his enrapatured audience that they could live to be 150 years old- twice their expected lifespan- if only they ate correctly, exercised and "de-stressed" properly, i.e. his way.

Obviously this is a sales pitch for his products, books and shlock-umentaries but also somehow, somehwere I can hear the deep-seated fear that lurks percolating beneath the surface of his sickeningly modulated, incredibly phoney sincerity.

He had recounted how his parents ate a standard diet, smoked, drank and lived incorrectly- going to doctors, breathing polluted air, drinking public water, you know the drill- and they died in middle age ( even though his mother was a 'sensitive' and "healer - talents which he inherited") and his brother died at 50 or so,
BECAUSE none of them listened to him- he who had the rescue formulae and the keys to the kingdom of eternal youth and long life.( Actually the only long-lived person in his family was a vegan who lived on her own organic farm... in the 1950s)

Frightened people who listen to him or read Natural News or are searching for an easy way out of inevitable aging and death: people are especially scared of cancer.
You'll notice that many of alt med's talking points involve avoiding cancer by correct diets, supplements etc.

Utilising SBM involves an admission that experts understand and control the technology which is beyond most patients' ken- thus, they have to hand over control to an expert- perhaps to save their life or improve it vastly.

Woo utilises the fear and dislike many folk have for the aforementioned situation and stress how doctors mis-use people, are arrogant and make too much money- they're not to be trusted; accordingly, they also try to illustrate that they have much in common with the patient ( truth is, they're both non-experts) they're GOOD people- despite their arcane knowledge of life energy or whatnot.
Perhaps patients as well as woo-meisters envy the accomplishments of professionals as well.

Woo also gives simpler explanation than reality does. Some studies have shown an inverse relatuonship between beliefs like these and cognitive complexity.

In the anti-vax contingent, I believe that fear is the chief motivator and amongst those parents who already have a child with an ASD, there's a measure of wanting to "get even" after being so "short-changed" as THEY believe they have been.

There's a great deal more- but I have work- stick around.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

@61 -Toby
I'll keep this short as I'm at work (attempting science!)

Vaccines are not 100% effective (and they aren't claimed to be). Some of those who have been vaccinated may still be at risk of infection.

Additionally, some people cannot be vaccinated, so these people are at risk from infection and must rely on herd immunity to prevent exposure.

By not vaccinating your children you put not only them, but others in danger.

By stewartt1982 (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink


I wont vaccinate my kids. Those who do don’t need to worry about that do they if the vaccines work.

Tell that to the parents whose children were too young to be vaccinated who were infected by unvaccinated children.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

"One person said (I can’t keep track of them) that all you need to do is keep your vitamins up, exercise etc etc etc and you will be fine getting measles"

That person lied.

Misinformation like this'd leads to people skipping vaccines, getting sick and dying of sspe.

And these people are the first to blame shift and refuse responsibility for their actions.

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

@ Krebiozen: If you post a "link", your comment will never get posted. What I do is tell the commenter to "google"..

"The Canary Party and Rob Schneider versus the Vaccine Court: Guess who wins?"

I then cut and paste a few paragraphs from that article that I want them to see

@ Scared Momma: Are you referring to the crank who posts under her 'nym "courageandhope"? She especially is the poster I encounter on blogs. She knows diddly about nutrition or vaccines.

Kids who contract measles in areas of the world where there is malnutrition, (Africa, especially) are provided 2 doses of Vitamin A, which has dramatically decreased mortality associated with measles:

CIA Parker is a real head case, who posts the same old lies about the diagnosis she made for her child of "Vaccine-Induced Encephalits" related to the birth dose of Hepatitis B vaccine which she claims she never gave permission. When Todd W. posted at her she kept posting at him, calling him Lawrence. She accused me and Lawrence and other posters ganging up on her on "a blog". That gave me the opportunity to remind her that she was banned by the blog owner at the "Shot of Prevention" blog for her thread-derailing post under dozens of sock puppets.

The real "Lawrence" has now posted at her, which makes for some odd comments.

I keep checking back at that blog to make certain that my comment is on top...and if one of the cranks has posted atop my comment, I post atop the crank's post. It really p!sses them off.

By electing not to vaccinate your children you're compromising herd immunity, placing others who either cannot be immunized (because they're too young, who for known medical reasons aren't suitable candidates for immunization, etc), or though immunized failed to produce sufficient antibody titers to be protected (recall that although very effective at reducing the risk of infection--typcially in the 85 to 9per cent ballpark--no vaccine is100% effective at conferring protection) at an increased risk of disease or death.

More information about the Canary Party video from AoA.:…

Jennifer Larson is claiming that another Hearing, this time on the VICP Program, is schedule for "November, 2013".

“We are thrilled that Rep. Darrell Issa will be holding a second round of vaccine hearings this fall in the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to examine just what is happening in the VICP,” said Canary Party President Jennifer Larson. “We are eager for Congress and the American people to see just how far the program has strayed from what it was intended to be when Congress put it in place in the 1980s. It has failed families and become nothing more than a tool to protect vaccine makers and cover government malfeasance in the vaccine program, to the detriment of countless children.”

Odd, I am not seeing any notification about that hearing on the Congressional Oversight Committee's Calendar or on Daryl Issa's websites:

lilady, thanks for fighting the good fight. I don't really go to IOL as it is hell to load. But I saw your posts. Excellent work and thank you.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

Too early in the morning to post for this night owl, but I must chime in on the esteemed Ms. Walter's very excellent woo-view. As a former resident of Wooville and someone who was once a card-carrying member of The Worried Well,™ you've hit the nail on the head. From my personal experience and my experience working for Whole Life Expos back in the 90s, Fear (with a capital "F") is the main driver. And not just any old fear, Existential Fear. Usually gnawing away at one in the background. I won't get into my theories on the causes of this since I'm not a doctor, or an actor like Robert Schneider (I can actually act), but I was writing a long rant the other day at an HIV denialist and realized that what I was writing, had I read the same thing 20 years ago, would probably have zero effect on them . . . now. However, I will say to those of us who rail against woo now, it gets in. They hear it, even with their fingers in their ears, rocking back and forth going "la, la, la, la, homeopathy is real, la, la, la, la, vaccines are teh ebilz,
la, la, la, la, HIV is harmless . . .".

