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Medicine Science

The Lancet Recants Study Linking Autism To Vaccine 590

JamJam writes "The Lancet, a major British medical journal, has retracted a flawed study linking the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine to autism and bowel disease. British surgeon and medical researcher Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues originally released their study in 1998. Since then 10 of Wakefield's 13 co-authors have renounced the study's conclusions and The Lancet has said it should never have published the research. Wakefield now faces being stripped of his right to practice medicine in Britain. The vaccine-autism debate should now end."
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The Lancet Recants Study Linking Autism To Vaccine

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  • ...but it won't. Because the birthers *know* that the face on mars means that aliens ate my buick. ...In other news, Jack Sprat seen eating lean cuisines... details at 11.

  • But (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vinegar Joe ( 998110 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:27PM (#31002682)

    Wasn't it peer reviewed?

  • Oh, the naivete. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bieeanda ( 961632 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:27PM (#31002684)

    The vaccine-autism debate should now end.

    Yeah, right. Since when have facts ever got in the way of a 'good' conspiracy theory?

  • by Senes ( 928228 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:28PM (#31002698)
    If you read about it in other places besides here, what you'd more likely see is just endless mockery that would blind people to anything that really *could* go wrong with vaccinations. It is like discussing fertile land turning to desert in rural Africa, then hearing someone chime in that global warming is a hoax because it is snowing outside his window right now.
  • For our sake (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:28PM (#31002704) Journal

    Can someone outline the flaws in the study? I know we here at /. are experts at things like that. But I also don't want to RTFA.

    So why exactly should I not believe the original study? From where I stand (which is little to zero knowledge on the subject) I could conclude that each of the co authors one by one were persuaded by the various pharmaceutical companies which standed to be harmed by this research.

  • Re:But (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:30PM (#31002742)
    As someone else pointed out to me not long ago, peer review is really not geared toward finding certain kinds of mistakes, or deliberate fraud. There is still an assumption of integrity; an assumption that has caught a number of reputable journals in recent years.
  • by AhNewBis ( 42974 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:31PM (#31002744)

    Now the Vaccine Industry has scared or bribed the other doctors into recanting the evidence and they are going to destroy this Doctor's ability to practice medicine as a warning to anyone else that dares to come forward with the truth.

    There isn't a rolleye big enough to express how likely it would be for this to end the discussion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:32PM (#31002760)

    The problem: scientists were on both sides of the issue. Guess what? Scientists can be wrong too, not just mortals!

  • by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:34PM (#31002772)

    Here my neck of the woods, I've heard countless mothers talk about how they would never get their kids vaccinated for seasonal or H1N1 flu, because of "what if..." syndrome. As in "What if.. the vaccine wasn't sufficiently tested, or what if my kid has a reaction, or I'd rather he get the flu than have a side effect.

    Of course if their kid gets sick and gives it to the kid's entire 25student classroom. The mother doesn't give a shit, because atleast she didn't get the side effect.

    My favorite is, "We have no idea what the side effect is of this vaccine in 10 or 20yrs."

  • Re:For our sake (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:34PM (#31002780)

    By the same principle, since you know nothing, why exactly SHOULD you believe the original study?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:39PM (#31002828)

    Lets see... by using threats they got 10 out of 13 of the co-authors to renounce a study which had a result they didn't like, and it took them more than a decade to do it. It sounds more like the Inquisition than science. The study itself may have been flawed, but the current result is purely a political thing which doesn't prove anything one way or the other.

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 ( 1400425 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:41PM (#31002852)
    They can just advertise that he lost his licence because the powers that be want to supress information and they are doing it by silencing this guy. So spend $29.95 a month to sign up for our web site and learn what the man doesn't want you to know. (You know it'll work out just like that.)
  • by Cassius Corodes ( 1084513 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:42PM (#31002858)
    The problem is exactly what is written above, although not in the way the author thinks.
  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:45PM (#31002924)
    I think the fact that no other researchers have managed to get anything like the results Wakefield did should be influential in forming opinions about this.
  • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:45PM (#31002930)

    There is more anecdotal evidence to prove vaccines don't cause autism, so wouldn't that push the debate into being over, if anecdotal evidence is the measuring bar?

  • by PotatoFarmer ( 1250696 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:46PM (#31002940)

    Fucking retards holding back progress.

    Herd immunity issues aside, I'm all for the stupid reducing their evolutionary fitness. Natural selection and all that.

