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Paul Offit Lies About Jake Crosby; Tara Palmore Throws Him Out and NIH Covers it Up

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12/27/2011 12:54 PM
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Paul Offit Lies About Jake Crosby; Tara Palmore Throws Him Out and NIH Covers it Up
[link to www.ageofautism.com]

Like Seth Mnookin did earlier this month, Paul Offit blatantly lied about me while giving a lecture. The congressionally reprimanded millionaire vaccine industrialist told a room full of people I was a “stalker,” and event organizer, Dr. Tara Palmore had me escorted out of the “Great Teachers” lecture given by Paul Offit at the NIH on December 14, now on Videocast.

My crime: Asking Dr. Offit a challenging question and then pointing out one of the fallacies in a statement he made after dodging my question. Drs. Offit and Palmore also had a little talk about me at the end of the lecture, which was recorded onto the VideoCast, unbeknownst to them.

It all began when I found out online that Paul Offit would be speaking at the NIH, part of the “Clinical Center Grand Rounds – Great Teachers Series,” sponsored by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The title of Dr. Offit’s lecture was “Communicating Vaccine Safety Science to the Public.” He’s also author of the now infamous claim that an infant can safely take 10,000 vaccines at once. So I took the metro out to the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, just as I did for the talk given by Fiona Godlee. As I took my seat, I saw Paul Offit in person for the first time.

Dr. Palmore – associate director of the Infectious Diseases Training Program for the National Tara Palmore Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease - gave a grand introduction to Dr. Offit and described how he has bravely taken on the “anti-vaccine movement” (even though most vaccine safety advocates are not against all vaccines). She called him a “Rock star in the pediatrics and infectious diseases communities.” He’s more like Ronald McDonald for the vaccine industry. She also introduced his son who was with him and looked college-age.

Despite the estimated $10 million Paul Offit earned from RotaTeq vaccine sales and despite his Merck-sponsored chair at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, his lecture began with his incredible claim that he has no relevant financial disclosures. He even received a congressional reprimand for taking part in voting on vaccine policies for which he is conflicted.

Here’s what he said instead:

“I’m sorry. I have no financial conflicts of interest. This is my only real conflict is that I am a Philadelphia Eagles season ticket holder, which gives me an inability to actually effectively assess that team.”

When Paul Offit’s presentation ended, the question and answer session began. A woman sitting near me asked Dr. Offit if he recommends “scare tactics” (which he favored). At that point I went to the microphone, ready to ask my question.

Even though there were already two men lined up behind another microphone, Dr. Offit looked directly at me, which I took as a cue to ask my question. So I began (42:59 on VideoCast):

“Hi, Dr. Offit - Jake Crosby - GW School of Public Health and Health Services, I’m a grad student there actually studying epidemiology for an MPH.”

Palmore dashingJust then, as you can see in the VideoCast, Dr. Palmore – in a white lab coat – bolted from her second row seat and dashed towards the back of the room, out of camera shot. (43:12) That’s how quickly she decided I had to go – all I’d stated was my name and where I go to school. Fortunately, I had time to ask a quick question before being evicted.

“You said that Dr. Andrew Wakefield said that the MMR vaccine causes autism. He never said that actually. He said that the safety data to back up the MMR vaccine’s use was inadequate and seven years later the Cochrane Review basically came to that same conclusion. What do you have to say to that?”

Paul Offit responded, without addressing his misrepresentation of Dr. Wakefield:

“What I would say is what I said before which is that those 14 studies have looked very carefully at whether or not MMR vaccine is associated with autism - has clearly shown that it doesn’t. I think the second thing that is clear is that if you look at the cause or causes of autism I think an enormous amount of data has come up with that. We now know that there is a genetics [sic] to autism. We also know there can be environmental influences, but when those environmental influences occur, they have to occur in the first or second trimester - take your pick - valproic acid, congenital rubella virus, thalidomide. So I think that those…”

At this point, Dr. Palmore’s hand can be seen resting on his podium (44:01). Offit Palmore Hand

She shadowed him for the rest of the talk, literally. Her shadow hovered next to him – as if to guard him from other unauthorized questions.

Seeing that he dodged my question about Andrew Wakefield and instead rehashed several of his talking points, I decided to challenge him on one of them.

“Well those are prenatal but that doesn’t mean that everything that could possibly cause autism has to be in the womb just because those two exposures just so happen to be prenatal.”

I mistakenly said “two” instead of “three,” but it hardly mattered. As with my original question, he did not address my point at all. This time, however, he got personal.

“So maybe, just for those of you…because this is a good teaching point actually.

There are many things you encounter when you stand up for vaccines. You get, uh…sometimes you get hate mail. Sometimes you get sued. And sometimes you have a stalker. I have mine; his name is Jake Crosby.” [pointing at me as if to make his lie true].

“And Jake Crosby routinely…”

“Excuse me,” I responded, “you came - I already live in the DC area - you came here to speak. I just rode the metro. I only - this is the first time I’ve seen you.”

[My only other contact with him was a brief email exchange two years ago in which I asked him to verify a blogger’s claim. He did so.]

As I was trying to defend myself, Tara Palmore tried to shout me down, “Alright, we need to move on!” Then an event coordinator came, put his hand on my shoulder and told me to leave, though his voice was not included in the recording, nor was I shown on the video being led out:

“Let’s go,” he said.

As I was turning away from the microphone, Paul Offit continued, now unchallenged:

“So what Jake Crosby does is he routinely writes articles on Age of Autism vilifying me. Jake doesn’t like me, so, but you know – life goes on.”

“Life goes on,” he says philosophically - as his henchman escorts me out - but thanks for plugging Age of Autism, Dr. Offit.

Of course, it’s okay for Paul Offit, the vaccine industry’s number one spokesman, to vilify Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Jenny McCarthy, Oprah Winfrey, David Kirby, Myron Levin, parents of vaccine-injured children and me.

As I was being led out of the room, a woman in the audience said:

“…I have heard Andrew Wakefield a number of times from a podium such as that say ‘MMR causes autism!’”

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The risk far outweighs any benefit as the risk will vary from child to child.