Critical Thinking 101: The Vaccine Debate

It appears that there is a great deal of consensus today that a large segment of the population is deficient in critical thinking skills. The funny thing is that I see this opinion espoused by people on all sides of every issue. It even comes from some people I consider to be entirely devoid of critical thinking skills. Apparently, there is no consensus on what constitutes critical thinking. A lot of people seem to believe that “critical thinking” means criticizing the hell out of someone who disagrees with you. It doesn’t. It means examining all sides of a subject and weighing the information you receive to determine what is likely to be closest to the truth, while keeping in mind that no one has the whole truth.

liesThe best place to teach critical thinking – to my mind – is in history class, the one place where it is virtually absent until you get to the college level, by which time most students have dropped it. (For some background on this read Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James W. Loewen.) In recent years, I have become a reader of non-fiction books about history. It turns out that history is fascinating when well-written and well-researched. Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals , about Lincoln’s candidacy and presidency, was eye-opening. Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel  reshaped my world view, and helped me to understand the rise of “civilization” in a whole new way, and Patton, by Ladislas Farago, gave me insight into what went right and wrong in World War II, militarily speaking.

What historians do in the course of their work is analyze as many primary sources as possible,  only resorting to secondary sources when absolutely necessary. A primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study. The reason historians use primary sources such as letters, diaries, and newspaper accounts is because they recount direct experience of the events that are being discussed. Secondary sources interpret and analyze primary sources and are removed by at least one step from the events in question.

Using primary sources tends to give a historian more credibility than using secondary sources. In other words, if you’ve analyzed the original data yourself and done your own thinking about it, chances are good that you have come closer to the truth than someone who is only listening to others’ interpretations of events.

When it comes to the vaccine debate, most of the information the average person encounters will be secondary sources, the mainstream media. The information comes in pre-digested, pre-analyzed chunks. Don’t believe me? My first assignment in Critical Thinking 101: The Vaccine Debate is to find a mainstream journalism account that “debunks” the “vaccine link” to autism. Read the source for what it is, an analysis of the information, not the information itself. Then go to the original – primary – source of the information, usually a scientific study that’s just been released. See if what you read matches up with what the headlines say. If you do this once you may think that it is a fluke that all the articles you can find in the mainstream media get it not just wrong but very wrong.  Do this a number of times and you can come to one of only two conclusions: Either the reporters involved have no understanding of science, or there is a calculated pattern of disinformation going on. Either conclusion will ensure that you never blindly accept a mainstream publication on the subject again.

There is another “primary source” that is frequently utterly dismissed in the vaccine/autism debate: the parents of children with autism. If you read media accounts of people who are questioning vaccines, they rarely give you the parents’ words themselves. They give you an interpretation of those words. Often the interpretation is built on the opinion of someone who gives the appearance of a primary source, such as a doctor or autism researcher. But one of the doctors frequently quoted is Dr. Paul Offit, a man who has never treated a child with autism. He’s an expert on vaccines, not on autism.  He cannot be a primary source on the subject of causation of autism. He can only be an interpreter of the information he’s received on autism – an interpreter with a huge built-in bias, but we’ll get to that.

Parents of children with autism, however, are the primary sources when it comes to their children’s autism and its progression. In most cases, they are the people who know those children best and can tell you exactly when autistic behaviors began. Some will tell you their children have been autistic from birth. Others will tell you they watched their children regress immediately after their “well-child” visit at the age of one, two, or three, when they received a total of nine, or twelve, or sixteen different vaccine strains in their shots. The mainstream media insists that parents in the first group are correct, and all children with autism have been autistic from birth; the parents in the second group just missed all the signs of autism along the way. I don’t know about you, but I find that a patently ridiculous attitude. Parents, in general, are far keener observers of their own children than anyone else. To arbitrarily dismiss a large number of keen observations, because they don’t fit preconceived notions is unscientific at best. Isn’t it likely that almost all of the parents involved know how autism progressed in their children, the ones who say their child has been autistic since birth and the ones who say their child regressed sometime later on?

Does that mean – instead of blithely dismissing parents’ accounts as “anecdote” – we should automatically trust the accuracy of every word of their account? I hope you know me well enough by now to know that my answer is a big fat OF COURSE NOT. Just as a historian understands that all primary sources, even the eyewitness accounts, come with a bias, or “spin” as Bill O’Reilly would call it (who, rather ironically, seems completely unaware of his own bias), we need to understand that our primary sources will also come with biases that need to be explored to get at the truth of the matter.

