The impetus for the creation of this blog, lo these 12+ years ago, was growing alarm at the rising tide of pseudoscience then, such as quackery, antivaccine misinformation, creationism, Holocaust denial, and many other forms of attacks on science, history, and reality itself. I had cut my teeth on deconstructing such antiscience and pseudoscience on Usenet, that vast, unfiltered, poorly organized mass of discussion forums that had been big in the 1990s but were dying by 12 years ago, having turned into a mass of spam, trolls, and incoherence. So I wanted to do my little part (and I’m under no illusion that I’m that influential) in my little way to combat what I perceived to be real problems. The biggest surprise to me is that, more then twelve years later, I’m still at it. I don’t deal with non-medical topics (like the aforementioned evolution, Holocaust denial, and general skeptical topics) so much any more, but I’m still here, and I still post nearly every day.

In 2017, however, the sorts of misinformation I set out to combat in 2004 seem downright quaint, given how much more effectively bullshit was weaponized last year than in years past. It’s basically gotten so bad that once-stodgy journals have been stung enough to see a need to chime in with articles about “What It All Means” and “How Do We Deal with This?” Just yesterday, it was the New England Journal of Medicine chiming in with an article by Lisa Rosenbaum, M.D. entitled Resisting the Suppression of Science. Make no mistake about it; the suppression of “inconvenient” science is what we as scientists and science advocates are dealing with in 2017. She begins by making an analogy that will resonate with physicians:

All doctors encounter patients who express preferences for non–evidence-based therapies — organic food for coronary disease or detox cleanses for cancer, for example. Personally, I’ve never come up with an effective response. I offer facts, and then, sensing that I’m getting nowhere, I offer more facts. I blink rapidly to avoid rolling my eyes. Eventually, I resort to the “I statements” taught in medical school: “I understand that’s what you believe,” though my body language surely gives me away. Not surprisingly, I haven’t had much success in overcoming disbelief of science. And though many physicians may approach this challenge more skillfully one on one, as a scientific community, we often seem trapped in a similar dynamic. Whether it’s the science of vaccines, climate change, or gun control, we tend to endlessly emphasize the related evidence, and when that fails, exude a collective sense of disgust.

This is actually not a bad analogy. I myself occasionally see patients like this. The most dreaded patient for me, as a breast cancer surgeon, is the woman who felt a lump a year or two ago, had a biopsy and was diagnosed with breast cancer, but, instead of choosing standard-of-care conventional science-based medicine to treat it at a time when it had a high probability of long term survival (or, more colloquially, cure), decided to go to a naturopath quack (but I repeat myself) or some other alternative medicine practitioner. A year or two (or three) later, she shows up in the surgeon’s office, with a huge, bleeding, ulcerated mass in her breast that stinks because it’s outgrown its blood supply, leading to tissue death, and because it’s been colonized or even outright infected with bacteria. Fortunately, such patients are few and far between, at least for me. (I understand from conversations with colleagues in other parts of the country that they are not so uncommon for some of my colleagues, such as those in some parts of California and, for example, Scottsdale or Sedona in Arizona, I often wonder what, if anything, anyone could have told such patients when they first presented with their cancers that might have persuaded them to accept science-based medicine.

Still, Dr. Rosenbaum seems to admit that she’s not very good at dealing with patients like this. In fact, as hard as it is to believe, I’m probably better one-on-one. Yes, I’m sarcastic as hell on the blog because I’m venting and being sarcastic is entertaining—and, more often than I would have guessed, effective. In contrast, you’ll never see me act that way dealing one-on-one with a patient. No, I don’t claim to be any sort of expert at persuading the quack-seeking cancer patient to forego elaborate placebo medicine because cancer, unlike diseases with subjective symptoms, laughs at placebo medicine, but I seem to be better able to control my body language and facial expressions better than Dr. Rosenbaum when confronted with these patients. I can even occasionally persuade one at least to consider surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Part of the reason, I think, is that, unlike most physicians, I am intimately familiar with pretty much all forms of cancer quackery under the sun and can deconstruct exactly why they are nonsense and drill right in to the ridiculousness of the claims. I suppose that’s one benefit of 12+ years of blogging about these topics.

