Respectful Insolence

After having to put up with high profile antivaccinationist idiots like Jenny McCarthy and celebrities who are ignorant enough to fall for what the mercury militia are laying down, like Donald Trump, it’s nice to see that not all celebrities are twits when it comes to vaccines.

Not surprisingly, first in line to attack is Byron Richards, writing for über-crank Mike Adams’ Newstarget. Of course, seeing any one writing for Adams call anyone “gullible,” given that in his attack Richards parrots the same lie that Bill Maher did, namely that flu vaccines contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, is enough to cause my irony meter to fry itself into a molten pool of metal and rubber sitting on the table bubbling pathetically.

Comments

  1. #1 Lurker
    January 4, 2008

    Billy boy was on Letterman last night. I don’t know if you saw it, but trust me you would have been horrified.

    He claimed that on his vacation that he had been reading, that reading about “health issues” is his real hobby– but emphasized that he was reading “eastern” medicine.

    He told Dave that if he wanted to get healthy that he had to quit his prescription drugs. That was the only way of doing it– that “America was poisoning” itself.

    *

    I turned to my wife, and wondered just how someone could claim American Medicine was killing everyone– when the length and quality of life only continue to improve.

    I mean, Dave had a heart attack, right [I don't really follow Letterman that much]? 50 years ago he probably would have been dead.

    But no, it’s the Doctors and ‘science’ that is harming him.

    Good grief…

  2. #2 Prometheus
    January 4, 2008

    From the World Health Organization:
    (http://www.who.int/countries/en/)

    Life expectancy at birth –

    “Eastern” medicine countries:

    China: Male 71 yrs, Female 74 yrs
    India: Male 62 yrs, Female 64 yrs
    N. Korea: Male 65 yrs, Female 68 yrs

    “Western” medicine countries:

    S. Korea: Male 75 yrs, Female 82 yrs
    Japan: Male 79 yrs, Female 86 yrs
    U.S.: Male 75 yrs, Female 80 yrs
    U.K.: Male 77 yrs, Female 81 yrs
    Canada: Male 78 yrs, Female 83 yrs
    Sweden: Male 79 yrs, Female 83 yrs

    Healthy life expectancy at birth –

    “Eastern” medicine countries:

    China: Male 63 yrs, Female 65 yrs
    India: Male 53 yrs, Female 54 yrs
    N. Korea: Male 58 yrs, Female 60 yrs

    “Western” medicine countries:

    S. Korea: Male 65 yrs, Female 71 yrs
    Japan: Male 72 yrs, Female 78 yrs
    U.S.: Male 67 yrs, Female 71 yrs
    U.K.: Male 69 yrs, Female 72 yrs
    Canada: Male 70 yrs, Female 74 yrs
    Sweden: Male 72 yrs, Female 75 yrs

    It seems strange to me that people like Bill Maher will claim that the U.S. and other “Western” countries are “poisoning” themselves with medications, when those countries that practice “Eastern” medicine have lower life and healthy life expectancies.

    In fact, it looks like the countries that have the most “Western” approach to medicine do the best in both lifespan and healthy life expectancy.

    I’d be interested in seeing the life expectancy of a U.S. resident who uses only “Eastern” medicine (i.e. eschews all pharmaceuticals). I expect that it wouldn’t be as long as the U.S. aggregate life expectancy.

    Prometheus

  3. #3 Uncle Dave
    January 4, 2008

    Ya, I believe Letterman needed quintuple bypass surgery surgery.

    Maher must of had cerebral bypass surgery.

  4. #4 Uncle Dave
    January 4, 2008

    To Prometheus;
    Yea but we are not at peace with our inner being like those that practice the ways of the eastern wisdom. They are happy to die of things we merely scoff at.

    I have always believed in the “The more angry you are the longer god makes you live” method of life expectancy.

    I take 50mg’s of frustration every afternoon in an attempt to raise my anger level.

  5. #5 Robster, FCD
    January 5, 2008

    First, Maher makes me happy with his pissing off 911 troofers, then he pulls this kind of silliness. Good for Garner and Cain.

  6. #6 Schwartz
    January 5, 2008

    Prometheus,

    LOL, what an ignorant post. I can hardly believe that you chose to infer that life expectency is directly correlated to the type of health care. You certainly know better, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that you would choose to be misleading.

    You also made a mistake: China practises a combination of both Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

    Can you seriously blame North Korea’s low number on the type of health care they practise?

