They say that truth is stranger than fiction. I never really necessarily believed it, but yesterday was a day that might well serve as anecdotal evidence to support that adage. Indeed, yesterday was perfectly bookended by two major developments in the case of the so-called “CDC whistleblower,” the senior CDC scientist who, if you believe Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker (always a bad idea), over ten months unburdened himself to Hooker, a biochemical engineer with an autistic child whose autism he blames on vaccines, specifically mercury-containing vaccines. Because I’ve gotten a lot of new readers who might not have been following my posts, I’ll provide a brief recap. Those of you who know what’s going on can skip ahead a couple of paragraphs. (Or you can read my peerless prose because it’s so awesome.)
The claim from the antivaccine movement at the core of this story is that the CDC covered up data from a study (Destefano et al) published ten years ago that allegedly showed an elevated risk of autism in African-American males due to receiving the MMR vaccine early. Supposedly, or so the story went, this “whistleblower” advised Hooker in writing a “reanalysis” of that data, and the perfidy was revealed. Meanwhile, Wakefield and Hooker made a truly despicable video in which they compared this “coverup” to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, the Holocaust, Stalin’s crimes, and the killing fields of Pol Pot. I kid you not. The first version of the video obscured the voice of this “whistleblower” and did not identify him, but portrayed him criticizing his colleagues, expressing shame, and in general sounding bad, although it’s hard to tell what, exactly, he was talking about because of selective editing. Then, last Thursday night, a new video was posted that identified the “whistleblower”: William Thompson, PhD, a senior scientist at the CDC.
I told the tale over the course of four posts. In the first installment, I described how vile Wakefield’s video was and how incompetent Hooker’s reanalysis was. I also couldn’t resist pointing out that Hooker had actually proven Wakefield wrong. The second installment put this development into context as part of the central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement. In the third installment, I described the increasing desperation of Wakefield’s supporters as the mainstream media, despite their best efforts, did not pick of the story, despite Mike Adams over at NaturalNews.com releasing a “bombshell” e-mail from Thompson that wasn’t. In the fourth installment yesterday, I had a bit of fun with a final desperate gasp in which The Not-So-Thinking Moms had a Twitter party to promote the #CDCWhistleblower hashtag and succeeded only in embarrassing themselves, as well as another “bombshell” e-mail revelation that wasn’t.
So, finally, a week and four blog posts later, we hear from the whistleblower himself. Through his lawyer, Thompson has released a statement, which I shall quote in full:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-AUGUST 27,2014
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM W. THOMPSON, Ph.D., REGARDING THE 2004 ARTICLE EXAMINING THE POSSIBILITY OF A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MMR VACCINE AND AUTISM
My name is William Thompson. I am a Senior Scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where I have worked since 1998.
I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.
I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.
My concern has been the decision to omit relevant findings in a particular study for a particular sub group for a particular vaccine. There have always been recognized risks for vaccination and I believe it is the responsibility of the CDC to properly convey the risks associated with receipt of those vaccines.
I have had many discussions with Dr. Brian Hooker over the last 10 months regarding studies the CDC has carried out regarding vaccines and neurodevelopmental outcomes including autism spectrum disorders. I share his belief that CDC decision-making and analyses should be transparent. I was not, however, aware that he was recording any of our conversations, nor was I given any choice regarding whether my name would be made public or my voice would be put on the Internet.
I am grateful for the many supportive e-mails that I have received over the last several days. I will not be answering further questions at this time. I am providing information to Congressman William Posey, and of course will continue to cooperate with Congress. I have also offered to assist with reanalysis of the study data or development of further studies. For the time being, however, I am focused on my job and my family.
Reasonable scientists can and do differ in their interpretation of information. I will do everything I can to assist any unbiased and objective scientists inside or outside the CDC to analyze data collected by the CDC or other public organizations for the purpose of understanding whether vaccines are associated with an increased risk of autism. There are still more questions than answers, and I appreciate that so many families are looking for answers from the scientific community.
My colleagues and supervisors at the CDC have been entirely professional since this matter became public. In fact, I received a performance-based award after this story came out. I have experienced no pressure or retaliation and certainly was not escorted from the building, as some have stated.
Dr. Thompson is represented by Frederick M. Morgan,Jr., Morgan Verkamp, LLC, Cincinnati, Ohio, www.morganverkamp.com.
This is the development that occurred at the end of the day. I start with it because it is the most interesting to me, although by no means am I certain that it is the most important. The first thing you have to remember is that this statement was vetted through his lawyer. Consequently, it is relatively content-free, at least as far as some of the more pressing questions. There also appears to be an effort there not to piss off either side too much, hence Thompson’s saying that he agrees with Hooker that CDC decision-making and analyses should be “transparent.” That’s a statement so generic as to be in essence meaningless. No one—the CDC included—would disagree with that statement. The devil, of course, is in the details. What, exactly, does “transparent” mean?
The next thing that came to mind is this: Thompson has very likely just destroyed his scientific career. I suppose he had probably destroyed it before this statement, but this statement caps it, and it’s not because he’s revealed any scientific fraud. There doesn’t appear to have been any fraud, just a scientific disagreement. Yet, over this disagreement, Thompson has, in essence, apologized not just for himself (which he has every right to do if he thinks he’s done something wrong) but has the gall to apologize ("I regret that" for his co-authors too. One wonders whether his co-authors think they’ve done anything that requires such an expression of "regret." My guess is that the answer to that question is no, because there’s no evidence that they’ve done anything wrong, other than to disagree with Thompson on how to analyze the data in Destefano et al. So Thompson has turned a scientific disagreement into, in essence, an insinuation of unethical behavior, based on a dubious accusation, given that I don’t see, even now, how “relevant data” were withheld, given that Destefano et al analyzed data for all subjects, as I described.
Sure, the CDC won’t fire Thompson or discipline him, but no one is going to want to collaborate with him any more—and understandably so. Certainly, if I were one of his collaborators, I’d drop him like the proverbial hot potato immediately and refuse to work with him further, if only for the reason that I could no longer trust him not to turn an honest scientific disagreement into a major kerfuffle. Make no mistake, his attempt to recast his behavior as a result of a scientific disagreement by saying that “Reasonable scientists can and do differ in their interpretation of information” will fall on deaf ears around the CDC and in the scientific community in general. After all, he just accused his coauthors, indirectly, of at the very minimum sloppy science in not following the study protocol. Worse, they can’t say anything publicly to counter it, given Thompson’s having lawyered up to assert whistleblower status.
Think of it this way. You have a legitimate scientific disagreement with Thompson about how to account for what is almost certainly a spurious association, given the small numbers. The group comes to a consensus. Thompson still doesn’t agree with the consensus. Would you ever be able to trust him not to slime you? Worse, he has stated that he is providing information to Rep. Bill Posey, Dan Burton’s apparent successor for the title of biggest antivaccine loon in Congress. His statement that he’s willing to collaborate with an “unbiased” scientist won’t help him. After this, the only “scientists” who will want to collaborate with him are likely to be antivaccine “scientists,” like Mark and David Geier or Brian Hooker.
That being said, the antivaccine movement should take no comfort in Thompson’s statement, either. I’ve seen them all over Twitter and Facebook already zeroing in on Thompson’s insinuations, to the exclusion of the rest of the press release. It was enough to have our old buddy J.B. Handley start up a Twitter account:
#CDCWhistleblower scrubbed by lawyers and still ugly, biggest shit-bomb CDC has ever seen http://t.co/pefeWFphzc
— JB Handley (@JBHandleyjr) August 28, 2014
Meanwhile, the commenters are going wild over at the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism.
Antivaccinationists, however, are quite mistaken in declaring Thompson's statement to be "vindication." It is not. For one thing, all we have is Thompson's word for it. For another thing, it hasn't been actually proven that there was any sort of malfeasance or scientific fraud at all, and even Thompson's statement, although it insinuates less-than-rigorous scientific behavior, does not support an accusation of fraud. Even if it did, accusations are not convictions. Here’s the problem. Antivaccinationists, as is usual, are being very selective in what they believe out of this press release. They trumpet Thompson's statement about the Destefano et al as "proof" that the "CDC lied." Yet, they’re completely ignoring the biggest part of the statement: How massively enormous (or enormously massive) a slimeball Thompson just revealed Hooker to be—Wakefield, too. Thompson has just accused Hooker of having recorded him without informing him, a massive violation of the trust Hooker had nurtured between them. In fact, it’s quite possible that, if Thompson’s allegation is true, Hooker broke the law. While it’s true that Georgia, where the CDC is located, is a one party state (no, I’m not referring to the domination of its legislature by Republicans but to its law that only one person needs to consent to being recorded in a two-party recording), California, where Hooker works and presumably lives, is a two party consent state. In other words, Hooker could be in a world of hurt if Thompson were to pursue a prosecution and prevail.
Wakefield’s a major slimeball too, according to Thompson (but, then, you knew that already without Thompson’s statement). Basically, if Thompson’s story is true (and I’m more inclined to believe Thompson than Wakefield), Wakefield did not have his permission to reveal his name to the world. I’m intellectually honest; so in this I have to admit that Jake Crosby got it right about Andrew Wakefield, who apparently lied to him blatantly by implying that he had had Hooker’s permission. Of course, one can’t help but note that Crosby assiduously blames it all on Wakefield, ignoring the statement by Thompson that Hooker had recorded their phone conversations without informing him, thus betraying his trust. One wonders whether Crosby will figure out that Hooker has just proven himself as big of a slimeball as Wakefield.
In light of this new information, what do I now think happened? I think I can make a reasonably educated guess now. Hooker states that Thompson called him up out of the blue about ten months ago, and both agree that their communications began around ten months ago. So that’s probably true. Both agree that they had many phone conversations over that period of time. My guess is that Thompson, for whatever reason, called Hooker first, and Hooker reeled him in by offering a sympathetic ear and enthusiasm to reanalyze the data, as well as by playing to his ego and view of himself as a wronged warrior for the truth. It didn’t matter much that Hooker, if his “reanalysis” is to be believed, has the statistical and epidemiological skills of a paper cup. The two men obviously hit it off, and Thompson confided more and more with him, while Hooker taped it all without Thompson’s knowledge. Meanwhile, anyone paying attention to the rumblings of the antivaccine underground knew that Hooker had been claiming he had a “whistleblower” on the inside for quite some time now. Perhaps the CDC found out. Or perhaps the CDC didn’t find out, and nothing more happened other than that Hooker told Wakefield that he had hooked a live one, leading Wakefield to propose making that video, promising not to reveal Thompson’s identity, a promise he never intended to keep. Betrayals within betrayals. This can’t all be laid on Wakefield. Hooker played Thompson by recording him, and apparently Wakefield played Hooker by tricking him into doing that video with a promise not to reveal Hooker's identity. Either way, Thompson was played, big time.
Ironically, Thompson’s statement was released several hours after we learned that Hooker’s incompetent reanalysis had been taken down pending further investigation, with the following notice:
This article has been removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions. The journal and publisher believe that its continued availability may not be in the public interest. Definitive editorial action will be pending further investigation.
When I first heard of this yesterday morning, I was conflicted. On the one hand, my position had hardened since I had first analyzed Hooker’s sorry excuse for a reanalysis. Then, I wasn’t completely sure that the paper was as bad as all that. Oh, I knew it was bad, but just how had to be further pounded into my head through further thought, further reading, and further analysis over the next few days. So I really thought this paper deserved retraction. On the other hand, I knew that retracting this paper would simply feed the conspiracy theorists of the antivaccine movement in a way that almost nothing else could, and if this removal does end up being the first step towards retraction it will drive the antivaccine conspiracy contingent into even greater heights of frenzy. But then I thought about it. Everything feeds into the conspiracy theories of antivaccinationists. We don’t care about changing their minds, because their minds can’t be changed. What we do care about is persuading the general public, particularly the fence sitters, and a retraction of a scientific paper sends a powerful message to the public about a study.
A great example is Andy Wakefield himself. His reputation was never quite the same after he was struck off as a physician in the UK and then his Lancet paper was retracted. Before that, mainstream news outlets used to routinely interview him about vaccines and autism. Afterward, he was toxic. True, he should have been just as toxic all along, at least as far back as the late 1990s, but for some reason he wasn’t. After his retractions, suddenly he was. Indeed, one can’t help but wonder whether Wakefield’s involvement in this story completely undermined Hooker by guaranteeing that the mainstream media wouldn’t touch this story with the proverbial ten foot cattle prod. Without Wakefield, maybe Hooker would have gotten some traction with major mainstream media outlets over his "reanalysis" and his whistleblower. With Wakefield on board, he got nothing. Indeed, this is one of the uncommon times when the mainstream media should be congratulated for not covering Andrew Wakefield, with only very minor exceptions. None of the major media outlets reported on this story.
