Respectful Insolence

Another example of the arrogance of ignorance

The other day, I mentioned what Prometheus termed the “arrogance of ignorance,” in which people with no training in a complex, scientific issue have the hubris to think that they know enough to be able to lecture medical scientists on shortcomings of their research. Here’s another example of just such arrogance by antivaccinationist Barbara Loe Fisher:

As usual, it is not the M.D. or Ph.D. “experts” but parents of vaccine injured children, who understand the bigger picture involving accumulating clinical evidence that many children are regressing and becoming chronically ill after receiving both mercury-containing and non-mercury containing vaccines. Parents know well that this one study cannot negate the fact that the medical establishment has refused to conduct the methodologically sound basic science research into the biological effects on immune and brain function of injecting infants and children with multiple vaccines containing many potentially toxic ingredients, including mercury.

Once again, personal observations by parents are prone to so many biases, particularly confusing correlation with causation and confirmation bias. Moreover, the plural of “anecdote” is not data. Scientists can be prone to the same biases, but that’s what the scientific method is expressly designed to compensate for. Worse, Fisher’s ideology is clearly at the fore here. She simply can’t accept that the overwhelming weight of the epidemiological and scientific evidence available does not support the concept that either thimerosal-containing vaccines or vaccines in general are a cause of or a contributing factor to the development of autism.

Comments

  1. #1 Elver
    January 10, 2008

    “The other day, I mentioned what Prometheus termed the “arrogance of ignorance,” in which people with no training in a complex, scientific issue have the hubris to think that they know enough to be able to lecture medical scientists on shortcomings of their research.”

    And this is different from you talking about politics or Ron Paul… how exactly? :P

  2. #2 DanioPhD
    January 10, 2008

    Her spurious accusation that Frombonne’s motivations for cessations of studies seeking a vaccine-autism link are related to his displeasure that “children with vaccine associated autism have been healed through use of alternative therapies that do not rely on expensive prescription drugs and visits to child psychiatrists” make it clear that she will never, ever, see the light. Sigh.

  3. #3 kevinj
    January 10, 2008

    Elver: are you suggesting that politics and opinions on candidates should be restricted? what about voting itself?

  4. #4 Azkyroth
    January 10, 2008

    Elver: are you suggesting that politics and opinions on candidates should be restricted? what about voting itself?

    While Elver’s comment strikes me as ignorant and abrasive, the blithe equation of criticizing a person’s decision to make a kind of statement with that person supposedly believing that kind of statement should be restricted (equating disapproval of speech with support for outlawing speech) is infinitely more so.

  5. #5 Chas Dean
    January 10, 2008

    Gee Elver, it never occurred to me that expressing a political opinion and putting the lives of children at risk had so much in common. Hell of a system you’ve got there.

    (adds another to the list of reasons never to emigrate)

  6. #6 Mark P
    January 10, 2008

    Elver ignores the fact that politics is not science. Anyone can be a politician, but it takes many years of study and practice to be a physician or a research scientist. I am forced to draw the conclusion that Elver is neither.

  7. #7 Chad
    January 10, 2008

    Mark P took the words right out of my mouth.

  8. #8 Jesse
    January 10, 2008

    parents of vaccine injured children, who understand the bigger picture involving accumulating clinical evidence

    Hmmmm. Is there some sort of secret database, off-limits to the evil MD and PhD scientists, with this ‘accumulating clinical evidence’? Because there are no studies, papers, reviews, or omnibuses that show that vaccines cause autism.

    …..or is it possible that this woman has absolutely no idea what she’s talking about?

  9. #9 Texas Reader
    January 10, 2008

    The only way to stop this crap is to find a now-enlightened, former believer in vaccines causing autism whose child has suffered illness or death due to failure to vaccinate.

    Until there are REAL consequences for spreading this misinformation it will continue.

