How Safe are Vaccines?

Or, at least, how safe do the people who prescribe and give them think they are? Jock Doubleday has an interesting way of finding out: Offer money to drink the ingredients, adjusted for body weight. The offer, which began in 2001, is currently $200,000 to “an M.D. or pharmaceutical company CEO, or any of the relevant members of the ACIP [the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices] now including liaison representatives, ex officio members, chairman, and executive secretary” who will do this.

More The person who accepts this offer needs to fulfill a contract posted here. However, it isn’t clear what the “Agreement-in-Full” mentioned in the contract consists of. So it isn’t clear if the person can know what he or she is getting into before putting $5,000 at risk. If the Agreement-in-Full cannot be examined now, this is a meaningless — too vague to be understood — offer. I have written to Jock Doubleday to find the Agreement-in-Full.

And more Mr. Doubleday says he has the Agreement-in-Full but he would not show it to me nor apparently to anyone else not on the list of those eligible for the offer. So the whole thing is a tribute to the magic of web pages.

10 Replies to “How Safe are Vaccines?”

  1. This is silly.
    BOTH sides are wrong (and right as well).
    Smallpox and Polio vaccines are obviously effective AND most vaccines are dangerous too.

  2. Seth,
    I think you should do a critical evaluation of this link ASAP. I had never heard of this offer before seeing it here but I don’t think this is legit. Consider the terms of the offer here:
    For example, a potential participant has to pay for 3 psych evaluations with psychiatrists chosen by the challenge coordinator. The potential participant is barred from getting copies of any of the evaluations he/she pays for but any one of these evaluations can be used as the basis for disqualification. Other requirements are even crazier, like tests on the content of anti-vaccine books.

    This seems to be an offer designed so that no one will be able to qualify, allowing Doubleday to boast that no doctor will take a risk equivalent to what they routinely prescribe for children while Doubleday does not really put any money at risk. Note that he doesn’t provide any evidence that he has $200,000 available to pay a qualifying candidate or any indication of where the additional $5,000 a month for this challenge comes from.

    This offer raises so many red flags that I won’t even bother to enumerate them further. I appreciate your willingness to question conventional medical wisdom but do you really want to tie your reputation to Jack Doubleday’s?

    Do you have any reason to think this is a legitimate offer? If so, why do you think no one has accepted the offer?

  3. Conrad, I don’t see the problems you see with the contract. The mental health screenings seem reasonable; you don’t want a crazy person accepting the offer. The need to take a test on anti-vaccination books doesn’t strike me as making the whole thing not legit; I see it as a way of ensuring informed consent. Whether Doubleday has the money is a good question; certainly someone who wanted to take him up on it might demand proof.

    Why has no one accepted the offer? Some combination of (a) vaccines are dangerous and (b) it would be seen as demeaning to accept the offer. And perhaps (c) Doubleday is seen as tainted — if you have contact with him that taints you.

  4. I concur with Conrad. This is a publicity / grandstanding stunt. Note that he hasn’t gone so far as to measure out the ingredients yet and is still trying to scaremonger at that point. I wouldn’t trust him to know the real scales present in vaccines. He’s made no attempt to involve neutral parties.

  5. NE1, of course it is a publicity stunt — that is, a way to get publicity. If vaccines are safe, then this publicity stunt could be used to emphasize that. Why vaccine safety would be bad to publicize I fail to see.

    I don’t know what “real scales” means.

    when you make an offer like that, I don’t think the failure to spell out every last detail means it should be ignored.

  6. Seth,

    I am disappointed that after thinking about this further, you are still linking your credibility with Jock Doubleday’s. If you are wrong about the results of your self-experiments, the consequences for others in trying these experiments should be minimal. However, the stakes are higher regarding vaccines so it is that much more important to carefully evaluate the credibility of those who challenge the wisdom of vaccinations. Jock Doubleday and Jenny McCarthy have the disadvantage of not having any impressive credentials or a reputation for their critical thinking prowess. You have academic credentials and a demonstrated commitment to publicly challenging bogus research, so your endorsement will be great news to people like Jock and Jenny.