But back to the issue of how to deal with the science denial running rampant now. Rosenbaum asks the question:

In the face of suppression of science, should scientists resist, or quietly proceed with their work? Resistance seems essential. That the CDC postponement prompted a coalition to form and organize an alternative meeting (see article by Hunter et al.) reminds us that resistance is as much about ensuring effective dissemination of findings as about continuing to conduct science. But it’s critical to recognize that suppressing science does not cause disbelief; rather, disbelief, particularly of science pertaining to highly politicized topics such as climate change, creates a cultural environment in which suppression of science is tolerated. So the real question is how do we resist effectively? How do we convince a skeptical public to believe in science?

Answering that question requires that we as scientists recognize that the same sorts of deeply embedded characteristics of the human psyche that lead cancer patients to pursue quackery are also the characteristics that fuel science denial. In particular, scientists and science advocates frequently assume that science denial can be remedied by just laying out the facts. It’s a common misconception. In reality, just laying out the facts, while an essential part of any campaign science denial, is not by itself enough. Not nearly. Not by a long shot. Just laying out the facts and deconstructing the nonsense behind a claim rarely work by themselves in isolation.

A huge (yuge?) part of the reason that pseudoscience resonates is because it speaks to something in people, usually a deeply ingrained part of their identity. For instance, quackery is appealing in people who value the “natural” over the “artificial” and particularly among those who distrust the institutions associated with medicine, such as the government, pharmaceutical companies, large corporations and health insurance companies, and the like. Facts alone won’t overcome that. Indeed, thanks to the phenomenon of the backfire effect, just laying out the facts can, in fact, backfire. Basically, when people are forced to confront information that conflicts with their deeply held beliefs, it often results in their holding on to those beliefs even more strongly, a phenomenon known as the backfire effect. Then there’s motivated reasoning, it is often the most intelligent people who are the best at cherry picking evidence that supports their pre-existing beliefs and refutes attacks on them.

Indeed, when it comes to persuasion, it’s often the intelligent who are the hardest to persuade:

First, we need to stop assuming that disbelief necessarily reflects a knowledge deficit and can thus be remedied by facts. When doubt is wrapped up in one’s cultural identity or powerful emotions, facts often not only fail to persuade, but may further entrench skepticism. This phenomenon, often referred to as “biased assimilation,” has been demonstrated across a range of issues, from the death penalty to climate change to vaccines.2 One study found that parents hesitant about vaccinating their children became even less inclined to vaccinate when given information debunking the myth that vaccines cause autism. Somewhat counterintuitively, this tendency does not reflect lack of intelligence; in fact, when it comes to climate science, people who demonstrate higher levels of science comprehension are actually also the most adept at dismissing evidence that challenges their beliefs. Moreover, the propensity to dismiss evidence that threatens our identity or beliefs is nonpartisan: liberals, for instance, are far more likely than conservatives to dismiss science suggesting that genetically modified foods are safe. Even within the medical community, whether we’re debating mammography screening, statins, or the credibility of a drug-company–sponsored study, our ideologies affect our assimilation of data.

Indeed, they do. It’s often intelligent, educated people who cling to pseudoscience the tightest and are the hardest to convince. Some of it is a sense of overconfidence that to which intelligent people fall prey in which they think they can master any topic by themselves, but it’s also motivated reasoning. In a way, thinking skeptically and scientifically about various topics is not natural; rather, people tend to start with beliefs and then seek out confirming information and discount disconfirming information. Basically motivated reasoning is confirmation bias on steroids, in which people confirm what they believe and ignore contradictory evidence and data—or actively seek to discredit it. Not surprisingly, educated, intelligent people tend to be better at both activities, which are key to motivated reasoning. As Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber once put it, “Reasoning was designed by evolution to help us win arguments,” and as Chris Mooney once put it, “We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself.”

