Thursday, February 19, 2009

READ OUR COLLECTIVE LIPS: IT AIN’T OVER

Last week, after the decision came down from the Court of Claims, we started seeing some amazing statements coming from prominent people within the mainstream medical establishment. Doctors who ordinarily curse the legal system and swear that it’s absolutely the wrong place to decide scientific and medical questions were immediately transformed into true believers. Suddenly, a disputed scientific and medical question was deemed to be settled because a special master (in essence, an assistant judge) decreed it so.

Dr. David Perlin, Director of the Public Health Research Institute at New Jersey Medical School, was one such doctor. He wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Times, which is discussed paragraph-by-paragraph below.
I empathize with the thousands of parents who struggle to raise children with autism and desperately seek answers to its cause. But I am outraged as a scientist and infectious diseases specialist that a vocal group of media personalities and politicians, latching onto a badly flawed vaccine-link hypothesis, could have so wrongly influenced society.

Speaking only as one parent, I would like to thank Dr. Perlin for his empathy, but I’d like to suggest that what we’d really like is for him to understand that this our hypothesis is not the product of media personalities and politicians. First of all, if he would take the time to actually look at the issue fairly (if we are to give Dr. Perlin the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is expressing an honestly-held-albeit-sloppily-arrived-at opinion), he might understand that there is not a single hypothesis at issue here, but several hypotheses that are all subsets of a large and very broad hypothesis.

It is gross oversimplification to speak (or write) as though this was simply a question of blaming thimerosal, in and of itself, the MMR, in and of itself, or even a simple combination of thimerosal-containing vaccines and the MMR. That oversimplification has been the weapon of distraction that many of the more disingenuous defenders of the status quo have used. By resorting to that oversimplified thinking, Dr. Perlin is “latching onto a badly flawed” argument.

Next, Dr. Perlin writes:
By casting doubt on vaccine safety and dismissing extensive scientific evidence to the contrary from a wide spectrum of experts, they instilled fear in parents and detrimentally disrupted vaccine practices worldwide. The consequences of this action may have harmed many more children and adults than they had hoped to help.

Puhleeze! I’ve seen no evidence that vaccination rates are appreciably lower than they ever were.

And just who are this “wide spectrum of experts?” Is he talking about the assembled group at the Simpsonwood conference, who managed to take a study showing a positive connection and convert it to a neutral study (and for some reason, people like Dr. Perlin seem to interpret the word “neutral” as meaning absolute proof of there being no connection). Or maybe he’s talking about our friends in Denmark who realized that the best way to study the impact of thimerosal would be to change the criteria for inclusion in the two populations they supposedly were trying to compare. Dr. Perlin’s right; there are soooo many scientific studies against the hypotheses we cling to. If only any of them had an ounce of scientific integrity, we might actually be convinced.

Next, we get another glimpse of the empathetic Dr. Perlin:
Equally important, it diverted scarce resources away from getting at the true underlying causes of this devastating disorder, leaving the parents of autistic children without the answers they deserve.

Okay, is it just me, or is anyone else thinking about OJ looking for the “real killer” on golf courses all over America? Hey, maybe that’s where they’ll find it ⎯ you know, the gene (the one that’s solely responsible for all cases of autism without the slightest environmental influence).

Finally, Dr. Perlin leaves with this little nugget:
We need to learn that engaging in amateurish science makes for bad public policy.

I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I choose to be highly skeptical of all of the “science” used to validate the safety of the vaccine schedule that’s currently being shoved down the throats of the American public.

3 Comments:

Blogger Ginger Taylor said...

So the nine cases that have gone in our favor so far mean nothing, but the three that have gone against us are enough to close the case on the autism/vaccine connection?

I suppose the next case that goes our way will prove that the court should not be relied on?

Save all these quotes on how great the court ruling are, I am sure they will come in handy for us in the not to distant future.

2/19/09, 11:39 PM  
Blogger EdR77203 said...

This all started because so many parents reported regression into autism after a fever followed a vaccination. At the time all such cases were greeted with a patronizing pat on the head with words like "Anecdotal", "Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc", and words to the effect of "We're scientists and we know what we're doing"

If you go to the website of Prometheus he will tell you why you can't do a survey of people who have never been vaccinated because it will naturally contain a lot of people who are genetically predisposed to autism and because of this bias, you will not be able to see what the true autism statistics are. (The bias would clearly be toward a greater number of autism cases.) So we can't do any such study. Of course, the biggest bias in all of these studies has been the fact that the conclusion came before the statistics. But those studies favored the pro-vax side so they were clearly allowed.

What I am curious about is in the case of autism regression, how many occurred without the vaccine and fever. That would be more telling than the autism regression after vaccination.

2/21/09, 6:39 PM  
Blogger Wade Rankin said...

Just to be clear about things, I need to emphasize what I said a couple of posts ago. I do not expect things to change in the Court of Claims. We cannot place too much hope in past "victories." For example, we have to remember that the Polling claim did not result in a "decision" or a "ruling." It was a concession by the DOJ, a settlement if you will. I strongly suspect the DOJ did not want to risk a bad decision that would have an adverse impact on the rest of the cases pending in the omnibus proceedings. It is the three test cases that will set the tone for the rest of the claims. And now families and their lawyers will have to assess whether they want to shoulder the financial burden of proceeding.

That road may be worthwhile for those families who may still have the ability to proceed on state-based products liability theories after dismissal of the vaccine court claims. But as I have tried to indicate, the courthouse will likely not be where we find justice for our kids and for generations of children yet to come.

This is not a legal question; it is a scientific and medical question. And I'm afraid I am not willing to take the word of someone who so-aptly hides behind a mythological name to express his belief in a myth that has been accepted by too many without the skepticism he supposedly champions. The question is far from settled. My intention is to keep asking for an answer.

2/22/09, 12:50 PM  

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