Discover Magazine Rips Attacks on Vaxxed/Unvaxxed Study

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Editor’s Reminder: Send this letter to Frontiers in Public Health to tell them to reinstate the study that showed unvaccinated children had significantly fewer diagnoses of autism and other chronic disorders if the journal wants to keep its National Library of Medicine index. You can write them here: editorial.office@frontiersin.org

For years, Discover Magazine has been a mainstay of extremely dishonest “science” reporting on the vaccine-autism connection. So it was very surprising to see an article featured there that correctly called out the “selective skepticism” of the Twitter campaign against the only peer-reviewed vaccinated versus unvaccinated study of autism. The author of the piece had previously slammed the study’s deletion on Twitter.

Should We Defend the Scientific Consensus?

By Neuroskeptic | November 30, 2016 1:11 pm

Earlier this week, Frontiers in Public Health published the abstract of a paper called ‘Vaccination and Health Outcomes: A Survey of 6- to 12-year-old Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Children based on Mothers’ Reports’.Based on an online survey of 415 mothers involved in the homeschool movement, Mississippi-based researchers Mawson et al. reported that vaccination is associated with a much higher rate of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism.

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Hoo boy.

The Mawson et al. paper led to a lot of controversy, not least on Twitter. On Monday, many people, myself included, tweeted concern over seeing such a piece in a peer-reviewed journal. Frontiers, the Swiss publisher of the journal in question, took to Twitter to say that the article “was provisionally accepted but not published” and that “In response to concerns raised, we have reopened its review.” Minutes later, the paper disappeared, and if you visit its URL now, you will find nothing but an error message. (Here’s a copy, though.)

untitledSo, mission accomplished? Is the removal of this paper a victory for good sense over the irrational theory of vaccine denial? Or is it, on the contrary, censorship of a brave dissenting voice?

I don’t think it’s either, really, but this case does raise interesting questions about how we judge science. Is it right to object to a paper just because its results fly in the face of most previous research?

Everyone agrees that it is fair to critique a study on the basis of the methods. And many people did criticize the methodology of the Mawson et al. study, pointing to serious problems such as the small sample size (relative to the huge studies showing vaccines are safe [Editor’s Note: will post follow-up article dismantling said “studies”]), the purely self-report measures, and the potential for recall and selection bias

Yet I don’t think that so many people would have been so critical of Mawson et al.’s methods if it weren’t for the nature of their findings. Studies suffering from the same flaws, or worse, get published all the time across many fields. Twitter doesn’t explode over every bad study. So isn’t there a risk that scientists are selectively sceptical, scrutinizing studies that challenge the consensus?

On the other hand, it’s true that the scientific consensus exists for a reason. As I said in one of my first-ever posts, we should beware the myth of the Galileo-like lone scientist who turns out to be right while everyone else is wrong:

All of our most popular myths about science are Robin Hood stories – the hero is the underdog, the rebel, the maverick who stands up to authority… the hero is a denialist. Once, this was realistic. Galileo was an Aristotelean cosmology denier; Pasteur was a miasma theory denier; Einstein was a Newtonian physics denier. But these stories are out of date… Science has moved on since the time of Galileo, thanks to his efforts and those of they who came after him, but he is still invoked as a hero by those who deny scientific truth. He would be turning in his grave, in the earth which, as we now know, turns around the sun.

In fact, it’s fair to say that if we were to reject everything that challenges the scientific consensus, we would be right to reject them in the vast majority of cases. But however accurate the consensus is, science is not supposed to be a matter of consensus, but a process of observing the world. The only thing that should matter, in judging science, is the quality of those observations, i.e. the strength of the methodology.

Two days before the date of the article, its author criticized the journal’s misconduct in removing of the study from its website:

Indeed, it isn’t. Please send Autism Investigated’s letter to Frontiers in Public Health to have them reinstate this study as soon as possible if they want to avoid losing their National Library of Medicine index.

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6 Thoughts on “Discover Magazine Rips Attacks on Vaxxed/Unvaxxed Study

  1. Hans Litten on December 6, 2016 at 11:56 am said:

    Fresh air is the only prop holding up the scaffold of vaccine science .
    And they have to censor all discussion or argument to the contrary – otherwise the game is up very quickly.

  2. Hans Litten on December 6, 2016 at 12:15 pm said:

    https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2016/12/05/my-interview-with-former-cbs-star-reporter-fake-news/

    I’ll add a few details. It was routine for doctors all over America to send blood samples from patients they’d diagnosed with Swine Flu, or the “most likely” Swine Flu patients, to labs for testing. And overwhelmingly, those samples were coming back with the result: not Swine Flu, not any kind of flu.

    That was the big secret. That’s what the CDC was hiding. That’s why they stopped reporting Swine Flu case numbers. That’s what Attkisson had discovered. That’s why she was shut down.

    But it gets even worse.

    Because about three weeks after Attkisson’s findings were published on the CBS News website, the CDC, obviously in a panic, decided to double down. If one lie is exposed, tell an even bigger one. A much bigger one.

    Here, from a November 12, 2009, WebMD article is the CDC’s response: “Shockingly, 14 million to 34 million U.S. residents — the CDC’s best guess is 22 million — came down with H1N1 swine flu by Oct. 17 [2009].” (“22 million cases of Swine Flu in US,” by Daniel J. DeNoon).

    Are your eyeballs popping? They should be.

    In the summer of 2009, the CDC secretly stops counting Swine Flu cases in America, because the overwhelming percentage of lab tests from likely Swine Flu patients shows no sign of Swine Flu or any other kind of flu.

    There is no Swine Flu epidemic.

    Then, the CDC estimates there are 22 MILLION cases of Swine Flu in the US.

    So…the premise that the CDC would never lie about important matters like, oh, a vaccine increasing the risk of autism…you can lay that one to rest.

    The CDC will lie about anything it wants to. It will boldly go where no person interested in real science will go.

  3. While the pro-vaccine crowd always maintains that the real reason a true, double-blind, genuine placebo group, gold standard “vaxxed” versus “unvaxxed” study cannot be done, is that it would be “unethical” to withhold “lifesaving” vaccines from any child, the truth as to why such a study cannot be done using the gold standard method is not quite as obvious. Any completely objective study of comparing the health outcomes of “vaxxed” versus “unvaxxed” children would have to be altered to a degree in order for it to go forward. The entire study population would have to consist of parents who either think all vaccines are wonderful and beneficial, and who are ambivalent and unconcerned about whether their child would receive the full schedule or no vaccines at all during the study period, which I would think would need to be longitudinal over many years. No anti-vaccine, or vaccine-hesitant parent would allow their child to be a part of a this type of study, whereby their child would have the slightest chance of being injected with all the “recommended” vaccine schedule vaccinations.

    • Lawrence on December 7, 2016 at 8:51 pm said:

      Actually, us “pro-vaxers” have said for quite some time that anti-vaxers wouldn’t allow their children to be part of a “double-blind” study because they wouldn’t want to take the chance that their kids would be part of the “immunized” study group…..

  4. Analysis at Rootclaim.com looks at whether vaccines cause autism or not. See the analysis here: https://www.rootclaim.com/claims/does-the-mmr-measles-mumps-and-rubella-vaccine-cause-autism-4925

  5. Pingback: INFOWARS: Studies Prove Unvaccinated Children Healthier

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