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Greater Freedom of Speech on Web 2.0 correlates with Dominance of Views Linking Vaccines to Autism.

Science post imageIs this study advocating censorship, "...step up their activity on the Internet..." ?  Most sites moderate comments, including this one. But you will find thousands of comments here that have viewpoints quite different from the authors of the various posts.  This study says that a free and open exchange of information leads to conclusions that the industry does not like.  We're running the study here at AofA, does that make it almost like a Escher print?  ;)

Vaccine. 2015 Mar 17;33(12):1422-5. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.01.078. Epub 2015 Feb 7.

Greater freedom of speech on Web 2.0 correlates with dominance of views linking vaccines to autism.

Venkatraman A1, Garg N2, Kumar N3.

Author information



It is suspected that Web 2.0 web sites, with a lot of user-generated content, often support viewpoints that link autism to vaccines.


We assessed the prevalence of the views supporting a link between vaccines and autism online by comparing YouTube, Google and Wikipedia with PubMed. Freedom of speech is highest on YouTube and progressively decreases for the others.


Support for a link between vaccines and autism is most prominent on YouTube, followed by Google search results. It is far lower on Wikipedia and PubMed. Anti-vaccine activists use scientific arguments, certified physicians and official-sounding titles to gain credibility, while also leaning on celebrity endorsement and personalized stories.


Online communities with greater freedom of speech lead to a dominance of anti-vaccine voices. Moderation of content by editors can offer balance between free expression and factual accuracy. Health communicators and medical institutions need to step up their activity on the Internet.

Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Autism; Free speech; Internet; Vaccines; Web 2.0



Dr. Venkatraman,

Your dividing the world up into establishment (academics) and marginalized (extra-academic activists) voices, further assuming that they are neatly divided up into pro and anti vaccine along those lines, is a false premise. It also seems that you have not done your own research but instead have taken the word of those around you - not a good idea in any area of medicine in any era, but especially in corrupt 2015. You are also going on the assumption that the government's public health decisions are good for the public and the public's resistance or questioning of those recommendations is bad.

There are many academics who are questioning vaccines, but there again, the assumption that only academics know the truth, and that clinically seasoned practitioners in the field who are oftentimes more objective (do not rely on Pharma funding for their paycheck) and more experienced, who disagree with academia are somehow less qualified to have a professional opinion, and that their opinion is less valid, is not a good one either.

Vaccinology is not a simple science and I would submit to you that the public, including and especially medical students, is being sold a bill of goods. There is considerable pressure for academia and practitioners to conform to the government approved version which explains why there isn't greater deviation from the party line, but make no mistake, there is definitely deviation among the highly credentialed. If you look you'll see a significant and disturbing body of scientific evidence that is damning to the status quo. You'll find a belief system that is unsupported by scientific evidence. What you will find is a $33 billion/yr business that is being run by academia/government/Pharma (as self-described "collaborators"), who are sharing the spoils. Finally, your abstract does not consider that the "anti-vaccine activist" position is difficult for the "establishment" to counter, because the position is in whole or in part, valid. You assume that the position is gaining respect solely because of exposure and for no other reason. You should consider that there are merits before you recommend that the "establishment" take steps to shut down or otherwise control dissenting voices, not that they aren't acively doing that anyway.

I hope you listen to those interviews that I posted earlier. Also, please see:

From Pediatrics 1997 - this article explains why the US is the most vaccinated population in the developed world and why our government is so protective of the Vaccine Industry, why, in spite of any evidence to the contrary, the US Gov't continues to repeat the "safe and effective" mantra while denying as much as possible injuries and deaths:

Please Google "The National Vaccine Plan" to see the current Plan

Some food for thought:

"Impact of Repeated Vaccination on Vaccine Effectiveness Against Influenza A(H3N2) and B During 8 Seasons" Sept 2014
From the conclusion: "...vaccine-induced protection was greatest for individuals NOT vaccinated during the prior 5 years."

From the body: "The potential immunologic mechanisms for vaccine interference are not well understood [my comment: but they are recommending it population wide, including for 6 month old infants and yearly thereafter]. Contributing factors may include "original antigenic sin," immune exhaustion, and/or antigenic drift of circulating influenza viruses with respect to vaccine antigens. The potential role of original antigenic sin is particularly intriguing as it postulates that exposure to influenza antigens can preferentially expand preexisting memory responses to historical virus antigens at the expense of de novo responses to the current vaccine or infecting strain [34-36]."

