The Scandal That Will Not Go Away

Do your remember the controversy over the MMR vaccine, how the sceptics who pointed to the number of cases in which children seemed to have developed symptoms of autism or autism related problems shortly after receiving the combined measles, mumps, rubella vaccination? And do you remember how the Government and Big Pharma dissed the doubters, ruining a few careers and producing a lot of very dodgy statistics to convince us that nice Mr. Blair was right when he told parents there was nothing to worry about and the reason he and Cherie were not up for having baby Leo treated with the jab were nothing to do with doubts over its safety.
The MMR scandal resurfaced this week as newly revealed figures showed that since the introduction of MMR the proportion of children affected by autism has risen to one in sixty.
Well the case that MMR vaccine did not contribute to autism was never convincingly made, we were fobbed off with “well you can’t actually PROVE beyond doubt that it is harmful” rather than the more ethical but less cost effective “we can’t prove beyond doubts it isn’t harmful so we will stop using it until we are certain.” Imagine the furore from the anti – smoking lobby if that kind of logic had been used to block the smoking ban. The fact is nobody can prove for certain smoking does cause lung cancer because many people particularly in France and the Mediterranean countries smoke all their lives and live beyond average age. There are very serious grounds to think smoking is harmful though and there are equal grounds for suspecting the MMR vaccine is not as safe as something being used on young children who cannot make their own choices ought to be.
Even those subversive lefties at The Guardian were taken in by the pro MMR spin, their correspondent Ben (Bung-boy) Goldacre using a weekly column to browbeat poor Gillian McKieth for her whacky but harmless theories. Ben must have become very rich on the backhanders he received from Big Pharma for using Bad Science of his own to discredit the Bad Science of the alternative health industry but his strongest venom has been reseved for those who question the efficacy of the MMR vaccine.
Now I cannot say the MMR vaccine causes autism, though its promoters will claim that is exactly what I am suggesting, but there is enough evidence to warrant an independent judicial enquiry. The statistics can be manipulated to support the government and Big Pharma case, but as long as children keep developing symptoms soon after the treatment we must keep asking the difficult questions.

63 thoughts on “The Scandal That Will Not Go Away

  1. do enquiries ever solve anything? they seem to leave more questions unanswered. i think parents must just make informed choices. if they feel skeptical, they shouldnt let anyone//spin//then into getting their kids jabbed

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    1. its not a question of spinning them into submission, people are being bullied. Inquiries do leave questions but while there are questions that cannot be answered it shows doubts are jystified.

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  2. The cause of autistic spectrum disorders is not yet clear. Genetics play an important role, and researchers are examining a number of chromosome sites that could be implicated, especially on chromosomes 7 and 15 (the genes involved have yet to be identified but may include the HOXA1 gene, which is active in the brain stem only during development, when the first neurons are forming in the embryo).

    It’s likely that autism occurs when a small number of genes interact in a specific way, possibly linked to some external event or factor.

    So what if ANY strong medical action taken on a specific day acts as a trigger to bring on autism in that child? It may not be the MMR, but simply that a vaccination then happens to be a coincidental trigger.

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    1. Absolutely, but while there is doubt we must have reservations about MMR.
      I am sure the key to all these things is susceptibility and so when genetic evidence can establish couples whose children are at risk then those children can be excluded from the program.

      The fact that the rate of autism in children has almost doubled since the vaccine was introduced is a very big coincidence. Other factors such as better diagnosis obviously account for some of the increase and genes are important.

      There is a huge rate of autism in Silicon Valley, California and of course a lot of people whose skills are very logic / maths oriented. This is a very localised cluster. It does not imply that anyone with a maths degree will have autistic children but it does suggest the children of such people are more likely to develop an autisic disorder.

      These issues are often too vague to be defined properly, let alone resolved.

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      1. OK, then the emphasis should be on the genetic suitability for a child to have any sort of triggering event during the critical time span, not a blanked dissing of MMR which saves many children from such dangerous diseases.

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  3. But then you have to define what is a triggering event. The point about MMR is not that it triggers autism in all children but that a small but significant number develop Autism symptoms soon after having the vaccine.

    “Triggering event” is the kind of vague and meaningless phrase beloved of government statisticians tasked with spinning dodgy research based on false parameters. Everybody who gets cancer will have taken a walk at some time, is going for a walk the triggering event.

    Cast you mind back to the height of the AIDS hysteria. Government information was designed to give the impression that people would get AIDS if they had a lot of partners. It was a lie of course, the risk was related to the law of probabilities. The more partners one had, the greater the risk of encountering the one that could pass on the infection. SO the trigger5ng event is not having sex, nor even having sex with the infected partner (onward infection is not certain) but the passing of the virus into the bloodstream.

    The same false arguments were used in the smoking debate. Some people can smoke twenty a day and live a long, healthy life. Others die in middle age of lung cancer or another smoking related problem. They key again is susceptibility. People are smart enough to know that and also smart enough to know we all die of something so they continue to ignore the evidence. Many people know traffic fumes are more harmful than tobacco smoke, but while the government is in the pocket of Big Oil there will be no public investment in viable clean transport systems. Look how deftly the application to block Manchesters extension to the Metrolink Tramway was blocked and other tramway schemes in cities with congestion problems were just taken off the agenda.

    And MMR does not save many children from dangerous diseases, that is an official lie, the three vaccines do the same job very well when given singly. MMR saves pennies for the government and makes big profits for Big Pharma. Which is what its really all about.

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  4. hang on, since the wakefield scare, MMR vaccination has fallen signifincantly but autism diagnosis has continued to rise. If i was being all sciencey id have to conclude that MMR reduced autism, but all the evidence, literally hundreds of non conspiratorial comparative population studies from independent sicentists show theres no link whatsoever. Consider the possibility that the tragic consequences of falling vaccination rate (children dying in large numbers) might be a reasonable motiation for people to legitlamtely critique the naysayers.

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    1. Firstly Steve, though some parents have refused MMR it is still given to a vast majority of children.
      Secondly, children are not dying in large numbes due to lack of MMR, a small number of children have caught Measles, Mumps and Rubella, how many of those have died is not reported.
      And no child needs to tackle life unvaccinated. Prior to MMR there were single vaccines for all these childhood diseases. There were no no issues about any of them.

      The government have refused to give parents the choice.

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  5. hang on, since the wakefield scare, MMR vaccination has fallen signifincantly but autism diagnosis has continued to rise. If i was being all sciencey id have to conclude that MMR reduced autism, but all the evidence, literally hundreds of non conspiratorial comparative population studies from independent sicentists show theres no link whatsoever. Consider the possibility that the tragic consequences of falling vaccination rate (children dying in large numbers) might be a reasonable motiation for people to legitlamtely critique the naysayers.

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  6. “When considering questions like this I ask myself “who benefits” and if it is the government and big business then I am automatically suspicious.”

    well, in this case, Andrew Wakefield (allegedly? or proven, I can’t remember which) benefitted from legal aid money because he asserted a link with MMR. So maybe its worth being suspicious of him too.

