Matt Carey discusses Vaxxed, the film.

Today, I had the pleasure of listening to a pre-recorded conference call between Karen Ernst, the Director of Voices for Vaccines, and Matt Carey, PhD in physics, autism parent, autism advocate and blogger at Left Brain, Right Brain (LBRB). I have been reading LBRB for years, since back when it was run by Kevin Leitch. It is one of my favorite blogs.

vfv-does-vaxxed

Today’s conversation was recorded live and there was an opportunity to call in and ask questions about the film Vaxxed. For those of us who missed the live version, you can listen to the recorded version at this link. You will want to open it with music player for google or podcast app or something similar.

To remind you, Vaxxed is the film Andrew Wakefield, Polly Tommey, and Del Bigtree made about the “cdcwhistleblower” controversy. I saw it and wrote my own review, which you can read here. You can also read the full facts (or lack thereof) in Vaxxed at Harpocrates Speaks Blog. 

I am not going to transcribe the whole conversation but here are some of my notes. It was definitely worth a listen.

Matt and Karen discussed the facts from the film and the controversy, including going in-depth into what William Thompson actually said and what he did not say. Matt also discussed the idea that the data was thrown away (it was not). Matt has written quite extensively about all of this, on LBRB. For example, herein he writes about how there was not really any whistle to blow.

The first caller was antivaxer Sherry Saunders who came on at about minute 37:00.  She stated that she used to work as a security guard at Huntsville [sic] Hospital and claimed it was part of her job to take care of hysterical parents who had brought a child in having seizures after a vaccine. She asked how she could convince parents the vaccine is not the problem and that the doctors and nurses are not at fault. My first reaction was that she could not be telling the truth because she stated she used to work at the hospital but then asked the question as if she still does work at the hospital.  She switched back and forth in tenses a lot, as if this is not a real story.  She went on to say that she was the security supervisor in the ICU and had to restrain the parents because they were hysterical about their child’s vaccine reaction. She claimed she had to restrain them and call the police and  that she had a stun gun. Because the parents were hysterical. Had. All past tense. Then, she asked what she is supposed to say to the parents since she is being told by doctors to keep them far away from the child in ICU and call the police. Present tense. 
At this point, I am making my “what the….” face and I can hear Matt, in the background, laughing. Here is what my “what the….” face looks like:
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Matt answered by telling her the doctors need to be the ones talking to the parents, not her, and Sherry responded by saying the hospital told her to keep the parents far away from the kids and call the police. At this point, Matt and Karen told her they did not believe her story and they hung up on her. 
A few more calls and questions were taken, including a nice discussion about how most parents of children with autism know vaccines don’t cause autism and how The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism is a great Facebook page and has a marvelous website for respectful talk about vaccines, autism, and advocacy. Matt also explained thoroughly how the idea that African American boys have a greater risk of autism is simply not backed up by data.
The last caller was Joshua Coleman, who identified himself as a member of the Vaxxed team.  Joshua is, in fact, the videographer who went on tour with the Vaxxed team in their bus for the last few months.  He was up at minute 66:34. Joshua is the person who recently ambushed Dr Paul Offit at breakfast and video recorded him without permission.  Joshua began to talk about Del Bigtree showing the film to Senator Ben Allen, but Karen redirected him to stay on the topic of the content of the film Vaxxed.  So, he brought up how we only know MMR and thimerosal don’t cause autism, that the rest of the ingredients and other vaccines, he said, have not been tested. Joshua mentioned the (now retracted) Wakefield 1998 paper. He stated that provaxers often use that paper as proof that Andrew Wakefield said vaccines cause autism. Joshua said these two facts, that vaccines don’t cause autism and Wakefield says they do, are both blatent lies.  This, he says, was his first clue that provaxers lie. He asked Matt to explain to him how this is okay and not a major red flag that there is some deceit going on here. 
Matt responded first by making the point that he, Matt, has published over 100 papers and none have ever been retracted.  Matt then brought up how many papers Wakefield has had retracted and then made a very valid point that the Vaxxed fans and team tend to forget to bring up how many papers Wakefield has had retracted.  Matt explained how Wakefield went in to the press conference for the 1998 paper and made statements that were “wildly extrapolated and wildly irresponsible” and antivaxers never explain about this fact. Matt also reminded Joshua that we can easily go through Wakefield’s public records and find many statements where he has stated, in one form or the other, that vaccines cause autism.  The 1998 Lancet article, Matt states, tends to be the only thing antivaxers want to talk about, not the fact that the work he did for that paper was a result of the ethics violations that were found proved and which cost him his medical license.  We are not talking about an upstanding researcher, said Matt.  
After Matt answered Josh’s question, Josh ignored him and began to argue with Matt. Basically, Matt answered the question in full but, somehow, Josh missed it and claimed his question was not addressed. He was arguing so much, that Karen hung up on him. 
This led to a nice conversation between Karen and Matt about how antivaxers tend to distract and divert by arguing “itty bitty” details.
The final comment made by Matt is that he is not provax, he is an autism parent and wants to counter misinformation that is used to damage his community. He feels antivaxers use vaccines as a tool to damage the autism community.
Karen made very good point that we need to make a place at the table for parents of autists who are harmed by this assault, by this myth getting perpetuated that vaccines cause autism. Matt agreed and pointed out that autists are more medically fragile than the general public and his own child has been hospitalized many times because a minor infection which set off his epilepsy. He made the point that a serious infection like measles could kill his son and not vaccinating puts everyone in danger. Matt concluded by saying how he got into this provax fight not because of vaccines but because of wanting to protect his own son and others in the autism community from the harm that antivaxers cause by not vaccinating and also by thinking of autism as damage. 
All in all, this was a very worthwhile listen.  Thanks Karen and Matt.
Remember to always think for yourself!
Kathy

ETA: For another look at this call and the output connected with it, here is a storification from @jkellyca of twitter responses using the hashtag,  #vfvcall.

 

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Matt Carey discusses Vaxxed, the film.

  1. Oh, is that the same Sherrie Saunders that the Vaxxed team has presented as some sort of “military vaccine whistleblower”? If I recall correctly, she is from Alabama – not sure if it is Huntsville or not.

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