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I am an epidemiologist working at a university, and I have a particular interest in how science is portrayed in the media and on the internet.

54 Comments
  1. Thanks for the compliment. I haven’t considered a Facebook page — I like to send my fellow believers in science-based medicine to some of the established sites for information, like Science-Based Medicine, or FB groups like Vaccines Save Lives

    • My pleasure, and thanks for stopping by. I do hope you get a FB page going. Might be a good, consolidated place to share information on the NVIC’s antics. However, I also understand the potential time sink of the multimedia approach…

  2. ducatidave permalink

    ohhhh, I see now. You’re an epidemiologist. Of course. Now I understand why you’re pro-vax. Your career will hinge on your knowledge of diseases, and, more importantly for you, it’s applications in the areas of research and developement. It’s job security for you. Through my own research, I’ve come to know a few epidemiologists who’ve been shunned for their anti-vax stances. A shame, too because I have no doubts you all have a good amount of knowledge to shed light on the moral issues of vaccination. As a nurse, I make good money doing what I do and I’m expected to promote vaccines as part of my care. However, there are more important things than money to me. I find truth to be much more valuable. You say you consider yourself science-based and so that’s the core of your pro-vax beliefs. I beg to differ. I think you were impressioned-upon along the way in your education that vaccines are a good thing and that they save lives and that Dr. Salk was a hero. But, the truth is much different. The question is, would you ever be willing to accept the full truth?

    • Why yes, my job does hinge on my knowledge of diseases, thanks very much. Too bad for the epis who are anti-vax. They deserve to be shunned by their peers; in fact, I hope that they are shunned and mocked daily.

      I find it precious that you seem to think that I understand the safety and efficacy of vaccinations because someone told me so. The arrogance of the anti-vaccinator is staggering. Are we given to assume that you, ducatidave, know more than 99.999% of the medical establishment? From what I have seen here, it seems unlikely. I also giggle at your insinuations that I make money from promoting vaccinations. Sadly, I do not.

      My final note, as I’ve written elsewhere, is that I find it terrifying that you claim to be a critical care nurse who does not support vaccination. Typhoid ducatidave.

    • It is all about money, money, money!! Thanks ducatidave for your honesty. I’m not an anti-vaxer, just a cautious mom. My mother had polio and my son has autism. We need vaccines, but used safely and sparingly. When the polio vaccine came out, it was a different time, not so greed-driven like today. Just my opinion as a mom dealing with autism, and oh yes, grand mal seizures on a regular basis. Thanks!!

      • Using vaccines “sparingly” defeats the purpose. When the polio vaccine came out, it was a different time–a time when children were maimed or killed by polio. Thanks to vaccines that time is over–at least in most countries of the world. Thanks to anti-vaxxers, that time may return.

        • You must be funded by big Pharma, that’s all I can say. Best wishes!

        • No darlin’, I don’t get a single cent from Big Pharma. This blog is community service.

        • I’m giving up any more comments on vaccines and autism. I’m letting God take care of this. I will be dealing more with my grief over what has happened. I think I may be more helpful in that area. Best wishes and one day, there will be a unified front against this awful disorder.

        • I am sorry for your grief, and I too hope that one day there will be a unified front. One of the most divisive points of view, however, is that espoused by those who believe that vaccines cause autism. Science has shown that they do not. Further research would be most fruitful in other areas.

          Best to you and your family.

        • Leah Hush permalink

          are you really this naive, skeweddistribution? You make no correlation with the amount of deaths from vaccines, the increase in autism and the overall lack of health as the amount of vaccinations has increased? Also, please remember that vaccination is not immunization. In regards to your point that vaccines don’t cause autism, you say, “Science has shown that they do not.” Show us your science! And better yet, show us your science that wasn’t bought and paid for by big pharma!!! How do you sleep at night? Do you think so many parents are making this stuff up? Why don’t you back a study that compares un-vaccinated children to vaccinated? I bet you won’t because you already know what you’ll find–unvaccinated children are healthier, happier and make fewer trips to the doctor. In 1986, a moron named Reagan basically signed over the health of future generations when he signed a bill that covered pharma’s ass and their bottom line for decades to come. You have an FDA who basically allows all of these pharma companies–I wonder if the FDA is made up of former pharma members, duh–to have free reign. There’s video after video on youtube showing little boys and girls before their shots and how they behaved after them. You don’t see a connection with the one constant being shots filled with mercury, aluminum and all the other chemicals? Life must smell like shit for you because it’s clear that you haven’t taken your head out of your ass!