  10. #10 Prometheus
    January 10, 2008

    Elver,

    I would say that the difference is that in science there are correct answers, whereas in politics there are only opinions.

    That’s probably an overly simplistic view. After all, there are some “facts” in politics (e.g. two planes hijacked by terrorists were crashed into the Twin Towers, causing them to collapse).

    However, so much of what is discussed in politics is either opinion (e.g. gay marriage is/isn’t immoral) or involves unfounded speculation (e.g. switching to a national sales tax would be more efficient than the current system).

    So, I’d say that – for the most part – everybody’s an “expert” in politics. Certainly, you’d have to say that the people running for office are not necessarily the most intellectually qualified to make political judgements. They have consultants to do that.

    Prometheus

  11. #11 Sastra
    January 10, 2008

    People who advocate and promote pseudoscientific views which go against mainstream experts do see science as a political process. The postmodernist idea that which theories get adopted have to do with some groups who are in power dominating other groups who are out of power and getting their “way” feeds right into the arrogant mindset of those see themselves as democratic freedom fighters. It’s perfectly realistic and reasonable for mommies to overrule scientists and point out their mistakes — and vote them out of office for other scientists who reflect their own views. As Prometheus says, in politics everyone is an expert.

  12. #12 Drugmonkey
    January 10, 2008

    Huh? Are you people out to lunch or just unbelievably arrogant?

    “anyone” can be a politician? sure. just like “anyone” can, in theory, be a “scientist”. doesn’t work out this way in practice in the vast majority of cases. there is a training program of working one’s way up in the system. lower office holding, political aide-ing, formal credentials as a poli-sci major plus internship, on-the-job cred as a local activist or party drone. sure it is not as formalized as many scientific traditions but it is relevant to one’s chances at higher office.

    sure, we have a trend for “buying” into politics once one has a personal fortune or slipping in on fame obtained in another endeavor. but this is relatively rare. and is it any different from venture capitalists getting their fingers sticky with their new toy biotech startup? is it?

    and is should be emphatically clear to even the most disdainful that not just everyone has the talent to be a good politician, or even to be one at all.

  13. #13 PalMD
    January 10, 2008

    The question has been asked and answered…and answered, and answered. There is no link between vaccines, mercury, and anything, and valuable time, energy, and money is being wasted to prove the same thing over and over to people who will never believe it.
    Fuck ‘em. Let’s move on and actually try to find etiologies and interventions.

  14. #14 Jennifer
    January 10, 2008

    Texas Reader wrote: “The only way to stop this crap is to find a now-enlightened, former believer in vaccines causing autism whose child has suffered illness or death due to failure to vaccinate.”

    How about if a parent who was a former believer in autism-caused-by-vaccines, who did not vaccinate the subsequent child, who then developed autism just as the first one did? And this parent wrote about it?

    http://notmercury.blogspot.com/2006/02/i-was-wrong.html

  15. #15 DLC
    January 11, 2008

    PalMD dead-centered the target:
    There simply is no link between vaccines and autism.
    None, Nada, Zip, Bupkis, Zilch.
    It’s long past time to stop searching for what isn’t there and start using our research dollars looking elsewhere for a cause of and treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

  16. #16 Elver
    January 11, 2008

    Politics, as a science, is no more based on opinions than science itself. It, too, has models and facts that are true within those models. (Libertarians have their own model, neocons have their own model, etc.) It’s not unlike science in many ways. What you learn in a politics course in a major university might not be as universal as the laws of thermodynamics, but it’ll certainly make accurate predictions about the effects of different policies on large human populations. If you treat it as “it’s all just opinions anyway”, then you’ll get leaders like Bush who do run the country as if it’s all just opinions anyway.

    My point is that a case could be made, based on the science of politics, for Ron Paul as the best choice for president. Not an opinion, mind you, but something much more credible. A theory, if you will.

    But here we are, expressing opinions on a subject we know jack shit about.

