We're running a "best of"post from James Lyons-Weiler in advance of tomorrow night's free lecture at NYU. We encourage locals to attend if possible. Thursday, 3/9, NYU Law, Vanderbilt Hall Room 201, 40 Washington Square, NYC.
We are pleased to excerpt this post from James Lyons-Weiler, author The Environmental and Genetic Causes of Autism (Skyhorse Publishing). Cures vs. Profits: Successes in Translational Research (World Scientific, 2016) and Ebola: An Evolving Story (World Scientific, 2015). You can read his full post at his site: James Lyons Weiler, PhD
We invite you to visit IPAK and read about the CDC Accountability Project. "The Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge is a not-for-profit organization* which exists to perform scientific research in the public interest. We use the principles and practices of scientific research to help individual researchers, research teams, consortia, and companies push their project through roadblocks, or map their way around them via evidence-based alternatives."
WHILE RETURNING from the United Nations building where I heard NYU Professor Mary Holland (School of Law) nail the issues of constitutional and international law on the right to informed consent to the floor, to a standing ovation. To my delight, I received an email from Mary, which read, in part:
“I started reading your Ebola book last night. Wow, you have evolved a lot in your thinking on vaccines in a VERY short period, based on your definition of ‘antivaxxers’ at bottom of 206, top of 207. Have you written up how your views evolved so quickly? It might be a helpful roadmap towards turning others around. Was this all in connection with the autism book, or did your views changing precede that book?”
Looking at my book this morning, I turned to page 206, with trepidation, to find the younger, knowing me, trying to save the world by chiding and deriding people whom I have come to learn much more about in the past two years:
“Again and again with Ebola we see, from Guinea to the US, societies struggling with the ethical problem of the needs (and wants) of a few vs. the safety (and lives) on the many”.
Ok, that’s not too bad. A bit uppity, but I cannot disagree. But it gets worse.
“With over 100 cases confirmed, the US is, at the time of this writing, at high risk of an epidemic of measles because the herd immunity is lacking due to a dogmatic antivaccination movement”.
I warned you.
Deplorably, I continue:
“The efficacy of the measles vaccine in protecting children against terrible diseases should be reason enough for parents to insist on vaccinating their children, but the so-called ‘anti-vaxxers’ (people who believe vaccines place their children at risk of developing autism) fail to consider the greater good: They put others at risk by not participating in national programs for the greater good.”
I really do not like my former self. Naturally, I continue, because I knew SO much before I actually looked into the studies and the data:
“This perspective is more than mere 20:20 hindsight; such occurrences of cultural and institutional amnesia are certain to recur as our society becomes more reliant and trusting in technology, and we forget to respect the awesome power of biology and Nature”.
I really don’t know this guy, I swear.
Mary Holland will certainly be remembered as one of the most staunch defenders of human rights, well, in the history of abuses in medicine. So back to Mary’s question:
“Have you written up how your views evolved so quickly? It might be a helpful roadmap towards turning others around. Was this all in connection with the autism book, or did your views changing precede that book?”
Here’s how and why my views have changed. First, I was really rather upset about the fact that CDC Director Thomas Freiden stated in his testimony to Congress that there were no mutations in the Ebolavirus that was driving the epidemic. I was upset because I had the 396 mutations on my laptop at the very moment he testified to Congress. I capture that moment in “Ebola“. My anger at the CDC increased when I attended a secret White House conference call, held by the Ebola Czar, in which I asked about the 396 mutations – whether they influenced the ability of tests to detect Ebola, or altered its virulence or transmissibility. In that call, the entire scientific community was lied to again by a CDC Scientist who claimed that the virus was “99.9999% identical to the strain from Zaire in 1995”, which was not true at all. I capture both of those events in “Ebola”, as well as how the White House then asked the Associated Press to stop covering potential cases of Ebola in the US. I even ask in that book whether that was “fascism”.
