The annals of “I’m not anti-vaccine,” part 13: Nobody wants to admit to being "antivaccine"

Sometimes, in order to understand advocates of pseudoscience, such as antivaccinationists, it's a useful exercise to look at their most extreme elements. Admittedly, in focusing on such loons, one does take the risk of generalizing the nuts to everyone a bit much, but on the other hand I've often found that the extremists are basically like the less loony versions on steroids. The advantage, to me, is that they are unconcerned (for the most part) with hiding the craziness at the root of their beliefs. While, for instance, SafeMinds of the merry band of antivaccinationists at Age of Autism (well, most of them, anyway) can strategically hide or at least downplay the conspiracy theories at the core of their beliefs (and make no mistake, virtually all antivaccinationists—witness Bill Maher last Friday—have conspiracy theories at the core of their beliefs), the extreme ones can't.

So it is that our favorite all-purpose medical crank (The One Crank To Rule Them All, if Alex Jones didn't exist), Mike Adams, let loose about media coverage of the measles outbreak and vaccination. First up, he started out with an article on Saturday entitled National media wages psychological terror campaign against Americans to set stage for government destruction of medical choice. It's very much like Bill Maher's complaint about the media coverage of the measles outbreak and antivaccinations as "shut the fuck up" and his guest Marianne Williamson's similar complaint that anyone who "questions" is being called antivaccine, only ramped up to 11 and beyond:

Following the staged terror attacks of 9/11, the national media whipped up the public's anger and hatred against "terrorists" with a relentless psychological campaign of "news terror" against American citizens. This anger and hatred, of course, was necessary to garner public support for passage of the Patriot Act, arguably the most freedom-crushing piece of legislation ever signed into law in America.

This is, of course, almost exactly the same analogy used by Bill Maher who compared the "hysteria" over measles to the government and media's behavior in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, with suppression of dissent. It's a tactic used by antivaccinationists and cranks of all stripes that I like to call the "'no debate' debate." Here's a hint for Maher: If you don't want to be perceived as a loon, don't make the same analogies that loons like Mike Adams make, which he makes explicit here:

Fast forward to 2015. A relatively small measles outbreak is now being whipped up with another media scare campaign; this time blaming "anti-vaxxers" and equating them with terrorists. Just as with 9/11, the media completely ignore actual facts and are wholly opposed to any real investigation of things like mercury in flu shots, faked vaccine science and the CDC whistleblower's admission of the vaccine-autism cover-up.

All real facts are thrown out the window, replaced by a media jihad against America which goes to great lengths to outright lie as often as possible. For example, Bloomberg.com knowingly misrepresents the medical freedom stance of Rand Paul, claiming Paul is opposed to vaccinations when, in reality, Paul supports vaccine choice.

Actually, no. Rand Paul is antivaccine. He simply cloaks his antivaccine views in the rhetoric of "health freedom," as so many with antivaccine views who happen to lean libertarian do. The whole "freedom" thing is what I like to refer to as an antivaccine dog whistle.

Of course, Maher and the rest, including most antivaccinationists, know better than to go where Adams goes with this because, well, the crazy. But go there Adams does:

It's crucial to understand that Adolf Hitler's master race programs were conducted with the full support and advocacy of the world's top scientists at the time. The Holocaust killings were all conducted under the banner of "SCIENCE!" And Berlin was arguably the world's most advanced science Mecca, churning out an impressive list of physicists, chemists and biologists. It didn't take long, of course, for most of these scientists to declare their support for eugenics and genocide. Importantly, Hitler's genocide was framed as a program "for the betterment of society" -- the exact same words used in America today to justify forced vaccination of children.

He even included this poster:

NNinfographic

Geez, where's the love for Josef Stalin? I mean, come on, people! Doesn't he deserve a spot in that pantheon of dictators. I mean, Kim Jong-Un is a piker compared to Stalin!

It's basically one huge slippery slope argument, in which Adams claims that the government will use the same arguments it uses for vaccine mandates and to make sure that children whose parents refuse to treat their curable cancers don't die in order to mandate:

  • Forced euthanasia of the elderly
  • Forced sterilizations of the mentally handicapped
  • Forced mass killings of the physically handicapped
  • Prison time for parents who disagree with doctors
  • More government-run medical kidnappings of children
  • Government-run medical experiments on prisoners

Yes, it's all a massive Godwin. It's also a statement of the distrust of the medical profession and pharmaceutical companies that cranks the paranoia up to 11 and beyond, but that paranoia is frequently lying under the surface of criticisms of pharma. Of course, I'm not saying that there's not a lot to criticize in pharma. Ben Goldacre, for instance, has been brutal on the tactics used in the pharmaceutical industry, and it's not always easy to recognize when reasonable criticisms devolves into conspiracy mongering. Adams provides an easy example. However, one way to recognize where reasonable criticism starts devolving into crankery is to look for the conspiracy theories.

Indeed, right on queue, Adams couldn't resist a followup post entitled If vaccines are mandated today, what next medical transgression will the government demand of you tomorrow? He starts out with a rant about Obamacare and then segues into forced vaccination:

Now that the government has gotten away with the Obamacare racket, it's trying to wipe out medical choice by staging an exaggerated nationwide fear campaign to lay the groundwork for passing mandatory vaccine laws. These laws would force you and your children to be injected with experimental vaccines containing toxic substances. By "experimental," I mean that literally: Many vaccines on the market today have never been clinical tested for safety or efficacy, a fact which is readily admitted on the vaccine insert sheets as you can see for yourself in these photos.

Ah, yes, it's the dreaded argument by package insert. I also can't help but note that Maher made a similar argument in that he claimed that there was no long term study comparing unvaccinated and vaccinated children, a common antivaccine trope that feeds into various claims like the ones made above by Mike Adams and other antivaccinationists that vaccines aren't adequately tested, that they aren't tested together, that they are somehow synergistically dangerous.

Adams even includes an audio clip from Ron Paul, Rand Paul's father:

If you want a more explicit statement of the libertarian position in which parental rights trump all, including public health, with respect to vaccines, you will be hard-pressed to find one. Note that this was just released yesterday. In it he makes the same sorts of pharma conspiracy theories and slippery slope arguments, but in the end asserts that any infringement on the parental right to decide about vaccines is the first step in a slippery slope towards medical fascism.

The simple point is that, although antivaccine views run a continuum, whenever you see someone making what he or she perceives to be "reasonable" objections to vaccines, it's not very far to the crazy. Often, the reasonableness is just a thin veneer covering the conspiracy theories and outright pseudoscience.

But, admittedly, Mike Adams is an extreme example—intentionally so. Let's step it back a bit.