At times it seems like the proverbial Kobayashi Maru scenario, the no win situation. However, it helps to remember that most science doesn’t threaten deeply held beliefs undergirding identities:

This risk of adding an identity-laden valence to otherwise neutral scientific matters makes resisting science denialism in the Trump era particularly tricky. Because we pay far more attention to contested than to generally accepted science, it’s easy to forget that most scientific facts, and related policies, don’t induce tribalism. You don’t see partisan battles over treatment for myocardial infarction, say, or the dangers of radiation exposure. But as Kahan points out, Trump thrives on making nonpartisan issues polarizing. The indication that he might appoint a vaccine skeptic to head a commission to review vaccine safety is a worrisome example, since vaccine skepticism has thus far been limited to a minority, albeit vocal, fringe. “I have never seen someone so aggressively intent on just increasing the number of issues that feature that sort of antagonism,” Kahan told me. “He is our science communication environment polluter in chief.”

And that’s what we have to beware of. As I’ve pointed out before, support for vaccines and vaccine mandates has been historically bipartisan. For many decades, conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, supported vaccination, and those who didn’t were, quite rightly, viewed as being cranks, with antivaccine beliefs being largely equally prevalent on both sides. Antivaxers are still cranks, but, thanks to social media, their arguments are finding wider purchase. But what to do? One thing I agree that we should be careful not to do is this:

This constant quest for identity preservation helps explain why calling vaccine skeptics idiotic or dangerous is, as others have pointed out, likely to backfire, particularly as we face a cultural backlash against academic “elites.” It’s also why, when Trump issues an antiscience provocation over a nonpartisan subject, we should avoid being so strident in correcting misinformation that we further galvanize skepticism based on political identity alone. Even with already-polarizing topics, more measured resistance may be the most effective approach. To that end, circumspect resistance like the rallying of a coalition to relatively quietly reorganize the postponed climate-science meeting may end up being the most effective in these divisive times.

Yes, antivaccine views, for example, are also increasingly caught up in political, ideological, and cultural identity. Basically, thanks to a successful co-optation of the sorts of cultural grievances that led to the election of Donald Trump as President, increasingly the antivaccine movement has become aligned with Trump-friendly politics and the right wing. It is true that this shift in the politics of the antivaccine movement predates Trump, as over the last several years antivaxers have increasingly co-opted the language of “personal freedom,” “parental rights,” and “health freedom,” but the rise of Trump put the transition on steroids. There’s a reason why antivaxers, by and large, love Donald Trump. Even those predisposed to despise him have, for the most part, put aside their distaste to embrace him because he talks the antivaccine talk.

That being said, I’m not entirely sure that being less strident is the answer. Some things are too important. For example, reorganizing the postponed climate meeting feels like a defeat, like giving in to antiscience forces. It will be very difficult to rally the mot enthusiastic boosters of science using tactics like that. It’s also a bad example. Climate science was never truly a nonpartisan topic and has been highly politicized for at least 25 years, with business-friendly conservatives viewing the science of anthropogenic climate change and global warming as a profound threat to their world view and profits, while resonating with environmentalist-friendly liberals. So when Trump blathers his idiocy about climate science—oh dear, was that too strident?—he’s exploiting political division, not creating it. Where he Trump is really issuing antiscience provocations over a nonpartisan subjects is over vaccines, and, worse, he’s contributing to something I fear, the politicization of vaccine policy. If Trump supporters really start viewing antivaccine beliefs and distrust of vaccines as part of their identity, our children will be in serious trouble, and vaccine-preventable diseases will make horrific comeback.

What’s the answer? I don’t claim to be an expert, but I’ve always thought that a wide variety of techniques should be used, each tailored to the strengths and weaknesses of individual groups and people. Not everyone is a diplomat, for instance, and sometimes mockery works. Not everyone is a flamethrower, and calm building of alliances and finding common ground likely works even better. Jacqueline M. Vadjunec, a climate scientist who moved from Massachusetts to take a job at Oklahoma State University, the heart of Trump country, notes that her colleagues warned her that she was destroying her career because of Oklahoma’s history with anti-evolution and opposition to climate science, notes that she’s doing well, but recognizes that she’s in a minority when it comes to supporting climate science. She recommends channeling Woody Guthrie:

I realize that in my day-to-day actions in the classroom and in my research with family farmers and ranchers, I probably hold a minority viewpoint on human-induced climate change. In the classroom, I am sensitive to the fact that many of my students have family ties to the oil and gas industry. I regularly see them struggle with the local contradictions. I try to create a place of mutual respect to embrace this struggle on their own terms, while also trying to focus on our role as global citizens facing global challenges. It is not always an easy balancing act; these experiences have taught me that most students care about global environmental change, but often have little previous exposure to such issues — in part because of the decisions of local politicians and school boards. In our debriefing at the end of the semester, students often express frustration that they weren’t exposed to many of the issues surrounding climate change at a younger age.