Second assignment in Critical Thinking 101 is to first find a story on the vaccine debate and read all the comments, keeping in mind that the story is written by someone with a bias, published by an entity with its own bias (the two often line up, but not exactly), and every commenter will also have a bias.  You can usually determine the bias easily enough by the words being used.

guns, germs and steelIt is not enough to just dismiss everyone with a generalized, “We’re all biased,” though. Assignment 2, Part B of the course is to determine the relative credibility of the writer, publisher and commenters. Every historian worth his or her salt has to weigh the credibility of his or her sources. Credibility can be affected by a number of factors: the intelligence of the source, the specificity of the information, the willingness to answer a direct question, the tendency to use personal attacks in order to invalidate an opposing viewpoint, the overall level of aggression in communication style, and how closely someone aligns with your generally held views can all factor in to your assessment of a source’s credibility. Generally, an intelligent source, who tends to see other things in the same way you do and offers specific factual information that can be checked in direct response to a question without resorting to name calling is someone who should score highly on your credibility meter, while an unintelligent person who attacks anyone who disagrees and offers nothing but sweeping generalizations ought to be at the bottom. But what about those intelligent people that you agree with on a number of important subjects who offer specific links to generalized rants, while insulting the intelligence and/or sanity of anyone who disagrees? Or the not-quite-as-intelligent people with whom you don’t agree on anything – abortion, the death penalty, gun control, gay marriage, or even campaign finance reform – who offer their specific personal experience while being attacked? Credibility issues are a bit tougher to address in those instances, aren’t they?

Many people metaphorically throw up their hands at this point and give up. They believe there is no way to tease out the truth, so they go back to where they started because they haven’t found any convincing argument to move them away from their starting point. But that attitude isn’t going to get you an A in Professor’s class. To get to a deeper understanding of credibility, you have to analyze the possible motivations driving the words, and the relative rewards or penalties likely to be accrued for saying them. For instance, when Paul Offit says something like, “A baby’s immune system could actually tolerate perfectly well 1,000 vaccines,” while someone else says, “My baby regressed into autism and a number of co-morbid physical illnesses immediately after receiving the MMR vaccine,” you need to be able to assess their relative credibilities. It might be tempting to cede the floor to the “expert” in vaccines who is obviously intelligent and can probably spew specific facts at you fast enough that you can’t keep up, but what about his motives for saying this? Should the fact that he’s made millions off a vaccine he invented factor into your assessment? Or how about the fact that he’s made a career out of being the most visible spokesperson for the vaccine industry? What are the possible rewards and penalties for this statement? Well, the potential rewards are pretty high: Vaccine manufacturers made $27 billion dollars in profit on vaccines last year. They can afford to make life very comfortable for someone who champions their cause. While the only penalties I can think of are getting a direct question from Jake Crosby now and then and being called “Dr. Profit” by a small number of people. These facts should be enough to send up a warning flag in your brain not to take his words at face value without delving deeper.

Now what about the credibility of parents who claim the MMR caused their children’s autism? How does that stack up? Well, as noted previously, unless there is something to mitigate it, parents are the primary source on the subject of their own children’s autism progression. Now what is a parent’s motivation for making this claim on a public website? Is it, as some have claimed, millions in vaccine court money? At this point in time, people should understand that very few families will get any vaccine court dollars for injuries that resulted in an autism diagnosis, while most have already shelled out their life savings and many have gone deeply in debt to finance their children’s therapies and treatments. For the vast majority of parents, there is absolutely no hope whatsoever of financial gain from making claims about vaccine injury.

Or is the parents’ motivation that it “feels better” to “have something to blame” for their child’s condition? Actually, that notion is easily “debunked” by talking to parents who believe that vaccines caused their children’s autism. I should know. I have talked to hundreds of parents of children with autism, and I can safely say that the vast majority of those who think their children’s autism was caused by a genetic anomaly “feel better” than those who think their children’s autism was caused by vaccines. Think about it. If you believed there was nothing you could have done to prevent your child’s autism, would you blame yourself? Probably not. But what if you believed that you allowed someone to inject a substance into your child that caused severe illness? The parents who believe that vaccines injured their children are among the most tortured, guilt-ridden people I have ever met – and as the parent of a child who died, I have a lot of experience with tortured, guilt-ridden parents. It takes tremendous strength of mind to believe that your child is vaccine-injured and get beyond the guilt. Believe me, this is not a belief anyone “chooses” in order to “feel better.” So perhaps, the parents’ motivation is just what they claim it is:  They honestly believe that vaccines caused their children’s autism, and they don’t want to see another family go through what they went through.

Team of RivalsAnd what are the possible rewards and penalties for parents speaking what they believe to be the truth? The only reward I can see is the satisfaction of helping others to avoid devastating harm, while the potential penalties are enormous:  They are ridiculed, abandoned by family and friends because of their “crazy beliefs” or “obsession,” and called selfish baby-killers. Heck, they may even be putting their jobs at risk! And yet, as parents of autistic or other special-needs children, they are still choosing to spend what little precious free time they have telling others their story. That’s got to keep the critical thinker from just dismissing what they have to say as “anecdote” and moving on.

One thing the books on President Lincoln and General Patton both gave me was an appreciation of just how much one person’s talents and personality can do to shape the world around him or her. I aspire to be that one person brave enough and honest enough in my daily life to affect the people whose lives I touch. If we all commit to being that one person, imagine how many lives an army of us can change for the better.

TMR:  changing the world, one family at a time.

~ Professor

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51 Responses to Critical Thinking 101: The Vaccine Debate

  1. Emily says:

    Aaaaaand the author of this article has utterly failed to grasp the basics of critical thinking.

