2 Improvements thanks to commenters. Played down minor issues. Tried to find support for unreferenced claim: found it was more complicaed than that.
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The first Orac article complains of some minor issues: Apparent bias in the statement of purpose and having antivaccine organisation as the funding source.

  • Bias in the statement of purpose

    This is serious bias, as the authors assume that vaccines cause harm. It’s not quite explicitly stated, but certainly implied. They clearly expected to find an association between vaccination and neurodevelopmental conditions, despite all the copious evidence that there is no such association.

  • Funding by an antivaccine organisation

  • Misleading description and a biased sampling

    Notice how Mawson claims that this is a cross-sectional study, when in reality it’s a survey targeting parents who homeschool. Of course, parents who choose to home school are not like your average parents. There are a lot of confounding factors that go along with home schooling, including the association between home schooling and antivaccine views. This association is very clear in the data, which show that 261 of the 666 subjects were unvaccinated.

  • Biased recruitment techniques

    no effort was made to construct a representative sample.

He also criticised the misleading description and a biased sampling

Notice how Mawson claims that this is a cross-sectional study, when in reality it’s a survey targeting parents who homeschool. Of course, parents who choose to home school are not like your average parents. There are a lot of confounding factors that go along with home schooling, including the association between home schooling and antivaccine views. This association is very clear in the data, which show that 261 of the 666 subjects were unvaccinated.

He also describes the recruitment techniques as a source of bias too.

no effort was made to construct a representative sample.

So what are we to make of the results of this study [...]?

Nothing. The bias and flaws in this study guaranteed no other result, particularly when you consider another confounding factor, namely that the parents of children who are fully vaccinated are very different in their health-seeking behavior than those whose children are unvaccinated. They tend to take their children to visit the doctor more regularly, which means that health disorders their children have are more likely to be diagnosed and treated. They’re also less likely to be seeing naturopaths and other alternative practitioners.


I looked for literature to bolstered Orac's unreferenced claim that "parents of children who are fully vaccinated are very different in their health-seeking behavior than those whose children are unvaccinated." My findings were mixed. I only found minor support for Orac's position.

This paper was useful to me in demonstrating some of the complexity behind the question - there has been a fair amount of research, and it has revealed geographic differenes.

This provided some fairly support for both Orac's statements about visiting doctors and also naturopaths and alternative practitioners:

Inhibitors [for parent vaccinating] included feeling alienated by or unable to trust the pediatrician, having a trusting relationship with an influential homeopath/naturopath or other person who did not believe in vaccinating, worry about permanent side effects, beliefs that vaccine-preventable diseases are not serious, and feeling that since other children are vaccinated their child is not at risk.

However, I don't want to overstate this - one of the "emerging themes" they discovered was:

there is overall trust in the pediatrician but a lack of trust in the information they provided about vaccines.

The first Orac article complains of:

  • Bias in the statement of purpose

    This is serious bias, as the authors assume that vaccines cause harm. It’s not quite explicitly stated, but certainly implied. They clearly expected to find an association between vaccination and neurodevelopmental conditions, despite all the copious evidence that there is no such association.

  • Funding by an antivaccine organisation

  • Misleading description and a biased sampling

    Notice how Mawson claims that this is a cross-sectional study, when in reality it’s a survey targeting parents who homeschool. Of course, parents who choose to home school are not like your average parents. There are a lot of confounding factors that go along with home schooling, including the association between home schooling and antivaccine views. This association is very clear in the data, which show that 261 of the 666 subjects were unvaccinated.

  • Biased recruitment techniques

    no effort was made to construct a representative sample.

So what are we to make of the results of this study [...]?

Nothing. The bias and flaws in this study guaranteed no other result, particularly when you consider another confounding factor, namely that the parents of children who are fully vaccinated are very different in their health-seeking behavior than those whose children are unvaccinated. They tend to take their children to visit the doctor more regularly, which means that health disorders their children have are more likely to be diagnosed and treated. They’re also less likely to be seeing naturopaths and other alternative practitioners.

