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Dr. Steven Novella Makes The Case for Vaccine Autism Link... By Mistake

Counting “Many children are diagnosed between the age of 2 and 3, during the height of the childhood vaccine schedule… The true onset of autism in most ASD children likely began a year or two prior to the vaccines that are blamed as the cause.” WRONG.

By J.B. Handley
I’m beginning to think that the term ”Science-based medicine”, which happens to be the name of a blog founded by Yale neurologist Dr. Steven Novella and co-run by blogging weirdo David Gorski, has much in common with other humorous phrases like “military intelligence”, “jumbo shrimp”, and “clean coal.”
How else do I explain the atomic stupidity Dr. Novella shared with the world when he once again tried to debunk the growing evidence linking vaccines to autism in a recent blog post entitled “The Early Course of Autism.”
Dr. Novella’s piece details a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry titled “A Prospective Study of the Emergence of Early Behavioral Signs of Autism”   that tried to figure out when signs of autism first emerge in babies.
Ironically, the study Novella references is quite supportive of the theory that autism is caused by the environment and most notably vaccines. But, by being a clue-free moron, Dr. Novella tries to use the study to make the opposite case, and crashes and burns, as I will explain.
Let’s start with the study itself, where the study authors conclude:
“These results suggest that behavioral signs of autism are not present at birth, as once suggested by Kanner, but emerge over time through a process of diminishment of key social communication behaviors. More children may present with a regressive course than previously thought, but parent report methods do not capture this phenomenon well. Implications for onset classification systems and clinical screening are also discussed.”
Stop. Wait a minute. Let’s rewind. Signs of autism emerge over time? Not present at birth?  Diminishment of key social communication? More kids may present with a “regressive course” than previously thought? These authors appear to be preaching to the choir: this is the story I hear from parents every day and the one I lived. My son was normal, meeting his milestones, and slowly, he lost everything.
Novella then writes:
“But what these results indicate is that clear signs of autism emerge between 6 and 12 months of age. Further, social skills tend to be regressive in ASD between 6 and 18 months of age. It was previously thought that social regression was less common in ASD, but this study suggests it is the rule, not the exception. Meanwhile, language skills did not regress in this study, they continued to improve in the ASD group, just on a slower curve than the TD group.”
Reading Novella’s blog for the first time, when I got to this paragraph, I thought to myself, “Where the hell is this guy going with this piece? He’s one of the bad guys, but he sounds like he’s affirming the story of my son and so many other kids.”

Then, Novella drops the stunner, which made me shout and laugh at the same time, as he tries painfully hard to tie this new research to the vaccine-autism debate:
“The authors, however, do not discuss one very significant implication of this study (although an implication already raised by prior studies demonstrating early signs of ASD) – the observation made by many parents that ASD symptom onset correlates with certain vaccinations. Many children are diagnosed between the age of 2 and 3, during the height of the childhood vaccine schedule. This lends itself to the assumption of correlation and causation on the part of some parents. The phenomenon of telescoping, whereby memories of time contract, will tend to reinforce this false correlation. What this and other studies show is that not only is the assumption of causation fallacious, the observation of correlation is likely flawed as well. The true onset of autism in most ASD children likely began a year or two prior to the vaccines that are blamed as the cause.”

Please, take a moment, read Novella’s words again, I’m not done snickering – this is a neurologist from Yale and a major league hater of our community. Remember, the only purpose of his post, really, is to pile on, to somehow show that this new study, a very interesting study for our community because it addresses the critical issue of regression and the timing of regression, further proves that we parents are just nuts and simply “telescope” our memories of what happened to our kids.

The entire substance of Novella’s argument in his post hinges on these 2 key phrases which I have extracted from the above and repeated:

“Many children are diagnosed between the age of 2 and 3, during the height of the childhood vaccine schedule… The true onset of autism in most ASD children likely began a year or two prior to the vaccines that are blamed as the cause.”