    One of the key lessons that most people are taught in Critical Thinking 101 is that “Anecdotes are not Evidence.” Why? It’s because people are fallible. When a parent tells you that a vaccine injured his child, how can you be certain that this parent hasn’t leapt to an unjustified conclusion? What steps has this parent taken to drill down and systematically eliminate every other possible cause of that injury? In most cases, a parent with an anecdotal account of a vaccine injury is a parent who “just assumed” that the vaccine must’ve been the cause of the problem — even if the vaccine actually had nothing to do with it. People are fallible, and people tend to leap to unfounded conclusions, and this is a key reason why people who are highly skilled in critical-thinking don’t accept anecdotes as evidence. A person with a solid mastery of critical thinking skills should be familiar with concepts like “Post Hoc Reasoning,” which is actually what accounts for most stories of “vaccine injuries.” Critical thinking requires us to be very, very careful to avoid leaping to any conclusions.

    Additionally, accepting an anecdote as evidence is essentially the same as “taking someone’s word for it.” That’s something that a skilled critical-thinker should never, never do. Skilled critical thinkers require evidence that’s much more tangible and concrete than someone’s testimony, because testimony is inherently difficult to double-check.

    Actually, history is not the best place to learn critical thinking skills.

    In reality, the best place to master critical thinking skills is science. Science is a discipline that deals in terms of objective, concrete reality. So, scientists need to develop a high level of skill in drilling down to those stone-cold objective facts. Scientists, unlike historians, must develop a crystal-clear awareness of their own biases, their own tendencies to make unfounded assumptions, and all the ways their brains can glitch out on them. Apparently, the author of this article hasn’t considered the possibility that his own process of thought could be flawed (or, that the thought processes of his primary sources could be flawed). Scientists, on the other hand, must constantly consider and account for this possibility. Humans are fallible; the hard sciences acknowledge this reality while striving to work around it.

    I hate to tell you this, but “primary sources” — such as actual scientific experimentation, and published studies — overwhelmingly show that vaccines are very safe, and very effective. Simply, there are no “primary sources” to show that there are any dangers associated with vaccines (No, anecdotal stories are not the same thing as primary sources — if you don’t understand why, then it means that you don’t actually know how to ‘think critically’)

    Listening to someone tell a story about their horribly vaccine-injured child is just the same as listening to the news. In the end, all you’re doing is “taking someone’s word for it.” Why not just do the science yourselves? “Vaccines are dangerous” is an empirical claim that can be put to the test in a laboratory….so, why not just do that? If you’re unwilling to test this claim out for yourselves, then why not take the initiative to dig up the data directly from those who HAVE put this idea to the test? I agree with this author on one point: Taking anyone else’s word for anything is a terrible idea.

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      Hi Emily!

      Okay, let’s see where to start . . . “Anecdotes are not Evidence.” Ummm . . . Yes, they are. Period. They are not quantified evidence, nor are they objective evidence, but they are indeed evidence. If you add them up and analyze them, then they become quantified and objective evidence. Which is exactly what “science” does when investigating a hypothesis. For instance, Edward Jenner heard “anecdotally” that milk maids did not get smallpox. Hmmm . . . Interesting. Did he dismiss that as “anecdotes”? No. He investigated it. Not very scientifically as it happens, but he paid attention to it, and as a result we have had a couple of centuries of smallpox vaccines. It is NOT thinking critically, nor scientifically, to dismiss anecdotes out of hand. It IS thinking critically to investigate those anecdotes, especially if a pattern is noted in them. And there are a number of patterns in the anecdotes of parents who say their children became autistic after a round of vaccines. The first is an ear-piercing cry, accompanied by high fever and back arching. The second is a history of autoimmune disorders in the family. The third a tendency toward digestive disorders. The fourth genetic mutations that make it more difficult for the child to detoxify. There are more, but they are less striking in their frequency. Investigating is not “leaping to conclusions.” Assuming that parents “‘just assumed’ that the vaccine must’ve been the cause of the problem” IS leaping to conclusions.

      If you think that science deals strictly in terms of “objective, concrete reality,” you musn’t be a scientist. You also know little about the history of science. It’s fascinating actually. I suggest the history of quantum theory. You’ll get quite an eye-opening view of scientists as people. Not that you couldn’t get that in any scientific discipline. It would be nice if they did, but scientists, unfortunately, do not have “crystal-clear awareness of their own biases” any more than do people in other disciplines. And the history of science is rife with evidence to show that. ALL people have biases, and the more convinced you are that you don’t, the more likely it is that they are blinding you.

      For instance, “there are no ‘primary sources’ to show that there are any dangers associated with vaccines” is an utterly ridiculous statement indicating the level of your biases. It assumes all vaccines are created equal, that valid blanket statements can be made about them, and that somehow they are exempt from all the things that are true about every other pharmaceutical product. None of which indicates even a hint of scientific or critical thinking. It also patently ignores the fact that there are hundreds and hundreds of scientific studies, not to mention data compiled by vaccine manufacturers themselves, that indicate that NO VACCINE is 100% safe. Period. EVERY vaccine has caused harm to at least SOME people. And a significant number of vaccines have turned out to be significantly harmful to a significant number of people without ever even LOOKING at the eerily similar “iffy,” “anecdotal” reports made by thousands and thousands of parents about the neurological problems vaccines have caused their children.

