Popular Delusions VIII: Anti-Vaccine Hysteria

In all of human history, the invention of vaccination should be classed as one of our greatest medical triumphs. This innovation has saved millions of lives and prevented untold suffering and misery; it has brought many once-epidemic diseases under control, and eradicated others altogether. Tragically, our era has seen a dangerous new strain of pseudoscience emerge, one that threatens all of these gains.

The theory behind vaccines is conceptually simple. Human beings possess an exquisitely evolved immune system with a remarkable ability to learn from experience. For many diseases, once we’ve had them, we develop antibodies that “recognize” the particular pathogen that causes it, giving us lifelong protection against ever catching the same disease again. The innovation was to realize that we could administer killed or weakened germs – not enough to make the recipient sick, but sufficient to trigger the immune system and stimulate it to develop antibodies, so we can gain the immunity without ever having had the disease. In modern times, this technique has been refined by introducing not whole germs, but characteristic molecules that appear in a bacterium’s cell membrane or a virus’ protein coat. Done properly, this is sufficient to trigger the creation of antibodies.

For decades, the benefit of vaccines was unquestioned. But in the last few years, a vehement anti-vaccination movement has erupted. Hysterical, paranoid rhetoric about how doctors and pharmaceutical companies are “poisoning children” for the sake of profit are the stock in trade of this movement, which makes up in shrillness what it lacks in scientific support.

The anti-vaccine movement got its start in 1998, when a British researcher named Andrew Wakefield published a paper in the Lancet. This paper suggested that there was a link between childhood vaccination and autism, claiming that twelve (!) children who had received the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine showed developmental regression soon thereafter. (Ten of Wakefield’s twelve co-authors have subsequently retracted this interpretation, and it’s been reported that Wakefield himself was being paid by trial lawyers seeking to file a lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers. This conflict of interest had not been previously disclosed, and the Lancet‘s editor has said he would not have accepted the paper if he had known about it.)

Despite the collapse of its scientific claims, Wakefield’s paper caused a firestorm. Vaccination rates in the UK showed a significant drop soon afterward. Soon, the antivaccinationists had even identified a supposed causative agent: thimerosal, a preservative that was used in MMR and some other vaccines. The molecular structure of thimerosal contains an atom of mercury, and it was this that antivaccinationists labeled the culprit. Some went so far as to label autism a kind of mercury poisoning – an obvious falsehood for anyone who knows the symptoms of the two conditions.

In response to public fear, scientific bodies such as the CDC asked vaccine manufacturers to remove thimerosal from their products. Although this was an understandable effort to reassure people who were worried, it only added fuel to the fire. Leading antivaccinationists boldly predicted that, as thimerosal was phased out, we would see a dramatic drop in autism rates.

This did not happen. Even after thimerosal was completely removed from vaccines, autism rates continued to rise, confounding the antivaccinationists’ predictions. (This is probably due to better screening and a widening of the diagnostic criteria, rather than a real increase.) In addition, numerous large, well-run studies have failed to find any causal connection between vaccination and autism.

An evidence-based movement would have dwindled away by now, but the antivaccination movement is not based on evidence. It is a pseudoscientific movement based on irrational fear, on obstinate mistrust of the medical establishment, and on the cultish sense of us-vs.-them which the movement’s leaders have taken care to cultivate. The evidence weighing against thimerosal as a cause of autism has grown so overwhelming that even some antivaccinationists can no longer ignore it, but rather than change their position, many of them have simply shifted the cause of concern to conveniently undefined “toxins” (a common, meaningless buzzword of quack-medicine communities), and continue to rail against the medical establishment with equal fervor.

In some respects, vaccines are a victim of their own success: the terrible diseases they were invented to combat have been so effectively defeated that people have forgotten just how bad they were, and so they no longer fear the consequences of not vaccinating. But few of those diseases have been completely wiped out. Instead, they linger on the margins… and when a significant number of people in a community refuse vaccination, they can come back with a vengeance. In one community in Colorado, whooping cough has reemerged, with sometimes fatal results:

In 2000 it killed seventeen people in the United States, including two Colorado babies, both of whom were taken to the hospital too late. “It was very sad,” Tina Albertson, a pediatric resident who cared for one of the infants, told me. “She was a six-week-old girl with a sister and a brother, four and six. The family had chosen not to immunize, and the week she was born, her siblings both had whooping cough. When they’re real little, the babies don’t whoop—they just stop breathing. This little girl was septic by the time they got her here.”