    Back when Al Gore was running for president, people, not unlike you, railed on him for having claimed that he invented the internet. He, of course, had made no such claim, but I can’t help but feel that part of the reason why he lost was people attributing to him a preposterous claim he had never made.

    To me it doesn’t seem very different from what’s happening to Ron Paul today. Again, false claims are being made by people who should know better and these claims are amplified all over the internet. If Huckabee runs against Hillary or Obama, Huckabee is likely to win simply because he has the backing of millions of white Christians. Yet all the smart people are attacking Ron Paul for what they believe Paul has said and which, to a large part, isn’t true or even relevant.

    By taking a piss on Al Gore, you guys got Bush. By taking a piss on Ron Paul, you guys are likely to get Huckabee. It’s this kind of short-sightedness and know-it-all attitude when it comes to things you don’t know much about — such as politics — that tends to annoy me.

    Just yesterday I was arguing with a good friend of mine, a programmer, about Python vs PHP for web development. The guy has only ever used PHP and firmly thinks that PHP is as good as it gets simply because PHP was developed for the web and he doesn’t want to learn any fancy frameworks. I have actually done commercial web development with both Python and PHP and it’s my opinion that Python is considerably better. He firmly disagrees, based on no actual experience at all, and so Python goes unused and undiscovered by him and a lot of other people. But you know what? It doesn’t matter.

    Choosing between Python and PHP for web development is not a time-limited choice. You can discover Python ten years from now and realize you were wrong in dissing it. It’s not important that you make an informed decision now.

    The primaries and the presidential election, on the other hand, are time-limited choices. If you’re going to make a decision, it should be an informed one. Talk to Ron Paul supporters, see what the guy is really saying. I talked to Huckabee supporters to understand what the guy is really saying. I familiarized myself with the ideas of all the major candidates simply to form an informed opinion on the matter. And I’m not even a US citizen! I’m just interested in politics, that’s all.

  17. #17 brtkrbzhnv
    January 11, 2008

    But Elver, Ron Paul really did blame volcanoes for global warming, and Ron Paul really did make it clear he does not accept the theory of evolution. I’ve seen the videos; it’s not just some conspiracy out to make him look like an idiot.

  18. #18 TheProbe
    January 11, 2008

    Tex said: The only way to stop this crap is to find a now-enlightened, former believer in vaccines causing autism whose child has suffered illness or death due to failure to vaccinate.

    Until there are REAL consequences for spreading this misinformation it will continue.

    Unfortunately, there are only two ways this will happen. The first is that the uptake rate will drop so low that herd immunity is no longer protecting them. The second is by dumb luck.

    The sad thing is that a kid will be damage for life, if they do not die.

    I’ve been thrown out of groups for hoping that those who do not vaccinate suffer the consequences and the herd is culled of the stupid gene by Darwin.

  19. #19 Brendan S
    January 11, 2008

    Elver:

    Like it or not, Politics is full of opinions, biases, and greed. Abortion position more or less boils down to an opinion. Gun Control more or less boils down to an opinion. Neither side can ‘prove’ that their hypothesis (Not theory. Theories have data behind them.) is better then the other.

    For instance:

    ‘If Huckabee runs against Hillary or Obama, Huckabee is likely to win simply because he has the backing of millions of white Christians.’

    That’s a very ignorant, racist, and insulting statement, from where I stand. It’s hardly true. Despite what ABC broadcasts on it’s sitcoms nightly (Which is where you seem to get your idea of American Culture) America is not a country run by it’s backwards, ignorant rednecks. Sure, they’re out there.

    Look at the results in Iowa. Sure Huckabee won the Republican side. But more then twice as many people turned out for the democrats as the republicans.

    Like it or not, Politics is all about opinion, and making other people believe your opinion, or making them believe that you share theirs. It the art of gaining and using power.

