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My Conversation with Seth Mnookin

Thats-what-he-said By Jake Crosby

Panic Virus author Seth Mnookin blatantly lied about me on his blog this week. He said I chastised him “for ignoring the evidence that vaccines cause autism and repeatedly cited Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 …study in The Lancet as proof.”  I never cited that paper as proof that vaccines cause autism. He confused his industry talking points with reality.

I met Seth Mnookin at the World Science Festival on June 2nd in New York City. My conversation with the vaccine industry’s trendy new spokesman occurred after watching him engage in a moderated panel discussion with four other journalists, in a theater full of science writers avidly taking notes. There was no opportunity to ask questions.

After the session ended, I walked up to Mnookin and the first thing I heard was him admitting to another person that he’s “sloppy” and that he even has to keep a whole corrections page on his website – as if, as our editor Dan Olmsted said, it’s a “badge of honor.”

I stood by patiently waiting for the right moment to introduce myself and hopefully engage him in conversation. My plans quickly shifted when I overheard him say Dr. Andrew Wakefield “faked his data.” At that point I knew I had to speak up:

“He did not fake his data.”

“What?” he replied, as if he was talking to a disembodied voice even though I was standing next to him.

“He did not fake his data,” I repeated.

“Yes, he did,” he responded.

“No, he didn’t,” I said back.

“I’m not gonna argue this with you!”  he shouted. He seemed to be on the verge of losing it. For a person who had jumped into a controversy as heated as this and claimed to be a proponent of open-dialogue, he sure did not like being challenged.

I tried to explain to him the process by which diagnoses of bowel disease are made at the Royal Free that Dr. Wakefield described in his Brandeis lecture:

A routine pathologist, not necessarily an expert on bowel disease, checks the samples, and – not being an expert – notes whether or not he sees any peculiarities. His reports are then followed up by an expert team, which reviews the findings. After that the expert pathologist gives the biopsies a further look and then makes the final evaluation on a scale of severity.

Just when I was about to explain how Brian Deer was the one to commit fraud by claiming that the routine pathologist’s report was altered by Dr. Wakefield rather than replaced by that of the expert pathologist, Mnookin interrupted me with another zinger.

“Parents said Dr. Wakefield faked his data.”

 I told him this wasn’t true. He told me that it was written that it was true. I told him the only person who had written this was Brian Deer.

At that point, a woman he was with cut me off to ask, “Who are you affiliated with?”

I replied that I was a contributing editor to Age of Autism, and continued with what I was saying.

At that point, he asked, “You’re Jake, right?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Seth,” he said back, as if I didn’t know who he was.

I apologized for not introducing myself and continued.  I said Brian Deer created the story he later reported - first complaining to the GMC and then writing about the GMC case against Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues. I pointed out that Deer insisted he did not complain to the GMC even though a UK High Court Judge said he had.

What did Seth Mnookin say to all this?

“I respect that.”

Throughout our discussion, that was pretty much his default line whenever he was confronted with a point he couldn’t refute.

He then changed the subject, bantering about how it was not just Brian Deer against Dr. Wakefield, but the whole medical and scientific consensus.

I made the point to him that a researcher the “consensus” was heavily dependent on, Dr. Poul Thorsen, now stands indicted on fraud. I added that the IOM Report of 2004 – the so-called scientific “consensus” – relies on the pretense of Thorsen’s reports as the main support for its preconceived findings.

Mnookin then tried to play down Thorsen’s role, saying that if a researcher is not the first or lead author, or last or senior author, then his role is not significant. I responded by quoting Thorsen’s answer to a question about his role on the research he was working on, in which he responded, “I was, and still am, principal investigator on CDC projects at that time.”

Mnookin simply repeated that the order in which Thorsen’s name was listed on the papers meant he did not play a significant role. I then cited an email sent among CDC officials in 2000 that clearly spelled out that the Danish vaccine-autism project was Thorsen’s brainchild.

I further stated that Thorsen’s 2002 NEJM study actually showed a 45% increased risk for autism with MMR vaccination, and that spurious adjustment for age eliminated the risk. Since vaccination determined not only if someone develops autism, but when, eliminating age of onset eliminates the appearance of causality which is exactly what Thorsen’s paper did.

His big response?

“Well, you and I have a different take on the statistics.”

His response suggested he had not even read the study or even knew it existed. His response to my next comment showed his ignorance all the more when I then added that the one study he cited that looked at “millions of children” was a Merck-funded Finnish study that restricted its analysis to hospitalizations even though nearly all children with autism are diagnosed outside of hospital settings.

He said it was not just that study, it was “dozens.”

“Like, which ones?”

“Dozens and DOZENS of studies.”

It was interesting how throughout our talk, I specifically cited two of the “dozens and dozens” of studies he was presumably relying on, yet he had cited none himself.

His apparent ignorance only deepened when out of the blue, he told me:

“I wouldn’t cite the Geiers’ study.”

The Geiers’ “study?” All it takes is a quick pubmed search to see that the Geiers produced far more than just one study.

“The Geiers produced dozens of studies,” I told him.

“I wouldn’t cite any of them.”

And yet, he couldn’t cite any of the studies he was relying on, except to say there were dozens and dozens of them as if that makes them right. Yet he dismissed the dozens and dozens of studies the Geiers produced even though he didn’t say what was wrong with any of them.

Since he was clearly losing on the scientific front, he turned to the hypothetical. “What study would convince you that there is no link?”

I replied that that is the wrong question to ask because science is about discovery and finding answers, not convincing people of a particular opinion. I added, “A report that aims for the latter is tobacco science.”

He agreed that science is about discovery and not about convincing people.

I also brought up his statement from the panel discussion that Wakefield patented a rival measles vaccine to compete with MMR. He denied saying that it was a vaccine to compete with MMR. I told him that was what he had said onstage.

I then explained to him that the patent application was for a treatment, and not a vaccine that could potentially replace the MMR or any other vaccine on the childhood vaccination schedule in the UK.

So he asked me, “Well, if evidence emerged that MMR was unsafe, would it bolster sales of the product?”

“Well…no,” I responded, “because…”

And he cut me off, “I know what you mean.”

I also quoted Brian Deer of all people who wrote that Andrew Wakefield was under no professional or legal obligation to disclose that patent.