The study authors go on to conclude that another multi season trial should be done but they state that would not be possible in the US where annual flu vaccines are universally recommended. The authors suggest that they would need to find a country where flu vaccine is not recommended in order to find the answers (that, IMO, they should have had BEFORE they recommended annual flu vaccine to anyone - it's all an unethical experiment on the US population without knowledge or consent. Through these drugs, they are causing known and unknown changes in ways that they do not even begin to understand. Never mind that none of these vaccines have been tested for carcinogenicity, mutagenicity or effects on fertility and reproduction - that, word for word from every insert). Please note that CDC scientists are among the study authors.

The above study was on the inactivated flu vaccine. The following is a study of a mouse model using the live attenuated version (keep this one in mind the next time you hear the mantra that the flu vaccine can't cause the flu):

"Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine Enhances Colonization of Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus in Mice"
February 2014

"Using a mouse-adapted LAIV against influenza A (H3N2) virus carrying the same mutations as the human FluMist vaccine, we find that LAIV vaccination reverses normal bacterial clearance from the nasopharynx and significantly increases bacterial carriage densities of the clinically important bacterial pathogens Streptococcus pneumoniae (serotypes 19F and 7F) and Staphylococcus aureus (strains Newman and Wright) within the upper respiratory tract of mice. Vaccination with LAIV also resulted in 2- to 5-fold increases in mean durations of bacterial carriage. Furthermore, we show that the increases in carriage density and duration were nearly identical in all aspects to changes in bacterial colonizing dynamics following infection with wild-type (WT) influenza virus."

The Journal of Advanced Practice Nursing October 2014 "Do Not Believe Everything You Read About Flu Deaths"

The CDC Jan 2015, weeks before their new universal recommendation of MMR for adults after the vaccine has been given to this age group by their recommendation for individual adults since the 1970's:

"Adverse events following measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in adults reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), 2003-2013"

"Background: Limited data exists on the safety of MMR vaccine in adults."

Isn't that special that after 40+ years they finally got around to thinking about whether the vaccine is safe for adults, when adults have been getting the vaccine all along? But don't worry, they retrospectively looked at what happened to those adults and they decided, after the fact, that it was all good - "we did not detect any new or unexpected safety concerns for MMR vaccination in adults."

Here is a well referenced blog post by Dr. Kelly Brogan titled, "The Flu Shot: Solution or Problem?" in which she addresses the effect of the flu vaccine on man's interaction with his inner and outer microbial environment: Please see also her November 2013 article, "A Shot Never Worth Taking: The Flu Vaccine".

There is a large body of research which points to how vaccines lead to autoimmune and other disorders. If you want to know what the "insurgents" are saying, see Dr. Suzanne Humphries:
This is a 4 part lecture series that Dr. Humprhies gave in Sweden recently, but I have linked to part 2, because I believe that was where she specifically addresses autoimmunity.

Finally, a market report for the Vaccine Industry:

2/4/15 Vaccines Market is Expected to Reach $57.8 Billion by 2019 - New Report by MarketsandMarkets


Dr Venkatraman,

"Vaccine safety advocate" is often a preferred term.

It has been my experience that vaccine safety advocates are actually more likely to use say peer reviewed journal articles to support their position than some of the so called "science blogs"
I make it a point from time to time to see what others who disagree with my position are saying. Years ago, I went over to one of the blogs that referred to itself as a "science" blog expecting academic conversation. Instead there were a series of puerile comments about Jenny McCarthy's sex life.
And having vaccine injury refuters make statements like "Thimerosal was removed from the MMR vaccine" apparently unaware that live virus vaccines never contained thimerosal, does not increase ones sense that they are the bastions of scientific knowledge.

It appears that in reality, the science states that vaccine injuries can occur and can in some cases cause severe injury or death. No real way to spin that so that those facts disappear.

Which can lead one to conclude that those who deny the occurrence of vaccine injury are either misinformed or lying. In neither case does that make them useful sources of information.

By the way, I find that many of the commenters here have academic degrees and the ability to read and understand statistical studies. Bland comments like "Vaccines are safe and don't worry your pretty little head about it" will probably never be convincing.

I do appreciate your comments here, and again hope that you might consider using the term :Vaccine safety advocates" in future.


...ever since a law was passed giving legal immunity to vaccine manufacturers and providers.