One thing that really struck me about the whole Maher segment on Friday. At one point, one of the guests, Amy Holmes emphatically states, "I do not worship at the church of Jenny McCarthy." Elsewhere, Marianne Williamson emphasized that she is not antivaccine. She even repeated it again on Twitter:

And, of course, Bill Maher repeated multiple times that he is not "antivaccine," beginning right at the beginning of the segment when he says he's "not antivaccine" but is "anti-flu shot." Unfortunately, quite a few people who ostensibly consider themselves skeptics are willing to take that as sufficient evidence. For instance, on this thread on Facebook, where Skeptical Inquirer posted a link to my post, the most common complaint is that I was making a mountain out of a molehill, that because Bill says he's not-anti-vaccine he's not antivaccine:

Using this argument, these same skeptics would have to conclude that Jenny McCarthy is not anti-vaccine. She's said many, many times that she is "not antivaccine" but rather "pro-safe vaccine." Do these same skeptics believe her? What about Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who last year declared himself "fiercely pro-vaccine" on The Dr. Oz Show, even though he's been spewing antivaccine nonsense at least a decade? McCarthy, for instance, probably does really believe that she is not antivaccine. Yet the evidence from her own words and deeds is overwhelming that she is definitely antivaccine. The same is true of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. If you're willing to accept Bill Maher's word that he's not antivaccine, then you shouldn't consider Jenny McCarthy or Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to be antivaccine either.

Of course, the tropes on display last Friday closely echoed Jenny McCarthy, making Holmes' denial that she "worships at the church of Jenny McCarthy" all the more ridiculous in the context of what her co-panelists were saying and given that all she could seem to contribute was to label criticism of Rand Paul and Chris Christie "gotcha politics." There were many of the anti-vaccine tropes that Jenny McCarthy is known for and that come straight out of the antivaccine play book, particularly as promulgated by people associated with Jenny McCarthy's organization Generation Rescue:

  • Anti-pharma conspiracy theories? Check.
  • The "too many, too soon" gambit? Check.
  • Claims that vaccines are loaded with toxins (excuse me, "chemicals") and therefore harmful? Check.
  • The call for a vaccinated/unvaccinated study? Check.
  • Ignorant nonsense about how the immune system works? Check.
  • Blaming pharma and government for the parental suspicions of vaccines? Check. If you don't believe me, consider this "classic" quote from Jenny McCarthy: "I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe. If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it’s their fucking fault that the diseases are coming back. They’re making a product that’s shit. If you give us a safe vaccine, we’ll use it. It shouldn’t be polio versus autism." This is no different from what Marianne Williamson and Bill Maher were saying. Indeed, compare what McCarthy said to Williamson's observation that the government has “earned our distrust" and "suppressed information” and that medicine has done the same, followed by her conclusion that the answer is “not to call us kooks” but for the government and pharmaceutical industry to “get their acts together.” Marianne Williamson and Jenny McCarthy sound so much alike on this it's eerie.

The bottom line is that very few antivaccinationists will admit they are antivaccine. They either delude themselves (like Jenny McCarthy and Bill Maher) into thinking that they are not antivaccine, or they lie. So rare is it to find people who are antivaccine who will proudly proclaim that they are antivaccine that I tend to find such admissions oddly refreshing. As odious, ignorant, and misguided as such people are, at least they know what their beliefs about vaccines are and are willing to state them plainly, rather than deluding themselves into believing they are something they aren't or strategically lying because they know the reaction of society to antivaccine views is (correctly) not kind and want to camouflage them for general consumption. (Antivaccine "dog whistles" are particularly effective at this.)

In any case, the arguments made on Maher's show last week would have been right at home on antivaccine websites such as Age of Autism, VaxTruth.org, The Thinking Moms' Revolution, or even Whale.to. Heck, they would have been right at home on Mike Adams' website NaturalNews.com, because sometimes Adams posts articles by other people that don't amp the crazy up to 11 and beyond. But, again, let's back it up. Let's look at Age of Autism, where press coverage is explicitly criticized as being too pro-vaccine and Anne Dachel proclaims that the distrust of vaccines is fed by distrust of the media.

Few people want to be viewed as advocating something harmful to society, such as antivaccine views, which is why so few antivaccinationists will admit they are antivaccine. Bill Maher is no exception. Jenny McCarthy is no exception. Instead, they spin themselves as "pro-safe vaccine" and construct elaborate conspiracy theories about big pharma and the government in order to justify their views. In this behavior, Bill Maher and Jenny McCarthy are far more alike than Maher could ever bring himself to admit. In believing Bill Maher when he says he's "not antivaccine," skeptics defending him are more like Jenny McCarthy's followers and admirers than they would ever be able to bring themselves to admit.

Categories

More like this

Note added 2/10/2015: I've posted a followup in response to the skeptics who defend Bill Maher. A couple of weeks ago, I noted the return of the antivaccine wingnut side of Bill Maher, after a (relative) absence of several years, dating back, most likely, to the thorough spanking he endured for…
It should come as no surprise to anyone here that I consider Bill Maher to be an antivaccine and pro-alternative medicine wingnut. Indeed, early on in my blogging "career" (such as it is), I used to blog about him fairly regularly, mainly because he served up deliciously stupid antivaccine red meat…
Just three days ago, I updated my ongoing series How “They” View “Us.” This time around, I used Mike Adams’ likening of various pro-science activists, including Steve Novella and myself, among others, to Nazis and compiling what appeared to be a hit list. In the process, I also discussed the…
It just so happens that I was up quite late last night doing--what else?--writing yet another grant application (well, two actually). Even though the grants aren't due until Wednesday, Tuesday happens to be my operating room day, meaning I need to get this done and buried by tomorrow afternoon at…

Mikey continues today with an anti-vaccine rant involving the AMA and informed consent.

You can always discern what the general public fears in up-to-date fashion because Mikey will beat the topic to death for at least two weeks. Witness his articles on Ebola.

He is currenty hawking his latest project, Food Rising, which appears to be a hydroponic system assembled of 3D printed parts he designed himself to insure that folks will be able to grow their own organic, non-GMO food and medicine in times of calamity and social turmoil.
He pledges that he'll donate 250 of these systems to schools if the public will fund them. How charitable of him.

I've noticed that both he and the other idiot have charitieslisted on their websites ( PRN has a donation/ subsciption/ also a registered non-profit )

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

I used to go to a little laundromat in the Wootown I lived in. The owner had posted numerous Marianne Williamson quotes--all done in lovely calligraphy with flowers and hearts. One day I noticed that someone had scrawled “MW is a mindless twat” or something to that effect all over the posters.

It wasn’t me.

The Paul family:

What a waste of precious medical education resources.

So rare is it to find people who are antivaccine who will proudly proclaim that they are antivaccine that I tend to find such admissions oddly refreshing.

Your friend Barbara is serving (presumably organic) refreshments over at Mercola’s place this morning.
You’re welcome.

By CTGeneGuy (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

I'm not antivaccine. My best friends are vaccinated.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

" So rare is it..."

The only one who admits anything close is probably Gary Null who insists that all vaccines are harmful and that the entire endeavor has been corrupt and dangerous since Jenner.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

On the Yahoo forums, the discussions keep being invaded by Agenda 21/FEMA Concentration Camp conspiracists, which is a good thing, I think. They are to the anti-vaxx movement what Braxton Bragg was to the Confederate Army.

One thing that always gets me about Big Pharma conspiracy theories is this:

Even if you assume that the top managers at Big Pharma would qualify for clinical diagnoses of sociopathy and narcissism, every man jack of them, they will still want protection from or treatment of the diseases that even their shittiest products were supposed to prevent, treat, or cure.

I mean, if the median age of an S&P 500 CEO is 55, your typical CEO is at the age where they're worrying about heart problems, they're worrying about Type 2 diabetes, they're worrying about cancers, maybe looking ahead to their golden years and wanting to avoid dementias when they get older. That's even assuming they're the most self-centred, callous types ever.

If you're willing to give them a break and concede they might, say, actually care about their families and friends, well, they'd want their children and grandchildren to be safe from preventable diseases, they'd want to look out for their relatives who have all the worries in the previous paragraph.

Same thing with research scientists - they don't appear to be getting any younger, so they have similar health concerns, for themselves and others.

I can't be arsed to look up median ages for various stripes of shareholders, but it's not like they're all immune to health concerns.

So, yes, when Merck fucks up royally with rofecoxib (Vioxx), in part it's a business decision because the company (and hence directors & shareholders) stand to make a shit-ton of money if it succeeds, but it seems to me that, at least in part, what drives those kinds of poor decisions are that the people making them really want the product to just work and are prepared to engage in wishful thinking to make it happen.

In other words, it may well be, to some extent, the industrial-scale version of the homeopathic devotee who just wants to believe, dammit! Only with billions of dollars and more lives at stake, because Big Pharma.

By Composer99 (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

You don't find a significant difference between what people like Ms. Williamson say, which includes "The fact are in about measles ....get your kids vaccinated" and what extremists like Mr. Adams say?

I do.

@Dororthy
Why a waste? Ron Paul was an Obstetrician, if I recall correctly. Did he have multiple malpractice issues? I thought I read that he worked with patients who did not have insurance and would still be their doctor.

"Actually, no. Rand Paul is antivaccine. He simply cloaks his antivaccine views in the rhetoric of “health freedom,” as so many with antivaccine views who happen to lean libertarian do. The whole “freedom” thing is what I like to refer to as an antivaccine dog whistle."

I think this statement is way too strident and over broad. I am opposed to government making a requirement that everybody be vaccinated. I can understand mandates for close quarter such as public school or public college. But I support the freedom of people to choose not to be vaccinated and to not vaccinate their kids.

I personally am fully vaccinated and my kids are fully vaccinated because I am pro-vaccine. But, just because I am pro-vaccine does not mean I am opposed to vaccination freedom.

@ Beth:

Of course they're not exactly the same HOWEVER both do doubt SBM's opinion based on reliance upon loads of international studies over decades. The amount of worry they wish to instill upon audiences varies only in degree.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

The problem with Libertarianism isn't Libertarianism. The problem is all the extreme separatist conspiracy mongers who get lumped into "Libertarian" because they don't want to be called Democrat or Republican (nor do those groups want to include them), and Libertarian is the only label left.

Cranks like Alex Jones and Mike Adams are not libertarians. I don't care what they call themselves; they are not. Real libertarians think the government is INCOMPETENT, not evil. Real libertarians laugh at the idea of a government conspiracy because the government we are familiar with has trouble just tying its metaphorical shoes, let alone engaging in a massive-yet-completely-undetected conspiracy.

The "fuck you as long as I can do what I want" attitude isn't libertarian, either. That is more akin to Anarchism. Real libertarians recognize that there is a social compact necessary for society to exist, and part of that is the individual's responsibility to others.

Libertarianism boils down to two principles:
- You should have the freedom to do whatever you want in your personal life, as long as your actions do not harm others.
- The government should have three basic roles: guarantee the safety of its citizens, provide shared infrastructure, and enforce trust in transactions between parties (i.e. protect both sellers and consumers from fraud).

Not vaccinating clearly contradicts the first principle, and governmental involvement in promoting vaccines easily falls into the first clause of the second principle.

I would really like to see a different word invented for the loons who give Libertarianism a bad rap. This isn't just a case of centrists versus extremists; these people hold opinions that are actively in conflict with the guiding principles of the philosophy.

By Daniel Welch (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Mike - I hear a lot of talk about "vaccine choice" and "vaccine freedom" but I have yet to hear about responsibilities....in fact, we see anti-vaxers publicly flaunting their responsibilities, like the girl in California who was exposed to measles (and unvaccinated) who refused to quarantine herself....

I seem to remember various anti-vaxers saying that they would, in case of an outbreak, take steps like restricting access / quarantining themselves - but now we see them telling the authorities to pound sand & they'll do whatever they damn well please.

The US Supreme Court, in Jacobson v. Massachusetts 1905, drew a line that said that vaccine mandates were Constitutional and necessary to protect public health.

So, if you don't want to vaccinate - that's fine, just realize that particular choice does have consequences, which represent a responsibility to protect the public health.

Good grief, Beth, what an astonishingly silly thing to say in response to an article that spends a whole lot of electrons comparing and contrasting the varying extremity of these different positions.

The point you seem intent on missing, in this post and in the comments from yesterday's, is that plenty of damage can be done by people like Williamson 'just asking questions', and subtlely, carefully causing people to doubt vaccine safety *without* going full tinfoil hat.

What I find really interesting about this latest Maher episode and similar media is the degree to which people attempt to distance themselves from Jenny McCarthy *by name* and then proceed to advance the same ideas that made her a household name in antivax lunacy all those years ago. It's the same time-honored tradition we see politicians use all the time, distancing themselves from unpopular person X, while endorsing the fundamental ideas that made person X so unpopular in the first place. What's more amazing to me is how many people will fall for that, though, as evidenced in that Skeptical Inquirer FB comment section.

By Jen Phillips (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

#5: I’m not antivaccine. My best friends are vaccinated.

Excellent. :D

By Roadstergal (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

Even Blaxill and Olmsted, in their latest book, 'Vaccines 2.0', claim that they're not opposed to ALL vaccines. They instruct worried parents about how to pick and choose amongst the good, the bad and the downright awful..
Hint: the concept of a single measles vaccine is correct.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

There IS real science behind the concern about the current state and
practice of vaccination science, and it is by those within and at the
top of the orthodox vaccination medical establishment:

Huffington Post: "Why the Press Shouldn't Dismiss Vaccine Skeptics"

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/lawrence-solomon/vaccine-skeptics_b_454851…

If you are actually open to the facts that are not getting reported,
read that article. It at least looks at the full picture and present
some inconvenient medical facts regarding vaccines.

By Hand N. Yell (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

Mike, it's nice that your children are fully vaccinated and they weren't exposed to a vaccine-preventable-disease when they were infants, because some stupid, selfish parent refused to have their older children vaccinated.

What makes you think that exposures to V-P-Ds only occurs in school? Exposures take place in doctors' waiting rooms, in hospital emergency rooms, in walk-in clinics and at Disneyland.

Would you knowingly expose your children to Ebola virus cases or to sputum + tuberculous cases, which are far less transmissible than measles cases?

@Denise #12

Why do you consider that a problem?

@Hand - Lawrence Solomon isn't someone that anyone should be getting medical advice from......

