Respectful Insolence

As I’ve discussed from time to time, the three most reviled vaccines among the antivaccine movement are the HPV vaccine (Gardasil and Cervarix), the hepatitis B vaccine, and the influenza vaccine. The first two tend to be demonized because of moralistic associations with sexual activity, given that HPV is most commonly spread by sexual activity and hepatitis is similarly often spread through bodily fluids exchanged during sex. This leads to what I’ve referred to as “slut-shaming” the HPV vaccine, given that it is recommended to be given before girls become sexually active by inferring (and sometimes more than inferring) that the HPV vaccine will encourage promiscuity by removing one of the consequences. As I’ve said before, that is one of the stupidest arguments against the HPV in existence. (Seriously, does anyone think teens worry about maybe getting cancer 20 years down the road when their hormones are raging?) As far as the hepatitis B vaccine, the rants usually come in the form of complaints questioning why it is given right after birth when a major mode of hepatitis B transmission is through sex, even though there are good reasons to administer the first dose of hepatitis B when it is given.

That leaves the flu vaccine.

Pity the poor flu vaccine. Granted, it isn’t the greatest vaccine, largely because the strains of flu virus that circulate each year can vary markedly, which means that the virologists and public health experts charged with formulating the flu vaccine have to make an educated guess each year as to what the predominant strains will be that year, leading to wildly differing efficacy of the vaccine depending on how good their predictions are. When they get the strains right, the flu vaccine is quite effective in preventing the flu. When they get it wrong, not so much, although even a mismatched flu vaccine can provide some protection. Until a universal flu vaccine that doesn’t depend on the highly variable epitopes that are targeted by today’s flu vaccine is developed, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine will vary from year to year for the foreseeable future. This makes the flu vaccine an easier target for the antivaccine movement, which targets because they can use the flu vaccine as an “example” of a vaccine that they can mislabel as “overhyped,” “useless,” and even “dangerous,” the last of which they try to achieve by massively exaggerating the risks of the flu vaccine and appealing to a flu vaccination campaign from nearly 40 years ago, the “swine flu” campaign.

Key to this campaign is the need to portray the flu as not being a serious illness, as a normal part of life, as a disease that doesn’t need to be vaccinated against. This portrayal of the flu is completely disconnected with reality, of course. The flu can kill, and, when it does kill, the people it kills are often young and perfectly healthy. None of this stops one of the more frequent “contributors” to the antivaccine propaganda blog Age of Autism, Cathy Jameson, writing an insufferably self-important account of how she “survived the flu naturally.” She introduces her story thusly:

Before I go into more of the details, let me back up a bit. Not long before I started to feel sluggish I saw another big stink being made about getting the flu shot. Citing the CDC’s over-used scare tactic of “36,000 flu deaths per year” statistic, even though “…[the] CDC does not know exactly how many people die from seasonal flu each year…”, people like me, who hadn’t yet gotten a flu shot, were being told they had just about two more weeks to get one for it to be effective. With how advertising for this particular shot if hyped from September through May, I wasn’t aware that there was an expiration date of sorts for its effectiveness (not that I was going to run out and get “the damn vaccine” mind you).

Ironically, the day I got sick was when the media warmed those two weeks were up. No matter. I was ready.

The funny thing is, from the rest of her report, Jameson wasn’t. Not really. She describes her experience as “feeling like a Mack truck ran me over,” leading her to crawl “under the covers in the fetal position,” and sleeping on and off for 48 hours, apparently rarely getting out of her bed. She described a several day recovery period, during which she slowly started to look and feel human again. Because she apparently never saw a doctor and never got a test for the influenza virus, we have no way of knowing whether what Jameson had was actually the flu, but it sounds like a typical case. Basically, it knocked her on her tuchas for at least a week, making her miserable. All full of pride in herself and, in essence, giving vaccines the finger (as so many antivaccinationists foolishly do), Jameson gloats:

We did it. We survived. I’m sure that isn’t what the media wants to hear. The CDC, all manner of doctors, medical providers and corner store pharmacists are more than ready to pump toxic gunk into us via the “the dreaded flu shot” (which is what one of the nurses at my doctor’s office calls it).

They say that we’re in for a long haul still. They’re still advertising and selling flu shots in full force. They’re trying to win people over with shopping incentives, discounts and store credit in the process. I have to ask, if the flu shot was a guarantee, as society is being lead to believe, why do stores and companies bribe consumers to get it? Gift cards and shopping passes. 20% off here. $15 toward purchases there. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

It isn’t headline news, but with how much the flu shot is pushed, you’d think surviving the flu sans the shot would be.

Yes, because Jameson and her children, who apparently developed milder cases than she after she was sick, survived the flu, it must not be a big deal and you don’t need to be vaccinated. Seriously, this is her rationale. Typical of the antivaccine movement, it is anecdote-driven (hers), rather than data-driven. Also typical of antivaccinationists, her account of the story is all about her, and if she can survive the flu it can’t be that bad. Oh, sure, she acknowledges that she’s grateful that she got through the flu with “relative ease” and even concedes that she understands “some people aren’t so fortunate,” but the entire tone of the post is that the flu is no big deal. I found this rather ironic, given that her account is that the flu basically laid her up for a week or more. Fortunately for her, she didn’t suffer any complications. Others weren’t so lucky.

There are a approximately 30,000 deaths a year from influenza. These numbers fluctuate yearly, of course, but that’s a rough estimate. The numbers also have a fair amount of uncertainty around them for reasons that Mark Crislip explains in detail. Also, most people have never known a person who died of the flu, despite those numbers. Over two million people a year die, around 6,600 per day on average. Crislip estimates that around 360 people a year in his state of Oregon die of the flu, or around 2 deaths a day during the six month flu season. In contrast:

2,400,000 people die every year in the US, about 6,600 a day. In Oregon, that is about 65 deaths a day. No one outside a epidemiologist is going to notice 2 extra deaths a day during flu season. I have seen a lot of people die of influenza, but I have a biased experience: I am an infectious disease doc, so I am likely to see people with influenza, especially patients with disease severe enough to kill them.

Crislip then elaborates:

About the same number of people die from car accidents and die from handguns in the US each year as die from influenza. I have never known a person in my real, as opposed to my professional, life to die from influenza or handguns or a car accident. My personal experience suggests no one dies from these causes, but since I take care of patients at one of the Portland trauma hospitals, I know what cars and guns do to people. My professional life confirms that people do indeed die from being shot or car accidents. I would wager that most people reading this blog have not known anyone who has died from influenza, guns or car accidents. The fact that people do die of influenza seems contradicted by experience. Why get the vaccine? I don’t get the flu and and no one I know has ever died from it.

I can’t say what Crislip says, because I actually have personally known people who died from handguns (a suicide over six years ago) and in an automobile crash (a couple of old high school friends of mine back in the 1980s). However, I’m probably the exception. Most people are probably more like Mark Crislip in that they don’t know people who have died in such a manner. Like Crislip, too, I know what my practice involves (or involved). I know the toll handguns and auto crashes can take because I am a surgeon and my training involved many rotations on the trauma services of various hospitals and because I used to moonlight as a helicopter physician in Cleveland and then later as a trauma attending in the Chicago area. However, because I’m not an infectious disease doctor, internist, or medical intensivist, I’ve never seen anyone I’ve taken care of die of the flu.

Our perceptions of risk are very much colored by our personal experiences. It takes a lot ot step outside of that, look at data that don’t include your own personal experience, and understand that just because you’ve never seen anyone die of the flu or known anyone who died of the flu does not mean that the flu is not a serious disease and just because you’ve never known anyone who died as a result of gun violence doesn’t mean that lots of people don’t die from high velocity lead poisoning. Of course, in the latter two cases, we see the results of gun violence and auto wrecks on the news all the time. We don’t see people dying of the flu. We are told about it on the news, but such reports don’t carry the visceral power of seeing images of gunfire or wrecked cars, not infrequently with blood still at the scene. Just because Cathy Jameson got through a bout of the flu “with relative ease” (other than being laid up and suffering for a week) does not mean the flu isn’t a serious disease.

Not unlike Bill Maher, perhaps the most famous anti-flu vaccine loon, Jameson also has an unjustified faith in “natural” preventatives and remedies:

Now that I’m over it, and as my family and I get back on track boosting our immune systems naturally with some vitamins, supplements and essential oils, I believe we’ll be able to get through the rest of the flu (and flu-shot) season unscathed.

How’d those “natural” remedies to “boost the immune system” work for you, Cathy? I also point out that I survived the flu naturally, too, around six years ago. It was the one year I didn’t get my flu vaccine and before the hospital where I work required the flu vaccine for all health care providers and workers. I suffered pretty much the same way Jameson did, surviving the flu “naturally.” I didn’t like it. I, too, was fortunate enough not to suffer any significant complications, but that week was one of the most miserable weeks of my entire life. I get vaccinated every year now and plan on continuing to do so for the rest of my life unless science comes up with a universal flu vaccine that doesn’t need to be administered every year. That’s my anecdote to put against Cathy Jameson’s anecdote.

The flu vaccine isn’t perfect. There are a lot of problems with it. It’s nowhere near 100% effective, although it is highly effective in years when the match between the strains vaccinated against and those in circulation is good—unlike all of Jameson’s “natural remedies.”

Comments

  1. #1 fusilier
    January 29, 2014

    I got the flu shot, haven’t had the flu. My Beloved and Darling Wife got the flu shot, hasn’t had the flu. Daughter #2* got the flu shot, hasn’t had the flu.

    That’s three anecdotes to trump Ms. Jameson’s.

    *Dunno about Daughter #1 – she lives in Boston – but I would guess she got the flu shot.

    fusilier
    James 2:24

  2. #2 Anton P. Nym
    Koobikal Hel
    January 29, 2014

    I encountered an anti-vax loon who claimed the flu shot was trumped in safety and efficacy by, of all things, Vitamin D. Naturally (heh) I directed said loon to the “expensive pee” article here… which, I gather, was not taken terribly positively by the hooting and dung-flinging that ensued.

    — Steve

  3. #3 Dianne
    January 29, 2014

    I got the flu shot and…got the flu. Proof that the vaccine doesn’t work? Well, no. I was ill for 3 days, total, not two weeks, only seriously febrile for one day, never felt like I’d been hit by a mack truck, did not spread it to my family and coworkers (or, even worse, patients). Also, didn’t die of cytokine storm or secondary pneumonia. In short, I had a majorly attenuated version of the flu because I got the shot. My family didn’t get it at all, probably because they got the shot. I won’t say I wouldn’t have preferred complete protection, but as partial protection goes, this wasn’t bad.

  4. #4 StrangerInAStrangeLand
    January 29, 2014

    “I have to ask, if the flu shot was a guarantee, as society is being lead to believe, why do stores and companies bribe consumers to get it? Gift cards and shopping passes. 20% off here. $15 toward purchases there. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

    Well, it does make sense to me. People are not always doing the right thing (as clearly shown here) and need sometimes an extra incentive. This includes children who don´t like their greens and are bribed by the promise of ice cream if they eat them, and this includes people who don´t bother to have flu shots because they are too lazy to get one or might think themselves immortal. And btw, only anti-vaccers claim that flu shots (or any other vaccine) are guaranteed 100% effective and safe. People who look at the topic without the fundamentalist view of the anti-vaccine crowd know that nothing can have that level of perfection, but that vaccines are the best way to give you some protection versus certain illnesses.

    P.S.: I might be living in a Strange Land, but in one where my employer organizes and pays for the staff to get an annual flu shot. Highly appreciated!

  5. #5 Carolyn
    Cold, cold midwest
    January 29, 2014

    Woman battling flu loses unborn child

    http://tinyurl.com/nwgs5em

  6. #6 Eric Lund
    January 29, 2014

    I can’t speak for Ms. Jameson, but I’d think anything that leaves me flat on my back for a week would be pretty serious. Maybe not as serious as some other conditions, but still pretty serious.

    Part of the problem, too, is that lots of illnesses produce similar symptoms to early-stage flu: the common cold and malaria, to name two. Malaria is unlikely for someone who hasn’t traveled to an endemic region in the last year[1], but we have no way of knowing whether Ms. Jameson’s alleged flu was really a particularly severe cold.

    [1]The last time I had a cold severe enough for me to miss work, it happened to be a month after I had been in a malaria endemic region, so I had the doctor test for malaria just in case, as the CDC guidelines recommend (or at least did at the time). Anti-malarial medications are available, but in some places Plasmodium has evolved resistance to some of the more common ones.

  7. #7 AntipodeanChic
    January 29, 2014

    I’ve read both the offending/offensive article over at AoA, as well as several of the sanctimonious comments left beneath.

    I’m left asking myself “Whatever must these people think of the events of 1918?”. They can’t seriously believe themselves immune to infection because they (probably) eat nothing but “organic” produce and swallow more supplements than most?

    Oh, silly me – it would appear that they can. I could at this point add my own anecdote about catching “real” Influenza from a seriously anti-vax, all-organic type months before Flu Season struck one year (whoops) but really, none of these anecdotes are especially meaningful, as most people here know.

  8. #8 Ivan Ilyich
    January 29, 2014

    A friend of mine (healthy middle-ager) came down with what he self-diagnosed as “walking flu” a few years ago. He wasn’t getting over it, so he travelled some distance for treatment by some sort of “natural” healer, despite the fact that he was covered by the Kaiser HMO at home. While receiving this “alternative” treatment, he developed pneumonia, and by the time it was decided that he needed actual medical care he was destined for the ICU, in an out-of-network hospital far from home. He nearly died of something that could have been easily treated by his regular HMO. I don’t understand what leads educated people (an engineer, in this case) to such foolishness.

  9. #9 Trine Tsouderos
    Chicago
    January 29, 2014

    Great post, as always, Orac. One other element of this is that by forgoing the flu shot, people who come down with the flu risk giving it to someone who may not survive it. People with flu spew virus for days. Why take the risk of giving the virus to an elderly person, a child, a newborn, someone battling cancer, someone healthy but unlucky enough to become deathly ill with it? What a cavalier attitude to take about someone else’s health.

  10. #10 Dangerous Bacon
    January 29, 2014

    “We did it. We survived.”

    I’ve heard an antivaxer say the same thing about bubonic plague in the Middle Ages. Only about a third of civilization perished, so no biggie.

  11. #11 Denice Walter
    January 29, 2014

    -btw- Jameson has 5 children, aged 12 and under.
    Her posts are catalogued at both AoA and TMR ( as ‘Mamacita’).

    @ Ivan iIlych:
    I sometimes wonder about *some* engineers’ grasp of SBM vs alt med myself. I don’t currently have a list but I’ve heard of a few go down the woo-tube esp in anti-vax world.
    But not our Chris OBVIOUSLY.

  12. #12 Sastra
    January 29, 2014

    Oh, sure, she acknowledges that she’s grateful that she got through the flu with “relative ease” and even concedes that she understands “some people aren’t so fortunate,” but the entire tone of the post is that the flu is no big deal. I found this rather ironic, given that her account is that the flu basically laid her up for a week or more. Fortunately for her, she didn’t suffer any complications.

    There’s also a lot of self-centered privilege in classifying something which makes you lose a week of work (more, if the children then get it) as “no big deal.” How nice for her, to be in the financial and employment position which doesn’t make this problematic. Not everyone is so lucky.

    And they can catch the flu from the unvaccinated.

  13. #13 Urbavore
    January 29, 2014

    It’s great that Cathy Jameson and her family are well off enough that she can afford to take days off from work to suffer through a case of the ‘flu, not to mention risking yet more missed work when her kids come down with it as well, but the average person isn’t so fortunate.

    Not to mention that most of us don’t take pride in unnecessary suffering. If I were to break my leg, I’m pretty sure I could survive the experience if I opted not to take so much as a single aspirin…but why would doing so be something to take pride in?

    Accounts like hers always strike me as a sort of role-playing game that rich ladies engage in out of boredom. “Ooh, let’s make believe we’re back in the caveman days! Or on the frontier!” Meanwhile, those of us who live in the real world can’t afford to risk losing our jobs and/or plunging our families into debt for the sake of some silly little paleo-fantasy RPG.

  14. #14 Sullivanthepoop
    January 29, 2014

    I have known someone to die from all three of those causes. I had two friends die in a car accident when I was in high school and I had a cousin die from falling asleep while driving when I was really little. In middle school I had a friend who shot himself in the head. Then my great grandfather died from pneumonia that he developed from the flu. He was in his 90s.

  15. #15 Denice Walter
    January 29, 2014

    I think she relates that her husband stayed home and took care of them all for a week.

  16. #16 AnObservingParty
    January 29, 2014

    I have to ask, if the flu shot was a guarantee, as society is being lead to believe

    Too bad nobody says that. Experts are very clear it’s not the best, but it’s the best we have.

    This is just small example of the inhumanly egocentric view of the vaccinationist. Me, I, mine, myself.

  17. #17 AnObservingParty
    January 29, 2014

    Jesus Christ, ANTI-vaccinionist. FAIL FAIL FAIL. I am a vaccinationist!

  18. #18 ruthq
    in the polar vortex
    January 29, 2014

    I’m the mom of an autie, so I’m presumably in the target audience for Cathy J’s self-congratulatory rant, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what she thinks she’s accomplished. She skipped the shots, got the flu and gave it to her kids. Yay, you! You really stuck it to the Man! Thanks for the reminder to us all to go get our shots! Personally, I got the whole family immunized back in October. Guess what? We’re healthy! And what was the huge risk I took in vaccinating? Was I, as an adult, going to get autism? Was my autie going to get more autistic? Was his little, typical brother (age 8) going to suddenly become autistic? Does anybody really think that? I don’t think even the people at AoA claim that those would be likely outcomes, so what’s my motive to boycott something that could keep me healthy? But good for you Cathy for toeing the party line!! You really took one for the team!

  19. #19 Dangerous Bacon
    January 29, 2014

    If you’re looking for a natural remedy for pretty much everything that ails you, there’s a terrific Iphone/Ipod app available. It turns your device into a portable Rife frequency generator!!!

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/irife-detox/id563078652?mt=8

    The image only shows settings for “Main Detox”, “Chemtrails”, “Liver” and “Candida”, but I’ll bet there’s a frequency that works on influenza too. If you have to travel on a plane or otherwise be around crowds, this handy app is just what you need.

    Vaccines – hah!

  20. #20 Rick Meidell
    Alhambra, CA
    January 29, 2014

    The intact survival rate from untreated H. influenza meningitis in infants approaches 15%. That means that on occasion an infant will “respond” to natural therapy as long as the therapy itself is not harmful. On the other hand the mortality rate may be as high as 20% and over 50% of survivors will have life-long complications. For Christ’s sakes treat! As well as vaccinate.

  21. #21 Denice Walter
    January 29, 2014

    from Natural News, 2006.
    Erin Connealy, MD, MPH: “Eight ways to avoid the flu naturally”

    - “eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables” for nutrients; take extra vitamin C and a multivitamin/ mineral supplement.
    - eat extra garlic
    - eat mushrooms daily
    - drink black tea
    - exercise 30-60 minutes daily
    - sleep 8 hours a night
    - wash your hands frequently
    - avoid the flu shot.

  22. #22 Krebiozen
    January 29, 2014

    She describes her experience as “feeling like a Mack truck ran me over,” leading her to crawl “under the covers in the fetal position,” and sleeping on and off for 48 hours, apparently rarely getting out of her bed. She described a several day recovery period, during which she slowly started to look and feel human again.

    She could very probably have avoided all that, and her kids getting sick too, with a simple shot that takes a few seconds, and less chance of serious side effects than getting struck by lightning. What a foolish person.

  23. #23 Denice Walter
    January 29, 2014

    @ Dangerous Bacon:
    “If you have to travel on a plane..”

    You can always wear a Mini-Ionic Air Purifier** around your neck like Gary Null does. No one will notice unless if you attach its accompanying mask.
    One can never be safe enough I suppose.

    ** available at his website for 149 USD plus shipping/ handling.

  24. #24 lilady
    January 29, 2014

    “Cat” Jameson seems to be the Sunday science journalist at AoA.

    Her recent posts reveal that her son (whose autism was caused by vaccines), has experienced serious breakthrough seizures (tonic-clonic type) which are not controlled by anticonvulsant medication. I’ve been “there”…many times. So, why didn’t she get the seasonal influenza for herself, her husband and all of her children, to protect her very vulnerable special needs/medically fragile son?

    Time now, for lilady’s Media Updates:

    The new kid on the block at AoA has a post up. Take a look at the comments about chemtrails and genocide:

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2013/03/from-the-editor.html

    The “kid”/former AoA Wonder boy/Ace reporter has a new post up. He’s trashing Mark Blaxill, for a change, and he’s quoting his new BFF/crank blogger John Worst. Scroll down to see Worst’s comment about the Rothschild family and the international banking conspiracy:

    http://www.autisminvestigated.com/mark-blaxill-throw-omnibus/

  25. #25 Liz
    January 29, 2014

    Really stupid question – but if efficacy of the flu vaccine depends on predicting what the problematic strains are likely to be…why can’t you just cram lots of strains into the vaccine in an attempt to cover as much as possible?

  26. #26 Andreas Johansson
    January 29, 2014

    Hm. Judging by folks I’ve known, people die of heart attacks brought on by morbid obesity, COPD brought on by smoking, infection brought on by bacteria, and advanced age brought on by avoiding the previous three. Clearly trying to avoid gunshots and car accidents is a waste of time. Flu, being viral, is probably A-OK too.

  27. #27 Militant Agnostic
    January 29, 2014

    @Dangerous Bacon

    The image only shows settings for “Main Detox”, “Chemtrails”, “Liver” and “Candida”, but I’ll bet there’s a frequency that works on influenza too. If you have to travel on a plane or otherwise be around crowds, this handy app is just what you need.

    I would be very careful about using that on a plane. Who knows what would happen if you accidentally selected the Chemtrails setting while the plane was actively spraying one.

  28. #28 Denice Walter
    January 29, 2014

    @ Liz:

    I don’t know the tech but we may be getting 4 instead of 3 soon.

  29. #29 JeffSM
    January 29, 2014

    Pretty much year in, year out I would come down with the flu around mid to late November, followed by bronchitis that would last well into January. Around 2004, I pretty much infected an entire office (I was working helpdesk, very close to my clients). That was it for me. I started getting my annual flu shot the following year.

