From Abracadabra to Zombies
Sources: How the WWW allows one person to seem to be many sources--The Eileen Danneman Story
14 Dec 2010. My editor and co-conspirator in exploring amusing deceptions and dangerous delusions, John Renish, sent me a link to a NaturalNews.com posting with the headline: H1N1 vaccine linked to 700 percent increase in miscarriages. John's cryptic comment was simple: consider the source. The source is Mike Adams, the one who runs and writes the stuff for his NaturalNews.com site (though this "article" was posted by Ethan Huff, a "staff writer").
Natural News is not a very good source for information. If you don't trust me on this, go to Respectful Insolence or any of the other bloggers on ScienceBlogs and do a search for "Natural News" or "Mike Adams" (who is NaturalNews). Hundreds of entries will be found and not one of them will have a good word to say about Mike Adams as a source.
How do you determine whether a source is reliable? There are a few simple rules of thumb you can use. They're not very tricky or complicated, but applying them isn't always easy. (See chapter three, Sources, of my text Becoming a Critical Thinker. A pdf file is available for free download.) If you're not sure about the reliability of an Internet source, one thing you can do is check out the sources of the site's information. Perhaps you'll recognize the sources. If not, you can look them up and at least see if the website reported the information accurately. You might also learn that the source your source is relying on is not reliable. That's what happened to me when I checked out the sources for the Natural News story on the H1N1 vaccine and miscarriages.
Adams lists several sources, but they all revert back to a single person: Eileen Dannemann. Few people would take a lone maverick seriously, but when you call yourself the director of the National Coalition of Organized Women (NCOW) people might think you're a whole lot of people doing a whole lot of work. They might also think you're a bit odd for choosing a name with that acronym. The link I just made to Dannemann's "organization" is to an FDA page of one of her fine short tomes called "A Treatise on the final American Era and new World Order marked by loss of personal and national consciousness." There Dannemann notes that thanks to the Bayh-Dole act:
Universities all over the nation morphed from educational facilities into Big Pharma, Agribusiness, Biotech research developers leasing their findings to the pharmaceutical companies waiting in the wings who then took the incestuous University credentialed research through the FDA approval process. Adding to this evolving neptunian nightmare, in the 1990s until the present time vaccine manufacturers via the Centers for Disease control injected as many as 22 toxic mercury-filled vaccines directly into the bloodstream of our nation's children.
Dannemann is an anti-vaxxer on a mission, and she's discovered that presenting herself as a group is more effective than presenting herself as an individual with a personal agenda. In addition to NCOW, Dannemann is also Progressive Convergence and Vaccine Liberation Army. She also lists herself as co-founder of the now defunct organization Slave to the Metal. She may have other aliases or fronts as well. (Her co-founder of NCOW is Leland Lehrman, who is Mother Media: People, Planet, Policy, providing, he says in his header "a balanced view of politics and nature"). I don't think I need to warn my readers about assuring expressions as red flags. If somebody has to tell you they're "fair and balanced," they're probably not.
What are Dannemann's qualifications as a source for this story on vaccination and miscarriage? Is she an expert in statistics, epidemiology, data analysis, public health, or any other area relevant to the issue of determining a causal connection between the H1N1 vaccine and miscarriages? From what she says on her website, her qualifications are minimal. She says she has a B.A. in psychology and has been "a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation since 1973 and has been a world class activist since the early 90s."* Her passion to the causes of anti-vaccination, genetically modified food, and the military use of depleted uranium is evident from her Internet activism. Her reliability is questionable. In addition to her lack of expertise, consider the following passage from her bio page:
The National Coalition of Organized Women is a verb, an organizing force, a coalescing energy based on the Unified Field and quantum physics which defines it. NCOW has no matrix, no special tax status, no agenda. It can not [sic] be found because it is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. All activities arise from the “individual”, his/her personal connection to Source and the enlightened spiritual impulses deriving there from. NCOW is simply “individuals” spending their own time and money as individuals speaking up for progressive change and a new vision for America…and the world.
Despite the fact that Dannemann poses as representing an army of anti-vaxxers and is a bit odd, she might have the data to back up her claim. In other words, she can't be trusted on this issue and should not be cited as a reliable source. Even so, she might reference sources herself that back up her claim.
I checked out her Progressive Convergence page, which is what Mike Adams links to as the source of his information. The other two sources Adams cites both cite this Progressive Convergence page as their source. Bottom line: the only source for this claim is Eileen Dannemann. What is her evidence?
