Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Vaccines and Autism, Part 4

By Professor Doom

     Now, there have been plenty of studies showing a link between vaccines and autism, not that a link means causation. For any statistical study, you can argue something about the methodology invalidates the study. One of the best arguments nullifying these studies isn’t the sample size, it’s the environment.

      Autism rates are rising, vaccination rates are rising…given these two facts, it’d be pretty amazing, astounding even, if no study could be produced showing a statistical link between the two. Unfortunately, quite a few other things are rising. More processed food, for example, or just about anything else…I bet anyone could show that vaccination rates and number of McDonald’s franchises are rising together as well.

      This is a big problem. Autism rates have been rising even in indigenous populations, populations that didn’t even have a word for autism before. Now, these rates rise in proportion to these populations getting vaccinations…and that still doesn’t prove a thing.

      As these people come out of the jungle or the outback to get their vaccinations, they’re also getting exposed to everything else the modern world has to offer. They come out of the jungle, get their shot, and grab a Big Mac on the way home…I exaggerate, but the modern infrastructure that exposes indigenous people to vaccines exposes them to many other things.

     Instead of looking at rising rates of autism and vaccination, can we find people in the modern world who’ve kept the same rates for the last few decades?

      Yes. The Amish do not get autism…or at least get it at such a low rate (i.e., the historical rate) that it hasn’t been found. The Amish, of course, do not get vaccinations.

      It’s really worth pointing out here: the Amish have not succumbed to plagues of polio, measles, mumps, rubella, or all the other things that most every American child is vaccinated against repeatedly, nor have they passed on these plagues to the tourists and such who visit them and buy their wares. Even more stunning, the population of Amish is exploding…and they’re avoiding vaccines. If vaccines are so necessary that it is mandatory for citizens to get them, why are the Amish thriving without them? “Herd Immunity” doesn’t apply here, since the Amish, quite obviously, live as a group, and totally travel through modern society with some regularity. It really, really, seems like there’s a question or two worth asking there.

      Now we have a real problem. It’s one thing to disregard the studies that say vaccinations and autism are related…but now we have a population that has no autism, and no vaccinations. To add insult to injury, the population has no plagues, isn’t giving anyone plagues, and the population is growing quickly.

     I’ve heard some pro-vaccination folks say that perhaps the Amish simply murder their autistic children, but I find this argument shrill. You don’t have to assume nearly so much to discount this apparent relationship between “no vaccines” and “no autism.”

     The Amish live a very special lifestyle. They don’t go to McDonald’s, after all, or do much that a “typical” modern person does…we’re basically looking at an indigenous population here, very unlike “everyone else” in so many ways that a case could be made that it’s still just a coincidence about the apparent link between vaccinations and autism. There’s also a genetic issue here: there aren’t many converts to the Amish, and most Amish can trace their roots back to Amish great grandparents. The people with genetic resistance to autism might just coincidentally be genetically inclined to being Amish—I’m not saying I agree, I’m just showing how far some people are willing to go to discredit a study.
     Can we find people who’ve kept the same rates of autism and vaccination for the last few decades, who nevertheless live like us?
     That might be a problem, but perhaps we can get close enough.


     The Jehovah’s Witnesses were initially against vaccination, but in 1952, they had something of a reversal, presented in the above quote. It’s an incredibly ethical decision: let the individual decide whether a vaccination is a sin, and behave accordingly.
     Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t nearly as restricted in behavior as the Amish, all we’d have to do is find a subgroup of Jehovah’s Witness that still doesn’t vaccinate and check their autism rates, and we’re set. Jehovah’s Witnesses even get converts regularly enough that you don’t even have to worry much about a possible genetic issue here.
     We’d like to have a big sample, too, right? Well, here we go:
But thousands of children cared for by Homefirst Health Services in metropolitan Chicago have at least two things in common with thousands of Amish children in rural Lancaster: They have never been vaccinated. And they don't have autism.
"We have a fairly large practice. We have about 30,000 or 35,000 children that we've taken care of over the years, and I don't think we have a single case of autism in children delivered by us who never received vaccines,"