    By the way, as of the 24th, 32 people in the Bay Area have died of flu-related illness. Many of them in their 20s.

  30. #30 Andreas Johansson
    January 29, 2014

    Denice Walter wrote:

    I sometimes wonder about *some* engineers’ grasp of SBM vs alt med myself.

    Speaking as an engineer, woo-y ideas seem fairly common among my colleagues. Can’t say how common compared to the population at large, but clearly being able to apply a modicum of critical thinking to technology doesn’t necessarily imply being so able in other parts of life.

    (The colleague I talked about in the other thread – the one who said that flu had to be preferable to flu vaccine because the former is natural – is an engineer.)

  31. #31 lilady
    January 29, 2014

    @ Liz: A quadrivalent seasonal influenza vaccine is available, now.

    http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/quadrivalent.htm

  32. #32 Denice Walter
    January 29, 2014

    @ Andreas Johansson:

    As you may know there are various theories about the types of thinking/ being required by engineers..
    .
    HOWEVER from purely personal experience, the ones I know best- both my cousins- don’t fit thestereotypes at all- the late R was quite the master of sociability, innovation and musical trendiness and T is apparently quite the hipster *au courant* and works in the film industry.

  33. #33 Jeff1971
    January 29, 2014

    lilady: Thanks for the entertainment with the Crosby blog. I can’t say I feel sorry for Blaxill. He was no doubt sniggering with glee when Crosby was pouring his ignorant insults on Paul Offit, Deer and so forth at Blaxill’s own blog.

    Now he’s getting some himself, maybe he’ll want to write Dr Offit and say he now knows what it feels like to be besmirched by such a fool.

  34. #34 Eric Lund
    January 29, 2014

    I sometimes wonder about *some* engineers’ grasp of SBM vs alt med myself.

    Engineering is one of those professions where people who do well at it often think, erroneously, that they are good at other things to. I don’t recall any of the engineers I know personally stating anti-vax views in my presence, but I do know at least one who is into chiropractic (he actively encouraged his adult daughter to study chiropractic). I have also noticed that whenever global warming denialists circulate what they claim is a list of scientists who think the climate is not warming, a majority of the people on the list turn out to be engineers (and you can count the number of actual atmospheric scientists on that list with the fingers of one hand). From there, all it takes is a little bit of crank magnetism.

  35. #35 Renate
    January 29, 2014

    @ Dangerous Bacon
    I though Apple was pretty critical about the stuff that is sold fo the iPhone?
    I suppose quack treatments are not bad?

  36. #36 Eric Lund
    January 29, 2014

    Addendum to my #34: Engineering isn’t the only profession whose members often suffer delusions of adequacy in other areas. Physicists (of which I am one) and medical doctors are also prone to that trap.

    I have heard anti-vax views from at least one professor of physics I know; this guy also is/was a follower of the fringe economics site Zerohedge, so crank magnetism is at work again. Another physics professor I know is married to a reiki instructor (neither of that couple is Asian). Worst of all, many among the actual scientists who dispute global warming are physicists, who ought to understand the principle of energy conservation: if the net rate of heat flow into a system is positive (greenhouse gases have this effect, by interfering with heat flow out of the system), the heat content, and therefore the temperature, of the system must increase.

    As for medical doctors, several deserving targets of Orac’s respectful insolence have bona fide medical degrees. Stanislaw Burzynski, Andrew Wakefield, and Dr. Oz, to name three.

  37. #37 Andreas Johansson
    January 29, 2014

    Eric Lund wrote:

    global warming denialists circulate what they claim is a list of scientists who think the climate is not warming, a majority of the people on the list turn out to be engineers

    Is that because engineers are especially likely to be AGW denialists, or because engineers are the flavour of non-scientists that the compilers think they can get away with putting on the list?

  38. #38 Ren
    January 29, 2014

    ““We did it. We survived.””

    There were about 2 billion people alive when World War II started. Between 60 and 85 million died because of the war (civilian and military). Thats between about 3% and 4.25% of the entire world population. Based on anti-vax logic, World War II was no big deal in terms of numbers.

    It’s like when Peter Doshi says that a reduction of flu cases from 2 in 100 to 1 in 100 with the current vaccine formulations is not worth the (perceived and unrealistic) risks from the vaccine. Divide 310 million by 100 and that’s about how many cases you’re preventing. It’s not a handful. It’s a lot. It’s a lot of people not missing work or school and not passing it on to people with cancer, HIV/AIDS, on chemotherapy for auto-immune diseases, and other immune-compromising conditions.

  39. #39 Ren
    January 29, 2014

    @Liz

    You can’t just cram a lot of strains. They start interfering with each other. When it comes to influenza, the immune system is all sorts of funny about what it reacts to. That’s why only now we’ve gone from 3 to 4. It took that long to figure out the formulation to elicit an immune response (without adjuvants) to the four strains.

  40. #40 Kevin
    Ohio
    January 29, 2014

    This year a colleague came down with the flu. He developed complications and ended up in the hospital for three weeks. Suddenly, all my esteemed colleagues, who had previously disregarded my advice to get flu shots, were lining up to get them.

  41. #41 Narad
    January 29, 2014

    I’m left asking myself “Whatever must these people think of the events of 1918?”.

    Caused by asipirin. Or by vaccines.

  42. #42 Eric Lund
    January 29, 2014

    @Anders: Both factors may be in play. People who don’t come into regular contact with scientists or engineers may not appreciate the distinction, and it’s possible the people who compile the lists are counting on their audience not knowing the difference. OTOH, only about 3% (if that) of atmospheric scientists think the global climate is not warming, a much smaller fraction than the general public. I haven’t seen any figures specifically about engineers, but I’ve seen no evidence that on this question they are significantly different from the general public.

  43. #43 Calli Arcale
    January 29, 2014

    “I have to ask, if the flu shot was a guarantee, as society is being lead to believe, why do stores and companies bribe consumers to get it? Gift cards and shopping passes. 20% off here. $15 toward purchases there. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

    They’re not bribing you to get the flu shot, they’re bribing you to get the flu shot *from them*. Does she call it bribery when Target offers a $5 gift card with purchase of a particular brand of toilet paper? Is it bribery when Perkins offers free pancakes with purchase of a pie? Of course not. It’s a promotion meant to increase sales, nothing more. But of course, since she’s convinced of a dire conspiracy, the only explanation she can read into it is an evil one.

    Rick Meidell:

    The intact survival rate from untreated H. influenza meningitis in infants approaches 15%.

    While this is very much true, it’s worth pointing out that Haemophilus influenzae type B is a bacterium completely unrelated to influenza. The flu vaccine offers no protection against it. Happily, the HiB vaccine offers excellent protection against, and meningitis cases have plummeted as a result of its addition to most states’ school-entry vaccination requirements.

    Renate:

    I though Apple was pretty critical about the stuff that is sold fo the iPhone?

    I think they’re mainly concerned with stability, not content. So something that magically claims to cure your viruses will only bother them if it’s making false claims about *computer* viruses, I suspect. ;-)

  44. #44 Lawrence
    January 29, 2014

    @Narad – caused by vaccines that weren’t even developed yet, according to some of the rubbish sources used by the Anti-vax militias….

  45. #45 Andreas Johansson
    January 29, 2014

    @Eric: If engineers are not significantly different from the general public on this question, that would suggest to me that only the “get away with” factor is in play.

  46. #46 dingo199
    January 29, 2014

    Random samples of AoA’s malignant idiocy:

    In 2008 I got probably a bird flu; …I had high fever for about 24 h and was weak and aching for a few days, but it was bearable. I was taking megadoses of vit. C (2g/day), multivitamins, consumed oranges, garlic, took tea with lemon and honey. After a week I was OK, like a new. Of course I stayed in warm bed most of the time. I believe this experience gave me immunity to fight most types of flu for many decades. I don’t take flu vaccines, but I constantly see vaccinated people getting severe flu soon after vaccination and I am convinced that vaccines in fact spread flu and contribute to seasonal epidemics.

    The CDC has documented 1075 influenza viruses to date

    The only thing flu shots prevent is a properly functioning immune system. And they do that by design.

    Cathy and the rest of us know that vaccines are POISON!

    You can be assured, that if you got flu shot you would also get flu, but much stronger and perhaps you could die or get crippling autoimmune disease. Natural flu is no big deal, most of us get it a few times in life. It is in fact a good exercise of our immune system and for our families it is an exercise of independence. Stay naturally healthy Cathy.

    Have you not read the Cochrane Collaboration reports on how ineffective all flu vaccines are for all age groups? But beyond that, who cares if they’re effective or not…..I’m with Cathy, it’s much better to just get it, use vitamin C, Sambucol, echinacea, homeopathic oscillococcinum, bryonia or gelsemium depending on your symptoms, and stay in bed with hot tea beside you. Yes, I have also had the experience of being surprised it was so bad, I thought I was dying. But better to let your immune system practice and develop new skills in fighting the flu…it’s a risk/benefit thing. Do you want to risk paralysis like Lisa Marks Smith or death from the shot or do you want to pull together as a family to support the sick members during their illness?

    Yes that last one is Cia Parker, the antivaccine propaganda queen, who understands neither risk, nor benefit.

  47. #47 Denice Walter
    January 29, 2014

    Not to mention all of the crappy, woo-centric, anti-vax, Gaia-worshipping, alt med prevaricating, new agey, loony psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, social workers etc. out there.

    Altho’ if you study certain aspects of those dark arts, it might help you to develop critical thinking skills – as well as. knowledge of statistical analyses, cognition and apropo physiological savvy- to save you from the burning stupid.

    I can only hope.

  48. #48 Lawrence
    January 29, 2014

    @Denise – “disease worshipers” that’s what they truly are….

  49. #49 Militant Agnostic
    In snowy southern Alberta
    January 29, 2014

    For AFs list of AOA’s greatest hits

    In 2008 I got probably a bird flu

    What a maroon. The first case of H5N1 in North America occurred about a month ago. A 20 something health care worker who had contracted it in China (apparently second hand) died in Red Deer, Alberta. Last I heard the H1N1death toll was 9, some old some young.

  50. #50 AnObservingParty
    January 29, 2014

    In 2008 I got probably a bird flu

    The winner of TEH STOOPID, for infinity.

    While technically all flus are in some capacity bird flus in original way long ago, that is NOT what she was referring to so…NO. NO NO NO NO. This is a testament to the utter idiocy of those people. Diagnosing themselves with “bird flu,” influenzas with such high mortality rates (~ 60%) the WHO reports every death from one. I don’t think these people realize how significant a mortality rate that high is. Smallpox, THE scourge of mankind, was only 30%.

  51. #51 Lawrence
    January 29, 2014

    @AOP – actually, depending on the variety of Smallpox, the mortality rate could be as high as 95%…..though the 30% rate was the most common.

  52. #52 D. C. Sessions
    January 29, 2014

    I’m left asking myself “Whatever must these people think of the events of 1918?”. They can’t seriously believe themselves immune to infection because they (probably) eat nothing but “organic” produce and swallow more supplements than most?

    Quemado, NM — population a few hundred, a century ago it was smaller. 150 miles from the nearest approximation to a city, and back then pretty much everything was “organic” not to mention all-natural, etc. Clean air, clean water, plenty of healthy outdoor exercise. No doctors, no nasty Big Pharma.