    Since neither my initial comments nor your own further reflection have enabled you to “see the problems [I] see with the contract,” let me further enumerate just a few more red flags:
    1. If just one of three psychiatrists chosen by the guy allegedly putting up the money for the challenge finds a participant “in any way psychologically unstable and/or of unsound mind,” the participant is disqualified. I wonder how many Americans could visit the three psychiatrists this guy would choose without being found in some way unstable by at least one. Furthermore, the structure of this requirement (multiple psychiatrists, the participant can’t read their reports) is such that there would be no way to challenge one’s disqualification or, for that matter, learn about one’s alleged mental issues.
    2. Jock Doubleday ostensibly believes that accepting this challenge would pose great health risks to the participant. If any one of the named psychiatrists happens to agree with this assumption, they should by definition agree that anyone accepting the challenge is of unsound mind.
    3. Signing part A of the agreement (necessary to begin the challenge) without completing the agreement in full (which includes part B, the terms of which are not disclosed until after signing part A and passing psychological and “vaccine knowledge” tests) obliges the participant to donate $5,000 to Doubleday’s organization.
    4. Anyone who wants to take this exam has different assumptions about vaccine safety than Jock Doubleday yet they have to pass Doubleday’s tests about vaccination theory and practice (don’t you see a potential problem here?). Doubleday claims the right to publicize their answers to these tests. It seems likely that “passing” these tests requires saying that vaccines are unsafe. If one does so, Doubleday can then claim, “X actually admitted that vaccines are unsafe–here is what they wrote.”
    5. I give Doubleday credit for publishing part A of his terms and for a crafty publicity stunt. However, in my opinion, there are so many red flags here in part A (and I am still not bothering to enumerate all of them) that there is no reason to take this seriously. But if one did find all requirements reasonable (as you do, apparently Seth), wouldn’t you at least agree that it is peculiar to be bound to make a $5k donation if one fails to meet both the troublesome requirements in part A of the agreement as well as the unknown requirements of part B of the agreement. How could one even sign any document obliging a $5k commitment of any kind without having read the full agreement?

    I hope that you will reconsider your endorsement of this stunt. The public health stakes are much higher here than they are for drinking a little oil, standing on one foot, and starting the day off with Good Morning America. I have am not an expert on vaccines but I don’t believe Jock Doubleday is either and it was my hope that anyone who carefully read the terms of his offer would see that his alleged money is safe because none of the people he has challenged could be expected to actually qualify to drink the vaccine ingredients. Meanwhile, if the general public accepts the premises of this stunt and shuns childhood vaccinations, diseases will spread unnecessarily, kids will get sick, and many will die.

    I have enjoyed reading your blog and have read your posts with an open mind. Given your endorsement of this offer, I think I will be much more skeptical about your posts in the future.

  7. That’s a good point about having to risk $5000 before seeing the Agreement-in-full. However, I am less sure than you that that’s the case — that the Agreement-in-Full does not exist. How do you know this? In any case, I will try to find out.

  8. Hi Seth,
    It is interesting that you suggest I think the agreement in full does not exist. All I said it that a potential participant cannot, according to the terms of this contract, learn about the terms of Part B before meeting the requirements of Part A. The only reason I know this is because I read the agreement carefully.

    Here is what it says, “Participant agrees to take a written open-book examination (the “Basic Exam”) before becoming eligible to receive Part B of the Agreement.” According to the terms of this challenge, Doubleday has many reasons not to send you the full agreement. First, you are not a medical doctor so you are ineligible for the challenge in the first place. Second, you haven’t paid to have his shrinks examine you and submitted your complete mental health history to him. Third, and most critically, you haven’t passed his test, which his agreement specifies you must get 100% correct in order to qualify to receive and read Part B of the agreement.

    I am glad your skepticism is growing and you agree about one of the many red flags in this offer. I suggest you don’t hold your breath on getting a satisfactory response from Jock Doubleday.

    Incidentally, it is my opinion that the agreement in full probably does not exist. After working so hard to craft Part A of an agreement that no one can complete, why should Jock waste time writing Part B that no one can qualify to receive? More importantly, the reason he won’t send this is because it is an escape clause for him. If, somehow, someone manages to negotiate the challenges for participating in this challenge outlined in Part A, he can throw up new hurdles to participation when he writes Part B.

    This is a stunt. No doctors have accepted this challenge because it is impossible to qualify by design.

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