Autism, Vaccines, and Ghouls

A bunch of us today are trying to point out some incredible
hypocrisy and downright despicable slime being spewed by the idiots
who want to blame autism on vaccines.

The blame-vaccines crowd likes to use publicity stunts to try to
build up their case. It’s the only tactic left to them, because study after study after study has shown that there is no correlation – not just no causal link, but no correlation at all – between vaccines and autism. There’s no science on their side; no evidence; nothing but anecdotes.

So they milk the anecdotes for everything they’re worth. Jenny McCarthy parades around on TV talking about how she knows that vaccines caused her son’s autism, and that she knows that the crackpot interventions that she used cured him. She doesn’t need any scientific evidence; she says that her son is her science.

Generation rescue runs ads full of stories about how autism is caused by vaccines; they push endless stories about parents desperate to find a cure for their childrens parents. They parade parents like
Jenny McCarthy around to gather every possible bit of publicity for their cause.

The end result of this is to create opposition to vaccination. And that is a horrible thing.

Most people my age have never seen a person with polio. It was wiped out long before we were born – by vaccines. No one in the US has seen anyone with smallpox in decades. There are so many diseases, which we have no experience with anymore – because they’ve been rendered almost entirely harmless by vaccines. When’s the last time you saw someone with the measles or the mumps? When’s the last time any of us saw someone suffering from complications of one of those formerly common childhood diseases?

But thanks to people like Generation Rescue, that’s changing.

Earlier this month, there was an outbreak of measles in San Diego – the first outbreak of measles in 17 years. None of the infected children were vaccinated. Why not?

There have been recent outbreaks of the mumps in Iowa – started by
people who weren’t vaccinated, and later transferred even to some who had been.

When we hear about one of these outbreaks, the most common response is: “Big deal? Measles is no biggie.” Not true at all. Measles can, in a significant number of cases, lead to blindness (via corneal scarring), encephalitis, and brain damage. Similarly for many of the other childhood diseases that have been nearly eliminated by
vaccines – these diseases aren’t trivial things. They’re potentially serious diseases. Vaccines have eliminated things that used to be major scourges, that crippled huge numbers of people. We’ve forgotten that, because the diseases have almost disappeared.

Until these autism frauds managed to get themselves in the news. Thousands of parents have refused vaccines for their children, in the name of protecting them from a phony risk of autism, and as a result, diseases that should be unheard of are making strong comebacks.

Naturally, the doctors who care for children are concerned about this. They’re seeing parents put their children at risk, and they’re seeing children come in with diseases and complications that should never happen anymore.

So they’ve decided to take action. Through the main professional organization for pediatricians, the AAP, they’re putting together their own publicity campaign – trying to remind people of the fact that vaccines save lives. They’re looking for people who didn’t vaccinate their children, and who as a result have suffered from preventable illnesses with serious consequences:

From: Susan Martin
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2008 2:29 PM
Subject: parent spokespersons


As part of our ongoing response to media stories regarding autism and vaccines, the AAP communications department is compiling a list of parents who support the AAP and are available for interviews. We are looking for two types of parents who could serve as spokespersons:

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders who support immunization and who do not believe there is any link between their child’s vaccines and his or her autism.

Parents of children who suffered a vaccine-preventable illness. This could be a parent who declined immunization, whose child became ill before a vaccine was available, or whose child was ineligible for immunization.

We are asking for your help identifying parents who would be good spokespersons. They do not need to be expert public speakers. They just need to be open with their story and interested in speaking out on the issue. We will contact candidates in advance to conduct pre-interviews, to offer guidance on talking to reporters and to obtain a signed waiver giving us permission to release their name.

If a parent were placed on our list, we would offer their name and contact information to select media. We hope to build a list of parents from a wide range of geographical areas.

As the Jenny McCarthy and “Eli Stone” stories illustrate, this issue is likely to recur in the national and local media. The AAP is committed to doing all we can to counter such erroneous reports with factual information supported by scientific evidence and AAP recommendations.

The anti-vaccine groups often have emotional family stories on their side. The ability to offer a reporter an interview with a similarly compelling parent who is sympathetic to the AAP’s goals is a powerful tool for our media relations program.

Please contact me if you have any questions or to suggest a parent to interview.

Thank you,

Susan Stevens Martin
Director, Division of Media Relations
American Academy of Pediatrics

The autism frauds are reacting with faux outrage. How dare the AAP do anything so horrible as to put together
a publicity campaign? How dare they remind people of the consequences of not vaccinating?

When the autism frauds want to publicize their belief that autism is caused by vaccines, that’s absolutely OK. No moral issue, no problem at all. It’s just simple the right thing to do.

When people start to get sick with diseases that should be
unheard of, because they’re entirely preventable by safe vaccines,
that’s nothing to be concerned about. It’s got nothing to do with
the autism frauds and their wretched attempts to scare people.

And when doctors, upset at seeing the resurgence of diseases that
should be completely eliminated in 21st century America, do their best to remind people that these diseases are serious, and that they can protect their children from the risks of catching them – then the doctors are being horrible, unethical, disgraceful, despicable ghouls.

The ghouls are people like JB Handley – who are deliberately
playing games, moving goalposts, and propagating lies. They’re frauds whose actions are putting lives at risk. And based on the way that they’ve been changing their stories as evidence accumulates, they know that they’re frauds.

Deliberately, knowingly encouraging people to put their childrens life at risk from preventable illnesses? Now that is evil.

