Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Old Habits Die Hard

We have discussed the conspiracy theorist repository known as whale.to a few times in the past namely here and here, and you might think after showing how that particular website included such riveting fiction as flying dolphins, holocaust denials, and how the government invented the AIDS virus and is secretly infecting the population, you might have thought anti-vaccinationists would try to distance themselves from the site.

You may have thought the popularity of Scopie's Law would have some antivaxxers second guessing whether they wanted their names associated with whale.to due to the obvious implications to their credibility. You may have even thought that rather than siting the website directly, that antivaxxers would instead just copy and paste the data into other less familiar websites.

Well... you would be wrong.

As it turns out, antivaxxers still flock to whale.to on a regular basis, and just today I was directed to a comment thread where none other than anti-vaccination extraordinaire Lowell Hubbs is once again citing whale.to as a reputable source.  The following screen cap was taken from a Huffington Post article found here (and one which I recently discussed in a previous blog post).

Mr. Hubbs' comment shows everything that is wrong with the anti-vaccination movement today.  No, I'm not talking about his usage of ellipsis which make it appear that he has to take... a... breath... between...each... word.  Rather I'm speaking about how when antivaxxers are presented with facts they simply choose to ignore them.  When their sources are shown to be lacking, laughable, or just simply absurd they don't seek out more reputable sources but instead they latch on to their nonsense and go into defense mode.

We've seen this same pattern of behavior when it comes to Andy Wakefield.  Even though the Wakefield "study" was retracted and Wakefield himself stripped of his medical license, and even though he was found guilty of fraud and manipulation of data, and even though he was shown to have conflicts of interest due to financial connections to competing/alternative vaccines to those which he was attacking - the anti-vaccine movement refuses to distance themselves from this failed relationship even though it is clear to everyone else that it only serves to harm their credibility.

Thus is it really any surprise to not only see Lowell Hubbs citing whale.to in his comments, but even going so far as to claim it is a "great site" containing "real history"?  Sadly, anti-vaccinationists don't appear to grasp the concept that a untrustworthy source harms their credibility so they just continue to spew the same nonsense day after day.  The fact is, for someone who is on the fence and unsure of vaccinations, these types of tactics only serve to harm the anti-vaccine movement because a person of even moderate intelligence is going to take a look at a website that features flying dolphins, extensive data pertaining to UFOs, and information about government mind-control, and they will be either consumed with laughter, or they will simply assume the anti-vaccine movement is akin to every other group of conspiracy theorists out there such as Bigfoot hunters, 9/11 "truthers", or those idiotic moon-landing conspiracy theorists.

Come to think of it, whale.to might actually be helping to show people how out of touch these anti-vaxxers really are.  In that case I can only hope people like Lowell Hubbs continue to reference the website as often as possible - because it seems to be doing a fantastic job of showing the anti-vaccinationists for what they really are... simple conspiracy theorists who have a propensity to believe anything they read on the Internet.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

HuffPo: Anti-Vaccine Vitriol: Seeking Reason

Dr. David Katz recently published a piece on The Huffington Post in response to some of the anti-vaccination nonsense that gets posted on the HuffPo website on a regular basis.  The amazing thing is HuffPo is known to  be somewhat of a safe haven for antivaxxers, so to witness them being called out for their tactics and lunacy is nothing short of amazing.

I'd love to cite some specific passages from his article, but the truth is if I cited only the parts of the article which make sense and which make very valid points, I'd end up posting the entire piece.  Therefore I encourage you to read the entire article in its entirety over at the HuffPo website.  You can find the article at this link:  Anti-Vaccine Vitriol: Seeking Reason.

Well ok, I do have to list one of my personal favorite quotes that Dr. Katz wrote: "In other words, if you want to offer advice against vaccination that reasonable people can take seriously, try being reasonable".

I dare say the phrase "reasonable antivaxxer" is an oxymoron, but perhaps one day I'll actually come across one.  It is difficult to imagine a world where a reasonable person tosses aside all logic and common sense while ignoring mountains of scientific evidence and historical records, but perhaps there are varying levels of reason.

Of course even after reading the article, the antivaxxers once again come out in full force in the comments section.  Sadly it seems most of them were unable to complete the entire article before posting because many of their comments are using the very tactics discussed in the article itself almost as if they antivaxxers were so enraged after the first paragraph or two they skipped the remainder to cut and paste more anti-vaccine nonsense.

One comment that caught my eye was from an antivaxxer who complained of a lack of "[d]ouble-blind, randomized controlled studies" showing the efficacy of flu vaccinations.  Not only did this particular antivaxxer clearly not read or understand Dr. Katz's article, but she also appears to be very confused about ethically questionable studies.

We of course have discussed this issue in the past, and frankly anyone of average intelligence should understand the moral issues with trying to perform such a study, but even more troubling is how these antivaxxers presume it is possible to prove a negative in the first place.  I just have to wonder if someone did perform a double-blind randomized controlled study on a flu vaccine and those individuals who did not receive the vaccine were six times more likely to contract the flu - would antivaxxers actually suggest the vaccine was functioning as designed?  I think we all know the answer, and that answer is "no", because they would simply claim there was bias, or they would challenge the funding source for the study, or they would make claims about how correlation does not equal causation (even though they are guilty of confusing the two on a continual basis).

The truth is, even if the results did come out as expected it wouldn't change perceptions or the minds of the anti-vaccination crowd, so what benefit would such an unethical study provide, and at what costs?  What if one of the test subjects contracted the flu and died as a result of complications?  What if those study participants who didn't receive the vaccine contracted the flu and spread it to dozens or possibly even hundreds of others?

You see when someone doesn't receive a vaccine, it isn't only them who is impacted.  Potentially it is everyone around them.  It is anyone and everyone who comes into contact with that person which is precisely why I have no problem with calling someone who willfully skips their vaccinations out of ignorance to be nothing short of selfish.  If you want to kill yourself I have zero problem with it, but when you put the lives of others in danger due to your selfishness, then I have a problem with your actions.

We have seen the ramifications of scientific ignorance when antivaxxers refuse to allow their children to receive vaccines, and in some cases it has lead to outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases such as the measles or pertussis... with the end result being hospitalizations, prolonged illness, and in a few select cases even death.

Therefore antivaxxers can continue to protest that no double-blind randomized and controlled studies on the efficacy of the flu vaccine have been performed, but it won't change anything and is merely a distraction.  As much as we might love to see such a study, it won't be happening anytime soon not only because of the ethical issues, but because anytime a study is performed and the treatment has such profound effects, the study will be interrupted.  It is simply inhumane to continue a study when a sample group shows such a significant benefit over the control group, and any long-term study of a vaccine is most certainly going to show this disparity thus we must look elsewhere for the necessary data.

Granted it isn't like we can't look at actual historical data to know if something works.... say for instance the fact that the CDC reported the incidence of invasive Hib disease dropped from 40-100 per 100,000 children down to 1.3 per 100,000 due to routine usage of the Hib vaccine from 1980 to 1990. Surely that is merely a coincidence.

Then again, Australia found the same thing... which results in this chart showing how the Hib vaccine resulted in over a 90% drop in reported cases in 12 years and actually eliminated all fatalities within 7 years.

It still must just be a coincidence right?  I mean we can't use this type of data because it isn't part of a double-blind randomized and controlled study... so it must be garbage.

Then again, there have never been double-blind randomized and controlled studies proving the efficacy of parachutes either, and there won't be anytime soon.  Does that mean we shouldn't trust the efficacy of parachutes?  Of course not, because we already know they save lives.  We already have more than enough evidence to know that parachutes are a great idea, and we know what the alternative is.  To suggest we need a double-blind study to determine whether parachutes work or not would be unethical (and obviously idiotic), but when you think about it, vaccines are no different.

So the next time an antivaxxer asks for a double-blind study aka: a "vax vs. unvaxxed" study showing the efficacy of vaccines, just ask them if they are willing to participate in a double-blind study for parachutes.  Sure that seems incredibly stupid, but so does the idea of passing on a vaccine because of scientific ignorance or fear.