Finally, this message is for Dr. Thompson, at whom I remain quite pissed, even as at the same time I feel sorry for him because of the mess he finds himself in after having done some excellent work in the past:
Yes, Dr. Thompson, you were played, big time, by Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker, but WTF were you thinking in the first place? You speak of now being willing to collaborate with “unbiased and objective scientists” to reanalyze vaccine safety datasets. That’s great. But, if that’s the case, why on earth did you ever contact Brian Hooker? Brian Hooker? Just a cursory Google search of Hooker’s name and the word “vaccine” would have easily revealed to you that Hooker was anything but “unbiased” and “objective” about vaccines. Such a search would have quickly revealed obviously that Hooker is an antivaccine activist working to “prove” that mercury in vaccines causes autism. Add to that his obvious lack of any relevant qualifications, and you should have run, not walked, away.
Instead, apparently you contacted him first. You failed miserably in even the most cursory due diligence. And now you’re surprised that Hooker betrayed you? Now you think that true “unbiased and objective” scientists should want to collaborate with you on vaccine safety issues? Real “unbiased and objective” scientists are going to avoid you like the plague. I don’t know what personal guilt or issues drove you to think that confiding in Hooker was ever a good idea. I’d say you deserved what you are getting, were it not for the fact that the children of the U.S. and possibly the world could well suffer as a result of your ill-advised pseudointellectual dalliance with Brian Hooker.
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Okay, I'm not a statistician and I've not followed the technical side of this, but Thompson is saying the increase for African-American boys is statistically significant, whereas from what I gathered this far is that, once you account for looking at subgroups, it isn't. So am I missing someone or is Thompson simply wrong?
Also, ten years between the study's publication and this. Has Thompson gone around being bitter and ashamed all these years?
With or without the retraction, these clowns got what they wanted: publicity and more fuel to fire their conspiracy theories.
Is it safe to say nobody wins?
Not really. The story that finally made it's way out and the average person will see is anti-vaxx shenanigans even with Thompson making his statement. Nothing will convince the die-hards so as far as they are concerned, damned if you do and damned if you don't. Rational people are what matters and this is not good publicity for the anti-vaxx cause.
I think the real reason JB joined Twitter is because he's in the early to middle stages of bring Twitter to its knees.
"Thompson has turned a scientific disagreement into, in essence, an insinuation of unethical behavior"
I don't know the behavior codes scientists use among themselves, but FWIW as a lay person I honestly didn't read it that way. That is, I didn't see a subtextual insinuation of an ethics breach, and the manifest meanings of the text itself struck me as non-accusatory.
Most important, IMHO, is that Thompson does NOT say he expressed any reservations to his colleagues about what was or wasn't in the 2004 paper BEFORE the article was published. The language in his statement is non-judgmental on points where other wording could easily have been used. Most significant to me is the combination of the passive-voice past-tense of "the protocol was not followed" with the present-tense verb "I believe." Contrast to "I believed the protocol had not been followed."
Further, 'to regret' is not the same thing as an 'apology', and 'omitted' is not the same thing as 'neglected' much less 'covered-up.'
In short, there's nothing in Thompson's statement to indicate anything beyond, 'sometime after the Pediatrics paper was published, I realized we hadn't included the specific data on African-American males, and I came to the conclusion that should have been in there."
Nor am I convinced that Thompson contacted Hooker. Hooker could have been tipped by a third party privy to Thompson's more recent discussion with his colleagues, e.g. some non-scientist employed at CDC in a clerical position or such. Having spent time hanging at work in my college days with a buddy who worked as a night janitor, I can testify that the people who clean your office know everything about you they want to know (which usually isn't much, but still...)
Nevertheless, the WTF signals from our blinking light box are totally justified, IMHO. Even if Hooker contacted Thompson, how could Thompson be so naive as to fail to check out who the hell he was talking to, and that individuals very public agenda?
As far as Thompson's career goes, my guess is that as a CDC lifer whatever he says in public is inconsequential, and everything depends on his interpersonal relationships with his colleagues. That is, no matter what the statement said, I would guess he's toast if he didn't talk the whole matter over with his co-workers first, tell them what his lawyer wanted to issue, explain it to them, and get some form of consent. The clue to me here is "I received a performance-based award after this story came out." Again, I don't know how it works at the CDC, but 'performance-based awards' are pretty common in academia, and no matter how brilliant you may be, you don't get one if your colleagues don't like and respect you.
By the same token, I have to wonder if "I am providing information to Congressman William Posey" is just a defensive tactic on the part of Lawyer Morgan, to keep Posey at bay, and back at CDC Thompson and everybody else are barfing. As, no, I couldn't see him hoping to continue a career there, much less win an award, were he to actually crawl in bed with Posey (so to speak).
Andreas: For the reasons above I doubt Thompson has been bitter at all. Maybe not even ashamed, but just regretful as the statement says. But he could have been ashamed. We can't really know and it really doesn't matter.
SpaceTrout (w. Cheese!): Not that Science 'wins', but I take this as a loss for the anti-vaxers. The point of a conspiracy theory is you don't need external fuel to build the fire, you just make shit up. AoA is going to do what it does regardless, just as the Creationists are going to do what they do. The difference is that there aren't a lot of folks sitting on the Fundie/Reality fence, but there's a very large population of not-yet-committed folks who could be swung toone side of the vaccine 'debate' or another. The effect on these folks is where you measure wins and losses. As Orac has noted, the anti-vaxers got nowhere near the publicity out of this they expected. "“Where is the New York Times? Where is the Washington Post? Where is Fox News, CNN, CBS, and NBC? Where is the press? Anyone?” (heh, heh). And to any extent this kerfuffle does go on to get a dribble of media coverage that could reach the Undecided, with Thompson's statement and the Hooker 'study' withdrawal, the peg is likely to be, "Uh, no there there (snicker)."
The paper has not been retracted.
It seems to be in some sort of very unusual supra–"expression of concern" limbo.
^ With a performance-based discount if it involves blockquotes, of course.
Who said it was?
In Orac's previous post, he wrote, "yesterday the Not-So-Thinking Moms laid down the instructions for this 'Twitter party'." No big deal really, but in politics, interest groups are always trying to give themselves names filled with positive connotations, not just to boost themselves, but to partially immunize themselves from critique as attacking them by name can appear to be attacking the valued concepts they've tried to wrap themselves in. As such, wise opponents refuse to call them what they want to be called, and employ counter-labels. "Pro-Choicers" are 'pro-abortion' to their foes, and "Pro-Lifers" are 'anti-right-to-choose' to their, and so on.
So the snark of "Not-So-Thinking Moms" actually reproduces the claims and values implicit in the term 'Mom'. Any calumny against any 'Mom' might as well toss pooh at the Flag and apple pie, too. The mythology is invoked by the informality. 'Mom" can not be bad. A more formal term strips the myth away. A 'mother' can be very bad (the Right demonizes 'welfare mothers' not 'welfare moms'). But one could imagine a good number of creative put-downs for nutters who label themselves 'Thinking Moms'. Just off the top of my head, how about "Unthinking Medeas" or "Measles Marys"?
I'm just saying folks out in the world react to things quite differently depending on the frames defined by word choice, which is one reason PR is a $12.5 Billion/year industry.
By the same token, I would urge medical researchers to NEVER use the term 'herd immunity' in public again. (My precious little angel is not some farm animal, and certainly not part of any herd, thank you very much, because MY kid is better than all those other kids and clearly stands - or crawls - alone! Why, if you can't see that, you must be exactly the kind of thoughtless monster that would poison my darling special Gift from God.)
'Herd' could be replaced with 'community' I suppose, but the hot-button stakes would warrant a special term for the concept as applied to children, replacing 'herd' with some 'precious'-invoking term for a group of infants and toddlers, though an example escapes me at the moment.
I'm thinking there also might be more appealing alternatives to 'immunity', maybe 'protection from disease'. Yeah, it's a lot more keystrokes, but what Mom doesn't want to protect her little ones from bad things?
"The paper has not been retracted."
"Who said it was?"
The headline of this blog post is: "A bad day for antivaccinationists: A RETRACTION, and the “CDC whistleblower” issues a statemen" (my emphasis).
While SBM spokes-folks will surely want to be precise about the papers status with the journal of Translational Neuro-Freakout Shitting Our Pants Over This, this sort of slippage is likely to occur in any general media coverage this story gets, to the corresponding apoplexy of the anti-vax gang.
(Orac should probably edit that headline; no need to spare words on a blog post title, e.g.: "A bad day for anti-vaxers: Hooker's paper removed from the Web, and the supposed “CDC whistleblower” issues a statement.),
Orac: please feel free to delete or edit my last comment (in moderation) if you see fit to change the headline.
By the other side of the same token, your declared sophistication in this matter has done little more for this volk* than to fritter away 10 minutes considering whether it was too soon to use the canonical Billy Madison routine once again.
* Yes I put that there.
I read too much into the hed, sorry.
So, anyone know if there are relevant statutes for recording a Federal Employee without permission?
Is this now a Federal Criminal issue for Hooker as well?
"Your declared sophistication in this matter has done little more for this volk than to fritter away 10 minutes considering whether it was too soon to use the canonical Billy Madison routine once again."
First, I like your taste in YouTube music clips. Really.
Second, if you think the elementary school playground taunt of parroting "by the same token" is clever or wounding, or anything but evidence of childish churlishness, then by all means keep it coming and dig yourself into a deeper hole.
Third, I declared nothing about myself in the post you quoted, and nothing in that post was even remotely sophisticated.
Fourth: Nothing I wrote was intended to do anything for YOU, and I find it odd you would entertain the principle that it ought to.
Fifth: I have paid zero attention to Adam Sandler since 'Remote Control', but I YouTube'd and assume the 'canonical' routine you refer to is the Decathalon Judge's evaluation of Billy's Puppy-Industrial-Society speech? As I've now watched that, you may consider you next 10 minutes saved. (You're welcome.)
Sixth: Sincerely, I don't get the reference to "this volk -- Yes I put that there." As I assume that's also an insult, you might want to explain that to me.
Seventh: Why the hell are you apologizing @ #13? You didn't read too much into the head. Your comment @ #6 and Orac's reply @ #9 are both premised upon 'retraction' being the wrong word, and wrong enough to matter. Orac made a mistake, as the body of the post and his reply indicate he did not intend the denotations of 'retraction.' You pointed out the error and helpfully supplied the correct characterization. Verbally aggressive douchebaggery in one post, unnecessary contrition in the next. Perhaps you should get your psydoc to adjust your meds...
Eighth ,... or perhaps you ought to consult a surgical oncologist. As you don't know me, and I have not attacked you, whatever is leading you to direct a stream of bile in my virtual direction suggests some underlying pathology that has nothing to do with me personally. So with all due compassion I urge you get that brain tumor removed before you go full Charles Whitman IRL.
"Employee" doesn't enter into anything. The federal statute is one-party consent.
Unless such communication is intercepted for the purpose of committing any criminal or tortious act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or of any State.
Disagree and agree. I disagree about Dr Thompson becoming an outcast. He was pretty bloody stupid to talk so openly with Hooker. But, in Hooker's own claim, Dr Thompson "made me his priest" (or similar phrase), and as Dr Thompson's lawyers may be pointing out: this means that Hooker KNEW that Dr Thompson had an expectation of privacy, even were California not a two-party-consent state, which it is. The violation of that privacy, I would assume to be actionable, as well as immoral. But being pretty bloody stupid and getting caught out ought not be fatal for Dr Thompson.
Where I agree is over Wakefield (surprise). In a recent measles outbreak in the UK, media executives (including the BBC) simply said they were not having Wakefield on. Period. Wasn't going to happen.
Plainly, the case is the same in the US. The unanimity with which media outlets shunned even looking into the story (except CNN to try to check a grotesquely false story on their iReports section), I believe because it was from Wakefield.
But there is a chink in the wall for what we call anti-vax parents, who I think are horrendously manipulated and exploited. Because Wakefield was trying to exploit Hooker, he found himself telling Jake Crosby that he had permission from Dr Thompson to identify him.
Now, anybody listening to the excised snippets would know that this was not true. Crosby spotted this (as would anybody who handled audio recordings or transcripts), and now knows that Wakefield lied to him.
Andrew Wakefield lying? As a fact. Jake knows this. Seen it with his own eyes. Not a rumour, or from me, or anything like that. He KNOWS.
Of course, the antivaxxers will repeat until doomsday that Dr Thompson admitted fraud, but times are changing, methinks.
Maybe not in an of itself, but in his public statement Thompson is still insinuating scientific misconduct at worse or, at best, incompetent or ideologically motivated decisions about what analyses to do. Worse, he is insinuating this about his colleagues at the CDC. Sure, I could be wrong and maybe he cleared it with his collaborators, but somehow I doubt they're going to be OK with this. They might come to forgive him in time, but I'd bet that right now they are royal pissed off at him—and understandably so.
I edited the title and "fixed" it with one word. Now, please, do us all a favor and spare us further sanctimony about it.
