Respectful Insolence

More examples of how influenza still kills

The flu season continues apace around my part of the country. I wrote about it about a week and a half ago, in particular how people don’t get their flu shots because they don’t think they need them, because they don’t think the flu is a serious disease. Two more stories illustrate this disconnect. For instance, here’s a story about three people in their 20s who died of the flu in Michigan. The key heart-wrenching passage is this:

Ashley McCormick was 23 years old when she died December 27.

“We were like, ‘This is the flu. How can this happen? It’s just the flu.’ I mean, everybody gets the flu and this doesn’t happen,” says Ashley’s mother, Patricia McCormick.

Ashley’s parents say she first started coming down with the flu symptoms December 21st. A trip to urgent care didn’t help and by the night of Christmas, Ashley’s symptoms were worse than ever.

Her father rushed her to the hospital but doctors couldn’t save her. She graduated from Rochester High School and wanted to be a teacher for special needs children. Her parents say she had no underlying health conditions and she did not get a flu shot.


Tragically mistaken myths like this are why people like Ashley McCormick don’t get flu shots. Everybody might get the flu at one time or another, but tragic cases like Ashley’s do happen often enough that it makes sense to get vaccinated. The same thing apparently drove Chris Wright, a mail carrier who was described as very healthy, to make the same ill-fated decision:

Chris Wright, a 41-year-old father of five, was very healthy according to family members. He died Sunday at Oakwood Southshore Medical Center in Trenton, Mich., but had also been treated at Mercy Memorial Hospital in Monroe.

“He always said, ‘I never get sick. I’m healthy as a horse,’ ” said his wife Susan. That is why he didn’t think it was necessary to get a flu shot, she added.

I don’t care how healthy you are. The flu can kill.

Comments

  1. #1 Pris
    The Dark side of the Force
    January 20, 2014

    Isn’t it the case that with some types of flu young and healthy people die because they are healthy and have a strong immune system?

    The Spanish Flu was one like that.

  2. #2 Julian Frost
    January 20, 2014

    @Pris: yes. I’ve seen the phrase “cytokine storm” mentioned in context with this. As I understand it, the immune system overreacts and the overreaction kills the patient.

  3. #3 Erp
    January 20, 2014

    And horses can also die very quickly.

    I can see why a healthy young person might forego a flu vaccination if there is a shortage of the vaccine so as to allow those most at risk to get it. I can also see why if they are on very limited income and have to pay for the shot (I get it through work so don’t have to worry about that).

    It has also only been fairly recently that flu shots for all ages (except young infants) has been recommended.

  4. #4 lilady
    January 20, 2014

    Recent research into the 1918 influenza pandemic and other more recent influenza pandemics, attribute the high mortality in younger people to cytokine storms…an overreaction of the body’s immune system to an infection:

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

    Children ages six months and older should receive seasonal influenza vaccine and any child between the ages of 6 months-8 years of age will require two doses of influenza vaccine, given one month apart…if they are receiving seasonal influenza vaccine for the first time:

    http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/children.htm

  5. #5 novalox
    January 20, 2014

    Near where I live, there has been a increased amount of individuals who have been hospitalized with the flu, as well as more individuals in the area where I volunteer at. Talking to the families, a familiar theme emerges, usually that they didn’t think the flu was that bad and that they didn’t get vaccinated for it.

    We also heard that 2 patients at a nearby hospital had died of the flu. According to the news reports, both had not been vaccinated for the flu.

    I only expect it to get worse, with January and February usually being the worst months for the flu.

    So, get the shot, if you haven’t done so.

  6. #6 Narad
    January 20, 2014

    Local data (PDF). A minimum of eight deaths. I’d like the inflection point circa week 1 if it weren’t for Figs. 1 and 3.

  7. #7 Narad
    January 20, 2014
  8. #8 Adam
    January 20, 2014

    Most large chemists in Ireland provide a walk in vaccination service for 25 euros. There shouldn’t be much excuse for not getting the jab.

    I often wonder why most countries don’t provide a universal jab to anyone who wants it. It must pay for itself purely in terms of productivity – people not off sick or to provide care for sick kids, but also in reduced seasonal pressure on the GP and hospital system.

  9. #9 Sullivanthepoop
    January 20, 2014

    Another problem with H1N1 and why it kills young, healthy people is it has a receptor for lung tissue. Once it gets to the lungs the immune system follows it there and causes pulmonary consolidation.

  10. #10 Greg
    January 20, 2014

    Just dropping in for another quick second drug-dealers.

    Really — seriously — I have to ask this question: I am practically a middle aged man who has never had a flu shot. Yet guys, how is it possible that I don’t get the flu. Perhaps I have a strong immune system but I do get colds occasionally, but never the flu. Again drug-dealers, given the odds, surely by now I should have come down with even one episode of the flu.

    Now of course you guys are well aware of my stance on vaccines, but I am really curious at what crocks you guys will spew to account for my case.

  11. #11 Gray Falcon
    January 20, 2014

    Greg, I once got struck by a car while on foot, and I’m still alive and able to walk. Does that mean defensive driving is unnecessary?

    Also, calling us “drug dealers” is libel in the highest order.

  12. #12 rork
    January 20, 2014

    Greg: Every year, folks that had confirmed flu were disproportionately not vaxed. Forgive me for not thinking your anecdote eclipses that.

  13. #13 Adam
    January 20, 2014

    @greg sounds like you’re volunteering for vivisection given you apparently possess the cure to flu in your body. More seriously I bet you have had the flu in the past whether you care to admit it or not.

  14. #14 MikeMa
    January 20, 2014

    Greg the dim,
    I suppose you might recognize the differences in mathematics and human beings. Math gives the same answer for the same conditions. Every time. Humans don’t work that way. There are too many variables to create the same conditions so the answer varies. Even when the conditions appear the same.

    A sufficiently motivated 8th grade algebra student could have figured that out. Yet you fail. I do not wish the flu on anyone but you try the patience of more stalwart folk than I. Try and work out some of the variables that might have resulted in your good fortune fool.

  15. #15 Dan J. Andrews
    January 20, 2014

    Flu may have killed a child in my area. In addition 45 dead from flu (two children) in the province so far. In the article, they seem to go out of their way to emphasize they don’t know if the flu killed the child, and that most people who get the flu don’t die. Must be hard to find the fine line between being realistic and too alarmist.

    http://www.nugget.ca/2014/01/17/hospital-reports-childs-death

  16. #16 AnObservingParty
    January 20, 2014

    Congratulations Greg, on your pure luck, and on bringing it up on an article in which two young people died demanding an explanation for your blind luck.

    I do wonder, how many young people would get the shot if it was easier to get. I have a lot of friends who just can’t be bothered, it’s more laziness than delusions of invincibility. Anecdote alert: two friends who never got it because it involved a doctors appointment/waiting in line in a pharmacy/an extra step at a time when they didn’t want to think about it have consistently got the shot when their jobs started offering it (non-healthcare employers).

    I actually got into a discussion with my PCP about the manner in which his office offers flu shots during December, I was in for another reason, and the nurse flew off a quick, “you want a flu shot?” when she was doing vitals. Like, “you could get it, but it’s not really important we’re just required to offer.” Of course I already had it, but when I told him the passive, flippant way it was offered, he was shocked. If it’s an extra step, an extra buck (even if only $25) and it isn’t encouraged, many people just won’t do it. He said he would discuss with his staff…I go back Friday, let’s see if the manner has changed. :)

    So, my point: is it actively feeling invincible, or just laziness?

  17. #17 janerella
    Sweating thru another hot Oz night.
    January 20, 2014

    Greg, I got to 40 without ever having the flu – bad colds, yes, but never the flu – then H1N1 knocked me horizontal in 2009. And my whole family. Followed by secondary infections – bronchitis, ear infections, eye infections. I took pride in how healthy my kids were, how we rarely got sick, and we all suffered for a month and a half when the flu finally got us. Don’t be so cocky.

    Sullivan – the first symptom I had, I remember clearly – I was out cleaning up the horse paddock when I started to feel like I had to breathe in extra hard to catch my breath – a real heavy feeling. It was quite distinct, and the headache, and fever set in within a couple of hours.

  18. #18 Sarah A
    January 20, 2014

    @Greg
    All of the cycling “authorities” recommend wearing a helmet – and yet I rode a bicycle as my primary means of transportation for 8 years and never hit my head. Obviously there’s only one explanation – it’s all a conspiracy concocted by helmet manufacturers. What kind of crock will you spew out to account for my case, Greg? And don’t try to tell me that I was just lucky, or that even a small chance of getting a serious head injury greatly outweighs the minor inconvenience of wearing a helmet, because I’ll just call you names and pretend to be too stupid to understand basic logic.

  19. #19 Calli Arcale
    January 20, 2014

    Influenza was a factor in my most serious illness, although I don’t believe I actually had it.

    When I was four years old, I developed meningitis. I went from fine to deathly ill incredibly fast, and my parents rushed me to the ER, where a family got upset that we were taken ahead of their son with a broken leg; but the hospital knows not to mess around with a 107 fever. Especially in the middle of an influenza outbreak.

    The hospital was *packed*. Although I probably did not have influenza, the staff were seriously overloaded — to the point where the lab misplaced the specimen from my spinal tap. So they did a second tap. They misplaced that too, so we’ll never know what organism was responsible. I was put into isolation in case it was HiB and given antibiotics, but the course of the illness over the next couple of weeks suggested viral and they let me come out of isolation. Supplies were running low, though, and they had to improvise with the splint for my arm with the IV.

    I believe that if there hadn’t been that influenza outbreak, I would know what organism had caused my meningitis, and I believe my care would’ve been better as well with a less overtaxed hospital. But you do not get to choose these things, and the staff did an excellent job despite the challenges.

    Less people getting influenza would definitely be a good thing. My family got to see first-hand how severely taxed the system can get during an influenza outbreak; wouldn’t it be good to be able to avoid that?

  20. #20 Marry Me, Mindy
    January 20, 2014

    in particular how people don’t get their flu shots because they don’t think they need them, because they don’t think the flu is a serious disease.

    Sorry, I had to stop here.

    This nonsense about how if it doesn’t kill you, it’s not a big deal nor worth vaccinating against drives me crazy.

    I get vaccinated against the flu not because I think it is going to kill me, but because I CAN. The flu sucks. It may not kill you, but it makes you feel pretty lousy for a few days, at best, and more likely knocks you out of commission. Who the fuck wouldn’t want to avoid that if you can?

    And if you have kids, it is even better to avoid it, because taking care of kids when you are dragging yourself around because of the flu is a major PITA.

    Shit, give me a cold vaccine if you can, because even a common cold makes life suck. And vaccines are such trivial sacrifices to make to help avoiding this other crap.

  21. #21 Lawrence
    January 20, 2014

    Having had the flu a few times when I was younger, the experience was bad enough to remind me that I need to get my flu shot on a yearly basis….regular colds are bad enough, but the flu is something else entirely…why take the chance, given that the Influenza vaccine is among the safest on the market, with the fewest recorded side effects?

  22. #22 Jen in TX
    January 20, 2014

    Aren’t you doing the same thing that you’re always accusing the anti-vaxers of doing–using “heart-wrenching” (your words) anecdotal news stories to support your position?

    Do we know the circumstances surrounding these anecdotes, such as the use or possible misuse of prescription or over-the-counter medications?

    Most people’s knee-jerk reaction to a 103F temperature is to gulp down a few Tylenols or ibuprofen or Nyquil or whatever other OTC combo drug the TV tells you is the best way to get yourself back to normal quicker so you don’t miss any work or school, for goodness sakes, because we’re taught that fever is bad and if you don’t suppress it your brain will fry (yes, I’ve actually heard that phrase used!) even though evidence suggests that suppressing fevers can be detrimental to the immune response, and you know, increase your chances of dying.

    http://jrs.sagepub.com/content/103/10/403.long

    So…other than not being vaccinated, are there any other questions that we should be asking in response to these tragic deaths? Besides vaccination, is there anything else we could be doing that might reduce the risk of mortality and morbidity from influenza? Shouldn’t we be applying the same skepticism to the spurious claims of big pharma drugmakers as we do to the claims of homeopaths?

    Just askin’.

    Jen, who’s been vaccinated for flu (and TDaP, too-gonna be a granny soon!) :D

    On a related note, I’m looking forward to a skeptic’s take on the Brandlistuen study. Any takers?

    http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/10/24/ije.dyt183.abstract

  23. #23 Greg
    January 20, 2014

    Hey Sarah,

    I will continue to wear a helmet when I am ice-skating even though I realize that there is only a remote chance that I will fall and seriously hurt myself. After all, helmets have proven themselves to be safe and effective. As for the flu shots, I am not so sure that they don’t carry serious adverse events, and they may not be at all effective.

    Sarah, I will continue to pass on the flu shots, but feel free to take my extra doses. And Sarah, if you don’t keel over from taking them and do make it to a ripe age then congrats. And if fate have it that we both find ourselves in the same nursing home at such ripe ages, I will give you props again. Even if you are a complete basket case from vaccine induced degenerative illness, and are not aware of what I am saying.

  24. #24 THS
    Western Oregon
    January 20, 2014

    The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR) has the funeral for the local 5-yr old flu victim – Ronan Burgess – on the front page as the leading human interest story with a large photo of the bereaved parents embracing a friend.
    The R-G continues to urge citizens to get flu shots (too much ignorant resistance here) and some of the local pharmacies are running out.
    Our family is vaccinated.

  25. #25 Helianthus
    Around Geneva
    January 20, 2014

    @ AnObservingParty

    So, my point: is it actively feeling invincible, or just laziness?

    I plead the latter, compounded by a fear of needles.
    Plus, available physicians are somewhat of a rarity in my region (unless you happen to be a Swiss banker). It’s not an excuse, but it doesn’t help.

    @ Fabricate Diem, Punc

    Yet guys, how is it possible that I don’t get the flu

    Not everybody got the flu. That’s not the same as no-one getting it.
    The lowest value I have seen in a scientific article is 3 % of people who got the flu in the control group, against 1.6 % in the vaccinated group (infections confirmed by serotypage).
    Orac talked about this article, but my quick search didn’t find it.
    Now, Let’s use these very conservative values. Why worry about 3 people over one hundred, and what’s all of this fuss about saving 1.4 guy from the flu?

    Well, 3% of my country’s population is 1.8 million people. In the US, that would be over 10 millions.
    That’s a lot of people getting off job, with a good number of them crowding doctors’ offices or hospitals.
    And this is just from the main strain of flu for the year. Minor flu-like illnesses of the season will add up their own victims.
    Suddenly, having the government interested in halving these numbers seems like a good economical and humane investment.
    I may be lucky enough not to get a nasty bit of flu, but I certainly have to be luckier not to know someone who suffered from the flu.

    tl;dr: if you are lucky enough, you won’t get contaminated during flu season, or even if you are, you will only get mild symptoms.
    If you are unlucky, you, or someone dear to you, may be in for some pain.
    So, tell me, do you feel lucky?
    You should.

  26. #26 Gray Falcon
    January 20, 2014

    Greg, did it ever occur to you that by insulting us instead of providing evidence, you’re only making yourself look suspicious?

  27. #27 Johanna
    January 20, 2014

    Greg doesn’t care what we think of him. Like all trolls, he’s in it for the lulz.

    Like a wart, if you ignore him, he goes away eventually.

  28. #28 MI Dawn
    January 20, 2014

    @Jen in TX: Hey, welcome back! Congrats on the upcoming grandma-hood, and I’m so glad you were considerate enough to get the flu shot and TDaP!

    Yes, we have all been taught fever is bad. OTOH, the last time I had the flu, I had gone to work fine at 7 pm and was in the ER with fever, severe body aches and a 104 fever before midnight (NY Eve….happy NY to me!). Because I am a nurse, and the curious type – and since the kids were out of the house and away from exposure – I decided the next day to find out HOW feverish I could get. I chickened out at 106.7 and took NSAIDS – I was so very miserable from the pain the fever, and everything. Even with my own kids, I generally treated fever by behavior than temperature (if they had a fever and were playing normally, fine. If they were miserable and crying, then they got NSAIDS). I do the same for me. Bedrest, fluids, and only medicate if necessary.

    I get the flu shot every year now. I don’t want to go through that again. EVER. 7 days off work and 3 additional weeks of having no strength and no energy with 2 children under 7 is no fun.

    I’m so glad Greg is Superman and has never had the flu. I hope, for his sake, he never does. And I don’t intend to meet you in the nursing home, Greg. I plan on traveling the world like my parents do and my grandparents did. Flu shots, all available vaccines and all. Not a single case yet of degenerative brain disease.

  29. #29 JGC
    January 20, 2014

    As for the flu shots, I am not so sure that they don’t carry serious adverse events, and they may not be at all effective.

    Greg, what exactly is the basis for your concern that the rsisk of serious adverse events due to being vaccinated against the flu is greater than the risks associated with not being vaccinated? Be specific.

    What exactly is the basis for your belief that the fle vaccine may not be at all effective–i.e., that this years flu vaccination campaign will not prevent a single case of influenza from occurring? Again, be specific.

  30. #30 Krebiozen
    January 20, 2014

    Greg,

    I am practically a middle aged man who has never had a flu shot. Yet guys, how is it possible that I don’t get the flu.

    What do you mean by, “I don’t get the flu”? If you are unvaccinated you have between a 1 in 10 and a 1 in 20 chance of getting influenza in any given year. If you are approaching middle age I would expect you to have had influenza once or twice in your lifetime. If you had it as a child and the same strain comes around, you may be lucky enough to have natural immunity.

    Getting the vaccine drastically reduces your chances to more like 1 in 100 or even 1 in 200 in a good year. The chances of a serious adverse reaction to the vaccine are in the order of one in a million. Even your mathematical skills should be up to figuring out it is a good idea to get the vaccine.

    You may be happy playing the odds, but you will regret it if you do go down with influenza, especially if you pass it on it to your children or to an elderly relative.

    By the way, don’t you work with children with autism? Aren’t you are required to have up-to-date vaccinations, including influenza, for a job like that?

  31. #31 JustNuts
    January 20, 2014

    Greg: How is it that you just just know that you have a “strong immune system”? Laboratory analysis of immunuglobin levels? You have applied an erroneous coorelation. The mere absence of disease is an extremely crude and totally anecdotal measure.

  32. #32 Keating Willcox
    January 20, 2014

    http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/Headline/influenza-virus-flu-vaccine-Peter-Doshi-Ph-D-/2013/05/16/id/504942

    from Johns Hopkins, so not a quack

    but see also

    http://blog.alz.org/timely-topic-flu-vaccine-not-linked-to-alzheimers/

    very contradictory. Please provide a website where pro and con are both examined.

  33. #33 Katherine
    North Carolina
    January 20, 2014

    I just wanted to thank Orac and the commenters here. I’ve never had the flu vaccine, and as far as I can remember, I’ve never had the flu. So, I thought, what’s the point of getting the vaccine? Then I learned (somewhere, can’t remember where) that some people can get asymptomatic cases of the flu. You don’t have symptoms, but you’re potentially spreading that flu to people who WILL have symptoms. Not only do I not want to catch the flu, I don’t want any of the people I interact with to catch it.

    The CVS near my house gives the flu jab on a walk-in basis. Not sure how much it costs, but they accept insurance, and I’ll be going this week to get my first flu jab.

  34. #34 Gray Falcon
    January 20, 2014

    Keating, there is no “pro and con”, only true and false. We don’t cover “both sides” of the issue because only one side exists.

  35. #35 Rich Scopie
    January 20, 2014

    Isn’t Greg already in a nursing home? I’ve always assumed he was.

  36. #36 Ren
    January 20, 2014

    Here’s the difference between using published, confirmed cases of influenza-associated deaths and using “heart-wrenching” anecdotes of how bad vaccines might be: These are confirmed and published cases.

    In each anecdotal story about vaccine A causing diseases B, C, D, and E, there is always some doubt. There is a lack of a confirmation by legitimate scientists. There is some sort of innuendo, name-calling, or something that makes us realize that the story being told is a tale best used to scare children into eating their veggies.

    We all remember Desiree Jennings. AoA, Generation Rescue, and any other anti-vaccine organization out there embraced her as a symbol of how horrible the flu vaccine is. Then what happened? I find her VAERS report in which it is clearly reported that hers is a psychogenic condition and everyone disavows her. Where is she now if she is such a great example of the horrors of the flu vaccine? They got rid of her faster than the British medical board got rid of Wakefield.

    In essence, if you put up your vaccine injuries up against the actual deaths and severe cases of vaccine-preventable diseases, you’ll find yourself laughed at, embarrassed, and cowering behind ad hominem and appeal to popularity. This is the case with Greg. He’s never been able to bring forth a proper argument or proper evidence of what he says, just name-calling and innuendo. That is the whole of his arguments, and that’s why no one takes him seriously.

  37. #37 AnObservingParty
    January 20, 2014

    @ Keating, that particular Doshi article has been discussed at the Poxes blog: http://thepoxesblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/non-epidemiologist-tries-to-do-epidemiology-feeds-anti-vaccine-activists/

    I’d call an anthropologist who pretends to be an epidemiologist a quack. Just because he has Johns Hopkins attached to his CV for his post doc doesn’t mean he’s not

  38. #38 AnObservingParty
    January 20, 2014

    Ooops, that particular “Doshi problem.” Not article. If I remember correctly, Reuben goes into a lot of Doshi’s BS

  39. #39 Keating Willcox
    January 20, 2014

    You folks must think we are just stupid. Here, from the radical, fruitcakes of the New York Times is the crux of the problem…http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/business/breaking-the-seal-on-drug-research.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0

  40. #40 Keating Willcox
    January 20, 2014

    Hmmm Roche paid a $3 Billion settlement. For lying on purpose to sell more drugs, and hide critical trials that show the drugs are not so good, even dangerous such as Paxil. And your response is a personal attack on the messenger whose only request is transparency. So typical.