Vaccines are unusual in that they are mandated by the govt, insurance companies are mandated to cover them 100%, manufacturers have no tort liability, doctors who follow the recommended schedule have no malpractice liability. The CDC is responsible for both promoting vaccines and monitoring their safety - a conflict of interest. Pharma $ have much too much influence in many arenas. The vaccine program is out of balance, out of control, without proper checks and balances.

Parents see this. No amount of PR covers this up. That's why concerns about vaccines have grown. More mandate and more censorship will create more vaccine skeptics.

And btw it's not just a question of vax or don't vax. Would you give your (hypothetical) baby the hep b vax on the day of birth even if you and spouse were negative for hep b? The rotavirus vax even though there's a rare risk of serious harm from this vaccine and rotavirus is rarely a problem in the U.S.? Most American babies fight off rotavirus with a mild case of diarrhea or no symptoms a all. What about flu shot? One of the least effective vaccines, and high # of VAERS. Reports. Would you give your baby six or even nine vaccines at once? Not all vaccines are equal. Not all diseases are equally risky.


How the non-establishment side gained popularity: thousands, or maybe millions, of people have seen serious adverse reactions to vaccines. Then we have seen how these adverse reactions are dismissed as coincidence without adequate study. There has not been a large scale study comparing health outcomes in vaxed vs unvaxed populations - in humans or in animals. Parent of vaccine injured children expect the govt to want to study their children to understand what happened and why, but this doesn't happen.

The vaccine schedule for infants/toddlers has more than tripled over the past 25 years, ever since a la

Jenny Allan

@ Dr Venkatraman:-
"1. My use of the term "scientific" in my first comment was to indicate the views of the "scientific establishment". Not necessarily implying anything more than that.

2. I'm not trying to malign you by calling you "anti-vaccine activists". If you prefer some other term, I'd be happy to use that."

I'm still insulted, mostly by your attempts to monopolise the 'scientific establishment' views as the only valid science. Persons with opposing viewpoints, regardless of their medical and scientific credentials and experience, are disregarded and vilified. This is about corporate and political 'vested interests' and NOT science.

I have no time at all for "Ivory tower academics", who are accorded the title by being out of touch and out of reach, but few such persons are likely to involve themselves in vaccine controversies.

Persons with concerns about vaccine safety, efficacy and necessity are not all laypersons, nor are they all 'anti- vaccine'. ' Activist' is a term which can be equally applied to both sides.

John Stone


I think before coming to a decision about flu vaccine that you ought to do further research both on the risk of death from flu and the effectiveness of the vaccine (not to mention the quality of the research into side-effects):


The conclusion of your paper is, "Online communities with greater freedom of speech lead to a dominance of anti-vaccine voices. Moderation of content by editors can offer balance between free expression and factual accuracy. Health communicators and medical institutions need to step up their activity on the Internet."

That is a statement in favor of censorship. We are sick and tired of censorship. Vaccine safety issues need to be fully explored.

In addition, the conclusion assumes that "factual accuracy" is on the side of the vaccine defenders. You have not set up a polarity between one set of opinions and another set of opinions, but between Science/Consensus/Factual Accuracy and anyone with concerns about vaccines (who are lumped together as "anti-vaccine".) This paper justifies censorship based on the belief that one side is right and the other is wrong.

Those of us who have been following these issues for years know that there are a lot of problems with science in general these days, and especially with vaccine-related science.

Moreover there is actually a lot of science supporting a link between vaccines and autism other conditions involving inflammation and autoimmunity.

I do appreciate that you believe in the right to make choices on vaccines. Right now there are bills proposed in multiple states to do away with that right. This is scary.

I don't have time to write more at the moment, but that's the gist of it, without citations.

A Venkatraman

Hi John
Our interest in the vaccine-autism debate has solely to do with the fact that it is a well-known argument between, for the most part, ivory tower academia on the one hand and layman/laywoman activists on the other. Our interest was not in the relative truth of one side's arguments vs the other, but more in how the nonestablishment side gained the popularity it currently enjoys.

My personal views are that vaccines largely convey greater benefits than risk. Meaning that I would vaccinate myself and my kids. And recommend it to my patients. But if one of them refused, that's their prerogative. A vaccine is like any other medication. If one of my patients refused a cholesterol pill, that doesn't mean I fire him from my clinic or refuse to let his kids attend school with mine.

I did consider not getting a flu shot some years ago when there were reports of Guillaine Barre syndrome doing the rounds. However, a professor at our hospital told me that the chances of dying from the flu were far higher than that of getting Guillaine barre syndrome from the flu vaccine. Furthermore, even if I myself didnt suffer any chronic injuries from influenza, I would be exposing my sick and elderly patients to a disease that could be devastating to them, given that they were already quite frail.