  20. #20 Dangerous Bacon
    January 11, 2008

    “Is there some sort of secret database, off-limits to the evil MD and PhD scientists, with this ‘accumulating clinical evidence’? Because there are no studies, papers, reviews, or omnibuses that show that vaccines cause autism.”

    You are half right, seeker of truth. Except we Big Pharma-controlled physicians and scientists _do_ have access to the database, but ignore and conceal the truth to further our noxious agendas. Mua-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!!!!

    Just ask Orac. Bet he can’t prove he hasn’t banked millions from defending vaccines!!!!!

  21. #21 guthrie
    January 11, 2008

    Elver, anything to say about this story on Ron Paul:

    http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=e2f15397-a3c7-4720-ac15-4532a7da84ca

  22. #22 marion
    January 11, 2008

    As a political science major and political junkie I can assure you that there are no immutable laws in politics that apply across all cultures and backgrounds, whereas there are immutable laws of science that apply across all cultures and backgrounds. Now, our understanding of some of these laws is ever-evolving, but they exist, and have applied since the beginning of time. Politics contains its own realities, but they are ever-evolving and differ greatly among cultures. I may disagree with Orac on certain political matters, and we each may think that our own opinion is the correct one, but it’s just that – an OPINION. Good science is about proving things beyond a reasonable doubt and searching for immutable laws and cause/effect scenarios. Does science get politicized? Sure. *Must* science be politicized? No.

  23. #23 daedalus2u
    January 11, 2008

    marion, I disagree. The rules in politics may not quite be immutable, but they are quite strong. One of the strongest is the Golden Rule. He who has the most gold makes the rules. This is of course trumped by the stronger rule, “Might makes Right”.

    To the extent that opinion and politics enters science, it is not science any more, it has been turned into politics.

  24. #24 Lisa
    January 11, 2008

    Dangerous Bacon-

    I missed last week’s meeting of BPBPS, Big Pharma Bankrolled Physicians and Scientists (Beep-Beeps). Did we finally resolve how else we were going to poison the masses through routine medical procedures since they are “on” to our vaccination scam?

    Seriously, if there was some sort of gov’t/pharma/whatever conspiracy to make people sick, why is it autism? Autism, while it stinks for any family with a child and the adults themselves, is not a fatal condition. If I were in charge of the conspiracy, I would at least make it a fatal disease to give people. Unless, autism is just the “test” disease and now that the conspiracy is sure it will work, they can move on to the “real” fatal poisons.

    What did I miss?

  25. #25 Elver
    January 11, 2008

    To the people who ignorantly want to smear Ron Paul as a racist: Ron Paul’s take on it.

    “But Elver, Ron Paul really did blame volcanoes for global warming, and Ron Paul really did make it clear he does not accept the theory of evolution. I’ve seen the videos; it’s not just some conspiracy out to make him look like an idiot.”

    1. Volcanoes. The fallacy is simple. You are looking to blame just one thing. Ron Paul agrees that global warming is partially a man-made problem and wants to fight it, but he also understands that partially nature is also to blame. Global warming is not 100% man-made. Surely I don’t have to convince you of that, do I?

    2. Evolution. The dude is a strict constitutionalist. The constitution separates church and state. How on Earth do you think he’s going to force his views on evolution on your kids, huh?

    The rest of you are implying something very dangerous: that all opinions are equal. They are not. An uneducated redneck’s opinion on politics is NOT of equal value to an economics professor’s opinion on politics.

    All opinions are not equal. I can’t stress this enough.

    The world is not made up of three colors: black, white, and a single shade of gray. Science might be white and pseudoscience might be black, but in fields without absolute colors, there’s a whole spectrum of grays. Lighter tones are preferable to darker ones.

  26. #26 daedalus2u
    January 11, 2008

    Elver, if Ron Paul is so intellectually dishonest that he lies to himself about the evidence for evolution and global warming, what basis do you have for assuming he is telling the truth when he says he is a “strict constitutionalist”?