0 thoughts on “Autism, Vaccines, and Ghouls

  1. drew terry

    You may want to reconsider after reading this decision in which the government concedes liability; it was recently disclosed to the public:
    CHILD, a minor,
    by her Parents and Natural Guardians,
    In accordance with RCFC, Appendix B, Vaccine Rule 4(c), the Secretary of Health and Human Services submits the following response to the petition for compensation filed in this case.
    CHILD (“CHILD”) was born on December –, 1998, and weighed eight pounds, ten ounces. Petitioners’ Exhibit (“Pet. Ex.”) 54 at 13. The pregnancy was complicated by gestational diabetes. Id. at 13. CHILD received her first Hepatitis B immunization on December 27, 1998. Pet. Ex. 31 at 2.
    From January 26, 1999 through June 28, 1999, CHILD visited the Pediatric Center, in Catonsville, Maryland, for well-child examinations and minor complaints, including fever and eczema. Pet. Ex. 31 at 5-10, 19. During this time period, she received the following pediatric vaccinations, without incident:
    Vaccine Dates Administered
    Hep B 12/27/98; 1/26/99
    IPV 3/12/99; 4/27/99
    Hib 3/12/99; 4/27/99; 6/28/99
    DTaP 3/12/99; 4/27/99; 6/28/99
    Id. at 2.
    At seven months of age, CHILD was diagnosed with bilateral otitis media. Pet. Ex. 31 at 20. In the subsequent months between July 1999 and January 2000, she had frequent bouts of otitis media, which doctors treated with multiple antibiotics. Pet. Ex. 2 at 4. On December 3,1999, CHILD was seen by Karl Diehn, M.D., at Ear, Nose, and Throat Associates of the Greater Baltimore Medical Center (“ENT Associates”). Pet. Ex. 31 at 44. Dr. Diehn recommend that CHILD receive PE tubes for her “recurrent otitis media and serious otitis.” Id. CHILD received PE tubes in January 2000. Pet. Ex. 24 at 7. Due to CHILD’s otitis media, her mother did not allow CHILD to receive the standard 12 and 15 month childhood immunizations. Pet. Ex. 2 at 4.
    According to the medical records, CHILD consistently met her developmental milestones during the first eighteen months of her life. The record of an October 5, 1999 visit to the Pediatric Center notes that CHILD was mimicking sounds, crawling, and sitting. Pet. Ex. 31 at 9. The record of her 12-month pediatric examination notes that she was using the words “Mom” and “Dad,” pulling herself up, and cruising. Id. at 10.
    At a July 19, 2000 pediatric visit, the pediatrician observed that CHILD “spoke well” and was “alert and active.” Pet. Ex. 31 at 11. CHILD’s mother reported that CHILD had regular bowel movements and slept through the night. Id. At the July 19, 2000 examination, CHILD received five vaccinations – DTaP, Hib, MMR, Varivax, and IPV. Id. at 2, 11.
    According to her mother’s affidavit, CHILD developed a fever of 102.3 degrees two days after her immunizations and was lethargic, irritable, and cried for long periods of time. Pet. Ex. 2 at 6. She exhibited intermittent, high-pitched screaming and a decreased response to stimuli. Id. MOM spoke with the pediatrician, who told her that CHILD was having a normal reaction to her immunizations. Id. According to CHILD’s mother, this behavior continued over the next ten days, and CHILD also began to arch her back when she cried. Id.
    On July 31, 2000, CHILD presented to the Pediatric Center with a 101-102 degree temperature, a diminished appetite, and small red dots on her chest. Pet. Ex. 31 at 28. The nurse practitioner recorded that CHILD was extremely irritable and inconsolable. Id. She was diagnosed with a post-varicella vaccination rash. Id. at 29.
    Two months later, on September 26, 2000, CHILD returned to the Pediatric Center with a temperature of 102 degrees, diarrhea, nasal discharge, a reduced appetite, and pulling at her left ear. Id. at 29. Two days later, on September 28, 2000, CHILD was again seen at the Pediatric Center because her diarrhea continued, she was congested, and her mother reported that CHILD was crying during urination. Id. at 32. On November 1, 2000, CHILD received bilateral PE tubes. Id. at 38. On November 13, 2000, a physician at ENT Associates noted that CHILD was “obviously hearing better” and her audiogram was normal. Id. at 38. On November 27, 2000, CHILD was seen at the Pediatric Center with complaints of diarrhea, vomiting, diminished energy, fever, and a rash on her cheek. Id. at 33. At a follow-up visit, on December 14, 2000, the doctor noted that CHILD had a possible speech delay. Id.
    CHILD was evaluated at the Howard County Infants and Toddlers Program, on November 17, 2000, and November 28, 2000, due to concerns about her language development. Pet. Ex. 19 at 2, 7. The assessment team observed deficits in CHILD’s communication and social development. Id. at 6. CHILD’s mother reported that CHILD had become less responsive to verbal direction in the previous four months and had lost some language skills. Id. At 2.
    On December 21, 2000, CHILD returned to ENT Associates because of an obstruction in her right ear and fussiness. Pet. Ex. 31 at 39. Dr. Grace Matesic identified a middle ear effusion and recorded that CHILD was having some balance issues and not progressing with her speech. Id. On December 27, 2000, CHILD visited ENT Associates, where Dr. Grace Matesic observed that CHILD’s left PE tube was obstructed with crust. Pet. Ex. 14 at 6. The tube was replaced on January 17, 2001. Id.
    Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, a pediatric neurologist, evaluated CHILD at the Kennedy Krieger Children’s Hospital Neurology Clinic (“Krieger Institute”), on February 8, 2001. Pet. Ex. 25 at 1. Dr. Zimmerman reported that after CHILD’s immunizations of July 19, 2000, an “encephalopathy progressed to persistent loss of previously acquired language, eye contact, and relatedness.” Id. He noted a disruption in CHILD’s sleep patterns, persistent screaming and arching, the development of pica to foreign objects, and loose stools. Id. Dr. Zimmerman observed that CHILD watched the fluorescent lights repeatedly during the examination and
    would not make eye contact. Id. He diagnosed CHILD with “regressive encephalopathy with features consistent with an autistic spectrum disorder, following normal development.” Id. At 2. Dr. Zimmerman ordered genetic testing, a magnetic resonance imaging test (“MRI”), and an electroencephalogram (“EEG”). Id.
    Dr. Zimmerman referred CHILD to the Krieger Institute’s Occupational Therapy Clinic and the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (“CARDS”). Pet. Ex. 25 at 40. She was evaluated at the Occupational Therapy Clinic by Stacey Merenstein, OTR/L, on February 23, 2001. Id. The evaluation report summarized that CHILD had deficits in “many areas of sensory processing which decrease[d] her ability to interpret sensory input and influence[d] her motor performance as a result.” Id. at 45. CHILD was evaluated by Alice Kau and Kelley Duff, on May 16, 2001, at CARDS. Pet. Ex. 25 at 17. The clinicians concluded that CHILD was developmentally delayed and demonstrated features of autistic disorder. Id. at 22.
    CHILD returned to Dr. Zimmerman, on May 17, 2001, for a follow-up consultation. Pet. Ex. 25 at 4. An overnight EEG, performed on April 6, 2001, showed no seizure discharges. Id. at 16. An MRI, performed on March 14, 2001, was normal. Pet. Ex. 24 at 16. A G-band test revealed a normal karyotype. Pet. Ex. 25 at 16. Laboratory studies, however, strongly indicated an underlying mitochondrial disorder. Id. at 4.
    Dr. Zimmerman referred CHILD for a neurogenetics consultation to evaluate her abnormal metabolic test results. Pet. Ex. 25 at 8. CHILD met with Dr. Richard Kelley, a specialist in neurogenetics, on May 22, 2001, at the Krieger Institute. Id. In his assessment, Dr. Kelley affirmed that CHILD’s history and lab results were consistent with “an etiologically unexplained metabolic disorder that appear[ed] to be a common cause of developmental regression.” Id. at 7. He continued to note that children with biochemical profiles similar to CHILD’s develop normally until sometime between the first and second year of life when their metabolic pattern becomes apparent, at which time they developmentally regress. Id. Dr. Kelley described this condition as “mitochondrial PPD.” Id.
    On October 4, 2001, Dr. John Schoffner, at Horizon Molecular Medicine in Norcross, Georgia, examined CHILD to assess whether her clinical manifestations were related to a defect in cellular energetics. Pet. Ex. 16 at 26. After reviewing her history, Dr. Schoffner agreed that the previous metabolic testing was “suggestive of a defect in cellular energetics.” Id. Dr. Schoffner recommended a muscle biopsy, genetic testing, metabolic testing, and cell culture based testing. Id. at 36. A CSF organic acids test, on January 8, 2002, displayed an increased lactate to pyruvate ratio of 28,1 which can be seen in disorders of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. Id. at 22. A muscle biopsy test for oxidative phosphorylation disease revealed abnormal results for Type One and Three. Id. at 3. The most prominent findings were scattered atrophic myofibers that were mostly type one oxidative phosphorylation dependent myofibers, mild increase in lipid in selected myofibers, and occasional myofiber with reduced cytochrome c oxidase activity. Id. at 7. After reviewing these laboratory results, Dr. Schoffner diagnosed CHILD with oxidative phosphorylation disease. Id. at 3. In February 2004, a mitochondrial DNA (“mtDNA”) point mutation analysis revealed a single nucleotide change in the 16S ribosomal RNA gene (T2387C). Id. at 11.
    CHILD returned to the Krieger Institute, on July 7, 2004, for a follow-up evaluation with Dr. Zimmerman. Pet. Ex. 57 at 9. He reported CHILD “had done very well” with treatment for a mitochondrial dysfunction. Dr. Zimmerman concluded that CHILD would continue to require services in speech, occupational, physical, and behavioral therapy. Id.
    On April 14, 2006, CHILD was brought by ambulance to Athens Regional Hospital and developed a tonic seizure en route. Pet. Ex. 10 at 38. An EEG showed diffuse slowing. Id. At 40. She was diagnosed with having experienced a prolonged complex partial seizure and transferred to Scottish Rite Hospital. Id. at 39, 44. She experienced no more seizures while at Scottish Rite Hospital and was discharged on the medications Trileptal and Diastal. Id. at 44. A follow-up MRI of the brain, on June 16, 2006, was normal with evidence of a left mastoiditis manifested by distortion of the air cells. Id. at 36. An EEG, performed on August 15, 2006, showed “rhythmic epileptiform discharges in the right temporal region and then focal slowing during a witnessed clinical seizure.” Id. At 37. CHILD continues to suffer from a seizure disorder.
    Medical personnel at the Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation, Department of Health and Human Services (DVIC) have reviewed the facts of this case, as presented by the petition, medical records, and affidavits. After a thorough review, DVIC has concluded that compensation is appropriate in this case.
    In sum, DVIC has concluded that the facts of this case meet the statutory criteria for demonstrating that the vaccinations CHILD received on July 19, 2000, significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder, which predisposed her to deficits in cellular energy metabolism, and manifested as a regressive encephalopathy with features of autism spectrum disorder. Therefore, respondent recommends that compensation be awarded to petitioners in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 300aa-11(c)(1)(C)(ii).
    DVIC has concluded that CHILD’s complex partial seizure disorder, with an onset of almost six years after her July 19, 2000 vaccinations, is not related to a vaccine-injury.
    Respectfully submitted,
    Assistant Attorney General
    Torts Branch, Civil Division
    Deputy Director
    Torts Branch, Civil Division
    Assistant Director
    Torts Branch, Civil Division
    s/ Linda S. Renzi by s/ Lynn E. Ricciardella
    Senior Trial Counsel
    Torts Branch, Civil Division
    U.S. Department of Justice
    P.O. Box 146
    Benjamin Franklin Station
    Washington, D.C. 20044
    (202) 616-4133