      “Why not do just do the science yourselves?” 🙂 🙂 🙂 Sure! That’s what I’ll do, I’ll get a HUGE grant to do the science that hasn’t been done, namely testing the safety of the vaccine program in its entirety, the safety of the combinations of vaccines that are currently recommended, the comparison of the health outcomes of fully vaccinated vs. fully non-vaccinated individuals. Oh, wait! The NIH doesn’t FUND science that questions their policies, because they have such a “crystal-clear awareness of their own biases.” So who might fund that sort of investigation? Parents whose children have been harmed, perhaps (though, God knows, the vast majority are tapped out by the myriad therapies and treatments their children require) . . . Oh, wait! There IS science done by some parents that shows how harmful vaccines can be, but that’s — by definition — “pseudoscience” riddled with “conflicts of interest” — as if all vaccine science isn’t riddled with “conflicts of interest.” (“Pseudoscience” by definition, because the obvious definition is “any science performed that questions the mainstream view.”)

      By the way, I’m sure you are fully aware of the main thing wrong with this: ‘“Vaccines are dangerous” is an empirical claim that can be put to the test in a laboratory….so, why not just do that?’ To put the “empirical claim” to “the test in a “laboratory,” you would have to do a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that included the full vaccination schedule for some, with fake shots for others (containing only truly inert substances, unlike the vaccine trials that exist). That approach has been deemed “unethical” because it would withhold “life-saving vaccines” from some children. But, NOT in a laboratory, a large-scale well-done epidemiological study could accomplish the same thing — no less a person than Dr. Bernardine Healy, ex-head of the NIH, has called for such research — and yet no one has done it. Why? We’re told that “there aren’t enough completely non-vaccinated children to study,” and yet in the same (hysterical) breath we’re told that “there are too many non-vaccinated children!” There’s your “crystal-clear awareness of their own biases” in operation. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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  5. cia parker says:

    Harris Coulter, in Vaccination, Social Violence, and Criminality, explains his belief that everyone who got any vaccination in the era after WWII, sustained some degree of brain damage, that post-vaccinal encephalitis is extremely common, often manifesting in symptoms as subtle as increased sleepiness, long bouts of crying, or zoning out (absence seizures). It may be that there aren’t many teachers who can teach critical thinking, and not many students who can learn it very well, because of so many people having had the functioning of their brain impaired by vaccines.

    • Professor says:


      I do think vaccination practices have changed the world of education drastically — for everyone. When I was in first grade, long ago in the ’60s, I went to a Catholic school. There were 44 kids in the class with one teacher. We sat in rows and the nun sat at the front of the class. Now we may argue that that approach was not likely to reach every child in the classroom effectively, and even then I’d have to agree. However, I cannot even IMAGINE one person being able to control, much less teach, a class filled with 44 first-graders in today’s world, especially 44 children with hugely varying skill levels like there were in that classroom. We know the mainstream media is fond of saying that “it’s not clear whether the rise in autism is real or due to better diagnosis.” Of course, we know better: the rise is very real indeed. Well, the same thing is being discussed with regard to ADHD, and I submit that the rise there is very real indeed, too. And kids who don’t have ADHD have high anxiety. I think there is an overall slow poisoning that has happened to the general population due to this country’s vaccination processes.

  6. Linda says:

    Well written! 🙂

  7. Marcella says:

    Thank-you for another excellent article!
    You put so many things into words that need to be said and are never discussed.
    I particularly appreciate your analysis of the situation in which parents of vaccine-injured children are accused of seeking someone or something to blame, in order to “feel better.” Your take on this is spot-on.

  8. nhokkanen says:

    Thank you for this explication. Strange how doctors’ treatment of our children is driven by parental input of data — yet that empirical evidence gets reflexively downgraded to anecdotal if one reports vaccine adverse reactions. Every time I read some ninny’s post that correlation doesn’t equal causation, I think, “There’s another denialist idiot disconnected with reality.”

    • Professor says:

      Yes, yes, yes! I was conversing with a “friend” (possibly ex now) on the subject once. She’s a “science journalist.” She sent me some links to her essays on the subject. In them she essentially continues the condescending stereotype of the parents claiming vaccine injury as stupid and/or crazy. Then in the next breath she oohs and ahs about all the wonderful science being done on the connections between autism and seizures, or autism and gut pathology and says how sad it would be if these scientists weren’t doing this research because they were chasing the vaccination connection. I said, “Where do you think these researchers GOT the idea to study the seizures and the gut pathology??? From the very same parents that you’re dismissing as clueless and deluded.” NONE of these “exciting developments” she was going on about would come as news to the parents I know.

      I also get irritated with people dismissing anecdotes as “not data.” It most certainly IS data — and lots of it. It’s just not QUANTIFIED data. And the only reason it’s not quantified data at this point is because there is a concerted effort NOT to quantify it.