Her first source, Miscarriage Cases, links to another of her own pages where one finds a list of 72 women who say they had the flu vaccine and then that day, the next day, two days later, three days later, a week later, etc., they had a miscarriage. Each of these stories could be true. On the other hand, somewhere there is a virtual list of all the women who had miscarriages during the last flu season. There is another virtual list of how many women had miscarriages and didn't have a flu shot. There also a virtual list of women who were pregnant, had the flu shot, and didn't have a miscarriage. Without some context, the anecdotes Dannemann posts don't help us see whether there is a causal connection between the flu shot and miscarriage.
Dannemann's second source is from the VAERS Database. I had to look it up: VAERS stands for Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a government clearing house for those who wish to report what they perceive as a vaccine reaction. VAERS is co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dannemann's list from the VAERS database consists of 219 reports. These are reports from people who suspect that some adverse event (not limited to miscarriage) that occurred after getting a flu shot was somehow caused by the flu shot. Again, somewhere there is a virtual list of pregnant women who got the flu shot and have no adverse events to report occurring afterwards. And, there is a virtual list of pregnant women who did not get a flu shot but who miscarried, delivered babies who were deaf or had some other physical problem, etc. Dannemann is misusing this database. The data collected could prove useful if some sort of pattern were observed that could be checked against other data. But a list of reports is no more valuable than Dannemann's collection of anecdotes in establishing a causal connection between the H1N1 shot and miscarriages.
Dannemann's third reference is to something she labels "statistical correction" and describes as "Based on analysis of data from two different sources... H1N1 vaccination program contributed to estimated 1,588 miscarriages and stillbirths." Here she lists Paul G. King, PhD, and Gary S. Goldman, PhD, as co-authors of this analysis. The two sources she refers to are her collection of anecdotes and the VAERS collection of reports. How did she and her co-authors get to the 1,588 number from these sources? They did it by assuming that 85% of the actual cases were not reported and that the individual reports in their two sources each represent an actual causal event where the vaccine was a contributing cause and the miscarriage was the effect. This is not good logic. We really don't know from this data whether the vaccine was causally related to any of the reported adverse events.
That's it. Clearly, Dannemann is not a trustworthy source on this issue. Not only does she lack the qualifications to do a proper analysis of the data, she misused the data in such a way that she demonstrates her incompetence to analyze complex causal claims. It is clear from her work on this subject that she has an anti-vaccination agenda and is using very sloppy use of data to promote that agenda. Mike Adams apparently made no attempt to check out his source. He simply parrots Dannemann's claims at NaturalNews, thus providing one more reason for not trusting Adams as a source. He apparently will post anything that supports his agenda, regardless of its reliability..
Finally, it should be noted that even though neither Adams nor Dannemann is a reliable source on this issue, that doesn't mean that the claim they make is false. It is possible that the H1N1 vaccine is a contributing causal factor in some miscarriages, but Dannemann doesn't provide much of a case for this possibility being an actual fact or even a strong probability. If you are rating sources on a scale of 1-5, both Dannemann and Adams are zeroes.
a notorious (in my opinion) anti-vaccine crank, who also is the NCOW science adviser. I have score of e-mail from King who likes to SPAM scientists and skeptics with crank nit-picky deconstructions of scientific or “pro-vaccine” articles. King is hardcore anti-vaccine, and is hardly an objective scientist. His analysis amounts to a pile of assumptions used to inflate the number of apparent cases of miscarriages in women receiving the H1N1 vaccine.
Novella notes that
Spontaneous miscarriages are common – so common that for every 1 million vaccinated pregnant women, there would be 397 cases of miscarriage within 24 hours of receiving the vaccine, by chance alone, without any effect from the vaccine itself.
Note that 397 is larger than the number of anecdotes collected by Dannemann. Some of her anecdotes attributed miscarriage to the vaccine a week after getting the shot. Thus, the extrapolated and invented number of 1,588 miscarriages and stillbirths given by Dannemann is significantly lower than what one would expect by chance for a given week.
There are about 4.2 million births a year in the US. About 15-20% of pregnancies result in spontaneous abortion (miscarriage or stillbirth). Even if we take the lower number, that’s 700,000 spontaneous abortions per year, or 58,000 per month. This means that over the two months of the vaccine program in 2009-2010, 116,000 women in the US would have had a spontaneous abortion. Half of them were vaccinated. Let’s further say that half of those vaccinated had their miscarriage or stillbirth after they were vaccinated – this leaves us with about 29 thousand woman who had spontaneous abortions following getting the H1N1 vaccine last season – just as the background rate....
