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Is Science Bullsh*t?

It’s a good question.  So often we hear scientific claims about everything from the health benefits of coffee, eggs and wine, to the cancer causing effects of coffee, eggs and wine.   The point is that not all studies are good ones and the media tends to oversimplify scientific findings in an effort to create catchy headlines and viral content.

As John Oliver explains in his latest episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, there is a seemingly endless barrage of data being thrown at the public and plenty of BS masquerading as science.  In his latest entertaining and informative segment on scientific studies, the satirical commentator made some critical points.

 

 

There have been several articles which have reviewed Oliver’s comments, including “How To Spot A Scientific Study That Isn’t Terrible” by UproxxJohn Oliver teaches us how to interpret medical and scientific studies at Respectful Insolence and “John Oliver explains why so much ‘science’ you read about is bogus” in the Speaking of Science section of The Washington Post.  This last article detailed four notable points Oliver raised.

1. A single study means basically nothing.

For science to point us in the direction of truth, scientific claims should be supported by duplicate evidence.  This has been one of the many reasons Andrew Wakefield’s claims that vaccines cause autism  have been dismissed by the scientific community.  His single study was unable to be duplicated.  Meanwhile, dozens of other studies conducted around the world have indicated that there is no connection between vaccines and autism.

2. Statistics can be very misleading.  They can even lie.

Oliver explains that good studies use large sample sizes over long periods of time.  (Again, this was another flaw in Wakefield’s study which was limited to an extremely small sample size and the fraudulent and unethical methods that were discovered in the way he collected his data.) Oliver takes the time to review the significance of p-value and explains how scientists are able to manipulate their sample sizes and data analysis to be able to extract desirable data points that can inspire media attention and clever headlines.

3. The system isn’t set up to support good science.

Oliver reminds us that replication studies don’t happen as often as they should.  The Washington Post article recapped Oliver’s comments best when stating “Reproducing someone else’s work, while incredibly important, isn’t splashy or exciting. And these days, scientists know that making a splash in the media is almost as important as getting studies published in the first place. That means that reproduction falls by the wayside in favor of novel ideas. We love novel ideas, but they’re not particularly useful until other scientists copy them.

4. The media is partly to blame for the public being largely misinformed.

A key element in Oliver’s discussion involves the role of the media.  He provides hilarious examples of mainstream news media outlets attempting to communicate science to the public.  In doing so, he is able to emphasize how and why the media outlets so often get it wrong – reporting untrue or incomplete information as science.

Throughout the segment, Oliver admits that science is imperfect.  Yet, he cautions us not to oversimplify things.  In conclusion, he argues that strong scientific studies require proper sourcing, solid content and the validity that comes with replication.  

If you’re interested in learning more about how to properly evaluate scientific information and studies, check out the following resources:  

Vaccine Science: Evaluating Scientific Information and Studies (published on The Vaccine Education Center website)

Journal articles

Policy: Twenty tips for analyzing claims of a scientific study – Sutherland WJ, Spiegelhalter D, Burgman M. Nature. 2013 Nov 21;503(7476):335-7.

Internet

Good information practices for vaccine safety web sites – World Health Organization’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety – (WHO)

Causality assessment of adverse events following immunization – WHO

What is a good study?: Guidelines for evaluating scientific studies – Science-based life blog

Books

• Nibbling on Einstein’s Brain: The Good, The Bad & The Bogus in Science by Diane Swanson

• Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future by Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum

If you’re interested in learning more about the vaccines and reading the latest scientific studies related to immunizations, visit the Research Section of The Vaccinate Your Family website.

  1. David M.
    May 11, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    Like pretending that 85% of the time a Pertussis infection comes from a member of the family. Should you endorse statistics that clearly lie when they support your case?

    Like

  2. Chris
    May 11, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    David, only after you post the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers that show the real numbers. Now remember, if you have read the above article, it has to be from more than one study, and that the statistics must be done properly.

    This is assuming you read the above article, and article that did not even mention pertussis.

    Like

  3. David M.
    May 11, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Chris, anyone who has read Christine Vara’s articles regarding Pertussis knows about the statistic that I’m referring to. This article talks about how “Statistics can be very misleading. They can even lie.” My comment about Christine Vara knowingly publishing a statistic on multiple occasions that distorts the truth and lies is completely in line with this article. By referring to this statistic I am merely doing as Oliver did and emphasizing “how and why the media outlets so often get it wrong – reporting untrue or incomplete information as science.”

    Back to the discussion question though: Should you endorse statistics that clearly lie when they support your case?

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  4. Chris
    May 11, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    I don’t care what Ms. Vara wrote. If you believe the statistics say otherwise then just post the PubMed indexed studies that support your claim.

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  5. David M.
    May 11, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Chris, if you do not care what Ms. Vara wrote then you do not need to engage me in a discussion. I’m discussing what Ms. Vara wrote.

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  6. Jake Man
    May 11, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Agreed, numbers can always be manipulated in any way that benefits your view. If not, you can always just keep eliminating factors of the study until you get the result you want. #whistleblower

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  7. Chris
    May 11, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Still, you are making a claim that is counter to this study. You should make the science and statistics more robust by providing the studies that supports your claim, and shows that it is not a reliable study.

    Like

  8. soubanh
    May 11, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Speaking for myself, the best formula I used to determined if any study is telling some truth, all the truth or flat out lie is to use my God given common sense(which by the way is no longer common) and ask who is behind the study? another word….Follow the Money! This science formula have never lie or fail me. For example, as a natural bodybuilder, I get asked often by people that wants to get ripped and wanted to know about new formula drinks, protein, whey etc. and 99% of those are garbage but their ads will say bigger,faster results base on whatever they think you want to hear so you want to believe and buy. My common sense tells me in the Vaccines and the science behind most of their studies can be trace back to the maker/supporter of the vaccines and I promise you won’t find them publishing the negative results to you just like the bodybuilding world. Sorry to say but truth is truth and lies are lies no matter how you want to spin it. Just remember this statement….”There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true”. Unfortunately we are all victims of this madness of big pharma and government corruption. If you don’t believe this statement that you my friend are fooled twice.

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  9. David M
    May 11, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    The study needs no counter study and I don’t believe you read it and understood it if you believe that 85% of Pertussis cases come from family. The 85% advertisement is exactly what John Oliver was making fun of.

    From the Study: “SOI was collected during patient interview and was defined as a suspected pertussis case in contact with the infant case 7 to 20 days before infant cough onset.”

    Meaning: An infected person or parent thought someone else might have had Pertussis.

    From the Study: “A total of 1306 infant cases were identified; 24.2% were <2 months old. An SOI was identified for 569 cases."

    Meaning: They eliminated the majority of the cases from the study (737 cases) because the person or parent didn't suspect anyone that they knew had Pertussis. It is extremely improbably that even a handful of those 737 cases were family members.

    From the Study: "In contrast to previous studies, our data suggest that the most common source of transmission to infants is now siblings."

    They already admit there are other studies. But, in there study 737 cases had virtually no chance at all of being family members but they arrive at this conclusion. Beyond this study being abhorrent, the GSK pharmaceutical companies blatant and repulsive manipulation of these statistics to promote a fear campaign is cringe-worthy.

    Back to the discussion question: Should you endorse statistics that clearly lie when they support your case?

    Like

  10. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
    May 12, 2016 at 11:00 am

    @David M and @soubanh

    David M, you write:

    From the Study: “In contrast to previous studies, our data suggest that the most common source of transmission to infants is now siblings. . . They already admit there are other studies. But, in there [sic] study 737 cases had virtually no chance at all of being family members but they arrive at this conclusion.”

    You draw a conclusion that is totally unwarranted, that “737 cases had virtually no chance at all of being family members.”

    If you actually read the study, the authors write: “Potential sources who were asymptomatic or had mild illness without cough may have also been missed in our study as we relied solely on parent report without laboratory testing of household members or other infant contacts.”