  9. Allie says:

    Thanks so much for this!! I finally feel like I have an article to pass along to the skeptics in my family.
    I have one child I believe to be chemically injured: not through vaccines–we’ve declined them from Day 1–but possibly from the Vitamin K shot. (I haven’t been able to find any good information on the contents of the Vit K yet, so if anyone has any suggestions, I’m all eyes/ears!!) All my kids have had the Vit K, because they’re c-section babies (hospitals STRONGLY suggest it post cesarean) and I honestly didn’t think through the “what ifs” of a vitamin SHOT and the potential for scary ingredients. My little guy is evidence for me, though, that chemical injuries–from vaccines, or artificial food additives, air pollution, etc.–are very real problems. Reading at TMR has given my husband and I hope that there is a positive solution for our son.
    Thanks for all you do!!

  10. Melissa v says:

    Excellent piece. I was a selective vaccinator of my boys. As a lawyer I am offended by Offit and the “science.” I just want to mention the increasing rates of serious autoimmune diseases in our children such as chrons disease, type 1 diabetes, JRA. While there may be other factors involved one cannot overlook the rise began with the rise in number of vaccinations.
    As an aside I think the use of prenatal ultrasound needs to be examined as the rise in the ever increasing use also correlates with rise in autism rates.

    • Marcella says:

      You may already be familiar with this. If not, you may want to check it out:

      The spectrum of ASIA: ‘Autoimmune (Auto-inflammatory) Syndrome induced by Adjuvants

    • Professor says:


      Thanks for your input. I think the role of prenatal ultrasound REALLY needs to be studied as well. My friends who have had IVF procedures have a higher than average incidence of autism. They tend to have many more ultrasounds than “ordinary” people. I think it’s highly likely there is a link there, too. Agreed about the autoimmune illnesses. I think there’s likely to be a VERY strong correlation with vaccination.

      • Thinkingmominthedesert says:

        My older son started his autism journey around 2yo. He is 7 now & has overcome most of his issues. I guess we can say “managed recovery” bc if we stop it all tmrw (diet, supplements, etc..) I know what will happen. But nonetheless, most ppl would consider him recovered. When I was pregnant w him, I went in for the vaginal 6wk ultrasound. It was determined then, that I was high risk (possibility of a placenta blot clot due to Factor V blood disorder) & I started being monitored very closely. I was put on Lovenox (blood thinner) shots daily (which my hub learned to give me. Fun!) and scheduled for MANY,MANY ultrasounds!! They were high-tech. And they were located in the fertility center at the hospital. After that 6wk scan at OB office, I was given 9wk scan appt at hospital. Then 11wk scan at OB office. Then 13wk scan at hospital, which was a big one I remember w blood tests n stuff. They also told us the sex. Yes, at 13 wks they could tell it was most likely a boy. Next-16wk scan at OB, then the 20wk scan at hospital-which was another biggie, the anatomy scan where they confirmed it was a boy. From that point on I was scheduled for scans EVERY 2 WEEKS alternating btwn the OB office & the high tech (3D/4D) at hospital.
        Then, from 34wks on I had ultrasounds WEEKLY at my reg OB appts once a week. BC I was 1cm they sent me to have one at hospital at 36wks. He was 5lbs 14oz. And fine. And so cute! But no where near labor. My friends marveled at how much information I was given about his stats&how many pictures I had of my baby in the belly. I even have a DVD of video footage!!
        Too bad that day the ultrasound tech couldn’t tell me that my baby was going to break my water & try to get out at 37 wks 4days…AT 7LBS 3OZS!!!

  11. Diana Gonzales says:

    I have a photo album documenting LoRenzo’s regression something happened after every vax. After the HepB, jaundiced. Medical staff: “that’s normal” Two mos, stopped pooping. Just stopped. Medical staff: “It happens, and he’s due for his four month vaccines” He stopped responding to noises then and stopped crying. So many people said “He’s such a good baby” not knowing that I was a nervous wreck because I had an infant that wouldn’t cry even if he was hungry or wet. Six months is when we saw what everyone calls “delay” he couldn’t lift his head anymore, no eye contact, stopped cooing and smiling. He didn’t walk until he was seventeen mos. When he finally walked, he would hide in the corner of any given room because the world was just too big for him. His first word came at three. “Mom-mom” that’s me. Through repetition and limited therapy my son was able to make two signs and about ten words but he could read above average by the time he was four. There was to he no progress until last year when I stumbled upon this blog and you changed our lives! I was connected to parents who went through this before me. Helped me to see the dots that were not connected. I had no idea there was even hope for LoRenzo. We moved to another school district, ( from OH to TX) and started gluten free and some basic supplements. LoRenzo will be seven in Dec. He now speaks in sentences, he’s sociable, HE.IS.POTTY. TRAINED! We have a long way to go,but our good days outweigh the bad. TMR is making a difference. My niece is having a baby in five weeks, and has informed her medical staff that her newborn will not he vaccinated! The listeners numbers are growing! My son’s, all of our children’s lives will not have been in vain! Every time a family member or friends, especially those in the medical field tell me that I have opened their eyes a silent prayer goes up to God in heartfelt thanks that I “stumbled” ♥

    • Professor says:

      Oh, Diana! Thank you so much for those words. This is what we LIVE for here at TMR. It helps keep us going. We’re so thrilled for LoRenzo (and you!) and I love that you’re already making a difference for others. <3

    • Allie says:

      Happy tears for you, Diana. Keep up the fight, momma!!!