When I came-to after a ten year slog out of magical-thinking, I realized that all the scary things (facts, science, logic) I had tried to avoid in Wooville had seeped into my conscious mind. I compartmentalized it, but it was there, gnawing away. My inner skeptic had been bound and gagged since about 17 or 18, but he was in there gobbling up all these tidbits. He finally worked the ball gag out of his mouth by about 36 and by 46, he was free and in the driver's seat. Unlike the stereotype "cold scientist" he's very compassionate, he escorted a trembling, underfed, neurotic Woo-self away from the controls and set him down with a nice cup of herb tea, some pads and pens and a copy of Carl Sagan's Demon Haunted World. Wooboy still chimes first whenever there's an unidentified light in the sky or a bump in the night, but, then again, he also writes all the best parts of the Lord Draconis stuff and draws all the pictures. If only I could get him away from my checkbook . . .

Don't forget to contact me when you're ready to write that book Denice.

By Pareidolius (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

I hate that there's no edit feature on this ghastly system. Anyway, I meant that I was the ex-resident of Wooville and former card-carrying member of the WW™, not Ms. Walter.

By Pareidolius (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

@ Scared Momma

One person said (I can’t keep track of them) that all you need to do is keep your vitamins up, exercise etc etc etc and you will be fine getting measles

One of RI's most notorious antivax trolls used to claim that keeping your toddler on the sidewalk (instead of the germ-ridden grass) would protect against VPDs. We had a lot of fun with that notion.

By Edith Prickly (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

Thank you very much for taking the time Denise Walter to write that insightful answer. I know that it is easier to 'believe' in life, than know. But one thing has stuck with me since a child, 'Knowledge is Power'. Apparently they don't teach that anymore. My generation has converted back to 'woo'. I am in awe of science and what it can do.

Whenever I read an article or a comment about not vaccinating, I am just so incredibly thankful my children have made it through their early years not contracting one of those diseases.

I know you have more to write, but do you think that also it is due to America's (and other developed nations) pure lack of comprehension of how the rest of the world lives? Our 'its my life, not yours' mentality? It's ironic to me these believers in natural healing, the 'connected-ness' of nature, that they can't see beyond the end of their nose how their lives and decisions affect others.

@lilady, you are my hero. I can't argue with dumb people, or even nice people like my family and friends that believe in woo. (Oh, you are right, I guess my grandpa should have just eaten fruit to cure his cancer, or, oh yes, please, snap my nephews neck to cure his allergies.) And thank you for the explanation to where the Vit A reference comes from, and yes, I think it was courageandhope, that rings a bell.

And I am sorry, I don't want to get banned here for posting too many off topic comments. I finally got up my nerve to post among you amazing people. Just warn me :)

By Scared Momma (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

@Edith, whew, must be I kept my kids on the sidewalk their whole lives. ;)

By Scared Momma (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

@MIRose: True, but Alain specifically identified "plain old sex" as the cause of ASDs. I have no information on the kind of sex involved in my conception, but knowing my father as I did, I think he, like me, did his utmost to avoid that kind.
@Alain: While you concede my attempts to avoid plain sex, you must also take into account that I did not have old sex until I was, well, older, anyway. My first attempts at sex occurred when my age was in the single-digit range, so old sex doesn't seem to have played a part either.
Incidentally, as someone actually on the autism spectrum, I have joined with others in rejecting the term "autism spectrum disorder" , preferring instead "autism spectrum condition". Hey, we're the ones who have it and I think we should have some say in naming what we've got. Autism speaks, and all that, n'est ce pas?

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

@ Lawrence - I don't understand the intent of your post. Nothing in life is guaranteed.

@Curious - it seemed as though you were demanding that vaccines be 100% safe and 100% effective - if that is not the case, can you please clarify your position?

I wasn't demanding anything - just replying to other posts directed at me. My position? It would be great if they were 100% safe but that's not the reality. And to make vaccines safer would be very expensive as it would mean developing new vaccines to replace ones that are effective, which would be impossible to justify given the very small percentage of people who experience adverse reactions.

I once posted on the Skeptoid blog when a comment appeared stating the giving a teen the HPV vaccine only encouraged slutty behavior. I made the observation that every time I administered a Td booster to a teen, that kid immediately went to a cow pasture to run barefoot to search for a rusty nail.

@ Scared Momma: Don't ever be afraid to post here too often.

@Curious - I disagree. Vaccine manufacturers are always attempting to make better and safer vaccines - including combining those that they an so overall, they can be more effectively given to people....

And to make vaccines safer would be very expensive as it would mean developing new vaccines to replace ones that are effective, which would be impossible to justify given the very small percentage of people who experience adverse reactions.

In additions to concerns over expense, it's important to note it may not be possible to generate replacement vaccines significantly safer than those we have now taht are also as effective at protecting against infection. Vaccines aren't homoepathic preparations, after all: they actually do something :provoke a biological response which generates a protective antibody titer. The rare but serious side effects of vaccines are a function of this mechanism of action.

Can we generate vaccines that are safer, by sacrificing efficacy? Probably, but replacing "safe and extremely effective" to "even safer but less effective" isn't a change in the direction of greater public health. .

@ Pareidolius:

You are a such a flatterer!
Could it be that you are trying to get on my good side ( altbo'. actually, both sides are rather good) because you know that I live next door to two handsome, young gays AND a North African, tattooed hottie.
I know, I know, you're married.

@ Scared Momma:

I think that you're correct : First World Peoples ( heh) aren't always cognisant of the Second and Third Worlds but many woo-centrists aren't even aware of their own countries' recent past- or how their own grandparents lived and coped with illness and disability.
Alt media capitalises on their lack of knowledge.

