Has the Huffington Post embraced science & closed the door on anti-vaccine quackery?

When I launched my Panic Virus blog on my own site back in December 2010, the second piece I posted was titled “The Huffington Post: Featuring bad science, facile reasoning since 2005.” The takeaway of that piece could be summed up with this sentence: “The site arguably features more scientific quackery than any other mainstream media outlet.”

For whatever reason, HuffPo seemed to have a particular bee in its bonnet about vaccines and autism: If you made a list of the most irresponsible, misinformed people on the topic, it was a safe bet the majority of them had been given space for their rantings on the site. David Kirby? Check. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.? Check. Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, Jay Gordon, and Kim Stagliano? Check, check, check, and check. There were days when the site’s main prerequisites for getting published seemed to be either a hatred of Republicans or a love of pseudoscientific quackery.

This is a theme I’ve returned to again and again (and it’s something Orac has been detailing for almost half a decade. To wit:

* Feb. 07, 2012 (sethmnookin.com): “Let me state very simply: HuffPo publishes dangerously ignorant dreck

* Feb. 11, 2012 (sethmnookin.com): “The Huffington Post‘s medical review board signs off on vaccine fear mongering

* Feb. 11, 2012 (Scientific American): “The Huffington Post and the ongoing fear that vaccines might cause autism

* May 5, 2012 (PLoS Blogs): “Pre-mature optimism about a Huffington Post shift away from anti-vaccine rhetoric

So I was somewhat surprised when a new HuffPo editor approached me about contributing to their about-to-be launched science section. It would be, he promised, a marked departure from what the site had featured in the past. Ultimately, I decided it was worth a shot…and so today, I have a new piece titled, “The Autism-Vaccine Controversy and the Need for Responsible Science Journalism.” In it, I talk about “the legacy of years of dispatches that created a false equivalency between verifiable facts and…outlandish allegations,” and I implicitly (and in one instance explicitly), point to HuffPo‘s own past.

It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out. The piece has only been up for a few hours and already the comments section is swarming with anti-vaccine misinformation and fear-mongering. I figure a worst-case scenario is the site uses the fig leaf of “balance” and posts another anti-vac screed in the next day or so…in which case, lesson learned. But I’m hopeful this really does signal a new direction from an indisputably major player in the new media world.

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47 Responses to Has the Huffington Post embraced science & closed the door on anti-vaccine quackery?

  1. Seth, I think your link dates time traveled to 2012. I’d like to see HuffPo pull this off, but Huffington’s reference to specifically looking forward to posts on “the intersection of science and religion” and calling it a “false war” leave me a bit skeptical. We’ll see. It’s good that they started with something from you, but as you note, the commenters can torpedo almost anything rational. It will be hard to efface huge missteps like this one: http://biologyfiles.fieldofscience.com/2011/10/huffington-post-irresponsible.html

  2. LawnBoy says:

    FYI: Bad link to the article.

    Feel free to delete this comment when the link is fixed.

  3. Also…the link to your new HuffPo piece goes to a 404.

  4. I love that you’re not going to let them get away with this nonsense, but don’t you have better news to report from the future? Surely by now you can report from post-December 23, 2012 and end the Mayan nonsense finally.

    :)

  5. Seth Mnookin says:

    LawnBoy and Emily, thanks for the head’s up – should be fixed. (Clearly, a thin veil of stars were keeping the links out of sight…)

  6. jre says:

    Fortunately for me, I arrived after links were fixed. The post on HuffPo is so good, and the comments are so mixed, that I can’t decide yet whether to have hope for humanity. After years of resistance, I finally broke down and registered with HuffPo so I could comment. The terminal insult was one commenter trotting out the old canard that no study has compared autism rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations, and then cockily challenging

    If this is true, then please provide a link to even one peer reviewed study which compares vaccinated children to unvaccinat­ed children with respect to ASD rates. Unfortunat­ely, you can’t. Such research does not exist.

    OK; for the record (and for the last time on Seth’s blog), the study is this one:

    Mrozek-Bud­zyn, D.; Kieltyka, A. & Majewska, R. Lack of associatio­n between measles-mu­mps-rubell­a vaccinatio­n and autism in children: a case-contr­ol study. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2010 May;29(5):­397-400.