     This practice (the link is from nearly 10 years ago) tends to have patients who follow religious beliefs that disallow vaccinations. These patients also tend to homeschool, breastfeed, and eat at least relatively healthy diets, but are nevertheless a far cry away from Amish in lifestyle and genetics—they still watch TV, use cell phones, and eat the occasional Big Mac, after all. The children seem to be resistant to other common ailments as well:
“…The asthma rate among Homefirst patients is so low it was noticed by the Blue Cross group with which Homefirst is affiliated,…”

     That’s not some random blogging chucklehead saying something’s special here, that’s Blue Cross. I’m no fan of big insurance companies in general…but I know they’re very, very, careful with their record keeping (because good record keeping means good profits for an insurance company). Asthma, much like autism, has also been claimed to be related to vaccination (just a claim, of course).
      It’s also worth noting that these 30,000 unvaccinated children also are not dying off left and right due to measles, mumps, rubella, etc., nor has the population of Chicago died off contracting diseases from these children, over the last ten years. Yes, a few, small, outbreaks in various places (not just Chicago)…but it’s hard to compare a child being sick for a week to getting lifelong brain damage. After ten years of waiting, I would have thought people would wonder about those dire predictions.
      I emphasize that last “ten years” because, over a decade ago, people were very, very, certain that the world was going to boil over soon...I was called many unpleasant names back then when I questioned the research, too. “Big government science” said the world was going to boil over, snowfall would be a thing of the past (not joking, that’s the title), the ice caps would be gone, etc, supported by big government data, and every study that said otherwise was attacked, discredited, and could not get published in a “good enough” journal. But, with 10 years of no boiling over, people are starting to ask questions about just how seriously we need to take “big science” sometimes.
     I no longer question the claim that there will be no polar ice caps by 2014, though there was a time when “only an idiot” would question the government science behind that prediction…it’s time to question something else.
     How many decades of big government telling us marijuana was very, very, bad, have been negated in the last few years by honest scientists? One should always ask questions about anything big government related.
Charlatan: “It’s a ghost whistle.”
Sucker: “What’s it do?”
Charlatan: “It scares away ghosts. Just blow it once a year or so and no ghosts will attack you.”
Sucker: “That’s stupid, who’s ever heard of a ghost attacking?”
Charlatan: “Well, I’ve been blowing it every year. So, it works! But I’m moving away soon, so need to sell it to someone who understands.”
Sucker: “Ah, I understand. Guess I’d better buy it.”

     I really think it’s time to ask some questions here about the absolute necessity of at least some of these vaccines. How many of these dozens of new vaccines we’re pumping into our children are really just ghost whistles? I only had half a dozen vaccinations growing up, and there weren’t any plagues…and now children need 70 vaccinations? Did I miss the study saying that the current generation is much, much, healthier than generations past? I sure couldn’t find anything of the sort.
      Back to that (alleged) no vaccine practice, we have a very serious claim that there’s a relationship, the data is right there, now all the government (or someone else with deep pockets) has to do is a study of these 30,000 kids to see if there’s a result here worth reporting.
      Does the government have the money for such a study? I know, there are lots of things worth studying. It’s been a decade, surely someone with deep pockets could take a look and settle things at least a little?

Autism link to vaccines dismissed by studies of more than a million children


That’s a government study from 2014. I guess nobody “official” has the time to look into that vaccine-free practice, so we have to look unofficially. Shucks. It would be nice to see that group studied carefully—it’s much harder to “produce” 600 kids with autism than it is to simply toss a few data points that would show a link.
Now that we have a whistleblower saying the data in big government studies is manipulated, I can’t help but be a little suspicious, even if CNN is very trusting that there’s nothing to see there.
--wait, what? You mean the doctors don’t even think vaccines are always perfectly safe? Don’t they read CNN? Just kidding, although I’ve personally met a few medical personnel that are a little suspicious of vaccines as well.