    If he lies to himself about the nature of reality, why would he be truthful about anything else to anyone else?

    Does he even have the capacity to be truthful? Or is his vision of reality so clouded by his wishful thinking that he has no idea what is real and what is pretend?

  27. #27 Jesse
    January 11, 2008

    Evolution. The dude is a strict constitutionalist. The constitution separates church and state. How on Earth do you think he’s going to force his views on evolution on your kids, huh?

    Not surprisingly, you’ve completely missed the point.
    The point isn’t whether he wants to try to usurp evolution and teach intelligent design, it’s that He ignores scientific fact in place of the bible. This is what makes him a wingnut that would rapidly ruin our country.
    But as usual, the Paulites only see what they want and ignore the immutable fact: Ron Paul should never be the President of the United States because he is Bat Shit Crazy.

  28. #28 Jesse
    January 11, 2008

    Welp, I think I see why Elver is a Paul fan.

    On his(her? I can’t tell from the pictures) webpage, the following link is there:

    http://bellaciao.org/en/article.php3?id_article=16352

    It’s a link to the ‘news story’ of Osama Bin Laden’s funeral. In 2001.

    Crazy is as crazy does, I suppose.

  29. #29 Elver
    January 12, 2008

    “Elver, if Ron Paul is so intellectually dishonest that he lies to himself about the evidence for evolution and global warming, what basis do you have for assuming he is telling the truth when he says he is a “strict constitutionalist”?”

    I see that you’re an objectivist. Alright. You’re confusing honesty with consistency. A religious person is perfectly capable of behaving consistently within his own model of the world. That means not coveting the neighbor’s wife and not killing. All that stuff. A scientist is also capable of behaving consistently. He does as he believes. He believes that the scientific model is the best one for studying reality, he follows that.

    What you’re looking for in a politician is consistency. Has Ron Paul been a “strict constitutionalist”? Yes. Look at his voting record. All his votes in congress have been backed by the exact same set of principles.

    Why is consistency preferable to “honesty”? Because your view of reality never agrees with anyone else’s view of reality and if you look for this “honesty” of yours, you’re only looking for a mirror image of your own beliefs. To you nobody is then as perfect as your own reflection. What you should be looking for is someone with a consistent behavior rooted in a consistent set of principles that you can agree with. You agree with strict constitutionalism? Ron Paul offers that. You agree that the USA is under attack? Rudy Giuliani. You agree that USA is a Christian nation and should be ruled using Christian principles? Mike Huckabee.

    You may not agree with some biologist’s view that abortion is bad, but as long as he follows the scientific method in his science work, you can trust the results of his research. You may not think that the dude is “honest” (meaning: agrees with you), but you agree with his methods and his methods are consistent. That’s the important part.

    “it’s that He ignores scientific fact in place of the bible. This is what makes him a wingnut that would rapidly ruin our country.”

    Are you even familiar with any of the other Republican candidates? Seriously, are you? Ron Paul is the least religious of them all. He is the only one who strictly believes that religion is a wholly private matter and not something that should influence politics at all.

    Sure, Obama, Kucinich, even Hillary are way better candidates in this regard, but, seriously, look at the rest of the Republican candidates. If you’re going to take a piss on any one of them just because they believe in God, then you should take a piss on everyone else first.

    “But as usual, the Paulites only see what they want and ignore the immutable fact: Ron Paul should never be the President of the United States because he is Bat Shit Crazy.”

    Do you have a better candidate on the Republican side? Seriously, do you? And why? Yes, sure, there are better candidates on the Democratic side, but, seriously, I’d rather have Ron Paul go against Obama or Hillary than Huckabee. On the off chance that the Republicans win, I’d rather have Ron Paul as the president, a guy who believes in the separation of church and state, than Huckabee, who’s as religiously insane as humanly possible.

    You need to look at the bigger picture here. Which Republican candidate would you rather have and why?