“Okay, I respect that,” he said.

At several points during our conversation, he tried changing the subject:

“You are very smart. You know more about this issue than 99% of people.”

If I was stating mistruths or misinterpreting data, then how could I be so knowledgeable?

He talked about how we both see common ground in the fact that there aren’t enough services for autistic people, which was quite comical. He certainly wasn’t talking about services during the panel discussion. I told him that it has nothing to do with what he was talking about at the event.

Trying hard to win me over, he even said that the medical establishment has, as a whole, not been good to the autism community, that they do not have our best interests and have been working against us.

I was going to ask him why, given that statement, he regards the medical authorities as being in any way credible on the issue of vaccines and autism, but he cut me off.

He continued about how I’m not going to convince him of my views and he won’t convince me of his, then he put out his hand, which I felt was merely the pinnacle of his suck-up ploy.

“So you aren’t gonna shake my hand, now? C’mon!”

Despite my hesitation, I shook his hand.

I told him that I did not come to the festival to convince him of anything, nor was I expecting to. However, I did tell him that as long as he said things that were incorrect in the public sphere, I will continue to correct him – off-stage if not on.

As we parted ways, I patted him on the shoulder saying:

“Say hi to your Uncle Bob for me.”

He didn’t appreciate the reference to my earlier article.  About to exit the room, I worried that my touching him could be interpreted the wrong way in light of Paul Offit’s death threat hysterics. So I ran back up to him and clarified.

“I didn’t mean that as a death threat!”

“I know! I know!” – he assured me.

That night, a documentary ran on TV about the infamous Turkish Airlines Flight 981 – a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 that crashed and burned in the forests of northern France, killing all 346 passengers and crew onboard. The cause was a design defect on the airplane allowing the luggage compartment door to fly off in the middle of flight, depressurizing the inside of the plane, causing the floor to collapse and knock out the plane’s internal controls, sending it into a downward descent of doom.

Even though McDonnell Douglas knew of the problem four years in advance, the company did nothing to fix it until this awful tragedy and managed to avoid prior scrutiny by striking a “gentleman’s agreement” with the FAA. History seems to be repeating itself with autism, only much, much worse.

Despite the fact that Seth Mnookin couldn’t defend any of his claims – and even conceded that I was right on a number of points – our conversation did not seem to have changed his stance in any way as he told me it wouldn’t. And yet, my conversation with him was perhaps far more fruitful then calling up the World Science Festival in advance since its chief sponsor was the Simons Foundation.

According to gurufocus.com, the top five financial holdings of Jim Simons – a billionaire hedge fund manager who personally determines the autism research initiatives of the Simons Foundation – includes both Johnson & Johnson(#1) and Eli Lilly(#5). The Simons Foundation website even lauded the work of Poul Thorsen after he was indicted on fraud, claiming his team had used “meticulous records” in showing “that vaccines do not cause autism.”

Meanwhile, Seth Mnookin has fall speaking engagements booked in Pennsylvania, Florida and Oregon. (HERE) We owe him many more visits.

He was, after all, quoted by Scientific American as saying:

"I am frustrated by how little I am able to have productive interactions with people who disagree with me."

Jake Crosby is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy and a contributing editor to Age of Autism. In August, he will attend The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he will study for an MPH in epidemiology.

Comments

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I just came from a conference where Seth Mnookin was the keynote speaker. Though it is good to challenge beliefs, I found him to be somewhat arrogant and condescending. I was in an audience of public health professionals, and he seemed to think we were all of one mind, and that people who question vaccine safety are all bat-shit crazy. He could use some sensitivity training. It's easy to pass a judgement on something you have not experienced (like seeing your healthy child regress into autism). Ironically, he is making money by loudly joining the debate, while parents of autistic children struggle and persevere with quiet, intense dedication to their children.

Bev,
I believe that was CSPANs Book TV, and I watched the entire thing amazed at what a horrible speaker he was and laughed that he chose to drink a clear soda in a green plastic bottle during his speech instead of water, so in-between the Uhms we got frequent belching. What an act.

Informative, educational and courageous - Well done Jake - Thank you

Jake, Keep up the good work. I love to read about your 'conquests.' Knowledge is power.

John,

I think they just need to throw a few epicycles in there and it'll be perfect!

Sorry "to" not "too".

Carol

It certainly sounds very slender. What's causing the mutations, what are they making infants susceptible too? Supposing the results are repeatable.

John, check out this sad nonsense on NPR yesterday. Apparently there are three new studies in Neuron about the genetics of autism. Walsh has financial interests in pharmaceuticals, but I don't think he mentioned that. Thousands of genes and defects anywhere in the process cause autism?

"FLATOW: And in autism, what maybe causing the defect? Any...

WALSH: All right. So, it looks like this is a very complicated process. It involves hundreds maybe thousands of genes and it increasingly looks like defects almost anywhere along that process might be sufficient to cause autism. So, on the one hand, that can be a depressing thought, thinking maybe..."

http://www.npr.org/2011/06/10/137107088/gene-mutations-offer-clues-on-the-autistic-brain

As I was switching through TV channels one afternoon pausing at our local PBS station, I saw this frumpy looking, young man trying to speak about vaccines. Every other word was, "um, um", and it took me nearly 10 minutes to figure out what Seth Mnookin was talking about. What a waste of time.

Jake:
Mnookin has caused pain to good people who simply do not need or deserve further pain. He has done this by deception (to get information) and then by twisting facts so that the truth is distorted. And he did this to satisfy the agenda of powerfull people.

I want to echo what Heather White said. I love your writing. And it is courageous to confront someone - calmly and reasonably - who isn't being reasonable and courageous.

Thank you.

Louis Conte

Hi Carol,

This particularly relevant to what Autism Speaks is now developing for autism as I wrote about here:

http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/05/1-in-38-autism-speaks-new-normal-is-the-biggest-business-bonanza-ever.html

and Adriana wrote about here:

http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/05/the-phoenicians-autism-recovery-denial-drug-profits-and-the-medias-flat-earth.html

According to the interview with Robert Ring, he and Geri Dawson of Autism Speaks are planning a "pre-competitive consortium" which includes Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Roche and Jannsen:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsW8Wf9kpWU

While Dawson is planning to screen the US population on the S Korean study model, which produced a 1 in 38 autism rate and a lot of very fed up families who refused to complete the diagnosis. Dawson believes if they use the same methods in other populations they will uncover similar incidence.

