Saturday, April 12, 2014

#994: Julie Obradovic

Julie Obradovic is Contributing Editor to the antivaxx pit Age of Autism. Of course, she doesn’t like to be called “anti-vaccine” – according to Obradovic, she is a “vaccine safety” advocate, and she even denies that there is such a thing as an anti-vaccine movement. Apparently, it is all a ploy by the pharma shills, and critics of her “vaccine safety” concerns have “sold out to the pharmaceutical industry.” Of course, Obradovic has made it pretty clear that no amount of evidence will make her change her beliefs about vaccines, and that nothing will make her believe that vaccines are safe. Obradovic is, in other words, hardcore anti-vaccine (brilliantly shown here) who belives that the government and science are in a conspiracy against her (and I challenge you to find more breathtaking examples of strawman reasoning than Obradovic’s claims in that link).

She probably doesn’t like to be called “anti-science” either (though that’s precisely what she is), but when she made some efforts to evaluate the science of the issue for Age of Autism, the rather evident problem would be that her only technique for judging the merits of a study is whether or not it agrees with her already firmly set opinions – she wouldn’t be able to distinguish good science from junk science if her life depended on it. To Obradovic, of course, it is the scientists who don’t get it. Scientists overlook “[t]he dramatic rise in incidence [of autism]; the parallel increase in vaccinations given at the same time […]; the timing of the onset of symptoms; the anecdotal evidence of parents; […],” and complains that “[s]cience is rooted in observation, and yet, every observation here listed is casually tossed aside as a cosmic lining up of the stars. There is nothing scientific about calling all of this coincidence and explaining it away with unproven excuses.” In other words, the correlation (which is itself deeply disputable) entails causation, in Obradovic’s assessment, and the fact that science has refuted the existence of a causal link can’t shake her convictions.

Instead of science, Obradovic supports some (dangerous) woo to treat autism in children, such as Kerri Rivera’s bleach enemas (seriously).

Diagnosis: Denialism is fueled by the Dunning-Kruger lowest quartile, and Obradovic is a splendid example. She is pretty much the archetype of what you get when you pair ignorance with conviction.


  1. I don't know what it says about me that I keep reading this blog, despite how uncomfortable it often makes me, especially the anti-vax bits.

    I am a parent of twin girls diagnosed with varying degrees of autism ten years ago, before Wakefield was thoroughly debunked. It was a very uncertain time to be navigating the murky seas of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

    We chose to stop vaccinating after the first of my girls was diagnosed - just before her third birthday.

    FWIW, she had a reaction to her 18 month MMR vaccination that was notable enough for her pediatrician to report it to VAERS.

    At any rate, we quit vaccinating. We also persued ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) - the only empirically proven intervention to be effective for treating autism. We also threw ourselves into sensory integration therapy, speech therapy, and a number of so-called "woo" therapies. In other words, we tried everything short of swimming with dolphins, and to be honest, the only reason we didn't try that was because we didn't live near a dolphin-y ocean.

    Fast forward ten years.

    After seven years in private school that did not require vaccinations, we made the move to a public school, which of course did require vaccinations. And while we live in a state that allows for somewhat easily obtained exemptions, having survived the embarrassment of falling for The Lancet's backing of Dr. Wakefield's dire assessment linking autism and vaccinations, we chose to vaccinate.

    And guess what?

    The same daughter who reacted way back when, reacted again.

    BUT... She did not suddenly regress into the nightmare of autism.

    She developed a rash and flu-like symptoms for a few days, but then she emerged with the same degree of autism as she had before the second vaccination.

    I don't really know what my point is, exactly, except maybe to point out that what can easily be dismissed as idiocy when it comes to the anti-vax movement now, was originally rooted in a highly respectable publication, The Lancet. No one was calling it out in Quackwatch then. Are they now?