A Venkatraman

I think of all the responses here, yours is the one which best understands our study's goals. Our study on vaccine information, like the ones we did on dialysis information and hypertension information, is about how establishment (academics) and marginalized (extra-academic activists) voices interact to influence the public understanding of health.
You are absolutely right about dogma, hierarchy and credentialism - that is the core of what we are trying to analyze. Dogmas aren't necessarily wrong, but I am not interested in whether they are right or wrong. We just wanted to see how establishment dogmas sustain themselves or crumble when faced by insurgent ideas. And insurgent here is not meant in a pejorative manner.

John Stone

Dr Venkatraman

One of the features of the current situation is that parents who have have been systematically ignored for decades have become more radical. Still in 2008 the banner of 'Green Our Vaccines' was quite popular, while the label "anti-vaccine" was being placed on us almost entirely by the other side. By now there is a great deal of scepticism - people have been very high-handedly treated and a lot of them wonder why they should trust any of it at all.

About your own apparent tolerance of freedom of choice, it could still be quite coercive if the information about the pros and cons of the products is entirely controlled by bureaucracies or people financially benefitting from administering them. Also, perhaps by chance, the publication of your article comes at a time when attempts are being made in the US by the industry and through government bureaucracies to clamp down on the last vestiges of choice. It is against this background that people can see your publication and feel very fed up.

If you want trust you need to step back from controlling the flow of information: it may in fact be the worst thing.

A Venkatraman

Dear Jenny

1. My use of the term "scientific" in my first comment was to indicate the views of the "scientific establishment". Not necessarily implying anything more than that.

2. I'm not trying to malign you by calling you "anti-vaccine activists". If you prefer some other term, I'd be happy to use that.


To add...

First, I apologize to Dr. Venkatramin for shortening your name. That was an unintentional typo.

I also want to add, about "truth": We know for a fact that the CDC has a decades long history of covering up nefarious experimentation on the public, as evidenced in Tuskegee. We also know that they only stopped the experiment when forced to do so, that they fought to prevent those who were ill from having full knowledge of their diagnosis and from getting treatment. To my knowledge, no one ever went to prison for this mass murder. We have absolutely zero evidence that the CDC has stopped this modus operandi and have every reason to believe that it continues with a vengeance - William Thompson, Simpsonwood, Poul Thorsen, refusals to answer to Congress, etc.

We also know for a fact that all of the major pharmaceutical companies have been convicted of criminal fraud with respect to marketing many drugs that have caused illness and thousands of deaths. We have absolutely no evidence to show that the Vaccine Divisions of these corporations operate any differently. While billions of dollars have been paid in fines to the federal government for criminal fraud, with not one prison sentence, the vaccine divisions operate with full immunity for any harm that comes to the public from vaccines since 1986, with the public funding payouts for vaccine injuries and deaths so far approx. $3 billion, through a tax levied on the price of every vaccine sold.

A Venkatraman

Dear Greg

1. I am 100% in favor of parents choosing whether to vaccinate their kids or not. And of course they should be able to send their kids to schools of their choicem, irrespective of their vaccination status.

We don't force people with most diseases into quarantine - I don't think there is any ethical or medical justification to ostracize people who merely do not wish to vaccinate.

2. I just brought up my living conditions because many posters insinuated that my colleagues and I wrote this article because we got funded by corporate money. I found that laughable.
This paper was the product of three friends from college trying to find an interesting research topic that would not require lab equipment or financial investment.


Dear Dr. V,

"Breakdown of credentialism on public communication" "We are rapidly moving towards an open society that has no absolute standard for "truth". In the past, for instance, pronouncements issued from academia served this purpose. But now, "experts" don't carry the same cachet they used to."

You mean like when the printing press was invented and for the first time the common man read his own Bible which made him less dependent on the Church, which gave the Church less control over the population? In the past, academia was less "bought" (see the movie by that name). You might be surprised to know that there are "experts" with credentials in what you are calling the insurgency. Lots of them. No, no one overlooked that your writing was for a scientific publication. That is what made it so ludicrous. Hierarchies and credentialism do not always create a standard truth. They sometimes create dogma, in this case, that you are desperately trying to defend against a flood of conflicting evidence, evidence which is increasingly in the hands of not only the credentialed, but the common man and woman.