    @Gray Falcon It is unclear whether you are on the side of transparency or not. Do you think, by the way, that Roche was unfairly treated by having to pay $3 Billion dollars for lying? The truth in that case was evident. Roche was lucky not to have criminal liabilities as well.

    Notice, for those medications that work well and have few side effects, there is almost no controversy. The controversy always seems to come when Big Pharma knows it is selling a dog, a dangerous or ineffective drug, and tries to cover it up, and attack the persons who brought the problem to light.

    Thank God for trial lawyers who show up on the doorstep of Big Pharma and crush them.

  41. #41 Dangerous Bacon
    January 20, 2014

    ” Here, from the radical, fruitcakes of the New York Times is the crux of the problem…http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/business/breaking-the-seal-on-drug-research.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0″

    Is there something in that article about flu vaccine? I don’t see it.

    Or are you reiterating the worn-out meme about how some research has been questioned and/or found fraudulent, therefore all medicine is untrustworthy?

  42. #42 Keating Willcox
    January 20, 2014

    It is interesting that Doshi’s critics ([1], [9]) seem to evade the crucial issue of the extent the flu vaccines are succeeding in preventing clinical flu. The results of two recent meta-analyses are by no means encouraging ([6], [7]). In [6], which deals with 65+ individuals (one of the high priority groups for mass vaccination according to the CDC), it is stated that “the usefulness of vaccines on the community [as opposed to long-term care facilities] is modest”; in [7] the effectiveness of vaccines in children younger than 2 (inactivated vaccines) or older than 2 (both inactivated and live attenuated vaccines) was found to be “low”. One of the main reasons given to explain these disappointing results is that “vaccines are specifically targeted at influenza viruses and are not designed to prevent other causes of influenza-like illness”[7].

    In an interview the senior author of [6] and [7], Dr. Tom Jefferson, put the issue in a refreshingly explicit way: “The vaccine doesn’t work very well at all. [...] Vaccines are being used as an ideological weapon. What you see every year as the flu is caused by 200 or 300 different agents with a vaccine against two of them. That is simply nonsense.”[8]

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    Are US flu death figures more PR than science?
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    Flu Vaccine Research: More Detailed Statistics Needed
    5 May 2006

    In his article, Peter Doshi contests the official government statistics for flu deaths, claiming the figures are too high. In his letter in response to this article, Prof. Marco Mamone-Capria writes that the situation is more complicated, regarding alleged flu deaths, than public health authorites would have the public believe. And he raises questions about how useful flu vaccines might be.

    Some clarifications might be attained by means of more precise and detailed statistics. For example, during each year in which there is a promotional campaign for flu vaccines, there are four groups of persons: 1) Those who got their flu vaccine, and then got the flu. 2) Those who did not get a flu vaccine, and did not get the flu. 3) Those who did not get a flu vaccine, and got the flu. 4) Those who got their flu vaccine and did not get the flu.

    Statistics for each of these groups would provide important information for scholars, and the public, in helping to arrive at informed opinions and decisions. Along a similar line, it would seem likely and logical that many, if not most, of the alleged flu deaths are among persons in the over 65 age group. In fact, this group is a specific target during flu vaccine promotional campaigns. How many of the alleged flu deaths in this age group include persons who got their flu vaccine in the wake of the public health officials’ warnings and suggestions, and how many among persons who did not heed the warnings and did not get a flu vaccine? Such statistics might provide important information relating to the relative urgency to get flu vaccines, and relating to how useful and effective flu vaccines really are.

    Competing interests: None declared

    Competing interests: None declared

    Gordon F. Moran, Independent scholar

    Via delle Terme, 3, Firenze, Italy 50123

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    How useful are flu vaccines?
    25 January 2006

    Thompson et al. [1] highlight the correlation between “pneumonia and influenza” estimated death rates and the percentage of samples positive for influenza A(H3N2) viruses by week in United States from 1990 to 1998 (cf. Fig. 1, [1]). This correlation is not in itself inconsistent with the hypothesis that other factors might substantially or even predominantly contribute to the mortality seasonal burden. Apart from the respiratory illnesses caused by the increase of environmental pollutants during the winter season [2], it is worth remembering that “Cold weather alone causes striking short term increases in mortality, mainly from thrombotic and respiratory disease”, even without an influenza epidemic [3].

    This is in agreement with the generally recognized circumstance that “isolation of human influenza viruses in the blood has been reported only rarely”[1] and that the immediate cause of death in almost all cases is not the viral infection itself but an indirect “complication”, like secondary bacterial pneumonia.

    That there is a serious problem here for the conventional estimates of the “pneumonia and flu” death rates is widely accepted. For instance, one member of the Simonsen et al. team, Jonathan Dushoff, published a few months ago a useful note emphasizing: “Approaching a consensus on the health and mortality burden of influenza, and on the cause of winter excess mortality in general, is an important scientific and public policy goal. For this to happen, further progress is needed in several areas”, and concluding: “The contribution of influenza to morbidity and mortality – and, more broadly, cataloging the causes of daily and season excess deaths and hospitalizations – remain as unresolved questions with important scientific and public-health implications.” ([4])

    More should be done in the way of epidemiological research to assess the relative weight of all plausible factors and to ascertain how frequently the flu viruses are actually involved in the fatal outcomes. Most importantly, it must be pointed out that the so-called “complications” are also linked to influenza-like illness (ILI), which is “clinically indistinguishable from influenza” [6]. ILI, defined as a symptomatic syndrome, is in fact caused by hundreds of different agents, including RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), picornaviruses, parainfluenza, hMPV (human metapneumovirus), coronaviruses etc.(see e.g. [5]).

    Now, an important public health issue arises at this point, since vaccine is protective only against two of the agents causing symptomatic, clinical flu. It follows that even if clinical flu were the underlying cause of seasonal differences in “pneumonia and influenza” death rates, this would not in itself provide a solid ground for the mass flu vaccination campaigns.

    It is interesting that Doshi’s critics ([1], [9]) seem to evade the crucial issue of the extent the flu vaccines are succeeding in preventing clinical flu. The results of two recent meta-analyses are by no means encouraging ([6], [7]). In [6], which deals with 65+ individuals (one of the high priority groups for mass vaccination according to the CDC), it is stated that “the usefulness of vaccines on the community [as opposed to long-term care facilities] is modest”; in [7] the effectiveness of vaccines in children younger than 2 (inactivated vaccines) or older than 2 (both inactivated and live attenuated vaccines) was found to be “low”. One of the main reasons given to explain these disappointing results is that “vaccines are specifically targeted at influenza viruses and are not designed to prevent other causes of influenza-like illness”[7].

    In an interview the senior author of [6] and [7], Dr. Tom Jefferson, put the issue in a refreshingly explicit way: “The vaccine doesn’t work very well at all. [...] Vaccines are being used as an ideological weapon. What you see every year as the flu is caused by 200 or 300 different agents with a vaccine against two of them. That is simply nonsense.”[8]

    So it appears that the picture, not only at a theoretical level but even as regards “public health efforts”[9], is much more complicated than that provided by the NIH and CDC representatives.

    References

    [1] Thompson WW, Shay D, Weintraub E, Brammer L, Meltzer M, Cox N, Bresee J. “Are estimates of influenza-associated deaths in the US really just PR?”. BMJ [rapid response] (18 Jan 2006) (retrieved 23 Jan 2006).

    [2] Crowe D. “The Peril of Correlation”. BMJ [rapid response] (14 Jan 2006) (retrieved 23 Jan 2006).

    [3] Donaldson G. C., W R Keatinge W. R., “Excess winter mortality: influenza or cold stress? Observational study”, BMJ, Vol. 324, pp.89-90 (12 Jan 2002)

    [4] Dushoff J. “Assessing influenza-related mortality: comment on Zucs et al.”, Emerging Themes in Epidemiology, 2005, 2:7, doi:10.1186/1742-7622-2-7

    [5] Kelly H., Birch C. “The causes and diagnosis of influenza-like illness”, Australian Family Physician Vol. 33, No. 5, May 2004, pp. 305-9

    [6] Jefferson T., Rivetti D., Rivetti A., Rudin M., Di Pietrantonj C., Demicheli V., “Efficacy and effectiveness of influenza vaccines in elderly people: a systematic review”, Lancet, Vol. 366, pp. 1165-74 (1 Oct 2005).

  43. #43 Lawrence
    January 20, 2014

    @Keating – and what does that have to do with Vaccines?

    Decades of research shows them to be effective, safe, and not the kind of thing that is even “controversial” anymore – unless you are an anti-vax head.

  44. #44 Canadian Social Worker
    British Columbia
    January 20, 2014

    I have also never had the flu shot however have had the flu in the past. Honestly I don’t know weather to get it or not. I respect both sides of the arguement and haven’t been able to find a convincing enough reason to get the vaccine, however I am open to consdering it. Here are my questions;

    1. If you have had the flu before, does it not naturally stengthen your immune system?
    2. Are more people actually dying from the flu, or because of so much tv and internet news it is just getting reported more?
    3. My friend works in health care where over 80% of staff are vaccinated, and yet our citizens are still experiencing high rates of the flu, our hospitals are full, and people are still dying. Does getting the vaccination really make that much difference? At least where I live, the stats don’t seem to support it.

    Any feedback would be much appreciated. Thanks!!

  45. #45 Logo
    San Diego
    January 20, 2014

    It is interesting how Greg et al accuse the proponents of the flu vaccine as being drug pushers. Let’s turn the tables for once and more accurately portray the truth.

    It is those who reject the vaccine who are going to put the most money in the hands of hospitals, doctors, and drug companies. People who get the flu often get very sick. They are often put in the hospital. They are often put in the ICU. They sometimes die. This is all VERY expensive. The flu vaccine saves lives and saves money.

    If the anti-vaccine people had their way, costs would soar. My proof?

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0066312

    http://www.cdc.gov/flu/news/nivw-flu-vaccine-benefits.htm

  46. #46 Vicki
    January 20, 2014

    Radical fruitcakes, no. Trustworthy, also no. Not since they printed the Bush administration’s lies about Iraq and alleged “weapons of mass destruction” without bothering to fact-check, and dismissed evidence provided by critics of the war. So not only is that article irrelevant, this isn’t even argument from authority, it’s Argument from Unreliable Authority. You might as well ask me to believe in Santa Clause because Bernie Madoff told you he’s real. Sure, the Times might print the truth, but I’m skeptical of them on anything more potentially controversial than “new species of ant found in the Broadway median.”

  47. #47 Johanna
    January 20, 2014

    Ooh! It’s been ages since I got the “Gish gallop” square!

  48. #48 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 20, 2014

    @Canadian Social Worker,

    1. Having influenza does not strengthen your immune system. It most cases it does leave you with some level of immunity to that strain of influenza and perhaps a few related strains, which is a far more limited effect than the phrase “strengthen your immune system” would imply.

    2. It’s my understanding that the death rate from flu varies from year to year and strain to strain.

    3. I don’t understand your statement. What does the immunization rate of hospital staff have to do with the people from the general public hospitalized for influenza?

  49. #49 Lawrence
    January 20, 2014

    @MoB – I would hope that the hospital staff would have a higher rate of vaccination than the general population, if they are being inundated with Flu patients (which, of course lends credence to wanting to get the vaccine – if so many flu victims are going to the hospital).

    Death rates do vary significantly – as does the strain of flu….why anyone would want to take their chances, I’ll have no idea.

  50. #50 Stella B.
    January 20, 2014

    Katherine: due to the Affordable Care Act, your flu vaccine will cost $0.

    I had the real flu in college. What a miserable experience. A full week in bed and another two weeks of feeling pretty crappy and exhausted. Unfortunately, we often use the word “flu” to describe any bad cold, so for many people “the flu” is 2-3 days of sore throat, Kleenex, and sinus pressure and little reason to vaccinate. If, like my mother, you got to spend two weeks in the ICU, you’ll be a lot better about getting that little vaccine.

  51. #51 Denice Walter
    January 20, 2014

    Exactly, Lawrence.

    For the past few months, the alt med woo-esphere has been saturated with anti-flu-vaccine articles/videos/ faux studies as it is every year about this time- which is precisely WHEN people contract flu.( PRN, Natural News, AoA, TMR).

    Now why would they do this?
    They keep telling us how they only have public welfare in mind and wish to protect people from corporate malfeasance and greedy SB doctors. I tend to doubt their veracity.

    What I suspect is directly the opposite:
    they want to increase their own power and prestige amongst their audience as well as filling their coffers- they are competitors of SBM although they would have you believe that they ‘enlightening’ you because of the goodness of their hearts and their concern for all mankind.

    In their universe, the flu doesn’t really harm anyone- no one dies of it- whilst the vaccine does great harm. The flu can be entirely avoided, they say, by eating a proper diet and taking supplements to “strengthen the immune system”. They also JUST happen to sell diet books, videos, pure food products,water filtres, juicers and supplements- in other words, what you need to avoid the flu, according to them.

    People who accept SBM data about the flu or the vaccine would therefore NOT want to follow their regimes. This is why they would do or say anything to besmirch SB information.
    And they DO say anything to manipulate their followers into doubting research. It’s a great hoax and the victims are anyone who buys either their information or their products.
    You’ve been HAD.

    If you would believe them, you cannot trust governmental health agencies, doctors, universities, researchers, medical associations/journals or
    the mainstream media.

    So I ask again:
    would you doubt everything experts tell you and instead believe some guy on the internet who wants your money?

    And -btw- these simple, humble health advocates live in palaces ( see Quackwatch/ recent additions for an article about Mercola- featuring photos of his estate; or go to paradisegardensnaplesfl.com for a real estate agent’s- a Ms Flax- site about Null’s 6miilion USD abode).

  52. #52 Canadian Social Worker
    January 20, 2014

    Thanks Meph,

    I can see how question 3 is confusing. Let me reword it. The city and province I live in has a really high vaccination rate, and yet we are getting tons of news reports that there are a lot of cases of the flu, and many have been hospitalized with it. I guess what I am asking is that if vaccination rates are at the 80% level, and there are people still getting hospitalized and dying, is the vaccine making a difference?

    Also, if the death rates vary from year to year how can people use that as a measure of the flu vaccine being effective?

    Thanks!

  53. #53 LW
    January 20, 2014

    @Krebiozen, you wrote to Greg,

    Getting the vaccine drastically reduces your chances to more like 1 in 100 or even 1 in 200 in a good year. The chances of a serious adverse reaction to the vaccine are in the order of one in a million. Even your mathematical skills should be up to figuring out it is a good idea to get the vaccine.

    I think you give his mathematical skills *way* too much credit.

    You may be happy playing the odds, but you will regret it if you do go down with influenza, especially if you pass it on it to your children or to an elderly relative.

    He’d be unhappy if he went down with influenza since that’s an utterly miserable experience, but he’d have some excuse about how the evil doctors caused it. I doubt he’d have the slightest regret if every one of his children (if he has any) and every elderly relative died of flu which they provably caught from him.

  54. #54 Helianthus
    January 20, 2014

    *Reading Willcox copy pasta*

    Gah. Déja vu. This article I alluded in 25 was part of the Jefferson/Cochrane panel controversy. Still cannot find the article itself
    But I found this old post about Jefferson’s declarations on influenza.
    Short version: he is overaching a bit.

    About flu vaccine efficacy, Mark Crislip did a good job 5 years ago.
    He is notably quoting a number of studies where the presence of the influenza virus’ DNA was checked among the studied patients, as part of comparing infected vs non-infected people, to avoid some of the biases alluded by Jefferson & co quotations.

    Back at checking local physicians for an appointment for the flu shot. Spent enough time procrastinating about it.

  55. #55 Narad
    January 20, 2014

    @Canadian Social Worker:

    1. If you have had the flu before, does it not naturally stengthen your immune system?

    It may actually leave you worse off the next time, thanks to original antigenic sin.

    (For those following along, OAS appears to be off the hook in VAERD.)

  56. #56 Lawrence
    January 20, 2014

    @CS – you need to define “high vaccination rate” because even an 80% rate leaves a lot of people unvaccinated & the flu is highly contagious – plus the vaccine isn’t 100% effective, so even a portion of the vaccinated will contract the disease (hopefully with few symptoms & a shorter duration).

    You can only improve your chances if you vaccinate – better safe than sorry.

  57. #57 JGC
    Actually Doshi IS a quack
    January 20, 2014

    Peter Doshi is not a member of Johns Hopkins medical school’s faculty (he has been a guest lecturer, but otherwise has not taught students). He has never practiced medicin, nor done clinical research. He doesn’t have a background in science research but instead a background in the history of science.

    And finally, he’s and HIV / AIDS denialist.

  58. #58 Captian_a
    January 20, 2014

    Greg,

    Lots of soldiers came home from world war 2 without a scratch. Does that mean they are immune to bullets?

    And an apology for the “drug dealer” comment is in order.

    C

  59. #59 Lawrence
    January 20, 2014

    @Captian – on top of the one for calling all autistics “brain damaged.

  60. #60 Narad
    January 20, 2014

    Hmmm

    I’m tempted to say “you lose” here and leave it at that, but I’m waiting for the coffee to brew.

    Roche paid a $3 Billion settlement.

    You mean GlaxoSmithKline. It was actually two separate settlements.

    For lying on purpose to sell more drugs, and hide critical trials that show the drugs are not so good, even dangerous such as Paxil.

    Again, you’re kind of making a hash of this. Three-quarters of the first billion related to promoting Paxil and Wellbutrin for off-label uses (depression in under-18 patients in the first case, weight loss and other conditions in the latter). With Paxil, they also misreported a trial such that they claimed efficacy in this age group when it wasn’t really there. This doesn’t really have anything to do with Paxil’s ultimate “black box” warning regarding pediatric use.

    The remainder had to do with failing to include postmarketing safety data regarding Avandia.

    The big chunk, $2 billion, was about two things: (1) misreporting best prices to Medicaid for reimbursements and (2) promoting (including physician kickbacks) Advair, Lamictal, Zofran, Imitrex, Lotronex, Flovent, and Valtrex for unapproved uses and thus causing false claims to be submitted to federal programs.

    Financially defrauding the feds is a really, really bad idea. It also is the bulk of what you’re pointing at yet unrelated to your putative point.

    You folks must think we are just stupid.

    Given that you barely understand what you’re talking about and much of it doesn’t have anything to do with influenza, you’re making it awfully tempting. Who’s “we”?

  61. #61 JGC
    January 20, 2014

    Hmmm Roche paid a $3 Billion settlement.

    Yes, to which the obvious reply must be “Did you have a point?”

    Surely you’re not arguing that because one company settled a charge of deceptive buisness practices influenza vaccines have been proven to be unsafe or ineffective?

    Notice, for those medications that work well and have few side effects, there is almost no controversy.

    Given that vaccines demonstrably work very, very well, with few side effects (the most common of which are both minor and transient –soreness at the site of injection, mild fever, etc.– and those that could be considered serious all but vanishingly rare)–I’m glad we can agree that no controversy exists.

  62. #62 Canadian Social Worker
    January 20, 2014

    Hi JGC (or anyone else),

    As I am working through all this JGC’s point reminded me about another question I wanted to ask.

    What about the theory that getting the flu shot every year will eventually wear down your immune system because the body loses it’s ability to develop it’s own capacity to fight things off?

  63. #63 dingo199
    January 20, 2014

    @CS, you need to factor into the calculation the fact that flu vaccine is only around 60% effective.
    So if you have a population which is 80% vaxed, then only 48% of your population is protected. That still leaves a lot of room for unvaxed or vaxed but unprotected people to come down with the flu.
    But remember, 52% of the population would have been protected by vaccine, halving attack rates and mortality from flu.

  64. #64 dingo199
    January 20, 2014

    Gah, I meant 48% of the population is protected.
    stoopid no preview feature.

  65. #65 Canadian Social Worker
    January 20, 2014

    Okay thanks Dingo :)

    I guess what concerns me is all of this death talk people use to encourage others to get vaccinated. I guess I am just debating with myself if that is a fair argument. If the flu shot is only 60% effective, how many people are we actually saving? Still hard to prove…at least I think??

  66. #66 Richard Smith
    January 20, 2014

    I’d originally had an appointment with my GP to get the flu shot back in October, but there was a conflict with another, more critical appointment, so it got postponed indefinitely. It was actually Orac’s previous flu-related post that finally got me motivated. I went to the nearby pharmacy, filled in a quick questionnaire, and got my injection (multi-dose but, sadly, no thimerosol). If I can avoid the bug for another few days, I should be relatively safe. Unless I get one of those neuro-degenerative diseases so-o-o-o-o many of the vaccinated succumb to…
    And, thanks to the evil socialist regime of Canuckistan, I didn’t have to (directly) pay for it. Unlike all those over-the-counter flu medications. Hmm, anybody ever check out if they’ve got any connections with the anti-flu-vaccination crowd? “Big chicken soup”?

  67. #67 Lawrence
    January 20, 2014

    @CSW – we know that a significant number of people die of flu-related complications (depending on the year – between 6000 & about 30,000 in the US alone) – so getting your flu shot is a good idea, just as a preventative measure.

