Shilling for quacks

As you will no doubt have realised, in most cases when doctors don’t tell you something, it’s because it is wrong (or at least unsupported by credible evidence). Sometimes, though, it goes a bit further. June’s lede is one of those cases.

Barry Durrant-PeatfieldW is a former GP who had an active practice treating what he diagnosed as thyroid disorders. WDDTY consistently call him “Dr.” but that is misleading: he has been voluntarily erased from the medical register rather than defend himself on fitness to practice charges, so he is no longer licensed to practice medicine in the UK.

Suspended by the GMC, rather than fight the case, “Dr Durrant-Peatfield retired but decided to take his case directly to the public.” Rather than publishing in the peer-reviewed literature. Because that’s hard work and less profitable.

WDDTY spin the familiar narrative of the Brave Maverick Doctor. The reality is much more prosaic. He trained at the feet of the acolytes of Broda Otto BarnesW, who had eccentric ideas of thyroid function that failed to gain any meaningful scientific support (in the technical jargon of medicine, he was wrong). He used a quack diagnostic test and quack remedies to treat a disease that pretty much all reputable physicians would say his patients did not have. Continue reading Shilling for quacks

Alan Hunter’s wibble

andrew-neil1Alan Hunter is an obvious crank. He is also a quack trying to horn in on the allergies market. Allergology is a notorious difficult and complex field, which of course makes it an ideal hunting ground for snake oil salesmen of all descriptions.

Hunter is a compulsive spammer who  is now barred from using our email feedback form because he seems unable to comprehend the simple business of comments under blog posts. Unlike Lynne McTaggart, we don’t believe in suppression of speech (mockery is a far more effective way of addressing opposition), so this is a placeholder for a series of his differently-coherent replies copied and pasted from our feedback system.

Apologies for lack of formatting, this is a result of picking them out of the spam bin.

There are contributions here fomr other websites, not just WWDDTYDTY: if you’ve been the “beneficiary” of Alan’s “wisdom”, feel free to send it in. Please include the date and time of receipt (we might, if we can be arsed, track the coefficient of blether against time – it’s noticeable that the posts written after the pubs shut are the least coherent).

Feel free to reply to his tirades in the comments below, especially if you can go one step further than “Ha ha ha! Fuckwit”.

Amazon ban on – sorry, sales of – herbal products “illegal” – sorry, illegal.

amazonCall the police! A shrieking headline says:

Amazon ban on herbal products ‘illegal’

Wow, really? Let’s look a little closer:

The online retailer Amazon has pulled more than a hundred St John’s wort products, a herbal remedy for depression, after it was approached by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

So the statutory regulatory body approached Amazon, and Amazon pulled the products. And this is supposedly illegal. According to whom? Let’s read on:

The campaign group, the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH),
says the MHRA “overstepped the legal mark” and some of those
107 products should never have been removed.

Oh really. And there’s not quite enough space to note that WDDTY contributor Rob Verkerk is the founder of the ANH, or point out that this is a body founded to promote the interests of the supplement industry, which profits handily from bullshit claims for products like St John’s Wort.

Follow the money. Unless it’s going to your friends.

The MHRA says the products were unlicensed and making
illegal medicinal claims or were inappropriately labelled. It now
plans to contact other on line retail outlets, including eBay, which have been supplying the products.

Statutory regulator enforces regulations shock. Pictures at eleven.

Amazon had two choices: challenge the request, or accede. Amazon chose to accede tot he request. They have lawyers and a metric fuckton of money, so that rather suggests that they accept the MHRA’s view that the marketing claims were illegal and the products were unlicensed.

It’s understood the MHRA acted after being approached
by the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) last
December. The association’s executive director Graham Keen
has described the action as having “a very positive outcome”.

So even some of those selling natural woo, are pissed off by the fraudulent claims of other marketers of natural woo. Interesting.

But the ANH questions the “legitimacy of the forced
product removal” and says that some of the medicinal claims
are “carefully worded health claims that are as yet not nonauthorized by the European Commission”.

Does Rob Verkerk work for the Ministry of Truth? That is some amazing doublespeak there.

It says this latest ban is part of an “ongoing campaign by the
MHRA to attack herbal food supplements without adequate
legal justification”.

Skeptics will be rolling around on the floor laughing at this: the MHRA is notoriously spineless in challenging the dubious claims of natural-woo scammers, this is incredibly rare and is based on clear-cut and flagrant breaches of the law.

