I am growing increasingly tired of the real reasons there is such controversy regarding vaccines and Autism being misconstrued to make me look pathetic. Alison Singer's attempted explanation at Yale earlier this month (HERE) is a perfect example.
Contrary to what she suggests, our differences are not due to the internet. They are not due to desperation or the traumatization of having a child with Autism coupled with the need to blame someone. They are not due the media or the anti-establishment-toxic-earth movement. They are not due to the dismissive attitude of society and physicians who for years believed bad parenting was to blame.They are not due to an inability to simply accept clear science. They are not due to lack of an education or ability to think rationally. They are not due to being taken advantage of. They are not due to the cult of celebrity.
Wrong. Sorry. Not even close.
Turns out, the real difference is not quite so superficial and insulting. It is simply this:
1. You believe the government (the Department of Health and Human Services) has the legally protected right to research, develop, patent, license, supervise, judge, approve, recommend, mandate, and profit from a product (vaccines) that they produce in partnership with a private entity (the pharmaceutical industry). You further believe they have the right to simultaneously oversee the quality, safety and efficacy of this product, and that they objectively do so. You even further believe that they have the right to fund and conduct studies used to defend their product and policy in a court that they serve as judge and jury over in the event you are harmed by it; and moreover, that if they do find in your favor, they have the right to award you compensation at their discretion using money that was secured by a tax you paid on the product when you purchased it and/or were mandated to use it. And finally, you believe this should be protected by law; that neither the government nor the private entity should be held criminally or financially responsible for negligence in the event it maims or kills you.
This system only exits because of flawed legislation that did not foresee its unintended consequences, failing to craft the specific language necessary to address the context in which it was enacted. No way, no how, is this American, and it is my deepest belief that the only reason it continues in practice today is that the American public simply doesn't know about it. I would even go so far as to suggest our own legislators don't know about it. We were founded on a system of checks and balances precisely because we know that power and money corrupts, and yet have created a system in the name of public health that allows it to happen under legal protection, a system that generates billions of dollars in profit. Essential, independent science simply cannot exist under this umbrella, nor can truly independent oversight. The legislation needs to be amended; the system needs to be corrected; and the mandates need to be lifted. Then and only then will we have any hope of finding the truth and truly protecting the public's health.
2. You believe the only protection the consumer needs to be afforded in the aforementioned situation is trust. People should simply trust that those given such enormous power and protection are honorable, ethical, and responsible human beings with families of their own who would never abuse it or put profit over safety primarily because they are smart, went to prestigious medical institutions, and are at the top of their field. You do trust them. And you trust that there are just too many of them involved to all be bad, somehow making the system safe from corruption based on numbers. This is the one point people rely on to debunk the "conspiracy theorists".
First of all, trust is earned. So is respect. I don't care what letters you have after your name. You're smart? Great. So am I. I'm not impressed, nor am I intimidated. Smart doesn't mean ethical. And some of the smartest people I know are also those with the least common sense.
Second of all, the revolving door between the private sector and those charged with protecting the public's health is shocking, the conflicts of interest staggering. One needs only look http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/05/a-license-to-kill-part-1-how-a-publicprivate-partnership-made-the-government-mercks-gardasil-partner.html to see some of these "trustworthy" individuals involved in such conflicting roles. When they leave public service, they either go to work for the sector they were just regulating, or they go and teach the private sector how to work the system. And then there's Paul Thorsen, a paid CDC researcher who participated in key scientific studies regarding vaccines and Autism who is now under investigation for allegedly stealing millions of dollars from the very institution in which he performed his research. Behavior such as this is not trustworthy. It may or may not be criminal, but it is not responsible and does not instill any confidence in me what-so-ever that they do indeed have my child's best interest at heart. Sorry, it doesn't.
And third of all, there are not as many people involved as everyone would like to think. There are only a handful of appointed leaders and researchers (who operate amid atrocious conflicts of interest) with a tremendous amount of responsibility: to lead the entire medical community, to protect the public at large, to oversee the safety and efficacy of the very vaccines they need to ensure are used, and to protect their policies (aka, themselves). As we are witnessing, it is not possible to serve all of these roles simultaneously. Further, these leaders cooperate with one another under the same umbrella of protection, funneling down their policy recommendations using science they control (deciding who will research what, with what funds from whom). Truly all it takes to generate desired outcomes that become widely accepted is to perform less than adequate safety studies, to fund selective science that can come to no other conclusion than what is desired, or to simply ask researchers to manipulate the data for them when it doesn't.
This culture of corruption in the scientific community is not a product of fantasy; it is a sad reality society is becoming increasingly aware of as more and more investigations are launched. Fake medical journals. Phony research. We hear about this everyday.