Now if you need an example that is more in tune with vaccine, simply look no further than shoulder-mounted three point safety belts in automobiles.  We know the usage of such devices has resulted in many lives saved, and we know what the statistics are prior to their usage much in the way we know what the rates of disease were prior to vaccines being developed.  So should automobile manufacturers be required to perform double-blind studies on seat belts prior to installing them in vehicles?  Should they be required to report any findings of shoulder injury or broken arms due to the seat belts even though those same people may have died without the seat belt?

Our world isn't always so black and white, and sometimes the data is impossible to obtain via a perfectly controlled scientific study.  In some cases we need to look at the other sources of evidence such as infection rates or historical data.  It may not always be as clean and concise as a chart listing infection rates of X vs. Y, but unless you are willing to jump out of a plane without a parachute you really have no business complaining about a lack of double-blind studies.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Need Another Reason to Get a Flu Shot?

If reducing the risk of suffering from the flu this winter isn't quite enough to convince you to get a flu shot, consider this:  according to two studies presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, it turns out getting a flu shot can actually decrease the risk of a heart attack by as much as 50%!

So not only can you avoid the flu, you might actually save your life.  Sort of makes you wonder how antivaxxers will spin this to make it look like a bad thing... because saving lives isn't exactly the type of side effect they like to talk about.

Is this the kind of thing that should be reported to VAERS?

Read more here:  The Shot That Prevents Heart Attacks (via Yahoo Health)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Move the Goalposts... It's Time to Talk Aluminum

Spend more than five minutes on an anti-vaccination website and you will soon realize that most antivaxxers aren't exactly fans of aluminum.  No we aren't talking about aluminum cans or cookware, but rather we are talking about aluminum in a salt form which is commonly used in vaccines to act as an adjuvant.  In simple terms, the aluminum increases the effectiveness of a vaccine due to how it triggers a reaction within the immune system.

Aluminum has been used within vaccines for over 80 years, so you might ask yourself why are antivaxxers suddenly so focused upon aluminum when it isn't exactly a new ingredient?

Well to answer that, you first need to realize where we have been.  Antivaxxers have previously attempted to single out other ingredients such as thimerosal as they blamed it for various conditions up to and including autism in children.  They used scare tactics to associate thimerosal with mercury poisoning due to a misunderstanding of the differences between ethylmercury and methylmercury.

However, even prior to these cries of mercury poisoning from the antivaxxer community, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was already in the process of reviewing the use of thimerosal in vaccines.  Under the FDA Modernization Act (FDAMA) of 1997, the FDA carried out a comprehensive review of the use of thimerosal in vaccines.  The review found no evidence of harm from the use of thimerosal other than local hypersensitivity reactions near the injection site.

In the early 2000's, the Immunization Safety Review Committee of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) performed a review of all available research including studies in the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Denmark and they specifically focused upon the hypothesis that thimerosal was a contributing factor to childhood diseases such as autism.  The committee concluded that the available data and studies rejected the casual relationship between thimerosal (or vaccines containing thimerosal) and autism.

This is probably a good time to mention the fact that the IOM is part of the National Academy of Sciences and is a non-governmental institution. That may not seem particularly relevant, but since antivaxxers have a severe distrust for the federal government or any three letter agency (CDC, FDA, EPA et al), it should be clarified that the IOM is an independent organization and therefore would not share the same perceived bias(es) as a government agency.

Even though the IOM rejected the relationship between thimerosal and autism the FDA, as a preventative measure which had begun years earlier, was already in the process of removing thimerosal from vaccines.  As of 2001 thimerosal was removed from all childhood vaccines recommended for children six years of age or younger (keep in mind autism generally presents itself between ages two and four), and the only exception to this were some versions of the inactivated flu vaccine (although thimerosal-free versions are available).  In addition to this, all new non-influenza vaccines licensed since 1999 contain no thimerosal.

So what was the end result of removing thimerosal from childhood vaccines? Did we see a significant drop in the rates of autism? Nope. In fact, since 2001 the rates have actually gone up, and thus the theory that thimerosal was responsible for the "autism epidemic" was quite obviously no longer popular to rally behind. Children who had never received even trace amounts of thimerosal were still being diagnosed with autism and therefore antivaxxers realized they could no longer place blame upon thimerosal. It soon became obvious it was time to try something new.

Move the goalposts - we have another new theory!

When antivaxxers realized that pinning their hopes upon thimerosal might not exactly pan out, they shifted gears a bit and started focusing on one specific vaccine (the MMR vaccine) which they claimed was directly responsible for autism in children.  It was around this time that they started professing that Andrew Wakefield was a genius and seemed to have the secret to unlocking the root cause of autism due to a study he published in 1998 which attempted to link the MMR vaccine with autism.

Of course after Wakefield was discredited and stripped of his medical license, and after his "study" was retracted, and after he was found guilty of fraud and manipulation of data.... well he didn't exactly seem like the great savior afterall and he soon found himself the laughing stock of the scientific community.  It was around this time that many antivaxxers decided to back-peddle a bit and distance themselves from Wakefield (although in some extreme antivaxxer circles, Wakefield continues to be considered a favorite son).

So at that point the antivaxxers decided that instead of focusing on the MMR vaccine specifically, they should simply talk about vaccines or vaccine ingredients in more general terms because scaring people by talking about mercury poisoning or "toxicity" is generally more effective than trying to convince people that a discredited doctor was right all along.

You guessed it - time to pick up those goal posts and slide them back just a bit further!

A few years ago around the time many antivaxxers decided to stop talking about thimerosal or the MMR vaccine, they decided to start talking about other vaccine ingredients such as formaldehyde.  Why the focus on formaldehyde?  Well it surely had nothing to do with science, but rather it was about perception.  It seems most people associate formaldehyde with high school Biology class where a fetal pig or a frog was stored in it prior to dissection.  They recall the strong odor and the fact there were warning labels which stated severe over-exposure to the liquid could result in death.  They also associate formaldehyde with embalming fluid and dead bodies... so surely this isn't something that should be in a vaccine should it?

Well the truth is there is very, very little formaldehyde in vaccines, and it just so happens that we already have far greater quantities of formaldehyde in our bodies at any given point than we ever receive from any vaccine.  It turns out we have around about 2.5 ug of formaldehyde per ml of blood.
Per the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's (CHOP) Vaccine Education Center: "Assuming an average weight of a 2-month-old of 5 kg and an average blood volume of 85 ml per kg, the total quantity of formaldehyde found in an infant's circulation would be about 1.1 mg, a value at least five-fold greater than that to which an infant would be exposed in vaccines".
In fact, we as humans actually NEED formaldehyde to survive since it is required for the synthesis of DNA and amino acids, thus suggesting the amount in vaccines would somehow be harmful was at best ignorant, and most likely simply dishonest.  Thus after antivaxxers realized the amount of formaldehyde found in vaccines was insignificant, they actually went so far as to suggest there is a difference between "natural" formaldehyde, and "synthetic" formaldehyde... once again showing that antivaxxers seem to ignore even the most basic tenets of chemistry.

The formaldehyde argument didn't seem to gain much traction however - most likely since anyone who has ever taken a basic chemistry course understands what formaldehyde really is - so the antivaxxers soon decided it was time for something new.

Get the shovel out... those goalposts need to be moved yet again!

This brings us to present day - when many antivaxxers have decided the one ingredient within vaccines which is REALLY, REALLY harmful (for reals this time), and the one ingredient that has the potential to cause the most damage is none other than aluminum.  Per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "[a]luminum salts, such as aluminum hydroxide, aluminum phosphate, and aluminum potassium sulfate have been used in vaccines for more than 70 years" so you might think the antivaxxers are a bit late to the game... but hey - better late that never right?

I suppose to the layman, telling them you are going to inject them with aluminum sounds about as appealing as telling them you are going to inject them with mercury.  Saying these things scares people... and isn't that the point?  We can't expect people to realize that the aluminum is the most common metal on the entire planet can we?  Can we expect them to know that there is a vast difference between a chemical compound containing aluminum and an actual piece of aluminum that may be used to form a soda can?