Hand N Yell: you're recommending an article written by Lawrence Solomon appearing on the Ho-Po? Really? You must be kidding.

What are Mr. Solomon's credentials; his education in any health care science, his licensing as a health care professional and his work experience in a health care setting, or a laboratory?

Lawrence Solomon isn’t someone that anyone should be getting medical advice from……
Particularly not when he's liberally referencing Sheryl Attkisson's coverage of the vaccine issue.

By Jen Phillips (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

I think this statement is way too strident and over broad. I am opposed to government making a requirement that everybody be vaccinated. I can understand mandates for close quarter such as public school or public college. But I support the freedom of people to choose not to be vaccinated and to not vaccinate their kids.

Mike, that's the very same strawman, with the exception that you support school mandates, that anti-vaxxers construct. No one is insisting on forced or compulsory vaccination for everyone but rather removal of non-medical exemptions for school attendance public and private.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

I would really like to see a different word invented for the loons who give Libertarianism a bad rap. This isn’t just a case of centrists versus extremists; these people hold opinions that are actively in conflict with the guiding principles of the philosophy.

Might I suggest "Schecterites" or "Schecterons"?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

The “f*** you as long as I can do what I want” attitude isn’t libertarian, either. That is more akin to Anarchism. Real libertarians recognize that there is a social compact necessary for society to exist, and part of that is the individual’s responsibility to others.

That's actually a misconception of anarchism, FYI. Most forms of anarchism are based to a large degree on mutualism - anarchists aren't opposed to a social contract, they're just opposed to top-down imposition of one. I think it's too rosy a view of human nature, but it's not a fundamentally sociopathic philosophy. Sort of the opposite, really.

Anarcho-capitalism, on the other hand...

Lawrence,

I apologize for what I'm about to say, but :

in fact, we see anti-vaxers publicly flaunting their responsibilities

I'm not entirely sure, but I believe she flaunted her irresponsibility by flouting her responsibility to stay in quarantine.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

"I think this statement (that Rand Paul is antivaccine) is way too strident and over broad. I am opposed to government making a requirement that everybody be vaccinated."

No public health official or medical organization has called for "everybody" to be vaccinated. As for Rand Paul, he has compared mandatory vaccination (apparently including the loophole-ridden version we now have) to "martial law" (making these comments on Alex Jones' InfoWars program, which is a hotbed of antivax lunacy.* Paul is also the guy who emoted about "profound mental disorders" he thinks are caused by vaccines and how we must defer to parents who "own" their children.

He's backtracked some in recent days because he wants to run for President, but I doubt he's suddenly experienced an evidence-based revelation.

*I supposed you could argue that being welcomed on Alex Jones' show doesn't mean you agree with the host, just as you could argue that getting toasted at a Stormfront reception doesn't make you a flaming bigot.
As for Alex, he apparently has blown what remains of his fuses due to the mean meanies who've been bullying poor Rand Paul:

http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/04/alex-jones-defends-listener-ran…

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

"Mike, that’s the very same strawman, with the exception that you support school mandates, that anti-vaxxers construct. No one is insisting on forced or compulsory vaccination for everyone but rather removal of non-medical exemptions for school attendance public and private."

So then you do support "vaccine freedom" and recognize that someone who supports vaccine freedom is not also an anti-vaxxer. That is my sole point. Orac links vaccine freedom with being anti-vaccine. It is a lazy argument that does not stand up to scrutiny.

That might be the case if that were the argument I'm making. You constructed a very nice straw man of what I said, though. What I said is that antivaccinationists frequently co-opt the language of "health freedom" as "vaccine freedom," and they demonstrably do. I can provide more examples than I can count off the top of my head. There also certainly is a correlation with being in the "health freedom" movement and being antivaccine. None of this means that everyone who supports "vaccine choice" as meant by Rand Paul (for example) is antivaccine.

However, based on my observation, I've come to the conclusion that a significant fraction of them are.

I thought this might amuse, especially given the "But we're not anti-vax!!!! Really!" tone of today's article. Also, some rather respectable gentlemen are referenced, besides the anti-vaxxers.

http://www.scibabe.com/traceamounts/

@ Beth:

Because they ramp up *needless* ( not based on research) fear about the safety and efficacy of vaccines whilst simultaneously deceiving their followers about VPDs by telling them that they're mild . They misrepresent facts about vaccine ingredients and injuries- often hinting at autism as a consequence as well as insinuating conspiracies about pharmaceutical company/ government 'cover-ups'.

Williamson is a milquetoast version of Mikey altho' she claims otherwise. Blaxill and Olmsted advise parents to avoid particular vaccines and the well- tested schedule without SB credentials or research to back their ideas.

I could go on but won't because Orac has already reviewed these charlatans hundreds of times.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Daniel Welch #13:

The “fuck you as long as I can do what I want” attitude isn’t libertarian, either. That is more akin to Anarchism. Real libertarians recognize that there is a social compact necessary for society to exist, and part of that is the individual’s responsibility to others.

You really, really, REALLY need to broaden your understanding of political theories. I will have trouble accepting your take on libertarianism while you make such an egregious mistake about anarchism.

By Rich Woods (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

Real libertarians recognize that there is a social compact necessary for society to exist

In contrast to real Scotsmen, who recognise that unsweetened porridge is necessary for society to exist.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

I would really like to see a different word invented for the loons who give Libertarianism a bad rap.
Randroids?

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Composer99

It's possible I'm the only official Big Pharma ex-excutive here (and I don't think I'm a sociopath, though probably very narcissistic).

Nevertheless, one should separate the behavior and personality required to become a manager in multi-billion dollar businesses from those who actually do the real work of research and development. Those people understand how the system works, so they might invent a new drug that cures DVT, and sell it to management as a profit center, while knowing they're doing good things for the planet.

Big Pharma actually works better than you think. John Oliver went after Big Pharma on HBO on Sunday, but I noticed everything he mentioned was marketing problem, a group that is generally out of control in the Big Pharma management.

I think the vast majority of physicians aren't influenced by sales people and marketing pitches (though I've seen them fall over themselves for the hot 25 year old blonde sales rep in a short skirt). But it looks bad.

People use the confirmation bias (as you imply) to remember the bad things, but forget that Big Pharma has done some great things for human health. And maybe they love selling Viagra, but if you're a 60 year old diabetic with neuropathy and vascular disease, you probably think that Viagra is the greatest invention of mankind since canned beer and the wheel.

As with most things in medicine and science, the truth is nuanced. Big Pharma does mostly good things, but the bad things they do are just irresponsible, but the net net net is that Big Pharma saves a lot more lives than Natural News. By a landslide.

By Skeptical Raptor (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

Proud antivaxxers? I can think of a few: Dr Jack(ass) Wolfson?The late unlamented Dr Robert Mendelsohn? Mercola?
At least their stand is obvious,

Out of control marketing isn't just a problem for Big Pharma....marketing people (in general) can be a pretty crazy bunch - heck, they are required to be extremely creative and help drive revenue, so it helps to be a little crazy....but it doesn't mean that there is any underlying problems with business practices (in general).