    People wear seatbelts every single day, yet very few people get in car accidents (proportionally)…but getting your flu shot, like wearing a seatbelt, decreases your chance of serious injury (or infection) – increasing the overall chances you’ll never die either in a car accident or by the flu.

    Since the flu vaccine is incredibly safe and effective (though the effectiveness leaves something to be desired, but the effectiveness is never “zero”) you have nothing to lose by getting one.

  68. #68 LW
    January 20, 2014

    When I got my flu shot in October, I jokingly asked for extra thimerosol. The nurse simply looked puzzled. Perhaps we don’t have a lot of mercury militia types around here.

  69. #69 Rich Woods
    January 20, 2014

    @Canadian Social Worker

    Please remember that in your first post you said that 80% of healthcare staff had been vaccinated against seasonal flu, not 80% of your province’s population. If you think the figures some people have subsequently calculated don’t have an acceptable cost benefit for the province as a whole, please bear in mind that these figures really only relate to healthcare staff, who, if they should become sick, are an obvious risk to others given the nature of their job.

    This level of vaccination is paying off very well. If anything, the concern is that the coverage amongst healthcare staff should be higher.

  70. #70 Narad
    January 20, 2014

    What about the theory that getting the flu shot every year will eventually wear down your immune system because the body loses it’s ability to develop it’s own capacity to fight things off?

    See the comment about “original antigenic sin” at #55. Vaccines have the luxury of not generating full-blown responses that can prove to be a liability down the road.

  71. #71 Narad
    January 20, 2014

    ^ (I forget where the calculation of the immune system’s theoretical memory capacity is, but there’s no issue of its “wearing down.”)

  72. #72 JGC
    January 20, 2014

    What about the theory that getting the flu shot every year will eventually wear down your immune system because the body loses it’s ability to develop it’s own capacity to fight things off?

    Keep in mind that your body is exposed to literally millions of antigens daily environmentally, through diet, etc.. If this hasn’t been seen to cause the body’s ability to develop protective antibodies to “wear down” why would you expect being exposed to a few dozens of antigens as the result of immunization to do so?

    Rather than’wear down the ability of the body to developprotective antibodiesimmunization capitalizes on that ability by exposing the immune system to specific antigens efectively ‘teaching’ it to recognize wild type viruses when exposed.

  73. #73 Canadian Social Worker
    January 20, 2014

    Thanks JGC and Narad. What are your favourite sources of information on the topic?

  74. #74 Alia
    January 20, 2014

    As for why people do not get their flu shots – laziness may be one factor but it’s not crucial. I work at school, under our former head teacher we would get flu shots at our school nurse’s office and we would only have to pay an equivalent of $10 for the vaccine itself. There were maybe about five teachers (out of 60) who would go for it, me and the head teacher included. Even though it was cheap and convenient. The rest thought that flu is not that bad, that they are strong and healthy, that the shot is not really effective or that it wears down the immune system.
    Now we have a new head teacher and getting the shot is much more complicated for me, I have to get a doctor’s appointment and pay three times as much – but I still do it, had my shot back in October, and so did my husband.

  75. #75 Mrs Woo
    Being mugged by an ungrateful cat
    January 20, 2014

    Got the flu shot Thursday. Learning I could be asymptomatic and contagious was the winning argument. I have a friend with stage IV cancer, and will not risk exposing him unknowingly. Biggest reaction was a sore shoulder interfering with sleep.

  76. #76 squirrelelite
    January 20, 2014

    I got mine a week ago at a nearby grocery store pharmacy, no cost because I’m retired military.
    I tried on Wednesday and heard them tell the man in front of me they were out of shots but expected some the next day, so I went back and got mine.
    I used to skip it because they would have delays due to supply shortages and wanting to give it to vulnerable people (seniors) first. But I was working in the schools a few years ago when H1N1 hit and got a shot when they did free immunizations at the school.
    I’ve gotten one every year since then.

  77. #77 Maeltne
    Canada
    January 20, 2014

    I’m 100% in favor of all vaccines, except flu where I am uncertain.

    By my understanding the flu shot is 3 forecasted strains, and even then variation within the strain may reduce the effectiveness for that strain.

    Hardly seems foolproof. Where comparisons done with the anecdotes in this article to whether the shot that year would have protected against the strain that they died from?

  78. #78 kincowei
    United Kingdom
    January 20, 2014

    my 27 year old friend died of flu.

    anything I can do to prevent anyone else’s family going through that trauma I will.

    I worked on the acute medical take during swine flu, when we were ventilating young adults in theatre because there was not the space in ITU

    I worked in paediatrics over winter a couple of years back during normal flu season and had numerous neonates admitted with collapsed lungs due to influenza

    I have lost 2 of my 13000 current patients this year to pneumonia following flu. It has not been a bad flu year yet, due to the warm weather I guess.

    typical peak flu in the UK is first week in December

    flu kills, flu disables, flu makes you feel rotten

    and we have a way to prevent that. Sure it’s not perfect, but it’s better than the alternative.

    I have my flu jab every year. I trust it

  79. #79 Krebiozen
    January 20, 2014

    Keating Willcox,

    Hmmm Roche paid a $3 Billion settlement.

    Careful, there may be a lawyer representing Hoffman La Roche sniffing out a potential libel or defamation case, especially in a nest of Big Pharma shills like this one. As Narad pointed out, perhaps you mean GSK.

    I’m not defending GSK, but if an entire industry was judged to be untrustworthy each time a company exaggerated its products’ efficacy or safety, we would never buy anything.

  80. #80 Shay
    January 20, 2014

    When I got my flu shot in October, I jokingly asked for extra thimerosol

    Me too. At my age, I need all the preservatives I can get.

  81. #81 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 20, 2014

    What about the theory that getting the flu shot every year will eventually wear down your immune system because the body loses it’s ability to develop it’s own capacity to fight things off?

    Doesn’t make sense at all, not with the way vaccines work. With every vaccination, the body is developing its own capacity to fight things off. Vaccination just tells the immune system “be prepared against this threat, and this one” and therefore gets the immune system to develop its capacities in the directions we can anticipate that it might need to be prepared.

    One of the worst mistakes one can make in trying to understand science is to anthropomorphize too much.
    You could imagine that a human, if it was tasked with defending against threats, and was receiving regular security alerts telling it “hey, be on the lookout for this threat”, might get lazy and slack off on being responsive to threats it wasn’t warned about. But the immune system doesn’t even know a difference. When it sees foreign antigens, it says “uh-oh, that looks real sketchy, let me start up production of something that can counter that” – it has no way of knowing whether it’s seeing those antigens because it’s encountering a complete live pathogenic organism in the wild, or because we have synthesized just the antigens and injected them into the body, so that it will be already prepared if it encounters the wild version.

  82. #82 Logo
    January 20, 2014
  83. #83 Greg
    January 20, 2014

    @Keating Willcox #42

    Thank you Keating for the wealth of scientific evidence detailing the concerns with the flu vaccines. I am sure others who are serious about researching the safety and efficacy of the vaccine will also be grateful.

    Regards, Greg

  84. #84 Vicki
    January 20, 2014

    Maeltne–

    We know that the flu vaccine is a closer match some years than others. We also know that there’s no way to be sure, at the beginning of the flu season, how close a match it will be: if you could do that without a time machine, you also could and would be getting a better match.

    The question to ask yourself isn’t “is this year going to be 90% effective or only 50%?” It’s “How closely will not getting vaccinated match this year’s strain of the flu? The comparison isn’t that, say, this year’s flu shot might be only a 60% match, and the one I had last year might have been a 90% match, or vice versa. (Those numbers are purely hypothetical.) The comparison is that not getting a flu shot is a 0% match with the circulating strains of the flu.

    It also seems as though this year’s flu is nastier than average, making protecting yourself against it more valuable.

    If you get the vaccine free (I know coverage in Canada varies depending on the province) or can afford it without skimping on food, other medicine, heat, and other essentials, it’s worth it even in a year when it’s a relatively poor match.

  85. #85 herr doktor bimler
    January 21, 2014

    Keating Willcox
    January 20, 2014

    What is it with Willcox and the compulsive plagiarism? Is this some kind of electronic form of kleptomania?

    The last time I saw such egregious spambottery was, wait, the last time Willcox popped up in a comment thread.

  86. #86 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    January 21, 2014

    @Greg:

    Thank you Keating for the wealth of scientific evidence

    Evidence…
    You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  87. #87 Narad
    January 21, 2014

    The last time I saw such egregious spambottery was, wait, the last time Willcox popped up in a comment thread.

    He’s been pulling the hit-and-run routine lately at SBM, as well.

  88. #88 Narad
    January 21, 2014

    I am sure others who are serious about researching the safety and efficacy of the vaccine will also be grateful.

    At least Gerg had the courtesy to exclude himself by construction from this category.

  89. #89 Krebiozen
    January 21, 2014

    I do wish that people who insist on dumping large amounts of copy pasta would at the very least go to the trouble of trimming of redundant bits and pieces, references that aren’t included, and garbage that Willcox included such as:

    Click to like: 6
    Vote up!
    How useful are flu vaccines?

    This makes me think they haven’t actually read what they pasted, and that they very probably wouldn’t understand it if they did. Often if you look closely at what they paste, it doesn’t support their position at all.

    Willcox, or rather Marco Mamone-Capria who posted the BMJ Rapid Response that Willcox has plagiarized, referred to studies that found that the influenza vaccine is very effective indeed at preventing the strain it is designed to prevent. He also referred to others that found that influenza causes a minority of “flu-like illnesses” and so, of course, the influenza vaccine only prevents a minority of these. Somehow he concluded from these that the influenza vaccine is ineffective. In other news, seat belts don’t prevent head injuries from falls – time to abandon them?

    Jefferson, who is quoted as stating that, “The vaccine doesn’t work very well at all…” is the author of one of the studies referred to, looking at the effects of the vaccine on the elderly, concluded:

    After adjustment for confounders, vaccine performance was improved for admissions to hospital for influenza or pneumonia (VE* 27%, 21-33), respiratory diseases (VE* 22%, 15-28), and cardiac disease (VE* 24%, 18-30), and for all-cause mortality (VE* 47%, 39-54).

    VE*= vaccine efficacy calculated as 1-odds ratio (OR).
    How anyone can describe a simple, safe intervention that reduces all-cause mortality by almost a half as “modest”, I really don’t understand. It’s worth noting that this is in elderly people, who we know have a less robust response to vaccination than younger people.

    I stopped reading Willcox’s Gish-gallop at that point.

    BTW recent developments in the use of genetically engineered nanoparticles will enable faster vaccine production and greatly improve matching in the future, as will work on a universal influenza vaccine which is looking very encouraging.

  90. #90 Marry Me, Mindy
    January 21, 2014

    Stella B

    Unfortunately, we often use the word “flu” to describe any bad cold, so for many people “the flu” is 2-3 days of sore throat, Kleenex, and sinus pressure and little reason to vaccinate.

    And that doesn’t even follow.

    Why would I want 2-3 days of a sore throat, sinus pressure, and a box of kleenexes when I could have a sore spot on my arm for less than a day instead?

    Sore throats suck. Constantly blowing your nose sucks. Having your head stuffed up sucks. By comparison, a sore muscle is nothing. Shoot, I have minor tendinitis in my shoulder right now that’s worse than my typical flu vaccine reaction.

    Damn it, give me a common cold vaccine!!!!!

  91. #91 Katherine
    January 21, 2014

    Sella B and Marry Me, Mindy,
    I’ve always known the flu was a big deal. That’s why I say I don’t think I’ve ever had it. I’ve had bad colds, but nothing as incapacitating as the flu. I’m up-to-date on all other vaccinations, and I even checked my booster status for pertussis when some friends of mine had kids.

    And I’m all for letting more vulnerable populations be vaccinated first, if there’s a shortage, but seeing how many young, healthy people are dying of this year’s strain tells me that I might be IN that vulnerable population this year. Thanks again for all of the info.

  92. #92 Denice Walter
    January 21, 2014

    And speaking of serving copy pasta- with a side order of word salad..

    I alert readers to AoA today wherein Teresa Conrick conducts her variations upon themes by Wakefield:
    vaccines damage immunity/ GI symptoms.
    And OBVIOUSLY: ‘Listen to the parents’.

    Perhaps a loyal minion might enjoy de-constructing her perseverations. My own suspicion is that she is desperate to attribute her daughter’s difficulties to outside, physical causes (vaccines, parasites etc) rather than accepting that autism is an intrinsic part of her daughter’s being.

    People who have autism can learn to change how they BEHAVEandinteract with others. Teachers and therapists are much more necessary than calling out the De-contamination Squad.

  93. #93 JustNuts
    January 21, 2014

    #92 Denise: Deconstructing something at AoA is impossible. About 97% of posts I’ve attempted there have been moderated out.

  94. #94 Denice Walter
    January 21, 2014

    @ JustNuts:

    No, no,no!
    I meant for our incredible minions to discuss it HERE.
    I think that Conrick is a rising star in the anti-vax firmament.
    She has it all.And she doesn’t hide it.

  95. #95 LIz Ditz
    Still not to late to get your flu shot
    January 21, 2014

    Sadly, here’s another one:

    MELBOURNE, Fla. — A pregnant woman admitted to a Brevard County hospital has died from the flu but her baby survived, according to health officials.
    Alexandra Bryan lived to hold her newborn son, Bennett, just one time. A little more than a month later, she was dead.
    Bryan, who was in her 20s, was admitted to Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne several weeks ago. She died Sunday night, according to Dr. Heidar Heshmati of the Florida Department of Health in Brevard County.

    Heshmati said Bryan’s son was delivered in early December and is fine.

    Officials said Bryan had been on life-support for several weeks.

    According to Heshmati, the flu was the H1N1 strain and Bryan had not had a flu shot.

  96. #96 Andreas Johansson
    January 21, 2014

    Marry Me, Mindy wrote:

    Damn it, give me a common cold vaccine!!!!!

    The colleague I complained about in the other flu thread opined today that to vaccinate against the flu is like vaccinating against the common cold. I didn’t find the energy to ask him if, then, he thought one shouldn’t consider the availability of an effective vaccine when deciding whether to vaccinate.

  97. […] I don’t care how healthy you are. The flu can kill. […]

  98. #98 herr doktor bimler
    January 21, 2014

    genetically engineered nanoparticles

    I can think of few combinations of scary words better designed to freak out the anti-vaccination crowd. Bad Magic!

  99. #99 LIz Ditz
    January 21, 2014

    And another death.

    Creekmore, who was 20 weeks pregnant, spontaneously delivered her baby while she was unconscious last Thursday. The little girl Creekmore and her husband planned to name Jera, died.

    LINK:Where to receive a free flu shot

    Over the weekend, Creekmore’s lung collapsed.

    Chris Creekmore says his wife tried to get the flu vaccine in October but was told by her OBGYN in Arkansas it was too early in the pregnancy to receive the vaccination.

  100. #100 JGC
    January 21, 2014

    If it could be shown that is what he was told by the OBGYN there’s a huge mispractice/wrongful death lawsuit in the wings…

  101. #101 Roadstergal
    January 21, 2014

    JustNuts #31: Greg: How is it that you just just know that you have a “strong immune system”?

    An abundance of debilitating autoimmune conditions?

    (That’s what I always think of when I see those ‘strengthen your immune system!’ supplements.)

  102. #102 Denice Walter
    January 21, 2014

    @ Roaderstergal:

    Ha!
    It seems that our anti-vaxxers, Canary Partiers and TMs *simultaneously* decry the both rise in autoimmune disorders AND decreased immunitydue to vaccines- shouldn’t they make up their minds!

  103. #103 Denice Walter
    January 21, 2014

    BOTH THE rise….

  104. #104 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 21, 2014

    In fairness, Greg never said he has a strong immune system. That is one possible explanation he said that others might choose to use for why he never gets the flu shot and claims never to get the flu. However, he also stated that he gets colds, which would say his immune system is not freakishly good.

    My question back to Greg is – here we’ve got all this good anecdotal data that influenza can kill, why are you arguing against it?

    As to Greg’s question of why he never gets the flu, possibilities include:
    - he does but gets mild cases that he does not recognize as influenza.
    - he has not received sufficient exposure to get sick.
    - when he has been so exposed, he has already been immune to that particular strain (say, by an infection received as a child).
    - he does not remember correctly; he in fact has contracted influenza but either does not recall, has mislabeled the incident, or has glossed over that to make a point.

    One other note: let us assume that about 10% of the population gets influenza in any particular season and that the distribution is random (grossly oversimplistic, I know). One’s chances of not getting influenza over 1 year is 90%; over 2 years it is 81%. By my simplistic calculation, the odds of not getting influenza in any year for 30 years would be 4.2%. This is the equivalent of 30 rolls of a 10 sided die without rolling a 10, and is doubtless an invalid analysis but we could certainly chalk the lack of a particular illness up to luck alone.

  105. #105 LW
    January 21, 2014

    “By my simplistic calculation, the odds of not getting influenza in any year for 30 years would be 4.2%.”

    given a US population of over 300 million, we would expect over 12 million people to be able to brag that they’d not had the flu in thirty years. And that’s assuming 10% per year, which is probably high.

  106. #106 Krebiozen
    January 21, 2014

    .HDB,

    I can think of few combinations of scary words better designed to freak out the anti-vaccination crowd.

    Now I’m thinking of getting an ” I [heart] genetically engineered nanoparticles” t-shirt printed up.

  107. #107 Ivan Ilyich
    Oakland
    January 21, 2014

    Canadian SW:

    No, influenza does not make the immune system “stronger,” it merely trains the immune system to respond more readily to a particular strain of the virus. “Strength” of the immune system refers to its ability to produce antibodies as needed, not to having been trained to a number of infections. In fact, the immune system is weakened while fighting influenze, which is why influenze-related mortality is often due to the secondary infection of pneumonia, especially in the elderly who already have a weak immune system response.

  108. #108 Ivan Ilyich
    Oakland
    January 21, 2014

    Canadian SW:

    Your “theory” about the flu shot eventually wearing down the immune system is not a theory at all, it’s merely a hypothesis. Do you have any scientific evidence to support it?

  109. #109 Shay
    January 21, 2014

    Genetically Engineered Nanoparticles — great name for a band.

  110. #110 Delphine
    maggie's farm
    January 21, 2014

    I just can’t with the “I won’t, why should I, not that effective, flu not that bad” garbage. It defies common sense. The flu vax is safe and 60% is better than nothing. And this year’s dose is a good match.

    On another thread, I posted my experience with the flu. I won’t rehash in full, but essentially — then-24 year old, non-smoker, no underlying health issues, never ever hospitalized in her life, BMI of 19, runner, tennis and hockey player…influenza, pneumonia, ventilator. I don’t remember the first three days in the hospital, but I will never forget waking up on Day 4 and seeing my Dad crying with his head in his hands at the side of my bed. They couldn’t quite get my numbers right and my old man, the old school physician, stiff upper lip Brit, never saw him cry before that day, was scared sh!tless.

    Get the shot. Really. Please. No excuses, if you can and don’t.

  111. #111 Politicalguineapig
    January 21, 2014

    DW: My own suspicion is that she is desperate to attribute her daughter’s difficulties to outside, physical causes (vaccines, parasites etc) rather than accepting that autism is an intrinsic part of her daughter’s being.

    That’s pretty common over there. I attribute it to Suburban Mommy Syndrome- baby HAS to be perfect to make up for the loss of their career, and if the baby isn’t perfect..well, there has to be a way to fix it.
    Age of Autism is a good case study in why female type-As should either be avoided at all costs or carefully corralled in the workplace. Seriously, I’d cheerfully pay the cost of a nanny if it meant they never needed to interact with their offspring again.
    I hate the way they pretend to love their kids. When Anne Dachel said she was ‘happy’ for a set of high functioning kids who were learning to self-advocate, I nearly vomited. We all know she despises them.
    Sugar-coated poison pills, that’s what all of those ladies are.

  112. #112 Politicalguineapig
    January 21, 2014

    Also, why is lining up toys considered an undesirable/strange behavior? My sister and I used to have ‘pony parades’ all the time. (We had a *lot* of toy horses.)

  113. #113 Delphine
    January 21, 2014

    @PGP, Suburban Mommy Syndrome? Loss of career? I live in the suburbs. I’m a mother. I have a career. Are you okay, reading this?

    “Female type-As should either be avoided at all costs or carefully corralled in the workplace?” What did we ever do to you to warrant such vitriol?

    So many ugly conflations, so little time.

  114. #114 Shay
    January 22, 2014

    PGP is like that to everyone who is not exactly like her. You’ll get used to it.

  115. #115 Politicalguineapig
    January 22, 2014

    Delphine: I didn’t mean you, I meant the ladies of Age of Autism. If you check, most of them are now homemakers, used to have careers, and are absolute perfectionists.

    Shay: not really. It’s just a lot easier to deal with people if I code for them: give me a demographic and I’ll know what topics to avoid, whether or not to make eye contact, and in some cases whether I should lie. (Like, for example, from now on I’m lying to my dad’s assistant’s family. I won’t make the mistake of telling them where I *really work* again.)

  116. #116 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 22, 2014

    PGP: Yes really. What you do is bigotry, no matter how much you might try to deny it. Being prepared for the possibility that you might encounter Stereotypical Trait X in a member of Group Y is not the same as what you do, which is assuming that you already know what to expect from someone just because you have a group you can slot them into.