    [Skoff et al. (2015 Oct). Sources of Infant Pertussis Infection in the United States. Pediatrics, Vol. 136 No. 4, pp. 635- 641, Available at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2015/09/01/peds.2015-1120

    And given the incubation time for pertussis, if family members were not the source of the infant’s infection, given that small infants spend most of their time at home, who was the source? Pertussis is an airborne infection. Do you suppose that someone coughed across the street and infected the infant? Also, even if we use the total of 1306 identified infant cases, their study found 29% of cases that could be attributed to an immediate family member, that is, not including asymptomatic or mild illness (0.66 * 569)/1306). So, 29% would represent a lower boundary. I consider that an important finding. In addition, you call attention to their admitting other studies, so, did you bother to check out any of the other studies. I found all the studies in their reference list and then, in a search of PubMed, found a few more. As the authors wrote: “Consistent with previous studies, our analysis of 8 years of enhanced surveillance data identified an SOI for less than half of reported infant pertussis cases, with a similar proportion of sources identified as family members.” That is, I found 11 peer-reviewed journal articles going back to 1983 that found family members as the cause of a significant percentage of pertussis cases in small infants. And the previous studies also identified less SOI for less than half of reported cases. So, what we have are 12 peer-reviewed studies, not a single study.

    So, apparently, you didn’t understand when Christine wrote: “1. A single study means basically nothing.” The authors of the study make it quite clear the limitations of their study and also that it confirms findings from numerous previous studies.

    Whether additional studies find near household members responsible for 29%, 85% or something in between, pertussis is a serious infection in infants and this study simply contributed additional information. However, given that family members, due to previous vaccinations and/or exposure to pertussis, would likely be asymptomatic or have mild cases, I would venture an educated guess, based on the previous studies and other readings, that the actual number would be much higher than 29%.

    @soubanh

    You write: “Speaking for myself, the best formula I used to determined if any study is telling some truth, all the truth or flat out lie is to use my God given common sense(which by the way is no longer common) and ask who is behind the study? another word….Follow the Money!”

    First, as anyone who understands science and the history of science is aware of, common sense just as often results in beliefs that are the opposite of scientific findings. As for “follow the money.” If one only were relying on the clinical trials by pharmaceutical companies to get FDA approval, you might have a point; but just barely. However, studies on vaccine effectiveness and safety are carried out all over the world, in many different countries, in different health care systems, different economies, different cultures, and by different researchers on different populations. And vaccines are, in the US, the most regulated product just because they are given to healthy infants. The requirements for getting approved by the FDA are much higher than for any other product. They are actually better regulated and monitored than even our food supply. And, yes, pharmaceutical companies do make a profit on vaccines, albeit much smaller than on other drugs because of the higher costs and difficulties of their being manufactured and passing FDA requirements and because a high percentage are purchased by various governments and non-profits who have negotiated prices. Do you really expect the companies to not make any profit? They make profits on antibiotics, insulin, and everything else they sell, so do you refuse to use any product that they or, for that matter, any company makes a profit on? Enjoy your vegetable garden.

    Or, perhaps you believe that just about every country and every vaccine researcher that supports the effectiveness and relative safety of vaccines (relative meaning compared to the risks from the actual diseases) are all part of some vast conspiracy. Since almost all who I know made sure their own children were vaccinated, then they must also be willing to sacrifice their own children in furtherance of the conspiracy. I enjoy reading history and the history of beliefs in conspiracies and even actual conspiracies; but have not found any where the participants were willing to sacrifice their own loved ones. I’m sure somewhere one or two such do exist?

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  11. Jake Man
    May 12, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Joel, if we were to believe what you are saying it would mean that pharma companies have never been busted for doing anything illegal, like pushing drugs they knew were harmful, etc etc etc. Obviously, history tells us otherwise. So tell my why should we trust big pharma to do the right thing and take care of us?

    Like

  12. Chris
    May 12, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Jake Man, why should we trust you, and your friends? None of you have come up with a better way to protect children from diseases.

    Like

  13. Jake Man
    May 12, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    Chris, I didn’t ask you to trust me and I have never given you any advice.

    Like

  14. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
    May 12, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    @ Jake Man

    You write: “if we were to believe what you are saying it would mean that pharma companies have never been busted for doing anything illegal, like pushing drugs they knew were harmful, etc etc etc. Obviously, history tells us otherwise. So tell my why should we trust big pharma to do the right thing and take care of us?

    First, you missed that I wrote: “If one only were relying on the clinical trials by pharmaceutical companies to get FDA approval, you might have a point.”

    I am quite aware that there have been numerous drugs that have been approved by the FDA because pharmaceutical companies have cherry-picked data and even got the first FDA officer assigned to the drug who recommended it not be approved removed because of some member of Congress fronting for the industry. But as I clearly explained, I don’t rely on the drug companies; but the sum total of research and also the much higher requirements for vaccines. And, if you totally don’t trust “big pharma” then I guess you would refuse antibiotics regardless of how serious an infection you had or insulin if you were diabetic or . . .

    I have been a long time member of an organization, Public Citizen, founded over 30 years ago by Ralph Nader. One division, the Health Research Group, directed by Dr. Sidney Wolfe until his recent retirement, recommends not using a new drug until it has been on the market for seven years, time enough for additional, non-pharmaceutical company funded studies to be done as well as reports on adverse events. However, if there is NO other drug and you have a serious condition, you have to take the risk. Ben Goldacre is one of the most critical people around of the drug industry and, yet, a strong supporter of vaccines. I agree with Goldacre.

    So, you question: “why should we trust big pharma to do the right thing and take care of us?” totally misses the point. I don’t trust them; but, at the same time, they do develop drugs that do benefit us. I don’t trust them; but I don’t NOT trust them. I look at the total of studies as well as the mechanisms involved in the drugs coursing through our bodies.

    So, once more, try reading what Christine wrote, starting with: “1. A single study means basically nothing.”

    Also, follow some of her hyperlinks to good articles. Unfortunately, the hyperlink to the WHO articles on Vaccine Safety didn’t work for me; but I don’t give up easily, so I simply typed in the titles in Google and found them quite easily.

    Like

  15. David M.
    May 12, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Dr. Harrison,

    First, I’m pleased to hear a post from an expert in the epidemiology field such as yourself and I appreciate the privilege of having the opportunity to hear your thoughts.
    I have read the entire study. I’m in the preliminary stages of studying Pertussis at the graduate level. I started studying this time last year. I am not stagnant in my views and I am always open to hearing scientific recourse and refining my views when the evidence leads me there.

    You quoted me as saying that the 737 cases had virtually no chance at all of being family members. You said that my conclusion was “unwarranted.” Then, you followed it with a quote from the study, “we relied solely on parent report without laboratory testing of household members or other infant contacts.”

    Reading between the lines, this means that the parent would have had to be unaware that someone in their own household or another close family member to them was infected with Pertussis. Because, otherwise they would have said that “so and so had a cough and that could have had pertussis,” and then the person would have been kept in the minority of the study that they did not choose to eliminate to produce the desired statistic.
    The incubation period is 1 to 2 weeks and the Pertussis bacteria is not classified as airborne, it is transmitted via droplets (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK7813/). There is a difference between airborne and droplet classification and health centers even have different safety control measures for the two distinct categories. In a controlled study, Pertussis bacteria were found as far as 4 meters away from the infected patient’s hospital bed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9872529).

    You wrote that small infants spend most of their time at home. I know some parents who decide to keep their infant at home, and I know some who don’t. Can you corroborate this statement? What does small infants mean? How many stay home and how many don’t? My daughter was born last year and she has been out to so many places with us and we see small infants outside of the home practically every time we go out.

