There’s a certain logical disconnect that seems to pop up among everyone in the anti-vaccination crowd. They dismissively ignore all actual evidence that doesn’t support their firmly held belief, but they will crow from the mountaintops any time they think they’ve found scientific evidence that backs them. While this sort of thing is far from exclusive to the anti-vacc contingent, they are among the most obnoxious about it, and they have enough of a profile (thanks to
noted biomedical scientist Jenny McCarthy) that you can’t help but hear a lot of what they spout, whether you want to or not.
Which brings us to Mark Moore of the Arkansas Watch blog. Mark is, it seems, part of the anti-vacc group that is just absolutely sure that vaccines cause autism. Once you know this, it becomes much less of a surprise that he would entitle a post, “How do you give a Monkey Autism? Administer them the Vaccines we give to our Children!”
The kind of tests that should have been done a long time ago have finally been done on lab monkeys. The result is that young monkeys given a vaccine schedule from the 1990’s tend to develop autistic symptoms while a control group did not.
Then he provides a link to the study. If you’ve followed the anti-vacc movement at all over the last few years, and if you ignore that Mark makes it sound like this is a new study, you might guess that he’s going to link to the study by Dr. Laura Hewitson from 2010. You’d be more or less correct; he links to an article on LewRockwell.com. That article, while also making it sound like we’re dealing with a new study, links to an article at Age of Autism written by (noted shaken-baby-denialist) Catherine Frompovich. Frompovich is talking about the Hewitson study, and she’s hitting all the same notes that you’d expect: (1) the study showed that “biological changes and altered behaviors did occur in vaccinated monkeys, which resembled and were similar to those observed in ASD diagnosed children;” (2) the same changes and behaviors did not occur in the non-vaccinated monkeys; (3) that people who stand to profit from vaccines don’t want this study to be replicated; and (4) that this study, once replicated, will prove ex-Dr. Andrew Wakefield correct.
Wow. That sounds like quite a study, no? To someone who was unfamiliar with the study (or who was simply looking for something to confirm what they already “knew” to be true), that’s tantamount to a smoking gun.
Of course, once you look at the study — which I would bet most people touting the results have not done — you realize it’s less a smoking gun and more a smoldering pile. First of all, there’s some important information in the Methods section of the study. See if you can spot the problem: