Film Review: ‘Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe’

'Vaxxed' Review: Andrew Wakefield's Shoddy Anti-Vaccination

Bad publicity may be good publicity for this paranoia-stoking documentary about purported links between autism and vaccines.

Having their documentary accepted — and then quickly disinvited — by the Tribeca Film Festival doubtless was a barely disguised blessing for the makers of “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” a film that traffics aggressively in widely debunked theories regarding alleged links between the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella) and autism. Without the publicity generated by the Tribeca turnaround, this slickly produced but scientifically dubious hodgepodge of free-floating paranoia, heart-rending imagery — lots of shots of cute infants who reportedly were damaged by vaccines — and anti-Big Pharma conspiracy mongering likely would have preached to the converted during a handful of theatrical engagements, then slid into the relative obscurity of non-commercial exhibition and home video. Given its now-elevated profile, however, “Vaxxed” is bound to have at least a slightly longer shelf life, and may even benefit from being attacked by scientists, film critics and other “establishment” types.

Certainly, such attacks will not put off the film’s target audience of skeptical parents who, for reasons ranging from resentment of government mandates to deeply held religious beliefs, have long attempted to avoid having their children vaccinated for infectious diseases. The anti-vaccination movement has long been depicted as more or less a crusade of the idiot fringe by most mainstream media — in a memorable 2009 episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” for example, a crusading D.A. actually pressed charges against the mother of an unvaccinated boy who fatally infected another child — so this feature-length confirmation of worst fears could be viewed as welcome and overdue counterbalance. On the other hand: The filmmakers may have inadvertently offered the most damning appraisal of their own project by including a clip of Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) dismissing the link between autism and vaccinations: “F—k that! It’s total bulls—t!”

“Vaxxed” is the handiwork of first-time (and, probably, last-time) director Andrew Wakefield, a British gastroenterologist who collaborated on a study linking the MMR vaccine and a reported spike in autism diagnoses that was published in the Lancet, the prestigious English medical journal, in 1998. A few years later, however, the Lancet withdrew its support of the study — kinda-sorta like how Tribeca withdrew its support for “Vaxxed” — after Wakefield was pelted with accusations of fraud, junk science and conflicts of interest. In May 2010, the gastroenterologist was stripped of his medical license.

None of that blowback has halted Wakefield’s crusade, however, and, not surprisingly, little of it is addressed in “Vaxxed.” The movie devotes a great deal of time to emotionally affecting testimonies from parents who claim their infants were happy and healthy until they began to display symptoms of autism after receiving the MMR vaccine. (One incontestably thought-provoking issue raised by the documentary: Under current U.S. law, pharmaceutical companies are largely shielded from most lawsuits stemming from side effects of vaccines.) Other lengthy chunks are devoted to questioning the impartiality (and trustworthiness) of the Centers for Disease Control, with suggestions of a dark conspiracy between Big Pharma and the CDC bolstered by secretly recorded conversations between environmental biologist Brian Hooker and CDC “whistleblower” William Thompson.

In the end, however, “Vaxxed” comes across as a grab-bag of charts, theories and anecdotal evidence that would never pass muster by the editors of any major scientific journal (like, say, the Lancet), and too often resembles the kind of one-sided, paranoia-stoking agitprop that political activists construct to sanctify true believers and assault infidels. It should be taken with several grains of industrial-strength salt — although, to be fair, it does serve as a kind of one-stop-shopping source for anyone seeking to know just what the anti-vaccination crowd is all fired up about.

Film Review: 'Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe'

Reviewed online, April 2, 2016. (In WorldFest/Houston Film Festival.) Running time: 91 MIN.


(Documentary) A Cinema Libre Studio release of an Autism Media Channel/Del Bigtree production. Produced by Del Bigtree, Polly Tommey, Andrew Wakefield, Brian Burrowes. Executive producer, Casey Coates Danson. Co-producers, Lee Nestor-Bigtree, Kelly Gallagher, Rana Joy Glickman.


Directed by Andrew Wakefield. Written by Wakefield, Del Bigtree. Camera (color), Brian Burrowes, Wael Shukha, Tanayia Koonce, Imogen Wakefield, Erik Nanstiel, Mark Roethke, Andrew Debosz, Kelly Gallagher, Jenn Sherry Parry; editor, Brian Burrowes; music, Francesco Lupica; sound, Chris Haire, Alexey Mohr; associate producer, Dawna Shuman.


Brian Hooker, Doreen Granpeesheh, Mark Blaxill, Polly Tommey, James  M. Sears, Rachel Ross, Brandy Vaughn, Luc Montagnier, Stephanie Seneff, Bill Posey, Andrew Wakefield, Del Bigtree.

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  1. Steve says:

    You need to watch more than the trailer.

  2. Angel says:

    So I wonder who paid for this piece in Variety? Oh I guess it’s Pfizer according to that huge ad. I wonder if they wouldn’t want people to see the movie Vaxxed because they are making the vaccines that they are talking about ?? Maybe if our government is so scared of paying for a trillion dollars in vaccine injury claims– they could reverse the liability back to Pfizer? Just a thought…

  3. Janey says:

    The stupid irony of your review is simple:

    “Certainly, such attacks will not put off the film’s target audience of skeptical parents who, for reasons ranging from resentment of government mandates to deeply held religious beliefs, have long attempted to avoid having their children vaccinated for infectious diseases.”

    The people in this film WERE VACCINATING THEIR CHILDREN ON SCHEDULE. They weren’t trying to *avoid* having their children vaccinated!

    You are an idiot.

  4. Mendi says:

    What about the $3billion pay out? Oh I guess they just gave that money away. It’s too bad Joe that you decided to critique this film without looking into any specifics other than the ones that pay your bills. You would have found a numerous amount of info that would lead you to a “thinkers” conclusion, rather than the “sheeple” one that you have adopted.

  5. Brooke Gorham says:

    Sad not to be believed.If I told you my kid was sick youd believe me but say vaccines damaged my kid you dont.I suspect more of you will believe us eventually, Why? Because the rates are skyrocketing and sadly, soon you’ll be affected by autism too.Im sick of screaming it to the world but ill never stop because I believe its whats right.Unpopular or not.

  6. Hany says:

    This reporter should be charged and tried for complicity in the medical conspiracy of which vaccines are just a small part…..may you or someone close to you be affected…maybe thyen you’ll grow the balls to speak truth rather than cower to corporate sponsorship.

  7. Greg says:

    Yes indeed, you haven’t learned a principle that will ultimately shorten your life….Nature isn’t sentimental though, and as the saying goes, “How do you expect to make a sick person well, with that which would make a well person sick”….in this case, these are babies, with far less corrupted bloodstreams, and you through in garbage and this is what you get. I am sure you support Climate engineering too…

  8. Lacey says:

    What an awful “review”. I wonder if you would act this smug in front of parents with vaccine injured children? Would you say to their face they are wrong like you are saying in this “review”? I dont think so. Coward.

  9. jopiyogi says:

    I know 2 mothers of babies that were developing perfectly until their shots, both went full blown autistic. Can the hundreds of thousands of parents who claim vaccine damage be wrong? i don’t think thats even possible. This epidemic started when the insane schedule of 69 doses by 6yrs started. If they have nothing to hide why aren’t they subpoenaing Dr William Thompson so he can speak?

  10. Nena says:

    Your such a coward for what you’ve written. If you cared about truth or our damaged kids im sure this smug attempt to hide the truth would not exist. Hear this well Vaccines caused autism in my son! Period

  11. Mike Robbins says:

    Over all, if taken With a grain of salt I’d say that’s a pretty fair Review.

  12. Dr D says:

    This review by Joe Leydon is proof that any idiot can post nonsense on the internet.

  13. Frito says:

    Yet ANOTHER post from PhD Econometrician? Does he never sleep?

    I love his condescension! I call him out for his sweeping assertions that “vaccines are safe” and “all arguments against vaccine safety are…utterly unconvincing.” And he rages that I am “stupid and uneducated.”

    Truth does not fear investigation. But the “highly educated” vaccine lobby can apparently tolerate no doubts about the perfect safety of all vaccines in all combinations.

    He’s too busy to “spend my time to go through all vaccine schedule studies.” But he has a lot of time for shouting down any dissenters from the Merck paradigm. Our “econometrician” has more than 30 posts in this movie review thread alone!

  14. Frito says:

    The “PhD Econometrician” sure is an active poster! LOL!

    He says not to put words in his mouth, but: “vaccines are safe,” “the whole combination question…has been answered to death” and “all arguments against vaccine safety are…utterly unconvincing” are direct quotes from him.

    These are sweeping generalizations. But he hilariously tries to position them as scientific findings…proven by…econometrics!

    He’s a real authoritarian type. In spite of repeated proven criminal behavior by vaccine manufacturers and the proven phenomenon of regulatory capture, he doesn’t think they should bear the burden of proving the safety of the steadily increasing number of baby injections they push. He wants the burden of proof to fall on anyone who dares to question Merck! And you better “get into some pretty heavy biochemistry” or you have no right to question any of the products they sell for your baby’s bloodstream.

