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How to respond to antivaxers? iCNN report "Fraud at CDC uncovered, 340% increased risk of autism"

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by Signorina, Aug 27, 2014.

  1. Signorina

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    So I wake up to a text message with a link to the iCNN report titled, "Fraud at the CDC uncovered, 340% increased risk of autism hidden from public." It was just published, but it's been viewed 370,00 times and shared 110,000 times.

    Yes, here we go again. It would be funny and we have better things to do, but it's gone viral.


    Apparently:

    1) The original study at the center of the latest antivaxer conspiracy is this one, which does NOT claim fraud or an autism link. It was published 10 years ago.


    2) But someone from a small Christian college that teaches creationsim in its science department has an ax to grind. He repeatedly sends "Freedom of Information" requests to the CDC and tries to find mistakes in vaccine studies.

    Found nothing.
    Went back 10 years.
    Found nothing.
    Divided one study by race.
    Found nothing.

    Sub-divided the data on ONE study to African-American MALES (since the sample size was less than 5 females) and came up with a "higher autism risk" for African-American boys. Not only did he arrive at this conclusion by slicing and slicing data, but he analyzed data collected for a case-control study as a cohort study.

    He obtained the data set from a FOIA sent to the CDC, and the author from the original story published 10 years ago is being called a "whistleblower."

    This is the article that is at the center of the controversy (it was not published at any reputable medical journal).​


    3) So now an "autism activism" group dug up this article and they decided to make a video. They are now claiming that there is a conspiracy and fraud at the CDC. Why? Because the second article re-analyzed CDC data that was used in a 10 year-old study? It's ironic that they claim that the CDC manipulates data to hide the autism-vaccine link, but their proof is... manipulated data.


    4) The CDC is not staying quiet. They published the data sets from this study and they're inviting anyone to analyze it.


    So now moms who DID vaccine their kids are receiving links to this article from their antivaxer neighbors who are using this link as "proof" to stop vaccinating their kids. Yes, we have better things to do, but how do we respond to this and how can we use science to respond to pseudoscience and fear?
     
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  3. Psai

    Psai Snitches get zero vicryl
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    Let their kids get sick and die. Improved gene pool with less stupidity and a good lesson for others. Let them see their kid suffer from measles or pertussis and realize how selfish and foolish they are being
     
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  4. PL198

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    As a professional? You'd just say that in your professional opinion, you haven't seen anything in your opinion that makes you skeptical of vaccines and then talk about their benefits(if these are your beliefs, they are mine but obviously not trying to tell someone what to think).

    As a friend? Just not worth talking about, you're just going to piss someone off, either you or them. If you aren't acting in a medical capacity I'd just ignore the issue. I've found over time it's what you have to do, same thing with " the gov't has the cure to cancer, they just don't want to release it," and similar talks.
     
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  5. tarheel1408

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    Herd immunity means that we definitely can't just ignore the kids that don't get vaccinated, ethical considerations notwithstanding.
     
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  6. Signorina

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    But I'm just a medical student. When someone asks me my professional opinion I say, "ask me in 10 years and go see your doctor."

    I agree that reality always wins. Wait. Actually ...in time ...I hope. I tend to roll my eyes at the latest conspiracy theory and think "here we go again!" This link, however, seems to be spreading like wildfire. I don't have kids. I'm genuinely surprised that today I've been getting direct questions about this.
     
  7. PL198

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    You can still have a professional opinion as a student. It just means you aren't going to get paid for it and it probably wont be as informed or clinical in nature as your superiors.
     
  8. NickNaylor

    NickNaylor Thank You for Smoking
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    Because, unsurprisingly, uneducated people (anti-vaccine folks) tend to be less interested in holistic, objective reviews of data and more interested in validating their already-held views. This should come as no surprise.

    Anti-intellectualism at its finest.
     
  9. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    Exactly. As Ron White said, "You can't fix stupid."
     
  10. TooMuchResearch

    TooMuchResearch i'm goin' to Kathmandu...
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    As a friend, I'd tell them to f*ck off and keep their disease-ridden family away from mine.
     