I also learned that actively listening to (instead of talking at) farmers and ranchers who care about sustaining their land and livelihoods is a good way to open dialogue. We can then find common ground on pressing environmental issues, such as the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer, encroachment of invasive and nuisance woody-plant species on pasture lands, and the compounding impacts of long-term cyclical drought. People in Oklahoma care about the long-term sustainability of their natural resources, but they often use language that is different from that of climate scientists and elected officials.

And:

In resisting the mood of anti-science, researchers need to reach out to a diverse public in more accessible ways. We also need to accept different ways of knowing or even talking about climate change: ways that open doors to start a conversation; ways that are more context specific, culturally sensitive and nuanced than science in general might be comfortable with.

This is not and will not be easy, but trying to find common ground is a start. After all, strategies to mitigate climate change tend to align with preserving the environment and sustainability, which many people support, at least in the abstract. No one wants disease outbreaks. We can rarely change the minds of the truly committed, but the vast middle, those “on the fence” are reachable.

I do agree with Rosenbaum that physicians are really not well trained in countering quackery, antiscience, and pseudoscience, or, as she put it “empirically and effectively navigating assaults on truth.” If there’s one good thing about Trump’s victory, it might be that we’re finally shaken out of our complacency and learn to do it right. But first we have to know what “right” is.

Comments

  1. #1 NWO Reporter
    March 7, 2017

    There are a couple of important issues people way want to check out regarding MMR vaccine whistleblowers.

    The first concerns two Merck scientists who alleged their employer engaged in research fraud for years to make the mumps vaccine appear to be more effective than it is. The lawsuit is still ongoing. http://ahrp.org/former-merck-scientists-sue-merck-alleging-mmr-vaccine-efficacy-fraud/

    The second concerns a CDC researcher who alleges that the CDC engaged in research fraud to make it appear the MMR vaccine did not cause autism. The story is in the movie Vaxxed. But if you want to hear the original recordings of the whistleblower, and hear everything he said in his own words, the recordings are available here: http://fearlessparent.org/cdc-scientist-connects-vaccines-to-tics-language-delay-recording-4/

  2. #2 brian
    March 7, 2017

    As you know, William (“CDC Whistleblower”) Thompson never accused his colleagues of fraud–that’s just a spurious charge by Andrew Wakefield, a real scientific fraud. Instead, Thompson said, “Reasonable scientists can and do differ in their interpretation of information.”

    https://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?s=whistleblower&submit=Search

    https://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2016/01/04/the-william-thompson-documents-theres-no-whistle-to-blow/

    • #3 NWO Reporter
      March 7, 2017

      That’s the good thing about listening to his recorded calls yourself–you don’t have to believe anyone else’s spin on the story. I posted a link above so people can do that. Obviously there is going to be a lot of damage control. 🙂

  3. #5 Lawrence
    March 7, 2017

    Thompson? Really?

    That story is so two years ago. We’ve heard all about it & most of us have even read the actual documents that Thompson provided (in fact months before Wakefield decided to make them public).

    It certainly isn’t what the anti-vaxers have made it out to be – and I’ll point to Thompson’s own statement, where he reaffirms his support of vaccines.

    And for the ongoing Court case involving Merck, it is telling that the Government decided not to join the lawsuit, citing lack of tangible evidence.

  4. #6 brian
    March 7, 2017

    if you want to hear the original recordings of the whistleblower, and hear everything he said in his own words

    That would include this exchange, in which “the whistleblower” and BS Hooker both suggest in their own words that socioeconomic effects, rather than vaccination, correctly explain the results in the 2004 DeStefano paper in which Thompson’s CDC colleagues indicated that their observations were explained by–wait for it–socioeconomic effects:

    W Thompson: “among the blacks . . . the ones getting vaccinated earlier are the ones from higher-income backgrounds. . . . You could argue that it’s the educated black moms that are getting their kids vaccinated earlier and that’s why you found that effect [i.e., higher rates of diagnosed ASD among African-American boys who were vaccinated earlier.]”