    He’s pretty convinced that all the parents, researchers, and doctors questioning the safety of the full U.S. vaccine schedule are “stupid and uneducated.” But he’s apparently okay with the less-extensive vaccine schedules in all other countries. Who cares if babies in Europe are deprived of wonderful safe vaccines by their slow-moving governments? Our authoritarian friend thinks that’s okay. But if American parents want to move slowly? That is NOT okay. Econometrics!

    For such a smart and educated guy, his grasp of basic logic is a little shaky. Could there be any danger in giving your baby 49 bloodstream injections, each a cocktail of different ingredients, many of them toxic in larger amounts? Definitely not, he “reasons.” After all, there are many antigens out there in the world, so why NOT inject more of them into your baby’s bloodstream? And a study failed to find a correlation between total number of vaccines and autism spectrum disorder. Oh, well in THAT case, his hypothesis about the complete safety of the 49 injection schedule has been PROVEN correct. AH HA HA HA HA! When it comes to mandating the purchase of Merck products, our “scientist” has a pretty low bar for what constitutes “proof” of safety!

    I look forward to more of his impressive logic! He is willing to make an infinite number of posts in this thread if necessary. Vaccine doubts must be suppressed! And econometricians are VERY persuasive. And persistent!

    • A PhD econometrician says:

      “Frito (and his sock puppets) sure is an active poster! LOL!” I mean look, you can make an infinite number of posts as well… in fact each one of your posts further removes any doubt about your lack of understanding, misleading arguments, and propensity for conspiracy theories.

      * I didn’t say parents and doctors are stupid and uneducated. I said you personally, Frito, are stupid and uneducated. Most normal people can find a middle ground or engage in normal, balance discourse. Not you.

      * Given the amount of misinformation out there and natural fear of “chemicals” and needles around our most precious resource – children – it isn’t surprising that many parents voice anti-vaccine sentiment. That’s fine, and everyone should educate themselves and participate in the conversation. We should also keep a watchful eye on regulators and big business when it comes to procedures and conflicts of interest. The issue is that they need, at some level, to be able to participate in the discussion when it comes to the scientific studies, and some very basic logic and knowledge of biochemistry and statistics – which can be learned – goes a long way. Cranks like you making noise don’t help. As an analogy, it’s like you, Frito, are running into the middle of a game of chess yelling “homerun! Now king me! What, no!? Then it’s a conspiracy! You chess players don’t know what you’re talking about.”

      * “Injecting chemicals” *clutches pearls* And watch out for that nasty dihydrogen monoxide while you’re at it. It is used in nuclear power plants as a cooling agent and causes more deaths than anything.

      * I wrote several times about how the scientific method supports or rejects hypotheses and builds up theory over time, and specifically that nobody ever “proves” a hypothesis. You keep using that word (and building straw men by putting words in my mouth and quote mining) because you don’t understand how the scientific method works and, well, because you’re a crank.

      * I made no comments about vaccine policies / schedules in other countries. You said that.

      * You are not in favor of “moving slowly”. You made it abundantly clear that you don’t want any vaccines, period. Stop misrepresenting your position to create fear. This is also extraordinary goalpost moving. I could spend my time to go through all vaccine schedule studies, but then you’d just come back with some other non sequitur.

      You want to play with the big boys, but you have neither the education nor the experience to contribute anything useful, so you’re stuck in your little conspiracy-filled world feeling “right” at the expense of everyone else.

  15. Frito says:

    Here’s another cute anecdote:

    “Julie Gerberding was in charge of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2002 to 2009, which includes the years the FDA approved the Merck Gardasil vaccine. Soon after she took over the CDC, she reportedly completely overhauled the agency’s organizational structure, and many of the CDC’s senior scientists and leaders either left or announced plans to leave. Some have claimed that almost all of the replacements Julie Gerberding appointed had ties to the vaccine industry.

    Gerberding resigned from the CDC on January 20, 2009, and took over as the president of Merck’s Vaccine division, a 5 billion dollar a year operation, and the supplier of the largest number of vaccines the CDC recommends.

    It was reported earlier this month that Dr. Gerberding, now the executive vice president of pharmaceutical giant Merck, sold 38,368 of her shares in Merck stock for $2,340,064.32. She still holds 31,985 shares of the company’s stock, valued at about $2 million.”

    But don’t even worry about the conflicts of interest. People probably ignore incentives. They take their cues on how to act from…econometrics!


  16. Frito says:

    Here’s a cute anecdote:

    “At the February ACIP meeting, when it came time for the ACIP to rubber-stamp approval of
    Rotavirus vaccine for premature infants, here are Modlin’s quotes from the official transcript: “..
    available data are insufficient to fully establish the safety and efficacy of rotavirus vaccine in
    premature infants … there is a section under Adverse Events that details what little information
    there actually are with respect to premature infants … To my knowledge we don’t have data from
    a clinical trial specifically … Some bit of information from Seattle, as I recall, that had suggested
    that was a slight increase in relative risk for hospitalization for premature infants … Obviously a
    situation where we have to make a judgment in the absence of data, and with a vaccine that
    has not yet been tested in the group …” (ACIP transcript, pages 102-112) Modlin then held a
    vote and the recommendation for premature infants passed nine to one — Modlin voted yes, Dr.
    Glode against. This is a clear example of how the medical bureaucracy (led by the CDC and
    ACIP), is recommending vaccines without scientific evidence that those vaccines are safe in a
    broad sample of racially and genetically diverse infants.”

    Very econometric!

  17. Frito says:

    Wow! “PhD Econometrician” continues to be the hardest working man in show business!

    This movie review REALLY inspired him! He’s responsible for more than 20% of the 126 comments here, and almost 50% of total words written.

    It’s really fun to watch him work.

    “Honestly,” he told us, “I rarely if ever post online.” Then, after his first 24 or so posts, he hilariously dropped the mic and said “I’m done here. — PhD Econ. out —” Nice flourish.

    But, alas, he wasn’t really “out,” after all. A movie came out about a whistleblower from INSIDE the CDC. That requires EXTRA “debunking” effort from “econometricians” like him.

    He’s super fun, and he likes to project his own emotions on others. He accuses concerned parents of thinking vaccines are “all bad.” When in fact, HE’S the one who keeps arguing that vaccines are “all good.”

    He even tells us that the safety of vaccines in combination (49 injections before a baby turns 5 years old) has been “answered to death.” What an interesting assertion. The number of baby injections recommended by the CDC has doubled in recent decades. Where are the hundreds of studies comparing the long-term health impacts of vaccine-free control groups vs. the 49-injection groups?

    Some of his co-religionists argue that those studies can’t be performed because it would be unethical to deny any children the life-saving benefits of the 49 injections. But our PhD friend seems to think these types of studies HAVE been conducted…”to death.” I look forward to reading those studies when he provides the citations.

    In the meantime, here’s hoping this PhD posting machine keeps fighting the good fight against Mommies and Daddies thinking for themselves. Some parents doubt the wisdom of vaccinating infants against sexually transmitted diseases like Hep B. But he knows better. Parenting is best left to the econometricians!

    • Brooke says:

      Your awesome Frito.Thank you for standing up for us.I dont have time to argue w this fool.Have to chase my VACCINE INJURED kids around ;) One day he will get it but im not holding mt breath.Have a good day.

    • A PhD econometrician says:


      * Good job building a straw man (= overly simplifying and quote mining to build a sham argument). We can add it to your list of logical fallacies. You are the one projecting.

      * I started writing about methodology – scientific collection, evaluation, and interpretation of data. You don’t understand, so your resort to conspiracy theories.

      * Regarding your two comments / copy/paste jobs above, I already threw you a bone below referring to Ben Goldacre’s work on poor pharma and regulator practices. However, if you read that book and can avoid quote mining it, you also have to read his other book Bad Science to understand why alternative medicine approaches are much more dangerous and unfounded (hint: he supports vaccine safety and current vaccine schedule since the research is broad, well done, and all points in the direction of no vaccine-autism link). Julie got fired by the new administration and went into industry. Other research papers don’t have any affiliation to the CDC (remember, other countries are not the USA), and if the effect is as big as you claim that vaccines cause autism, it would be impossible to hide in the data from so many research groups.

      * If true re rotavirus, I actually agree with you that regulators should have collected more evidence before making a decision. As a statistician, they generalized to a population outside of previous studies. Part of the discussion may have been consideration of relative risk and understanding the mechanics of how vaccines work, with a commitment to evaluate and monitor safety later on.

      * I answered the question on genetic variation, racial differences etc. below. You don’t understand stats.

      * Vaccines, like anything, aren’t all good. But the risks, complications, and relative risks are well understood. If some infants have skin reactions to needles, it doesn’t mean that vaccines cause autism or that we should stop vaccinating. That is your fallacious argument. In an experiment for sleeping pills, something like 5-15% of people reporting side effects from the group receiving sugar pills (marginally smaller than those receiving actual medicine). The placebo effect and confirmation bias are incredible. Which is why we use methods like econometrics. Which you don’t understand.

      * A bunch of anecdotes don’t equal data.

      * Let me give you a reference to hopefully improve your low self-awareness: Why People Believe Weird Things, by Michael Shermer. He gives an excellent example of trying to debate Holocaust deniers. We have a mountain of evidence that the Holocaust occurred, yet they try to “prove” that it didn’t, following a course of bad arguments like you present (resorting to conspiracy theories, putting, ignoring the mountains of evidence to challenge other “but what about his missing evidence!” as if that invalidates everything else, quote mining, appeal to emotion, moving goalposts, etc.). A strident anti-vaxxer such as yourself is essentially a Holocaust denier. I also invite you to go debate the flat Earthers to experience it for yourself (I assume you don’t doubt that the Earth is a sphere, but maybe not…).

      * Some anti-vaxxers may profit, most don’t. But that wasn’t may point. I was just using the same stupid tactics you accuse others of so that you see how it feels. “Frito and his sock puppets are anti-vaxx, therefore he must profit from alternative remedies”. Irony just goes right over your head when you are busy quote mining and cherry picking.

      * You’re really not that self aware. Your responses make you the hardest worker in show business since you have an agenda. And what makes you assume I’m a man?

      * And you return again at the end to another conspiracy accusation. I post something refuting your arguments so I must be a paid shill. *Yawn*

      * You are thinking for mommies and daddies. The problem is your thinking is biased, alarmist, and plain wrong. Next you can go debate quantum physicists about their discovery of the higgs boson since you seem to think experience and science don’t matter. You’re a hack.

      • A PhD econometrician says:

        I’ve been arguing that, from the point of view of scientific methodology and toxicology, anti-vaxxers don’t know what they are talking about. If you want to know my “agenda”, I get sick of hearing anti-vaxxers draw erroneous conclusions or vehement arguments based on anecdotes, conspiracy theories, or plain misunderstanding of basic statistics, causality, and chemistry. Children are harmed with preventable diseases because of this drivel. If there is any real debate about vaccine safety, you are just poisoning the well and drawing attention away from real, valuable research.

        * Don’t put words into my mouth (= building another straw man argument – another logical fallacy on your part). All pills are not safe (see my reference below, although I’m guessing you’ve never actually read a book cover to cover). Vaccines are very different from “pills” since vaccines expose our bodies to the antigens (but not the active disease). Also there are only 5 categories of vaccines that all work pretty much based on the same principles, principles that are well understood and studied.

        “No response from you on the wisdom of injecting baby girls AT BIRTH against Hepatitis B, a disease that mostly strikes adult men who have sex with men! LOL.”

        * ok, ALL CAPS man, if we really need to head down the rabbit hole (as soon as someone refutes this silly claim, you’ll move on and come up with another… eventually coming back to this stupid point on another thread, ignoring all the other criticisms where you were proven wrong…):

        * Around 1/3 of chronic HepB infections are contracted during childhood. The disease is certainly not only spread via intravenous drug users or gay men, but the transmission of bodily fluids. Does the nurse or babysitter have undiagnosed HepB and forgot to wash her hands after a small cut? Are the toys in the nursery covered in infected baby slobber (HepB virus lives for about a week outside of the body..). Is the mother unknowingly infected and breastfeeding? HepB is highly contagious.

        * We are exposed to hundreds if not thousands of antigens every day. 1 more – a target one from a lethal disease – makes little difference. And if you think that “one more” antigen is harmful because it’s a disease, then you’d have to admit it is 10x more harmful if you get the real disease which exposes you to about a million times more of the antigen.

        * So what would your proposal be? Vaccinate for HepB after… 3 months? 5 years? Adults? We know your position is never vaccinate, so why play this stupid game as if you care?

        You keep harping on about “combinations” of vaccines. You don’t understand the science behind it, period. The chemicals have scary names (watch out for that dihydrogen monoxide in vaccines!). Combinations and vaccine schedule? See my point above about daily antigen exposure, and the paper I cited below “One et al. (2010). The combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines and the total number of vaccines are not associated with development of autism spectrum disorder”. See, “total number of vaccines”.

        And here’s the challenge to you: the burden of proof rests with you. If you think that “combinations of vaccines” are harmful, it isn’t enough to simply state it, draw the erroneous conclusion that therefore people shouldn’t vaccinate, and then run away pointing fingers. Show me (1) a proposed mechanism describing why a combination is harmful (here you need to get into some pretty heavy biochemistry…) and (2) unbiased data and analysis supporting or refuting your idea (= an econometric analysis). But you can’t. Because you’re stupid and uneducated.

      • Frito says:

        Another post from the PhD econometrician! Thank goodness! He will always get the last word–it’s a requirement of his gig.

        PhD, YOU are the one with an agenda, not me. You don’t want any parents to question your sweeping assertions that “vaccines are safe,” that “all arguments against vaccine safety are… utterly unconvincing,” and that the safety of the U.S. combined vaccination schedule (which has grown dramatically in recent decades and is now up to 49 injections before age 5) has been proven “to death.”

        Your sweeping assertions are the same as saying “all pills are proven to be safe.”

        What an impressively “intellectual” position. LOL.

        And, your position neatly lines up with some of the most profitable companies in the world, who have a documented criminal history of research fraud and patient fatalities.

        But parents have no right to question the “proven” safety of all vaccines in all combinations. After all, they aren’t trained “econometricians.”

        AH HA HA HA HA!

        No response from you on the wisdom of injecting baby girls AT BIRTH against Hepatitis B, a disease that mostly strikes adult men who have sex with men! LOL.

        I assume that you are lobbying your backward nation to hurry up and adopt the more aggressive U.S. vaccine schedule? After all, it’s been “proven to death” to be beneficial and absolutely safe. Why is your country endangering the population by not quickly mandating these additional vaccines?

        But of course you’ve elected to give your own kids all the additional vaccines recommended by the more forward-looking American authorities, right? And I certainly hope that YOU’RE all caught up with the new vaccines that weren’t around when you were a kid.

        AH HA HA HA HA!

    • A PhD econometrician says:

      Sock puppet pops up again to defend his alter-ego with the same tedious, faulty arguments… Yeah I should stop feeding trolls like you but it’s enlightening to watch you run in circles.

      “But but but” is your never ending cycle of lame points. Someone provides 100 articles, carefully explains them to you, and then you come running back again “but but but”, continuously moving the goal posts until we’re back at the starting point.

      I already provided a citation below to a simple paper comparing the dosage schedule, using econometrics, which we use to simulate experimental conditions by exploiting variance in the data / natural experiments where it may be unethical or impossible to conduct a controlled trial (which were also conducted prior to vaccine approval by regulators). But it doesn’t matter – (1) you don’t understand it anyway, nor do you want to understand it and (2) you said below that you want a world with no vaccines at all (i.e. one with measles outbreaks killing 1/1000 and causing permanent lifetime damage). You’re an arrogant fundamentalist here to poison the well. It’s like playing chess with a pigeon (hint: you’re the pigeon) who knocks over all the pieces, craps on the table, and then flies away claiming victory.

      According to your lousy logic, parenting advice is best left to lousy, untrained, inexperienced, biased Internet conspiracy theorists such as yourself. I personally think they are smarter than that, but idiots like yourself making noise (or crapping on the table, as it were) just add to the confusion and fear out there. Keep up the work, our hard-working lunatic friend.

      • Frito says:

        “PhD Econometrician” is the hardest working man in show biz! I guess his “I’m done here….PhD Econ out” was a premature mic drop. He has to keep typing to get the last word–it’s part of the gig. 50% of the words in this comments section come from this one guy! Hilarious.

        All vaccines in all combinations are safe, he tells us. It’s been proven “to death,” he tells us. By “econometric” inference because true double blind studies would be “unethical.”

        Who cares about the billions of dollars pharmaceutical companies have had to pay in settlements and criminal fines for kickbacks, poor manufacturing practices, Medicare fraud, false claims, etc. PhD assures us that the multi-billion dollar vaccine industry is lower margin than the rest of the pharma business, so we should trust these confirmed criminals unconditionally on these “products.”

        There are more than 250 new vaccines in the pipeline, so apparently these small(er) margins on huge revenues ARE just a little bit motivating. The business model of having the government mandate everyone must buy your product is a monopolist’s delight.

        But it’s probably thos pesky “anti-vaxxers” who are motivated by profits, he suggests. A few of them have sold over 100 pamphlets! LOL!

        “All arguments against vaccine safety are… utterly unconvincing,” he tells us. Documented cases of vaccine injury can’t possibly be real–because econometrics!

        I wonder how our PhD friend justifies the vaccination of NEWBORNS (first 24 hours of life) against the sexually transmitted disease Hepatitis B! According to the CDC, the biggest risk groups are intravenous drug users and men who have sex with men. So get your infant daughters vaccinated on Day 1!

        PhD econometrician is so funny! He posts here like it’s his JOB!

  18. Frito says:

    The PhD econometrician just can’t stop himself. He’s GOT to argue that ALL vaccines, individually and in any combination, are “proven” to be totally safe!

    I can’t believe he trotted out this old gem: “See, pharma companies don’t make much on vaccines; they even threatened to simply stop producing them at one point.” Hilarious. Vaccines may not be quite as lucrative as Viagra, but they are big business.

    How strange that the PhD econometrician would just share his FEELINGS about vaccine revenues without looking up the numbers. Not very scientific of him. Vaccines actually generate BILLIONS in revenues. The companies threatened to stop producing them because they didn’t like the LIABILITY for the vaccine injuries, not because the revenues were too tiny. Luckily they were able to lobby Uncle Sam into giving them immunity for the injuries.

    What a pity that the PhD econometrician can’t identify himself. Then we’d know he’s not a shill, but actually just a legitimately “scientific” guy. But work like his is best done anonymously.


