Respectful Insolence

The longer I’m in this whole skepticism thing, the more I realize that no form of science is immune to woo. For example, even though I lament just how many people do not accept evolution, for example, I can somewhat understand it. Although the basics of the science and evidence supporting the theory of evolution as the central organizing principle of all biology, much of the evidence is not readily apparent to those who don’t make it a calling to study biology, evolution, and speciation. It’s not like, for example, gravity, which everyone experiences and of which everyone has a “gut level” understanding. So, not unexpectedly, when the theory of evolution conflicts with a person’s religious beliefs, for most people it’s very easy to discount the massive quantities of evidence that undergird the theory of evolution. It’s not so easy to discount the evidence for gravity.

In many ways, medicine is similar to evolution, but the situation is possibly even worse. The reason is that much of the evidence in medicine is conflicting and not readily apparent to the average person. There’s more than that, though, in that there are a number of confounding factors that make it very easy to come to the wrong conclusion in medicine, particularly when looking at single cases. Placebo effects and regression to the mean, for example, can make it appear to individual patients that, for example, water (i.e., what the quackery that is homeopathy is) or placebo interventions (i.e., acupuncture) cures or improves various medical conditions. Add to that confirmation bias, the normal human cognitive quirk whereby all of us–and I do mean all of us–tend to remember information that reinforces our preexisting beliefs and to forget information that would tend to refute those beliefs–and, at the single person level or even at the single practitioner level, it’s very, very easy to be misled in medicine into thinking that quackery works. On the other hand, at the single patient level, it’s possible to see evidence of the efficacy of modern medicine; for example, if a person catches pneumonia, is treated with antibiotics, and recovers quickly. In any case, because personal experience and the evidence that people see with their own eyes can be very deceptive in medicine, science-based medicine, with its basic science underpinnings and clinical trial evidence, is very necessary to try to tease out what works and what doesn’t.

Medicine does, however, have its version of a theory of evolution, at least in terms of how well-supported and integrated into the very fabric of medicine it is. That theory is the germ theory of disease, which, as evolution is the organizing principle of biology, functions as the organizing principle of infectious disease in medicine. When I first became interested in skepticism and medical pseudoscience and quackery, I couldn’t envision how anyone could deny the germ theory of disease. It just didn’t compute to me, given how copious the evidence in favor of this particular theory is. It turns out that I was wrong about that, too.

On Friday there was a video released that provides a very clear, succinct explanation of germ theory denialism. It got me to thinking about antiscience in general and germ theory denialism in particular.

Germ theory denialism: A little History

The only thing I would disagree with is the conclusion at the end that germ theory denialists are not much of a threat. (I’d also quibble with the inclusion of doctors of osteopathy with chiropractors and naturopaths. These days, most DOs are indistinguishable from MDs in how they practice.) In fact, germ theory denialism is a major strain of “thought” driving many forms of pseudoscience, such as chiropractic and naturopathy, as is shown in the video itself.

Given the content of the video, however, I thought it might be worth considering the question: How on earth could people seriously deny the germ theory of disease, given how much success the application of this theory has demonstrated in decreasing mortality. Think about it: Antibiotics, modern hygiene and public health measures, and vaccines have been responsible for preventing more deaths and arguably for saving more lives than virtually any other intervention, preventative or treatment, that science-based medicine has ever devised. All of them rely, in full or in part, on the germ theory of disease.

The first thing we should clarify is just what we mean by the “germ theory of disease.” In most texts and sources that I’ve read, the germ theory of disease is stated something like, “Many diseases are caused by microorganisms.” We could argue whether viruses count as microorganisms, but for purposes of the germ theory they do. (Most biologists do not consider viruses to be true living organisms, because they consist of nothing other than genetic material wrapped in a protein coat and lack the ability to reproduce without infecting the cell of an organism.)

The funny thing about germ theory denialism is that, long before Pasteur, there were concepts about disease that resembled the germ theory. For example, it was written in the Atharvaveda, a sacred text of Hinduism, that there are living causative agents of disease, called the yatudhānya, the kimīdi, the kṛimi and the durṇama (see XIX.34.9). One of the earliest Western references to this latter theory appears in a treatise called On Agriculture by Marcus Terentius Varro in 36 BC. In it, there is a warning about locating a homestead too close to swamps:

…and because there are bred certain minute creatures which cannot be seen by the eyes, which float in the air and enter the body through the mouth and nose and there cause serious diseases.

That certain infectious diseases are contagious and somehow spread from person to person or from other sources is so obvious that various explanations of how this could happen held sway over many centuries. One common idea was the miasma theory of disease, which stated that diseases such as cholera, chlamydia or the Black Death were caused by a miasma, which translates into “pollution” or “bad air.” Certainly some diseases can be spread through the air. However, it’s long been recognized that other diseases could be spread through the water and in other ways. In any case, various ideas about how disease develops battled it out in various places over various times throughout the era of prescientific medicine. Many of these ideas involved, as we have seen, various concepts of mystical “life energy” such as qi, whose ebbs and flows could be manipulated for therapeutic effect (as in acupuncture, for example). Other ideas involved various concepts of “contamination,” in which miasmas or various other “poisons” somehow got into the body from the environment. Given the knowledge and religion of the time, these ideas were not unreasonable because science did not yet exist in a form that could falsify them as hypotheses, nor did the technology yet exist to identify the causative agents of disease. Given that background, attributing infectious disease to “bad air” doesn’t seem so unreasonable.

The beauty of Pasteur’s work was that it provided an explanation for many diseases that encompassed the concepts of miasma and various other ideas that preceded it. It should not be forgotten, however, that Pasteur was not the first to propose germ theory. Scientists such as Girolamo Fracastoro (who came up with the idea that fomites could harbor the seeds of contagion), Agostino Bassi (who discovered that the muscardine disease of silkworms was caused by a tiny parasitic organism, a fungus that was named Beauveria bassiana), Friedrich Henle (who developed the concepts of contagium vivum and contagium animatum), and others had proposed ideas similar to the germ theory of disease earlier. Pasteur was, however, more than anyone else, the scientist who provided the evidence to show that the germ theory of disease was valid and useful and to popularize the theory throughout Europe. Moreover, it should be noted, as it is in the video, that there were competing ideas; for example, those of Antoine Béchamp, who did indeed postulate nearly the exact opposite of what Pasteur did: That microorganisms were not the cause of disease but rather the consequence of disease, that injured or diseased tissues produced them and that it was the health of the organism that mattered, not the microorganisms.

Basically, Béchamp’s idea, known as the pleomorphic theory of disese, stated that bacteria change form (i.e., demonstrate pleomorphism) in response to disease. In other words, they arise from tissues during disease states. Béchamp further postulated that bacteria arose from structures that he called microzymas, which to him referred to a class of enzymes. Béchamp postulated microzymas are normally present in tissues and that their effects depended upon the cellular terrain. Ultimately, Pasteur’s theory won out over that of Béchamp, based on evidence, but Béchamp was influential at the time, and, given the science and technology of the time, his hypothesis was not entirely unreasonable. It was, however, superseded by Pasteur’s germ theory of disease and Koch’s later work that resulted in Koch’s postulates. Besides not fitting with the scientific evidence, Béchamp’s idea had nowhere near the explanatory and predictive power that Pasteur’s theory did. On the other hand, there is a grain of truth in Béchamp’s ideas. Specifically, it is true that the condition of the “terrain” (the body) does matter when it comes to infectious disease. Debiliated people do not resist the invasion of microorganisms as well as strong, healthy people. Of course, another thing to remember is that the “terrain” can faciltate the harmful effect of microorganisms in unexpected ways. For example, certain strains of the flu (as in 1918 and H1N1) are more virulent in the young because the young mount a more vigorous immune response.

Béchamp is unusual, though, in that he is frequently invoked by peddlers of quackery as having been “right” while Pasteur and Koch were “wrong.” Just Google “Béchamp” AND “alternative medicine”Béchamp germ theory,” or “Béchamp vaccination,” and you’ll see what I mean. Right on the first page are multiple links to that one-stop shopping site for all things quackery Whale.to, as well as links to that king of “acid-base” woo, the man who thinks all diseases are due to “excess acid,” that sepsis is not due to bacterial infection, and that viruses are “molecular acids,” Robert O. Young. One example of how Béchamp has come to be used to justify quackery appears on this discussion of vaccination at the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine:

He [Pasteur] is remembered for promoting vaccinations.

Béchamp had a different idea. He believed in the pleomorphic theory, that bacteria change form and are the result of disease. He said bacteria change into organisms that are increasingly detrimental to the body. The waste products of their metabolism are harmful to local body fluids, causing pain and inflammation. It is not the germs, viruses, and bacteria that make you sick, it is the waste products of the metabolism of those organisms that make you sick.

Here’s the kicker:

Germs seek their natural habitat – diseased tissue. During the Civil War, maggots were brought into hospitals to feed on the diseased tissue of the wounded because the bugs were better at cleaning it up than potions or anticeptics. Think of mosquitoes. They seek stagnant water, but do not cause the pool to become stagnant. So when the terrain is weakened and sickly, all manner of bugs want to set up house. But they come after the disease has begun; they come because the terrain is inviting.

Not surprisingly, included in this article is the myth that Pasteur “recanted” on his deathbed and said that Béchamp is correct. The article also uses poor Béchamp to justify all manner of quackery, including live blood analysis, anti-vaccine beliefs, and claims that, because of Pasteur, the pharmaceutical companies have come to rule health, all standard tropes of the alt-med movement.

Germ theory denialism now: A “softer” form of Béchamp

In 2010, as hard as it is to believe, germ theory denialism still exists. In fact, contrary to the video above, I would argue that such denialism is actually a significant threat, as it is frequently used as a justification for anti-vaccine views, as demonstrated by the article above from Arizona Advanced Medicine. Moreover, it goes beyond anti-vaccine beliefs, to the point where I’m half tempted to label it as the alt-med/pseudoscience equivalent of the theory of evolution in its importance to woo. What I mean is that, just as the theory of evolution is the central organizing principle of biology, germ theory denialism borders on being the central organizing idea behind the alt-med approach to disease.

Right now, the predominant form of germ theory denialism appears to be a “softer” form of denialism, just as the predominant form of evolution denialism is not young earth creationism, but rather “intelligent design” (ID) creationism. True, there are still young earth creationists around, who state that the world is only 6,000 years old and that the creatures that exist now were put there by God in their current state, but most denialists of evolutionary theory now accept that the earth is several billion years old and that organisms do evolve. They simply deny that natural selection and other mechanisms encompassed in current evolutionary theory are sufficient to acocunt for the complexity of life and instead postulate that there must be a “designer” guiding evolution. Similarly, there are still some die-hard germ theory denialists out there who cite Béchamp in much the same way young earth creationists cite the Bible and deny that germs have anything to do with disease whatsoever, claiming instead that microbes appear “because of the terrain” and are an indicator, rather than a cause, of disease (or, as they frequently call it, “dis-ease”). However, most cases of germ theory denialism are of a piece with ID creationism. Like ID promoters who admit that evolution “does” happen, this variety of germ theory denialist accepts that microbes “can” cause disease, but they argue that microbes can only cause disease if the host is already diseased or debilitated. Using such claims, they argue that the “terrain” is by far the most important determinant of whether or not I get sick. As a result, they claim that eating the right diet, doing the right exercises, and taking the right supplements will protect you against disease as well as any vaccine–better, in fact, because supposedly you’re not injecting all those “toxins” from vaccines into your body.

We see this all the time among proponents of “alt-med.” For example, as I’ve written before many times, comedian Bill Maher expresses just such views. My favorite example was when he was having a discussion with Bob Costas about the flu and the flu vaccine and stated that, because he lives right and eats a healthy diet he “never gets the flu” and wouldn’t get the flu on an airplane even if several people with the flu were on that plane, to which Bob Costas made a hilariously spot-on reply, “Oh, come on, Superman!” That’s not too far from the truth, because the modern form of germ theory denialism does seem to claim that diet, exercise, and living the “right way” will make us all super men and super women, able to resist the nastiest of infectious disease.

Germ theory denialism: An example from naturopathy

After I saw C0nc0rdance’s video on germ theory denialism, I couldn’t resist looking at some of the videos that popped up on the sidebar of the YouTube link to see what was there. Prominent among the related videos that Google served up was a video by Dr. Shawn Sieracki of the the Whole Body Healing Center of Lewisville (blog here). One might expect a heapin’ helpin’ of pure woo from Dr. Shawn based on what’s on his practice’s website, which touts woo such as the “detox challenge,” which boasts “Detoxify or die!” and offers services such as the infamous quackery known as the “detox foot bath” on this page.

Dr. Shawn has produced a video that demonstrates the germ theory denialism at the heart of much of what is espoused by naturopathy, entitled Naturopathic Minute: Germ Theory, and he begins by baldly stating that “germ theory is not correct”:

Dr. Shawn bases much of his argument on a straw man version of germ theory. First, he claims that germ theory is what “traditional medicine” bases “all of its studies and researches” on and that the “medical model” is based on germ theory. This is sort of true in that it science-based medicine only bases its studies and therapies of infectious disease on germ theory, but Dr. Shawn seems to be implying that all disease is caused by “germs” according to scientific medicine. He then goes on to mistate germ theory by stating first that it says that disease is caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites (true) but that scientific medicine also says that infectious disease is caused by “toxins” (false; that’s not what scientific medicine says). He then states that germ theory is not correct because:

It’s not the germs that cause the disease. It’s the condition of the environment that causes the disease…I’m going to give you a layman’s terms example so that you can understand. Cockroaches are the germs. Now why do you have cockroaches in your kitchen sink and all over the kitchen counter? Is the cockroaches the problem, or is it the dirty dishes, the stinky syrup on the kitchen counter, the food crumbs all over the place? That, more than likely, is why the cockroaches are there. So, doctors treat the cockroaches as the problem. They spray the insecticides; they spray the pesticides, but they keep the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. OK, does that make sense? A natural health practitioner is going to help you clean up that dirty kitchen sink…If you clean up the dirty kitchen sink, the cockroaches go away. They can’t feed on that environment.

Personally, having worked in a restaurant that had a cockcroach infestation cockroaches before, I’d like to see Dr. Shawn get rid of cockroaches in a house by doing nothing more than cleaning up the kitchen. Once you have cockroaches, they don’t go away. That restaurant was absolutely fanatical about proper food practice and keeping things clean and became even more so after cockroaches were discovered. After all, cockroaches were bad for business. If a customer saw one, it’d be disastrous, and if the health inspector saw them on the next visit, it would be equally bad in that there would be fines and the restaurant might even be shut down. In addition to excellent food hygiene practices, it also took visits from the exterminator to get rid of the cockroaches, and we were under no illusion that they’d be back if our guard lapsed.

Dr. Shawn delves even deeper into the burning stupid:

Another analogy would be a stagnant swamp, a stagnant swamp versus a river. A river is full of life. A river is healthy. It’s flowing just like the blood should be flowing in your body. Okay? You’ve got eagles floating, you’ve got cold water fish floating in a river. Now in a stagnant swamp, you’ve got mosquitos, gnats, flies. You’ve got deadly snakes swimming in that moldy, filthy water. It’s the condition of the pond that attracts that, okay, it’s the condition of the pond that attracts the mosquitos, that attracts the gnats, etc.

Of course, again, there is more than a grain of truth in the idea that the “terrain” matters. If you’re unhealthy or debilitated, your resistance to bacteria is decreased. For example, it’s well known that diabetics have difficulty fighting off infections; a whole specialty (vascular surgery) deals with the complications of that problem in the feet. This is not anything new, and studying the effect of nutrition and overall health on resistance to infectious disease. Where naturopaths go off the deep end is in claiming that good health is enough to ward off infectious disease. You can be a perfectly healthy 20 year old and die of the flu. It happened to millions in the 1918 pandemic, which in the U.S. got its start in Army barracks, where were congregated very healthy 18-22 year old males. You can be perfectly healthy, but if you are exposed to a pathogenic virus or bacteria, you can still come down with a disease that will kill you. It is also not correct to argue, as Dr. Shawn argues, that ill health “attracts” these bacteria. They’re out there. They live on your body; they’re in the environment; just by living you’re exposed to them.

It’s also not true that the flu shot “gives you the flu,” as Dr. Shawn claims in one of his more ignorant statements.

Dr. Shawn also parrots another germ theory denialist argument, frequently found on numerous websites. Specifically, he gives the example of ten people on an elevator with a person with the flu (sometimes it’s a pathogenic bacteria when repeated elsewhere), who’s coughing all over the place. He points out that, although everyone in the elevator was exposed to the flu virus, not everyone gets the flu, as if that were evidence that the germ theory is incorrect! Germ theory denialists seem to think that anything less than a 100% infection rate in people exposed to a pathogenic organism means that that organism doesn’t cause the disease. This is a particularly prominent trait among HIV/AIDS denialists because HIV only causes disease in only a relatively small percentage of people exposed to it once. It’s an example of all-or-nothing thinking that’s so prevalent in promoters of pseudoscience. For example, it’s very much akin to when anti-vaccine zealots in essence argue that if a vaccine doesn’t prevent disease 100% of the time it’s useless, as they so frequently do with, for example, the flu vaccine or the measles vaccine, the latter of which is approximately 90% effective. Sometimes, it leads to arguments like this, where it is argued that pathogenic bacteria are not only not the cause of disease, but they are there to rid the body of disease:

Germs take part in all disease phenomena because these are processes requiring the breaking down or disintegration of accumulated refuse and toxic matter within the body, which the system is endeavouring to throw off. But to assume, as our medical scientists do, that merely because germs are present and active in all disease phenomena, they are therefore the cause of the same diseases, is just as wrong as it would be to assume that because germs are present and active in the decomposition processes connected with all dead organic matter, they are the cause of the death of the organic matter in question. The analogy is absolutely just and fair! And equally ridiculous!