    If living “natural” was a protection against the flu, Quemado was as safe as it could be.

    Walking through the Catholic graveyard, we came across several family graves with whole families — mother, three kids, that kind of thing — all dated in the fall of 1918.

    Funny sort of coincidence, that.

  53. #53 Narad
    January 29, 2014

    In 2008 I got probably a bird flu; …I had high fever for about 24 h and was weak and aching for a few days, but it was bearable.

    That’s pretty silly, since “bird flu” doesn’t exist.

    I was taking megadoses of vit. C (2g/day)

    Ah, OK, if you say so.

  54. #54 Helianthus
    January 29, 2014

    From ciaparker (via dingo199)

    do you want to pull together as a family to support the sick members during their illness

    Said like this, it sounds all virtuous and important. Familial solidarity, team spirit and all that. I can do some more, sure.
    But why do I feel it’s also about exercising control over the life of your relatives?

    The first antivaccine book I picked-up back in the 90s was touting how “childhood diseases are important occasions to strengthen the bonding between parents and children”.

    If it’s all the same to you, me and my dad would prefer bonding experiences like camping trips or this one time we were playing together with a remote-controlled toy car.
    The time I gave him the mumps may seem funny in retrospect, but we wouldn’t miss it if it didn’t happen. It sure didn’t bring much in bonding.

  55. #55 Carolyn
    January 29, 2014

    Make sure to click the link under the picture.

    http://tinyurl.com/lvsew3b

  56. #56 Tsu Dho Nimh
    January 29, 2014

    What an idiot she is!

    I survived a high-speed freeway collision – therefore they aren’t a big deal?
    Everyone I ever met survived WWII and the Korean war, therefore war is not big deal?

  57. #57 Narad
    January 29, 2014

    But why do I feel it’s also about exercising control over the life of your relatives?

    Cynthia Ann Parker would also like to exercise control over others, if casually and irrelevantly dropping the names of people’s children is any sign.

  58. #58 lilady
    January 29, 2014

    @ Carolyn: A friend sent me that link and I replied to him…

    “There are some genteel women “of a certain age” who would find your post/link offensive. Thank goodness there are plenty of tough old broads for me to hang with.

    Keep ‘em comin’…I damn near choked on my vodka/tonic.”

  59. #59 lilady
    January 29, 2014

    @ Narad: Reuben has an excellent post up about Parker and other anti-vaccine loons. Look for my comments:

    http://thepoxesblog.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/connecting-the-dots-when-you-cant-connect-two-brain-cells/

  60. #60 Chris HIckie
    January 29, 2014

    Surviving stuff may not be a big deal to some people…that is until they don’t.

  61. #61 Jessica S
    January 29, 2014

    @Carolyn, re: your first link #5. Such a sad story. I’m surprised she was told she wasn’t far enough along in her pregnancy to get the flu vaccine! I got mine at my first OB appt, approx 9 weeks along. With my first, it was the opposite end of the spectrum – I got it two weeks before he was born. At any rate, very sad story. I hope she pulls through.

  62. #62 Politicalguineapig
    January 29, 2014

    Chris Hickie: Surviving stuff may not be a big deal to some people…that is until they don’t.

    True. And of course, there’s the ‘misery index’ to consider. I got a really bad flu in college. Chills, nausea, fever, lost my id card.None of these seem like a big deal, but at the time they felt like the end of the world. I have mostly managed to get a flu shot ever since.
    Then there’s the time I got Bell’s Palsy. Survivable, yes. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t embarrassing, miserable and very stressful. First day in, I’d thought I’d had a stroke. At twenty five!

  63. #63 Narad
    January 29, 2014

    I’m surprised she was told she wasn’t far enough along in her pregnancy to get the flu vaccine!

    Per the CNN story:

    “Chris Creekmore said he and his wife had researched tips for healthy pregnancies, and they had come across a recommendation to avoid the flu vaccine in the first trimester of pregnancy. He said he asked his wife’s OB-GYN in Arkansas in October about the matter, and the doctor told them he was wary of giving flu shots during the first trimester.”

    The husband is rather charitable toward the physician.

  64. #64 Denice Walter
    January 29, 2014

    @ PGP:

    There’s a tendency in that camp to make black-and-white characterisations so it’s either life/ death, perfect/ damaged, good parent/ evil shill.

    So if you suffered and were unable to work or go to school for a month**- it’s NO problem- you didn’t die, did you?

    HOWEVER they do go on and on about their own life of tribulations, drama, heroism and tragedy.
    Seem to have a problem with taking the role of the other person and understanding their motivation.

    Of course, they wouldn’t ever believe that ASDs have any heritable aspects.

    Oh, I forget: I’m not supposed to say that: a similar observation got some journalist loads of hatemail.

    ** I’m told I lost a month due to measles- the whole episode is just a blur to me.

  65. #65 Judy
    Dallas
    January 29, 2014

    It’s funny. I knew I had heard one of these arguments before. Now I know where it is from….the medical director at Sayer Jis site at greenmedinfo, Dr. K Brogan wrote n her essay “A Shot Never Worth Taking”

    “I’m sure you don’t know a single person who has died of the flu, and if you think you do, I can almost guarantee you that the diagnosis was not confirmed in a way that ruled out the 150-200 infectious pathogens that cause flu-like syndromes, none of which would be “covered” by the vaccine.”

    However……she is happy to exploit the tragic death of Chandler Webb.

    http://www.vaccinationcouncil.org/2013/11/27/a-shot-never-worth-taking-the-flu-vaccine-by-kelly-brogan-md/

  66. #66 LW
    January 29, 2014

    Some years ago my sister’s best friend died of complications of flu. I would have felt horribly guilty if I’d passed it on to her. I wonder if Jameson would have.

  67. #67 Narad
    January 29, 2014

    However……she is happy to exploit the tragic death of Chandler Webb.

    And willing to declare a cause of death in the absence of an autopsy. One doesn’t invent “Third Path Psychiatry” for no reason, after all.

  68. #68 Jessica S
    January 29, 2014

    @narad – I wonder what her OB thinks now. Seriously, I’m really not being snarky. It’s not only my own doctor who suggested it, but I knew the CDC recommends it, too, in any trimester.

  69. #69 Narad
    January 29, 2014

    I wonder what her OB thinks now.

    Given that there’s no suggestion that he or she was anything but a regular specialist who was either behind the times or succumbed to the three most dangerous words (“in my experience”), I’d imagine that self-recrimination is in fairly high gear.

  70. #70 mashroom
    January 30, 2014

    I had a friend die in a plane crash. Those are even more rare than car crashes and gun deaths. If I think long enough, I’m sure I can think of at least friends of friends who perished in motor vehicle accidents too.

    And you know, if there was a vaccine to avoid (or even lessen the effect) any of the above, I’d be all like ‘STAB ME! NOWWWW!’.

  71. #71 Nick K
    Chengdu
    January 30, 2014

    Not mentioned by the antivax loons are the post-flu complications. These include a type of Parkinson’s disease which crippled thousands of people in the wake of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. Oliver Sacks’ book “Awakenings” vividly describes how people who had been “frozen” for decades regained movement, albeit temporarily, when treated with L-Dopa.

    Personal anecdote: I suffered a bad dose of flu in 1987 which clobbered me for over a week. The sequel was, if anything, even worse as I succumbed to a severe post-flu depression which lasted for months and nearly caused me to commit suicide.

  72. #72 herr doktor bimler
    January 30, 2014

    Not mentioned by the antivax loons are the post-flu complications.

    What is the current consensus vis-a-vis the post-1918 encephalitis lethargica epidemic? Last time I remember, it was regarded as perhaps an opportunistic epidemic in the wake of the Spanish Flu, but not a direct complication (since not everyone who had the encephalitis had previously had flu). Things may have changed.

  73. #73 lilady
    January 30, 2014

    IIRC, Oliver Sachs reported on post-encephalitis Parkisonism.

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

    Severe Parkinsonism can manifest itself in an inability to ambulate while standing upright. The patients were provided with L-Dopa medication, which resulted in a dramatic upturn in their ambulation…for a period of time. The movie Awakenings portrayed Sachs’ patients as being “frozen” in place…a bit of overly dramatic symptoms, IMO.

  74. #74 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    January 30, 2014

    I had the flu as a child. It very nearly killed me.

    I will gladly take the flu shot – every year, for the rest of my life.

  75. #75 Narad
    January 30, 2014

    Things may have changed.

    An enterovirus is on the table.

  76. #76 Chris Hickie
    January 30, 2014

    @PGP #62–I, too had the flu as a teen. Temp of 105 for 5 days with the worst aches ever. It hurt to even move my eyes. AV loons would trumpet this as something that “makes you tougher”. Yeah, right….sure. What it did do, however, is make me take a flu shot ever since.

  77. #77 Nick K
    Chengdu
    January 30, 2014

    #71: Thanks for this. I didn’t know that the link between flu and encephalitis lethargica was unproven. My post-flu depression was only too real, however.

  78. #78 Pete Attkins
    January 30, 2014
  79. #79 Indigo_Fire
    January 30, 2014

    In regards to the question of why engineers are more prone to crank positions than others, I have some theories.

    As Eric Lund mentioned at #34, Dunning-Kruger is probably a significant factor: engineering generally tends to have the longest and most strenuous undergraduate curriculums and although graduate degrees aren’t necessarily required like they are for most of the highly regarded professions (lawyers, doctors, etc.), many engineers still get them, in addition to all the professional licensing exams that may be required and generally need significant study.

    But, as a recent engineering graduate myself, I’ve noticed that engineering education often has significant holes in it in regards to the methodology and conceptual framework of science. The focus tends to be more on memorizing boatloads of equations and when to apply them instead of on understanding why those equations are used in the first place and how they tie into the basic science. I realize that part of it is simply due to time constraints (it already takes many engineers 5+ years to get their undergrad and tacking on more basic science would increase that), but I feel like it’s a major blind spot that can cause engineers to think they know and understand far more of reality than they actually do and leave them unaware of their blind spots.

    Tying into that is the whole mindset that’s required of an engineer: instead of testing a hypothesis and then drawing conclusions from what the data shows as scientists need to do, engineers start out with a desired conclusion and then have to try and create a product that fulfills that conclusion. It’s practically the opposite from science, and I can easily understand how that mindset can bleed into other areas.

    Fortunately, my field (biomedical engineering) seems a little less prone to crankery than many others, but that’s probably because there’s more focus on the basic sciences than some of the other engineering disciplines, not to mention it’s a field that’s constantly changing and refining itself because of advances in medical science, as opposed to something like civil engineering which is much the same now as it was 20 years ago.

  80. #80 Ivan Ilyich
    January 30, 2014

    I wouldn’s say engineers are more prone to woo, only that it seems they are not necessarily immune to it. It’s surprising to me because even though engineering is not science, engineers of all types are trained in science, and they tend to be the practical types who have an intuition for how things work. It’s just that we don’t necessarily bring our analytical skills to bear on our personal lives.

    Even more surprising to me was a hospital nurse who told me she didn’t want to get the flu shot.

