At CHS Australia is developing a reputation as one of the world’s most intolerant first-world societies where the quality of academic output cannot be underlooked too highly. Australia was already looking ridiculous with politicians standing for office who do not know basic geography: ‘I don’t oppose Islam as a country’ – Australian politician withdraws from election after TV immigration gaffe interview goes viral. Rob Williams The Independent Saturday 10 August 2013.
Yes, dear readers, we have another one for you to laugh at from Australia, the land of the Ocker. But this one is truly bizarre and none of this is a laughing matter but it is one way to remain sane in such a crazy world. There are just so many “nut-jobs” in the establishment who not only think they should be taken seriously but demand they are, and the media just lap it up without a murmur.
But this is worse. And it is not worse just because this supposedly “new” study is reporting information which is far from new and already well and seriously discredited before the authors even started work. That includes relying on a paper published by one of the US ten most wanted alleged criminals and alleged medical fraudster Poul Thorsen who allegedly took millions of US tax dollars to get studies written for the US Centers for Disease Control denying vaccines cause autism.
Scientific scrutiny is just that little bit more difficult when the author of the study is “on the run” from the law. Not much chance of getting his response to scientific criticism of that study.
Here is the “new” study which relies on that kind of evidence: Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies Luke E. Taylor, Amy L. Swerdfeger, Guy D. Eslick. The Whiteley-Martin Research Centre, Discipline of Surgery, The University of Sydney, Nepean Hospital.
And it is also not worse just because and even though this supposedly “new” study does not in fact look at the specific question of whether vaccines cause autism because none of the papers it relies on for its evidence does. The authors seem to have failed to notice that is not the question those papers examined. It is not just completely unscientific. We here on CHS explained this phenomenon of comparing vaccinated to vaccinated children and concluding that because they all have autism that vaccines are not to blame: All Studies Claiming No MMR Vaccine-Autism Link Invalid – According to Merck’s Vaccine Director, former US CDC Director & the US HRSA.
How can the medical professions keep churning out garbage like this and keep public confidence? [Well, they are not. People are voting with their feet.]
And it is also not worse just because and even though we might compare what happens in a court with real evidence and when a real live case of a real live child is considered against all the available medical and journal published evidence in a detailed independent expert review including studies like this which never look at real cases. Not only does the Court find on the medical evidence the MMR vaccine causes autism, but also the government with its medical and scientific experts “threw in the towel” on that issue, recognised the evidence was overwhelming in just the case of one child and were left with arguing the family could not have compensation because MMR vaccination is not compulsory in the country concerned: MMR Vaccine Causes Autism – IV – Now Reported in English National Press.
What makes this study far far worse is the main author of the study cannot see anything wrong with his admission at the end of the study [in his somewhat weird “Epilogue“] that even though his children suffered serious vaccine adverse reactions not only did he still go ahead with more vaccinations, but he did what we here at CHS consider amounts to child abuse.
Despite knowing of the risk for his children of seizures following vaccination and the attendant risk of brain damage, he ensured his child was given paracetamol [Acetaminophen] to suppress fever following vaccination. What is wrong with that? There is clear evidence that the use of paracetamol in this way has a high association with a child developing autism: Acetaminophen (paracetamol) use, measles-mumps-rubella vaccination, and autistic disorder: the results of a parent survey. Autism. 2008 May;12(3):293-307.
So this author of a study trying to tell everyone vaccination does not cause autism is wholly unaware that what he was doing was putting his child in harm’s way. This was of the very harm his paper is claiming is not caused by precisely what he did and when there is clear journal published evidence to show that.
This supposed medical “expert” gives no indication whatsoever in this paper that he even knew the risk to which he was putting his child. Children have no choice in the matter and are entirely dependent upon their parents to keep them safe from risk of serious harm like that. And remember, that if vaccines work as claimed it would not be necessary to subject his child to vaccination as the child would be protected by “herd immunity” according to vaccinology theory. So this was in CHS’ view an unnecessary risk to subject a defenceless child to.
And the reason why he was not aware of the risk? This shows just how poor his study is as evidence. His study excluded clinical evidence of real cases and only considered “tobacco-science” statistical studies. In fact the authors of the paper went out of their way to exclude literally thousands of papers to come up with just ten [yep thats right – just 10] papers and ten already known discredited papers at that.
And when we get around to actually looking at the supposed “new” study we find that what it was claiming to have found was not supported by any of the evidence the authors relied upon. How can this bizarre situation arise?
The supposed new study searched for journal published statistical studies for its starting point and then tried to amalgamate the results into one big “study of studies” – which is given the misleading jargon-name of “meta-analysis“. Now everyone knows that if you have a witness giving evidence in a court or public inquiry or a politician makes claims in public or a parliament and they lie about something, everyone loses confidence in their evidence and we have to chuck it out – abandon it as unreliable. It really does not help your case if you get ten witnesses like that. And of course it is even less helpful when none of the witnesses saw the events you claim they did.
So that is what this supposed “new” study achieves.
So just remember in future that with a big “study of studies“, a “meta-analysis” according to its fancy name, the normal rules are cast aside.
This is what the study authors claim to have found when that is not what the studies they analysed were looking at:
Findings of this meta-analysis suggest that vaccinations are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder. Furthermore, the components of the vaccines (thimerosal or mercury) or multiple vaccines (MMR) are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder.
And just so you can read it yourself, this is what the main author’s “Epilogue” says:
As an epidemiologist I believe the data that is presented in this meta-analysis. However, as a parent of three children I have some understanding of the fears associated with reactions and effects of vaccines. My first two children have had febrile seizures after routine vaccinations, one of them a serious event. These events did not stop me from vaccinating my third child, however, I did take some proactive measures to reduce the risk of similar adverse effects. I vaccinated my child in the morning so that we were aware if any early adverse reaction during the day and I also gave my child a dose of paracetamol 30 min before the vaccination was given to reduce any fever that might develop after the injection. As a parent I know my children better than anyone and I equate their seizures to the effects of the vaccination by increasing their body temperature. For parents who do notice a significant change in their child’s cognitive function and behaviour after a vaccination I encourage you to report these events immediately to your family physician and to the ‘Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System’.
And of course all the usual “whack-jobs” on the blogs like the crank Dr David Gorski on Scienceblogs and Respectful Insolence jump up and down proclaiming how this kind of evidence is the greatest thing since sliced bread and how it proves vaccines do not cause autistic conditions. The poison pen of Skeptical Raptor on permanent PMT went so far as to claim it is the final nail in the coffin of the claim vaccines cause autistic conditions. So what we can say is these are the last people on earth to take seriously.
The use of terms like “nut-job”, “whack-job” and suchlike are not CHS’ usual style. It seems necessary sometimes however to use the only language some people like Dr Ben Goldacre, his BadScience Forum, Dr David Gorski, Skeptical Raptor and others of that ilk understand.