Novella, as many of you already realize, is utterly wrong on both counts, rendering his entire position fatally flawed. Coming from a Doctor who has been so vocal in opposing our community and a doctor who works so closely with the aforementioned David Gorski and Paul Offit (more on that in a moment), it’s downright intellectual malpractice.
Let’s look at Dr. Novella’s two intellectual sins in more detail:

1. The height of the childhood vaccine schedule is not between the ages of 2 and 3 as Novella falsely contends, it’s between the ages of 2 months and 12 months, which perfectly matches the period of regression reported in the study.|

Pesky, pesky details, Dr. Novella. It amazes me how often people butcher the facts surrounding the US Vaccine schedule when the CDC makes it so easy to download a schedule for anyone to see right HERE.

And, because I want everyone to see just how incredibly wrong Novella really is, I’m going to spell this out, using the schedule I just downloaded from the CDC as my guide:
Vaccines given to kids, 2010 CDC schedule (by month of life)

Birth:     Hep B
2 months:   Hep B, Rotavirus, DTaP, Hib, PCV, IPV
4 months:   Rotavirus, DTaP, Hib, PCV, IPV
6 months:   Hep B, Rotavirus, DTaP, Hib, PCV, IPV, Flu
12 months:    MMR, Hib, PCV, Varicella, Hep A, Hep B
15 months:    DTaP
18 months:    Flu, HepA
30 months:    Flu
42 months:    Flu
48 months:    DTaP, MMR, Varicella, IPV
54 months:    Flu
66 months:    Flu

Phew. From downloading the CDC’s schedule, to writing out the schedule on a notepad, to typing it in right here, that took me almost 15 minutes…

Remember, Dr. Novella’s argument is that we are all stupid because a new study shows that true regression to autism in children begins around 6 months of age, but the height of the vaccine schedule, according to Novella, is ages 2 to 3.

As you can see above, before an American child reaches the age of 5.5, they will have gotten 36 vaccines.

When do they get them? By 6 months, they will have received 19 vaccines, or 53% of the total. By 12 months, they will have received 25 vaccines, or 70% of the total.
What? But Dr. Novella, you asserted the height of the vaccine schedule is between the ages of 2 and 3.

In fact, between the ages of 2 and 3, children receive all of 2 vaccines, accounting for 5.5% of the vaccines they receive, while a full 70%, including MMR, come in their first 12 months of life, perfectly matching the time when this new study reported the beginning of a regression into autism!

Dr. Novella, if you had a goal of actually figuring out why the hell all these kids are so sick, you may have actually realized that this study is heavily SUPPORTIVE of our view, rather than debunking it.

2. Dr. Novella contends that many children are diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 3, which is why parents get confused, and we all missed the onset that began much earlier.
I’ve already demonstrated clearly that the entire argument Novella bases his post on is false, wrong, and actually supportive of our position, but I also want to address this more subtle point.

Firstly, the last time I checked, the average age of diagnosis for a child with autism was somewhere between 3-4 years of age, not 2-3. More importantly, autism is not an event, it’s a process. It is exceptionally rare that I hear the story, “my son was 100% fine, and at 2 years old after one vaccine appointment he lost everything.” I have heard that story, but very rarely.

More commonly, I hear from parents about a chronic slide into autism with a progression of health issues accompanying the slide. This was certainly true for my son. The eczema and bad bowels came immediately after the 2 month visit and his twelve month vaccine appointment (MMR, Varicella, Hep B, and Hib in his case) was what really seemed to push him over the edge, but it was a full year before we got a formal diagnosis. From 2 months forward, it was just a slow motion loss of everything.

Further, this notion by Novella that we parents are “telescoping” is simply the ridiculous introduction of a new and confusing term to try and explain away the chorus of tens of thousands of parents all screaming the same thing about what happened to their kids.

I don’t need your telescope Dr. Novella, I have something called a pediatric record that shows a very clear pattern of vaccination appointments followed by parental complaints of escalating physical ailments. My son’s pediatric record reads like a non-fiction horror story of what was done to him and how he responded to it. Take your “phenomenon of telescoping” and stick it where the sun don’t shine.


Dr. Novella got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. In trying so hard to make the case against our community, abandoning both facts and reason in the process, he helped bring to light a compelling study that makes a hell of a case that something very bad is happening to our kids during the time when they get the super-majority (70%) of their vaccines.

If you know who Dr. Novella is, none of this should be a surprise. Rarely mentioned by the press that increasingly turns to him for a quote (when Offit is on another call perhaps), is Dr. Novella’s participation in something called the American Council on Science and Health, a front group for special interests that has lined up doctors to shill for them now for decades.