  2. Chris' Wills

    Not only do they put their childrens lives at risk they put other peoples lives at risk.
    We need a certain percentage immunized to gain herd immunity and morons in the UK are also doing their best to bring back epidemics of preventable diseases.
    TB is making a return in parts of the UK, not a nice disease.
    The sad part is these fools are knowingly (they’ve been told often enough so they know) setting out to bring back these diseases. Then when an epidemic hits they’ll say “see vaccination doesn’t work”.

  3. BenE

    I’m from eastern Canada and there has been a small mumps outbreak affecting mostly people in their early twenties even some vaccinated. Apparently the vaccines given 20 years ago was not strong enough (or too specific to an old strain) to last for more than 20 years on everyone such that it is now possible to catch it. Especially since pools of unvaccinated people help spread it around.
    It doesn’t sound that bad until you learn that in teenagers and adult males, mumps causes painful testicular swelling that can lead to infertility. Basically the infection squeezes your balls until it damages them. I know that convinced me to renew my vaccination.
    Vaccination only works on a certain percentage of the population People not vaccinated are a risk not only to themselves but to the rest of the population. For a virus to disappear the proportion of people immune to it has to be high enough that it can’t propagate. If you get under that threshold you get outbreaks that can affect even the vaccinated.

  4. Dean

    I think what someone needs to do is make a youtube video or something showing pictures of children impacted by vaccine preventable diseases. Just blow peoples minds with horrible photos of victims. Awful yes, but the stakes are that high. Subtitle it with the facts and then just keep coming at it…measles, mumps, smallpox, polio. I heard a great ad on the local radio station that had a child suffering from whooping cough…

  5. Tom

    I really don’t understand what happens to people that makes them like this. It’s such a shame that these groups encouraging ignorance seem to be so successful. Not only do we have to actually do useful science now, we have to waste so much time defending it against the rantings of lunatics with deep pockets. It actually upsets me to see so many give up on reason so easily, especially when access to information and education has never been so great.
    And in this particular case, its never the idiotic parents who suffer, I’m sure every single one of them had these vaccinations, its the children who rely on these idiots for protection.

  6. Jonathan Vos Post

    True, all true. And yet I still enjoyed that episode of “Eli Stone.”
    I do not expect to get my scientific truths from TV sitcoms.
    Unlike the gentleman who reputedly considers The Flintstones to be a documentary, Karl Pilkington [[born 23 September 1972 in Manchester), Sony Award-winning radio producer and poet best known for producing and co-presenting The Ricky Gervais Show, on the radio station XFM and later in the form of podcasts.]
    Or the multitude who consider “Touched by an Angel” to be canonical Bible texts. Or the many who prefer Star Trek [which Prof. Gregory Beford calls “Science Fiction Lite”] to the actual space program. Or the many who seem to think that the X-Files is a documentary. Let alone the majority who believe the essence of JFK [American film directed by Oliver Stone, first released on 20 December 1991. The film examines the events leading to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and alleged subsequent cover-up through the eyes of former New Orleans district attorney, Jim Garrison, played by Kevin Costner.]
    I mean, Good Math-ematically speaking, what are the odds that a document will appear this week allegedly a transcript of a Lee Harvey Oswald-Jack Ruby phone conversation?
    Anyway, they’re all wrong. Torchwood is the actual documentary. And I am an immortal time-traveling extraterrestrial.