    • A PhD econometrician says:

      * Uh, dip$hit, (1) like almost everyone else on any Internet comments section anywhere you’re also posting anonymously and (2) I’d rather not have loons like you trolling me.

      * Again, you resort to conspiracy theory when someone challenges your faulty conclusions.

      * We can’t be sure, but homeopathy revenues are also in the billions. I’m sure you are a homeopathy shill trying to spread doubt about vaccines!! Admit your REAL motives and give us your name and list of publications! (<– annoying, isn't it?)

      * Proof exists in the realm of mathematics, but proof is not a word in a scientist's vocabulary. We don't "prove" hypotheses; we test hypotheses. Rejecting the null hypothesis means we tentatively accept the alternative hypothesis, subject to revision in case better evidence comes along (using rigorous methodology on unbiased data). It's an important distinction (and very very open minded), but you evidently can't understand it. (Hint: we fail to reject the null hypothesis that vaccines do not cause autism, so we cannot accept the alternative hypothesis that they do cause autism, with like 99.9% certainty at this point).

      * The problem with anti-vaxxers like you is that there is no grey area; vaccines are either "all good" or "all bad". Naturalistic fallacy, Nirvana fallacy, relative risk incomprehension, etc. I'd be happy to review safety of new vaccines, but the whole combination question and individual reactions have been answered to death.

      * Revenue does not equal margin. Toilet paper is also big business in terms of revenue with razor thin margins, without the risk of being sued by greedy lawyers in a legal system where most judges don't understand science.

      * I already argued below that I think vaccine manufacturers should be liable in the US. But because of your litigious legal system and low margins in vaccines, they figured the risk was too high and threatened to simply exit the market, which could have led to a public health crisis. Consider that the US is a country where some judges and politicians are climate change deniers, McDonald's loses a lawsuit because someone spilled their hot coffee on themselves, etc.

      * Summary: most people on this board with anti-vaccine sentiment are genuinely concerned yet misled due to all the noise out there and lack of knowledge about how science works. You, on the other hand, are simply an idiot peddling conspiracy theories.

  19. As a parent of a vaccine injured child– I can tell you this movie is 100 percent accurate.
    Vaccine injury is not rare.
    Please do your own research before injecting your children. Vaccine makers are not liable for harming your child. In fact the only one that will responsible is you. Are you ready to take care of an autistic child for the rest of your life.
    Are you ready to give them autism?

  20. mark brody says:

    There are so many experts on vaccination safety it’s truly amazing, the author being just one of so many. It’s a wonderful world we live in where opinions can be formed and dissenting ones laughingly dismissed without bothering to critically evaluate the data. As Thomas Edison once said, “there is no expedient to which a man(/woman) will not go to avoid the hard labor of thinking.”

  21. Albert says:

    Obviously this bias article is by a government controlled media outlet. Disgusting

  22. Jule says:

    Is Joe a film critic or a people critic? After reading this article, I felt he had made up his mind about this film before he even saw it.

  23. DCH says:

    This is the single worst ”film review” I have ever read from Variety.

  24. Frito says:

    The “PhD econometrician” is the hardest working man in show biz! LOL. SO many posts!

    His best quote: “All arguments against vaccine safety are… utterly unconvincing.”

    Oh, really? Then how does he explain the billions of dollars in compensation paid out by the U.S. government to victims of “vaccine injury”? How does he explain the many documented and admitted-by-government vaccine related seizures, emergency room visits, and deaths? How does he explain the many serious unsafe side effects listed on the vaccine insert warning labels by the manufacturers? How does he explain the need for the government’s Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System?

    What a joke!

    I love watching guys like him spin!


    • A PhD econometrician says:

      @Frito and Zuto,

      This is where it starts to get tedious. “Then how does that explain the billions…” etc –> already answered below.

      “This is not a scientific forum” (Zuto below) –> but the film being reviewed tackles a scientific question in a very unscientific way, and worse, it’s providing misinformation that could lead to death and permanent injuries to children. So no, you don’t get a carte blanche to stir up fear in your echo chamber without being challenged.

      My take home is that arguing with hard-core anti-vaxxers is a futile exercise (and here I don’t mean concerned parents who are simply worried, cautious, and confused thanks to all the misinformation – most people are certainly rationale and reasonable and amenable to logic).

      Here’s what happens:
      – Anti-vaxxer: shocking statement made as fact (OMG There is FORMALDEHYDE a chemical in vaccines! It is killing our children!)
      – Scientist: provides an explanation, counter-argument, or some evidence to the contrary, usually with some nuance.
      -Anti-vaxxer: “Yeah, but what about THIS” (brings a new topic into the discussion without following up to the rest of the discussion – as if “THIS” invalidates the slap down of the anti-vaxxer’s previous point)
      – Steps 2 & 3 repeat several times
      – Anti-vaxxer: makes ad hominem attack, assumes the scientist must be either a “sheeple”, incompetent at research and logic, or paid shill.

      Honestly I rarely if ever post online. I couldn’t help myself here after reading so many alarmist, misinformed comments. Yeah I wrote a lot because sometimes topics are complicated and require some nuance. Too much to read and consider though just goes right over your head, it seems. Unfortunately I’m not going to resort to truisms, scare quotes, and block letters (i.e. your language).

      I can only hope that some on-the-fence parent read something that made him or her think twice about the bias and rhetoric behind the whole anti-vaxxer movement and this propaganda film Vaxxed. I’m just as concerned about public health and children’s well being as anyone.

      I’m done here.

      — PhD Econ. out —

      • A PhD econometrician says:

        People, this is the intellectual level behind the anti-vaxx movement: Tweedle-dumb Zuto and his ALL CAPS, “scare quotes-loving” sock puppet (LOL!) give an epic response laden with conspiracy accusations, goal-post moving and stupidity (“just let everyone get measles and polio”).

        Not every country is the US. I don’t live in the US. I live in a country with a progressive, inclusive health care system where medicine prices are controlled. I get paid for teaching and applying methods to evaluate objectively evidence (i.e. “finding real answers to legitimate questions” – not cherry-picking arguments to support my notions, like you).

        See, pharma companies don’t make much on vaccines; they even threatened to simply stop producing them at one point. Secondly, the fastest way to reduce vaccine revenues is to ensure universal vaccination: companies don’t make a dime from smallpox anymore since we eliminated it through vaccine programs. We were almost there with polio – i.e. no more polio vaccinations ever again – until conspiracy idiots like you led people to stop vaccinating.

        Zuto, the only egoistic shill on here is YOU. That’s great that is seems gullible people donate to whatever BS blog it is you run, hocking your quackery. You are the one who makes money from spreading anti-vaxx conspiracy theories. Your counter-argument amounts to “stop responding with complicated-sounding science and nuance!” Better simple ideas for simply minds like yours.

        – AH HA HAH AH AH –

      • Zuto says:


        My statements are hardly alarmist. How in the world did entire generations of children make it through childhood without vaccinations for childhood illnesses? They were exposed to diseases and their immune systems cleared things up, for the most part. Bonus: it was free and immunity was lifelong. Industry won’t make a buck off that, and Econometricians will have to find some other way to make a living. Now that might alarm YOU, but most people will change the channel to find something more interesting to think about.

        As I said before, stop regurgitating propaganda and go find real answers to legitimate questions. Right now you are so “open” to letting people express their opinions and air their concerns that you turn right around and bash them over the head with your econometrics and long sentences and statistical mumbo jumbo and I just gotta wonder about your sincerity. Better yet, you diagram how people think and infer meanings and judge the veracity of other peoples’ statements and make sure everyone is clear on your interpretation.

        Good luck with those few fence-sitters who still need help thinking, especially about film reviews. Hope it keeps you busy for awhile, I’ll get back to the real world now, where I do real science and get paid for my opinion and clients say thank you.

      • Frito says:

        AH HA HA HA! Thanks for another lengthy post, “PhD Econometrician.”

        You say THIS is where it begins to get tedious? Oh, you got tedious dozens of posts ago!

        You say “Honestly I rarely if ever post online.” LOL. Could have fooled me!

        You say “I can only hope that some on-the-fence parent read something that made him or her think twice.” I’ll bet! You’ve really shown a lot of dedication to your goal!

        You say people assume that “the scientist” (LOL) “must be either a “sheeple”, incompetent at research and logic, or paid shill.” DING DING DING! I’ll go with shill AND incompetent at research and logic!

        But you’re clearly no “sheeple.” You’re a kind “shepherd” guiding your flock! Guiding them to follow the CDC’s recommended vaccination schedule and inject their children with 49 doses of 14 vaccines by age 6, triple the number of injections the parents themselves had as kids.

        “I’m done here. PhD Econ. out” What? Why give up now? Don’t feel embarrassed. Yes, you’ve been a little too obvious in this thread, but surely SOME Mommies and Daddies will still be “amenable” to your “logic.”

        And they don’t have to be “amenable” forever. Just long enough to get some MANDATORY vaccine laws in place, am I right? Then we won’t have to worry about what Mommy and Daddy think anymore. The Econometricians will decide who gets injected with what!

        AH HA HA HA!

  25. says:

    What a smug response with so little critical thinking behind it. (The review, that is. Listen to those affected, open your mind and see the movie.)

