Apr 23 2008

Some Follow Up On Vaccines

I had written previously about the plight of Kathleen Seidel, from the neurodiversity blog, who was the target of an inappropriate subpoena that was little more than blatant harassment. Kathleen filed her own motion to quash the subpoena, and now she reports that her motion was granted – the subpoena is quashed. Congratulations.

Last month I wrote about John McCain’s ignorant parroting of the false claims for an autism epidemic and a possible link to vaccines. I had mentioned at the time that Hillary Clinton had also made some pandering remarks, such as that she is, “Committed to make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines.”

Orac now gives us an update on the situation. About Hillary he writes:

And when asked if she would support a study of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children, she said: “Yes. We don’t know what, if any, kind of link there is between vaccines and autism – but we should find out.”

A month ago I praised Obama for having a scientific statement about vaccines on his website. But now he has descended into pseudoscientific pandering, stating:

“We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it.”

There appears to be no science-friendly candidate left, at least on this issue. The current disconnect between science and politics is very disturbing.

Addendum: This video of Obama making the above comments clearly shows that when he said, “This person included.” he was not referring to himself but someone in the audience. However, his later comment about the science being “inconclusive” is inaccurate.


Note: On Wednesdays I also post over at Science-Based Medicine.

16 responses so far

16 Responses to “Some Follow Up On Vaccines”

  1. ellazimmon 23 Apr 2008 at 9:04 am

    Dr Steve: You can always vote for Pat Paulsen . . . he is running again isn’t he? Unless you’d rather have a go yourself.

  2. Jim Shaveron 23 Apr 2008 at 11:10 am

    I second the nomination.

    We may have to start our own political party. How ’bout the Logic And Reason party?

  3. MKandeferon 23 Apr 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Of course, then there is this coverage of the issue [1], where Obama supports research into the issue.


    Do you think vaccines should be investigated as a possible cause of autism?

    I believe that the next president must restore confidence and open communication with the American people. This includes environmental policies and government funded research. An Obama administration will go where the science and the facts lead us, whether it is about climate change or toxic heavy metals in our environment.

    Would you support a large-scale federal study of the differences in health outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups

    Experience has taught that effective medical research must be “large-scale” and well funded. I believe Americans should know must know the health effects that caused by the presence of mercury in vaccines. I will also support an examination of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation program, a program designed to compensate those injured by vaccinations.


    I’m less skeptical having read that.

    [1] – http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/04/hillary_clinton_and_barack_obama_descend.php

  4. pecon 23 Apr 2008 at 12:42 pm

    How exactly is the evidence conclusive? Autism rates continued to increase after vaccines no longer contained mercury? Isn’t it possible that mercury wasn’t the problem? Isn’t it possible there is something in some vaccines that harms some children? Isn’t it possible that the question has not been conclusively answered? Don’t you think a problem this serious might deserve more research?

    You are not being scientific; you are being dogmatic as usual. You think people are stupid, even highly educated presidential candidates are stupid. Everyone is stupid unless they define and interpret science your way: Drugs are good, the more the better, we can trust the kind and compassionate drug companies, drug research is always honest, Merck probably didn’t bribe researchers to sign their names on its faked Vioxx studies.

  5. pecon 23 Apr 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Oh I just realized Dr. Novella finally posted something about the Merck debacle. I guess he is not as blindly infatuated with the drug companies as I thought.

  6. snarlaon 23 Apr 2008 at 2:02 pm

    I have great respect for science and research, logic and reason, but if so many parents are noticing that their children are suffering debilitating side-effects in connection with vaccines doesn’t that warrant more investigation? I won’t go so far to say it “causes” autism, but obviously enough people are noticing a pattern that raises eyebrows, and isn’t that what science is: invesitgation spawned by and conclusions drawn from observations?
    Besides, not everything declared to be true by medical science is true. I know that my pharmacist and various doctors will swear up and down that there are no differences between generic and brand medications. OK, maybe there is no difference in the active ingredient but if you swap out my celexa with citalopram I will spout blood rectally like a foutain within a week. Same if you swap my Imuran for Azathioprine. If my mom takes the generic version of her blood pressure medication she gets heart palpitations. While the FDA seems to feel differently, I would have appreciated some kind of warning about potential reactions to the inactive ingredients in generic medications before trying any of them. I’m certainly not anti-vaccine, but I think doctors should be doing more to educate their patients of the risks involved with them, or any medication or treatment really, so that the patient may make an educated decision in their own interest. I don’t think it’s right to make claims that vaccines cause autism, but I don’t think it’s fair to lean too far in the opposite direction either at this point.

  7. Lukeon 23 Apr 2008 at 2:13 pm

    I think Clinton and Obama have both shown themselves in many ways to be amenable to science and reason. When I read their statements, I see a fair amount of political hedging, but no blatant belief that vaccines cause autism. It seems to me that leaving the door open to research is a low-cost political option to placate a questioner who is likely passionate about the issue. I also suspect that if Obama were presented with the scientific evidence on this issue, he would revise his statement that it is “inconclusive”.

  8. pecon 23 Apr 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Jim Shaver,

    I said “isn’t it possible.” Admitting that something might be true cannot be a logical fallacy!

  9. Jim Shaveron 23 Apr 2008 at 11:33 pm


    Admitting that something might be true cannot be a logical fallacy!

    Logical fallacy: Special pleading

    Okay, okay, pec, before you get mad, brother, I admit I’m just ribbing you now. (Okay, I was ribbing you the first time, too.) You really should concede, though, that you come here looking for fights. After all, your reputation precedes you. Anyway, thanks for the lively discussion. 🙂

  10. pecon 24 Apr 2008 at 8:08 pm

    “you come here looking for fights.”

    Well maybe I am guilty of that sometimes. It’s more fun to argue than just keep saying “yay, me too!”

    But my real motive is to learn by exchanging ideas. I sincerely believe that we should be exposed to alternative ideas and that we learn more from people we disagree with.

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.