    I appreciate that you considered the lower boundary of 29%, it is significant. If the researchers and GSK felt that way, they may not have chosen to exaggerate the findings to such a dramatic extent. Unfortunately, the researchers drew a completely unwarranted statement in their conclusion summary by saying, “In contrast to previous studies, our data suggest that the most common source of transmission to infants is now siblings.”
    The conclusion is weak and surmised from inadequate data. The giant 85% utilized for GSK’s fear campaign is exactly the type of stuff The most common source transmission for the majority of infections appears to be strangers that were not able to be identified by the parent or infected person. You said that “it confirms findings from numerous previous studies.” That is not true, they said that it is in contrast to previous studies, as stated before.

    You and I can have a casual conversation and imagine where we think the percentage might actually be. It doesn’t change that the researchers overextended their scientific findings and that GSK’s advertisement is purposely manipulated to promote the sale of their vaccine by inducing fear in families that if everyone doesn’t use their product they are a danger to their families. The fear campaign does not reflect the actual significance of these research findings or the overall lack of evidence that show cocooning works for aP vaccinations at all.

    Personally, I think that the percentage of Pertussis asymptomatic carriers is on the rise due to public health initiatives to cocoon using an aP vaccination. Warfel, when he worked for the FDA, did a study in primates, >96% similar to humans showed that aP vaccination subdued symptoms but did not prevent the colonization and transmission of pertussis (http://www.pnas.org/content/111/2/787.full). It’s worth noting that this isn’t a typical “monkey” study, two years prior he improved the model from resus macaques to baboons (http://iai.asm.org/content/80/4/1530.full). Then, in August 2015, the World Health Organization published their position paper on Pertussis and stated that, “it is plausible that in humans, as in nonhuman primates, asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic infections in DTaP-immunized persons may result in the transmission of B. pertussis to others and may drive pertussis outbreaks” (http://www.who.int/wer/2015/wer9035.pdf?ua=1).

    I appreciate that you want to fight misinformation and poor scholarship. I hope that you will not limit your scope to just people against any particular vaccination and that you will hold those who support your stance to the same scrutiny and accountability for their misinformation and poor scholarship. We are not going to make progress by allowing misinformation to muddy the waters of science, whether it is for or against us. That is the purpose of my discussion question that I keep asking:

    Should you endorse statistics that clearly lie when they support your case?

    Like

  16. David M.
    May 12, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    (Sorry to change emails to post, but someone is blocking me from posting comments using my other email addresses. I am not sure why they are blocking me.)

    Dr. Harrison,

    First, I’m pleased to hear a post from an expert in the epidemiology field such as yourself and I appreciate the privilege of having the opportunity to hear your thoughts.
    I have read the entire study. I’m in the preliminary stages of studying Pertussis at the graduate level. I started studying this time last year. I am not stagnant in my views and I am always open to hearing scientific recourse and refining my views when the evidence leads me there.

    You quoted me as saying that the 737 cases had virtually no chance at all of being family members. You said that my conclusion was “unwarranted.” Then, you followed it with a quote from the study, “we relied solely on parent report without laboratory testing of household members or other infant contacts.”

    Reading between the lines, this means that the parent would have had to be unaware that someone in their own household or another close family member to them was infected with Pertussis. Because, otherwise they would have said that “so and so had a cough and that could have had pertussis,” and then the person would have been kept in the minority of the study that they did not choose to eliminate to produce the desired statistic.
    The incubation period is 1 to 2 weeks and the Pertussis bacteria is not classified as airborne, it is transmitted via droplets (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK7813/). There is a difference between airborne and droplet classification and health centers even have different safety control measures for the two distinct categories. In a controlled study, Pertussis bacteria were found as far as 4 meters away from the infected patient’s hospital bed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9872529).

    You wrote that small infants spend most of their time at home. I know some parents who decide to keep their infant at home, and I know some who don’t. Can you corroborate this statement? What does small infants mean? How many stay home and how many don’t? My daughter was born last year and she has been out to so many places with us and we see small infants outside of the home practically every time we go out.

    I appreciate that you considered the lower boundary of 29%, it is significant. If the researchers and GSK felt that way, they may not have chosen to exaggerate the findings to such a dramatic extent. Unfortunately, the researchers drew a completely unwarranted statement in their conclusion summary by saying, “In contrast to previous studies, our data suggest that the most common source of transmission to infants is now siblings.”
    The conclusion is weak and surmised from inadequate data. The giant 85% utilized for GSK’s fear campaign is exactly the type of stuff The most common source transmission for the majority of infections appears to be strangers that were not able to be identified by the parent or infected person. You said that “it confirms findings from numerous previous studies.” That is not true, they said that it is in contrast to previous studies, as stated before.

    Like

  17. David M.
    May 12, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    (My mistake, I was not blocked this time. I just wrote too long of a post. Now I know.)

    You and I can have a casual conversation and imagine where we think the percentage might actually be. It doesn’t change that the researchers overextended their scientific findings and that GSK’s advertisement is purposely manipulated to promote the sale of their vaccine by inducing fear in families that if everyone doesn’t use their product they are a danger to their families. The fear campaign does not reflect the actual significance of these research findings or the overall lack of evidence that show cocooning works for aP vaccinations at all.

    Personally, I think that the percentage of Pertussis asymptomatic carriers is on the rise due to public health initiatives to cocoon using an aP vaccination. Warfel, when he worked for the FDA, did a study in primates, >96% similar to humans showed that aP vaccination subdued symptoms but did not prevent the colonization and transmission of pertussis (http://www.pnas.org/content/111/2/787.full). It’s worth noting that this isn’t a typical “monkey” study, two years prior he improved the model from resus macaques to baboons (http://iai.asm.org/content/80/4/1530.full). Then, in August 2015, the World Health Organization published their position paper on Pertussis and stated that, “it is plausible that in humans, as in nonhuman primates, asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic infections in DTaP-immunized persons may result in the transmission of B. pertussis to others and may drive pertussis outbreaks” (http://www.who.int/wer/2015/wer9035.pdf?ua=1).

    I appreciate that you want to fight misinformation and poor scholarship. I hope that you will not limit your scope to just people against any particular vaccination and that you will hold those who support your stance to the same scrutiny and accountability for their misinformation and poor scholarship. We are not going to make progress by allowing misinformation to muddy the waters of science, whether it is for or against us. That is the purpose of my discussion question that I keep asking:

    Should you endorse statistics that clearly lie when they support your case?

    Like

  18. David M.
    May 12, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    From the 8th paragraph (last paragraph of first comment), “The giant 85% utilized for GSK’s fear campaign is exactly the type of stuff” meant to say, The giant 85% utilized for GSK’s fear campaign is exactly the type of stuff that John Oliver was making fun of.

    Like

  19. David M.
    May 12, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Apologies about the multiple posts, I am not sure what happened there.

    Like

  20. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
    May 12, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    @ David M

    The articles about baboons you refer to clearly explain that the acellular vaccine protects against the actual full disease symptoms; but allows transmission, so, if everyone is vaccinated, few if any actually get symptomatically sick. However, since infants are too young to be vaccinated, then cocooning becomes necessary. Thirty years ago, reports of serious adverse events led to switching from the whole cell vaccine to the acellular. However, as with many new drugs, the reports were found in later studies to be exaggerated, that is, the risks of long-term sequelae were extremely small. Unfortunately, once it gets into the public’s mind that something is dangerous, it is difficult to change. If I had a small child today, I would NOT hesitate to get them the whole cell vaccine (see the WHO report you hyperlink to)

    As for the 85%, it is not certain this is wrong as they couldn’t ascertain the source of a number of infections and, as the other 11 studies found a significant number of infections “caused” by family, even if GSK had said 30% or 50% I believe this would still have gotten anyone I know to get vaccinated. In 2010 we had 10 deaths in California from pertussis. A newspaper article explained cocooning. I was long retired and hadn’t thought about it; but went to an inner city gym where mother’s brought their infants in strollers. Right after reading the article I phoned my health plan about getting a booster, was told to just go to the nursing station, so, within 2 hours of reading about it, I was vaccinated. Though the chance was extremely small of me infecting someone else’s infant, I didn’t want to take any chances. I take seriously that I am part of a community, you know, “no man is an island.” “Fear campaign”? So GSK jumped on the bandwagon; but the campaign is a public health campaign, not only in this country but in many other countries. Yes, GSK will make money on the vaccine, so what if it really reduces the risk significantly? You watch an infant turn blue from lack of oxygen, some dying, some losing vision because of a detached retina, and some becoming retarded because of bleeding in the brain and maybe you will go for anything that significantly reduces the risk. Not ends the risk; but significantly reduces it.