  • by PieSquared ( 867490 ) <> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:46PM (#31002944)
    Perhaps some had an allergy, or their insurance didn't cover it, or their immune system was too compromised for the vaccine to work effectively, or they had an appointment scheduled for next Tuesday. Those people would usually be protected anyway by herd immunity, but when people start deliberately not getting a vaccine on a large scale, that doesn't work anymore.
  • End the debate? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Canberra Bob ( 763479 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:47PM (#31002946) Journal

    After reading TFA, as far as my medically ignorant mind makes out, the study was withdrawn due to ethical issues obtaining the samples for the study, not due to issues with the conclusions drawn. I can see how this would lead Wakefield to be deregistered due to ethical considerations however how does this disprove his conclusions? The logic seems to go "your study shows there may be a link between autism and vaccines, you obtained samples unethically, therefore this proves once and for all and hereby ends the discussion that there is conclusively no link between autism and vaccines". I always pay extra close attention when a scientific discussion starts descending into claims of absolutes, a statement like "the possibility is laughably remote that there is a link between x and y" makes sense, "there is no link between x and y and nobody is to suggest there is" smacks of dark ages medicine rather than science.

    I would love someone more medically inclined to provide more background as I sense a lot of info was missing from the story / article.

  • by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:52PM (#31002998)

    Just because one side of the debate has used bad data and judgment doesn't mean there is no merit to the debate.

    It does when the only reason the debate ever started was because of that bad data.

  • by Ruke ( 857276 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:54PM (#31003022)
    You're absolutely correct: the retraction doesn't prove anything. However, decades of attempts to reproduce the study, none of them reaching the same conclusion, does prove an error in the initial study. It turn out that the act of publishing doesn't actually have an effect on the underlying science, while the repeatability does.
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:55PM (#31003040) Homepage

    1) Because their parents are also idiots.
    2) Because no vaccine is 100% effective, the whole point is to try to prevent the disease from getting a foothold. But once someone has the full-blown disease and is exposing everyone around them to it, the system begins to fail.

    In case 2, it's unlikely all the kids would actually get the flu. But some might, even if vaccinated. And then those sick kids might infect some others, even if vaccinated.

    That's why these stupid fuckers are so dangerous -- not so much those who don't vaccinate for the flu, but those who avoid the serious ones. Herd immunity is what truly makes vaccines effective, but it requires that nearly everyone participate. And these morons obviously have no freaking clue of the horrible diseases they're allowing to return just because they're scared of an incredibly tiny chance that these things cause a tiny increase in autism rates.

  • by elenaran ( 649639 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:57PM (#31003062)
    suck it, Jenny McCarthy & Oprah []!
  • by gd2shoe ( 747932 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:59PM (#31003082) Journal

    To remain clear, I didn't say that it was the measure of truth, only a measure of continuing debate.

    There are lots of people who drink and drive who have never been in an accident. Does that push that debate to being over? Of course not.

    It's statistics. If a drug or vaccine is unsafe for a small population, it needs to be restricted or banned. At issue is a large group of parents of autistic children who blame the vaccines. It doesn't matter to them if vaccines usually don't cause autism. They each see their own child as evidence that vaccines can cause autism. They band together and support each other's beliefs. Rarity doesn't matter to them. (as it shouldn't, statistically.)

    Additionally, autism is on the rise, and nobody quite knows why. Sometimes, anecdote is all that we have. (unfortunately)

  • Re:End the debate? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by maxume ( 22995 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:59PM (#31003084)

    There were 12 patients used in the study. They were not randomly selected. That's pretty much enough to ignore that study entirely, and there isn't really any other research showing any sort of link.

  • Re:For our sake (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:01PM (#31003110)
    "And this is different from global warming how?"

    Personally, I agree with you that there are similar disturbing circumstances surrounding some "global warming" research. However, interesting as the comparison is, it is somewhat off-topic.
  • by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:01PM (#31003112)
    Or, or, or, or or ...

    You're asking for a detailed fisking in a /. comment? Those details are out there, have been for years. Just read -- my favorite is -- partly because Orac is a damned sharp cookie, and partly because he dials up the snark to 11.

  • by JSG ( 82708 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:05PM (#31003138) Homepage

    Hmm 1 (or 13) doctors responsible for the wave of anti-MMR vaccine hysteria that swept the UK for years. Bollocks.

    This story ran and ran and ran ad nauseum on all media. It was admittedly perhaps sparked by those doctor's (researchers??) paper but the journalists kept it going way beyond what it was worth. The media went quite literally beserk.

    From what I can gather (IANAD) autism is a bit of a common diagnosis nowadays (it's a spectrum, and I'll bet most of /. readers will be on it somewhere. That's the joy of a spectrum - it can be as sensitive as you like). I don't wish to belittle the real difficulties that many autistic people endure - the sense of alienation and confusion etc but it is diagnosed rather more often nowadays than in the past.