        • I showed you the science. It’s all over this blog. You simply choose not to believe it. I sleep quite well at night, knowing that I am doing my part, however small, to combat the anti-science idiocy of the anti-vax movement.

        • Leah Hush asked “Why don’t you back a study that compares un-vaccinated children to vaccinated?”

          Well, for one thing it would cause kids to die. If you can design a the study and still protect children, please do. Then get your friends at SafeMinds, Generation Rescue, Autism Trust, etc to pay for it. Make sure the Independent Review Board is truly independent.

          Also here an an article about what that study would really entail:

          http://www.redwineandapplesauce.com/2013/12/21/the-one-study-or-why-the-anti-vaccine-movement-doesnt-really-understand-science/

        • Thanks Chris, as always.

  3. ducatidave permalink

    keep drinkin’ that kool-aid, skewed. I’m not the only nurse who feels this way. See ya in the hospital.

    • I doubt that very much. Thanks for stopping by, and I DO hope that you were able to read today’s blog post. It destroys your theory. Sorry about that.

  4. ducatidave permalink

    I read your post, your source, and the studies and they are all highly suspect PR damage control at its best. you simply cite a source that cites yet another biased source. The director for the HPV study? Department of Epidemiology, Merck Research Laboratories, North Wales, PA
    C Velicer, KL Liaw….yeah, like that’s not biased.

    Seems to me there could be an accumulative effect with other vaccines, possibly flu vax. That would explain onset differences. There’s definately a vaccine relation there somewhere. It will probably take a few more Leroy’s to happen till vaccines are more strongly suspect. Thanks for posting those sources, even if they are pro-vax biased, they do shed a little more light on what’s going on.

    • It would be helpful if you could post your comments below the post to which you are referring, as I am not sure what you are talking about here.

  5. ducatidave permalink

    opps sorry

  6. Say SkewedD I’m thinking about writing a series of posts on the publishing antics of Tomljenovic L, Shaw CA. …. would you be interested in a guest poster?

    • Indeed I would, thanks for thinking of this! Keep me posted so we can plan ahead so we don’t both have a superawesome post ready for the same day!

  7. Alan permalink

    Hello Skew
    I was wondering after looking at your site if you are “Pro Vaccine” ?
    lol Obviously.
    your opinion is just that and you have every liberty to express it. That is why I am bookmarking your site. I also look at thinks very scientifically. The question that always comes to my mind is do the mothers/fathers and yes even the “pro vaccine” people have to also follow the adult vaccine schedule. We practice what we preach right? Or is science looked at from afar?

    Since 2002 the CDC magicly created an adult vaccine schedule. Link Below.

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/schedules/downloads/adult/adult-schedule.pdf

    There are 5 shots you need to get some of which are cocktail shots.
    If you are 50+ there are 7-8 shots.

    So basicly I am wondering the simple question, are you up to date on your shots?
    Did you get the H1N1 when it first came out or recently get it in the flu shot (since they could not sell all the H1N1 and was about to expire)?

    Ya see it is hard to hear the preacher if he is not walking the walk. We have all seen Christians like that who do not do what they preach.

    Yep according to the CDC and many other government officials, shots are not just for kids.

    Your thoughts

    • Yes, I am up-to-date on my shots, particularly as many friends have recently had additions to their families. I also travel internationally a fair bit, and not just to places such as east Africa but also to areas of Europe where measles are epidemic again. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Alan permalink

    Thats cool. Just to understand your answer, you are scared (concerned) of babies that get sick. And measles? I thought that was a 3-5 day sickness and then you have lifetime immunity.

    I know getting sick is unpleasant, so that could be why people get vaccines. Just wondering because I am new to this subject and none of the adults that I know get vaccines. hundreds of people and everyone I ask does not get the “adult shots” or flu shots.

