Why this vaxed v. unvaxed study is not valid: Update: Study retracted AGAIN.

Update: This study has been retracted for the second time. 


For the last few days, people opposed to vaccines have been posting a link to a study called Pilot comparative study on the health of vaccinated and unvaccinated 6- to 12- year old U.S. children. The lead author is Jackson State, MS, University professor, Anthony R. Mawson. This study is not valid and here is why.


First of all, I need to explain what is meant by validity and reliability, with regards to science.  The University of California, Davis, has a very good synopsis. “In order for research data to be of value and of use, they must be both reliable and valid.” Reliability refers to how well the findings of the study can be repeated. If a study was done in a manner that is objective and well-executed, then other scientists should be able to repeat (or replicate) it and get the same findings. Validity refers to the believability of the research.  How well do the findings answer the study hypothesis.  There is internal validity, which refers to how well the procedures in the study measured what they were supposed to measure. And, there is external validity, which refers to how well the findings can be generalized.

So, in an ideal study of children’s health, we would not need to take the researcher’s word for anything. The data would be reliable because all claims would be verified. For example, if the the study claims that 5% of children got colds twice a year or more, it would be reliable data if the researchers used the children’s medical records to determine how many colds they had a year. We would know that the data had been compiled by the children’s healthcare providers and analyzed by the researchers. Nothing would be left to interpretation.

But, if we just ask parents, how many colds a year do you think your child has had, those answers are not necessarily reliable because parents don’t always know the difference between a cold and influenza or allergies. And, they would not be basing their answers on data they collected but rather memories. Memories are notoriously inaccurate.

That brings us to the Mawson study.  First of all, you need to know that there was an attempt to publish this study last year but the methods the study used and the fact that there were only two peer reviewers ( one being a chiropractor) caused alarm in the scientific community. The journal pulled the study before publication.  Many of us found out this was happening from Retraction Watch, a very interesting source to follow if you like reading about how science works and how studies are monitored.  Based solely upon the abstract, the study was criticized by many, including Respectful Insolence blog.

I must take a moment to point out that I homeschool one of my children so I am not biased in any way towards homeschooling. 

At Respectful Insolence blog, ORAC (aka Dr David Gorski, oncologist) rightfully criticized the methodology of the study as well as the fact that a chiropractor was used to peer review an epidemiology study. Chiropractors are not the peers of epidemiologists. ORAC also noted that this study was funded by Generation Rescue, a notoriously antivax group.

These are problems. Real problems. So, the original journal, Frontiers, took note and pulled the study.

Now, months later, the study has been published in a pay-to-publish journal online called Open Access Text. Reputable scientists don’t pay to publish their studies. Journals like Pediatrics or Vaccines or The Lancet don’t require authors to pay and they are considered far more respectable when it comes to considering authors for professorship positions. Scientists know these facts. They know that publishing in a predatory journal is not a good career move.

So, what happened after this study was pulled by Frontiers? It was submitted to Open Access Text, a predatory, pay-to-publish online journal, and published this week. And it is being spammed everywhere as a valid study.

It is not valid and here is why.

One: It was funded by two known antivax groups, Generation Rescue, Inc., and the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute (CMSRI).  Both are well know to be opposed to vaccines. CMSRI is funded by the Dwoskin Foundation, who are big money behind a lot of antivax operations. This does not negate the results, by any means, but it does beg the question – what was the motivation for the study. By the same token, I would look very skeptically at any study published by a pharmaceutical company.

Two: Read the introduction. The authors went into the study assuming vaccines cause grave harm. ” The aims of this study were 1) to compare vaccinated and unvaccinated children on a broad range of health outcomes, including acute and chronic conditions, medication and health service utilization, and 2) to determine whether an association found between vaccination and NDDs, if any, remained significant after adjustment for other measured factors.”  That is serious bias.

Three: The study design was flawed. “The study was designed as a cross-sectional survey of homeschooling mothers on their vaccinated and unvaccinated biological children ages 6 to 12. As contact information on homeschool families was unavailable, there was no defined population or sampling frame from which a randomized study could be carried out, and from which response rates could be determined. However, the object of our pilot study was not to obtain a representative sample of homeschool children but a convenience sample of unvaccinated children of sufficient size to test for significant differences in outcomes between the groups.”  Right from the start, Mawson, et al, admit that they aren’t really able to do a good, quality study.  “A number of homeschool mothers volunteered to assist NHERI promote the study to their wide circles of homeschool contacts.”   This is also problematic. They had participants promoting the study to their own friends. How did they account for bias? They did not.