    As I recall it there were a small number (teens) of kids who were diagnosed as autistic shortly after receiving the MMR jab. So all we need now is a statistician to crank the numbers and find P(Aut/MMR) in a population that is being systemically although voluntarily vaccinated.

    So if you allow that autism is a common diagnosis and that the country was pushing to have all children immunized with a one shot MMR vacc then the coincidence of the two in a population sample is likely to be pretty high.

    Really its a case of crap statistics and a gullible media playing it way beyond its worth.

    Oh and the side effects of all this - increased incidences of M M and R. I don't have the figures to hand (does anyone?) but I would imagine there will be an increase in deaths, disfigurements and other nasty side effects of the diseases that could have been prevented by vaccination.

    Conspiracy? Only you can decide.

  • by Knara ( 9377 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:05PM (#31003140)
    No, autism *diagnosis* is on the rise. It is a subtle but important difference.
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:11PM (#31003204) Homepage

    Is there a link between vaccines and autism? I don't know. I don't believe for a moment that the debate is over. There's way too much anecdotal evidence, even if there is no merit.

    What does that even mean? "There's too much anecdotal evidence, even if there is no merit"? So, like, we both know that anecdotal evidence is crap, and the science all says otherwise, but because there's "too much" spouting off of post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacies, it has to mean something? Yeah, it means most people are incapable of making good observations, have no understanding of statistics, and are more than happy to let confirmation bias run wild.

    Also, anecdotally, none of these geniuses I've ever seen discuss the issue have any understanding of history, and of the suffering the human race endured before vaccination existed. Whatever tiny increase in autism they think actually exists, even if it turned out against all reason and evidence to be true, wouldn't be worth going back to that.

    I swear, if there's ever an outbreak of smallpox, and these retarded fuckers refuse to get vaccinated, I'm going to start taking them out for the good of humanity.

  • by lorenlal ( 164133 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:13PM (#31003228)

    I believe it's due to what you wrote.

    You've stated something as fact, and it is based on your perception. It's an example, and it may be valid, or it may be exaggerated, or it could be totally wrong... But to you, it's fact. You believe that the H1N1 vaccine gives people the swing flu... At the very least you imply that it does, and your proof is in your anecdote. If you have hard numbers to show us that people will get the swine flu from the vaccine (or at least that they have a higher incidence rate), then please provide them.

    I'm guilty of this too on occasion.. I'm trying to be better about it.

  • Re:But (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slimjim8094 ( 941042 ) <slashdot3@juGINS ... minus poet> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:16PM (#31003278)

    That's a good way to think about it. Peer review, like the market, only works with honorable actors. Scientists are presumed to be honorable, so the way peer review is structured doesn't attempt to look for deliberate forgeries or falsehoods. Peer review is more along the lines of "this conclusion isn't backed up by your data" or "you forgot about this possibility" - that is, it catches mistakes or oversights. And it's pretty good for that.

    These spates of disreputable science (this, and the ghost writers for example) is a good bit concerning. There historically hasn't been much deception at all, at least in modern science... I hope this isn't the harbinger of politics-as-science.

  • by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:19PM (#31003302)

    There are many cases like this. I don't make any claims, but this study isn't the only reason for the debate.

    Yes it is. Blaming it on the vaccine makes about as much sense as blaming it one whatever she had for dinner, and would be as likely if it weren't for the "OH NOES THE VACCINES ARE CAUSING AUTISM" crowd.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:20PM (#31003308) Homepage

    For some reason the earlier results weren't reported.

    It's amazing what results you can get if you keep repeating the experiment until you get the results you want.

    You mean if you are unscrupulous and are willing to change the experiment until it is flawed in such a way that it provides the answer you want.

    To use my favorite counter example, Michelson and Morley [] very much wanted their experiment to demonstrate the existence of the Aether. And to that end, they repeated it over, and over, and over, and over, with every variation they could think of, hoping that it would give them a positive result.

    Yet, because they were scrupulous and their experiment was correctly designed, they were never able to report success, and their experiment became known as evidence against the aether.

    So yeah, I get what you're saying. I'm just pointing out -- it's not wanting a certain result that results in bad science, it's unethical and unscrupulous behavior that results in bad science.

  • by ThinkOfaNumber ( 836424 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:27PM (#31003380)

    "Descending into autism" is an awfully broad term. It's sure as hell not scientific. Just right for anecdotal evidence really.

    I'm not trying to use it as scientific evidence. I said "descending" because she wasn't diagnosed until much later, but the symptoms started then.

    If you talk to autistic children's parents you'll find they often describe it as a descent. Changes don't happen immediately, or from birth, but they often reach a developmental point and then start going backwards, hence my use of the word

    The scientific studies conducted over hundreds of thousands of people that showed no evidence that MMR caused autism may carry more weight than what your friends say.