  26. Zuto says:

    Who said I am a brother? Check your bias.

    You understand that not all vaccine safety doubts are centered around autism? Not all vaccine issues center around safety? Not all vaccine questions are about children’s vaccination?

    You understand this article was a film review? This is not a scientific forum. We don’t get scored on grammar or spelling or proper citation. We aren’t going to be denied tenure or a degree for hasty typing.

    You understand that people who do NOT have a PhD are capable of critical thinking and don’t need a strict set of rules to evaluate a film review or even just the film? You understand that not everyone is susceptible to emotional appeals, such as some that appeared in the film? Some people can still think clearly in spite of emotional content.

    Did you even see the film? It doesn’t have a wide distribution. Are you just trying to educate people in case they might believe something that you don’t approve of? Why are you so uncomfortable letting people investigate without your help?

    It’s also not okay to end a sentence with a preposition. So what? The sentence structure has no bearing on the intended meaning. Some of the sentences are incomplete and some improperly end with question marks. That don’t make me stoopid. Catch my drift?

  27. Zuto says:

    After reading all the comments on this reputed “movie review” I’m seeing way too much back and forth and it is not about the movie. There is one commentor who just antagonizing everyone he/she does not agree with, so:

    A PhD econometrician, your ego knows no bounds. Why are you so intent on silencing people and making sure they are duly called out as misinformed or deluded or uneducated or “not a scientist?” What makes you an expert of judging the level of education of people you know nothing about?

    Free country, first amendment rights protected. Let the people speak and stop interrupting. There is no educational prerequisite for a) being intelligent, b) formulating an opinion and c) expressing that opinion in a public forum.

    Are you the Internet Sheriff? If so, present your credentials, state who authorized you and give us your job description.

    • A PhD econometrician says:

      And the pot called the kettle black – are you the Internet sheriff? You brother are trying to silence and interrupt me.

      It is indeed a free country and everyone may have an opinion. Equally others are allowed to challenge that opinion in public forums. Some opinions (1) are indeed misinformed or at least severely biased based on well-known human emotional biases and (2) actually hurt or kill people. The misinformed opinion that vaccinations causes autism is one such. It’s such a loaded topic – every person alive feels his heart strings tugged when it comes to child safety, so we act against sound scientific evidence out of fear.

      I wouldn’t silence anybody – instead, I welcome people to air their beliefs so that they can rightly be discussed, corrected (on both sides)… and even duly ridiculed at some point if they keep banging their heads against the same wall and harming others.

      If your opinion is that the holocaust never happened or aliens abduct people… fine, you are welcome to that, although others reserve the right to ridicule you in a public forum. If your opinion is that vaccines cause autism and therefore your innocent child one day dies as a result, now that opinion has real-world consequences and must be addressed.

      In fact, I stated below that education isn’t a prerequisite and PhDs are also biased – like all humans – and not necessarily intelligent. But I also argued that, on average, PhDs have domain-specific knowledge and serious training that allows them to evaluate claims (= hypotheses) in ways that try to remove the biases (e.g. confirmation bias, observational bias, post-hoc bias…) and get to the truth. I also ultimately trust the process, which in this case has been duly followed. I know humans are biased, but I also understand the methods scientists employ to try to remove that bias, thanks to my training. So no, all opinions are not created equal (see my examples below about mechanics…).

      All arguments against vaccine safety are… utterly unconvincing. They boil down to observational bias and ultimately conspiracy theory.

  28. Zuto says:

    I am paid (alot) to do real, applied science. So to all the “scientists” who malign commentors:

    Good science can afford to be questioned. Bad science needs to be questioned.

    Since 2003, there have been zero deaths from measles in the U.S. Since 2003, 98 people have died from the MMR vaccine.

    So instead of denigrating people who are willing to ask a question, maybe you should stop regurgitating propaganda and go find real answers to valid questions.

    • A PhD econometrician says:

      Use of scare quotes and grammar mistakes: check.

      Blind application of a truism (“bad science needs to be questioned”): check.
      * Uh, you think that scientists don’t question everything done in a study? I’ve participated in hundreds of research seminars – you know, when authors present papers prior to or following publication – and it is a shark tank with blood in the water. Researchers grill the presenters on every aspect of the study looking for holes – it’s how you get good results but also a reputation as a good scientist. Bad science is a stupid statement like “…no measles deaths…”.

      Arrogant statement that somehow you, Zuto, are doing science (while getting paid “alot”) while all the other thousands of scientists aren’t: check.
      * by the way, a biology PhD post-doc salary is around $45K per year. Most scientists I know do it because they love it and are curious people, not for the money. Research doctors may get $200K+ per year. The research community spans an entire range of salaries and abilities, so you cannot make the statement that they are all (1) incompetent or (2) paid shills.

      Misleading statement positioned as a fact in order to sow the seeds of doubt: check.
      * there are several problems with “zero people have died from measles…”. First, there was a death in 2015, plus several others from complications. Second, the death rate is so low because of widespread vaccination. Third, people may not die from measles, but many suffer permanent complications. Fourth, vaccinations protect against an entire range of illnesses, including killers like polio and smallpox. The measles statement is a non sequitur.

      Look, I admitted below my frustration and that I’ve rather arrogantly responded to some of the commentators’ statements – just like they can ask questions, I can provide answers. Effective in changing minds? Likely not for everyone. Are my points valid? I’d like to think so.

      You’ve just done what every anti-vaxxer does: moved the goal posts (you don’t address and actual points I made below, but rather put in new non-sequiturs and levied an ad hominem attack). You’ve tried to seed doubt. Doubt, no matter how misled or insignificant, leads to fear. Honest, well-meaning parents act on that fear and avoid vaccinating their children, which leads to real children dying.

      I don’t doubt your motivations or convictions. What I challenge is the biased road you’ve travelled to reach those conclusions.

      People are not naturally good at objectively understanding things like causality and relative risk,and we (i.e. human beings) are emotional, bias machines. Hence formal training or application of scientific methods are required. And looking at the good science done, the weight of evidence is overpoweringly in favor of vaccine safety. That’s my point.

  29. Stephanie says:

    It’s hard to dismiss the exact same story of thousands of parents who witnessed the exact same results right after their child had the MMR. I have it all documented in my son’s baby journal from 2003. I’ve not taken up this fight as the damage is done and I’ve chosen to focus on remediating his symptoms
    instead, but I applaud the so-called quacks for not giving up. There’s one way to find out if Dr Thompson’s 10,000 pages have any truth to them-Congressional Subpeona. We’ll never know if the MMR caused our son’s autism but it did cause him to become severely ill, have seizures and regress developmentally. Same story over and over. That’s one hell of a coincidence!

  30. Jo Linda Goodrich says:

    This Ph.D. guy is basically Sheldon Cooper. He thinks because he’s educated he’s smarter than everyone else therefore everyone’s opinion is crap. I’ve seen it first hand. Can’t convince me otherwise. And the movie is not anti vaccine, it’s anti doing it all in one shot. I don’t think that the vaccine in and of itself causes Autism, but I do think there are some kids who have some kind of reaction to having a number of vaccines at one time and unfortunately it results in something that is devastating.

    • A PhD econometrician says:

      (1) Thanks for the ad hominem, Jo Linda. I’ve tried to keep my comments factual and on topic. A few commentators have responded with challenging, intelligent questions or responses, to which I’ve added my two cents. Unfortunately however science isn’t a matter of opinion, and your opinion is not as valid compared to, say, a medical research doctor or epidemiologist. I readily admit that my opinion about what’s wrong with my car isn’t as valid as a professional mechanic’s, and my opinion about string theory doesn’t mean anything compared to that of a group of theoretical physicists. And in this case, your opinion matters because unvaccinated children have literally died from preventable diseases. Grow up. Sure, science has it’s share of cranks, like Wakefield, but luckily enough curious, genuine researchers have investigated the topic to give me a very high level of confidence that vaccines (and current vaccine schedules) are completely safe. (Likewise, my research and industry experience leads me to believe that there is no cover-up – it would just be untenable at that scale).

      (2) I admit my user name is cheeky and comes across as arrogant. As I said below, I am frustrated by comments such as yours, so I tried to establish a bit of authority. Having worked with “PhDs”, I don’t think it necessarily shows intelligence, and they are often as stubborn as anyone on certain topics (and I know many who are simply idiots in their personal lives or believe all kinds of whacky things outside of their field). But I do think it shows serious expertise and training in a particular area. Mine happens to be in research design and evaluation of non-experimental data. I’m guessing yours isn’t. And no, reading some blogs or watching a documentary doesn’t replace 10+ years of training.

      I also said I would gladly change my mind… if reliable, good evidence showing some link existed.

      (3) I’ve addressed your opinion already below about the lack of evidence supporting (and common human biases leading to) “there are some kids who have some kind of reaction to having a number of vaccines at one time”. If you understood how the research design works used in the studies and the biology behind vaccines, I can image you would change your mind.

  31. The cover up goes much further back than 2004.
    The problem with vaccines has been known for over 25 years. Vaxxed is much more than the truth!!
    Our service people are coming back with many different kinds of neurological disorders and many of them did not fight in battle.