Skeptical Raptor:

No argument from me.

I guess it didn't quite come off right, but my point was that "but Big Pharma!" doesn't hold up even if you assume the very worst about pharmaceutical companies, their executives, researchers, marketing, outside regulators, etc.

(Well, maybe not the very worst. But that's getting into Lord Draconis' bailiwick.)

By Composer99 (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

According to Vaers in the last 10 years in the USA the Measles vaccine has killed 106 people. Number of deaths from wild measles = 0.

What exactly is your rant about vaccine responsibility?

By pop socket (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

OK, let me see how this works:
An anarchist's ideal world is a world with rules but no rulers.
A libertarians' ideal world is a world with rulers but no rules.
Is that about right?

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Gray Falcon:

Seems about right to me; pithy way to put it.

I have to admit that in my heart of hearts, I'm really still an anarchist, though I've "grown up" a bit and am basically a solid Democrat for all intents and purposes.

Anarchism does actually work quite well in small self-selected groups like Catholic Worker communities, but implemented on a large scale, I can only imagine that the a$$holes among us would ruin everything and we'd wind up in some bleak dystopia.

Frick. There's a perfect example of this--the "I'm not antivaccine naturopath" who flippin' got an op-ed in the same paper that gave caveman cardiologist wolfson his bridge to the limelight. Titled "With Vaccines, Let's Stick to Objective Data"-- here are some of the highlights (http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/2015/02/09/vaccines-measle… , and please feel free to join in the comments as another naturopath is now calling me a meanie):

1. "over 15 years have given me [the naturopath] an objective perspective on the vaccine debate that isn't represented in the media." This is just like Jay Gordon's "I know I'm an expert because I talk to parents and what they tell me must be true". NO, mr. naturopath--you are not an expert for this, and just wth is an "objective perspective" anyhow?

2. "Vaccines are generally safe, effective and beneficial to our society. But points from each side need clarification." Ah...here comes the "false balance" AVers love to do. Each side,. No there is not an "each side" to this fake "debate", mr. naturopath.

3. Regarding the dangers of measles, the naturopath writes: "The typical measles infection produces a fever, cough, red eyes, runny nose and a rash. A worst-case scenario is swelling of the brain (encephalitis), which has permanent effects such as brain damage, deafness or other impairment. The chances of that happening are 1 in 1,000. If these numbers scare you, so be it. It all depends on what is more concerning to you: the infection's effects or the vaccine's." The naturopath conveniently forgot to mention 1 in 1000 risk of DEATH from measles. And again, the naturopath ignores the extremely small risk of the MMR vaccination versus the very dangerous and highly contagious nature of measles.

4. Are there treatments for measles that don't involve medication?
Yes, possibly. Vitamin A supplementation in African measles patients decreased diarrhea, herpes incidence and respiratory infections, increased weight gain vs. placebo, and increased white blood cell and measles antibody concentrations.

Ninety percent of these patients had low vitamin A, begging the question, "which came first, low vitamin A or the measles?" The answer is not entirely clear, but consider this: worldwide, measles deaths approach 150,000 a year. We don't see this kind of measles mortality in developed countries, pointing to a combination of malnutrition and lack of vaccine access. . No, mr naturopath, no question is begged. Measles infection is not prevented by vitamin A levels being high or low. Is. Not. Prevented. Additionally, vitamin A deficiency is extremely rare in the US. The first and foremost reason we don't see as many people dying from measles in developed countries, is because WE VACCINATE AGAINST MEASLES. Though we wouln't vaccinate nearly as much if you naturopaths had their way.

5. "The bottom line is that we all want the same thing. I truly believe that those on both sides of the vaccine controversy want our children to be healthy and happy. It is imperative to keep the passion in our debates focused not on clenching to our position, but to ask every question possible.. I call total BS on that, mr. naturopath. You and I (an MD, science-trained) do not want the same thing. You naturopaths want some attention out of this and you also want to avoid being called out for the anti-vaccinationists you are. Again, if you, mr. naturopath, actually understood the science behind measles and measles vaccination, you would see that there are not two sides to this non-existent debate.

By Christopher Hickie (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

Ok, I'm going to offer some criticism here, feel free to disagree.

I actually hate your writing and it feels tedious trying to get through just one article, and this is for a few reasons. Firstly, it's all over the place. After reading through your previous work on the Bill Maher stuff and following the link there to this one, they both seem to follow the same strawman like formula of mentioning what Bill has said, talking about other more extreme parties and then proceeding to completely and dare I say over-vehemetly destroy those more extreme views. I'm still sitting here, after two articles on it, wondering why Bill questioning needing to get the flu vaccine (whilst still supporting essential vaccines) is wrong. After writing all this stuff on it, I would have expected more stuff actually dealing with Bill Maher's position (it is the reason I came here after all). Instead, all I get is a bunch of rhetoric shouting down more extreme kooks I a) haven't heard of and b) don't care about. At least mention why the flu vaccine is so important, because it is something a lot of people simply don't bother about. Answer the question: "So I may get flu for a week, so what?".

Secondly, your way of writing is extreme in the sense that there are times when it feels as if you are angrily ranting and your message gets lost in the minor hysteria. It would help if you'd stay focused on topic, but that is again the previous point. The whole time I'm reading I get the sense of anger at anti-vaxxers overwhelmingly coming through when I just want to read something objectively and calmly pointing out something.

Finally your writing jumps around a lot. You go from one extremist kook to another, then a third and back again, with a sprinkling of Maher making up the remaining 10% of all you actually address. This is both tedious to read and hard to follow, I feel like I have to work just to get through it.

And guess what? I don't care what you think of my writing. I really don't (at least not more than enough to write this brief response). I don't know you, and as far as I can tell you've never commented here before or even read this blog before or will continue to read or comment after this. So why should I care? Besides, I've written many calmer, more objective posts about vaccines. This just happens not to be one of them. I can write in more than one style, ranging from pretty darned restrained and objective to full on rant.

Here's what I tell every drive-by commenter like you (to whom I bother to respond) who pops in on one topic to criticize. I don't do this for you. I do it for me. It is my hobby that I'd continue do even if I only had a few hundred readers a month. Why? Because I enjoy it immensely. Of course, after a decade I have about three orders of magnitude more than that, which is not too shabby.

So I'm just going to reply: Thanks, but I really don't need your advice on my writing. I'm doing fine. If you Like what I write, great! If you don't like my writing or what I have to say, no harm no foul. No one's forcing you to read it. :-)

4. Are there treatments for measles that don’t involve medication?
Yes, possibly. Vitamin A supplementation

Imagine my surprise that a naturopath is promoting quackery.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

According to Vaers in the last 10 years in the USA the Measles vaccine has killed 106 people. Number of deaths from wild measles = 0.

What exactly is your rant about vaccine responsibility?

Had the US not had such strong measles immunization and response policies, and if the immunization rate were to drop to, say, 50%, what would the annual death toll due to measles be?

Naturally, no one will argue that the measles vaccine is without risk. However, the risk of serious consequences (up to and including death) are far lower for the vaccine than the actual disease.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

@herr doktor #32

"I would really like to see a different word invented for the loons who give Libertarianism a bad rap."