    Of course, but I never claimed to:
      - be a scientist
      - conduct studies
      - believe the link between MMR and autism

    I was previously talking about proofs. I used an example because I have a close relationship to the story.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:30PM (#31003426) Homepage

    There are many cases like this.

    Yes there are many cases of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

    It's a very common fallacy.

    Our brains are highly optimized for pattern recognition. Unfortunately this ability is overzealous, and not something we can turn off. It takes reason, logic, and in some cases careful observation to discover how this ability has led us astray.

    In any case, "I took my kid to see Avatar and a week later they were autistic!" is not in any way a scientific data point. It also doesn't even make sense -- autism is a developmental disorder. If your kid is showing signs of autism a week after you accidentally insulted a gypsy on the subway, then the developmental disorder was already present and the gypsy had nothing to do with it.

  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:37PM (#31003518)
    lets get one thing straight. it's not that vaccines don't usually cause autism, it's that vaccines DONT cause autism. there is no proof at all.

    these people are putting other peoples kids and the population as a whole in great danager due to dropping vacination rates, which completely contridicts your point that autism rates climbing is some how linked - after all if less people are vaccinating how can autism be increasing if it's the cause?

    we are lowering whats called herd immunity. at the moment the rest of the herd is still largely immune to things like polio and mumps, this keeps those who aren't immune safe because no one around them generally has the virus. once this drops to a critical number (which is VERY close to happening, and has already happened with hooping cough) large numbers of kids are going to start being killed or crippled by preventable diseases. if you think the health care system is under strain now try adding an outbreak of polio. not only will kids get it but they will pass it on to adults as well.

    when i see idiots refusing to vaccinate their kids, i just want to grab them and shake the bastards while shoving pictures of the 1920's polio outbreak in their face.

  • Re:End the debate? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by robotkid ( 681905 ) <alanc2052 AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:39PM (#31003530)

    After reading TFA, as far as my medically ignorant mind makes out, the study was withdrawn due to ethical issues obtaining the samples for the study, not due to issues with the conclusions drawn.

    One of the central issues with these sorts of studies, scientifically, is that there is no actual mechanism proposed by which having a vaccine can lead to autism, hence no specific hypothesis to prove or disprove other than the vaguely described "correlation" between the two. It turns out that Autism is typically diagnosed at the same stage in child development that one is supposed to be immunized, thus leading to an inevitable number of cases where one proceeds the other by a short time span and might appear to have been "causative" at an anectodal level, especially to devastated parents desperate for some sort of autism cure. This is precisely the sort of link that, in absence of a proposed disease mechanism to explain the connection, one can only deduce from rigorous, systematic studies that carefully test the hypothesis that there is some sort of non-random correlation in a large, statistically significant sample of patients.

    12 children does not constitute a statistical sample, especially if you already secretly knew most of them already had autism, doubly so in fact you were being paid to represent the kids parents in anti-vaccine litigation (since we have to take the author's word that he didn't cherry pick to produce the observed correlation).

    It doesn't help at all that autism is one of the least understood mental disorders, we know comparatively much more about the underlying causes of Huntingtons and Alzheimers, to the point at which I would not be surprised if there are effective treatments within 10 or 15 years. With autism your guess is as good as mine, the community is grasping at straws for a good explanation of what is going on. And we do know that the incidence seems to rising dramatically in recent times, which is an alarming trend to say to least.

    It's not that I trust big pharma companies so much, or even that the scientific method is so perfect. It's just Occam's razor, a conspiracy of the scale that is proposed by anti-vaccination types reflects a complete disconnect from the realities of biomedical research. It's a dog-eat-dog world with thousands of competing sources of influences and hundreds of thousands of "players" who more like free agents all trying to make a name for themselves. It's not some monolithic organization like the military that was designed from bottom up to keep secrets from the public.

  • by jeff4747 ( 256583 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:42PM (#31003554)

    As a parent I can understand those that prefer to error on the side of caution, because even with 1000 to 1 odds against it happening that is still your kid that you are risking.

    I'd suggest looking up the mortality rates of the diseases you're failing to immunize against.

    And honestly with the amount of money these drug companies make if they did find something horrible happened to 1 out of 1000 I wouldn't be surprised if they just kept their mouth shut. The "screw everything but the quarterly earnings report!" attitude of the major corps doesn't exactly make them the most trustworthy of sources, you know?

    You don't think some scientist out there wouldn't love to be the guy who figured out autism, and make a fortune as an expert witness at the hundreds of thousands of lawsuits?

    Yes, drug companies are no angels, but they are not omnipotent.