The truth is, aluminum is actually all around us, and even in us.  Aluminum is found in our water, it is found in our the soil, it is found in the air, it is commonly used in antacids, aspirin, and yes it is even found in our food including fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat.

So what is an antivaxxer to do when they soon realize that aluminum is all around us? What can they do when they find out the average human contains between 50 and 150 mg of aluminum at any given time?  What do they do when the find out the average daily intake of aluminum may range from 10-110 mg?   Well... they simply decide to focus on the amount of aluminum in vaccines rather than the amount of aluminum anywhere else in our body or our environment. Seems legit.

The problem is, vaccines really don't contain very much aluminum.  A typical vaccine contains no more 0.85 mg of aluminum per dose.  To put this in perspective, aluminum is also found in soy-based infant formula (0.46–0.93 mg/L) and milk-based infant formula (0.058–0.15 mg/L) which means an infant will consume more aluminum in a few days of drinking formula than it would receive from a typical vaccine.
Per CHOP, "During the first 6 months of life, infants could receive about 4 milligrams of aluminum from vaccines. That’s not very much: a milligram is one-thousandth of a gram and a gram is the weight of one-fifth of a teaspoon of water. During the same period, babies will also receive about 10 milligrams of aluminum in breast milk, about 40 milligrams in infant formula, or about 120 milligrams in soy-based formula.
Even more shocking, a common over the counter antacid has around 300-600 mg of aluminum hydroxide (approximately 104–208 mg of aluminum) per tablet, capsule, or 5 milliliter (mL) liquid dose! That means if you take a single tablet of a commonly available antacid, you are consuming as much as 245 times more aluminum than you would get out of a typical vaccine.

So why aren't antivaxxers out there protesting against antacids?  If you consider how much aluminum a typical adult human might consume in a 24 hour period as a result of some heartburn, it would seem to be the equivalent of hundreds and hundreds of vaccinations, yet antivaxxers fail to even mention it.  Why are these same antivaxxers not signing petitions to have soy-based infant formula removed from store shelves when it exposes infants to 30 times as much aluminum as vaccines within the child's first six months of life?  Could it be the antivaxxers are just slightly biased due to all of their previously failed attempts at pinning the root cause of autism on the vaccine industry?

The truth is, even if someone does ingest 2000 mg of aluminum in a single day, it will quickly leave their body via their feces and urine, which results in over half being flushed out of the body within 24 hours and over 70% of the aluminum being flushed out of the body within five days.  There have been some reports of long term complications surrounding high levels of aluminum exposure which I am certain many antivaxxers have latched on to, but unfortunately for them there have been long term complications from exposure to every element and chemical compound known to man.  As it turns out, the number one cause of drowning in humans is a result of too much exposure to H2O (commonly called "water"), yet I don't hear many people asking for the government to investigate Evian or Aquafina to see if they are killing people.  Go figure.

Sort of makes you wonder where the goalpost will move next doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Will Antivaxxers Embrace the HIV Vaccine?

I was reading the latest news about one of the many HIV vaccines in development, and even though the results of the initial phase of testing appear to be very positive, I couldn't help but wonder to myself... how will the antivaxxers spin this to make something as beneficial as a HIV vaccine to be a bad thing?

I understand full well we are a long way away from an actual usable and functional HIV vaccine, but the initial clinical trials suggest that such a vaccine could be right around the corner.  So if we assume a HIV vaccine is within our grasp, and we already know over 33,000 people a year are diagnosed with HIV / AIDS and over 9,000 die from the disease annually, will there be a major push from the antivaxxer community to proclaim the vaccine is more harmful than HIV itself?

Perhaps it is too early to tell.  We don't yet know of any potential side effects of the HIV vaccine so we can't say what harm it may cause.  However if we look to other vaccines as examples of what we might expect it seems highly unlikely that antivaxxers will support such a vaccine even if it is shown to save thousands of lives.

How do we know this?  Simple... just look at something like the HPV vaccine (Gardasil). We know the lifetime risk of developing cervical cancer in the US is 1 in 147 for those women who are unvaccinated while it is only 1 in 400 for those women who are vaccinated.  Knowing the fatality rate of cervical cancer is around 35%, we can use simple math to determine that the HPV vaccine could potentially save approximately 2,500 lives per year in the US alone.  Now antivaxxers are quick to point out that within one year of receiving a Gardasil vaccine there have been at least 68 reported deaths.  Some sources cite slightly higher numbers, some cite lower numbers, but the 68 number is accurate as of June 2011 and came directly from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).  What they fail to tell you however, is that that total includes all deaths... even those which were a result of suicide, car accidents, or unrelated medical conditions.

Now in case you are curious, even if we use the full 68 deaths, and we consider that at that point in time over 35,000,000 doses of the Gardasil vaccine were given it would mean that 68 works out to be 0.0004%.  It is probably also a good time to mention that 0 of those deaths (0.0000000000%) have actually been attributed to Gardasil... and that number doesn't change no matter who has reviewed the data.

However, I'm in generous mood and I'm trying to make a point, so for the sake of discussion, let's just go ahead and assume out of those 68 deaths that the vast majority were a direct result of the vaccine.  For the sake of argument, we will ignore all common sense and logic and simply assume that 50 of those 68 deaths were a direct result of Gardasil.  Now let's also assume that VAERS only captures about 10% of the actual adverse events tied to vaccines, and therefore we need to now extrapolate that 50 deaths to be a total of 500.  So out of 35,000,000 doses of the vaccine given, we are making a wild assumption of 500 deaths.  In case you are curious that works out to be an effective rate of 0.00142%

Do you have any idea how small a number 0.00142 really is? That is roughly one out of 70,000.  That means  if you injected one person each day with Gardasil, you could continue to do so for 192 years before someone might actually die as a result - and that is under the huge assumption that all of these deaths can be directly linked to the vaccine (which we know they cannot).

Great - so the chances of dropping dead within one year of receiving a Gardasil vaccine are 0.00142%.  Fine... I know it is a huge stretch, and we know the numbers are nowhere near that level, but even if we use worse case scenario logic coupled with idiotic assumptions, we still come up with a value which is incredibly small.

So how many lives have been saved by the vaccine during that same period of time?  The Gardasil vaccine was approved by the FDA in June of 2006, so five years later in June 2011 by the time those 35,000,000 doses were distributed, we could have potentially saved 12,500 lives from the vaccine.

So let's be clear - if the vaccine saves 2,500 lives a year (12,500 lives over five years) and if the vaccines results in 500 deaths during that same period, that tells us the end result is a net increase in lives saved.  This means the Gardasil vaccine actually saved at least 12,000 lives.  Yes you can argue the number is larger or smaller, but in the theme of keeping things simple, this is a fairly conservative figure.

So what do antivaxxers say when presented with these numbers?  Do they admit that the net effect of the vaccine is that lives are saved?  No.  Do they admit that even if the vaccine isn't perfect that it is still better than nothing?  Nope.  Instead of looking at the net impact, antivaxxers do what antivaxxers always do when the numbers don't help their cause.  They deny the numbers and claim the math doesn't add up.... or better yet they simply refuse to talk about it.

Now we know it is impossible for even the most diehard antivaxxer to deny basic arithmetic, so instead they simply flatly deny that the vaccine saves any lives.  They even go so far as to claim there is no connection between HPV and cervical cancer.  Yes seriously.  (In case you are wondering, the claim about HPV not causing cervical cancer is flatly untrue and stems from a misunderstanding of the virus.  It is true that not all strains of HPV cause cancer and it is also true that many HPV infections are short-lived and don't result in cervical cancer, but it is widely know that some strains of HPV (namely HPV 16 and HPV 18) do in fact cause more than 99% of all cervical cancers).

