When I wrote that post, I fully expected that Lowell Hubbs would appear out of the woodwork and attempt to discredit the studies by claiming they were biased or that they were secretly funded by some arm of "big pharma", but what I did not expect was the nonsense that he posted as a comment (shown here):
"You can not possibly be that dumb as to suggest autism is genetic? That is over the top for even the level of stupidity you have already put forth. How, in one generation did the genetic gene pool change from 1 in 10,000 autistic children to now 1 in 100 or at times even less than 100? The vaccines were steadily increased after 1988 and after the vaccine manufacturers were given complete legal immunity. They are now 49 shots of 14 vaccines before the age of 6. And you think there is no grey area, no questionable area anywhere? Who the hell pays you for this shit? Vax UnVax Study Results http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/08/vax-unvax-study-results.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ageofautism+%28AGE+OF+AUTISM%29 Managing Editor's Note: From the Child Health Safety site: A new survey of 7724 participants shows unvaccinated children are healthier and have vastly fewer chronic conditions than the vaccinated. The survey is published here The Health of Unvaccinated Children, Survey Results." ~Lowell HubbsOk a few things need to be pointed out here. First of all this comment was added soon after the original post was added to this site, meaning it is doubtful Mr. Hubbs even bothered to review the original studies as he would not have had time to analyze them or find any deficiencies in their methodology. It isn't really a new phenomenon to have a vaccine conspiracy theorist simply ignore reputable science, but it does just show yet again how Mr. Hubbs is unable to even comprehend or fully understand the science he attempts to ignore.
Had Mr. Hubbs responded with direct criticism of the studies or questions about the results it would be one thing, but it is obvious that rather than be bothered to actually review the source data, Mr. Hubbs instead just scans the titles and makes up his mind. In fact, Mr. Hubbs has already made up his mind in regards to vaccinations and autism, so no amount of new data or scientific study can change it. This is the basic premise of a vaccine conspiracy theorist like Mr. Hubbs... they don't allow the data to lead them to conclusions, but rather they form a conclusion and then spend all of their time finding data which supports it while ignoring data that challenges it. This is not how science works - which is why Lowell Hubbs and his ilk will always remain nothing more than a distraction to the real science being performed each and every day.
So what else can we learn from Mr. Hubbs' comments? Well... as sad as it is, Mr. Hubbs has displayed an ignorance to basic scientific concepts which honestly calls into question whether he is even fit to comment on these issues when it is so clear he has no clue what he is talking about. I'm referring to the fact that Mr. Hubbs provides a link to a survey, and yet he confuses this with a study. Mr. Hubbs believes the nonsense he has linked to somehow proves the unvaccinated children are healthier, and he honestly believes this is a smoking gun.
Let me explain the major flaws in Mr. Hubbs thinking. First of all, the survey he linked to is just that... a survey. This means it is nothing more than anecdotal evidence and is in no way considered scientific. No research was performed to identify the people who responded to the survey, there is no indication that bias was addressed, and no mandate for those responding to the survey to even bother to answer honestly. There was no direct contact between any doctor, scientist, or researcher and the survey respondents, and there was no analysis performed on medical records or test results. The fact that Mr. Hubbs feels a survey is worthy of being considered a "study" only shows how poorly he understands the scientific process.
So for the sake of discussion, lets go ahead and examine this little survey to see what we find. Let's look at the science behind how they gathered their data, and let's examine the methodology behind the survey itself. The first glaring red flag here is who actually designed the survey. It was distributed by the website www.vaccineinjury.info which is nothing more than an anti-vaccination website which seeks to label all vaccines as harmful as they try to sell various antivaxxer books (as any good antivaxxer will tell you, fear is very profitable).
Second, and perhaps more important that who distributed the survey, is HOW they distributed the survey. According to their website, the responses they received were "[d]ue to social network pages and the help of many people who supported the survey". So essentially they relied upon social media like facebook pages to distribute the survey, and then they even openly admit it was distributed by people who supported the survey! Do these people even understand the concept of bias? This is like asking a five year old to distribute a survey to other five year olds and then reporting that the survey says peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the most healthy meal on the planet while playing kickball is the world's most popular sport.
These people just don't get it... and I doubt they ever will.
It gets better though. Out of the 7,799 responses to the survey (none of which were validated in any way which means a single person could respond to the survey 300 times if they wished), only 582 of the survey respondents indicated that conventional medicine is their preferred medical treatment. Considering that conventional medicine is actually the preferred treatment of well over 95% of the public, this figure shows how skewed this survey is, but there is no mention of this discrepancy by the authors. Apparently they are more concerned with distributing their bias and they have no interest in pointing out the fact that there are numerous glaring flaws in their methodology.
So what was the preferred medical treatment? Well not surprising, 2,826 of the respondents relied upon homeopathy, 2,370 relied upon naturopathic medicine and 1,729 relied upon other medicine which according to the survey's authors is mainly chiropractic and supplemental. This basically tells us of the 7,799 people who took this silly survey on their facebook pages or from anti-vaxxer websites that 6,925 of them (or 89%) rely upon unproven forms of 'alternative' medicine while only 7% use conventional medicine. Don't ask me what happened to the other 292 survey respondents (4%) which apparently were not counted... I guess statistical accuracy or explaining major discrepancies in the data just isn't important to antivaxxers.