  • by 1729 ( 581437 ) <slashdot1729&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:48PM (#31003640)

    Exactly. It is like penicillin, which to most of the world is a life saver, but to me and my GF it would be a death sentence due to anaphylactic shock. If only 1% of the children given the vaccine end up with autism because of it that is STILL a pretty damned big number of kids. As a parent I can understand those that prefer to error on the side of caution, because even with 1000 to 1 odds against it happening that is still your kid that you are risking.

    Putting aside the fact that there is no evidence linking vaccine to autism, are you saying that this hypothetical risk outweighs the very real risk of deadly diseases such as measles and mumps? As a parent, it infuriates me to see scientifically-illiterate parents put my vaccinated children at risk by contributing to the failure of herd immunity.

  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) * on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @09:02PM (#31003758) Journal
    "It's statistics. If a drug or vaccine is unsafe for a small population, it needs to be restricted or banned. At issue is a large group of parents of autistic children who blame the vaccines. It doesn't matter to them if vaccines usually don't cause autism. They each see their own child as evidence that vaccines can cause autism. They band together and support each other's beliefs. Rarity doesn't matter to them. (as it shouldn't, statistically.)"

    That's the problem in a nutshell. You don't understand what the statistics are telling you. The stats say there is NO CORRELATIOM between MMR and autisim, therefore there is absolutely zero evidence MMR causes autisim. But statistical evidence doesn't seem to matter (or is incomprehensible) to a large section of the population, those people will continue to draw suspect conclusions based on anecdotal experience.

    You cannot compare it to drink driving since those statistics show the opposite, ie: a high correllation between drink driving and car crashes.

    I also object to you banning penicilin simply because some people are allergic to it.
  • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @09:03PM (#31003768)

    As a parent I can understand those that prefer to error on the side of caution, because even with 1000 to 1 odds against it happening that is still your kid that you are risking.

    But anyone looking at the statistics would see that erring on the side of caution would be to get the vaccine. Those diseases can cause serious complications or death, and while there is no actual proof of the whole autism claim, there is overwhelming proof of the effectiveness of the vaccine in providing immunity.

    Even starting with the premise that the vaccine does have a 0.1% chance of causing autism, measles has a mortality rate much higher than that, especially in undeveloped countries. And it is HIGHLY contagious.

  • by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @09:19PM (#31003878)

    Don't children who have not been vaccinated also develop autism? Didn't it exist long before vaccines?

  • Re:But (Score:3, Insightful)

    by honkycat ( 249849 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @09:24PM (#31003920) Homepage Journal

    You don't normally retract a paper simply because it's wrong. Even if you do everything correctly, statistics say that you expect to reach the wrong conclusion in some cases. It's apparently taken longer than you might think for the details of the fraudulent nature of the work to be concrete enough to warrant this unusual step.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @09:25PM (#31003926) Homepage Journal

    I can save you the time:

    Big Pharma is out to get Dr. Wakefield.

    See, conspiracy doesn't really require thinking.

  • Re:But (Score:3, Insightful)

    by goose-incarnated ( 1145029 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @09:27PM (#31003950) Journal
    Yes, by a few peers. Publishing it lets a larger group of peers review it. It passed the first review (maybe 4, 5 peers?) and failed the 2nd (a few hundred, maybe a few thousand peers?)

    This is how peer review works - reputable journal doesn't want to publish rubbish, so a few peers get to review the research before journal publishes. Since journal is reputable other peers read it, and then they get to refute the findings, find errors, etc.
  • by Faerunner ( 1077423 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @09:33PM (#31004004)
    Doesn't matter; she "cured" HER kid!

    The day that woman dies, I will dance. She has turned autism research into a farce, and has damaged so many families...
  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @09:34PM (#31004010)

    Statistics mean a lot, the individual who ignores them is an idiot.

    Risking infecting others with a dangerous disease should not be up to them, unless they plan to compensate anyone injured.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @09:40PM (#31004068)

    Which would have been at the same time we stopped calling them retards and sending them off to the nuthouse.

  • Re:But (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @09:46PM (#31004110) Journal

    You missed one case where Peer Review doesn't work ... group think.

    Case in point, the whole Global Warming data set which had nothing but group think attached, along with the requisite shunning of anyone not belonging to the group think process.

    I don't trust scientific peer review unless it is actively trying to DISPROVE the Thesis. You see, true scientific advancement comes not by Group Think, or even Peer review, but rather from rigorous Thesis, Antithesis and finally Synthesis processes.

    Show me peer review that only has Thesis, I'll show your a flawed peer review.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @09:48PM (#31004130) Homepage

    We're talking about profound changes in behaviour within a day of getting a vaccine. When your child stops talking right after injecting a bunch of live viruses into their body there is a tendency to blame it on the live viruses.