    Companies make money selling equipment to chlorinate drinking water and to carry out reverse osmosis. Do you begrudge them making a profit? Once more you ignore the fact that not one; but at least 12 studies found similar results and you fail to understand the baboon studies that those vaccinated may still harbor some of the bacteria; but are protected against the full-blown symptoms. One other thing, those vaccinated may have fewer and weakened bacteria; so still less threatening than someone unvaccinated and fully infectious.

    By the way, thanks for the hyperlinks to the baboon studies. I added them to my collection. I have probably up to 5,000 articles on my hard drive divided into files, e.g. type of disease, study design, etc. I always welcome additions.

    Like

  21. David M.
    May 12, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    The study that we are both referring to does not have findings that are similar to the 12 other studies according to the study itself. The first sentence in the summarized conclusion at the top of the link you posted is “In contrast to previous studies, our data suggest that the most common source of transmission to infants is now siblings.”

    WHO has publicly made the statement that “it is plausible that in humans, as in nonhuman primates, asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic infections in DTaP-immunized persons may result in the transmission of B. pertussis to others and may drive pertussis outbreaks”

    You said: “The articles about baboons you refer to clearly explain that the acellular vaccine protects against the actual full disease symptoms.”

    This first article said absolutely nothing of the kind, the research was about the infection and not the vaccination.

    The second article said “we show nonhuman primates vaccinated with aP were protected from severe symptoms.”

    I take it that you are equating the term protected against the full-blown symptoms to protected against severe symptoms. How many 20-40 year olds do you know who had a severe case of Pertussis?

    At the very least, I hope you will address how you took “In contrast” and turned into at least 12 other studies also showed significant results. It seems like you are just pivoting and pandering with data to make it support your case when it does not.

    GSK didn’t jump on the bandwagon. GSK created and funded the bandwagon, look at the bottom of that 85% statistic you see floating around. With your involvement in the foundation work since retirement (ECBT, Shot of Prevention, Vaccinate Your Family), I would be surprised if you didn’t know more about that subject than I do. Actually, I’m positive that you are aware that GSK funded the “public health initiative,” Vaccinate Your Family. The program from ECBT.

    I am respect your credentials, but I’m not naive to your bias in this discussion. It would serve our discussion better if you stuck to the facts and remained transparent.

    Like

  22. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
    May 12, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    @ David M

    The 12 studies all found that transmission was by family members, so, this study found that among the family members, siblings were higher. But it was family members and that is what I was emphasizing. Sorry I didn’t spell it out for you.

    WHO has said it is “plausible” not certain and I simply pointed out that, based on my training, that for many infectious diseases, transmission depends on several things: 1. virulence; 2. dose; 3. proximity and 4. duration of proximity. Studies show that those vaccinated have often fewer bacteria to transmit and weaker ones. This doesn’t mean they can’t be contagious; but just less so.

    Duh, full blown, severe symptoms? Nitpicking are we?

    Including the one study, I have in all 12 studies that all found significant transmissions from family members. How in your warped mind is this “pivoting and pandering?”

    GSK did NOT create the data. I am aware that ECBT has received “No Strings Attached Grants.” So what? Alcohol beverage companies give grants to organizations to persuade people not to drink, etc. Sometimes companies, whether because they really believe in something or simply need some positive publicity, do fund good things. Given that we live in one of the few nations with so little sense of community getting funding from government for anything is difficult, though ECBT has also received grants from CDC. Personally, I don’t care what the source of funding is as long as NO strings are attached if the money can be used in a manner that I support.

    My “bias” is over 40 years of reading everything about the history of infectious diseases, years of research training, and even in retirement being on WHO, Swedish, Canadian, and CDC listservs, keeping up with what is happening in infectious diseases around the world. What do you base your bias on???

    If you really want to learn something, read the articles I have written for ECBT. I devoted up to three months or more reading hundreds of papers, writing and rewriting, and getting feedback from numerous people. I wish I could skip the time devoted to really researching a topic and churn out articles in no time as many antivaccinationists do; but it goes against my grain to be so illogical, irrational, and unscientific.

    Like

  23. David M.
    May 13, 2016 at 12:07 am

    Yet, here you are unable to say that the 85% statistic is scientifically null in it’s significance. After you have done 40 years of research and commitment, I am not in a position to understand why you would place your name and reputation behind this.

    I am not opposed to vaccination. I am opposed to this grotesque misrepresentation of science and common sense.

    Regardless of your 40 years of hard work, that I do respect. Today, it seems like you pander to use callously done surveying and interpretation of evidence for something you support, when you would rightfully criticize an “antivaccinationist” for doing the same in support of their position.

    It’s surreal that the people who did this study eliminated 737 cases in this manner and then claimed in the conclusion that “the majority of the cases are from siblings.” Would you really suggest that a parent who has taken a child, that has confirmed Pertussis, to a healthcare provider would not know if one of their child’s siblings had Pertussis before? The one to two week incubation period should have most likely been over for the first sibling if the child had already been diagnosed, right? Or at the very least, if you can be honest with yourself then you would admit that a parent would suspect or describe, to a doctor interviewing them, enough to meet the weak criteria for this study to establish Pertussis as suspected in the sibling. The conclusion is distasteful and deceptive at worst and naive at best.

    I’m still hoping for an answer to the discussion question I keep asking. At this point, I’m hoping I don’t have to wait 39 more years to figure it out.: Should you endorse statistics that clearly lie when they support your case?

    Like

  24. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
    May 13, 2016 at 12:35 am

    @ David M

    Obviously you are incapable of a rational dialogue. I did NOT place my name and reputation behind anything. I simply pointed out that the study made clear why they eliminated the cases. You choose to hypothesize facts NOT in evidence. You choose to hypothesize that because GSK gave a grant with NO strings attached, etc. And, if hypothesizing, I asked you where else infants would get infected; but NO answer. As for “the 85% statistic having scientifically null in i’s significance” it is no more null than any other study that doesn’t get complete data as long as the authors honestly explain the studies limitations which they did.

    I repeat what they wrote: “Consistent with previous studies, our analysis of 8 years of enhanced surveillance data identified an SOI for less than half of reported infant
    pertussis cases, with a similar proportion of sources identified as family members.” So, do you really believe that ALL other 11 studies just “eliminated data” or did their best to obtain it but were unsuccessful and honestly explained this in the articles? Given your approach, one would reject a large number of studies that have proven correct over time. This study isn’t the first nor the last.

    I have better things to do than waste my time with you. You obviously don’t understand research, nor statistics, nor how causal inference is developed. By the way, it seems anyone who disagrees with you is biased, but, obviously you aren’t??? The statistics given in the article with caveats don’t lie, it is what you choose to read into them that creates the lie. Now, stop bothering me and crawl back into your hole. But if you really want to learn something, read my ECBT articles.

    Like

  25. Chris
    May 13, 2016 at 1:03 am

    Joel, thank you for your patience. I have asked David and his friends several times for their proven methods to protect infants from pertussis, but have never received a suitable evidence based reply.

    “But if you really want to learn something, read my ECBT articles.”

    And here is the big problem, David and his friends have no interest in learning anything. In their minds they know everything, even though their comments indicate that they cannot understand the articles written here, nor the scientific studies that are referenced.