John

Because it's interesting and relevant:

"This is the story of an unhealthy alliance between politics and the pharmaceutical industry (Pharma). It is a story of the betrayal of our society's most helpless citizens.

Pharma has woven an elaborate marketing scheme from scant evidence and copious illusion. Illusion has become operative "truth." Operative "truth" has become clinical practice. Clinical practice has become Roulette--and the "House" (Pharma) always wins."

http://1boringoldman.com/images/AllenJonesTMAPJanuary20.pdf#

Jake,

I'm always waiting for Mnookin to talk about Andrew Wakefield's book, Callous Disregard. For someone who's continually denouncing this man, Mnookin never brings it up.

I write a lot about Paul Offit. I've also read and reviewed Deadly Choices and Autism's False Prophets.

None of the Wakefield critics talk about what he wrote in his book. My guess is, they never read it. If they had, they'd have to bring up the government's role in covering up the damage from a vaccine that they protected and promoted.

(BTW, so nice to talk with you in Chicago!)

Anne Dachel, Media

Jake reported .. Seth .. "agreed that science is about discovery and not about convincing people."

Unfortunately for Seth .. I suspect he is beginning to realize .. but .. has yet to find the personal courage to publicly admit .. the "science" he has relied upon has NEVER been about "discovery" .. it is ALL about "convincing people".

Think about it ..

Public health officials have .. for decades .. sought to "convince the people" the "benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks".

Yet .. recently, the Supreme Court .. relying solely upon "science" .. reluctantly .. grugdingly .. was forced to admit that vaccines are .. "unavoidably unsafe".

So .. the "scientific dilemma" remains for Seth and public health officials .. .. how do they "convince the public" the "benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks" of an "unavoidably unsafe" product?

Make no mistake .. serious consequences can result when "science" is not used for "discovery" .. but .. instead .. as merely a tool to "convince the public"?

Such as ..

When high level national security intelligence and defense department officials employed "scientific intelligence resources" .. including but not limited to satellite photos .. to "convince the people" that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction not only existed .. but .. those officials knew exactly where they were located.

How good was THAT "science" .. which no doubt helped "convinced the American people" to support those individuals who were anxious for the US to invade of Iraq?

We have lost 4500 brave men and women in Iraq .. untold millions of dollars .. with no end in sight .. because "science" was used to "convince" the American people they were threatened by weapons of mass destruction that has since been proven not to exist.

Jake Crosby does it again!

I'm beginning to think of Jake as our David - Not that Mnook is anything like Goliath......more like an infected hair folicle on Goliath's ass. (Pardon me.)

Thank you so much, Jake!

Thanks Jake, I heard about you thru Dan Olmstead at a TACA meeting, and I am inspired. My son is 5, non verbal, he has autism- from vaccines. One day he will be recovered. You are Hope.

Jake, I can hardly wait for you to get your MPH as we are desperately in need of more people of your intelligence and caliber with THOSE credentials. And thanks for sharing your knowledge with both Seth and us.

Jake - I've mentioned the Turkish flight 981, as well as precursor events (flight 96, Windsor Ontario) in various posts here and there. Thanks for bringing this to light again - what an interesting coincidence that the documentary aired the same night as your conversation with Mr Mnookin.

"American Airlines Flight 96 experienced the same problem before the accident of flight 981 happened, but the NTSB's recommendations to prevent it from happening again were not implemented by any airline"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_Airlines_Flight_981

In Paul Eddy's "Destination Disaster", one of the references in the above Wiki article, he describes how a Turkish baggage handler was being blamed for the failure and crash of 981, yet he and his colleagues discovered that the airline in fact had known of a fault in the door design all along (flight 93 - 2 years prior).

This is a chilling reality check with blindingly obvious parallels - no tin hat required.

Jake I wish I had half of your courage and tenacity. Thanks for taking it to the streets. There are a million awesome people in this mix, but only a handful like you - hope you know that.

Jake this is more of a personal message to you that doesn't particularly pertain to this single article.

I am so impressed with you as a person. I just read a little bio on you in Brandeis Magazine (http://www.brandeis.edu/magazine/2010/fall/featured-stories/sidebar-stories/crosby.html) and am struck by your courage and spirit.

I'm sure you hear this all the time but I feel it's important for you to know how much hope you give to the families whose children are on the spectrum. My blue eyed 7 year old is on the AS. He is advanced academically but requires a full-time aid. He is able to express how he feels about his educational experience. He is fully aware that he is different from his peers and he equates that with not being "good". He expresses self hate and anger toward his "crazy brain". He can't relate to anyone around him and that realization has been extremely hard for him.

I'll tell him about you Jake. You are a true role model for our children. Your life shows strength and courage for children like my Luke and I love you for that. Thank you for putting yourself out there. Our children need mentors and role models, you are a wonderful example.

Warm Regards,

Heather White

Jake, this is excellent! Thanks for speaking out with so much knowledge.

Australia

Isn't it interesting that those who "snap" back when you challenge them over facts, they're the ones that are usually the biggest liars.

This week I have been vehemently defending Dr Wakefield with the Hon. Secretary of Health and Ageing, Catherine King.

Who would guess that half-way across the world in different time zones we are having the same discussions.

Keep on defending Dr Wakefield!!

Elizabeth - AussieMum

Eileen,
Your complaints sound a lot like the complaints you made last time you visited this website when Seth Mnookin was being criticized. http://alturl.com/4jd92

You told us then that you wouldn't come back. But now, here you are, still telling us we're myopically fixated on vaccines, still telling us we're ruining things for your amazing girls by treating children for vaccine injuries, and still telling us we're scary.

Eileen, you are myopically fixated on Age of Autism articles critical of Seth Mnookin. He wrote a 400-page book about vaccines and speaks endlessly about the subject. Aren't you concerned about his myopic fixation?

Your purpose here seems to be to attack us when Mnookin is under fire.

Great work again Jake.

Busy thread here today. I hope Eileen is not giving her girls Gardasil... please, please, give them at least one break.

Years ago, I remember an inflatable thing that was abandoned at a winter resort.