    Japan withdrew MMR in 1993 (I think?)- possibly for a different reason than the autism scare. Japanese autism rates follow the same trend as the rest of the world.

    How would “big pharma” make less money by selling 3 vaccines instead of one?

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    1. I am not a defender of Wakefield but by attacking him the vested interests behind MMR deflected attention from the real issues.

      How would big Pharma maker more from selling one vaccine rather than three. Easy, they get to renegotiate the contract with a more business friendly regime at the Department of Health.

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  7. So, you have the gall to describe yourself as Machiavelli who ‘was simply a realist who saw the world around him as it was’?

    And yet you willingly trot out the most ridiculous ad hominem and non-science based canards at the drop of an opinion?

    I am parent to an autistic 7 year old girl. The MMR did not cause her autism. MMR has not caused/triggered/etc anyone’s autism. If you believe that there is enough evidence for a judicial enquiry then step up and present it here.

    For myself, I’ll step up and show you the court transcripts from Stephen Bustin and Nick Chadwick in the recent US Autism Omnibus hearings.

    Stephen Bustin is the man who quite literally wrote the book on PCR – the technique used by the lab Wakefield used to get his results. Bustin spent over 1,000 hours in that lab examining it. His findings include:

    What I immediately observed was that they had forgotten to do the RT step…….If you detect a target that is apparently measles virus in the absence of an RT step by definition it can’t be measles virus because it has to be DNA. It’s a very simple concept. At least it is to me. It’s not to everyone else……[b]ecause measles virus doesn’t exist as a DNA molecule in nature, they cannot be detecting measles virus….

    Is that clear enough for you? Bustin isn’t ‘establishment’ – he’s a scientist.

    Now, here’s Nick Chadwick’s testimony. Chadwick worked alongside Wakefield when Wakefield was writing his original paper:

    Q Okay. Did you personally test the gut biopsy samples for measles RNA?
    A Yes.

    Q What tests did you perform?
    A A PCR test, a polymerase chain reaction.

    Q What results did you receive from the gut biopsy materials for measles RNA?
    A They were all negative.

    Q They were always negative?
    A Yes. There were a few cases of false positive results, which I used a method to see whether they were real positive results or false positive, and in every case they turned out to be false positive results. Essentially all the samples tested were negative.

    …….

    Q So you personally tested while you were in Dr. Wakefield’s lab gut biopsy material, CSF and PBMCs?
    A Yes, that’s right.

    Q And all the results were either negative, or if they were positive it always turned out that they were false positives?
    A Yes, that’s correct.

    Q Did you inform Dr. Wakefield of the negative results?
    A Yes. Yes.

    So, not only was Wakefield wrong – he knew he was wrong. And he went ahead anyway.

    You might also be interested in a story in todays Times regarding the Observer debacle you refer to:

    The draft report was leaked a week ahead of their GMC appearance. Baron-Cohen puts it like this: “We think it [the report] has been used. They’ve picked out the one figure that looks most alarmist.” Cambridge University is now trying to hunt down the source of the leak.

    So, what are the facts on autism? Does the one-in-58 figure hold up? Baron-Cohen says their study of Cambridgeshire children, which has been running for five years, comes out with a range of figures from one in 58, to one in 200, depending on various factors. The draft report, he says, “is as accurate as jottings in a notebook”. He adds that the data is with public health officials, who are crunching the numbers.

    …………

    [the methodology used]…does not provide a diagnosis and is known to result in a high number of false positives. Around half the children flagged up by CAST as possibly having autism turn out not to.

    Those are the words of Professor Baron-Cohen, the study’s lead author.

    Do you know what I’m getting really tired of Mr Little Nicky Machiavelli? People who claim to be ‘real’ and ‘asking the hard questions’ when really they are simply airing their own belief systems without looking at actual evidence.

    Autistic people such as my daughter don’t need this continual association with illness. Its difficult enough as it is trying to de-stigmatise society as to the nature of autism. Its difficult enough trying to advocate for money to go towards decent, helpful research instead of this continual vaccine associated blackhole of quackery. Please, educate yourself before sounding off.

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    1. I am not supporting Wakefield, I am simply refusing to be deflected by the eyewas of smug, self satisfied medical scientists who delude themselves they are smarter than anybody else.

      You obviously have issues about your daughter’s autism. I sympathise, but is suppressing debate on this issue going to help?

      And what is that nonsense about DNA and measles virus? DNA is DNA and a virus is a virus. Please educate yourself and control your emotions before replying to my posts.

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      1. Is it possible that you are defending a theory that you know nothing about? Good God man.

        Seems I’ll have to spell it out for you.

        The reason that people think the MMR ’causes’ autism is that they think measles virus gets lodged in the gut and then travels to the brain. They say that measles virus comes from the measles component of the MMR.

        Hopefully that’s clear to you. Hopefully you can also see the relevance of ‘that nonsense’ about DNA and measles virus.

        Its not a question of suppressing debate or choosing to read your blog. I have to deal on a daily basis with the fallout from people who do read blogs like yours and then think they are informed on the subject. Since it is obvious that you are not informed about the subject, how can they possibly be?

        This stupidity has been dragging on for 10 years now. No decent evidence or proof has been brought to the table and it never will. At some point, for the dignity of autistic people like my daughter, we need to accept the blindingly obvious and move on.

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      2. Kev,
        As I said to Alun, below,in my original post I did not write about Wakefield, Measles, DNA etc. I wrote a logical argument about cause and effect. You seem to be suggesting that those of us who question the MMR issue are in some way responsible for your daughter’s autism. That is irrational.
        As I said I sympathise with your predicament but please stop ascribing to me things I have not written. Any reply to this comment should be on the topic of cause and effect

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      3. The nonsense about DNA and the measles virus isn’t nonsense at all. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) repeatedly amplifies a fragment of DNA until you have a large enough quantity to measure. Primers are used to ensure a specific region of DNA is amplified, ensuring that the only product yielded is, in the case we’re discussing, specific to the measles virus. If no product is detected, no measles virus was present.

        However, the measles virus uses RNA, not DNA, to store its genome. RNA can not be used for the PCR reaction as the enzyme used in PCR is specific for DNA. To use RNA in a PCR reaction it must be first ‘reverse transcribed’ into DNA which can then be used for the PCR. Without performing reverse transcription (or RT for shorthand) it would be impossible to detect the measles virus by PCR.

        Essentially, the lab Wakefield used for results he based his conclusions on could not have measured what they say they measured. This is a severe compromise of their data, just one of many inconsistencies and faults that other people have taken the time to point out.

        I don’t think there’s any shame in admitting you don’t understand something and asking for clarification, but to dismiss someone as needing ‘education’ when it’s your own ignornace on display is somewhat suspect.

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      4. Alun, if you look at my original post you will find I said nothing about Wakefield, Measles, DNA or RNA.

        My whole point is we keep going through this process of justifying something only for more evidence suggesting it is unjustifiable.