    My oldest child never got a vaccine for pertussis due to a history of neonatal seizures. This is thanks to the scaremongering by Barbara Loe Fisher and Lea Thompson in the late 1980s. Just because the scientific community actually listened to them, my son only got a DT vaccine. But others listened and decided to not give their babies the DTP, so when he was young there was a pertussis epidemic (plus a measles outbreak!).

    Because my son could not be fully vaccinated for what as then a medical reason, I actually asked the parent of any child if they had been vaccinated before my child played with them. Those who vaccinated had no problem with that question. I only met one who did not, and it was no big loss to never see her kids again (she was an obnoxious self righteous diva).

    I see David and his friends are like that last parent. They don’t care about other children, just as they don’t care about the health any child who they are not the parents of… the ones that they proudly protect from vaccine preventable diseases by leaching off of community immunity.

    Davey, so what is your proven method to protect babies from pertussis? Remember to include the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers. I only skimmed your comments, so if you posted any I missed them.

    Like

  26. Jake Man
    May 13, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Joel, wow, your true colors come out. It looks like David was having a very civil conversation with you, but you can’t take his undeniable logic, so you freak out, insult him, and tell him to crawl back in his hole? Seems a little bit crazy to me.

    Like

  27. Jake Man
    May 13, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Chris, “They don’t care about other children, just as they don’t care about the health any child who they are not the parents of…”

    What do you do for my vaccine injured child Chris? You come by and spend time with him? Do therapy with him? Pay his medical bills? Anything? If you care about my child, you can send a donation to my pay pal account to help pay medical bills. I’ll be waiting.

    Like

  28. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
    May 13, 2016 at 11:27 am

    @ Chris

    Thanks for your kind words and sharing your story. I realize that people like David M will NOT be swayed by anything I write and that is NOT my intention. I write in the hopes that people like you will be following the discussion and to get ideas for future articles. Just to summarize the problems with David M’s reasoning or, better said, lack of.

    He keeps emphasizing 85%. Two problems:

    He ignores John Oliver’s monologue and what Christine wrote to NOT focus on one study. The Skoff article states: “Pertussis is a highly contagious, vaccine-preventable disease with secondary attack rates reaching as high as 80% in susceptible individuals [and] . The source of infant pertussis infection is typically identified ∼ 50% of the time. Historically, mothers have been identified as the most common source of pertussis transmission to infants.” They give references to previous studies, each that found SOI’s in less than all families.
    The Skoff et al article clearly states: “Of the infants with a known SOI . . . 85.2%.” So they make it quite clear that the 82% has limitations. One of the problems with research is articles that have skimpy methods sections and then long speculative discussions and conclusions. The Skoff article’s methods section is quite good as it gives enough details so that anyone who actually reads the article will understand exactly where and how they got their data as well as its limitations.

    David M. then goes on to assume that someone should have known about another case in the family, thus implying Skoff et al simply eliminated. Children have mild short duration coughs quite often and adults as well as older children, if previously exposed to pertussis, actual disease or vaccinated, can have subclinical cases; but still be infective. David M., without any justification, chooses NOT to believe this. Even a couple of undergraduate Microbiology texts I own discuss mild and symptomatic/subclinical cases and infectivity. David M. basis his position on his own fantasy world.

    The Skoff article simply found that siblings played a slightly higher role in transmission than mothers; but this is only one study and one can assume there will be more to come. The key point is that infants are vulnerable, too young to be vaccinated, and one significant source of infection is family members, whether mothers or other members are responsible for slightly more cases I think far less relevant.

    David M, unfortunately represents a large number of people. He see the world in black and white and extreme versions, not as nuanced and complex. Rather than enter into a dialogue he resorts to illogical hyperbole.

    Examples:

    “Like pretending that 85% of the time a Pertussis infection comes from a member of the family. Should you endorse statistics that clearly lie when they support your case?” How can it be a lie when they clearly state it was based on only the cases where they could obtain an SOI?

    “They already admit there are other studies. But, in there study 737 cases had virtually no chance at all of being family members but they arrive at this conclusion.” And the other studies found similar results, that is, the role of family members and, as I have already discussed, and as they wrote, the SOI is, at best, identified in around 50% of cases, which they base on the references to other studies they give.

    David M writes: “the Pertussis bacteria is not classified as airborne, it is transmitted via droplets. . . In a controlled study, Pertussis bacteria were found as far as 4 meters away from the infected patient’s hospital bed.” Yep, and if he understands the difference, that is droplets have a much shorter range than airborne, 4 meters droplets whereas airborne can be much much further, then he should understand that this strengthens findings that family members play a large role. He doesn’t seem to understand the ramifications of the points he makes.

    David M writes: “You wrote that small infants spend most of their time at home. I know some parents who decide to keep their infant at home, and I know some who don’t. What does small infants mean?” The Skoff article states: “ A total of 1306 infant cases were identified; 24.2% were, 2 months old. . . Infants 0 to 1 months old were more likely to have an SOI identified than 2- to 11-month-olds.” So, the answer to his question. The younger the infant the more likely the amount of time spent at home. But even if they are taken out in a stroller, infectivity relates to dose, duration, pathogenicity, etc. The distances and duration of exposure in the home would certainly be greater than short visits outside. And NO I will NOT take the time to find references to this as it is just one point in this discussion and I need to get back to working on my next article for ECBT.

    David M also writes: “It doesn’t change that the researchers overextended their scientific findings.” Answered above.

    I may have missed it; but I did a Google search using combinations of “GSK” “pertussis” “whooping cough” and even “85”. I did NOT find GSK claiming 85%. I found on their website “Whooping cough: confronting the hidden risk to infants” and a recent TV ad showing grandma as the big bad wolf. Neither included the “85.” As I said I may have missed it, so please anyone who can give me the URL to a GSK ad that includes “85% risk,” share it.

    David M writes: “Yet, here you are unable to say that the 85% statistic is scientifically null in it’s significance. After you have done 40 years of research and commitment, I am not in a position to understand why you would place your name and reputation behind this.” I’ve already addressed the absurd phrase “scientifically null” and the validity of the 85% when it was clearly given with its limitations. What is more telling of David M’s hyperbole and dichotomous thinking is “why you would place your name and reputation behind this.” Wow, an exchange on a blog and my entire name and reputation is on the line.

    And the Vaccinate Your Family page on Whooping Cough states: “85% got it from a member or their immediate or extended family when a source of the infection could be identified.” I repeat “when a source of the infection could be identified.” David M just refuses to accept this as a legitimate statement.

    Like

  29. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
    May 13, 2016 at 11:44 am

    @ Jake Man

    You write: Joel, wow, your true colors come out. It looks like David was having a very civil conversation with you, but you can’t take his undeniable logic, so you freak out, insult him, and tell him to crawl back in his hole? Seems a little bit crazy to me.”

    I don’t consider calling people liars being civil; and, as I’ve made clear, his undeniable logic is undeniably illogical. But, I was tired and tired of his illogic and allowed myself to stoop to his level. The “crawl back in his hole” would never have been used in any of my articles. Not wrong; just inappropriate.

    You write: “What do you do for my vaccine injured child Chris? You come by and spend time with him? Do therapy with him? Pay his medical bills? Anything? If you care about my child, you can send a donation to my pay pal account to help pay medical bills. I’ll be waiting.”

