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JB Handley of Generation Rescue on CNN

Posted Jan 06 2011 5:42am

First of all, here’s the transcript of Handley on CNN , courtesy of Liz Ditz :

Parker: Now joining us from Portland, Oregon I J.B. Handley. JB is the father of an eight-year old with autism, and he is a founder of Generation Rescue, a group that believes that there is a connection between autism and vaccination. Welcome JB

JB Handley (JBH): Thanks for having me.

Parker: Thank you Did today’s report cause you to reconsider your position on vaccines at all?

JBH: No, not one bit.

Parker: So, explain that. Why doesn’t this affect the way you think?

JBH: You know the original Wakefield study looked at 12 children. All 12 had autism. The only conclusion of the study was that the 12 were suffering from a new form of bowel disease. Andy Wakefield also reported that 8 of the parents said that their children regressed after the MMR vaccine. So the notion that his study ever incriminated MMR as causing autism is false. and the vaccine industry continues to beat this dead horse.

Parker: so you think that um when you talk about regression you are saying not so much that uhm the vaccine causes autism but that it causes a regression? And what does that mean to you?

JBH: No. What you hear from many parents, and my son is one of these, is that the children are developing typically, and my son’s case up to 14 months he was normal, and then then they gave a regression, they start to lose skills, they start to lose milestones. I have personally talked to about a thousand parents who all report that their children where that regression took place immediately following a vaccine appointment.

It’s important for parents to understand that children are given 36 vaccines in the US by the time they are the age five. The MMR only accounts for two of those 36 vaccines. Typically the shots are given simultaneously so the average child will get six vaccines in a single appointment, yet we don’t have a single piece of research to understand the potential risk of all those vaccines at once. So when someone tries to tell me that MMR alone doesn’t cause autism, but I take my child in for a vaccine appointment, and they are getting six shots in 10 minutes, how am I supposed to feel reassured?

Spitzer: I say this with overwhelming sympathy for you and for your son, but just listening to you I’ve got to ask the question: there isn’t a single study, and we’ve looked at all the science, that says there’s any causal link between these vaccines and autism. And I know you are saying there is

JBH: But that’s not true

Spitzer: there isn’t a study that disproves it, but there’s no affirmative causal link there. And so don’t don’t you think it would make more sense to look at other potential potential causative factors?

JBH: What you are saying is simply false. There is a study out of SUNY Stonybrook within the last six months that compared a group of children who got the entire round of HepB vaccine, and a group of children who didn’t, and found autism was three times more likely in one group. There’s a new study out of the University of Pittsburgh that took primates and vaccinated a group of them and didn’t vaccinate the another and found dramatic differences between the two sides. So to represent that somehow the science has been done is simply false. More importantly the science that has been done is what we like to call “tobacco science”. You take a group of kids who all got vaccines but got a little less mercury and compare them to a group of kids who all got vaccines but a little more mercury and find there’s no difference in autism and then claim that vaccines don’t cause autism. The only appropriate study to do would be to look at a group of children who never got vaccines and a group of children who got all of them, and see if there’s a difference in autism rates and that study has never been done despite many people trying to call for it.

So to represent that the science has been done on this is simply untrue. The vaccine makers are highly effective at PR and which is why I am here talking to you.

Parker: Well JB you obviously feel passionately about this and we can certainly understand that. How do you feel specifically about, when you find out that this particular doctor was when Wakefield was actually deliberately fraudulent in advancing the claim that there was a connection?

JBH: What is interesting is that there are 12 children in the original study in the Lancet, OK? The parents of the 12 children have all written letters, time and again, in support of Andy Wakefield. The study’s conclusion was that the children were all suffering from bowel disease, and Andy went on to mention eight of the parents claimed that the regression took place after the MMR. So the notion that the data is somehow new, what’s new? They didn’t suffer from bowel disease, even though all the parents have represented that they did? People need to look at the details not at the headlines. This an attempt to whitewash, once and for all, the notion that vaccines cause autism. They are not just beating a dead horse, they are beating a horse that never existed in the first place. That’s not what Wakefield’s study said. It’s a seven page page study, it is on the Generation Rescue website. Anybody can read it for themselves and verify what I am saying is true.