"Randroids?"

Does that mean we would treat it with Preparation R? :angel:

Devin, I feel devastated that mean old Orac isn't writing the article that you wanted. And after all the trouble you went to to put in your order.

Oh, wait, you didn't put in an order. You just expected him to come up with what you wanted. In that case, you are free to go fornicate elsewhere.

According to Vaers in the last 10 years in the USA the Measles vaccine has killed 106 people. Number of deaths from wild measles = 0.

I would love to see someone point to the specific place where the CDC reported that particular statistic, but my hopes are not high, since the number -- sometimes given as 106, sometimes as 108, sometimes as "more than 100" -- seems to have been pulled out of the collective arse of NVIC. Since then it has been circulating among the usual suspects who operate on the theory that "a lie isn't a lie if someone else made it up".

Number of deaths from wild measles = 0
Two deaths from wild measles in 2009:
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr59/nvsr59_04.pdf
Two deaths from wile measles in 2010:
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_04.pdf

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

#18 Hand N. Yell
Pro-tip: If you insist on spamming the same half-witted drive-by dribble in comment threads all across the Intertubes, you might want to reformat it and remove the line breaks inserted by the last place you copy-pasted it from.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

Talk about low-hanging fruit!

If only Philip Hills would put as much effort into looking stuff up as he does into creating novel sockpuppet names.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

I would love to see someone point to the specific place where the CDC reported that particular statistic

The total number of such VAERS entries for MMR + ProQuad from 2005 January 1 to 2014 December 31 is 61 for "The United States, Territories, and Unknown" in the location field.

^ And I'm not going to winnow out the usual collection of entries such as this (much less completely incoherent ones such as ID 382602):

Patient seen on 12/18/08, received immunizations, had low grade fever next day and then was brought to ER lifeless. 2/17/09-records received COB [sic] bacterial sepsis. Other significant conditions contributing to death but not related to terminal conditions:sickle cell anemia trait.

I mean, Kim Jong-Un is a piker compared to Stalin!

I was intrigued to see Pol Pot there on Adams' rogues' gallery of forced vaccinators.

"Over-vaccination is not a concern as it is well known that Pol Pot had discontinued most medical programs. There have been no immunological vaccines available in Kampuchea for at least five years."

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

Orac:

I don’t care what you think of my writing

Namecalling might work against your goals, though.
See "Negative persuasion via personal insult" http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0022103167900017
From the article
an individual directly insulted by a communicator attempting to persuade him will show a “boomerang effect” by increasing the extremity of his initial attitude position

@Laura - they, can quite frankly, go f@ck themselves.

Oh no, not the Boomerang Effect!!
Surely you can see that the primary goals of this blog are not to persuade people from the other side. Orac clearly stated his motivations for blogging here, to wit:

I don’t do this for you. I do it for me. It is my hobby that I’d continue do even if I only had a few hundred readers a month. Why? Because I enjoy it immensely.

So if the namecalling (or whateverthef&$k else) troubles you, the easiest thing to do is to STOP READING.

By Jen Phillips (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

Re: "So I might get a flu for a week, so what?"
But by getting the shot you won't be out of commission for said week and think of all "crimes against literature" you could apprehend in that time.

...Oh, and it might also kill you

Namecalling might work against your goals, though.
See “Negative persuasion via personal insult”

Well, that would be a problem only if I had had the least interest in persuading Devin. I do note, however, that I did not insult Devin. I simply told him that I didn't care what he thought of my writing style and that if he doesn't like it he probably shouldn't read it. No insults.

I could also point out that the best way to persuade a blogger that his writing sucks is to tell him in a high-handed manner that it sucks—and to do so as a person who's never read the blog or commented on it before. Yep. I'm convinced. I need to change my writing to all puppies, kittens, and nice starting tomorrow.

Not. (Don't worry, Orac fans.)

"I would really like to see a different word invented for the loons who give Libertarianism a bad rap."

Well there's libertarianism as a political philosophy (Locke, Rousseau, Jefferson), and Libertarians as a contemporary political movement (Ron Paul) and without giving either of them a total pass, I was trying to think of another term for these "personal liberty!!" screamers so as not to offend folks like EBMOD who are good folks with libertarian sympathies.

And I realized I/we have been missing the obvious: the anti-government ideology now goes by the brand name "Tea Party." So I have been calling them Tea Baggers, and will continue to do so.

This is a derogatory term. While the Tea Party originally employed it themselves casually, Dan Savage revealed it was already in use as slang for a certain NSF defining on RI sexual practice. Thus, anyone wishing a more polite reference could call them "Tea Partiers." But that's the group being pitched to here, and they do love them some Rand Paul.

Laura--

If you're serious about negativity, why didn't you address it to Devin? By your reasoning, Devin's approach is unlikely to convince Orac, or anyone else, to change their writing style.

My cred: I'm hardly an Orac factotum, and I do sometimes find his writing gets to angry for its own good. However:

Orac is very good writer. His prose is clear and witty. And his positions are clearly expressed, which is tremendously valuable in public discussion. As argumentative essays, grading on content and argument, I'd say Orac is inconsitent, sometimes excellent, sometimes mediocre. As writing assignments I'd give RI columns consistent 'A-' s and 'A' s. And that good. In my teaching career I very, very rarely gave 'A' s.

I also never failed anyone who put forth a remotely sincere effort. Davin's prose gets a 'C' at best, and his argument a 'D-'. It's quite spectacular to think you can lead off with 'i hate your tedious shitty writing' and then then toss in the pathetic tone-troll chestnut of "I just want to read something objectively and calmly pointing out something." Palm - meet face..

Let's hope Davin was a drive-by and drops the class.

@sadmar:

Heh. I'd like to see how well Devin could do cranking out a 2,000 word post in an hour and a half. Usually when my writing quality deteriorates, it means it was either late at night when I wrote the post or I tried to cram the writing in before leaving for work in the morning. :-)

Two deaths from wild measles in 2009

Per the 2012 Pinkbook, "Since 1995, an average of 1 measles-related death per year has been reported."

I'm pretty anti smallpox vaccine. That stuff messed me up for two weeks.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

I can crank out 2000 words in 90 minutes...of course it'll be complete fiction and free-thought association and not worth reading. I'm in awe of people like Orac who can put together what he does (with links) in the time he does--and he does it on a regular basis. Plus he enjoys doing it, and has enjoyed doing it for so long. It just doesn't seem quite human (meant in a good way, mind you).

By Dan Andrews (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

Here's some...colorful email correspondence I happened upon. Please note the zeal for-and I quote-"anti-vaccine" ideological purity. Also note the timestamp (that's AM); somebody's worried. Read bottom to top.