As you point out, why does Thompson go outside of the CDC to Hooker, who most definitely is not an "unbiased and objective scientist"? Indeed, under the federal No Fear Act--as a whistle blower--Thompson could have reported his concerns to higher ups regarding this now 10 year-old paper. He would have had whistle blower protection right there and then (NoFear was made law in 2002, fyi). Instead, he waits a decade and then sleazes up to a rabidly biased anti-vaccinationist (Hooker). Is it realistic to think Thompson was this naive about what was going to happen (being recorded and exposed), especially given Thompson has a PhD in psychology? What did Thompson hope to gain from this, if, as he claims in his statement that "I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race." ?
Feeling very cynical, I think Thompson played everyone with his "confessions"--and he did it to gain job security without having to worry if his concerns met the standard for whistle blower protection. Ten months of converstations with Hooker is a long time to get anti-vaccinationists all prepped for this big revelation--and it was clear the anti-vaccination leaders knew this was coming based on their social media postings. Again, Thompson didn't need to contact Hooker to get his concerns publicized. In contacting Hooker, however, he allied almost all anti-vaccinationists against the CDC and allowed them to play a race card as well. I suspect Thompson has other "concerns" he has yet to voice publicly. I doubt any of them are real, as his "concern" over this 2004 paper required Hooker to abuse and misuse multiple statical tests to get even one spuriously "significant" finding. But now, to avoid further negative brouhahas, as well as to steer clear of the law firm Thompson has retained, the CDC will have to keep Thompson on staff until he either quits or retires. What a deal for Dr. Thompson, who in his statement notes: "For the time being, however, I am focused on my job and my family." Thompson now gets to be with his family and to hell with his job and everyone else he claims to care about in his statement.
Concerning the NoFEAR Act (http://www.gao.gov/about/workforce/nofear.html), with me placing bold emphasis on what Thomspon could have sought protection under):
Whistleblower Protection Laws
A Federal employee with authority to take, direct others to take, recommend or approve any personnel action must not use that authority to take or fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to take, a personnel action against an employee or applicant because of disclosure of information by that individual that is reasonably believed to evidence violations of law, rule or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, unless disclosure of such information is specifically prohibited by law and such information is specifically required by Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or the conduct of foreign affairs.
Retaliation against an employee or applicant for making a protected disclosure is prohibited by 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(8), as made applicable to GAO by 31 U.S.C. 732(b)(2).
If you believe that you have been the victim of whistleblower retaliation, you may file a charge with the PAB/OGC at Union Center Plaza II, Suite 580, 820 First Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002. See 4 C.F.R. Part 28.
The way I understood it from an excellent interview with Hooker online I saw, the two were in contact for a decade. Dr T was generally assisting Hooker to make sense of various FOI applications. I suspect that Wakefield learnt of this - possibly from that scumbag Lewis - and persuaded Hooker to trick Dr Thompson. But even with the deception they got very little. A guy badmouthing his employer.
Unless I'm reading the statute wrong, Georgia is also actually a two-party consent state. See Georgia Code 16-11-62, where it states that all parties must consent to recording. I've seen elsewhere on the web that Georgia is a one-party consent state, but the state code suggests otherwise. Perhaps at one time they were one-party consent.
Of course Jake's not going to call foul on Hooker for doing that; it's something that Jake has allegedly done, himself.
Yeah, I had thought of that, which is why I said that Thompson had probably destroyed his scientific career. Clearly, he has a job at the CDC for life now. He can go to work, go through the motions of doing stuff, and collect a decent paycheck until he retires. Given how old he appears to be, however, I doubt there's enough time left in his career to fully repair the damage he's done.
Of course, part of his statement that I didn't touch on that really grated on me was the bit about taking time to focus on his "family and job." That's the same generic statement that politicians caught diddling pages use when they resign. Thompson would have been better served leaving that out, because whenever people see that sort of sentence, they know what they're reading probably has a lot of BS in it.
Chris @21 -- I'm not sure I follow. Are you suggesting that Thompson more-or-less staged this whole thing to make himself so controversial that CDC couldn't fire him? Do we have any reason to think his job was in danger in the first place?
If so, that seems to me like at least one plot twist too many.
I can't speak for Chris, but I certainly don't think that Thompson staged the whole thing. He was definitely played. But, once trapped, his best way out was to claim whistleblower status.
I don't think it matters. AFAIK, Hooker lives and works in California, and it's reasonable to suspect that the recording took place there. CA being a 'all parties' state, Hooker could reasonably be sued there.
Hooker could (reasonably) claim that GA law doesn't apply to actions in CA, but nobody could claim CA laws don't apply to CA.
Yeah, it would be easier for Thompson to file suit in GA if he wanted to, but Hooker might be able to have it thrown out on jurisdictional grounds.
What I'm wondering is, how exposed is "Doctor" Wakefield.
If the gentleman was looking for "reasonable scientists" to work together for an "unbiased analysis" of the data...I'd say he is 0 for 2
It's certainly in Hooker's interests for any action to be held under CA law, as the penalty is lower (only a $2,500 fine and/or up to 1 year in county jail, for a first offense, compared to GA's $10,000 fine and/or 1-5 years in prison).
As to Wakefield, he might be in the clear, since Texas, where he lives, is a one-party consent state. As long as either Hooker or Thompson (and it looks like Thompson did not) gave him the okay, he's set.
Orac @28 - That does make plenty of sense.
I'd be willing to bet that those lawyers aren't working pro bono.
Oh, and considering a recent taunt by Popehat, I can't help but adding that the law firm Thompson has retained is probably not composed of Weimeraners.
I've been following this blog forever and I want to thank everyone for dissecting this, because for a lay person, it can be rather confusing (except the part where nobody in their right mind should go within 10 miles of Wakefield).
What is everyone's opinion on allowing whatever investigation--provided Posey is on a leash--to take place, just as an act of good faith on the part of the CDC? Or even if the CDC came out and said, "yeah, we're internally looking at this, we are concerned blah blah blah..."
Obviously, the data that wasn't included wasn't because it couldn't be compared to a proper control due to lack of information on non-Georgie birth certificates, and therefore the numbers were small, Type II error, bam. I wouldn't include it in anything either. Let it come out that way. I guess I'm not understanding, as someone not as familiar with these processes, why they just don't say that. "It would have been bad math, and here, look at the other 100+ studies that say the same thing as ours did anyway." I mean, it won't stop the tin-foil hat connoisseurs, but rational people would probably accept that as "transparency."
And thanks all again for the analyses. I wish the CNN article linked here to these dissections.
Rob Schneider is now tweeting out some stuff about Thompson admitting flu shots caused tics? Anyone know anything about this?
Why do I go on #cdcwhistleblower, why....
@ Todd, I don't know if Wakefield is in the clear or if his participation in this is actionable, there are competent legal people here who could clarify. However it seems to me that Dr. Thompson's statement:
is a warning shot for both Hooker and Wakefield. Hooker doing the illegal recording and he and Wakefield producing and releasing the videos which contains illegal recordings. In any event, we don't seem to be seeing any more "whistleblower" videos.
Looks like there is another video :
"CDC Whistleblower on Thimerosal in Pregnant Women"
I can't watch this video right now, but it seems relevant.
Yeah, that's why I said "might" be in the clear. Under TX law, as long as one party consents to the recording, it's legal. Likewise for releasing the recording to others. Now, I'm not sure how TX law would work if the recording is illegal in the states in which the parties to the conversation were located. Wakefield might be in the clear, or he could still be liable, should an action be pursued.
@palindrom #27--Maybe initially his intentions were innocuous, but as the conversations progressed perhaps he realized that he was caught in something he couldn't get out of.It just seems so convenient that when all this broke he somehow knew to be quiet and go seek legal counsel as though he knew this was coming ahead of time.
This is the closest I can get to translating it into plain English.
Say you have a study. Some people in the study do worse, some people do better. There is no correlation between the vaccine and the outcome.
Now you subdivide your groups. Male, female, African, European--whatever you like. Simply from the math you will have three cases:
Males and females both do as well as the overall average.
Males do worse but females do better.
Females do worse but males do better.
You can keep on doing this with every data point (race, age, gender, etc) tracked and then you can pick out the absolute worst subgroup.
What you may find is that there is statistical significance for your worst group. But what that means is something like "There is a one in twenty chance that the members of this subgroup simply got unlucky and their fate had nothing to do with the vaccine."
And then you notice that you have twenty subgroups. So that should make it obvious. The other option is to state that vaccines are good for white children and girls but bad for black boys. That doesn't really fit any known mechanism of vaccines and risk factors for being a black male child.
@ChristineRose: Thanks. I am aware of the "pick subgroups till you find one with a significant effect" issue. So, presumably, is Thompson. So why is he claiming that "my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information" when that significance is probably spurious? Assuming the critiques of Hooker's analysis are correct, Thompson is implying something he does or should know is misleading.
Of course, the antivaxxers will repeat until doomsday that Dr Thompson admitted fraud
In fairness, that would be a reasonable interpretation of Thompson's statement: "I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics." That's a specific claim of misconduct, which might rise to the level of fraud. What isn't clear is whether that claim is accurate. AFAICT the allegedly statistical significant information was only found after Hooker tortured the data and it confessed. Even so, there seem to be serious doubts as to whether Hooker's claim is actually true.
I'm also going to ask: Why did Dr. Thompson, who lives in Atlanta, hire a Cincinnati lawyer to represent him? Does that law firm specialize in vaccination issues, or more generally in scientific disputes? If I felt that I needed a lawyer, I would definitely prefer a lawyer licensed to practice in the state where I live, and Atlanta is a big enough city that there should be plenty of competent Georgia-licensed lawyers in the local phone book. I could understand hiring an out-of-state specialist if needed (and I would be more likely to need one over a similar issue, as my state has not quite half the population of metro Atlanta), but as primary counsel?
There may not be enough data, but I always wonder if other than just you slice it up enough ways one subgroup will by chance pop the stats if there is evidence this group may be different demographically from the population as a whole, or the white kids.
Sometimes you can find something in the one of these things is not like the others group that leads you to a confounding factor that is more important than the thing you are trying to correlate (like women with better access to health care have better cardiac health and also happen to be more likely to be prescribed HRT...so many of the studies were really telling you more about who has access to care, not who uses HRT).
Thompson's lawyer specializes in whistleblower cases.
It's hard to say what Thompson is thinking. It's normal for people to do this sort of thing and look for patterns, and it's normal for them to misinterpret what they see. For example, you might have 64 subgroups but the significance might be one in a thousand. This seems unlikely because a small group of African American boys could have very poor outcomes and still be be that significant. It's also possibly that Thompson does have some mechanism in mind which would make vaccines worse for African American boys and made a judgement call that he was seeing that mechanism and not statistical noise.
I don't think there's enough info here to tell. Maybe this sort of discussion is that mysterious disagreement which led Thompson to talk to Hooker.
I agree with Orac (& disagree with Brian Deer) - Thompson is likely to be a scientific pariah from now on. If I was a co-author on the DeStefano paper, I would consider the 2nd paragraph of Thompson's statement as tantamount to an accusation of misconduct.
The fact that Thompson has apparently been interacting with Hooker for 10 years (per Brian Deer #22) would seal it, IMO. If Thompson had a genuine scientific disagreement with his colleagues, and genuinely wanted to see the record corrected/completed/whatever, why did he choose to do so by working with Hooker? This is a man who's so inept that he thinks relative risk and odds ratio are interchangeable terms. A man who repeatedly claims to be using Pearson's chi square, but titles all his data tables "Fisher's Exact Analysis." How naïve or foolish must Thompson be, to think that assisting Hooker was a reasonable way to address things?
And consider this sentence from Thompson's statement:
I am not versed in the ramifications of the whistleblower statute, so can someone explain this comment by Orac?
"Worse, (Thompson's co-authors) can’t say anything publicly to counter (his assertions), given Thompson’s having lawyered up to assert whistleblower status."
How does the law prohibit them from going on the record to explain their version of events?
What really bugs me the most about this is this:
"I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism."
...Um... What? Help me out here, didn't hooker have to torture the data to an absurd degree to get that result?
From what I understand, once someone claims whistleblower status, their employer cannot take any retaliatory action against them. If CDC does say anything, there's the potential that it could be taken in a negative light and viewed as retaliation against Thompson.
It's not so much that CDC can't say anything as much as it's not a good idea for them to do so. I think that's why their statement focused only on the DeStefano study, not on Thompson, his role in the study or his actions subsequently.
Oh, and if there are any sort of legal proceedings going on between Thompson and CDC (e.g., mediation, etc.), then CDC might actually be barred from discussing anything related to the case. Big "if", but another possibility.
What a colossal clusterfuzzizle. Not a hero to be found in the whole thing.
* Au contraire*, Bob: we have loads of *heroes*- at least in their own feverishly stilted, ramshackled imaginations.