    Who's talking about this? That post said a week, now it's the same day for a developmental disorder to suddenly transform the child? Are there any cases of this in any of the studies where children were given vaccines and then observed? No? Huh.

    And since the effects of the live virus, and mercury poisoning (if it was the kind of mercury that could poison you) are well known, and aren't spontaneous autism, that leaves me with another hypothesis:

    Parents ignored the symptoms before, but suddenly became aware when sensitized by fear of vaccines. Their fear and paranoia probably just make the child's already existent symptoms (i.e. introversion) worse.

    Granted I have no evidence for this theory applying to any particular case, but it has one big advantage of at least being consistent with the existing scientific evidence.

    Much like if they ate something that they never ate before then puked, there would be a tendency to blame the food for them getting sick.

    Even if they'd been feeling a little queasy before but wrote it off as nothing. Even if it turned out that they had the flu and the food had nothing to do with it.

    Yes, I know people have this tendency. However that tendency often leads to incorrect conclusions.

  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) * on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:03PM (#31004250) Journal
    "Exactly. It is like penicillin."

    No it isn't, your comparing apples to orangatangs. The difference is that there is a statistical correlation between a penicilin jab and the ill effect, ie: that claim is based on evidence. There is no such correlation found in MMR vs Autisim, ie: the claim is based on anecdote and ignores cotra-evidence.

    The fact that penicilin can be deadly to some people and the fact that some people are greedy parasites does not tell you anything about MMR and autisim.
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:04PM (#31004260) Homepage

    I mostly hate how all /.'s assume they know better than those "crazy dumb shits out there" when they themselves admit knowing little information..

    If you think life was better before vaccination, or would be better without them, then there's no if's and's or but's -- you're a crazy dumbshit who admits to knowing little information. Who is endangering everyone else. This is not tolerable.

    So get your damn kids vaccinated. Once you do that, if you want to talk about maybe finding a way to take the aluminum out of vaccines so that the benefits of vaccines can be even better, then we can talk!

  • by dcam ( 615646 ) <david@uberconcept.TEAcom minus caffeine> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:37PM (#31004592) Homepage

    That isn't quite correct. Your friend's son's condition proves that vaccinations are not the sole cause of autism. It doesn't prove there is no link between autism and vaccinations.

    Not that I think there is one, but we don't want to overreach do we now?

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:57PM (#31004774) Homepage

    Well then I'm definitely not saying anything about what you were thinking or theorizing as to what has really happened in your case. I'm sorry for hardship, but glad he's improving.

    All I'm going to say is that if you took the vaccination out of the picture, that's not that atypical a story about autism -- a kid who seems normal at first but then between the ages of 1 and 3 suddenly seems to take a turn. It's a developmental disorder, it has a large genetic component, and is about neuron organization and development. The process is not instantaneous, even if symptoms seem to come about rapidly. No autism is not fully or even particularly well understood. It's just that "vaccination causes spontaneous autism" doesn't match anything that is known. It doesn't match any of the research that's been done on the very subject. The one study that supported the idea that there's any correlation at all has been shown to be a misconducted sham.

    I have a relative who was a kid at a time when autism diagnoses were very rare because the disease really wasn't understood, so I don't know for sure... but for years he was withdrawn and silent, and when he tried to talk, it was in a weird language nobody but his parents could figure out. He would get obviously frustrated that he couldn't communicate, and then simply withdraw further. Today, he's out partying at college while he busts the curve in science class.

    If he'd caught measles instead, who knows if he'd be around. So, I'm sorry, but as tragic as autism can be, and as tragic as the hypothetical reality where vaccines are causing it would be, the evidence for the risk of autism and the evidence for the risk of disease in the absence of vaccines is not even close to a tough call. We can talk all you want about the hypothetical dangers of vaccines and the need to improve them, and I'll be with you, until your advice is to not vaccinate. That I simply cannot support, and no amount of anecdotal evidence will sway me, because real evidence (like history) is so strongly opposed to that idea.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @11:33PM (#31005186) Homepage

    when i see idiots refusing to vaccinate their kids, i just want to grab them and shake the bastards while shoving pictures of the 1920's polio outbreak in their face.

    Exactly. Oh man, we are so on the same page on this. These fools obviously have no idea of the kind of human suffering they are avoiding because of vaccines.

  • Re:But (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CheshireCatCO ( 185193 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:05AM (#31005490) Homepage

    Pretty much bang-on. The only way to catch deliberate, willful fraud is to repeat each step of the experiment. That takes time (of order as much time as the original experiment) and cost, both of which would get pretty expensive quickly. In addition, you face the difficulty of using competitive peers to check each others' work as gatekeepers. (It'd be easy for me to shoot down my nearest rivals in a way that would be difficult to check against me. And I'm the best person to check my rivals.)

