Fool me eight times, shame on me

Today a friend posted a link to an article titled Studies Prove Without Doubt That Unvaccinated Children Are Healthier Than Their Vaccinated Peers1 to his Facebook stream. Just two days ago I said I was done listening to anything about vaccines, but I ended the post with:

If you have a study or actual data of some kind to cite, do it.

I should have known by the fact that the title used the plural studies rather than study that there would be no real information here. But it fooled me into clicking on the link. The article itself has footnotes which cite references as well, providing the illusion that it was backed by facts of some kind.

Here is what I found: a description of a New Zealand study which claims to have observed a small number (495) of children over the course of 20 years and found much higher incidences of certain diseases in those who had received vaccines, and a chart which claimed to compare the results of two different German studies.

The first thing that must be pointed out is that none of the citations are to the primary sources the article reports on. There is a link to the CDC’s Data and Statistics page for Autism Spectrum Disorder, but since the article’s statistics say nothing about the incidence of autism it really only serves as a scare tactic to try to make us remember Andrew Wakefield’s paper in the 1998 Lancet, but hopefully not to remember it well enough to remember that it Dr Wakefield lost his license to practice medicine over his fraudulent paper and the successful conspiracy to make a lot of money from lawsuits supported by the fraud.

Even on its face the article contains no meaningful evidence. According to the article The New Zealand study was conducted by giving questionairres not to random subjects but to members of an anti-immunization lobby called the Immunization Awareness Society. The link to their domain contains a blog with no posts as of this writing. The ethics of using a lobbying group’s own members in a study at all should be enough to dismiss any findings, but only including self-reported results from members of an anti-vaccination group takes confirmation bias and turns it into performance art.

The New Zealand study, according to this article, included «children» up to age 46. They were the adult children of members of the IAS.

Never mind all that: the article simply never tells us anything about the results of the study:

During the study, another interesting fact emerged. Researchers discovered that 92 percent of the children requiring a tonsillectomy operation had received the measles vaccination, indicating that the vaccination for measles may have made some of the children more susceptible to tonsillitis.

Note that this is not information from the study, but rather a discovery by unnamed researchers that was made during the study. It fails to mention that measles immunization coverage among 1-year olds in New Zealand is presently 92 percent.2

Presumably the immunization coverage rate by 5-15 when tonsillitis is most common3 would be higher than 92 percent, which suggests that the failure to vaccinate for measles made the children more susceptible to tonsillitis. Of course, that claim would ignore a host of factors which would need considering, but then, so does the original claim.

The article goes on:

Researchers concluded that:

“While this was a very limited study, particularly in terms of the numbers of unvaccinated children that were involved and the range of chronic conditions investigated, it provides solid scientific evidence in support of considerable anecdotal evidence that unvaccinated children are healthier that their vaccinated peers.”[1]

Again, unnamed researchers. The footnote is there to provide the illusion of authority, but links to a YouTube video by Dr Mayer Eisenstein, who is not a researcher4 but who in any case did not say those (or similar) words in that video anyway.

The article goes on to compare the results of two German studies: One is the KiGGS survey by the Robert Koch Institute which doesn’t mention vaccination at all. The other study is not named.

Let me reiterate that: The other study is not named.

There is a footnote with a link an article5 claiming that the results of two studies show that vaccinated children are less healthy than… wait, that’s the exact same claim. That site uses the same graph as well. Fortunately in this case, the source of the study of unvaccinated children was named: It was the results from people who had filled out a questionaire at the website There are links to the study results.

Unfortunately those links to study results all return 403 Forbidden pages.

So this was, once again, a wild goose chase.

Let me be clear about this: I do not claim to have any data on the effects of vaccinations. I welcome evidence on this subject. My complaint is just this: those who are making claims about the adverse effects of vaccinations don’t seem to have that evidence either. Back up your claims, or sierra tango foxtrot uniform.

  1. No, I’m not going to link to it and boost their SEO ratings for telling lies. But if you really care, it’s ↩︎

  2. Immunization coverage data from the World Health Organization. ↩︎

  3. Risk factors for tonsillitis, Mayo Clinic ↩︎

  4. …and kind of shady, according to the Chicago Tribune ↩︎

  5. ↩︎


Bravo! I especially like this sentence..." The ethics of using a lobbying group’s own members in a study at all should be enough to dismiss any findings, but only including self-reported results from members of an anti-vaccination group takes confirmation bias and turns it into performance art." and "sierra tango foxtrot uniform."