And see also:

“It is a frightening illness to see the paroxysms of coughing, especially in very young children,” Clark said. “They can cough uncontrollably and turn blue and not be able to get a breath. And it’s all so concerning because it is so exquisitely transmissible.”

Worst of all, parents who choose not to vaccinate are putting not just their own families but other people at risk as well. Few vaccines are 100% effective; instead, vaccination as a public health strategy relies on “herd immunity”, the idea that an epidemic can never catch hold in a population of resistant individuals. But even a small number of unvaccinated people can serve as reservoirs of disease, providing a repeated source of exposure and increasing the chances that even people who are vaccinated will get sick. This form of pseudoscience is a particularly vivid illustration of the dangers of credulity.

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Steve Bowen

    I followed the Andrew Wakefield situation closely here as when it first became an issue my youngest was due for her MMR vaccination (needless to say she had it). Wakefield was supported in the media by parents of autistic children who were obviously desperate to find someone or something to blame for their kid’s condition. The apparent causal link was further re-inforced by the fact that signs of autism tend to appear around the same time that the MMR vaccine is given and the uncritical mind often assumes that because B followes A, A causes B.
    Another factor was the media’s reluctance to engage with the science. Science is difficult and can turn audiences off, human interest stories with child victims sell newspapers and airtime. Even as the results of worldwide meta-studies came in and the link between MMR and autism was disproved the media here still presented it as an even handed dispute between scientists, rather than one interest conflicted maverick vs a body of evidence.

  • soft_guy

    I heard that autism might be actually caused by allowing children under two to watch television, especially large doses of cartoons. The article showed that the rise in autism coincided with the rise in viewership of Nickelodeon. Since giving up television has more positive consequences than negative ones my family decided to eliminate tv when we had a new baby and try to make sure that baby Lucy interacts with people and toys, not tv or computers while she is little.

  • MisterDomino

    This graph came to mind as I read this post:

    http://www.venganza.org/piratesarecool4.gif

    It’s likely that most of you have already seen this, and obviously, a lack of pirates is not causing global warming, but I think that this is a clever way to demonstrate an important point.

    Correlation does NOT imply causation.

    I see this as another example of someone either grabbing for fame or wishing to shove their greedy hands into someone’s deep pockets at the expense of legitimate science.

  • Samuel Skinner

    Corralation only implies causation if all other relevant factors are held true. I’ve had to define terms like this out because I’m arguing with a guy on biblegeeks (blog name; he is the you need God to provide logic- evidence isn’t logically support- person). If any of you can help him see sanity, please give it a shot. As for the article, I think incidents like this will continue to happen as long as we have a scientifically (or actually) illeterate public and an “objective” media.

  • http://thechapel.wordpress.com the chaplain

    Thanks for another good post. I am alarmed by the anti-vaccine movement. Believe me, I distrust pharmaceutical companies as much as anyone else. In fact, I rarely take aspirin, let alone any stronger medications. Nevertheless, stronger resistance to disease, made possible in large part by appropriate vaccinations, is one of the main reasons that Americans live longer, generally healthier lives than they did previously. I truly hope that we don’t have to endure epidemics that could have been prevented before we come to our senses.

  • velkyn

    ah, I’ve seen some atheists beleving this nonsense too. I am of the opinion that parents so badly don’t want to think that their genes are screwed up and made their child what it is, so they’ll blame any possible outside event that “someone made them do”. I am also of the opinion that what would have been called mental retardation in past years has now been called autism because it is more PC and salves the parents’ insulted egos.

  • Marty

    Speaking of pirates, let’s not underplay the importance of the lawsuits against vaccine manufacturors in spreading this myth. A handful of personal injury attorneys stands to make truckloads of millions of dollars on this, of which they will give a tiny fraction to the families of kids with autism. Avast, me hearties!

  • Alex Weaver

    I heard that autism might be actually caused by allowing children under two to watch television, especially large doses of cartoons.

    It isn’t.