But no one would say that because the decaying body of a dead dog is full of bacteria, the bacteria are the cause of the dog’s death. We know they are there as a part of the natural disintegration process taking place as a result of the death of the dog. And so it is with germs and disease. Germs are a part of the results of disease, not its cause.

Germs are present in disease not as causes, but as superficial helpers brought there by Nature to rid the body of disease. They are the “scavengers” employed by Mother Nature to break up and “bring to a head” the accumulated internal filth of years of unhygienic and unwholesome living, which are clogging the tissues of the body and preventing proper functioning.

While it’s true that there are many bacteria that live as commensal organisms in the colon of each and every human, not to mention the trillions upon trillions of bacteria that live on the skin, the statement is denialist in that it refuses to acknowledge that there are both helpful and very harmful bacteria. To the author, bacteria not only don’t cause disease, but they are what’s trying to eliminate disease. While it is true that there are cases in which the native bacterial flora living on our body “crowd out” pathogenic bacteria and the elimination of that bacterial flora with antibiotics can leave a person susceptible to pathogenic bacteria that are there all along (C. difficile colitis comes to mind), to make such a blanket statement is the sheerest folly.

Still, it doesn’t take very much searching through the “alt-med” parts of the Internet to find all sorts of mind-bogglingly ignorant attacks against Pasteur, for example:

One can’t help but notice that in the last example, a chapter attacking germ theory is the very first chapter in a book on “natural cures.”

Why is germ theory denialism so attractive?

There is little doubt that germ theory denialism is a strain of “thought” (again, if you can call it that, given the logical fallacies, scientific misinformation, and pure stupidity that are associated with it) that undergirds a lot of quackery. The question is: Why? After all, despite its flaws and despite the manner in which microorganisms have become resistant to antibiotics, thanks to our overuse, the germ theory of disease arguably marked the beginning of the scientific revolution in medicine and the birth of science-based medicine. After Pasteur’s popularization of the germ theory of disease, medicine entered a period of remarkable advances that continue to this day. Before Pasteur, there was no unifying theory for infectious disease. After Pasteur, there was, and the success of Pasteur’s theory revolutionized not just medicine but food preparation, particularly the process of Pasteurization of milk and other products, which greatly decreased the chance of illness borne by dairy products and other products that could be treated. Proper surgical antisepsis led to declines in surgical mortality.

I suspect that a large part of the reason that germ theory denialism persists in a range of forms from hardcore belief that Bechamp was right and Pasteur wrong to softer forms that claim that better nutrition and health would be as effective, or more so, than vaccines or antibiotics in preventing and treating disease derives from the very worship of the “natural” that so much of “alt-med” is built upon. If nature is so benevolent, then how could it be that there are microorganisms that will harm or even kill us if they gain a foothold in our bodies? Also, there is a great deal of “Secret”-like mystical thinking in alt-med, making it unsurprising that, if Béchamp were right, that would imply that disease or lack of disease is within us. That further implies that the means of ridding ourselves of disease is also within us through diet, exercise, and whatever activities that promote health we can undertake. This is far more reassuring than the idea that there are microorganisms out there that care nothing for our hopes or activities and are just waiting for an opportunity to attack. It’s far more reassuring to believe that we can have complete control over our health than it is to think that a random twist of fate could inoculate us with microbes that care nothing for any of that.

Death sucks, and nature cares nothing for our wants, beliefs, or desires. Acknowledging the validity of the germ theory of disease involves acknowledging that. It’s more pleasant to live in a fantasy land.

Comments

  1. #1 KWombles
    August 9, 2010

    As I wrote elsewhere, I actually went to high school with Dr. Shawn. When I realized what he now did for a living (he treats autism, along with everything else) using equipment banned in the US, I passed along his website information to my friend Thelma of Even Dumbasses Have Feelings; she did some digging into his woo and wrote it up; I’ve reposted her blog again, which is linked through my name.

  2. #2 jay.sweet
    August 9, 2010

    (I’d also quibble with the inclusion of doctors of osteopathy with chiropractors and naturopaths. These days, most DOs are indistinguishable from MDs in how they practice

    In fairness, he said to ask your DO what she thinks about germ theory — which, depending on the DO might not be terrible advice.

    I basically agree with your point though. Our family doctor is a DO and he is awesome.

  3. #3 Scott_SGG
    August 9, 2010

    Wow, ok, I had no idea this type of denialism existed.
    Here’s the odd thing with this one: As you point out, one of the tenants is, put simply, that a healthier person is *more likely* to ward off *many kinds* of infection. You point it out repeatedly, as would I – it’s probably the single grain of truth. (How healthy and how many kinds is, I’m sure, pretty debatable – and an interesting question)

    The belief creep seems to be
    1) “more likely” becomes “will” and “many kinds” becomes “all”.
    2) Therefore, the well-being of the body is key to not getting sick.

    Here – except for the absoluteness of the statements – it still isn’t a bad conclusion. Do what you can to keep yourself in as good condition as possible.

    BUT THEN:
    3) Since the state of the body has everything to do with not getting ill, the presence of any microbes (bacteria, viruses, um, maggots apparently??) present during an illness have *nothing* to do with sickness.
    4) Why are the microbes present? They’re attracted to the bad state of the body… like maggots to meat. Treating them wont help anything.
    5) Also, the way to a perfectly healthy body (thus being uber-resistant to illness) is to clear it of “toxins” (unspecified) and here’s the powders, etc, to do it (sales website link).

    Here is obviously where it all goes horribly wrong. Also pretty clearly disprovable.

    But this one really has a hook, doesn’t it? I can see why people could fall for it.

    I mean the “terrain” thing is intriguing from a microbial perspective. What amount of break in the skin – if any (I don’t personally know) does a Staph bug need to get a foothold and initiate what will become cellulitis? That’s interesting to me. Would having our skin become 100% resistant to tiny micro-cracks make us less likely to skin-initiated infections? I suppose so, if that is an important factor for S.s.. Does any such ultra-skin method exist? No. End of story.

    I guess the seductiveness of this kind of BS, unlike homeopathy, is that it can start off quite reasonable with it’s initial statements. Then it’s just leading people along with subtle tweaks in words (“some” becomes “all”) and then play with the logic.

    Yrsh! This is depressing.

  4. #4 stripey_cat
    August 9, 2010

    I think the last section may be spot on. I’ve often wondered how they reconcile personal experience (have they never had a lung infection that responded to antibiotics, or an infected scratch that cleared up within hours of pouring TCP over it?) with their beliefs; the emotional reasons you suggest may be enough to overcome the real evidence.

  5. #5 Rene Najera
    August 9, 2010

    They simply deny that natural selection and other mechanisms encompassed in current evolutionary theory are sufficient to acocunt (sic) for the complexity of life and instead postulate that there must be a “designer” guiding evolution.

    My grandmother used to be very much into the 6,000 year-old earth thing until I sat down with her and explained it a little better. While I didn’t go as far as to eliminate God from the equation, I did say to her that there is nothing written to disprove evolution. Just like the earth’s rotation explains the sun rising very well (I used a basketball and a flashlight). I think it’s exactly the complexity of it all that confuses people to the point where they say “screw it” and go with what they believe.

    Remember, not everyone grasps biology like we would like for them to grasp biology. Grandma was no geologist, and didn’t have an education.

    Just saying.

  6. #6 Denice Walter
    August 9, 2010

    Perhaps a substantial portion of alt-med “theorizing” is based on psychological defense mechanisms, as well as black/white, single cause, concretistic thinking: that which is troublesome or frightening can thus be “managed” ( at least in *thought*- “if we can call it that”) by right action, right thinking, force of will, or personal purity. A common theme among woo proselytizers involves the concept that personal actions ( or lack of appropriate actions) are the entire cause of illness, dismissing any randomness. One who eats right, avoids toxins, takes supplements, exercises, and *lives* right will _never_ be a victim of serious illness. A well-known woo-meister estimates that our “true” life span is really about 150- if *only* ( and that’s a big “only”) we follow his “advanced protocols”. Imagine Mike Adams, gleefully hiking across rugged mountain ranges in Ecuador, blazing a trail through the intricately tangled jungle foliage with his *machete*, never fearing a serious cut, abrasion, or mosquito-borne illness , having no need for vaccines or anti-biotics _ever_. He’s *protected*! ( BTW, Mike’s paradisal estate is up for sale @ $695K- see NaturalNews real estate section)

  7. #7 ANB
    August 9, 2010

    Great post, Orac.

  8. #8 augustine
    August 9, 2010

    “In addition to excellent food hygiene practices…”

    You sort of just slipped that in there with the rest of your strawman argument.

    Your argument is really a matter of emphasis.

    “You can be a perfectly healthy 20 year old and die of the flu.”

    You slipped up here good doctor. It would be very very rare for a healthy 20 yo to die from the flu. Who mostly dies from flu or pneumonia? Old or sick people.(BTW the one’s whom the influenza vaccine works the least in)

    What was the terrain in 1918? WWI ring a bell? It’s not 1918 anymore. To refer to that epidemic is a common fear tactic used by pro force mass vaccinators. “ooh, ooh, it could happen at any moment if we don’t vaccinate”. Yes only if we recreate the conditions.

    germ theory= # of pathogens * virulence of pathogen/ resistance of host.

    So if you stick a bunch of healthy people in an unhealthy situation (crowd them in barrack, U-boats, inner city dwellings, etc,), yes the numerator factors can overwhelm the denominator.

    Again just a matter of what you tend to focus on.

    “This is far more reassuring than the idea that there are microorganisms out there that care nothing for our hopes or activities and are just waiting for an opportunity to attack.”

    Precisely the polemic attitude that led to antibiotic resistance. Germs are the enemy and we must wage chemical warfare to rid them all. Pathogens serve no purpose but to kill or be killed.

    Remember the Cutter Labs incident? “The mistake resulted in the production of 120,000 doses of polio vaccine that contained live polio virus. Of the children who received the vaccine, 40,000 developed abortive poliomyelitis , 56 developed paralytic poliomyelitis and of these 5 children died as a result of polio infection.”

    80,000 received the live virus yet did not get polio. Only 56 developed paralytic polio. Not 120,000.

  9. #9 adelady
    August 9, 2010

    “woo proselytizers involves the concept that personal actions ( or lack of appropriate actions) are the entire cause of illness, dismissing any randomness”

    My *very*, very uncharitable view of all this guff is that it is a reversion to primitive modes of thinking. In many societies, when someone dies or crops fail or children fall ill the first reaction is to look for someone, anyone, to blame. Usually it’s someone over the hill or in the next village or an outsider in the community – hence the common accusation of witchcraft.

    In a modern community, it’s now down to all-your-own-fault if you do get ill. If you miss out on the virus that’s bringing down all those around you, then obviously you’re a superior person, not just a lucky one.

    It’s no longer witchcraft, it’s the power of positive thinking to avoid or moral turpitude to suffer from illness.

  10. #10 MikeMa
    August 9, 2010

    Denialism believers, in my experience falls into 2 broad categories:

    The ignorant – unable or unwilling to look at facts because of the depth of knowledge often required to do so.

    The con artists – those who see a pot of gold at the ned of the ignorance rainbow.

    Education may help the former. Ridicule and exclusion from decent society should await the latter.

  11. #11 augustine
    August 9, 2010

    adelady: “In many societies, when someone dies or crops fail or children fall ill the first reaction is to look for someone, anyone, to blame. Usually it’s someone over the hill or in the next village or an outsider in the community – hence the common accusation of witchcraft.”

    Let me give you the SBMers version of paganistic religion.

    ORAC says “This is far more reassuring than the idea that there are microorganisms out there that care nothing for our hopes or activities and are just waiting for an opportunity to attack.”

    SBMer to stupid people : The world is dangerous, random, chaotic, and unpredictable. Here take my pill or vaccine if you want to live. I’ll give you security. Besides you have no choice.

    And so the people comply.

    “It’s far more reassuring to believe that we can have complete control over our health than it is to think that a random twist of fate could inoculate us with microbes that care nothing for any of that.”

    Complete control with vaccines and pills. It’s just a control fight really. People want security and certainty. Doctors sell that. The modern doctor has become what the ancient priest was. A protection mechanism from apathetic nature as opposed to protection from the fickle gods.

    Doctors to the world: Don’t worry it’s not anyone’s fault. Nothing you can do. Just take our latest scientific potions. It’s a crazy unpredictable invisible germ or it’s just genetic. It’s a slave mentality. The mind is the master.

  12. #12 Geodd
    August 9, 2010

    Aw man, so much hate for swamps :(

    I’ll have those people know that swamps are awesome places with an amazing biodiversity

  13. #13 Denice Walter
    August 9, 2010

    @ MikeMa : I suspect that many who espouse and profit from their own woo-entranced self-delusion might fall partially into *both* of your categories: ritualistically practicing what they preach and self-righteously self-congratulating themselves all the way to the bank.

  14. #14 A. Nuran
    August 9, 2010

    I really shouldn’t feed the trolls, but…

    Augustine, are you familiar with the 1918 Killer Flu? It was notable for killing the young and healthy. Quickly. Tens of millions of them.

  15. #15 Dave Ruddell
    August 9, 2010

    I may have misread this part:

    You’ve got eagles floating, you’ve got cold water fish floating in a river.

    Eagles floating in the water doesn’t sound healthy to me.

  16. #16 Dangerous Bacon
    August 9, 2010

    augustine says: “Who mostly dies from flu or pneumonia? Old or sick people.”

    augustine apparently has not been following news about the H1N1 flu, which compared to typical seasonal flu has disproportionately struck children and young adults, many in previously good health. In a study published last summer, 20 to 29-year-olds suffered more deaths from H1N1 worldwide than any other age group.

    More here about H1N1′s toll on younger people here.

    As to the 1918 influenza pandemic, obviously crowded living conditions in the military helped initial disease spread. This did not affect individual “terrain”, contrary to what the Bechampites might believe.

  17. #17 the_leander
    August 9, 2010

    “What was the terrain in 1918? WWI ring a bell? It’s not 1918 anymore.”

    With respect, the 1918 Flu Pandemic was worldwide as far as Pacific Islands and the Arctic and lasted for 2 full years. Last I checked, WW1 was primarily a European war.

    So far I can’t find any conclusive evidence to show a point of origin.

    “Yes only if we recreate the conditions.”

    Wrong. If it weren’t for the rapid response of everyone involved, SARS could well have ended up being this centuries Spanish Flu. Whilst things have improved in terms of access to clean water, bleaches etc. There are different pressures and new vectors that nature’s nasties can take. International flights being a damn fine example.

    Also, thanks to our cleanliness, those few bugs that can survive long enough to be passed on tend to be that bit tougher – evolution in action.

    I hate to break it to you, but:

    “Germs are the enemy and we must wage chemical warfare to rid them all. Pathogens serve no purpose but to kill or be killed.”

    We are in an arms race. So far we’re holding our own, but sooner or later mother nature will cook up something new that we can’t handle.

    And one of the biggest reasons that resistance has increased is because of morons stopping taking their antibiotics the moment they feel better, rather than finishing their course.

  18. #18 Anton P. Nym
    August 9, 2010

    “germ theory= # of pathogens * virulence of pathogen/ resistance of host”

    That is a grotesque oversimplification of germ theory, at best, but even at its worst it’s no refutation of Pasteur or of mass vaccination, given that (in the crude model above) vaccines increase the denominator by stimulating the host’s immune system into building antibodies in advance of contact with virulent pathogens.

    However, immunology and epidemiology are far more sophisticated than a simple line of arithmetic… I suggest that “augustine” look beyond simple algebra and into the modern mathematical fields of probability and statistical analysis.

    (Parallel argument to the “not every polio dose caused an infection” to illustrate the fallacy: some people who were in automobile collisions escaped unharmed, therefor automobile collisions don’t cause fatalities.)

    — Steve

  19. #19 the_leander
    August 9, 2010

    “What was the terrain in 1918? WWI ring a bell? It’s not 1918 anymore.”

    With respect, the 1918 Flu Pandemic was worldwide as far as Pacific Islands and the Arctic and lasted for 2 full years. Last I checked, WW1 was primarily a European war.

    So far I can’t find any conclusive evidence to show a point of origin.

    “Yes only if we recreate the conditions.”

    Wrong. If it weren’t for the rapid response of everyone involved, SARS could well have ended up being this centuries Spanish Flu. Whilst things have improved in terms of access to clean water, bleaches etc. There are different pressures and new vectors that nature’s nasties can take. International flights being a damn fine example.