They dressed her up in ski clothes and she stayed outside near the ski patrol building. Sadly air was leaking from her foot so they tied it in a knot.

Her name was I-lean.

Jake--well-done! And thank you for keeping us informed.

Eileen, of all the families with autistic kids that I know (too many to count), there is not ONE whose youngest, unvaccinated child is as severely autistic as the older, vaccinated child. Not even close. The youngest children in those families that I know are ALL far less severely affected.

In many cases, the "unvaccinated" child was actually given Hep B in the hospital without the parents' knowledge or consent. This happened to my second child (who is not autistic, but has had many of the autoimmune problems we see with autistic kids).

Today's vaccines may contain fewer antigens, but the fact that there is a five-fold increase in the NUMBER of vaccines, and the fact that many are administered together, in spite of the fact that this has never been studied for safety is a clear cause for alarm.

And don't forget that when you inject someone with an adjuvant, you can't control WHAT ELSE the immune system may be provoked into reacting to besides for the weakened antigen, ESPECIALLY when that adjuvant-containing vaccine is combined with several other vaccines, some which still contain thimerosal. Combine that with a seizure reaction and maybe you can start to see how vaccines cause brain damage.

Did you know that the US government has conceded and compensated around 1400 individuals for vaccine-induced brain damage?

As far as the Amish study goes, from what I've read, the few Amish children who ARE autistic were...vaccinated. So much for the genetic theory.

Finally, I don't think anyone hates you. I think they hate some of the things you are saying because we have heard these very arguments so many times from people who are trying, for some reason that I cannot understand, to prove that it either "can't be the vaccine," or "maybe it's not the vaccine."

For those of us who know that it WAS the vaccine for OUR child, this is quite a slap in the face. When you have video of your child the day before the vaccine(s) and the day after, and there's a WORLD of difference, it's horrendous to be told by well-meaning physicians, friends, and acquaintances, "Oh, it's just a coincidence that you noticed problems sort of near the time he got a vaccine, and correlation doesn't equal causation, blah blah blah."

There's a huge double standard: when a child has an ear infection (which is usually viral), is given an antibiotic, and improves within a day or two, nobody says, "Correlation doesn't equal causation."

But when your child seizes an hour after a vaccine (having NEVER had a seizure before or since), the party line is "it's a coincidence."

I hope that helps you understand why some parents here might react with anger to some of your posts.

Eileen, I think I understand what you mean by, "Did you ever consider that a parent who views their child as damaged and injured might be the greater obstacle they face?"

I do know parents who tell their MILDLY autistic kids that they can't do X, Y, and Z "because you're autistic." And I think that those parents, although they mean well, are doing their children a disservice, and yes, those parents might be the greatest obstacle those kids face, in spite of their efforts to do the best for their child. Those kids CAN do X,Y, and Z, if they are properly taught HOW, and their parents are preventing that from happening by focusing so much on the damage, all they can say is, "You can't." If that's what you meant, then I do agree with you.

But I think your comment, because of where it was placed, and among which parents' comments, etc., came off as implying that any parent who watched their child have a seizure reaction to a vaccine, and is now fighting the attendant brain damage/autoimmune damage from said vaccine, is a huge obstacle for their child BECAUSE they view their child as damaged.

I really, really hope that isn't what you meant, and I didn't take it that way, but I can see how others might have easily thought you meant it that way.

I'm one of the lucky ones. My child DID have obvious (and documented) severe adverse reactions to vaccines, but he is now recovered. But I know that when I was holding him when he was seizing for 3 hours, one hour after receiving several thimerosal-preserved, aluminum-containing vaccines when he was 2 months old (and only 6 pounds), HE WAS BEING DAMAGED.

If you inject a child with substances that cause seizures, cause autoimmune reactions, cause brain damage, you damage that child. That child is damaged, just as much as the child of a crack-addicted or alcoholic mother.

This is MEDICAL damage, and sometimes, it can be reversed, just as intestinal damage from gluten damage can be reversed.

If a child with celiac eats wheat, his intestines are damaged. If a child who is unable to clear heavy metals from his system is injected with thimerosal and aluminum, his immune system and brain are damaged.

That damage needs to be appropriately treated. We don't have time to fuss over whether it's politically incorrect to refer to the child as "damaged." We need to fix the damage as soon as possible so that the child can be UN-damaged.

But we already run into horrific obstacles when the medical professionals tell us "vaccines don't do that," and "what he eats has nothing to do with his brain," and "he's not in pain, he's acting up on purpose," and "he was born that way." I totally understand the anger of any parent trying to UN-damage their vaccine-damaged child, who is told by another parent that they are wrong to view their child as damaged.

Let me repeat, though, that I really don't think you meant it that way. (Please correct me if I am wrong.)

I just finished reading The Eileen Chronicles and am yet again struck by the blind narcissism behind her statement:
"I don't call my kids sick because I accept them."

If I'm in a car accident, I sure hope the paramedics are less concerned with "accepting me" than with treating my life-threatening health damage.

Absolutely FANTASTIC job Jake - WOO HOO!!!!!

And now dear Seth must know what it's like to experience a real live crapisode, 'coz there's just no way in hell he could've come away from that encounter "unscathed".

Can we start a pool on how long it will take to slowly dawn on Mnooks that Uncle Bob & friends played him?

Whenever someone makes a statement like "..And I don't call my kids sick because I accept them..", it truly makes me cringe. Because anyone with the audacity and/or short sightedness to make a statement like that, especially on this forum, is either a troll or someone who's priorities are tragically ill-advised.

My son was developing normally for the first 21 months of his existence, until the cumulative burden of a ridiculously heavy vaccine load finally pushed him past an internal tipping point.

That was over 5 years ago, and in the time since, I have worked with a DAN! doctor, a homeopath, behavioral consultants, head-neck and throat physiotherapists, and any other reputable professional that I felt had skills that might help to him reach his full potential

Do I do that because I can’t accept him? ABSOLUTELY NOT! I love my son more than any words could ever describe. I do it because what I can't accept is that there's nothing I can do to reverse the damage, which was inflicted on him by a complete and utter stranger who just happened to be wearing a lab coat.