Fast forward a couple of months to where I had decided to write “Cures vs. Profits“. I felt that we had bungled our response to Ebola so badly that I wanted to cheer myself up and write a book on the successes in biomedical research. Having participated in so many studies over the past two decades, I knew of many reasons that the public should continue to support biomedical research, and I was going to share all that I knew, and discover more. The first two chapters deal with “the bad stuff” – the doctors who cheat at medicare fraud, which robs other patients of needed funds for real medicine – and the biomedical researchers who cheat at their research studies.
I wrote my chapters out on grapefruit, on cancer vaccines, on prostate cancer robotic surgery, and then something happened: I wrote a chapter on ADHD overdiagnosis. I tell the story of the destruction of a promising career of Dr. Gretchen Watson. Pharma sent a “Key Opinion Leader” to EVMS to debate her over her study, and the next day she was told her case load was canceled, that her colleagues were told that she no longer worked at EVMS, and that she was to expected to resign. She refused, and won an appeal to HR. But then someone floated a rumor that she manipulated her data in the 1996 study showing overdiagnosis.
The investigation revealed no flaw – well, a typo in an appendix – but the damage to her career was done. The good news is that Dr. Watson has decided to write of book of her own after reading my chapter on ADHD. She now also serves on the Board at IPAK.
When I finished writing the rest of “Cures“, including chapters on the history of hormone receptor status in breast cancer, chemosensitivity assays, characteristics of good research scientists, and cancer vaccines, I found the book missing something.
So I decided to write a chapter on Vaccines.
I’ll let the chapter on vaccines speak for itself- it begins with tales of how wonderful vaccines are, how they save lives. I went back to review the autism/vaccine link, fully expecting to review the Andrew Wakefield issue briefly, how his claims that MMR were linked to vaccines. I read the retracted study.
I found that Andrew Wakefield never claimed that the MMR might cause autism. Instead, I found the study to suggest that it was a question worth looking into.
My digging around then led to my discovery of reports that someone at CDC had revealed that CDC had manipulated data on the studies designed to disprove Wakefield by omitting results with a positive association.
The more I dug into the issue, and then into the literature, the more I found the science of vaccines falling far short of the science needed to insure public health via any medical procedure given to millions. And this is where I leave the issue in “Cures“. I added an addendum that reviews four open controversies in vaccines that cause me to question whether vaccines can be called an unmitigated success in translational research.
In retrospect, I see that position as something of an understatement.
My understanding of vaccines was (obviously) limited, and I needed to grasp the risks involved. I needed resolution. So after I completed “Cures“, I began writing about what I had learned. I spoke with people with an open mind. I started to listen not only to what these evil, selfish “anti-vaxxers” had to say, I started to really think about the consequences of the additives. I began to question the over-arching claims of safety.
And via some new contacts, I made connection with Tony Lyons of Skyhorse Publishing. After a few chats, he, Louis Conte and I agreed that I should write a book on the Genetics of Autism. (I love Louis – and knowing what I know of him now, my bet is that he thought I was a good prospect – but somehow I can hear him telling Tony that Jack has ‘a way to go, but I think he’ll get there’. Thank you Louis for the confidence.
So in I dove, into 3,000 research articles on autism. Not on vaccines – on autism. I wanted to know if the basic science could in any way reasonably support a hypothesis that vaccines or their additives cause autism. The answer is a resounding “Yes, yes, and yes”. Other articles in this blog will give you an idea of some of the evidence that exists on the role of chronic microglial activation and autism, for example.
To the readers of “Ebola” who feel confused or hurt by my, and others’ ignorance, please remember that there is a Great Unknowing, even among professionals. Think about it – all “Anti-vaxxers” with vaccine-injured children were once pro-vaccine. As I advised some 500 participants at the VIALs Health Summit in Atlanta, GA, do not argue with them – educate them. Your anger and frustration is warranted, but help them move from ignorance to awareness and understanding.