  7. samk

    There’s a doctor (his Doctorate is from Life University) in my area who is on the radio for 25.5 hours a week talking about “natural health”. You know, “your hand hurts because there is muscle tightness in your throat”.
    His recommendation is that parents not have their children vaccinated. Way to go, “doc”!

  8. Jonathan Vos Post

    The Dumbing Of America
    Call Me a Snob, but Really, We’re a Nation of Dunces
    By Susan Jacoby
    The Washington Post
    Sunday, February 17, 2008; B01
    “‘The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson offered that observation in 1837, but his words echo with painful prescience in today’s very different United States. Americans are in serious intellectual trouble — in danger of losing our hard-won cultural capital to a virulent mixture of anti-intellectualism, anti-rationalism and low expectations….
    “The classic work on this subject by Columbia University historian Richard Hofstadter, ‘Anti-Intellectualism in American Life,’ was published in early 1963, between the anti-communist crusades of the McCarthy era and the social convulsions of the late 1960s. Hofstadter saw American anti-intellectualism as a basically cyclical phenomenon that often manifested itself as the dark side of the country’s democratic impulses in religion and education. But today’s brand of anti-intellectualism is less a cycle than a flood. If Hofstadter (who died of leukemia in 1970 at age 54) had lived long enough to write a modern-day sequel, he would have found that our era of 24/7 infotainment has outstripped his most apocalyptic predictions about the future of American culture….” [truncated]

  9. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    I hate to admit it, but I’ve got an RSI problem in my wrists that is partially caused by a problem in my neck. 🙂
    (I’ve got ulnar nerve problems. Partly compression of the nerve in my wrists, and partly compression of the nerve where it crosses over the collarbone after coming out of the spine. The collarbone part is caused by my rotten posture; the wrist part is caused by emacs – all those wretched pinky-extensions when you’re an emacs user can do terrible things to your wrists.)
    It’s not quite muscle tightness in my throat, but more “abused fascia putting pressure on the nerve when I slump.
    And it’s not diagnosed by an idiot from “Life University”, but by a phsyiatrist (physical therapy specialist) and a neurologist at Mt. Sinai hospital in Manhattan, after doing a variety of interesting but painful tests. (I’ve had my collarbone zapped by 300mA of current, to try to create a particular kind of signal running down the nerve to my hand for signal speed measurements. Not something I particularly recommend. Very interesting to understand the test and what it observes; very, *very* nasty to experience as a subject. On the other hand, it did rule out a painful and unnecessary surgery, and identify what kind of physical therapy could help.)

  10. Koudesnik

    There is one problem with people supporting vaccination: they, for some reason, insist on 100% vaccination. It is strange because it means than vaccinations are not that effective as claimed. What I mean is that, perhaps, a risk of getting, say, polio for unvaccinated people might be less than a risk of bad after-effects caused by polio-vaccination.

  11. Anonymous

    Clinical studies have been completed and published, but public health officials have prevented their widespread release. The “acceptable deaths” concept is crucial in this debate. What scientist AND parent is willing to have their child be the statistic?

  12. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    No vaccine is 100% effective. The concept of vaccines doesn’t just rely on the idea of each vaccinated individual being immune after vaccination. Vaccinations rely on something called herd immunity: the idea that if everyone is immunized, the population lacks enough susceptible individuals to propagate an infection.
    That has nothing to do with whether the risk of a vaccine exceeds the benefit. If you could show that for any vaccine, that the risks of that vaccine exceed the benefits, I’ll guarantee that you can get that vaccine withdrawn.
    What happens is that people are very dishonest about these things when they want to talk you out of vaccines. For example, with polio, people will point at the risks of the Sabin polio vaccine, which can, in rare cases, actually cause polio. If you take the fact that Polio is completely unknown today – that it’s been pretty much completely eradicated because of vaccinations – and then you compare the risk of vaccination to the risk of catching polio when the rest of the population is immunized, and therefore empty of carriers, then the risk of the vaccine exceeds the risk of catching it. But that’s a very misleading statistic – you’re relying on the herd immunity of all of the other immunized people. If you compare the risks of catching polio in a non-vaccinated population with the risks of catching polio from the vaccine, then you’ve got a very different picture – where the risks are thousands of times smaller for getting the vaccine. And even in that case, we’ve eliminated the use of the Sabin vaccine in favor of the Salk vaccine, because the increased risk of the Sabin in comparison to the Salk is no longer justified.

  13. evgen

    Regarding the claim that 100% vaccination goals are indicative of a problem, the simple explanation is that for some people a vaccine does not actually confer immunity or does not confer a level of immunity that prevents the recipient from getting the disease later in life. The immune system is a tricky beast, and we try to fool it with a weakened or dead version of the real virus so that it grows a “memory” without needing to actually encounter the pathogen so that the pathogen will be attacked immediately later in life. For some people the memory does not take, or the immune system is not triggered effectively by this memory. We do not know enough about the immune system to know why this happens, but it does.
    The solution to this problem is herd immunity, as others have mentioned. A disease needs a ready supply of available hosts to propagate. If 90% of a population has an effective immunity to a disease due to vaccinations or genetic variance then the disease has to encounter people in that 10% in order to survive, which is not an easy task. This is how whack-jobs who insists on not vaccinating their kids have managed to get away with claiming that vaccines are useless because little Billy hasn’t gotten measles yet; the herd immunity present in the surrounding community is what protects that individual. When enough idiots gather in a single community the herd immunity is compromised and the disease re-appears, hitting those who were unvaccinated as well as those whose vaccinations did not provide full immunity or whose immune system is otherwise compromised.

  14. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    That works both ways.
    Every medical intervention carries a risk. There is always a chance of an adverse vaccine reaction. In some cases, that can be sever – in rare cases, it can even be deadly.
    But you’ve got to counterbalance that against the risk of not getting the vaccine.
    If you give the vaccine, there’s a chance that your child becomes a statistic – one of children harmed by a vaccine.
    If you don’t give the vaccine, there’s a chance that your child becomes a statistic – one of the children harmed by the infection that could have been prevented by the vaccine.
    You’ve got to compare the relative risks. What’s the greater risk? The chance of being harmed by a vaccine? Or the chance of being hurt by a dangerous infection?
    In the case of the polio vaccine – using the Sabin vaccine, the risk appears to be around 1 in 750,000 of catching polio from the vaccine. The chances of catching polio in an unvaccinated population in a dense population is in the range of one is several hundred; in smaller (rural) populations, it’s around 1/10th that. So for an urban/suburban person like me, the relative risks are clear – if parents in NYC were to stop getting polio vaccines for their children, our children would face an increased risk of about 1,000 times, compared to their risk if we gave the Sabin vaccine. With Salk vaccine, that risk is even less – the benefit is even more that a 1,000 times reduction.
    Similarly, before the measles vaccine, most children eventually caught measles. In most cases, it was no big deal. But in 2 out of 100 cases, it could lead to serious complications – blindness, sterility, meningitis, brain damage, or death.
    With vaccine, the incidence of measles has been cut to virtually zero. In fully vaccinated populations, there are pretty much no cases of measles. We’ve reduced a risk of serious side effects from around 1 in 100 to roughly one in 500,000.
    Don’t want your child to become a statistic? Which route seems safer? The vaccine, with a one or two chance in a million of complications? Or the infection, with risks in the 1 in 100 range?