I am fortunate in that I spoke with many very elderly relatives and have read ancestors' accounts of the Victorian era. My families come from two international capitols of finance, innovation and fashion and were involved in business for a long, long time- thus, they weren't improvished, poorly educated or isolated from modernity- they were of its essence both politically and socially. Still, they didn't have enviable lives from my perspective.

Often woo is fuelled by an extravagant longing for an idyllic past, a return to Eden before the Fall , which some of them oddly locate in the late 19th Century -where it wasn't.

I'll venture that their vagurly poetic leanings should be addressed by the study and appreciation art, music, theatre and literature, rather than misplacing these romantic, designer-ish meanderings in concerns of science, psychology and health.

Go to a museum, read a book, see a film, don't think up pseudoscience for entertainment, oh woo-tasters!
Trust me, I know what I'm talking about.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

I'm guessing you're a hit-and-run commenter but...


So every lunatic theory that circulates on the Interweb, no matter how idiotic, no matter how much evidence accrues against it must have some truth in it? That's just silly. That would mean alien abduction, dinosaurs in Africa, the hollow earth and reincarnation are all true, the Twin Towers were destroyed in a controlled demolition, the Holocaust never happened and that the 7th son of a 7th son can cure warts. I have to wonder how many of these beliefs you subscribe to.

Well, to be certain, I wont vaccinate my kids.

You are happy to allow them to become living virus and bacteria manufacturing plants and them wander about infecting innocent people? In my personal opinion that makes you a selfish and despicable human being, who not only is putting his own children at risk, but many others too.

Those who do don’t need to worry about that do they if the vaccines work.

Why is it that people repeat this nonsense, no matter how many times it is pointed out that it is not true?

Most vaccines are better than 80% effective, but there will always be a minority of people that do not develop adequate immunity in response to some vaccines. For example despite having had many hepatitis B vaccines last time I checked my antibody titers were still below the level I would like to see, since my profession involves working with blood.

It would be nice if routine vaccination eliminated hepatitis B so I would no longer have the risk of becoming infected, but that will never happen if people like you don't vaccinate their children.

What about people with cancer who are on immunosuppressant treatments? What about children with leukemia, HIV or other immunodeficiency diseases, or those with neurological problems, who cannot be vaccinated with MMR, and who may be infected by your unvaccinated children?

You don't appear to understand herd immunity. If we take measles, for example, the vaccine is effective in over 90% of recipients (92% in, for example, this study), but because measles is so contagious even a small drop in vaccine uptake leaves that population at risk of measles outbreaks.

To put it slightly differently the herd immunity threshold for measles is 92–94% so if only a small percentage of parents, like you, do not vaccinate their children, we can expect to see measles outbreaks, especially in places where non-vaccinators' children cluster.

Those outbreaks are very likely to include children whose parents were responsible and did vaccinate them (the 8-10% of measles vaccine recipients who do not develop immunity, remember?), or whose medical conditions precluded vaccination with a live vaccine.

The suffering and possibly permanent disabilities caused by measles in those children are, in my view, entirely the responsibility of the non-vaccinating parents. If those parents had done the right thing that outbreak would not have happened and those children would not have been injured or killed.

There is a good reason that the 'Law and Order' episode that dealt with a fictional outbreak of measles of this sort was titled 'Selfish'.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

@ Denise, yes please, write a book :) Well, I guess I don't see Eden as having unsafe water, no toilet, sickness, disease, no way to protect my family, etc. Guess I got the 'glass is half full' at nostalgia lol Too bad all of use do not visit our past as you have. The world, at least this country, I think would be a much better place.

@lilady, THANK YOU!

@Krebiozen, first saw that episode years ago before I even thought about having children, and I was so mad then. But weren't the 'non-vaxx-ers' found not guilty? I'd have to imagine they would never be found guilty in this country.

By Scared Momma (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

#61 And you're completely fine with your kids making someone sick who is on chemotherapy, allergic to vaccines or elderly?

@ Old Rockin' Dave,

Agreed on your latest post.


@ Antaeus Feldspar – you are overly analytical.

I'm analytical, without a doubt. If you think that thinking through an issue completely is a bad thing, then I suppose you'd go farther and call it "overly" analytical.

As you well know that analogy was introduced by Narad, so I have no idea why you would think I agree with it or support it, I was merely replying to Narad.

Narad was the one who made the initial comparison. He was not the one who suggested that the comparison would be more accurate and revelatory if the hypothetical motor-vehicle compensation fund only paid in cases of manufacturing defects. That was your own idea.

However seeing as you asked me, “no fault” means blame is not being assigned but it does not mean the product or service is free from defects.

So then, you agree that your analogy, of a fund which compensated people who were injured in motor vehicles but only when "manufacturing defect" was to blame, is a faulty analogy which has little bearing on the situation. It's good to see you can realize some times when you're wrong.

Speaking of wrong, "it does not mean the product or service is free from defects" would earn you some subtracted points, if I was grading your paper. It shows that you really don't understand fundamental points about the program - or maybe it's fundamental points of logic you're failing to grasp. A no-fault compensation program compensates without requiring that blame be assigned, or defect detected. Compensation does not mean that the product or service is free from defects, and it does not mean that defects are present or even suspected. Do you comprehend that? I urge you to overcome your preference for being underly analytical, and try to grasp that central point: Compensation in a no-fault system is not made contingent upon locating the blame with a particular party; therefore the fact of compensation provides not one bit of evidence that blame was or should have been located with a particular party. Which is poles apart from your supposedly comparable fund which compensates for motor vehicle injury, but only in cases where the cause was manufacturing defect.

And continuing with the analogy, the manufacturing process of an automobile could equate to the vaccination program – both are designed to deliver a finished product to the consumer.

