Saturday, September 27, 2014

Vaccines and Autism, Part 3




By Professor Doom

     So I’m continuing to dissect a CNN article that, despite the title, , seems to be mostly about defending vaccines. Nothing wrong with that, but the article doesn’t seem to realize that nearly every tactic that discredits vaccine studies that show a link between vaccines and autism can be just as easily applied to studies that don’t show such a link.

“Other researchers have not been able to replicate Wakefield's findings…”
--that’s from the CNN article. For what it’s worth, here are a couple dozen more research studies that confirm Wakefield’s allegations…published studies, in mainstream medical journals, available to any who look. It’s just so weird that CNN can make so many mistakes in this article. I acknowledge that none of these studies “prove” anything…but it’s weird that CNN denies they exist.

     Strange results make the news, boring results don’t…except for autism studies, for some reason. For autism, studies that have no results get major headline news…studies that get results get buried and it’s pretended that they don’t exist, except for that one Wakefield study that would hardly be meaningful in a best case scenario. I mean, a big study that shows “the sun sets in the West” doesn’t make the news, why would a study that confirms the government position that we’re already bombarded with every day be front page newsworthy?

     Hmm. Didn’t we go through this with the global warming scare? Any study that promoted warming was promoted, anything disputing it was squelched.

     In the normal world, if you’re running a study, you’re pretty motivated to do what it takes to get strange results. There are many technical ways of getting whatever result you want, but, if you don’t want to open yourself up to technical arguments (good luck with that!) you can just keep repeating the study until you get what you want…and that’s a non-technical way anybody can use. Of course, repeating a study a few hundred times is expensive, only the folks with deep pockets can afford to do that. More realistically, you can just get a huge data set and snip out what you don’t want…if you have the money for that.

     Another deep pocket issue concerns sample size. A common (and often, somewhat valid) criticism of many studies that show links between vaccines and autism is that the sample size is too small, a few dozen, perhaps (the Wakefield study that provoked such a massive years-long witch hunt was with a sample size less than 20, for example. I can’t emphasize strongly enough how marginal—for autism/vaccines--a study with such a small sample size is.). Again, only big moneyed interests can really afford studies involving many thousands of subjects.

      Hmm, who has the deeper pockets? Government and pharmaceutical industries sure do have deep pockets. It’s also much easier to bury/manipulate results when you have a huge study. It’s weird how mainstream media never even considers pointing their counter-arguments at the pro-vaccine studies.

     While the CNN article has no trouble criticizing a study that shows a relationship between vaccines and autism, it goes one step further and says autism may well start before the vaccination. It’s an interesting theory, and CNN says there are “several studies” suggesting this. Neat, the author didn’t have 5 minutes to find the studies I did, but did have time to look at those studies.

     The article helpfully provides a link to the best study the author could find for this new theory that autism starts before vaccination. The sample size for that study? 13. Yes, thirteen.

     If you’re studying how many slices of pepperoni to put on a pizza, that’s a good enough sample size I suppose, but autism is a devastating lifelong problem. Thirteen is a ridiculously small sample to claim a serious result over a matter affecting potentially millions of children for their entire lives, and yet it’s the best the author could come up with? Wow. The author took the time to find that study, but not the time to see if there were any serious studies linking autism and vaccines. 

     Hmm.

      And, again, mainstream media’s credibility takes another hit. A study with a sample size of 13 is “preliminary,” not “used as data in a CNN article,” unless it’s an article about preliminary studies.

     I’m no doctor, I’m no autism expert…and yet, with minimal effort, I’m making clear-cut correction after correction after correction to a CCN article. What’s up with that?

     While the title of the article, Journal Questions Validity of Autism and Vaccines Study, suggests there’s a question of validity, it really seems like the article spends much of its time defending vaccines. 

     Hmm. Again.

      Keep in mind, those previous studies simply suggest a link. Maybe it’s mercury in the vaccines? Could be. Maybe one vaccine is bad, but not others? Could be, again, impossible to tell. Maybe it’s exposure to dozens of different viruses in a short period of time? Could be, no way to tell. I rather favor the “too many vaccines” hypothesis, since autism has gone from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 50 as we’ve increased vaccinations…it’s fair to ask the question, and most studies “verifying” vaccine safety only look at one vaccine at a time, and not the combined effects of 70 different vaccines, which is more relevant to what our children actually experience. 

     Maybe there’s a genetic component to all this, so that certain genes, plus vaccines in quantity, is the problem? Again, totally could be (again, I find it very likely genetics is a factor here). The statistical studies really can’t address all these possibilities…it’s just odd that mainstream media seems to not even mention they exist. Other than to say they don’t exist, of course.

       Now, it’s an agreed upon fact that, every once in a while (at the bare minimum), vaccines cause reactions that lead to death or permanent disability, autism aside. Do vaccines do more good than harm? It seems like it (yes, smallpox vaccines probably were a huge boon decades ago, but I’m really focusing on what’s happening, today). Another line in the CNN article is common to many mainstream pieces on this topic, and leads to an important point:

"I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives,…”

      This is (probably) a valid point, but there’s a moral issue here that really needs to be addressed. The moral issue with vaccinations isn’t that sometimes people die or receive lifelong debilitating illnesses from them, people do all sorts of things that get themselves killed or permanently injured, and I generally don’t have the right to tell people not to do things to themselves on their own time.

      The moral issue comes up if you make vaccines mandatory. Every person that supports mandatory vaccinations must agree to the following:

    “I’m quite willing to kill innocent children for the chance that maybe I or my child will have a healthier life.”

     A believer in mandatory vaccinations is willing to accept the slaughter of innocents, because, mathematically, people are definitely going to die from vaccinations, and since those people don’t get a choice about getting vaccinated, then the people that believe in taking away that choice, the pro-mandatory-vaccinators, must then assume the responsibility for those deaths.

     I sure don’t want that responsibility. I respect people willing to do much to help their children, but the number of folks willing to commit random slaughter like this is a bit frightening.

     Next time, I’m going to take a look at people that choose not to get vaccinations (it’s far more than most people think), and see if they’re dying in droves from the illnesses that vaccines (supposedly) protect others from, or if the  non-vaccinated are somehow killing vaccinated people (I’ve had pro-vaccine people say the latter is a legitimate fear).