How happy would WDDTY be for Big Pharma to sell products with unapproved claims via Amazon, do you think? Answers on a postcard, please.

Under attack? Try smearing someone who had absolutely nothing to do with it.

The best defence, they say, is a strong offence. Lynne McTaggart’s clearly taken this to heart, as she’s decided to hit back at the people who defaced her webshite by attacking someone who not only didn’t do it, but expressed disapproval of the vandalism.

I’m sure there’s some sort of logic behind that, but I’m glad I don’t understand it.

Was Changed to
How do you solve a problem like a cyber lynch-mob? How do you solve a problem like Maria?
 What better way to take the moral high ground when accusing others of pursuing a personal vendetta, than to personalise your own vendetta against the reality-based community? Awesome.
I was fascinated to see that among those offering support that the perpetrators get caught was Maria MacLachlan. Maria and her husband Alan Henness are effectively the Nightingale Collaboration, a tiny organization that was given seed money by Sense About Science in order to spend a prodigious amount of time reporting advertisers and practitioners of alternative medicine to the UK’s The Advertising Standards Authority. I was fascinated to see that among those offering support that the perpetrators get caught was Maria MacLachlan. Maria and her husband Alan Henness are effectively the Nightingale Collaboration, a tiny organization that was given seed money by Sense About Science in order to spend a prodigious amount of time reporting advertisers and practitioners of alternative medicine to the UK’s The Advertising Standards Authority. And many of the ads they’ve tried to stop are the ones that appear in the pages of our magazine What Doctors Don’t Tell You.
 Yes, many of the adverts we, the skeptic community, have stopped (successfully, most of them are no longer published in their prior form) are indeed in WDDTY. And many aren’t. The campaign against fraudulent advertising by quacks pre-dates the campaign to get WDDTY to stop being dishonest. What Lynne has never understood, is that we challenge false advertising wherever we see it. I’ve challenged false claims in ads for finance companies, insurance companies, lobby groups and quacks. I have had two complaints upheld against adverts by groups with which I was involved. We changed the copy in one, and successfully challenged the adjudication in the other. It is not personal. It only seems that way because virtually every word in WDDTY, and much of the advertising, promotes fraudulent products and practices. When everything you do is promoting fraudulent nonsense then challenging the fraudulent is the same as challenging everything you promote. The obvious solution is to stop promoting fraudulent nonsense.
 What knowledge this is is not apparent as the couple appear to have no background in evaluating or studying medicine or alternative medicine (Henness reports his former employment as R&D manager for Honeywell Security and Customer Electronics).  What knowledge this is is not immediately apparent as the couple appear to have no background in evaluating or studying medicine or alternative medicine (Henness reports his former employment as R&D manager for Honeywell Security and Customer Electronics).
Ah, right, so identifying the expertise requires you to actually check your facts a tiny bit. I can see why that would present an almost unsurmountable problem for you.
From now on, I’m going to call this kind of ‘do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do’ activity ‘the Maria Problem.’Simon Singh has also got a Maria Problem. He has styled himself as the champion of free speech in science, but has been busy for nearly three years encouraging ‘book burning’ in the form of pressurizing and campaigning for stores and distributors to stop stocking What Doctors Don’t Tell You.
 This never gets any truer, however often it’s repeated. Simon has not “styled himself” as a champion of free speech, he is a champion of free speech. Unlike WDDTY, who supported Wakefield’s suppressive lawsuits, also supported Chris Woolams in using legal thuggery to suppress dissent and said nothing about Peter Wilmshurst, Simon has not only fought off a suppressive libel suit, he has actually helped to change the law – even the kind of shit WDDTY and Lynne McTaggart print about people is now marginally less likely to end up with the tawdry rag bankrupted. Commercial speech is not protected. Your right to say something does not confer any obligation on others to sell it for you. And all you have to do, in order to stop the critical backlash, is to stop printing lies and promoting health fraud.
This has nothing to do with free speech. They are free not to like my magazine and to publicly say so. But that is a far cry from encouraging people to interfere with our free trade or sending cyber attack dogs to abuse me online. This has nothing to do with free speech. They are free not to like my magazine and to publicly say so. But that is a far cry from encouraging people to interfere with our free trade or sending cyber attack dogs to abuse me online. That kind of activity is a threat to freedom and to a free, multi-cultural society.
 Wait, are you accusing Simon of racism here? Simon Singh? The well-known British Asian scientist and author? Who has collaborated with Edzard Ernst, the well-known German-born naturalised British scientist?The sound you can hear may sound like the incoherent screeching of a deranged harridan, but apparently it’s actually Lynne’s fingernails frantically scraping the bottom of the barrel in the hope of finding something underneath the barrel itself, to allow her to go still lower.
There have been ‘Master Lists’ kept by husband and wife combo Michael and Laura Thomason, writing as ‘Josephine Jones’ (he a database developer, she a coffee shop supervisor) and passed around from skeptic to skeptic as though we are engaged in behavior that must be monitored, blow by blow.  There have been ‘Master Lists’ kept by husband and wife combo Michael and Laura Thomason, writing as blogger ‘Josephine Jones’ (he a database developer, she a coffee shop supervisor) and passed around from skeptic to skeptic as though we are engaged in behavior that must be monitored, blow by blow.
 You are engaged in behaviour that must be monitored blow-by-blow. You relentlessly promote health fraud and attack critics. If you want to escape constant scrutiny, stop doing these things.Oh, and you could also stop telling belittling lies about people, especially after the facts have clearly come to your attention. It does rather undermine your umbrage about the original incident…
Encouraging the kinds of targeted bullying that have been directed against me and WDDTY is exactly how things do escalate and finally get out of hand. The only way to stop a lynch mob is to stop creating targets of hate. Which goes back to the Golden Rule. And that, Maria, is how you solve a problem like a cyber lynch mob. Encouraging the kinds of targeted bullying that have been directed against me and WDDTY is exactly how things do escalate and finally get out of hand. It’s how ordinary, law-abiding Germans were finally incited to go on a rampage, smashing windows and looting the property of Jewish shopkeepers during Kristallnacht.The only way to stop a lynch mob is to stop creating targets of hate. Which goes back to the Golden Rule, being tolerant of people whose beliefs are different from yours.And that is how you solve this cyber-bullying problem, Maria.
 Oh yes, because refusing to sell a magazine that promotes health fraud and risks public health by spouting anti-vaccine bullshit is exactly like the Endlösung. Remind me again, did they set fire to your offices? Drive you from your home? Beat you? Steal your property? No.