It is painfully obvious this survey is a joke, and not even a good one at that. Even the most ardent anti-vaccination quackjob on the planet understands that most people use conventional medicine as their primary source of treatment, thus if you have a survey with drastically different results it doesn't take a brain surgeon (or even a research scientist or statistical analyst) to figure out the survey is heavily, heavily skewed and full of bias.
As entertaining as this is - it actually gets better! The next piece of data we are shown indicates that over 99% of the survey respondents were happy that they didn't vaccinate their children. It was actually 99.69% which is a statistical super-mega-amazing-majority!
But wait... I thought this survey was supposed to show how much healthier unvaccinated kids were when compared to vaccinated kids. If 99.69% of the kids in the survey are unvaccinated, that would equate to 7,775 of the 7,799 children which would only leave a maximum of 24 kids who are potentially vaccinated. How do they expect to perform a valid comparison between group A of 7,775 people (99.69%) and group B of 24 people (0.31%)? The fact that I even have to point this out to someone like Mr. Hubbs who has taken the survey at face value only serves as more evidence on how disconnected the antivaxxers are from reality. Critical thinking skills, common sense, and any level of scientific understanding apparently don't exist within the antivaxxer community - and this little survey acts as a prime exhibit of those facts.
In fact, if you actually read on into the survey results, you will soon discover that they did no such comparison between vaccinated and unvaccinated children who were counted in the survey. None whatsoever. Instead, they are comparing their survey of unvaccinated children to other scientific studies which determine the rate of various medical conditions such as allergies or asthma. Once again there is a severe failure to understand the scientific process and the fact that the distributors of this survey fail to understand the glaring flaws in their methodology is comical at best.
Where things really get interesting is when you drill down into the survey results a bit further and you come across their graphic which shows their survey results displaying autism cases in unvaccinated children. The graphic they use is shown below:
|Click to View in Full Size|
Unfortunately there is a lot left up to the imagination surrounding this image, and no explanation is given for the numbers shown. It is understandable that there would be very few if any cases of autism reported in children under the age of three since autism is often undiagnosed until the child is a toddler, but beyond that the numbers shown in this table seem rather high.
We are continually told that the rates of autism are roughly 1 in 110 American children and that this number has bloomed in the past decade, yet this graphic (if you average all children from 0-12 years of age) shows the rate to be 1.46%. If you factor in all children through age 18 the rate averages to 1.25%. So if the rate of autism in the general population is 1 in 110, that equates to 0.9%. However this survey is suggesting that the rate of autism in unvaccinated children is anywhere from 1.25% to 1.46%... which is an increase over the general population of 38% to 62%!
Now let me be clear that I give no credibility to this survey nor do I feel it is in any way scientific. However if the antivaxxers wish to consider this a valid survey, then by all means they need to be willing to accept the data, and that means an unvaccinated child is 38% to 62% more likely to be autistic than a vaccinated child. Hey - I can only go off of the chart provided, and math doesn't lie, so I guess that is what they want us to believe.
Then again, the website does include a disclaimer which readily admits that they "cannot guarantee that the information provided is complete, accurate and current", so I guess that allows them to wipe their hands from all of the fear-inducing headlines that don't seem to mirror the actual results of their survey. Funny how these antivaxxers always seem to have some type of a disclaimer, so that made me wonder... do legitimate peer-reviewed medical studies have disclaimers on the bottom that state the study's authors can't guarantee that the results are complete or accurate? The answer is no - because real science needs no such disclaimer, and a legitimate study would never be published until the study's authors were confident the data was not only complete, but that it was accurate and current as well.
This it is more than obvious even to a casual observer that this survey is worthless. I really was looking forward to a legitimate scientific study that includes a large enough control group to make it meaningful, but once again the antivaxxers have let me down. Obviously I could go on and on about the flaws in this survey, the overwhelming unscientific bias that has blended into everything from the survey creation, to survey distribution, collection, analysis, and even production... but I think what I have shown in this one post alone is enough to prove that not only is the survey entirely non-scientific, but even using their own skewed and heavily biased data still shows a result which contradicts their own predetermined viewpoints.
This also goes to show that how the Age of Autism website authors have no understanding of what true science is. The fact that their article states "[t]his is excellent work from an independent source" just goes to show they not only misunderstand the term "excellent" but they have no clue what it means to be an independent source. Unfortunately most of the comments added to their article thus far appear to have bought into the bait hook, line, and sinker and most likely those individuals haven't bothered to objectively analyze the data.
Is there really any wonder why anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists like Lowell Hubbs are never taken seriously when they can't even be bothered to identify the fatal flaws in the very data they use as evidence? The only thing this survey has proven is that the ignorant will remain ignorant, and the scientifically inept antivaxxers will remain scientifically inept.
Real science wins. Again.