    I’ll use measles statistics to answer your question. Prior to the vaccine about 50,000 kids were hospitalized annually because of measles, 400-500 died, and up to 2,000 developed permanent disabilities, e.g. seizure disorders, retardation, deafness and blindness. The rest, since close to 100% of children eventually got measles, missed a week or more of school. Given that many families are dual earners to make ends meet and others are single moms, this means that nowadays many families would suffer economic losses as well. So, can kids be harmed by the vaccine? Yes; but seldom leading to long term disabilities. Who paid in the 1950s for actual measles caused disabilities? Who paid the medical bills? Nowadays, for the few children injured by the vaccine, the Vaccine Court pays and generously. And parents who think their child was injured by a vaccine can find lawyers willing to take the case even if they are unsure because the Vaccine Court pays lawyer fees regardless of whether they win or lose. So, a half dozen vaccine injured children per year vs up to 2,500 dead or disabled and 50,000 hospitalizations. And prior to antibiotics, deaths from secondary bacterial pneumonias claimed up to 15,000 kids per year. Measles is just as contagious today, our population has doubled since the statistics above and we are seeing increasing rates of antibiotic resistance infections, so if we stopped measles vaccinations within a few years we could see doubling of the above statistics. Even one harmed child is a tragedy and I have absolutely NO intention of minimizing it; but any rational parent should understand the benefits/costs. Without vaccines, exponentially higher and no compensation and the very small risk from the vaccine and generous compensations. However, the Vaccine Court doesn’t just compensate because someone thinks the vaccine was causal. If we followed the logic that every claim against vaccines should be automatically accepted then we should extend this to all products and no company would stay in business long.

    And measles is an example of just one of the many childhood diseases that vaccines prevent.

    Like

  30. Jake Man
    May 13, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Joel, all your statistics mean nothing to me or my child. Your lack of empathy is mind boggling. You are doing exactly what Chris is accusing of me doing. You write off my son like no big deal. Not one word of compassion or empathy, just need to get your statistics out bottom line. You are what is wrong with this world.

    Like

  31. Chris
    May 13, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    So, Jake Man, how was your experience with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program? If we go by your words you had an very sound claim. My son had seizures from an actual disease, but there is no “National Disease Injury Compensation Program.”

    And this family also had no choice in what happened to their son.

    Like

  32. Jake Man
    May 13, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    That family had no choice. I had a choice, and I vaccinated. So it sounds like you have a problem with my vaccinated son. Again, you think VICP means anything? You are as bad as Joel. No amount of money is worth what happened to my son. “Oh hey, your son is injured, here is some money, now all is ok” NOT ok.

    Like

  33. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
    May 13, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    @ Jake Man

    You write: “Joel, all your statistics mean nothing to me or my child. Your lack of empathy is mind boggling”

    Yet, I wrote: “Even one harmed child is a tragedy and I have absolutely NO intention of minimizing it.” So where is my lack of empathy?

    And you obviously miss the point. You are right, no amount of money can ever compensate for a child’s being injured; but, as tragic as your case appears to be, what about the 1,000s of parents who would have dead or handicapped children from the natural diseases? Where would your sympathy be for them?

    It would be nice if we lived in a perfect world, for instance, vaccines would confer 100% protection for life and zero risk; but I live in the real world where the risks from vaccines is exponentially less than from the natural diseases and where the Vaccine Court does its best to help the few as opposed to who would help the many if vaccines did not exist?

    Like

  34. Lawrence
    May 13, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    We have a problem with people who make completely unvalidated claims – and the fact that you use your child as some sort of “pity shield” is reprehensible.

    Like

  35. Jake Man
    May 13, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    Joel,

    Bravo, you wrote a one liner, “Even one harmed child is a tragedy” and go on with book like diatribe to make your case against me. Felt like real empathy to me. NOT

    “as tragic as your case appears to be, what about the 1,000s of parents who would have dead or handicapped children from the natural diseases?”

    So those “1,000s of parents” have children that you do care about, but my child is just a casualty and not important? You sure don’t care much about human life.

    Like

  36. Jake Man
    May 13, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    lawrence, You better be very careful about what you say about my son.

    What was my unvalidated claim exactly?

    Like

  37. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
    May 13, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    @ Jake Man

    Not only did I make it clear that I value each and every child; but agreed with you that money cannot compensate; however, you asked who will pay for your medical expenses and care necessary for your child and I explained in a manner than any rational person would understand that if your child’s injuries were from a vaccine that the Vaccine Court provides quite generous payment. On the other hand, I also made it clear that without vaccines that 1,000s more children would be injured from the natural diseases, yours among them and no compensation would be forthcoming. I don’t see a simple logical explanation of a reality as a diatribe. Nor a realistic appraisal of the benefits and risks as not caring about human life. I care about each and every child; but if I have the choice of 1 being potentially injured vs thousands, I have to go with the thousands because thousands represent one child after another after another, each one whose life and welfare is just a precious as your child’s, not more not less; but since I cannot know which child will be harmed from the vaccine; but know that many more will be harmed without it, I and any rational person has to decide. If I decided against vaccinations, then thousands of parents would be accusing me of not caring.

    So, the only explanation for your incredible irrational attacks against me is that your anger and frustration is so great that you just can’t think straight. Or, perhaps, you never could think rationally?

    Like

  38. Lawrence
    May 13, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    You’ve made an unsubstantiated claim & presented your son as a “pity shield.”

    Instead of addressing actual facts, you merely parade him around in your posts, as some sort of mechanism that you think allows you to make blanket assertions without evidence.

    Sorry, but using your child in this way is reprehensible.

    Like

  39. Jake Man
    May 13, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    “presented your son as a “pity shield.” Oh, you mean like Chris did?

    Like

  40. Lawrence
    May 13, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    No, Chris has provided scientific evidence.

    You have not.

    Like

  41. Craig
    May 13, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    @jake

    Don’t sweat it with these guys. They are very rude to most who comment here. I hope you and your family are well.

    Like

  42. Jake Man
    May 13, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Don’t make me laugh out loud lawrence.
    I haven’t said anything that I need to provide scientific evidence for.
    I thought you’d give Chris a pass for bringing up his/her kid.

    Thank you Craig. Enjoy your weekend.

    Like

  43. Lawrence
    May 13, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    Yes, you’ve claimed vaccine injury without providing even a single detail.

    Sorry, but I’m not just going to take your word for it. And stop using your child as a shield.

    Like

  44. soubanh
    May 13, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    @Joel you write: First, as anyone who understands science and the history of science is aware of, common sense just as often results in beliefs that are the opposite of scientific findings.
    Joel am I supposed to assumed you don’t used common sense or don’t have one? Sorry if I sounded rude but it appears you just dismissed my comment and suggesting common sense have no place in science. Personally I think common sense and science is interdependent on each others. We don’t live in a lab coat world with just beakers and control environment. You heard the saying “Think outside the box” right? will, that apply to the science of vaccination as well and to think otherwise would make you a fooled twice(remember the quote I mentioned earlier). Listen, I have no science background but am married to a very successful science teacher/author/researcher and I understand how scientist thinks and I can say this with confidence that your gift as a science is also your weakness for it keeps you narrow focused and nothing else matters even if is something your looking for is right in front of you. I know you mentioned you done researched for 40 years and I commend you but my question is how do you know your research is the only one that is valid? Thanks for your input.

    Like

  45. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
    May 13, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    @ Soubanh

    I don’t claim that my research is the only one that is valid, never have and never will. Everything I do I ask for feedback, for no-holds-bar critique, from as many people as possible. I assume that anything I write or do can be refuted; but, at the same time, the possibility it can be refuted doesn’t mean it will be. And I stand by my statement that the findings of science often contradict common sense, not always; but often.

    You wrote: “My common sense tells me in the Vaccines and the science behind most of their studies can be trace back to the maker/supporter of the vaccines and I promise you won’t find them publishing the negative results. . . Sorry to say but truth is truth and lies are lies no matter how you want to spin it.”

    First, the first vaccines were developed long before the pharmaceutical industry existed. Second, while it is true that with some drugs the pharmaceutical industry withholds negative results, vaccine effectiveness and safety studies have been and continue to be carried out all over the world by universities (funded by government grants) and non-profits. It is absurd to believe that they are all part of some enormous conspiracy. Besides the fact that vaccines are the least profitable product made by pharmaceutical companies. As for the “science behind most their studies can be trace back to . . .” Are you really that stupid? The sciences of immunology and microbiology that have been developing for hundreds of years and being continuously researched all over the world can trace back to the pharmaceutical industry? Proof positive that your common sense is just plain WRONG!