    Also, thanks to our cleanliness, those few bugs that can survive long enough to be passed on tend to be that bit tougher – evolution in action.

    I hate to break it to you, but:

    “Germs are the enemy and we must wage chemical warfare to rid them all. Pathogens serve no purpose but to kill or be killed.”

    We are in an arms race. So far we’re holding our own, but sooner or later mother nature will cook up something new that we can’t handle.

    And one of the biggest reasons that resistance has increased is because of morons stopping taking their antibiotics the moment they feel better, rather than finishing their course.

  20. #20 the_leander
    August 9, 2010

    Bah, double post, sorry folks.

  21. #21 Science Mom
    August 9, 2010

    “In addition to excellent food hygiene practices…”

    You sort of just slipped that in there with the rest of your strawman argument.

    Your argument is really a matter of emphasis.

    Not at all, it is a matter of appropriating numerous factors involved. It just doesn’t align with your erroneous biases, which you have yet to present an argument for.

    “You can be a perfectly healthy 20 year old and die of the flu.”

    You slipped up here good doctor. It would be very very rare for a healthy 20 yo to die from the flu. Who mostly dies from flu or pneumonia? Old or sick people.(BTW the one’s whom the influenza vaccine works the least in)

    What was the terrain in 1918? WWI ring a bell? It’s not 1918 anymore. To refer to that epidemic is a common fear tactic used by pro force mass vaccinators. “ooh, ooh, it could happen at any moment if we don’t vaccinate”. Yes only if we recreate the conditions.

    You have clearly not read anything about the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, nor the recent H1N1 pandemic. Again, you are relying upon what you have led yourself to believe rather than look at the stats and pathology. Host immune response to the pathogens led to a ‘cytokine storm’, in simple terms, that led to high case fatalities in young cohorts. Tell me, how is that a function of ‘recreating the conditions”?

    germ theory= # of pathogens * virulence of pathogen/ resistance of host.

    So if you stick a bunch of healthy people in an unhealthy situation (crowd them in barrack, U-boats, inner city dwellings, etc,), yes the numerator factors can overwhelm the denominator.

    Again just a matter of what you tend to focus on.

    You keep using that equation. I do not think it means what you think it means. By the age of 15, more than 99% of American children were seropositive for measles in the pre-vaccine era. Measles has an infectivity value of close to one, the ‘terrain’ does not matter. Congenital rubella syndrome actually increased when living conditions improved. Such real-life examples belie your fanatical convictions.

    “This is far more reassuring than the idea that there are microorganisms out there that care nothing for our hopes or activities and are just waiting for an opportunity to attack.”

    Precisely the polemic attitude that led to antibiotic resistance. Germs are the enemy and we must wage chemical warfare to rid them all. Pathogens serve no purpose but to kill or be killed.

    Strawman.

    Remember the Cutter Labs incident? “The mistake resulted in the production of 120,000 doses of polio vaccine that contained live polio virus. Of the children who received the vaccine, 40,000 developed abortive poliomyelitis , 56 developed paralytic poliomyelitis and of these 5 children died as a result of polio infection.”

    80,000 received the live virus yet did not get polio. Only 56 developed paralytic polio. Not 120,000.

    What does this have to do with the topic at hand? Other than to demonstrate germ theory and Koch’s postulates.

  22. #22 Lawrence
    August 9, 2010

    augie, augie, augie – no one here is saying that healthy living (through exercise, hygiene, and nutrition) isn’t an extremely important part of a the survival profile.

    But, there have been plenty of instances of broader diseases (such as the 1918 – 1919 Flu) that adversely effect even those with healthy immune responses (and there is a pretty good theory that it was the healthy immune response that actually killed people).

    It has been our access to antibiotics, vaccines, etc that has allowed plenty of individuals to survive diseases that would have otherwise killed them or led to some kind of long term disability (though this does still occur).

    Again, I’m really not sure what augie is proposing in lieu of our current system. I’m sure there has to be a manifesto out there or something (otherwise, he/she only continues to blow hot air).

    I would recommend a reading of “The Great Influenza” by John Barry. It not only goes into great detail on the actual pandemic, but it also speaks towards the development of current medical science (as opposed to the woo that existed before).

  23. #23 Arabidopsis
    August 9, 2010

    What’s with all the swamp hate? Swamps are not “full of life?” Molds, algae, snakes and insects might be stinky and irritating forms of life, but so is my co-worker and I’m pretty sure he is alive. These guys have such a weird view of nature. The way they oversimplify everything misses some of the most interesting complexities of biology.

  24. #24 Cory
    August 9, 2010

    You can be 20 years old and seemingly perfectly healthy and die from Ebola. It doesn’t matter how sterile your environment, how hygenic your routines, or how healthy your diet. You get Ebola and there’s a very good chance you’re good as dead, without medical intervention.

  25. #25 Lawrence
    August 9, 2010

    Of course, there is now a vaccine for Ebola (though still in the experimental stages – it shows great promise).

  26. #26 Todd W.
    August 9, 2010

    So far as I can surmise, based on its postings, augustine has no alternative explanations to offer up. No other way of thinking that we should do. Its aim is merely, it seems, to argue a contrarian viewpoint, using whatever logical fallacies it deems useful to distort and distract from its lack of any coherent, thoughtful, valid alternative.

  27. #27 ChrisKid
    August 9, 2010

    Germ theory denial seems to be a secular version of ‘prosperity gospel’. Instead of believing that if one has enough faith, demonstrated of course by doing all the right religious things and carrying the right attitude, God will bless with money and happiness, it has translated into the idea that if one just eats the right foods, does the right exercise, and has a positive outlook, one will never get sick.
    As was said earlier, it’s a superstitious way of staying in control, in a world where that’s pretty impossible most of the time.

  28. #28 aqua
    August 9, 2010

    Gah! As a historian of medicine, I am most deeply annoyed at alternative-medicine types who justify their beliefs through a misreading of history. I often hear things like: “in the past people didn’t die of cancer” (?!?!) and “my great grandfather and his generation lived to be 100 because they were only eating organic food” (!!)

  29. #29 Science Mom
    August 9, 2010

    ToddW@26, that about sums augie up. I have yet to hear of any alternatives from him/her.

  30. #30 augustine
    August 9, 2010

    Bacon: “augustine apparently has not been following news about the H1N1 flu, which compared to typical seasonal flu has disproportionately struck children and young adults, many in previously good health.”

    “disproportionately”. That is a relative comparison. The fact is that most people were compromised.

    Objectivity, please. If using a microscope on the statistics in order to manipulate them and induce fear in a target population is your cup of tea then so be it. I nearly spit my coffee out when Kathleen Sebelius used that statistic in Congress and was challenged by Dr. Phil Gingrey on the exploitation of it.

  31. #31 cervantes
    August 9, 2010

    There is actually a very simple explanation for this denialism. These people do not have medical degrees or licenses. Only licensed M.D.s can prescribe antibiotics and even vaccines can only be delivered by RNs under medical supervision.

    But these folks want to charge for their own services and sell their books and enjoy the prestige that comes with claiming to be a physician of some sort. But they don’t want to do the very hard work required to become a real doctor, and/or they couldn’t have gotten into medical school anyway.

    Ergo, they make up this bullshit. It’s all business. Not hard to understand.

  32. #32 augustine
    August 9, 2010

    Todd: “So far as I can surmise, based on its postings, augustine has no alternative explanations to offer up.”

    Are you sincerely earnest in your request of my “alternative explanation”. Why do you want to hear it? Are you open to another perspective? No. Your explanation works perfect for you. There is no reason for any alternative explanation because the one you have works and is your truth.

    You want to know because you want to attack. Not because you want to understand. That is the nature of a skeptic not a scientist.

    Your argument of “there’s nothing better” doesn’t make what you say true.

  33. #33 Bronze Dog
    August 9, 2010

    What’s with all the swamp hate? Swamps are not “full of life?” Molds, algae, snakes and insects might be stinky and irritating forms of life, but so is my co-worker and I’m pretty sure he is alive. These guys have such a weird view of nature. The way they oversimplify everything misses some of the most interesting complexities of biology.

    Swamps are bad because they don’t fall in line with the Di$ney model of nature. You know, nature’s supposed to be full of fields of flowers and cute twittering birds. Snakes and non-butterfly bugs are plagues caused by the encroachment of human civilization.

  34. #34 Sastra
    August 9, 2010

    I wonder if part of the reason people find the idea that “germs cannot attack a healthy body” so reasonable, is that this sounds very much like the sort of thing most of us heard from our mothers when we were very young. Wear a coat, or you’ll get sick. Eat your vegetables, or you’ll get sick. Stay out of the rain, or you’ll get sick. Take your vitamin, or you’ll get sick. If you get sick it’s your own fault for not taking care of yourself. Listen to your mother.

    Perhaps our instinctive view of disease was formed not just on the biases of a brain that takes simple essentialist shortcuts — but on very early conditioning. We internalized the message in a way that’s very hard to budge.

  35. #35 Bronze Dog
    August 9, 2010

    I wonder if part of the reason people find the idea that “germs cannot attack a healthy body” so reasonable, is that this sounds very much like the sort of thing most of us heard from our mothers when we were very young. Wear a coat, or you’ll get sick. Eat your vegetables, or you’ll get sick. Stay out of the rain, or you’ll get sick. Take your vitamin, or you’ll get sick. If you get sick it’s your own fault for not taking care of yourself. Listen to your mother.

    Perhaps our instinctive view of disease was formed not just on the biases of a brain that takes simple essentialist shortcuts — but on very early conditioning. We internalized the message in a way that’s very hard to budge.

    Interesting thought. It probably doesn’t help that such “wisdom” includes dramatic, catastrophic thinking. “Tie your shoes, or you’ll trip and break your neck!” It’s bad enough that we’re predisposed to looking at risk in terms of dramatic examples, rather than simple probability. We don’t need cultural reinforcement on top of that.

    That’s why we get reckless drivers who are more concerned about shark attacks at the beach than getting into an accident on the way to the beach.

  36. #36 Pablo
    August 9, 2010

    Sastra – this reminds me, I was listening to a Bill Cosby routine the other day, and he was talking about how his wife thinks that if the kid is wearing 1944 coats (that is the actual number he said) when they go outside, then they won’t get a cold.

    He missed the real punchline, which is, “Until they take them off when they get to the daycare”

    Offspring the Elder didn’t start going to daycare until he was more than 1 year old. Before that, he stayed home with mom and/or dad all the time. When he did start going to daycare, however, he would no more than look at the door to the place that he’d catch some bug that would cause a fever (usually with an ear infection) that would send him home. Moreover, he was only going part time so he’d heal up, go back, and do it all again. That was the process for about 6 months.

  37. #37 augustine
    August 9, 2010

    Perhaps our instinctive view of disease was formed not just on the biases of a brain that takes simple essentialist shortcuts — but on very early conditioning. We internalized the message in a way that’s very hard to budge.

    Exactly the Modus Operandi for the medicalization of society.
    An indoctrination of the mind. From womb to tomb.

    It’s all focused on disease.

  38. #38 Shasta
    August 9, 2010

    Perhaps some of our anti-germ theory, super-nutritious eating, uber-healthy-supplement-gulping-never-gonna-get-sick advocates would like to demonstrate the truth of their germs-don’t-cause-disease theory by snorting up a few grams of anthrax?

  39. #39 gpmtrixie
    August 9, 2010

    Daycare is an excellent place to test and build the immune system. If yours is like mine, Pablo, he/she will never miss a day of real school (K and beyond), or only a very few.

    I really dislike this “if you live/eat/exercise right, you won’t get sick” thing, because the corollary is that if you do fall ill, it’s your own damn fault. Horrible thing to say to someone who’s struck with cancer, West Nile, or other bad diseases.

  40. #40 Vicki
    August 9, 2010

    Can anyone explain to me why germ theory denialists harp on antibiotic resistance?

    Antibiotic resistance is relevant only in situations where antibiotics are relevant. (For example, it’s not an issue if the problem is a viral infection or an inherited disease.) If someone thinks bacteria are harmless or irrelevant, why do they care that some bacteria have become hard to kill? If they really believe their theory, antibiotic resistance should be about as relevant to their discussions of medicine as Bonnie Prince Charlie.

  41. #41 Pablo
    August 9, 2010

    Interesting thought. It probably doesn’t help that such “wisdom” includes dramatic, catastrophic thinking. “Tie your shoes, or you’ll trip and break your neck!”

    “We’re going to get sued and lose the goddamn house” – (Comedian) Bob Marley

  42. #42 Sid Offit
    August 9, 2010

    @17
    “Germs are the enemy and we must wage chemical warfare to rid them all. Pathogens serve no purpose but to kill or be killed.”

    Really?
    —————————-
    http://www.actionbioscience.org/biodiversity/wassenaar.html
    Without bacteria we would not survive. They help us digest our food, produce vitamins, and occupy niches that would otherwise be available for competing pathogens.

  43. #43 Ray Moscow
    August 9, 2010

    I suppose these delusions are popular for several reasons, among them the illusion that one has control over disease by doing the “right things”. There is a bit of truth to that idea, but only a bit. Disease strikes even those who do all the “right things”.

  44. #44 Pablo
    August 9, 2010

    Disease strikes even those who do all the “right things”.

    I think most of us would agree that the real problem is not the claim that living healthy helps protect against disease, but the implication that if you do get some disease, it was because you “weren’t living healthy.”

  45. #45 T. Bruce McNeely
    August 9, 2010

    @Sid:

    You obviously don’t know the meaning of “pathogen”.

  46. #46 Chris
    August 9, 2010

    Sid is right. Our bodies have more bacteria than cells, and many are necessary, which probably freak out germaphobes. On a recent This Week in Virology episode there was a discussion that some viruses are also important.

    Swamps were associated with bad air (gasses produced by plant decomposition), they were the source of the mosquitoes spreading the protozoa that cause malaria. So there was some truth. Except they do form a very important part of the ecosystem. They absorb and filter water running off of the uplands, and are nurseries to many animals.

  47. #47 Chris
    August 9, 2010

    (Okay, I missed where he was quoting “pathogens”… but it still stands that there are bacteria we need, and sometimes they will turn on us like the infections we get from the bacteria that live on our skin, or if something like unfamiliar bacteria in water while traveling disrupts our gut flora giving us tourista)

  48. #48 augustine
    August 9, 2010

    SM:

    Host immune response to the pathogens led to a ‘cytokine storm’, in simple terms, that led to high case fatalities in young cohorts. Tell me, how is that a function of ‘recreating the conditions”?”

    —————-
    I guess we just don’t have enough “healthy people as we did in 1918. That cytokine storm would’ve surely wiped us all out.
    Lesson that health authorities wanted us to hear and that Science Mommy took to heart: Don’t trust your body. It will attack and kill you at any random moment. Preemptive strike by the CDC and AAP is the only answer. Vaccinate or die. No one is immune. Especially mommy’s and babies.

    Science mommy, stick to homeschooling. You’ll have more influence with your arguments there.

    I wonder how that virus knows the sex and age. Some imply that it knows ethnicity too. Pertusiss can target hispanics from miles away yet leave a non-hispanc child beside it completely alone. Jlo says so.
    —————
    SM : “By the age of 15, more than 99% of American children were seropositive for measles in the pre-vaccine era.”
    ————-
    You like that stat I gave you? How about this one that you forget about. 99.9999+% of those will not have permanent sequelae. And guess what? They are immune for life. No lifetime cdc approved bosters needed. Awesome!

    I guess you can’t a sell a vaccine to just a couple of hundred parents though. You gotta go BIG. BILLIONS BIG. But you gotta make them think they need it. Stats alone won’t do it. You gotta have campaigns. Posters, ads, TV commercials, etc. BTW that’s called propaganda there Science Mommy.
    —————–
    “Strawman”

    Really? Tell that to the poster who said we were in an arms race against microbes and it was only a matter of time before they got us.
    ———————–
    “What does this have to do with the topic at hand?”

    The fact that the Germ LAW is a theory. Yes germs can cause disease in certain conditions. In 80,000 people those “conditions” didn’t exist. hence the germ did not cause disease. Why did some get abortive polio and 56 were paralyzed yet 80,000 got no clinical disease? Please just tell me it was the scientific “G” word. Genetics. That’ll really explain it.

  49. #49 Dangerous Bacon
    August 9, 2010

    “It’s not 1918 anymore.”

    It’s not 1818 either, but it’s sometimes hard to tell from listening to the alt med denialists and worshipers of outmoded and discarded medical theories and treatments.

    Homeopathy continues to have adherents, people use colloidal silver as a cure-all, folk remedies like cider vinegar are good for whatever ails you…the list goes on.

    It’s one of the pillars of woo – the old folks knew how to stay healthy (when they weren’t dying of burst appendices and “blood poisoning) and ate wonderful organic food (when they weren’t dying of malnutrition or sickened by heavy metal pesticides or the processes used to preserve meats, such as smoking).

    Beyond misplaced nostalgia, sometimes the only reason for embracing this nonsense seems to be that modern medicine rejects it.

  50. #50 Sid Offit
    August 9, 2010

    @Chris

    OK, lets leave out the pathogen part since it’s irrelevant:

    Germs are the enemy and we must wage chemical warfare to rid them ALL.