  117. #117 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    January 22, 2014

    Apologies for the OT post, but I thought you might be interested.
    A bout of shingles can raise your risk of stroke and heart attack.
    http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/shingles-can-up-heart-attack-risk-1.1635136
    Still think chickenpox vaccine is stupid? :)

  118. #118 Greg
    January 22, 2014

    @MOB

    n fairness, Greg never said he has a strong immune system. That is one possible explanation he said that others might choose to use for why he never gets the flu shot and claims never to get the flu. However, he also stated that he gets colds, which would say his immune system is not freakishly good.
    —————————————————————————-

    I don’t know you — I haven’t met you — but I can sooo feeelll your conscience rumblings. I know I should resent you guys, but why do I sometimes feel pity? MOB, you must save yourself and leave the Dark Side! Turn a new page MOB and let light into your heart!

    Indeed MOB, from time to time I do get prolonged colds with coughing, sneezing, running nose, but never a fever. They are never that devastating that I am bed-ridden and feeling that the stuffing was knocked out of me, as Orac described.

    Usually at my mother-in-law promptings (old people can be such hypochondriacs) I will sometimes go the doctor for these bouts. And, after waiting in the waiting room for an eternity, putting up with the unpleasantness of fellow sick patrons, uncomfortable chairs, really out-dated magazines, etc, I am then ushered in the doctor’s office where I have to wait another eternity. Feeling impatient and checking that they way is clear, I will further kill time by weighing myself or checking my blood pressure.

    Eventually the doctor will grace me with his presence: ‘Hi there Mr. (insert Greg’s last name) — what brings you here today?’ I am tempted to mock him and ask, ‘what do you think?’–but I will behave.

    After explaining that I have a cold, he runs me through the whole check-up gamut: ‘Open your mouth — cough- breathe–let me examine your eyes.’ And finally, after finishing this routine, he tells me that it looks like I have a bad cold. Aghast, I wonder why he gets paid good money for this.

    He usually will then advise me to give the cold a few more days to run its course and if it doesn’t clear up to take anti-biotics. Of course, I have no interest in popping pills, so I ignore this. And eventually, my colds do clear up without any further fanfare and I am back to normal.

    MOB, maybe some of these bouts were indeed the flu, but the doctor never referred to them as such, and, as I already stated, they are never devastating. And, given the option of ‘potentially’ avoiding these bouts by injecting toxins in my system that carry health risks, I would rather — skip!

  119. #119 janerella
    January 22, 2014

    And yet you do go to the Dr, Greg, when you could simply tell your MIL you’re going to the Dr, and avoid the wearisome trial it clearly affords you and instead pop down to the coffee shop, smugly enjoy a nose-clearing, immune stimulating hot beverage and simultaneously marvel at how clever you are.

  120. #120 MI Dawn
    January 22, 2014

    @Greg: if you have a cold, why on earth would you waste your doctor’s time going to his office? I never go to the MD office with a cold. They are self-limiting, and why would I waste my money and his time? I understand you do it to arrogantly appease your MIL, but seriously? Of course, you have demonstrated such passive-aggressive behavior in the threads here, I’m not totally surprised.

  121. #121 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    January 22, 2014

    Greg:

    MOB, maybe some of these bouts were indeed the flu, but the doctor never referred to them as such, and, as I already stated, they are never devastating.

    You have never had the flu, if that is the case. Just because you’ve been lucky doesn’t mean the flu isn’t horrible or dangerous.
    My flu story: woke up feeling awful, couldn’t get out of bed, coughing whenever I talked. Stayed in bed for two days. The only thing I ate during those two days was a banana, which I promptly vomited. Musculoskeletal aches and a constant nausea for three whole weeks. Lost 9kg. I was already thin, but that made me look like an anorexia patient.
    Trust me, you do not want to catch the flu.

  122. #122 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 22, 2014

    Why does Gerg think we have the least bit of interest in what he does when he gets sick? It doesn’t mean anything.

    He may think it does, just as a sports fan might think that some ritual they did while watching the game at home was VARY MEANINGFUL in producing the favored team’s victory. But that’s the sports fan’s (and the health crank’s) delusion, that a single anecdote, how the dice come down for a single person, makes a foundation for a Proven Formula.

  123. #123 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    January 22, 2014

    Greg:

    I don’t know you — I haven’t met you — but I can sooo feeelll your conscience rumblings. I know I should resent you guys, but why do I sometimes feel pity?

    I just read an article on Cracked. 5 ways your Brain is turning you into a jerk. Item 4 is the illusion of asymmetric insight. Please read the article before you make an even bigger fool of yourself than you have already here.

  124. #124 AnObservingParty
    January 22, 2014

    @ MI Dawn

    @Greg: if you have a cold, why on earth would you waste your doctor’s time going to his office? I never go to the MD office with a cold.

    Not only would I not waste my doctor’s time, I also wouldn’t waste the $20 co-pay, and my doctor would promptly tell me he doesn’t want me there. He’s got this thing about needlessly making already sick people sicker.

    @ Greg They are never that devastating that I am bed-ridden and feeling that the stuffing was knocked out of me, as Orac described.

    Then yes, you’ve never had the flu. Congratulations again, on your good luck. However, don’t belittle the flu, the dangers of the flu, or how other people will have complications to the flu just because the URIs you’ve been fortunate enough to have weren’t that devastating.

  125. #126 Lawrence
    January 22, 2014

    @Jen – it doesn’t state that the “fever reducing medications” are harmful to the individual, as much as it creates a false sense of feeling better (and increasing the number of infectious agents in the person), which can lead to spreading the disease…certainly something to consider – but probably not in the way that you are trying to imply.

  126. #127 TBuce
    January 22, 2014

    Greg’s account of his visit to the doctor gave me a flashback the worst part of my time in general practice – the know-it-all, entitled prick with an attitude. I managed to be polite and treat them to the best of my ability, rather than do what I really wanted, which was to tell them to GTFO. In Greggle’s case, maybe it’s a reaction to being owned by his mother-in-law.

    At least I know why Greggles doesn’t get the flu – it’s species-specific, and doesn’t infect jackasses.

  127. #128 Greg
    January 22, 2014

    @Julian

    I just read an article on Cracked. 5 ways your Brain is turning you into a jerk. Item 4 is the illusion of asymmetric insight. Please read the article before you make an even bigger fool of yourself than you have already here

    ———————————————————————————-
    So Julian, you’re saying my insight isn’t really that good, and I don’t really know MOB? Ok, let’s have a test.

    MOB, do you believe that vaccines has administered in their totality according to the childhood vaccination scedule plays no causual role in autism? Remember just a one word ‘yes’ or ‘no’ MOB.

    Now Julian, unlike Mr. Antaeus I-am-so-perfect-I-even-where-a-suit-when-I-am-taking-my-kids-to-the-park-Feldar, MOB has character. I am betting his conscience won’t allow him to lie, so he will either refrain from answering the question or say ‘no’.

    We are awaiting on your response MOB.

  128. #129 squirrelelite
    January 22, 2014

    Also on the flu front, but avian flu, I saw this news article today.
    http://news.msn.com/world/bird-flu-spikes-in-china-ahead-of-lunar-new-year
    Fortunately, human to human transmission has still not been confirmed by the WHO.

  129. #130 Gray Falcon
    January 22, 2014

    No, we don’t believe it.

  130. #131 Gray Falcon
    January 22, 2014

    Correction, I misread Greg’s statement. Yes, I believe that vaccines as administered in their totality according to the childhood vaccination schedule plays no causal role in autism “

  131. #132 MI Dawn
    January 22, 2014

    @Greg: you want a 1 word answer: No.

    Expanded answer: No. I don’t believe that the current, past or future vaccination schedule(s) have/could/did/will cause autism.

    More expanded answer: No. I don’t believe vaccines cause autism. I do believe that vaccines are safe for most people; that some people cannot safely be vaccinated due to individual health (allergy, autoimmune problems) issues. I do not believe that vaccines cause or worsen autism.

    I do believe that vaccines will continue to improve but will never be 100% effective, 100% safe or 100% perfect. We are human and live in an imperfect world, with constant change/evolution of disease.

    Again: I DO NOT believe vaccines cause autism, can lead to worsening autism or have anything to do with autism except that autistic individuals should be vaccinated like any other person unless they have underlying health reasons to not be vaccinated.

    There, Greg. Happy? (I doubt it, actually. You would only be happy if I lied and said I do believe vaccines do cause autism. But I won’t lie to make you happy.)

  132. #133 TBruce
    January 22, 2014

    Yes. I am convinced that vaccines do not cause autism.

    Now do everyone a favour (including yourself) and tell your mother-in-law that you don’t need to go to the doctor for a cold.

  133. #134 Greg
    January 22, 2014

    Ooops…. ‘Vaccines as admistered’ and ‘wears a suit’

    @Mi Dawn
    I think you need to chill a little. You are getting all worked up. Practice being less emotional.

  134. #135 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 22, 2014

    I try to be nice, and this is the thanks I get.

    Greg – there evidence currently shows that vaccines administered in their totality according to the childhood vaccination schedule plays no causal role in autism, within the limits of measurement.

  135. #136 cakesphere
    January 22, 2014

    @Greg

    As someone on the spectrum myself, I do not believe, given the current body of evidence, that vaccines have any link with mine or anyone else’s ASD. In fact, the evidence points more away from vaccines than ever.
    It sickens and infuriates me whenever I hear anti-vaxxers call those on the spectrum “broken” and imply that we are somehow worth less than our neurotypical counterparts. I would opine more on this but it would end in rudeness and ad-homs so I won’t :)

    Speaking of colds and doctor visits, I’m glad I went to the doctor during my last cold. Started with a sore throat and ended up putting me out of commission for a day or two as it became a full-on head/chest affair. Finally went to the doctor a week and a half in and found that it had opened the door to a nasty sinus infection. A round of antibiotics and some nasal steroids (my nose was completely swollen shut) later, and I was good as new, though I’d managed to use up all my floating work holidays.

    Then again, I like going to the doctor and I don’t walk around smugly declaring that I am smarter than all the doctors in the vicinity, so I guess the visits probably are a bit nicer for me.

  136. #137 cakesphere
    January 22, 2014

    Though, to be fair, for the usual few days of unpleasantness, going to the doctor for a cold isn’t necessary.

    A week and a half ordeal that ends with no airflow through the nose – that’s another story.

  137. #138 Gray Falcon
    January 22, 2014

    Greg, your words and actions could lead to the loss of human life. We have every right to be emotional.

  138. #139 Chuff
    January 22, 2014

    Greg, I’ve copied this from your post.

    “He usually will then advise me to give the cold a few more days to run its course and if it doesn’t clear up to take anti-biotics. Of course, I have no interest in popping pills, so I ignore this. And eventually, my colds do clear up without any further fanfare and I am back to normal.”

    Are you sure you are telling the truth here? Was it a genuine doctor or some quack? AFAIK anti-biotics have no effect on a cold and all doctors know this. The only reason they ever prescribe them is because know-it-all patients nag them into it. In the end its easier to give in than explain, once again, why it doesn’t work. I’m surprised your doctor offers them without prompting.

  139. #140 Greg
    January 22, 2014

    @Julian
    I win–I win!! He didn’t really answer the question, stating what he personally believes. He just deferred to ‘ther e evidence’. Hey Julian, how do you like them apples?

    @MOB

    Sorry dear friend to put you on the spot like that. It’s just that Julian have a way of shooting off his mouth and I just have to take him to task now and again. What dya gonna do with that guy?.

    @Antaeus
    Did you learn anything?

  140. #141 Ren
    Back in school
    January 22, 2014

    Ah, yes, the “askholes”, people who ask for your opinion/direction on something and then do completely the opposite or attack what you had to say.

    Askholes. All of them.

  141. #142 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    January 22, 2014

    Aren’t you doing the same thing that you’re always accusing the anti-vaxers of doing–using “heart-wrenching” (your words) anecdotal news stories to support your position?

    Jen in TX, this is not the same at all; these are medically-verified flu deaths. Of course they are heart-wrenching, people died of a VPD. How does that compare to the unsupported claims of anti-vaxxers regarding “vaccine injuries”?

    Do we know the circumstances surrounding these anecdotes, such as the use or possible misuse of prescription or over-the-counter medications?

    Such as?

    Most people’s knee-jerk reaction to a 103F temperature is to gulp down a few Tylenols or ibuprofen or Nyquil or whatever other OTC combo drug the TV tells you is the best way to get yourself back to normal quicker so you don’t miss any work or school, for goodness sakes, because we’re taught that fever is bad and if you don’t suppress it your brain will fry (yes, I’ve actually heard that phrase used!) even though evidence suggests that suppressing fevers can be detrimental to the immune response, and you know, increase your chances of dying.

    http://jrs.sagepub.com/content/103/10/403.long

    While you are correct about the perception of fevers and the overuse of anti-pyretics to treat fevers, a single mouse study isn’t something I’d be waving triumphantly about as proof of human mortality increases with anti-pyretics.

    So…other than not being vaccinated, are there any other questions that we should be asking in response to these tragic deaths? Besides vaccination, is there anything else we could be doing that might reduce the risk of mortality and morbidity from influenza? Shouldn’t we be applying the same skepticism to the spurious claims of big pharma drugmakers as we do to the claims of homeopaths?

    Just askin’.

    No you’re not “just asking”; your tylenol obsession is well-known.

    Jen, who’s been vaccinated for flu (and TDaP, too-gonna be a granny soon!) :D

    Congratulations on both!

    On a related note, I’m looking forward to a skeptic’s take on the Brandlistuen study. Any takers?

    http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/10/24/ije.dyt183.abstract

    Sure I’ll bite. What did these women have in order for them to be taking anti-pyretics? How can you tease out infectious diseases from the use of anti-pyretics particularly when some (diseases during pregnancy) are known to cause neurological disorders in infants?

  142. #143 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    January 22, 2014

    Aghast, I wonder why he gets paid good money for this.

    Why would you wonder about this? You’re the moron who went to him for a cold in the first place, of course he should be paid for his/her time.

  143. #144 Politicalguineapig
    January 22, 2014

    Greg: You do realize that’s a ‘have you quit beating your wife yet’ question, right? Of course you do. It’s just there’s no way a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ suffices. I’m surprised you even go to a doctor- why bother if you already know all the answers?

    Cakesphere: That’s awful, I’m glad you recovered. I tend to put off going to the doctor interminably, since I really hate visits. Although, in the case of the sprained ankle, I probably should have gone.

  144. #145 Gray Falcon
    January 22, 2014

    Also, O’Brien did answer Greg’s question. As far as can be told, Greg is simply too stupid to understand what he said.

  145. #146 Greg
    January 22, 2014

    @Chuff
    Although I think mainstream medicine is over-rated, I do not consult ‘quack’ doctors. Indeed my doctor has prescribed anti-biotics on several occasions but he always suggests that I give the cold time to run its course before I opt for taking them. As I mentioned, I am not a fan of medication so I don’t take them. I will occasio atnally take is advise and take Advil Cold and Sinus Gel. They usually work pretty good, but again folks, I take them at last resort. So there you have it big pharma: I will refuse your vaccines and anti-biotics, but I will very infrequently take your cold medications.

  146. #147 Gemma
    Uk
    January 22, 2014

    As a healthcare worker I have been offered flu vaccines for free for the last couple of years. The problem I have though, is that I have an egg allergy and therefore have a real risk of anaphylaxis unless an egg-free vaccine is available. I’ve been told that only a limited number of such vaccines are available, unless I have evidence of previous anaphylaxis caused by the standard vaccine then I should just do it and hang about to get injected with epi when I start to get symptoms…
    My response to this very scary prospect has been to not be vaccinated. What would you do in my situation?

  147. #148 Marry Me, Mindy
    January 22, 2014

    Dawn:

    if you have a cold, why on earth would you waste your doctor’s time going to his office? I

    The one time I did that was because my head was so stuffed and about to explode that I couldn’t sleep. I told the doctor, I just want to get some sleep, can you give me something to help with that? I would have taken Valium, but he went with the prescription decongestant.

    Thus, I can see situations where a visit to the Dr is appropriate with a cold.

    (I could have also seen an NP if that was deemed more convenient for them)

  148. #149 Marry Me, Mindy
    January 22, 2014

    He usually will then advise me to give the cold a few more days to run its course and if it doesn’t clear up to take anti-biotics. Of course, I have no interest in popping pills, so I ignore this. And eventually, my colds do clear up without any further fanfare

    So you let the cold “run its course” just like the doctor recommended.

    That bastard.

  149. #150 AnObservingParty
    January 22, 2014

    @Julian
    I win–I win!! He didn’t really answer the question, stating what he personally believes

    Personal beliefs have no relevance in a discussion with demonstrable data. Another indication you’re over your head. You’ve already forfeited.

  150. #151 AnObservingParty
    January 22, 2014

    Another personal pet peeve, while we’re here: the use of a hyphen in “antibiotics.”

  151. #152 brian
    January 22, 2014

    Re: vaccination and egg allergy, Gemma wrote: “My response to this very scary prospect has been to not be vaccinated. What would you do in my situation?”

    Well, I suppose I would search for information regarding the safety of influenza vaccination in individuals who are allergic to eggs.

    Information like this 2013 article:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23805959

    “It is as safe to provide [trivalent influenza vaccine] to [egg-allergic individuals] as providing it to a non-egg-allergic individual.”.

  152. #153 JGC
    January 22, 2014

    My response to this very scary prospect has been to not be vaccinated. What would you do in my situation?

    If it were me, I’d do as they suggest: receive the vaccine with close monitoring and people ready to respond if a serious allergic reaction took place. If I didn’t react I’d have resolved my concern, and if I did react I’d have established the documented incident necesary to qualify for the limited egg free vaccine in the future.

    The only ethical alternative I can see would be to seek a health care position where I did not interact with patients, putting them at risk simply because I feared the possibility of a reaction.

  153. #154 lilady
    January 22, 2014

    @ Gemma: There is a flu vaccine available for those who have had an anapylactic reaction to eggs:

    http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/Pages/who-shouldnt-have-flu-vaccine.aspx

    The CDC’s Flu Vaccine Recommendations, has a section about “egg allergies” and anaphylaxis episodes associated with eggs and having a reaction to ingesting egg protein is not an absolute medical contraindication to receiving flu vaccine:

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6033a3.htm?s_cid=mm6033a3_w

  154. #155 Helianthus
    January 22, 2014

    He didn’t really answer the question, stating what he personally believes. He just deferred to ‘ther e evidence

    Took me some time to figure out Greg’s point. Well, I say “point” for wanting of a better word.
    So, now, presenting evidence you took pain to memorize about something is completely separated from “believing” in that these facts support.
    Even creationists are not that schizophrenic.

    His visit to the doctor is a gem, too. I heard of the expression “sense of entitlement” but was a bit fuzzy on the meaning. Now I have a good example in mind.

    Seriously, is he a 5-year old?

  155. #156 MI Dawn
    January 22, 2014

    @MMM: I agree. If I’m *really* sick with a cold (non-stop coughing, inability to breath no matter what I’ve tried either home remedy – showers, soup, curry) then, yes, I agree seeing a doctor is the right thing to do. But from the way Greg made it sound, it was a run-of-the-mill URI and certainly didn’t require the time spent.

  156. #157 Mrs Woo
    January 22, 2014

    @Jen – those observations are fair and pretty accurate – though they hide a social issue: many of us cannot safely take off work when we have an illness like the flu. We get through the most miserable days if we’re lucky, then drag ourselves there (and everywhere else) spreading it far and wide.

    If anything, it’s definitely another argument for vaccination and continuing work towards increasing vaccine uptake.

    @Greg – you really seem to have some kind of issue. I don’t want to appear ad hominem and say anything really mean about you, but the way you manipulate truth, name call, etc., really does a lot to make me find no interest in your assertions.

  157. #158 Denice Walter
    January 22, 2014

    @ Mrs Woo:

    You are correct.
    Here’s the reality: anyone can say anything on the internet- doesn’t mean it’s true.

    I could say, ” You know that guy, J, who comments on PZ’s site? Child abuser. And that woman, M, who comments at Phil’s place? She’s a home wrecker” ( examples are totally fictional, like- unfortunately- most of the internet). So what!

    Taunts and accusations mean little unless you can illustrate them with additional data, photos or documents. Anti-vaxxers call Orac ( and us) ‘pharma shills’ but we have yet to see any pay stubs, compromising photos or proofs of payment. If they had real evidence, they would plaster it everywhere.
    BUT they don’t. They insinuate; they construct Rube Goldbergian contraptions consisting primarily of smoke and mirrors or the *possibility* of relationships; they make claims and accusations that they cannot substantiate. ( See Jake Crosby).

    When some of us point out what alt med folk do, we can show examples and refer readers to websites. Mostly we are talking about what someone says or what they sell- the only ‘proof’ we need is language, presentation and ad copy. Sometimes we have proof of income.

    And it doesn’t matter whether we have degrees or not: a person without a degree in science can still be logical and refer to research.
    It’s what’s OUTSIDE of us ( data, research, evidence, logic) that matters- not US. Often woo revolves upon an axis of personality instead- not the hard facts.
    Science is beyond personality- it’s not dependent on one person or a belief. Or what anyone SAYS.
    It’s what can be shown easily by data or evidence.

    Anyone can say anything on the net:
    As our lovely brothers and sisters in New York would call it-that’s “talking out of one’s” @rse.

  158. #159 Narad
    January 22, 2014

    I will further kill time by weighing myself or checking my blood pressure.

    That’s odd, I’ve never been to a doctor’s office where they leave stethoscopes lying around in the exam room.

  159. #160 Greg
    January 22, 2014

    Greg: MOB, do you believe that vaccines as administered in their totality according to the childhood vaccination schedule plays no causal role in autism? Remember just a one word ‘yes’ or ‘no’ MOB.

    MOB: Greg – there evidence currently shows that vaccines administered in their totality according to the childhood vaccination schedule plays no causal role in autism, within the limits of measurement

    Heliantus: So, now, presenting evidence you took pain to memorize about something is completely separated from “believing” in that these facts support.
    Even creationists are not that schizophrenic.

    ——————————————————————————-
    Heliantus, what if I ask a person if they believe the earth is round, and to answer with a one word ‘yes’ or ‘no’. And, the answer they give is:

    Greg, there (meaning scientists) current evidence shows that the earth is round within the limits of measurement.

    Heliantus, should I accept this answer as one that satisfactorily answers my question?

  160. #161 LW
    January 22, 2014

    Greg gloated,

    I win–I win!! He didn’t really answer the question, stating what he personally believes. He just deferred to ‘ther e evidence’.

    What an astonishing statement! And yet, it perfectly explains Greg’s behavior: in his mind, the only valid approach to decision-making is fact-free emoting. In his mind, actually looking at the evidence and making a decision based on that makes your opinion invalid. Or maybe the correct buzzword is “inauthentic”.

  161. #162 TBuce
    January 22, 2014

    Greg, I believe the reason your doctor tells you to take antibiotics instead of returning if your cold doesn’t clear is that he does not want to see you again.

    I don’t blame him.

  162. #163 Narad
    January 22, 2014

    I win–I win!!

    I suppose it was only a matter of time until Gerg trotted out an impersonation of Sue Lyon in Night of the Iguana.

    He didn’t really answer the question, stating what he personally believes. He just deferred to ‘ther e evidence’. Hey Julian, how do you like them apples?

    That’s sweet, coming as it does from the same asshοle who has demonstrated that he doesn’t actually give a fυck about “the answers” to his shıtwitted “questions.”

  163. #164 Narad
    January 22, 2014

    Practice being less emotional.

    I’d instead suggest you practice shaving your balls with a straight razor while grossly hung over, but you’ve repeatedly made a point of showing everyone that you don’t have any.

  164. #165 Greg
    January 22, 2014

    @LW

    “In his mind, actually looking at the evidence and making a decision based on that makes your opinion invalid. Or maybe the correct buzzword is “inauthentic”.”

    If I look at the evidence and make a decision based on that evidence then invariably my belief should be consistent with my trust in the evidence. If the two are not consistent, then this would mean I do not trust the evidence. Further, if one is prompted to give his beliefs, and he ‘out of the gate’ defer to the opinion of others–aka ‘what the science says’– then I think this is a fair sign that the person does not trust the science that he is referring to, and is uncomfortable in admitting such.

  165. #166 Narad
    January 23, 2014

    Further, if one is prompted to give his beliefs, and he ‘out of the gate’ defer to the opinion of others–aka ‘what the science says’– then I think this is a fair sign that the person does not trust the science that he is referring to, and is uncomfortable in admitting such.

    That’s because you’re a moron.

  166. #167 Helianthus
    January 23, 2014

    @ Narad

    I heartily endorse your three last posts.
    Sorry, the troll will complain. I heartily believe in the same opinions as you.

    Plus, the irony of someone asking us to be less emotional while at the same time accepting only expression of beliefs – in other words, expressing one’s heart feelings – as factual…

    @ Greg
    You are not logical, sir.

  167. #168 Narad
    January 23, 2014

    I heartily endorse your three last posts.

    I appreciate that, but I think the more important one is that regarding his claim to be “checking his blood pressure” while waiting in an exam room. I simply have never been in a position in a medical setting where this was even possible. I don’t for a second believe that Gerg has the slightest idea what to do with a sphygmomanometer, and there’s no logical reason to believe that automated units are sitting around idle in exam rooms and no reason to assume that he would even be able to figure that out, given that he can’t even cipher his fυcking way to rudimentary HTML tags.

    In other words, I presume he’s lying again, just as with his posturing over his study design, long after which he apparently thought it would be clever to reveal that he couldn’t figure out what “average sample size” meant and hadn’t the slightest clue what statistical power was.

    And if he’s lying about this, he’s as likely as not lying about having never had the flu and is just looking for attention at any cost. I mean, seriously, WTF other explanation is there for this?

    @Antaeus
    Did you learn anything?

    The curious thing is, although they’re notoriously censorious asshats, I’ve had next to no problem commenting at AoA on the odd occasions when I’ve felt moved to do so. It’s for the same reason that I never had any trouble at MDC over the space of a couple of years: I know how to appropriately modulate my tone.

    Gerg, on the other hand, has this entirely backward: His comments at AoA, where he has nothing to lose, are pathetic (although Gerg does manage to continue the screamingly obnoxious habit, Gerg, of addressing people, Gerg, over and over, Gerg, again). My guess is that he thinks that this pabulum will be considered “measured” and earn him some sort of esteem or something. But when he shows up someplace where he presumably has something to prove, he just drops his pants, inadvertently performs some pratfalls, and runs away, only to compulsively repeat the performance.

    That reminds me of a story.

    A BBC television crew had recently visited the property to make a documentary. The director had blandly informed us that he was “naturally stoned.” He wasn’t afraid of taking LSD. Heaven forbid.

    He didn’t need it.

    This line of shit will drive all but the most saintly Psychedelians who hear it up the wall, across the ceiling, and down the other side. It’s an insult, and such blatant self-deception it’s almost unbearable to listen to it.

    The spiritual four-flusher visiting a Psychedelian community should avoid saying things like “the vibrations around here are terrible” or “I’m a witch, you know” or, “oh sure, I talk to trees all the time myself,” but of all the comments likely to enrage his hosts, “I can do anything you can do but I don’t need LSD to do it,” or words to that effect, are provocation in a class by itself.

    It’s like saying, “the law can’t touch me, baby” while drunk and disorderly in a Chicago police station at 3 a.m. It’s an insult to the honor of the group, and something has to be done about it. Haines let the director have it in his coffee one morning, and he went bounding and sprinting all over the woods and fields for about four hours, bellowing like a moose. When it was over, he admitted he had been afraid of it all along and didn’t understand anything about it. He then packed up his staff and stuff and left. We never saw the documentary, if there ever was one.

  168. #169 Narad
    January 23, 2014

    Oh, fer cryin’ out loud, I forgot to edit the quote. I’m just going to repeat the comment, and if Orac sees this, I’d ask that the one in the moderation queue just be flushed.

    I heartily endorse your three last posts.

    I appreciate that, but I think the more important one is that regarding his claim to be “checking his blood pressure” while waiting in an exam room. I simply have never been in a position in a medical setting where this was even possible. I don’t for a second believe that Gerg has the slightest idea what to do with a sphygmomanometer, and there’s no logical reason to believe that automated units are sitting around idle in exam rooms and no reason to assume that he would even be able to figure that out, given that he can’t even cipher his fυcking way to rudimentary HTML tags.

    In other words, I presume he’s lying again, just as with his posturing over his study design, long after which he apparently thought it would be clever to reveal that he couldn’t figure out what “average sample size” meant and hadn’t the slightest clue what statistical power was.

    And if he’s lying about this, he’s as likely as not lying about having never had the flu and is just looking for attention at any cost. I mean, seriously, WTF other explanation is there for this?

    @Antaeus
    Did you learn anything?

    The curious thing is, although they’re notoriously censorious asshats, I’ve had next to no problem commenting at AoA on the odd occasions when I’ve felt moved to do so. It’s for the same reason that I never had any trouble at MDC over the space of a couple of years: I know how to appropriately modulate my tone.

    Gerg, on the other hand, has this entirely backward: His comments at AoA, where he has nothing to lose, are pathetic (although Gerg does manage to continue the screamingly obnoxious habit, Gerg, of addressing people, Gerg, over and over, Gerg, again). My guess is that he thinks that this pabulum will be considered “measured” and earn him some sort of esteem or something. But when he shows up someplace where he presumably has something to prove, he just drops his pants, inadvertently performs some pratfalls, and runs away, only to compulsively repeat the performance.

    That reminds me of a story.

    A BBC television crew had recently visited the property to make a documentary. The director had blandly informed us that he was “naturally stoned.” He wasn’t afraid of taking LSD. Heaven forbid.

    He didn’t need it.

    This line of shıt will drive all but the most saintly Psychedelians who hear it up the wall, across the ceiling, and down the other side. It’s an insult, and such blatant self-deception it’s almost unbearable to listen to it.

    The spiritual four-flusher visiting a Psychedelian community should avoid saying things like “the vibrations around here are terrible” or “I’m a witch, you know” or, “oh sure, I talk to trees all the time myself,” but of all the comments likely to enrage his hosts, “I can do anything you can do but I don’t need LSD to do it,” or words to that effect, are provocation in a class by itself.

    It’s like saying, “the law can’t touch me, baby” while drunk and disorderly in a Chicago police station at 3 a.m. It’s an insult to the honor of the group, and something has to be done about it. Haines let the director have it in his coffee one morning, and he went bounding and sprinting all over the woods and fields for about four hours, bellowing like a moose. When it was over, he admitted he had been afraid of it all along and didn’t understand anything about it. He then packed up his staff and stuff and left. We never saw the documentary, if there ever was one.

  169. #170 Helianthus
    January 23, 2014

    The big reveal time of a CSI:Miami episode. Horatio Caine is busy giving a list of all incriminating evidence.

    “…and finally, the DNA found on a discarded cup of coffee on the crime scene and the fingerprints on the murder’s weapon both match the suspect’s ones.”
    Suspect’s lawyer: “Ah, but you didn’t say you believe in all of this.”
    Horatio:”Frankly, sir, I believe…”
    *removes sunglasses, tilts head*
    “…that you are full of sh*t.”

  170. #171 herr doktor bimler
    January 23, 2014

    But when he shows up someplace where he presumably has something to prove, he just drops his pants, inadvertently performs some pratfalls, and runs away, only to compulsively repeat the performance.

    Anyone commenting on a blog-thread is to some extent engaged in a performance and deriving satisfaction from a job well done; trying to create an effect, if only to create a momentary amusement.
    Gerg’s objective is to inspire his readers with a mixture of exasperation and disgust. It seems so unambitious.

  171. #172 Greg
    January 23, 2014

    @Narad

    Do you believe that vaccines as administered in their totality according to the recommended childhood vaccination schedule plays no causal role in autism? Hey Narad, remember just a one-word ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. For demonstration, I would say no.

    (Now what will Narad’s response be? I sense that he is too proud to lie and embarrass himself in front of his peers, so he won’t say ‘yes’. His shill situation also, definitely, won’t allow him to commit suicide by telling the truth and answer ‘no’ . Narad will either completely ignore the question, or in a fanciful way, or maybe not even that fancy, tell me to go FM. I can’t wait for his response — hee hee hee.)

  172. #173 Delphine
    tangled up in blue
    January 23, 2014

    Greg’s comments do serve a purpose, however. For an occasional lurker like me, with two grad degrees yet zero background in science, they serve to reinforce the fact that anti-vaxxers have built their platform on a hill of sand.

    There’s a lot of science-minded folk here who take the time to explain and edify, and that’s great and I appreciate it — but Greg’s input is equally valid, if only because it demonstrates the inherent shoddiness of the anti-vax position.

    Every time Greg takes the opportunity to comment, it’s like a little victory.

  173. #174 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    January 23, 2014

    Greg, you are a liar.

    MOB, do you believe that vaccines has administered in their totality according to the childhood vaccination scedule plays no causual role in autism?

    MOB’s reply:

    [The] evidence currently shows that vaccines administered in their totality according to the childhood vaccination schedule plays no causal role in autism, within the limits of measurement.

    You responded:

    He didn’t really answer the question, stating what he personally believes.

    Do you not understand that people can personally believe in something that is supported by the majority of evidence? Or do you believe that “personal belief” is just an article of faith?

  174. #175 Greg
    January 23, 2014

    Julian: Do you not understand that people can personally believe in something that is supported by the majority of evidence? Or do you believe that “personal belief” is just an article of faith?

    Just in case you missed my post at #165, Julian…..

    “If I look at the evidence and make a decision based on that evidence then invariably my belief should be consistent with my trust in the evidence. If the two are not consistent, then this would mean I do not trust the evidence. Further, if one is prompted to give his beliefs, and he ‘out of the gate’ defer to the opinion of others–aka ‘what the science says’– then I think this is a fair sign that the person does not trust the science that he is referring to, and is uncomfortable in admitting such.”

  175. #176 Greg
    January 23, 2014

    @Orac

    Hey Orac,

    I haven’t addressed you in a while. Must say that your snoozefest blogs have not graduated to anything greater. Was curious about something though: What happened to Elburto and Old Rockin Dave? Why did Management retire their scripts?

    Your friend (‘friend’ in sticking around here and waking your guests from their slumber), Greg

  176. #177 LW
    January 23, 2014

    I for one am getting some insight into Greg’s mind here.

    If I asked you, “Do you believe in God?” with appropriate definition of what I mean by “God”, you could reasonably answer yes or no.  That’s a religious question. 

    If I ask you whether you believe that chordates evolved before the Cambrian Explosion, yes or no, that would not be a reasonable question. That’s a scientific question so your answer rightly references the current state of the evidence and is tentative. 

    For us, whether the current vaccination schedule can cause autism is a scientific question. The evidence is that it does not, within the limits of measurement in some very large trials. But our answer is tentative: we would change it if someone actually did the work and found a causal relationship. 

    For Greg, it is a religious belief. You can no more shake it by pointing to evidence than you can shake the faith of a foundamentalist Christian by pointing to the Ichneumon wasps.  And, like a foundamentalist discussing evolution, he simply cannot grasp that other people not only don’t believe what he believes, but don’t even approach the question the way he does.

    I thought he was merely nasty and obnoxious. He is both, of course, but he’s also a religious fanatic.  

    No doubt everyone else already realized this.  

  177. #178 Julian Frost
    January 23, 2014

    Greg:

    If I look at the evidence and make a decision based on that evidence then invariably my belief should be consistent with my trust in the evidence. If the two are not consistent, then this would mean I do not trust the evidence.

    Fair enough. You’ve made it clear that you don’t trust the evidence that refutes your opinion on vaccines causing autism.

    [I]f one is prompted to give his beliefs, and he ‘out of the gate’ defer to the opinion of others–aka ‘what the science says’– then I think this is a fair sign that the person does not trust the science that he is referring to, and is uncomfortable in admitting such.

    Umm, what?
    No, seriously. How is deferring to expert opinion (the ‘others’ to whom you scornfully refer) a sign that one does not trust the science? I believe in exoplanets. Were you to ask me why, I’d reply that astronomers have detected over 400 exoplanets. I’m not an astronomer and have never been involved in a search for exoplanets. In this case, I’m relying on the experts.

  178. #179 Narad
    January 23, 2014

    @Narad

    Do you believe that vaccines as administered in their totality according to the recommended childhood vaccination schedule plays no causal role in autism? Hey Narad, remember just a one-word ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. For demonstration, I would say no.

    Gerg, something else that you have failed to get through your useless head, Gerg, is that you don’t get make any demands. None, and especially not ones to answer questions that would be abysmally worded even if they were grammatically correct with orders attached for acceptable forms of reply.

    (Now what will Narad’s response be? I sense that he is too proud to lie and embarrass himself in front of his peers, so he won’t say ‘yes’. His shill situation also, definitely, won’t allow him to commit suicide by telling the truth and answer ‘no’ . Narad will either completely ignore the question, or in a fanciful way, or maybe not even that fancy, tell me to go FM. I can’t wait for his response — hee hee hee.)

    You know who does an awful fυcking lot of ignoring questions, Gerg? Go take a look in a fυcking mirror.

    You want the answer to your question? No, I do not believe in the slightest that “vaccines as administered in their totality according to the recommended childhood vaccination schedule” play any role whatever in the etiology of autism. Why? Because there’s no fυcking evidence that they do, that’s why. This is called the null hypothesis, and you have not adduced a single g-ddamned reason to consider rejecting it.

  179. #180 Greg
    January 23, 2014

    Nice try, LW! And I am the one that is often accused of mental gymnastics and contortions to justify an untenable position.

    With religious matters, indeed your beliefs are contingent on faith. With scientific matters, however, your beliefs extends from your trust in such evidence. To suggest that you can never ‘really’ hold such beliefs because the evidence will always be tenable is egregious, if not downright stupid. To the extent that you can either trust the evidence or not, you can always hold beliefs in scientific issues. The fact that your beliefs may later change based on changing evidence does not negate this.

  180. #181 Greg
    January 23, 2014

    Well looks like a time-out is in order for Narad. Anyway, thanks for your response Narad. Well, given the heated emotions perhaps it’s best that I do not pass judgement at this time. Narad, I will leave that to your peers.

  181. #182 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 23, 2014

    Greg – I provided my view in the simplest way I can that is complete and accurate.

    I got to thinking this morning how I would answer the question “Yes or no: does the sun rise in the East?” And my answer would be that depending on where you are on Earth, the date, and your speed over ground the sun generally appears to rise in a more-or-less easterly direction, due to the west to east rotation of the Earth. This allows for some observations, such as:
    - If you’re flying westward fast enough, the sun can appear to rise in the west.
    - if you are sufficiently far north or south around a solstice period, the sun will rise in a point of the horizon that is decidedly off from east – assuming it rises at all.

    Julian Frost and LW summed up my reasons to respond the way I did quite well.

  182. #183 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 23, 2014

    Greg – please re-read LW’s statement. I don’t find that it says what you say it says. Also – did you really mean “tenable” or did you mean “tentative”? If you really meant tenable (able to be maintained or defended against attack or objection), then I really don’t understand your objection at all. Stating that the best evidence (e.g. the fossil record) supports a particular interpretation (e.g. that chordates evolved before the Cambrian Explosion) and is supportable against all current argument or attack would seem a very positive statement.

  183. #184 Greg
    January 23, 2014

    @MOB
    Indeed friend I meant ‘tentative’. Also, you’ve said enough so out of respect I won’t pressure you anymore.

    @VCADODers
    I feel this session was a good outing. We saw a little how Narad and Mi Dawn lost their cool, but I guess that is to be expected now and again. Anyway folks, I must take a little break and we can resume our conversation shortly.

  184. #185 Johanna
    January 23, 2014

    Friends, why do you keep feeding the troll?

    I know it’s vexing to encounter such asshattery, but it’s clear that he thrives on our attention. Don’t we have more productive things to do, like watching paint dry?

  185. #186 Krebiozen
    January 23, 2014

    Since Greg has brought up the question of assessing the reliability of evidence, I thought I would pick it up as a useful discussion point. If we assess the evidence for, say, the efficacy of influenza vaccines in healthy children, we can find a systematic review like this one. The authors used strict inclusion criteria to assess published studies, and out of 10 that might fit their criteria they found 14 randomized controlled trials, eight cohort studies, one case-control study, and one randomized controlled trial that were of sufficiently high quality to include. They used the Cochrane reviewers handbook to assess the studies (there are some useful tips for Greg in there about assessing the quality of evidence). The authors state that:

    The most frequent reason for exclusion was lack of independent controls (n=29) and non-comparative design (n=15).

    What do these carefully selected, high quality studies tell us about the efficacy of the vaccine? Table 2 is a useful summary. Of the 24 studies included, all showed that the vaccine was effective i.e. the relative risk was less than 1, with all but 7 showing statistical significance at the 95% level. The ones that did not reach statistical significance all had fewer than 100 vaccinated subjects, or were on very young children or both. The largest study, with over 15,000 vaccinated and almost 90,000 controls found over 90% efficacy for all ages.

    Now, personally I am inclined to accept this evidence, and conclude that influenza vaccines are very effective, for healthy children at least. I have no evidence at all to suggest that every one of these studies was in some way fatally flawed; the inclusion criteria used for the systematic review argues strongly against this possibility. I suppose it is theoretically possible that every one of these studies is fraudulent, and that researchers in Russia, the USA, Italy, Japan etc. are all under the control of the Big Pharma Illuminati, and churn out fraudulent studies showing their masters’ evil vaccines are effective, but I doubt it.

    It is also possible that the systematic review authors deliberately cherry-picked studies that showed what they wanted. Since they have clearly stated their inclusion criteria and anyone can duplicate their methods, this also seem extremely unlikely.

    I wonder if Greg can explain why he rejects all this, and large amounts of similar evidence, and still doesn’t believe the influenza vaccine is effective. I very much doubt it.

  186. #187 Krebiozen
    January 23, 2014

    That’s weird, what I thought I wrote was, “out of 125 that might fit their criteria they found 14 randomized controlled trials, eight cohort studies…”

  187. #188 JGC
    January 23, 2014

    Hasn’t he made it obvious by now, kreb? Greg rejects the studies because they don’t say he wants to hear (that fle vaccines aren’t effective).

  188. #189 Scared Momma
    January 23, 2014

    @Johanna, I was wondering the same thing, but I don’t mind, it keeps me entertained. And thank you Narad, I got to live vicariously through your swearing rant, because I find if I swear on paper, I swear in real life, and that makes for some interesting parent/teacher conferences. So I love to read people swearing.

  189. #190 Irène Delse
    On dry land, among seabirds
    January 23, 2014

    I’ve stopped counting the number of people around me who had a bad case of flu this year, a lot of them healthy adults in their prime who didn’t think they needed the vaccine. And then discovered the joys of being so sick they couldn’t get out of bed for days. With a little luck, they’ll remember it next autumn when vaccine time comes.

  190. #191 Denice Walter
    January 23, 2014

    Krebiozen: ” why he rejects all of this”

    Because he’s not basing it on data but on personality:
    he- like other alt med advocates- *likes* those who preach anti-vax or alt med more than he *likes* those who advocate SBM.

    They are evaluating material based upon from whom it emanates – Is the source a ‘nice person’/ “like me”/ an underdog fighting entrenched interests/ a brave rebel freedom fighter? Even if the back story has to be filled in with fantasy.

    This is why alties focus so much on presentation- of their own worth, their humility and humanitarianism -and constantly show the opposition as cheaters, greedy, evil. They make it into a personality contest. The data get lost in the shuffle. Also by focusing on SBM’s ‘moneyed interests’ customers don’t examine their own wealth.

    And what kind of personae do they create? Carefully honed ones: they are plain, simple, honest folks- JUST LIKE YOU!- who also happen to be incredibly brilliant innovators and paradigm-shifters- and YOU get to associate with them!

    This artfully crafted edifice maintains a friendly, genuine,down-home aspect UNLIKE those uppity elitist scientists who actually are just bought and paid for shills!

    The anti-vaccine camp makes much of their status as devoted parents who would do anything for their children- that’s their major qualiification. People like Null and Adams *tell* us how brilliant they are ENDLESSLY and how persecuted they are by the establishment.
    Both ploys engender sympathy for their message.

    This is a time honoured advertising ploy:
    get the potential buyer to LIKE the seller.
    Why do you think that companies hire popstars and sports legends to sell their products? Why do singers and celebrities plaster their names on perfumes or clothing lines? Or are shown driving the latest auto model? Companies want potential customers to associate their product with a likable/ admirable personality.

    Woo-meisters- not being skilled in anything- need to create their own brand of likability.

  191. #192 Narad
    January 23, 2014

    We saw a little how Narad and Mi Dawn lost their cool, but I guess that is to be expected now and again.

    I am and was as cool as a cucumber, baby. “Polarity is selected at will, for I am not ionized and I possess not valence.”

    I note that you didn’t address the substance of any of the comments. For instance, let’s consider this:

    That’s sweet, coming as it does from the same asshοle who has demonstrated that he doesn’t actually give a fυck about “the answers” to his shıtwitted “questions.”

    I take this, coupled with the fact that you had no response to my answer, about which you prognosticated “I sense that he is too proud to lie and embarrass himself in front of his peers, so he won’t say ‘yes’,” as a concession that you, in fact, do not care about such answers unless you think they offer an opportunity to yet further make a fool of yourself by declaring victory. Observing in passing that you are an asshοle and that the “questions” are shıtwitted merely comprises statements of fact.

    Mutatis mutandis the fact that you are a demonstrated posturing liar.

    Anyway folks, I must take a little break and we can resume our conversation shortly.

    Sure thing, chickenshıt. I hope you’ll be prepared to explain how you take your blood pressure while waiting in the exam room by then.

  192. #193 Narad
    January 23, 2014

    ^ Failed third blockquote, I hope, is obvious.

  193. #194 Krebiozen
    January 23, 2014

    I came across a nice exposition of scientific uncertainty while reading about Henry Gee. It was written by Jerry A. Coyne, Ph.D here::

    Yes, science is about doubt and knowledge, and some of that knowledge, while not true in the philosophically absolute sense, is true in the only sense that matters: you’d bet all your fortune on its being right. I’d give up my fortune (small as it is) right now if some scientist proved that earth was 10,000 years old. In fact, I’d bet a thousand dollars against ten dollars on this issue.

    Similarly, I would bet my paltry fortune against any scientist proving that the increase in diagnosed autism over the past few decades has anything at all to do with changes in the vaccination schedule, or that vaccination is an important or even a minor cause of autism. In the only way that matters, it is not true that vaccines cause autism.

  194. #195 Jen in TX
    January 23, 2014

    On a related note, I’m looking forward to a skeptic’s take on the Brandlistuen study. Any takers?

    http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/10/24/ije.dyt183.abstract

    Science Mom writes: “Sure I’ll bite. What did these women have in order for them to be taking anti-pyretics? How can you tease out infectious diseases from the use of anti-pyretics particularly when some (diseases during pregnancy) are known to cause neurological disorders in infants?”

    Science Mom, with all due respect, did you actually read the full study? Even the abstract notes that there was no association with ibuprofen, which would exclude an effect of illness.

    Paul Whiteley summed up the findings of Brandlistuen et al. quite nicely: http://questioning-answers.blogspot.com/2013/11/prenatal-paracetamol-exposure-offspring-outcome.html

    Furthermore, since paracetamol is also used as a pain reliever, and not just for antipyresis, and the most commonly cited reason for >28 days of paracetamol use was headaches/migraine, followed by back pain, your question about infections during pregnancy as the possible explanation for adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes seems even more irrelevant, and leads me to further suspect that you did not read the study before commenting. Again, please read the full study. I really am interested in a skeptical viewpoint, but I expected better than this from you.

  195. #196 Krebiozen
    January 23, 2014

    Jen in Tx,
    I don’t have currently access to the full text of the study but it is a bit worrying. I do wonder a bit about the use of drugs during pregnancy when the evidence base for safety often isn’t very solid. Casting a critical eye, the use of subject reported acetaminophen* use is concerning. I also wonder if there might be other confounding factors that the researchers haven’t thought of.

    As a speculative example, since this is a study of siblings, perhaps the length of time since the pregnancy affects how much acetaminophen was taken, and for how long. Perhaps acetaminophen use during pregnancy in Norway was discouraged more in the earlier part of the study period than later. Perhaps acetaminophen use increased generally in Norway during this period.

    If so, since we know that increased maternal age correlates with an increased risk of minor neurodevelopmental disorders, this might explain the apparent link. Do they discuss whether they took this into account in the study?

    There might be other confounders, or there might be something to this. As one of the study’s authors stated:

    “The results strengthen our concern that long-term use of paracetamol during pregnancy may have an adverse effect on child development, but that occasional use for short periods is probably not harmful to the foetus. Importantly, we cannot assume that there is a causal relationship between maternal use of paracetamol during pregnancy and adverse effects in children from an epidemiological study. Since this is the only study to show this, there is a need for further research to confirm or refute these results,” says Professor Hedvig Nordeng.

    * I’m a Brit, so I generally call it ‘paracetamol’, but this is an American blog so I use ‘acetaminophen’ here.

  196. #198 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    January 23, 2014

    Science Mom, with all due respect, did you actually read the full study? Even the abstract notes that there was no association with ibuprofen, which would exclude an effect of illness.

    Not yet but will try tomorrow. I will even read it critically and ignore your tylenol obsession re: autism which this doesn’t even seem to be about any way.

  197. #199 Narad
    January 23, 2014

    Again, please read the full study.

    I, for one, don’t have access to it from home. Are those β’s what I think they are, i.e., the odds of failing to reject the null hypothesis?

  198. #200 AdamG
    January 23, 2014

    Jen, while I think the study is fairly well designed, and the topic does indeed merit further study, the kicker is this:

    because clinical assessments with diagnostic tools were not available in this study, we could not determine the clinical importance of the difference observed.

  199. #201 Narad
    January 23, 2014

    So…other than not being vaccinated, are there any other questions that we should be asking in response to these tragic deaths? Besides vaccination, is there anything else we could be doing that might reduce the risk of mortality and morbidity from influenza?

    I’d also note that I don’t use acetaminophen, and my two adult bouts with the flu, during which I didn’t use any other OTC remedies either,* kicked my ass** all the same. I don’t have any particular reason to suspect that I would have been any worse off if I had, nor do I find the insinuation that there is some need to rule it out in “tragic”*** influenza deaths to be anything more than indication of an idée fixe that I hadn’t noticed before it was pointed out here.

    * Body aches have never been much of an issue for me (“when I was a child, I had a fever“). The bout in the ’90s, however, led to my then wife getting me a used copy of Grinspoon’s Psychedelics Reconsidered, which is valuable mainly for its annotated bibliography, which is the first I had heard of Millbrook, and the rest is history.

    ** “When you want genuine music – music that will come right home to you like a bad quarter, suffuse your system like strychnine whisky, go right through you like Brandreth’s pills, ramify your whole constitution like the measles, and break out on your hide like the pin-feather pimples on a picked goose, – when you want all this, just smash your piano, and invoke the glory-beaming banjo!”

    *** I assume it’s a casual use, but the invocation of the Magic Word only works if the cause was actually ignorance of The Truth.

  200. #202 Denice Walter
    January 23, 2014

    Narad: “……… which is the first I had heard about Millbrook, and the rest is history.”

    And we’re SO GLAD that you did. Hear of Millbrook.

  201. #203 Narad
    January 23, 2014

    I did wind up with the right to wear the regular insignia of the Order of the Toad even after my excommunication, but it took a good seven or so years to put that together back in the olden days.

  202. #204 Julian Frost
    January 24, 2014

    @Johanna:

    Friends, why do you keep feeding the troll?

    Two reasons. Firstly, to show lurkers that Greg (and other antivaccinationists) is clueless.
    Secondly, the same reason I fill out the Su Dokus in the newspaper. It’s an exercise for the mind, and sometimes quite entertaining.

  203. #205 Greg
    January 24, 2014

    @Narad

    I note that you didn’t address the substance of any of the comments. For instance, let’s consider this:

    That’s sweet, coming as it does from the same asshοle who has demonstrated that he doesn’t actually give a fυck about “the answers” to his shıtwitted “questions.”

    I take this, coupled with the fact that you had no response to my answer, about which you prognosticated “I sense that he is too proud to lie and embarrass himself in front of his peers, so he won’t say ‘yes’,” as a concession that you, in fact, do not care about such answers unless you think they offer an opportunity to yet further make a fool of yourself by declaring victory. Observing in passing that you are an asshοle and that the “questions” are shıtwitted merely comprises statements of fact.
    ———————————————————————————

    Actually Narad, after I ‘prognosticated’ further about your likely response, I thought that your shill loyalty may indeed push you over the edge to where you would simply sacrifice your integrity, and lie. You are a proud person, but you are also heavily invested. Indeed Narad, I said it many times, and I will say it again: No rational person who has followed the VCA debate long enough can ever truly believe that vaccines do not cause autism! Narad, you are a rational person, indeed highly intelligent, but let me say though, sir, that in my humble opinion, you are a liar!

    Also, the fact that you guys would hesitate and protest so much in giving a simple one-word answer to a straight-forward question demonstrates your insincerity. You argue: ‘I cannot answer the question because scientific beliefs are tentative….it’s like considering whether the sun is rising in the east or west….Greg you are asking a ‘did you stop beating your wife question’….. Please!! If tomorrow a vax/unvax is study completed showing that the two groups have the same autism rate, or if evidence surface of unvaccinated kids dramatically descending into autism like Hanna Poling, or if ‘miraculous’ findings reveal that autism incidence is not increasing after all, or if ‘extraordinary’ proof surfaces that vaccine courts didn’t really compensate for autism damages after all, etc — etc…… If tomorrow if all these things were to happen and someone asks me if I believe that vaccines do cause autism, then I would respond with a firm ‘no’! No hesitation, no procrastinating!! So again Narad, let me state my humble opinion that you sir are a liar!

    Finally, how did I measure my blood pressure in the doctor’s office? Actually Narad, the automated machine is simply left sitting on his desk. In fact, before he comes into see me, his assistant will enter the office, ask some preliminary health questions, measure your blood pressure, and then leave (I did leave out this part in my earlier synopsis of my visits). Narad, I am then free to measure again if I choose.

    So there you have it, Narad: This is my response to the substance of your comments.

  204. #206 Lawrence
    January 24, 2014

    Great thing is, we don’t have to “believe” like Gerg does…we can know…and why? Because the vast preponderance of the evidence exists to allow us to know.

    So which is it Gerg? That this so-called link is so rare as to be impossible to detect using large population studies or a Tsunami of hundreds of thousands requiring a vast conspiracy involving millions of people worldwide to cover it up?

  205. #207 Krebiozen
    January 24, 2014

    Greg, you are full of sh!t. We have refuted all your claims with good evidence, yet you persist in making them, for no apparent reason since there is no evidence to support them at all. You are the liar here, as everyone can see.

  206. #208 Narad
    January 24, 2014

    Finally, how did I measure my blood pressure in the doctor’s office? Actually Narad, the automated machine is simply left sitting on his desk. In fact, before he comes into see me, his assistant will enter the office, ask some preliminary health questions, measure your blood pressure, and then leave (I did leave out this part in my earlier synopsis of my visits). Narad, I am then free to measure again if I choose.

    I don’t believe you, for several reasons: (1) As noted above, I actually doubt that you’re bright enough to operate a vital-signs monitor. (2) I’ve never seen one that wasn’t mounted on a rolling stand, or an exam room that didn’t have a wall-mounted sphygmomanometer. (3) Nobody would want that kind of clutter on the small workstations in an exam room – there’s the cuff, the SpO2 finger clip, and the sleeves for the temperature probe. (4) One doesn’t just leave pieces of thousand-dollar equipment sitting around as toys for intellectually challenged patients. (5) One also doesn’t leave them sitting idle when one needs to get patients in and out as quickly as possible. (6) Putting on a cuff single-handedly is a pain in the ass. (7) If you were caught doing this when somebody came in, he or she would have to whack you upside the head, which would be unprofessional. (8) You just had your blood pressure checked.

    Of course, we do have real physicians here, so I’d welcome any corrections to the foregoing assumptions. In the meantime, I’m going with your being caught making things up again.

  207. #209 Narad
    January 24, 2014

    Indeed Narad, I said it many times, and I will say it again: No rational person who has followed the VCA debate long enough can ever truly believe that vaccines do not cause autism! Narad, you are a rational person, indeed highly intelligent, but let me say though, sir, that in my humble opinion, you are a liar!

    Amazingly, although you quoted it, you apparently didn’t understand it. Repeat after me, Gerg: he doesn’t actually give a fυck about “the answers” to his shıtwitted “questions.”

    A clearer demonstration of this principle could not be found.

  208. #210 cakesphere
    January 24, 2014

    @Lawrence

    Occam’s Razor is lost on the conspiracy theorists.

  209. #211 Johanna
    January 24, 2014

    @Julian (204)

    Fair enough. If you think it’s honestly fun, it’s a free Internet and all. ;)

  210. #212 Greg
    January 24, 2014

    @Lawrence

    “Great thing is, we don’t have to “believe” like Gerg does…we can know…and why? Because the vast preponderance of the evidence exists to allow us to know.”

    So you are suggesting that whether you believe that vaccines cause or do not cause autism is irrelevant, the important thing is that you know?

    In my intro philosophy course I remember learning about the three conditions that constitute knowledge. First, you must believe in the thing or theory. Second, you must have evidence to support your belief(s). Third, the thing or theory must be true.

    Lawrence, without believing you can never know. And, I am also tempted to add that with the notion that vaccines do not cause autism, you will never be able to satisfy the third condition for it to tantamount to knowledge.

  211. #213 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    January 25, 2014

    @Greg:

    So you are suggesting that whether you believe that vaccines cause or do not cause autism is irrelevant, the important thing is that you know?

    Yes. We know because the evidence in favour of vaccines causing autism is so weak it can be discounted.

    In my intro philosophy course I remember learning about the three conditions that constitute knowledge. First, you must believe in the thing or theory. Second, you must have evidence to support your belief(s). Third, the thing or theory must be true.
    Lawrence, without believing you can never know.

    And once again Greg, the point goes rocketing over your head. The initial evidence did not support it, so we started believing that vaccines don’t cause autism. The evidence is now so strong we can comfortably say we know they don’t.

    [W]ith the notion that vaccines do not cause autism, you will never be able to satisfy the third condition for it to [become] tantamount to knowledge.

    The evidence against a link is little short of overwhelming. In the Omnibus Autism Proceedings, the Petitioners’ Steering Committee chose what they thought were the six strongest candidates to use as test cases.
    The six lost. Not only that, they were trounced. Furthermore, Cedillo, Hazelhurst and Snyder appealed to the normal courts with equally damning verdicts being made. Finally, the Hazelhursts and Cedillos appealed to Appeals Court. The verdicts were upheld.
    To use a sporting analogy, it would be like a cricket team losing nine test matches by an innings apiece.

  212. #214 Lawrence
    January 25, 2014

    @Gerg – your beliefs are irrelevant, because the evidence, research and science has consistently rebutted your “beliefs.”

    Haven’t you gotten tired of having your ass handed to you?

    You can believe that the world is flat…people can tell you that the world is flat, but the actual evidence and Science shows that the world is roundish – not flat.

  213. #215 Bill Price
    January 26, 2014

    Greg at #212 finally admits the source of his arrogant dishonesty. After a preamble, that source is discussed and its evil is exposed. (I write slowly, so if I repeat anything posted after Lawrence’s #214, forgive me.)

    Many hundreds of years ago, there was a long stretch of time known as the Dark Ages. This period is notable for two interesting features (there are others, but these are pertinent here): people died a lot, early and painfully, from diseases that we now know how to prevent and/or treat; and the Church was the political and philosophical power. They exerted that power to enhance their power and wealth, by largely ignoring the reality that their subjects experienced.
    The dark ages were largely supplanted by the Enlightenment, leading to major improvements in knowledge, lifespan, and quality of life. The Enlightenment has not completely replaced the Dark Ages, however; there are still remnants of Dark Age thinking, mostly concentrated in religious philosophy (many religions, including antivaxxers, conspiracy theory believers — ‘believers’ in general).

    In my intro philosophy course I remember learning about the three conditions that constitute knowledge. First, you must believe in the thing or theory.

    This statement is characteristic of Dark Age (religious) thinking. First, you must believe what you are told to believe (or something original that comports with what you are allowed to think) by your chosen Authority.

    Second, you must have evidence to support your belief(s).

    Second, you must have evidence to support your belief and you ignore must all evidence to the contrary.

    Third, the thing or theory must be true.

    Third, the thing or theory must he approved by your chosen Authority (eg., a church or preacher, AoA, etc.).

    Lawrence, without believing you can never know.

    And here we have the essence of Dark Age philosophical arrogance: that approved belief is superior to reality.
    The Enlightenment, by lots of hard work and despite the coerciveness of the Authorities, resulted in the realization that your intro phil teacher was all screwed up with respect to what reality (and truth) actually is. Hint: reality is what remains when you stop “believing”. Here’s your list of points, corrected:
    First, you start with an idea (not a belief). The starting point is a conjecture, and nothing more. This conjecture needs to be stated in a form that specifies its relationship to reality, to that which is or can be known.
    Second, you examine evidence, pro and con: it may have been recognized by others, and/or you might have to do some objective observation yourself. Evidence is constrained by reality, and must be traceable to reality. If the evidence says that the conjecture is not compatible with reality, you must correct (or abandon) the conjecture – it’s wrong.
    Third, you can promote your conjecture to a hypothesis, and keep working on it, examining evidence pro and con.
    If the hypothesis survives enough examination against enough independent, objective, competent evidence, it becomes eligible for tentative acceptance as knowledge, leading to a strictly limited variant of evidence-dependent belief.
    Greg, the problem you exhibit is intellectual stasis, being stuck in the authoritarianism that brought about the Dark Ages, with its misery, death, and dishonesty. It takes a major arrogance to remain in the “my beliefs trump reality” mindset these post-Enlightenment days. One may contrast the Dark Ages with what has been discovered since, and contrast the Dark Age arrogance with the modern humility of science, that reality and evidence trump my beliefs, every time.
    The folks here have outgrown the your Dark-Age arrogance. We understand how backwards your thinking is. We tend to prefer life to death, to prefer health to misery, to prefer truth to imagination, to prefer ‘what actually is’ to what The Authority allows his followers to think, to prefer the Enlightenment humility to your True Believers’ arrogance.
    That is why your “yes or no” questions are rejected as being equal to “have you stopped beating your wife”: your arrogant Dark Ages definition of ‘belief’ is as perverse as the presupposition that one has ever performed any wife beating. In both cases, a “yes or no” answers merely endorses the dishonesty of the question.
    So, Greg, you are cordially invited to either grow up, or take your dishonest arrogance back to AoA, where it fits right in.

  214. #216 Narad
    January 26, 2014

    In my intro philosophy course I remember learning about the three conditions that constitute knowledge. First, you must believe in the thing or theory. Second, you must have evidence to support your belief(s). Third, the thing or theory must be true.

    Lawrence, without believing you can never know.

    This is jaw-droppingly hilarious. What Gerg is babbling about is the “JTB” analysis. However, he gets it very badly wrong. The actual prongs are as follows:

    1. The proposition is true.
    2. The perceiver believes that it is true
    3. The perceiver justifies the belief

    Gerg, on the other hand, scrambles this:

    1. The perceiver believes that something is true
    2. The perceiver concocts an explanation for the belief
    3. Therefore, No. 1 is true, and hey presto! Knowledge!

  215. #217 Greg
    January 26, 2014

    @Bill Price #215

    What you said is all fine and dandy, however, you are misrepresenting my argument about an individual considering an idea or notion for himself, or contemplating ideas that may have been forced on him by others. The latter scenario is not the one that is being discussed. Now let me demonstrate again my argument with an example:

    Say you are contemplating that the earth is made of blue cheese — how would you go about asserting this as knowledge? First, you must believe it. This is different than someone suggesting that the earth is made of blue cheese and requiring you to believe it. Your decision is being made on your own accord, or free will if you may.

    Second, you must have evidence that the earth is made of blue cheese. And, even though I am making these points in chronological order, it’s not to say they are occurring that way. The evidence that the earth is made of blue cheese may have indeed come first, which led to your belief. The point is you cannot say even though I have evidence that the earth is made of blue cheese or vaccines do not cause autism, I still don’t believe them, but I have knowledge of these events. And, indeed considering Lawrence’s argument at #206 — ‘we don’t need to believe since we know’–this seems to be what he is suggesting.

    Futher Bill, I am not saying that you are accepting the evidence by only looking at one piece of it. Indeed the assumption is that you are looking at the full evidence — pros and cons– and weighing them.

    Finally, to have knowledge that the earth is made of blue cheese, it must be true. And again Bill, I am not invoking truth as one that is approved by a particular governing authority, such as a church. We are discussing verifiable truth — truth that can withstand the test of the scientific method.

    So in all Bill, there is nothing Dark-Agian about my points, much as you would like to dismiss them as such. My argument still very much stands: If you guys cannot look yourselves square in the mirror, and say with absolute conviction that I believe vaccines do not cause autism, then you can never assert this as knowledge. You won’t have this knowledge despite being able to argue that ‘scientific’ evidence say they do not.

  216. #218 Krebiozen
    January 26, 2014

    Greg should really get his money back from whatever academic establishment misinformed him so badly. I have come across social scientists with no clue about natural science, and vice versa, but Greg is impressively ignorant in both areas.

    Kudos to Narad and Bill for putting his mangled propositions straight.

  217. #219 Lawrence
    January 26, 2014

    To follow up on Bill’s post – long ago, people believed that volcanic eruptions were the result of the Gods’ wrath…(whether it be Greek, Roman, Egyptian, even Hawaiian religious thought)….in fact, people used to blame all kinds of natural events – seasonal rains, droughts, etc….on their own personal action or perception of events (i.e. omens – both good and bad).

    At the end of the day, we figured out that these “personal” perceptions were nothing more than the human mind putting together various events in time to create a sense of order our of chaos. So today, we take these “perceptions” and use them as a starting point for actual scientific research….of course, in Gerg’s mind, we should always take perception as fact, regardless of the follow-up evidence.

    Gerg would be right at home as a simple Acolyte in any religious institution – where he could simply be told what is truth, as opposed to having to think for himself…..(which he does seem to have serious problems with).

  218. #220 MI Dawn
    January 26, 2014

    Oh, I’m quite late responding to greg thinking I lost my cool. But I had other things to do, and bouts of hysterical laughter at work make people wonder what’s going on.

    Greg – if my response to you makes you think I lost my cool – talk to my kids. They will tell you I very rarely lose my cool, but when I do, it’s a LOT scarier than that comment. You obviously confuse “losing one’s cool’ with the exhaustion of a mother who is having to explain simple facts to a 3 year old again (no, dear, we are not buying that toy today) – for the nth time.

    Sometimes moms get tired of telling children basic facts. And I was tired of telling you basic facts and reading your juvenile (hee hee hee) humor.

  219. #221 MI Dawn
    January 26, 2014

    @Narad: I’m inclined to accept Greg’s changed version of taking the blood pressure. I’ve been in several offices lately where they do leave the electronic machine in the room all the time. And putting on the cuff isn’t that hard. Making sure it’s on *correctly* is a bigger issue, but I suspect Greg wasn’t concerned with placement or BP accuracy.

    While not bowing to Jen in TX and her acetominophen belief, I honestly have to say I have seen a huge upswing in people taking it incorrectly. I’m a nurse, I work with nurses, in health insurance. Not all of our employees are health care professionals, of course, but many are. On a daily basis I’ll hear people say, “that (drug – Tylenol, Advil, whatever) didn’t make my headache go away so I’m taking some more” – and they had only taken the first dose 20-30 minutes prior! In vain I have tried to explain that oral medications can take 45-60 minutes to obtain a therapeutic level…they want instant gratification.

    So I wonder, sometimes, if frequent “over-dosing” (as opposed to an overdose, which is usually fatal with acetominophen) *could* have affects on a fetus.

  220. #222 Greg
    January 26, 2014

    Further to my argument at #217, you guys do not know that vaccines do not cause autism because you are only satisfying one of the three prerequisite of knowledge. First, you don’t believe it. Second, you can’t show it to be true. I mentioned how that truth must be verifiable according to the scientific method. And, as was already fleshed out, even the Chochrane Review of the vaccine/autism studies established that the limitation of the studies, and how they do not conclusively settle the matter. Guys, this leaves you merely with a few flimsy, vested interest, pharma studies that only looked into a few vaccine ingredients anyway as evidence. Again, there is not much here in the way of knowledge material.

  221. #223 Greg
    January 26, 2014

    @MI Dawn

    Ok, I must admit that you are somewhat of a puzzle to me. I mentioned no rational person who has followed the autism/vaccine debate long enough, and who is not autistic that prevents them from being able to sort out the web of denialism deception can ever truly believe that vaccines do not cause autism. MI Dawn, this truly is my sincere belief, and I think it’s supported here by VCADODers general hesitation and tepidity in answering The Question. Yet MI Dawn, here you are stating your belief with such conviction. How could this be? It doesn’t sound like you are autistic, and I don’t think you are irrational. So am I then to assume that you really are a good liar? Ok — here is it MI Dawn — now I joke a lot here but I am dead serious: Go to an independent party and have a lie detection test done, and please provide the results. If everything is legit, and you are telling the truth, I will offer a full apology.

  222. #224 Lawrence
    January 26, 2014

    Next, Gerg claims to be “the Lorax” as only he and his ilk can speak for those with Autism….you know, be he “knows” they are brain damaged and couldn’t possible hold ideas of their own or form independent opinions.

    Thanks for once again showing how despicable you are.

  223. #225 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 26, 2014

    What part of “the evidence currently shows that vaccines administered in their totality according to the childhood vaccination schedule plays no causal role in autism, within the limits of measurement.” says that a) I don’t believe this to be true and b) it is not proven to a degree of certainty that should be sufficient.

  224. #226 MI Dawn
    January 26, 2014

    @Greg: oh, you ARE funny. But, sure. You pay to have it done – and I’ll happily undergo a lie detector test. I have no fears, since I don’t believe vaccines cause autism, that any test would show differently.

    By the way, Greg. I sincerely doubt you will accept the test results anyway. If I have it done, you will then point to studies that have shown that lie detector testing isn’t that reliable, and (I’m sure someone will correct me if I am wrong), most police departments have stopped doing them and they are very rarely admissible in court.

    And, I don’t think I’m autistic or even ASD. While the diagnosis does exist within my family tree (various members), I don’t have, nor did I ever have, any of the diagnostic criteria.

    As for your question – remember, Greg. We’ve answered it several times. You called us liars. Why should we answer it again and again, just to have you call us liars again?

  225. #227 Denice Walter
    January 26, 2014

    This series of conversations reminds me quite a bit of an odd interaction I had last year:

    I met a woman who was a friend of a friend’s relative- she insisted that she was my childhood friend and knew my parents well. I knew this to be high grade horsesh!t but I played along for a while:
    she asked me what my father’s name was, I retorted, ” I thought you knew him”: this farce continued as though she was carrying out an interrogation- BUT she could never supply, salient, truthful information- she only asked questions, seeking information which I didn’t supply Or made wild- wrong- guesses.” How come I don’t remember you?” I asked.

    In other words, the entire tale existed only in her head. Just like Gerg’s stories about Orac, the minions and “vaccine injured kids”.

  226. #228 Chris,
    January 26, 2014

    Greg: “Guys, this leaves you merely with a few flimsy, vested interest, pharma studies that only looked into a few vaccine ingredients anyway as evidence. Again, there is not much here in the way of knowledge material.”

    Whereas you have only provided us with nothing other than name calling. You have blatantly refused to answer direct questions posed to you. You even ignored the one I asked you several times.

    Greg, show you are not a troll. Go up and read the title this article. Don’t worry, we will wait. Now look at this bar graph on pediatric influenza deaths over the past few years. Don’t worry, we will wait some more.

    Now those who understand basic English and some math will notice that over twenty kids died from flu this year, and well over a hundred died last year from flu. Now, Greg, just provide us the PubMed indexed study by a qualified reputable researcher that any of the influenza vaccines are more dangerous than influenza.

    Now that is the end of me addressing Greg. I shall go back to ignoring him unless he shows that he actually has some verifiable evidence the it is more dangerous to prevent influenza in children than for them to actually get it.

  227. #229 Denice Walter
    January 26, 2014

    @ Chris:

    You might ask HOW he KNOWS that Orac & Co are paid by big Pharma-
    WHO exactly pays them
    HOW much is paid
    WHERE do they receive payments
    WHAT is the current rate
    ETC.

    Oh and -btw- exactly WHO are the minions anyway? ]
    Since many are pseudonymous, how wpuld he kow anything at all about them?. Where do they live? ( Not only those who identify location) WHERE do we work? etc.

    Bet he can’t answer.

  228. #230 Denice Walter
    January 26, 2014

    how WOULD he KNOW anything

  229. #231 squirrelelite
    United States
    January 26, 2014

    @Greg (212, etc.)
    The difference between your belief-based system of knowledge and science is that the universe works the way it does regardless of whether you believe it or not. Things didn’t suddenly start working differently one day when you got old enough to come up with an idea of how you believe they work.

    Science isn’t about belief at all, except in some limited sense where an individual can accept or agree with or have confidence in some part of science.

    Science is a system where a lot of people work collectively over time to figure out how the universe works and express that in ways that are useful. That is, it lets us make predictions that can be tested to see if they are true or not. Also, it gives us information, numbers, mathematical formulae, etc. that let us engineer, make and use technology to live more effectively, efficiently and comfortably in the universe.
    And science has limitations. One of those is that it can’t prove a negative. So when you said (#222) “… that vaccines do not cause autism”, that is not a scientifically testable proposition. We do not know that and can never know that.

    In other words, science can’t prove that there is no case in which a vaccine caused autism.
    But, science can test a positive claim, such as that vaccination causes autism. That has been tested many times and disproved. If there is such a connection, it is so small and weak that it is lost in the noise of the random variations in the number of people vaccinated, the number diagnosed with autism, etc.

    So, a rational person who has followed the autism/vaccination debate long enough would be capable of understanding the process of reasoning behind the many tests that have been done that consistently show that the proposition that vaccination causes autism is not true.

  230. #232 Lawrence
    January 26, 2014

    Gerg also claims “thousands or tens of thousands” of parents have insisted that their children regressed immediately after vaccination….so where are they exactly? Because we keep seeing the same names and faces over and over again – representing a vanishingly small number of people….

    Better yet, given the large numbers of population studies – where are these people that Gerg claims exist? Because for some reason, we just never seem to find them….at anywhere near the numbers that get claimed.

  231. #233 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 26, 2014

    Some years ago my Grandmother told a relative that, “I’d better get ready because is picking me up at two o’clock.” The following conversation ensued:

    Relative: But you remember he died five years ago, don’t you.
    Grandmother: Well, yes.
    Relative: And we all went to the funeral.
    Grandmother: Yes, it was lovely funeral.
    Relative: So if he’s dead, how will he pick you up?
    Grandmother: Well, I don’t know. But he said he was picking me up at two o’clock.

    That was one of the first indications we had that she had Alzheimer’s.

    In this particular case, my grandmother believed that my grandfather was going to drive her somewhere even though the facts and all evidence was to the contrary.

  232. #234 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 26, 2014

    Sigh, WordPress removed something from my comment above. My Grandmother’s statement above should read ““I’d better get ready because (my grandfather) is picking me up at two o’clock.”

  233. #235 lilady
    January 26, 2014

    @ Chris: The Troll reminds me of other trolls who populated RI.

    He has no life, has lied repeatedly about his employment working with autistics (Developmental Specialist!), craves attention and when he gets that attention along with well-deserved derision…he derives sick pleasure.

    Truly a pathetic excuse for a human being.

  234. #236 Jeff1971
    January 26, 2014

    Glerg’s “thousands or tens of thousands” of parents are probably friends of the “thousands or tens of thousands” who suffer whiplash injuries when the driver in front put his tail lights on.

  235. #237 Greg
    January 26, 2014

    @MI Dawn

    Very well then MI Dawn, I agree that a lie detector is not without its problems and uncertainties. The fact though that you would genuinely believe that vaccines do not cause autism is utterly astonishing.

    When I posed the question to Antaeus and Narad, I knew right away that they were lying. It’s quite obvious in the way they procrastinated in giving their responses, and when they did, they couldn’t help but referring to ‘the studies’. You, however, did not hesitate, and you responded with ‘apparent’ raw conviction — (Narad did bluster a lot, but it was rather transparent). You even responded even though I was not calling upon you!

    I can perfectly understand how you guys would chirp on with the ‘studies found no link’ argument, or even constantly suggest how the benefits outweigh the risk, yet that someone can truly believe that vaccines do not cause autism despite the salient circumstantial evidence and the failure in conducting the conclusive studies? Incredible!! Anyway MI Dawn, I am not inclined to dismiss you as a liar, or agree that you are telling the truth. I am just not sure.

    @VCADODERers

    Indeed the time has come when I must take a break. I must concede that commenting here is like eating peanuts; you say this will be the last one but it never is. I also did not get your reactions about the tragic passing of Avonte. Perhaps we can discuss this news when I return.

  236. #238 Krebiozen
    January 26, 2014

    It’s bizarre to see Greg attempt to argue this completely backwards. Maybe its time to resurrect my broccoli-autism hypothesis – where’s the evidence to support claims that this is not true? I bet a carefully worded telephone survey would provide plenty of anecdotal evidence to support it. A fraudulent paper published in a respected medical journal would probably do even better.

    Or perhaps I’ll start insisting that unicorns exist – how do we know a breeding population of these timid beasts isn’t living in a remote forest somewhere? If I believe in unicorns and no one can provide conclusive proof they don’t exist, by Greg’s standards that proves they are real doesn’t it?

  237. #239 Greg
    January 26, 2014

    (Just like eating peanuts)

    VCADODers,

    I do still very much intend to inquire into taking legal actions against you for the vicious, undeserved, slander that I have incurred here. Still, nevertheless, I am hoping that you can save me some legal fees by responding to my earlier inquiry of whether pseudonyms can sue pseudonyms. (hee hee hee)

    Gone again!

  238. #240 Denice Walter
    January 26, 2014

    Here’s my ‘alternative’ hypothesis:

    there was a huge uptick in autism dx in the 1990s which was *about* the time that alternative music (a/k/a “grunge”) and its ride-the-coattails-trailing unfashionable fashion emerged.
    Alternative music encouraged lessened communication and decreased social interaction as well as repetitive, ritualised actions a/k/a “moshing”.
    It was all Kurt Cobain’s fault.

  239. #241 Chris,
    January 26, 2014

    Perhaps Greg just prefers kids that are dead than those that are healthy and just happen to have autism.

  240. #242 Narad
    January 26, 2014

    On a daily basis I’ll hear people say, “that (drug – Tylenol, Advil, whatever) didn’t make my headache go away so I’m taking some more” – and they had only taken the first dose 20-30 minutes prior! In vain I have tried to explain that oral medications can take 45-60 minutes to obtain a therapeutic level…they want instant gratification.

    There was a somewhat related problem when 2,5-dimethoxy-4-methylamphetamine (“STP”) first hit the streets. As for Gerg’s BP story, have the monitors you’ve seen left in the exam room been cart-mounted or sitting on a “desk”?

  241. #243 Narad
    January 26, 2014

    When I posed the question to Antaeus and Narad, I knew right away that they were lying. It’s quite obvious in the way they procrastinated in giving their responses

    Gerg, perhaps you would like to explain how I “procrastinated.”

  242. #244 MI Dawn
    January 26, 2014

    @Narad – actually a little desk – kinda like the ones they have you sit in to have blood drawn. And it’s a simple monitor…kinda like those you buy at the drugstore for $130 or so. But then, I’ve been in a lot of weird offices in my time…

    I’m actually disappointed in Greg. I always wanted to have a lie detector test done….

  243. #245 Politicalguineapig
    January 26, 2014

    Greg: First, you don’t believe it. Second, you can’t show it to be true.

    Greg, that is so many levels of wrong. First of all, we don’t have to ‘believe.’ Do you believe in tables? Does the table stop existing when you leave the house? (If you leave the house) Facts, like tables just happen to be there. Believing in facts is as silly as praying to a table.

    Secondly, the resident experts have already shown you why you are wrong; the proof is out there, and it’s not our fault you are so spectacularly dim.

  244. #246 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 26, 2014

    I don’t see any reason why anyone would believe that Gerg is psychic – which he would have to be, for anyone to give his “They said one answer, but I knew they actually secretly believed the opposite!” any credence.

    But even if we believed that Gerg was psychic, why would we believe that he’s telling the truth about what he divines with his psychic powers, when he himself has been caught lying through his teeth?

    To name just the most obvious example, there was the time that he claimed he knew of a study design which would completely settle the question of whether vaccines cause autism, and that there could be no reason why anyone would oppose doing such a study, except if they were afraid of the results.

    When challenged to spell out that study design, Gerg finally admitted that he had no such study design in mind and in fact knew very little about study design. He had a design that he thought would answer the question solidly, but he openly admitted that he gave no thought to whether it would be ethical to do such a study (ethical concerns would of course be an extremely valid reason why a person with a functioning conscience would not want a particular study to be done, making Gerg’s claim that “no one could oppose doing this study except if they feared the results” a bald-faced lie.)

    So if Gerg claims someone around here is lying, why on earth would we believe it’s anyone but him?

  245. […] scientific idea is ready for retirement? The Way We Produce And Advance Science More examples of how influenza still kills A Trophy Hunt That’s Good for Rhinos (important) Heavy drinking in middle age speeds cognitive […]

  246. #248 Narad
    January 26, 2014

    If you guys cannot look yourselves square in the mirror, and say with absolute conviction that I believe vaccines do not cause autism, then you can never assert this as knowledge. You won’t have this knowledge despite being able to argue that ‘scientific’ evidence say they do not.

    I’m sure that Gerg is quite proud of himself for unearthing the hoary old trope of “justified true belief.” And getting it wrong, of course.

    I will first note that JTB is trivially falsifiable, as it requires knowledge of the externality of relations and plural minds to bootstrap. (I of course also deny both in the first place.) This is the sort of thing that rightly causes people to wonder why on earth it’s still possible to draw a paycheck for making a fuss over purportedly 2600-year-old epistemology.*

    But so, let us delve into the woods of primitive supernaturalist first-order propositional logic,** in which The Truth Is Out There. As already noted, Gerg fails to grasp that in JTB, the truth of the proposition comes first;† it most certainly cannot be the output of any probabilistic system such as, say, the scientific method. Truth values of propositions are binary-valued.

    Gerg has suddenly done an about-face on this, having spent quite a bit of time arguing that propositions more elaborate than his boneheaded “gotcha” attempts are prima facie invalid. This unsurprisingly involves redefining “scientific method.”

    Let us further go back, way back, back into time, to Edmund Gettier, who made two observations about the underlying notion of justification:

    1. The requisite “justification” for “knowing” p can also “justify” “knowing” a false proposition. This is quite simple: maybe the battery in your clock went dead overnight. The time on the clock, however, has always previously been a suitable justification without checking the battery after checking the VOM, etc.

    2. If the justified false proposition p implies (or entails) q (and one accepts q), then one is also “justified” in believing q. This is where raw JTB fails. I will simply repeat Gettier’s example:

    [S]uppose that Smith has strong evidence for the following proposition:

    (f) Jones owns a Ford.

    Smith’s evidence might be that Jones has at all times in the past within Smith’s memory owned a car, and always a Ford, and that Jones has just offered Smith a ride while driving a Ford…. [I]magine, now, that Smith has another friend,
    Brown, of whose whereabouts he is totally ignorant. Smith selects three place names … random and constructs the following three propositions:

    (g) Either Jones owns a Ford, or Brown is in Boston.
    (h) Either Jones owns a Ford, or Brown is in Barcelona.
    (i) Either Jones owns a Ford, or Brown is in Brest-Litovsk.

    Each of these propositions is entailed by (f)…. Smith realizes the entailment of each of these propositions … and proceeds
    to accept (g), (h), and (i) on the basis of (f). Smith has correctly inferred (g), (h), and (i) from a proposition for which he has strong evidence. Smith is therefore completely justified in believing each of these three propositions.
    Smith, of course, has no idea where Brown is.

    [I]magine now that … Jones does not own a Ford, but is at present driving a rented car. And … entirely unknown to Smith, the place mentioned in proposition (h) happens really to be the place where Brown is. If these two conditions hold,
    then Smith does not KNOW that (h) is true, even though (i) (h) is true, (ii) Smith does believe that (h) is true, and (iii) Smith is justified in believing that (h) is true.

    JTB is therefore not a sufficient condition for knowledge. It is also not a necessary condition for knowledge: One can know that know that travel by plane is safer than by automobile yet not believe it, as evidenced both to the perceiver by virtue of internal states and to observers by virtue of overt behavior, such as driving rather than flying even when the latter would be cheaper and faster in the absence of countervailing goals such as sightseeing.

    It’s just an incredibly stupid peg for Gerg to try to hang his hat on.

    * As it happens, academic philosophers are somewhat overrepresented in my circle of acquaintances. I have a call in to one, and I’ll have to wait till tomorrow to contact the other one. During his blues show on the radio. This examination is thus just mine.

