Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

06 March 2008

Girl, 9, Helps Link Vaccines to Autism Cause

... in the eyes of a FOX news editor.

Further proof that FOX is for people with fewer teeth than the normal complement, and fewer brain cells than teeth:
Girl, 9, Helps Link Vaccines to Autism Cause

Well, since it's FOX we know it's bull$#17. (65% certainly, with a 95% probability of distorion of facts).

But:

Ga. girl helps link autism to childhood vaccines
--This is from some organ called "Health Sentinel." I visited their site, and they're full of scary, scary articles about the dangers of mercury fillings (you get more mercury from many city water supplies than you get from your fillings), and happy happy articles about how herbal extracts can stave off heart attacks, tea can fight diabetes (a secret formerly known only to a small, secretive society of British diabetics, presumably), and an apple a day not only keeps the doctor away, but helps you remember where the doctor's office is, should you in fact need to see one.

Then:
Government Concedes Vaccine Injury Case
Ah, this sounds a bit like something truthful, rather than truthy. And guess what--it's from a genuine news organ!

So what actually happened?
As it turns out, the US government has agreed that in the specific case of a little girl who was born with a rare DNA defect, childhood vaccines may have worsened the condition.

No reputable source, and no reliable study, has ever concluded that childhood vaccines cause autism.

Thank the FSM we have good old "Fair and Balanced" FOX to straighten out all those scientists.

If you needed any further confirmation of the bullshit factor, attend the words of the lead ambulance-chaser, sorry, I mean lawyer, for 1,200 families seeking to claim vaccine damages:
It's a beginning," said Kevin Conway, a Boston lawyer representing more than 1,200 families with vaccine injury claims. "Each case is going to have to be proved on its individual merits. But it shows to me that the government has conceded that it's biologically plausible for a vaccine to cause these injuries. They've never done it before."
In other words: "I'll have to fight each of these 1,200 cases seperately."

I bet he's shopping for Ferraris right now.

I have nothing against lawyers. But I hate confidence tricksters. These guys enable a sense of entitlement in their clients by telling them that, contrary to all known science, their families' sufferings are the sole responsibility of government or industry. Meanwhile, the billable hours stack up.

In this one case, the scientific evidence seemingly bore out not that the vaccine caused autism, but that it worsened a pre-existing condition resembling autism.

I am not saying that the ascription of a link between the specific mitochondrial disorder that little girl suffered from and autism spectrum disorders doesn't bear investigating. That's what science is for. But for a lawyer to claim that this single case somehow proves a link is just silly.

Of course, if the condition was pre-existing, then it seems to me that it would change the face of the legal argument for compensation. For unless the vaccinating agency knew about both the dna defect condition and a possible link between that and this disorder, how could they be expected to take appropriate action?

So to return to my original point, which is the more appropriate headline:
  • Girl, 9, Helps Link Vaccines to Autism Cause
  • or
  • Government Concedes Vaccine Injury Case?

  • I just report. You decide.

    Some people feel that it should be up to the individual to make a choice as to whether or not to immunize your kid. I don't agree. For a good discussion of why, see the post over at The Questionable Authority.

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    9 Comments:

    At 9:37 PM, Blogger Vlad the Impala said...

    I'd be very cautious about returning to compulsory vaccinations without careful thought about the pros and cons. The sad fact is that vaccinations do carry risk, and as diseases like measles become rarer, the risk approaches and even exceeds the danger from the disease. Would you take a vaccine against leprosy if it had a one in ten chance of turning you blind? What about one in a million? What are your chances of getting leprosy?

    Questions like this are some of the most difficult, because they not only are empirical questions regarding the risks of rare but devastating events, but also moral questions. How much personal risk can society demand individuals take in order to reduce the overall risk to society?

     
    At 10:16 PM, Blogger Vlad the Impala said...

    UPDATE: it seems that one of the few plausible mechanisms that would explain the supposed link between vaccines and autism is dead:

    Thimerosal.

    But naturally enough, would-be US presidential candidate John McCain is siding with the Chicken-Littles. Sigh.

     
    At 11:48 AM, Blogger Norlinda said...

    ho HO! One of my fave topics.

    Aside from the genetic predispositions, I used to think vaccinations were pure evil. When I was a naturopath, I met one kid whose autistic condition coincided with getting his vaccinations. Coincidence? Who knows, but many other doctors I know have similar clinical cases. We can't be all wrong.
    In the cases of crippling diseases like polio, I'm glad for vaccinations. But measles? It's not life-threatening if we educate ourselves how to deal with it. And on top of that, vaccinations don't confer life-long immunity. If polio came back in a virulent mutant strain, we won't be protected. I like to think of our immune system like the rest of our human body, as something that needs to be exercised in order to stay fit. If we have artificially sheltered our children with vaccines, then there won't be anyone with a natural built-up immunity to anything. And if you believe in natural evolution, we're doomed. BTW it's not disputed that immunity can be passed on from generation to generation via breast milk.
    Given what I know about vaccinations, I would like to be given a choice whether to vaccinate myself or my children. I like to say no when asked whether I want to expose my newborn's undeveloped immune system to dead virus parts.