  51. #51 Chris
    August 9, 2010

    Sid, which is silly. Oddly enough, in the back of Michael Crichton’s book Andromeda Strain were descriptions of what happened when volunteers did get rid of all their bacteria. It was not pretty (this is from memory, I read it over thirty five year ago and no longer have a copy around).

  52. #52 augustine
    August 9, 2010

    I guess if they just had enough vaccines and antibiotics in the dark ages then disease would be no more prevalent than today.

    Screw the swamp like conditions. Just throw chlorine in it.

    I don’t personally know of anyone who believes that germs cannot cause a disease under any cirumstance.

    I’m not a denialist in the sense that many on here would label (for propaganda purposes of course). I just choose to focus heavily on the “resistance” of the host part of the equation.

  53. #53 Michael
    August 9, 2010

    Again, augustine, what about rabies? Do you how many healthy people die from rabies?

  54. #54 augustine
    August 9, 2010

    “Again, augustine, what about rabies? Do you how many healthy people die from rabies?”

    Well, go get a rabies vaccine. Or a valium.

  55. #55 Science Mom
    August 9, 2010

    SM:

    Host immune response to the pathogens led to a ‘cytokine storm’, in simple terms, that led to high case fatalities in young cohorts. Tell me, how is that a function of ‘recreating the conditions”?”

    —————-
    I guess we just don’t have enough “healthy people as we did in 1918. That cytokine storm would’ve surely wiped us all out.
    Lesson that health authorities wanted us to hear and that Science Mommy took to heart: Don’t trust your body. It will attack and kill you at any random moment. Preemptive strike by the CDC and AAP is the only answer. Vaccinate or die. No one is immune. Especially mommy’s and babies.

    You’re revealing your psychopathy more and more, not to mention your utter ignorance of pathogenesis and well, even basic biology. “Trust your body” is a vapid MDCism if I ever heard one and it isn’t about ‘trusting your body’, nor has anyone made the proclamation of vaccinate or die. That is a machination of the paranoid delusions that your ilk have in order to fabricate an enemy. Pathogens are not predictable, neither is host response. Prevention for some is preferable.

    Science mommy, stick to homeschooling. You’ll have more influence with your arguments there.

    A complete non-sequitur, I can hear those hinges squeaking.

    I wonder how that virus knows the sex and age. Some imply that it knows ethnicity too. Pertusiss can target hispanics from miles away yet leave a non-hispanc child beside it completely alone. Jlo says so.

    Good grief that is stupid and vile. You are an asset to your ‘side’ augie.

    SM : “By the age of 15, more than 99% of American children were seropositive for measles in the pre-vaccine era.”
    ————-
    You like that stat I gave you? How about this one that you forget about. 99.9999+% of those will not have permanent sequelae. And guess what? They are immune for life. No lifetime cdc approved bosters needed. Awesome!

    I guess you can’t a sell a vaccine to just a couple of hundred parents though. You gotta go BIG. BILLIONS BIG. But you gotta make them think they need it. Stats alone won’t do it. You gotta have campaigns. Posters, ads, TV commercials, etc. BTW that’s called propaganda there Science Mommy.

    Your stat is incorrect, using it repeatedly does not make it so. You are also dodging the point, which was that you, as a germ theory denialist can’t account for the fact that entire birth cohorts became infected with measles by the time they were 15 years old. You, as a germ theory denialist can’t account for the increase in CRS as a result of better living conditions. Oh, and it is more and more probable that a single measles, mumps and rubella infection did not confer life-long immunity, that periodic re-exposure was required to maintain immunity. I’ll take a couple of jabs.

    “Strawman”

    Really? Tell that to the poster who said we were in an arms race against microbes and it was only a matter of time before they got us.

    A Tu Quoque to answer a strawman; you’re just full of win.

    “What does this have to do with the topic at hand?”

    The fact that the Germ LAW is a theory. Yes germs can cause disease in certain conditions. In 80,000 people those “conditions” didn’t exist. hence the germ did not cause disease. Why did some get abortive polio and 56 were paralyzed yet 80,000 got no clinical disease? Please just tell me it was the scientific “G” word. Genetics. That’ll really explain it.

    Wrong, in those people, they were exposed to the pathogen and there are numerous factors, such as infectious dose and prior exposure that account for why some did not exhibit and others did to varying degree.

    Keep digging, I can now see that you are a proponent of eugenics as well as being ignorant of basic science.

  56. #56 T. Bruce McNeely
    August 9, 2010

    OK, lets leave out the pathogen part since it’s irrelevant:

    Face, meet palm.

  57. #57 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    August 9, 2010

    “The fact that the Germ LAW is a theory.”

    Who, apart from the hopelessly incompetent Augie, would call the germ theory a law? And how many here, besides Augie here, have no understanding of what theory means in a scientific context?

    And – anybody want to tell Augie here why ‘just throwing chlorine’ into a swamp wouldn’t sort out the issue of conditions like swamps?

  58. #58 Todd W.
    August 9, 2010

    Y’know, every time I see augie or its like toss statistics around, I can’t help but think that if there were laws protecting the welfare of statistics, making their abuse illegal, that augie, et al., would be locked up for numerous counts.

  59. #59 augustinea
    August 9, 2010

    You’re full of conjecture, Science Mommy.

  60. #60 cooler
    August 9, 2010

    germ theory denialism is bad. therefore please describe the experiments that proved hiv was lethal that justified the nas and iom recommending 1 billion for hiv funding in 1986, the blood transfusing inducing drug azt being approved in 1987 and magic johnson getting a death sentance by society in 1991. Our world was terrified with a new plague in the late 80′s and early 90′s please decsribe the experiments that proved HIV’s causality that justfied the massive public health measures above.

    In the early 90′s another plauge came to us , hepatitis c, please describe the experiments that prove hepatitis c is pathogenic in its own right.

  61. #61 Rene Najera
    August 9, 2010

    Question, and be honest in answering: Why, oh, why do you feed the trolls? You all know that Augustine (if that is indeed his name), and Sid Offit (if that is indeed his name, because I doubt he’s the Baltimore journalist from the 1950′s)… You all know that they know better. They get their vaccines and see their doctors. They’re knowledgeable of science and the scientific method. You guys know this. Why do you keep feeding the trolls?

    None, not one of their contributions to this blog have been productive. They’re out to get you guys in a never-ending loop of bullshit. Leave them alone… Systematically ignore them, and we’ll all be better for it.

  62. #62 Vicki
    August 9, 2010

    Magic Johnson has not gotten a “death sentence by society”: he has, among other things, built a movie theater in Harlem. In what world is “popular, successful businessman” a death sentence, literal or metaphoric?

  63. #63 Todd W.
    August 9, 2010

    @Rene Najera

    None, not one of their contributions to this blog have been productive.

    Au contraire. Their contributions have produced a lot of quality rebuttals pointing out not only where they have made gross errors of fact, but also they serve as excellent examples of logical fallacies. Why, sometimes they even combine three or more in a single post!

  64. #64 cooler
    August 9, 2010

    Magic johnson did receive a death sentence by society in 1991 and received high doses of AZT that was approved in 1987, Describe the experiments that proved HIV’s pathogenic role that justified azt’s release in 1987 and Magic being given a bleak fatal prognosis in 1991.

  65. #65 augustine
    August 9, 2010

    DavidN Andrews M.D. PhD.M. Ed., C. P. S. E. L.M.N.O.P. : “And – anybody want to tell Augie here why ‘just throwing chlorine’ into a swamp wouldn’t sort out the issue of conditions like swamps?”

    Precisely!

  66. #66 LW
    August 9, 2010

    Todd W, you just had to mention augie and its like, didn’t you? And now we’ve got its like, cooler.

  67. #67 Todd W.
    August 9, 2010

    Methinks cooler might want to brush up on the history of AZT. In particular, the group that was demanding its rapid approval. (Hint: It wasn’t the general public or the manufacturer.)

  68. #68 Vicki
    August 9, 2010

    Cooler–

    As long as we’re giving instructions in the imperative: Please enroll in an accredited university and get a degree in biochemistry. While you’re there, get the university librarians to show you how to do library and internet searches.

  69. #69 augustine
    August 9, 2010

    Todd : “Y’know, every time I see augie or its like toss statistics around, I can’t help but think that if there were laws protecting the welfare of statistics, making their abuse illegal, that augie, et al., would be locked up for numerous counts.”

    You don’t like it when a fact messes up your ideology? Therefore it’s not a fact then? I thought evidence was evidence? Is it not? Oh I see.

  70. #70 cooler
    August 9, 2010

    One of the reasons Azt was approved rapidly because the public was terroized with a new plague in the mid 80′s and the drug companies wanted to cash in on the panic. Describe the experiments that proved hiv causality that justified the government having a press conference in 1984 that the probable cause of aids was hiv, the nas and the iom in a book called “confronting aids” saying 1 billion in funding was needed to combat hiv and to be able wage a massive media blitz in 1986, azt’s approval in 1987 and magic being given a bleak fatal prognosis by doctors in 1991.

  71. #71 cooler
    August 9, 2010

    vicki if you’re too dumb to describe experiments to back up your beliefs than please return your degree, its useless. You are no different than the snake oil peddlers you pretend to criticize, both of you people have one thing in common, the inability to describe any compelling experiments to back up your beliefs.

  72. #72 augustine
    August 9, 2010

    Vicki: “Can anyone explain to me why germ theory denialists harp on antibiotic resistance?”

    You’re confused because of all of the strawman arguments your supposed critical thinking brothers have put forth.

  73. #73 Poogles
    August 9, 2010

    “None, not one of their contributions to this blog have been productive. They’re out to get you guys in a never-ending loop of bullshit. Leave them alone… Systematically ignore them, and we’ll all be better for it.”

    I will have to respectfully disagree. Most of my learning (which changed me from anti-vaccine to pro-vacc!) happened in the comments. Orac’s posts are wonderful sources of information, of course, but the back and forth in the comments has always gone much further in helping me to grasp the concepts and spot errors in logic. While I also get fed-up with the trolls, I very much appreciate all the patient, knowledgeable commenters here who craft detailed rebuttals with evidence – it is invaluable to me (and others, I’m sure).

    Thank you again to all here who take the time to explain these concepts and science in general.

  74. #74 Matthew Cline
    August 9, 2010

    That certain infectious diseases are contagious and somehow spread from person to person or from other sources is so obvious that various explanations of how this could happen held sway over many centuries.

    That’s what amazes me about hard-core germ theory denialists, especially when you factor in the modern understanding of epidemiology. Bubonic plague, smallpox, and so on weren’t contagious? That takes some serious denial.

    (Not that I’m convinced that “soft” germ theory denialism is actually denialism of germ theory)

    Béchamp further postulated that bacteria arose from structures that he called microzymas, which to him referred to a class of enzymes. Béchamp postulated microzymas are normally present in tissues and that their effects depended upon the cellular terrain.

    It goes a bit further than that. According to Béchamp, microzymas are immortal and indestructible, and under the right circumstances naked microzymas could form bacteria. For instance, he claims that he found naked microzymas in limestone, broke up (or dissolved) some limestone in sterile circumstances, and later there were bacteria.

    Also, I’m not sure if this was originated by Béchamp or someone building on his theories, but part of pleomorphic theory is that, in addition to bacteria turning into other bacteria, bacteria can turn into fungi. That’s right, not only can the terrain cause changes in a microorganism’s species, but in it’s kingdom.

    In most texts and sources that I’ve read, the germ theory of disease is stated something like, “Many diseases are caused by microorganisms.”

    For some people who say that germ theory is wrong, I think some people interpret this as “germs are the distal cause of many diseases”, rather than “germs are the proximate cause of many diseases”. Others, for whatever reason, interpret “germs causes many diseases” as meaning “exposure to germs will cause an infection”. It might be better to phrase the germ theory as something like “there are contagious diseases, which are spread via germs”.

    @cooler:

    Jeez, cooler, do you have to derail every discussion about infectious diseases into a discussion about HIV/AIDS?

  75. #75 Todd W.
    August 9, 2010

    @cooler

    History fail. The ones that were clamoring for the rapid approval of AZT were not the manufacturer, nor the general public. Rather, individuals with AIDS had heard about the development of AZT and heard of some of the preliminary results from clinical trials. They felt that the FDA was needlessly holding up what was potentially a life-saving drug for the treatment of AIDS (whether or not HIV caused AIDS was not really big in the discussion, as AZT was meant to treat AIDS itself, not the cause, HIV). FDA rushed approval for the drug before the full safety profile was evidence from clinical trials in response to the call from AIDS patients.

    As to evidence that HIV causes AIDS, there is no single study that proves it. However, the totality of the literature lends enough weight to the hypothesis that we can reasonably conclude that HIV does, in fact, cause AIDS. Here is a good site discussing the evidence.

    Now. What is your evidence that HIV does not cause AIDS?

  76. #76 Matthew Cline
    August 9, 2010

    @augustine:

    Some questions you haven’t answered from previous posts:

    From the time the smallpox vaccine was first invented, to the time that smallpox was eliminated from the wild, did there exist any person for whom the risk/benefit ratio of the vaccine made it a rational decision for that person to take the vaccine?

    ———-

    If you were to be so unfortunate as to be bitten by a rabid animal, would you take the post-exposure rabies vaccine series?

    ———-

    Finding that a certain organism under certain conditions can cause a disease is a scientific endeavor.

    Coming up with a chemical that opposes the organism is engineering.

    Applying that chemical to humans while trying to cause the least amount of short term let alone long term damage to the recipient is ….less than scientific.

    When you say “less than scientific”, do you mean irrational or illogical? If so, why is it illogical/irrational? If not, what do you mean?

    Also, all medicines have a chance of causing adverse reactions. Is there something special about antibiotics and antivirals that they shouldn’t, or do you have the same problem with all medicines?

    ——-

    From mulling over your previous comments, I think I’ve got a grasp on what you’re saying, which I’ll attempt paraphrase. Please correct me if I’m wrong (or if I leave out any details):

    For large populations, we can figure out the risk of catching a certain contagious disease, the risk that the disease will cause death (or other permanent harm), the chance that the vaccine will be effective, and the chance that the vaccine will cause averse affects (including death). However, for an individual, all of those chances are very likely to be different. For any one individual, those chances are unknown, and thus for any one individual the risk/benefit ratio of taking the vaccine is undefined. But risk/benefit analysis is the only method one could use to make a rational decision to take a vaccine. Thus, if one decides to take a vaccine, the only possibly reasons for taking the vaccine must be irrational.

    … Unless you could see into the future and tell if that individual will catch that disease and suffer permanent damage, and if s/he will have an adverse reaction to the vaccine. With an undefined risk/benefit ratio, that’s the only way that taking a vaccine could be a rational decision. Hence, you calling vaccination “prophetic medicine”.

  77. #77 Calli Arcale
    August 9, 2010

    If AZT is supposed to cause AIDS, my big question is what the conspiracy mongers thought was causing the AIDS cases that made people want AZT in the first place? It seems like an obvious chicken-and-egg problem (AZT causes AIDS symptoms, but there is no demand for AZT without people being afraid of AIDS symptoms — you can’t introduce the AIDS-causing drug unless you are already giving the AIDS-causing drug, so how does AIDS ever happen in that situation? it’s like a grandfather paradox almost).

    Do the conspiracy mongers seriously think nobody got AIDS before HIV treatments such as AZT were introduced? If so, how do they explain people being sufficiently afraid of AIDS to try the stuff? I realize some are wacko enough to believe in a massive conspiracy that could’ve faked the early cases, but most AIDS deniers aren’t that wacko, and that’s not the usual common theme. Used to be, the conspiracy was that HIV was invented by the government to control populations or some other nonsense. Now it’s that HIV is entirely natural or not even real, and AZT causes AIDS. WTF?

  78. #78 cooler
    August 9, 2010

    todd w, wring, you are a liar if you don’t think the fact that the public was terrorized with a new plague by the goverment (CDC etc) didn’t play a huge role in AZT’s release in 1987.

    Now as to that website you spammed describe the experiments from that website that justified the government saying the probable cause of aids was hiv in 1984, the IOM saying 1 billion should be spent a massive media terror campaign about the hiv epidemic in 1986, the blood transfuser azt being approved in 1987 and Magic being given a death sentence in 1991. There is no point in spamming a website if you have not read it, prove you’ve read the website you spammed and describe the experiments that justified the massive public health measures listed above.

  79. #79 cooler
    August 9, 2010

    Cali are you stupid, some of the very first 41 aids cases in the early 80′s as reported by the ny times were all hard core drug addicts from the fast track bathhouses that came down with Kaposis sarcoma probably caused by the inhalation of nitrite inhalents.

  80. #80 Cory Meyer
    August 9, 2010

    According to science historian Michael Shermer, “Who has to prove what to whom? The person making the extraordinary claim has the burden of proving to the experts and to the community at large that his or her belief has more validity than the one almost everyone else accepts. You have to lobby for your opinion to be heard. Then you have to marshal experts on your side so you can convince the majority to support your claim over the one that they have always supported. Finally, when you are in the majority, the burden of proof switches to the outsider who wants to challenge you with his or her unusual claim.”