    … and the full-text paper may be found here:
    http://journals.lww.com/pidj/Documents/Lack_of_Association_Between_Measles_Mumps_Rubella.pdf

    That’s it. I’m going to move on to some other obsession now. It’s just so … exasperating … when someone is wrong on the internet.

  7. Here’s what a HuffPo editor wrote me about a piece I was told to “tone down”:

    Medical/health related posts have a strict policy on HuffPost – that is to say any posts that offer medical/health information or advice are only published if authored by a licensed medical professional and the post has gone through medical review with our Medical Editor, Dr. Dean Ornish. Any other pieces written by individuals without a medical license must be treated journalistically with statements sourced, etc.

    Here is my reply:

    Although I do appreciate the opportunity to be part of the HuffPo community, it needs to be said that questionable medical advice is frequently served up by anti-vaccine bloggers. Last February Kim Stagliano wrote:

    When did autism go from a rare diagnosis to a disorder that affects 1 in 110 children but still warrants little to no medical care outside of psychiatric drugs and behavioral therapy? An autism diagnosis can erase a person’s ability to get solid medical care.

    In April Jenny McCarthy alleged, without a shred of credible scientific evidence, that vaccines cause autism:

    Imagine how much more credible the countless stories of children regressing into autism after vaccine appointments would be if a doctor were saying the same thing.

    In April, 2009, Dr. Jay Gordon baselessly accused Dr. Rahul Parikh of acting “unethically and illegally” for something he wrote in the LA Times. It was only when Parikh contacted Gordon directly that the language was removed.

    Everything in my post as originally written can be backed up. Take this paragraph:

    “Having established his euthanasia cred, Wakefield assured his fans that vaccines are way more dangerous than the diseases they protect us against, and they are not being adequately studied for safety. So Wakefield, the disgraced and defrocked medical doctor and spiritual guru to American’s floundering anti-vaccine movement, will soldier on, and continue to do the studies that the medical establishment is afraid of. Or something like that.”

    Wakefield’s anecdote clearly showed that he approved of a mother taking her autistic child’s life. What’s more, the rhetoric of the anti-vaccine movement has long included language the demonizes autism, and claims that “my child would be better off dead” are not uncommon. Wakefield was disgraced even before his removal from the medical register last week. With “defrocked” I am employing literary license to show that he no longer has a license to practice medicine, and has lost the imprimatur of his profession to lead (or mislead) his flock of faith-based anti-vaccine zealots.

    – “The real tragedy, according to this crowd, is that too many children are protected against too many diseases. Fortunately, we have a talented songwriter to whip the masses into a frenzy.”

    “Too many, too soon” has been a rallying cry of the anti-vaccine movement for more than two years. Too many children protected by too many diseases. How many HuffPo bloggers have argued, absent any real medical training, that children are harmed by too many vaccines administered too soon? Is it even debatable that extending protection against more vaccine preventable diseases to as many children as possible is a bad thing?

    – “For a time, Wakefield schmoozed with Attorney Jim Moody, another vaccine-court regular (not surprising given that so many of the ethical charges against Wakefield stemmed from his cozy relationships with trial lawyers).”

    I don’t undertand the objection to this paragraph. I provided photographic evidence of Wakefield and Moody together. Moody, an American lawyer, was by Wakefield’s side in the UK when the GMC found Wakefield guilty of 32 counts of ethical misconduct. Moody practices law in the US Federal Court of Claims, aka Vaccine Court. Wakefield’s problems in the UK did in fact arise from his too-cozy relationship with trial lawyers, a fact well-documented in the GMC’s decision and in numerous press accounts.

    If HuffPo is really serious about watering down the language that its bloggers use to expose corruption and junk science, then at least apply the rule equally to bloggers like Kim Stagliano, Jay Gordon, David Kirby, and the rest of the woo-meisters. Feel free to call me if you want.”

    The editor did call me, and said that I needed to “play ball” if I wanted to be published.

    And my comments at HuffPo are not being approved today. ; – )

  8. MarylandMD says:

    This is the first time I have intentionally clicked on a link to the Huffington Post in well over a year. Given their practice of spewing junk science, I figured their articles on other topics were just as bogus and thus not worth reading. I guess there is some hope for HuffPo after all. I appreciate Seth Mnookin’s taking advantage of this opportunity.

    Unfortunately, the comments section of Seth Mnookin’s article is now being carpet bombed by someone from Age of Autism with their standard set of links to pseudoscience and disinformation. I wish that we had someone who was equally if not more tenacious at posting in comments sections of vaccine articles to help refute their nonsense.

  9. Pingback: HuffPost Science Is a Platform for Critics of ‘Pseudoscientific Quackery’ on HuffPost | Con Games

  10. John Rennie says:

    Thanks for discussing all this so candidly, Seth. HuffPo’s record to date on science is what it is, and there are some points right off the bat that worry me a little about how it will be going forward. But I worked with David Freeman years back, and he as was always a smart, original thinker—somebody who valued intelligent arguments and was always glad to call nonsense for what it was. I’m hopeful he’ll exert a strong positive influence.

  11. Jim Feeley says:

    Looking forward to seeing how this plays out. But note that the version of the column I see still has the wrong year for the links after this bit: “This is a theme I’ve returned to again and again (and it’s something Orac has been detailing for almost half a decade. To wit:”

    I see 2012 given as publication year for each article. Editorial calendar or editorial mistake?

    Jim
    PS- Loved the book.

  12. Pingback: Autism Blog - The Autism Vaccine Controversy and the Need for Responsible Science Journalism « Left Brain/Right Brain

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  17. Ha, Seth assuming you allow this comment to be published, here is a reminder that we challenged you in April 2011 about your claims and you went silent on us.

    You have left a few notable people and organisations off your list of “the most irresponsible, misinformed people on the topic” of vaccines causing autism, like the President of Merck’s Vaccines Division, Julie Gerberding when she was CDC Director, The US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the US Federal Court, and a cast in supporting roles which includes Walter A. Orenstein, M.D. US as Assistant Surgeon General, Dr Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. the 16th and current Director of the US NIH.

    Our challenge to you was to deny any of the following and you failed:

    A) the current President of Merck’s Vaccines Division, Julie Gerberding confirmed to CBS News when she was Director of the US Centres for Disease Control that: “….. if you’re predisposed with the mitochondrial disorder, it can certainly set off some damage. Some of the symptoms can be symptoms that have characteristics of autism.“ [1]

    B) Autistic conditions can result from encephalopathy following vaccination. The US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) confirmed to CBS News that of 1322 cases of vaccine injury compensation settled out of court by the US Government in secret settlements: “We have compensated cases in which children exhibited an encephalopathy, or general brain disease. Encephalopathy may be accompanied by a medical progression of an array of symptoms including autistic behavior, autism, or seizures.” [2], [3].

    C) It is biologically plausible that a live virus vaccine like MMR contains live viruses one of which is scientifically accepted as causing autism. The first known cause of autism was rubella virus.

    … rubella (congenital rubella syndrome) is one of the few proven causes of autism.“ Walter A. Orenstein, M.D. US as Assistant Surgeon General, Director National Immunization Program in a letter to the UK’s Chief Medical Officer 15 February 2002.

    rubella virus is one of the few known causes of autism.” US Center for Disease Control.
    http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vacsafe/concerns/autism/autism-mmr.htm

    rubella can cause autism” The Pediatrician’s Role in the Diagnosis and Management of Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Children – PEDIATRICS Vol. 107 No. 5 May 2001
    http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;107/5/1221

    D) Autistic conditions can result from acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) following MMR vaccination as held by the US Federal Court in the case of Bailey Banks [4].