  15. Nomen Nescio

    all those wretched pinky-extensions when you’re an emacs user can do terrible things to your wrists.

    that sucks. would remapping the control key to somewhere else perhaps help? i’ve got my caps lock key set up as an extra CTRL, for instance — realized i never used caps lock for what it was, but used CTRL quite a bit — might that be easier to reach, maybe? (of course, the real solution is to switch to vi, but let’s not get into that here.)
    i was among the first cohorts in my native country to not get the smallpox vaccine. never seen smallpox or its effects in my life, but i have seen what polio can do — one of my great-aunts spent most of her life in a wheelchair thanks to that blasted organism. i was offered an oral polio booster in middle school, and the way i recall it, we kids were actually given a chance to consider it for its risks and benefits; i thought of my aunt, and took the vaccine happily. as and when polio can finally be declared extinct, i for one will be celebrating.
    honestly, considering what it can and has done for us, vaccination in all its forms must surely be among the greatest and least appreciated of all our technological advances. that idiots would campaign against it is a moral crime, plain and simple. murderous and maiming pandemics driven extinct within living memory…! i work with computers all day, and think they’ve changed society a lot; i consider that polio wards are basically gone now, and am humbled.

  16. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    WRT to remapping keys: I’ve always had “caps lock” remapped to control. Still, it creates a lot of pinky extension. What I found helped was getting a Kinesis countered keyboard, which puts the modifier keys under your thumbs.
    Switching to VI didn’t help. VI doesn’t have as much extension as Emacs, but once the damage is done, there’s enough usage of control, escape, slash, and friends to make up for it. (Just try doing split-window operations in vim – ^w-s, ^w-o, etc.)

  17. Gwenny

    I followed a few of the links and then followed some more and I’m flabbergasted by their ignorance and the stupid conclusions they draw. Like the article about “Only 1 in 15000 Amish Have Autism” so that PROVES it’s immunization. Well, idiots, there’s SO MANY differences between the Amish and the rest of America that I sincerely doubt any intelligent person would draw the conclusion that immunizations are THE ONE difference that causes autism to be less in the Amish. Assuming for a moment that the Amish HONESTLY allow their autistic children to be identified in that way.
    I know that many, many years ago I felt anxious about immunizations, as my children were young before they pulled the some of the more dangerous ones, so I’m a little sympathetic. But even I felt that the trade off was worth is, having survived through several of the illnesses myself.(And I can only imagine that only parents who have NOT had measles, mumps and the like would be willing to allow their children to suffer.) And some of the people are just totally ridiculous.
    I have a question. Has any study been done to correlate the mental fitness of parents and autism?

  18. mathmom

    The problem is that for an individual parent making a decision to vaccinate or not, the choice is not (a) take the risk of vaccine side effects; versus (b) take the risk of disease side effects based on the rate of transmission in an unvaccinated population. For most parents making an isolated decision not to vaccinate, the choice is (c) take the risk of disease side effects based on the rate of transmission in a vaccinated population. In some cases, this may be lower than the risk from the vaccine. These parents are selfishly taking advantage of the herd immunity they’re not willing to contribute to, which helps protect their child from ever contracting the disease. [Obviously, with those who are out there trying to convince others not to vaccinate, they are going to bite themselves in the @$$ when it turns out that their success leads to re-emergence of the diseases, and the risk of infection and thus of horrible side effects and death multiplies.]
    It’s also easy to selfishly pick and choose. It may not make sense, from a purely selfish point of view, to vaccinate a young boy against rubella, whose main harm is done to unborn children when pregnant women are infected. The risk of serious side effects for a young boy from rubella may be smaller than the risk from the vaccine, especially if you take into account the fact that he lives in a largely-immunized community, and is therefore unlikely to ever contract the disease anyhow. And he’s not going to get pregnant, so “who cares” that it has horrible impacts on pregnant women.
    So, part of the message the AAP needs to put out there is that not vaccinating your child impacts more than just your child. It impacts everyone’s chances of contracting the disease. But most non-vaccinators will claim that it’s no one’s business but their own, using arguments like Koudesnik’s. In this “me generation” I think a lot of parents may feel perfectly justified in doing what they think is right for their child, regardless of the harm to the rest of society. You know, “my primary responsibility is to my own child” and all that. Sounds almost reasonable. “Why is it my problem if someone else’s vaccine didn’t work, or they couldn’t get one” etc… Somehow they need to develop not only a fear of what might happen to one’s own child, but some kind of ethical feeling of responsibility for the effects of one’s actions on others who might be unable to fully protect themselves without the help of the “herd”.

  19. Maddy

    I have no idea what the solution is. As I’ve posted elsewhere today, all I do know is that the wrong message is coming over loud and clear, but the true message is still only a whisper.
    BEst wishes

  20. Ktesibios

    I’m a little older than you are, Mark- I was born in 1957.
    When I was in grade school there was a kid a couple of classes ahead of me- Dave W.. Dave was the older brother of a kid in my Cub Scout den. You could always pick Dave out in a crowd because he dragged a left leg enclosed from ankle to thigh in a brace.
    Dave, you see, was one of the last examples of an iconic image all too familiar to my parents’ generation- the Kid Who’d Had Polio.
    It should be no surprise that when the county Board of Health made the Sabin vaccine available gratis to elementary school students, every kid in my school was there in the school auditorium, signed permission slip in hand. Our parents didn’t need any PR campaigns to tell them about the danger of infectious disease and the value of immunization in combating it- they knew.
    If any of us younguns didn’t know, we had Dave to remind us.
    I would bet money that if Dave grew up to have children, their immunizations were kept up to date.
    Since I’ve learned something about polio and how it’s transmitted, my mom’s adamant, unchangeable, don’t-give-me-any-backtalk prohibition on my swimming anywhere but my Uncle Tony’s private pool makes sense to me now.
    As does her sheer terror one morning when I was 5, when I woke up with a high fever and stiff as a board from the waist up. That, fortunately, was “only” a case of mumps encaphalitis, which “only” cost me a 10-day hospitalization.
    I hated to get shots at that age, but that morning I was so sick that I lay there and let my doctor take a spinal tap without a murmur of protest. Had a mumps vaccine been available in 1962, I think I would gladly have traded getting a shot for that concentrated dose of misery.