So: Lynne responds to critical commentary by doubling down, cranking the paranoia up to eleven and attacking someone who not only wasn’t responsible, but actually condemned those who were.

Think about that for a moment. The first thing Lynne thinks about when her webshite is defaced, is: how can I make this about restoring my profits, and, how can I turn it into an attack on the people I hate, even though they are plainly not responsible?

How do you solve a problem like a cyber Lynne mob?

Loon “Lynne” McTaggart has the whole martyr complex thing off to a T: it’s all about her, and her exaggerated sense of entitlement. After all, who could possibly have any valid objection to her pimping black salveW, a bogus cancer cure that just happens to eat away your skin? Surely the excruciating pain, weight loss, anaemia and cost experienced by her reader are vastly better than a surgical procedure under general anaesthetic.

Thank you all for those lovely statements of support after I wrote that our Intention Experiment website – a website devoted to healing the world’s ills through group prayer – got hacked into and threats on me, my family, my business, even my car were put in its place.

Really? McTaggart’s definition of “threats” is open to question, so I would not take it on her say-so. Still and all, threats are nasty, as those of us who have experienced them will testify. I have never seen any skeptic threaten anything other than Lynne’s profits, I am happy to say.

Happily, I can save you a lot of time and effort. The effect of prayer has been tested, it doesn’t work.  We’re happy to have saved you wasting any further time and effort repeating this failed experiment; I suggest you devote your time instead to studying concepts such as the laws of thermodynamics and conservation of energy, which show why any effect from prayer would require us to throw away pretty much all of human knowledge. Continue reading How do you solve a problem like a cyber Lynne mob?

A salve for a tumour

This article plumbs new depths, even for WDDTY.

Let’s look at the infobox for a second.

The essential points

DO:

  • Work with a qualified practitioner who has his own reliable source of Black Salve
  • Use it sparingly and make sure any wound that remains is properly and hygienically treated
  • Anticipate excruciating pain and long periods of exhaustion and incapacity, when work may not be possible
  • Make sure you have the full support of family and friends. If the growth is on the back of the body, you’ll need someone prepared to apply the salve who isn’t squeamish.