    In his conclusion, US Federal Court Special Master Abell ruled that Petitioners had proven that the MMR had directly caused a brain inflammation illness called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) which, in turn, had caused the autism spectrum disorder PDD-NOS in the child:

    The Court found that Bailey’s ADEM was both caused-in-fact and proximately caused by his vaccination. It is well-understood that the vaccination at issue can cause ADEM, and the Court found, based upon a full reading and hearing of the pertinent facts in this case, that it did actually cause the ADEM. Furthermore, Bailey’s ADEM was severe enough to cause lasting, residual damage, and retarded his developmental progress, which fits under the generalized heading of Pervasive Developmental Delay, or PDD [an autism spectrum disorder]. The Court found that Bailey would not have suffered this delay but for the administration of the MMR vaccine, and that this chain of causation was… a proximate sequence of cause and effect leading inexorably from vaccination to Pervasive Developmental Delay.

    E) Autism is not caused by genes. And what does not cause autism?

    Dr Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. the 16th and current Director of the US$30.5 billion budget National Institutes of Health [nominated by President Obama: NIH News Release 17th August 2009 ] stated in evidence to US House of Representatives Committee May 2006 when Director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute [5]:

    “Recent increases in chronic diseases like diabetes, childhood asthma, obesity or autism cannot be due to major shifts in the human gene pool as those changes take much more time to occur. They must be due to changes in the environment, including diet and physical activity, which may produce disease in genetically predisposed persons.“

    F) Autistic conditions affect approximately 1 in 100 US children. They affect 1 in 64 British children [1 in 40 are boys] according to a Cambridge University study [6].

    “Conclusions: The prevalence estimate of known cases of ASC, using different methods of ascertainment converges around 1%. The ratio of known to unknown cases means that for every three known cases there are another two unknown cases. This has implications for planning diagnostic, social and health services.”

    G) It is estimated to cost the UK £28 billion per annum [roughly US$42 billion]: [7]

    [1] HOUSE CALL WITH DR. SANJAY GUPTA – Unraveling the Mystery of Autism; Talking With the CDC Director; Stories of Children with Autism; Aging with Autism – Aired March 29, 2008 – 08:30 ET

    [2] CBS News Exclusive: Leading Dr.: Vaccines-Autism Worth Study Former Head Of NIH Says Government Too Quick To Dismiss Possible Link – WASHINGTON, May 12, 2008

    [3] Vaccine Case: An Exception Or A Precedent? – First Family To Have Autism-Related Case “Conceded” Is Just One Of Thousands – CBS News By Sharyl Attkisson WASHINGTON, March 6, 2008]

    [4] [Banks v. HHS (Case 02-0738V, 2007 U.S. Claims LEXIS 254, July 20, 2007)]
    http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/Abell.BANKS.02-0738V.pdf

    [5] Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. evidence to US House of Representatives Committee May 2006
    http://www.genome.gov/18016846

    [6] ESTIMATING AUTISM SPECTRUM PREVALENCE IN THE POPULATION: A SCHOOL BASED STUDY FROM THE UK
    http://imfar.confex.com/imfar/2008/webprogram/Paper2245.html

    [7] ["Economic Consequences of Autism in the UK" - London School of Economics - Study by team led by Professor Martin Knapp
    http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/pressAndInformationOffice/PDF/EconomicCostsofAutism.pdf

    [Executive Summary]
    https://www.nece.gov.uk/nece/neceprojects.nsf/0/01771070ACD08B7680257420004F51C7/$file/Autism%20briefing.pdf

    • Chris says:

      Mr. Miller or Mr. Stone of the childhealthsafety site:

      Ha, Seth assuming you allow this comment to be published, here is a reminder that we challenged you in April 2011 about your claims and you went silent on us.

      Very amusing coming for a pair who delete comments from their website. I am still waiting for a real answer from you as to why the rate of measles incidence(morbidity) in the USA dropped by 90% between 1960 and 1970. It is noted on a graph on this page. Your mistreatment of that data is shown here.

      I asked you that on another blog on December 14, 2010
      at 5:45 pm, that was well over a year ago. You never gave a proper answer. I am not going to bog down Seth’s page by debating you, I am just pointing out your hypocrisy. I am actually suggesting that Mr. Mnookin ignore you, which is what I am going to do from now on.