Four: Methods were flawed. The authors categorized the children as unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or fully vaccinated based only on word of the mothers. They did not consult medical records. Mothers were then asked to indicate which illnesses their child had had but no medical records were consulted. This data was analyzed statistically but how can they analyze data they have not verified as accurate? They purposely did not use medical records because they said that would have led to low participation.

Five: The limitations. Oh my, the limitations. “We did not set out to test a specific hypothesis about the association between vaccination and health.”  So, this was not even science.

So, what does all this mean? It means we cannot validate the information the mothers gave is accurate or real. It means none of the data in this study means anything, because no one would ever be able to completely replicate it. They would never be able to go back in and find all the same anonymous mothers and guarantee the same answers from them. This kind of survey does not add anything of value to the body of literature on children’s health. Honestly, I could have done better as a freshman in college, in my introduction to research methods and statistical analysis class.

If you want a real, valid, reliable study on vaccinated versus unvaccinated, the KIGGS study is the place to go. Because the researchers used not only a parent survey but also a “standardized, computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI) of the accompanying parent by a doctor,” this data can be verified as authentic. That is reliability. This study could be repeated. Children’s vaccination status was documented. “The questions about diseases were followed by data collection on the basis of medical records in the vaccination card, about data concerning the administered vaccinations and the timing of the vaccination”  So, everything was verified. KIGGS is everything this new study is not. There is no reason whatsoever to think this new study is anything but bunk.

Remember, always verify claims and always think for yourself,


Updated2: Other bloggers have been tackling this study and since their blogs are just as good as mine, I would like to share. Please check them out.



Respectful Insolence: A boatload of fail: Were two horrendously bad zombie “vaxed/antivaxed” studies retracted—again?

Respectful Insolence: The Mawson “vaxed/unvaxed” study retraction: The antivaccine movement reacts with tears of unfathomable sadness

Respectful Insolence: The check must have finally cleared, or: Mawson’s incompetent “vaxed/unvaxed” study is back online

Snopes: ‘First Ever’ Study Comparing Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Children Shows Harm from Vaccines?

Science Based Medicine: Two (now retracted) studies purporting to show that vaccinated children are sicker than unvaccinated children show nothing of the sort

I Speak of Dreams: About Those “Homeschooled, Unvaccinated Children are Healthier” Studies.


240 thoughts on “Why this vaxed v. unvaxed study is not valid: Update: Study retracted AGAIN.

  1. In the KIGGS study you are reffering to it was practicaly impossible to get a significant difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated because the sample size for unvaccinated was so small. And than they divided this group into 3 subgroups. On the graphs you can see, there might be an assotiation, but ofcourse, there is no way with such a small group the difference is significant.


    • The KIGGS study is still much more scientifically valid that Mawson’s cherry picked self-reporting phone survey. There was no checking medical records.


      • How can it be valid if the only possible outcome of this study was that the difference is not statisticaly significant. This is a real bias.
        The difference a couple of moms laying cold make to the mawson study is nothing compared to the bias in kiggs study. I mean, just look at the graph. The sd in unvaccinated practicaly covers the whole graph.


      • I don’t think you understand bias. Mawson study was retracted TWICE because they did not confirm any of the data. KIGGS was able to confirm data with medical records. Huge difference.


      • Don’t get me wrong, the Mawson study has its setbacks, but KiGGS study is just as bad if not more so. Everybody ever doing any statistics knows, you have to compare at least app. same size groups.


      • All I am getting from this reply is: ” I’ve just lost this debate, so lets try to move the debate to autism (that wasn’t even part of a debate), maybe nobody will notice.


      • The problem is that you can only get so many subjects. It does not matter if it is as statistically significant to your standards. As you note it does not make Mawson’s better. But it still showed that the only difference between the two groups is that the kids who were not vaccinated got more vaccine preventable diseases.

        Of course we never just take the results of one study. We check to see if the there is agreement over several, like this meta study:

        “The difference a couple of moms laying cold make to the mawson study is nothing compared to the bias in kiggs study.”