Thanks so much, Jake, for the detailed and revealing play-by-play. Time after time you backed him into a rhetorical corner. After reading about the compulsory handshake, I was hoping you had access to a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

How pathetic to read how Mnookin bailed when nailed by saying, “Well, you and I have a different take on the statistics.” Other less-than-knowledgeable journalists have told me, "We'll just have to agree to disagree" or "we have different opinions on what constitutes science."

Jake,

On another topic, will the video of Dr. Wakefield at Brandeis be available soon?

Wow...the arrogance of this Seth! Then trying to win you over with compliments of your intelligence after completely disagreeing. I find that to be a lack of ability to stand behind someone's own opinion with a clear argument. Has this Seth stated whether or not he has read Wakefield's book? I would hand him a copy and tell him...."Seth, you read Wakefield's book and I will read yours." then tell him to give you a call when he has, and you will treat him to dinner....lively discussion included!
Jackie Murphy

Confession to Eileen and the Neurodiverse crowd: I am one of you. My 12-year-old walks, talks, laughs, and thinks differently than is typical. And I accept him and don't try to change him. He is truly unique. I love him for his "quirks" and loud guffaws, and his completely off beat sense of humor that has him blaring out the funniest things at times. I would never change any of that about him.

However, we are working on increasing his reading skills and math skills so that they are at grade-level. I hope that is OK. If he gets a rash, and along with the ointments the first thing we do is cut back on foods that could be elevating his gut yeast. Please don't criticize me for that, but he scratches, gets scabbed and we are afraid of infection.

Also, we do not let him walk in the Wal-Mart parking lot with his head down talking to himself because we are afraid he will be hit by a car. Is that OK or are we changing who he really is too much?

Please let me know, Eileen. As a parent, I crave your approval.

Eileen wrote:"Most vaccines have been around for a long time. THere has been an increase, but it's the same stuff in vaccines, if anything less toxic."

Wrong. Most vaccines especially those in development are brand new using "novel" manufactured vaccine components called genetic modified organisms or GMOs. Bio-engineered, GMOs are relatively new additions to the list of vaccine ingredients. The 1st GMO vax to go mainstream was the HepB shot in the early 1990's.

So when you say, "it's the same stuff in vaccines," you are flat out wrong.

I also disagree with you on your point that "if anything vaccines are less toxic."

If anything emerging science is showing that GMO's may be highly toxic and many suspect they are a root cause of the increase in deadly food allergies.

And doesn't that make sense? A mere mortal man in a white lab coat, takes the essence from the divine double helix from one organism and blasts it into the cytoplasm in the nucleus of another organism's cells and he proclaims in vain,

"I have conquered! I have created a masterpiece, a new organism that I can patent! It will make me rich!"

More humble folks might see things differently. That the only way to safely engineer new life forms so there is no safety issues up and down the food chain and across all ecosystems is to possess the ultimate knowledge and to administer it with divine love - to be omniscient.

Making new life forms is in the realm of the Creator. GMO's to some are an affront to God.

Eileen-- you're bringing to mind the term "playground journalism" coined for David Aaronovitch's antics: criticizing a publication for comments made by readers. Your comments made it through- I guess that makes Age of Autism a Mnookin-defense venue.

Jake, I'm sure your conversation with Seth will have no impact on what he does and says. But thank you so much for documenting it here. This may make a difference.

Eileen, Jake didn't do or say anything that was the least bit disrespectful, demeaning, crazy or uncivil. Why would you even suggest that on this post?? I think you must be uncomfortable with conflict or expressing a difference of opinion. I used to be like that but let's face it, when you are terrified of expressing a different opinion a) you are denying the honest expression of who you are and what you think and b) nothing has ever been discovered by people being overly concerned with being nice, not upsetting anyone, having knowledge of something that contradicts someone else. It's either that you are afraid of conflict or you have another agenda. That is great that your girls aren't sick but many of the kids who have autism that I work with are sick- sometimes with a specific diagnosis besides the autism, sometimes not. And hello, summer is tough/challenging for most parents, and yes, this would be especially true for parents of children with autism. A child who might wander and is non-verbal is definitely more of a challenge and you can't frigging tell me otherwise.

And back to Jake...

Query... you were not really shaking hands at AutismOne. Were you sick or do you just not like shaking hands?

Eileen,

On this: "And as far as I know my girls got autism the same way your children did, which is cause unknown."

You cannot say this. You cannot say the cause of my son's autism is unknown any more that I can say the cause of your child's autism is vaccination! You have yourself said that there is more than one causative factor.

All the information I can gather points to the fact that Chandler was set up by several genetic and environmental factors to suffer a vaccine regression. He fits the HHS diagnostic criteria for DTaP induced vaccine encephalopathy, for which he has been tagged with the archaic term "autism".

I think part of your problem with what is being said here is that you are believing that what is true (medically) of one child with autism is true of all children with autism. If you sit down with all the people who write on AoA, you will be hard pressed to find two with the same medical picture.

All the evidence I have says my son is vaccine injured. And that means absolutely nothing to your daughters. And they may have even come to have developed what is diagnosed as "autism" by different routes.

And further... this: "And I don't call my kids sick because I accept them" I am sure you don't mean to be insulting... but if a child is sick and a parents admits it, and trys to treat them, then that is a sign of non acceptance? In what universe?

My son is sick. His symptoms are myriad and as he gets physically better, his "autism" abates. I write a lot about his vaccine injury and he knows I am crazy about him. We laugh all the time.

I say, "Who loves Chandler?" and Chandler shouts, "Mommy does!"

He doesn't say, "you make me take vitamins and get in that hyperbaric chamber and watch movies, so I don't think you love me and accept me for who I am."

Again... you are making leaps that don't have anything to do with one another. Treating illness is a loving thing to do, not a sign of rejection.

It is possible to say that the person who has a problem with other people not sharing their wiews is Eileen. She inperturbably comes on and tells us we are all wrong,all basically nasty people, offers no arguments beyond mainstream opinion and expects us all to back down in shame.

Well, I'm not going to let "Eileen's" post be the last one on this thread.

See, for the public relations shills, this is all just a big joke. All your sick kids, they're just a big joke to them. If Enron were still in business, they'd be laughing it up there.

Ginger,
I appreciate your words, and I did not say nor mean to imply that how or to what degree someone has autism affects their value. And as far as I know my girls got autism the same way your children did, which is cause unknown.