  21. Alex Besogonov

    I want to support Mark C. Chu-Carroll with some numbers.
    We had a similar discussion about vaccines on forums of the Russian Software Development Network with some anti-vaccines trolls (it’s in Russian, sorry).
    The whole discussion is very big, so I’ll translate only this parts of this message:
    There were 22 _thousands_ polio cases in Moscow in 1958 with 5% letality (!!!). Mass vaccinations began in 1959 and by 1961 the number of cases fell to 4 thousands and by 1962 it fell down to several hundreds cases (from vaccine-associated polio). – here is the supporting document with the cited numbers.
    BTW, the risk to cath polio from the modern recombinant vaccines is exactly ZERO (null, zilch, none). These vaccines contain only some viral proteins produced by genetically engineered bacteria.

  22. mathmom

    Even though the risk of polio from the modern polio vaccine is zero, the overall risk from the vaccine is non-zero.
    I suspect that for most people, the “best” selfish outcome would be from not being vaccinated themselves, but everyone else in the world being vaccinated.
    If we knew:
    a) the probability of experiencing serious side effects from a given vaccine
    b) the probability of experiencing serious side effects from the disease it prevents, and
    c) the risk of contracting the disease if unvaccinated as a function of the overall vaccination rate in some local area surrounding the person in question,
    then that person could compute exactly when (in terms of how many others are not vaccinated) it would make sense for them to get vaccinated.
    But assuming that the risk is the same for different individuals in the same region, there’s some game theory or prisoner’s dilemma going on where it’s still better if when we got to that point, someone *else* would take the risk and get vaccinated, changing the value of the function in (c) enough that the balance again tips in favor of not being vaccinated. (Of course the real model is more complicated, if we think about everyone living in overlapping individual regions)
    So, it becomes some sort of cosmic game of “chicken” where people are seeing who can be the last to blink.

  23. Jud

    “Measles can, in a significant number of cases, lead to blindness (via corneal scarring), encephalitis, and brain damage.”
    I recall reading many years ago about a study purporting to show a correlation between measles and later incidence of cancer. I don’t know if this was ever borne out by later work.
    Re RSI, I love the MS Natural keyboards, particularly the latest, the 4000. There are also trackballs (though my all time favorite is regrettably no longer made), as well as mice that put the wrist in a more natural “shake hands” position.

  24. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    I *despise* the MS natural keyboard.
    The thing about keyboards is that what helps can vary enormously depending on just what kind of damage you’ve managed to do to your wrists. For ulnar nerve problems, you need to uncurve the wrists – get the wrist as straight as possible. The MS natural sets the keys on an upward slope – which forces your wrists to flex. The splay of it combined with that upward slope actually increases the stress.
    The Kinesis is by far the best thing I’ve found. The shaped key-wells let your hands sit naturally, with no wrist flexion, and you can reach all of the keys just by slight finger motions. The modifiers are all on your thumbs, and can be reached with minimal thumb motion. It’s the most relaxed your hands can be on any keyboard that i’ve tried.
    I’ve heard great things about the vertical keyboards – boards that have a vertical panel for each hand. But I’ve never gotten to try one, and given their price tags, I can’t justify asking Google to let me try one when my wrists have improved so much with the Kinesis.

  25. Jonathan

    In the mid- late- 70s there was a massive campaign to eradicate measles – but in the US. Ridiculous? Yup. But it didn’t seem so at the time. Year by year the number of cases declined. And we got sloppy with vaccinations. And we had, it turned out, been giving out vaccine that “wore out.” And we had new outbreaks, college students returning from overseas trips. And the number of cases rose and rose.
    Smallpox eradication was global. Measles should have been, too.
    For your “Is measles serious?” it was probably the plague that crippled the Persians at Marathon. Guy named William McNeil has a fairly well-accepted book “Plagues and People.” Not a hard read.

  26. san diego

    In California the personal belief exemption is sometimes used as a convenience…a number of the “unvaccinated” kids at the SDCCS are in all likelihood vaccinated (though maybe not with the full series…) And the county as a whole meets the HP 2010 vaccination coverage goals, so this outbreak is an excellent example of how quickly measles can move through a population despite a high level of immunity.

  27. mathmom

    The Kinesis keyboard looks cool, but I don’t know how I could get used to having the special keys by my thumb. I don’t actually *know* the combinations for some of the emacs stuff I do, only my fingers know. They would be so confused!
    Actually, my wrists seem, thankfully, fine. But my right shoulder takes a beating whenever I do something that requires more than a tiny amount of mousing!

  28. natural cynic

    The acceptance of vaccination is a form of Social Contract Theory [Locke et al.] in the area of Public Health. One gives up certain rights, which in this case, is the acceptance of the small possibility of negative side effects, for the greater social good of herd immunity. Social Contract Theory has certainly had a long history in our society, with the benefits to the many being much greater than the restrictions placed on the few.
    Those who take advantage of the contract by opting out of mass vaccinations are breachng the contract. Unfortunately, people won’t take a rational view of the situation. If enough won’t accept the contract, chaos [epidemics] ensues. Maybe it should be explained in a way that can be easily understood, like: Everyone is driving on a moderately busy freeway if everyone drives within a relatively narrow speed, few problems occur and everyone gets to their destination. If this contract is breached by someone driving 25 mph faster than everyone else, that person will probably get to their destination faster, but the chances of an “accident” occurring will be slightly increased. If many more people are speeding, the chances of an accident are greatly increased.
    Lay the guilt on.

  29. DuWayne

    Mark –
    Thank you for posting about this. I really like the focus on childhood diseases that we have defeated through vaccines.
    I really feel more and more strongly that if people don’t want to vaccinate their kids, for any reason, then they can damn well keep them out of public schools. I am sorry for their kids, but I just don’t see it as anyone’s right to put my kid or anyone else’s kids in danger.
    I also really don’t want to see polio make a comeback.b

  30. Richard Eis

    People are now forgetting what life used to be like before. We need a campaign to remind people about how bad things actually were.

  31. JM

    Look, this time the “let’s laugh at the idiots” mode so common on ScienceBlogs is sadly misplaced.
    This is a humanist/secular forum that is allegedly strongly in favor of rational analysis to promote human happiness?
    By all means attack the anti-vaccination crowd when they are wrong, because they will cause misery beyond our experience in the modern world.
    BUT don’t, don’t attack distraught parents. And recognise that our opponents have got a hold of a very emotive subject. Every time someone in the reality-based communitity goes on a tear like this, they drive a stake through the heart of heartbroken parents faced with a real form of hell – unlike the imaginary hell that IDists promote.
    And it is not a good look, I can tell you. I have a disabled – not autistic – child, but my neighbour does have an autistic son, and I can tell you we both share a real hell when pursuing medical treatment for our children.
    As soon as someone turns around and denies or ignores the reality of what we face – which is what is being done here – you’ve lost us, and we’ll see you burn in hell before we agree with you.
    Not a good look.
    Fact: autism is on the rise. Apparent fact: vaccination is not an explanation (ie. pretty likely, but not fully confirmed)
    True fact: attacking messengers of apparrent hope will only work if you have a better message.
    Let’s try this as a reality based message “yes autism is on the rise, let’s see if we can understand why. X% is due to diagnostic changes, but there is a residual. We know vaccinnation programs aren’t the cause so ….”
    Change the tone. Ridicule is not an option. There is a place for the old sober, non-emotional mode of scientific debate and I think this is one of them.