    I do believe augustine, cooler, and all other germ theory deniers/conspiracy mongers hold the burden of proof.

  81. #81 feralboy12
    August 9, 2010

    Personally, I think Dr. Shawn would be very convincing if only he had a nicer labcoat.
    One of the most common “thinking mistakes” that woo believers and non-scientists make is to carry their cute little analogies too far. I’m reminded of all those people who smoked dope in the 60′s and 70′s and decided the atoms in their bodies were actually little solar systems with little tiny life-bearing planets.

  82. #82 mikerattlesnake
    August 9, 2010

    Ah, augustine does have a better method than SBM, he just doesn’t want to tell us about it because it’s a secret, and besides we already have SBM, so why would we want to clutter up our little minds with two different methods. I mean, nevermind all his clammoring on here about the insufficiencies of SBM that might cause a body to wonder what his alternative is so we could apply the same degree of skepticism. It’s totally not that it would stand up to that level of scrutiny as well as a tower from an advanced round of jenga in a hurricane or anything… totally.

  83. #83 mikerattlesnake
    August 9, 2010

    @cooler

    quit begging the question and tell us what you believe in no uncertain terms so we can skip the 20 questions guesswork phase and get right to the open mockery.

  84. #84 Kelly
    August 9, 2010

    Cooler: you probably won’t like the link because it’s a government site but a clear explanation of the connection of HIV to AIDS is provided on NIAID’s site. (National Institute for Infectious Disease and Allergies)
    There is also a primer on the immune system

    I watched an episode of Wife Swap (yeah I know hall of shame and all that…) One side of the equation were raw food and live independent of society types. The husband said to the visiting wife “You don’t think God would make something that would harm us do you?”
    …..?!!??…..
    They truly believed that cleaning was bad and that there was no risk in eating raw food. I will say they have a point that they know exactly where their food is coming from and that it is fresh. But….to think there is nothing living on earth that would harm a human….srsly??

  85. #85 Calli Arcale
    August 9, 2010

    cooler:

    Cali are you stupid, some of the very first 41 aids cases in the early 80′s as reported by the ny times were all hard core drug addicts from the fast track bathhouses that came down with Kaposis sarcoma probably caused by the inhalation of nitrite inhalents.

    Congratulations! You are indeed familiar with history! Perhaps you might share that information with those who claim that AIDS is just side-effects of AZT? They, after all, do not seem to think AIDS predated the release of AZT.

    You’re an old-school AIDS denialist. (Please, do not take the term as a pejorative; I use it to mean someone who denies that HIV causes AIDS, as you clearly do.) I’m expressing my disbelief at the new-school ones who deny history as well by claiming that AIDS is simply a side-effect of AZT. Most of them are not conspiracy theorists of any kind but are peddling some sort of alternative treatment (thus, their incentive is usually just simple greed).

  86. #86 Matthew Cline
    August 9, 2010

    @cooler

    quit begging the question and tell us what you believe in no uncertain terms so we can skip the 20 questions guesswork phase and get right to the open mockery.

    Yes, cooler, it would be a lot more conductive to discussion if you’d say something like “the experiments claiming to show that [HIV causes AIDS/hepatitis C is pathogenic] are flawed because of [list of reasons]“.

  87. #87 augustine
    August 9, 2010

    @Matthew Cline #73

    “From the time the smallpox vaccine was first invented, to the time that smallpox was eliminated from the wild, did there exist any person for whom the risk/benefit ratio of the vaccine made it a rational decision for that person to take the vaccine?”

    ———-

    Did there exist any person for whom the risk/benefit ratio of the vaccine made it a rational decision for that person to not take the vaccine?

    Your answer to my question is my answer to your question.
    —————————————————-
    “If you were to be so unfortunate as to be bitten by a rabid animal, would you take the post-exposure rabies vaccine series?”

    Yes.
    ——————
    “When you say “less than scientific”, do you mean irrational or illogical? If so, why is it illogical/irrational? If not, what do you mean?”

    Logic has nothing to do with it. It has to do with the definition and purpose of science.

  88. #88 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 9, 2010

    @cooler,

    You have repeatedly say Magic Johnson received a death sentence by (from?) society.

    Typically when society hands you a death sentence, you go to jail and assuming your appeals aren’t successful and that your sentence isn’t commuted you are executed by some method allowed by local law.

    What happened to Magic Johnson was that he was diagnosed with an illness that had no known cure and that was believed to be (almost) inevitably fatal based on the information at the time. He was treated, and was an early outlier – someone who did better than expected based on the best information known at the time.

    I presume that Mr. Johnson was diagnosed and treated accurately, though have no access to his medical records (and am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV).

    As far as I can tell, society did not give Mr. Johnson a death sentence. It is also quite possible that the very research and drugs you mention was partially responsible for his survival.

  89. #89 Mu
    August 9, 2010

    I’m always amazed how Orac’s writing is self fulfilling, in a “write it and they will come” kind of way.
    So the bit on the nitrite inhalant was new to me, what did they use, NO?

  90. #90 Chris
    August 9, 2010

    Mephistopheles O’Brien:

    As far as I can tell, society did not give Mr. Johnson a death sentence. It is also quite possible that the very research and drugs you mention was partially responsible for his survival.

    As I vaguely recall the 1990s started a turn around from HIV being a death sentence, to more people surviving several years due to the new treatments. In Dr. Mark Crislip’s podcasts he mentions starting working in medicine just as the AIDS was being discovered and many were dying, something he just does not see anymore.

    I would guess that cooler is stuck in some kind of time/space discontinuity where facts have no meaning (like being on Bizarro World, something often mentioned by Dr. Crislip). The place where Christine Maggiore lived, thinking her healthy lifestyle would protect her. Pity it killed her and her daughter.

    I am still disgusted at her saying:

    “Why our child — so appreciated, so held, so carefully nurtured — and not one ignored, abused or abandoned?” she wrote. “How come what we offered was not enough to keep her here when children with far less — impatient distracted parents, a small apartment on a busy street, extended day care, Oscar Mayer Lunchables — will happily stay?”

    Oh, foolish woman! It was because she failed to prevent her illness from being transmitted to her daughter. It was a consequence of being a germ denier, and also caused her own death (despite her last ditch extreme detox regimen!).

  91. #91 Otto
    August 9, 2010

    “So the bit on the nitrite inhalant was new to me, what did they use, NO?”

    Amyl or butyl nitrite is the “recreational” substance.

  92. #92 BrianX
    August 9, 2010

    One thing I find rather interesting about some germ theory denialists is that some of them say that Pasteur was working for the wine industry. Someone like that has got to be a neo-Prohibitionist on top of being ignorant of microbiology (which, by the way, is a pretty important matter for wine and beer makers — with the exception of some Belgian and obscure German styles, bacteria are the last thing you want anywhere near your beer).

    augustine:

    Are you willing to stand behind your principles long enough to scarf down, say, some chicken sashimi?

    cooler:

    Are you willing to be infected with HIV to prove your point correct? You would have your choice of delivery systems — syringe, penis, etc.

  93. #93 Pat Cahalan
    August 9, 2010

    Heh.

    I’m reminded of James Randi’s demonstration as to the harmlessness of homeopathic remedies at TED.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/james_randi.html

    You really believe that germs don’t cause disease? Shoot yourself up with a syringe full of various sorts of deadly virus/bacteria.

  94. #94 cooler
    August 9, 2010

    the debate is over not a single person has described the experiments that proved hiv’s causality that justified the dhhs having a press conference in 1984 that hiv was the probable cause of AIDS, the IOM and NAS saying in their book “confronting AIDs” 1 billion should be spent on terrorizing the public about the hiv epidemic in 1986, a blood transfusion inducing chemo azt being approved in 1987 and Magic being given a lethal prognosis by medical experts in 1991, even though he was totally healthy.

    since no one can describe these experiments you are proving Duesberg and nobel prize winner Dr. Mullis correct that no such experiments exist that terrorized society in the late 80′s and early 90′s. Not a single study has been described, just a bunch of psychobabble and spamming websites you have not even read (if you read them people would be able to describe the compelling experiments they contain, but they cant bc they dont even read what they spam)

    guess duesberg is right its really azt and severe drug abuse in the gay fasttrack life style that caused “AIDS.” So weird how this plaugue was hoisted onto society in the 80′s and early 90′s and no one can describe any compelling experiments that justified the new pandemic we came to know as fact during this time period.

  95. #95 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    August 9, 2010

    Augie: “DavidN Andrews M.D. PhD.M. Ed., C. P. S. E. L.M.N.O.P.”

    Fucking Christ, Augie! What are you? Bleedin’ 12 years old?

    Notice, people, how – when s/he’s challenged on his/her stupidity – wee Augie here resorts to baby-behaviour!

    I’m not an M. D., nor a Ph. D.; I’m an M. Ed., who has continued in specialisation research and been awarded a C. P. S. E. for his work. Not that this matters to young Augie here.. s/he has no use for intelligence.

    Augie… do us all a favour: sod off and learn to wank, and leave us the fuck alone!

  96. #96 Chris
    August 9, 2010

    cooler are you still living in 1984. Lots of water has passed under the bridge since then, and Mullis’s Nobel has started to rust from his hot air. Duesberg is not fairing so well either.

    I asked you this over a year ago, and you never answered me: What mortuary do you work for so that we can avoid it?

    You are obviously a shill for Big Death, and the more bodies that are created by you pushing germ denial the more business you get.

  97. #97 Matthew Cline
    August 9, 2010

    @cooler:

    the debate is over not a single person has described the experiments that proved hiv’s causality that justified the dhhs having a press conference in 1984 that hiv was the probable cause of AIDS,

    Maybe the people who are commenting on this particular post haven’t read the relevant studies, and thus can’t describe them to you. I haven’t read any of them, and I’m not going to spend my time reading them just so I can have a discussion with you (and I’d wager the other commenters are similarly disinclined). It seems likely that either you have read the studies (or summaries of them) and found what you consider to be flaws, or have read a list of flaws of those studies. So tell us what these flaws are, so we can have a discussion, instead of you just demanding a list of studies.

  98. #98 cooler
    August 9, 2010

    chris its noted every thing is your post is ad hominem atacks and it contains no descriptions of compelling experiments, textbook fallacies, you guys the lost debate w failed to describe any compelling experiments. Just like a homeopath can’t describe any compelling experiments to back homeopathy, you guys can’t describe any compelling experiments to back your deeply indoctrinated beliefs.

    According to Lynn margulis who won clintons medal of science in 1999, there are no compelling experiments that justified the hiv plague being hoisted onto us in the 80′s, guess shes right.

  99. #99 LW
    August 9, 2010

    I want to thank Orac for broadening my horizons. Until I started reading his blog, I thought anti-vaccine fanaticism and germ theory denialism were about as relevant as flat-Earthism. Everyone I’ve ever talked to (from New York’s Upper West Side to a small town in Oklahoma) understands and accepts germ theory. I never imagined people like augustine, cooler, and Dr. Jay Gordon even existed.

  100. #100 BrianX
    August 9, 2010

    cooler:

    William Shockley, Brian Josephson, Linus Pauling. All Nobel winners. All known for being phenomenally wrong about certain pet issues.

    So, cooler, you haven’t given your choice yet for getting a shot of HIV. Stick in the arm or dick up the butt? Shouldn’t be a problem for you if HIV has nothing to do with AIDS, right?

  101. #101 Matthew Cline
    August 9, 2010

    @BrianX:

    So, cooler, you haven’t given your choice yet for getting a shot of HIV. Shouldn’t be a problem for you if HIV has nothing to do with AIDS, right?

    cooler isn’t avoiding such a “put your money where you mouth is” move out of doubt of his own position (at least, not necessarily). Anyone who gave cooler a sample of active HIV would most likely face criminal charges, so it’s not like he’d be able to get his hands on any.

    @cooler:

    Again, please: tell us what you consider to be the flaws in the studies/experiments done on the HIV causation of ADIS.

  102. #102 tresmal
    August 9, 2010

    True, there are still young earth creationists around, who state that the world is only 6,000 years old and that the creatures that exist now were put there by God in their current state, but most denialists of evolutionary theory now accept that the earth is several billion years old and that organisms do evolve.

    Umm. No. In the U.S. at least Young Earth Creationism (YEC) is the predominant form. You’d be surprised at the number of debates with creationists that revolve around the Flood.

  103. #103 Chris
    August 9, 2010

    cooler, those were not ad homs, but insults based on recent events (like the incident with the journal Medical Hypothesis and Duesberg), things you don’t seem to be aware of (including the mounting disgust with Mullis). Like the progress that has been made in the last 26 years.

    You were making the same exact statements, and posting the same twenty-plus year old studies in the articles about Christine Maggiore’s death, and surely over four years ago when her daughter died. Get a new schtick. You are germ denier troll that was petrified into stone over a decade ago.

  104. #104 augustine
    August 10, 2010

    Chris: “cooler, those were not ad homs,”

    that’s not an ad hom. This is an ad hom
    - crocodile dundee.

    chris: “Get a new schtick. You are germ denier troll that was petrified into stone over a decade ago.”

  105. #105 Germ Theorist
    August 10, 2010

    “I want to thank Orac for broadening my horizons. Until I started reading his blog, I thought anti-vaccine fanaticism and germ theory denialism were about as relevant as flat-Earthism.”

    Your horizons will undoubtedly be broadened further by noting that the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a Voice for Private Physicians Since 1943 have maintained that there is no link between AIDS and HIV for quite some time. If the physicians and surgeons of the AAPS deny it, how can you be surprised if the lay person does as well? Can this coalition of esteemed science-based American physicians and surgeons all be so mistaken?

  106. #106 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    August 10, 2010

    Chris,

    See, that’s the great thing about beliefs, you (not you, Chris) never have to update them. You can live in your own little cocoon and never worry either of your neurons about any new information.

    Those of us who have chosen to live the big, real, scary world have to evaluate new information (not stale, disproven opinion) as it becomes available. And we have to sort out all the nonsense for those true believers who keep repackaging the same old BS and try to sell it to a new generation. It sure is hard work and we don’t have the luxury of certainty, which one should not confuse with being right.

  107. #107 IBY
    August 10, 2010

    @germ theorist
    Then it must be a group of physicians who doesn’t know one damn thing about AIDS. Surely you aren’t mistaking people like surgeons from pathologists, are you?

  108. #108 Bronze Dog
    August 10, 2010

    If the physicians and surgeons of the AAPS deny it, how can you be surprised if the lay person does as well? Can this coalition of esteemed science-based American physicians and surgeons all be so mistaken?

    Ah, yes, ye olde appeal to authority, because we shouldn’t be talking about the evidence itself. We should all just blindly rely on what is fundamentally a time-saving method. How about you tell us why they don’t agree with the consensus, rather than treat them as unquestionable prophets?

    As for cooler’s accusation of ad hominems: There’s a big difference between an insult and an ad hominem fallacy. The former is a conclusion independent of the topic of discussion. The latter is an integral premise used to form an invalid conclusion about the primary topic. There’s a difference between integral and independent, cooler.

    Insult: “You’re an idiot because you used fallacies X, Y, and Z in this discussion about germ theory.”
    Ad Hominem Fallacy: “You’re an idiot, therefore we can conclude A, B, and C about germ theory based on you being an idiot.”

    Of course, it’s pointless to discuss logic, since, like so many alties, cooler thinks he’s an infallible god who just knows stuff and doesn’t need to explain himself.

  109. #109 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    August 10, 2010

    Go check out the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons on Wikipedia, then you’ll understand why this “coalition of esteemed science-based American physicians and surgeons” is wrong. Just because you have an MD doesn’t mean you can’t be completely wrong about some medical issues. That assumes the AAPS is about medicine, it isn’t. It’s the John Birch Society in long, white coats (hoods optional).

  110. #110 Chris
    August 10, 2010

    The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons is a political, not a medical organization. This is why they publish rubbish that abortions cause cancer and vaccines are bad. Their legal counsel is that ever amusing founder of Conservapedia Andy Schlafly. It was always amusing dealing with his slightly more sane brother, Roger, on UseNet years ago.

  111. #111 Liz Ditz
    August 10, 2010

    Ooooh a two-fer of win!

    #1 From ToddW. at #58

    Y’know, every time I see augie or its like toss statistics around, I can’t help but think that if there were laws protecting the welfare of statistics, making their abuse illegal, that augie, et al., would be locked up for numerous counts.

    OK, Statistics Abuse now = ToddW’s Law. Like Megan’s Law only protecting the poor innocent stats….

    #2: From Bronze Dog @ #107

    There’s a big difference between an insult and an ad hominem fallacy. The former is a conclusion independent of the topic of discussion. The latter is an integral premise used to form an invalid conclusion about the primary topic. There’s a difference between integral and independent, cooler.

    Insult: “You’re an idiot because you used fallacies X, Y, and Z in this discussion about germ theory.”
    Ad Hominem Fallacy: “You’re an idiot, therefore we can conclude A, B, and C about germ theory based on you being an idiot.”

    I’m going to bronze this one & put it on my refrigerator:

    Insult: “You’re an idiot because you used fallacies X, Y, and Z in this discussion about germ theory.”