Right now, AJW is gearing up for presentations he'll make at conferences and a special appearance @ PRN - actually right now**- to explain the 'scandal at the CDC'. Hooker's remarks are cherished, tweeted then repeated in reverently hushed tones. Jake now has more comments than ever before and is enjoying the attention he's got recently.
Because these scum weasels (a deliberately mixed metaphor) are courting and wooing the Mothers. AoA , the Canary Party and TMR are onl ythe mildly disturbed surface indicative of the immensely horrifying lower depths of this festering pool of intellectually decaying vegetative detritus and rancid self-aggrandising recitatives of martyrdom that float like a toxic biofilm across facebook, revealing what nightmares _lurk below_.
Unfortunately, I have looked at some of these individuals' pages as they link to others' who fancy themselves Mommy Messiahs, proclaiming the gospels of anti-vax, anti-GMO, gluten-free diets and self promotion. My own educated guess is that this is what Freud referred to as 'secondary gain' ( advantage through illness): if you feel cheated by fate, use the very catastrophe ( here, autism) which has demolished your life as an avenue towards creating an occupation, an identity and even a slice of fame for yourself in compensation for your losses. Whilst these women can not compete vicariously through their children's achievements** they compete against each other instead: who is the most devoted or the most outraged or the boldest rebel-warrior-earth goddess of them all?
They trade helpful tips and give each other bolluxed medical advice and reinforce each others' bad ideas as well as providing poor role models for each other. It is truly _group therapy gone wrong_ as I've said many times before.
** as if autistic kids don't achieve!
*** the Null-meister drones on as I write. Heh.
Ewww. I reversed my footnotes altho' they are decipherable .
Narad: "The paper has not been retracted."
It's been put in double secret probation
Not sure if I missed it or not, but have the actual recordings of Thompson been released?
Re Pearson's chi square vs Fisher's exact test.
I assume the categorical data were tested with Thompson's stats programme, and that it automatically adjusted for small numbers by running a Fisher's correction?
I think that is what my old SAS programme used to do way back when.
Am I wrong/right about this?
It's perhaps worth emphasizing that DeStefano's study generated odds ratios, not relative risks. So Thompson is wrong to talk of increased risk. Temporality and language matter
"Not sure if I missed it or not, but have the actual recordings of Thompson been released?"
You mean, like the full conversations between Hooker and Thompson?
My money is on them never being released. Probably some stuff in there Hooker and Wakefield wouldn't like made public.
Besides, they wouldn't be edited in a choppy fashion. I'm sure they were edited to make the message clear
re AJW LIVE on PRN:
Andy appears at the 30 minute mark ( to 55 minutes in); same old, same old.
The two woo-meisters repeat anti-vax tropes shamelessly and Andy says that the media is pharma's "whore" and that therefore he looks to independent media like PRN. The fiasco's host adds that the "whistleblower" will appear soon,
I suppose he means Hooker not Thompson.
PRN's live daily tripe is taped and placed on the website under 'shows' by name and date by nightfall.
It's the other way around.
Wakefield can't admit that he terribly mishandled this story. Aside from dribbling information (which journalists hate), he produced an amateurish video which went way off topic and showed everyone Wakefield was seeking revenge.
But he can't ever admit mistakes. Ever
Anyway, what's the protected disclosure supposed to be? Simply claiming that something had been covered up doesn't cut it. So, what, an E-mail whining about a lawyer having been involved in telling them how to comply with a document request?
We're looking at this data all wrong. Autism is typically detected by age 2. There's no anomaly in kids who got the MMR vaccine prior to age 2. The only anomaly is for kids who got the MMR vaccine between age 2 and 3, meaning they were not vaccinated before. So, being unvaccinated increases the risk of autism.
Of course, reasonable people would point out that African Americans will most likely be unvaccinated not for ideological reasons but due to poor access to healthcare in general, so the developmental delay was probably also not detected as early as one expects. Exposing the whole statistically significant increased risk as nothing but an uncompensated social environment factor. But statistics don't lie.
The fiasco’s host adds that the “whistleblower” will appear soon,
I suppose he means Hooker not Thompson.
If Thompson's lawyer is worth a tenth of his fee, he will have advised Thompson not to talk about this. Then again, that lawyer supposedly vetted Thompson's statement, in which Thompson appears to admit to research misconduct (as a co-author of the DeStefano paper, he would share in the blame if a finding of fraud were substantiated). So either Thompson chose poorly with respect to his legal counsel as well as his friend, or Thompson is ignoring his well-paid legal advice to STFU.
As to what legal recourse Thompson may have against Hooker: I don't know what sort of long-arm rules Georgia has, but Hooker knew that Thompson was in Georgia, and that may be enough to make the recording actionable in Georgia. If Hooker's and Thompson's locations were reversed, Thompson would certainly be able to sue in California, which is notorious for long-arm jurisdictional rules.
Thompson is definitely toast here, from one side or the other. He has arguably slandered his co-authors on the DeStefano paper (if indeed his claims are based on the Hooker "re-analysis"), and Hooker has burned him on the other side. So he has nothing to lose by throwing a bunch of legal actions against the wall and seeing what sticks.
"""Logistic regression analysis was performed controlling for primary caregiver education, insurance status, and prior diagnosis of autism.
RESULTS: Among 2030 preschool-aged children in the ATN database, 1353 were included in the study. Of the children included in the study, 26.5% were reported to have experienced developmental regression. When controlling for insurance, primary caregiver education, and prior ASD diagnosis, there was a significant association between developmental regression and race (p=0.0004). Non-Hispanic Black children were at about twice the odds of regression compared to non-Hispanic White children (OR 2.06, 95% CI 1.39-3.06, p=0.0004);"""
This is before either the Hooker study or the Thompson statement had come out, back in May. Not sure if the full study is available somewhere. It seems to attempt to control for socio-economic status by way of insurance status at first glance, but hard to tell without the full paper.
From what I understand, once someone claims whistleblower status, their employer cannot take any retaliatory action against them. If CDC does say anything, there’s the potential that it could be taken in a negative light and viewed as retaliation against Thompson."
OK, but my question related to Thompson's co-authors. Does the law prevent them from _personally_ speaking out in response to his statements?
As long as none of them supervise Thompson and do not control his job status, what's to prevent their expressing their views (other than perhaps their boss(es) preferring that they not make this squabble any more public than it already is)?
I know that if it was _my_ reputation being at least indirectly trashed, I'd want to set the record straight.
Maybe DiStefano and the other authors of that 2004 paper could contact Andrew Wakefield (anonymously, of course) and have him make a video reporting their side of the story. I'm sure he could be relied on to present their views fairly and completely (as well as confidentially).
Per CNN: "Dr. Frank DeStefano, lead author of the 2004 study, said he and his colleagues stand by their findings. DeStefano said all the study authors, including Thompson, agreed on the analysis and interpretation before the study was submitted for publication 10 years ago. However, he said he plans to review his notes and will decide whether to run another analysis on the data."
So it seems DeStefano DID speak with CNN on the subject.
Even if this entire story were true, it hinges on accepting the comments of a scientist who contributed to the alleged cover-up and an author who secretly taped the conversation.
I'm pretty gullible about these things, and even I'm not interested.
Good analysis, David.
" The two men obviously hit it off, and Thompson confided more and more with him, while Hooker taped it all without Thompson’s knowledge."
Am I alone in seeing Hooker as Linda Tripp and Thompson as Monica Lewinsky? I wonder if Thompson owns a blue dress?
Damn Jay - good for you.
I mean that, seriously.
Following on Zobor's post:
I am curious about the effects of poverty, raised as having a probable effect on age of vaccination, on the "gene pool" of populations, and how that might manifest in anything genetically influenced.
Moving can be an expensive proposition. Toss in prejudice and social pressure to make it eve less likely. If multiple generations of people tend to remain within a relatively limited geographic region, could this lead to situations where "everyone is related to everyone" and perhaps consequent increased risk of issues arising from the "need" for specific alleles of one or more genes? Might this account for some differences between people of African descent and those of European descent, as supposedly found in the re-hash? I'm not suggesting the re-hash result was valid, but I get the impression the original study encompassed a fairly limited geographic area, and may therefore be non-representative, even with a large sample size.
The Amish in the US seem to be frequent brought up as "no vax, no autism", even if it's untrue. I know very little about the Amish, but the Hutterites of Canada are somewhat similar (though they very heavily embrace ag tech). As I recall, there are only 4 or 5 surnames among the vast majority of Hutterites. Are the Amish like that?
Since the reenalysis is already back online, shall we conclude the "investigation" showed nothing of interest against his paper?
If true (I haven't verified yet), more likely, Hooker's lawyer contacted the editor.
"my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information... the omitted data..."
please clarify: From the review of Hooker's reanalysis, how was data omitted? did they actually remove data points from the study? was it that they ran the same or similar type of analysis Hooker ran, saw the bump for the one group, and chose to leave it out?
if i run an experiment 10 times, and don't like the results of 3 because they conflict with what I wanted to show, and report that I only ran the test 7 times... THAT is omitted data. If I torture the data in ways inappropriate to the experiment, and don't report what comes out of that 'analysis', THAT is not omitted data, it's leaving out misleading and potentially completely wrong interpretation of the data.
Still getting the same withdrawn message.
Looks like retraction watch has it online: http://retractionwatch.com/2014/08/27/journal-takes-down-autism-vaccine…
But that's hardly the same thing as Translational Neurodegeneration re-instating it.
Hooker is like the "Black Knight" - 'tis a flesh wound!
Thompson's attorneys MorganVerkamp have a lot of experience representing whistleblowers and are experts on Qui Tam actions under the False Claims Act. They are quite capable. A Qui Tam action is when a private individual pursues a fraud case against a government contractor and reaps the benefits of the penalty. I suspect this may get very, very ugly. Don't be surprised if Thompson or Hooker bring such an action against Thompson's co-authors if the research was supported by a government grant.
Yeah, I was wondering how Thompson was affording the attorney's fees. He probably makes a comfortable salary as a senior CDC scientist, but it's probably at most in the $100,000-$150,000 range. So it's unlikely that he can afford MorganVerkamp's hourly rate for long without making a serious dent in his savings (and him getting close to retirement, too), unless his family is wealthy. If, on the other hand, Thompson is going to sue the CDC, the lawyers could well be working on contingency.
Ugh. I hope that's not the case. I really do.
Not exactly; the government gets the lion's share. But, as I've mentioned before, the False Claims Act has nothing to do with the price of tea in China, not least because only one author wasn't a government employee.
A quick glance around the swamp reveals that the alties and anti-vaxxers are speaking of little else:
- Adams has at least 3 posts listed
- AoA similarly
- TMR goes full tilt wack as well
- Jake perseverates as per usual
-btw- AJW @ PRN is up. It starts about 30 minutes into the broadcast.
The media have finally woken up to this scandal and the antivaxers have their wish - coverage by a major player (CNN)
Sorry - I see this has already been linked to above.
I'll get my coat...
With D'Ohlmsted amusingly being raked over the coals by the commentariat for not being sufficiently antivaccine.
I suppose the obvious question is what attorney's fees? It's not as though there's any litigation going on. Slap down a retainer in case there's any issue of a prohibited personnel practice, whomp up a statement, and that's it.
I mean, you have to review whatever he did disclose (which doesn't seem to be much of anything) and formulate a plan, but I'm having trouble imagining even 15 billable hours at this point. It seems purely defensive. Who does he even have to sue? All I'm coming up with is Wakefield, under a dicey false-light invasion-of-privacy theory.
"I think that is what my old SAS programme used to do way back when. Am I wrong/right about this?"
Proc Freq, a common procedure for crosstabs in SAS, reports a Fisher's exact test as well as various Chi-square statistics. If there are low numbers (<5 in 20% of cells) it will give you a warning stating that chi-square may not be a good idea. You can run the exact test on tables with cells of any count though. The exact test is distinct from a Chi-square though in that it assesses what the probability of observing a given table out of all possible tables (this is why it can take forever to run with anything more than a 2x2).
So, it is a distinct test but it gets at the same idea as a Pearson Chi-square test of association..
If I understand correctly, the whistle blower laws protect you from retaliation for the act of whistle blowing. The laws don't protect you from appropriate sanctions for your own wrongdoing. The other part, if I remember correctly, is that whistle blowing has a certain level of protection in terms of allowing the whistle blower to remain confidential.
This all has to do with whistle blowing within an organization, or reporting misconduct to the appropriate authorities.
Nothing in what I have been reading here or in Thompson's statement seems to have anything to do with these protections. Thompson complained to a private party, which has nothing to do with the protections provided by the law. If that private party violated Thompson's privacy, then that is another matter entirely.
There could potentially be an issue if Thompson had tried to blow the whistle on something within the chain of command of the CDC and been rebuffed. However, the fact that he is a named author of the paper doesn't seem consistent with this. Presumably Thompson was aware of all the data that went into the study at every point. When he claims that there was something left out, he is pointing the finger at himself. It doesn't really make sense.
And the idea that claiming whistle blower status would preclude the other authors from asserting their own defense is preposterous. It also wouldn't prevent the CDC from presenting its own best analysis of the whole affair, presumably after the frantic reanalysis they are presumably doing right now. What the CDC cannot do legally, but could do in practice, would be to fire Thompson over a factual claim he makes about misconduct. There's a lot of ifs in that statement.
Not that I'm not interested in and enjoying (?) updates on the Whistleblower Implosion Conspiracy, but just in case Orac can use fodder for articles on different subjects, there's a stunning new example of pareidolia - the Central Texas Jesus Moth:
Also, an M.D. named Bill Gray is now offering digitized homeopathic MP3 files on his website, for Ebola virus prophylaxis and treatment. If "properly" used, they are supposed to be nontoxic:
"The Amish in the US seem to be frequent brought up as 'no vax, no autism'."
I didn't know that, and it caught my attention as I lived in Lancaster County for 9 months working on a documentary film about the Amish. "No vax, no autism" no relevance. The Amish are so different from the general population in so many ways that any number of things could account for a lower rate of spectrum disorders.
On the site Narad linked, there's a page about genetic disorders among te Amish.
Now, I don't know if a limited gene pool has anything to do with autism (might it?) but I found this in the comments thread:
And anyone here can probably guess the replies that followed:
What is to be done about NAM-scammers preying on an isolated community like the Amish?
(btw, Narads link is a very good explanation of the Amish name thing...)
Does someone have a link to the full Pediatrics paper?
I thought I remembered someone linking it a few days ago, but can't find it.
As to the thought expressed above that Mr. Thompson's scientific career is over, I present two thoughts.
1) Mr. Hooker says he has requested and been granted additional datasets from previous CDC studies. He is also working on his own vax/unvax study using Florida medicaid information.
2) Given the above, consider what Mr. Thompson is saying in his statement, particularly this bit
And I forgot to close the blockquote...
TIME has run a piece on it as well. Somehow I don't see anti-vaxers being too thrilled with this one...
No, you're not. But what I mean by that my guess is that he was vulnerable in some way (lonely, or going through a bad divorce, or whatever) and Hooker exploited it.
As others have noted, if that were the case, he might just be claiming whistleblower status because it's the best CYA option available.
I feel bad for him. I mean, there's no particular reason for a senior scientist at the CDC to be worldly-wise, generally speaking.
"What is everyone’s opinion on allowing whatever investigation to take place, just as an act of good faith on the part of the CDC?"
IMHO, depends on what exactly is being investigated and by whom. On one hand, an actual investigation into a 'cover-up' is unlikely to cause any damage, as there's no there there. It might even help, as it would likely short-circuit the insinuation that Thompson attempted to get the African American male data into the Pediatrics article and was shot down by De Stefano.
On the other hand, a Congressional investigation/inquiry/whatevertheycallit is likely to be Bad News. Boehner would probably let Posey run an Issa-style witch-hunt directed not at vaccine science, but at CDC in general, because Big Guvment and especially Obamacare. As a strategic ploy in such a propaganda campaign, there might be pressure for the CDC to redo the Stefano study to 'resolve the controversy' over whether vaccines are a causal factor in autism for anyone. That would be very bad.
IMHO, the best course for CDC would be to 'get out front' of things by commissioning an independent inquiry into the 'cover-up' question, headed by some public figure of irreproachable repute, and get the results out ASAP. The only significant risk I see would be if a) Thompson had some 'smoking gun' document trail showing he made De Stefano aware of a 'problem' with the article prior to publication, and De Stefano shut him down; and b) Thompson was willing to disclose anything of that sort to the investigators. But I doubt there ever was a smoking gun, and as Thompson now seems to want to get as far away from the shit as possible, on the odd chance he had been in possession of anything even vaguely interpretable as smoking-gun-ish, I'd guess that has already been shredded and burned, hard drives security-wiped, etc.
Our host makes what I can only assume is a reasonable argument that nobody will want to work with Thompson after this kerfuffle, but there is someone else who may be on the outs after this. “Doctor” Wakefield.
Our host speculates above -
This sounds reasonable to me, but I have wonder 'Then what?'.
After “Doctor” Wakefield outed Thompson, Jake posts that “Doctor” Wakefield had done this without permission. “Doctor” Wakefield showed up at Jake's place, asking 'who told you that, nobody but Thompson and me know what happened'.
Well, there is another – Hooker. I suspect that Hooker was really pissed-off at what “Doctor” Wakefield did. “Doctor” Wakefield ruined Hooker's source on the inside of the conspiracy and cut off the flow of information. What Hooker probably envisioned as a series of damaging articles and “studies” had been suddenly reduced to a series of one.
I believe at that time, Hooker called Jake with a sob story. Jake then calls “Doctor” Wakefield to get his side of the story, and “Doctor” Wakefield didn't call him back. Then Jake starts thinking about the damage “Doctor” Wakefield did, and the more he thought about it and the 'blow off', the more it got to him. So up goes Jake's post. This was no doubt hard for Jake, as he had always been a “Doctor” Wakefield fanboi.
So if (and I agree it's an 'if') Hooker is as PO'd at “Doctor” Wakefield as I guess, Hooker is probably warning all his buddies to stay away. If they have a lick of sense, they will. But if they had a lick of sense, they wouldn't be the anti-vaxers we know and love.
Thank you Narad!
No, "external" disclosures are still covered. There's a completely separate angle about communications in the normal course of one's work explicitly not being protected.
I'm beginning to think that Wakefield is covered in Teflon. He has a devout following that have been doing inconceivable mental contortions to keep him above-board in all of this and are vilifying Jake for tattling on him. Besides Thompson deserves it according to him and them.
Altho' I have seen some rather unexpected riffs in his flock who seem to be struck with temporary sanity. Like Jake who rightly calls Wakefield out for outing a whistleblower and others who realise that Wakefield may well have killed their golden goose by revealing his identity. They are none too pleased, at least for now.
It's a truly impressive example of repression. Now, Wakefraud may have concluded that Thompson had, ah, outlived his usefulness, but instead there was all the crazy splashing around about his being Gitmo'd – which seem to have evaporated – and now it's widely justified as being for... "the greater good."
"Hooker is an antivaccine activist working to “prove” that mercury in vaccines causes autism." Why has no one pointed out the simple fact that the MMR vaccine has NEVER contained thimerasol/mercury??
Can someone help explain this for me?
Disregarding the Hooker and Wakefield shenanigans, what exactly is Thompson saying happened? Denialist blogs are crowing about how they've uncovered proof that the CDC hid data, but it seems to me that he's admitting that "information" and "findings" were not reported. Not data. If that's correct, does that mean the data they gathered was provided?
Is what he's saying simply that rather than drawing attention to an obviously-spurious-but-statistically-significant result, his team made a decision not to mention it in their article?
"Also, an M.D. named Bill Gray is now offering digitized homeopathic MP3 files on his website, for Ebola virus prophylaxis and treatment."
Thanks for the link, Dangerous. The homeopathic audio-file stuff cracks me up. "In any case, do not play for more than 15 doses. Too many doses may stimulate the body too much."
At first I was wondering if this was parody, but Dr. Bill Gray has a profile on Linked-In that looks like the real deal.
However, someone in the comments thread on the Ebola page sent Dr. Gray off to a Flying Spaghetti Monster site, and he seems to have been taken in:
I know enough about audio to at least kick-start a takedown of .mp3 homeopathy, if anyone's interested.
It seems Gray received an MD from Stanford in 1970, received a CA med license in '71, worked for Kaiser for a year, had some kind of conversion experience in which the Truth of Homeopathy was Revealed, and then 'studied' at the Athenian School of Homeopathic Medicine from '75-'78. The website for his Homepathy 'practice' notes he charges $600 for an initial visit and $150 for a follow-up. And there's this:
Can anybody explain the rules here? Once receiving a license as an MD, do you get to keep it forever, no matter what kind of hooey you may prescribe to patients? What does it take to 'qualify as an MD' for a PPO? Why isn't this shite stopped?
Before starting his current side-business of selling smartphone apps that generate homeopathic sound-cures, Gray was peddling a 'non-toxic' (of course) homeopathic smallpox innoculation serum via mail order until the FDA sent him a warning letter noting these sales violated a variety of Federal laws.
(This poop-stick is 45 minutes down the road from me, in Silicon Valley, just South of Mountain View -- aka Google Town -- and most of the folks who live down there, and could afford $600/hour, are in high tech.)
The DeStefano paper can be found here as a pdf http://www.bowdiges.org/documents/files/Age_of_MMR_exposure_comparison_…
In other news, it seems I have been banned from commenting at AoA. Politeness must be too much for them.
@ChrisP - politeness + not agreeing with them = hate speech
At least, that's what it seems to mean to them.....
Looks like it's been pulled:
kruuth @111 -- "It" being the Translational Neuro paper by Hooker.
I don't remember the exact wording of the page yesterday, but I think its status hasn't changed since then:
If all this html works without a preview, it'll be a miracle!
Hooker started out advocating against mercury; he was part of the Geiers' CoMeD group and his earlier (so-called) research targetted mercury. Orac wrote about this in early April 2013. Then, as now, he tried to get the media's attention, shopping his 'results' around alt media outlets, leaving an easy to follow trail of woo-centric websites before alighting upon Gary Null's ( so-called) show last year.
So similar path, similar conclusions but different culprit. I wonder what mechanism he believes causes autism via MMR. This time, he also had AJW, AoA and Jake on his side at the time of his article so it's bigger news in woo-world.
@Denise - has any even remotely plausible mechanism been put forth by the Anti-Vax brigade to explain how the MMR vaccine would cause autism?
Would someone who has made the time to read the actual data please tell me exactly how many young folks were involved in the data set from which all this excitement (and apparent regret) has been made? I will be so grateful.
@ nutrition prof, the unadjusted cases and controls were 1824 and 624 respectively.
I know it's just a slip, but it's the other way round, 624 autistic children, 1824 matched controls.
I don't know of any *new* hypotheses a-brewing so I assume that they're following AJW's path analysis (joke) of the route leading to brain damage.
Most of the TMs and AoA diehards subscribe to dietary measures to repair damaged GI tracts/ brains as well.
-btw- you're doing fine work out there with RI's minions.
If I get up the courage, perhaps I'll join you some day.
Thanks Krebiozen, you're correct.
Second, contrary to SSB's strenuous argument, the application of California law in the setting of this case clearly would not exceed the constitutional limits imposed by the federal due process clause on a state's legislative jurisdiction, by seeking to impose California law on activities conducted outside of California as to which California has no legitimate or sufficient state interest. The present legal proceedings are based upon defendant business entity's alleged policy and practice of recording telephone calls of California clients, while the clients are in California, without the clients' knowledge or consent. California clearly has an interest in protecting the privacy of telephone conversations of California residents while they are in California sufficient to permit this state, as a constitutional matter, to exercise legislative jurisdiction over such activity. (See, for example, Yu v. Signet Bank/Virginia (1999) 69 Cal.App.4th 1377, 1391, 82 Cal.Rptr.2d 304 [California may regulate business's out-of-state “distant forum abuse” against California consumers]; People v. Fairfax Family Fund, Inc. (1964) 235 Cal.App.2d 881, 883–885, 47 Cal.Rptr. 812 [upholding application of California Small Loan Law to out-of-state company that solicited business in California by mail].) This is not a case in which California would be applying its law in order to alter a defendant's conduct in another state vis-à-vis another state's residents. (Cf. BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore (1996) 517 U.S. 559, 572–573, 116 S.Ct. 1589, 134 L.Ed.2d 809[“[B]y attempting to alter BMW's nationwide policy, Alabama would be infringing on the policy choices of other States. To avoid such encroachment, the economic penalties that a State such as Alabama inflicts on those who transgress its laws ... must be supported by the State's interest in protecting its own consumers or its own economy”].) Instead, application of California law would be limited to the defendant's surreptitious or undisclosed recording of words spoken over the telephone by California residents while they are in California. This is a traditional setting in which a state may act to protect the interests of its own residents while in their home state. (See, e.g., Watson v. Employers Liability Corp. (1954) 348 U.S. 66, 72, 75 S.Ct. 166, 99 L.Ed. 74 [in upholding Louisiana's application of a Louisiana statute permitting an injured person to bring a “direct action” against an insurer doing business in Louisiana even though the insurance policy in question was issued in Massachusetts and contained a clause prohibiting direct actions, the United States Supreme Court explained: “As a consequence of the modern practice of conducting widespread business activities throughout the entire United *105 States, this Court has in a series of cases held that more states than one may seize hold of local activities which are part of multistate transactions and may regulate to protect interests of its own people, even though other phases of the same transactions might justify regulatory legislation in other states”].)
Kearney v. Salomon Smith Barney, Inc, 39 Cal.4th 95
Can anybody explain the rules here? Once receiving a license as an MD, do you get to keep it forever, no matter what kind of hooey you may prescribe to patients? What does it take to ‘qualify as an MD’ for a PPO? Why isn’t this shite stopped?