    From a WHO paper published in the year 2000 (when the US actually had a higher ranking), it states:
    http://www.who.int/inf-pr-2000/en/pr2000-life.html

    The WHO cites various causes for why the United States ranks relatively low among wealthy nations. These reasons include:
    * In the United States, some groups, such as Native Americans, rural African Americans and the inner city poor, have extremely poor health, more characteristic of a poor developing country rather than a rich industrialized one.
    * The HIV epidemic causes a higher proportion of death and disability to U.S. young and middle-aged than in most other advanced countries. HIV-AIDS cut three months from the healthy life expectancy of male American babies born in 1999, and one month from female lives;
    * The U.S. is one of the leading countries for cancers relating to tobacco, especially lung cancer Tobacco use also causes chronic lung disease.
    * A high coronary heart disease rate, which has dropped in recent years but remains high;
    * Fairly high levels of violence, especially of homicides, when compared to other industrial countries.

    Even more ironic is that you focus your attention on Pharmaceuticals. The United States spends more per capita on pharmaceuticals (one of the reasons you spend more per capita on health care) than any other country, and clearly that has not correlated to the highest life expectency.

    Of the reasons listed above, none of them were related to the TYPE of health care system. Ironically in the area somewhat related to health care practises and pharmaceuticals, the United States had very poor showing. AIDs deaths in the US are much higher than the average for western countries, and yet, you should be on the forefront on this type of treatment. You certainly have the highest drug usage yet the death rates are the highest in the western world. That appears to be a negative correlation, not a positive one.

    Another article from 2007:
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-08-11-life-expectancy_N.htm

    “Countries that surpass the United States include Japan, most of Europe and Jordan.

    “Something’s wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

    A baby born in the United States in 2004 will live an average of 77.9 years. That life expectancy ranks 42nd, down from 11th two decades earlier, according to international numbers provided by the Census Bureau and domestic numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics.”

    • Adults in the United States have one of the highest obesity rates in the world. Nearly one-third of U.S. adults 20 years and older are obese, while about two-thirds are overweight, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

    • Racial disparities. Black Americans have an average life expectancy of 73.3 years, five years shorter than white Americans.

    • A relatively high percentage of babies born in the United States die before their first birthday, compared with other industrialized nations. Forty countries, including Cuba, Taiwan and most of Europe, had lower infant-mortality rates than the United States in 2004. The U.S. rate was 6.8 deaths for every 1,000 live births. It was 13.7 for black Americans, the same as Saudi Arabia.

    Again, a lot of this has to do with many factors, not health care type.

    The evidence certainly suggests that life expectency has a lot more to do with factors other than the type/philosophy of health care. Since when did you start taking arbitrary correlations and implying causation?

  7. #7 Uncle Dave
    January 5, 2008

    Beware the Schwartz!!!!!

    I was wondering if someone was going to try and be a hero by pointing this our as ignorant.

    “Something’s wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.”

    I would certainly agree with that. Yes indeed, there is much more to the WHO statistics than meets the eye as far as factors that correlate to life expectancy (socioeconomic status, Diet lifestyle, and sociological factors as well). For instance Scandinavian countries have a higher standard of living than even the U.S. as well. Our position as far as standard of living has continued to drop as well. However the original post was about anti vaccine propaganda, not the quality of western health care systems.

    “The Schwartz” is quite correct in demonstrating that there is much more to the life expectancy equation than merely the advantage of western science. In that respect the U.S. is not always the best example compared to other western nations.

    Schwartz wrote;
    “• Adults in the United States have one of the highest obesity rates in the world. Nearly one-third of U.S. adults 20 years and older are obese, while about two-thirds are overweight, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.”

    I would also conclude from your presentation of this piece of data that western science has done a remarkable job of sustaining life given the fact that many Americans do an above average job of trying to shorten their life’s.

    How do you account for the high life expectancy given a high obesity rate?????? This obviously shows that medication such as Lipitor is quite ineffective ;)

    Schwartz also wrote;
    “• A relatively high percentage of babies born in the United States die before their first birthday, compared with other industrialized nations. Forty countries, including Cuba, Taiwan and most of Europe, had lower infant-mortality rates than the United States in 2004. The U.S. rate was 6.8 deaths for every 1,000 live births. It was 13.7 for black Americans, the same as Saudi Arabia.”

    As most Americans have been witness to, including myself (not a medical professional); infant mortality must now include babies that die after merely 1 trimester of gestation. We now are capable of sustaining very delicate lives before they have even been completely developed. What part of that statistic reflects trying to sustain lives that 20-30 years ago would have been mis-carriages? This little gem of western medicine I find most remarkable. We are now able to sustain infants that 30 years prior would have been unheard of. Not that I am a big pharma guy, but I could also assume that in the US it is our heavy reliance on medication that is ALL that sustains many of us. We are indeed extremely unhealthy yet we still have a fairly high life Expectancy.

    “Countries that surpass the United States include Japan, most of Europe and Jordan.”

    And suicide rates is also a statistic that Scandinavian countries and Japan exceed the United States in (almost double and triple the US rate).

    Quality of western health care? I’ll give you that, but thats a whole blog site in and of itself.

  8. #8 Prometheus
    January 5, 2008

    Clearly, Schwartz cannot discern the humor in my comment.