So we can see with our own eyes that antivaxxers with do anything and say anything rather than admit a vaccination is actually beneficial.  They will misinterpret data, they will misreport the facts, they will misrepresent scientific studies and even cherry-pick statements out of context.  Even worse, when all else fails... they will just flat out lie.

So if one day we are presented with a HIV vaccine that could potentially save tens of thousands of lives each year, is it possible that antivaxxers would actually embrace the vaccine and admit that it benefits the health of the human race?

Considering many antivaxxers don't even believe that the HIV virus causes AIDS... not bloody likely.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The HPV Vaccine and Promiscuity

Antivaxxers aren't really fond of the Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil - primarily because it is adiscussed the myths surrounding this vaccine in the past, and I even wrote a blog piece that explained none of the deaths that antivaxxers associate with Gardasil have been proven to actually be a result of the vaccination.
vaccine.  They attribute many medical issues to the vaccine and even go so far as to blame it for numerous deaths.  Of course I have

Rest assured, even in spite of overwhelming evidence surrounding the safety and effectiveness of the Gardasil vaccine, and even though it has been shown to save at least 2,500 lives each year due to the reduced risk of cervical cancer, antivaxxers are unwilling to concede the vaccine might actually be a good thing... because once again it is a vaccine.  

Antivaxxers don't really care if vaccines work because they are predispositioned to believe all vaccines are bad.  In fact, most antivaxxers believe society would be better if nobody was ever vaccinated for anything (because apparently losing hundreds of thousands or even millions of lives each year to diseases like smallpox and polio is better for society).

So since it is so easy to discredit many of the claims made by antivaxxers surrounding Gardasil, and because they have absolutely zero data to support their claims about deaths and serious injury caused by the vaccine, some antivaxxers decided to take a new approach.  One of the more recent claims is that the HPV vaccine is a bad thing because it teaches girls that they can be sexually active with no ramifications.  The premise here is that allowing a girl to get the vaccine would therefore be suggesting to her that it is OK to start having sex.  

Imagine the outcome of teaching girls that sex at a younger age is perfectly fine.  Teen pregnancy rates would rise, the transference of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV would rise, and the net effect of the vaccine would be more damaging than HPV was in the first place.  Except that isn't happening, and we now have data to prove it.  Technically we had the data before, but a recent study simply analyzed the available data and summarized the findings.  

Psychology Today: HPV Vaccine Doesn't Cause Promiscuity

So with that out of the way, it makes you wonder what excuse antivaxxers will decide to use next.  Time will tell, but the one thing we know for certain is that they won't start admitting that the benefits of the Gardasil vaccine far, far outweigh any risks... because that would be allowing the data and the science to lead them to a conclusion, and we all know antivaxxers aren't very good at allowing the data to tell the story.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Lowell Hubbs Doubles Down on the Kiddie Porn Stories

As I recently posted, Lowell Hubbs likes to talk about child pornography both on this blog, as well as on his own Facebook page.  I showed how the images Mr. Hubbs attributes to these child predators are actually well known images from random Internet memes including a rather portly teenager known as "fat emo" and an overweight man known for having double chins.  I even had to point out the image Mr. Hubbs used that was supposedly a run away child that was abducted to be part of a child porn ring was none other than Eddie Munster from the 1960s television show The Munsters.  True to form, rather than admitting he was once again caught in a lie, Mr. Hubbs feels the need to defend his nonsense with his comments:
"As for the image said to be Larry Esenhour, and that is the correct spelling. He is indeed what he was said to be, and that is in fact his dad. The image of Eddy Munster was only added as a joke. In fact one said Larry Esenhour is one pissed off person right now, and at you; because this was exposed on your blog. I would be a bit worried about that if I were you." ~Lowell Hubbs
So let's break this down a bit and see what Mr. Hubbs is rambling on about.  First, on the initial Facebook post, Mr. Hubbs claimed the image was "Larry Eisenhour".  Now within this comment he claims the name is actually "Larry Esenhour" which we are told is the correct spelling.  This may seem like a trivial point, but we will come back to this later.

Second, Mr. Hubbs now claims the picture of Eddie Munster was added as a "joke".  This makes sense, because we all know mocking child pornography is so humorous and fun (sarcasm intended).  The reality is Mr. Hubbs knows how stupid he looks when he just picks random photos and then invents stories to go along with them and although he can remove the photos from his Facebook page, he can't remove the evidence from this blog.

The final few sentences in Mr. Hubbs' quote are just more of the same.  Veiled threats, unsupportable claims, and more all-around insanity.  What Mr. Hubbs fails to understand is that the more he speaks about these supposed "child pornographers" the worse he looks.  Why you ask?  Well... doesn't it seem odd that Mr. Hubbs seems to know so much about child pornographers even knowing what their current mental state might be and what they look like and the websites they participate in... yet he is never able to direct the police to their current location or offer any evidence of their supposed crimes?

Fear not however, because Mr. Hubbs wasn't satisfied with posting one senseless comment about kiddie porn, and soon enough he felt the need to continue the discussion with the following comments.  I've added my commentary here as well since it gets a bit long.
"Actually alias Costner, the guys [sic] name is Isenhour. Hey, so I didn't have the spelling right; so what." 
So first it was "Eisenhour", then it was "Esenhour", and now it is "Isenhour".  Mr. Hubbs has claimed two of these three names are correct... so be my guest if you want to  figure that one out.  I guess it is difficult to keep your story straight when you are making up the details as you go along.
"Actually the guy died this week of a heart attack, age 23." 
I should note it was just a few years ago when the "fat emo" meme made the rounds, and at the time the kid in the photos was clearly no more than 14 or 15 years old.  I'm was never a math major, but I don't see how a 15 year old kid becomes 23 in a couple of years... but let's not let basic math or logic get in the way of a good Lowell Hubbs comment.  Again, I find it odd that Mr. Hubbs seems to know so many details about these supposed child pornographers including how old they are and even how one of them died.  So where is the obituary?  Should I look under Larry Eisenhour, Larry Esenhour, or Larry Isenhour?  The odd thing is... I searched all three and can't seem to find anything on anyone with any of those three names.  So if the information isn't readily available on the Internet, how would Mr. Hubbs know about the personal lives of a man he claims is running a child porn ring?

I wish I could say Mr. Hubbs' comment starts to make more sense at this point... but sadly that is never the case.
"Thats [sic] actually a good thing because he was ruining the lives of to [sic] many young people, and that in regard to his child/teen porn studio he has been running. Unfortunately it is still running, under a new leader. Thats [sic] right, the underlings just keep moving up the ladder. Directly linked with and to the site [redacted], with accounts, and as well LS magazine and the undergound [sic] sex ring systems in the Ukraine." 
Note that I redacted the name of the website Mr. Hubbs likes to use merely because if there is any illegal activity occurring there I'm surely not going to advertise it.  Why Mr. Hubbs continues to provide such detail is anyone's guess.  This is yet another example of where Mr. Hubbs claims he has specific details about this underground child porn ring including the identities of those who may be running it, the website they operate from, accounts they may be using, and a name of a magazine.  So how does Mr. Hubbs explain his plethora of knowledge about child porn rings?  Seems a bit too convenient don't you think?
"Just because it was the only image and picture available on the internet [sic], for the guy, doesn't mean it is nor was not real. I couldn't make up anything like that up [sic], nor would I have any possible reason to make it up. How do you know what I know, and/or how and why I know what I know? You wouldn't." 
Actually Mr. Hubbs, yes you could make something like that up because you did exactly that.  You were busted using stock photos and trying to fabricate a backstory to cover your own guilt, and therefore you did the only thing you know how to do.... you lied.  You doubled down and dug the hole a bit deeper and you were caught - AGAIN.  Sadly this isn't the first time these tactics have backfired on you.