I suppose it's possible to let one's medical license lapse, but as long as you keep it current and abide by the state's continuing education requirements, it is quite hard to have it involuntarily taken away. A pattern of sleeping with your patients might do it, or being involved in multiple treatment screwups, or using your practice as a cover for providing controlled substances to people who don't have a medical need for them. But the behavior has to be particularly egregious. Mark Geier had his license taken away for quackery in autism therapy, but of the doctors whose names regularly show up in Orac's posts, that's the only example I can think of offhand. Even Stanislaw Burzynski hasn't managed to lose his license yet. A mere homeopath, who pretty much by definition meets the letter of "First, do no harm", isn't going to come anywhere near that level.
Quite true. It is incredibly difficult to take a doctor's license away in most states just for quackery. State medical boards are so underfunded and understaffed that they tend to go after the low hanging fruit that they can definitely nail: Docs committing Medicare fraud, docs running prescription mills, docs diddling patients, docs with substance abuse problems (although usually their licenses are relatively easily restored if they undergo treatment).
Orac's correct. It's tough to get a doctor's license pulled just for quackery, unless it's pretty brazen. I can only remember one doc that lost his license and it was for promoting his very own in-house quackery to some of his patients, one of whom was related to someone extremely well connected in the state legislature.
I don't see the relevance of this case. The plaintiffs were located in California and, in part, seeking injunctive relief.
Both of which are beyond the point. The court quite accurately explains the law- California residents can sue non-residents under Cal. Penal Code § 632/637.2 for calls that involuntary record a California resident while the resident is located in California.
Applying the statute prohibiting the recording of telephone conversations without the consent of all parties to a situation, when one party to a telephone call is in California and another party is outside California, is not a disfavored extraterritorial application of the statute; crucial element is confidential communication by a California resident while in California. West's Ann.Cal.Penal Code § 632.
Kearney concluded that California's interest in protecting individuals in California from the secret recording of their confidential telephone conversations would be more significantly impaired than would Georgia's interest in protecting the right of a business to record telephone conversations for legitimate business reasons. The court therefore held that California law applied and that the complaint alleged facts sufficient to state a cause of action under California law.
As an epi I find it appalling a senior CDC scientist was involved in this. And I am really pissed at him as well. Orac is correct, his statement backhands his colleagues by 'admitting' data was omitted and that it shouldn't have been. That is an accusation of at best incompetence and at worst fraud. Then he tried to mealy mouth it away by claiming that scientists can disagree. Well duh! But they usually don't hold a grudge for 10 years and then blab to a bunch of anti-vax loony tunes and badmouth their collaborators publicly! I have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Deer. If you have never worked in research or academia you may not know but it is a very different world. His colleagues may not attack publicly but he will certainly be shunned. No one will work with him for fear of a backlash. That and the ones he smeared (and their friends and colleagues) will all be righteously pissed as well. His days of making serious science are over. It is almost impossible to truly 'go it alone' and get published and I would be dollars to donuts no one with any real credentials will work with him. He may continue to draw a paycheck at CDC until retirement (or be pushed out quietly once some of the hysteria dies down). It really pisses me off when this happens, it slimes the whole profession to air what should have been a private disagreement among scientists thought resolved when everyone agreed to publish (and if he didn't agree he could have had his name taken off) is brought up 10 years later as some kind of malfeasance.
Odd. this was his real belief when being recorded without his knowledge (he freely admitted)
Why do you suppose they don't release the unedited audio? Why do you think we only are allowed to hear fragments of sentences?
The person being recorded wasn't in California.
You seem as biased as you say the anti-vaccine lobby are. In a previous blog you said we should all wait to see what Dr Thompson says, and now he has said that a significant result was withheld from publication and your response is basically "oh well he's a loony then". You are also ignoring some of the most important points from all this: 1. It doesn't matter if the association is only between afro-americans and autism. The fact it is a sub-group doesn't, as you claim, "prove" that there ISN'T a link between MMR and autism in other children as well (as someone who has a website called 'scienceblogs' should know, you generally can't prove a negative). What it does show is two things: 1. That even if a relationship between MMR and autism isn't evident in analyses of the general population, such a relationship may appear if you focus on certain sub-groups 2. When such a relationship does appear in research studies for some reason the authors do not publish it. Whether this is because they do not feel the result is important, or because they are under pressure from government/big pharma/whoever is unclear.
From an unbiased viewpoint, they are two very important points and you've completely ignored them.
@culux - given that all we have is the word of one person & the extremely faulty paper submitted (and now temporarily withdrawn - perhaps permanently) that shows this "association" I don't think you can make any assumptions at all.....not the least, assume that this sub-group risk is real, since it isn't borne out by reality.
The question that isn't being answered by the anti-vax militia is - if this risk is real, then why aren't we seeing it in the overall population. It should be self-evident, right?
Lets just hope that truth continues to be revealed. For the sake of the children. CDC obviously has been proven unethical at least. After studying all the information my questions are not conspiracy theories, but 1/ Wakefield is doing all this for money? I think not. In Thompson statement he said the panel omitted information. So, this is ethical and he should be given an award? Hmmm . . . many here are obviously getting blinded by truth and not desiring to find a way to help these children who cannot speak for themselves.
@matson - plenty of children dead and maimed from VPDs that can't speak for themselves either....
S. Matson, why can't Ronald Dahl's daughter, Olivia, not speak for herself?
I think that's something we can all agree on.
I firmly disagree. I think the CDC has behaved impeccably.
Remind me, what source of income does Wakefield have these days?
It depends whether the information omitted was relevant or not. I have been involved in studies and had to decide what cut-offs to apply to data. There are always flyers in any set of data. If you include them you may adversely affect your results, but if you omit them you open yourself up to accusations of fiddling the data. From what I have read DeStefano et al made the right decision.
Blinded by truth? It does have an annoying habit of getting in the way of people's prejudices, doesn't it? As for helping children, I don't see how blaming vaccines for autism when they clearly have nothing to do with it helps anyone.
.... Brian Hooker? Brian Hooker? Just a cursory Google search of Hooker’s name and the word “vaccine” would have easily revealed to you that Hooker was anything but “unbiased” and “objective” about vaccines. Such a search would have quickly revealed obviously that Hooker is an antivaccine activist working to “prove” that mercury in vaccines causes autism. Add to that his obvious lack of any relevant qualifications, and you should have run, not walked, away.
I gotta ask... Do you consider yourself an unbiased scientist? Or perhaps are you rather a provaccine activist working to “prove” that mercury in vaccines do not cause autism?
Of course you can (PDF). More saliently, if someone comes up with a hypothesis that makes a prediction and the evidence contradicts it, the hypothesis has been proved wrong.
But all you're trying to do is claim that one of Hooker's results is valid while ignoring the rest, even though they're on an identical footing. Claiming that it might be possible to root around for subgroups does not salvage the actual claim. Wakefraud's claiming that he was "partially right" would be more accurately expressed as having been proved to be almost completely wrong.
Curiously, years ago I did a long investigation of AidsVax, "the world's first Aids vaccine", which was an obvious scam and couldn't possibly work. It did, however, make a great deal of money for some ex-CDC people who moved out to the Bay Area.
Anyhow, when a phase 3 clinical trial was unblinded and the results showed that the product didn't work, guess what they did?
A subgroup analysis...
And guess what? The cry went up that it worked on African Americans.
They must have kept that up for at least three days.
[I'm tempted to grandstand my knowledge of the Bonferroni correction, but if I do. David L Lewis will say I'm not me]
Another recorded phone call - apparently without permission - this time with DeStefano from Sharyl Attkisson posted today claiming to have taken place Aug, 26, 2014:
Actual alleged recording and transcript here:
I read the transcript earlier - I do wish they had edited out the ums and ahs, it isn't difficult. It seems to me that DeStefano and his fellow authors did nothing untoward at all, and that he is is understandably baffled by Thompson's actions. The more that comes out, the less there is to this 'story'.
Leave it to HIN to fail to understand what was said. The total sample had 4.8% missing race data, so you might have to censor as much as 19% of the data to use it.
I read the transcript (I couldn't play the audiotape) and I read absolutely nothing in Dr. DeStefano's statements to indicate that there was an effort to skew the results. In fact, Dr. Stefano explained to Ms. Attkisson the information that was ascertained from the long form of the Georgia Birth Certificates.
There's no "there" "there".
Epic investigative journalism fail, Ms. Attkisson
P.S. Dr. DeStefano also stated that there was no indication on the part of Dr. Thompson during conversations they had during the intervening ten years, that Thompson had misgivings about their published study.
There’s no “there” “there”.
Epic investigative journalism fail, Ms. Attkisson
Sharyl Attkisson! Where shall I begin?**
At any rate, she's been attracting many fan-bois and fangrlz @ AoA where Dan eternally bemoans the current state of journalism ( as he praises her and continues to breathe). Funny but I hear that all of the time on PRN and Natural News as well. They also dismiss higher education.
No, I won't be mean and discuss her abysmal website, outdated hairstyle and boundless naivete that allows her to swallow any tripe offered to her by anti-vax proselytisers. Oh -btw- she has a book to sell.
** recently, my cohorts and I have been going out to dinner REALLY late on Saturdays- so I can stay for the fun @ RI.
And I'm not in Barcellona. I think.
@Denise - understood....journalism only exists when it agree with the anti-vax position.
There is damn good reason why the mainstream press has ignored the current story....there isn't one, plain and simple.
And then, they go on about how 'bought and sold' the media is. In the pocket of Big Pharma, the Corporatocracy and/ or the Fascist government ( i.e all of the English speaking ones). It's trans-national even.
@Denice Walter ad hominem attacks...nice response (sarcastic)
So they conduct 'scientific research study' with a preconceived bias among the researchers
"I reiterate it probably starts in the womb, but even if you’re saying, you wanna call it starting by the time some behavioral features become apparent, it had started before 36 months. And then, you know, we, from, so I think from a biological argument, it’s implausible this was a causal association. "
They could expanded the research to determine if vaccinations of pregnant women could be a causative effect for ASD?
I'm going to clean up the placeholders, since this isn't a legal document and I don't do transcriptions for free:
"I think at the time we had consensus among all co-authors that the birth certificate sample provided the more valid results because it could – it had more complete information on – on race for one, and secondly, more importantly, it had information on important factors that had to be, you know, controlled for particularly in studies of autism, in particular, it would be things like birth weight, the mother’s age, the mother’s education. So I think for those reasons we were able to adjust for these factors and we thought, you know, we – our opinion was that that the results of the birth certificate sample provided the more reliable results."
Why would you use the total-sample data, which are contaminated by "unknown" racial status points and other vagaries for the subgroup analysis, when you have a subset with robust documentation?
No, this would have been an entirely different study. You have to match cases and controls.
^ Scratch that last sentence. Obviously, matching on maternal vaccination would remove it as a study variable.
Vaccination is not immunization!
But you see I never said that she had a miserable website or incredible naivete BECAUSE of her bad hair but simply that she possessed these three negative qualities -
altho' it is entirely possible that there is an unknown personality or cognitive factor that underlies one or more of these observable problems.
Please note that 153 is another dude using the same 'nym and making the point - - - well, I dunno what exactly, but the thing is, it ain't me.
Dear The Great Orac,
I've noticed that you mostly refrain from contributing within the comment sections of your supposedly respectfully insolent blog. But, in case you feel my question posed in comment #137 here was rhetorical, I assure you - it was not.
Again -- Do you consider yourself an unbiased scientist? Or perhaps are you rather a provaccine activist working to “prove” that mercury in vaccines does not cause autism?
How do you differ from your description of Hooker, except that you've located yourself firmly on the opposite side of the fence from him?
Please - find the time to enlighten us on how you are able to feel that you are unbiased, but you judge that Hooker is biased? Unless, of course, you freely admit your bias.
Thanks for that!!!
I can't answer for Orac, but I have some thoughts.
The fact you even ask this question shows you don't have any idea what this issue is about.
If you look at the entirety of the evidence about vaccines (currently in use), aluminum, mercury, side effects, autism etc., and make an honest assessment of that evidence, it is abundantly clear that a) vaccines are extremely effective b) serious side effects are very rare c) autism begins prenatally and d) there is no association between vaccination and autism.
This evidence comes from many different areas of research, from researchers in different countries, independent as well as pharma-sponsored. In the main it has been well-designed and competently carried out.
The research that contradicts this, when looked at closely, is poorly designed, Hooker's abysmal reanalysis for example, incompetently carried out (those monkey studies for example), or otherwise not credible (Tomljenovic and Shaw's pseudoscientific studies come to mind). Look at Wakefield's study, which was not only retracted but also led to him being exposed as a fraud and struck off as a doctor by the GMC. Or the Geiers, whose appalling abuse of autistic children has resulted in Mark Geier's medical license being suspended or revoked in every state in which he was licensed. The Institute of Medicine has described the Geiers' research as "seriously flawed, 'uninterpretable', and marred by incorrect use of scientific terms", while the American Academy of Pediatrics said it contained, "numerous conceptual and scientific flaws, omissions of fact, inaccuracies, and misstatements", and a judge.
