By John Stone
This morning on ABC television, 10am Eastern time, Katie Couric is looking into the subject of
injury from HPV vaccine . Over the last eight days the KatieCouric.com blog has accumulated in excess of 5,000 comments , many from very ill young women or members of their families. There has also a flood of sarcastic and dismissive comments from vaccination groupies, the most ubiquitous of which (although better behaved than most) has been San Francisco law professor, Dorit Reiss ("Dorit Reis and the Benefits of Agency Capture" and Karen Ernst's Voices4Vaccines a CDC Front Group and "Who Is Dorit Reiss?"). It has been difficult to follow the blog partly because of the sheer number of comments but also because exchanges get quickly relegated and shuffled amongst the heap, not to mention the fact that any member of the public can delete anyone else’s comments by clicking on a box hiding in the top right corner (a facility which I have not used myself). It is sometimes hard to know whether a conversation has actually be deleted or disappeared so far down the page that it could not be found (and beyond a certain depth my computer will not even open them).
I have copied down a few of these conversations in the past couple of days before they got lost. It was altogether evident that if anyone in the vaccine support mob was going to provide any interesting argument it would have to be Dorit.
1st Conversation (December 2 2013):
Thor Viðar Jónsson:
The amount of horrible information being posted here is staggering. I weep for scientists today having to fight all this misinformation, dishonesty and outright lies being spread against one of the medical marvels of our age.
If the "scientists" were real scientists they would be listening not sneering, and wondering whether they had really got it right. The only explanation of their current behaviour is that they know already that they've got it wrong and they are rushing for cover.
Dorit Reiss (Works at UC Hastings College of the Law):
The large scale studies and the constant monitoring of the vaccine safety suggest that scientists are taking this vaccine's safety extremely seriously, and examining it closely for any safety concerns. The fact that their findings are not what the parents what to hear does not make them any less true. No cover. Just facts. No serious problems have been clearly linked to this vaccine, with millions of doses administered. Teen age girls suffer medical problems regardless of the vaccine. The rates of the very different array of problem raised by the families are not higher in the vaccinated girls than in the general population or unvaccinated girls. The evidence is that the vaccine is extremely safe.
Foregoing this protection because of distressed parents' belief in its harms would be extremely problematic.
Thor Viðar Jónsson:
I worry when someone puts "scientists" in a quote, and perfect post Dorit thank you!
Well, that's what you say, but it is people being judge and jury in their own case. Confronted by a deluge of real human beings saying what they think of the experience a little humility would be in order. I certainly, don't see it here.
By the way can you shed any light on the existence or otherwise of Prof Reuben Gaines of Johns Hopkins University, who also claims to be employed in the Department of Health in Washington DC? In October he admitted trolling me in your Times of Israel blog, and when I mentioned this last night (UK time) I got another troll conversation (again admitted) from one Lance Penna. I don't actually think this sort of stuff really puts the vaccine lobby in a very good light.
Cynthia Denomme Maurer:
Then weep, because science has lost it's credibilty, not because of science, but because of those who claim it as their area of expertise, when in fact, much of it is monetarily fed, forged and fixed studies. I have been a scientist for 40 years. It doesn't take an expert to do the research, it only takes a parent with motivation and love for their children.
John Stone people can err, and parents work on incomplete information that may help them believe in causation where it does not exist. As sociolegal scholars know, testimony by eyewitness is fraught with problems. People's perceptions can suffer from cognitive biases (see Kahnman, Thinking Fast and Slow), people's memories can be faulty and there can be credibility issue. People do err. Scientists err too, but the rigors of the scientific method help reduce these errors. Parents have no such controls.
Even without the potential to err, parents lack two pieces of information: the rates of the harm in the population, and often the biological mechanisms. Without knowing how often this happen sans vaccine, you can't evaluate if the vaccine caused it. So sorry, but parental belief is not a substitute to causation evidence.
me (signed in using yahoo):
John Stone You mad bro?
Cynthia Denomme Maurer actually, training in research method is crucial to reduce bias, avoid errors, and do a good job. I have met many scientists who are conscientious, devoted, and selfless. They don't' deserve this blanket condemnation.
Jennifer Weesner Simpson (CSA at Lowe's Home Improvement):