As far as your riddle about knowing what you know... that is just comical.  I'm expecting a comment about you being rubber and me being glue any moment. 
"And you actually seem to want to believe this person has received some sort of false accusation [sic] abuse from me? And you claim that I did that, and fabricated that, just to cover things up and create a falsely accused hacker. All to cover up that there really was no hack of my facebook acct., and to cover up that I really did put the information in there myself, stating that I was some sort of "Child Videographer". Thats [sic] what you want any readers to believe." 
I'm not claiming "this person" has received some sort of false accusation of abuse Mr. Hubbs.  I'm claiming this Larry Eisenhour / Esenhour / Isenhour person is a fabrication of your mind.  You invented a name that you weren't even intelligent enough to be able to remember how to spell, and you took an image from Google to invent a person to blame for your recent troubles.  That is what I believe Mr. Hubbs, and readers can make their own judgement based upon the information you have provided.
"No, Costner; irregardless of how long you say that was on my f.b account in the work and education, and you say I kept posting on my wall, with that said in existence; the truth is that I did not see it nor notice it, be it for whatever reason; that is as said the truth, I was not aware that it was there, and had not noticed it. I would as well of course have no reason to suspect anyone would do that, nor to keep rechecking for something like that having happened."
First of all I have no idea where you learned basic English, because I'm convinced a four year old could bang their head against a keyboard and come out with sentences that make more sense than what you have written here.  However if I read between the lines and try to approximate what thought you were attempting to convey I would agree the statement about your Facebook profile would be a fair because most people don't check their entire Facebook profile every single day.  However that particular excuse doesn't really hold water when put in context with the rest of your excuses - such as your next paragraph...
"In fact although said Larry I.; did hack my facebook acct. several times and shut down my entire computer system; until I locked that down by a specific alternative means to log in; (no specifics will be given); the person who actually hacked the said information into the account as far as that Work and Education section, was more likely to be and have been Dakota James. Dakota James is the same person who has provided all the illegally hacked and acquired legal document files as to and in regard to my said landlord situation,and that were on the page on this blog that you just pulled down. That for and by whatever means that page was published on this blog, and obviously later was and has been pulled down. You have never been hacked, right? You are as a fact, lying." 
See this is where Mr. Hubbs starts to lose me.  He makes wild claims about hackers (where have we seen that tactic before), but he is never able to offer any evidence.  I can't even begin to count the number of times that he claims this blog has been hacked, yet oddly enough I never seem to be aware of it.  I've never had any issues with this blog, I've never been forced to change my password, I've never received any alerts from Google about failed access attempts nor has anything else ever occurred to make me think someone has been "hacking" the blog.

Oddly enough, Mr. Hubbs seems to always see these phantom blog postings, yet he never seems to be able to capture any evidence that the have occurred.  Even multiple RSS readers never capture any of these phantom posts... so are these hackers so incredible that they are able to present blog posts only to Mr. Hubbs when no one else ever sees them?  Doubtful.  Although keep in mind in the past when Mr. Hubbs claimed this blog was hacked it turned out to be nothing more than him using MS Paint to create a fake blog page which he claims was published.  So very sad.

As far as this Dakota James character, that was a name used for a few comments posted here and logic dictates that most likely is not a real name.  The truth is I haven't heard anything from "Dakota James" since the original comments and I have no idea if he/she even visits this blog on a regular basis.  I'm guessing Mr. Hubbs must still be bitter about what was posted and is trying to do whatever he can to attack Dakota James,  but as is typically the case all we have are the ramblings of a conspiracy theorist and no evidence to support anything he says.

Rest assured if I was provided copies of "legal documents" I'd probably post them for all to see, but as it sits I'm as much in the dark about why Mr. Hubbs was evicted as anyone else.  I do find it odd that he can't find the time to pay the rent but he does have 20 hours a day to surf the Internet collection anti-vaccination material for his website... but whatever.
"So, keep on telling me I am lying and making up all your fabricated in your mind bullcrap, Costner; you are looking more mentally deranged all the time. Deny it all you want." 
Well as long as you asked.... yes Mr. Hubbs you are lying and making all of this "bullcrap" up.  You know it, I know it, everyone else who has read these blog pages knows it.  It isn't much of a stretch since you make up pretty much everything you ever write and very little of what you type is accurate, but when you dive into the subject of kiddie porn I must admit I get even more disgusted than when you are in over your head speaking about vaccines or other issues of healthcare.

I'll also deny that I'm looking "more mentally deranged"... which I believe is fairly obvious since I'm using your own words against you.  Hard to blame me for that Mr. Hubbs.
"Dakota James by the way is as well a person you have allowed to reply post on this blog more than once, and each time what was claimed to involved as well a fabricated presentation that amounted to entirely false claims, and what that person knew at the time was entirely slander which was directed at and to me. So, ongoing goes the desperation; doesn't it Costner. Don't actually, and refuse to debate the person directly, (me); just personally attack them with false accusation of lacking credibility in general. Sick stuff."
As I said Mr. Hubbs, this Dakota James identity has only posted here a few times and it was quite a while ago.  I believe I even made a comment in response to one of the comments he/she posted where I indicated I couldn't verify what was said.  However since nobody (including yourself) can ever verify what you post, I figure it is appropriate.

As far as debating you, we have been over this numerous times.  Scientific fact is not open to debate no matter how many times you throw a temper tantrum about it, and nobody - I repeat NOBODY - takes you seriously enough to 'debate' you.  Besides I have posted numerous pages deflating your claims and your supposed experts, and even when presented with scientific fact you refuse to acknowledge it.  It is difficult to have a debate with someone who won't follow the very basic tenets of debate in the first place.

Note - the remainder of this comment was submitted in a second post as apparently Mr. Hubbs had reached the character limit for comments. 
Now, you can ask all you want why a person would not go to law enforcement? Law enforcement is absolutely worthless in these situations, and that early on was tried. These people can and do cover their tracks quite well and that is how they keep operating without getting caught. These such people have so much money, they as well have law enforcement operating right in their pocket, and working for them. Not all, but some; and enough to get a heads up, and as well derail anything that goes up against them."
These people cover their tracks quite well?  Really Mr. Hubbs??  They cover their tracks so well that you know their names, you know their ages, you have their pictures, you know the websites the operate from and even the name of the 'front' magazine?  They cover their tracks so well that you know specifically who has 'hacked' your Facebook page and when one of them dies you even know what the cause of death was?  Wow... sure sounds like they do a great job of covering their tracks doesn't it Mr. Hubbs?

Yet even though you have all of this detail surrounding this mythical "child porn ring" you have no evidence showing that you ever tried to contact police or anyone else for that matter.  No police report, no attempts to go to the media... nothing.  So now you are claiming these people are so great at covering their tracks, yet you - a man known only for being a conspiracy theorist of questionable mental health - knows specific details including names, ages, websites, accounts, and even payoffs to law enforcement.

Yea that makes sense.
"No, as a fact I do not need law enforcement for anything Costner; and I have not nor will I ever need them for anything. They are absolutely worthless and have proven themselves to be worthless on every front, in these situations. Thats [sic] right, start scratching your head; ahhhehehehaaaa what, WHAT; &;^%($..THATS [sic] RIGHT, the only by choice... and actually clueless f**k here...is YOU! B***H!" 
Ok so I edited the profanity, but I think we all know what was said here.  So maybe Mr. Hubbs doesn't need law enforcement, but based upon his four DUI convictions, his time in prison, his shoplifting convictions, his conviction for theft of a bicycle, and whatever else is on his record... it sure seems that society still needs law enforcement to protect us from the likes of Lowell Hubbs.
"By the way; Larry is a person who as well had acquired medical funding money to after me; you know, such as stalking, hacking, calling me directly and making threats; sending trackers to watch my every move and follow me everywhere I go. This is standard issue from the medical community that I have endured now multiple forms of over over two years now. That from multiple different medical funders [sic] They do this because the truth is to [sic] damaging, and they want the truth silenced. And THIS should be any of your business, Costner? Why is that? YOU are one of the most demented and one of the sickest son of a b*****s on planet earth, as a fact. And you think, that no one can see that?"
So let me get this straight... this "Larry" operates a child porn ring, yet the "medical community" has provided him funding to track little old Lowell Hubbs and monitor his every move?  Seems legit.

So now Lowell Hubbs is the victim... we had it all wrong.  Lowell Hubbs is the one being threatened.  Lowell Hubbs is being tracked and having his every move monitored.  Lowell Hubbs is being followed everywhere.  Lowell Hubbs is being hacked and stalked.  Surely Lowell Hubbs would never invent or fabricate a story now would he?  Surely Lowell Hubbs only has the best interests of young children in mind when he speaks about child pornography day after day, comment after comment, time after time.  

Why didn't he say so sooner - it all seems so clear now!

So in summary - as if this post isn't far too long already - I'll just go on record again as saying I personally believe that Mr. Hubbs is very good at fabricating stories and making himself appear as the victim.  He seems to have an unhealthy interest in children, and a fascination with speaking about child porn rings.  He seems to suffer from any number of mental health disorders, and his version of reality is clearly not what the rest of us see.

I don't write these types of posts to merely pick on Lowell Hubbs.  I write them because based upon his comments I honestly fear that Mr. Hubbs may one day be in the headlines as he is involved in a horrific event.  I want to ensure his words are documented, and I want to ensure anyone who thinks this man is some type of an authority on vaccines or vaccine related information clearly understands the type of person he really is.  Not only has he been shown countless times to be a liar and not only has he been shown to be a conspiracy theorist, but the quotes above as well as those from previous posts clearly display signs of numerous mental disorders.

Don't expect Mr. Hubbs to consult a trained mental health provider however... apparently the only help he needs can be found at the bottom of the bottle.

Tastes so great it leads to four DUI convictions.
Is number five on the way?  

I have to ask... is this the type of man you would trust with the health and safety with your child?  If so, you have far greater problems than some vaccines.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vaccine Conspiracy Theorists Are Slow Learners

Whether your agree or disagree with many of the viewpoints held by Vaccine Conspiracy Theorists, you must acknowledge they are a stubborn group.  Take for instance the all-too-common reliance upon conspirary theorist websites that have been proven time and time again to be as far away from reputable as you could possibly get.

You might think after a vaccine conspiracy theorist finds out that the same site they have been quoting from has also been publishing conspiracy theories about how cell phone towers are designed to harm children or how dolphins can fly (yes seriously), or most offensively engaging in holocaust denial they might stop using that particular source when writing about vaccines.

You'd be wrong.

In fact, when an antivaxxer discovers one of their favorite vaccine conspiracy theorist websites is known for hosting other unbelievable conspiracy theories they don't distance themselves at all... they actually embrace it and start to rely upon it more often than ever. They don't seek better more scientific sources but instead double-down and go all-in on a hand full of crazy.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you exhibit A:

Ah yes.... the amazing conspiracy theory repository that is whale.to, and this time the website contains such important information that we need to be told about it IN ALL CAPS SO WE DON'T MISS IT!  It shouldn't surprise anyone that Lowell Hubbs would continue to quote whale.to... because he is not only a fan of the website, but he is also one of their "contributors".  Yes boys and girls, we are once again reminded why vaccine conspiracy theorists never gain any traction and why they will never be taken seriously.

When a person has to obtain their 'data' and 'facts' from a well-known dumping ground for random conspiracy theories that are so far out there they aren't even found on well known antivaxxer websites, and when the person running the website is actually a pig farmer rather than a scientist, journalist, researcher, or scholar... well let's just say you have issues.

Trusting whale.to to offer valuable scientific knowledge while ignoring all of the baggage that comes along with them is akin to a person acknowledging that Osama Bin Laden was most certainly an evil man who deserved death, but then bragging that he sure could whip up a fantastic fruit salad.

The mind of a vaccine conspiracy theorist is a very confusing place indeed.

Friday, October 5, 2012

What Do We Really Know About Vaccines?

If you listen to a vaccine conspiracy theorist (aka: an antivaxxer) for long, they will eventually make a comment which resembles one of the following:
  • "Vaccines have never even been studied!"
  • "There is no science behind vaccines!"
  • "The safety of vaccines is unknown!"
  • "The efficacy of vaccines has never been proven!"
  • "Nobody has ever studied vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children!"  
  • "Vaccines don't work at all and aren't even based upon science!"
To that I say... Really?  I can understand someone missing a study or two, but when a five second Google search can provide over 577,000 results it seems antivaxxers are simply going out of their way to ignore what is right in front of them.

Getting more specific, if you want to know about vaccine efficacy the data is available.  If you want to know about vaccine safety the data is available.  Even if you want to know about a specific vaccine such as the Hepatitis B vaccine and you were trying to determine if there was ever a comparison between vaccinated and unvaccinated children, that data is available.

Or perhaps you heard about the Gardasil vaccine and you are curious if the efficacy of that one specific vaccine has ever been examined, the data is available.  Even if you get more specific and are curious if the Gardasil vaccine results in an increased risk of miscarriage (spoiler alert - there is no evidence to support an increased risk) - once again the data is available.  Even if you have some strange desire to know what women in the rural South happen to think about the Gardasil vaccine even if they had never heard of it before being asked... that data is available!

So the next time you hear an antivaxxer claim vaccines have never been studied or that their safety has never been examined it would seem they are either misinformed, they are ignorant to the plethora of scientific available at our fingertips, or they are simply being dishonest.

Perhaps it is true that antivaxxers don't study vaccines, but the scientific community most certainly does.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Child Abuse and Vaccines

You might think a post entitled "Child Abuse and Vaccines" would speak about how many antivaxxers consider vaccines to be abuse and how they feel any child who is subjected to vaccines is somehow harmed.  In truth, I wish this was that type of post, but unfortunately that may have to come at another time.

Instead, this post focuses on Lowell Hubbs and his continual desire to discuss the sexual abuse of children.  This has been a frequent subject of Mr. Hubbs in the past (more than a few times), but I thought he had moved on to less upsetting subject matter.  I never intended to discuss this subject on a blog that surrounds antivaxxers and vaccine conspiracy theorists, but unfortunately Mr. Hubbs continues to somehow bring the subject back time and time again, so forgive me for veering off-topic.

I mentioned in a previous post that I have concerns about people who seem to be obsessed with children and who display a lack of meaningful relationships in their adult lives, but some information that was recently submitted here serves as evidence that Mr. Hubbs may not be exactly what he claims to be.

For instance, based upon a tip I recently visited the Facebook page of Mr. Hubbs, and I was immediately presented with a banner image of young children holding hands, running, and playing.  That in itself isn't all that significant, but then I noticed what Mr. Hubbs has listed in the Work and Education section of his profile:

Yes you are reading that correctly.  Mr. Hubbs lists himself as a "Child Videographer" for an organization which manufactures and distributes "under eighteen adult oriented imagery and video content".  In fact that specific organization was involved with the manufacture and distribution of actual child pornography.

I'm not sure what would bring someone to post that type of information, or if they think it is some sort of joke although I did note that information was found on his Facebook page for several days all the while he had been posting dozens and dozens of articles and commenting on numerous other posts, so call me skeptical at his attempts to use the old excuse of "black hat hackers" taking over his account.

Once Mr. Hubbs realized several people had commented on his work history, and once a link was provided showing the true nature of "LS Magazine" he quickly and silently removed it from his page, without so much as an explanation.

Of course Mr. Hubbs wasn't done yet.  In some vain attempt to divert attention away from himself, he immediately submitted the following images and comment to his Facebook page:

I really am not sure what is going on here, but it seems Mr. Hubbs is claiming the first image above shows a person named "Larry Eisenhour".  The truth is that image is a popular Internet meme which goes by the name of "Fat Emo".  A Google search will find dozens if not hundreds of variations of that very image, and rest assured the rather portly young man featured in the image is not named Larry Eisenhour, but is instead a teenager who is struggling with his new found Internet fame.

The second image is also a popular image online and appears at the top of the search results for "people with double chins".  I'm not sure why Mr. Hubbs would post this image and claim it is Larry Eisenhour's father, but once again claims being made by Mr. Hubbs don't appear to match reality.  At this point I'm fairly certain "Larry Eisenhour" is just another figment of Mr. Hubbs' imagination much like "Harley Manning" was in the past.

The third image posted by Mr. Hubbs is recognizable to most people above the age of 30, and is the actor Butch Patrick portraying the character Eddie Munster from the television show The Munsters.  How Mr. Hubbs thinks this is an abducted child is beyond me considering Mr. Patrick is now 59 years old and that particular image dates back from the mid 1960s.

How disconnected from reality does a person have to be to just start posting images and inventing cover stories in order to hide his own actions?  Once again Mr. Hubbs claims to have the name of someone involved in child porn and child abductions, and once again there doesn't appear to be any evidence to support his wild claims.  Once again he makes statements about hackers, but he is never able to offer any evidence that any hacking has occurred.  No police reports, no media coverage, no stories found on Google... just the words of a known conspiracy theorist who is desperately trying to deflect attention away from his own words and actions.

If there was any doubt surrounding the mental health of Mr. Hubbs or the dishonesty that surrounds so many of his claims, his own words should solidify his place as nothing more than a dishonest conspiracy theorist who seems to have an unhealthy obsession with children... and possibly 1960s sitcom stars.

I'm a big fan of "innocent until proven guilty", but I can promise you I would not entrust Mr. Hubbs with any young children.  There are simply too many red flags, too many unanswered questions, and too much evidence suggesting his continual obsession with children and his continual desire to talk about the sexual abuse of children goes far beyond a simple concern for their health and well-being.

With all of this in mind, and with clear evidence showing the blatant fabrications and dishonesty that flow out of Lowell Hubbs' mind, how can anyone trust this man to provide them with factual information pertaining to vaccines?  If a man will lie about child pornography, and if a man invents clever background stories using images he simply pulled from Google and attached names to, how can he ever be taken seriously?  Yet this is the very same man who is Facebook friends with some of the nations most infamous antivaxxers including people like Andrew Moulden and Sherri TenPenny, and the very same man who fellow antivaxxers thank for his contributions to their "cause".

Is there really any question why antivaxxers are never taken seriously and why their movement remains on the lunatic fringe?

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Obsessions of Antivaxxers

I often wonder why some antivaxxers seem to be so obsessed with posting information about vaccines.  It isn't as if it is merely a matter of sharing information or merely a hobby, but rather it appears to be what defines many of them.  I can understand when a parent feels a vaccine harmed their child that they would react to their situation.  I can also understand someone standing behind a cause and supporting it with their words and actions.  I can even understand someone devoting themselves to an action which they feel has merit.

However when someone spends the vast majority of their time each and every day on the Internet scouring anti-vaccine websites and posting comments to countless stories and articles about vaccines, and when someone essentially ignores the world around them due to their obsession it stops being about a cause and starts becoming nothing short of an obsession.

Recently, a local antivaxxer Lowell Hubbs posted the following status update to his Facebook page, and it serves as one example of what happens when someone becomes so obsessed with an issue that they essentially forget about the life around them.

Now I am not about to claim I have any idea what was going on here, but I did check the Sioux Falls Police Department Call Log and was unable to find anything that relates to Mr. Hubbs around the date he posted his update, so for all I know Mr. Hubbs is once again making up details.

I do know that the Police Department doesn't typically serve eviction notices, and they don't typically take the Fire Department along for good measure, so why Mr. Hubbs is stating they joined the Minnehaha County Sheriff (who would typically handle evictions) is beyond me.

Of course I would expect if someone was serving me with an eviction notice I might step away from the computer instead of updating my Facebook status... but to each his own I suppose.  The other question that comes to mind is why these agencies would be involved in serving just a notice.  Per SDCL 21-16-2, typically a landlord would serve the first notice of eviction, and if the resident isn't home they are allowed to post the notice at the residence, so law enforcement is not needed.  It is only when the resident refuses to leave that they bother to seek a judgement at which point the Sheriff becomes involved to force the resident to leave the property.

So the question remains - why would law enforcement visit Mr. Hubbs if it was not to serve an eviction notice?  As with most stories told by Mr. Hubbs, I'm guessing there is a lot more to this one than what he claims, and his words cannot be fully trusted.  Nevertheless, Mr. Hubbs did add a bit of detail in a follow-up Facebook posting.

Let's be clear here - I'm not accusing Mr. Hubbs of having any outstanding warrants, nor am I accusing him of any nefarious activity.  I'm not sure who Mr. Hubbs was speaking with when he posted this, but considering there weren't any other comments on his earlier post other than the one shown I suppose it is possible he was merely speaking to (or arguing with) himself.  I suspect we aren't getting the full story here, but even if it is true that Mr. Hubbs is merely being evicted I can only hope he lands on his feet and finds another residence soon (if he hasn't already).

What troubles me is that I see a pattern of behavior here that seems all too common with antivaxxers.  They seem to have no significant life outside of their time on the Internet or their time on the anti-vaccine seminar circuit.  They can't be troubled by pesky details like finding gainful employment, obtaining degrees from legitimate post-secondary institutions, completing research studies, finishing residencies, or in some cases even minor details like paying the rent.

I have also noticed a pattern where many of the most prolific and predominant non-medical antivaxxers are either stay-at-home parents, unemployed or underemployed, and/or they are on disability.  Is it simply a matter of these people having too much time on their hands, or is there a deeper connection here?  I simply cannot understand why the anti-vaccine movement seems to attract so many people who, at least on the surface, appear to suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Beyond the obvious symptoms of OCD, I am left wondering about the other mental health aspects of this type of behavior.  Is the obsession really about vaccines themselves or is there something else at play here?  As mentioned previously, I could understand a parent reacting to vaccines if they felt their child was harmed by them.  Even if a parent is confusing correlation and causation, I can still understand the desire to find answers and it isn't a stretch to see how they would latch on to some of the views that are central to the anti-vaccination platform.  

However, when someone who has no family and has no direct experience with vaccines suddenly and inexplicably expresses an interest in children, and when they appear to lack significant, meaningful relationships with adults in their life, and when they seem to often discuss subject matter involving physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of children I'll admit it concerns me.  In fact, if you look at common psychological profile for a child predator you find many of these exact traits.  Although this doesn't directly have any connection to vaccines, this is a subject we have discussed in the past, and based upon some information recently provided to me it appears we will be discussing it again in the near future.

Stay tuned.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Does the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Protect Vaccine Manufacturers?

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was developed in the 1980s to ensure a steady supply of vaccines were available and to prevent vaccine manufacturers from exiting the market due to rising litigation costs.  Some antivaxxers claim this was nothing more than a handout to the vaccine manufacturers because once the VICP was in place there was a higher burden of proof in order to "win" a vaccine injury lawsuit.  They also claim the VICP has allowed the vaccine manufacturers to make billions in profits with no risk since they are legally protected from vaccine injury lawsuits.

Is there any truth to these claims?  Not really.  

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), "In the early 1980s, news reports of serious side effects from the DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) vaccine caused some to question the safety of the vaccine.  Parents began filing many lawsuits against vaccine companies, doctors, and nurses.  Some vaccine companies decided to stop making vaccines, which created vaccine shortages and threatened the Nation’s health.

All of these problems led a group of doctors, public health organizations, vaccine companies and private citizens to encourage Congress to enact a new law to compensate those found to be injured by childhood vaccines. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-660) created the VICP, which began on October 1, 1988."

The truth is, in many ways the VICP made it easier for people to file claims, because it isn't a requirement to be a US citizen, and in some cases a citizen who receives a vaccine outside of the US can still file a claim with the VICP.  A claim can also be filed even if a vaccine was used in an off-label manner and even if the vaccine was administered against administration recommendations.  A claim can even be filed for a vaccine which isn't even licensed in the United States.  In a traditional lawsuit prior to the VICP, many of these things would have made compensation of an injury much more difficult if not entirely impossible.