  32. The problem with vaccines have been known for over 25 years. Vaxxed is much more than the truth!!

  33. Seymore Clearly says:

    “Certainly, such attacks will not put off the film’s target audience of skeptical parents who, for reasons ranging from resentment of government mandates to deeply held religious beliefs, have long attempted to avoid having their children vaccinated for infectious diseases.”

    Implying that to question the CDC or Big Pharma is to show ourselves as being stupid. We couldn’t possibly question out of a desire to understand or comprehend, now could we? Could you have written a review less dripping with condescension? Probably not.

    Interestingly, anything to do with questioning, or seeking answers is quashed, censored, and those who engage in truth-seeking have been or will be persecuted. Why, just look at what happened to the gastroenterologist! The powers that be succeeded in getting his license to practice medicine revoked.

    Let’s say you are the parent of a healthy child who changes dramatically after being administered vaccines. You’re not allowed to wonder, “gee, might those vaccines have something to do with this?” -is this what your contention is here? Just piss-poor journalism.

    • A PhD econometrician says:


      Fair point, but I still think his statement is true. You have to realize how frustrating the whole ant-vaxx movement is for trained scientists. If I can make an analogy, it’s like if you are the only person in the room who can read Spanish, yet everyone else is telling you that everything you are reading off a black and white page is wrong or in fact the opposite of what you say. You bring out a dictionary. They still don’t believe you. You bring in a native Spanish speaker, and they say your translation must be fraudulent because you are conspiring over some secret agenda >:s Only worse, if they don’t heed the translation, children could very well die. No matter what anybody says, it’s like you’ll never change your mind.

      Honestly, as a small example of the problem, there are commentators here who take a staunch anti-vaxx standpoint — who are dead certain they are right that vaccines are harmful — yet have the gall to question “what is econometrics”. The *slap* sound is my hand hitting my forehead. A few went to their alma matter, the University of Google, to find definitions and tell me that my opinion is irrelevant. It’s like vehemently arguing with your mechanic about what’s wrong with the car and then asking “but what are spark plugs” (epidemiology uses econometric techniques heavily, although most people call it “stats”. It’s a matter of terminology, not method).

      I think you have the right intentions, but you need to honestly question your own layman’s ability to understand and review scientific research. I, like you, started looking into this because I am genuinely concerned with public health and the well-being of my family. However, I, unlike you, am very well trained and experienced in the scientific method, both in conducting lab research and doing statistical analysis of results. Unless you have a lot of experience and training in the matter, you can easily mislead yourself down a rabbit hole chasing some nugget that you think proves your biased suspicion.

      You must know of confirmation bias and the post-hoc fallacy. “You’re not allowed to wonder, “gee, might those vaccines have something to do with this?”” You can wonder, sure. But then we test it using unbiased methods. And no, there is no link between vaccines and autism.

      Frankly, I think it’s a bit arrogant to call yourself a “truth seeker”, implying the rest of us are brainwashed or don’t care? The ultimate truth seeker is a scientist, someone who gets in a lab or get her hands dirty with raw data. Science has mechanisms built in to avoid, over time, the biases of trying to find the result you are hoping for (which is essentially what anti-vaxxers are guilty of). Reading blogs, assuming there must be massive prolonged conspiracies, and misunderstanding scientific papers is the antithesis of objective truth seeking. Your “truth seeking” isn’t censored; it’s called out for being the harmful, paranoid nonsense that it is. Why the heck would someone spend 10+ years in university to learn this stuff if anyone could just do it by intuition or from Google University??

      • A PhD econometrician says:

        Hi Bob,

        I’m sorry it seems that you have suffered some hardship due to an autistic grandson.

        To answer your two questions:

        (1a) The rate of autism indeed seems to be increasing. However, most doctors agree that it is due to improved diagnoses and a broader definition of ASD (that often fits into language supported by health insurance policies…). If the actual rate is increasing, then we need to find out what is causing it. The anti-vaxxers’ continuous focus on the now debunked vaccine-autism link takes away valuable research dollars and attention from investigating other possible causes of autism. Stop beating a dead horse.

        (1b) Post-hoc fallacy. People in the middle ages thought that bleeding people with leaches healed them. They observed that, often after bleeding a patient, the patient got better. If they had done big statistical analyses (and used their brains…), it would have been evident that, well, people often get better with or without leaches. Likewise they believed that stepping on a spider causes it to rain. Likewise, children start showing signs of autism around the time they get vaccinated. This is a large part of the problem: emotions and the post-hoc fallacy obviously drive our beliefs in powerful ways. It’s easy to get sucked into this bizarre conspiracy theory when we all desperately want answers to something painful like seeing a child develop differently.

        (2) Am I convinced that the CDC was hiding research results? Unlikely. What is more likely is that the researcher did a crappy analysis and didn’t understand where he went wrong, it was corrected, and then he took his conspiracy theory to anyone who would listen. I wrote on this below regarding the creationist researcher who re-analyzed the data incorrectly (which, by the way, would have shown African American children at risk, but not other races, so if you’re white, then sorry, you can’t have it both ways to pick and choose your evidence). I would even say this: supposing the study — which was a small sample — did find a weak link. Now what!? Well, if you do enough studies on small samples, eventually just by chance a significant result might pop up (small samples mean the two groups might not be truly randomized), and this is something we could easily discount using e.g. replication and meta analyses from all the other studies.

        Regarding congressional inquiries, these can be useful, like the famous case of watching the tobacco executives get grilled (which was based on experimental and econometric evidence), but congressmen are not scientists. My God, last year a congressman walked into congress holding a frozen snowball trying to tell a bunch of climate scientists that he had just disproven global warming. The level of stupidity burns. You might end up with a circus of some uneducated congressmen throwing idiocy at unprepared, introverted scientists. It might prove nothing.

        I’d like to think the main difference between scientists and laymen is that scientists, when confronted by good, factual evidence, will be forced eventually to change their minds; they are forced to because of their understanding of how science tries to remove observational and emotional bias. Laymen do the opposite: they hold onto their beliefs no matter what and search out slivers of biased evidence (confirmation bias) to think they’ve proven their point. I would gladly change my stance on vaccine safety – my own kids would be at risk after all – but the evidence just isn’t there, and I have enough experience with funding bodies, scientists (who are also caring people and not paid corporate shills), and research methods to conclude vaccines are safe and do not cause autism (the alternative – seeing a child die, lose hearing, or become crippled and infertile because of something like measles or mumps is 1000x worse).

        By the way, someone did a (still unpublished, but entertaining) study and found a strong correlation between science denialism and using ALL CAPS. It is the equivalent of YELLING at someone. I can read and understand your point, so YOU don’t need to yell.

      • Bob Moffitt says:

        PHD .. you said … “However, I, unlike you, am very well trained and experienced in the scientific method, both in conducting lab research and doing statistical analysis of results.”

        Admittedly .. I am neither “well trained” or “experienced in the scientific method” .. just a grandfather who witnessed firsthand his third grandson .. a perfectly healthy .. well developing child .. inexplicably “regress” .. losing his developed communication skills .. becoming one of THOUSANDS of “isolated autism cases” now numbering 1 in 68 children in the United States.

        My friend … I would love to hear YOUR explanation to the main focus of the film .. which was the allegation that the CDC deliberately manipulated data to deny any link between the MMR vaccine and children who received the MMR vaccine prior to 36 months of age?

        YOU saw the research data .. do YOU believe that DATA deserves a Congressional inquiry to find out if the CDC acted improperly or not?

  34. Dawn says:

    The documentary reveals the authors of one of the major studies that refutes an autism link…actually DID show a link. It says in the movie this whistleblower, Dr. Thompson Sr Scientist at the CDC was a co-author on a 2004 study that the CDC published as having no link to autism…but he admits now that it did and they threw out those documents in a garbage can…all of them together, literally just threw them out. No wonder he has a lawyer now. What could he possibly stand to gain by admitting such a thing?

    Another senior scientist employed by the CDC to conduct autism and MMR link studies is on the FBI’s most wanted list Dr. Paul Thorson…the very funds he was given to do TWO such study BY THE CDC went missing and he is up on charges of fraud and money laundering? Meanwhile both those studies still stand as *fact* and are considered the strongest cases against a link…while a portion of the money was never used to carry them out properly!
    And you ignored these issues that were brought up in the movie and judging by your comments you suggest that the CDC and its scientists are always infallibly right and have not engaged in any questionable tactics…ever? The CDC is still paying Dr. Thorson while he hides out in Norway avoiding extradition!

    I did not get that the movie was anti-vax…I found it to be anti-corruption. How can you review this movie and not acknowledge such an important event that took place that goes to the crux of whether the science they are publishing is as legitimate that they want us to believe?

  35. Mitch P. says:

    My god , you missed the whole point of the movie. By combing the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccines into one created a huge amount of toxins into the bloodstream. If your body could not get rid of the toxins, then they continue to circulate in your blood affecting your brain and gut, Eventually giving you Autism symptoms. The film clearly states that these three vaccines should be given at different times separately.

  36. Pharmaceutical PR piece posing as journalism. Very lazy Mr. Leydon, why don’t you do some actual journalism, and get out of the business of trying to change the way people think, it’s not your job and it’s not working. #CDCfraud

  37. Pharmaceutical PR piece posing as journalism. #CDCcorruption #truth

  38. bmommyx2 says:

    How can you review a movie you have not seen? I just saw #VaxXed, It was a very powerful movie. This movie is a MUST see. It’s unthinkable that the CDC is being allowed to get a way with falsifying data for such an important study.