    • Andrew says:

      “… rubella (congenital rubella syndrome) is one of the few proven causes of autism.“ Walter A. Orenstein, M.D. US as Assistant Surgeon General, Director National Immunization Program in a letter to the UK’s Chief Medical Officer 15 February 2002.”

      Thank you for acknowledging that rubella is a cause of autism. Will you now support vaccination against rubella? How many children became autistic, do you think, because of irresponsible lies that discouraged their parents from protecting their children from a known cause of autism?

      • Andrew [February 1, 2012 at 12:11 am] asks

        “How many children became autistic, do you think, because of irresponsible lies that discouraged their parents from protecting their children from a known cause of autism?”

        Well, we know in the USA it is 1 in 100 children who develop autistic conditions but not as a result of natural rubella infection but clearly, on the basis of the official admissions from US government officials and agencies and the Federal Court [noted by us here January 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm] that this can be caused by vaccines, by vaccines.

        That is a huge number of children.

        In comparison, the numbers of cases of congenital rubella syndrome in the UK prior to universal rubella vaccination was around 50 per annum. With an annual birth rate of 500,000 to 600,000 per annum that is a rate on average of less than 1 in 10,000.

        And only around 10% or 5 of those 50 would have serious after effects.

        So 1 in 100 vs 1 in 10,000 and of the 1 in 10,000 only 1 in 100,000 would suffer serious permanent health issues.

        Which risk would you choose? Seems a no brainer.

        Irresponsible lies?

        • Andrew says:

          ““How many children became autistic, do you think, because of irresponsible lies that discouraged their parents from protecting their children from a known cause of autism?”

          Well, we know in the USA it is 1 in 100 children who develop autistic conditions but not as a result of natural rubella infection but clearly, on the basis of the official admissions from US government officials and agencies and the Federal Court [noted by us here January 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm] that this can be caused by vaccines, by vaccines.

          That is a huge number of children.

          Thank you. It is a relief to know that vaccine refusers haven’t yet caused an increase in death or disability.

          We know, of course, that MMR vaccines can’t be the cause of the 1 in 100 children with autism, because we didn’t an immediate increase in autism after the MMR was introduced in the US, or after it was introduced to the UK, or after it was introduced into any other country.

          “In comparison, the numbers of cases of congenital rubella syndrome in the UK prior to universal rubella vaccination was around 50 per annum. With an annual birth rate of 500,000 to 600,000 per annum that is a rate on average of less than 1 in 10,000.”

          Ah – 100 times higher than the rate of vaccine injury of any kind for any vaccine.

          “Which risk would you choose? Seems a no brainer.”

          Absolutely – you’ve convinced me that vaccines are much safer than the diseases that vaccines prevent.

          • Andrew [February 1, 2012 at 11:30 pm]

            “We know, of course, that MMR vaccines can’t be the cause of the 1 in 100 children with autism, because we didn’t an immediate increase in autism after the MMR was introduced ..”

            That is true. MMR vaccines are not the sole vaccine to cause autistic conditions as the Hannah Poling case confirms. This is backed up by the official admissions from US government officials and agencies and the Federal Court [noted by us here January 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm].

            And as for leaps in rates of diagnoses you should take a look at the graph here:-

            “British & Japanese Data Show Vaccines Cause Autism”
            http://tinyurl.com/7bczkog

            That shows the rate of autism in British boys leapt on each major change in the vaccine programme in the periods covered.

            And we note still silence from journalist Seth Mnookin in response to the challenge posted here @ January 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm in which those aforementioned official confirmations were cited.

  18. This is a bit like last time we challenged Seth. All the usual suspects popped up and posted comments on Seth’s blog to distract from the fact Seth did not answer.

    The problem with people like “Chris” is that the post he makes here [January 31, 2012 at 4:13 pm] to distract from the failure of Seth to answer is a question which is already answered [but he does not like the answer]. Glad to see Chris thinks he knows the names of contributors to CHS though.

  19. “….. if you’re predisposed with the mitochondrial disorder, it can certainly set off some damage. Some of the symptoms can be symptoms that have characteristics of autism.“

    Mr. Stone, you are being ignored because no explanation, no matter how rock solid, will change your mind from the dead end course you set for yourself.