        Um, yeah, sure… you go with that.


    • That is because there are very few 100% unvaccinated children, particularly in the healthcare system. Many antivaxers don’t take their children to and Md when they are sick.

      This is a valid study. Deal with it.


      • “Deal with it.”

        If you are dissatisfied with the studies presented, then go do one yourself.

        Design the study, make sure it complies with the Belmont Report, get it approved by an IRB and then write a grant for funding. Submit that grant to various funding sources. Some suggestions would be SafeMinds or the Dwoskin Family Foundation. Though beware: they tend get very dismayed when the results do not fit their agenda.

        Liked by 1 person

      • And why would parents be afraid to take their unvaccinated to the good doctor? Maybe because these doctors identify as hysterical vaxxers?


      • Too often, they are bullied by doctors.

        And doctors who don’t are bullied by the medical board.

        Restore freedom NOW!


      • “You just proved my point”

        No, I did not. You are simply making up sh*t. You prove my point that pro vaxxers are crazy people. It’s a mental disease. You mind is fogged. You cannot reason.


      • Forcing treatment on healthy people is not care, it’s fascism.

        You are proving again that vaxxism is a mental disease


      • No, that’s the fake definition invented by fascistic teachers to hide the fact that the program of the left is fascistic.


      • So they have the right to consult a medical doctor that dismisses “vaccine science” as a gigantic fraud, of the same size as climate science?

        They have the right to consult a medical doctor that has been excluded by the medical board?

        You are simply making of sh*t.


      • “In the USA, doctors who have lost their licenses cannot practice medicine.”

        So, fascism it is.

        Thank you for proving my point.

        Now that have proven my point, we can move to another more interesting topic.


      • “who does not meet standards”

        What standard?

        Hiding the fact that the hep B vaccine caused an abominable health crisis is a standard?


      • “You are simply making of sh*t.”

        You are still not making any sense.

        Even though the Dr. Geier was stripped of his medical license and his son was fined for practicing medicine without a license they are still pushing their nonsense on the vulnerable kids of desperate parents.

        “Restore freedom NOW!”

        How did that freedom help Natalie? She is dead:

        I guess you don’t care about kids who die because one of your freedom loving fools infects other kids. Perhaps you are just giddy at the thought of kids getting sick because you relish their suffering. Mortality is just a way for you to get more freedom!


      • “Even though the Dr. Geier was stripped of his medical license”

        Which proves my point.
        Which proves my other point: vaxxers are mentally ill. They literally make other’s people points will trying to debunk them.


      • simple-touriste: “Forcing treatment on healthy people is not care, it’s fascism.”

        Um, where does this happen? It does not happen in the USA. The only vaccine requirements are for school attendance, and there are many ways to get out of that.

        In most states you can get an exemption, go to private school or homeschool. Even in states with more strict rules one is allowed to homeschool.

        So exactly how did this “freedom” protect Natalie… or do you not care about kids who died from SSPE?


      • simple-touriste: “So, fascism it is.”

        Geier lost his medical license and his son was fined for pretending to be a doctor because the harms they did to mistreating kids was reported by their parents. They were turned in by those who saw their kids get hurt.

        It seems you are happy those kids were harmed and upset that the Geiers got caught? Why do you hate children?


      • “Geier lost his medical license and his son was fined for pretending to be a doctor”

        I do not know nor care about the particular case of licence revocation you are mentioning. They may have been dishonest and caused harm, or maybe not.

        The fact that one needs a “licence” (for a private business) is the fascistic part. It doesn’t matter what wrong was done in your example. The fact that the state gives and revokes licences is quintessential fascism. It’s state controlled healthcare, the thing phony conservatives pretend to oppose (while supporting it).

        If someone misrepresents his earned diplomas, it’s fraud (false advertising, whatever).

        When the state revokes a diploma-licence, it’s fraud too. The person still earned the thing. (Whatever its value is.)

        “It seems you are happy those kids were harmed and upset that the Geiers got caught?”

        It seems that you don’t care that the number of MS cases went from 30000 to 80000 in France, many being young people. You don’t care about crippling children or teens.


  2. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter
    a blog that’s both equally educative and interesting,
    and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head.
    The problem is something that too few men and women are speaking intelligently about.