    • A PhD econometrician says:

      But bmommyx2… the CDC didn’t falsify data. Instead, a researcher (from a creationist Christian university) took the original data, made huge and likely intentional mistakes with the statistics, and then published it in a non-ranking journal where the piss-poor reviewers likely didn’t know anything about stats; it was later retracted. To someone with training like mine, the error is immediately evident.

      The problem with documentaries such as this is that they play on our emotions using heartbreaking stories playing on the post-hoc fallacy. The hard, cold statistics clearly say otherwise.

      • James says:

        Nice try Mr. PhD. However, most scientific papers are published in a professional journal. I worked for the USDA which required the authors to submit a paper for agency approval (which may involve subsequent changes) and I am sure the CDC must have approved the paper prior to being considered for publication. Without following this procedure, the author(s) of a paper would be severely reprimanded. Suffice it to say, CDC top management was well aware of the content of the paper.

  39. Dee says:

    I’m seeing all these reviews of vaxxed that hardly if at all actually include a review of the main subject matter of the film;

    That a CDC scientist released an official statement admitting that the CDC purposely ommitted data that showed a 300% increase in autism for African American boys who received the MMR vaccine.

    This review has lost all credibility by leaving this out. How can you review a film without talking about the subject matter?

    I guess we will have to see the film and decide for ourselves since this was not helpful at all.

    • A PhD econometrician says:


      I think you make a fair point. Still, see my comments below which amount to

      (1) the CDC isn’t the only organization doing vaccine safety research. In fact, most of the hundreds of papers come out of academia or institutes from foreign countries (the US-based CDC does not control every researcher around the world…). And this mountain of research shows the same thing: no vaccine-autism link. There is a breadth of techniques, data sources and samples used. Thus I find the focused wrath of anti-vaxxers on the CDC a bit odd.

      (2) I’ve had my econometric work reviewed and reviewed others’ work, ditto for my lab work. Studies go through a battery of peer reviews, presentations etc. where many people criticise and look for methodological errors. I’ve seen where a non-statistician on an article couldn’t grasp why his results weren’t significant (his team had used the wrong model given the distribution of the data, so it didn’t show anything). Given all the other evidence, it is conceivable that this guy from the CDC made a mistake but couldn’t understand why. Also as I noted below, researchers are people too and have their fair share of kooks and biased opinions.

      And the problem with the film is that it really pulls at our mammalian heart strings, thereby reducing our ability to objectively review evidence. The heartbreak in these families is difficult to watch, and that knee-jerk reaction where we look for justice, causality and accountability overrides our brains. I mean, just because my grandmother killed a spider yesterday and it rained today doesn’t mean that killing spiders causes rain… even though she seems to earnestly believe so. I think this is the most difficult concept to grasp… even researchers fall prey to this, which is why science provides techniques to objectively remove bias.

      Therefore, I don’t think the film provides a helpful contribution and will only reinforce people’s biases and lack of science literacy.

      • Dawn says:

        The documentary reveals the authors of one of the major studies that refutes an autism link…actually DID show a link. It says in the movie this whistleblower, Dr. Thompson Sr Scientist at the CDC was a co-author on a 2004 study that the CDC published as having no link to autism…but he admits now that it did and they threw out those documents in a garbage can…all of them together, literally just threw them out. No wonder he has a lawyer now. What could he possibly stand to gain by admitting such a thing? I did not get that the movie was anti-vax…I found it to be anti-corruption. How can you review this movie and not acknowledge such an important event that took place that goes to the crux of whether the science they are publishing is as legitimate that they want us to believe?

  40. Not the only thing that Houston don’t want you to know.I wish I had known about this because I would have spoken up to protect their right to show whatever they want….Why because they are hiding the death of my daughter and all of them know that I am coming and coming fast. The truth is that there are multiple of deaths in Houston and serious cover ups of falsifying medical records and death certificates to cover up for the big hospitals who have nothing on their minds besides Money……..Maybe they may want to talk about the former CEO Dan Wolterman of Memorial Hermann Hospital who is alleged to be married to two women and has committed fraud, money laundering and falsified tax returns……..Call the IRS, FBI in Houston, and Securities and Exchange Council to see if a complaint has been filed….Crime and Coverup is the name of this city.

    • Dawn says:

      The documentary reveals the authors of one of the major studies that refutes an autism link…actually DID show a link. It says in the movie this whistleblower, Dr. Thompson Sr Scientist at the CDC was a co-author on a 2004 study that the CDC published as having no link to autism…but he admits now that it did and they threw out those documents in a garbage can…all of them together, literally just threw them out. No wonder he has a lawyer now. What could he possibly stand to gain by admitting such a thing? I did not get that the movie was anti-vax…I found it to be anti-corruption. How can you review this movie and not acknowledge such an important event that took place that goes to the crux of whether the science they are publishing is as legitimate that they want us to believe?

  41. m mehns says:

    nice try …….. however the tobacco industry tried the same lying antics but finally had to own up ……..big PHARCEMA will now have to do the same !

    • A PhD econometrician says:

      The difference between what tobacco did back in the day and pharma now is that 30 years ago we didn’t have such advanced econometric techniques and sound data sources needed to prove the link between between smoking and things like lung cancer. Ultimately once research orgs got involved, it quickly turned against tobacco companies. After the big public concern about vaccinations, the amount of independent research done over the past 15 years (in addition to all the previous research and regulated clinical trial data) is just so compelling that there is no link between vaccines and autism. There is a well-researched link however between public mistrust, denialism, fear mongering, emotional confirmation bias, and the propensity to believe in some huge conspiracy to cover up some link between vaccines and autism.

      Not that pharma companies haven’t been guilty of trying to cook statistical analyses. I recommend Ben Goldacre’s excellent book on “Big Pharma”. Again, just given all the evidence from so many angles, there is no link between vaccines and autism.

      • A PhD econometrician says:

        Hi googles terms,

        Fair question. I answered it below.

        Econometric tools and design are used heavily in epidemiology for hypothesis testing, especially where it may be unethical, unfeasible, or too expensive/complicated to conduct large RCTs (randomized controlled trials).

        An example of a real-life application of econometrics would be to test the hypothesis that as a person is vaccinated, the likelihood of developing a disease like autism also increases.

        In an RCT, the groups are the same on average and the treatment is exogenous (imposed from outside the system), leaving one possible factor for any difference in outcomes: the treatment. This is why new drugs generally need large, expensive RCTs (with placebos in the control group so that really everything is the same) to show safety and efficacy.

        If the treatment-control groups aren’t randomized, one cannot simply compare “treated” vs. untreated groups; the groups self-select, meaning they are no longer equal, meaning you can’t pinpoint what causes what. This is how tobacco companies were able to hide any connection between smoking and illness for so long. Econometrics controls for differences between the groups to take them out, essentially synthesizing experimental conditions. And now we have better techniques and super computers to do the calculations, which we didn’t have in the 70s and even 80s.

        Generally econometrics is considered a sister yet separate field from statistics — it tries to get at causality, and the mathematical underpinnings are different. Econometrics also includes methodological design considerations.

        For example, One et al. (2010). Vaccine. Volume 30, Issue 28, 13 June 2012: they used case-control, but also conditional multiple regression model; this is a simple econometric technique.

        In a field like epidemiology there is necessarily a division of labor: medical doctors, econometricians/statisticians, and biochemists. But math is hard, and I’ve seen many doctors who have difficulty grasping why their personal observations may not be generalizable without proper techniques.

        The infamous “CDC whistleblower” paper is one such case: the original study used correct econometrics, the second study (which erroneously found that blacks were more likely to get autism after vaccination) made grievous and likely intentional mistakes in the stats, essentially stratifying the samples into tiny groups until the researcher found the result he was hoping for (and funnily enough white people still point to the study as “proof” when the faulty stats showed white kids weren’t at risk…).

        Econometricians are experts at eliminating bias from studies. This is why I shake my head and lose my mind at all these anti-vaxxers: they are so certain that they are right, yet they don’t have the faintest clue about the powerful logic behind these studies showing how safe vaccines are.

      • googles terms they don't recognize says:

        Econometrics is the application of statistical and mathematical theories to economics for the purpose of testing hypotheses and forecasting future trends. Econometrics takes economic models and tests them through statistical trials.

        What does economics have to do with analyzing clinical medical data?

  42. Len Miskulin says:

    Just keep you eyes and ears closed to the truth. You are disgrace. With articles like this you must be fully paid for by Big Pharma.

    • googles terms they don't recognize says:

      Another thing I don’t understand is that people seem to be defending ALL vaccines, while the movie seems to focus on just the MMR and possible foreknowledge by the CDC of 1 bad product.

      I’m not an anti-vaxxer, but I guess I assumed that they were all about not vaccinating at all, not just being focused on the MMR.