The first article complains of some minor issues: Apparent bias in the statement of purpose and having antivaccine organisation as the funding source.

He also criticised the misleading description and a biased sampling

Notice how Mawson claims that this is a cross-sectional study, when in reality it’s a survey targeting parents who homeschool. Of course, parents who choose to home school are not like your average parents. There are a lot of confounding factors that go along with home schooling, including the association between home schooling and antivaccine views. This association is very clear in the data, which show that 261 of the 666 subjects were unvaccinated.

He also describes the recruitment techniques as a source of bias too.

no effort was made to construct a representative sample.

So what are we to make of the results of this study [...]?

Nothing. The bias and flaws in this study guaranteed no other result, particularly when you consider another confounding factor, namely that the parents of children who are fully vaccinated are very different in their health-seeking behavior than those whose children are unvaccinated. They tend to take their children to visit the doctor more regularly, which means that health disorders their children have are more likely to be diagnosed and treated. They’re also less likely to be seeing naturopaths and other alternative practitioners.


I looked for literature to bolstered Orac's unreferenced claim that "parents of children who are fully vaccinated are very different in their health-seeking behavior than those whose children are unvaccinated." My findings were mixed. I only found minor support for Orac's position.

This paper was useful to me in demonstrating some of the complexity behind the question - there has been a fair amount of research, and it has revealed geographic differenes.

This provided some fairly support for both Orac's statements about visiting doctors and also naturopaths and alternative practitioners:

Inhibitors [for parent vaccinating] included feeling alienated by or unable to trust the pediatrician, having a trusting relationship with an influential homeopath/naturopath or other person who did not believe in vaccinating, worry about permanent side effects, beliefs that vaccine-preventable diseases are not serious, and feeling that since other children are vaccinated their child is not at risk.

However, I don't want to overstate this - one of the "emerging themes" they discovered was:

there is overall trust in the pediatrician but a lack of trust in the information they provided about vaccines.

1
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Summary: The survey this article was based on was biased, poorly designed and poorly implemented. The conclusions cannot be trusted.


This study was examined by Orac who has been "checking in with and covering periodically ever since its inception in 2012, when antivaxers were fundraising for it."

The study has had a history of being retracted:

I’ve written about this study before. Hilariously, when it was published in its first form, the full study wasn’t published, only the abstract. Then the abstract was, in essence, retracted. Even more hilarious, it was a Frontiers journal, which is an even bigger dis because Frontiers journals are known for tending to be pay-to-publish predatory open access journals. If a Frontiers journal retracts your paper, it’s plenty bad indeed. It turns out that the manuscript had been reviewed by a chiropractor and a peer reviewer without expertise

The next day, Orac returned to announce it had been retracted again!

The first Orac article complains of:

  • Bias in the statement of purpose

    This is serious bias, as the authors assume that vaccines cause harm. It’s not quite explicitly stated, but certainly implied. They clearly expected to find an association between vaccination and neurodevelopmental conditions, despite all the copious evidence that there is no such association.

  • Funding by an antivaccine organisation

  • Misleading description and a biased sampling

    Notice how Mawson claims that this is a cross-sectional study, when in reality it’s a survey targeting parents who homeschool. Of course, parents who choose to home school are not like your average parents. There are a lot of confounding factors that go along with home schooling, including the association between home schooling and antivaccine views. This association is very clear in the data, which show that 261 of the 666 subjects were unvaccinated.

  • Biased recruitment techniques

    no effort was made to construct a representative sample.

In conclusion, he writes:

So what are we to make of the results of this study [...]?

Nothing. The bias and flaws in this study guaranteed no other result, particularly when you consider another confounding factor, namely that the parents of children who are fully vaccinated are very different in their health-seeking behavior than those whose children are unvaccinated. They tend to take their children to visit the doctor more regularly, which means that health disorders their children have are more likely to be diagnosed and treated. They’re also less likely to be seeing naturopaths and other alternative practitioners.