    So, if you are married to a very successful science teacher/author/research and really believe you understand how scientists think, either you are delusional or your spouse is not as good as you think. And your statement: “truth is truth” indicates that it is you who are absolutely certain you are right. Sorry; but unless you show up in my home town and demonstrate your ability to walk on water, I will continue to rely on science.

    Like

  46. Chris
    May 13, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    J.A.H., PhD, MPH: “Sorry; but unless you show up in my home town and demonstrate your ability to walk on water, I will continue to rely on science.”

    🙂

    Like

  47. David M.
    May 13, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    (1/6) Dr. Harrison,

    This was my finals week and I had some events, my commencement ceremony and a family that I’m grateful to enjoy life with. In my opinion, interactive comment sections of forums such as this one are a good way to refine and strengthen knowledge. Sometimes people lose their bearing, but we are all only human.

    You said: “I did NOT place my name and reputation behind anything.”

    What does it say to the left of the words you post? (Joel A. Harrison PhD, MPH) This is the internet… it’s not a fictional place with no consequences. What you say here, especially as a representative of ECBT is a legitimate record. Have you googled your handle (Name you use on blogs/comments) recently? That’s how I know that you, Chris and Lawrence have posted complimentary comments to each other for years. Not to say that they are not sometimes deserved rather than just to demonstrate some sense of public strength in numbers. IE:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2014/01/13/a-counterpoint-to-jenny-mccarthys-autism-narrative/

    You said: “You choose to hypothesize that because GSK gave a grant with NO strings attached, etc.”

    How is the GSK no-strings attached renewal process?

    Like

  48. David M.
    May 13, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    (2/6) You said: “So, do you really believe that ALL other 11 studies just “eliminated data” or did their best to obtain it but were unsuccessful and honestly explained this in the articles?”

    I am mostly concerned with the opening of the misleading conclusion derived due to the eliminated data.: “our data suggest that the most common source of transmission to infants is now siblings.” The sentence did not say anything about an SOI and it wasn’t inferable from the following sentences that mentioned SOI’s.
    You said: “Historically, mothers have been identified as the most common source of pertussis transmission to infants.”

    The research conclusion said, “In contrast to previous studies, our data suggest that the most common source of transmission to infants is now siblings.” It is a misleading statement, the following sentences discuss SOIs but do not link when SOIs were able to be identified to this sentence. They should have qualified their statement.

    You said: “anyone who actually reads the article will understand exactly where and how they got their data as well as its limitations.”

    Exactly, the purpose of GSK’s advertisement (the stuff John Oliver was talking about) is not to offer honest information to consumers. It is to sell their vaccine, not the research and it’s actual significance. There is a great big “85%” and the text gets smaller as it goes to “when a source of infection could be identified,” every time. They did not say when a source of infection could be identified 44% of the time, which would be honest and transparent.

    Like

  49. David M.
    May 13, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    (3/6) You said: “David M. then goes on to assume that someone should have known about another case in the family, thus implying Skoff et al simply eliminated. Children have mild short duration coughs quite often and adults as well as older children, if previously exposed to pertussis, actual disease or vaccinated, can have subclinical cases; but still be infective. David M., without any justification, chooses NOT to believe this. Even a couple of undergraduate Microbiology texts I own discuss mild and symptomatic/subclinical cases and infectivity. David M. basis his position on his own fantasy world.”

    When an SOI is defined as parents diagnosing someone based on them having a 2 week cough and one clinical symptom, they very possibly won’t have Pertussis at all even in a lot of cases that are identified. You dismiss the idea that the vast majority are strangers of the 737 cases that were dismissed, why would a person be able to identify a stranger? The SOIs were defined as someone with a coughing illness consistent with Pertussis who had contact with the Person with the “probable” case of Pertussis within a “7- to 20-day period before the date of infant cough onset.” The SOI term in general is very misleading for use in advertisement to scare parents into getting everyone they know to get vaccinated with aP, a vaccine that research shows is probable to not even protect from colonization and transmission.

    You quoted me: “Yep, and if he understands the difference, that is droplets have a much shorter range than airborne, 4 meters droplets whereas airborne can be much much further, then he should understand that this strengthens findings that family members play a large role.”

    That is certainly a backhanded acknowledgment of me teaching you something about Pertussis. I’m glad that this conversation has beneficial for you to learn something after you said:

    “Pertussis is an airborne infection. Do you suppose that someone coughed across the street and infected the infant?”

    Rationally, outside of the controlled hospital setting the wind and other factors may play a role in carrying droplets a bit further… I would suspect. The CDC said this in 2007 in a paper directed at transmissions in healthcare settings, “It is likely that the distance droplets travel depends on the velocity and mechanism by which respiratory droplets are propelled from the source, the density of respiratory secretions, environmental factors such as temperature and humidity, and the ability of the pathogen to maintain infectivity over that distance.” http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/2007IP/2007ip_part1.html

    Maybe you can enlighten me some on your research of other droplet transmitted diseases if you have ever delved into it?

    Like

  50. David M.
    May 13, 2016 at 11:30 pm

    (4/6) You said: “The distances and duration of exposure in the home would certainly be greater than short visits outside.”

    How about the number of people the infant comes within the agreed upon 4-meter scope? Probably much greater outside of the home from my experience for infants in their first year of life. Have you considered the number of people who take their less than one year old infants to weddings, daycares, everywhere they go, church every Sunday, etc.?

    You said: I may have missed it; but I did a Google search using combinations of “GSK” “pertussis” “whooping cough” and even “85”.

    The ECBT project Vaccinateyourfamily.org posts them regularly… GSK Health Funded Initiative. There is more than one of them, even her on Shot of Prevention. At the bottom of the advertisement where you see that 85%, you will often (every time in my experience) see, “This resource is part of a public health initiative funded by GSK.”

    Here is an example: https://i.imgsafe.org/70dc26e.png

    Like

  51. David M.
    May 13, 2016 at 11:30 pm

    (5/6) You said: “Wow, an exchange on a blog and my entire name and reputation is on the line.”

    Isn’t it a bit hypocritical to say I have hyperbole thinking and then follow it with that statement. Like I already said, you put your name and credentials up for creditability, and this is a public record. If you jumped back into the employment line from retirement, or went to publish some more research, an employer or prospective publisher might google you…

    Like

  52. David M.
    May 13, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    (6/6) You said: In regards to the 85% statistic on vaccinateyourfamily.org “David M just refuses to accept this as a legitimate statement.”

    It’s not legitimate or transparent.

    It says “In one recent study of infants who contracted whooping cough.”

    A legitimate statement would say, “In one recent study of infants who probably contracted whooping cough.” Because the study says, “Confirmed and probable cases were included in our analysis.”

    Other than that, the truth is that it’s 85% of 44% of the time a parent or patient was verified as thinking that the infected person got pertussis from “a member of their immediate or extended family.”

    Like

  53. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
    May 13, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    @ David M.

    You gave: “Here is an example: https://i.imgsafe.org/70dc26e.png” which states: “When a source of infection could be identified” That is exactly what you called a lie and what I wrote. Obviously, you don’t really understand what you read. Rather stupid to give a hyperlink to exactly what I wrote, confirming I was right. There is NO lie when they state the limitations of their claim except in your warped mind. As for droplet vs airborne, I knew; but sometimes I am just tired and believe it or not, historically the two have often been not so clearly separated in the literature. I doubt someone like you could teach me or anyone else anything. When I write an article I write and rewrite; but I’m not about to write something for a comment on a blog, then wait a couple of days and rewrite it, then send it to friends for feedback; but the bottom line is that. As for my name and reputation, since I have clearly refuted your claims, I stand by what I have written. If you are so confident in what you write, why not give your full name? And I get sick and tired of people like you who believe that everyone is a pharma shill. As I wrote, the GSK grant was without strings attached. Will they renew if they don’t like what ECBT does, perhaps, I don’t own a crystal ball. If your logic and understanding of science is represented by what you have written on this blog, I can’t believe you are studying at any reputable institution.