The IoM has stated that, "Vaccines are among the most safe and effective public health interventions to prevent serious disease and death". The CDC states:
" The MMR vaccine has a long record of safety. Serious adverse reactions from MMR are rare. All reputable scientific studies have found no relationship between MMR vaccine and autism." I could go on and on and on, quoting eminent authorities from around the world.
Now I happen to trust the Institute of Medicine, the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. I know that for the most part they consist of honest, highly intelligent, highly educated people. My reading of the papers in question supports what these eminent people have concluded. Orac supports the same conclusions as various eminent bodies around the globe and my own conclusions based on my extensive reading of the available evidence.
I have read large amounts of antivaccine material and find that it distorts information, misquotes or even flatly lies. Your link to that video about the effects of thimerosal on smail brain cells is a good example. I'm sure you honestly believed that video was evidence that thimerosal is dangerous, but as I have pointed out it is actually evidence to the contrary, showing a gulf of 3 orders of magnitude between the concentrations of mercury found in children post-vaccination and those required to adversely affect snail neurones. I wonder how many people have been scared by that video because they think it shows vaccines are dangerous.
I could write a great deal about the misinformation that is endlessly repeated on antivaccine sites, no matter how many times people point out it is inaccurate. For example on many occasions I have pointed out that the Eli Lilly thimerosal experiments in the 1930s were carried out on patients with terminal bacterial meningitis. Antibiotics did not exist and there was no effective treatment for this illness,so these patients were going to die.
As a last ditch attempt to save them they were given intravenous thimerosal, as much as 1.8 million micrograms in total, tens of thousands of times more than is present in any vaccine. Doctors observed no noticeable effects of these massive doses and expressed surprise at how well tolerated thimerosal was. The patients died anyway, the thimerosal did not save them, but they did not show any signs of mercury poisoning.
I have pointed this out to antivaccine activists more times than I care to remember but they continue to claim that this is evidence of how dangerous thimerosal is and that it killed those patients, which is extremely dishonest. It isn't about the truth for them, it is about using any bit of propaganda to scare people away from vaccines. It isn't, or shouldn't be, about bias, it is about looking at the available evidence and making an objective assessment of it.
It also seems clear to me from your comments here that you are not interested in the truth. You have already made up your mind. You dismiss any evidence that doesn't support your prejudices as biased, or you say you don't trust the source.
I have never seen Orac dismiss any evidence simply because he claims the source is biased or that he didn't trust its source, He may point out that the source is unreliable, but he still looks at each study, even the ones from people he has no reason at all to trust, and examines its design, the way it was carried out, its results and conclusions.
If you can't see the difference, nothing anyone writes here is going to change your mind. I think your claims of bias are pure projection.
@Yo - well, for one, Orac isn't currently involved in a lawsuit to get compensation based on the hypothesis that vaccines cause autism (Hooker is).
Orac is also not a member of an organization that actively lobbies that vaccines cause autism (Hooker is).
One of these people has serious COI & seemed determined to prove his hypothesis, regardless of the evidence, while the other takes a look at the hard science....can you guess which is which?
"However, Dr. Franklin was the first to tease apart regression rates by ethnicity. She found a rate twice as high among African American children as Caucasian children. It was 1.5 times higher among the Hispanic children than white children. The difference remained after Dr. Franklin adjusted her analysis to exclude differences in health insurance and parent education."
I'm not smart enough to figure out if this is the study she was refering to.
@ Denise #146--
Medicine isn't the only discipline where Ms. Attkisson's journalistic failings were noted long ago... *eye roll*
usethebrain, what point are you failing to get across, exactly?
Hmm I just had a revelation on a way to make a comment section more like a group discussion. I'll get back to you.
I doubt if your referenced study is the one she refers to, since it is about Vietnamese children, not African-Americans and Hispanics.
Austism Speaks didn't give a link to the published study, which seems to have been performed using their in-house database of patients.
The main result may be an artifact of how minority children are diagnosed and referred for treatment as she says:
I am not aware of any broad population studies that indicate a higher prevalence of ASD among African-Americans. And, the Destefano study didn't show it.
Autism Speaks puts a kinder, gentle face on their views than AoA, but they are still committed to the idea that there is a growing epidemic of autism.
They leave out the changing definition of autism in the DSM-IV and DSM-V in those years, which has considerably expanded the category of "autism".
I remember reading of a study discussed at sciencebasedmedicine, which showed that practically all of that apparent growth can be accounted for by this change in definition, expanded awareness as parents of children with ASD tell their friends about it, and diagnostic substitution as children formerly diagnosed as developmentally disabled (for instance) now get diagnosed with ASD to gain access to the broader support programs available for autistic children.
Also there was a British study that looked at men over a wide range of ages from pre-school to older adults using the same diagnostic criteria and concluded there was not increase in prevalence for younger children.
I'm sure when Dr Franklin's study gets published, it will receive a careful review.
Also, one original member (Alison Singer) has left the organization over its continued emphasis on spending limited research funds on pursuing the vaccine-autism connection.
Yes, your drop-in petulance has already been well noted. Do you think that the reason for this has mebbe, jes mebbe, been, I dunno, explained repeatedly to impatient prima donnas?
[i]Of course you can (PDF). More saliently, if someone comes up with a hypothesis that makes a prediction and the evidence contradicts it, the hypothesis has been proved wrong.
But all you’re trying to do is claim that one of Hooker’s results is valid while ignoring the rest, even though they’re on an identical footing. Claiming that it might be possible to root around for subgroups does not salvage the actual claim. Wakefraud’s claiming that he was “partially right” would be more accurately expressed as having been proved to be almost completely wrong.[/i]
@Narad. Note that I said you generally can't prove a negative, not that you can't, so "of course you can" doesn't actually dispute my point. Also, your second sentence is simply untrue, the hypothesis in that case is unsupported, it is not proved wrong because future evidence may be found to support it. I agree with the article you link to, but it doesn't actually claim you can prove a negative anyway - it says we use inductive reasoning to work things out and act as if that amounts to proof, though it never actually is certain. My original point was, obviously, that to prove a vaccine doesn't cause something involves you analysing the effects of that vaccine in every living person across all time, which is obviously impossible. Conversely, proving it does cause something only involves finding one instance where it has caused something in one person. In my opinion t is much better, and more objective, to talk about evidence in favour or against than to talk about proving anything. People who say something is 'proved' are often making a biased claim, especially when it's about something that can't be proved, like a large-scale negative about something not being the case or not existing across all known places and times.
And I'm not saying anything about Hooker, I am only talking about Dr Thompson, one of the original paper authors, who said there was a significant effect on African-Americans and it was decided that they would withhold that from publication, against what Thompson thought they should do.
@culux - Thompson said he "believed" the information was significant...big difference, since follow-up research did not show the same statistical anomaly (on larger populations).
I'm going to be very blunt. Shoddy science performed by respected scientists should be recriminated just as shoddy work by anyone. These men were respected experts in their field and are now accused of manipulating and twisting data to fit their theories. Isn't that the cardinal sin of science?
My next question goes to anyone that claims the causality of thimerosol to autism. If the mercury in vaccines were responsible for autism, wouldn't we have noticed a precipitious drop in autism rates since it was removed in the 90's???
We know precious little about the human brain on a cellular level, and even less on how it functions as a whole. I don't care what anyone says, we don't know as much as anyone that thumps their chest and claims to know. Personally, I've seen such a wide spectrum in autistics that I wouldn't be surprised if we were looking a number of different disorders and calling them all autism. The differences muddling. Onset, clinical presentation, recovery rates: rapid and gradual, gender bias, genetic penetrance; we can't explain ANY of these things. Why can't someone admit that we're in the dark?
The screams and howls of the anti-vaccine movement should be ignored as much as any other conspiracy theorist. Do they have any scientific leg to stand on? If they don't want to vaccinate their children, then they are welcome to revisit the fact that only 50% of children lived to the age of five a century ago. Stupid is as stupid does.
As for the three scientists discussed in the article, we all know full well that these men are NOT performing these experiments alone. There are people working under their direction with direct access to the data and ought to have seen this train wreck coming as well. To the doctors I would say, if you don't want to be crucified by your peers, then provide access to the primary data. Every scientist knows this solution, why haven't they done so? If you're physicians and simply can't figure this out, then go be physicians and quit trying to be scientists.
Negatives are proved all the time. Heavier objects do not fall faster than lighter ones. You cannot create mice by leaving dirty underwear and wheat in a bucket for three weeks. XMRV is not associated with CFS.
You cannot salvage a hypothesis that has made a demonstrably false prediction by imagining some "future evidence" that will lend "support." You need to come up with a different hypothesis.
@Narad. Yes, negatives are proved all the time because anything can be formulated as a negative. Have you read the article you provided a link to? It makes it all very clear. The claim that negatives can't be proved is normally intended for particular kinds of negative claims that depend on induction, and in those cases it is actually true that you can't prove a negative, the article does not argue against that fact, but it does say that you can, in effect, consider them something close to being proved because you amass so much evidence. I agree with all of that. Real science 'proves' very little, it just amasses evidence for things and if there's enough evidence it's treated as true. This is all really a semantic argument anyway and is completely aside my main point. The actual point I am making which for some reason you are skirting around is that it is never possible to prove a vaccine, or any medicine, DOESN'T cause something, because in the right time, and the right person, and the right conditions, it might cause that thing. You can show that the evidence strongly suggests it doesn't cause it, or that the chances of it causing it are effectively zero in most conditions, etc, etc. What you can't do is 'prove' it that in all possible circumstances, people and times, it doesn't cause it.
And yes you can "salvage a hypothesis that's made a demonstrably false prediction" if that's what you want to call it. It happens all the time in Science. Many studies fail to support hypotheses that other studies do support, either beforehand or at a later date. You do not need a different hypothesis. If I thought red-haired people were more intelligent and did a study that found they weren't, that doesn't show I was wrong, it just suggests I might be wrong. The sample I picked might just not have been representative for some reason. There are many science methodology books out there that will explain this better than I can in a comment box so I'll stop there.
I think the point of the article Narad linked to was that that you can prove a negative to the same extent you can prove a positive, because basically any evidence even remotely related to real life will be inductive evidence.
I have a hypothesis that all adults were once children. So far it seems to be apt, but without checking everybody at all times and in all places, how can I be sure Benjamin Button isn't real?
You keep talking and talking and talking about proof and what it takes to prove something and yet you show absolutely no knowledge of the important concept of burden of proof.
You do not, repeat, not have to 'analyze the effects of the vaccine in every single person across time' before you can say "We do not have any sound reason to think the vaccine is having this effect on anyone; anyone who wants to assert that it is had better show some really good evidence."
If you want to be ultra-persnickety and insist that "established so solidly by the evidence that the only sound way to construct our courses of action is on this basis" is not the same thing as "proved", then you can do that; you can be a language pedant if you like.
But you can't say "it's logical to always, always, always consider the possibility that this hypothesis which has little if any evidence for it and tons of evidence against it might turn out to be true after all, and construct policy around the possibility of its truth", because it's not. We can never prove that fairies DON'T live at the bottom of the garden, but we don't construct our garden plans around the premise that they DO.
Thank you, squirrelelite, I hesitated to link to AS. I do read Orac and Matt Carey, and not usually AofA or anything on that order. I'm still a pain in the butt, though. I have my reasons, mostly stubbornness. I'm relieved, actually to see Matt publish this http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2014/07/10/a-study-comparing-vaccinate… and especially, this: http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2014/07/18/environmental-risk-factor-r…
Another epidemiological study is not going to help convince any of the one in a million (????) children who have had a serious reaction to a vaccine. I think that number is way off, but it is being used in a advert for a coming PBS special on vaccines.
Orac has been wise to tone down the cynicism...it isn't just the true believers and the cranks gaining access to his blogs these days. Good for him to have been contacted by Thompson's lawyers..
You're welcome, usethebrainsgodgiveyou!
I mainly follow SBM and Neurologica, as well as RI, but Matt Carey's blog is one of the other good ones out there.
I don't have time to scrape through the muck at AoA and some of the other places.
I liked both your links to LBRB. It will be interesting to see the results of the studies he mentioned when they come out.
I agree that the anti-vax naysayers are unlikely to be convinced.
Based on compensations through the NVICP and the total number of vaccinations given every year, the 1 in a million estimate for serious adverse events (bad enough to compensate and much worse than just a fever or muscle soreness) is probably about the right order of magnitude.
It's certainly much better than the number of those events we would see if we allowed the diseases to circulate freely again, but Safeminds and AoA will never acknowledge that.