    In the end, the best way to view a peer-reviewed paper is, "This looks accurate and reasonable enough to share with you all." Not, "This is true," but enough to share around with other academics. Sadly, real-world uses often confuse this with a stamp of approval for accuracy.

    (Also note that any peer-review process, short of having a lot of people/group repeat each experiment independently, will be prone to willful fraud. The nature of any security is that once the precautions are known, someone can find a way around them.)

  • Birhter? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:22AM (#31005628) Homepage Journal

    It's a different group of people who are against vaccines. Please keep your labels for conspiracy nuts straight in the future.

  • by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:24AM (#31005662)

    Yes. In fact, the common myth is that the Amish, who don't vaccinate their children, also don't get autism. Those who study autism know this isn't true: the Amish are useful as a study population because of their limited interaction with modern medicine, and there are still Amish with autism.

  • by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:32AM (#31005724)

    Most current desertification, yes. One of the identified potential "tipping points" of climate change is the transition of a large fertile region of Africa into desert.

  • Re:End the debate? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:48AM (#31005844)

    I think "more scientifically inclined" might help.

    Ethical malfeasance when selecting your subjects casts serious doubt on your conclusions. For the most part, people can't actually verify your original data. They can replicate your study by gathering their own data, and then can verify your analytical methods (to the extent you provide original data), but it's basically impossible to verify that your original data were taken properly. Readers and reviewers rely on your honesty in data collection (knowing that when experiments are rerun in the future, you may well be shown to be wrong).

    In a medical study, selecting subjects is part of taking your data. If that part is not done honestly, it casts doubt on the entirety of your results.

  • by Cassius Corodes ( 1084513 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:52AM (#31005884)

    On the other hand, there are PROVEN bad reactions to almost every vaccination. The next opportunity you get to watch a doctor stick needles into an infant or a young child, STAY ALERT. You will see that the legal guardian is offered brochures on each and every vaccination. Take those brochures, and read them. Take the information from them, and research.

    Writing stuff like this makes you look rather silly. When you go and get vaccinations the doctor plainly tells you what the risks are and if you are interested you can ask for more information. You don't have to STAY ALERT - you can just follow what the doctor tells you and keep an eye on potential symptoms. There are potential side-effects to all medicine, including vaccines, this should not be a surprise to anyone.

    As for mercury in vaccines - you now don't believe what the "huge corporations" tell you even though they are the ones that print the PROVEN side-effects on the vaccines, and the brochures. The same procedures that discovered and reported on the side-effects would have also found any negative effects from the mercury. You can find more information about mercury in vaccines here []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:11AM (#31006036)

    When the editor sends your paper to "peers" for review, that's not scientific peer review in the big sense. That's editorial review and as the poster comments, is to catch glaring errors, missing things, etc.

    Peer review is a longer process, that over years, other scientists either confirm what's in your paper or refute it, perhaps proposing new theories to explain the observed data, or identifying previously not-understood or not-known confounding factors in your measurements.

    Peer review is, for example, why people believe Einstein or Newton was right. It wasn't part of the process by which someone publishes a paper or book. One can always find a patron or independent means to get published. It's whether someone says, 20 years later, "hey, that guy was right, because of A, B, and C". Publication status is more a matter of money or friends.

    Peer review is the arbiter of "success in the market place of theories and ideas"

  • by st0nes ( 1120305 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @02:10AM (#31006402) Homepage

    If he wants to ignore the vaccine, and go with the consequences, then that's up to him, so long as he accepts the consequences whatever they may be (including death).

    Except that the consequences are not his alone. Humans have developed "herd immunity" due to vaccines; there is not enough prevalence of the pathogen for infection to pass amongst the population. By not vaccinating your child, you are compromising the herd immunity and that may lead to the illness or death of someone else's child who could not be vaccinated for other legitimate reasons, like allergy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @02:20AM (#31006464)

    > In my case, the last time my son called me Dad was on the way to the Doctor for a shot. 12 years later he still hasn't called me Dad.

    I am so sorry to hear that. The same thing happened to my son, a week or so after the vaccine he lost his words, and was diagnosed a few months later. It's now a couple of years on and he's doing better, he now calls me daddy and my heart melts to hear it, I didn't hear it for so long. He's still not good at paying attention, or focusing on tasks, but he knows me, and that's enough.

    It wasn't the vaccine that caused this. I know you want to believe it. I wanted to believe it. But it isn't true. That would be such an easy answer, there would be something to blame. You'd have done something *wrong*. But you didn't. I don't know what causes it, genetics, environment, who knows ? No one knows - yet. But I have hope that science will discover it someday - maybe soon enough for a cure for my son - maybe soon enough for a cure for yours. I just hope no one wastes more time or research money on demonizing vaccines. In the meantime, therapy and hours of directed play with him are slowly but surely making a difference.