    Or do you do it for “herd immunity” and be respectful of humanity. I have always thought that was a fallacy because what about the millions of baby boomers that are not immune due to not getting boosters. Only some schools have 90% and above vaccine rate, and many of the reported outbreaks are the vaccinated children.

    Anyways If you want to debate someone who is on the other side I know someone who is willing. He does a radio show that I listen to sometimes and is asking for someone to debate. I can set it up for you to be on his show. Might be good to listen to.

    • Hi Alan,

      Yes, I am concerned that babies get sick, and die, from vaccine-preventable diseases. This includes deaths from measles, though admittedly one is much more likely to develop pneumonia or encephalitis from the disease. This is not to mention the 10 deaths from pertussis in California in 2010. Thus, this is not just a situation with an “unpleasant” experience from getting sick.

      Thanks for your kind offer of a debate. As I blog anonymously, this is obviously not an option.

  9. Alan permalink

    oh I did not realize your blogging was anonymous. ok that is too bad it would have been nice to hear the debate. My question was not so much if you are concerned about the babies but if the concern was you getting a flu for virus from the children. I have head though that with MMR you need to stay home for 3 days or so becasue the vaccine sheads. Then you really feel bad for giving the measles to one of your friends new family additions

    http://www.ias.org.nz/vaccines/measles/children-vaccinated-with-mmr-can-spread-the-diseases/

    Yep, double edged sword. You could have caused disease and thought you were stopping it. And your measles would have been the mutated lab created variant of the origional measles.

    Weak CDC stuff is so manipulated, when someone reports a vaccine injury they say it is not possible because the stats are so low and rare. Thus having low stats. lol.
    whooping cough outbreaks are HIGHER among vaccinated children

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/03/us-whoopingcough-idUSBRE8320TM20120403

    • Alan, don’t be ridiculous. Please ask yourself this question. If shedding from MMR caused measles in any non-negligible manner, then why has the rate of measles plummeted, and not skyrocketed, since the introduction of the MMR vaccine? People should be running around positively covered in spots.

      The link that you posted does not in any way, shape, or form indicate that pertussis rates are higher in vaccinated children. It does, however, demonstrate the importance of boosters. I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the work of Feikin et al. (JAMA; 284; 3145-50), which clearly shows that the rates of pertussis are substantially higher among children whose parents refuse to vaccinate.

      You stated that you are “new” to this. What you are demonstrating is that you have a lot more to learn, and also that you may, in fact, have already made up your mind based upon poor information and possibly a lack of ability to understand statistics.

  10. Alan permalink

    The first Link has the Merck director who makes the MMR shot saying that it shed. So you are plainly in denial. also the FluMist vaccine sheds

    Under the Precautions in the Merck MMR document it states
    Excretion of small amounts of the live attenuated rubella virus from the nose or throat has occurred in the majority of susceptible individuals 7 to 28 days after vaccination.

    http://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/m/mmr_ii/mmr_ii_pi.pdf

    The second link CLEARLY indicates that pertussis rates are higher in vaccinated children.
    Let me copy and paste it for you.

    Witt had expected to see the illnesses center around unvaccinated kids, knowing they are more vulnerable to the disease.

    “We started dissecting the data. What was very surprising was the majority of cases were in fully vaccinated children. That’s what started catching our attention,” said Witt.

    Yep there it is. Vaccinated kids was the majority of cases. These type of people do not miss their booster. 81% Had ALL the boosters and 92% had the pertussis vaccine. Only 8% was unvaccinated.

    Did you really miss that your just choose to not see it.
    I am begining to think you lack ability to understand statistics.

    • The point, Alan, is not whether the vaccine sheds. The point is whether that shedding causes disease. If it caused disease, then why have measles incidence rates not increased at a disturbing rate since MMR vaccination was introduced?

      Your “argument” about the second link again demonstrates that you do not understand the statistics presented in the article. I can cut you some slack on this, because it can be complicated if you have no training in this area. You state, “the second link CLEARLY indicates that pertussis rates are higher in vaccinated children”. No, it does not. The majority of cases occurred in vaccinated children because the majority of children are vaccinated. What you are missing is the rate of disease in vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children, which was addressed by Feikin, properly, in the reference I provided you and which you have clearly declined to read. Feikin showed that the rate of disease is significantly lower in vaccinated children. What you showed is a count of cases, which fails to account for the denominator.

