Duesburg and the Vax-Antivax Study

Meet Peter Duesburg.

 

He’s kind of an asshole.

 

…Okay, that’s not fair, let’s start over.

Meet Peter Duesburg.

He doesn’t believe that HIV causes AIDS. He’s a gigantic cunt who is at least partially responsible for the death of over 330,000 people in South Africa.

 

…Shit, that didn’t come out right. One more try.

Meet Peter Duesburg.

He’s kind of an asshole.

 

…Hmm. As far as invective goes, that appears to be as low as I’m physically able to go when describing Duesburg. I’d ask my editor to give it a once-over, but honestly, I’m fine with characterizing him as an asshole.

 

Anyways. Asshole is not convinced that HIV causes AIDS. He wants to perform a double-blind study examining the effects as follows: take 4000 people, randomly separate them into 2 groups, then in accordance with double-blind procedure, infect one group with blood tainted by HIV, and give the other group a placebo blood infusion. Then, he will examine the propensity of those in either group to develop AIDS. He demands this study because no other study can truly establish whether or not HIV causes AIDS, and because he’s still not convinced.

…Anyone see the problem here? Anyone? Maybe you, Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist?

…Oh no. Sarah agrees with Duesburg and sees absolutely no problems with performing the study. I guess this is what happens when you have no understanding of ethics, medicine, prior probability, and suffer from a Dunning-Krüger complex the size of a small planet, you moron.

So why has this study never been done? One word: ethics. ETHICS. You don’t test a treatment to a highly infectious, deadly disease by means of raising exposure to it. If vaccines work, then we cannot ethically perform a test wherein we intentionally refuse to vaccinate one of the groups. Similarly, if HIV is believed to cause AIDS, then we cannot ethically test this by infecting people with HIV. This would apply even if HIV wasn’t a deadly, chronic disease. And let’s be clear here – when I say “believed” I don’t mean “someone has a hunch” or “someone thinks so based on no reasonable evidence”, I mean “believed based on a preponderance of scientific data”. We believe that HIV causes AIDS because of a large assortment of cohort studies such as MACS, which show as bulletproof of a correlation as you’re ever going to get in science – virtually everyone with AIDS-like symptoms was HIV-positive, to the point where the exceptions were statistically negligible as measuring errors. Similarly, we believe that vaccines don’t cause autism because of a wealth of studies on the subject, and because there’s not really any reason to believe it in the first place – the evidence initially provided to take this hypothesis off the ground turned out to be blatantly and intentionally fraudulent to service vested and undisclosed interests.

(On a slight side note, people who would like to scream “pharma shill”, it’s worth noting that the list of papers published by “big pharma” – read: any reputable scientific organization and/or the government – with both a clear conflict of interest and a clear case of fraudulent data or even just piss-poor study design to compare to the German “study” many of you like to hold up is still pretty much zero. Whereas it’s almost astonishingly easy to pick out examples of fraud or awful design on your side of the aisle. Those in glass houses… probably shouldn’t make bullshit assertions of fraud, eh?)

Even then, we don’t need vax-antivax studies. Cohort studies have been designed to examine this kind of thing. Danish studies have examined if there’s anything to dose-response with Thimerosal… And came up with nothing. Yes, I am well aware that the studies have faced significant criticism from antivaxxers, it’s just that the criticism is by and large bullshit (especially hilarious are assertions of conflict of interest – the study was based entirely on publicly available Danish health data!). And of course, that’s just two of a massive litany of well-designed, large-scale studies on the subject, most of which based on data which is basically immune to conflict of interest. This shouldn’t be a contentious issue. The main reason it is has to do with people not understanding conflict of interest and how little of an impact it usually has in the peer-reviewed literature (usually because, well, Wakefield).

Man, I’d feel bad about calling this guy Ugly McScroteFace if he wasn’t also one of the most harmful anti-science advocates currently active.

Look. The evidence available currently without a vax-antivax double-blind study shows in no uncertain terms that vaccines do not cause autism. Hell, there’s even been at least one decent study examining the medical records of those who vaccinate vs. those who don’t – the german KiGGS study, which found, surprise surprise, the only significant difference was the incidence in vaccine-preventable infectious diseases. On its own, this study would not be a slam-dunk – the unvaccinated group is fairly small. But taken in combination with the massive wealth of other evidence, it’s simply another nail in the coffin for the ridiculous hypothesis that vaccines cause autism, or auto-immune disorders, or whatever else you want. Ironically, most antivaccine advocates actually use this study side-by-side with the aforementioned “study” I brought up above, the one from Impfschaden.info, ignoring completely that KiGGS’s data for unvaccianted children runs very much contrary to the data presented by the survey. Given that one is a large-scale analysis of medical records and one is an online survey that I could fill out with the name of “Bruce Banner”…

With that in mind, there is no excuse for the unnecessary exposure to infectious diseases that a vax-antivax study would cause. It’s utterly unethical and completely pointless. Testing if vaccines cause autism, auto-immune deficiencies, or the like by refusing to give people vaccines is like testing if HIV causes AIDS by intentionally giving people HIV. The evidence is already in showing that that’s a fucking terrible idea.

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