    Ad Hominem Fallacy: “You’re an idiot, therefore we can conclude A, B, and C about germ theory based on you being an idiot.”

    Thanks guys!

  112. #112 Chris
    August 10, 2010

    The Gregarious Misanthrope:

    See, that’s the great thing about beliefs, you (not you, Chris) never have to update them. You can live in your own little cocoon and never worry either of your neurons about any new information.

    The very definition of a closed mind, something that the skeptics among us keep getting called. Yet, we keep asking for evidence and none of any quality is ever given (Little Augie keeps saying he/she won’t get pertussis therefore he/she does not have to give us evidence that the DTaP is worse than pertussis!).

    The mind of cooler will never be opened, as it has petrified.

  113. #113 tresmal
    August 10, 2010

    From the AAPS wikipedia article:

    On Oct 25 2008 the AAPS website published an editorial implying that Barack Obama was using Neuro-linguistic Programming, “a covert form of hypnosis”, in his presidential campaign.[19]

    Nuff said?

  114. #114 DLC
    August 10, 2010

    Orac: good writing, as usual.
    brought the trolls out from under their bridges.

  115. #115 Sauceress
    August 10, 2010

    @augustinea #59

    Hello jack!
    Just a short congratulatory post on the continuance of your great work and determination in representing the voices of the reality challenged,the ignorant and the gullible. I must say that you’ve really got it down pat!

    Oh and to cooler..
    I’m not famililar with your work, but it seems you also have great potential in portraying the science based evidence denialists for the ignorant and unthinking imbeciles that they truely are.
    Cheers

  116. #116 DLC
    August 10, 2010

    Woohoo, Sock Puppet Theater!

  117. #117 Orac
    August 10, 2010

    If the physicians and surgeons of the AAPS deny it, how can you be surprised if the lay person does as well? Can this coalition of esteemed science-based American physicians and surgeons all be so mistaken?

    The AAPS is a bunch of cranks, many of whom ascribe to anti-vaccine and HIV/AIDS denialist views, among others:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/02/the_journal_of_american_physicians_and_s.php

  118. #118 Sauceress
    August 10, 2010

    You don’t mean me DLC? I’m the real deal Sauceress. Hail His Noodly Appendages and all that :)
    Long hiatus due to work…but lurking as often as time allows.

  119. #119 Sauceress
    August 10, 2010

    p.s.
    augie is big on the name game, so I call it “jack”
    It suits.

  120. #120 Kristen
    August 10, 2010

    Hi Sauceress,

    Good to “see” you. I haven’t been able to keep up lately either.

    I came to RI to learn more about autism/vaccines, but my eyes have been opened to the plight of reality challenged individuals. I know the study of reality disabilities is in its infancy, but I believe with all my heart that we can learn how to treat this terrible affliction.

  121. #121 Dangerous Bacon
    August 10, 2010

    One wonders how the world of woo can harbor a substantial coterie of germ theory deniers, while at the same time including hordes who believe that Candida and ectoparasites cause virtually every disease under the sun (not to mention the Morgellonians, a group of afflicted in search of a pathogen).

    Where’s the raging woo debate over this conundrum?

  122. #122 Mu
    August 10, 2010

    I have to do late night checks on RI again, AAPS a coalition of esteemed science-based American physicians was just priceless.

  123. #123 Q.E.D
    August 10, 2010

    Orac, thank you for the fantastic and timely post. I have a question for the regulars here about how to talk to someone who has bought in to the naturopath vitamin woo:

    A work colleague I am friendly with had 15 boxes of vitamins delivered on the recommendation of a “friend who is a naturopath”. When I gently pointerd out that the RDA of vitamin C is approx 100 mg and that the 1000mg she is taking will not be metabolized by her body but will pass in her urine she got very defensive.

    She became very indignant and her response was as follows: she claimed I had no knowledge or authority to say she was wrong; accused me of pulling up random unsubstantiated crap on the internet (my source was the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science); “everyone’s body is different so there can’t be a single recomendation for vitamin doses for everyone because each body needs different things”; “science contradicts itslef all the time.” She was as indignant as if she were a practicing catholic and I told her the Pope is a paedophile.

    The interaction leads me to think that belief in woo and “I can control and determine what happens to me” juju is just like religious belief: willful ignorance, impervious to facts, highly defensive and ring fenced against criticism. In retrospect, I think she felt like I was calling her belief foolish and by extension, calling her a fool.

    So how do we talk to these people?

  124. #124 Todd W.
    August 10, 2010

    @Q.E.D.

    It sounds like she’s already circled the wagons and is unlikely to listen to anything you say, since you are clearly wrong.

    But, there is always hope. Rather than just telling her that she is wrong, ask why she thinks something will help. Ask where she got the information, why she thinks it is a reliable source for information. Tell her about reliable sources you have found. Don’t force feed it to her, but recommend that she take a look for herself. Don’t scoff or roll your eyes. If she makes an error in logic or fact, don’t simply say that she made an error, but explain why it is an error, without being judgmental. Help her to understand. Plant the seeds of skeptical inquiry.

    She probably won’t do a 180 overnight, but maybe, by small steps and getting her to question things, she may come to a better understanding. In the end, respect her right to do what she wants with her money and with herself.

  125. #125 Calli Arcale
    August 10, 2010

    If a person takes that much offense at even a gentle mention that you think it wasn’t a wise purchase, then there’s no hope of reasoning with them. Religion is a facile comparison, but then, not all religious people get their panties in a bunch when they meet unbelievers, so I think it’s probably more of a general personality thing. Some people are just naturally defensive. Personally, I’d back off on the Vitamin C and just generally promote reason otherwise, and hope to eventually get an opening when she’s not all defensive.

  126. #126 augustine
    August 10, 2010

    Chris:

    “The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons is a political, not a medical organization.”

    And the AMA is a scientific organization? NO! its a trade organization designed to ABOVE ALL ELSE look after it’s members best interests which means financial security.

    The AMA is also a political organization. So what are you saying?

    Speaking of politics, how about some correctness, Chris?

    Do you believe a cross dressing, transgender, transexual is a rational person?

  127. #127 augustine
    August 10, 2010

    Chris: (Little Augie keeps saying he/she won’t get pertussis therefore he/she does not have to give us evidence that the DTaP is worse than pertussis!)

    Chris do you have evidence that I will get pertussis? Even if you did, which you don’t, do you have evidence that it would be a problem for me?

    The answer is No, you don’t have any evidence. For an individual your question is irrelevant. And does not hold up because it is posed in the form of a strawman argument as it makes assumptions about everyone who makes a vaccine decision.

  128. #128 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawmqD_mcUIrSfOTlK3iGVsnEDcZmI43srbI
    August 10, 2010

    I had the privilege of interviewing Linus Pauling back in his vitamin C days. He thought 100 mg of C a day was only sufficient to prevent scurvy; while 3 g a day would prevent colds. He also thought ultra-high doses of C could treat cancer. Sadly, he was mistaken.

    I experimented with mega-C doses sometime after that; it gave me diarrhea. And that was that.

  129. #129 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    August 10, 2010

    Augustine,

    “Do you believe a cross dressing, transgender, transexual is a rational person?”

    Seriously, WTF? In poker, that’s what you would call a “tell.”

  130. #130 MikeMa
    August 10, 2010

    @augie,
    I may have missed it but who used the AMA as a source of support for an argument as you did with the AAPS?

    Get a grip and some perspective. You were called on your reference and shown it to be a baseless one. Admit the wrong and move on. Do not compound it with another error.

  131. #131 augustine
    August 10, 2010

    MikeMa: “I may have missed it but who used the AMA as a source of support for an argument as you did with the AAPS?”

    I didn’t use them as a source. My statement about the AMA stands. MikeMa, you can stand corrected or sit down.

  132. #132 augustine
    August 10, 2010

    Is the doctor who gives a man a vagina or woman a penis, is he a woo practitioner. Is he science based?

    is that doctor selling woo?

  133. #133 Chris
    August 10, 2010

    Little Augie:

    Do you believe a cross dressing, transgender, transexual is a rational person?

    Well considering I have actually met such people, they were quite rational. Also, almost everyone on this planet with a greater than fourth grade education is more rational than you. What is this fascination with you and sex? Is it something you know so little about, and are just thinking that the everyone else is as immature and ashamed as you? When you grow up you will learn more, but with your current attitude you will be very lonely.

    And remember Vaccine refusal is associated with a nearly 23-fold increased risk of developing pertussis.

  134. #134 dedicated lurker
    August 10, 2010

    The RDA for vitamin C is 60 mg, not 100.

    And as for augie’s question: Yes. Why do you think they are insane?

  135. #135 Seb30
    August 10, 2010

    I like this level of exigence for evidence.

    Chris do you have evidence that I will get pertussis? [...] The answer is No, you don’t have any evidence.

    Coming to this, I don’t have any evidence either that I will catch any disease you care to name.
    Or that if I catch something, I will get sequela.
    Or that if I prepare dinner, I will cut myself with the kitchen knife.
    Or that if I drive, one of my tires will got punctured by a nail.
    Or that if I talk dirty to this big guy in the bar, he will punch me.
    After all, I just have to be careful, isn’t it? Avoid sick peoples, watch the road, learn to dodge…

    However, I am aware of a body of experience accumulated by my forebears that such things could happen, whatever you want it or not. Not to everybody, and for some of these things not that often, but still. A good statistician can give you the probability if you like.
    As for the careful part, past experiences taught me I could get distracted and mess up things on a daily basis like anybody else.

    So, on the off-chance this will happen, I think I will have a first aid kit in my home. A spare tire in my car. I will vaccinate. Oh, and I will be polite to peoples.
    It doesn’t cost me much, and it could be so useful should something nefarious happen.
    We call this planning for the future.

  136. #136 Todd W.
    August 10, 2010

    @Seb30

    Or, more briefly, insurance.

  137. #137 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 10, 2010

    I have absolutely no evidence that I will die. Granted, most of my ancestors have died, and most people who were born more than 100 years ago died. But you don’t have any evidence that I, personally, will die.

    I’m just saying.

  138. #138 former germ theory believist
    August 10, 2010

    the germ theory of dis-ease is just a theory! it is the terrain that keeps you healthy and unsuscepetable to germs. if you take supplements and think good things and excercise your qi energy you will not succumb to germs!

    after all, germs are just little teeny microscopic animals that take advantage of your body when it is in an immune suppressed state and eat you and hurt you and stuff. all you gotta do is keep healthy and you can ward off the nasty germs!!1!!1!

    but WAIT!!! this must also extend to macroscopic animals, since they are animals too, only macroscopic!!11! if you keep your body healthy and strong and use ur qi you will be able to ward off macroscopic animals!1!!!

    NO, RLY!!1!!11!!

    animals like lions and tigers and polar bears!!!1!!1

    c’mon: lift weights, eat veggies, take supplements, think good thoughts and climb* into the polar bear exhibit at your nearby zoo and ward off those bears!11!!11 your body will be able to thwart their carnivorously mutilitative predator-prey instincts, proving both microscopic and macroscopic life CANNOT HARM HEALTHY PEOPLE!!1!!!! WOO HOO!!!

    *note: i don’t actually endorse climbing into ANY animal exhibit, especially a FRAKKIN’ BEAR exhibit. don’t be stupid. go donate to your local zoo**, rather than climbing into the exhibits.

    **yes, i am a member of BIG ZOOA, a shady quasi-legal black helicopter flying organization. i get kickbacks. a lot of kick back. and free satellite t.v. too.

  139. #139 dedicated lurker
    August 10, 2010

    Former, that is brilliant satire of what those people believe.

  140. #140 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    August 10, 2010

    augustine,

    “Do you believe a cross dressing, transgender, transexual is a rational person?”

    Seriously, WTF? If we were playing poker, that statement would be called a “tell.”

  141. #141 augustine
    August 10, 2010

    Chris: “Well considering I have actually met such people, they were quite rational. Also, almost everyone on this planet with a greater than fourth grade education is more rational than you.”

    So Chris, you believe someone who believes they mistakenly grew a penis or lacked a vagina needs to have one surgically implanted in their body is rational. You believe that someone who believes they are trapped in the wrong body is a rational being.

    Yet someone who statistically has a 99.9999% chance of surviving measles, chickenpox, Hpv, etc., and forgoes the vaccine is irrational? HMMM.

    Methinks political correctness and emotions guide you, not science in this area. Please explain how someone can rationally or scientifically be trapped in the body of wrong gender.

    What if someone believes they are a dolphin trapped in a human body. Should they get a fin surgically implanted on their back or flippers put on their feet?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM7qOGXF_yc

    Chris, you should turn your Scienceblogs membership card back in to Orac. And all of your snarky privileges should be revoked immediately.

  142. #142 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    August 10, 2010

    Help, I’m being moderated!

    Just a test post, please ignore, delete, etc.

  143. #143 augustine
    August 10, 2010

    Chris: “And remember Vaccine refusal is associated with a nearly 23-fold increased risk of developing pertussis.”

    That study was debunked and the author exposed. No matter how you slice and dice those picked numbers. 88% of the outbreak subjects were VACCINATED. VACCINE FAIL. That’s what should be taken away from that attempt at propaganda.

    How does that apply to me? NADA.

  144. #144 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    August 10, 2010

    No, augustine, it’s MATH FAIL on your part (again). I would provide you the numbers and step you through it, but you’re impervious to evidence so I won’t waste my time.

    Awaiting additional content-free blather in response.

  145. #145 augustine
    August 10, 2010

    Laughing antelope:

    “I would provide you the numbers and step you through it, but you’re impervious to evidence so I won’t waste my time.”

    Of course you would “step me through it”. That’s how you AKA slice and dice the numbers to get what you want. Bottom line 88% of those studies who were infected were VACCINATED. Still got pertussis. Vaccine Fail.

  146. #146 Gray Falcon
    August 10, 2010

    What percent of the general population was vaccinated? If it were greater than 88%, and it most likely was, then there was no failure on the part of the vaccine, once you work out the math. Of course, you don’t even understand the most basic aspects of probability (we’re predicting possibilities, not the actual future, and probabilities can be weighed against each other), so this probably goes over your head.

  147. #147 LW
    August 10, 2010

    augustine, please post a link showing the 88% number.

  148. #148 T. Bruce McNeely
    August 10, 2010

    Please explain how someone can rationally or scientifically be trapped in the body of wrong gender.

    Sexual identity is formed in the brain. All evidence leads to the conclusion that it is fixed. “Conversion” of homosexuals to straight has been a dismal failure despite extremely strong motivating factors (societal, familial, legal and religious).
    The same holds for transexuals.
    Do you not agree that homosexuality has no relationship (adverse or otherwise) with rationality? Transexuality is the same.

  149. #149 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    August 10, 2010

    Here are a few clues to the clueless:

    Vaccines (including pertussis) are not usually 100% effective (no one here claims the contrary)

    Many vaccines require multiple shots for maximal immunity (pertussis included)

    Some vaccines require periodic boosters (pertussis included)

    All these add up to the FACT that even though a group is VACCINATED, they are not necessarily IMMUNE. No one in the SBM world claims otherwise. It is only the anti-vax crowd that claims (strawman style) that SBM claims vaccines are 100% effective, then calls VACCINE FAIL is someone who has had the vaccine gets sick.

    So if there is an outbreak of something, then some who have been vaccinated will get sick. And if the percentage who have been vaccinated is fairly high, then they could well make up the majority of those who get sick. The salient fact is that the vast, vast majority of those who were fully vaccinated did not get sick.

  150. #150 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 10, 2010

    Is the doctor who gives a man a vagina or woman a penis, is he a woo practitioner. Is he science based?

    is that doctor selling woo?

    It all depends on their approach to it. A responsible doctor may well conclude based on studies that gender reassignment surgery provides a net positive outcome to people who fervently desire it. There are studies which attempt to determine what influences a positive or negative outcome. Some studies show that patients who, after competent counselling, determine that they really desire such surgery are typically satisfied with the results. This would be science based in that past results of such surgery have been studied and used to determine whether the procedure would have the desired results (in this case, improving the patient’s mental state and quality of life).

    If the doctor, on the other hand, proposes such surgery willy-nilly for reasons that have not been reasonably studied and may not be in the best interests of the patient (regardless of whether the doctor believes so), it would have no basis in science and it may very well be woo.

  151. #151 augustine
    August 10, 2010

    “The salient fact is that the vast, vast majority of those who were fully vaccinated did not get sick.”

    Added to the salient fact that the vast vast majority of those who got sick were vaccinated. “OHHH there’s an out break of ABC. It’s those dern unvaxed wreaking havoc. NOPE it’s the VACCINATED.”

    What was the design purpose of that colorado insurance study? You see, scientist like that don’t just perform experiments and “go where the evidence takes them”. He purposefully, with biased intent set out to show that unvaccinated…oohhh…can get disease. He performed a retrospective case study. His agenda has also been recorded as trying to find out why parents don’t vaccinate and THEN MAKE a study to refute their reasons. Is that REAL science? HELL NO! Is he biased? YES! Propaganda. He would make a good little corporate scientist. Which is essentially what he is.