    I am of the opinion that parents so badly don’t want to think that their genes are screwed up and made their child what it is, so they’ll blame any possible outside event that “someone made them do”.

    Given that many parents who’ve Drunk The Kool-Aid on this seem to be more anguished about having vaccinated than the parents who accept that it’s genetic are about their genes, I doubt this is the main factor. I suspect it’s more a matter of clinging to anything that promises an answer, whether or not it can actually deliver.

    I am also of the opinion that what would have been called mental retardation in past years has now been called autism because it is more PC and salves the parents’ insulted egos.

    …….and what, exactly, is it about the symptoms of autism that you think supports that assertion?

  • Hypatia

    One historical note. You’ve said that the benefits of vaccination have long been unquestioned. There has been a long and ugly history of opposition to vaccination in the USA which has come from both religious and secular health organizations.
    Those in opposition to vaccination were as wrong then as they are now.

  • steve bowen

    There has been a long and ugly history of opposition to vaccination in the USA And in the UK, Jehovah’s Wtnesses in particular shun vaccination as well as the more pubicised examles of blood transfusion.
    However, it is not unreasonable in these profit driven times to question the motives of big pharma. There are examples of previously “normal” if extreme behaviours being categorised as diseases so that a drug becomes saleable. As ever the answers will come from rational enquiry and analysis of the data, not from apriory assumptions, conspiracy theories or dogma.

  • Betty

    Thank you for posting this excellent article. Having dealt with the anti-vaccine crowd personally, I’ve come to realize that they can be extremely scary. I initially was unsure on the entire matter, so I decided to do some of my own research. I went into it with an unbiased, open mind. I read books and articles from both sides, scoured the internet, spoke to many people, etc. What I found was that the anti-vaccine crowd doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Their arguments are flimsy at best, and despite the research that has been done to ensure safety, they are constantly coming up with a new, utterly contrived story. They can never explain real facts. They simply thrive on panic for some reason.

    Many of the most vocal (and somehow, often the most-trusted) anti-vaccine people are obviously mentally ill. In fact, I encountered one woman who had previously been a physician, but whose license was revoked. It seems that she just “went off the deep end,” so to speak. Apparently, in court, she actually intentionally defecated on herself (in speaking with her, she even confirmed that it was true and said she had “reasons” for doing it, to prove some kind of point). Clearly dangerous as a parent, her parental rights were taken from her. That’s very sad and everything, but it did need to happen. She blames “big pharma” for it, saying they’ve conspired to take her kid away and “torture” him because she knows the “truth.”

    The scary part of it? This woman is trusted by many, many people in the anti-vaccine community. She even has a clinic where she “treats” people, “curing” the effects of vaccines; having them sign extensive waivers that they are not part of some kind of conspiracy. People take their small children to this woman.

    It just baffles me.

  • http://www.theinfinityprogram.com Tanapangarap

    Ebonmuse–

    You said “eradicated others altogether”, indicating more than one epidemic disease that has been eradicated thanks to vaccination. I’m interesting to know if you know where I may view a list of the epidemic diseases that have been eradicated thanks to vaccination, because the only disease I’m aware of that’s been eradicated thanks to vaccination is small pox.

  • http://theperplexedobserver.blogspot.com TPO

    Great post! Skeptical Inquirer recently published an issue devoted to this topic. You can read one of the best articles at the url below.

    http://theperplexedobserver.blogspot.com/2008/01/anti-vaccination-movement.html

  • http://thereligiousatheist.com plonkee @ the religious atheist

    What is particularly bad about the MMR thing is that you need a relatively high immunisation rate to get herd immunity from measles, and of course a number of children cannot be vaccinated because they are too sick, or they are allergic to the vaccine. Measles can be an extremely serious illness – more so than is commonly perceived.

  • Karen

    I second those who comment that nontheists are often just as insane on the anti-vaccination bandwagon as the religious. The topic came up in my ex-fundamentalist support group and the conspiracy theories and distrust of medicine and science came out in spades. There’s obviously a big disconnect and a huge lack of trust between ordinary people and the medical and pharmaceutical establishment.

    People – parents and non-parents – started blaming vaccines and doctors and pharma for planting everything from attention deficit disorder to chronic fatigue syndrome! It’s gone far beyond just autism now. Vaccinations seem to have become the bogeyman of the hypochrondriac crowd. And of course the “real research” that proves them right has all been suppressed or ignored.