Need someone to say pesticides are safe or fat doesn’t cause heart disease or that formaldehyde in insulation is safe? Turn to ACSH, funded largely by pharmaceutical, chemical, and food interests. And guess who sits on the “scientific board” of this shill front group for industry, right alongside Dr. Novella? You guessed it, the dark lord himself, Paul Offit, see them all right HERE.
Do you think I’m exaggerating? Than watch this priceless piece from the Daily Show when the ACSH protests Michelle Obama’s organic garden HERE.

Dr. Steven Novella: shill for industry, Offit wannabe, and hater of our community. Can’t count the vaccine schedule, doesn’t understand the reality of what happened to our kids, and ends up making the case for our kids by mistake.

J.B. Handley is a co-founder of Generation Rescue.



Bravo, JB, for analyzing Novella's telling errata. In his generalist's rush to fill column space, he got caught pulling info out of his puckered effluvious region yet again.

I'm ever so weary of academics who, instead of offering advice on treating sick children's medical conditions, belabor irrelevant theories and bloviate about pseudo ethics far removed from reality. If I have to read "pseudoscience" or "confirmation bias" one more time... ugh.

In a blogosphere largely unfettered by journalistic mores, some web editors are content to use this sort of inflammatory prattle to increase page views. Over time, though, these hate-baiters parody themselves, as their one-note rants reveal themselves as emotional battering rather than reasoned argument.

Interesting bit at this week on why women who've been raped get blamed by other women. The psychology behind the non-victims' denial involves their using hostility as if it could somehow shield them from such a violent crime.

I see a parallel from the defensive tactics used by a Novella or a Gorski. They surround themselves with a rhetorical wall of nastiness, which is obvious to all but their warped kindred spirits.

Stefania Ferrandino


I think I love you...

Long Island Mom of a beautiful 3 year old son recovering from PDD

pass the popcorn

Thank you JB. My immediate response to reading the study's conclusions was that it further implicates vaccines - regression happens earlier than thought and in the majority of autism cases.

Stay tuned for Orac et al to put a 180 spin on Novella's 360 spin. Call it the 540 - I think I saw it performed last night on the half pipe.

not a sheeple

Hey Steve! There's a reservation in HELL with your name on it.

I can hear it now... Snyderscum reporting poor Dr. Steve is getting death threats following her "just get your damn flu shot" line to the stupid sheeple.

Sorry Scumbag, not worth it.

My boy started "regressing" from the birth dose of mercury laden Hep B and went down hard in the 4th month poisening to which I was told to give him Tylenol and basically that I was over reacting. SIGH. And that was in 02 - nothing has changed. The reaction never reported.


"Dr. Novella contends that many children are diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 3, which is why parents get confused, and we all missed the onset that began much earlier".

JB -- you are right, we have our pediatric records. And many of us raised concerns to our pediatrician only to be given "the wait and watch" and "boys develop slower". Also, CHOP (Offit's Hospital) put my child on a 18 mth waiting list -- prior to seeing a developmental ped to get a diagnosis. We ended up going outside of the CHOP network -- how can you wait 18mths when your child lost skills?

How can Novella even comment on this when he does not even know the actual CDC schedule that our children received.


Boy, is his face red. lol!


Thanks for the heads up on ACSH. Not suprising at all. I predict Alison Singer on that list soon, representing her well-respected ASF, lol.

As for Novella, as long as the words all put together (in the right font) on his incoming and outgoing papers make sense in his brain, he'll never have to come into contact with a child with autism or their medical records and it works out perfectly for him. And good thing us parents can't remember anything, are distraught, looking for someone to blame, etc. He sure has everything figured out, doesn't he. Keep talking, good sir.


A bit of some the "Science of Bullshit" in the Yale neurologist Dr. Steven Novella paper....

"gaze to faces, gaze to objects, smiles, nonverbal vocalizations, single word verbalizations, and phrase verbalizations...."

"Two second-order variables, social smiles and directed vocalizations, were then derived by examining the co-occurrence of individual codes. Co-occurrence was defined when the duration of events overlapped in time course by at least 0.5 second."