  81. #81 dusonfnp
    January 30, 2014

    Anecdotally, when I worked in-patient peds, we always saw an uptick in new onset type 1 diabetes in the spring, right after the end of cold/flu season. Last year I saw that there was research showing a correlation between H1N1 infection and type 1 DM in adolescents in 2009, so my anecdotes weren’t just confirmation bias.
    Viral infections do weird things to our immune systems, so self-protection with controlled vaccines seems almost beyond self-evident.
    And when the people who promote themselves as altruistic refuse to get their jabs, my mind boggles.

  82. #82 Calli Arcale
    January 30, 2014

    Helianthus:

    If it’s all the same to you, me and my dad would prefer bonding experiences like camping trips or this one time we were playing together with a remote-controlled toy car.
    The time I gave him the mumps may seem funny in retrospect, but we wouldn’t miss it if it didn’t happen. It sure didn’t bring much in bonding.

    My two weeks in the hospital with meningitis likewise weren’t much of a bonding opportunity. I was barely conscious during a lot of it, and anyway, what I really liked about it was the hospital’s awesome playroom, not any bonding with my parents. ;-)

    Politicalguineapig:

    Then there’s the time I got Bell’s Palsy. Survivable, yes. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t embarrassing, miserable and very stressful.

    I’m glad you got over it! My cousin was similarly fortunate, but my husband’s aunt was less so. She got it as a complication of shingles (she wasn’t yet old enough to qualify for the vaccine) and it appears to be permanent in her case, since it’s been about eight years now and still hasn’t resolved. :-( She finds it very embarassing, and has changed her hairstyle to try to disguise it, brushing her hair forward over the side of her face that droops.

    Regarding engineers who are into woo…. I’m a software engineer, and I would not be surprised if my field is one of the worst. Read the blog “thedailywtf.com” and you’ll quickly see why; if engineers can pass such dreadful anti-patterns around on the basis that “it seems to work”, then it’s totally believable that they’ll fall for all the woo out there. Programming is the sort of thing that feels like it *should* be deterministic, but actual behavior ends up seeming almost capricious, and you can make a change that you can’t imagine could really be doing anything helpful and yet performance mysteriously improves when you do it, so now you are convinced that your change was responsible, and you try that change every chance you get even though you never actually see it improve matters again. Sounds very much like the course of many alt med therapies.

  83. #83 Jenora Feuer
    January 30, 2014

    Regarding engineers and woo, RationalWiki has a whole page on that. It’s sort of an outgrowth of the Salem Hypothesis:

    In any Evolution vs. Creation debate, A person who claims scientific credentials and sides with Creation will most likely have an Engineering degree.

    .

  84. #84 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    January 30, 2014

    I had the flu as a child. It very nearly killed me.

    I will gladly take the flu shot – every year, for the rest of my life.

    Most of my life, I mostly got a flu shot. In the Air Force, they were mandatory. In my civilian life, my employer would often arrange for free shots, or my HMO would pass them out for free. I’d almost always take advantage of them, but a coupla times, real life would interfere, and I didn’t worry too much about it.

    One year I missed the shot, and I got the flu, or something very much like it – fever, chills, and whole body ache that went on for days. I told myself that if I wasn’t better the next morning, I was calling the doctor. A few hours later, I felt the fever break, then 2 days later I was tired and worn out, but the fever and chills were gone.

    I promised myself that I’d lie, cheat or steal if it was necessary to get a flu shot every year after that. I can’t imagine that anybody who went thru having the flu would feel any different. I have said in the past that anyone who doesn’t think it’s important to get a flu shot has never had the flu, but I guess I can’t say that anymore.

    if I had any children, I’d want to protect them from the flu, and all the other ‘childhood’ diseases, too. I know, because I’m old enough to have had them, too. Mark Crislip says that he’s only treated 1 case of mumps, but my stay at home mom treated three, myself, my sister and my cousin.

    It has been said that diseases will have to make a comeback to get the anti-vaxers to change their minds, but based on Cathy Jameson’s story, I don’t think that will do it either.

  85. #85 Lawrence
    January 30, 2014

    @Johnny – unfortunately, these diseases are now being worshiped as some kind of “right of passage” by the anti-vax militia, not realizing that they are playing with a fire they can’t control….it is sickening.

  86. #86 Interrobang
    January 30, 2014

    Funnily enough, I just logged on to Facebook to see this from someone on my friends list:

    “A knitting and Nerd Wars friend died today from complications from H1N1.

    Please, please, please, GET A FLU JAB.”

    :(

  87. #87 Denice Walter
    January 30, 2014

    I sometimes wonder if this might have something to do with Baron-Cohen’s ideas about engineers, scientists et al and their tendency to systematise their experience whilst neglecting other more interpersonally- based information.

    I am not however in total agreement with SB-C altho’ I think that he is looking at something real.

    -btw- according to his test, I seem to be quite the reverse.
    But I was also always really good in mathematics, believe it or not, but never wanted to work with it much.

  88. #88 Terrie
    January 30, 2014

    Re: garlic as a natural preventative for the colds and flu. It wsa explained to me by a doctor that it works like this. When you eat a lot of garlic, you stink. When you sitnk, people don’t come near you. When people stay away from you, you come into contact wit hfewer germs. When you come into contact with fewer germs, you’re less likely to get sick.

    Makes sense to me.

  89. #89 Chris,
    January 30, 2014

    Jenora Feuer: “Regarding engineers and woo, RationalWiki has a whole page on that. It’s sort of an outgrowth of the Salem Hypothesis:”

    Thank you for that link. As Denice noted above, it is one thing I am known to gripe about. I could add a few more names to their list of engineers out of their depth like Andy Cutler, Andy Schlafly (yes, he has an EE degree), Gary Goldman, Amy Lansky, and a few more. I am happy to see Ray Kurzweil on the list, and not surprised to see Petr Beckmann (though I did enjoy his book on pi).

    (I have a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, though in many ways it is akin to applied math… and unlike many of the “Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth”, I passed my materials engineering and thermal structural courses, better yet, I remember what happens when you heat steel, iron and aluminum)

  90. #90 Risk Averse
    Australia
    January 30, 2014

    30,000 die of flu – but…according to one article in 2013 – Out of the 783,936 annual deaths from conventional medicine mistakes, approximately 106,000 of those are the result of prescription drug use [that is: side effects where no-one is considered negligent].

    According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, two-hundred and ninety people in the United States are killed by prescription drugs every DAY.

    In the UK more than 30,000 are ADDICTED to prescription drugs

    Only 2% of those who have contracted the human papilloma virus go on to get cancer – yet we expose as many young people as possible to the vaccine …without giving any thought to the side effects on individuals..

    Like Orac suggests – step out of your own experience (or bias) and you might just see why intelligent individuals might try to avoid taking prescribed medications …

    Let the name calling begin…

  91. #91 Politicalguineapig
    January 30, 2014

    What exactly are you trying to say? Abuse of pharmaceuticals weakens the immune system?

    And I’m *really* not sure what the pout about the HPV vaccine is. Is cancer better than a vaccine?

  92. #92 Denice Walter
    January 30, 2014

    I wonder where that 783K+ figure comes from….

  93. #93 Narad
    January 30, 2014

    What exactly are you trying to say? Abuse of pharmaceuticals weakens the immune system?

    Maybe it has to do with the fact that vaccines cause drug addiction.

  94. #94 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    January 30, 2014

    I wondered where 783,936 annual deaths came from, too, as it seemed very specific, so Google led me to
    http://www.naturalnews.com/009278.html
    Where I read -

    According to the groundbreaking 2003 medical report Death by Medicine, by Drs. Gary Null, Carolyn Dean, Martin Feldman, Debora Rasio and Dorothy Smith, 783,936 people in the United States die every year from conventional medicine mistakes.

    And where do I find ‘Death by Medicine’?
    http://www.whale.to/a/null9.html

    When your source is whale.to,…

  95. #95 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    January 30, 2014

    Doh!

  96. #96 LW
    January 30, 2014

    783,936 people in the United States die every year from conventional medicine mistakes.

    never 783,935 or, God forbid, 783,937, but exactly 783,936 each and every year, even as population rises. Modern medicine is truly incredible.

  97. #97 Christine (the Public Servant Christine)
    workin' for Teh Ebil Gubmint
    January 30, 2014

    ….In the UK more than 30,000 are ADDICTED to prescription drugs …

    i’m sorry, but what the hell does this have to do with vaccines? Oh, I get it, it’s Ebil Big Pharma. Err, you are aware that it’s likely the same in the UK as it is in Australia… that is, many of those people are buying those prescription drugs illegally?

    In Australia, and I assume in the UK because the system is quite similar, there are very strict controls placed on the acquisition of highly addictive drugs. To get them through the health system you have to go to a licenced provider (IE a doctor or a hospital) and you can’t get a repeat prescription. This means if you want more you have to go back and get another prescription, and if it’s too soon since your last one there’s all sorts of red flags raised. OR, you can go to someone who’s set himself up as a dealer, in which case it might as well be an illegal drug.

    But seriously? Addiction to prescription meds is a serious problem, but I have never heard of anyone getting addicted to vaccines, so I’d suggest you not bring up addiction as a reason to avoid vaccination.

  98. #98 Christine (the Public Servant Christine)
    January 30, 2014

    Thanks to @Narad, let me clarify, I have never heard of anyone getting addicted to vaccines from a credible source, which NaturalNews definitely isn’t.

  99. #99 Vicki
    January 30, 2014

    Also, that 10% off grocery coupon (that’s what I was given) is them trying to bribe you to spend someone else’s money at their store. I get my flu shot at (in this case) Safeway, which bills my health insurance some amount, and in return they are offering me an incentive to buy my milk, cookies, pasta, shrimp, or what-have-you from them rather than some other grocery store.

    Capitalism 101, folks.

  100. #100 accidie
    January 30, 2014

    Renate #35 Just following Steve Jobs’ example. He was fond of a bit of woo. And look where it got him.

  101. #101 herr doktor bimler
    January 30, 2014

    i’m sorry, but what the hell does this have to do with vaccines?
    People die of X, so there is no point taking steps against Y.

    In the UK more than 30,000 are ADDICTED to prescription drugs
    Can we have a SOURCE for this NUMBER? (there was a survey in 1999 which came up with the figure of 30,000 people in the UK dependent on non-prescription drugs).

  102. #102 Denice Walter
    January 30, 2014

    @ Johnny:
    @ LW:

    Of course, I was asking that question rhetorically. That is the storied figure which has been tossed around for the past several years.

    Although we all know the lead author, I’m not sure if everyone knows about Carolyn Dean- she’s a Canadian who was struck off and then acquired an ND after moving to the US ( see Quackwatch) She bills herself as MD, ND. Feldman is a NY-based neurologist who has written books, presided over studies, co-hosted radio with and generally enabled the aforementioned idi.. I mean *lead author*. Said lead author also keeps a few ‘scholars in residence’ who write articles with him- one of them is a veterinarian but the articles are not about pets- unless if that’s how you regard your children- the other, Richard Gale, studied biochemistry.

  103. #103 lilady
    January 30, 2014

    Carolyn Dean is not a M.D. nor is she a N.D. in New York State; she lives in Hawaii:

    http://drcarolyndean.com/content/?section=about&page=quick_bio

  104. #104 Denice Walter
    January 30, 2014

    @ lilady:

    No, no, no!
    You read that wrong: *Feldman* is the NY doc; Dean has lived in CA and Hawaii after runn…. leaving Ontario.