So, in your mind, the "manufacturing process" does not refer to the actual manufacturing? It refers instead to the manufacturing from beginning to end and to everything that happens after the manufacturing, until the product is received by the consumer? You are unlikely to find anyone else in the world who agrees with this belief.

In respect of a “manufacturing defect” this would equate to the inability of vaccination programs to identify all individuals who are at risk of experiencing a debilitating adverse event.

It's clear that you haven't taken five minutes to Google the phrase "manufacturing defect" and understand what it means, because that claim is ridiculous. Cars can be sold to individuals who should not receive them, but if you went before a judge and tried to argue that the selling of a car to an individual who should not have one was a "manufacturing defect," he'd probably throw you out of his court. It doesn't have anything to do with the manufacturer. It doesn't have anything to do with a defect in the product. If you don't know anything about what is and is not designated by the legal term "manufacturing defect", it's in your own best interests not to go throwing the term around.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

In respect of a “manufacturing defect” this would equate to the inability of vaccination programs to identify all individuals who are at risk of experiencing a debilitating adverse event.

That's not what 'manufacturing defect' means. At best, this scenario would amount to a warning defect – except that it's practically an invocation of the wrong side of the halting problem, not to mention the rather thorough warnings that are provided.

Can we please get Disqus up in here?

Disqustink is terrible.

Thanks to people like you I will have to avoid crowds again this winter. I am over 60 asthmatic and my last flu shot had a large localized reaction, so I can stop having them or gamble and run to the hospital if anaphylaxis hits. Your selfishness is outrageous.Apparently, if I am not your child my life means nothing.

@ Scared Momma:

I thank you so much for your kind words HOWEVER-

I won't write a book** because:
- I want to remain at least partially anonymous
- I already have enough money
- woos might sue me and drag my well-toned, lily white arse to court or harass me heartlessly and ceaslessly
Couldn't have that
( we already know a few awful scenarios in that category- you see, woo- meisters and fraudsters hate the truth-
take a bow, Lee, Todd, Brian, David, Stephen, Paul, Seth, Rene et al- I don't wish to join that club, as lovely and brilliant as these guys are)

If I write my personal 'tales of Transatlantica' those of whom I speak might possibly get angry, upset and/ or cry a great deal and make me regret revealing their secret lives and travailles in this vale of tears after their forcible entry into tragedianism OR their diffusely reckless drunken/ drugged/ lascivious explorations of the true meaning of life.

In other words, I don't want to hurt anybody or destroy my personal/ family relationships and the really great material would hurt quite a few people.

I would never write about clients or their families.

So I guess I'll remain as I am. And write about alt med liars and manipulators for free. It's more fun that way.

** one of my friends thinks that I should write up my daily adventures and ( because a few of the principals have Gaelic/ Irish Christian names or are Irish) sell it to Irish TV. No thanks.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

At best, this scenario would amount to a warning defect – except that it’s practically an invocation of the wrong side of the halting problem , not to mention the rather thorough warnings that are provided.

what is "the halting problem"?


Basically, the halting problem is the fact that it is theoretically impossible to guarantee that any given computer program will, in fact, halt. Some programs trivially stop running; some programs trivially never stop; but there are programs which may run for weeks or years and will halt, but we cannot tell without running the program and waiting.

It's tied to Godel's Incompleteness Theorem, which states that there will always be statements that cannot be either proven or disproven in any given system of mathematics.

In this case, it's basically a reference to the fact that, given a lack of adverse events, how can you tell the difference between an event that cannot happen, and a billion-to-one event that just hasn't happened yet? You can't, really. You cannot ever guarantee that there will never be any adverse effects, at least not from just looking for events. (You can, of course, show that there is no pathway by which those events can happen, but the number of pathways in biological systems makes that difficult.)

Which leads into issues with what has been called 'the paralyzing precautionary principle'.
There will almost never be a 100% safety guarantee, so the best we can do is go on balance of probabilities. Saying we should wait until we have a 100% guarantee is making the perfect the enemy of the good.

By Jenora Feuer (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

Scared Momma,

But weren’t the ‘non-vaxx-ers’ found not guilty? I’d have to imagine they would never be found guilty in this country.

Through the wonders of the internet I am currently watching said episode, merely from idle curiosity, plus I like an occasional crime drama. I shall report back.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

OK, spoiler alert. Here's my take on the infamous Law and Order: Special Victims Unit episode (S10E19) that is mentioned from time to time in discussions about the culpability of non-vaccinating parents.

This is a weird show - WTF is that irritating "ching ching" musical thing that they punctuate it with? Anyway, a child is missing and the cops accuse any passing person who might conceivably be guilty, then have to let them go when it turns out they are innocent. One of the crime lab people appears deranged, but gets to dig up bodies enthusiastically and very unforensically with a shovel. He has to be dragged away from the body of a child he has uncovered, while he is shouting, "We got a body" at the press behind the barriers.

The mother is a party girl who claims to have mislaid her child with a mentally ill childminder. It transpires that she stole the MI childminder's credit card and used it to buy the shovel and tarp the child's body was buried with. She has just been charged with her murder when, shock, horror, it is found the child died of measles encephalitis (up to this point, half way through, I was beginning to think I was watching the wrong episode). "Measles, how does that happen in this day and age?" asks the cop. "She wasn't vaccinated," replies the ME. Close up of horrified expression on female cop's face. However, it transpires that the child was under 18 months old and too young to be vaccinated, but where did she get it from?

The female cop plea-bargains community service and alcohol dependency treatment with the mother who believes she killed her daughter (slapped her because she wouldn't stop crying) before revealing that the child died of measles - sneaky. Then it transpires that other measles cases have been reported. "What's next, the Black Plague?" says the historically challenged female cop, darkly.