        So there is no question of my admitting I don’t understand something I did not write about and never had any intention of writing about. I wrote about cause and effect and I stand by what I said.

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      5. Unfortunately, the only reason any of us are discussing this is because of Wakefield, so it seems only fair the name is mentioned in subsequent discussion. Your angle to the discussion appears to be that there is reasonable doubt, and that this reasonable doubt should be acted upon. The medical concensus is that there is no reasonable doubt, and the only doubt aired has been by a group of individuals who have been discredited repeatedly (hence why DNA, RNA and measles becomes an issue).

        I think I share the opinion with several people here that there is no need to fix something that’s not broken. There is no evidence that autism is caused by MMR, even though many peer-reviewed, non-pharma funded studies have directly looked for a link. There is no rationale to change the way children are vaccinated other than to calm public opinion – Public opinion that was formed by the real scandal, the way in which science is uncritically and sensationally reported in the media.

        The argument that we can never prove a link is a poor one, because it suggests that any two sets of observable facts can be linked together and used as leverage to argue change. This is obviously a fallacy, cause and effect need to be proven and not just correlated. There is substantially toxicological data available on the myriad of compounds present in tobacco smoke, for example, and much is known of their potential to cause carcinogenic changes in cells and animals. There is evidence, quantifiable, measurable evidence that tobacco smoke is carcinogenic. When we talk about the effects in humans it’s phrased as a ‘risk’ of lung cancer, which in general parlance suggests a mere possibility (much as ‘theory’ suggest ‘hunch’). There is no doubt that smoking increases an individual’s risk of lung cancer but, as you point out, that doesn’t mean our hypothetical individual will. Broaden that to a whole population and you’ll see the effect, more smokers with lung cancer than non-smokers. Your argument only works when we focus on that individual, their own personal risk. If they dodge the bullet, someone else isn’t so lucky.

        Just to reiterate, there is unequivocally no evidence to support a causal link between MMR and autism. There’s no reason to change to a more expensive system of single immunisations and the associated decrease in compliance that would no doubt cause. What we should be thinking about is how the media has forced us to this point, where we need to discuss whether the science has any relevance in what should be a purely scientific decision.

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      6. Considering how in your initial statement you conclude that the MMR injection, or rather vacination, has a possible ause despite eevry peice of evidence avalable refutes this claim is one reason i suspect many persons are mentioning Wakefield, as it would appears he is your primary source of evidence.

        Having actually read Mr Wakefields study and reviewed all the evidence from doctors involved in this study, i can conclude just one thing, the actual results disproved the mans hypothosis, which if he were a good scientist he would formed the obviois conclusion, and started a new study, but he didn’t, instead as was pointed out above he ignored these results and continued, and a sa direct result immunisation within the U.K. has fallen by 8%, from 92% uptake to 84% uptake, which is insufficient to protect the society as a whole.

        So considering that Wakefields evidence is almost exclusively disproved by even the colleges he performed the study with we should just ignore his work, however even today people still take his word and good and believe this rubbish.

        So should we now examine the other evidence available, consider the population studies conducted across the globe, every single one will give us the same information, that autism is increasing, figures given vary greatly, for instance i live in a part of London where one child in twenty has an ASD, yet my sister lives in a part of America where only one in 300 have autism, so large scale population studies must be used, and from these we can conclude that autism numbers are increasing, at the same rate regardless of he use of the MMR.

        Every study i have read, whether in a peer review journal or not, has either been so badly conducted, one actually had no controll group of any kind and then drew comparisons between autisrtic children and non autistic children, or the study has no direct conclusion, to date no credible evidence exists to suggest that MMR causes autism, and the reactions and side effects which can come from the MMR are vomiting, fever and many other symptoms, all of which are listed as posible side effects to the anti-biotics i have taken for the past three days, slightly more severe and they last a little longer (about 1-2 weeks on average) sure they’re not nice, but hardly as bad as many would make them sound.

        Now i’ve said my piece like most internet posts i expect to be attacked, firstly many will be thinking i have no idea what these people who have autistic children go through, and they would be wrong, i have a severely autistic son, secondly that i have no formal qualification, which is true, although i do know how to understand the evidence, but consider the man who created the cure for ALD didn’t have a degree and was considered the best mind in the field.

        Or like most i will be attacked by the author of the blog, who considers himself to be well balenced on the matter yet ignors the evidence given to him.

        So in summing up there is no evidence to suggest the MMRcauses autism. Likewise there is no evidence to show the MMR is dangerous.

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    2. Kev, explain this:
      “Do you know what I’m getting really tired of Mr Little Nicky Machiavelli?”

      Am I holding a gun to your head and making you read bthe blog Kev? Am I giving you chinese burns? Am I threatening to make you eat you eat snot pies?

      If you don’t like Machievelli blog, don’t effing read it. That should be simple enough even for you.

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    1. No Mark, it isn’t libel. Ben Gioldacre would have to be a real person for it to be libel.

      I used to be a management consultant until something that medical science said could not possibly happen did actually happen and to be, leaving me paralysed on my left side.

      Then the medics told my family I had no prospect of significant recovery and would probably not live more than a year. Ten years later I am still partially paralysed but I manage to get around, have a good quality of life and expect to live for many years.

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  8. You said “as long as children keep developing symptoms soon after the treatment we must keep asking the difficult questions” – I have a question or two regarding this point. If the MMR jab is given to children aged x years and autism tends to become apparent when children reach x years of age (and the children in question are therefore diagnosed at roughly this point in time), would it not be true to say that there is a correlation between the time of the MMR jab and the onset of autism but that this does not demonstrate causation?
    Further – if the Japanese have banned the MMR jab and then seen a subsequent increase in rates of autism then doesn’t this suggest that the MMR jab is not a causative factor in autism? It’s worth taking a look at the following if you’re interested: http://www.jr2.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/booth/Vaccines/noMMR.html

    And finally (like Columbo) I have just one last question:
    “There are very serious grounds to think smoking is harmful though and there are equal grounds for suspecting the MMR vaccine is not as safe as something being used on young children who cannot make their own choices ought to be” – this seems to imply that the evidence showing a link between MMR and autism is as strong as the evidence collected by epidemiologists and medical statisticians such as Doll and Bradford-Hill that linked smoking with lung cancer. Please can you clarify whether this was your intention when you wrote the above?

    Regards,
    James.

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    1. I imply nothing. What I wrote is quite clear, what you infer is your business.

      Look, nobody can ever PROVE that smoking causes Lung Cancer because we are all unavoidably exposed to other possible causes in the course of our lives. Nobody can prove the existence or non existence of God.

      Nobody can prove that CO2 pollution is responsible for climate change, nor that climate change is responsible for drought, floods, other extreme weather catastrophes.

      So because these things cannot be proved, do we take that as proff there is no link?

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  9. The general thrust of this piece appears to be, ‘The MMR vaccination could be unsafe, lets stop giving it and find out’. Which sounds reasonable until you consider the wider case, namely the neccessity of wide scale early vaccination. So we stop giving the MMR vacciantion for a while, maybe some kids dont get autism, but definately a lot of kids are going to get measles, orchitis, rubella etc. Using as much evidence as you have above I think the case is clear.