  12. SavageTMR says:

    As always, your blogs blow me away–this was no exception 🙂 As I get older, I’ve definitely employed more critical thinking in how I view the world and how it has shaped the decisions I make in my own life. If only I had known this stuff in my 20s!

    • Professor says:

      Thanks, sweetie! Can’t wait to share yours tomorrow! And I know what you mean about wishing you’d known it all sooner. *sigh*

  13. Bonnie says:

    Professor, as a mother of three all in their thirties & four grandchildren, one with autism, I must put my two cents into the mix. As all of my kids were growing up I knew of no other kids with autism & that generation only had about 8 vaccines. The current young ones are getting more than twice that number & the numbers of autistic kids is skyrocketing. Not only are there more vaccines, but, as much as 4 shots are given during one visit to the doctor. I have questioned many pediatricians & discovered there has never been a study done to prove that multiple vaccines given that way is not harmful. Also, I was surprised to learn that the Hep B vaccine is given within 24 hours of life. There is no reason to give that one unless the mother is Hep B positive. Most adults over 25 have not had this one unless they are healthcare workers, which I am, & even then is is not mandatory. I would never suggest that parents not vaccinate, I just suggest spacing them out & signing a waiver that their infants not get the Hep B at birth. As one pediatrician told me, “kids don’t need the Hep B until they are teens & are sexually active”. My hope is that there is more research done to find out if mixing the vaccines is harmful & I hope the CDC changes the suggested schedule. There’s no harm in trying that. My daughter is doing that & her girls are just fine whereas my son has the autistic son & we had to learn from that situation & it isn’t easy. It kills me to see what my son & grandson are going through.

    • Professor says:

      Bonnie, it is clear from reading all the data one can find that vaccinating later — and more selectively — is definitely safER than vaccinating according to the current CDC schedule. However, it is also clear from all the stories I hear that there are some children who will not tolerate the vaccines even at a later date. Every parent has to decide their own comfort level. If the CDC were REALLY interested in the welfare of children, they would be far more conservative with their vaccination recommendations. The fact that they will not make ANY concessions to safety concerns makes it very clear where their loyalties lie. You are correct about the Hep B. There is no reason to vaccinate newborns whose mothers have not been exposed.

      Unfortunately, in some states, you cannot choose to selectively vaccinate if you plan to send your child to a public school. My state “requires” virtually all the CDC recommended shots for entry to public school. To get around that, you have to get a medical (VERY hard to get, and comes with a time limit) or religious exemption (also very hard to get in some school districts). If you have the religious exemption, you cannot vaccinate AT ALL or you will endanger your exemption. Once again, if they were really interested in keeping vaccination rates high on the “important” vaccines, they would not make it an all or nothing proposition. As I noted in a previous blog, the vaccine program is not a “victim” of its own success. Any damage it is sustaining is entirely due to the arrogance of the vaccine program’s architects.

    • cia parker says:


      I also appreciated your thoughtful post, but I also agree with the Professor that there is no safe vaccine schedule. It’s hard for parents to come to grips with this one, but absolutely necessary. I said I didn’t want my baby to get the hep-B vaccine at the hospital when she was born, they gave it to her anyway, and she reacted with four days and nights of endless screaming, vaccine-induced encephalitis, and was diagnosed with autism at 20 months. The doctor dismissed it as colic, although she was in too much pain to feed and lost one pound two ounces in the first two days of the screaming, when colic does not affect feeding and does not occur in newborns earlier than the third week of life. I misguidedly let her get three Hibs, three polios, and, by 18 months, four DTaPs. The last didn’t work, as we are seeing this year in the pertussis outbreaks in the U.S. , 32,000 so far this year, most among appropriately vaccinated people. My baby caught pertussis at a La Leche League meeting at 8 months old, and gave it to me. It was scary, but not dangerous, and we both, after coughing for over a month, recovered with permanent immunity. My baby had already been brain-damaged by the criminal, ridiculous hep-B vaccine, but had started saying uh for up and uff for dog by 18 months. She got the DTaP booster at that time, and it erased her two words forever, and she didn’t say another word until 34 months old.

      I thought I was being super-responsible, refusing the MMR and the varicella vaccine (we missed their pushing the Prevnar vaccine by a few months, this was in 2000-1), and taking her for lots of separate visits to avoid getting more than one shot per visit. And she still had at least two vaccine reactions so serious that they caused her autism.

      The shots come in two categories, those for formerly common, nearly always relatively mild illnesses like measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough (pertussis), flu, and hepatitis A, or for rare diseases like meningitis, hepatitis, or tetanus. Nearly everyone has subclinical exposure to these diseases and has developed immunity by the time they are adults, if they have not been vaccinated. Hib and Prevnar germs are carried by a large percentage of people all the time without their causing any problems, and taking out one kind of germ only paves the way for the surge of another, more serious kind.