In reality there is no evidence of any increased risk of spontaneous abortion from the flu vaccine or H1N1 vaccine specifically. The CDC monitoring of reported cases has not revealed any increased risk, nor have any direct comparisons of vaccinated vs unvaccinated (with the flu vaccine) pregnant women.
The worst part about Dannemann's deception is not the pathetic statistical analysis done by King, but the real harm she does by scaring pregnant women, who along with their fetuses, would benefit greatly by getting vaccinated. Because of the fear they instill, lives will be lost. The irony is that Dannemann's and King's delusion deceives them into thinking they are saving lives by their harmful actions.
I usually post the reply and then my response, but because Dannemann's reply is rather long and disconnected, I'm going to post my response first.
Bob Carroll's response to Eileen Dannemann's reply (see below):
Your reply indicates that you either do not understand why I criticize your argument that the H1N1 vaccine caused a 700% increase in miscarriages or you just don't care what the truth is.
You continue to slip from "adverse events reported" to "miscarriages and stillbirths caused by flu shots." The business with Dr. Marie McCormick, Dr. Pedro Moro, and Dr.Tom Shimubukuro is a red herring. You're evading the issue: you claim a 700% increase in miscarriages due to flu vaccine, but you provide no evidence of a causal connection between the vaccine and miscarriages, much less evidence for an increase in causal events. Reports of adverse events are not the same as evidence of causal connection, but you don't seem to see that the two are worlds apart.
Citing the osteopath Joseph Mercola as agreeing with you reduces your credibility. What you call propaganda the rest of us consider reliable information. What you and Mercola peddle is propaganda. You intentionally distort data to promote your beliefs. That is dishonest and even if your heart is in the right place, your head is not.
The numbers you cite need a context. Dr. Novella provides it: given the number of spontanous abortions in the US each year, we should expect about 29,000 women to have spontaneous abortions over the two-month period in 2009-2010 that flu shots were given. None of these would necessarily be connected to the flu shot. That many women would have had miscarriages even if they didn't get their flu shots. Given this essential background data, your numbers become little more than statistical noise. Your voice becomes deadly noise if it prevents pregnant women from getting vaccinated.
update: 30 Dec 2010: Flu deaths continue to increase Thirty-nine people in the UK have now died with flu-like illnesses this winter, figures show. All but three of them were infected with the H1N1 swine flu virus, while the remainder had influenza B....at-risk groups ... include pregnant women and people with chronic respiratory diseases, or chronic heart, liver or kidney disease.
18 Dec 2010
Thank you for the well thought out article on myself and my work in the world. There is a lot of value in your piece.
Did you check out Why I am an actiivist? http://www.progressiveconvergence.com/eileen-why-activist.htm It really articulates my experience in the spiritual light.
Down to business:::
You might have missed this... Dr. Marie McCormick, chair of the CDC's H1N1 Vaccine Safety Risk and Assessment Working Group denied that there were any adverse events at all reported. It appears she did not check VAERS which according to her presentation introduction is the foremost source of reports on adverse events. She apparently looked where she would not find.
Despite denying any adverse event at 2 vaccine program meetings Sept. 3 & 10th (I have the transcript of Dr. McCormiciks presentation for the Sept. 3rd presentations, if you would like to see it) at the Oct 28th meeting of the ACIP at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta the CDC admitted to 170 VAERS reports on miscarriages and stillbirths after the administration of the H1N1 shot.
You have certainly a good mind for investigation...might you tell us or guess at why Dr. McCormick said no adverse events in the pregnant population when she is the head of the VSRAWG and 55 days later the CDC confirms our findings of 170 VAERS miscarriages and stillbirths (the number being very close to ours as 179) as she has not responded to inquiries from our National Coalition of Organized Woman::)))
The background rate of miscarriages that you discuss has been consistent for years. However within the parameters of that consistency there has only been 175 VAERS reports on pregnancy complications (not only miscarriages and stillbirths) related to the flu shot reported for the period of 1990-2009. http://us.mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6AA5P620101111?ca=rdt
This flu seasons 179 VAERS reports (which are ONLY miscarriages and stillbirths) happened in just ONE year, last flu season. That is 179 reports in 2009/10 in contrast to 170 reports over a 20 year period. Note that in 2007/9 flu season, given the consistent background rate, there were 7 VAERS reports. In 2008/9 there were also 7 VAERS reports. In 2009/10 there were 178 (or 170 according to the Oct. 28th CDC report)
Would you not consider, 7, 7 and an increase to 178 not a signal to take a look at? Or put another way, 175 VAERS reported flu related complication in pregnancies over a 20 year period (as published by Dr. Pedro Moro of the CDC in Nov.) as compared to 178 last season?