The search for Patient Zero commences (I hear Ren at the back of my mind crying out that this is the Index Case, not Patient Zero...). Now a non-vaccinating Amish community is involved, and an English girl. I'm just waiting for the first mention of autism (it never comes). Aha, the organically gardening, anti-vaccine, Unthinking Warrior Mom is tracked down, and before she has even put down her trowel she starts her rant about Big Pharma and how her son had measles and is just fine. The cops explain that the little girl who caught measles from Warrior Mom's son has died, of measles, but she denies all responsibility. "My child, my choice."

Back at the station, "That lady is a lunatic. What she is doing is a danger to society," observes a cop. "Yes, but it's not illegal," replies another. The same discussion we have all seen, and probably participated in, a hundred times ensues. Government dictatorship, slippery slope, herd immunity, some can't be vaccinated... You know the drill.

Breaking news, the mother of the dead child is suing the city for $100 million because her daughter contracted measles in a public park (I'm wondering if the script writers are playing some kind of 'hypothetical situation bingo' here). What to do? Arrest the mother of the unvaccinated boy who gave the dead girls measles, of course, for the murder, no less, of the dead girl.

In the courtroom the same argument ensues, with a doctor testifying that the girl would be alive if the boy's mother had had him vaccinated (measles outbreaks in England are mentioned, but not Wakefield, nor autism), the mother testifying that she educated herself by reading books and the internet, and was uncomfortable with the MMR side effects and , "God wouldn't want me to do this". She accuses the bad party-girl mother (who, to be fair, did bury her daughter in a shallow grave) of murder, and points out she is a good mother who does everything to take care of her son (except vaccinate him).

It turns out that the title, "Selfish" refers to the party-girl mother who breaks down and cries about her irresponsibility. This makes little sense to me. If the mother had stayed at home doing crack instead of taking her child to the park, her daughter wouldn't have caught measles. Fiction eh?

In a final bizarre twist, the mother of the dead girl and her mother and father attack the home of the organic non-vaccinating Warrior Mom for murdering their baby girl. The mother and daughter are restrained by the cops, but the father who has been accused of being a wimp by his wife, charges into the Warrior Mom's house, pulls out a gun and shoots himself in the head in the Warrior Mum's living room.

This leaves a terrible mess which is presumably punishment enough for a vegan. The End

What message this was supposed to convey beats me, but I suppose it raised the issues.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

I omitted to mention the jury found the non-vaccinating Warrior Mom not guilty of murder, of course.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

@Kreb - that might be the greatest recap of a Law & Order episode I've ever read....thank you.

Odd, I am not seeing any notification about that hearing on the Congressional Oversight Committee’s Calendar or on Daryl Issa’s websites:

They want you to know that they've paid for the hearing, so it will happen.

"We iz powerful. We haz paid donations to politicians and we are going to get a hearing. Nothing will come of it, except for youtube videos. But don't think we will make the mistake of calling it an autism hearing again. No sir. No way. Them pesky autists want to actually be heard when we do that! Can you believe their gall? Why can't they shut up and let us speak for them? Nope, not this time. This time we will have a nice little hearing where our pet politicians can berate the people we want to, our man Brian can finally be heard...well, maybe not a win there...But we will get to say that the court is corrupt because they have, like lawyers and stuff. I mean, can you believe it? The U.S. department of HHS uses government attorneys to represent them. That's just not fair. All we get is Cliff Shoemaker. And we lost the Omnibus. And lost the appeal. What's up with that? It has to be corruption. I mean, sure, we said it was fair when the hearings were held, but that's because we believe the crap science our 'experts' presented. We just shut out the real scientists who tore our guys to shreds. So it has to be corruption. CORRUPTION I say. And we want a hearing. That will bolster our confidence. Andy is Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King rolled into one! He should speak at the hearing! Yeah. Andy Wakefield, Brian whatshisname, David Geier (he should bring the prescription for Viagra his daddy wrote for him), I'd ask for JB but he seems to have figured out to stop making a fool of himself...It's gunna be a par-tay!"

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

JGC: Can we generate vaccines that are safer, by sacrificing efficacy?

Been done. As I understand it the original pertussis vaccine had a few nasty side-effects, and the one currently in use has almost none. However, the immunity to pertussis wanes faster.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

Okay guys...I've never seen an episode of Law and Order, but I found a synopsis of the episode, here....…

It was supposed to based on the Casey Anthony murder case in Florida, where Casey really got away with the murder of her young daughter Caylee.

Boy, did the writers of that show go far afield, with the plot. I remember I was still aboard ship cruising from Alaska to Vancouver, when the verdict came in as "innocent" (around July 10, 2011).

Krebiozen pssst..."index case". :-)

@ I. Rony Meter: I guess it's time for us to start checking for political donations to certain Congressmens' campaign funds.

Does this mean that Robert F. Kennedy will not publish his investigative book on *Big Gubmint's* conspiracy about the mercury-in-vaccines-cover-up?

Apropos of nothing much, I stopped watching "Law and Order: SVU" right after I discovered I could get "Law and Order UK" on BBC America. Brits among us will probably tell us it's just as unrealistic as the American ones, but it has Bradley Walsh. It also has Dominic Rowan, who I seem to be developing a crush on (Yes, Old Rockin' Dave rocks out to both sides of the LP. Deal.).

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 13 Sep 2013 #permalink

The Canary Party/ Schneider video is featured today by Dan Olmsted @ AoA along with Blaxsted's recent video ( with the assistance of Teresa Conrick and Natalie Palumbo) about mercury ( what else?); so in 15 minutes, a person can become entirely "educated" about vaccines.
All they need to know. Or so I'm told.

Interestingly enough, Mike Adams has also features the exact same two works.

Both are slickly produced and packaged, despite being wretchedly decaying masses of vegetative matter awkwardly masquerading as scientific information. Null also premiered a new documentary this past week ( he hands out copies at film showings as well).

All of this garbage, self-promotion and wankery will be tossed around the net, smeared on facebook and on alt media sites from here to kingdom come.