You are not funded by any corporations? Really? You never accepted a meal or attended a Pharma funded conference? Your education was not subsidized by any corporation? None of your medical textbooks or curriculum were written and/or published by Pharma? None of your instructors received any gifts or speaker or consulting fees? None of your mentors were in any way affiliated with or influenced by Pharma at any point in their careers? How about the hospitals you trained in? No Pharma influence there either? When you were in elementary and secondary school, none of your lessons were influenced by any Pharma or government, who partners with Pharma? If you say no to all of the above, that would make you extremely unique.

The "insurgents" here, as you so rudely call us, most of us did vaccinate and suffered severe lifelong injury and some, death. Look in the left margin of this blog and see Managing Editor Kim Stagliano with one of her three daughters. Go ahead and click on the video and see one picture of autism and the love and devotion of a mother who has three children with the condition. There will be 80,000 children diagnosed with autism this year alone. Many of them will never speak, will never be independent, will be in intractable pain, will wear diapers, and will never get to live in a tiny apartment and have no car and search the internet for their name to see if anyone noticed their work. Take a look. Now ask yourself, where is the "truth" about autism? The CDC has just spent a good 2 months creating mass hysteria over some 150 cases of measles in a population of over 300 million, resulting not in education for the public about how to deal with measles should they contract it. No, the drum beat was solely focused on vaccinating with a controversial vaccine, the MMR. Why controversial? First, the maker of the vaccine is being sued by their own virologists for rigging the mumps efficacy data that earned them the contract to produce the vaccine. Second, one of their own scientists came forward as a whistleblower in August of last year confessing that the CDC deliberately hid evidence of a link between vaccines and autism. You didn't hear about that? That's because your neat little conceptual box that you wrap yourself in isn't as reliable or as pure as you think it is and you need to venture outside of it.

Consider this. If the victims of the US Public Health Services Tuskegee experiment had access to ("insurgents" on) the internet, the US Government would not have been able to so easily get away with denying them treatment for syphilis for 40 years from 1932-1972. This experiment ended up infecting their wives and children, was only stopped when a whistleblower, you might call him an insurgent, brought the government's murderous experiment to light in the media. If not for Peter Buxton, the CDC's plan was to continue the experiment until all the participants were dead, and importantly, they had full medical consensus that this crime was appropriate and necessary:

"By the end of the study in 1972, only 74 of the test subjects were alive. Of the original 399 men, 28 had died of syphilis, 100 were dead of related complications, 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 of their children were born with congenital syphilis...

"In 1966 Peter Buxtun, a PHS venereal-disease investigator in San Francisco, sent a letter to the national director of the Division of Venereal Diseases to express his concerns about the ethics and morality of the extended Tuskegee Study. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), which by then controlled the study, reaffirmed the need to continue the study until completion; i.e., until all subjects had died and been autopsied. To bolster its position, the CDC sought, and gained support for the continuation of the study, from local chapters of the National Medical Association (representing African-American physicians) and the American Medical Association (AMA)." (Wikipedia - Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment)

Let's not forget that these men were enrolled by the The Public Health Service in collaboration with the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. That's right, academia.

Now, things are a little different today. No, it's not that the CDC is no longer capable of committing murder and fraud. It's that they now control the media, so that if Peter Bruxton had spoken out today, as William Thompson did, the CDC and their cronies would have called for a media blackout while doing damage control over any leaks, so they could continue their experiment. THAT IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BE STUDYING.

You last line, that you believe that vaccination should be voluntary. If there is not a free flow of information, and if credentialed experts are treating the public with vaccines as the Tuskegee medical staff "treated" their subjects, where would people get their information from? Certainly not the now captured media. Certainly not the CDC. Certainly not academia. You also need to realize that it is the goal of the Pharma army led by the CDC and their PR team, Paul Offit, Dorit Reiss, Art Caplan, et al, to completely do away with informed consent for vaccines. They are currently sweeping the country with bills in state legislatures toward that end while proposing civil fines and litigation against those who choose not to fully vaccinate strictly according to the CDC's schedule, cradle to grave. They are literally attempting to criminalize illness to prevent, not illness, but vaccine refusal. THAT IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BE STUDYING.

I recommend you listen to the lectures at:

Angus Files

Dr Venkatraman

Very good, you have my sympathy,you write with an air of desperation and wishful thinking....all your papers you write remember we always have an open door, if you wish to retract them, and we do operate a forgive policy, nobody on here believes them anyway, do your self a favour ease your burden...

We fight on.