    He may “LOL” at the thought someone might “…infer that life expectency is directly correlated to the type of health care…”, but that inference was made by Bill Maher, not me.

    As I mentioned in my last paragraph, there is still no data showing that people using “Eastern medicine” (however that be defined) live longer and/or healthier lives than those who allow themselves to be “poisoned” by “Western” pharmaceuticals. There isn’t even any good data showing that people who use “alternative” medicine do any better than their “less-enlightened” peers.

    As a result, it is ridiculous for Bill Maher (and others – many others) to claim that modern medicine is “poisoning” the US population; it is doubly ridiculous to do so in the face of increasing life expectancy (and healthy life expectancy) in the US and other countries that use “Western” medicine.

    If – contrary to what the WHO reports – the life expectancy in countries where “Eastern” medicine is still practiced to a large extent (travel to rural China if you think that their medical system is “Western”) had been higher than in the US, then Bill Maher (and others of his ilk) might have had a leg to stand on. Unfortunately for them, the numbers don’t support their claim.

    Yes, Schwartz, I realize that there are many factors that result in the life expectancies in China, N. Korea and India being lower than those in the US, Canada, UK, Japan, S. Korea and Sweden. That wasn’t the point. The point – since it seems that I need to spell it out for you – is that the comparison between “Eastern” and “Western” medicine is based solely on “feelings” rather than any data.

    I acknowledge that there are serious cultural, economic and sociological issues that result in the US failing to have its “rightful” place in mortality and morbidity, based on its per-capita health-care spending, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with whether “Eastern” medicine is superior to “Western” medicine. Would any of those factors have less impact if we switched to “Eastern” medicine?

    Again, there are many factors that impact life expectancy, infant mortality and cancer rate, but lack of access to “Eastern” medical care is not one of them. In fact, the US probably has more “Eastern medicine: or “alternative” practitioners than the other countries in the “Western medicine” group (except for S. Korea), yet it has lower life expectancies than the rest (again, except for S. Korea).

    The reasons that people like Bill Maher turn to “Eastern medicine” are beyond the scope of this comment, but I have yet to see that there is any data to support that choice. In fact, the data suggest the opposite.

    In the world outside of the wealthy “Westernized” countries, “traditional” or “Eastern” or “natural” medicine is practiced, not out of choice, but out of desperation.

    Prometheus

  9. #9 Schwartz
    January 5, 2008

    Prometheus,

    Sorry.

    It’s amazing what gets lost in text alone. I should get more sleep so I’m in a better mood. (I just had a long nap and I wish I could do that every day)

    I suspect what Bill Mahar is probably really objecting to (whether he realizes it or not) is the pharmaceutical culture in North America.

  10. #10 Prometheus
    January 5, 2008

    I’ve also complained about the “Western” pharmaceutical culture, best described as “a pill for every ill”. It is, I believe, the natural result of the amazing effectiveness of modern medicine.

    If that were the extent of Bill Maher’s statement, I would be cheering him on. It’s not. Bill Maher is telling a man with coronary artery disease that he should go off of the medications than may be (probably are) keeping him alive.

    We seem to have gotten to an extreme end-member of the “pill for every ill” thinking, where even people who are in “good health” are convinced that medicine can make them “even better” (turn it up to 11!). “Optimal health”, and other such nonsense phrases, litter the advertising sections of our newspapers and magazines.

    This pursuit of “optimal health” and “wellness” has, in a large part, led to the fascination with “Eastern”, “traditional” and “alternative” medicine. When modern (i.e. “Western”) medicine is unable to help healthy people feel “optimally well”, they naturally turn to the people hawking remedies that claim to do just that.

    In fact, it is the promoters of “Eastern”, “traditional” and “alternative” medicine that have created this market by claiming that people who are otherwise healthy (but perhaps tired, stressed, anxious or unhappy) can feel “even better”. Having produced the market, they then offer the product.

    It’s a text-book example of market synthesis.

    I have no problem with people giving their money to Deepak Chopra or other such “healers”, as long as they don’t try to make me pay for it through my taxes or insurance premiums.

    I do have a problem with these same “healers” (or others of their ilk) promoting their wares to people who are desperately or chronically ill. This is simple exploitation. If they want to peddle their crystals and nostrums to sick people, let them go through the same safety and efficacy testing that real medications (and medical devices) have to pass.

    It’s also a bit dishonest for the “Eastern” etc. practitioners to rant about “money-grubbing Big Pharma”. “Alternative” medicine is a real money-maker, so much so that even “Big Pharma” is getting in on the action. After all, just imagine what the mark-up is on homeopathic and natural “remedies”, not to mention “supplements”. And all that with minimal regulatory oversight, no mandated market surveillance and no animal or human testing required.

    Believe me, these people aren’t in it just for their health.

    Prometheus

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