DON’T:

  • Buy the salve off the internet or attempt to self-medicate without the guidance of a regulated and qualified health practitioner

  • Start salve therapy without having your eyes fully open: read and research, and become a Black Salve expert before you start

  • Use Black SaIve if you have diabetes or poor circulation

  • Start unless you have a powerful and effective pain reliever  available.

Got the message? It’s excruciatingly painful (because it is BURNING YOUR SKIN, Jesus, how dumb are you people?). You must not be squeamish, because it’s BURNING YOUR SKIN and that is messy as well as incredibly painful. Even the Daily Mail recommends against it.

Go to a qualified, registered and regulated health professional? That is spectacularly delusional. Any regulated health professional in the UK found using black salve would be unregulated pretty damned quickly.

Still, as Michael Baum said, you wouldn’t want to consult a fake charlatan would you?

There’s a genuine question here: if anybody follows the WDDTY advice and ends up scarred, as so many users do, would they sue?

As the article meanders on it throws up some gems:

It was while reading WDDTY that Dave came across an article about Phil and Rosa Hughes and their ‘alternative’ cancer-screening clinic, which was close to his home. They offer a technology called ‘thermography’, a less invasive and more sensitive alternative to mammography…

Thermography is not approved for cancer screening, for the rather obvious reason that it doesn’t work. Tests how it misses 75% of cancers. It’s Russian roulette with five barrels loaded. The Hughes’ website claim that thermography is “medically approved”, conveniently forgetting to mention that it is not medically approved, or effective, for breast screening.

What is quite interesting is that the patient, Dave, had received chemotherapy as a child for brain cancer. His visceral rejection of chemo when a tumour was diagnosed near the base of his spine – his fourth cancer diagnosis, incredibly – was based on this experience. Presumably he did not listen when the doctors told him of the advances in chemo in recent years, and the fact that not all chemotherapies are equal. So he “read books” (safe to assume they were not reality-based), studied WDDTY (BAD idea!) and went to the Gerson clinic (substantially worse idea). You have to wonder why these so-called “doctors” bother with five years of university followed by up to ten years of postgraduate work to become qualified, when they could just read some shit off the internet and become experts overnight.

What a shame that in all that reading he never encountered anything on confirmation bias.

In the pages of WDDTY he found an advertisement (possibly masquerading as an article) for Phil and Rosa Hughes’ “alternative” cancer screening clinic. Why he wanted alternative screening is a mystery since he already had a diagnosis.

The article claims in a callout that Rosa had “reversed her breast cancer through diet and lifestyle changes”.  Where have we heard that before? As it turns out, Rosa refused a biopsy, so she (and WDDTY) have no idea whether she actually had cancer or not. This is not a small matter: a lot of the patients used by quacks as success stories turn out never to have had biopsy confirmed disease. WDDTY seem to think that people who reject evidence-based diagnosis and treatment are making a bold and excellent choice, yet time after time they reveal that the choice is influenced by charlatans selling snake oil, in this case someone selling breast thermography services. Breast thermography is wrong in about 3/4 of cases, according to current evidence.

Worryingly, only one of the people at the Hughes’ clinic has any medical qualifications at all: a registered nurse. Phil Hughes is a “registered homeopath”, so is not just medically unqualified, in fact pretty much everything he thinks he knows about health and disease is provably wrong.

Following surgery to excise the tumour and his rejection of adjuvant chemotherapy, Dave adopts a standard-for-quackery restrictive diet, in this case vegan and dairy-free. The tumour, unsurprisingly, returns (cancer, unlike cancer patients, is not easily fooled by the blandishments of diet shills).

Dave decides on black salve. Because, you know, reasons.

A callout says:

Don’t buy just any salve off the internet, and don’t try to self medicate without seeing a qualified therapist

Qualified? How can you be qualified in batshit insane treatments? And if it’s not safe to buy any old black salve off the internet, how come it was safe to take any old shit off the internet as advice? Nobody, literally nobody, with any actual knowledge of cancer, will prescribe this stuff. WDDTY present Mohs surgery as if it validates the claims, but fails to note that Mohs excised the tissue surgically after 24 hours, rather than continuing to use the caustic paste as the sole or primary treatment. If anything the history of Mohs surgery refutes the claims of black salve advocates, since the salve is no longer used in clinical practice.