Jenny Allan

"Something that most of you seem to have overloooked - We were writing for a scientific publication. Therefore, we took the scientific consensus as axiomatic, and analyzed anti-vaccine opinion from the viewpoint of a consensus-supporting scientist."

All a bit 'semantic', but as someone who has suffered more than most from establishment 'word spinning', I would like to repeat what I believe to be the 'crux' of Dr A Venkatraman's stance, via his response. As he states, he has:-

'analyzed anti-vaccine opinion from the viewpoint of a consensus-supporting scientist."

In other words, he has reached his conclusions in advance of his analyses.

I will leave the rest of you to protest about his other, completely unscientific, statements:-

"most of you seem to have overloooked - We were writing for a scientific publication." (Very insulting comment, which implies only HIS stance is 'scientific' and the rest of us are unqualified numpties!!)

"If you anti-vaccine activists gain power and become the establishment of tomorrow, you will in all likelihood use the same techniques that the establishment of today uses to quell dissent." (Perhaps Dr V has a crystal ball and can foresee the future. I object to us all being blanket referred to as "anti-vaccine activists". )


A Venkatraman: I live in a tiny studio and don't even own a car.

I would think trying to gain cred with us by suggesting he's practically a 'pauper' is unbecoming of a researcher.


@Anand Venkstraman
You say that you believe vaccination should be a choice. Do you agree also that parents should be able to send their kids to school unvaccinated?

John Stone

Dr Venkatraman

I have only time for a short answer.

No, I don't think that is the way that public debates are properly conducted. I don't think anyone here has any fear of discussing vaccine safety on a level playing field (which you are trying to tilt). Nor is there in fact any scientific consensus that vaccines or their ingredients are safe as a class (as opposed to industries and institutions covering their backs). If they were tested and monitored properly it would be a whole different story (they are only, after all, industrial products). But what is happening is that the evidence base is being skewed by people like you. You may want to shut up dissent but actually most of the dissent is coming from people who vaccinated and it went wrong. If you bolster the hostility towards people reporting the bad effects of a class of products, and try and exclude them from the public arena then you are faking the evidence as well as behaving in an oppressive and unpleasant way. People can be influenced not to say anything en masse - other people can be leant on or paid not to report dissent, or to mock it - but what you have in the end is not science but very effective institutional and social suppression of evidence.

But 'Every Good Boy Deserves Favour'.

John Stone, UK Editor, Age of Autism

A Venkatraman

Hello friends, this is the author Dr Venkatraman here.

I would like to make clear that our intention with this paper was to focus on the impact of the breakdown of traditional systems of credentialism on public communication. We are rapidly moving towards an open society that has no absolute standard for "truth". In the past, for instance, pronouncements issued from academia served this purpose. But now, "experts" don't carry the same cachet they used to.

We are interested in the nature of medical communication in the postmodern internet era. This is also what we have investigated in our other papers. (The vast majority of the high-impact papers under my name are actually by a different person, albeit one with the same name. My research productivity is nowhere near 18 papers in 3 years)

Something that most of you seem to have overloooked - We were writing for a scientific publication. Therefore, we took the scientific consensus as axiomatic, and analyzed anti-vaccine opinion from the viewpoint of a consensus-supporting scientist. If our article were being submitted to this blog, we might have done it in the exact opposite manner.

Put another way, the point was to analyze how hierarchies and credentialism create a standard "truth", and how insurgent groups (such as you) try to neutralize that standard truth and replace it with their own version. If you anti-vaccine activists gain power and become the establishment of tomorrow, you will in all likelihood use the same techniques that the establishment of today uses to quell dissent.

I'm not funded by any big bad corporates, for God's sake. Heck, I live in a tiny studio and don't even own a car. I just stumbled on this blog because I like to Google myself to see if anyone noticed my work.
And personally speaking, if you don't want to get vaccinated, that should be your choice.

John Stone

You wonder whether as a neurologist Dr Venkatraman finds it useful to take patient histories or does he just disregard them as anecdotal?

John Stone

It does not help that when you get an abstract on Pubmed it is perilously hard to find out important information about where the paper is coming from, who may be funding it etc. From a little rummaging it turns out that this guy is an MD neurologist post-graduate resident at the University of Alabama (Class of 2017), Medical School: All India Institute of Medical Sciences, India:

John Stone

I found this further quote from Anand Venkatraman making his intentions more explicit. An immediate critique of this suggests that he is himself indulging in ad hominem: any viewpoint contrary to what he believes is unscientific. A major issue here is that vaccination is practiced on people and it is what happens after to those people which "official science" mostly does not want to know about. Secondly, you can latch on to any immoderate statement made by vaccine critics and tar everyone with same views or arguments, but there are plenty of arguments produced here and elsewhere which deserve to be addressed head on and not suppression.