"However, I did tell him that as long as he said things that were incorrect in the public sphere, I will continue to correct him – off-stage if not on."

Jake, you are more than up to the task! Thanks for your much needed work for honest public health discourse and reform.

As long as "health authorities" are leading the way in opening the floodgates of pollution into the environments of the most vulnerable, as well as in dishonestly representing "the science" regarding their "recommended" exposures, they will never be able to authoritatively push for any correction in any other environmental hazard, and the current course seems to be towards societal self-destruction.

Just because I don't agree with you, I am insincere and a fraud? Or an intern?

This new type of autism you all describe must be really rare because I know dozens of families and have taught tons of kids over the years, and I don't know one who fits all the criteria you describe.

Carol, your last comment was really creepy.

This dialogue has convinced me there is nothing healthy here.

No need to moderate me out, Kim. I'll so it myself. Just another absurd episode on this scary website

Eileen,

I don't think you realize how bad the arguments are that you are making.

You are arguing;

1. Scientific pronouncements should be made according to what makes people feel good, not what the facts show.

Your worry for your girls feelings is laudable, but we don't deny unpleasant truths. It only leads to worse outcomes.

2. That if someone is born with a disability that they are more valuable or more legitimate than if their disability is the result of an injury.

If you have two people with serious mental retardation, and one has Downs Syndrome and the other was hit but a drunk driver the day after graduating at the top of their law school class, is one more valuable than the other? Of course not!

Whether or not your girls or my son had a vaccine injury has absolutely ZERO relevance to their value.

People with autism are valuable PERIOD.

Causation and functioning levels have exactly jack and shit to do with the wonderfulness of our children, and if the doc called tomorrow and said, "turns out they have brain inflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, GI damage and oxidative stress" they are absolutely the same people they were yesterday.

Don't let your daughters fall into that trap!

The gay community does that, and I don't know why. Somewhere someone suggested that if people are born straight and homosexuality is something that develops by other factors, then being gay is somehow not legitimate. And the gay community they fell for it and tried to prove. "No... I was born this way!" Rather than just saying, "interesting theory... I am going to go kiss that cute boy over there now". Either your are gay or not... does causation make you any less gay? Or somehow remove your right to be gay?

Don't put that on your girls.

If 30 years from now you are dead and gone, and they find out that yes... vaccines probably did cause their autism, you have handed them a complex by tying causation to their value as women.

Causation has nothing to do with value. Functioning level has nothing to do with value.

Don't fall in that trap and don't throw your girls in it.

Jake, this was awesome. I really envy your ability to recall fact after fact after fact. Besides a promising career in public health, I think you'd also make one heck of a remarkable lawyer!

Yes, you've given Eileen enough rope to hang herself and she's obliged. Nobody could have done it better. Her insincerity is patent.

Good night, Eileen. I'll see you in my dreams ;)

Eileen that's a crock of shit. You come here for some other reason. You didn't comment about summertime. Or Mother's day. Or a loving dad. But you comment on a Seth Mnookin post. Whatever your motivation, we don't much care. Move along. Moderation starts in 3,2....

KIM

Eileen does sound like a 19-year-old public relations intern.

Eileen, We love our children and grandchildren just like you love yours, but our children are sick. I am glad that yours are not because that is rare. My graandson suffers from oxidative stress, mito disorder, immune dysfunction, encephalopathy--which is what autism is for most of our children, high titers in a half a dozen viruses, bacteria up the kazoo, inflammatory bowel disease. If that sounds beautiful then so are the weeds in my graden that kill my tulips. Ya, sometimes we get angry and lose patience with those that don't understand that autism is a metabolic disorder, not simply that our children need a psychological adjustment like one would adjust the hem on a dress. Every organ in their body is affected by their disorder. If you don't think that is damage then I'll eat the weeds in my garden.
Maurine

I keep coming back on here because by calling children with autism damaged and injured, you are hurting my daughters! There is enough prejudice towards people with developmental challenges without an entire website entitled Age of Autism, which sounds like it speaks for all us, constantly writing about how uncivilized, unpleasant, and hopeless people with autism are. Do you get it? If a person came on here and read this stuff, they would think people with autism were demonically possessed.
How about changing the name of the site, so when people google autism, they don't get this. Call it what it really is....Anti-Vaccine Times.

I truly believe you cannot help your child until you accept and embrace the child you have. Having taught in public education for nearly 14 years, I have yet to meet an autistic child who wasn't lovable, sweet, and full of worth. And yes, some of them drool. That doesn't diminish their worth or their smiles. The kids I know are nothing like the stereotypes propagated here.

God, how can you lament spending the summer with your kids???? Our building currently has three kids fighting recurring cancer, and the prognoses for those kids is not good. Their parents pray for a summer with their kids.

This narrow focus and characterization of people with autism hurts everyone. That is why I comment on here.

And I don't call my kids sick because I accept them, not because they are any different than your kids.

Jake, this was beautiful, really well done.

Eileen -
"my beautiful daughters are not sick"

And therein lies the difference...
If your girls were actually sick, you might come to realize why we feel and react the way we do. If your girls were slamming their heads into the wall and crying "Head hurt", if they were crapping blood, if you turned you back for a split second to get a glass of water, and found them on the hard floor convulsing and turning blue in a grand mal seizure, you might start to get just an inkling of fear and worry that they might indeed be very ill. And this fear and worry might just replace those warm and fuzzy feelings you have about how their smiles are so beautiful and how they have such a love for music and how they warmly beam at total strangers. You might become crippled with fear for their future, and you might become disgusted with a medical profession that chooses to ignore your child's very real problems and also refuses to closely examine the safety of the products they turn around and inject into nearly every infant and child in your vicinity. You might have some very serious questions and demands, and you might become a bit 'negative' when these are ignored and dismissed as conspiracy theories. And all the while, you will continue to provide the very best you can for your very sick child. Should we apologize?

Eileen, why do you keep coming back? It's odd and we've seen the pattern before.Your questions are nuanced and mostly unrelated to your own children with autism, which is how most Moms comment here. It's about their kids. For you its about being a defensive victim and vaccination. It's tiring.