    I finally had to step in and put a stop to the conversation because it got so out-of-control and so far off-topic. But in the meantime, the anti-vaccination crowd far outnumbered those who were pointing to actual studies and dispassionate information about how there is no link to autism. I’ve been tempted to point to the most recent studies, all of which continue to confirm there’s no causal link, but I don’t even want to open that can of worms ever again. It was scary!

  • http://thegreenbelt.blogspot.com The Ridger

    Vaccination is “unnatural”. Babies dying isn’t. But most folks find reasoning beyond one step very hard.

    The case that drove it home to me occurred when I was in college, taking Animal Husbandry so it made an impression: a. DES is bad – boo! b. Feed lots give cattle DES – boo! c. DES must be stopped! d. DES is stopped – yay! … e. Beef becomes more expensive – WTF?

    Now, not arguing about DES (though I could), the fact is that nobody fed it to cows for the hell of it. If you’re going to make it harder, longer, and more expensive to get cattle to slaughter, then the price of beef is going to go up.

    And if you’re going to refuse to vaccinate, then somebody’s babies are going to die. I guess you just hope they’re not yours … if you even get that far in the argument.

  • DKrap

    This whole issue of vaccines reminds me of the breast implant issue. After years of study it has been proven that there has never been a problem with breast implants. Vaccines are the victim of the same mentality and the lack of education concerning true scientific studies. A correlation does not equal cause. In fact, both situations show no difference between those people that have received the medical care (vaccine or breast implant) than those who do not. The media needs to have real scientists make sure that the screamers do not get attention. If you were to pretend that the media were to report a fire in a theater because several people yelled “fire” over and over, this would be the same. There is no fire, it’s just that people keep yelling “fire” over and over. The yelling does not equal the reality.

  • MrBadAxe

    Hi, long time reader first time poster…

    The last few paragraphs of the article reminded me of a part of Hitchens’ God Is Not Great where he talks about how easily the “Herd Mentality” can be disrupted, as in the case of immunizing people against polio in the third world:

    In 2005 I learned of one outcome. In northern Nigeria–a country that had previously checked in as provisionally polio-free–a group of Islamic religious figures issued a ruling, or fatwa, that declared the polio vaccine to be a conspiracy by the United States (and, amazingly, the United Nations) against the Muslim faith. The drops were designed, said these mullahs, to sterilize nonbelievers. Their intention and effect was genocidal. Nobody was to swallow them, or administer them to infants. Within months, polio was back, and not just in northern Nigeria. Nigerian travelers and pilgrims had already taken it as far as Mecca, and spread it back to several other polio-free countries, including three African ones and also faraway Yemen.

  • RollingStone

    Soft_guy:
    You need to read MrDomino’s post about how correlation does not equal causation, because you seem to be buying into this theory yourself. “The article” that you read – and you did not specify where it came from or who wrote it, which is very important in determining whether or not you should believe what you read – is assuming that just because the popularity of Nickelodeon and the apparent rise of autism rates (which might simply be the result of increased diagnosis) have happened at about the same time, then one must be causing the other. This is a ridiculous assumption. The author of the article you read also made the error of somehow assuming that Nickelodeon has the only shows aimed at kids. The children who watch the cartoons on that particular channel now probably switched over from watching cartoons on other channels.
    Although I’m glad that you are limiting TV for your children, I think that you are doing it for the wrong reason. There is no evidence that autism is caused by TV, or, by extension, bad parents who let their kids watch too much of it. Although no one knows the exact cause of autism, the scientific evidence indicates that it is most likely a physical one – it isn’t anyone’s “fault.” TV and bad parenting are merely convenient scapegoats for people who are faced with the frustration of unanswered questions and go out looking for someone to blame.

  • Alex Weaver

    Additionally, there are numerous cases of autistic children who had never been exposed to TV in general or cartoons in particular prior to diagnosis, or even at all (why would cartoons be worse than other kinds of TV, anyway? Someone’s bias is showing….). Clearly television exposure is not causing all of the cases of autism; on what evidence (aside from the personal axes-to-grind of certain parents and activists) should we assume it causes any of them?