    You write: “What you say here, especially as a representative of ECBT is a legitimate record. Have you googled your handle (Name you use on blogs/comments) recently? That’s how I know that you, Chris and Lawrence have posted complimentary comments to each other for years.” Now I know you are full of you know what. I do NOT represent ECBT. I approached them about allowing me to write articles and they agreed. I choose the topic. I write the articles and, so far, they have been willing to post them. I do NOT work for them. I have NOT even received a free cup of coffee. In fact, it has cost me. I have to sometimes drive to the university to photocopy articles. My gas and my paying for the photocopies. They have never asked me nor encouraged me to post comments. As for finding my name with Chris and Lawrence for years, first, I only started writing for ECBT about 1 1/2 years ago. Second, I have only posted comments to a few of the articles on Shot of Prevention. Third, I have NEVER met nor had any contact with Chris or Lawrence and really have NO idea who they are. If you Googled my “handle” you would have found that I have written OpEds for a local online magazine for years and an article on Health Care economics for Dollars&Sense Magazine.

    I shouldn’t stoop to your level; but repeat “why don’t you crawl back into the hole you came out of!”

    Like

  54. Chris
    May 14, 2016 at 12:59 am

    Wait, perhaps we met on Htrae.

    Um, no, that is not right. Seriously, no one knows who you are on the internets… and we just go by what you write.

    Like

  55. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
    May 14, 2016 at 10:43 am

    @ David M

    @ David M

    Not that anything will change your mind, I was right using “airborne” with pertussis. For instance, in John M. Last (Ed.) (1995). “A Dictionary of Epidemiology (3rd Ed), on page 167 under “ Transmission of Infection” it lists Airborne then under Airborne it lists Droplet Nuclei as a subgroup. And Wikipedia’s article “Airborne disease” basically says the same thing. The main thing is that airborne differs from food/water or penetration of the skin. I skimmed a couple of old journal articles on pertussis and they too used airborne, explaining that the airborne was by Droplets.

    You want to extend the range of droplets to factors such as wind if the infant is out-of-doors; but then if the sun is shining, the ultraviolet rays can kill or weaken many microbes. So, to some extent this would cancel out any factors extending the distance.

    You continually ignore that the study clearly stated its limitations, that is, for anyone with an average level of intelligence and understanding of science. In the Abstract, they wrote: “More than 66% of SOIs were immediate family members, most commonly siblings (35.5%), mothers (20.6%), and fathers (10.0%); mothers predominated until the transition to siblings beginning in 2008.” In the methods section they gave a blow by blow description. And in the Discussion they made it quite clear. If you took a course from me and continued to emphasize the last couple of paragraphs of an article, clearly ignoring important points, you would fail my course.

    You continually emphasize that the Skoff study found siblings played a greater roll than parents. They found 35.5% for the siblings and 30.6% for mothers and fathers, whereas the many previous studies found the reverse. So what? One study, which though well done, is still one study, which is exactly what John Oliver was discussing. If I was a pertussis researcher, all of your critiques would have been obvious to me and not seen as critiques just honest depiction of how the study was carried out. One of my areas of expertise was in developing evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. One collects as much of the literature as possible, then develops a rating form for each studies methodology, puts the studies in Tables, etc. Journal articles are written for scientists. If people lacking scientific expertise misinterpret them, perhaps intentionally, can’t be helped; but this study made it clear they were basing their discussion on SOIs.

    And you somehow believe that Chris, Lawrence, and I are working together simply because we seem to be in agreement, have all posted comments on a very few of the same articles and they have at times thanked me. By the way, try looking at a number of Shot of Prevention articles and see how many you find where Chris and/or Lawrence have posted and I haven’t as I posted comments on only a few. I have also written OpEd, comments, etc. on Amazon, California Progress Report, East County Magazine, Dallas Morning News, Dallas Morning News, and Göteborgs Posten. Typical paranoid conspiracy theory, something antivaccinationists seem to thrive on.

    You claim you are not against vaccines; but twist and distort, exaggerate every possible problem with the Skoff study, also ignoring the dozen studies in all, to try to undermine it. Way too much effort for someone simply wishing to engage in a dialogue. You come up with hypothesized possibilities, e.g. wind carries droplets further. Well, speculate all you like; but if you can’t back your speculation up with hard data, worthless.

    By the way, just curious; but where are you going to school, some for-profit private college/university?

    Like

  56. David M.
    May 14, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Well, at this point, continuing this dialogue in the manner present would be tantamount to beating a dead horse. Thank you for your time Dr. Harrison, “it is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.” – Joseph Joubert

    I don’t disrespect people who return to school to better themselves through education, for-profit, private or otherwise- I applaud them. Regarding my university, for the time being I will just say that I always feel humbled about myself and driven to do more as I learn of my professors and peers academic vigor and accomplishments.

    I’m a bit curious about your school too… as someone who proudly displays PhD, MPH next to their name at what seems like every opportunity, you never say your alma mater’s name in your biography or anywhere else that I’ve seen…

    Rephrasing the discussion question I asked with regard to this article:

    Does anyone have an opinion about organizations and people who use statistics in a way that they know to be deceiving or inaccurate?

    Like

  57. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
    May 14, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    @ David M.

    MA in social psychology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
    MS in applied psychology (clinical and counseling) University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
    PhD in educational psychology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
    MPH – Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, Texas
    MS – Biostatistics and Epidemiology, UT School of Public Health
    3-year post-doctoral fellowship, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

    My MA in social psychology and PhD in educational psychology were both research courses, lots of courses in methodology, measurement theory, statistics, and philosophy of science (that is, causal inference). Does that answer your question?

    So where are you going to school? And what program?

    As for your question: “Does anyone have an opinion about organizations and people who use statistics in a way that they know to be deceiving or inaccurate?”

    You are NOT seeking an honest answer. Your question is aimed an implying that ECBT and/or the Skoff article have been using statistics in a way that they know to be deceiving or inaccurate. As for the Joubert quote, you are not debating anything, simply continuing to try to attack one article and its findings, ignoring anything anyone else says. In a perfect world, there would be perfect research; but this isn’t a perfect world. I have NEVER seen any study that doesn’t have some minor flaws, which is why we have a requirement to NOT base policy on one or even a few studies, that is, unless not acting involves more risk. As I have made absolutely clear, the Skoff article is good because it makes absolutely clear its methodology. And they state clearly that they included both lab/doctor confirmed cases and suspected cases. However, whooping cough is quite distinctive, both the whooping sound and the intensity and duration of coughing fits where many infants turn blue. Yes, small possibility that a few of the cases may not have been whooping cough; but they give the reader the info and the few cases probably would not have changed the results more than a few percentages point; but as an antivaccinationist, you choose to blow this way out of proportion. You claim you are not an antivaccinationist; but only want a perfect or near perfect study to convince you. So, in your fantasy world, you can be convinced; but not by real world research. In any case, I suggest to begin with that you get hold of ALLl the articles in the Skoff et al reference list and read them ALL carefully. After all, that was one of the main points of Oliver’s monologue, that is, to not rely on one study.

    I could also suggest several books; but I doubt you would try to get them. Just for the heck of it:

    Merwyn Susser (1973). Causal Thinking in the Health Sciences: Concepts and Strategies in Epidemiology. Out-of-print; but many university libraries have copies and Amazon marketplace has a few inexpensive used copies. [my absolute favorite book on causal inference and I own probably a dozen]

    Rothmans, Kenneth & Greenland, Sander (1998). Modern Epidemiology (2nd edition). Just read Chapter 2: Causation and Causal Inference. Short enough to photocopy the chapter.

    Cooper, Harris & Hedges, Larry V. (1994). The Handbook of Research Synthesis.

    Like

  1. June 13, 2016 at 7:58 am

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