Monday, March 31, 2008


Courtesy of Ginger Taylor comes a dissection of Julie Gerberding's recent appearance on CNN, which seems to have been intended to reassure us all that the government is doing all it can to clear up the confusion, and that there is no danger. The CDC Director's "answers" were classic examples of Orwellian doublespeak.

I'm not the first to point out that the CDC's search for the cause of the autism epidemic, under Director Gerberding, has demonstrated all of the determination and doggedness of O.J. Simpson's search for "the real killer."

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I’m not really up to a full post right now. I’m recovering from a few days of illness: chills, body aches, coughing. And no, I did not get a flu shot this year. Even if I had gotten one, however, it would have done no good. As you are probably aware, the CDC guessed wrong on the strain this year, and the current shot has not been that effective (which I suspect is more common than they admit). Besides, I don’t have the flu; I have flu-like symptoms.

Speaking of the CDC, check out what David Kirby has to say about Julie Gerberding’s reaction to the Polling case. He hits the nail squarely on the head.

Speaking of heads, there’s sickness not just in the Rankin house right now. There’s a real sickness in the CDC, an agency that’s supposed to be protecting our health. In my case, I got better with a few days rest and lots of fluids. The CDC’s sickness, on the other hand, will require drastic surgery: amputation of the head.

Looks like someone else went down with flu-like symptoms. And unlike me, I have to think that he got his flu shot.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Okay, I realize I’ve been linking to Ginger’s blog a lot lately, but she’s been a lot more active at this than I have, and I rarely find anything to disagree with her about.

She’s just posted The Responsible Government Fantasy in which she imagines the press conference that would result if Julie Gerberding (Director of the Centers for Disease Control) would show an ounce or more of integrity. Ginger sees a kinder, gentler Julie giving a thoughtful reaction to the Poling concession, and actually reaching out to offer parents help.

Of course, it’s just a fantasy. As Ginger notes, “OJ looked harder for Nicole’s ‘real killers’ than Julie has looked for the causes and possible cures of autism.” Still, it’s nice to imagine a country in which the government actually has our best interest at heart.

One thing that’s missing from Ginger’s fantasy is an admission by Gerberding that the CDC, which is charged with the responsibility of promoting the vaccination program, might just have a conflict of interest ⎯ or at the very least a perceived conflict ⎯ with the role of determining vaccine safety. I imagine Julie standing at the podium calling upon Congress to create a separate safety agency, to be led and staffed by physicians with no ties to either the CDC or vaccine manufacturers (okay, that might be drifting a little too far into the realm of science fiction).

I picture Ms. Gerberding specifically calling for research into not just what individual vaccines and vaccine components might be potentially dangerous, but also whether numbers of vaccines and particular combinations of vaccines might pose a risk to our children.

Unfortunately, it’s just a fantasy. But just imagine if it were true.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Here's something else I found via Ginger. Jenny McCarthy's recent appearance on Canadian television is quite a sharp contrast to her appearance a few months ago on The View. When she's given a chance to say something without constant interruption and argument from the host, it's downright amazing how much substance there is to this woman. She's talkin' sense!


Check out this recent post over at Ginger's Adventures in Autism. I understand there's no way to determine the veracity of the comment (one of the problems with net anonymity). And I'm not sure I agree that thimerosal is completely "removed." But the common sense of the comment's point is obvious. What passes for safety testing in the vaccine approval process simply does not measure the true risk, nor does it intend to.

Monday, March 10, 2008


In breaking my little hiatus, I obviously need to put aside anything else I was going to write about because the government concession in the Poling case changes everything . But maybe not in the way you think.

The fact is, the concession has very little impact on the rest of the cases pending in the Court of Claims. There is no precedential effect at all. The most that can be said about the legal side of the development is that for the first time the Department of Justice was willing to concede that ⎯ at least in one case ⎯ there just might be a problem. It’s hard to say why they did that, but I suspect they had problems with the defense experts, and perhaps they were afraid to risk a fully ajudicated loss in a case in which the plaintiffs could not be easily dismissed as wackos.

It’s obvious that the DOJ hopes their concession will not have any impact beyond the Pollings. The tortured semantics of the concession display the intent to make the action more narrow than logic would allow. I mean, really, what the hell can “autism-like symptoms” mean? Autism is not so much a distinct disorder as it is a descriptive term for a constellation of clinical indications. By definition, autism is nothing more than a collection of “autism-like symptoms.”

The DOJ gambled that their little concession would not make much of a splash, and that they could continue to rely on the perception that all of us who believe that vaccines may have played a role in triggering our children’s “autism-like symptoms” are anti-science zealots who practice voo doo on our kids. (When I originally noted that some of the Pollings' public statements led me to believe that they rely primarily on more conventional interventions. See Ginger's comments to this post for further clarification.) Of course, a truly critical examination leads to the opposite conclusion: that the “junkier” of the competing sciences are the epidmiological number crunches that try to disprove a connection.

The government lost its gamble. And that’s the true significance. The mainstream media now acknowledges that the debate may not be as close to over as was previously portrayed. Many people are now taking a fresh look at the issue, who once took for granted the party line that “virtually all reputable studies, yadda, yadda.” And this time, those who are taking that fresh look are exercising a more critical attitude, and they are not so willing to assume that the official story is correct.

Courts of law have never been very adept at determining scientific truth. When it comes to science, they are designed to maintain the status quo. That’s been the problem with the vaccine court process from the beginning. The statute of limitations ⎯ and to an equal extent the financial needs of the claimant families ⎯ have demanded that the legal system make decisions prematurely, before science can give us a real handle on the truth. Justice has never been guaranteed (or even expected).

But now we have an admission that there might be something worthy of further study, an admission that’s getting a lot of attention. It is now much harder to argue against funding studies that are designed to take a fair look at the issue.

If the Polings are the last family to receive compensation in these cases, we all have still won a great victory. We’re a step closer to a truth that will be acknowledged as such.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


I've been having a little computer problem lately, and like all mac owners, I'm a little perplexed by it all because problems are so incredibly rare for us. In any event, I haven't been posting much lately, but I have a few things I'm working on. In the meantime, Ginger has been pretty active over at Adventures In Autism. Go check out what's going on.