    BS Hooker: “And they’re getting that effect and the ones that are getting vaccinated later are underdiagnosed [with ASD.]”

    W Thompson: “Yes.”

  5. #7 herr doktor bimler
    March 7, 2017

    “You don’t see partisan battles over … the dangers of radiation exposure.”

    There are is that hard core of climate-change denialists who progress to “radiation hormesis” and the idea that moderate levels of background radiation are actually good for you (apparently this alternative fact has been suppressed by liberal-fascist scientists in their campaign against freedom, open markets and nuclear power). This guy, for instance.. The idea could easily become part of the Republican party platform.

    Ra-di-a-tion. Yes, indeed. You hear the most outrageous lies about it. Half-baked goggle-box do-gooders telling everybody it’s bad for you. Pernicious nonsense. Everybody could stand a hundred chest X-rays a year. They ought to have them, too.

  6. #8 Narad
    March 7, 2017

    But if you want to hear the original recordings of the whistleblower, and hear everything he said in his own words, the recordings are available here: h[]tp://fearlessparent.org/cdc-scientist-connects-vaccines-to-tics-language-delay-recording-4/

    An amusing choice, given that Thompson’s bright idea was that given the lack of demonstrable harm to be found anywhere, maybe this “tics” thing could be used to bootstrap a semblance of one.

  7. #9 herr doktor bimler
    March 7, 2017

    NWO Reporter
    That’s the good thing about listening to his recorded calls yourself–you don’t have to believe anyone else’s spin on the story

    Can you give an indication of which recorded call, and when, Thompson “alleges that the CDC engaged in research fraud”?

    • #10 NWO Reporter
      March 7, 2017

      Don’t recall. Thompson indicates he and is co-researchers were instructed to throw adverse data in a trash can. He refused, believing it was violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

      • #11 Orac
        March 7, 2017

        Hahahaha. You really don’t think I haven’t covered that claim before multiple times, do you? Seriously, dude. You’re like a trip down memory lane of antivax conspiracy theories that I’ve covered over the last 12 years. And you’re not even that clever or original about repackaging them.

  8. #12 Lawrence
    March 7, 2017

    Wow, if you believe that, then I have a couple of bridges and some swampland to sell you.

    The only “data” which was disposed of was extraneous hard copies of materials which were duplicated (and preserved) in electronic format.

    In fact, all of the data was sitting on CDC servers, per standard policy – which is how Hooker managed to get his hands on it to conduct his “botched” attempt at strangling the datasets.

    • #13 NWO Reporter
      March 7, 2017

      I really think people are capable of listening to Thompson and discerning for themselves what was said, as long as they speak English. They don’t need you (or me) to draw their conclusions for them. 🙂

  9. #14 herr doktor bimler
    March 7, 2017

    Having listened to the conversations (I assume you have listened to them) can you confirm that he “alleges that the CDC engaged in research fraud”?

  10. #15 Lawrence
    March 7, 2017

    I’ve read his documents, listened to the tapes and even read the transcripts….

    And yet, they don’t say what you say they do.

  11. #16 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    March 7, 2017

    Thompson indicates he and is co-researchers were instructed to throw adverse data in a trash can. He refused, believing it was violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

    I too have listened to the recordings, read the transcripts and have read the alleged doco dump. There is nothing there to support your audacious claims but please feel free to point to specific recordings and documents for our entertainment.

    I really think people are capable of listening to Thompson and discerning for themselves what was said, as long as they speak English. They don’t need you (or me) to draw their conclusions for them.

    Already done so where is this incriminating evidence? I see you’ve shifted from measles case fatalities to this, right out of the anti-vaxx playbook.

  12. #17 brian
    March 7, 2017

    NWO Reporter alleged:

    Thompson indicates he and is co-researchers were instructed to throw adverse data in a trash can.