  105. #105 badgerchild
    January 30, 2014

    My husband and I both got the same flu shot on the same day. Last week I got the flu and he got a mild sore throat that went away. I slept away five days, that is when I could sleep from the symptoms. I’m still suffering huge fatigue but getting better. I know the flu shot doesn’t always “take”, especially in larger people (I am a larger person and my husband is slender). Should I get another flu shot? Is there any point?

  106. #106 Spectator
    January 30, 2014

    “In the UK more than 30,000 are ADDICTED to prescription drugs”

    Because drool becomes meaningful when expressed in capital letters.

  107. #107 Militant Agnostic
    January 30, 2014

    @LW

    never 783,935 or, God forbid, 783,937, but exactly 783,936 each and every year, even as population rises. Modern medicine is truly incredible.

    This is why It is better to undergo a risky medical procedure in December – odds are the quote has already been reached and they won’t bump you off.

    Significant figures – how the f*ck do they work?

  108. #108 lilady
    January 31, 2014

    Thanks for correcting me Denice:

    One year of post doc residency or post doc fellowship in Neurology does not a neurologist make:

    http://www.nydoctorprofile.com/dispatch#pubs

    He’s been described as a “neuro psychiatrist” on various websites…and he determines which supplements and herbs he will prescribe, based on “muscle strength” tests:

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/feldman-martin-md-new-york

  109. #109 lilady
    January 31, 2014

    Oops, try this link for NYS Physician profile: Martin Feldman, M.D.

    http://www.nydoctorprofile.com/dispatch

  110. #110 lilady
    January 31, 2014
  111. #111 Karen
    January 31, 2014

    I’ve survived the flu; I didn’t like the experience one bit. After I was diagnosed in my ’20s with asthma, my allergist insisted I get a flu shot every year. Since then I get colds, and had one severe enough to send me to the ER for an asthma breathing treatment, but no flu.

    I’ve also survived a “mild” case of pneumonia that had me, healthy and in college, in bed for a solid week and dragging myself through life halfheartedly for another month. When the pneumonia vaccine came out, I took it enthusiastically.

    What possesses people to refuse these vaccines, that can prevent so much misery? I read their arguments, and the logic just flows over my head. I just don’t get it.

  112. #112 Andreas Johansson
    January 31, 2014

    I sometimes think people who think nothing of being bedridden for a week have very boring but well-paying jobs. And no social life.

  113. #113 Ivan Ilyich
    January 31, 2014

    Calli Arcale, most people who use the title “Software Engineer,” however, do not actually have engineering degrees.

  114. #114 Krebiozen
    January 31, 2014

    Risk Averse,

    Out of the 783,936 annual deaths from conventional medicine mistakes, approximately 106,000 of those are the result of prescription drug use [that is: side effects where no-one is considered negligent].

    The hospital adverse drug reactions figure of 106,000 is from <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9555760"Lazarou (1994). Lazarou used 35 studies to come up with his figures, but only 16 of them explicitly mentioned fatal ADRs and were included in his calculations (there were 55 deaths in total).

    Only four of these studies were published since 1976, and they found fatal ADR rates of 0%, 0.08%, 0% and 0%. These four most recent studies, if you can call a 38-year-old study recent, looked at a total of 11,379 patients, of which 3 died. This is an average ADR rate of 0.029%. If you apply this more recent rate to the 33,125,492 hospital admissions in the US in 1994, that would give an estimate of only 9,606 fatal ADRs.

    It’s also worth noting quickly that I believe the drugs that cause the most fatal ADRs are anticoagulants, because the therapeutic and fatal doses are very close together and they have to be monitored closely. Despite this, I have seen estimates that anticoagulants save hundreds of thousands of lives each year, so perhaps a few fatal ADRs are a small price to pay. Also, things are improving, with safer drugs being used more and more widely.

    I’ll just look a little more closely at another component of the supposed 783,936 deaths; the 199,000 deaths allegedly due to “Outpatient Iatrogenesis”. The references Null gives for this figure are to a JAMA commentary and a letter to JAMA that cite a figure given in an Australian article that in turn refers to this article that asked pharmacists to estimate morbidity and mortality of prescription drugs, and then applied those figures to all prescriptions. This is very far from an accurate estimate.

  115. #115 Krebiozen
    January 31, 2014

    Errata: botched link should be this to Lazarou, and it was published in 1998, not 1994.

  116. #116 Bill Price
    January 31, 2014

    Out of the 783,936 annual deaths from conventional medicine mistakes, …

    I was taught, many years ago, that if you use a number from a rectal source, it must never be a round number: it must never end in 0, no matter how many digits it had. When applied to expense reports, it was enforced by the auditor…

  117. #117 Julian Frost
    January 31, 2014

    The hospital adverse drug reactions figure of 106,000 is from [Lazarou]. Lazarou used 35 studies to come up with his figures, but only 16 of them explicitly mentioned fatal ADRs and were included in his calculations (there were 55 deaths in total).

    So Risk Averse pulled a bait-and-switch. S/he took the 106,000 adverse reactions and listed them all as deaths, even though there were very few deaths.
    Busted.

  118. #118 herr doktor bimler
    January 31, 2014

    So Risk Averse pulled a bait-and-switch. S/he took the 106,000 adverse reactions and listed them all as deaths, even though there were very few deaths

    No, that lie is present in the original paper by Gary Null et al. Risk Averse has merely repeated the list. Somewhere along the human-centipede chain of transmission, the 2003 data of Null’s publication morphed into “one article in 2013″

    Carolyn Dean is not a M.D
    I see she was struck off by the Ontario authorities, but the Californian authorities settled for suspending her license to practice and putting her on probation:
    http://www.casewatch.org/foreign/dean/dean.shtml
    She has seems to have awarded herself the position of Medical Director to bestow further ambiguity to the letters MD after her name

  119. #119 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 31, 2014

    It’s also worth noting quickly that I believe the drugs that cause the most fatal ADRs are anticoagulants, because the therapeutic and fatal doses are very close together and they have to be monitored closely. Despite this, I have seen estimates that anticoagulants save hundreds of thousands of lives each year, so perhaps a few fatal ADRs are a small price to pay. Also, things are improving, with safer drugs being used more and more widely.

    While Krebiozen’s point is sound, his phrasing may be a bit unfortunate, so I’d like to offer this perspective on the issue:

    Those who bandy about a “X,000 fatal ADRs a year from conventional medicine” figure, and try to use it to support the conclusion therefore you should stay away from conventional medicine, are often unaware that their argument is wholly dependent on the assumption “with some course of treatment other than conventional medicine, the patient would have lived.”

    And just a little thought shows that that assumption is false, for a substantial number of patients. To start with, every diabetic patient who dies from misapplication of their insulin. While all such deaths are tragic, and we rightly strive to do everything we can to avoid them, if anyone ever voiced the foolish idea “well, maybe they should’ve never been on insulin at all, and then they wouldn’t have died!” the answer would be a solid and resounding “WRONG!!”

    When you realize what a significant percentage of those “fatal ADRs” actually represent people who were in such precarious health that the odds were against any sort of treatment successfully preserving their lives, you realize that the “X,000 people who died after conventional medicine” figure really means nothing. Alternative treatment would not have done any better.

  120. #120 Lawrence
    January 31, 2014

    Back in the day, before Modern Medical treatments were widely available, a number (a large number) of these people would have just died at home….the fact that we are able to make an attempt to treat these, formally terminal, conditions in no way invalidates the treatments themselves.

    We (as a society) have decided to take extraordinary measures, even in cases where the chances of success are relatively small…..again, this isn’t about the application of the treatments or their validity – just that there are a lot of people who will die, regardless of what we do.

  121. #121 Julian Frost
    January 31, 2014

    @Antaeus Feldspar and Lawrence: you hit the nail on the head.

  122. #122 Jen Phillips
    January 31, 2014

    Slightly off topic, but does anyone have a handle on this:

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-vaccine-coverup-30-years-of-secret-official-transcripts-show-uk-government-experts-cover-up-vaccine-hazards-to-sell-more-vaccines-and-harm-your-kids/5354241

    I’ve been battling antivax lunacy on Facebook for the better part of this week, and this is a “report” I’ve not seen before. It will take a bit of time to research, so if anyone here has leads or rebuttals to give me a head start, I’d appreciate it.

  123. #123 Lawrence
    January 31, 2014

    @Jen – I would search for Dr Lucija Tomljenovi on this blog…that is definitely not a reputable source of information.

  124. #124 Denice Walter
    January 31, 2014

    One of alt med’s most frequently implied assertions is that SBM harms people and they will twist the facts -and logic- any way they can to convince people to fear it.

    One example is saying that the condition being treated is *caused* by the treatment-
    a person with depression gets it from SSRIs or
    a person with hiv/aids gets it from ARVs.

    The obvious question is: If they were alright why did they need to get meds in the first place?
    ( Because they weren’t alright).

    So they need to deny the facts that illness harms people and to portray illness as simply a consequence of un-righteous living which is easily reversed- if they ate correctly, exercised and followed altie programming to the letter, they would NEVER have these problems.

    In only the past few days, I’ve heard ( via a Natural News video and PRN) that SMI is caused by – respectively- too much copper and not enough niaicin and NAC or NAD ( I forget which).

    In this denial of reality, the laws of physiology and probability are suspended simply by *wishing*.
    I suspect that woo-meisters’ adherence to this style of thinking has more significance than just being a way to attract like-minded customers willing to pay to hear whatever fiction they want.
    It’s based on their own fears.

  125. #125 Denice Walter
    January 31, 2014

    -btw-
    There’s a totally insane post @ AoA today about ‘Man Flu” involving about 15 peripherally related memes which
    labels sceptics as an ‘old boys’” network. Except for tokens like Dorit.
    LIke the earlier Jameson post, seems the author and her family didn’t avoid the flu through healthy living or suchlike.

  126. #126 squirrelelite
    January 31, 2014

    Dr Tomljenovi gets the insolent treatment in this article:
    It’s about an article from 2012.

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2012/10/31/and-now-death-by-gardasil-again-not-so-fast/

  127. #127 Lurker
    January 31, 2014

    Re. Software Engs:

    It’s an unlicensed profession in an unregulated field, and you typically earn the title once you’ve designed something new that’s become widely adopted. I’m a telecoms eng, and the same criteria apply.

    It majorly bugs me to hear about engs in whatever field signing on with quackadoodle BS, particularly antivaxxism due to the obvious danger to others’ lives. Maybe someone can get them to trade the antivax paranoia for 9/11 conspiracy theory: at least the latter doesn’t hurt anyone.

    Though, I will admit to a fondness for a couple of placebos. There’s nothing like a hot bowl of chicken broth or vegetable broth, with rice, during a nasty cold, to make the sniffles seem less sniffly and the sore throat less sore. That, and ginger ale for tummy aches;-)

    Re. bird flu:

    OK, so what happens to the antivaxxers when one of the strains with a 60% CFR goes H2H? Assuming a vaccine is developed and becomes widely available, how many of them will sneak off to the clinic to get the shot? How many of them will change their tunes after someone close to them dies?

    Or will they dig in their heels twice as hard, and adopt some kind of post-hoc rationalization for their fellow-travelers who don’t make it? One might be tempted to gloat about the auto-darwinization factor, but their kids and others will be innocent victims.