Spitzer: JB, again with all sympathy, and as somebody who has been a harsh critic of

JBH: I don’t need any sympathy!

Spitzer: Well, OK but what I am trying to say is

JBH: [talking over] I don’t need any sympathy! I don’t need your sympathy What I need is the facts and for someone to look at the details.

Spitzer: Well what you yourself have said is that what you glean from your anecdotal conversations is hugely compelling to you but unfortunately in terms of the scientific data and the analysis that sort of anecdotal database simply doesn’t establish the causal link what we are looking for in terms of really understanding this and I think that what validates today

JBH: [talking over] Look at the Suny Stonybrook study, look at the university of Pittsburg study

Spitzer: [continuing over JB] this study that we examined today was fraudulent. And I think that’s really where we are.

JBH: [talking over] Look at the Suny Stonybrook study, look at the university of Pittsburg study. You haven’t done all your research. You are reaching false conclusions. Parents do your own work.

[pleasantries to close]

Now lets isolate Handley’s main talking points and decide if they are true or false:

1) You know the original Wakefield study looked at 12 children. All 12 had autism.
Not accurate. According to material from the British Medical Journal three of nine children reported with regressive autism did not have autism diagnosed at all. Only one child clearly had regressive autism.

2) Andy Wakefield also reported that 8 of the parents said that their children regressed after the MMR vaccine.
Not accurate. According to the same source five had documented pre-existing developmental concerns.

3) So the notion that his study ever incriminated MMR as causing autism is false.
Semi-accurate. Although the paper itself may not have mentioned it, the video conference Wakefield gave about the study certainly did:

...you would not get consensus from all members of the group on this, but that is my feeling, that the, the risk of this particular syndrome developing is related to the combined vaccine, the MMR

4) ...we don’t have a single piece of research to understand the potential risk of all those vaccines at once.
Not accurate. Any vaccine in the US has to undergo something called a ‘concomitant use study’. These are to establish that vaccines work OK together. Searching Pubmed for the phrase ‘concomitant vaccine’ returns over 700 results.

5) There is a study out of SUNY Stonybrook within the last six months that compared a group of children who got the entire round of HepB vaccine, and a group of children who didn’t, and found autism was three times more likely in one group
Not accurate. This study is flawed on an number of levels. Firstly, they are comparing kids born as early as 1980 to kids born during “the epidemic”. Anything that happened past 1991 would be an autism risk. Secondly and very worryingly, they pick datasets that have children born before the introduction of the Hep B vaccine. Thirdly, this whole thing is essentially a survey. It’s based on parental recall.

6) There’s a new study out of the University of Pittsburgh that took primates and vaccinated a group of them and didn’t vaccinate the another and found dramatic differences between the two sides.
Not accurate. Again, lots of issues with this study. So many so in fact that Sullivan wrote a devastating takedown of the paper in July last year.

I think that’s all the statements of attempted fact from Handley. All in all it shows that Generation Rescue cannot be trusted to present the most pertinent or up to date information.

  1. Tweets that mention Autism Blog - JB Handley of Generation Rescue on CNN « Left Brain/Right Brain -- Topsy.com:
    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kev, Veena. Veena said: JB Handley of Generation Rescue on CNN: Parker: Now joining us from Portland, Oregon IJ.B. Handley. JB is the fa... http://bit.ly/efUadx [...]
  2. charlie wachtel:
    I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Handley that there needs to be more awareness regarding the connection between autism and vaccinations. To my way of thinking, there is more here than meets the eye. But, isn't that the way it always is!
  3. Navi:
    Interesting. My son regressed at the same age. However he didn't get his shots until after the regression. Nope sorry I don't think it can retroactively cause autism.... It's frustrating bc quackery like this means a lot of researchers don't even accept the idea of regression. It also means it took forever for me to get a GI referral bc again, the doc thinks I'm basing it on quackery rather than real symptoms... It's frustrating, and makes me mad
  4. Science Mom:
    I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Handley that there needs to be more awareness regarding the connection between autism and vaccinations. To my way of thinking, there is more here than meets the eye. But, isn’t that the way it always is!
    And what exactly do you propose? It's easy to bluster empty contentions, but quite another to think about what has already been done and accept the evidence for what it is. J.B. Handley is tilting at windmills.

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