KIm

Eileen

One thing which is going wrong here is that people point things out to you, and you just go on as if nothing has been said. I pointed out the way Seth Mnookin had dodged points which we had made to him, and you just change the subject. So instead of going on about your open mindedness and curiosity, how about answering the questions that Seth won't.

Eileen,

How nice for you. I think more about the boy who paces the library, moaning and drooling. Somehow I don't think he's going to achieve great things. Maybe he just wants to die.

As to your other points: When children have medical events after vaccination--high fever, seizures, screaming, diarrhea, loss of language followed by regression--reasonable people conclude that vaccination is the triggering event.

If the Amish have some genetic protection against autism, it would be nice to know about it.

More vaccines are given earlier in life than ever. And we have little idea what adventitious agents are in vaccines. That's reason enough to avoid them.

I don't know anybody who has an unvaccinated child with autism, so I won't address that issue.



John Stone,
Why are you so unkind to me? Can't a parent just disagree with you? I have just as much right to have an opinion as you. And I was not being patronizing. There was certainly no indication from the eloquence and content of that article that Jake had autism.

I truthfully started reading AofA with a very curious, open mind, looking for answers. But the animosity on here and the lack of tolerance for divergent opinions has made doubt what people write. The truth is undoubtedly somewhere in the middle. A place neither side spends much time.


Thank you, Jake!

Hi Eileen

I think Jake can manage without being patronised.

Nearly no one has said it is exclusively the vaccines, but many were witness to the adverse events, are fed up with bogus epidemiology, and general personal abuse.

Your history of the vaccine schedule, and your claims about reduced toxic exposure are naieve.

Carol, my beautiful daughters are not sick. They are wonderful, and have achieved great things through good programming, inclusive educational opportunities, healthy eating, and lots of love, patience, and faith. Did you ever consider that a parent who views their child as damaged and injured might be the greater obstacle they face? What a maelstrom of negavity in which to try to overcome anything! How can we expect the world to see our children as whole people, if we themselves see them only as a shadow of what we wanted them to be?

Oh well done Jake. Wish I could have been there to see his face ....!

World Science Festival = Industry Put-up Job

Nice work, Jake!

Jake has autism? I had no idea. He has obviously made great strides.

As far as answering questions, I have a few that no one on either side will answer.

How do you explain when parents choose not to vaccinate younger children because older ones have autism, and those younger kids still have autism, sometimes more severe?

Also, there are so many toxins in our envirnoment, how can you be sure it is vaccines?

Also, the Amish study can't work because they are are fairly closed genetic pool, and people will claim it isn't in their genes.

Most vaccines have been around for a long time. THere has been an increase, but it's the same stuff in vaccines, if anything less toxic.

Finally, why must you hate people who disagree so much when we are all living the same thing?

Jake......YOU ROCK!

Eileen,

So you think that comparing critics of the corrupt pharmaceutical industry to crazy relatives with absurd views is an example of civil discourse, huh?

I am forever amazed at how forbearing the ageofautism posters are. I fear that most of them don't have "amazing" children, but children who are very, very sick.

Well Done!

Eileen

Mnookin keeps on walking away from answering the questions:

http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/04/seth-mnookin-never-answered-questions-on-us-government-vaccine-autism-concessions.html

http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/05/paul-offit-agrees-that-vaccines-cause-autistic-spectrum-conditions.html

You can whine about us on Age of Autism as much as you like but Seth would answer if he could. It's a poor show.

Mnookin makes the "rival measles vaccine" argument on pages 116,236,291,302 of the hardcover of Panic Virus, ignoring the facts that A) Wakefield never owned the patent-- the patent belonged to the Royal Free; B) Even GMC prosecution witness Peter Lachman stated clearly that Transfer Factor was "akin to goat's milk" and could never constitute a vaccine; and C) Never mind the question of how Wakefield can be both "anti-vaccine" and a rival vaccine maker at the same time.

I love Mnookin's adopted role of sea anemone-- accept his flaccid "sympathetic" embrace regarding the tragic state of how individuals with autism are treated by the medical profession...and his tentacles shoot you full of anesthetics and digestive acids.

As far as I know, the only parent who alleges that Wakefield faked data is Father 11 and we don't actually know what Father 11 alleges because Deer is deliberately vague and (I suspect) deceptive about it.

Ask Mnookin for details: which parent alleges what. Does Mnookin know? What exactly is Father 11's beef with Wakefield?

Buttering up of critics is a tactic of pr shills. Don't fall for it.

He is a class A bullshitter. Too bad that is the calibre of person to represent the vaccine industry; someone who is sloppy, uninformed, willfully ignorant even. Then again could it be any different?

Fought them and won on their own back yard..

Well done Jake


Angus Files

Eeewww, Jake, eeewww! You shook his hand. Yuk!

Actually, I know how hard it must have been for you to do that, so I applaud you. Your decency and humanity overrode your strong impulse to retract your hand.

I admire your patience in speaking to people who are so indoctrinated by lies and false numbers they cannot see the forest through the trees, even when the truth is so freakin' obvious. Heavy metals repeatedly injected directly into the bloodstream cause brain damage. How can money be so enticing to people like Offit, Mnookin, Poland, Singer and members of our Congress, Senate, and Assembly that logic goes out the window to protect a corrupt industry with no inclination or legal impetus to stop generations of children from being harmed?

Well I guess money is the new "drug" to give 'em all a high, now isn't it? I guess I am the one who just doesn't get it, right? Well, at least I still have my soul.

So Eileen... from what you are saying, I gather that you believe that it is OK for people in positions of power in public health, and people claiming to be objective journalists, need only decided that if someone posts to a blog where someone else said something they don't like, they can ignore their legitimate criticism. Even when they are earnest citizens working in good faith on an issue that impacts their lives in a minute to minute basis???

I don't like your accusation of 'conspiracy theories'... do I now get to ignore you and anyone who ever posted on a blog with you?

That is nonsense. Jake is a young man with autism. He has an AMAZING record of taking apart these bad faith players on a topic of a disorder he has.

Seth Mnookin is a bad faith player. He admits that when he declares his mind won't be changed. And that is Jake's fault? Not because of what Jake has done, but because of what commenters on a blog that Jake has written on do?

Wow... you are going pretty far out of your way to make excuses for these guys. Seth wrote a book and has a crappy blog where he gets called on the carpet for the junk that he writes weekly, because he does not do his homework and as he says, won't be convinced otherwise by facts or logic. But that is fine because someone once did something he didn't like.