    IMHO, do away with “religious exemptions” except for a) people who live in isolated monasteries and have no outside contact (self-quarantine) and b) people who can demonstrate that their deities perform verifiable miracles on demand.

  128. #128 Dorit
    January 31, 2014

    Jen: Note that the the secret documents the “hoax” (quotation marks intended) are all public documents. When this first appeared I followed the links and explained, at the time, that the quotes were taken out of context and misinterpreted, which seems to be a common tactic. Alas, I did not take screenshots, and the links in the article don’t work now.

    As pointed above, without the links to the original documents, what we have is Tomljenovic’s word. And that’s not good enough, given her record.

  129. #129 Dorit
    January 31, 2014

    I do appreciate the fact, by the way, that no one on AoA has raised the claim I’ve heard from anti-vaccine activists that the whole flu epidemic is caused by chemtrails and manmade to give an excuse to sell flu vaccines.

  130. #130 Dorit
    January 31, 2014

    I’ve been having no luck with posting this with the links, so I’ll try without: Lawrence Solomon, who has posted two previous anti-vaccine blog posts on Huffington Post (though naturally, he denies being anti-vaccine) has another post that, like Jameson, is underplaying the dangers of flu, strongly drawing on Dr. Doshi’s articles. Reuben Gaines recently blogged on it on the poxes. It might be of interest, as another example of attack on the flu vaccine.

  131. #131 Denice Walter
    January 31, 2014

    @ Dorit:

    Which causes me to wonder how the powers-that-be ™ managed to spread the flu around the globe so easily in 1918 since the planes then couldn’t emit chemtrails.
    Maybe they used mice?

  132. #132 Dorit
    January 31, 2014

    I thought in the 1918s it was aspirin. Doctors hid a virus capsule in each, right?
    Maybe there should be a Doctor episode suggesting an explanation for the 1918 epidemic. Mercedes Lackey, in one of her Elemental Mage series book, suggests it was an Earth Elemental send out by a rogue maser.

  133. #133 JGC
    January 31, 2014

    Obviously the1918 flu virus was dispersed using exhaust trails from zeppelins…

  134. #134 NumberWang (formerly Chuff)
    January 31, 2014

    Why is arguing with idiots so compelling? Their arguments are akin to Creationists denying radio isotopic dating because the Bible is fact, therefore experimental science is wrong. I have a theory it’s like driving past a car crash. You know it’s a tragedy but you still can’t help oggling. I saw a holistic vet on TV yesterday. I was really hoping he would get his face bitten off by the rottie he was sticking acupuncture needles in.

  135. #135 Andreas Johansson
    January 31, 2014

    Dorit wrote:

    Earth Elemental send out by a rogue maser.

    A rogue maser is quite original as villains go.

  136. #136 Helianthus
    January 31, 2014

    @ Denice

    It’s based on their own fears.

    Oh yeah.
    When following a thread on other blogs on 9-11 / Monsanto / Gay wedding, I sometimes felt some of the commenters are acting as if they are the main hero of some horror movie.
    Sometimes it borders on mass hysteria.

    @ Andreas Johansson, Dorit

    Well, a awakened sciencey instrument, holding pure energy, and summoning elemental spirits. Not only it’s original, but it fits.
    Dorit, put a patent on it. You said it first :-)

  137. #137 Dorit
    January 31, 2014

    :-D ceding rights to the talented commentators here. Or to Mercedes Lackey, who would probably do a great job.

    And thanks for a much needed laugh today, people.

  138. #138 Jen Phillips
    January 31, 2014

    Thanks, everyone!
    I could preemptively call cherry-picking, and I imagine that if I had the chops to comb through 30 years of any meeting minutes I could probably pull some ‘scandalous’ quotes out of context to serve my agenda. I’d never heard of this report or this researcher before, though.

  139. #139 Jen Phillips
    January 31, 2014

    Just for Lulz, here’s the level of discourse. Nothing new under the sun–this guy is like the 60 year old male version of the hippie in “Storm”, to a tee. This particular whaargarbl is in response to my mentioning that most of my sources were PubMed citations–all capitalization and other grammatical oddities are preserved from the original.

    OMG, PUB MED, And seriously. DUH, faking clinical trial results IS THE FREAKIN NORM… AND there are herbal remedies far superior to the pharmaceutical CRAP…without the side effects, the fact that you are ignorant to something, does not mean that it does not exist. Chinese Skullcap, Elder,Isatis, Houttuynia,Ginger,Lomatium, Red Root, Bonaset, Rhodiola, all work directly against Virus through the same systems as the anti virals like Tamiflu (without the side effects) not to mention the Adaptogens. I gotta wonder just how many pharmaceuticals you are on, seriously. Most …that is, the majority of the American Population is on some Big Pharma CRAP drug.. (I’m 60, take no pharmaceuticals and am healthier than 90 % of the population). A nice healthy society, well done big pharma and big medical. The surest way to living healthy is to OPT OUT of Civilization and all the CRAP they feed us… Fluoride and Chlorine in the water “for our own good”… what a crock of evil ignorance that is, every educated person on the planet knows that these two things have all but destroyed humans natural immunity that exists in the gut. And Fluoride does NOTHING for tooth decay taken internally, in fact the opposite, and this is a FACT…although it does remove a persons will (why Hitler used it in the water in the concentration camps) Jen, you are arguing FOR THE PROBLEM, not the solution Educate yourself beyond Big Pharma’s Propaganda. PUB MED, HA HA HA HA HA Ha

  140. #140 JGC
    Cut to the chase with him
    January 31, 2014

    I’d cut to the chase by asking your friend to identify what they personally consider to be the single most credible and compelling piece of evidence that tChinese Skullcap, Rhodiola, etc. are as or more effective at treating viral infections in human patients as Tamiflu–being sure to point out that you’re asking for evidence, not anecdote, not testimonials, not arguments from tradition, etc.

  141. #141 Jen Phillips
    January 31, 2014

    Yeah, tried that. I got a long lecture about REAL Science vs. Idiot Science. Idiot science is the knowledge-based kind that I do for a living, apparently, whereas Real Science is based in wisdom and personal enlightenment. Notable Real Scientists include Tesla, Gandhi and Martin Luther King [sic], I’m told.

    Another loon in the conversation held up the natural medicine of the Native American tribes as what we should all aspire to. I pointed out that their natural medicine appeared not to fare so well against smallpox, a remark deemed offensively lacking in compassion and tact. Godwinning appears to be ok, though. :)

  142. #142 Lawrence
    January 31, 2014

    @Jen – sounds like it is a lost cause….just ignore them.

  143. #143 Jen Phillips
    January 31, 2014

    This person definitely is a lost cause, and after inviting him to continue assailing me with his enviable good health and random capitalizations for as long at it amused him to do so, I have ignored him. The whole conversation was initiated by a young mother who was trying to process all the scary things she’s heard about vaccinations, though, so I have continued to try to offer balance against the other wackaloons (the Codex Alimentarius Conspiracy has also been bandied about. When *will* these people get some new material?)

  144. #144 Narad
    January 31, 2014

    There’s a totally insane post @ AoA today about ‘Man Flu”

    I see that Gaimondes’ usual fact-checking skills are on display, screwing up the history of Che’s nickname.

  145. #145 Shay
    January 31, 2014

    I was really hoping he would get his face bitten off by the rottie he was sticking acupuncture needles in.

    You and me both. The only thing that would make me happier is if the dog then bit the idiot owner for taking it to a quack instead of getting it the help it needed.

  146. #146 Lawrence
    January 31, 2014

    @Jen – I would pass along this series of studies:

    http://www2.aap.org/immunization/families/faq/vaccinestudies.pdf

    It contains great information & if someone calls you on it – ask them to challenge the Science, not issue ad hominem attacks.

  147. #147 Narad
    January 31, 2014

    Heh:

    He and his generation grew up automatically understanding that the secret to lethal infection was poverty, severe malnutrition and living year round in sewage. This is why former Chilean president Dr. Salvador Allende published a book proposing mostly non-medical interventions to address outbreaks in the slums in 1939 entitled La Realidad Médico Social de Chile [sic].

    “El Consejo Nacional de Salubridad pesó debidamente la importancia de este problema y estableció la vacunación antitífica obligatoria para las regiones del país, que de acuerdo con los antecedentes recogidos revelan ser focos constantes de este tipo de enfermedades infecciosas.

    “A pesar de la eficacia indiscutible de esta medida es indispensable intensificar la dotación de agua potable y de tratamiento de las aguas servidas en las poblaciones que carecen de ella y de ir a la mejora inmediata de las deficiencias en aquellos que los tienen.

    “En los campos, en los cuales la instalación de estos servicios sanitarios es más dificil por la escasa densidad de las viviendas, adquiere mayor importancia la vacunación, mientras se procede a un plan bien estudiado de saneamiento.”

    So, not exactly, dialectical praxis notwithstanding. Wait, what else?

    “No social class, however biologically advantaged it may be, has immunity from epidemics or freedom from the risk of infectious and contagious diseases. Environmental conditions affect everyone. It is … also certain that germs, infectious organisms, and vector agents can attack without drawing social distinctions.”

    But disease politics are nothing new: when Allende attempted to institute these nonmedical interventions as democratically elected president in 1970, out of concern for lost revenue, the Chilean medical association backlashed violently and withdrew support from Allende, an event which directly contributed to Allende’s downfall and death at the hands of the CIA and Pinochet in 1971 [sic].

    “Social medicine” had been under way in Chile since 1918. The Colegio Médico was not on about higienismo (which is an inaccurate characterization of what Allende was talking about) in their opposition to the post-1970 attempted reforms and eventual participation in the 1972 truck-owners’ and subsequent strikes.

  148. #148 Krebiozen
    January 31, 2014

    Real Science is based in wisdom and personal enlightenment.

    That’s code for, “fabricated on demand”, as far as I can determine. Such science is usually supported by citations that have nothing to do with the scientific claims made, but which might sound as if they do to a scientific ignoramus.

    I love that idea that Hitler gave fluoride to concentration camp inmates to “remove their will”, as if starvation, slave labor and typhus weren’t enough. I sometimes wonder where that ludicrous idea originated. Perhaps it’s to do with the supposed sedating and anaphrodisiac effects of bromide.

  149. #149 Narad
    February 1, 2014

    In any case, none of my husband’s well-fed university peers even feared disease from visiting the barrios. For his architectural thesis, he and his grad group went into the poorest area of the South American outback for several weeks to develop an entire town center from the ground up using only local resources.

    I.e., precisely where Allende recommended vaccination for Chile. Let us, for what follows, also infer that this enterprise did not occur during peak transmission season, which, for Salta and Jujuy, the main places where malaria is a concern in the first place (the very tip of Misiones seems unlikely for the project), is in March and April, the beginning of the scholastic year. The summer rainy season, the beginning of the transmission season, is presumably also out given the nature of the task.

    Though the area was mosquito-ridden, there was apparently little concern about malaria. Anecdotally, healthy South Americans with at least some Indian blood tend to be resistant for various reasons—possible genetics, periodic exposure since childhood and nutrition. Only the two students from Europe got malaria during the course of the project.