Eventually, he found a herbalist, whose clinic was fairly close to his home, who was prepared to see him and treat him with Black Salve. (The herbalist doesn’t wish to be named.)

If I was a medically unqualified “alternative” practitioner treating cancer patients with a dangerous and implausible treatment I probably wouldn’t want to be named either.

The herbalist admits he has never treated a sarcoma before, states that this is the biggest cancer he’s ever treated, but nonetheless gives a confident estimate that it will take 14 days for black salve to “expel” the tumour from the body. You have to love the confidence of ignorance.

The treatment was so painful that Dave passed out several times, he lost four stone in weight, and felt cold most of the time (presumably due to anaemia). That sounds a lot worse than chemo to me, but of course cognitive dissonance would never permit Dave to think this.

Black salve is dangerous. Really dangerous. It’s a caustic. Yes, it might be able to remove cancerous tissue, but it is indiscriminate and will take out everything else as well. Most importantly Dave’s tumour has already regrown once, and there’s no reason to think that it will not regrow again. By speaking to him so soon after treatment WDDTY risks presenting someone with a hidden malignancy as “cured” in order to promote a particularly barbaric form of cancer quackery.

Available now from all bad newsagents!

The May 2015 issue of WDDTY has, like the steaming turds emanating from Her Majesty’s guards’ horses, hit the streets. And it’s a cracker. It looks as if they are playing pseudo-medical Limbo, a game of “how low can you go?” After flipping through it several skeptics are now looking sadly at the smoking ruins of their WTF meters, overloaded by the unprecedented outpouring of bollocks between the covers.

Tapping: Money for old rope.
Tapping: Money for old rope.

Remember the bullshit that is Emotional Freedom Techniques? Astonishingly the lunatic charlatans have reinvented it as a miracle cure-all. WDDTY followed the money just long enough to establish it was headed towards their bank and gave it the front page.

This month’s obligatory anti-MMR rant claims that 100 people died from MMR vaccine and none from measles, proving that however often you point out to Lynne McTaggart that every single publication around VAERS points out that correlation is not causation, she will always stick her fingers in her ears and chant “precious bodily fluids” until the cognitive dissonance goes away.

A bonus anti-vaccine piece is based on the refuted antivax meme that flu vaccine benefits only 3% of people.

Then we have “radiotherapy increases risk of thyroid cancer”, which should deter all those people who engage in recreational radiotherapy but won’t help people with cancer much because a chance of cancer down the road is a bit less pressing than real cancer, in your body, killing you, right now.

Zoë Harcombe, uncredentialled diet woo-peddler and Britain’s sole calorie denialist, gets a plug in a piece claiming that fat doesn’t cause heart disease. In other news, onions cure diabetes, which rather invites the question of why nobody found this out and saved the lives of millions of diabetics before insulin was identified and synthesised.

There’s a long and inexplicable rant claiming that “breast is best” is accepted by “everyone except top doctors and obstetricians” – palpable nonsense as any recent parent will know. It turns out that this ridiculous twaddle was caused by someone being so determined to feed that she could not accept what was then considered the best, most cautious advice during treatment for a heart problem. Never let it be said that WDDTY would succumb to nuance, or even the blindingly obvious, in this case the fact that a drug given to the mother might get to the baby through breast milk, and this might legitimately inspire caution. It’s reminiscent of the recent story claiming that babies undergo an average of 11 painful procedures , which turns out to apply only to babies in intensive care.

The old myth is trotted out that use of CBT for chronic fatigue syndrome means doctors think it’s all in the mind (not so: CBT is a coping strategy that has provably helped many patients to avoid self-reinforcing behaviours).

Statins – sorry, statin DRUGS!!!! – get the usual kicking, there’s the ritual promotion of magic water, some anti-fluoride activism (so last century) and then we move onto what must be a hot contender for the title of most irresponsible story ever published in WDDTY: an extended and entirely uncritical piece pimping black salve as a cancer cure.

Black salve.

If you don’t know about black salve, I urge your NOT to google it unless you have an extremely strong stomach.

Black salve does not cure cancer. It does, however, eat away skin, including blemishes that people self-diagnose as cancer, and occasionally an actual biopsy-confirmed cancer, usually a basal cell carcinoma which is amenable to surgical excision, often as a day case. As the piece begins:

Type the words ‘black salve’ into any search engine and the results
will open a new door onto Hell. Graphic and stomach-churning
images of people without noses and holes in the side of their face appear in the first few articles. Pretty quickly, you get the idea that Black Salve-also known as an escharotic (corrosive) or as the product Cansema – is the worst form of quackery, one that maims and harms.