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  10. Hi Ian,
    I admire your skepticism, but I’m afraid that in this case it seems slightly misplaced. Your post is, however, a nice object lesson in logical fallacy and how not to debate (I presume that you’re a non-scientist and so that this is because of ignorance rather than malice).

    If you’ll indulge me…

    And do you remember how the Government and Big Pharma dissed the doubters

    Association fallacy. Could be formulated: The government/ big pharma supports MMR. The government/ big pharma is inherently evil. Therefore MMR must be bad. The same argument could be used to “prove” that painting with watercolours is evil because Hitler painted with watercolours.

    producing a lot of very dodgy statistics to convince us that nice Mr. Blair was right when he told parents there was nothing to worry about

    You assert that there are “a lot of dodgy statistics”, but give no evidence. Have you read the papers yourself? If so, some detail from your analysis would be welcome. If not, who has?

    The MMR scandal resurfaced this week as newly revealed figures showed that since the introduction of MMR the proportion of children affected by autism has risen to one in sixty.

    The problems with this are delt with by a commenter above. Figures taken from epidemiological studies before they are properly analysed are next to useless.

    Well the case that MMR vaccine did not contribute to autism was never convincingly made, we were fobbed off with “well you can’t actually PROVE beyond doubt that it is harmful”

    Straw man argument. Those in favour of MMR generally argue that there is no convincing evidence that it is harmful, which is quite different.

    There are very serious grounds to think smoking is harmful though and there are equal grounds for suspecting the MMR vaccine is not as safe as something being used on young children who cannot make their own choices ought to be.

    False assertion. There is extremely good evidence that smoking is associated with all sorts of health problems (A quick Pubmed search for “Smoking AND Lung Cancer” finds this recent study- Cigarette smoking and risk of lung cancer in korean men: the seoul male cancer cohort study. J Korean Med Sci. 2007 Jun;22(3):508-12. ) but, as far as I am aware, no evidence of an association between MMR and autism- I’m happy to be corrected if you can provide me with a reference.

    Ben (Bung-boy) Goldacre … must have become very rich on the backhanders he received from Big Pharma for using Bad Science of his own to discredit the Bad Science of the alternative health industry but his strongest venom has been reseved for those who question the efficacy of the MMR vaccine.

    Ad hominem. Possibly defamatory. I haven’t heard of anyone questioning the efficacy of MMR, only its safety profile.

    there is enough evidence to warrant an independent judicial enquiry.

    What is the evidence?

    as long as children keep developing symptoms soon after the treatment we must keep asking the difficult questions.

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc. The wikipedia page on this explains it much better than I can.

    COI: Doctor involved in clinical research (epidemiology, not drug trials). I have never payment from a drug company and my research is funded by an independent charitable organisation. I am not involved in the care of children and so have no professionl interest in this issue. I live in city where the mjor employer is “Big Oil”.

    P.S. Apologies for the length, and if my attempts at HTML have failed.

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    1. Bob,
      Despite your link to a Wikipedia page explaining a simple Latin phrase being patronising (“correlation does not prove causation is NOT proof of non causation: I notice the wikipedia page left that bit out.) I quite enjoyed your response. I have dealt with most of your points in earlier comments but I will say that what concerns me about medical science as opposed to other sciences including the one I worked in is the ability of medical scientists to be totally blind to empirical evidence. If something keeps happening then it can’t be impossible is the reality yet all the arguments supporting the safety of MMR are based on “The statistics say it can’t be happening therefore it isn’t happening.”
      I was a victim of this particlular form of medical arrogance ten years ago. The sodium level in my blood could not be increasing if, as I claimed, I had a low salt intake (this was not a health thing on my part, I simply destest salty food.)so my problem would be solved if I cut down on salt. After a stroke and five months in hospital the medics finally allowed themselves to be convinced I was telling the truth and something odd was going on. Though a smallish man I had developed Desperate Dan’s adrenal glands (reason not known, probably stress related) and this caused a hormone imbalance which eventually turned my blood to something near the consistency of ketchup.
      My recovery over ten years has shown many other instances of medical impossibles being just plain wrong. I don’t believe in miracles and divine intervention so I think it must be that my arrogance and Bloody Mindedness has enabled me to realise potential for recovery that doctors assume in beyond human capacity.
      So you see I have reason for being sceptical of what goes on in laboratories under controlled conditions, all that matters is what happens in the real world.

      And in the real world, as an Information Technology consultant, I was involved a number of projects with “Big Pharma” and know the lengths to which they will go to cover up their failures.

      But thank you for not asserting as some eralier comments did that I am advocating an abandonment of vaccinations for childhood illness alltogether. The intensity of the pro – MMR propaganda has made people forget there is a prefectly safe alternative.

      BTW Dr. Baron – Cohen? Is he any relation to Ali G? That must do wonders for people’s confidence 🙂

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      1. Sorry if you found the link patronising. I didn’t do Latin at school, and had to use Wikipedia the first time I came across the phrase. I’m guilty of presuming that everyone else is as ignorant as I am.

        You confuse empirical with anecdotal. Whenever a scientist talks about evidence, they mean empirical evidence. Statistics are the language in which empirical evidence is expressed. Of course, the correct formulation of the phrase you attribute is probably “The statistics say it’s very unlikely to be happening, therefore it’s very unlikely to be happening”.

        I won’t comment on your personal anecdote, other than to sympathise and point out that it’s irrelevant (association fallacy again, I’m afraid).

        Drug trials, as run by drug companies are a far cry from epidemiological studies run by universities and governmental organisations. There’s no-one making a huge cash profit out of the MMR (aside, possibly, from some of the anti-MMR crowd), and in particular the researchers who are saying it is safe are not in the employ of either the company selling it or HMG. Disappointing as it may seem, there’s no vast conspiracy here. Or, if there is, my brown envelope stuffed with fivers seems to have been lost in the post.

        Prof Baron-Cohen is Sacha’s first cousin, according to teh interweb.

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      2. Empirical is based on observation, anecdotal is based on hearsay. I would have though English, French, Spanish etc. are the language in which our observations are recorded and expressed. I have a qualification in statistics and can tell you it it not a language.

        My anecdote illustrates the source of my mistrust of the senior medical professions. It shows we can no more rely on the opinion of doctors than that of investment advisers, but also that doctors will continue asserting they are right even when proved wrong a hundred times over.

        But I included the story as an illustration that medical convention can be as wrong as the media hysteria my critics here are obsessed with. Had I been writing a blog on the potential for recovery in stoke survivors I would have been a lot more impersonal. And so, as Little Nicky Machiavelli’s blog is for entertainment and not an academic journal I would say my inclusion of a little personal history showing how pompous doctors can be is justified. My use of colloquial English is justified in the same way. I don’t write my blogs for you personally. Currant Bun (rhyming slang) readers are welcome here too.