And also, I am curious how you justify the contradicting testimony of Dr. McCormick and the Oct. 28th testimony of Dr.Tom Shimubukuro?
By the way...Jim Mercola covered the story too.
And here is more news for your consideration not yet reported by Mercola
Months before the Sept. 3rd. meeting, NCOW informed Dr. McCormick personally on a conference call of the incoming VAERS data. The NCOW alert and the VAERS data base,( CDC's main government run data collection system), was disregarded by the CDC in the case of pregnant women but VAERS was referred to primarily for their presentations on all other adverse events such as Guillian-Barr. WHY? Did they not like what they saw?
Unfortunately, this willful omission by the CDC working group formed the "raison d'etre" for ACIP to recommend the flu vaccine once again for pregnant women this 2010/11 flu season and further supports the mandates to babies and children further injuring their physiognomies.
The CDC put out purposeful and stealth propaganda to Reuters and world wide news distribution in mid November this flu season, a study by Dr. Pedro Moro of the CDC that states that the Flu shot is safe for pregnant women.
CDC's Dr. Pedro Moro's propaganda study
CDC's Dr. Moro gladly reports that from 1990-2009 VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System) there has only been reported 175 total complications in pregnancies from the flu shot. That is, Dr. Moro reports only 175 pregnant complications over a 20 year span related to receiving a flu shot during pregnancy (VAERS reports) as opposed to our 2009/10 VAERS reports of 179 reports in ONE YEAR alone (last flu season). Cleverly and strategically it appears that the CDC wanted the public to assume that 2009 (the H1N1 vaccine) is covered... but no. In the 2009/10 H1N1 pandemic flu season there were (not accounting for under reporting and the statistical correction) 179 miscarriages and still birth IN ONE YEAR as opposed to 175 over 20 years. And more specifically, there were actually 7 VAERS reports of miscarriages in 2008/9 compared to a whopping "178" VAERS in 2009/10. That is a huge rise in the relative numbers. Even if you considered that 50% more pregnant women were coerced by their doctors and media to get the flu shot, the increase should have been expected to be be 50% more than "7"...that is about "10". But it is "178". A strong signal that something is wrong wouldn't you say! However, this is being purposely hidden from Ob/gyn's nationwide and the public. http://us.mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6AA5P620101111?ca=rdt
I ask you....as the "skeptic" and as reader of news....would you not think that this "timely" CDC publicity stating that 2009 was the end date gave the public the "impression" that last year's adverse events were covered by the Moro study and that the Flu shot is Safe (as per the title of the Reuters article". Your answer will be a testimony of your honesty...because if my organization put out this study end dating in 2009 you would have slam dunked us (or me) to the broad side!
And more egregious...To convince the nation's OB/GYNs even more that the vaccine was safe for this upcoming flu season:
In Sept. 2010, despite NCOW presentation of of the 700% increase in miscarriages and stillbirth, 10 organizations led by the CDC, March of Dimes and AMA to name a few cooperated and wrote a cooperative letter directly targeting all Ob/gyn's urging them to vaccinate pregnant women this 2010/11 season.
http://articles.latimes.com/2010/sep/15/news/la-heb-pregnant-flu-shots-20100915 AND..This propaganda was also published in the Ob/gyn bible journal, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology to give the same "illusion" to the nation of Obstetricians and Gynocologists that the vaccine was safe because the end date of the Moro study was 2009.
And here is more...breaking news today....
NEW! Scientific breaking news from the University of California, San Fransciso, Division of Experimental Medicine
VACCINES DEADLY DURING PREGNANCYJoseph M. McCune, MD, PhD, a professor in the UCSF Division of Experimental Medicine who is a co-senior author on the paper…“The finding could lead to a better understanding of why many newborns are born with impairments due to toxic overloads from mothers who chose to be vaccinated during their pregnancy” http://vaccineliberationarmy.com/category/medical-information-and-research-data/
* AmeriCares *