    “Welp, I think I see why Elver is a Paul fan.”

    I am not. I just don’t like seeing people take an ignorant piss on someone who has done nothing to deserve it.

    “On his(her? I can’t tell from the pictures) webpage, the following link is there:
    http://bellaciao.org/en/article.php3?id_article=16352
    It’s a link to the ‘news story’ of Osama Bin Laden’s funeral. In 2001.
    Crazy is as crazy does, I suppose.”

    Wow. How fucking dishonest of you. But then again, people like you go to any lengths to smear someone you disagree with. Do you know what an RSS feed is? Do you know what Google Reader is? That link is from my Google Reader Shared Items RSS feed. I go through about ~500 articles every day and the ones that end up on the shared items RSS feed (about ~30) are the ones that are vaguely interesting and provocative.

    Using that link to smear me is like going to James Randi’s weekly commentaries, picking out a link to a woo-woo website, and claiming that Randi is a crackpot, because he links to a crackpot website. It’s fucking dishonest of you.

    Then again, I’m not surprised that you’d try to pull something like this.

  30. #30 Jesse
    January 12, 2008

    If it’s dishonest for me to point out things you believe, (i.e., you link to and post on your blog) please tell me how.

    Like I said, crazy is as crazy does.

    But then again, people like you go to any lengths to smear someone you disagree with.

    Again, you’re an idiot. Since when is visiting someone’s website, that they themselves have voluntarily posted, ‘going to any length’? Sorry, but your persecution complex can’t save you from your own foot-in-mouth actions. You’ve done well enough demonstrating your ignorance of American politics as well as your bat-shit-crazy ideas.

    Are you even familiar with any of the other Republican candidates? Seriously, are you? Ron Paul is the least religious of them all.

    Clearly, you are not. Have you heard of this one dude from NYC? Rudy? Giuliani? Ever hear of him? Pro-choice, socially liberal guy? Has no problems with evolution? Republican?

    Do you have a better candidate on the Republican side? Seriously, do you? And why?

    Ah, the Ron Paul ‘Well show me someone better’ straw man. What the other candidates believe has nothing to do with whether or not Ron Paul is, indeed, a wingnut. What do you not understand about that? We’re not making any comparisons to other candidates, just parsing out Paul’s views.

    In defending Paul, you have used incorrect logic, backwards thinking, strawmen and made numerous false claims and conclusions.

    I don’t even understand why you are so interested in American politics. You’re Esti, correct? My dad was born in Paide and came to the states when he was 5.

  31. #31 Andrew Wade
    January 12, 2008

    You may not think that the dude is “honest” (meaning: agrees with you), but you agree with his methods and his methods are consistent.

    We are not simpletons here (mostly) and no, that is not what “honest” means. “Dishonest” is also not what daedalus2u called Ron Paul, rather the term was “intellectually dishonest”. In some ways the latter term is even more damning. If this (hypothetical) biologist cheats on his wife, then his scientific work may still be trustworthy. But if he’s intellectually dishonest, daedalus2u would be a fool to assume that he “follows the scientific method in his science work”.

  32. #32 Elver
    January 12, 2008

    “If it’s dishonest for me to point out things you believe, (i.e., you link to and post on your blog) please tell me how.”

    What I link to is not what I believe in. James Randi links to crackpots every week. Would you argue that he believes in everything he links to? Do you even know who the guy is?

    “Since when is visiting someone’s website, that they themselves have voluntarily posted, ‘going to any length’?”

    Going to my website is not “going to any length”. Picking a random link from there, out of context, and claiming I believe something that I linked to just because I linked to it is a huge stretch.

    “You’ve done well enough demonstrating your ignorance of American politics as well as your bat-shit-crazy ideas.”

    You can put labels on me if that makes you feel better. Point is, you’ve done nothing to actually argue against what I’ve been saying. All you’ve done is ad hominem attacks.