        As for association fallacy? How? I mearely use an anecdote for illustrative purposes. The fact that a doctor chose to lecture me based on his assumptions about my lifestyle rather than on evidence gained from examination and observation and that other doctors chose to rely on that unreliable evidence pains a picture for my readers of a profession with a rather cavalier attitude to their customers. Which we see repeatedly in other medical scandals and so, though not directly related to the case in point is very relevant to the way we react to medical opinion don’t you think? I’m not going to apologise for being a populist.

        What you are doing here is telling me I may only argue on your terms. Sorry but my blog, my rules.

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      3. It’s association fallacy because you use the fact that one group of doctors was incorrect about the cause of your electrolyte imbalance as proof of the fact that an entirely different group are likely to be wrong (or untruthful) about an unrelated issue. In terms of us deciding what the facts regarding the MMR and autism issue are, the source of your mistrust of doctors is useful only as a potential conflict of interest.

        I’m not going to apologise for being a populist.

        Regarding your own experience as being more important than the summarised experiences of hundreds of thousands of others sounds more like autocracy than populism

        Anecdotal evidence is also based on observation, it is just much more likely to be subject to bias. Your statement that paying attention to statistics summarising observational data is being “totally blind to empirical evidence” is patently incorrect. With your statistics qualification, you should know this and so I’m beginning to wonder whether you’re being deliberately misleading. I hope you will reassure me otherwise.

        What you are doing here is telling me I may only argue on your terms. Sorry but my blog, my rules.

        I was simply trying to advise your readers on the points in your argument that might appear convincing, but are in fact just smoke and mirrors.

        I urge you again to describe for us what is “dodgy” about the statistics that show a link between MMR and autism is unlikely. I’m sure a few of those who’ve replied here will be able to follow a fairly in-depth analysis.

        Or is it merely that the figures come from the medical establishment? If that is the case, your anecdote above should serve to warn you readers that your view can’t be taken as impartial as you have an axe to grind.

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  11. “but as long as children keep developing symptoms soon after the treatment we must keep asking the difficult questions”

    Yes, because as has been pointed out elsewhere, repeatedly, children are normally given these vaccines at about the same age that it becomes possible to diagnose autism. Most kids are vaccinated with MMR. Therefore, most kids who are diagnosed as autistic have been vaccinated with MMR. Are autistic children more likely to have been vaccinated? No.

    You seem to think that spouting these half-baked conspiracy theories makes you appear informed or insightful. But in fact it just makes you appear ignorant of the research in this field. And if you’d done your homework, you’d know that Ben Goldacre is rarely complimentary about ‘Big Pharma’.

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    1. I seem to remember right wing nutters accusing me of “spouting half baked conspiracy theories” when I wrote that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were unwinnable. And when I wrote that the housing market was being manipulated to increase indebtedness because that was the only way to maintain economic growth. And forty years ago when I was writing in the underground press of the late sixties that pollution would lead to catastrophic climate change.
      Funny how my half baked conspracy theories always turn out to be right.

      But in this case I have not even posited a theory, I have merely questioned the official line. Read my responses to comments above and you will learn why I always think it more necessary to question the bland assurances of medical science more closely than those of an investment adviser.

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  12. Hi Ian,
    Matt asked “How would “big pharma” make less money by selling 3 vaccines instead of one?”
    You answered “How would big Pharma maker more from selling one vaccine rather than three. Easy, they get to renegotiate the contract with a more business friendly regime at the Department of Health.”

    You answered a different question and you gave a bizarro answer. It’s daft on 3 counts:
    1. Is there the slightest evidence for that? No.
    2. Now that MMR is around, couldn’t the pharma companies negotiate for an even better contract for the 3 singles? Yes
    3. Big Pharma is not a single entity. It’s loads of different drugs companies fighting each other for a share of the market. If there was the slightest credible evidence of MMR causing autism (and I mean credible, not nonsense from a discredited doctor who took what amount to little more than bribes from big legal) then the drugs companies that don’t make MMR but make any one of the individual vaccines would be all over it like a rash and would use their huge financial muscle to lobby as hard as they could to get the single vaccines on the NHS.

    The conspiracy you’ve overlooked here is the lawyers who stand to make a fortune whether or not this comes off. Follow the money, that’s where it’ll all go.

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  13. I find it interesting that after people have politely and concisely demolished your entire position. You’re only response is to continue to trot out the same simple minded, self-aggrandizing horseshit.

    There have been numerous well-designed, independent studies that have shown no link between MMR and autism. Just because someone can say “MMR causes autism” with no evidence to back it up, does not shift the burden of proof onto the medical proffesion to prove absolutely that it does not.

    If I posit a link between wearing stripy jumpers and comparing yourself with Machiavelli, and being an ignorant tool. Does that shift the burden of proof to you to prove beyond doubt that you aren’t?

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    1. Horseshit? Excuse me? I merely raised questions. It is those you credit with “demolishing” my argument who constantly refer to the Wakefield and imply I support him when in fact my original post does not refer to him or his findings at all. My post actually acknowledges I cannot say whether MMR causes autism but comments on the fact that the scandal has arisen again.

      I am accused of hysteria and hypoerbole but it seems my critics are the ones jumping to conclusions, getting hysterical and spounting irrational horseshit.

      Which is exactly what you do in your final comment.

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  14. just to repond briefly re: Ben Goldacre

    He is a real preson. I have met him. He is real carbon based living breathing lifeform and human. He lives in modest flat near camden, london, with his girlfriend, also a real person.

    you really should read some of the stuff he has written about MMR before you lay into him. Its actually very clear. try here for example: http://www.badscience.net/?p=23
    or click on the MMR link on the left of the site for plenty more. He links to peer reviewed published research too. imagine!

    He is most certainly not in the pay of big pharma (as youd know if youd read his stuff). He earns shit-all as a working-all-hours junior doctor and is, in my experience a bit of a tight wad when it comes to getting the beers in. He is also one of the fiercest critics of big pharma corruption, publication bias, and bad science. again – check the bad science site and read it before making ad-hominem attacks. Check your facts before you pick your targets. you are badly off target this time (which is fine I suppose, everyone does it from time to time, although an apology and retraction might be in order), and your personal story – however terrible (you obviously have my sympathy) doesnt justify unfounded personal attacks, poor research or ill thought out sweeping generalisations.

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    1. Well I did actually do quite a lot of reasearc before getting into this one, not on Andrew Wakefield’s findings as my post is not about that issue but about the way this scandal keeps reapearing.

      And guess what, I found a lot of evidence of a link, but the findings suggest there is a link but it does involve the measles virus in the gut, which is what all my critics are ranting on about and what Ben Goldacre rants on about. Perhaps if he considered the whole of the evidence and not one specific point he might get the picture.

      I am frequently irritated by the bad science he uses to attack certain people, including Gillian McKieth. I’m not a fan, I think Gillian is whacko and there are enough metaphorical turds on TV without showing real ones. But it does no harm to tell people to eat more fruit and veg. There have always been quacks and there have always been people who fall for them.