    ** I’ve mentioned this, but I once was made to attend a 10-week seminar, out of interdepartmental congeniality. The fellow thought that AI would fall out of automated theorem proving. His chosen platform was Logo.

    † Roderick Chisolm advanced a formulation similar to Gerg’s in 1957. Nine years later, W—pedia informs me, he noted that it is also possible to justifiably believe in a true proposition by accident, basically repeating the tanking of the entire unreconstructed JTB pig-iron works with a simpler nondisjunctive example.

  247. #249 lilady
    January 26, 2014

    When The Troll first came here, months ago, after posting his ridiculous tripe on AoA, one of the RI Regulars posed a question to him about a new study, that the Dachel bot had posted on her daily “Media Updates”.

    The Troll couldn’t answer some basic questions about that study, so The Troll immediately posted a comment to the bot, posing those same questions. The bot never replied and none of the other AoA science “journalists” replied.

  248. #250 LW
    January 26, 2014

    I’m trying to figure out how Greg figures he “knows” anything about the commenters here, given his own definition of knowledge.

    He believes every commenter here is a lying pharma shill. But he has no evidence for this belief; he merely believes only a pharma shill would say that the evidence shows that the vaccination schedule is not causally related to autism, within the narrow limits of evidence. He doesn’t even get to his third prong, which is the actual truth of the matter, namely that the people commenting here are not pharma shills.

  249. #251 Alain
    January 26, 2014

    I do still very much intend to inquire into taking legal actions against you for the vicious, undeserved, slander that I have incurred here.

    Gergle, bring it on.

    Alain

  250. #252 Narad
    January 26, 2014

    I do still very much intend to inquire into taking legal actions against you for the vicious, undeserved, slander that I have incurred here.

    Uh-huh. I’ll see you in court once you figure out what “slander” isn’t.

    Still, nevertheless, I am hoping that you can save me some legal fees by responding to my earlier inquiry of whether pseudonyms can sue pseudonyms. (hee hee hee)

    Of course they can; anybody can sue anybody for anything. There would be no issue of pseudonyms beyond the initial filing, though (which can name a pseudonym as defendant), as the next step would be subpoenas to the intermediate parties to identify the defendant.

    It would likely be a hard sell, turning most obviously on (1) whether pseudonyms can be construed as “pen names” and (2) whether the actual identity of the plaintiff is widely enough known for the defamation to attach to the person.

    With respect to No. 1, Eb*y has previously warned that defamatory feedback may lead to legal consequences, although I’m not finding it in their current TOS. Pen names tend to exist in the commercial realm, as do other pseudonyms, such as musician “Cliff Richard,” who prevailed in the UK, which happens to be the most plaintiff-friendly libel venue on the planet. To a certain extent, this comes down to whether a value can be assigned to the pseudonym, although libel per se may be subject to statutory damages without regard to actual economic harm.

    With respect to No. 2, if you were to address frank libel to “Orac,” a subsequent legal action would have a very good chance of being cognizable.

    Of course, none of this really matters, as your libel is indiscriminate, and your deranged pals at AoA are even worse. Sooner or later, you’re going to bumble into claiming that someone who is not pseudonymous advocates vaccination while secretly eschewing them or some such.

    The same goes for AoA: If somebody who has been defamed has some free time and money, that person just might choose to pursue an action for the simple purpose of making the culprit have to defend it.

    Gone again!

    You might look a little less enthusiastically stupid if you didn’t keep pulling this routine and returning in short order.

  251. #253 lilady
    January 26, 2014

    Hmmm, did The Troll make a comment about sphygmomanometers?

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

    Every physician’s office I have ever been in, has sphygmomanometers mounted on the walls of each examination room and they are definitely NOT aneroid-type, which are inaccurate, compared to the mercury column type.

    http://www.wabaum.com/items.aspx?id=58

    I’ve never seen the no-brainer type which provides the heart rate and BP for those who don’t know how to listen for apical heart rates/sounds and systolic/diastolic BP using a stethoscope.

  252. #254 Narad
    January 26, 2014

    And…

    now I joke a lot here but I am dead serious: Go to an independent party and have a lie detection test done, and please provide the results. If everything is legit, and you are telling the truth, I will offer a full apology.

    As your bona fides have been in question for far longer, the appropriate response is “you first.” In other words, until you provide proof of your professional credentials, by your own standard, they are presumptively false.

  253. #255 MI Dawn
    January 26, 2014

    @Narad….but he decided, after I *offered* to do one if he paid for it, that I was telling the truth. Brave Sir Robin ran away from that one REAL fast…

  254. #256 Krebiozen
    January 26, 2014

    Greg,

    The fact though that you would genuinely believe that vaccines do not cause autism is utterly astonishing.

    If that is true, you must be absolutely gobsmacked that doctors, scientists and public health specialists in every country in the world (as far as I know) genuinely believe this. A glance at my files reveals the following (links removed to prevent moderation, but can be supplied on demand if necessary):

    The UK’s Health Protection Agency says:

    MMR uptake fell in 1997 in the UK following publicity about speculation that the MMR vaccine might be linked with autism and Crohn’s disease. These concerns have been investigated by the PHLS (now HPA) and others, and have been firmly refuted – MMR remains the most effective and safest way of protecting children against these dangerous diseases, and parents are urged to have their children vaccinated with MMR.

    The World Health Organization says:

    Available epidemiological data show that there is no evidence of a link between measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism spectrum disorders. Previous studies suggesting a causal link were found to be seriously flawed. There is also no evidence to suggest that any other childhood vaccine may increase the risk of autism spectrum disorders. In addition, evidence reviews commissioned by WHO concluded that there was no association between the use of preservatives such as thiomersal that contains ethyl mercury in vaccines and autism spectrum disorders.

    The Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety writes:

    Based on the extensive review presented, GACVS concluded that no evidence exists of a causal association between MMR vaccine and autism or autistic disorders. The Committee believes the matter is likely to be clarified by a better understanding of the causes of autism.

    The Institute of Medicine concluded:

    The committee has a high degree of confidence in the epidemiologic evidence based on four studies with validity and precision to assess an association between MMR vaccine and autism; these studies consistently report a null association.
    [...]
    The committee assesses the mechanistic evidence regarding an association between MMR vaccine and autism as lacking.
    [...]
    The evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between MMR vaccine and autism.
    [...]
    The committee did not identify literature reporting clinical, diagnostic, or experimental evidence of autism after the administration of vaccines containing diphtheria toxoid, tetanus toxoid, and acellular pertussis antigens alone or in combination.

    I could go on and on, but this surely makes my point. Anyone who manages to remain astonished when the issue has been so thoroughly examined by respected scientists globally must surely be missing a brain cell or two (my personal opinion, of course).

  255. #257 Denice Walter
    January 26, 2014

    Kreb, don’t you know that those sources are just as compromised as we are?

  256. #258 Krebiozen
    January 26, 2014

    Denice,
    Kreb, don’t you know that those sources are just as compromised as we are?
    Sshh. It took me ages to make all those quotations up and plant them in Google and all those websites all over the world ;-)

    I’m just astonished that anyone in such a tiny minority as Greg could still be astonished that 99% of people with any knowledge and understanding of the subject think he is a loony.

  257. #259 Krebiozen
    January 26, 2014

    Now why did WordPress just ignore my perfectly formatted blockquote? I copied and pasted fit, so I know it was OK.

  258. #260 Krebiozen
    January 26, 2014

    Scrub that, I had an extra / in there that I didn’t see.

  259. #261 brian
    January 26, 2014

    @Krebiozen
    When you write “I copied and pasted fit” it’s hard to accept that you made a comment without error. As you know.

    (Curse you, ScienceBlogs lack of editing ability!)

  260. #262 Narad
    January 26, 2014

    I mentioned no rational person who has followed the autism/vaccine debate long enough, and who is not autistic that prevents them from being able to sort out the web of denialism deception can ever truly believe that vaccines do not cause autism.

    Which, of course, is why the belief is less popular than NWO conspiracy theories and the belief among Romney voters that Obama is the Antichrist and that there was a Roswell cover-up and, moreover, isn’t gaining steam.

    AoA’s Alexa metrics are dismal. NVIC is worse. The Autism Media Channel might as well not exist. AVN is sad. “Think Twice” is just as bad. The No. 2 search term leading to “Child Health Safety” is “wordpress statistics,” suggesting that Clifford Miller himself may be driving most of this traffic.*

    SBM, a niche blog, blows them out of the water. “Voices for Vaccines,” which is quite new and not particularly interactive, easily outranks AoA. A brief survey suggests that the trend holds for page ranks.

    “Pack up your money, pull up your tent, McGuinn
     You ain’t a-goin’ nowhere”

    * “Keywords related to wordpress statistics”:
    ❄ swine flu jokes
    ❄ swine flu vaccine cripple
    ❄ dr. andrew wakefield
    ❄ autism amish
    ❄ sunday times london
    ❄ compulsory vaccination uk
    ❄ vaccines cause autism
    ❄ wordpress graphs
    ❄ anti vaccine movement

  261. #263 Denice Walter
    January 26, 2014

    We make errors deliberately in order to convince the naive into thinking that we’re not androids.
    -btw- we’re not androids.

  262. #264 TBuce
    January 26, 2014

    I do still very much intend to inquire into taking legal actions against you for the vicious, undeserved, slander that I have incurred here.

    As Private Eye is prone to state: “We refer you to the reply given in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram”

  263. #265 Bill Price
    January 27, 2014

    #217, Greg, January 26, 2014 “answers” me and bravely runs away. Even though Greg has abandoned us, again (alas, it’s likely only a temporary abandonment), I feel an urge to straighten out his “answer”. Since he has so bravely run away, he will likely imagine that this discussion has terminated. Will anyone who spots a possible reappearance be so kind as to point him here?

    @Bill Price #215

    What you said is all fine and dandy, however, you are misrepresenting my argument about an individual considering an idea or notion for himself, or contemplating ideas that may have been forced on him by others. The latter scenario is not the one that is being discussed.

    There is, to me, no difference between an idea from one’s imagination ab initio and one from an external source, whether by suggestion or by coercion. Intellectual honesty and humility require that they be treated the same. To consider otherwise is part and parcel of the arrogance of the Dark-Ages approach.

    Now let me demonstrate again my argument with an example:

    As we will see, the example adds nothing to the discussion: it merely repeats the same old Dark-Age thinking. e suggesting that the earth is made of blue cheese and requiring you to It does give a further opportunity to waste my time trying vainly to drag Greg into reality.

    Say you are contemplating that the earth is made of blue cheese — how would you go about asserting this as knowledge?

    I would not make such an assertion without appropriate qualification.

    First, you must believe it.

    Since I am not that arrogant, I would start with questions, like “What is the prior plausibility of this conjecture?”, “What evidence could I find that would allow me to determine, in light of the prior plausibility, whether to abandon or to continue this line of investigation.”, and “Does the plausibility justify the investigation?”
    For example, the prior plausibility of your blue cheese conjecture is zero; 20 years ago, the prior plausibility of your VCA conjecture was marginal, but sufficiently non-zero that it was worth further investigation. That investigation has reduced the prior plausibility of your VCA conjecture to be indistinguishable from zero.

    This is different than someone suggesting that the earth is made of blue cheese and requiring you to believe it. Your decision is being made on your own accord, or free will if you may.

    You have a decision to make, whether to accede to some external coercion. This decision is not significantly different from a decision to accede to the suggestions of your own imagination. There is also the case that you insist on ignoring: non-coercive external suggestion, such as advertising or merely an idea expressed by a “friend”. In any case, one’s decision to believe or reject a suggestion is the same.

    Second, you must have evidence that the earth is made of blue cheese. And, even though I am making these points in chronological order, it’s not to say they are occurring that way.

    Indeed, you are making the points in the order that you required in your report in comment #212. Are you now retracting your “first, second, third” ordering? What else are you retracting? Do you expect anyone to agree with your everchanging imaginings?

    The evidence that the earth is made of blue cheese may have indeed come first, which led to your belief. The point is you cannot say even though I have evidence that the earth is made of blue cheese or vaccines do not cause autism, I still don’t believe them, but I have knowledge of these events.

    What, if anything, is that supposed to mean? Also, what events are you now trying to insert into the discussion?

    And, indeed considering Lawrence’s argument at #206 — ‘we don’t need to believe since we know’–this seems to be what he is suggesting.

    Lawrence can speak for himself, but my interpretation of what you quoted is: “Belief? We don’t need no steenkin’ belief, we’ve got knowledge.”

    Futher Bill, I am not saying that you are accepting the evidence by only looking at one piece of it.

    I have no idea whence this new strawman came.

    Indeed the assumption is that you are looking at the full evidence — pros and cons– and weighing them.

    WARNING! WARNING! GOALPOSTS IN MOTION!! (Again)
    Assuming ‘you’ to be generic, rather than personal, this is yet another slither on Greg’s part. Greg’s original episteme (ref his comment #212) explicitly omitted the consideration of contrary evidence (“and cons”), only allowing consideration of supporting evidence in its second step.
    OTOH, if ‘you’ is personal, it would refer to me: I’m the one who added the pro and con idea to your second step. Thus, this would be a valid assumption: I certainly would violate your episteme in precisely such fashion.

    Finally, to have knowledge that the earth is made of blue cheese, it must be true.

    And how does this circular argument work? Your third step requires that you know your imagining to be true before you can know your imagining to be true… . Never mind. Later, you demolish your

    And again Bill, I am not invoking truth as one that is approved by a particular governing authority, such as a church.

    Nor am I. I did mention your chosen authority — a preacher, a trusted friend, a random AoA contributor, … — anyone whose ideas you accept as The Truth. There is no implication of governance.

    We are discussing verifiable truth — truth that can withstand the test of the scientific method.

    Yet another retraction: the JTB (thanks, narad, for identifying Greg’s episteme as the hoary Justified True Belief goofiness) episteme you presented in your #212 now requires, for any validity it may have, the very episteme – the scientific method – that you keep rejecting.

    So in all Bill, there is nothing Dark-Agian about my points, much as you would like to dismiss them as such.

    So in all, Greg, the JTB episteme you argue for is strictly a Dark Age theory of knowledge, even if you throw it a Scientific Method liferope. Since the Scientific Method episteme does not require, or even recognize, belief as a prerequisite for knowledge, by making the Scientific Method a prerequisite for your JTB, you have thoroughly demolished your long-standing, critical assertion of the necessity of belief.

    My argument still very much stands: If you guys cannot look yourselves square in the mirror, and say with absolute conviction that I believe vaccines do not cause autism, then you can never assert this as knowledge. You won’t have this knowledge despite being able to argue that ‘scientific’ evidence say they do not.

    Since you have destroyed any foundation for this paragraph, would you care to retract it, say, at your next visist?

  264. #266 Bill Price
    January 27, 2014

    Duh. I had not quite completed editing the above comment when it seemed to decide to submit itself. The Submit Comment button wasn’t even on the screen.
    I might have some revisions to note below. Or I might not.

  265. #267 Bill Price
    January 27, 2014

    Corrigenda to my #265:
    The sentence fragment

    e suggesting that the earth is made of blue cheese and requiring you to

    shouldn’t be there. Perhaps, it should be elsewhere, but I can’t figure out where. I was trying to correct this very glitch when the comment submitted itself.
    I was also working on this partial paragraph:

    And how does this circular argument work? Your third step requires that you know your imagining to be true before you can know your imagining to be true… . Never mind. Later, you demolish your

    It should continue

    precedence of belief over reality, by denying (effectively) that belief is a prerequisite to knowledge, after all.

    ‘episteme’ should be italicized throughout.
    I apologize to Narad for referring to him as ‘narad’. The gratitude stands.

  266. #268 Krebiozen
    January 27, 2014

    Bill Price,

    What, if anything, is that supposed to mean?

    A close examination of Greg’s comments reveals a lot of this: sentences that look as if they should mean something, but that I find impossible to parse as meaningful English. I think my favorite is his hilarious tirade against Antaeus here. Apart from the clumsy mischaracterization of various other commenters, he included morsels of quasi-word-salad such as:

    So, when face with opposition, you let loose your intellectual barrage, if not tinged with dishonest.

    I think I get the gist of what he means, but it’s very weird. Maybe English isn’t his first language. His English is certainly poorer than those here I know are Francophone – Helianthus and Alain for example whose bilinguality puts my schoolboy French to shame. I know we all make mistakes, but I hope I never lapse into gibberish like that.

    I must admit I am grateful to Greg, as the psychology of the antivaxxers is something I am very curious about. He has been a useful lab rat I have been able to observe and poke with a metaphorical stick, without having to soil myself over at AoA, or worse.

  267. #269 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 27, 2014

    Bill Price,

    There is, however, a grain of truth in that if you recast it somewhat. In order to know something to be true it is not simply good enough to believe it to be so. You must also have evidence and, of course, it must be true.

    One could believe something to be true by a lucky guess. An example might be that one might believe (I use this word in the mundane sense of “To expect or suppose; think” as opposed to “To have firm faith, especially religious faith.”) that the next roll of the dice in a game of craps will be a 7. And in fact, one might be absolutely correct in one’s prediction and take home a tidy sum, depending on one’s willingness to take a risk on that supposition. However, assuming a fair game one would not have actual evidence that the next roll would be a 7, only odds. Thus at best it was a lucky guess, not knowledge of truth.

    Conversely, one might suppose something to be true and have some evidence for it, but find that it is not true.

    And finally, one may choose to reject the evidence of a true thing and just think that something false is true.

  268. #270 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 27, 2014

    Reviewing the bidding, Greg came to Respectful Insolence with the hypothesis that anyone who has looked at the evidence must conclude that vaccines cause autism. He has been attempting to collect evidence to prove that hypothesis. Unfortunately, as LW pointed out, this has become something of a belief in the “firm faith, especially religious faith” category for Greg. Thus he has chosen his methods of collecting and interpreting that data to show that when people say that vaccines don’t cause autism that either:
    - they don’t actually believe that
    - they haven’t looked at the right evidence
    - they have tortured that evidence to make it say something false
    - the evidence they have looked at is all tainted and lies
    - they are lying about what they think

    If Greg would let go of this idée fixe if his, he might discover that his original hypothesis is false – that people are speaking honestly, they have looked at the evidence, and they have concluded that there is no obvious causal link between vaccines and autism; therefore, it is possible that someone could look at the evidence and NOT decide vaccines cause autism.

    Sadly, I don’t expect him to come to that realization.

  269. #271 Krebiozen
    January 27, 2014

    Antaeus,

    Conversely, one might suppose something to be true and have some evidence for it, but find that it is not true.

    Phlogiston, for example, had some excellent experimental evidence for its existence; it could extinguish a flame, for example. As we now know it doesn’t exist, except in the sense it being a lack of oxygen (physicists tell us the square root of minus one is in some sense real, so why can’t chemists have a negative chemical?).

    There was also experimental evidence for the earth being flat carried out not far from where I spent most of my childhood. This sparked intense debate, until Alfred Russell Wallace put an end to it with a more robust experiment. It lived and lives on in the minds of those unable to abandon their idée fixe, a bit like Greg and his antivaccinationist chums.

  270. #272 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 27, 2014

    Krebiozen – you reminded me of the Isaac Asimov essay “The Relativity of Wrong”. The curvature of the Earth (assuming a sphere 25,000 miles in diameter) is 0.000126 per mile, or about 8 inches/mile. If you only go out 3 decimal points, it rounds to 0.000 per mile, which would be flat.

    Naturally, those round off errors add up.

  271. #273 Bill Price
    January 27, 2014

    assuming a sphere 25,000 miles in diameter

    MOB,it seems you’ve made the common boo-boo of saying ‘diameter’ when you’re thinking ‘circumference’ (or using the circumference value when thinking of diameter). I hate it when I do that, myself.

  272. #274 Narad
    January 27, 2014

    There is, however, a grain of truth in that if you recast it somewhat. In order to know something to be true it is not simply good enough to believe it to be so. You must also have evidence and, of course, it must be true.

    This fails on the issue of “false lemmas,” which are different from lucky guesses in that they’re justified (e.g., driving through a realistic movie set without knowing that’s what it is and concluding that the facades are real buildings).*

    There haven’t really been any successful attempts to salvage JTB. The question, though, is why would you want to? The only cases that get dragged out are trivialities. Consider this: Do you know your doctor’s name? Of course not. Maybe your doctor got run over by a bus two days ago and you haven’t received a letter informing you yet. It’s not even possible to couch every utterance in sufficient qualifications to admit some sort of go/no-go “knowledge” test. Maybe your doctor was using an assumed name all along. Maybe your doctor wasn’t really a doctor. Maybe your doctor was a robot.

    Of course, in obtaining, and expressing the state of, scientific knowledge, one does attempt to do this, but Gerg rejects this out of hand, because it doesn’t fit within the framework of his moronic games.

    Furthermore, in the real world, the more interesting question isn’t “does X know p,” but “does X know how p” or “why p,” i.e., testing understanding rather cataloging the epistemological internal status of a grab-bag of fact utterances.

    As usual, the Stanford Encyclopedia is thorough.

    * A shorter version of “Barn County.”

  273. #275 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 27, 2014

    Bill Price-oh my goodness, you are correct. Boy is my face red.

  274. #276 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 27, 2014

    False lembas would be Waybread baked by orcs. Just sayin’.

  275. #277 herr doktor bimler
    January 27, 2014

    The cake waybread is a lie!

  276. […] I’ve discussed from time to time, the three most reviled vaccines among the antivaccine movement are the HPV vaccine (Gardasil and […]

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