  43. Jim says:

    There is a quiet war going on here, and on different fronts. One casualty of this war will be the one that now threatens the economy of a corrupt industry, namely Big Pharma and their associated partners, one being the CDC. I’ve been tracking Merck stock since it took a slight dip April 1st, the day ‘Vaxxed’ debuted, and it appears that as this story and related supporting evidence is being brought to the attention of the masses, Merck & GlaxoSmithKline stocks appear to be going through gyrations of sorts. So suppression and censorship are obviously the tools that are being employed by these companies and associated parties in order to prevent a total collapse of their stock values and their industry. So if you, or anyone else that you know, have shares in these industries, I’d recommend that you get out now, as this has the potential of only getting uglier. Big Pharma and the CDC appear to be on the ropes, held in checkmate if you will – DAMNED IF THEY DO AND DAMNED IF THEY DON’T.

  44. Lucia says:

    You just need to read the vaccine insert created by the manufacturers to realize that your child has been injured by the vaccine, I don’t understand why they talk about studies that are a “scientific proof of vaccine safety” when the own manufactures have inserts that explain that those vaccines can cause severe allergic reactions, demyelination of nerves, sizures, neurological disorders and even death and the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program that only pays a maximum of $250k for vaccine injuries including death, has already paid more than 3 billion, even after rejecting most of the cases, not paying the full amount most of the times and waiting even more than 10 years to pay in some cases. It is so obvious that vaccines damage human beings at all levels and that some of them are damaged to the point that it is so evident that no one can deny it, that only ignorance can make people blind about this subject…but ignorance is weapon that those who are in control can use all the time and here is humanity, not doing their job, not getting informed, leaving in the darkness and believing everything that corporate controlled media says about everything. But some people is waking up and hopefully more will wake up in the near future………..

    • A PhD econometrician says:

      Hi Lucia,

      Just so you are aware, drug companies essentially error on the side of caution (or rather are forced to since this is generally regulated by governments) and report any and all side effects that may have been reported during a trial or study, even if these are merely coincidental, due to placebo effect, or have no statistical significance (i.e. the side effects were reported in both treatment and control groups – biology is complex and *%&* goes wrong all the time in the body due to many, many random factors). It’s meant to draw attention to the need for further investigation in case many doctors or patients also observe such side effects.

      Also: relative risk. I’d rather take the 1 / 1 million chance that I get some adverse reaction to a vaccine than the 1 / 10’000 chance that I’m maimed or die from something like polio or measles during a lifetime. The reported adverse effects from a vaccine approach the rate in the population of misdiagnosed immunocompromised people and statistical limits (meaning that for all intents and purposes the data shows that vaccines are safe beyond a reasonable doubt). Sorry, but the world is dangerous with all sorts of crappy diseases that we, the human race, collectively try our best to get rid of.

      Also, frankly a lot of the research in immunology and vaccine safety takes place not in the pharma companies, but in universities and public research institutes all over the world (i.e. not related to the US government in any way). The point I’ve made in other comments is that the scale of the conspiracy would be impossibly immense, and that each and every researcher in all these thousands of labs would need to be some kind of heartless psychopath to cover up such important data on pubic safety. The whole reason we use statistical and scientific methods is to overcome the inherent bias to which emotional human beings are susceptible. You are essentially ignorant to epidemiology and immunology since one can only assume you haven’t actually worked as a scientist, and no, google research doesn’t count.

      • RL says:

        I guess we’re all supposed to turn our heads and ignore the $3 billion paid out by the national vaccine injury compensation program?

    • Martha Jones says:

      Excellent comment Lucia

  45. Jen says:

    This is probably the dumbest article I have ever read. Vaccines are poisoning our kids, it is blatant common sense. It’s all about the $$$$$$ God bless the producer of this film to have the balls to stand up for the truth

  46. Brains says:

    THe problem is there are so many shills for the pharma systemand you are obviously one of them who are biased that any opposing comment is disregarded.

  47. kristie anderson says:

    The tides have turned. Once you start educating yourself – you can’t stop. I started when they wanted to give my son the Gardisal vaccine and I refused. What you find is that people have questioned the safety for years and the government has lied.

  48. luckykelly says:

    HAHAHAHAHA!!!! You guys are all crazy! This is a film review in a trade magazine. How is it actually effecting your cause. It’s funny to see humans to be so reactive and taking life so, so seriously. So sad. You’re all going to poison yourselves with your bitter lunacy. Or you’re going to die of complications from measles, mumps or rubella. HAHAHA!!

    • It’s the negative and misguided commentary that is upsetting. Autism nor any other vaccine injury are not laughing matters. Your comments lack an understanding of what it’s like to care for a vaccine injured child.

      Most healthy people won’t die from measles mumps or rubella. Again, your comment is just out of line and shows exactly the depth of your knowledge (or lack thereof) re vaccine injuries like Autism.

      • A PhD,

        Again, the wording you use, like Flat Earth, Conspiracy etc, just shows the AstroTurf troll that you are.

        It DOES matter what happened to Wakefield because people like you try to downplay the importance of this movie, due to Wakefield’s involvement.

        Truth, the CDC is corrupt, lied to the public (many times) they through in the garbage, research showing a link with the MMR vaccine and Autism. The CDC whistleblower Dr. Thompson gave thousands of documents to Congressman Bill Posey, who was appalled at what the CDC did and has demanded Senate hearings.

        This is what matters. Not your continual commentary trying to mute the point with your PhD talking points.

      • A PhD econometrician says:

        Yeah Wakefield is super credible, especially when he was presenting on the Conspira Sea cruise between the presentations on Yogic Flying and the Reptilians who run our government…

        In fact, Wakefield’s study doesn’t really matter as I’ve said below. It was an inductive, qualitative mess on a small sample that has now been disproven by all the bigger, quantitative studies. So even if it weren’t later shown to be fraudulent, it would still be inconsequential.

        And “trigger” and “cause” pretty much mean the same thing…

        Ok, I’ll stop feeding the nuts here.

      • Nice name “Dat Wags Tho”

        Keep telling yourself that, sure……
        Vaccines don’t cause Autism, but they can sure trigger it in unsuspecting children.

        Wakefield’s co authors on the supposedly fraudulent Lancet paper were exonerated by the way. Something people spouting about Wakefield fail to mention. Also, Dr. Wakefield never stated that the MMR caused Autism. The research he was part of noted that Autistic kids had many stomach issues and they found the measles strain in their intestines. So I recommend you research further before making more of an ass of yourself.

      • Vaccines do not cause autism. Wakefield is a proven fraud. And children don’t die from MMR thanks to immunization. End of.

  49. Hannah Beth Byrne says:

    If you’re interested (or confused) by the debate surrounding vaccines, please read the deeply engrossing book “On Immunity” by Eula Biss. She’s done her research and her ability to present unexpected and brilliant insight into this subject is almost breathtaking at time. It’s a great read and extremely informative.

  50. tannersdad says:

    I have a vaccine injured son. The disrespect of the injured in this piece is criminal. Congressman Posey called the CDC “Arrogant Petulant and Defiant” in its handling of the Dr William Thompson allegations. Your piece fits that description. If you think about having children or care about our future you must watch this film. @TannersDad Tim Welsh Contributing editor Age of Autism

    • A PhD econometrician says:

      Respectfully, you are concern trolling. Here is some in return.

      As I mentioned below, autism can be an unfortunate condition, and our hearts go out to all families affected.

      You observation that vaccines injured your son is misplaced. It is likely an unfortunate spurious association, not causal. People are bias machines in how we remember and interpret the world, hence we need to apply methods to remove bias.

      The issue is that by focusing your rage on vaccines (where by now it is abundantly clear that vaccines do not cause autism), you are taking valuable time and resources away from more fruitful research areas. And further, the misinformation has lead to several deaths from preventable diseases like measles in developed countries like the UK and US.

      What causes autism? It could be genetic factors, environmental (pollutants, viral infections…). I think we just don’t know at the point. We should know, and research needs to be funded and directed to understanding autism. However, we need to stop wasting time and money on something (vaccines cause autism) that has been thoroughly refuted.

      • A PhD econometrician says:


        “Why are you not addressing The CDCs own scientists that brought the up the issue of their collaboration in the cover-up of research results?”

        As I stated in other posts,

        (1) the CDC’s “own scientists” didn’t bring up anything. It seems one disgruntled researcher did so. I’ve worked in research and, like anything, it has it’s own share of weirdos and conspiracy theorists or people who simply don’t know the difference between a pairwise correlation and a Breusch-Pagan test.

        (2) You say we focus on Wakefield, I say you all focus on the CDC. Fortunately, the CDC isn’t the be all and end all. The world is bigger than the USA. Other countries have their own research centers, plus a lot of research is done by e.g. universities, independent research centers, and pharma companies (which are regulated), etc. I suspect, like most researchers, CDC researchers don’t actually get paid very much, especially not enough to morally corrupt themselves (most researchers are rather “organic” yet trained to be objective). These are huge organizations with lots of PhD students and lab rats running around. You can’t honestly believe that they are all paid off? Or all so morally corrupt that they would knowingly cover up facts that would endanger children and families all over the world? Hmmm.

      • RL says:

        Why are you not addressing The CDCs own scientists that brought the up the issue of their collaboration in the cover-up of research results? You keep focusing on Andrew Wakefield as if he’s the subject of the movie.

    • Stephen says:

      Careful, I’m sure our injured children (VICP court proven) are part of the overall conspiracy theory to Joe Leydon.

      • Milwauken says: is a notorious anti-vaccine website. It’s about as credible as a Donald Trump position statement.

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