      Conventional medicine however likes to clothe itself in a cloak of respectability while actually killing far more people.

      Like other critics of the post you use the phrase “ad hominem” yet it is the criticism that is emotional. My post was written in the usual knockabout style of Little Nicky Machiavelli.

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      1. I’d be very interested to hear the evidence you found for a link, plus the references for them. In the meantime, here’s an exhaustive, well annotated list to all the peer-reviewed scientific papers that you may find useful for future research: http://www.mmrthefacts.nhs.uk/library/timeline.php?t=showall

        I’ll leave the issue of credibility to you, as you’ll no doubt have your own personal opinion, but I’m sure it will be of interest.

        I too think it’s interesting how this scandal keeps reappearing, but again I view it more as a scandal of the media rather than of science.

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  15. I’m sorry I don’t know what to quote, I want to reply to everything you have said. You seem constantly to be throwing dust in the air, saying “oh you can’t prove anything”, “the statistics are manipulated”, “government agenda…”, “big pharma agenda…”. I guess that you are not a scientist. If this seems like an insinuation that you are therefore not qualified to give an opinion, it is only in part. Calm down and set out your concerns and beside them the facts.

    Your concerns: It seems to me that yours concerns stem from the fact that there seemed to be anecdotal evidence suggesting a correlation between receiving the MMR vaccine and the development of autistic traits. Hearing this there are immediately two questions that come to mind: (1) Is the number of children developing signs of autism higher than would be expected in those who have recently received the MMR vaccine? (2) Does this translate to a greater overall chance of developing autism?

    I don’t know the answers to these questions, I haven’t read the research. If the research suggests the answers to both these questions are “no” then you have to look at the research and look back at the anecdotes and ask yourself “is there some persuasive evidence in these anecdotes that this research fails to address”. Because while statistics tells no lies, studies can be poorly designed. While anecdotal evidence can show up things that a short-sighted study might fail to show, it is also much more likely to give a false impression: Seeming correlations can appear for all sorts of reasons, which is why we need well designed studies and clear analysees of the probabilities.

    From what I hear the weight of published opinion is against you. Yes, question it, make the checks that I suggest above but also ask of yourself “Is my belief in the dangers of MMR more than the sum of the evidence I have seen?”. It is all to easy to get attached to a theory or a cause, everyone does it but a good scientist is a hostage to the evidence and the mathematics.

    I feel very uncomfortable being a part of a back-slapping “all the scientists say MMR is OK” gang who dismiss everyone in their way, which is why rather than simply dismissing what you have said I have tried to invite you to reassess it and restate it in clearer terms.

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    1. My intention was not to get into the pro and anti issue but to ask why this controversy keeps arising after all the hysterical rantings of scientists against people who have questioned the MMR vaccine.

      It is the responses that rake up the old “measles virus in the gut” argument. Much more recently a much stronger link between the vaccine and the autism has been identified and hushed up. I can’t say much about that, it may damage a good friend’s career.

      But if you read the comments here you will see everybody drasgs up the old case but nobody mentions the the new evidence. Yet several of the people commenting are medical professionals and are surely aware of it.

      My concern is not with the medical details but with the fact we are not being told the truth.

      Thanks for your comment, I did expect the hysterical reaction but a few words from someone capable of being rational are welcome.

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  16. I have an autistic child.

    He is so profoundly autistic with global developmental delay and his condition is not the high functioning romantic notion people fondly regard as the Dustin Hoffman “rain man” charmer!

    So bad is his autistic condition he lives in a children’s home. I beat myself up about this and die a little everyday. He will never lead an independent life

    “I don’t believe that the MMR vaccine causes autism and I don’t believe that there are hidden environmental reasons for any rise in cases. For the moment, we should assume [any rise] is more to do with diagnostic practice.” Baron-Cohen says that health services are more geared towards early diagnosis, and there has been a broadening of the autism spectrum. Children that would have been thought eccentric or withdrawn a decade ago are now being given diagnoses such as Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism in which intellect is unimpaired but social interaction is compromised.”

    Most of people know nothing about Autism and they can consider themselves lucky that they do not.

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    1. Thanks for your intelligent and restrained comment. It is the kind of discussion I was hoping to prompt.
      I am accused of raking up the old Wakefield case but in fact I did not, I merely asked why the controversy keeps resurfacing. In the latest case it wasv apparently a leak from one of Prof. Baron Cohen’s team. Which suggests somebody thought something was being covered up.
      There is evidence of an environmental link, there is actually a court case based on this finding going on in the U.S. right now. I believe there are 1000 claimants and that the US government have ordered that the evidence cannot be made public. I am not sure what that means in US law.
      That said, there are many possible causes of autism that are nothing to do with the MMR vaccine or this new risk factor.

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    2. Christine,
      I was rather moved by your comment and so got back to my American friend Tasha who is also the mother of an autistic child. We are both sorry if our project has upseyt you at this early stage, but our intentions are good. Tash says please don’t beat yourself up, there was nothing you could have done differently that would be guaranteed to have changed things.
      People were misled about MMR but there are many other possible causes so nobody can know for certain what happened in a particular case.
      In the next few days I will bring to this blog information posted on a website funded by the American Government and showing details of the known links between MMR vaccine and autism. This site displays the findings of a number of independant studies and I think when people read it they will understand the extent of the covrer up in Britain.

      Some of my critics here have cited the Japanese experience in which it appears the increase in autism continued when they switched from triple to single vaccine. This is misleading because the evidence suggests the problem is in the manufacturing process not in any individual virus.

      It all really is very complex and so many lies have been told that we have lost sight of the objective, which is not to win an argument or to prove the detached, academic methos of some scientists are better than the real world, hands on approach of other, but to prevent as many children as possible being affected.

      Please understand my friend and I are trying to do what is right in a situation in which all attempts to debate this issue rationally are shouted down by the kind of egomaniacal bigots who are attacking me here.

      Best wishes
      Ian Thorpe (& Natasha Kaufman)

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      1. Dear Ian,

        I hope you won’t consider me an egomaniac or a bigot, if I raise a couple of further questions.

        you say:

        “Some of my critics here have cited the Japanese experience in which it appears the increase in autism continued when they switched from triple to single vaccine. This is misleading because the evidence suggests the problem is in the manufacturing process not in any individual virus.”

        Could you explain further? Earlier you mentioned that the three single vaccines are a safe alternative to mmr. Have you now found further information to cause you to change your mind? And does it only apply to vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella, or to all vaccinations, or to certains vaccine types?

        I am a parent of young boys, and I live in Japan, so I’d be interested to hear about this.

        I think its regrettable that some people have been less than civil in their responses to your blog. Of course, where the health of children is concerned, people do tend to get emotional.

        Earlier you mentioned that

        “When considering questions like this I ask myself “who benefits” and if it is the government and big business then I am automatically suspicious.”

