I Walk the Talk

July 22, 2011


A couple of weeks ago I went in for my annual medical appointment. We went through the whole routine, and I showed my family doctor my very scratched up arm from pruning the porch-eating rose. I asked if I could get the Tdap since I am a gardener. He looked at my chart, saw I got the vaccine in 2005 and said I was good for another four years.


Then I went on a little trip: Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Official: Andrew Wakefield is a “Fraud”!

January 5, 2011

My Dad sent me a text message to say that ABC News was doing another expose on an autism doctor. Right away, I knew it was either a hit piece against Dr. Paul Offit or a fluff piece about the martyrized Andrew Wakefield.

I was right about one thing: the piece was about Andrew Wakefield. But for once, it seems like the media is starting to wake up to the idea that this guy Wakefield is not the most trustworthy tool in the tool shed. He’s just a tool, and not the kind that hangs from Handy Manny’s belt. The British Medical Journal has come right out and called Andrew Wakefield “a fraud” according to ABC News. Wow. The BMJ doesn’t mince words, does it?

Of course, we’ve been saying for years that Wakefield acted improperly. He was paid a heap of money by antivaccine trial lawyers just before he did his “research”, his study was only on 12 children, and his ethical integrity has repeatedly been called into question for other reasons by people such as journalist Brian Deer. There is no reason that anyone should give a hoot about his original published paper, which has been retracted by it’s co-authors and the journal that published it.

So why is this news? I’m not sure. But it’s one sweet victory in a long and tedious battle.

Please visit Elyse at Skepchick

November 21, 2010

Read what she wrote today. She is one of the contributors to the Parenting Within Reason podcast. Read the rest of this entry »

My Pertussis Paranoia

November 4, 2010

Once upon a time I was a professional who went to work every day with a jacket and a little floppy tie. I did battle with second order differential equations, multiple computers with various quirks (like the VAX), varying data for parameter studies and working in a large bullpen room full of engineers like myself. That was back when I was intelligent, before I had kids. Little did I know what I was to expect. Read the rest of this entry »

Post Halloween Pox

November 1, 2010

I hope everyone had a good Halloween.  Now it is time to gear up for the end of the year holidays.  I have a tale of a memorable November a while ago.  First let us start with a picture of MathMan in his Red Ranger costume that I made when he was four years old:

Healthy looking but infectious!

Isn’t he adorable?  His big brother was the Blue Ranger, and I put little white felt cutouts on their baby sister’s pink onesie to turn her into the Pink Ranger.  Halloween was very busy with a visit to the grandparents and then going trick or treating at the local mall (and hitting up some of the neighbors).

Then we found something out the next day… Read the rest of this entry »

Episode 10 FAQ: Vaccine Delivery

May 4, 2010

If you didn’t catch our two-part vaccine episodes for Podcast Beyond Belief, be sure to check them out and share them with friends and family. They feature Dr. Paul Offit, vaccine expert and author of Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure and Dr. David Gorski, contributing writer for Science Based Medicine.

Episode 10 features a question from Jim Valentine in Louisville, KY, which we forwarded to our previous guest, Dr. Paul Offit…

What do you think will be the future of vaccine delivery?

I think that actually the richest source of TMB cells, the kind of cells that cause adaptive immunity, are actually in the gut. So, the problem with the gut is that you have to get past the stomach, which produces a lot of protease enzymes that break down proteins, and it produces a lot of acids. It’s actually hard to get the vaccines through the stomach, but I think that’s certainly part of the future.

Another way of giving vaccines – there’s a patch actually that has thousands of very tiny needles, so tiny that you don’t really feel them, that would just be laid onto the skin. Each very small needle has a tiny dose of the vaccine at the end of it so that with the thousands of them you get the entire dose. I think that’s the future.

Autism Still Not Linked To Aborted Fetal Tissue

April 22, 2010

What do you get when you cross pro-life advocates with vaccine deniers? The implausible idea that vaccines originally derived from aborted fetal tissue are responsible for the rise in autism. A mother of a child with autism sent me an e-mail today asking if I had any information about the recent chirping in the pro-life community about a new study they say proves a correlation between autism and their ingredients derived from aborted fetal tissue. She writes…

Just when I thought all that nonsense was dying a slow death, someone comes on one of the autism support group sites and posts something about a new EPA study linking autism to abortion cell use in vaccines.

It seems like autism is a magnet for woo woo because it’s origins can’t be fully explained. The idea that a study was being interpreted by pro-life activists as showing a correlation between autism and aborted fetal tissue really raised my skeptical alarm bells, obviously. My first thought was that this was a simple case of correlation being confused with causation. My second thought was that I better check out the study and see what it says. My third thought was that the best person to answer this question would be the study’s author, Mike McDonald. I bet the pro-life anti-vaccine activists never thought to ask the person who did the research.