    The two links that she provides offer no basis whatever for the weird racial assertion. What is completely ignored are the facts that the only serious malaria peak during the likely time frame in Argentina was in 1996 and that the proportion of detected cases that were autochthonous is open to question.

    Anyway, what I intended to mention before further getting sucked into this parade of weirdness, which may rival her error-soaked CFL piece, was that the Colegio Médico was hardly univocal.

    (I don’t know that I’m going to pursue the Selectric “class theory” here: core.kmi.open.ac.uk/display/9656849)

  150. #150 Narad
    February 1, 2014

    ^ I also forgot to put a “[sic]” after “barrios.”

  151. #151 Lurker
    February 1, 2014

    Jen @ 139: Fortunately I wasn’t drinking anything when I read that or I’d need a new keyboard. I was a little kid when hippies were around, but I remember them as being very much in favor of science-based medicine, particularly contraceptives (The Pill was new back then), and antibiotics for STDs, both of which made “free love” possible. They don’t make hippies like they used to…

    If that guy you quoted is still around, ask him if he believes in washing his hands with soap and water after using the toilet and before preparing or eating food.

    Then ask him if he uses only “natural soap” made from fat + lye + herbal perfumes, or if he’s become a victim of the “Soap Pushers,” and “Big Detergent” aka Proctor & Gamble. That ought to be good for some amusing dialogue.

  152. #152 Narad
    February 1, 2014

    Then ask him if he uses only “natural soap” made from fat + lye + herbal perfumes, or if he’s become a victim of the “Soap Pushers,” and “Big Detergent” aka Proctor & Gamble.

    It was the hippies who made Dr. Bronner into a legend.

  153. #153 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    February 1, 2014

    Sigh – it’s Proctor Silex, Procter & Gamble.

  154. #154 dingo199
    February 1, 2014

    That Cia Parker, who posts on just about every vaccine subject on the internet, pretending her anecdata overpower decades of expert scientific evidence, is really, really getting on my wick.

    Verbigeration of the highest order.

  155. #155 lilady
    February 1, 2014

    CIA Parker managed to Godwin the “Man Flu” post on AoA…by noting that some women were involved in the Nazi extermination camps.

    On top of Parker’s comment, Dorit and “lilady” are both mentioned.

  156. #156 Shay
    Watching it snow. And snow. And snow...
    February 1, 2014

    Lurker, on a DIY board I frequent I have actually seen one of the moderators telling members that if we are worried about all the chemicals in our hand soap, we can make our own.

    By cutting up and melting down a bar of…wait for it…soap.

  157. #157 Chris,
    February 1, 2014

    Parker’s sock puppets seem to be polluting the Shot Of Prevention memorials to babies who died from pertussis. She is a heartless ghoul.

  158. #158 Lawrence
    February 1, 2014

    @Chris – she is persistent….definitely past the point of some kind of OCD mental illness – her delusions are definitely getting worse….it has really become “blame the victim” whenever someone dies from a VPD (the whole Vitamin C farce really pisses me off).

  159. #159 Chris,
    February 1, 2014

    I suspect she is being joined and cheered on by another sock puppet who does “Joe Harris style typing.” Though he is often a bit more unhinged.

    So I am just going to call it “Parker style typing.”

    Actually she reminds me of a relative who did have a mental breakdown, and the county psyche ward diagnosed her with bi-polar disorder. She would swing back and forth, from a deep deep low that she self-diagnosed as fibromyalgia, to some manic stage where she bought lots of stuff online and posted on her newsgroups.

    It is horrible to see someone who was so intelligent descend into that disorder. And we could not do anything, because in this state there is no way to make someone take their meds or go to the out patient clinic unless they are a danger to society.

    Sigh.

    This is why I wish Ms. Parker would get some real help.

    Lawrence, you say: “(the whole Vitamin C farce really pisses me off).”

    The lie about Japan and SIDS makes me angry. Yes, due to anti-vax pressure they did delay pertussis vaccination until kids turned two years old. But more babies died from pertussis and SIDS, they just could not blame a vaccine a child had not received. See:
    Expert Rev Vaccines. 2005 Apr;4(2):173-84.
    Acellular pertussis vaccines in Japan: past, present and future.

    An antivaccine movement developed in Japan as a consequence of increasing numbers of adverse reactions to whole-cell pertussis vaccines in the mid-1970s. After two infants died within 24 h of the vaccination from 1974 to 1975, the Japanese government temporarily suspended vaccinations. Subsequently, the public and the government witnessed the re-emergence of whooping cough, with 41 deaths in 1979. This series of unfortunate events revealed to the public that the vaccine had, in fact, been beneficial.

  160. #160 Denice Walter
    February 1, 2014

    @ lilady:

    They sure love you.
    -btw- John Stone ( @ the Man Flu miasma) links to a recent vactruth post which tells the ‘truth about vaccine pushers’.

  161. #161 Denice Walter
    February 1, 2014

    @ Chris:

    Although I can’t venture any specific guesses, I sincerely believe that many vocal anti-vax warrior and/ or revolutionary moms truly need professional help. I’ll leave it at that.

    But there’s nothing we can really do except warn people that they provide mis-information that doesn’t reflect reality and that can potentially harm people.

    I sometimes wonder if the spread of VPDs is worse than the psychological and emotional harm that they encourage- needlessly frightening parents, subjecting children to useless diets and supplement regimes, bothering SB family and friends endlessly with pseudo-scientific nonsense, wasting their time, money, efforts and lives on whimsy-based theories of physiology and nutrition.

  162. #162 Dorit
    February 1, 2014

    #160: I recognized some of the comments they used in the vactruth article, though not all of them. I’m sure some people in our side spoke strongly, but the comments I recognized were not in response to a long thread in which the main theme was the pharma shill gambit, and the participants resorted to some harsh language, as discussed by Reuben on the Poxes in a post called “no honor amongst anti-vaccine activists”. In other words, the comments were completely taken out of comments and misused in the article. I’d be surprised if at least some of the rest were not, either. Aside from the double standard, the accuracy is suspect.

  163. #163 Dorit
    February 1, 2014

    If anyone is interested, here is the thread. Sorry, it’s very long: https://www.facebook.com/dorit.reiss/posts/10202910540829412

  164. #164 lilady
    February 1, 2014

    Thanks for sharing all those anti-vaccine posts with us, Dorit.

    Ginger Taylor is celebrating her birthday and is wanking for coins:

    http://adventuresinautism.blogspot.com/

    So, I just finished making a donation to honor Ginger on her 34th birthday, here…

    http://www.voicesforvaccines.org/

  165. #165 Dorit
    February 1, 2014

    I followed your example, Lilady.

  166. #166 Jen Phillips
    February 2, 2014

    Thanks much for the resources, all. We’re now on to posting links from vaxtruth.com and Russell Blaylock. Wheee!

  167. #167 Rokujolady
    February 2, 2014

    I am a software engineer. I have a bachelors in computer science. I do not believe in alt med, green med, Gaia, chemtrails, most applications of the word ‘toxin’, creationism or that aliens built the pyramids to create mazers.
    I am seeing a lot of anecdotes of people who know engineers who are into woo, and a lot of speculation that engineers are more prone to Dunning-Kreuger than others. Until I see citations and evidence that is not anecdotal, the special susceptibility of my peers to bullshit will be one more thing of which I’m skeptical.

  168. #168 Rokujolady
    February 2, 2014

    I am a software engineer. I have a bachelors in computer science. I do not believe in alt med, green med, Gaia, chemtrails, most applications of the word ‘toxin’, creationism or that the Egyptians made their Hebrew slaves build the pyramids so they could communicate with space aliens through mazers.
    I am seeing a lot of anecdotes of people who know engineers who are into woo, and a lot of speculation that engineers are more prone to Dunning-Kreuger than others. Until I see citations and evidence that is not anecdotal, the special susceptibility of my peers to bullshit will be one more thing of which I’m skeptical.

  169. #169 Rokujolady
    February 2, 2014

    I am a software engineer. I have a bachelors in computer science. I do not believe in alt med, green med, Gaia, chemtrails, most applications of the word ‘toxin’, creationism or that the Egyptians made their Hebrew slaves build the pyramids so they could communicate with space aliens through mazers.
    I am seeing a lot of anecdotes of people who know engineers who are into woo, and a lot of speculation that engineers are more prone to Dunning-Kreuger than others. Until I see citations and evidence that is not anecdotal, the special susceptibility of my peers to bullshit will be one more thing of which I’m skeptical.

  170. #170 Rokujolady
    February 2, 2014

    I am a software engineer. I have a bachelors in computer science. I do not believe in alt med, green med, Gaia, chemtrails, most applications of the word ‘toxin’, creationism or that the Egyptians made their Hebrew slaves build the pyramids so they could communicate with space aliens through mazers.
    I am seeing a lot of anecdotes of people who know engineers who are into woo, and a lot of speculation that engineers are more prone to Dunning-Kreuger than others. Until I see citations and evidence that is not anecdotal, the special susceptibility of my peers to bullshit will be one more thing of which I’m skeptical.

  171. #171 Rokujolady
    February 2, 2014

    I am a software engineer. I have a bachelors in computer science. I do not believe in alt med, green med, Gaia, chemtrails, most applications of the word ‘toxin’, creationism or that the Egyptians made their Hebrew slaves build the pyramids so they could communicate with space aliens through mazers.
    I am seeing a lot of anecdotes of people who know engineers who are into woo, and a lot of speculation that engineers are more prone to Dunning-Kreuger than others. Until I see citations and evidence that is not anecdotal, the special susceptibility of my peers to bulls!++ will be one more thing of which I’m skeptical.

  172. #172 Rokujolady
    February 2, 2014

    Well, poop. I’m sorry for the spam and should have known better than to resubmit that when I get an error.

  173. #173 Lawrence
    February 2, 2014

    Interesting – now AoA is getting called out by numerous autistics and parents of autistic children, saying that AoA doesn’t speak for them…..good to see the community fighting back against those loons…

    And on another topic – our “boy reporter” seems to have collected quite a group of crazies on his blog. Just reading some of those screeds makes my brain hurt.

  174. #174 oldebabe
    February 5, 2014

    If one is around people, one had better get a flu shot. In other words…

  175. #175 Ariel Thomas
    United States
    February 9, 2014

    “With sufficient vaccination levels and coordination between public health organizations, a disease can be prevented from gaining a foothold anywhere; eventually, without anyone to infect, it must die off.” -The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

    Jameson mentioned that she doesn’t understand why companies are offering incentives to people who get the vaccinations in their stores. The push for vaccines is coming from the government, which is attempting to control the spread of the flu. I’m guessing that it subsidizes companies to offer the vaccines for free depending on the amount of vaccines that they give. This works pretty well for working on large-scale control, unless there are individuals who refuse to get the vaccine because they … prefer to suffer?

  176. #176 Jasmine
    February 11, 2014

    Year in and year out for the majority of my life, I have got the flu regardless of if I have gotten the flu shot or not. I think it just depends on personal preference, outweighing the pros and the cons. If you get lucky, and get the shot which is gmo to the expected strain, than your chances of getting the flu is slim to none. Ultimately, I think getting the shot is more beneficially than not. Even if you still get sick, the severity of the illness wont be as bad. When I did got the shot, my flu like symptoms would disappear after a few days compared to if not. I do understand why there is a push for the shot especially if you work in the health field; simple safety.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.