Anand Venkatraman (03/05/2015)

1- Autism and the Anti-vaccine movement As you are aware, there are fears of a resurgence of measles and other vaccine preventable illnesses across the developed world, due to parental reluctance to vaccinate their children. Fears of vaccine-induced autism are the single most important component of the message that vaccine opponents propagate, although no scientific evidence for such a link exists. 2- Free, anonymous speech on the internet Recently, several news websites have been debating about how much freedom is to be offered on their article comment threads. It has been noted that absolute comment freedom, combined with anonymity, usually lead to hijacking of the thread by extreme viewpoints. Largely, these concerns have been driven by the emergence of "Web 2.0" websites, which are more interactive and user-generated. Our article This is the first scientific publication addressing the confluence of the above two issues. Methods: We studied material on vaccines and autism on four websites - YouTube, Google, Wikipedia and PubMed. The freedom of speech for lay users, i.e their ability to add material, and have it remain on the website to be seen by future users, is highest for YouTube, and progressively decreases for the other three. Findings: We found that websites which allow greater freedom of speech have a preponderance of views linking vaccines to autism. We also found that anti-vaccine activists use a blend of both personalized and scientific-sounding appeals to gain traction. Conclusion: Free speech for laypersons, in the absence of moderation, can result in anti-scientific views and conspiracy theories drowning out other voices. We feel that an open but moderated arena offers the best balance between openness and veracity. Wikipedia is an example, as also are moderated comment threads on several news websites. It is likely that this trend exists even for other controversial issues where viewpoints against the scientific consensus have dense nuclei of support among the public.


Godfrey states that he is seeing AS' comment form. That is weird since I am still having no such luck, even using different devices. Could anyone else confirm if they are having the same problem. Thanks.

Godfrey Wyl


"Wondering who funded the project, as always."

I stopped by the library today and downloaded a copy; the work appears to have been self-funded, in that it contains no funding statement, conflict-of-interest statement, or acknowledgments. This seems consonant with its brevity and--I would say--technological naivete.

It did not occur to me to check the other, similar papers by the same authors. It further appears that "Brief Reports" consolidate or omit the two former sections when none are declared:


"On another note, any idea why Autism Speaks' site no longer provides readers' comments?"

I can see the comments without problem. They are using Disqus. The comments are infrequent, but the posts which I followed all had a comment form.

Angus Files

"He who places head in sand, will get kicked in the end!"



@Katie Wright

On another note, any idea why Autism Speaks' site no longer provides readers' comments? I am missing the chance to offer 'constructive criticisms'. Is it due to non-nefarious reasons, or censorship?


Katie Wright

OK we have got it! Autism is caused by the First Amendment!!!


Thank you both Godfrey Wyl for such an important correction, and John Stone for your input - much appreciated!

Jeannette Bishop[Author]

Seems like the group has more than once identified what attracts viewers (mostly on YouTube) most effectively as "misleading" information.

Angus Files

"Online communities with greater freedom of speech lead to a dominance of anti-vaccine voices. Moderation of content by editors can offer balance between free expression and factual accuracy. Health communicators and medical institutions need to step up their activity on the Internet."

One desperate worried author above...

Is AOA the new next terrorist cell to be targeted now they have Saddam, Osama, Gaddafi ousted..


John Stone

Probably not particularly unusual for one researcher to contribute to 20 publications over a 42 month period - if it is the same Venkatraman A throughout (which apparently it is not).

Baron-Cohen S has co-authored 114 pubmed listed articles since the beginning of 2012 (not to mention solely authoring two books), God help us!

Godfrey Wyl

"Way back when, in November 2012, he did publish one that caught my eye"

That author is Aparna Venkatraman of India, not Anand Venkatraman of the University of Alabama.


Wondering who funded the project, as always. I clicked on the first author - he's a busy boy. 20 pubmed articles in the course of about 3 1/2 years. Is that normal, does anyone know?
How many projects can one researcher legitamately float at a time? I'm not sure why the idea of pay to sign jumps in my head when I see those kinds of numbers, but I'm not in that field.