  152. #152 LW
    August 10, 2010

    But Mephistopheles, you forget that augustine has already explained to us that probabilities based on past events do not apply to human beings. It is impossible to determine the probability that the patient will be satisfied with the surgery, will even *survive* the surgery, or will instead spontaneously transform into a bed-sitting room when exposed to anesthesia. Which is why all the insurance companies went out of business decades ago.

  153. #153 John
    August 10, 2010

    “Do you believe a cross dressing, transgender, transexual is a rational person? ”

    Augie: No matter how much prejudice you’ve experienced as a transgendered person (and I’m sure you’ve experienced plenty – the pain in your posts is apparent), you can’t assume that everyone who disagrees with you is doing so because of that prejudice. Let it go, and accept yourself as you are. Others will do so too, eventually.

  154. #154 Dalek
    August 10, 2010

    Augustine in both his obsession with sex and willingness to remain ignorant on scientific matters is just a perfect honor for the man he named his account after.

    A man that said such wonders as :

    “There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity. It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.”

    “Therefore, if I were to ask any good Christian who has a wife, and even though he may still be having children by her, whether he would like to have his wife in that kingdom; mindful in any case of the promises of God, and of that life where this incorruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality; though at present hesitating from the greatness, or at least from a certain degree of love, he would reply with execration that he is strongly averse to it. Were I to ask him again, whether he would like his wife to live with him there, after the resurrection, when she had undergone that angelic change which is promised to the saints, he would reply that he desired this as strongly as he reprobated the other. Thus a good Christian is found to love in one and the same woman the creature of God, whom he desires to be transformed and renewed; but to hate the corruptible and mortal conjugal connection and sexual intercourse: i.e. to love in her what is characteristic of a human being, to hate what belongs to her as a wife. . . . It is necessary, therefore, that the disciple of Christ should hate these things which pass away, in those whom he desires along with himself to reach those things which shall for ever remain; and that he should the more hate these things in them, the more he loves themselves.”

  155. #155 augustine
    August 10, 2010

    Mephistopheles: “If the doctor, on the other hand, proposes such surgery willy-nilly for reasons that have not been reasonably studied and may not be in the best interests of the patient (regardless of whether the doctor believes so), it would have no basis in science and it may very well be woo.”
    —————————
    Two mutilated penises turned into vaginas walk into a bar. One is scientific and the other is woo. Which one is it?

    Brucy you’re just as ridiculous trying to explain your way out of this one.

  156. #156 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 10, 2010

    LW, Augustine, my apologies for referring to probabilities and using terms like “typically”. I don’t know what came over me. To prove my utter disregard for probabilities, I will now cross the street with my eyes closed.

    Because, after all, you don’t know that I will get run down.

  157. #157 augustine
    August 10, 2010

    Well let me ask you this question: Is it reasonable for one to want to be a dolphin?

  158. #158 LW
    August 10, 2010

    Besides, if you did get run down, there’s no reason to believe that you would suffer any injury. Just bcause other people who have gotten run down have suffered injury does not give us any reason to suppose that being run down by a vehicle is risky.

  159. #159 Zaxter
    August 10, 2010

    augustine said: “The mistake resulted in the production of 120,000 doses of polio vaccine that contained live polio virus. Of the children who received the vaccine, 40,000 developed abortive poliomyelitis , 56 developed paralytic poliomyelitis and of these 5 children died as a result of polio infection.”

    wikipedia.org said: “The mistake resulted in the production of 120,000 doses of polio vaccine that contained live polio virus. Of the children who received the vaccine, 40,000 developed abortive poliomyelitis (a form of the disease that does not involve the central nervous system), 56 developed paralytic poliomyelitis and of these 5 children died as a result of polio infection.

    Well, augustine, you can cut and paste but you sure can’t source a quote to save your life.

  160. #160 Todd W.
    August 10, 2010

    @Zaxter

    What, you were expecting intellectual honesty from augie?

  161. #161 augustine
    August 10, 2010

    Well, augustine, you can cut and paste but you sure can’t source a quote to save your life.

    And your point is???? It was in quotations so you know it wasn’t sourced from me.

    So Todd, do you agree with bAxter’s fascist sentiments? Yeh, baxter, they can fit in a Nazi regime also. Or do you prefer communist? Any statist political view will actually work.

  162. #162 Militant Agnostic
    August 10, 2010

    The alloy hound @108

    Of course, it’s pointless to discuss logic, since, like so many alties, cooler thinks he’s an infallible god who just knows stuff and doesn’t need to explain himself.

    You have to remember that cooler (and augie) are unable to use Occam’s Razor because they are not allowed to have sharp objects.

  163. #163 Chris
    August 10, 2010

    Little Augie:

    What was the design purpose of that colorado insurance study? You see, scientist like that don’t just perform experiments and “go where the evidence takes them”…… Is he biased? YES! Propaganda. He would make a good little corporate scientist. Which is essentially what he is.

    Aw, Little Augie, the poor widdle bigot, can’t understand how science works. It hurts his/hers widdle ego that shows problems with her fairy tale land of fluffy bunnies running free among the cute widdle foxes. So he:she has to go on a clueless rant starting with “That study was debunked and the author exposed.”… without any evidence. Especially, neglecting to mention which author (it included two universities and two public health entities).

    By the way, clueless bigot, a check on its PubMed citation shows no letters or comments in real literature on it. Very much unlike the long list of comments in this paper (note the retraction part).

    Little Augie is just making stuff up about it being debunked. Somehow, using lies as a debate tactic is okay dokay with her:his moral code, whatever that is.

    What is Little Augie’s fascination with sex identity? Why does he:she think that South Park is relevant to a discussion on germ denial? Is she:he actually twelve years old, or does heshe have real issues?

    Will s/he/it ever figure out what the relative risks are between the DTaP vaccine and diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis? We may never know.

  164. #164 augustine
    August 10, 2010

    Hey Chris,
    How’s it hangin?

    Explain to us again how someone feeling like they are trapped in the wrong body is rational thought. They really are trapped in the wrong body. Yet someone who has had measles decides to forgo the vaccine for their child is irrational because they “don’t think right”.

  165. #165 Chris
    August 11, 2010

    Have you ever read a book on neurology? Wait, shouldn’t that be “have you ever read a book”?

    Two wikis for you: Renee Richards and David Reimer

    Note the very different start and ending for them.

    Now what it the world do you mean by?:

    Yet someone who has had measles decides to forgo the vaccine for their child is irrational because they “don’t think right”.

    Is it because you are only twelve years old that you thing “irrational” equates to “ignorance”?

    What makes you think when I say provide “the evidence that the DTaP is worse than pertussis” has anything to do with someone who had measles? You do realize that the DTaP is not the same as the MMR? One is to protect against three bacterial diseases, and the other is to protect against three viral diseases.

    Do you understand that the DTaP is not the same as the MMR, or that bacteria and viruses are not the same?

    And you are asking me about irrational thought?

    So try again: exactly how is the DTaP vaccine worse than diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis? Use real evidence.

  166. #166 Chris
    August 11, 2010

    By searching your idiotic responses I see you said:

    Yet someone who statistically has a 99.9999% chance of surviving measles, chickenpox, Hpv, etc., and forgoes the vaccine is irrational? HMMM.

    Dude/dudette… a one in a thousand chance of not surviving intact from measles is not 99.9999%, which one in a over ten thousand. Especially if you include varicella and HPV… which totally messes with your decimal placement error.

    And I still never mentioned measles. That was Science Mom (who is much smarter than I am when it comes to this subject).

    Now come up with some real data that show the DTaP is worse than pertussis. (I could ask you about diphtheria and tetanus, but they have not just killed seven Californian infants… and we all know the chances of surviving tetanus is no where near as high as 90%!).

  167. #167 T. Bruce McNeely
    August 11, 2010

    Explain to us again how someone feeling like they are trapped in the wrong body is rational thought. They really are trapped in the wrong body. Yet someone who has had measles decides to forgo the vaccine for their child is irrational because they “don’t think right”.

    Transsexualism has nothing to do with “rational thought”. It’s an identity. Maybe you can give us a “rational thought” about why you’re so hung up on this subject.
    Then again, bigotry is irrational, isn’t it?

    What is irrational is the idea of subjecting your own children and others to the HIGHER risk of serious complications from contracting an illness, to avoid the MUCH MUCH MUCH lower risk of a vaccine.

    BTW, comment #153 – WTF? You are one twisted little piece of work.

  168. #168 Chris
    August 11, 2010

    T. Bruce McNeely:

    BTW, comment #153 – WTF? You are one twisted little piece of work.

    You think? Seeing this child descend into a morass of sexual identity issues when the subject is germ denial has truly been surreal. It shows the incredible lengths some will go into to avoid answering our pesky skeptical questions.

  169. #169 intercostal
    August 11, 2010

    @#152: That is not a particularly good translation. ‘curiositas’ in the sense that early & medieval Christian authors used it, while cognate, is not actually well translated as ‘curiosity’; there is a distinction in Latin of that era between ‘curiositas’ and ‘studiositas’ which cannot well be expressed in English; but suffice it to say that a desire for scientific (and medical) knowledge, that being inherently useful knowledge, doesn’t fall under Augustine’s ‘curiositas’.

    And that second passage is completely out of context: it’s from a long disquisition on the Sermon on the Mount – the real point is about earthly vs heavenly things, not about sex, so saying that St Augustine was obsessed with sex is incorrect.

  170. #170 Chris
    August 11, 2010

    Myself:

    Dude/dudette… a one in a thousand chance of not surviving intact from measles is not 99.9999%, which one in a over ten thousand.

    I also made a decimal point error… actually Little Augie is trying show that something bad happening with measles is a one in a hundred thousand chance… 1 in 100000. Which is much less than the one in a thousand chance in the real world.

  171. #171 Zaxter
    August 11, 2010

    augustine said: “And your point is???? It was in quotations so you know it wasn’t sourced from me.”

    Honestly, augustine, one question mark is sufficient. The point is that if you’re going to cite dubious sources, it would be intellectually honest to, ya know, cite them. That way everyone knows that your level of scholarship doesn’t extend beyond Wikifreakingpedia.

    augustine said: “So Todd, do you agree with bAxter’s fascist sentiments? Yeh, baxter, they can fit in a Nazi regime also. Or do you prefer communist? Any statist political view will actually work.”

    Aaaaaaaaaand I call Godwin. Speaking of intellectual honesty, would you care to address any of the specific arguments I’ve made that explain why my views are clearly not fascist, rather than disingenuously repeating the accusation? For that matter, I’d like to see you address the meat of any of my arguments. What about the data I presented to you? You mean you’re not interested in data? This is not a scientific argument because the opposition is not interested in science. This is why I advocate for a non-scientific, shaming approach with people who are never going to look at the data, no matter how easy you make it for them. People like you, augustine.

  172. #172 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 11, 2010

    @153: Two people recommend daily doses of Vitamin C. One does it because experience and studies show it is necessary to sustained health and prevents diseases like scurvy. The other does it because it appeases the ghosts of your ancestors.

    Two people recommend daily exercise – one cites evidence that it will improve your cardiovascular system, will improve your overall health and quality of life, and may improve your chances for living longer; the other says it will make you immune to all diseases.

    Two people remove a diseased appendix – one because experience shows that if left untreated the patient could die; the other to improve the feng shui of the patient’s chakras.

    Which is woo and which is science?

  173. #173 LW
    August 11, 2010

    Chris, count the 9s again. Augie is claiming one per million lifetime chance of dying. And why does it cite (imaginary) statistical probabilities when it told us in the previous thread that they cannot be computed?

  174. #174 augustine
    August 11, 2010

    Zaxter,

    One can’t take finger pointing and an honesty lecture seriously from someone who uses children as pawns to get back at there parents. It’s childish.

    And don’t give us the dishonest distractive argument that those 2 children pose some sort of threat to the bday party.

    Your attempts at ad hominems are noted. You’re NOT a scientist. Nor a critical thinker. You’re just a kid bully.

    because someone asked: zaxter:[Speaking of intellectual honesty, would you care to address any of the specific arguments I've made that explain why my views are clearly not fascist, rather than disingenuously repeating the accusation?]

    “Totalitarianism (or totalitarian rule) is a political system where the state, usually under the control of a single political person, faction, or class, recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible”

    “Totalitarianism is generally characterised by the coincidence of authoritarianism (where ordinary citizens have no significant share in state decision-making) and ideology (a pervasive scheme of values promulgated by institutional means to direct most if not all aspects of public and private life)”

    I’ll let you find the source and conduct your ad hominem rants.

  175. #175 Bluegrass Geek
    August 11, 2010

    Posted by: augustine | August 9, 2010 12:29 PM
    Are you sincerely earnest in your request of my “alternative explanation”. Why do you want to hear it? Are you open to another perspective? No. Your explanation works perfect for you. There is no reason for any alternative explanation because the one you have works and is your truth.

    You want to know because you want to attack. Not because you want to understand. That is the nature of a skeptic not a scientist.

    Your argument of “there’s nothing better” doesn’t make what you say true.

    Pot, meet kettle. You have done nothing constructive on this site, merely attempted to tear down that which you disagree with, and taken no steps to show you want to understand other perspectives. To borrow a phrase, “put up or shut up,” hypocrite.

    Posted by: augustine | August 10, 2010 10:21 AMDo you believe a cross dressing, transgender, transexual is a rational person?

    Please do not speak of things you are ignorant about. These are not all the same. That you lump them all together, and imply they are all based on irrational decisions, only displays your ignorance of the matter.

  176. #176 LW
    August 11, 2010

    Ah, Zaxter, thank you. I have sudden insight into augustine’s babbling: it thinks that significant digits are used for emphasis, just like question marks. So, 99% means “likely” and 99.9999% means “really, really, really, really likely”.

    Uh, no, augustine. To those of us who graduated fourth grade, those numbers have a very specific meaning. 99% survival means 1%, or one per hundred, may die. 99.9% survival means death for no more than 0.1%, or one-tenth per hundred or, equivalently, one per ten hundreds, or, equivalently, one per thousand. 99.99% survival means death for no more than 0.01%, or one per hundred hundred, or one per ten thousand. See how that works? Likewise, survival for 99.999% means death for no more than 0.001%, or one per hundred thousand, and survival for 99.9999% means death for no more than 0.0001%, or one per million. This is a very precise claim, and if you’re going to make such a precise claim, you should have something to back it up (though I don’t know what that would be since you deny that probabilities can be computed for outcomes of disease).

    So either state the basis of your claim, or stop using meaningless numbers.

  177. #177 Chris
    August 11, 2010

    LW, I should never attempt to count 9s at anytime past midnight.

  178. #178 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 11, 2010

    @Bluegrass Creek

    You want to know because you want to attack. Not because you want to understand. That is the nature of a skeptic not a scientist.

    Not to be too pedantic, but I think the term you wanted there was “denialist”, not skeptic. Scientists should be skeptical and filter what they are told with questions like “what is the evidence for that?” and “how do you know that?” and even “why do you say that the evidence you’ve provided actually says what you think it does?” as long as they are able to accept the evidence and rational conclusions from that evidence (regardless of preconceived positions). A denialist (and someone please help if there’s a better term) will ask for evidence and accept none unless it supports his/her/its pet position.

  179. #179 mikerattlesnake
    August 11, 2010

    Man, every time I think I’ve seen Augie spew the most vile, evidence-free garbage he could possibly spew, he manages to heave a bit harder and produce something even nastier. This new bit about transexuals does a bit to reveal something about his own psyche, but that’s about it.

    Thanks augie for not holding back what a contemptable asshole you are! It’s nice to see you in true-color-vision!

  180. #180 augustine
    August 11, 2010

    BGEEK: [Please do not speak of things you are ignorant about. These are not all the same. That you lump them all together, and imply they are all based on irrational decisions, only displays your ignorance of the matter.]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_identity_disorder

    “Gender identity disorder (GID) is the formal diagnosis used by psychologists and physicians to describe persons who experience significant gender dysphoria (discontent with the biological sex they were born with). It is a psychiatric classification and describes the attributes related to transsexuality, transgender identity, and transvestism.”

    I’m appalled at what constitutes rationality with this group. Maybe that is where the societal disconnect is. Political correctness and cultural norms are now influencing your critical thinking. Do you call this cultural science?

    If one wants to become their inner dolphin and the doctor justifies “if that makes you feel better” is that then reasonable? Will that person actually BE a dolphin if the doctor gives them a fin and a bottle nose. Is the man really a woman because the doctor performs surgery? Is the man really trapped in the wrong body.

  181. #181 Seb30
    August 11, 2010

    Something I wanted to post yesterday in answer to the contrarian troll when he/she started on transexuals on another thread. But talk about derailing the thread.

    Oh, well, let’s do it, at this point…

    First, I think the question – If someone who believe he/she is trapped in the wrong body is rational – is a tautology. No matter if the belief is founded or not, if you feel gender-confused, you are going to be acting confused. Gender is quite an important part in social interactions.