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  11. BobbyB

    BobbyB ayy lmao
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    you have to be able to recognize when people are making emotional arguments and refuse to debate them logically. it will only waste your time and frustrate you.
     
  12. Nephronlearner

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    Unfortunately, it is very easy to manipulate people. This issue is very similar to the alternative medicine issue.
    I generally see 2 groups of people there: one group is relatively uneducated, often very religions people who will just believe anything they see on TV if it suits their agenda (big pharma conspiracies and preference for "natural" treatments). Those are "less dangerous" because if your communication skills are good, you can manipulate them just as easily into doing what you believe is right.
    Second groups is trickier. Those people are usually highly educated and believe they know everything about everything (think Steve Jobs and treating cancer "alternatively"). And as a rule, you can't change their opinion no matter what you tell them since they are sure they know more than you. They watched a documentary about it causing autism, afterall (or read some "trustworthy journal"). Unfortunately those people are probably the reason we are still seeing cases of measles or whooping cough.

    What to do? Well... try to persuade those from "group 1" to vaccinate and just don't bother with "group 2" because you won't win the argument and they will probably end up reporting you or something...
     
  13. Signorina

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    Thanks :) Fortunately, these moms seem to be part of group #1. So I tried to explain the link in the simplest terms I could and got this:


    Mom #1 who just vaccinated her baby (but says that 75% of the moms in a city in the San Francisco Bay play group are antivaxers [in SF Bay, really?]) said:
    • "So frustrating that we get spoon fed lies and then get judged for becoming skeptics."

    Mom #2 who has another round of vaccines coming up:
    • "Ugh that is crazy. As if there isn't enough hysteria with anti-vaxxers."

    I don't think silence and eye-rolling is quite the answer. Some moms want something, anything to fend off their antivaxer acquaintances.
     
  14. DermViser

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    Except some of them are highly rich and in liberal enclaves:
    http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/g1lev1/an-outbreak-of-liberal-idiocy
     
  15. kami333

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    Yeah, a-vaxxers run the entire gamut of education and political ideology.

    Orac has a takedown of the article, there are some epidemiologists in the comments who do a much better job with the statistics link

    Yup, I refuse to be friends with anyone with anti-vax views and have "lost" a few friends because of it (same thing with YECs).
     
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  16. Bacchus

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    Anti-vaxxers are frustrating because the logical argument doesn't work. Often I try this with no resolve. Usually I end up going the route of, "Well your other child got this vaccine and is fine" or "He needs this for school."

    What's scary: a male walked out of our office last week after coming in with his anti-vax mom (who only vaccinates because of school requirements) saying, "I don't know why I have to put poison in my body."

    GRRR. One of our peds clinics has a sign in every room informing parents they more than likely will be refused service if they don't vaccinate. Good going, :).
     
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  17. DermViser

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    I think pediatricians and schools should be allowed to turn away students whose parents refuse to vaccinate. Period. No religious exception to try to pull a fast one either.
     
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  18. dadaddadaBATMAN

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    Followed by a prospective study examining diagnosis of autism in both schools. And childhood mortality/preventable illness.

    Also, "herd immunity doesn't exist" becomes a much more fragile argument when you get to watch it happen.
    Things like this make me glad I'm not on the coast
     
  19. dadaddadaBATMAN

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    Liking this feels inappropriate. But thanks for sharing, it's good to hear what to expect. :(
     
  20. oldbearprofessor

    Administrator Rocket Scientist Physician Faculty SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    General pediatricians certainly can turn away patients for this reason and many do so. It becomes a bit trickier though as a specialist. We can't really kick a 1000 g baby out of the NICU because the parents refuse Hep B vaccine. Now, whether pediatricians SHOULD do this is a hotly debated topic both on the pedi forum here and at almost every AAP national meeting. The AAP generally discourages it (refusal to see patients), but fully accepts a pediatricians RIGHT to refusal. More generally, most folks tend to think that if a family is refusing vaccinations, the 99.99% of pediatricians who support them are not the best pediatricians for that family, but this remains a very contentious and widely discussed issue amongst pediatricians. This is especially the case for families wishing "delayed vaccinations" (ugh...) where some pediatricians would prefer to keep them in the practice so they don't run away from the health care system and never vaccinate the kids and others don't want delayed vaccination families in their waiting rooms.

    As an aside, my big issue is parental refusal of vitamin K. How many completely preventable cases of neonatal intracerebral hemorrhage have to occur (and be reported in the media and medical literature) before families figure this one out?

    Overall, the vaccination refusal/delay issue has become one of the biggest and toughest topics in all of pediatrics affecting virtually all pediatricians, regardless of practice type.
     
  21. DermViser

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    I'm not at all shocked the AAP wouldn't take an actual stance. It requires actual cojones to actually take the stance of protecting other children, due to one family's selfishness. However when it comes to a social issue that a medical specialty group has no business making a press release on, they have no problems commenting. Oh and of course, full throated support for Obamacare, no matter how much it might hurt kids (i.e. Orphan drugs for children).
     
  22. Allen18328

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    For the sake of full transparency, I think their proof is the statement posted by the epidemiologist involved in the study and not so much the guy reanalyzing it.

    "My name is William Thompson. I am a Senior Scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and

    Prevention, where I have worked since 1998.

    I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed."

    http://www.morganverkamp.com/august-27-2014-press-release-statement-of-william-w-thompson-ph-d-regarding-the-2004-article-examining-the-possibility-of-a-relationship-between-mmr-vaccine-and-autism/
     
  23. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    The assumption that antivaxxers tend to be religious nutterbutters is incorrect. Actually it is left-wing psychos who are more prone to believing daytime TV Hacks, pseudoscientists on the internet, and then mutually reinforce their false sense of superiority among themselves.


    Sent from my iPhone using SDN Mobile
     
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  24. Sweet Orange Juice

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    I personally stop trying to teach them about basic concept of vaccine cause it is useless and just post this repeatedly :

    "When we create preventive cure for most dangerous infectious called vaccine, you guys called it poisoned made by medical society to make people sick and grab their money

    When we are trying to make progress to find cure for metastasized cancer and realize it is futile, you guys think we hold back the cure yet you guys never submit yourselves to cancer screening until it has grow bigger in sizes and moved to different organs.

    When we want to utilize stem cell unlimited potential to cure deafness, diabetes, failed organ, etc,you guys claim ethic consideration and claim the research is evil.

    When you are given the first option to live a healthy life such as exercise and good diet, you guys never do it saying office work and busy schedule. When the hypertension and the cholesterol has gone long enough and become higher, we worry about end-organ damage(hypertension) and coronary artery disease so we give you cheap diuretic and statin yet you dismiss it cause you can't bear the side effects of excess urine and headache. So when you have multi-organ failure, heart enlargement, coronary artery disease, we are forced to give you a lot of diagnostic test and drugs but you think we are trying to get more money from you.

    When you have the ability to utilize Wikipedia while we have to pay around 30 dollars for a single medical journal, you guys instead resort to unverified blogs and website."

    This always work to shut them up
     
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  25. Tipsy McStagger

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    CDCs' statement: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/Autism/cdc2004pediatrics.html


    Correlative relationships are the conspiracy theorists' favorite club in the bag.
     
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  26. 2010houston

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    Again not that you're going to convince anyone for the reasons cited above... But this is a great link if you want to try:
    http://www.texaschildrens.org/vaccinebook/
    (pics/stories of kids who have died/had prolonged ICU stays from vaccine-preventable disease)
    Lots of local pedis have the posters from this campaign up; I think they are well-done and thought provoking. Turns the emotional side upside down a little.
     
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  27. mvenus929

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    I did a rotation in Costa Rica, and found it interesting that people who refused to vaccinate their children were referred to the equivalent of CPS. Consequently, every child in their country who receives healthcare is vaccinated.

    True. Dr. Bob Sears is their hero, in a lot of cases.
     
  28. NickNaylor

    NickNaylor Thank You for Smoking
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    It's all rooted in the same tradition of anti-intellectualism, though. Whether from right-wing, rights-asserting folks or anti-science, all-natural folks the fundamental value perspective is pretty much the same.
     