There's nothing new except the manner of presentation.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 14 Sep 2013 #permalink


do you mean we should check and see that Vibrant Technologies (founded by Jennifer Larson who is now part of the Canary Party) donated $5200 to Darryl Issa? (Two donations of $2600 on 5/21/13)

That her company donated $29,800 to the republican national committee on 6/24/2013?

And $5,000 to “Invest in a Strong & Secure America “, Darryl Issa’s PAC on 5/21/13?

Do we have the best government money can buy?

(I accidentally posted this comment to another thread).

That would be the $40,000 people said were going to be donated to make this hearing happen?

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 14 Sep 2013 #permalink

Must have been fun to give 40 kilobucks to Issa and have a hearing where autist can actually heard and steel the show :)

We got our hearing many years ago and we've never been heard except the conclusion was pay now (ABA) or pay later (SSDI for life). Shrug.


*STEAL the show!

I'm off to my buzz cut for now, I did a fundraiser for cancer and I'm going to have my head & beard shaved down fully.

Want pics?


Old Rockin' Dave,

Brits among us will probably tell us it’s just as unrealistic as the American ones, but it has Bradley Walsh.

True (but so does 'The Chase'). It also has that horrible scene punctuating noise, "ching ching", that irritates the living bejeezus out of me.

BTW Bradley Walsh was in Coronation Street which has a character called "David Platt" which is also the name of the person who wrote that 'Law and Order: Special Victims Unit' episode. What does this mean? If I was Jake Crosby my head would surely explode with the interconnectivity of it all.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 14 Sep 2013 #permalink

Krebiozen: That noise is supposed to be akin to a judge's gavel.

The Law & Order series is noted for (or perhaps infamous for) the "ripped from the headlines" approach, where they take real-life, usually high-profile news stories and use them as the basis for fictional cases.

The drawback is that the stories they take are typically those that drew so much attention because they were so over the top that, if they hadn't really happened, you couldn't take them seriously - and then, because everyone who followed the headlines knows how the real case turned out, they have to layer on additional complications which end up making the story even more ridiculous.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 14 Sep 2013 #permalink

@ Kreb:

re Jake:
That's why I believe that many of these people would have been better off getting involved in the ( quasi) arts and writing bad novels and screenplays - so people would only get hurt in fiction, not in reality.

Memory is so organised that similars sift out together and like goes with like ( or its opposite) thus much of what we think we observe is merely a reflection of our internal recording system putting itself on display, seemingly outside of us, creating a hall of mirrors. Fortunately some of us know that.

If I wanted to do 'degrees of separation" on myself many interesting folk would turn up - like Vladimir Putin. That doesn't mean that there's a real connection. I hope not.

But here is a horrible but true tale:
Thomas Hardy's novels often have people suffering dire consequences because of a misplaced letter, a slight delay, an accident that snowballed into a life transforming event. The entire chained superstructure of plot is intricately linked together like an art project - which it, after all, is.

OK, a guy was reading the novel "Tess" - a prime example of what I just described. He decided one day to leave his office ( though he usually stayed in) and the building he then entered into was blown up as he was also.

At home, the novel was left with a page folded at the corner where he had last read. For years, it was left alone untouched and unread by other family members as part of the shrine that was inadvertantly being created in remembrance of him.

My friend, being a brave soul, took it upon herself to read the novel, leave off where he did briefly and then later continue through and finish reading. She learned the terrible events that transpired in that tale of woe which also ended in untimely and unfair death for a worthwhile, young person.

Everybody sees similarities and contrasts and looks at coincidence and irony. Most of us don't think that it is real.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 14 Sep 2013 #permalink

ORD, brilliant! Thanks, and keep on rockin' in the free world!*

*Not a political statement, just like Neal Young

By sheepmilker (not verified) on 14 Sep 2013 #permalink


Everybody sees similarities and contrasts and looks at coincidence and irony. Most of us don’t think that it is real.

I learned that lesson after reading 'Illuminatus!' at the tender age of 15 (my older brother has provided me with some interesting reading material over the years). In the novel the number 23 is believed to have great significance, and once people are initiated into that fact, they magically see the number everywhere. As did I. Eventually the reader discovers that this is merely due to selective attention, and (hopefully) learns the extent to which they create the world they experience (not, I repeat not, the objective world 'out there').

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 14 Sep 2013 #permalink


What's so special about the number 23, beside my birthday?


Denice Walter @ #84:

Indeed, and I'll reiterate what I said in Orac's "other" blog: As an American Civil War buff, I am often struck by how primitive medicine was back then. 150 years ago, not only could infectious diseases strike you down before your threescore and ten were up (and indeed, reaped more corpses than bullets did during the ACW), things we consider easily treable today (like heart disease) were often death sentences.

Anybody who thinks Victorian times were somehow idyllic should crack open an American Civil War book or two. Not only will it be a great introduction to the darkest period in America's history, it will be a reminder that the "good old days"...were'nt always so good.


What’s so special about the number 23, beside my birthday?

Nothing at all, unless you look hard enough.
For example (from memory, so some of these may not be true):
It's the number of chromosomes each parent contributes to a human baby.
It's the number of definitions in Euclid's 'Elements' (written 23 centuries ago)
It's the number of degrees the Earth wobbles off center causing the precession of the Equinoxes.
It's the number of people guillotined at the end of 'A Tale of Two Cities'.
There are irregularities in DNA every 23 angstroms.

The same human cognitive glitch that allows us to see 23's everywhere once we start looking for them allows a homeopath, for example, to convince himself that homeopathy is effective.

I corresponded with Robert Anton Wilson, the author of 'Illuminatus!', by email for several years, until his death, and he became a personal friend. He was a critic of some skeptic organizations (CSICOP for example, which he parodied as The Committee for Surrealist Investigation of Claims of the Normal), and we didn't agree in some areas, but he taught me a lot about skepticism, though his work has been grossly misunderstood. Perhaps more importantly he made me laugh, a lot.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink

I forgot perhaps the most important 23: Avogadro's constant is 6.02^23 molecules per mole.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink

Krezbiozen #13 - Thanks for the information re formaldehyde. I've posted that table, with my comments, on my Facebook page.