Oh, looky. Threats:
Why do you think that number is "way off"? I assume you think that serious reactions are more common, but what do you base that on? What figure do you think is the true one? Why? We have some very good evidence from very large safety studies that supports the 1 in a million figure, why dismiss it? This study looking at MMR for example found::
Note that these figures include allergic reactions which should be dealt with in the doctor's office without any long-term consequences, and febrile seizures and only have a, "possible or indeterminate causal relation", with MMR, so the true figure is likely to be a fraction of this; people get sick and some will, purely by chance, get sick shortly after vaccination. Even a risk of 5 in 100,000 seems very small to me, when you consider the potential sequelae of measles, mumps and rubella.
If a child is going to grow into an adult and travel freely around the planet mixing with whoever they wish, they need to either get the MMR or get measles, mumps and rubella as a child (with about a 1 in 1,000 chance of serious sequelae). These diseases are not nice to get as adults, so it seems sensible to get children vaccinated now instead of leaving them vulnerable throughout childhood and probably having to get the vaccine as an adult.
Like where? Please note the actual meaning of the word 'demonstrably'.
@Narad. Yes, depends what you mean by 'demonstrably false prediction'. I wonder if we are actually agreeing on some things and a lot of what we are debating is actually semantics. However, I guess my point is that the hypothesis "mmr causes autism" only applies to certain cases or subgroups - it obviously doesn't apply to ALL children given MMR. Consequently, until every possible subgroup and every possible condition and situation etc is tested, it cannot be 'demonstrably false.'
No, I'm saying that you're full of beans. If you feel the need to describe to me the Usual Consequences of this situation as "semantics," you're barking up the wrong squirrel.
This article beggars belief. Nowhere in it, is there a whiff of scientific rhetoric, instead merely a biased account using emotive language to try and skew the recent accounts of what happened at the CDC, and again, using personal attacks on Wakefield, who time after time comes across as the most measured, and thoughtful scientist, despite what he has been put through.
It seems that the author here has not even considered the possibility that being complicit in a cover up of important evidence potentially causing the unnecessary lifelong suffering of tens of thousands of individuals and their families, not to mention the destruction of the careers of several highly regarded doctors might actually weigh heavy on the conscience.
Obviously, once the cat is out of the bag, back-peddling would be the next obvious step if one wanted to keep one's job, particularly if Thompson didn't especially want to be at the centre of the debate - but is this not a debate about transparency? Is this not an argument about informed consent, ethics, and giving people the opportunity to make up their minds in view of ALL the data, not a selected skewed sample?
As we well know, the manipulation and cover up of unwanted research is hardly a novelty - (see Ben Goldacre's Bad Pharma for more information), but what is galling, is the belief that it's in some way tolerable for the CDC to manipulate data in order that they can continue with a vaccine schedule that they have clearly decided, a priori, is for 'the greater good'. Shame on you for your LACK of science.
Hey, how about addressing the issue of burden of proof, sometime this century? Also falsifiability?
At one point the MMR-causes brigade was so convinced that MMR was causing autism left and right that they thought you could detect the effect in just 12 random kids who got taken to the same hospital for evaluation by coincidence. Now they're saying "oh, no, this is an effect that's so rare that even if epidemiological studies can't show any effect, that only means the vulnerable subgroup is that teensy-tiny". Are you really saying "Those are the SAME hypothesis, and it wasn't demonstrated false at all"? 'Cause I don't think that passes the smell test.
Your argument is, to put it kindly, flawed. That is pretty much what the anti-vaxxers have been arguing since their other causation theories were shown to be wrong: that MMR causes autism in a susceptible subgroup.
A metaanalysis was done, looking at all the well designed studies that investigated the MMR-Autism hypothesis. It totalled over 11 million individuals. It found no proof that vaccines cause autism. You are in effect suggesting that there is a subgroup of susceptible individuals so small that an analysis of over 11 million failed to detect it. You are making an extraordinary claim, and therefore, YOU have to support it.
It's worth looking at this metaanalysis that included five cohort studies involving 1,256,407 children, and five case-control studies involving 9,920 children. Highlights:
With such a large number of subjects you would expect to see some kind of association if there was one. It seems very likely indeed that there is none. It would be extraordinary if it transpired that these results were wrong, with ten different studies carried out in different parts of the world and using different methodologies all agreeing like this.
There were some statistically significant results from the case control studies:
If these results showed an association in the opposite direction you can be sure the antivaccine brigade would be trumpeting it from the rooftops.
@Anna - perhaps if you removed your anti-vax blinders, you'd see the various (and multiple) articles that critique the Science behind Hooker's bogus study, pulling it apart in excruciating detail....
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
Oh wait, you're serious. Let me laugh even harder!
Wakefield is neither "measured" nor "thoughtful". He was hired to find evidence against the MMR vaccine by an attorney who was looking to bring suit against MMR manufacturers. He used unethical and illegal means to get the data for his "case study". Despite looking hard, the data did not support the hypothesis, so he cooked it. He failed to disclose his massive conflict of interest to The Lancet, and tried to set up companies to profit from the scare he engineered.
Wakefield is a dapper looking charmer. He is also a liar.
Anna Rayner #179
You got that laughably wrong. You presumably meant scientific logic. Go and look up what rhetoric means and then analyse your own posting in the light of that.
Anna Rayner #179
Apart from the malapropism (or was it a Freudian slip?) you seem skilled at writing manipulative screeds to mislead gullible people. Are you a journalist?
This could be another Freudian slip. If you read the above you'll see that the debate is precisely about not taking a selected skewed sample, and claiming a causal relationship.
Anna Rayner...Is this you, a homeopath who treats ASDs?
(Folks, there's a wealth of 'good' information on Anna's webpage)
Read Orac's other posts on this subject and you will see he, and various commenters, explains the science in detail.
I don't see how anyone can possibly believe this of Wakefield. Have you read the BMJ articles about his fraudulent research? He manipulated the patient data with the intention of defrauding drug companies and, with his lawyer friend, burned through £15 million of taxpayers' money in the process, a substantial portion of which (more than £400,000) he pocketed himself. How long does it take you to earn £400,000? I imagine (hope) that very few people are willing to pay for treatment of autism with magic water. He also set up a company to make diagnostic tests and an alternative vaccine that stood to make millions when he had scared people away from MMR. As the prospectus for this company put it “It is estimated that by year 3, income from this testing could be about £3,300,000 rising to about £28,000,000 as diagnostic testing in support of therapeutic regimes come on stream.”.
There was no cover up of important evidence. If DeStefano and his co-researchers had not corrected the data for confounders, that would have been both unethical and unscientific.I think you are right that Thompson has had a crisis of conscience, but I think he is mistaken in thinking he and his colleagues did anything wrong.
Who are the "several highly regarded doctors" whose careers have been destroyed by DeStefano's study? Wakefield destroyed his own career by inventing an imaginary gut disease he claimed was caused by MMR and trying to defraud the drug companies, as I mentioned above. Mark Geier destroyed his career by publishing appallingly incompetent studies about mercury, and by abusing children by chemically castrating them for no good reason. I can't think of anyone else, apart from Thompson himself, who appears to have committed career suicide for unknown reasons.
The sample would have been skewed if it was not corrected for confounders, which is what the original authors did, using data about race among other factors. Sadly there is no shortage of people who would love to take the uncorrected data and run with it, simply because it supports their beliefs about vaccines, despite the fact that it isn't right.
Unwanted research? I'm not sure what you mean by this. If it's unwanted, why would they do it in the first place. How do you cover up someone else's "unwanted" research? BTW, Ben Goldacre has figured out the real cause of autism - organic food (which shows what he thinks of the supposed vaccine-autism link).
That is the very opposite of what has happened. Do you seriously think the CDC put together a vaccine schedule and then concocted research to support it? Why would they do that? People who work at the CDC have children and grandchildren too, and they have every motive to make sure children are protected, and no motive at all to cover up any possible problems with vaccines.
The only people manipulating data here, as far as I can see, is Hooker and his execrable mangling of the data from the DeStefano study to try to make it support his a priori belief that vaccines are dangerous. It is the antivaccine brigade that are manipulating data in order to discredit a vaccine schedule they have decided, without evidence, is damaging. That is galling, and even more galling when people uncritically swallow their nonsense whole.
@Kreb - not only did Hooker go in "knowing" that vaccines were dangerous & looking for information that would only support that particular view, but since he was told by Thompson that there might have been data related to the MMR & Black Children - the whole purpose of his re-analysis (and quite frankly, cooking of the data by using incorrect statistical modeling) was the prove that such an correlation existed....hence his focus on Black Children in the study.
That's extremely unethical & unscientific, to say the least.
"No, I’m saying that you’re full of beans. If you feel the need to describe to me the Usual Consequences of this situation as 'semantics,' you’re barking up the wrong squirrel."
@Narad. I don't think that sentence even makes sense - the 'usual consequences'? You've lost me there. I find it a bit irritating I have to spell everything out for you in detail, but here we go again. Semantics. Disagreements about terms. The main disagreement we have had is about use of the term 'proved wrong'. I said the terms 'evidence for/against' are better, because in science very little is ever proved. It doesn't mean we don't treat it as true - the evidence can amass to such an extent that we treat it true without 100% certainty - e.g. evolution (100% certainty being what is generally meant by 'proved' but which is a state we can rarely achieve). You then said a hypothesis that is 'demonstrably false' - which you were essentially using as a synonym for 'disproven', meaning you were just begging the question and not making any new point. Hence, an aspect of our disagreement was around what 'proved' means, and had no real substance to it at all, so I drew attention to that fact in my last comment. I also made a reiteration of my main point, which is nothing to do with semantics, and which you ignored. Thankfully, some people with a bit more eloquence than yourself have responded to the point I was actually making in an intelligent way. Antaeus and Julian Frost: Yes, I agree basically. With a large enough sample any sub-group effect should become evident. As it didn't, the hypothesis can be rejected. On the other hand, as we now have some evidence that when sub-group effects are found they don't get published, maybe those large sample studies also found sub-group effects we never heard about? Yes, it's speculative, fine, but my original comment was drawing attention to the fact that from an unbiased view Thompson's claims are more problematic than the author of this blog makes out. Unless Thompson is just a loony, in which case, fair enough.
Note also that my whole point about proof was in response to the claim that IF Thompson is right and there is a link between MMR and autism in african-americans identified in this study, that proves the Wakefield hypothesis wrong. My point was simply a logical rebuttal of that - because it doesn't. If the MMR-African-American link was true, the hypothesis 'MMR causes autism in white children' may still be true as well, it may just need a larger sample to detect it. As mentioned above, and by other people in this thread, other studies have had much larger samples and found nothing, but though obviously relevant to the overall debate those studies do not bear on the hypothetical situation the writer of this blog used, which was about what this study alone proved or disproved. The study may suggest a variety of things, but it could not claim to have proved anything.
Right back atcha.
You lose. Whites outnumbered Blacks by 10:7 in the total sample. What you asserting is a different hypothesis, which is that some tiny sliver of the White population might be affected, which of necessity is so small that it has never, ever registered an epidemiological radar blip.
@culux -- i'm very interested in the books about methodology of science you point to ... please, if you could recommend what you consider the most useful ones i'd very thankful to you ...
If you read pamphlets both on the CDC and FDA websites with other vaccines they admit seeing autism and the other disturbing find was SIDS also the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act awarded 82 cases of autism but changed their minds when the number kept growing and other serious injury with the hpv vaccine http://www.fda.gov/downloads/biologicsbloodvaccines/vaccines/approvedpr…
@angie - I'm guessing you didn't bother to read the entire pamphlet....
@lawrence - or even any of it, since the pamphlet s/he linked to has nothing to do with hpv, no mention of autism and shows SIDS rates going down in vaxed group. I'm sure we're just missing the point though.
It would be extraordinary if they didn't see autism in vaccinated children, wouldn't it? The question is whether children who are vaccinated are more likely to be diagnosed with autism than those who are not, and the answer, very clearly, is that they are not.
Which several studies find is not linked to vaccination.
That's not true, they awarded compensation in 83 cases of encephalopathy and residual seizure disorder, not autism. The Omnibus Autism Proceeding looked at the three best cases of vaccine-induced autism and dismissed vaccines as a possible cause of autism.
That simply isn't true. No one "changed their minds", there isn't any evidence that autism is caused by vaccination, that's why it isn't compensated.
HPV vaccines are extremely safe, which is not surprising when you consider they are made using baker's yeast that produces the same proteins as HPV but not the parts of the virus that can infect cells. I know you can find many claims that deaths and serious injuries are caused by these vaccines but this is not supported by safety studies. As the CDC explains:
If you can't pick up an adverse event in 600,000 people it is so rare it isn't worth worrying about, in my opinion. The risk of contracting HPV and subsequently developing cancer is far higher - 4,000 women die from cervical cancer each year. None have died from being vaccinated against HPV - the claimed deaths include car accidents, drowning and blood clots, which is sadly a common cause of death in young women whether vaccinated with HPV or not.