        I wonder why you would only be suspicious if government and big business are involved. Could you consider the hypothesis that this “scandal that won’t go away” won’t go away because the people that keep raising this issue via the media are the ones with a vested interest in keeping the issue high profile. i.e. those people with legal/medical hearings coming up who want to maintain their status as “maverick outsider shunned by the establishment who just wants what’s best for the children”.

        I think its worth keeping in mind that not only governments or pharmaceutical companies are skilled in media manipulation.

        Apologies for the lengthy post. What I’m trying to say is, its worth being skeptical of comments from all parties, not just those where the apparent vested interests are obvious.

        Best wishes
        Matt

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      2. Matt,
        The aim of my original post was to stir up a little controversy to boost the visibility of a follow up post (or posts) in which I will make my evidence known by providing links to the sources.

        What I find significant is the number of people attacking me have used certain phrases that are rarely used in daily life but are favourites of the columnist I named. So I am deliberately being heavy handed in some of my responses.

        Now, I am advised on this subject by an American woman, mother of an autistic child and a British Senior Nurse with experience in autism nursing. I am just the Information Technology specialist who is pushing the right websites to the top of the Search Engine listings, and also the one with time to push the issue and nothing to lose.
        I can’t contact either of my friends today so to the best of my knowledge the single jabs in Britain and the US were safe because of a difference in the manufacturing method. The risk factor relates to a preservative substance used in the triple vaccine but not in the single versions except, it is claimed, in Japan.

        There are many causes of Autism and nobody can say a single action will guarantee safety. But there has been no problem with any other vaccine for childhood diseases as far as I know.

        I will bring here, in the next few days, a link to a U.S. Government funded website that will present you with the whole case. When you have read the information presented in a calm and level headed way by experts (rather than in a deliberately provocative way by a rabble rouser)you can decide for yourself if you feel safe to go ahead with MMR or need to seek further medical advice.

        Soory I can’t be more helpful right now.

        Best,
        Ian Thorpe

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      3. It is very odd that I have not received your responses to my comment. I was only aware that you had responded if I actively came to seek this post out.

        I thought as I had to supply my email address any “reply to comment” would automatically be in my inbox.

        Strange!

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      4. I would have thought so too Chistine. But then this is blog.co.uk and among us regulars its unpredictability is legendary.

        If you want to take up anything I sad “offline” click my photo to bring up a profile and then from the menu on the left send me a message.

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  17. Thanks for responding to my final question with a load of cack about how no-one can prove that God exists and some irrelevant comment about how “you can’t prove smoking causes lung cancer” – maybe not, but the epidemiological evidence clearly shows a link (approx 1% of non-smokers contract LC compared to approx 8% of smokers) and there is no similar correlation between rates of autism and the MMR jab (in fact, while the number of children diagnosed with autism has increased uptake of the MMR jab has decreased – which as others have pointed out makes it look as if the reverse is true [i.e. that the MMR vaccine protects against autism!]).

    {As an aside, you state that we are all unavoidably exposed to other possible causes of lung cancer in the course of our lives, which is why no-one can prove that smoking causes LC. Could you expand on that?}

    Or maybe you fancy having a crack at my other questions now?
    If the MMR jab is given to children aged x years and autism tends to become apparent when children reach x years of age (and the children in question are therefore diagnosed at roughly this point in time), would it not be true to say that there is a correlation between the time of the MMR jab and the onset of autism but that this does not demonstrate causation?
    Further – if the Japanese have banned the MMR jab and then seen a subsequent increase in rates of autism then doesn’t this suggest that the MMR jab is not a causative factor in autism? It’s worth taking a look at the following if you’re interested: http://www.jr2.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/booth/Vaccines/noMMR.html

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    1. Sorry James for the delay, you kind of got lost in the fallout.

      Firstly, the God thing. A little lateral thinking here I’m afraid. Most of my articulate critics have bbased their arguments on “correlation does not prove causation,” which nis fine as a philosophical tool but if it is taken as an absolute truth it becomes stupid. In the real world one event is often the direct result of another. So proof is the important thing. Again in the real world we may not find proof of a link between two events but still have reasonable grounds to suspect a link. Correlation does not prove causation but its a pretty good clue where to start looking for a cause.

      The smoking argument is the same. Nobody can PROVE that smoking causes lung cancer because there are other causes. Even so we have very good grounds to suspect there is a link and advise against smoking.

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  18. If we replaced MMR with three separate vaccinations, presumably that would be much like what Japan did a decade or so ago.

    It didn’t seem to work there, so why should we expect it to work here?

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  19. Scepticism is, in my opinion, one of the most valuable traits that any human can possess. However, the true sceptic actually analyses the evidence, all the evidence, or at least significant amounts from both sides of the argument, and then comes to a conclusion. Dismissing all evidence against a position, irrespective of its probity and especially in a case like the MMR one, where ANY evidence for a link to autism is NON existent and all the available evidence, of which there is plenty, actually points the other way, is not scepticism just cynicism.

    What I find interesting is that you take a swipe at Ben Goldacre for which there is no evidence whatsoever, apart that is, from the often shrill accusations of those who disagree with him, a bit like yours don’t you think. In fact, much like the MMR case, for which there is no evidence to support your position, you make accusations about him again without evidence, I presume simply on the basis that he has written about the scandal involving Wakefield and his cronies based on what you have read from MMR/Autism link supporters. In fact, as others have pointed out, if you had visited his site at all and bothered to read any of it, you would have found that he is the very opposite of all you accuse him of.

    Conversely. you don’t hold the same yardstick to Wakefield, who has been found guilty of a number of ethically questionable practises, just to mention his failure to declare a conflict of interest over his MMR/Autism claim as one example, as reported by Brian Deer http://briandeer.com/wakefield-deer.htm Have a look in depth at Deer’s site and you will see plenty about the MMR scandal to get in a justified high dudgeon about, but if you are honest after reading his site, none of will be against big pharma or Ben Goldacre. As for Wakefield, he is up in front of his governing body once again. This time for carrying out unethical practises on many of the children that were part of his research yet you don’t take him to task.

    As to your claim about big pharma wanting one vaccine for MMR, actually, there are two main reason that the NHS decided to go for MMR instead of the three separate injections it replaced. Firstly cost, both of the vaccine and the associated cost of only having to inject once instead of three times. Secondly, with three separate injections, there is a significant percentage of the population that doesn’t always follow through and get all three injections. Thus leading to the risk both to the individual who misses any of the injection as well as a possible danger to the herd immunity if sufficient didn’t follow through in significant numbers on one or more of the vaccines. Big pharma and even many doctors on the other hand, if there really were a conspiracy, might well favour three injections. As doctors could make a case to the NHS for more funding to cover the cost and big pharma would sell three times as much product, each with its own additional costs to us, the tax payer, and the needle makers would be happy as well , as they would treble sales to that market as well. Not much of a conspiracy, there is there, for if there was a big pharma conspiracy, one would expect them to be behind the one that gave them the greatest chance of all round bigger profits.

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    1. I’ll be happy to see Ben Goldacre in court but I suspect he knows if he challenges me he will end up with no money, no reputation and no career. Tis is exactly what he said after libelling Gillian McKeith. Pot, kettle etc.