One could see how such endless "gaze evaluations" could make it obvious that toddler vaccines with 50 to 100x doses of known neurotoxins are not related to Autism.

.....Many parents often get smiles and social smiles all the hell mixed up. Many parents telescope their child's nonverbal vocalizations & directed vocalizations and cannot tell the difference between an occurrence and a co-occurrence & do not measure the critical .5 second time period properly ....

And of course, the entire Novella paper is tied together with the.....

Spearman Correlation Coefficients between Social Engagement Ratings and Social Communication Behavior Codes....

...It is damn hard to argue with "Spearman Correlation Coefficients"...

Thank god for more sound "Autism Science" for Dr. Nancy.


way to catch him, J.B.! That American Council on Science and Health obviously has no standards for who appears on their committee. And how does the Journal of the American Acadmemy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry publish a piece of crap like this? Don't they fact check????? That Steve Novella makes Yale look pretty damned bad.
MMR, hep b and varicella all at one crack? Holy Mother of God!! I know they haven't studied all those vaccines given to kids in combo. Unbelievable! That doctor/nurse should be shot!!
Yeah, and I also like how they, in the abstract, will allow for the fact that vaccines can have side effects (because they are listed in the package inserts), but, by God, that could never include autism. What a joke.

david burd

JB - You've hit the Jackpot! Everybody should copy Novella's Study and the Immunization Schedule, staple them together, and present/mail them to all members of Congress.

Particularly to Senator Tom Harkin, who keeps appeasing Dr. Thomas Insel of the IAAC. It's way past time for Harkin to demand a suspension of today's Immunization Schedule.

Fantastic, JB!!

Anne McElroy Dachel

Thank you JB. I was so angry seeing the coverage this topic is getting:

Science Daily put this piece out: Autism's Earliest Symptoms Not Evident in Children Under 6 Months, Study Finds

“A study of the development of autism in infants, comparing the behavior of the siblings of children diagnosed with autism to that of babies developing normally, has found that the nascent symptoms of the condition -- a lack of shared eye contact, smiling and communicative babbling -- are not present at 6 months, but emerge gradually and only become apparent during the latter part of the first year of life.

“Researchers conducted the study over five years by painstakingly counting each instance of smiling, babbling and eye contact during examinations until the children were 3. They found that by 12 months the two groups' development had diverged significantly. Intentional social and communicative behavior among children developing normally increased while among infants later diagnosed with autism it decreased dramatically.”

Excuse me? The symptoms of autism are “NOT PRESENT AT 6 MONTHS” and no one then asked what happened to change these kids? Researchers evidently watched children regress into autism and were only focused on when the signs of autism first appeared. Reports specifically stated that the study wasn’t looking for causation.

Twenty-three years ago when my son was born no one told me to watch to see if he suddenly lost skills. Everyone seemed clueless, much like they still are today. The medical community seems satisfied to simply observe children being lost to the autism epidemic and do nothing to stop it. Are we to assume it’s typical and acceptable for children to regress? A study that “painstakingly” noted kids’ development but showed no concern over why kids regressed and WAS FIVE YEARS IN THE MAKING, is absolute proof that no one really wants to do anything to address autism.

Anne Dachel


Their intellectual dishonesty will eventually do them in.

Darian (nickname)

To quotee the great Groucho Marx my message to Dr. Novella is "why don't you bore a hole in your head and let the sap run out!"

If this is mainsteam medicines' finest, we are all in trouble!! I never went to medical school and I know more about vaccine schedules then him!!

I hope he is not allowed near children!!


We are being too kind and giving these people the benefit of the doubt when we say they are stupid, nutcase, moron - they are much, much worse! They are liars and speak with a forked tongue.

People go to prison some times for that and not for being nutcase, stupid, retarded, slow, dumb, moron.

As their mind squirms trying to put a lie to all this - they need to be reminded it could mean a prison sentence.

mary southon

Wanna be that Novella believes in "Intelligent Design", too?

Craig Willoughby

It's interesting that the snippet of his blog that you pointed to shows that Dr. Novella is suffering from a case of confirmation bias. He clearly wants this study to "prove" his point about vaccines, so he focuses and misinterprets the portion of the study that confirms this assumption. You know, what they always accuse us of doing.