    Don't lose hope, don't blame yourself. Don't take the easy way out of blaming the vaccine.

  • by Eivind ( 15695 ) <> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @03:38AM (#31006930) Homepage

    True enough. The problem is that when hundreds of millions get some treatment, quite a few of those WILL (for entirely unrelated reasons) fall ill shortly after the treatment, thus the existence of these people prove nothing at all.

    Like a doctor commented: If 10 million people get the H1N1 vaccine, you'll have around 8000 that die within a month after getting the vaccine. Proof that the vaccine is dangerous ? No, just the result of the fact that in a sample of 10 million, around 8000 will die EVERY month. And if you offer the vaccine first to the weakened, the elderly, those who are typically the most at risk, then the death-numbers will look even worse.

    Besides, the question is never if something is entirely safe. The proper question is, is it safer than the alternative. Even if a vaccine -does- have side-effects (and all of them do, to varying degrees) it can still be totally worth it, if the total suffering from side-effects is significantly smaller than the suffering from the disease would otherwise be.

  • Re:End the debate? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by puroresu ( 1585025 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @04:53AM (#31007384)
    The issue isn't just that the research data was dubiously obtained, it's that the manner in which it was obtained renders it useless for any meaningful research. Wakefield selected his own small group of test subjects, which in itself allows for conscious or unwitting partiality.

    In addition, there's the fact that no subsequent study conducted under properly controlled conditions has ever shown a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

    There has been a rise in autism diagnoses, but that's due to a number of factors including people such as teachers becoming more aware of the condition, and the growing understanding of autism as a nuanced condition which exhibits a spectrum of symptoms. This means that people are being diagnosed who might not have been previously. The anti-vaccine loonies see this and confuse correlation with causation.

    The entire vaccine conspiracy lobby make some ridiculous claims, either misrepresenting information or blatantly making shit up as they go along. Unfortunately there are people out there who would rather make decisions about their children's medical care on the basis on Jenny McCarthy's opinion than that of someone who has the first fucking clue what they're talking about, and we're seeing preventable deaths of children as a result.
  • by ommerson ( 1485487 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:25AM (#31007546)

    The problem with this approach is that in practice not all parents get round to taking their children to the doctor's for each of these separate vaccinations - even worse if several doses are required for full immunity. Net result is a significant proportion of children who are not fully vaccinated. Once again we balance the vanishingly small (and as of yet unproven) risk associated with vaccination against the risk of death or long-term side effects of Measles, Mumps and Rubella.

  • Re:But (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pentagram ( 40862 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @07:13AM (#31008068) Homepage

    There have been many cases where the scientific orthodoxy of the day has been overturned by opposing views. Continental drift, or the big bang theory for example. "Group think", if you can call it that, was overturned by evidence and better analysis. There is absolutely no reason why we should assume that climate change science should be special, except for wishful thinking by those who don't like its conclusions.

    Agent K: A *person* is smart. People are dumb, stupid, panicky animals, and you know it.

    In terms of science, this is wrong. Individual scientists or groups often gets things wrong (Wakefield being a case in point). Science as a whole however tends to get things right. Despite occasional setbacks, our knowledge of the universe tends towards correctness.

  • by gjscott332 ( 1520955 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @07:32AM (#31008162)
    Last week, my youngest baby very suddenly came out with a rash across his whole body (which fortunately faded away pretty quickly). Two day's LATER he was given the swine flu vaccine. If my local doctors had set their vaccine day three day's earlier the two events would have lined up - entirely randomly. This is why 'The plural of anecdote is not evidence'. Unfortunately you have observed a possibly correlation between two events, we have to use statistics to see if it's likely there is a correlation of if it's just random chance. To my knowledge huge effort has been put in to researching this since the original scare and the overwhelming result has been negative.
  • by LanMan04 ( 790429 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @09:47AM (#31008962)

    Also consider this: nobody has absolute proof that vaccines DON'T cause autism.

    Also consider this: nobody has absolute proof that my rock DOESN'T repel tigers.

  • by DuckDodgers ( 541817 ) <keeper_of_the_wo ... minus pi> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:05AM (#31009920)
    Read the link he provided on Thiomersal. It has not been used in vaccines in the US in ten years, and further was never proven to cause autism in any published, peer-reviewed study. Per the original article, the first author who published a 1998 article linking thiomersal in vaccines with autism was financially involved with alternative technology. He wasn't trying to save children, he was trying to get rich.
  • I don't see how that got set as troll...

    Because it's wrong: []

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!