      Women who may become pregnant have to decide whether to test for immunity to rubella and chance serious adverse reactions to the rubella vaccine, girls should not have to do so. If they are lucky, they’ll get this mild infection as children and develop permanent immunity. Infants should be quarantined at home if there’s pertussis in town in their first months of life: no one should take the risk of the still very dangerous pertussis vaccine. The disease is usually only dangerous to young infants. Hib meningitis is usually only dangerous to babies, and breastfeeding and keeping them out of daycare offer good protection.

      A healthy future for our society depends on our replacing the vaccine paradigm with better alternatives, healthier diet etc. and naturopathic and homeopathic treatment rather than allopathic, only resorting to antibiotics when absolutely necessary.

      • Professor says:


        My daughter was born in 1999 and she had almost exactly the same vaccinations. Fortunately for us, she did not have severe damage, but she does have ADHD and some difficult to detect learning issues that make it difficult for this otherwise brilliant child to perform well in school. If I had it to do over again, she wouldn’t get a single vaccine.

        I absolutely agree about replacing the vaccine pardigm with a healthier alternative. And it IS a paradigm shift we need, which means it’s going to require this huge early effort to get the shift in motion. I think we’re actually getting close to the tipping point. People are starting to question all the chronic illnesses their children have.

  14. Jennifer Power says:

    Inspiring. Every time I read one of the many great posts on this site I say a silent thank you to whatever god was in my corner when I decided to stop vaccinating my first child. I was lucky to have a doctor who agreed with me and am still lucky to live in a country (Australia) where vaccination isn’t compulsory (yet). I also know without a doubt that had my child been born in America (from whence I came) I would not have had the courage (or the knowledge at the time) to say, no more vaccines. A close friend has a 3 year old who is “too young to diagnose” according to the Dev Ped. She has 3 other boys so she can tell he is different, but the mother’s observations of daily life with her child don’t count, apparently. It is obvious to me that he is vaccine-injured. She believes in the vaccine myth with all her might, so getting her to see the downside may risk our friendship, but this post has confirmed what I already understood; it is all about the children. Thank you.

    • Professor says:

      Jennifer, you’re very welcome. So glad to have you with us. I hope you get through to your friend soon. The sooner the better when trying to undo the damage. Good luck!

  15. Becky says:

    There is no room for teaching critical thinking in schools, period. We work against the “thinking moms” movement by sending our children off to be be trained not to think. Thinking parents need to read any book by John Taylor Gatto, former NYS and NYC teacher of the year. Seriously, please……..

    • Professor says:

      That’s not entirely true, Becky. I’ve had a number of good teachers who DID teach me critical thinking. It just didn’t happen in history class, at least not till senior year. It can be done and one teacher can make a huge difference in many lives. In any event, children should be taught by their thinking parents that teachers are not the final authority over their minds and their thinking faculties. I have heard of Gatto’s work and I’m sure I would find it interesting, but HE was a New York City school teacher of the year. I guarantee you his students remember having to think in his classes.

      • Becky says:

        Public school as an institution does not allow critical think. It’s roots are based in preventing it. Certainly there are teachers who allow it (such as Gatto) however, their hands are tied within a system that devalues it. I cannot begin to discuss it as well as Gatto to eloquently does. I strongly suggest reading his work or that of John Holt, another former teacher.

  16. Amy Paul says:

    When my son was first diagnosed with autism, I was firmly in the “he was born with it” camp and even referred to the other camp as “anti-vaccine nuts led by a playboy.” But as a cardiac intensive care nurse, I do have well-honed critical thinking skills, and I do know how to research something. Research into my son’s condition inevitably led me to change my views. The studies I could find on pubmed, the Age of Autism website, new friends I met online, and story after story of what happened to their child, forced me to re-evaluate what I thought. I had been wrong. The anti-vaccine nuts weren’t very crazy at all. I became an anti-vaccine nut myself.

    I do still believe that my son acquired autism at birth, or very shortly after. But I am convinced it was the vaccines that did it. HepB vaccine is given at birth, after all. How can anyone honestly say vaccines have no role given that? Only a study of vaccinated to completely unvaccinated kids could rule out vaccines in autism, adhd, asthma, and allergies, and that is a study Big Pharma and the government will never do.

    Sites like this, articles like this, remain a very important idea, reminding those of us who already know that there’s still a battle to be fought, others to be reached. And we can do this, one expectant mom at a time if necessary. One of my coworkers, another nurse, after listening to me argue against vaccination, has decided to hold off vaccinating her baby, due in December. That’s a victory, in my book.

    So, thanks, TMR, and all my fellow anti-vaccine nuts.

    • Professor says:

      Nice to meet you, Amy. Welcome to the ranks of anti-vaccine nuts! Actually, your story is very similar to that of most of us. Most of us started out dutifully vaccinating our children.