In the case of Thimerosal, the evidence points to the same: charging one man with finding potentially the worst man-made medical mistake of all time, a mistake his leadership would be held accountable for with financial, criminal and foreign policy consequences beyond comprehension; using email correspondence to communicate with supervisors about the troubling findings; calling a private meeting with an elite group to discuss them and what to do next; taking 3 more years to finally publish the findings; going from clear statistical significance to dumbfounded ignorance after manipulating the data; locking up the original data sets to prevent them from being independently verified (possibly destroying them, a felony as they are tax payer funded); using a neutral study and a ridiculous one from Denmark to exonerate themselves; and then calling upon the IOM to regurgitate their findings, as they freely admit in their words they will . www.putchildrenfirst.org
Dr. McCormick:...."[CDC] wants us to declare, well, these things are pretty safe on a population basis." (p.33)
Dr. Stratton:..."The point of no return, the line we will not cross in public policy is pull the vaccine, change the schedule. We could say it is time to revisit this, but we would never recommend that level. Even recommending research is recommendations for policy. We wouldn't say compensate, we wouldn't say pull the vaccine, we wouldn't say stop the program." (p.74)
Dr. McCormick..."we are not ever going to come down that [Autism] is a true side effect..."(p.97)
4. You believe all of this is an acceptable situation that should be upheld by law in order to protect the greater good, and that as good citizens, we all should, too.
As good citizens we should be outraged, not to mention ashamed of ourselves for being so intimidated by infectious disease and the pharmaceutical companies that promise to protect us from it that we are willing to so easily give up our rights and be at their mercy. To parrot Benjamin Franklin, those who sacrifice liberty to gain safety have neither.
5. You believe the science funded and conducted by the DHHS, pharmaceutical companies, vaccine patent holders and government witnesses (there exists no widely accepted study without this level of participation and conflict) thus far on the potential role between vaccines and the onset of Autism Spectrum Disorder and other health outcomes (for which they will be held accountable) is objective and adequate as it stands right now in both quantity and quality to dismiss a link between the two.
There is not enough space in this article to explain why, but a detailed explanation can be found through the series of articles I wrote here at Age of Autism on the 14 Studies. I've read, analyzed and presented every single study multiple times. What you call clear science, I call crap. And no, I'm not willing to accept crap when it comes to my child.
5. You believe everything about Autism is a coincidence: the dramatic rise in incidence; the parallel increase in vaccinations given at the same time; the similarities to mercury poisoning; the ratio of boys to girls; the identification of this new disorder in 1943; the timing of the onset of symptoms; the anecdotal evidence of parents; the original CDC findings; the recovery of children who are treated medically; and more.
Science is rooted in observation, and yet, every observation here listed is casually tossed aside as a cosmic lining up of the stars. There is nothing scientific about calling all of this coincidence and explaining it away with unproven excuses (see your list in the second paragraph)…and crap.
6. You believe studying 1 ingredient of more than 50 and 1 injection of more than 20 (over 36 vaccines in all) in the first 2 years of life qualifies as a thorough investigation of a potential link between Autism and vaccines, and further that the conflicts of those conducting those studies are irrelevant.
This is not even up for debate. The inadequacy of what has been studied speaks for itself, and rather than fairly address it, you choose to side with someone who calls it, "moving the goal posts" by demanding further investigation. This is not moving the goal posts; it's finally identifying the end zone. Not only are the studies that have been conducted thus far inadequate to exonerate those 2 things, they haven't even come close to addressing the exponential factors that could be correlated or causal, such as cumulative dosing, timing, medications, susceptibilities and more. For crying out loud, the most basic of studies, one that uses a control group, hasn't even been done.
7. You believe it is not only safe, but necessary to maintain and promote the current recommended childhood vaccination schedule in spite of the fact that it has never been tested for safety in or out of the context of the real world setting in which it is applied (with multiple vaccinations being administered at once).
This is what you call a clear scientific experiment. It should be presented that way to parents.
8. You believe epidemiology is acceptable to rule out causation (as the biological investigations we have thus far are so weak and limited it is impossible to exonerate either Thimerosal or the MMR from them).
Epidemiology in fact, can never rule out causation and at best only points in the direction of correlation if the right questions are asked, like say, is there a different rate of Autism among those who are vaccinated and those who are not, or is there a difference in health outcomes among those who received no thimerosal and those who received the most possible at varying ages, or what's the effect of all kinds of mercury exposure on a baby. It is a highly manipulated form of science that is terribly unreliable for finding susceptible populations, precisely what we are trying to find in the case of Autism.
9. You believe a man who has never treated a patient with Autism is qualified to write a book and be a spokesperson for the medical community about Autism, emphatically reassuring the world what doesn't cause it: the very product that has made him rich. You also trust him so much that you have chosen to partner with him in the formation of a foundation for which you do public speaking (reassuring vaccine manufacturers who sponsor you their product is safe and you are on their side), a foundation that in its mission statement claims to investigate all potential causes of Autism, except vaccines.
Anyone who could so confidently proclaim that the necessary science to investigate this issue has not only been done, but has been done objectively, asking the relevant questions in both quantity and quality to come to the conclusion that not only is there no connection, but that no further study is needed, insulting parents who believe otherwise...well, that's not somebody I could work with. And that's not a position anyone, regardless of what they think about the possible connection, can honestly and responsibly come to based on the evidence we have today.
We can agree to disagree, Ms. Singer, we really can. I can respect those who don't see eye-to-eye with me. But I beg of you, can you please have the decency to present the reason why we disagree accurately?
You believe the system is structured to find the answer objectively, and that the current science we have is adequate, unbiased, and thorough enough to do so.
The difference between you and me?
Julie Obradovic is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.