      Here is a simple example for you. You have a school with 10 children. Nine are vaccinated and one is not. Five of the vaccinated children get pertussis, along with the unvaccinated child. In this case, the majority of cases were, indeed, vaccinated. In fact, 83% of the cases were vaccinated. Based on these data, I could write an article and say 83% OF THE CHILDREN WHO GOT PERTUSSIS WERE VACCINATED! While this is true, it is also extraordinarily misleading. The rate of disease in vaccinated children was 55%. The rate of disease in unvaccinated children was 100%. Now, who is at greatest risk for pertussis–the vaccinated or the unvaccinated?

      Now, please answer my previous question regarding MMR vaccination and measles incidence rates, or I’m afraid our conversation here is over.

  11. AussieMPHer permalink

    You mean you actually have to have an understanding of the statistical and epidemiological principles in research? I was planning to start a career in epidemiology just by counting a few things and making lots of noise about it.
    Great blog, and great discussion of articles.

  12. Howdy.

    Just to let you know, the antivaxxers have submitted your URL as malicious and spam related to the Trend Micro “Safety Centre” – http://global.sitesafety.trendmicro.com/ – which is outrageously open to abuse.

    Results in Trend Micro software warning – “The latest tests indicate that this URL contains malicious software or could defraud visitors.” And distributes malicious source code or software.

    Happened to myself and another anti-antivax blogger simultaneously in early June.

    To fix it, ring Tech. Support. We’re down in Australia but a call got things moving.

    One tip: be specific in stating your domain has been incorrectly flagged as malicious, and describe how it is being reported by the “sitesafety” page. This should prevent you being being transferred to software specific departments and having days wasted.

    It should be cleared up within 48 hours or so.

    Here’s the tweet that alerted me:

    All the best.

    Oh, and Alan, viral shedding associated with MMR is so rare as to be of no concern. Period.

    • Paul, thank you kindly for both alerting me to this and providing me with a solution! I will take the steps you recommended immediately.

  13. More than welcome. I hope it resolved quickly.

  14. Beth S. permalink

    Thanks, SD, for your blog.

    I’m a mom in Brooklyn, NY, and recently answered a post (on a well-known local list serv with more than 5,000 users) from a first-time mom whose baby is now 9 months. She wanted views on the flu vaccine for her baby. I responded with CDC links backed up with WHO and AAP notes about how the flu vaccine is rec’d for all children over 6 months and their caregivers, etc. Plus I noted that influenza is dangerous for babies with a link associated with that, too. So far, I’ve only been flamed by two misguided individuals. BOTH of whom thought they were posting to the whole group but in reality were only emailing me. Make of that what you will.

    One of them employed the usual heuristic argument about how she and her family don’t vax against flu and haven’t had the flu, blah blah blah.

    The other, however, linked to a Mercola article with a strongly worded all-caps warning about READ THIS ARTICLE. DON’T give your baby the flu vaccine. I couldn’t help responding to her that Mercola is a Quackwatch standard and has been repeatedly ordered to stop making illegal claims about his supplements. She hasn’t responded yet. Yet.

    As cold and flu season draws near, I’m seeing a lot of the anti-vax stuff pop up on the list servs in my great metropolis of competitive parenting. I suppose I just wanted you to know that I and others are promoting a science-based approach to this aspect of parenting. Complacency will not do.

    Cheers!

    • Hi Beth,

      I am so glad there is actually an army of folks–including you and me–that will not stand for this type of misinformation. Thanks for fighting the good fight.

  15. Paulapooh permalink

    I am here to inform you that you have yet another reader. I just spent 3 hours pouring over your blogs and the comments and am hooked. I do not have the science background to dispel everything I see from AVers, but I use what I know when I can. In the mean time, I’ll keep studying at school and also keep enjoying your site.

  16. A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment.
    I do think that you should publish more about this issue, it may not be a taboo subject but
    generally people don’t discuss these issues. To the next! Best wishes!!

  17. Greetings, There’s no doubt that your site might be having browser compatibility issues. When I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in Internet Explorer, it’s got
    some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick
    heads up! Apart from that, great blog!

