• I Give Dr. Jay Gordon a Better Metaphor

    by  • 9/19/2009 • health • 5 Comments

    I mentioned this last night at the Skeptics In The Pub session, but couldn’t recall the specifics of the exchange. If you’re new, I’m @xinit0 on twitter. I’ve edited the twitter postings below slightly to make them read in English where appropriate, and linked to the original posts on Twitter.

    Me: Oh dear. Leslie Winkle recommends anti-vaxxer doc RT @thesaragilbert … @JayGordonMDFAAP because he is not afraid to think outside the box

    Doc Jay: @xinit0 I’m back in the box HuffPo. Vaccine/Autism. http://tinyurl.com/n46kaj

    Where Jay uses a bad car metaphor to explain how he’s not anti-vaccine any more than he’s anti-car at the rather anti-vaccine and anti-science HuffingtonPost;

    “Asking that cars be manufactured with more attention to safety and that driving is best when done safely does not make one “anti-car” or anti-driving. Asking for safer vaccinations and more judicious use of those we have does not make me or anyone else “anti-vaccine.”

    Me: @JayGordonMDFAAP continuing your car analogy, should a mechanic trust only a car owner’s “feeling” that the gas she’s using caused her broken axle? No.

    Doc Jay: @xinit0 Good one. Silly, but still good.

    For context, Doctor Jay Gordon’s celebrity puppet Jenny McCarthy and her celebrity puppet Jim Carrey go on and on about how important a mother’s intuition and feelings are in diagnosing a child. I call bullshit.


    5 Responses to I Give Dr. Jay Gordon a Better Metaphor

    1. 9/20/2009 at 6:02 pm

      That IS a good (if silly) counter.
      I’ll be writing about vaccinations soon, since I’ve just received a comment along the lines of “how dare you recommend the seasonal flu vaccine to those who are already with health problems!”

      It’ll take me a while to round up some efficacy data but hoepfully I’ll get hte post up this week :)

    2. 9/21/2009 at 12:32 am

      There are very few things more important than listening to a parent’s feelings and intuitions when one is caring for children.

      Any experienced pediatrician knows that but you would not be expected to. That’s OK but be more judicious in your comments.



    3. xinit
      9/23/2009 at 2:59 pm

      Yes, Doctor; you’re right in part. You absolutely need to listen to parents – they can describe symptoms and things that the child can’t based on what they’ve witnessed. If a child routinely scratches at and pulls on their ear, that could be valuable information, but you don’t automatically book an MRI if mom’s ‘intuition’ says that she thinks little Billy has a brain tumor. You use your brain, and critical thinking, to apply what you hear to the problem at hand.

      Even non-pediatricians can exercise sound judgment and appreciate how a child may not be equipped to communicate what’s wrong.

      I question YOUR judiciousness, Doctor Gordon, in nearly everything I see attributed to you. I read the “back in the box” story your referred to, hoping that both you and the HuffPo had both come to your senses with regard to science.

      Actual intuition, were it to actually exist, is not valid for judging efficacy of vaccines. Gut feeling doesn’t do a bit of good in assessing a causal link between MMR and autism, for example. A ‘gut’ feeling may be that A caused B, but no scientist or doctor should accept that sort of report unquestioningly when the world isn’t black and white or limited to single item causation.

      I believe that it’s better not to add more worry and guilt to a parent’s portfolio, and that’s what I see you doing, Jay, nearly all the time.

    4. Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP
      9/25/2009 at 2:09 am

      Your post above is not very good at all.

      I do the opposite of what you say I do.

      I’m a pediatrician. I do my job well. You’re anonymous. What do you do? Just curious . . .



    5. xinit
      9/25/2009 at 1:18 pm

      I’m hardly anonymous, Doctor. My name is Richard Murray, and I believe that my mobile phone number is even available on my Facebook page.


      If I’m wrong about you, Doctor Gordon, I would be happy to admit it, but the soft HuffPo piece and other interviews just reinforce what sounds like pure denialism a la the Generation Rescue movement. To set things straight – I don’t think you’re a bad person, or even a bad doctor, despite my apparent fall to ad hominems. I assume you’re doing just fine in your practice, and your patients really do seem to love your work… My problems are with a small subset of your public advice and what seems like scare-mongering in the HuffPo, on your website, and in your books.

      If all these studies, and all these administered shots are flawed, be scientific, and design a proper study. Science is tough, and you can’t just allege things the way you can in a tabloid; you need to find data. You stated June 15 in HuffPo; “Studies showing that vaccines and their many constituents do not contribute to this problem are flawed, filled with specious reasoning and, for the most part funded by the pharmaceutical industry.”

      I checked out your web site, and see this in your Q&A on Vaccines:

      “How do you reconcile the notion of not vaccinating with the public health benefit that you mentioned earlier? I think that the public health benefits to vaccinating are grossly overstated. I think that if we spent as much time telling people to breastfeed or to quit eating cheese and ice cream, we’d save more lives than we save with the polio vaccine.”

      That freaks me out a bit, and is among the things that lead me to question your advice. Comparing polio to milk fat?

      Also in that same Q&A, I see;

      “What are some of the side effects you’ve seen besides fever and bruises? I’ve seen kids who developed autism shortly after vaccination.”

      Yet you don’t mention when kids who don’t get vaccinated tend to get diagnosed with autism? Is the incidence you claim to see anything more than a correlation, and not the causation that you seem to imply?

      I’m concerned that risk and safety aren’t understood in the public. Is it safe to drive to see the doctor? Most people would say yes. Ask them if there is a risk, and they might admit that there’s always the risk of an accident, etc. Are vaccines safe? I think that even you might admit that they ARE safe, though there are risks.

      Maybe the schedule needs to change, but people really need to understand the real risks. I suppose, if people really understood small numbers, then the lottery and Las Vegas wouldn’t exist.

      I’m not a doctor, I’m not in the health industry, and I don’t get instruction or pay from any Big Pharma organization.

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