  • http://dominicself.co.uk Dominic Self

    Oh, I remember this well. (The conspiracy theories were especially odd: what possible motive would the government have for knowingly administering a dangerous vaccine? Especially since parents were clamouring for separate vaccines for each of the three viruses as an alternative, so it’s not as if drug companies would have lost out, and it would be the government paying for any potential medical care to autistic children!)

    It really spiralled out of control because the media saw it as a question of ‘balance’. There was quite a bit of soul-searching afterwards (see, for example, this BBC Report which reiterated “impartiality does not mean that the BBC should accord lone dissenters equivalence with the full weight of scientific opinion. Equal scrutiny – yes. Equal weight – no”.)

  • velkyn

    hello alex

    You asked “Given that many parents who’ve Drunk The Kool-Aid on this seem to be more anguished about having vaccinated than the parents who accept that it’s genetic are about their genes, I doubt this is the main factor. I suspect it’s more a matter of clinging to anything that promises an answer, whether or not it can actually deliver.”
    This doesn’t make much sense as a response to what I wrote. I was saying that those parents want an excuse. They want to blame vaccines rather than their genes. Of course they are more “anguished” about it. It is easier to be more “anguished” if you are just working from baseless assumptions rather than facts that can’t be budged with emotion.

    You also asked “…….and what, exactly, is it about the symptoms of autism that you think supports that assertion?”

    The symptoms of autism, and there are many claimed “symptoms”, are very similar to those “symptoms” that got kids put into “special ed” classes that I observed back in the 70′s and early 80′s. These kids were generally called “mentally retarded”. I have a friends who’s son has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. I knew plenty of kids like him and they were considered “slow” or in more severe cases (the gluten-free diet seems to be working for my friend’s son) “retarded”. It is not a difference of symptoms, it is a difference of what parents want to think. That gluten-free diet may have helped the kids decades ago like how keeping certain chemicals from those who have phenylketonuria.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    The symptoms of autism, and there are many claimed “symptoms”, are very similar to those “symptoms” that got kids put into “special ed” classes that I observed back in the 70′s and early 80′s.

    Yes, that’s very likely why the reported numbers of autistic children are rising: clusters of symptoms that were previously ignored, or that were once assigned to non-specific diagnoses such as mental retardation, are now recognized to be symptoms of autism. This is a good thing, since now we have a better idea of how to treat these children.

  • Alex Weaver

    The symptoms of autism, and there are many claimed “symptoms”, are very similar to those “symptoms” that got kids put into “special ed” classes that I observed back in the 70′s and early 80′s.

    So, what are the characteristic symptoms of autism, then (specifically, which symptoms are considered diagnostic of autism rather than related ASDs – do you even recognize the significance of that term – any of the psychotic disorders, or mental retardation)? Can you even list them?

    Want me to?

    While autism is accompanied by cognitive disability in some cases, it manifests in specific, if pervasive ways, primarily in terms of social functioning, which is quite distinct from, but easy for the ignorant to confuse with, general “slowness.” The fact that autistic symptoms are now recognized as a separate disorder from “mental retardation” is not a result of an effort to “make parents feel better”, it’s the result of the difference being recognized and that information being disseminated. Additionally, there is no concerted effort to label genuinely mentally retarded children “autistic.” Quite the opposite, actually: since autism can be successfully treated to varying degrees with various behavioral therapy approaches that teach the autistic child the skills and realizations they need to function in society in a way that they can understand – therapies that aren’t cheap – there is significant pressure from entities like school districts (who would be legally obligated to pay for them) to label autistic children “retarded” if they think they can get away with it, since there’s much less that can be done to help a retarded child and a correspondingly lower price tag. (The Folsom-Cordova Unified School District is notably unforgivable in this area).