  18. Chris permalink

    I am very familiar with a new commenter, I encountered him before Respectful Insolence was at ScienceBlogs. Some info I found. There is always something off about the stories, like what vaccines are give just after age two (the schedule is pretty empty at that point, especially two decade ago), plus a severely autistic child “was 14 before doctors diagnosed him with autism” (from the article).

  19. Did you hear about this http://wakeupcallnews.blogspot.com/2013/08/courts-quietly-confirm-mmr-vaccine.html?
    I’ve seen it all over Facebook and it’s driving me nuts so I need help addressing it with all my anti vax peeps!!!

  20. M. Blake permalink

    I’m a reporter. I would like to speak to you about Vincent Taaffe. Please write or call: mblake@motherjones.com or 202-468-4626. I’m on deadline, so I’m hoping to speak to you as soon as possible. Thank you.

  21. Skewed- I totally love you and your site. My husband is a family physician and we are very pro-vax around these parts, but I swear my stupid facebook feed is swarmed by fools who believe pseudoscience and are really kind of batshit crazy. Reading your posts after dying a little on the inside from reading their crazy always soothes my nerves. This is the particular version of insane that came across my feed today: http://gianelloni.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/measles-shmeasles/

    This woman’s whole blog is a nightmare and an affront to modern medicine. And dear LORD, she doesn’t cite anything to save her life. It’s truly painful and sad.

    So anyway, just wanted to stop and actually tell you how much I appreciate this blog (and it’s very appropriate documentation of sources, like an actual professional!). Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks so much for your kind words! I do not think I’ve ever had a more encouraging post. Thanks for reading.

      After having a look at the blog entry you linked, my head almost exploded. Thanks for that…it really got my adrenaline primed for my run today.

  22. hi skewed,
    this is the first time i’ve seen your blog but i found it today in the process of arguing with couple of anti-vaxers and i love it! i am a retired nurse who specialized in infectious disease and my friend who is an MD and still practicing and i have been trying really hard to get through to a couple of anti-vaxers who just have high school diplomas. but of course they know way more than me, my friend and all the doctors, nurses and research scientists put together about why vaccines will kill you. they still insist that vaccines cause autism ffs!
    anyway, keep up the good work and ty for what you do. :)

    • Thank you kindly, Rita, and thanks for all of the work that you have done and still do to prevent infectious diseases. I simply love nurses! Love them. Edgiest senses of humor I’ve ever seen.

  23. Skewed: This was sent to me today: http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/your-child-is-vaccine-injured-just-like-mine/

    You’re head is going to explode for sure. Mine did.

    • Yep. My head just exploded. This person’s writing comes off as hysterical claptrap. She hits all of the major anti-vax talking points. Disgusting.

  24. I was immensely pleased to come across your blog, and highly tickled by this thread. I try (really I do) to avoid being patronizing, but it’s hard when the game is this uneven. Anti-vaccine activists — I realize that a degree from Google U. is just as good as one from Harvard, but you hurt your cause when each of your posts seems to have been written by the cat lady. Work just a little bit on your spelling and grammar, polish your sentence construction and give some thought to the structure of your argument. Otherwise — and someone needs to deliver the tough love here — the rest of us will start to suspect that your cutlery is not the most finely honed in the drawer. Oh, and a few credible citations won’t hurt.

    • Chris permalink

      Ah, jre, you do not know how pertinent this warning is. Recently I have been engaged in the type of person you described. Because as I ask for more actual verifiable evidence the more disconnected the response was from basic middle school English rhetoric.

      Check out this example (if the link fails just go to the last page and do a search on the quote):

      Miaww check you out all claws out grow up will you unlike yourself i clearly dont have the time to sit and perfect my english explain what that has to do with my points ? It seems you are looking for an argument you honestly dont have a clue what i know and about my education and to be honest people who are like you and always think your right and one step better end up to be the ones to fall flat on there face this is the last message of me because i havnt got time for ones ignorant perfect englished narrow mind I AM ENTITLED TO SAY WHAT I WANT EVEN IF IT ISNT IN YOUR STANDERD ENGLISH nd wot u want 2 hear < does that make me any less capable of having degrees because i can write like that that is a fact mate !

      • jre permalink

        I can see it in your eyes / That you’re out to patronize me …

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