Problems with Deisher’s Study— Part II: Biological Implausibility

My apologies for taking so long to get to Part II. Between losing one of the days I allotted for work to a non-stress test, grossly underestimating how much could be wrong in such a tiny section and trying to whittle it down, waiting for personal correspondence [updated 9/25/14], and, you know, life, it has taken a bit longer than I anticipated. I’m still going to plow through, though, because I am sure this won’t be last time this zombie hypothesis is given new life.

Deisher’s study* is incredibly, incredibly thin in the realm of biological plausibility. This is surprising (or not) because she is making some novel, extraordinary claims. Yes, she has a nice bibliography salad, but the studies she cites do not directly, or even indirectly at times, support her central hypothesis that DNA from fetal cell lines is a direct environmental cause for increasing autistic disorder (AD) diagnoses. Further, even her unpublished research that has been cited in newsletters and pro-life media means very little in terms of the hypothesis. So, where to begin? Read More »

Engaging in Scientific Discourse

Due to the reaction and responses to an earlier Rational Catholic analysis of a scientific study, I’ve been concerned about some persistent misconceptions about the nature of scientific discourse. Some Catholics have conflated asking valid scientific questions about a study with personal attack. Scientific discourse is about engaging with the ideas presented in a paper. In this case, no one is criticizing the scientist in question as a Catholic or even as a person. Raising legitimate scientific questions about a study is not “unjust”, “taking shots at [a scientist]”, “taking sides”, or “hateful.” Rather, these inquiries question methodologies problems and factual errors in the paper. These issues are well within the realm of scientific discourse and are in no way personal attacks. Likewise, personal information about a scientist (religious affiliation or political beliefs, for instance), have no bearing on the scientific merits of the work he or she produces. This is the nature of science.Read More »

Looking a little closer at the numbers— A supplement to Part I

I’m writing this part for people really motivated to delve deeper into the problems with Dr. Deisher’s statistical analysis. In my opinion, Part I would have been far too long, especially for those with little/no exposure to statistics, if I had included it. However, I refuse to behave like some of our critics who essentially tell us, “don’t worry your pretty little heads about trying to understand science; Deisher has a Ph.D.” What a paradox! If we blindly accept the mainstream consensus, we are uneducated, lazy sheep who need to “wake up.” Yet, if we use our intellect (while acknowledging our limitations) to think critically and not blindly accept Deisher’s novel, extraordinary claims, we’re “embarrassing” ourselves. I won’t treat you like that, dear reader. Since I am waiting to hear back from a couple people regarding Part II, if you’re inclined to dig a little deeper, let’s do that.Read More »

Is the increasing popularity of homebirth truly consistent with a pro-life stance?

Lilly 13 weeks       Once upon a time, I was pro-choice. I was also a homebirth midwife. I remember when I believed that choices in childbirth absolutely should be covered under the same umbrella as the rest of our reproductive freedoms: My body, my choice. At that time, there was a deep divide between the types of people who had traditionally used homebirth midwives (mainly conservative religious women) and the people who were waving a new type of anti-establishment flag (my more liberal peers). I saw the merging of these two communities into one cause supporting “womens’ empowerment” as one of my young feminist hopes come to fruition. Read More »

Problems with Deisher’s study— Part I: The numbers

If someone were to ask me to critically appraise the scientific merits of a study arguing that birth control usage caused earthquakes by changing the mating behaviors of fish, I might have had an easier time than I did with Dr. Theresa Deisher’s widely shared study. That may be over the top, but it is kind of true. In such a scenario, I would have been able to say to myself, like most other people in the scientific blogosphere are doing with the Deisher study, “This is just too absurd, too poorly done to waste any more time refuting it!” But, I can’t do that because you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, deserve to know how badly you are being deceived by a study that is so abominable, it would be an insult to bad science to call it bad science. Read More »

Abortion, Autism and Immunization: The Danger of the Plausible Sounding Lie

Welcome, new readers!  Since this post has been recently linked to in other pieces discussing the work of Dr. Deisher as regards Planned Parenthood video footage and the anti-vaccine movement, please read our response on that topic here.

Since the publication of this piece, released the same day as Sound Choice’s press release announcing the publication of this study, I was made aware that Dr. Deisher’s child has been diagnosed with cancer.  I hope all will join me in praying for his return to health, as well as the comfort and peace of his family during this challenging time.

This month, Dr. Theresa Deisher of Sound Choice Pharmaceuticals published a study which proposed a correlation between the usage of vaccines using fetal cell culture and the increasing diagnosis of autism in children.  This hypothesis centers on the idea that rogue fetal DNA from vaccines that are grown in the cultured cells obtained from abortion could somehow go to the brain and cause autism.Read More »