    Now i’m very happy I found this during my hunt for something relating to this.


  3. “But it still showed that the only difference between the two groups is that the kids who were not vaccinated got more vaccine preventable diseases”

    And? As if that’s a bad thing? THose children are now immune for what would appear to be a much longer time frame since INNATE immunity is at the helm when it comes to natural infection.

    I love the term “Vaccine preventable disease”

    Pro vaxxers throw this term around loosely to brainwash people into believing vaccines are the only means of preventing disease or that somehow if a child gets measles they are now at imminent risk of going blind, being brain damaged or worse , had they just taken that jab. Now the parents have to bite their nails for two weeks hoping that in the end their child, through of course medical intervention which may even include an MMR jab, will survive this deadly disease.

    This is the biggest lie perpetrated by the industry.

    Again Chris, who are you and what are your medical credentials.


    • Why would anyone want to suffer greatly from a preventable disease? The risks are so much greater with diseases than with vaccines. Vaccines have infinitely lesser risks, which is the whole point.


      • Vaccines offer temporary protection. Nobody knows exactly how much time. This makes childhood disease happen later, sometimes with much greater dangers.

        Vaccine side effects are hidden by the hysterical pro vaccine crowd. I have tried and failed to discuss with these people. They will just come up with ever changing “facts” just to “prove” me wrong. For example, they will deny the well known link between the hep B vaccine and MS. They will pretend it’s a matter only in France (a grotesque lie), that all studies show no such link (which put them in the denier category), and MS is easy to diagnose with medical images, then that MS diagnostic requires multiple evaluation over time (the exact opposite claim, which I got from the same people). They will deny that time is a thing in medicine (or they claim that time is a thing regarding prognostic not diagnostic), then they explain that diagnostic of MS is based on evolution over time.

        They will redefine the diseases (MS, polio) to restrict the criteria of diagnostic to obtain the desire result. They will compare statistics based on completely different criteria.

        Usually, they will deny the Climategate.

        Vaccine “science” is the equivalent of climate “science”. A completely bogus field, full of charlatans and frauds.


      • “Vaccines offer temporary protection.” No, that is not true. Measles vaccine, for example, lasts a lifetime.

        “Vaccine side effects are hidden by the hysterical pro vaccine crowd. ” No, that is not true. We know what vaccines can cause and do not cause. Reports of adverse events are well-studied.

        For example, MS and Hep B vaccine are not related.

        “Examples of this scientific evidence are:

        A study conducted in France from 1994 to 2003 (Mikaeloff, 2007) compared children with MS to children without. The study did not find a relationship between vaccination for hepatitis B and the development of childhood-onset MS.
        In the United States, a study (Verstraeten et al., 2001) compared 422 adults with demyelinating diseases, including MS, and 921 matched controls (people similar in age, gender, and enrollment in a healthcare system, but who did not have demyelinating disease). The researchers concluded that hepatitis B vaccination was not associated with demyelinating disease in the study population.
        Other studies conducted in the US (Ascherio and colleagues, 2001), in Europe (Confavreaux, 2001) and in British Columbia (Sadovnick and Scheifele, 2000) also evaluated the possible link between hepatitis B vaccination and MS, and also found no association between hepatitis B vaccination and MS.
        In 2002, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reviewed published and unpublished research to determine if there was a link between hepatitis B vaccine and demyelinating neurological disorders, including MS in adults. The committee found that the epidemiological evidence does not support a causal relationship between hepatitis B vaccine in adults and multiple sclerosis.”


        Climate science is well established.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “The study did not find a relationship”

        This is non evidence. It’s literally LACK of evidence.

        You are too brainwashed to even know the difference.

        Which proves my point, again.

        “Climate science is well established”

        There is literally zero evidence that more CO2 produces measurable warming.


      • “Vaccines offer temporary protection.”

        It is the same with many diseases. Many do not confer permanent immunity. You can get rotavirus, dipththeria and tetanus after recovering. At least with pertussis you get a wee bit of immunity, but you can get it again in five years:
        Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2005 May;24(5 Suppl):S58-61.
        Duration of immunity against pertussis after natural infection or vaccination.