  29. jakeislove

    jakeislove MS IV
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    The same person who refuses vitamin K will easily find a lawyer to sue the doctor when their baby dies. People don't have to own the decision and can always claim the doctor didn't explain things properly.
     
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  30. oldbearprofessor

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    Well, although I'm as paranoid as the next person, this is unlikely to happen and I'm not aware of any such lawsuits ever occurring. The reason is that vitamin K in the hospital is the default in every nursery and is given before the pediatrician usually sees the baby for the first time. Parents have to opt out of it and pediatricians must then document this. It would be hard to claim it was the doctor's (pediatrician's) fault in that setting. Now, more interesting would be a lawsuit against a home birth attendant, etc regarding this. That's possible, but would be unlikely to get far either. As an aside, death is an unlikely outcome, much more common is permanent neurological deficit from stroke-like damage.
     
  31. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    Curious - how often do parents refuse this? I can imagine not a whole lot, but do you see it happening more often these days?
     
  32. oldbearprofessor

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    Very rapidly increasing. There was a recent article about this from Canada, but US numbers are likely much higher. Here are a few articles about it with some of the recent numbers.

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/vitamin-k-refusal-the-new-anti-vax/

    and

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/more-parents-nixing-anti-bleeding-shots-for-their-newborns/
     
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  33. PL198

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    It's not really anti-intellectualism. Those people in SF that aren't getting their kids vaccinated? Let's be real with who they are. It's these random 30 yr old moms who watch the view, Dr. Oz and other random shows that pick random points to try to push to make money. If you want to draw attention to yourself(how people in the media get money), you do it by creating controversy. What's an easier way to do that then by saying that getting your kid vaccinated can give them autism? You take one of those moms watching the shows and it's their first born, so they're scared to death about the kid's health from the get-go, and it's a wonder that the numbers aren't worse. If anything I'd say intellectualism is about challenging all of the current dogmas, so to call this anti-intellectualism is the complete wrong direction IMO.
     
  34. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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  35. NickNaylor

    NickNaylor Thank You for Smoking
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    It's anti-intellectualism because it's belief in folklore rather than established science (within which there is absolutely zero controversy). Dr. Oz is much the same way - it's anti-intellectualism couched in a pair of scrubs. Watch his Congressional testimony as he dances around the fact that much of what he recommends is nonsense. People that follow him and others choose their appointed values leaders and follow them blindly without actually exploring what's being said or argued.

    There is a subtle yet critical distinction between skepticism and non-belief. Skepticism results in continued questioning and continued exploration in the pursuit of truth. Non-belief is an almost dogmatic position that defies logical reasoning even in the face of convincing evidence to the contrary. Believing that vaccines cause autism or any other nonsense along those lines is dogma and nothing more.

    I'm all for recognizing the weakness of science and it's faults, but in this case there really is no room for argument. The fact that this is such a hot-button issue has resulted in significant amounts of effort being dedicated to looking at the issue. None of those efforts has resulted in anything of consequence. Refusing to accept that is plain anti-intellectualism. As you say, Dr. Oz and others get attention exactly because they exploit unexplored areas of science and then make strong, implied conclusions that are either very, very weakly supported by science or are simply not explored by science. That is just plain voodoo and conjecture. It really is no different than snake oil.
     
  36. DermViser

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    Yes, bc documentation always stops the threat and hassle of a lawsuit.
     
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  37. DermViser

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    Anti-intellectualism = "hostility towards and mistrust of intellect, intellectuals, and intellectual pursuits, usually expressed as the derision of education, philosophy, literature, art, and science, as impractical and contemptible".
     
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  38. NontradCA

    NontradCA American Hero
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    That's the spirit.
     
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  39. NontradCA

    NontradCA American Hero
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    Here's the problem in a nutshell. Let us, healthcare providers, dumb down the issue and make it a political one. This thread is stupid. Insulting people isn't going to get them to listen to you. It will invoke the opposite.
     