  32. Kailden

    I remember listening to an interesting NPR news segment talking about attempts to make India polio-free, that fail due to persistent rumors and conspiracy theories. At that time the new target for making India polio free was 2005, but I can see that they are not there yet.
    There’s a car that drives around our neighborhood that has bumper stickers that claim mercury in the thimerosal in a vaccination gave their child autism…
    From what I understand, the thimerosal acts a preservative to keep bacteria and fungi from contaminating the vaccine…the FDA explains why:

    One particularly telling incident from Australia is described by Sir Graham S. Wilson in his classic book, The Hazards of Immunization

    In January 1928, in the early stages of an immunization campaign against diphtheria, Dr. Ewing George Thomson, Medical Officer of Health of Bundaberg, began the injection of children with toxin-antitoxin mixture. The material was taken from an India-rubber-capped bottle containing 10 mL of TAM. On the 17th, 20th, 21, and 24th January, Dr. Thomson injected subcutaneously a total of 21 children without ill effect. On the 27th a further 21 children were injected.Of these children .eleven died on the 28th and one on the 29th. (Wilson 1967)

    This disaster was investigated by a Royal Commission and the final sentence in the summary of their findings reads as follows:

    The consideration of all possible evidence concerning the deaths at Bundeberg points to the injection of living staphylococci as the cause of the fatalities.

    Its pretty easy to see that it doesn’t matter what the history or statistics are, nobody wants their child to become debilitated or die, and its incredibly challenging to be a parent of an autistic child, to understate it. I can see the side where even if the link was incredibly small and inconclusive–where a parent would still fight for finding a different preservative.
    In a similar vein, what do you think about cord blood donation?

    There are no hard numbers on a child’s risk of needing a stem-cell transplant: It’s anywhere between one in 1,000 and one in 200,000, according to studies cited by ACOG and the AAP. But private banks’ marketing materials often place the odds at one in 2,700 and note that these numbers don’t factor in its potential future use for diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and spinal-cord injuries in adults. “Researchers are constantly discovering new treatments using stem cells,” says Gerald Maass, executive vice president of corporate development for Cryo-Cell, a private bank in Clearwater, Florida.

    The parent side of me said buy it, the skeptical side of me says the pamphlets I read, well, read like a scam.

  33. Kailden

    Mark, do you have the foot pedal attachment? I always thought the foot pedals would be cool and speedy, especially now that I use XMonad, but I could only imagine my coworkers reaction! I use the Microsoft comfort curve keyboard for now…

  34. andrea

    I’m not sure what you are referring to by the pinkie extensions? I do my Mac command-button with my thumbs. So far I’ve no major keyboarding issues, so long as I have a gel wrist-rest. But I’m usually working on a notebook, and also have large and double-jointed (hypermobile) hands. I will check out the Kinesis keyboard though as the osteoarthritis won’t improve.
    On the vaccination issue, I find the psychology of people’s attitudes about odds to be confusing. Why is 1 in 750,000 so horrible as to avoid vaccination, but people let their children cross busy urban streets or give 16-year olds driving licenses?
    Maybe it’s the same magical thinking that allows them to believe they can win big money with lottery tickets: “I’m so special it’s gotta happen to me”?
    My post on this issue, A shot in the arm, A slight kick in the butt.

  35. Nomen Nescio

    Fact: autism is on the rise. Apparent fact: vaccination is not an explanation (ie. pretty likely, but not fully confirmed)

    what further evidence would you accept as sufficient to fully confirm that latter as fact?

  36. John Marley

    Re: JM (#32)
    No one is ridiculing distraught parents. MarkCC and commenters are pointing out that the anti-vax crowd are lying and taking advantage of them. And any distraught parent who embraces those lies is the one denying the reality of their situation.

    Fact: autism is on the rise. Apparent fact: vaccination is not an explanation (ie. pretty likely, but not fully confirmed)
    True fact: attacking messengers of apparrent hope will only work if you have a better message.

    this (and the remainder of your comment) comes perilously close to concern trolling.
    Fact: No study, ever, has shown a real connection between autism and vaccines. How many more negative studies do you need? 1? 10?
    As for your “true fact”, you are completely wrong. Pointing out that someone is lying to you is always helpful. That “apparrent hope” is false. Lack of a “better message” doesn’t change that. This entire thread is about the dangers of the anti-vax message. Maybe you should actually read it.

  37. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    First, it’s not clear that there really is any increase in autism. Autism as a widely accepted diagnosis is a relatively recent phenomenon, and it’s precise definition has varied quite a bit. We now talk about “ASD” – autism spectrum disorder – because there are so many different things that we’ve come to recognize are related. 20 years ago, someone with aspergers wouldn’t be considered autistic; today, we include them in the diagnosis. Things that used to be called “social affective disorder” are now considered autism. Many children who once would have been labelled as either retarded or severely learning disabled are now recognized as autistic. I haven’t seen any careful studies showing that there is an actual increase in the incidence of autism – just an increase in the *diagnosis* of autism.
    Second: I’m not attacking “the parents”. I’m attacking a specific group of people who are promoting something incredibly dangerous, and using dishonest tactics as a part of that promotion. I don’t care what horrible things you’ve been through; when you use lies to try to convince other people to put their children’s lives at risk, you’re evil, and you deserve to be called on it.
    Third: you refer to the vaccine thing as just an “apparent” fact, whereas you refer to everything else as, simply, a fact. What would it take to convert that “apparent” fact to a non-qualified fact? There’s considerably *more* evidence that vaccines don’t cause autism than there is that actual autism rates have risen – but you don’t consider the rise in autism to be “apparent”. So in your opinion, what’s missing?

  38. Interrobang

    Find anyone who’s ever had shingles. Ask them if they would rather have been vaccinated for varicella before they got chicken pox in the first place.
    I had rubella as a baby and pertussis as an older child (I think I was nine). I managed to get through both with no lasting effects, save in the latter case a cough that persisted for about three months. I’d actually been vaccinated for pertussis, and, as far as I know, didn’t give it to anyone else.
    For what it’s worth, JM is a concern troll. He comes on any thread on ScienceBlogs where vaccines are being discussed and attacks anyone, no matter what the tone of their post, for “attacking distraught parents.” Well, I’m sorry, I realise that being the parent of a disabled kid is oftentimes no picnic (I was that disabled kid, once upon a time), but if you refuse to vaccinate because you are counting on herd immunity in the first place and secondly because your mother-in-law read an article and you don’t know the first thing about risk analysis, you’re an idiot, and you’re putting your kid at further risk. “Concerned parentism” leading to moral panics of one sort or another is truly one of the scourges of modern life.