Fortunately, Mike McDonald replied to me about whether his study can be interpreted to show a link between autism and aborted fetal ingredients in vaccines. (Honestly, I think this is just a trick to get people like me to acknowledge that some cells in vaccines were derived from aborted fetal tissue). Here’s what he had to say…

The statements made onthe website incorrectly represent, and far over  reach, our study findings. Our study draws no causal linkages with anything and the recent increase in autistic disorder, and certainly not to the use of fetal tissues in vaccines.  Our research serves as a screening tool to direct future research to a potentially more productive time frame for additional study.  Without additional screening approaches there are potentially a huge number of possible exogenous factors and explanations that could be associated with autism.  The data we used suggest that the timing would be similar in Denmark and in California (the Japanese data may be earlier in occurrence,but we were not able to determine a change point from the study we used), suggesting that something similar may have been occurring in at least developed countries at this time. Autistic disorder increased in California and Denmark beyond the time frame of our study, but at different rates.  If we assume a dose response relationship, then exposure to whatever exogenous factor or
factors, that might be associated with AD, would have had to increase in parallel to the AD levels in different places.  But, the levels of exposure may have been different. However, in no case is a correlation with any of these things, including with the timing of the change point, with some other occurrence any indication of causation.

I hope this helps.

Mike McDonald

Yes, it helps. Thank you so much!

One In Four = One Depressed Skeptic

March 2, 2010

One in four surveyed parents wrongfully believe that vaccines cause autism. One in four have been convinced, despite any supporting scientific evidence, that their child could suddenly collapse into a heap of neurological disfunction when being treated with the best preventative medical treatments the world has ever known.

This startling statistic comes despite the fact that Andrew Wakefield, the bloke whose research sparked the debate about whether the MMR vaccine could cause autism, has been scolded by the General Medical Council for being dishonest and irresponsible.

This startling statistic comes despite the fact that even the best cases for a link between MMR and autism were rejected by the vaccine court in the autism omnibus proceedings.

This startling statistic lands limply on my desktop despite the fact that numerous studies have disproved a link, despite the fact that thimerosal has been removed from childhood vaccines without a subsequent decline in autism, despite the fact that “mother’s intuition”, conspiracy theories, and imagined toxins are the best that vaccine opponents can provide.

And yet, despite the 25% survey respondents who were suckered by the rhetoric of antivaccine activists, 9/10 still believe in vaccines enough to say that they are a good way to prevent diseases for their children.  So, at the least, I can go to bed knowing that, for now, a semblance of common sense prevails, despite the hysteria and anti-medical propaganda being promoted by my ideological opponents. It’s little comfort, but I’ll take what I can get.

Jenny McCarthy’s Belly Laughs for Sale

January 21, 2010

Jenny McCarthy wrote a book on pregnancy called “Belly Laughs” when she was still a lovable B-list celebrity known for her comedic talents and sex appeal. At the time, I had no way of knowing that she would become the ‘poster mom’ in a campaign of disinformation against vaccines and pharmaceutical companies, so I’m not ashamed to say that I waited in line to have her autograph a copy for my pregnant wife.

The book is really funny, if you can get past the upsetting image of her shouting down experts on Larry King. The autograph is perfect for your pregnant friends named Amy because the autograph is inscribed “To Amy – Here’s to Shits and Giggles ~ Jenny McCarthy”. I kid you not.

Amy and I have decided that the best thing to do is to put her book up for sale on ebay and donate the money to “Every Child By Two“, a non-profit advocating vaccines. You might remember that they are the group represented by Amanda Peet. Let’s take a look at her PSA for educational purposes…

If you are interested in buying my autographed copy of “Belly Laughs”, you can check out my ebay listing. Thanks for your support.

Next month, I will be selling another autographed book by a purveyor of woo. Sadly, that one will be one that makes me much more ashamed than this one. For “shits and giggles”, take a guess in the comments section what book you think it may be, and I’ll tell you if you’re hot or cold.

H1N1 Vaccine – For the win!

December 9, 2009

My kids finally received their first H1N1 vaccine.

I went to flu.gov, which linked me to Ohio’s preregistration form. A few weeks later, the Ohio Department of Health’s Immunization Program referred me to a nearby clinic offering the vaccine. We were turned away last time because I procrastinated. The second time we received a notification, I rushed to the phone and immediately registered the kids.

In our county, the vaccine is free. I just completed some basic info on the forms, brought my daughters to the front, exposed their thighs, and the nurse jabbed them. Neither of them cried, and there have yet to be any complications like sudden onset of autism… not that I expected it.

Have any of you had your kids vaccinated for H1N1? Anyone refusing the vaccine? If so, please explain your justification.