  20. So another of the usual suspects pops up with nothing much to say [Ken Reibel who blogs as AutismNewsBeat - January 31, 2012 at 5:08 pm]

    Still silence from journalist Seth Mnookin in response to the challenge posted here @ January 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm.

    Glad to see Ken thinks he knows the names of contributors to CHS though.

  21. WhiteandNerdy says:

    To take a very simple example, here is the actual court decision for the Banks case which CHS for some reason didn’t post:
    http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/Abell.BANKS.02-0738V.pdf

    Using only our basic reading skills we can all see that case was about ” Non-autistic developmental delay;”.

    Since CHS still considers himself to be entitled to his very own personal facts, I can understand why people would decide it is pointless to engage him.

    Comment: I think there is some value in his postings.

    It is so very helpful to sit in the autism support group and go line by line through his postings. They make it so absolutely clear to parents how totally wrong–in every sense of the world–the vaccines cause autism crowd is.

    W&N

    • Chris says:

      That is because we have engaged both of them, and it is pointless since they live in an alternate universe. But you do not have to converse with them, since pointing out the flaws in their website is sufficient. Which is what the link I posted does by showing how they were using misinformation on the effects of measles vaccination.

    • Another of the usual suspects pops up again with nothing much to say [WhiteandNerdy February 1, 2012 at 2:21 am ]

      And White & Nerdy, the Court’s decision is in its written judgement not in a keyword reflecting what one side was alleging.

      That judgement decided that rather than being a case of “Non-autistic developmental delay” [as one side wanted] in the exact words of the judgement:

      “The Court found that Bailey would not have suffered this delay but for the administration of the MMR vaccine, and that this chain of causation was not too remote, but was rather a proximate sequence of cause and effect leading inexorably from vaccination to Pervasive Developmental Delay.”

      Still silence from journalist Seth Mnookin in response to the challenge including the Banks case [posted here @ January 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm].

      • Inconvenient truth: Hannah Poling’s own doctor testified in Cedillo that MMR and thimerosal could not cause autism.

        “There is no scientific basis for a connection between measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine or mercury (Hg) intoxication and autism.”

        http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/autism/master%20autism.pdf

        • AutismNewsBeat [February 1, 2012 at 6:33 pm] says Hannah Poling’s own doctor testified:
          “There is no scientific basis for a connection between measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine or mercury (Hg) intoxication and autism.”

          Hannah Poling still won US$20m for an autistic condition caused by vaccines despite such an opinion – if true and quoted in context.

          And what you cite is just an opinion and 2) there is “no scientific basis” for many things which are true and 3) doctors are not scientists.

          Still silence from journalist Seth Mnookin in response to the challenge including the Banks case [posted here @ January 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm].

          Instead just the usual suspects posting distractions from that silence.

          • WhiteandNerdy says:

            Maybe because Poling was awarded compensation for encephalopathy and for seizer disorder–not for an autistic condition…

            And maybe since your error has been corrected so many times…

            And maybe since you once again didn’t post the actual decision so that people could read the facts for themselves,

            Mr. Mnookin concluded that you are either unable or unwilling to get the basic facts correct. And regardless as to which possibility is correct, it is a waste of time to engage you?

            Regardless, you are doing an admirable job of exactly demonstrating why the vaccines cause autism arguments have been entirely rejected by the legal/scientific/medical world.

            For all their faults–they tend to be functionally literate.

            W&N

          • “Maybe because Poling was awarded compensation for encephalopathy and for seizer disorder–not for an autistic condition…”

            That is no big news.

            As the HRSA admit ““We have compensated cases in which children exhibited an encephalopathy, or general brain disease. Encephalopathy may be accompanied by a medical progression of an array of symptoms including autistic behavior, autism, or seizures.””

            The settlement was coast-to-coast US news because it was her autistic condition which resulted from the 9 vaccines in one day.