    That’s nonsense. All of the data collected for the 2004 DeStefano study were retained on CDC servers and made available to qualified researchers as well as to BS Hooker, who noted in his since-retracted “reanalysis” of CDC data: “Cohort data were obtained directly as a “restricted access data set” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) via a Data Use Agreement” even though, of course, Hooker was so hilariously incompetent that he couldn’t understand the difference between a cohort and a case-control study design.

  13. #18 Narad
    March 7, 2017

    And you’re not even that clever or original about repackaging them.

    It’s always the same with the Useless Eaters.

  14. #19 Orac
    March 7, 2017

    True that. And he was caught on tape saying that he thought in epidemiology simplicity was best. That’s probably why he never bothered to correct for obvious confounders. 🙂

  15. #20 brian
    March 7, 2017

    @Jaques Hughes:

    It’s Hooker’s competence that is in question–not the CDC’s. The 2004 DeStefano paper clearly stated that “A case-control study was conducted in metropolitan Atlanta.” Nonetheless, Hooker (who once, I think, stood on an Atlanta street corner near the CDC, wrote in his failed and retracted “reanalysis” of the DeStefano data that “In this paper, we present the results of a cohort study using the same data from the Destefano et al. analysis.” Big oops there.

  16. #21 JustaTech
    March 7, 2017

    NWO:
    Smallpox
    Rinderpest

    *mic drop*

  17. #22 Lawrence
    March 7, 2017

    Go away Travis, you’re boring.

  18. #23 Lawrence
    March 7, 2017

    I substantially contribute to the discussion….you are a constant series of poor sockpuppets.

  19. #24 The Real Truther
    California
    March 7, 2017

    NWO, you really are a parody of the “greatest hits” of debunked anti vax lunacy.

    Even most rabid anti-vaxxers have given up on the “CDC Whistleblower” story at this point after all that’s come out since crushing literally every fragment of that story. For you to continue to believe it just makes you look even worse.

    Why would a pro-vaccine autism advocate release the documents online for all to see if they didn’t prove there was never any fraud or cover-up? Why would Vaxxed never mention the documents in the film?

    For that matter, why does Vaxxed, a film which claims to be about autism, not allow a single autism expert or even AUTISTIC PERSON to be interviewed?

    I went in depth on this disgrace on a blog a while back. This keeps it simple for you. Scroll down to the vaxxed section. Maybe you’ll learn something.

    http://linkis.com/wordpress.com/uN2K6

  20. #25 doug
    March 7, 2017

    Shit head Travis J. Schwochert is back as Sid Schwab.

    • #26 Orac
      March 7, 2017

      Yep. I know. Bad choice on his part. I knew Sid and recognized immediately that it wasn’t him.

  21. #27 Narad
    March 7, 2017

    He refused, believing it was violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

    That’s a pretty comical misunderstanding of the not just the act itself, but its very name.

    • #28 NWO Reporter
      March 7, 2017

      This may help your understanding, Narad. On the off-chance you weren’t being intentionally deceptive. 🙂 https://www.cdc.gov/od/foia/

  22. #29 Narad
    March 7, 2017

    This may help your understanding, Narad. On the off-chance you weren’t being intentionally deceptive.

    Perhaps you could specify the portion of the law that has fυck all to do with document retention. I mean, you did look at it before compulsively shіtting out another emoji, right?

    • #30 NWO Reporter
      March 7, 2017

      Oh, lord. If you aren’t trying to deceive people, you might want to understand the basics of FOIA before you comment, so you don’t look foolish.

  23. #31 Lawrence
    March 7, 2017

    None of that has anything to do with what was or was not done with study documentation.

    Since all relevant study materials were kept in digital format & were available, the whole “trash can” story is nothing but anti-vax frothing.

  24. #32 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    March 7, 2017

    Oh, lord. If you aren’t trying to deceive people, you might want to understand the basics of FOIA before you comment, so you don’t look foolish.

    Then what is the portion?