There is a reason for that. Bear in mind how prominent the quackery shills are.  Google Mike “Health Danger” Adams, Doctor Oz and the like. Black salve bucks the trend only because the harm is so serious and the literature demonstrating it so extensive.

Using black salve instead of surgery for cancer is akin to using a flamethrower on yourself.  Only a crackpot or a charlatan would propose it as a reasonable course of action. So that’s exactly what WDDTY do.

With luck, people will write to the few remaining shops that still stock WDDTY and send them a copy of the article on black salve along with a few of the pictures on the internet that show what it really does. Because, you know, it really does eat away your face.

I have not the words.

Newborns do feel pain (quick, tell the doctor)

This is an article which appears to conflate several disjoint issues into a single article. I say conflate: they have been forced together with a crowbar.

The issues are:

  1. There are some who claim infants do not feel pain. Most of this seems to come from those who promote non-medical infant circumcision.
  2. There are good reasons not to use general anaesthesia on neonates, some of which are discussed below.
  3. Premature babies may require surgery, and the risks of anaesthesia are much higher in these infants because their brains are at an earlier stage of development.
  4. WDDTY is vehemently opposed to the use of “painful procedures” on infants. By “painful procedures” they mean, of course, vaccinations.

The result is a diatribe that is unusually unhinged even for WDDTY.

Continue reading Newborns do feel pain (quick, tell the doctor)

Autism is linked to gut problems (so sorry, Andy Wakefield)

Of all the persecuted Brave Maverick Doctors in WDDTY’s pantheon, none is more Brave or indeed more Maverick than Saint Andrew of Wakefraud.

Put simply, WDDTY desperately wants Wakefield to have been right, and will miss no opportunity to rewrite history in the service of this delusion.

As much as the medical community likes to discredit Andrew Wakefield for his theory about the MMR link to autism, research keeps supporting his central argument: autism is somehow related to the gut.

The medical community doesn’t like to discredit Wakefield. It doesn’t like discrediting anybody. Wakefield is discredited because he published fraudulent research with an undeclared conflict of interest, and because he conducted invasive tests on vulnerable children without proper ethical approval.

These are not small things. In any other doctor, they would cause WDDTY to lead the march with pitchforks and burning torches. Wakefield gets a free pass for these gross ethical violations only because his research serves the anti-vaccine agenda of WDDTY.

The latest has discovered that children with persistent gastro-intestinal (GI) symptoms are more than twice as likely to be autistic.

While this may be accurate, it is evidence of correlation not causation and it does not validate Wakefield’s fraudulent research, because Wakefield’s fraudulent research was designed to provide support for a legal action claiming that the MMR vaccine was the cause of autism, whereas the new research has nothing to do with vaccines.

The purported link between vaccines and autism – “the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years” – is refuted. This paper not only doesn’t overturn that, it doesn’t even address it.

It is extremely unlikely that any new research will prove a causal link between gut problems and autism, because autism has a strong genetic component, so gut problems are more likely to be co-morbid.

The risk dramatically increases in children who suffer from regular constipation, or food intolerance or diarrhea between the ages of six months and three years, say researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Did you notice how this refutes the Wakefield claim that autism is caused by “measles enterocolitis” due to the MMR vaccination? The first MMR dose is at 12-15 months.

WDDTY “forgot” to mention that. They also “forgot” to mention that the paper has no mention of measles.

Although the connection is apparent, not all children with GI problems will go on to develop autism, any more than autistic children will necessarily have gut issues, cautions lead researcher Michaeline Bresnahan.

Well, duh. Most children will have at least brief periods of GI symptoms at some point, after all.

In this large prospective cohort, maternally reported GI symptoms are more common and more often persistent during the first 3 years of life in children with ASD than in children with [typical development] or [developmental delay].

No mention of a causal relationship, even speculatively.

Nonetheless, it was one of the key discoveries of Andrew Wakefield, who surmised that the MMR vaccine could be triggering the GI problems in the first place.

It wasn’t a “discovery” and this paper doesn’t say it’s a trigger.

Even Faux News did better, with the headline “frequent gastrointestinal issues may be early sign of autism”.

But you know WDDTY: any facts have to be beaten into compliance with their editorial agenda.