  40. DokterMom

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    Shortened to quote just the parts relevant to my reply --
    • Profile of children least likely to be DX with an autism spectrum disorder at a young age?: Children of poor and/or poorly-educated parents who will either not notice or not take action if their children do not appear to be developing normally.
    • Profile of children least likely to be vaccinated at a young age?: Children of poor and/or poorly-educated parents who do not /can not afford to take their children in for scheduled vaccinations.
    So where is the news? Where's the mystery here?
     
  41. DokterMom

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    @Psai - have you reviewed the profile of the typical anti-vaxxer? It tends to be more highly-educated than average with a higher SES status - the 'organic' crowd. Stupid? Well... (no comment) Trouble is, it isn't them who suffer, or even just their kids. They're weakening the herd immunity, which is most damaging to the weakest among us.
     
  42. oldbearprofessor

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    Just to be sure, vaccine hesitancy/refusal, etc crosses all political lines. No question that it can be found in many on the left, but note the following...

    http://www.texasgop.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/2014PLATFORMCONV.pdf

    "Immunizations- All adult citizens should have the legal right to conscientiously choose which vaccines are administered to themselves, or their minor children, without penalty for refusing a vaccine."

    I think it is best to focus on the ideas and lack of understanding of the science families have rather than suggest this is a politically motivated problem. In my personal experience vaccine and vitamin K refusal is seen comparably in all political groups.
     
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  43. Brick Majors

    Brick Majors Drägermeister
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    This is pretty spot on. A good article in Pediatrics illustrates this: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/114/1/187

    Most of the intentionally unvaccinated families I have met, have been white, liberal, and very very privileged. I usually think of Vashon Island near Seattle, Marin, and parts of Vermont. Not exactly dust bowl bible thumper country.

    Although there seems to be an increase of vaccine preventable illnesses, I don’t think that these are the people that will ultimately suffer. Rather, there will likely be individually tragic cases, but for the most part they will very likely be protected from many ill effects by their access to immediate personal health care, or the ability to retreat further and cloister themselves within their same affluent communities. A lot of infectious disease risk is really about having no option but to go to work and live in amongst a seething mass of people.

    Of course, these affluent communities could very well become disease reservoirs which could in turn pass infection on to poor people who are at risk not because they choose to avoid the specter of vaccination induced illness, but because the health care is not easily available to them in the first place, and also because they cannot sequester themselves within their country estates.

    The rejection of vaccination is a choice for privileged people. The decision not to vaccinate very likely places disproportionate risk on people who do not have that same indulgence of choice. When the decision not to vaccinate is made as part of a rejection of orthodoxy, intentional non-vaccinators have the security of being able to embrace that same orthodoxy by seeking medical attention if the need should arise. It's a luxury that comes from being in the social and financial position to have access to good health care and a functioning public health system in the first place.

    This really is the same phenomenon as people who garden (and hire gardeners), eat eggs from their heirloom chickens in a coop that they had built for them, and extoll the values of simple locally produced food. If there is a drought, bad harvest, or some other misfortune (or it simply becomes tiresome), they can always roll the Volvo out to Costco and load it up.
     
    DokterMom likes this.
  44. Kahreek

    2+ Year Member

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    vaccines are a very traumatic experience that can cut trust between child and parents, thus leading to isolation and autism traits.
    There done, I've just psyched my way out of it.
     
  45. Burla

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    So is this new scientist trying to say that the original researchers should have included children that didn't meet their criteria for the study (birth weight/certificate)? I must be missing something because I don't really get the point of his paper.
     
  46. jakeislove

    jakeislove MS IV
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    Had one today. Advised her that there was a risk involved, documented, and let things be.
     
  47. Dylasa

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    I have a son with autism, and so I find myself in these stupid debates more than the average person. First, I say that I wish the research money we've spent disproving Wakefield (over and over and over again) had gone into finding the actual cause(s) for autism, and then I tell them that even if vaccines did cause autism, I'd rather have my autistic kid than a dead kid, but thank you very much for showing me how much you value his humanity as a disabled person. And then I never speak with that person again. #nopedsforme
     

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