     
    At 2:56 PM, Blogger Vlad the Impala said...

    Hi Norlinda,

    You raise some interesting points:

    "I met one kid whose autistic condition coincided with getting his vaccinations. Coincidence?"

    Almost certainly. Coincidences happen all the time. As Terry Pratchett says, one in a million chances happen nine times out of ten. There are 20 million Australians, and if on average they have just fifty things happen each day, then on average there will be 1000 one-in-a-million flukes EVERY DAY.

    Do your own maths for your own country.

    "Who knows, but many other doctors I know have similar clinical cases. We can't be all wrong."

    Of course you can be. If you're right, then thousands of doctors and medical researchers and scientists who think there is no connection will be wrong. If they can all be wrong, why can't you?

    "If we have artificially sheltered our children with vaccines, then there won't be anyone with a natural built-up immunity to anything."

    That's not right. You have misunderstood how the immune system works. That's like saying that people shouldn't go to the gym and lift weights, because they won't have "natural" muscles. Muscles don't know the difference between lugging rocks around a field or lifting weights in a gym, and the immune system doesn't care whether the virus it reacts to was injected by a nurse or transmitted by direct contact.

    There is no difference between the immunity gained from exposure to a vaccine and that gained from exposure to a live virus in the wild, except a wild virus will almost certainly make you sick and maybe kill you. The side-effects of live, wild viruses don't harm one in a million people, they harm ninety-nine in a hundred. And you want to rely on live wild viruses? How cruel and inefficient, not to mention counter-productive.

    Some people are so scared of exposing their children to the tiny risk from vaccinations that they would put them in danger of death and illness from wild viruses. I'm sorry to be rude, but given what you think you know about vaccinations, you're precisely the sort of person who SHOULDN'T be given the choice whether or not to vaccinate. I'm completely in favour of people making informed decisions. It's the uninformed and misinformed decisions that will kill us.

     
    At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I concede my knowledge of immunology around vaccinations, specific and nonspecific immunity is deficient. I will read up on it.

    Like you, I'm in favour of people making informed decisions. When presented with the same facts, I think people place different weight on each fact based on their own experiences and backgrounds, and come up with different decisions. Personally I don't believe that one decision is better than another, even if it does have serious public health implications.

    Norlinda

     
    At 8:30 PM, Blogger Slave to the dogs said...

    Driving your infant around in a car also carries risk. It's damn risky, actually. Yet nobody questions that and it doesn't do anything for the good of society as a whole.

    Just as it's irresponsible to chomp antibiotics like candy, it does society a disservice to opt out of immunizations.

    People will use hyperbole to argue otherwise, but I just don't buy it.

     
    At 10:57 PM, Blogger Metro said...

    Everyone raised some pretty good points.

    Me, I'd prefer compulsory vaccination. Still, why not reassess the danger of, for example, measles? Of course that was partly what the article I cited was about.

    The problem is that, as Norlinda said, parents will weigh things differently. If we as a society have determined, with some scientific support, that vaccination is a good thing to do then we are rendering a judgement as to which of the two decisions is valid and useful to society.

    How then can we encourage people to take the action we have determined is the right one?

     
    At 3:18 AM, Blogger Vlad the Impala said...

    Metro asked:

    "How then can we encourage people to take the action we have determined is the right one?"

    Well, I'm in favour of fitting everybody with electrodes in their brains, so long as I'm the one with my finger on the button.

     
    At 11:51 AM, Blogger Metro said...

    Actually, I favour everyone getting an implant in their brains. But everyone also gets a sort of remote with two buttons.

    One button has a "thumbs down" symbol, the other "thumbs up".

    If you meet someone you think is too ignorant, inconsiderate, or otherwise unfit to pass on his or her genes to the next generation, you simply punch the "thumbs down" button. Once a person has acquired 800 demerits, they receive a slight shock.

    At 8,000, it's worse. I mean, how hard would you have to work to actively piss off 8,000 people?

    At 80 million, you simply vanish in a cloud of greasy smoke.

    The only downside would be the death of the tabloid press, which would follow hot on the heels of the spontaneous combustion of Britney, Lindsay, and Jacko within the first three minutes of the program's inception.

    It's also widely believed that the Republican party could not survive.

     

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