Sheepmilker, naturally I got the reference. Not my favorite song of his in spite of the catchy refrain, but I can forgive a lot to the man who gave us "Helpless" and even more, "Like a Hurricane". The latter has one of the great lines in rock - "You are like a hurricane, there's calm in your eye".
By the bye, about the 'nym: kashkaval? Feta? Manchego?

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink

Lucario@#116 -- they can start with Faust's "This Republic of Suffering."

I think it was Bell Irvin Wiley who stated that 75% of all casualties in the American Civil War died of "looseness of the bowels."

@ Lancelot Link, and Krebiozen,

Thanks. I never took notice about it except in the horoscope where I'm always lying between virgo and balance on various horoscope...


ORD, we had our own dairy where we made artisanal sheep milk cheese. The hard cheese was based on a Pyrenees, which, yup, is in the same family as Manchego. Nowadays, the 3 remaining sheep are just pets really.

By sheepmilker (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink

Was gone all weekend . . . catching up :)

@ Denise . . . darn it. Oh well, if your privacy means more to you than our happiness, so be it ;)

@ Krebiozen That was the best SVU 'recap' ever. I had forgotten about all of the dumb pre-story on it. I guess they can't have the whole hour berating the Warrior Mom.

@Old Rockin' Dave I now watch Law and Order UK. Also watching 'Broadchurch'.

@lilday I will look at your links between loads of laundry :)

By Scared Momma (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink

@ Scared Momma:

You are too kind.
Well... there's no book but..I have no intention of giving up my quest to inform people about the wiley, weasley ways of woo ** and provide insight into general psych for everyday life whilst showing off my... uh , skills or whatever it is that I have in spades.

** I usually despise alliteration.
Assonance is another story.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink

I find I am very much happier when I log on the computer to check RI these days, instead of facebook. I am learning so much from this site, it is incredible.

@Denice *cringes* I spelled your name wrong. SORRY. Would be why I hate posting on blogs. Thank you again for your insight.

By Scared Momma (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink


I think it was Bell Irvin Wiley who stated that 75% of all casualties in the American Civil War died of “looseness of the bowels.”

From my limited knowledge I would guess that throughout human history, most people have died of diarrhea. Most of the rest died from either respiratory infections or violence, though malaria may be a rival to these. Any historians care to disagree?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink

Scared Momma,

I now watch Law and Order UK. Also watching ‘Broadchurch’.

As a Brit, and an amateur student of film, expecially TV, I have to say I find a great deal of UK TV unrelentingly grim. There's little optimism, and a happy ending is vanishingly rare. If you're lucky there may be a little ironic dark humor. For example I found Broadchurch well-written, superbly acted, but it left me wanting to slash my wrists.

I mostly prefer US drama these days. Even US TV with dark subject matter like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead seem to have a sort of lightness that UK TV lacks. Maybe it's me.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink

Denice - you could still write a book. Just make it fictional. Let the real happenings inspire you, but change enough so that no one says "Hey, I know who that person really is!!" I have no doubt you could do it, if you chose.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink

@Krebiozen If you say, 'The Walking Dead' has a lightness to it . . .yes, then, you need a break from British TV. Not sure where the happy ending will come in on that show! But I get what you are saying. I need a break from cartoons, so 'Broadchurch' is filling that to the brim. Unfortunately I was reading a wiki page on it, saw 'whodunnit'. Blah.

By Scared Momma (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink

@ Antaeus:

Thank you for the compliments. I do think that I could write stuff like that ( altho' a fewpeople would get very angry at me)
but I am called to a different vocation:
I have an evangelical mission to spread the good news about evidence, data and statistical analysis all the while reporting in detail on the malfeasance of alt med ninnies.

If I were to write an actual book, it'd be about how to 'dress to express' or suchlike.

@ Kreb and Scared Momma:

Believe it or not, I watch hardly any television series/ dramas/ movies- only news, politics, markets, nature-

The little fiction I do watch- haphazardly- has to include partially clad men of diverse ethnicity- that I'll follow for half an hour.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink

@Denice, that is the exact book I am looking for 'dress to express'. I NEED that book. A few conversations sprinkled with woo this weekend, all I did was make my mother mad. Missed the opportunity to educate (if it was even possible).

And I do believe it, just watching non-fiction.

By Scared Momma (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink

I am also following "Broadchurch" and find it excellent, regardless of the Doctor Who ties.
On BBC America I also watch "Copper", which is a dandy kind of show, even if it ain't pure history, and am holding my breath for the second season of "Orphan Black" - Tatiana Maslany has done an amazing job of acting so far.
I'm awaiting the return of "Walking Dead", and AMC also has me with "Hell on Wheels" and, if you want a downer that's heavier than "Broadchurch", there's "Low Winter Sun", where two Detroit detectives are assigned to solve a cop's murder that they themselves committed. It comes from a British TV movie, and oddly enough, Mark Strong plays the same character of Frank Agnew in both productions.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink

Thanks for the suggestions Old Rockin' Dave!

By Scared Momma (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink

I completely forgot to mention "The Bridge". Diane Kruger's portrayal of an autistic detective (There is backstory to account for this if you pay attention.) is outstanding. Damien Bichir as the Mexican detective she is made to partner with is really good too. He has a natural charisma in the part.
There's also my guilty pleasure in "Under the Dome", which has Stephen King's usual descent into illogic and silliness, but has a great character in Big Jim. It's also not very realistic, but I suspect the hidden crimes, the lack of any planning or foresight, and the outbursts of selfishness are realer than I would like to think.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink

Fisher didn’t get the results she expected from the creation of the Vaccine Court

IIRC, Fisher expected the Vaccine Court to consider the vaccine manufacturers guilty until proven innocent, and was surprised when the burden of proof didn't shift like she thought it would.