Brilliant.

"I respect that"????

By that does he mean:

"You are right, I have no response. I concede that point."

or does he mean

"I have to say something in response to you Jake, but I am not allowed to call people 'Total Assholes' any more, so here are some words that kinda make it sound like I am listening to what you are saying and believe there is value in it, but that don't actually commit me to anything. I hope you are too dumb to notice that I am just side stepping your points that I can't counter, while patronizing you."

I don't think he could be more patronizing if he had patted you on the head and offered you a cookie.

And that whole... "you are not going to convince me"... does he even realize that he is saying, "I am biased and no matter how thoroughly you take apart my position with your facts and logic, I am going to stay on this sinking ship. Please grab your newborn baby and run away from me and my unfounded opinions as fast as you can."????

I repeat my position on Mnookin. That guy is a mess. Which is only a few degrees away from his own admission that he is sloppy.

Why... in the entire world... would any parent take this man's advice on how to vaccinate their beloved child!!!!!!

Jake, I envy your memory and command of the facts. While I've studied a little of everything... I wish I had your on-the-spot recall!

Great job! Mnookin is a hack industry shill... who only continues to speak as a result of well-controlled venues. But it warms my heart that HE is the best that industry has to offer. His lies can be easily disgraced.

Seth's website states...
"If you’re interested in helping to arrange a speaking appearance you can get in touch with the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau or email him..."
Maybe we should arrange a platform for him at the next DAN conference!

(You know Seth, in the interest of resolving your frustration by how little you are able to have productive interactions with people who disagree with you.)

I know you won't post this, as I am on a list of "enemies" apparently. I am not a fan of Mr. Mookin, but you must understand at this point, that through all your conspiracy theories and refusal to entertain alternate points of view, the Age of Autism editors are not able to have conversations of this sort with people anymore. I would imagine his answer was less of an evasion than a brush off that people give to crazy relatives they have given up arguing with about absurd views. When you allow fringe elements to threaten people, as I have seen on here - ie people being glad to know Paul Offit's home address to send "Christmas cards...ha ha" which one person wrote, you have demeaned and weakened your cause. It is a shame because we really don't know what causes autism, and it is likely a combo of genetics and many things in our toxic environment. But with your myopic vaccine fixation and defense of Wakefield, you make yourself look extreme. And by banishing parents like myself from the discussion, you alienate more people than you convince. It is always the same posters on here, and they are already believers. So I think you really need to rethink your strategy because you are orbiting farther and farther away from the heart of the community. And it scares me that one of your devoted followers might not be as willing to keep the issue civil.

Excellent work, Jake!

Well done Jake and thank you for making such an effective 'stand'. If Seth Mnookin has a conscience then SOME of what you said to him might provoke some feelings of anxiety and hopefully shame.

What these paid vaccine apologists are most afraid of is the possibility of going down in history as villains. When the truth comes out about the link between MMR and autism, and statistically this is already proven by the exponential explosion of this neurological condition since this vaccine's introduction, then those persons responsible for promoting a false picture of MMR vaccine safety by vilifying Dr Wakefield and any other scientists or even parents who dare to express concerns, will be exposed as corrupt liars and cheats.

It has not escaped my notice that there is presently an establishment attempt to portray the huge rise in child autism, confirmed by official statistics, as simply an illusion, resulting from better diagnoses and a wider definition of autism than before. In the UK almost every child disability is now being linked to autism. Children with cerebral palsy, a mostly physical condition, are now often labelled 'autistic' even if they are apparently perfectly normal in terms of cognitive and emotional development.

A recent so called 'survey' claims a large percentage of adults have always had undiagnosed autism. So that's me then AND my husband, both of us in our 60's with assorted eccentricities!! It could of course, also apply to just about everyone else with 'individualist' characteristics!! A child phychologist I once encountered in a school with an ADHD child, told me that a good case could be made for putting us ALL 'on the spectrum'!!

When I was at school in the 1950's there were NO ADHT or autistic children in my infant class of 45 children. These days in the UK an average class of 30 children has 2 or 3 such children. We all caught and survived measles, mumps and rubella; indeed parents had parties to ensure rubella was caught in infancy (in girls) and mumps (in boys). This conferred lifelong immunity, unlike the vaccines.

I also remember a time when 'safety first' was the watchword on medicines and vaccines. In those days doctors were not afraid to report any adverse problems. Now they are all terrified to express an opinion which might result in them being victimised like Dr Wakefield and his colleagues. The gastroenterologists in charge of treating my grandson are too terrified to 'treat' him for his Walker-Smith diagnosed condition,'Ileal-lymphoid nodular hyperplasia', since it officially does not exist-except, of course, that it DOES and causes untold suffering to untold numbers of children.

How wonderful. Seth believes that if he ever got his fact straight they would still support his opinions!

Jake ...you are THE MAN !!!! This was absolutely classic..."As we parted ways, I patted him on the shoulder saying: “Say hi to your Uncle Bob for me.”

Best laugh I have had in months!

Good for you Jake. Sounds like pharma once against staged this to control the message.

We can no longer sit idley by and let people like Mnookin continually lie to the press. In fact, forget Mnookin! Just like Jake, we should approach each of the science writers and ask that they get a parents perspective in the interest of fair reporting or just set up our own press conferences at these events to counter the lies. Let's steal their thunder and make our own.

Jake, I don't understand why you thought that could be perceived as a death threat? I don't see the pat on the shoulder or the comment as anything but lighthearted. Maybe I'm missing something? My only other comment is that you have a great brain for retaining facts!!

TannerDad -
I think you are right. For Seth, we only need to say 3 words:

"Bob's your uncle!"

I love your reporting and tenacity Jake, but Seth does not add anything to the conversation. I have had a similar experience with him but refused to blog about it. I will not waste a single tweet, that might lead to the sale of his book. I hope you are feeling better. It was great to see you again at AutismOne. TannersDad Tim

HA. No way will Mnookin get anywhere near Jake in front of an audience now.

OMG! Jake, will you marry me? I LOVE you.

Thank you, Jake, for your persistence, and for your report. I wish you could interview Seth on TV. Hmmmm ...

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke

Jake--well done.

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