            Or as President of Merck’s Vaccines Division, Julie Gerberding conceded to CBS News about the Poling case when she was Director of the US Centres for Disease Control that: “….. if you’re predisposed with the mitochondrial disorder, it can certainly set off some damage. Some of the symptoms can be symptoms that have characteristics of autism.“

        • I’m still scratching my head over “there is “no scientific basis” for many things which are true.” Dr. Zimmerman is saying there is no plausible mechanism by which an MMR shot or thimerosal could cause autism. And Zimmerman is a scientist, in that he researches and publishes his work in peer reviewed journals. He was also Hannah Poling’s physician.

          • AutismNewsBeat [February 1, 2012 at 10:57 pm] says “Dr. Zimmerman is saying there is no plausible mechanism by which an MMR shot or thimerosal could cause autism. ”

            “No plausible basis” is totally different from claiming “no scientific basis” and is contradicted by the President of Merck’s Vaccines Division, Julie Gerberding when she was CDC Director, The US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the US Federal Court, and a cast in supporting roles which includes Walter A. Orenstein, M.D. US as Assistant Surgeon General, Dr Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. the 16th and current Director of the US NIH.

            Which is part of the challenge posted here [January 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm] which Mr Mnookin remains silent about.

            Instead just the usual suspects posting distractions from that silence.

      • WhiteandNerdy says:

        Yes CHS we understand how threatening you find it to have the Banks ruling posted for people to read.

        Readers that bother to look at the actual words in the text will find that this is how the court described Bank’s condition:

        ” a ‘subthreshold’ condition in which SOME – BUT NOT ALL – FEATURES OF AUTISM OR ANOTHER EXPLICITLY IDENTIFIED PERVASIVE DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDER are identified. … It should be emphasized that this ”subthreshold” category is thus defined implicitly, that is, no specific guidelines for diagnosis are provided.”

        Most readers find this pretty clear. Just to make sure, here is a description written for the average parent:
        ” A person is diagnosed with PDD-NOS if they have some behaviors seen in autism but don’t meet the full criteria for having an Autistic Disorder.”
        http://www.nationalautismresources.com/autismsymptoms.html

        CHS is literally arguing that NOT having an autistic disorder is having an autistic disorder.

        Just par for the course with CHS.

        W&N

  22. WhiteandNerdy [February 1, 2012 at 10:41 pm] has it wrong again.

    “Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) is one of the autism spectrum disorders and is used to describe individuals who do not fully meet the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger syndrome.”.

    http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/pdd-nos

    So Bailey Bank’s autistic condition was caused by vaccines, and inevitably so as found by the US Federal Court on the basis of evidence submitted by experts on behalf of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

    And for a parent that is little consolation that their child is autistic however that is classified for technical purposes. Bit of aWhite and Nerdy own goal there.

    Still silence from journalist Seth Mnookin in response to the challenge including the Banks’ case [posted here @ January 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm].

    Instead just the usual suspects posting distractions from that silence.

    • WhiteandNerdy says:

      You seem to be baffled by the fact that the definition used by the court is the definition the court used.

      In order to correctly understand the words of the court, you need to use their definitions.

      Of course most people are able to figure out all on their own that using a different definition causes CHS to arrive at the obviously wrong conclusion.

      Too bad you didn’t bother to post the decision so that people could read the words for themselves and see the facts…

      Overachievers–those that combine basic literacy skills, a speck of reason, and the integrity to read the vaccine court rules–will also notice the epic intellectual failure of claiming compensation means there was an actual vaccine injury.

      Thanks for playing,
      W&N

    • WhiteandNerdy says:

      Apologies–you did post the Banks decision above.

      W&N

  23. WhiteandNerdy says:

    Just to be clear, the gross misrepresentation of the Bank’s case by CHS is not unique in his arguments. consider his point B) above.

    Once again, he sites references and makes assertions without providing links to fact-check.

    Here they are:
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/03/06/eveningnews/main3915703.shtml

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/05/12/cbsnews_investigates/main4086809.shtml

    Imagine that, the CHS quote doesn’t exist in his two references….

    Here is the what was actual said:
    ” “Some children who have been compensated for vaccine injuries…may ultimately end up with autism or autistic symptoms, but we do not track cases on this basis.”