By Matthew Cline (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink

I completely forgot to mention “The Bridge”.

Don't forget the Danish / Swedish original version.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 15 Sep 2013 #permalink

Old Rockin' Dave,

Regarding The Bridge, do you know if it's available on netflix? I'd be interested into renewing my subscription if it's available.


Alain, I tried checking Netflix for you, but I am not a subscriber and couldn't find out. Try emailing them.
Mein Herr Doktor, I am aware of the existence of the Scandinavian original of "The Bridge" but have had no chance to see it, probably wouldn't watch it anyway. The US/Mexico border is just naturally a more dramatic setting. The Mexican cop has to worry about offending the drug cartels, for instance. Who would the Danish cop worry about - the LEGO Group? Lütefisk smugglers?

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 16 Sep 2013 #permalink

Hi Dingo 199: I've been missing you and your great comments.

Great cartoon; thanks.

Alain, netflix doesn't have "The Bridge". It does however have "The Bridge", a documentary which it describes thusly:
"Over the span of a year, cameras capture tormented souls trying to kill themselves by leaping from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge."

Lilady, thanks! I'd like to get in touch with you - are you on JREF or Badscience? (if so pm me - I'm DeeTee)

@ORD & dingo199,

Too bad Netflix doesn't offer the series. An autistic woman being a police detective, that's one in a million (even if it's on TV). Is it possible to find it in another site (even if paying, google tv, youtube, other providers)


ORD: Lutefisk smuggling? I'd worry more about illegal lutefisk dumping. Now, LEGO smuggling, that might be a problem..

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 16 Sep 2013 #permalink

I should think that there would be some obvious olfactory drawbacks to lutefisk smuggling, myself.

Shay: The dogs would go on strike. It'd be worse than smuggling Limburger cheese.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 16 Sep 2013 #permalink

I don't think it's possible to smuggle lutefisk. There's no way to conceal that smell!

Krebiozen @129:

From my limited knowledge I would guess that throughout human history, most people have died of diarrhea. Most of the rest died from either respiratory infections or violence, though malaria may be a rival to these.

On one documentary I saw, the claim was made that malaria was the single biggest killer throughout history.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 16 Sep 2013 #permalink

Taht actually illustrates the point I was (perhaps clumsily) trying to make: we can perhaps generate safer vaccines by sacrificing efficacy, but it's a zero-sum game: at some point the risk vs. benefit for the reduced efficacy/better safety profile version is inferior to that of the current version, and it's that dynamic that's one significant barrier to continued development, not just economic cosst.

Alain, while someone with Asperger's syndrome is unlikely to become a cop, it's not impossible. I nearly became a State University of New York police officer, but was stopped by other circumstances. The portrayal is realistic and nuanced, and made with input from Wrong Planet.
In the backstory, Sonya's sister was murdered. The detective who was responsible for the outcome of the case makes her a sort of special project, and as her lieutenant continues to mentor her. I will say no more to avoid spoilers.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 17 Sep 2013 #permalink

How do you have time to research all of this stuff? Have you got a few ghostwriters?

By usethebrainsgo… (not verified) on 17 Sep 2013 #permalink

@PGP -- who would need a sniffer dog to catch a lutefisk smuggler?


Is it possible to find it in another site (even if paying, google tv, youtube, other providers)

Googling 'free tv video online' will lead you to a site I have found useful in the past, and which has links to sites that host streaming versions the US version (probably illegally, but not illegal to watch as far as I know).

The Danish version can be found on YouTube - search for 'Broen s01e01 part 1' with English subtitles.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 17 Sep 2013 #permalink


Orac has been covering these subjects for years. Because antivaxxers keep telling the same old lies and citing the same old bogus studies, there's rarely anything which requires a huge new investment of research time.

By the way, you may have written the first sentence of your comment. Who wrote the second sentence? Is it possible that your attention span wasn't long enough to come up with two consecutive sentences, and you needed to hire someone else to finish your comment? Or is the second sentence written by the same person who wrote the same sentence? If this is so, and that someone is not you, how much do you pay them to write material you can claim as the results of your own thinking?

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 17 Sep 2013 #permalink

Shay @#122:

All this talk of how people died in the past reminds me of a conversation I had with a few friends at the game store I noramlly hold Pokemon League in. One of my friends suggested that the American Civil War's death toll could have been cut considerably had Pepto-Bismol been available. Food for thought.

And then we got into a discussion of how epic an D&D/ACW crossover would be. Yeah, my friends are weird. ;)

I'm not sure Pepto-Bismol would have had much of an impact. For a diet of maggot-infested hardtack and rotten vegetables, washed down with filthy water, something more industrial strength would have been required.

The real reason so many survived? They were for the most part young men, 18 to 23 years old.

I have been following this blog with a great deal of enjoyment.

Is it possible to find it in another site



Whatever does 'The Bridge' have to do with Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology? Oh I see, as you were.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 19 Sep 2013 #permalink

Lutefisk and the smell....

Actually, lutefisk ready to serve has very little odor, or at least none that I could detect. It's the *preparation* that reeks so bad.

Mind you, no food prep I've been involved with has ever smelled as bad as cooking gingko seeds. Cooked gingko seeds taste awesome; almost exactly like pistachios. But the cooking process smells almost exactly like vomit. It's horrible. We had to abandon the house for a day with all the windows open, and never ever ever did that again.

BTW, if you have a gingko tree, and it is female, you will get to experience that smell whether you cook them or not, if you are not quick about removing the huge volume of fallen seeds that it will produce, falling from the tree not long after you've shoveled away all of the thick, fleshy leaves that will choke any leaf vac or lawnmower, and which fall pretty much all at once. Beautiful trees, but a real nuisance in the fall.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 19 Sep 2013 #permalink

I'll take your gingko seeds and raise you a durian.

(but I'm really, really intrigued -- why on earth were you cooking gingko seeds?)