  • Alex Weaver

    An addendum: I recently saw a psychiatrist for re-evaluation and was diagnosed with “Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified” (replacing the earlier misdiagnosis of cyclothymia). This is in spite of both the strong general resonance I’ve felt with the descriptions I’ve read of Asperger’s Syndrome, and the specific matching details. Previously I had been diagnosed with a variant of bipolar due to exhibiting symptoms of depression and a tendency to act excitedly, enthusiastically, and unwittingly very inappropriately in certain social situations (which was mistaken for a hypomanic state based on descriptions), simply ignoring my repeated observations that there was absolutely nothing cyclical or “phase-like” whatsoever about my peculiarities, and because of the psychiatrists I had seen summarily refusing to consider Asperger’s Syndrome when my mother suggested it. Now, even this psychiatrist has shied away from a diagnoses of Asperger’s despite acknowledging the ASD pattern-fitting that his predecessors ignored, essentially because I’m not as obviously hobbled in social interaction as some Asperger’s patients (I have taught myself to use gestures and some non-verbal cues reasonable appropriately, enough to come off as anxious/reserved/wooden rather than “screwy” in unfamiliar face-to-face social settings) and because the “narrow, focused interests” component was not as pronounced as it had been in other Asperger’s patients (or in my childhood, as my mother commented with genuine surprise at hearing about the diagnosis).

    Similarly, after my daughter was diagnosed with high-functioning autism by a psychiatrist specializing in the condition, her pediatrician at the time summarily “blew off” the diagnosis after observing, to paraphrase, that Joey did not display a complete and total lack of any affection or responsiveness whatsoever towards her mother. Needless to say, we found a different pediatrician afterward.

    I mention this because, while I’m aware that “the plural of anecdote is not data,” in my experience your impression is 180 degrees wrong. I’ve seen no evidence that ASDs are casually overdiagnosed, and plenty of evidence that many specialists seem to have a strong, even almost phobic, aversion of these specific diagnoses except in the most undeniably blatant cases.

  • http://wilybadger.wordpress.com Chris Swanson

    You know, I wrote something on my blog yesterday about this topic. To my surprise, people actually commented on it (rare). Of course the people who commented on it seemed to think I was quite naive on the issue.
    Interestingly enough, since it was World Autism Day (yet another feel-good thing to go along with the lights-out thing from a few days ago), CNN has been covering the issue to death. Apparently Jenny McCarthy has more knowledge on these things than doctors (at least that’s what Larry King would have us believe).

  • http://de-conversion.com The Apostate

    Any person who had the audacity to call another “delusional” in this situation, on either side, either does not have children or is simply an ass. It is one thing to be paranoid about the world around you, abusing children by not giving them vaccines; it is quite another, as in the case of the MMR vaccine and several others, to label caring and loving parents who are concerned for their child’s health as “delusional.”

    The fact is that in the case you describe above, their is little correlation between people who are generally “anti-vaccines” and those who are confused about the autism connection. Parents are doing everything they can to keep up with the studies, but different research centers in different countries are confusing the situation. I, for one, will not trust anything coming out of the American drug and pharmacy industry – not because I am a conspiracy theorist or a delusional troglodyte, but because I know where the money flows.

    It is one thing to try to inform and educate the public, it is quite another to lambast them for not being up to date with whatever the drug companies are now telling them or which ones they should be trusting.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    It is one thing to be paranoid about the world around you, abusing children by not giving them vaccines; it is quite another, as in the case of the MMR vaccine and several others, to label caring and loving parents who are concerned for their child’s health as “delusional.”

    Those two traits are completely orthogonal. Unfortunately, being deeply loving and concerned about a child’s health does not prevent parents from holding factually unfounded and deeply dangerous false beliefs about the best way to care for them – whether in this case, in the case of parents who forsake all medicine in favor of prayer, or otherwise. I do not consider “delusion” to be too strong a word for such beliefs.

  • barb

    The current vaccine/autism research has been like this obese lady.

    She eats pies, cakes, cookies, ice cream, and candies. She give us eating peanut-butter fudge. Then she moans and groans. She has proven over and over and over again every time that she gives up one food that sweets do not cause obesity. She gave up the fudge for a year and didn’t lose an ounce!

    Dr. Andrew Moulden has done the research that connects vaccines and autism. You can watch his videos on youtube or his website brainguardmd. All vaccines cause ministrokes.

    Also many autistic children have severe food allergies which is also caused by vaccinations! There is a new book out “The History of the Peanut Allergy Epidemic” by Heather Fraser. She found some interesting facts:

    The WHO and FDA decided that refined peanut oil is GRAS and does not have to be listed on the package insert of pharmaceuticals. If you want to know if peanut oil is an ingredient in a vaccine, you are not entitled to know because it is a protected trade secret.