    This is a major-league “well Duh!”.

    Since about 1% of kids will be diagnosed with autism it is a mathematical certainty some kids that are compensated will later end up with an autism diagnosis.

    Typical vaccine critic’s argument: illiterate and innumerate.

    W&N

    • WhiteandNerdy [February 2, 2012 at 2:20 am]

      “Imagine that, the CHS quote doesn’t exist in his two references….”

      The quote of what the HRSA actually said is in the full email to Sharyl Attkisson from which the snippet you quote is taken [but thanks for the links as people can check and see how responsible a reporter Attkisson is for covering the stories]. The text of the email can be found here:
      http://tinyurl.com/6c9pshv

      But you can also find in this CBS News story the fuller quote:-

      Vaccines, Autism and Brain Damage: What’s in a Name? September 14, 2010 12:17 PM By Sharyl Attkisson
      http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31727_162-20016356-10391695.html

      “We have compensated cases in which children exhibited an encephalopathy, or general brain disease. Encephalopathy may be accompanied by a medical progression of an array of symptoms including autistic behavior, autism, or seizures.”

      The gross misrepresentation of the Banks’ case is by Mr Mnookin in claiming Banks’ did not have an autistic condition. “PDD” is the term used in the USA under DSM IV [et seq]. The term the rest of the world uses “Autistic Spectrum Disorder”. But journalist and author Mr Mnookin kinda of overlooks that fact.

      So that is not “a major-league “well Duh!” but a major-league journalistic gross misrepresentation.

      • WhiteandNerdy says:

        So in other words,

        You gave us the wrong references.

        You selectively quoted from your corrected reference. Here is the most important part:

        ” The government has NEVER COMPENSATED, nor has it ever been ordered to compensate, any case based on a determination THAT AUTISM WAS ACTUALLY CAUSED BY VACCINES.”

        Can not get any more clear than that.

        Instead you gave us again the quote about encephalopathy that clearly doesn’t support your claims–your error is predicated on not understanding the diagnosis.

        And you still are not getting the basic English meaning of the words in the Poling decision correct.

        An excellent set of reminders as to exactly why the vaccine cause autism crowd is marginalized to posting on the Net–you have nothing rational to support your POV.

        W&N

        • WhiteandNerdy [February 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm]

          ” The government has NEVER COMPENSATED, nor has it ever been ordered to compensate, any case based on a determination THAT AUTISM WAS ACTUALLY CAUSED BY VACCINES.”

          Well they would say that wouldn’t they.

          Not much of a point.

          They admitted at the same time that they admitted paying out for cases of encephalopathy that these : “may be accompanied by a medical progression of an array of symptoms including autistic behavior, autism, or seizures.”

    • Chris says:

      CHS:

      The text of the email can be found here:
      http://tinyurl.com/6c9pshv

      Well, that was lame. It also shows that your scaremongering about vaccines completely pointless. There is a list of reactions over twenty years that total to (direct cut and paste):
      Encephalitis/Encephalopathy 611
      Seizure Disorders 711

      Oh, yeah, after millions of vaccine doses between 1988 and 2008 those are the evil numbers. What we really need to know if those numbers are more than happens without vaccines. Oh, wait… we have those numbers:..

      J Infect Dis. 2005 Nov 15;192(10):1686-93. Epub 2005 Oct 12.
      Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis: more cases of this fatal disease are prevented by measles immunization than was previously recognized.

      Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2006 Sep;25(9):768-73.
      Encephalopathy after whole-cell pertussis or measles vaccination: lack of evidence for a causal association in a retrospective case-control study.

      Vaccine. 2011 Nov 12. [Epub ahead of print]
      Lack of association between childhood immunizations and encephalitis in California, 1998-2008.

      • Chris [February 2, 2012 at 8:54 am]

        “There is a list of reactions over twenty years that total to (direct cut and paste):
        Encephalitis/Encephalopathy 611
        Seizure Disorders 711″

        No. Those are the numbers they admit paying out for – not a list of reactions.

        Bit of a misrepresentation there Chris. Completely different thing.

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