     I’m not a doctor, so I can’t give much advice. My knowledge of statistics tells me that something is going on, but I sure can’t tell you what. If you’re thinking of vaccinations, I encourage you to become well informed on the subject, and, ultimately, to follow your heart…vaccines are (probably) a good bet for most people, but you should know and understand the risks. If you do decide to vaccinate your children against everything, strongly consider spreading out the vaccine schedule as much as possible.  Try to cut back on the Happy Meals for the kids, while you’re at it. Also, read more than just CNN for your information, because mainstream media just keeps insisting there’s no link at all, even with multiple whistleblowers on the  inside saying big government research is bogus.


  1. Another enjoyable and illuminating post, thank you Professor!

    If you haven't already come across it, I highly recommend this blog post by ex-Congresswoman Beth Clay http://bethclay.com/when-you-know-you-are-being-lied-to/ --- who was the staff lead on the House Oversight Committee’s investigation looking into concerns about vaccine injuries. No 'proof of anything of course :-) only an interesting, and priviledged, perspective. (you know that one about blind men feeling and describing an elephant from different sides...)

  2. Professor Doom,

    An interesting article on very low vaccination rates at elite schools in southern California appeared on the website tpnn.com on October 3, 2014. Would love to hear your opinion on this article.

    1. It's a brief article that doesn't ask or answer many questions, and puts a hefty spin on things, For example, the article doesn't mention possible health risks from vaccination, only that the parents 'don't bother to vaccinate', and then that last line about liberal hypocrisy doesn't help (especially since nothing in the article says that it's liberals that aren't vaccinating, but "it could be", which is enough for a slam. I'm no fan of liberal thinking, mind you, but I am a fan of honest discussion).

      Looking at what little is there, one must do the math. They say 8000 kids caught whooping cough, and 2 died, both infants. But they don't think it through--those infants might not have been vaccinated anyway, so it means nothing for them. Additionally, if you vaccinate 8000 kids, statistically 160 of them (if you believe the research) will get autism, permanent lifelong damage that some parents might consider worse than death...even if you don't believe the research, you're still mathematically going to lose 4 or more just from "random" bad vaccine side effects.

      So, 4 dead kids, or 2 dead kids? That sounds like a choice I don't want to make for other people, and I'm not sure how you can criticize a choice of 4 dead kids as being worse than 4 or more (and, again, it could be more like 160...).

      And, of course, the article doesn't bring up obvious questions about "are the non-vaccinated kids in general healthier?". I mean, it slams the private schools for low vaccination, why not look at the attendance records, make a comparison, and go from there.

      So, the article could just as easily have spun this as a positive for non-vaccinators. I mean, c'mon, calling "vitamins and a healthy diet" a risky choice? Jeez.

      So, in short, it's more of a slanted hit piece than anything else.

    2. er, "2 dead kids as being worse..."

    3. Heh, I didn't even think to look for, much less read, the comments. It's amazing how often the readers have it right, and they totally slam the piece.

    4. Thanks for your meticulous analysis of the article. The salient point in the article in my opinion was that schools in southern California that cater to elite socioeconomic families, presumably well educated and intelligent, have VERY LOW VACCINATION RATES. These same elites vigorously promote vaccination to the general public as healthy, necessary, and legally mandatory. For example, Kaiser executives (like college administrators), who have obscenely high salaries, aggressively promote vaccination. They offer overtime to Kaiser employees to vaccinate Kaiser members, despite their severe budget cuts at Kaiser. Vaccination campaigns are profitable and increase the Kaiser executives' already bloated incomes.

    5. Ah, I thought you were focusing on the liberal slam. Yes, in the sense of it being interesting that the (presumably) more educated people avoid vaccines, I can see that. A study of the literature and it doesn't take much to have some serious concerns about vaccines.

      That said, people have a difficult time with risk assessment. Flying, for example, is generally safer than car travel, but most people (myself included) have more anxiety about flying than riding in a car, even over the same number of miles.

    6. Used to have flight anxiety. After visiting over 100 countries in the last 22 years (most by air), have lost any flight anxiety. However, now
      driving around LA freeways in my old age is causing me a lot of anxiety and irritation. Again thanks for all your hard work and excellent, incisive analysis. Correct state of community college is shocking. I went to two community colleges in Marin County, Ca. before getting my B.S. in Earth Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz. UC and community college combined done in three years.