      Ben presents himself as a high minded intellectual but follows the line of the British medical establishment in asserting there is no evidence of a link between MMR and Autism on the basis that Andrew Wakefield’s case was shot down. But the measles part of the jab was never the chief suspect – as Goldacre would know if he spent five minutes making diligent enquiries.

      An upcoming courtcase in the U.S. – a class action on behalf of 1000 families seeking compensation from the manufacturers on grounds that they continued to issue assurances long after the link had been proved, makes no reference to anything Goldacre has cited. In America and Canada where Doctors and drug companied are more easily brought to account the link issue is resolved, only the question of compensation is outstanding.

      This post was a preparation for a follow up and by so many people jumping in the way they have it helps me to achieve my goal. Thanks.

      Watch out for more on the subject from me including links to evidence that backs up everything I have said.

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  20. hi Nicky

    I was basically going to say what john says in the above post.

    there are conspiracys all over the place but MMR really isnt one. I am equally mystified as to your attack on Goldacre as he spends his spare time exposing conspiracy and explaoitation of precisely the kind that you appear to want to expose.

    you do, im afraid make a very specific attack on his reputation:

    ‘Ben (Bung-boy) Goldacre’
    ‘Ben must have become very rich on the backhanders he received from Big Pharma’

    those are serious accusations that not only lack any evidence (something you elsewhere, rightly, have little tolerence for) but if you look at his body of work, are the polar opposite of his entire mindset, analysis and writing. (you do the same thing for Mckeith – it is not her basic healthy eating message goldacre objects to but the bad science, pesudo science and ill informed scientific posturing and fraud she uses to do it: http://www.badscience.net/?cat=12 )

    Its fine to be sceptical. Its a good thing. But sceptcism does not immunise you from the need to consider evidence, or give you the right to make unfounded persoanl attacks. Its also good to be self critical, and healthy to admit a mistake and change your views on something. indeed that is the essence of science and progress.

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    1. Bung boy a serious allegation? Proof of the dangers of jumping to conclusions I’m afraid. I am sure a courtroom would degenerate into chaotic laughter when I revealed what it means.

      As for the other phrase, it is not an assertion but a conjecture which would not be libel.

      Look, the Blog is called Machiavelli, the clue is in the title, its a political blog. I might go very close to libel but I know where the line is.

      What has always concerned me about MMR is the political machinations behind the orchestrated effort to prevent debate. And that alone is grounds to suspect some people are hiding something.

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  21. You repeatedly make claims of never mentioning the wakefield drama, yet please read the start of your initial statment, you mention the initial contovesy, which was if i am not mistaken created by this very report, so quite frankly you did open the door to debate about this particularly bad study.

    Quite simply i don’t have much to add to the comments been made about this study, i think everyone agrees that the study was very very bad science, and should never hav been published and as i understand it the man will soon be disciplined for his actions.

    There are however many other theorised causes for auism, ranging from mercury in the atmosphere to bad diets to and act of god. As a scientist i’m not going to argue about the last point, but as to most of the others there is never any evidence of real value, at least none published, reading through a great deal of articles leads us to a single viable conclusion, currently there is no evidence to indicate a link between any of these theorised sources and autism, least of all the MMR.
    More research has been done into this particular suspected cause than any other, and from what has been published, and not later retracted, the evidence points to there being absolutely no evidence to indicate a link between the two.

    You claim of a study which will show a link, yet nothing more, if your not going to share the information why mention it?
    And you mention a class action law suit filled in america which has had the court records sealed so we have no way of examining the case.

    Two things where no debate can be held because no information exists, this would make some sceptical, especially me.

    As for your personal opinions about the medical industry, while i do understand them they have no bearing on the debate other than to disprove anyone who claims the industry is never wrong, it quite obviously is, however your isolated case and the one i personally am involved are simply not valid arguments against the establishment.

    I have no love of politicians, personally the desire to be one should ban you from ever being one, and not a single word they speak can be trusted without a polygraph machine and an experianced interigator, so what they say has little to do with my opinions, yet on this i do agree with them, no link between has been found between MMR and autism.

    As to the point about Ben Goldacre, i had the pleasure of meeting the man for a short time after a debate i viewed in London, and from what i have read he is one of the most prized scientists we have today, one who bases his opinion of the available facts and draws a unbiased conclusion, a true prize for our society, he also spends a great deal of time exposing the fraud perpetuated by some of the most dishonet people in the world, why would you attack a person who so clearly wants the same thing you do, he just understands the science better because hes been trained to.

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    1. Kenny,
      I find it increasingly strange that that people who claim to be scientists are all aware of the association fallacy argument which belongs to philosophy and pure science such as maths and logic but are apparently unaware of Occam’s Razor which is the proven methodology of applied sciences.

      So far on this issue Ben Goldacre has been “one of our most prized scientists,”
      “a hard working junior doctor, puting in long hours anjd earning peasnuts,”
      “a medical research worker”

      The man’s bloody unbelievable. Which is my case from the outset.

      The only point I make involving Wakefield is that the case has been used to divert debate from the more difficult (for the medical establishment) issues. This is hardly a comment on his work.

      Read my posts and comment, please do not be misled by other commenters who obviously have an agenda.

      Like

  22. Actually, as to the US, I imagine you are referring to the Omnibus hearings taking place in the Federal Claims Court. This handles cases involving compensation claims against the Federal government, such as for vaccine damage when a link is actually proven. Part of its remit, obviously, is to look at the scientific evidence to see if there is any actual link between a vaccine and any illness. In which case if you really believe that it is already proven I suggest you read the twelve days of transcripts, available as downloadable PDF files here;

    ftp://autism.uscfc.uscourts.gov/autism/index.html

    This case has only just finished taking evidence and is the first of three test cases (picked out of some 4800 claimants so as to set a precedent) to do with Autism/MMR/Thimerosol to see if there is actually a link between MMR/Thimerosol and autism. It will now take months to actually look at the evidence presented before it is likely to come to any decision. So I am not sure where you get the idea that it is already proven. In fact, if you actually bother to wade through all twelve days of transcripts, I think you will be rather disappointed, especially when you see the extremely poor showing put up by the ‘scientific’ experts supposed to be supporting a link between MR/Thimerosol and Autism. In fact. having read the transcripts myself, if I was any of the parents or children relying on the evidence presented by their experts, I would be more than slightly annoyed at their complete lack of professionalism and would be wondering if these really where the best I could get to support my case.

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  23. P.S. To save you the bother of having to read all the transcripts I’ll give you a link to an excerpt from the transcript of one of these ‘experts’ being questioned to give you a taste of the calibre of the pro MMR/Autism link ‘experts’ testimony.

    http://www.kevinleitch.co.uk/wp/?p=562

    By the way, if you think I am being very selective in giving you a particularly bad example, sorry no I am not. For if you do bother to wade through the transcripts you will see that the other pro MMR/Autism link experts are just as bad.

    Like

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