      I love the fact that you mentioned the hepB shot at birth. I agree that it probably has played a VERY large part in the autism epidemic. There was a study done at Stonybrook that showed a three-fold increase in autistic disorders in boys who had had the hep B shot at birth. In addition, the “generation zero” numbers of the Verstraeten study that are published in Evidence of Harm, by David Kirby, show a VERY strong correlation between getting 25 mcg of mercury in the first month of life and autistic disorders. I believe it was approximately a seven-fold increase. If that dose was doubled (yikes!), there was an ELEVEN-fold relative risk of autism. Very, very suggestive numbers. You’re right. The CDC won’t do that study until they’re forced to do it.

      I’m so glad to hear of your success with your friend. We’re turning the tide. 🙂

  17. Sue Cranmer says:

    Excellent article! I have a son (35 years old) with autism. My son was born with his autism but I am convinced that vaccines and other toxins do cause some children to regress into autism and will continue to fight, talk and post anything that might make a parent think twice about the current vaccine schedule. For me to even begin to think that other parents stories of their children decsent into autism after a vaccine was wrong and that they did not notice that their child had autism before that would be as insulting as when all the Drs and other professionals patted me on the head and said I was imagining things when I was saying there was something terribly wrong with my son at a young age and trying to get him helped.

    • Professor says:

      Amen, Sue. That’s exactly what I think. How arrogant is it of doctors to assume that parents are clueless about their own child, simply because they don’t agree with the doctors? Thanks for your advocacy! Personally, I don’t “have a dog in the fight” so to speak, either, but I’ve been convinced of the sincerity and intelligence of the parents involved for a long time now.

  18. Shawna says:

    I think you eloquently hit every nail on the head…. Why are we sharing our stories… In hopes that those listening might not share the same fate as our children. There is no profit… I’ve tried sharing with few in hopes that maybe my daughter’s injuries would not be in vain.. Yet I have convinced no one of the dangers of vaccines. I feel tremendous guilt in knowing I allowed my daughter to be shot up with poison and I even helped in keeping her still to do so. How I wish I could go back in time and choose differently.

    • Professor says:

      Shawna, one thing that I’ve noticed over the last few years is that sometimes we think we’re not getting through, but we are. Somewhere deep inside, you will have sown a seed of doubt that will grow, whether the seed owner notices or not. Someday you’ll see it flower. Keep it up! Another thing I’ve noticed is the more we do it, the better at it we get. 😉

  19. Joanne Antonetti-Beard says:

    Professor, I think you would find this an interesting read: The Most Dangerous Book in the World – 9/11 as Mass Ritual, by S. K. Bain (2012)…. I too recovered my son from profoundly severe autism. Thanks to him, my greatest teacher on earth, my eyes have been open to so much…..

    • Professor says:

      Thank you, Joanne. I’ll have to check it out. Have you thought about writing a guest blog about your experiences? Our readers LOVE a success story. It’s great for injecting energy into their own journeys.

  20. Jillian says:

    Absolutely amazing article. I have to point out I love that you addressed the blame factor. The self-blame is FAR harder for parents who believe they drove their healthy children to the doctor and not only allowed them to be injected, we held them down and forced it onto them. The guilt is something you can never escape.

    • Professor says:

      I’ve never understood the thinking that this was some kind of “reassuring” belief on parents’ part. But perhaps I understand parental guilt in a way that most people don’t, having had a baby who died. You CAN escape from the self-torture of the guilt, but you’re going to have to be proactive about it. You have to make it a goal, and you have to be really watchful for when it starts to creep back in again. But I think it is a worthy goal, because parents weighed down by guilt are not as effective as they could be if they can release it. I wish you well, Jillian. <3

  21. awesome- awesome, just awesome!

  22. Laurie says:

    Excellent, thought-provoking article. I have to admit that I get quite perturbed when my first-hand experience gets called “anecdotal” in an effort to discredit me. It amazes me that so many people consider someone stuck in a laboratory or who just reads the research of others to be the “experts” on everything.

    I do not have a child with autism, or any vaccine injury, thankfully. As soon as I became pregnant, my critical-thinking skills seemed to go on high alert and I started to question EVERYTHING. While my hyper-awareness creates some challenges in my life, and I’m not able to avoid every single contaminant, I do the best I can. So far, my child is healthy, happy, and pushes me to my limits. lol

    I’m an advocate against the current vaccine, drug, and medical status quo because I am so sick of seeing children being killed and injured and then the parents are not informed of what really happened or are ignored and ridiculed when they voice valid concerns. I am tired of being told that my choice not to vaccinate is putting other children at “risk”. I live in a community with a high infant death rate, comparable to the third world, and everyone just keeps doing what they are told by government agencies and the health “professionals”. Compliance rate for vaccines is 100% (except for me!), inappropriate treatments cause deaths that are never investigated, and the people just blindly trust the “experts”. We desperately need some critical thinking skills in our community, especially just to observe and recognize that what is going on is WRONG.

    • Professor says:

      Welcome, Laurie! I LOVE it when we recruit people who have AVOIDED a lot of what so many of us have gone through. I’m so sorry things are as difficult medically where you are, but I’m REALLY glad they have you there to change the odds for the whole community.

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