In other news:

A new virus, called Kneber Botnet, has infiltrated 75000 computers and numerous corporations, gathering logins and information from these computers.

"Companies that were infiltrated included pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., Cardinal Health Inc., software firm Juniper Networks and Paramount Pictures, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday."

:-D :-D :-D


thanks for the link to ASCH's payroll list, also saw another Gorski, wonder if he and Orac are related.

had to LOL when I saw this doc on the list along with Offit and Novella, enough said!!!!!!!!!!!!

Richard M. Hoar, Ph.D.
Williamstown, MA


Oh wow!!! This actually made me laugh. Novella has to be one of the dumbest people out there, and yet people are listening to him!!! I would love to know where those 2 years before vaccines are given, exist. Was he drunk when he wrote that!!! Unreal!!


you're my fave, JB.


The last names in this saga amaze me:

Profit - for sure it's all about the money.

and now Novella: n. "fiction, lie, deception" en espanol.

How can anyone argue with an organic garden grown in a backyard?

That says everything about where these figureheads get their positions - funded by industry with an agenda.


"I don’t need your telescope Dr. Novella, I have something called a pediatric record that shows a very clear pattern of vaccination appointments followed by parental complaints of escalating physical ailments. My son’s pediatric record reads like a non-fiction horror story of what was done to him and how he responded to it."

I've got those records too. And my son's reads like a horror story as well.

My son was born in 1996 when a lot of the pediatric vaccines contained mercury. Now, it supposedly doesn't but "trace" amounts (whatever that means) in some- but looking at the 2010 CDC recommended schedule - that shows all those flu shots. Knowing over 90% of flu vaccines contain thimerosal. My son has never had a flu shot. When he was younger and going to the pediatricians all the time- they just didn't offer them. Old people in nursing homes were the only ones who got flu shots back then.

To see how much mercruy kid are still getting (if following the CDC recommended schedule) is apalling. Mercury is out of the pediatric schedule (except in flu shots) is such a lie.

Speaking of flu shots a new study shows that flu shots are good and effective for babies as young as 6 weeks of age. Get ready people to see that added to the next CDC vaccine schedule.

Our poor children. Chronically ill and neurologically damaged courtesty of the US government and mainstream medicine.

Will this nightmare ever end?


I once read on the blog in question the author imply that we are only exposed to natural toxins and that this idea of toxin exposure is a myth. Then what are these over 1,000 industrial chemicals that are being found in waterways across the country...chemicals that are not even covered by the Clean Water Act because they have been invented in the last 30 years? I don't take that blog seriously. In fact, after reading the "toxins" article, I never went back to that blog again.


I have a question why after the Hannah poling case are they still using 7-8 vaccines in one appointment? {I count DTP/MMR as three since they are three in one] Are they prescreening these kids for mito fist? Even without mito do we correctly know what would exceed a babies reserves? Thank you to DR Novella for proving us correct.


Novella is a nutcase. Clearly he has had a few too many thimerosal and aluminum laden shots and probably has a bunch of amalgam fillings too, resulting in what Andy Cutler calls "disordered thinking." Seems to be a widespread problem in current society.

Thanks for shining the light on the absurdity of Novella as a "spokesperson for science."


Wow. I wonder how this guy will reconcile the fact that he was just simply wrong about his entire piece.

Diane Farr

It looks like he put a spin on his article so fast that instead of a 180 it made a 360.

Maurine Meleck

Brilliant. You made my day with this piece.
I think a lot of us were confused by this study. I know I was. He was trying to make the case for genetics and ended up making our case. I love it.

dan olmsted

Thanks J.B. for a great post and for saving me from having to write another More Yupidity From Yale column.

Katie Wright

Thank you JB!

At first I thought Novella's comments were a joke, a parody written by someone else. How embarrassing that Novella manages to get just about EVERY fact wrong!

The "height of the vaccine schedule is between the ages of 2 and 3"????

Is Novella talking about a different country?

Then he argues that autism actually occurs 2 or 3 yrs prior to vaccinations? That would have to be before the child is conceived?

Is someone can figure out Novella's math let me know!

Finally this genius accuses parents of basically being dumb and or suffering from false memory syndrome.

Forget about our memories Novella- you should concentrate on getting your facts straight in the here and now.

What a mess!

A Mom


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