    Secondly, I would like the questioner to precise if he/she is talking about pure psychological gender-confusion, or about transexuals in general. Because peoples do end up in a wrong body, in a physiological sense. Sometimes, the developement of the fetus take a wrong turn and the infant, and later the adult, has mixed sexual characteristics. There was the case of a olympic female skier who turned out to have a XY genotype, back in the 70-80′s. The stuff was here, but hidden, not full-grown. It may be a rare occurence, but, at least according to transexual organizations, not that rare.
    And of course, one wonders if a “purely” psychological gender-confusion is that different from a genetic- and/or teratogenic-based confusion (err, right term?). Because the gender-confusion originated in the brain doesn’t make it de facto less organic (in a unavoidable sense) than a default of primary or secondary sexual characteristics.
    Incorrect sexual development is not exactly an area I feel like investigating in details, so you will excuse me if I don’t provide references. But I’m sure someone wondering about it and displaying high standards for debate and evidence can go looking by him/herself.

    To conclude, I also think that taking actions, even surgical ones, to address an issue is not in itself a sign of irrationality. It looks actually quite logical. Of course, it all depends on the reality of the issue and if the taken action will resolve it.

  182. #182 augustine
    August 11, 2010

    mike the snake: ["This new bit about transexuals does a bit to reveal something about his own psyche, but that's about it.]

    It really has nothing to do with transvestites, morals, tolerance, etc.,

    I used the question to make a point about how situationally irrational some of you, chris in particular, are. How biased you are and self-unaware.

  183. #183 Composer99
    August 11, 2010

    I think it’s clear beyond any doubt that the augustine troll is the equivalent, on this blog, of the worst rioters at the G20 in Toronto, or of people like Edward Limonov (as described by Dan Gardner: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Violent+confrontation+greatest+drug/3243805/story.html)

    augustine is not here to advance any agenda for improvement in medicine, even if it conflicts with how the rest of the participants here would like to see medicine improved. The troll is just here to tear things down.

  184. #184 Zaxter
    August 11, 2010

    augustine said: “And don’t give us the dishonest distractive argument that those 2 children pose some sort of threat to the bday party.”

    That’s clearly not the point. The point is to spark a social movement, which in turn would foster a hostile social environment toward parental neglect and social irresponsibility. I thought I made that clear. As an aside, please learn the difference between there, their, and they’re before attempting to use the English language again.

    augustine said: “Totalitarianism (or totalitarian rule) is a political system where the state, usually under the control of a single political person, faction, or class, recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible”
    “Totalitarianism is generally characterised by the coincidence of authoritarianism (where ordinary citizens have no significant share in state decision-making) and ideology (a pervasive scheme of values promulgated by institutional means to direct most if not all aspects of public and private life)”

    Various Anonymous Editors,. “Totalitarianism.” Wikipedia. wikipedia.org, revised 10 Aug 2010.
    Web. 11 Aug 2010. URL censored by site.

    “We can’t legally force these people to do the right thing.” Posted by: Zaxter |August 8, 2010 11:29 AM

    “I was clear that I would not support any legal measures mandating vaccination.” Posted by: Zaxter |August 9, 2010 10:37 PM

    The tactics I espouse involve no coercion whatsoever. I use no force or threats of any kind. For someone who likes to fling around accusations of straw men, you sure do have a lot of them standing in your own cornfield, not to mention egregious equivocations. How long are you going to misrepresent my views as fascist, totalitarian, reminiscent of the KKK and the Nazi movement? How many more ways can I say that I do not advocate for state mandated vaccinations? How long are you going to continue lying?

    coerce – Entry from World dictionary – verb
    Pronunciation:/kəʊˈəːs/
    • persuade (an unwilling person) to do something by using force or threats:he was coerced into giving evidence
    • obtain (something) by such means:their confessions were allegedly coerced by torture

    And I am still waiting on you to address the specifics of the data I researched for you.

  185. #185 augustine
    August 11, 2010

    I guess there are certain things that ARE taboo on here despite the insolence that comes from the keys of the SBMers.

    As one poster put it. You guys are “clutching your pearls”.

  186. #186 LW
    August 11, 2010

    Chris, I understand. I counted them several times myself to be sure I wasn’t saying something stupid.  Your mind may have slipped a cog when you hit the sixth 9: “that can’t be right; even Augie wouldn’t throw around a number that was off by three orders of magnitude!  Not three!”

    Then too, you might have gotten confused because on the prior thread augustine was quoting 99.999%.  Note to augustine: when you lower the probability of harm by an order of magnitude between one thread and the next, it’s really obvious that you’re making it up.
       
    Chris, I hope you didn’t think my lesson on arithmetic was addressed to you.  It just suddenly occurred to me from reading Zaxter’s comment that augustine was adding more 9s to indicate emphasis, not realizing that those numbers express a precise meaning. 

    Look back at the prior thread where it asks whether additional 9s would mean anything.  I was right in thinking that it doesn’t understand the meaning of numbers.   

  187. #187 Chris
    August 11, 2010

    Not a problem, LW. I actually made an arithmetic mistake on Mathematica (multiplied when I should have divided). So I am blaming the hour (past midnight).

    Little Augie just makes up stuff as he goes along, which explains the increasing number of 9s. Even more amusing was his contention that a study I linked to multiple times was debunked… something he obviously made up (I looked and could not find it mentioned in anything but legit medical sites).

  188. #188 augustine
    August 11, 2010

    coerce – Entry from World dictionary – verb
    Pronunciation:/kəʊˈəːs/
    • persuade (an unwilling person) to do something by using force or threats:he was coerced into giving evidence

    ——————————————–
    As in “you, little johnny, and you, little susie are not invited to my birthday party until, you little diseased spreading peasants go home and tell your daddy and mommy to vaccinate your dirty little butts. And that invitation you were given? It was an accident. Give it back.You’re not my friend anymore. Now run home. But don’t forget, Next year you can come if you do what the CDC says. And then I’ll be your friend again.”

    Using children as pawns for your agenda. You’re despicable.

  189. #189 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    August 11, 2010

    @Augie: “Using children as pawns for your agenda. You’re despicable.”

    Which means, then, that John Cooper Clarke was entirely correct about you, eh?

  190. #190 augustine
    August 11, 2010

    I can understand when someone is trapped in a body like Teenwolf. That’s obviously genetic. He couldn’t help it. He really is a man trapped in a dogs body.

    But what if Chris or Brucy believe they are really a wolf trapped in the wrong body.Has wolf feelings.Overly sensitive sense of smell. Even attracted to dogs. But they’re really not a wolf. Even a bonafied M.D.Phd.(maybe even 2 Ph.Ds) says they have wolf dysmorphia.

    So they go to Hair club for men and have their entire bodies covered with hair. The dentist puts some fangs on them. The optometrist gives them contacts.

    Are were supposed to believe this is logical. Should I except it as logical because we have come a long ways in our cultural acceptance of wolf men wannabes?

    If this is what science has come to then maybe you should keep attacking woo for your own sakes. If this is the standard of logic and rationality you’ve got some contradictory pychological issues within scientists itself.

    Is this the standard they teach in Medical school logic nowadays?

    Wolfman wannabe. Perfectly logical mind.

    Parent refusing CDC/AAP compliance has defiance disorder and deemed irrational, selfish, and insane.

  191. #191 This week's troll rankings
    August 11, 2010

    Power ranking Respectful insolence’s resident trolls
    1) Sid Offit, anti-social antivaxer. Number 1 due to prolific number of postings on all SBM-related sites. Makes surprisingly good 60s/70s cultural references periodically.
    2) Dr. I.M. Smart, famous for wild, hateful rants and new age woo. Something lovable about smart though- could be a Poe.
    3) Jen, a handle used for two parents of a autistic child. Can’t keep a story straight but interesting in apparent willingness to admit child abuse. Very prolific until recently- falling in the ranking.
    4) cooler, hilarious aids denying new poster.
    5) Augustine, kid that is still learning the art of trolling. Nothing remarkable about his posts, tends to make inane arguments about matters he has no expertise/knowledge in. Only makes list due to number of recent posts. Could learn a thing or two about colorful trolling from I.M. Smart, although the transsexual and former comments on atheism are a good start.

    Stay tuned for next week!

  192. #192 LW
    August 11, 2010

    The name shared by two parents is bensmyson. They are particularly entertaining since their heart-wrenching tale of how the 12-month MMR caused their son’s autism … proves that it didn’t.

    The commenter named jen contends that Tylenol causes autism. I’m not sure she belongs in this list.

  193. #193 augustine
    August 11, 2010

    Zaxter: This is why I advocate for a non-scientific, shaming approach with people who are never going to look at the data, no matter how easy you make it for them. People like you, augustine.
    —————————
    Good luck with that political activist regime you’re working on. I see you already have converted a good group of anti-birthday party parents.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxoKjwudruw&feature=related

    You’ll show the world you mean business.

  194. #194 Zaxter
    August 11, 2010

    augustine, the last time I checked my home is a private residence; and I have the right to decide who is and who is not welcome in it. This is, of course, a right that people don’t have in totalitarian states. The fact that you cannot see that no force or threat is involved here is exasperating to me, I’ll admit. Your abilities for equivocation are truly remarkable. The cognitive dissonance is strong with this one.

    I assume you are going to continue ignoring the data I presented you with. So far, your debating strategy looks something like this:

    1. Claim that this is not a debate about science, but about philosophy.
    2. Refuse to acknowledge all scientific data presented, insisting that this is a philosophical debate.
    3. Declare victory.

  195. #195 Mu
    August 12, 2010

    You need to fix the rankings (or at least the description). Cooler is NOT new, he’s an old acquaintance that’s been prominent on a number of scienceblog sites. His “show me the evidence that in 1984….” line has been posted dozens of times.

  196. #196 dedicated lurker
    August 12, 2010

    LW – there are several jens. There’s an anti-vax jen. The one you are thinking of is Jen from Texas, who didn’t vaccinate her second kid… and he was autistic anyway.

  197. #197 Pat Cahalan
    August 12, 2010

    @ Zaxter

    > 1. Claim that this is not a debate about science,
    > but about philosophy.
    > 2. Refuse to acknowledge all scientific data
    > presented, insisting that this is a philosophical
    > debate.
    > 3. Declare victory.

    You’re my new hero. Awesome.

  198. #198 augustine
    August 12, 2010

    @Pat Cahalan

    Great article on confirmation bias. Your hero should read it. You do have a flaw, though. You have a bad judgement of character. But that’s just my opinion.

  199. #199 augustine
    August 12, 2010

    Chris,

    If I get felinoplasty but adhere to the pro forced vaccine creed will my decision to get felinoplasty be accepted as logical and rational? Or does that decision stand on it’s own merits.

    where o where is this world where black is white and up is down? Where illogic is logic and rational is irrational? I want to know because I really am a kitty cat but people just don’t understand. Felinoplasty will complete me. But it will only work if people accept that fact.

    http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/kittycat

  200. #200 Marc
    August 13, 2010

    This was actually the topic that got me into skepticism in the first place. An internet argument with someone who not only claimed that the germ theory of disease was false, that Pasteur recanted on his deathbed, and that no pathogen has ever satisfied Koch’s postulates (still would love a good pointer on that one–my fledgeling skeptic jedi skills failed miserably that day), but then went on to AIDS denialism but also citing Duesberg as his authority! He lived in Seattle, so probably was a bit too influenced by the hundreds of Bastyr grads around there, but at least it brought me to Respectful Insolence and set me on my path as a skeptic. Thanks, Orac!

  201. #201 Tony F.
    October 13, 2010

    I don’t believe in germ theory or a viral cause of disease. I’m college educated, and not a religious fundamentalist (not even religious). Why SHOULD i believe in it? What evidence do you have that germs cause disease? The reasons you believe in it, is because you’ve been led to believe that treatment has garnered success. e.g. Polio vaccine.

    However, if you allow yourself, for a second, to consider that Polio was never caused by a virus in the first place, whatever has transipred since then can be still explained. Many contend Polio was instead caused by DDT exposure, which was coincientally phased out during the same era as Polio vaccinations coming into vogue. Also, the definitions by which a doctor could diagnose a condition as polio, became more refined dozens of times during the ’50s, basically making it appear that Polio was on decline. Fact is, the same paralytic conditions that defined polio back then, still exist today, but doctors aren’t allowed to define it as such.

    Don’t you remember as a child how silly it sounded when your mom told you what a germ is? Basically, an invisible little invader that causes sickness? The child in you was right. The reality of the situation has not changed just because Big Pharma claims it.

  202. #202 Tony F.
    October 13, 2010

    I don’t believe in germ theory or a viral cause of disease. I’m college educated, and not a religious fundamentalist (not even religious). Why SHOULD i believe in it? What evidence do you have that germs cause disease? The reasons you believe in it, is because you’ve been led to believe that treatment has garnered success. e.g. Polio vaccine.

    However, if you allow yourself, for a second, to consider that Polio was never caused by a virus in the first place, whatever has transipred since then can be still explained. Many contend Polio was instead caused by DDT exposure, which was coincientally phased out during the same era as Polio vaccinations coming into vogue. Also, the definitions by which a doctor could diagnose a condition as polio, became more refined dozens of times during the ’50s, basically making it appear that Polio was on decline. Fact is, the same paralytic conditions that defined polio back then, still exist today, but doctors aren’t allowed to define it as such.

    Don’t you remember as a child how silly it sounded when your mom told you what a germ is? Basically, an invisible little invader that causes sickness? The child in you was right. The reality of the situation has not changed just because Big Pharma claims it.

    You may think i’m crazy and stupid, but ask yourself this question… “Do you get sick”? I (one who doesn’t believe in germ/viral theory), do not get sick. Haven’t even had the sniffles in probably 10 years. You, on the other hand(one who believes in germ/viral theory, and takes all the vaccines, get sick multiple times a year). Why am I the silly one? Thru all your beliefs in vaccines, what good has it actually done you?

  203. #203 NJ
    October 13, 2010

    Tony F @ 202:

    I (one who doesn’t believe in germ/viral theory), do not get sick.

    Comment 1: (cite?)

    Comment 2: Don’t forget – mental illness is a disease, too!

  204. #204 Science Mom
    October 13, 2010

    You may think i’m crazy and stupid, but ask yourself this question… “Do you get sick”?

    Crazy and stupid are appropriate qualifiers and kudos to you for the self-awareness on that front. I guess you have never heard of Koch’s Postulates, go give them a spin.

    I (one who doesn’t believe in germ/viral theory), do not get sick. Haven’t even had the sniffles in probably 10 years.

    So this implies that unless you are ten years old, you have been sick. Crap, there goes your n=1.

    You, on the other hand(one who believes in germ/viral theory, and takes all the vaccines, get sick multiple times a year). Why am I the silly one?

    I am vaccinated, keep up on those for my occupation that the general public don’t require and I am rarely sick. You are silly, again, kudos for the self-awareness.

    Thru all your beliefs in vaccines, what good has it actually done you?

    Oh let’s see, kept me from flu, tetanus and rabies, measles and mumps. Kept my infant from a full-blown case of pertussis. You should get the idea.

  205. #205 Seb30
    October 13, 2010

    @ Tony

    Ah. So I guess I was wasting my time during my bacteriology courses at my university with all of these little bacteria I isolated from various human fluids and colored in blue and red so I can watch them under a microscope.
    Inoculating viruses to chicken eggs was interesting too. I suppose I was actually injecting them with DDT. I never realized.

    You talk about polio. What about all the other diseases, viral, bacterial or from fungi? Also all misdiagnosed?

    There are plenty of cool pictures on internet of viruses exiting the cells they infected. Just google ‘virus exiting cell’, I got 65k hits. Maybe less than 10% are microscopy pictures, but that’s still a lot. All photoshopped, I guess.

    I also guess the black plague epidemics were caused by misapplied horse manure. Eh, they didn’t have DDT in medieval time.

  206. #206 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    October 13, 2010

    @Tony F

    Why SHOULD i believe in it? What evidence do you have that germs cause disease?

    So if someone could show that they could isolate a germ, breed it, expose people to it, and have them come down with a specific disease – would that be evidence?
    Let’s take a couple of examples, ripped from the headlines:
    Back about 10 years ago someone sent letters to a number of people that contained what was found by lab analysis to be powdered anthrax bacillus. People who were exposed to those specific envelopes came down with (wait for it) anthrax. Some died. Anthrax is not a common disease in city populations.
    It was recently revealed that a study some years ago deliberately exposed prisoners to syphilis. They isolated the syphilis spirochete, bred it in broth, abraded the person’s skin, and immersed it in the broth. These men came down with … syphilis! I recently immersed my tongue in broth (which I’d previously bitten) during lunch and have not come down with syphilis, nor am I aware of anyone who has caught syphilis in that way.
    My conclusion from these is that the specific bacteria associated with syphilis and anthrax actually cause them.
    What’s your evidence that germs (a loose term for a variety of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and so on) do NOT cause disease?

  207. #207 LW
    October 13, 2010

    Well, that’s your problem — you immersed the wrong body part. Broth doesn’t interact with the *tongue* to cause syphilis.

  208. #208 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    October 13, 2010

    @LW – well, then, I need to change my approach. I am a little squeamish about abrading the correct part, though.

    And I don’t think I’ll be drinking the broth afterwards.

  209. #209 Mark Birmingham
    October 22, 2010

    Dr. Shawn is not as much a denialist as he thinks. I’m sure he would agree one cannot get a cold without being exposed to the virus. So, that part of germ theory can never be denied.