(Source: JAMA Psychiatry, 2015; doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.3034)

Note that any substantive finding of a causal link would not come form a psychiatry journal.

86 per cent of children with measles had been vaccinated

If there’s one thing guaranteed to fuel the build-up of spittle on the WDDTY editors’ computer screens, it’s positive coverage of vaccines. WDDTY is, to quote Ben GoldacreW, “viciously, viciously anti-vaccine” – and this is one of the things which elevates their tawdry health fraud advertorial to the status of public health menace.

The MMR vaccine is back in the news. Australian parents will lose their welfare benefits if they don’t vaccinate their children, while up to 86 per cent of children who caught measles during the ‘Disneyland outbreak’ in California last December were vaccinated, a new study has revealed.

Logical fallacy: non-sequiturW. The two are not connected, and not even in the same stories, in general. The 86% figure is mentioned only in order to make the evidence-based Australian policy look unreasonable.

WDDTY do cite a source, though returning to their former practice of obfuscating the reference to make it hard to track down. Why would they do that, I wonder?

Oh, wait:

An analysis of publicly available outbreak data suggests that substandard vaccination compliance is likely to blame for the recent measles outbreak linked to Disneyland in California, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics.

I can see why they wouldn’t want you to find the original source.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced that parents who refuse to vaccinate their children will lose up to $11,000 of welfare benefits. Parents can opt out of vaccinations on medical or religious grounds, or because they are “conscientious objectors”.

But, from January next year, the conscientious objection opt-out will be removed in Abbott’s new “no jab, no pay” policy. Religious exemptions will also be tightened, and will apply only to religious bodies “approved by the government”.
The Australian government reckons that 39,000 families could lose their rights to welfare benefits.

Indeed. And the reason for the specific wording about religious bodies approved by the Government, is that Australian antivaxers invented their own church – the “Church of Conscious Living” – as a deliberate ploy to allow them to continue recklessly endangering the health of their children and those with whom they come into contact.

Their weaselly ploy has failed, and they are no doubt crying into their homeopathic beer about it.

US health authorities are also looking to tighten up on exemptions after the measles outbreak last December, in which around 140 children were infected. It is thought to have started at Disneyland in California.

It’s almost as if antivax sentiments evaporate when people are faced with the reality of preventable disease, isn’t it?

Which is of course why vaccines are not a hard sell with the postwar generation.

But a new study reckons that up to 86 per cent of the infected children had received all their MMR jabs. “Given the highly contagious nature of measles, vaccination rates of 96 per cent to 99 per cent are necessary to preserve herd immunity and prevent future outbreaks,” say the researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

When WDDTY reports the study as showing “up to” 86% of victims were vaccinated, they are being disingenuous. It actually says:

The authors estimate that measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination rates among the exposed population where secondary cases occurred might be as low as 50 percent and likely no higher than 86 percent. Because measles is highly contagious, vaccination rates of 96 percent to 99 percent are necessary to preserve herd immunity and to prevent future outbreaks, according to the study.

According to Wired,

The vast majority of the infected were unvaccinated against the disease, including kids who were too young for the shots and anti-vaxxers who chose against them. That’s how you get an outbreak. But six of the cases got their measles-mumps-rubella vaccine—the MMR shot—and still managed to get infected.

Wired also give a great description of how the Disneyland outbreak spread even to the immunised:

So how does that explain what happened in Disneyland? If you have a group of 1,000 people concentrated in a small space—like oh, say, hypothetically, an amusement park—about 90 percent of them will be vaccinated (hopefully). One person, maybe someone who contracted measles on a recent trip to the Philippines, moves around, spreading the virus. Measles is crazy contagious, so of the 100 people who aren’t vaccinated, about 90 will get infected. Then, of the 900 people who are vaccinated, 3 percent—27 people—get infected because they don’t have full immunity.

So WDDTY say “up to 86%” but other sources say closer to 10%. Why would WDDTY inflate the figure? We know why: to accurately report the case would require admitting that the MMR vaccine is around 97% effective, and that the figure they quoted was a discussion of the dangerously low level of vaccination that reduced herd immunity to the point that the outbreak could take hold.

And one thing WDDTY will never do is admit that the MMR vaccine works. Saint Andrew of Wakefraud would never forgive them.

 

What "What Doctors Don't Tell You" Don't Tell You

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