    “Clearly, you are not. Have you heard of this one dude from NYC? Rudy? Giuliani? Ever hear of him? Pro-choice, socially liberal guy? Has no problems with evolution? Republican?”

    The dude is so corrupt that even New York firemen won’t pose on the same picture with him.

    “Ah, the Ron Paul ‘Well show me someone better’ straw man. What the other candidates believe has nothing to do with whether or not Ron Paul is, indeed, a wingnut. What do you not understand about that? We’re not making any comparisons to other candidates, just parsing out Paul’s views.”

    That’s the problem. This is politics. On the Republican side you’ve got a limited number of candidates. You don’t find anyone electable? Don’t vote. What you need to understand is that one of them is going to be the official Republican presidential candidate. So, yes, people voting in the Republican primaries need to pick out the best Republican candidate and if you take a piss on one of the better ones there, you’re going to get someone a lot worse winning on the Republican side.

    It’s not a straw man. (Do you even know what a straw man is?) It’s how this stuff works.

    “In defending Paul, you have used incorrect logic, backwards thinking, strawmen and made numerous false claims and conclusions.”

    Those are bold claims for someone who can’t seem to point out these errors.

    “I don’t even understand why you are so interested in American politics. You’re Esti, correct? My dad was born in Paide and came to the states when he was 5.”

    Dude. Seriously. Where have you been for the past 8 years? All the eyes in the world are on USA. US presidential elections are an important event in all the world. Large portions of the world, including Estonia, are going to be influenced by whoever gets elected.

    “If this (hypothetical) biologist cheats on his wife, then his scientific work may still be trustworthy. But if he’s intellectually dishonest, daedalus2u would be a fool to assume that he “follows the scientific method in his science work”.”

    So what you’re saying is that because Ron Paul doesn’t believe in evolution, then we cannot trust him as president, because we can’t be sure if he listens to the scientific consensus on important topics like global warming? I am inclined to agree with you on that.

    I’ll agree with you on that.

    That’s a problem that Ron Paul has. And it’s something that we should point out. (See? I’m being intellectually honest. Isn’t that wonderful?)

    However, I think you should dig a little deeper than that. Ron Paul is very much unlike any candidate you or I have seen previously. He’s a strict constitutionalist meaning that he would keep church and state separate. Others are less willing to follow the constitution to the letter so you’re more likely to get a president who forces his opinion on you. From what I’ve heard and seen so far, Ron Paul doesn’t seem like the guy who would do that.

    But science is the question of the day. Would Ron Paul listen to a scientific consensus? I don’t know, but based on what I’ve seen, I’m leaning heavily towards “yes”.

    Had I the chance, would I vote for the guy? No. I’d probably vote for Obama. But I think you’re treating “intellectual honesty” as a complete absolute that, once even slightly chipped, is gone forever. I’m not sure I agree with such a radical idea.

    I think another problem is that you’re all thinking that you’re electing a king with practically unlimited power. The other candidates, at least on the Republican side, also seem to be thinking of the position the same way. The seat of presidency has gone from being a position of public service to a position of unopposed leadership.

    It seems to me that Ron Paul is one of the few candidates treating presidency as a position of public service. There’s a fundamental difference in thinking and that’s why some of his ideas might seem so radical.

  33. #33 Robster, FCD
    January 12, 2008

    Of course, Paul believes in separation of church and state, which is why he wants a voucher system to pay for religious schools. And by defunding public schools, ruining their quality, if not causing many state systems to collapse, he couldn’t possibly be setting up religious schools as a safety net.

    Oh no, Ron Paul’s strict constitutionalist beliefs (excepting 1st article, 14th and 16th amendments and birthright citizenship) would never be the framework for which he would push students into a religious, and for the most part creationist, schooling.

  34. #34 daedalus2u
    January 12, 2008

    I just looked at some of Ron Paul’s writings, and they are pretty nutty.