    Peanut allergy is epidemic among our vaccinated children. 1 in 125 have a SEVERE peanut allergy which means they could die if they smell peanuts.

    I want full disclosure of all ingredients on all pharmaceutical products… how about you?

  • jemand

    oh yay fat-hate and antiscience and stupidity in the same post!

  • Paul

    thimerosal, a preservative that was used in MMR and some other vaccines.

    Thimerosal was never used in MMR. I realize this is a necro, but it’s worth noting. This does not stop delusional people making the claim that thimerosol in vaccines causes autism, and fingering the MMR at the same time. Of course, most in the movement have moved away from thimerosol in recent months and now talk more about “toxins” and “aborted fetuses” in vaccines. But some do still mention thimerosol and the MMR.

    Dr. Andrew Moulden has done the research that connects vaccines and autism. You can watch his videos on youtube or his website brainguardmd.

    Science is done in journals, not on Youtube. If this doctor’s research followed any sort of scientific rigor, it should be publishable far and wide. And if it did not, it is worthless. I’d also love to see how he explains autistic children that received no vaccinations, such as Kim Stagliano’s later spawn (she did not vaccinate because she blamed her earlier childrens’ autism on vaccinations. Much good it did.).

    Peanut allergy is epidemic among our vaccinated children. 1 in 125 have a SEVERE peanut allergy which means they could die if they smell peanuts.

    How is this relevant? Peanut allergy is “epidemic” among unvaccinated children as well. Can you seriously point to papers linking vaccination to allergies? Reminder: correlation is not causation. Otherwise, we could just as easily argue that video games cause peanut allergy or autism.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Peanut allergy is epidemic among our vaccinated children. 1 in 125 have a SEVERE peanut allergy which means they could die if they smell peanuts.

    Yes, and milk-drinking generally precedes heroin addiction. Your point?

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    Ice cream sales correlate with murder rates! Therefore, ice cream causes homicide.

    Am I doing it rite?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Science is done in journals, not on Youtube.

    Paul wins the thread for that comment. :)

  • Niklaus Pfirsig

    I have an autistic child, who turns 17 in Occtober. I have been studying autism research, and have taken part in genetic research along with my son for over 14 years. The problem with finding the cause of autism is simply that autism labels several developmental and regressive syndromes with similar symptoms.

    Some research which has been independent reproduced suggests that in some cases, autism is caused by an auto immune disorder. The susceptibility to this disorder is genetic, but the auto immunity is triggered by a combination of viral infections. Currently there are 4 vaccines that suppress the immune system, measles is one of them. in most people the measles vaccine works as expected, however, in those with the genetic marker, the available levels of specific complement immune components, which inhibit the production of auto antibodies, is lower than normal.

    Measles is a suspects, because of its immunosuppressive qualities, and for its known affinity for the 5ht5a seratonin receptors in the Purkinje cells, In the past few years, through dissection and analysis of brains of deceased autistic individuals common finding included atrophy of the Purkinje cells, the presence of myelin basic protein antibodies, and in some cases where tested, the presence of measles virii.

    There is a lot more research to be done, but none of the researchers involved have advocated prohibiting vaccines. The idea is to develop a simple test to determine who is at risk, and for those who are, there are several possible strategies.

    First, they could be exempted from the vaccine, with the hope that they will be protected through herd immunity, however, if the percentage of people that are genetically susceptibly is to high herd immunity wont offer much protection.

    Second, they could be given an alternative vaccine, such as a viral fragment vaccine. These vaccines are less effective and require more frequent boosters, but may be safer for the few with the genetic suggestibility.

    Third, it may be possible to “Turn off” the gene causing auto-immune susceptibility temporarily, around the time of the vaccination, enabling tie immune system to form measles antibodies without also forming mbp antibodies.

    On one side of the argument I see the Anti-Vaxer laymen wanting to stop all vaccines because of the adverse reactions of the few, while on the other side I see the Pro Vaxer laymen point to dozens of statistical studies to “prove” that vaccines are 100 percent safe.

    A few in the scientific community recognize the politically driven idiocy of both approaches, and are trying to make vaccines safer, and prevent disease.