Date: Thu, 5 Feb 2015 03:44:53 +0000
From: jgilmore@autismactionnetwork.org
Subject: Re: Sen. Rand Paul defends parental vaccine choice. Media firestorm follows.
Because we live in the real world and we are trying to change policy in the real world. He did two extremely unusual and politically brave things: 1) he said some children are grievously injured by vaccines, 2) Parents should have choice. We should be encouraging any efforts by elected officials to support those positions. If you want to wait for a politician to come out with a complete anti-vaccine agenda you will be waiting for a very longtime and miss many opportunities to improve the situation for the better while you wait. If Paul does not receive support for the risks he took, it will be a very long time if ever before he does it again.

John Gilmore
Executive Director
Autism Action Network
Telephone: (516) 382-0081
Fax: (888) 995-6161
www.autismactionnetwork.org

To: jgilmore@autismactionnetwork.org
Sent: Wednesday, February 4, 2015 9:48 PM
Subject: RE: Sen. Rand Paul defends parental vaccine choice. Media firestorm follows.

Um, why should we be sticking up for someone whose saying how great vaccines are and trying to have it both ways instead of telling THE TRUTH? Why does this always have to come down to making some kind of philosophic argument? This is NOT "our guy" despite how much we might want him to be.

@Dan:

In fairness, doing 2000 words in an hour or hour and a half only happens when I'm on a roll. It usually takes longer, but, still, I realize that I'm a bit of a freak in how much pretty well-written verbiage I can crank out.

@JP - great summations of anarchism. It is most certainly not interchangable with "chaos" as it is more commonly (mis)used.

By Jessica Sager (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

Orac: "If you don’t like my writing or what I have to say, no harm no foul. No one’s forcing you to read it. :-)"

Now there's a forced procedure I might be willing to support: everyone must read Orac!

By Jessica Sager (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

@ Orac #72

Yeah, I wasn't factoring the time. As a timed exercise, like an essay exam, the prose in pretty much every RI post is an A+. I'm not blowing snow when I say I don't know how you do it. My quasi-Oracian length posts take like 6 hours to write usually...

Also note the timestamp (that’s AM)

Well, UTC, given the declared offset.

#5, rimshot

Measles deaths can be subdivided into those from "acute measles" (which is what most people are referring to when they talk about measles killing anyone), and complications from measles primarily Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis (SSPE), which may occur many years downstream, but is always fatal.
These cases may account for some of the officially recorded measles deaths in the various mortality statistics.
In the period of the last major outbreaks from 1987-1992 there were over 60,000 cases of measles, which would normally translate into a handful of SSPE cases (up to 5). These individuals may have died anywhere from 5 - 15 years after the initial measles infection, and be included in the more recent stats.

Quick point of correction, dingo199. SSPE is only fatal if it progresses to Stage 2. If detected and treated in Stage 1, it can be overcome.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

The progression of SSPE might be slowed, but there's nothing substantive on reversal that can't also be called spontaneous (random chance) long-term improvement.

Another anti-vaxxer who's "not anti-vax": Mayim Bialik

In 2015
"i would like to dispel the rumors about my stance on vaccines. i am not anti-vaccine. my children are vaccinated. there has been so much hysteria and anger about this issue and i hope this clears things up as far as my part."

In 2009
"We are a non-vaccinating family, but I make no claims about people’s individual decisions. We based ours on research and discussions with our pediatrician,"

Maybe she's learned better (one can only hope) but if that were the case, it would sure be nice if she came out and said that. "We didn't vaccinate initially, but we were wrong"

But no, she is just going to pretend that it never happened...

What I suspect is that she did the whole delayed schedule crap and now they finally have their vaccines she can say, "Who, me? Oh no, we are vaccinated!!!!!"

By Marry Me, Mindy (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

Orac, Devin was being coy when he drew attention to problems in your "writing". It's the *thinking* that's the problem, particularly the guilt-by-association, the mis-direction, and the black-and-white judgments-- the whole point of your rage-driven screed is that you refuse to make any distinctions among those people who don't agree with your position, even though they are saying quite different things. In a stunning display of double-think, you refuse to make such distinctions while at the same time critiquing the slippery-slope argument of "libertarian" anti-vaxxers who also see no distinctions between government-sponsored vaccination and government-sponsored genocide. You bring in other material (other than the show you are allegedly critiquing) of Williamson's new-age woo-ness as though this proved a position on vaccines contrary to what she actually says in the show. It's shoddy argumentation, not shoddy writing.

The result is that you mislead your readers. In the clip of Maher's show that I watched, Williamson clearly says that the public health concern outweighs the personal freedom concern in the case of vaccines (she says it rather apologetically as if trying to reach out to people who don't actually accept that same premise), whereas in your eyes-wide-shut view she doesn't believe this. Note that she also says that the populace does not trust the government and the medical industry "enough", i.e., she implies that the situation would be better if the population actually trusted the medical industry *more* on this issue. If you listen to her exact words, she is framing this as a case in which public mistrust of science has led to an undesirable outcome of vaccination refusal, which is something everyone here can agree on.

But she is also framing this as an issue in which this mistrust is in some way *deserved* and has to be remedied by the government and the medical industry "cleaning up its act", whereas most people here seem to believe that public trust in science (and everything loosely connected with it, like government science-based policy) is deserved. She and Maher also believe that the mainstream media go too far in suppressing dissent on science-policy-related issues, whereas most of us (scientists and medical professionals) think that the mass media frequently create false controversies by giving air-time to nutters.

These two issues seem to me to be the true issues of disagreement. When you paint a black-and-white picture in which "they" are all loopy anti-vaxxers, and we are all righteous supporters of science and reason, you are painting a false picture.

Which works great if you are preaching to the crowd. The problem is that polarizing rhetoric contributes to the decay of trust and the calcification of thinking that is the real problem. You're literally just making things worse.

By Arlin Stoltzfus (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

Of course, as I pointed out, none of what Williamson said was really at its core any different from Jenny McCarthy's arguments. Oh, and I did listen to her exact words, replaying them multiple times. I rather suspect you aren't familiar enough with the antivaccine movement to recognize these patterns. Here is what she said in full context:

It bothered me because the implication was if you had any skepticism whatsoever, you were anti-science. . . . And I think there’s a difference between having skepticism about science and skepticism about the pharmaceutical industry.

Even though my child was vaccinated, I think there is a public health issue that overrides individual liberty here, even though I don’t want the government as a rule telling me what I can do and what I can’t do for medical purposes. At the same time I think the government has earned our distrust; I think the pharmaceuticals have, and I think that there have been a lot of things—this is the problem when institutions lose their moral authority.

We know that the government has suppressed information and withheld information. We know that the medical establishment has suppressed information and withheld information, so that at this point, even when they something that we should listen to, people have a skepticism. And that’s the real problem. This is what happens—like I said—when we don't believe our government and we don't believe our medical establishment enough. The answer is not for them to tell us we're kooks but for them to get their act together so that they are more trustworthy again.

Compare to Jenny McCarthy's rhetoric:

I do believe sadly it's going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe. If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it's their f___ing fault that the diseases are coming back. They're making a product that's s___. If you give us a safe vaccine, we'll use it. It shouldn't be polio versus autism.