Also, assuming some very minimal requirements are met, the VICP will pay legal fees and lawyer's fees related to the claim even if the claim is ultimately denied.  Previously in civil court proceedings, if a claim was rejected, the person who filed the claim would most often be responsible for their legal fees, thus this was a huge benefit to those who have filed claims.  In some cases, the risk of having to pay excessive legal fees could serve as a barrier preventing many people from filing lawsuits surrounding their injuries.

In addition to this, the VICP does not require a person specifically prove that the vaccine caused an injury.  Although the VICP does include injury as one of the criteria, an injured person can alternatively claim that the vaccine merely made an existing injury worse.  The VICP also includes an option for an injured person to merely prove they had a symptom of an injury within a specific time period - but they do not actually need to prove that symptom was caused by the vaccine alone.  The "vaccine injury table" simplifies the process in many cases because it includes a list of conditions which are presumed to be caused by vaccines.  This isn't to say these are the only conditions that may be caused, but in many ways this is a "fast track" to simplify the process for a person who feels he or she has been injured by a vaccine.

In summary, the VICP doesn't require a higher burden of proof than would exist in a civil lawsuit, and it is actually quite the opposite.  Within the VICP, a person can claim they were injured and provided their injury is legitimate and provided they filed their claim within the required time period, they have a much easier chance of winning the case than they would have under the rules of a traditional civil lawsuit.

Also, it is very important to clear up one major misconception with the VICP.  The VICP itself does not prevent a vaccine-injured person from suing the vaccine manufacturer or even the person who administered the vaccine.  In some cases it may be necessary to file with the VICP first, but regardless of the outcome of that case a person who feels he or she was injured by a vaccine can still file a civil lawsuit against the vaccine manufacturer, healthcare system, doctor, nurse, or anyone else involved in the process.

What the VICP does is offer a streamlined process to handle vaccine injury cases.  It reduces costs for both parties and helps to reduce the costs of frivolous lawsuits from unscrupulous lawyers who would seek millions in compensation for symptoms they couldn't even link to vaccines in the hopes the vaccine manufacturer would offer to settle out of court just to make them go away.  It also earmarks funds from each vaccine ($0.75 per dose) which are held in the vaccine injury compensation trust fund and are used to compensate victims or those who file claims against the VICP.

Of course the VICP isn't perfect, but clearly it is better than forcing vaccine manufacturers out of business due to legal threats, and it helps ensure a supply of life-saving vaccines are available to anyone who wants them.  One major issue with the VICP might just be how easily some lawyers have taken advantage of the "pay no matter the outcome" design of the VICP.  

For example, many lawyers specialize in "vaccine injury" cases because they understand whether the client wins or loses in court, the lawyer's fees will still be paid by the VICP.  In these cases, there is zero risk to the lawyer because he or she knows their fees will be covered.  This isn't like a civil lawsuit where if the claimant loses the case there will be no money to pay for legal fees... so in essence this is a guarantee for the lawyers.

In fact, since the original claims were filed in the late 80s, $2.3 Billion has been paid to the claimants themselves, but over $91.5 Billion has been paid to cover attorney's fees and other legal costs.  Thus for every dollar coming out of the VICP, only 2.5 cents goes to the actual "injured" party, while 97.5 cents goes to lawyers and to fees.  Perhaps even more interesting is for the VICP claims that were denied, over $49.6 Billion has been paid to cover attorney's fees and other legal costs.  This is $49.6 Billion that most likely would have never been paid under the rules of a traditional civil case.

As you can see even when the lawyers lose... they actually win.  It seems that if the VICP is a handout to anyone... it isn't the vaccine manufacturers - it is trial lawyers.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Genetic Test For Autism Developed By Australian Scientists: HuffPo

An article posted yesterday at the Huffington Post states "Australian scientists have developed a genetic test Molecular Psychiatry and they cover 237 genetic markers.
to predict autism spectrum disorder in children".  The findings were published in the journal

It is probably a good idea to reserve judgement until these findings can be verified and replicated, but if this holds true it could be a breakthrough on the path to find the actual cause(s) of autism itself.  Granted the study can only claim a 70% accuracy when predicting autism, but the fact they were able to identify specific genetic markers is promising, and in time the accuracy will most likely be vastly improved.

This type of research can help identify at-risk children far sooner in life which in turn can allow treatments to begin earlier in the child's life.  Early detection and treatment can make all the difference when it comes to autism, so this type of research can be invaluable.

The question now becomes - how can anti-vaccinationists spin this study to blame vaccines for autism?  It doesn't seem likely that they will suggest that vaccines are responsible for the manipulation of genetic code in a small child, thus I can think of two excuses we can expect to see from the antivaxxer community.

Number one, antivaxxers will claim that vaccines work in conjunction with these genetic markers to "trigger" autism in children.  This is an interesting theory of course, but it will be as equally interesting to see the data and research which supports this hypothesis.  Needless to say I can almost hear the antivaxxer community scurrying to come up with something - anything - they can use to suggest this is plausible.

Number two, antivaxxers will claim that vaccines cause genetic mutations which are then passed on to the offspring of those people who received vaccinations in the past.  Thus if two adults are fully vaccinated and they produce offspring, the child would then reflect these genetic markers that put him or her at risk for autism.  Again it will be interesting to see the science that shows the vaccination status of the parents if antivaxxers wish to push this theory.

Granted there could be several more excuses that I couldn't even begin to guess, but the one thing I am certain about is that the antivaxxers will NOT come out and claim that autism is a genetic disorder with no connection to vaccines... because that would be allowing the science to steer their views rather than backing into an opinion by discrediting the science.  The truth is, if we all let science guide our views rather than making assumptions, there would be no such thing as an antivaxxer in the first place.  However since that isn't the case, it is safe to assume this study will be ignored and overlooked by the antivaxxer community, just as all of the previous research that has shown a strong genetic component to autism has been ignored and/or manipulated.

Full article here:  Genetic Test For Autism Developed By Australian Scientists

Update 9/14/12:  As predicted, antivaxxers such as Lowell Hubbs have complained that I didn't link to the actual study, and therefore Mr. Hubbs has suggested I didn't actually bother to read it.  Obviously that is quite an assumption on the part of Mr. Hubbs, although true to form he is one again incorrect.

I didn't realize I had to spoon feed the anti-vaccinationists by giving them direct links therefore eliminating the confusion caused by using a search bar, but to humor Mr. Hubbs I'll go ahead and provide the link here.  Please note that eventually this study will most likely not be available for free viewing, and as such the link may stop working (which is why I didn't include it originally and instead merely linked to the journal which published the study).  However for the time being you may read the original study at the link below:

Molecular Psychiatry: Predicting the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder using gene pathway analysis

When the study is no longer available (aka: open) on the website, you should still be able to read the abstract by searching for the title of the study above and/or the primary author's name: Professor Christos Pantelis.

I should also note that Mr. Hubbs claims this study "actually in fact directly supports the ASD/Vaccine connection".  I of course predicted antivaxxers would take this route, but of course aside from his opinion Mr. Hubbs can offer no evidence to support this statement.  In fact, the study itself makes no reference to vaccines at all, and the term "vaccine" is found nowhere within the text of the study.  This is yet another example of antivaxxers seeing what they wish to see, with no time spent understanding the science, the methods, or the output of many hours of effort.  If anyone didn't bother to read a study, I'm guessing it was Mr. Hubbs as I can see not other explanation behind such a severe misunderstanding of the content.

The reality is the study surrounds genetic variants and the ability to predict autism and other autism spectrum disorders.  It has to do with genetic classification and prediction - nothing more.  The researchers did not in any way broach the subject of what "causes" autism, but rather they are focused upon detection methods.  Much more must be done to expand upon this data to learn the root causes of the genetic markers identified within this study, but we are a long, long way from being able to make any statements pertaining to causation.

Far be it from an antivaxxer to wait until the science leads them down a path before they proudly proclaim they have all the answers.  In the mind of an antivaxxer like Lowell Hubbs, research can be interpreted any number of ways... provided all of those ways result in someone or something blaming vaccines for autism.