  39. Davis

    . There is a place for the old sober, non-emotional mode of scientific debate…

    The “old sober, non-emotional mode of scientific debate” is a myth, a cartoon version of science seen only in Hollywood. Scientists are human beings, and have always injected emotion into their debates (read up on the Newton/Leibniz feud if you have any doubts about that).

  40. David Marjanović

    There is a place for the old sober, non-emotional mode of scientific debate

    Yes. But there is also such a thing as a liar, and such a thing as a liar’s victim.
    It would be evil to stay silent about that.

  41. Azkyroth

    BUT don’t, don’t attack distraught parents. And recognise that our opponents have got a hold of a very emotive subject. Every time someone in the reality-based communitity goes on a tear like this, they drive a stake through the heart of heartbroken parents faced with a real form of hell – unlike the imaginary hell that IDists promote.

    Speaking as a parent (of an autistic child) myself, there is absolutely no excuse for abandoning better judgement, due to emotional impulses, in a way that harms a child, especially a child in one’s care. A parent pursuing a worthless quack treatment and anti-vaccination campaign because doing so gives them “hope” (“an enemy they can see” would perhaps be a better way of describing the sentiment here) to the detriment of the health of their child and the children of others is not excused from responsibility for their decisions on the grounds of emotional stress or desperation, any more than is a parent who hits and seriously injures a child that won’t stop crying and nagging.

    As soon as someone turns around and denies or ignores the reality of what we face – which is what is being done here – you’ve lost us, and we’ll see you burn in hell before we agree with you.

    So basically, in your opinion, parents of autistic children are so impulsive, immature, and emotionally fragile that they will reject a factually supported approach to the problem if it’s not adequately sugarcoated? Speaking as one myself, I feel I’m owed an apology.

  42. Tlazolteotl

    Most people my age have never seen a person with polio. It was wiped out long before we were born – by vaccines.
    I don’t know if it is that uncommon, but maybe my experiences aren’t typical. My mother, who was born in 1942, got polio when she was six. The vaccine wasn’t announced until 1955 (I was born just as the vaccine started coming into wide use). My 6th grade teacher also was a polio survivor. The effects of polio, even for those who ‘recovered’, are life-long. “Post-polio syndrome” can be almost as debilitating as MS. My experiences give me very little patience with the anti-vaccination crowd.

  43. jim

    I have to agree with Mark on this one. About a year ago I ran across some autism web site and it gave the definition. The definition was so broad that almost everyone I knew (including me) had some symptom of autism. (to one degree or another) This definition is a grave disservice to those who are afflicted with severe autism.

  44. Azkyroth

    I have to agree with Mark on this one. About a year ago I ran across some autism web site and it gave the definition. The definition was so broad that almost everyone I knew (including me) had some symptom of autism. (to one degree or another) This definition is a grave disservice to those who are afflicted with severe autism.

    Uh, that’s not even remotely what Mark said….

  45. Jim

    “First, it’s not clear that there really is any increase in autism. Autism as a widely accepted diagnosis is a relatively recent phenomenon, and it’s precise definition has varied quite a bit.”
    Is the part I was agreeing with.

  46. isles

    Love this post.
    I have always thought that if people are going to claim vaccine exemptions and still send their kids to school or other public activities, that should be disclosed to the parents of the other kids in those settings, so they can make informed choices about whether to allow their kids to fraternize with the unvaccinated.
    No one’s right to privacy ought to trump a child’s right to be free of preventable infectious disease.

  47. Jud

    The MS natural sets the keys on an upward slope – which forces your wrists to flex.
    Great that you’ve found happiness with the Kinesis, but just to update the information about the MS Natural in case anyone else may be considering ergonomic keyboards: The 4000 model provides both a downward slope (side away from user lower than side nearer user) and a padded wrist rest.

  48. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    My intention wasn’t to suggest that autism is overdiagnosed. It was to point out that our understanding of autism has increased significantly, and so many people who legitimately are autistic weren’t recognized or diagnosed as autistic in the past, but are now.
    Aspergers is a very good example of what I’m talking about. Aspergers syndrome is a particular variety of very high-functioning autism. People with Aspergers tend to be extremely intelligent, but have trouble with things like facial recognition, social cues, and so on. It’s clearly part of the spectrum of autism. But until fairly recently, aspergers was a distinct diagnosis from autism. Autism was reserved as a diagnosis for the low-functioning almost totally withdrawn children – and wasn’t even widely used for them.
    The idea of ASD – autism spectrum disorders – is that we’ve realized that autism covers a huge range. It’s a particular set of cognitive differences which span a range from almost imperceptable to totally disabling; from genius level intelligence to profound retardation.
    All of the figures that show a growth in autism use numbers of diagnoses of ASD – which is a much, much broader diagnosis that just “autism”. Combine the fact that we’ve recognized that far more people fit into ASD, and the fact that autism itself wasn’t a commonly accepted diagnosis until fairly recently, and the whole idea of the “autism epidemic” comes under question – not because we’re diagnosing non-autistic people as having ASD; but because we’re still just learning to recognize ASD, so people who had ASDs weren’t diagnosed as such until recently.
    To be abundantly clear, I’m not sure if autism rates have really increased or not. It’s clear that a significant part of the increase in autism diagnosis is just a change in diagnosis, not a change in actual incidence, but it’s not clear to me whether or not that’s the cause of all of the increase, or if there is a legitimate increase in autism in addition to the increase in diagnosis. Personally, I haven’t seen any decent studies that look at that.

  49. Bill H

    I am old enough to have seen the effects of polio.
    Kids, kids my age and younger, with braces on their legs and needed crutches to walk.
    I have heard the whispered voices “poor Mrs. So and so’s daughter will be in an iron lung the rest of her life”.

  50. MartinM

    In sum, DVIC has concluded that the facts of this case meet the statutory criteria for demonstrating that the vaccinations CHILD received on July 19, 2000, significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder, which predisposed her to deficits in cellular energy metabolism, and manifested as a regressive encephalopathy with features of autism spectrum disorder.

    IOW, the government conceded that, in this one case, vaccines likely exacerbated a rare, pre-existing genetic disorder, leading to encephalopathy which presented with some ASD-type symptoms. It’s an enormous leap from that to ‘vaccines cause autism.’

  51. Simon

    Jud wrote:
    > I love the MS Natural keyboards, particularly the latest, the 4000.
    Mark C. Chu-Carroll wrote:
    > I *despise* the MS natural keyboard. The MS natural sets the keys
    > on an upward slope – which forces your wrists to flex.
    No it doesn’t. On the contrary, with the elevator at the front and the back legs down, you’ve got about a ten degree *downward* slope — see a pic of the keyboard in profile. Sure, you can throw away the front elevator, extend the legs, and get the upward slope that you (rightly) despise, but you don’t have to.

  52. Autistic Child

    Actually, Autism sets in when around 1 year old– which just happens to be the time when vaccines are given.


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