    • #33 Richard Burton
      Bristol UK
      March 8, 2017

      @ Science Mom
      Me “I’ve no idea what this means, could you elucidate please?”
      You “I’ve got no dog in the actual subject of your disagreement.”
      I’m afraid that I find that response as baffling as your original statement. When I suggested that you elucidate, I used the word in the sense that it is defined in most dictionaries, to make something clear, to explain it. What do you understand the word to mean?
      “I objected to your claims about what studies are valid and the classifications. And out of curiosity that there was only a single study, I looked and it appears as though that’s also false: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2598379/ hence my comment.”
      Nothing false about my statement, which was that laws have been enacted and propaganda campaigns undertaken with the sole justification of a single case control study, which has subsequently been destroyed on peer review, while other, much more reliable research is ignored.
      The link to the article you provide perfectly illustrates the problem: you think it supports what you say when it actually refutes it. The article quotes three studies of cycle helmets, all of which reported long after helmet laws were passed in Australia and New Zealand (still the only countries with comprehensive helmet laws) and they could not therefore have affected the arguments for or against those laws.
      The first “Helmets for preventing head and facial injuries in bicyclists.” (Thompson DC1, Rivara FP, Thompson R., 2000) is by the most vociferous helmet zealots on the planet, the very same people who produced the pseudo-scientific case control study with the 85% effectiveness figure for cycle helmets, which has been destroyed on peer review. Although this is supposed to be a Cochrane Review, it is that in name only as it did not follow the criteria for such reviews, which state that the authors must be objective and independent and that the studies selected must be wide-ranging and from all types of research. The authors were patently biased and the studies they selected for review were mostly their own, and they specifically excluded any study which didn’t support their already decided conclusions.
      The second “Non-legislative interventions for the promotion of cycle helmet wearing by children.” (Royal ST1, Kendrick D, Coleman T., 2005) measures only the wearing rates of cycle helmets, it does not measure whether they have reduced deaths or serious injuries, and is therefore irrelevant.
      The third “Bicycle helmet legislation for the uptake of helmet use and prevention of head injuries.” (Macpherson A, Spinks A., 2007) uses selection criteria apparently deliberately designed to exclude the most reliable evidence.

  25. #34 Narad
    March 7, 2017

    Perhaps you could specify the portion of the law that has fυck all to do with document retention. I mean, you did look at it before compulsively shіtting out another emoji, right?

    Oh, lord. If you aren’t trying to deceive people, you might want to understand the basics of FOIA before you comment, so you don’t look foolish.

    No, seriously, put up or fυck off. This horseshіt posturing is even more painful than your usual prattling.

  26. #35 Gray Falcon
    March 8, 2017

    @NWO Reporter: Why should we believe you?

  27. #36 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    March 8, 2017

    Nothing false about my statement, which was that laws have been enacted and propaganda campaigns undertaken with the sole justification of a single case control study, which has subsequently been destroyed on peer review, while other, much more reliable research is ignored.

    It appears as though you suffer from the opposite bias as you accuse the authors of the studies in the Cochrane review as having. A quick perusal of PubMed demonstrates numerous helmet efficacy studies and even a corrected meta analysis while nothing compelling to support your claim that there is only a single case-control study that supports helmet safety and numerous studies which refute that.

    • #37 Richard Burton
      Bristol UK
      March 8, 2017

      @ Science Mom

      I’m sorry, I had no idea your comprehension skills were so low. When I’ve got time I’ll repost my argument using single syllable words. Either that or you are being deliberately obtuse.

  28. #38 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    March 8, 2017

    Sez the person who doesn’t know what epidemiological studies are.

    • #39 Richard Burton
      Bristol UK
      March 8, 2017

      “Sez the person who doesn’t know what epidemiological studies are.”

      But I do now! and I’m more than happy to acknowledge that I was wrong and you were right. Only arrogant people refuse to admit their mistakes and move on. Remind you of anybody?

      Have you looked up the meaning of “elucidate” yet?

  29. #40 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    March 8, 2017

    The problem is Richard that if you didn’t even know what epidemiological studies are then you aren’t exactly qualified to rate their quality. Merely admitting your ignorance on that part doesn’t automatically qualify you as an authority on a subject and certainly justify your petulant attempt at condescension.

  30. #41 Narad
    March 9, 2017

    At least the Useless Eater apparently has conceded.

  31. […] How do we resist the rising tide of antiscience and pseudoscience? [Respectful Insolence] […]

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