Had Olmsted Been Right About Measles Vaccine, He’d Still be Wrong
May 28, 2015


Like many other scientists and vaccine advocates, Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH strongly believes that if parents are to decide whether or not they should vaccinate their children, than they should base their decisions on scholarly articles that represent well-grounded, solid science.  However, as a retired epidemiologist, Dr. Harrison is committed to helping people make these important decisions by providing in-depth and expert analysis of articles which make false claims about the safety of vaccines.

In his fourth article in the Every Child By Two Expert Commentary series, Dr. Harrison exposes Age of Autism founder, owner and chief editor, Dan Olmsted, for dangerously misinforming people.  Dr. Harrison’s latest paper, Wrong About Measles, Cancer & Autism: A Review of Dan Olmsted’s Article “Weekly Wrap: Measles, Cancer, Autoimmunity, Autism”, critiques an article by Olmsted that claims measles vaccination is tied to a higher incidence of cancer.

Olmsted wrote an article called “Weekly Wrap: Measles, Cancer, Autoimmunity, Autism” which claimed that a recent study used a measles vaccine to treat multiple myeloma. He went on to speculate that measles may have had a preventative effect on cancer and that vaccinations led to increasing rates of cancer.  He even goes as far as to claim “wild-type measles . . . performs some unsuspected function in preventing the occurrence of cancer.”

In this fourth submission to the Every Child By Two Expert Commentary series, Dr. Harrison exposes the many deficiencies in Olmsted’s article, which appears to have based on two newspaper accounts of the research.  Dr. Harrison is quick to clarify that a measles vaccine was not used in the stated study.  Instead, a genetically engineered measles virus strain was designed to specifically target cancer cells.  Olmsted thereby fails to recognize that the measles virus had been modified and not the measles vaccine, which raises question as to whether he read and/or understood the study in the first place.  What’s unsettling is that both the newspaper articles that Olmsted references in his article are clear on that detail.

It is therefore not difficult for Dr. Harrison to conclude that Olmsted starts off with an inaccurate premise about the use of a measles vaccine in treating multiple myeloma.  However, even if he had been right about the use of a vaccine, he would have still been wrong about the implications he drew from it. 

Unlike Olmsted, Dr. Harrison backs his claims with multiple references to credible scientific articles, thereby demonstrating the difference between a scholarly scientific review of what is known, and the deficient cherry-picking confirmation bias approach that Olmsted relies on to frighten and misinform concerned parents.  Dr. Harrison is intentionally overly thorough in his refutations so that people can use various sections as stand-alone commentary when refuting similar claims made by others arguing against the benefit of vaccines.  He systematically addresses twelve specific points raised by Olmsted and quotes as many as 10 different articles in the measles section to clearly debunk the claims that measles is a benign condition.

At one point, Dr. Harrison quotes Neil deGrasse from the TV series Cosmos when stating, “Believing something doesn’t make it so.” 

We are grateful to experts like Dr. Harrison who continue to refute anti-vaccine claims with such rigor.  They help us to understand the difference between evidence and beliefs, and they serve as an excellent resource to those looking to gain a better understanding of the science behind vaccines.

Click here to begin reading Dr. Harrison’s latest article, Wrong About Measles, Cancer & Autism: A Review of Dan Olmsted’s Article “Weekly Wrap: Measles, Cancer, Autoimmunity, Autism” and here to read his complete biography and mission statement

Dr. Harrison has previously provided commentary on articles written by other Age of Autism editors.  Both of those critiques, as well as a review of Andrew Wakefield’s “Callous Disregard”, are available in Every Child by Two’s Expert Commentary series here:

Please consider subscribing to Shot of Prevention so you can receive notification when Dr. Harrison posts future articles in the Every Child By Two Expert Commentary series.

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