    All for privacy and private property rights, unless that private property is a woman’s uterus.

    Strict constitutionalist, but lets change the constitution to redefine what it means to be a citizen.

    The first ammendment applies only to Congress, the states can pass any kind of religious laws they want:

    “The Supreme Court also has ignored the obvious point that the amendment applies only to Congress, and not to the states. This means that while the federal government cannot pass laws restricting religion or use federal funds to give preference to one religion over another, state and local governments retain the right under the 10th Amendment to set their own policies regarding religious expression.”

    http://www.ronpaul2008.com/articles/239/religious-liberty-thwarted-by-the-supreme-court/

    The states are not bound by the first ammendment?

    So according to Ron Paul a state could have a state religion and require citizens of that state to be members? WTF?

  35. #35 Ex-drone
    January 13, 2008

    Orac,

    Good point on the Mercury Militia. Too bad the comment trail got hijacked by a Ron Paul troll. The anti-vaxers are affecting the health of the nation, while Ron Paul’s impact is … well, let’s have a look: Iowa – Huckabee, New Hampshire – McCain, Michigan – Romney, South Caroline – Huckabee/Thompson, Florida – Guliani. That’s right, Paul is non-existent.

    * yawn *

  36. #36 Tom Steele
    January 14, 2008

    There are good reasons for arrogance of ignorance.

    I personally have stained teeth with poorly developed enamel. This is because of being given tetracycline as a child. The doctors, I’m sure, were quite confident in prescribing it and if my mother had any worries I’m sure they condescendingly assured her that it would be fine.

    When I was growing up, children were supposed to sleep on their stomach. Now it’s “Back to Sleep.”

    We have a 6 month old son who started out with a pediatrician that recommended feeding only formula or breast milk until 6 months. We switched doctors (for unrelated reasons) at 4 months of age and that pediatrician asked if we were feeding him any solid foods yet and why not? Two medical doctors with very different views on what was the right thing to do.

    The point is that the experts get it so astonishingly wrong sometimes, and we are inundated with “study says coffee is bad for you” one day and “study says coffee is good for you” the next day that we don’t have any faith in the “experts.”

    I’m not sure how you combat that, but combine my ability to google nearly anything and get mostly good info (except interestingly, the really scientific studies are costly) and I don’t take anyone’s word for anything that I consider important without doing some checking.

  37. #37 HCN
    January 14, 2008

    Tom Steele said “I’m not sure how you combat that, but combine my ability to google nearly anything and get mostly good info (except interestingly, the really scientific studies are costly) and I don’t take anyone’s word for anything that I consider important without doing some checking.”

    For medical information stay away from Google. Try http://www.medlineplus.gov first. It mostly steers you away from mad information.

    I would also suggest you learn how to use PubMed (www dot pubmed dot gov … trying to keep my URL posts down to two). By using the search terms “infant back sleep” and choosing to look only at reviews I found this paper:
    http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/34/4/874

    Check out the first sentence: “Background Before the early 1990s, parents were advised to place infants to sleep on their front contrary to evidence from clinical research.”

    Did you catch the term “contrary”?

    Also, a good scientist will change his/her mind when there is sufficient evidence.

    So you have teeth stained with tetracycline. Big deal, you are not the only one. Would you have preferred to let the bacterial infection take its course without antibiotics?

    Guess what, almost everyone in my generation have had their tonsils removed, yet almost all of our kids have their tonsils. Why is that? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

    So what if there is not universal consensus of when to start a baby on solid foods? There is a great deal of variation of rates of development. Actually our baby books and doctor said to start the infants on cereal between 3 to 4 months. I just happened to have one kid who refused anything but breastmilk (he refused bottles) until he was six months old. He is now six feet tall and yesterday spent the day snowboarding (and inhaled a sandwich the moment he go into the car).

    You are hand wringing over silly issues. And you should be more worried that your baby does not get pertussis, measles, or Hib.

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