        If a kid recovers from measles the immune system has been weakened, so the kid is more likely to suffer from other infections:
        J Infect. 2017 Jun;74 Suppl 1:S10-S17. doi: 10.1016/S0163-4453(17)30185-8.
        Measles, immune suppression and vaccination: direct and indirect nonspecific vaccine benefits.

        “Nobody knows exactly how much time.”

        Actually they do. There are several studies that track vaccine immunity, and even the effects of the actual diseases on immunity. Check out the posted papers.


      • That’s a lie, obviously.

        Only after vaccinated people become sick, the vaccine charlatans say “oh well, I guess ANOTHER shot will be added to the schedule”.


      • Well, there were outbreaks of measles in the USA, before 1990s, where some of the patients were vaccinated. That was back when we only got one MMR. The medical experts decided to recommend two and now 99% of those twice vaccinated are immune for life. Now, in USA, measles outbreaks are 80% unvaccinated persons and patient zero is always unvaccinated.



      • simple-touriste: “Which proves my point, again.”

        Actually you have no point. There is nothing to your rantings. You are a wounded bird because science does not say what you want it to say. You poor thing. The world does not operate like you want it! Oh no! Forget those kids who die from SSPE just because they were waiting to see a doctor before they could get a vaccine. Who cares that dozens of kids died from measles in Venezuela, you just want your “freedom”!

        Ah, to suffer from first world problems:


      • “There is nothing to your rantings.”

        You are a DENIER.

        My arguments are perfect. You are a mental disease, probably “liberalism”.

        “You are a wounded bird because science does not say what you want it to say”

        Science says what? Can I check with her directly? What’s her number?

        What caused the almost tripling of MS cases in France after massive hep B vaccination?

        Why do almost all studies show higher number of MS among vaccinated people?

        What is more strongly established at the statistical level than the link between hep B vaccine and MS?

        (Except the link between radiation and cancer.)


      • “Why do almost all studies show higher number of MS among vaccinated people?”

        Because most people are vaccinated. It is basic math.


      • Was it this one:

        It says: “The study found no change in risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) after vaccination against hepatitis B virus, human papillomavirus, seasonal influenza, measles-mumps-rubella, variola, tetanus, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), polio, or diphtheria. No change in risk of relapse was found for influenza.”


      • simple-t: “Go away”

        You are telling the blog owner to leave her own blog? That is just silly. You are not being forced to read this blog.

        “I’m a scientist, dude.”

        I sincerely doubt that. You mentioned some studies, but did not post any.

        “So they measured a ZERO?”

        This response pretty much proves you are no scientist, and have absolutely no understanding of statistics or even basic math. If 90% of the population gets vaccines, then a certain percentage (x%) of that will get MS. The 10% who do not get vaccinated will also have an X% that get MS. It is just that X% of 90% is higher in number than X% of 10%.

        That is exactly what was written in that paper. Though I doubt you will understand that simple bit of junior high algebra.

        “It’s a mental disease. You mind is fogged. You cannot reason.”
        “You are simply making of sh*t.”
        “You are a DENIER”
        “You are a mental disease…”
        “You did not, liar.”

        Why do you think insults are a valid substitute for evidence? You claimed there were “studies”, but have not provided any. You just post insult littered rants.


      • You are hilarious, simple-t ! If this was your blog you could simply moderate my comments out of existence. But you cannot. I am not going anywhere. Your illiteracy and innumeracy is just too amusing.


    • You don’t. Though it would help if you actually read the article I posted with some reading comprehension and some basic understanding of statistics.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Where is the word “zero” in this quote: “The study found no change in risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) after vaccination against hepatitis B virus, human papillomavirus, seasonal influenza, measles-mumps-rubella, variola, tetanus, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), polio, or diphtheria. No change in risk of relapse was found for influenza.”

        “No change” does not mean “zero.”

        What they mean is there is the same risk of MS whether or not one is vaccinated.

        If you do no like the meta-study of over fifty studies, then provide some studies yourself.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “Where is the word “zero””

        So now you don’t even understand what zero is?

        You can’t be for real.

        ““No change” does not mean “zero.””


        I give up. I officially do. You are beyond the reach of rational discourse.



      • A mathematical explanation, perhaps.

        Anyway, it is clear for anyone here that you are not capable of even reasoning at the level of 10 years old.


  4. Pingback: First Ever Study Comparing Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Kids, Erased from Internet, Pulled from Journal

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