Way back when, in November 2012, he did publish one that caught my eye:

"Mitochondrial electron transport chain complex disfunction in the colonic mucosa in ulcerative colitis."
wit conclusion that "Reduction in Complex II activity appears to be a specific change in UC, present in quiescent and active disease. Mitochondrial complex dysfunction occurs in DSS colitis in mice and appears to be mediated by nitric oxide."

In the results, it's stated:
Complex II activity was equally decreased in diseased and normal mucosa in UC; the degree of reduction did not correlate with clinical, endoscopic, or histological grading of disease activity. In DSS-fed mice, a reduction in activity of Complex IV and Complex II was observed. Activity of other complex was not affected. Administration of aminoguanidine, an inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) inhibitor, attenuated all parameters of colitis as well as the reductions in Complex IV and Complex II activity.

To me, that would appear to mean that visually assessing the lining of the colon with a scope camera, or a microscope sample of tissue wouldn't necessarily show whether the cells lining the colon are working right. They can appear fine, but still be failing to work properly due to a mitochondrial problem. Oh, and he appears to be showing a working solution to attenuate the problem. What is this iNOS? Per wikipedia (quick, take a screen shot)

"Nitric oxide synthases (EC (NOSs) are a family of enzymescatalyzing the production of nitric oxide (NO) from L-arginine. NO is an important cellular signaling molecule. It helps modulate vascular tone, insulinsecretion, airway tone, and peristalsis, and is involved in angiogenesis and neural development. It may function as a retrograde neurotransmitter. Nitric oxide is mediated in mammals by the calcium-calmodulin controlledisoenzymes eNOS (endothelial NOS) and nNOS (neuronal NOS). The inducible isoform, iNOS, is involved in immune response, binds calmodulin at physiologically relevant concentrations, and produces NO as an immune defense mechanism, as NO is a free radical with an unpaired electron. It is the proximate cause of septic shock and may function in autoimmunedisease."

Wow! How many words do we all know in that one paragraph? Could still add to it, though - Vitamin D3 induces nitric oxide synthase, doesn't it? How is it tied to oxygen levels in the brain and body?

Anyone, knocking a researcher off the public esteem pedestal might be only one way to skin a cat. I bet there are quite a few researchers out there who have been offered all sorts of interesting new lines of funding for topics that would be much more "worthwhile" to the funders-that-be, as opposed to wasting one's time chasing the mito trail . . .

John Stone

The only way to deal with the truth in the end is state and institutional repression.

Jeannette Bishop

So they feel they can demonize "free speech" in the realm of "science" with the autism health disaster as motivation? Can't those who consider themselves part of the "scientific" community begin to square themselves with how low things have been allowed to go?

But you(Google)Tube is hardly a domain free of censorship and I'd be surprised if PubMed spends more resources censoring (maybe because the research institutions do a lot of that starting with funding) than youTube and Wikipedia do. I think some of the intermediary claims of this "study" are suspect.

Are they hoping youTube/Google will change, driving away more users to other services, or are they just hoping to keep the "scientific" community more comfortable with their see no, hear no, speak no monkeys environment because they can say derogatorily they don't get their info off of youTube!?


Here's an interesting study that I would like to see done:

How many doctors that read this trash in Vaccines would see it for what it is?


They get special legal impunity for their products. They ask for mandates to violate liberties and force their products on those who are wary of them. Now they are calling for censorship to prevent others from speaking out, or cautioning, against their products. With each passing day, vaccination is proving to be the greatest affront to civilized values.


Makes you just as mad as can be. Mothers, parents speaking out and they suggest that Pharma and medical big money - hire people and programs to shut them down.

Well they have done that already -- I have seen them as these strange commenters are on the internet 24/7 - well just ask Twyla - John Stone, and CIA - just to name a few!!

Bob Moffitt

"Anti-vaccine activists use scientific arguments, certified physicians and official-sounding titles to gain credibility, while also leaning on celebrity endorsement and personalized stories."

How dare those damn "anti-vaccine activists" use "scientific arguments, certified physicians and official sounding titles .. while leaning on celebrity endorsements"!
Oh well, pro-vaccine "activists" can console themselves .. they have their own "scientific arguments and celebrity endorsements" .. as evidenced by former Sec of State Hillary Clinton's "tweet":

"The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let's protect all our kids.

How's THAT for "scientific argument and celebrity endorsement" that should end all further discussion on the subject?

Who is William Thompson ?

Thats why they are planning to lock the internet down .
So the "killing" can continue ;

Google & FaecesBook are already totally on board with the program

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