The difference between the two is that Williamson acknowledges more strongly that there is a public health good to vaccines, which whenever McCarthy has acknowledged it she has done so less strongly. On the other hand, the last part of Williamson's little tirade is different from Jenny McCarthy only in not using profanity. Williamson, like McCarthy, is blaming the pharmaceutical companies and the government for mistrust of vaccines, implying that there is a reason to mistrust vaccines because of past pharma misdeeds. To be honest, if there's any area of medicine where pharma misdeeds have been pretty darned minimal, it's vaccines. Be that as it may, Williamson also seems to absolve the real kooks, like Jenny McCarthy and other antivaccine activists, of fomenting this distrust, fear, loathing, and uncertainty over vaccines. No, she says. It's all the fault of pharma and the government.

Later, Williamson uses the "too many too soon" gambit in a page straight from the Jenny McCarthy playbook. For instance, here's Jenny McCarthy:

I'm not saying it's only the vaccines. But children are given so many shots from the moment they're born. They get multiple injections all at once, and if they fall behind, doctors put them on a catch-up schedule. Babies get the hepatitis B vaccine immediately after they're born and the only way for a newborn to contract that disease is if the mother is a carrier.

And:

People have the misconception that we want to eliminate vaccines. Please understand that we are not an antivaccine group. We are demanding safe vaccines. We want to reduce the schedule and reduce the toxins. If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f___ing measles.

Now Williamson's take on "too many too soon":

Well, long before this story became such an issue, many many parents have been concerned about this vaccine issue..and so..I know I was. My daughter was born 24 years ago. So this conversation has been around a long time about vaccinations, and it’s a matter of degree. It's a matter of the fact that all of a sudden we’re taking all of them together in one shot. That’s’ why people are talking about staggering them. It is an upside of the American mind that we don't buy everything we are told necessarily. It's a downside to think nothing we're told can be possibly be true So absolutely. I think there’s a skepticism which is actually healthy on this issue of vaccinations, but on this issue the facts are in about the measles. We've eradicated it.

This is the "too many too soon" gambit, a longstanding favorite of the antivaccine movement, popularized by Jenny McCarthy back in 2007-2008. By repeating it, Williamson is repeating an antivaccine trope that's been long refuted. Note also how she is only talking about the measles vaccine as one that parents should be giving their kids—pointedly so. If she had say something like, "I understand the skepticism, but parents should be vaccinating according to the recommended schedule," you might have had a point that persuaded me. But she didn't. There's a measles outbreak, and she's saying to get vaccinated for measles, which is about the bare minimum anyone could say. Indeed, that's something almost any but the most hard core antivaccinationist could say (even Dr. Bob says so reluctantly, Dr. Jay, not so much except under duress); it doesn't much impress me, particularly in the context of all the other handwaving about "too many too soon" and her seeming nodding along while Bill Maher spews the real antivaccine rhetoric.

Speaking of which, Maher immediately launches into:

We compartmentalize things. They do very specific studies: Vaccines and autism. Okay, I accept that. There have been no long term studies about groups of people who get a lot of vaccinations, vs groups of people who don’t. I’m not so sure that people who get a lot of them have as robust an immune system. And there’s an awful lot of maladies that we didn’t used to have, or have now in much greater numbers: allergies and a lot more colds, and ear infections, and asthma, and autoimmune disorders, and chronic fatigue...

I’m not saying that vaccines caused them, I’m saying I think there’s a lot of environmental factors that cause this … And if your immune system is up to par—and when you don’t use your immune system...

As I pointed out, the antivaccine tropes here are:

  • Vaxed versus untaxed study
  • Confusing correlation with causation to imply that vaccines damage the immune system and result in allergies, asthma, autoimmune disorders, etc.
  • The toxins gambit

After which the panelists launch into more woo, finishing up with embarrassingly bad anti-GMO fear mongering.

The thing is, it's quite possible to show healthy skepticism of pharma and the government without devolving into pseudoscientific antivaccine arguments. Not a single member of the panel seemed able to do that, except McCormack, who still couldn't resist bringing in AGW denialism into his support of vaccines. By his own words, Bill Maher is clearly antivaccine; this segment was a veritable cornucopia of tired, refuted antivaccine tropes coming from him. As for "guilt by association," I was simply showing how similar Maher's arguments were to those of an undeniable crank, Mike Adams. I would also note that what Maher and crew were engaging in was some real guilt by association. They were conflating pharma misbehavior and government misbehavior with vaccine safety, tarring vaccines with association with pharma.

According to Vaers

There's your problem, right there.

@Arlin #88

I think you are correct. I've been attempting to make that point, albeit not so articulately, in the Bill Mayer thread. It's nice to know that I'm not the only person who sees the rage as counterproductive.

"I was trying to think of another term for these “personal liberty!!” screamers so as not to offend folks like EBMOD who are good folks with libertarian sympathies."

Nice to get a random shout out. :) It's funny, because I'm not even sure what to call myself politically anymore. To give my history, I was raised in a conservative Christian household and was thus a de facto Republican until about age 20, at which time I started to see numerous problems with said philosophy.

Fast forward 10 years and I had essentially walked away from religion and had drifted to more a centrist position. At this point, out of disgust with the two majority parties, I switched to libertarianism. Voted for Gary Johnson in the 2012 election.

Yet I have long had issue with 1) the conspiracy whackjobs it attracts 2) the anti-science whackjobs it attracts and 3) the aforementioned 'fuck you, I got mine' mentality.

So while I still think that personal liberty with as small of government as possible is the best route, at the same time I am all for proper restrictions on the free market.

Anymore I just self-identify as 'rationalist' due to the frustration of having the 'yes, I consider myself libertarian but not THAT kind of libertarian' conversation about 100 times...

Well, rational discussion doesn't seem to get through to these people & frankly, I'm pissed that babies are getting the measles because of these nutjobs.

According to Vaers in the last 10 years in the USA the Measles vaccine has killed 106 people.

Uhhh...no, not according to VAERS. The VAERS database colelcts reports of adverse events following vaccination, but does (and by its very design cannot) assign a causal association between the two.

In fact, in order to even access the database one has to read a warning stating this limitation and check a box indicating it's been read and understood.

So your claim should read "According to Vaers in the last 10 years people have reported, but have provided absolutely no proof for their claims, that in the USA the Measles vaccine has killed 106 people."

If you listen to her exact words, she is framing this as a case in which public mistrust of science has led to an undesirable outcome of vaccination refusal, which is something everyone here can agree on.

Mistrust of science and industry based upon sheer ignorance of them. One can have a healthy scepticism of industry misdeeds without throwing the baby out with the bath water. Dr. Ben Goldacre does an excellent job of levelling rational and well-supported criticism of the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare policy in "Bad Pharma". So ignorant ramblings of non-scientists like Maher and his arse-kissing sycophants are worthy of criticism.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

Yes the outright aggression here sums it all up. These people spend all day writing system crap and most of it has been peer reviewed by system cocks. Keep it 'up'.

By pop socket (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

"In the period of the last major outbreaks from 1987-1992 there were over 60,000 cases of measles, which would normally translate into a handful of SSPE cases (up to 5). These individuals may have died anywhere from 5 – 15 years after the initial measles infection, and be included in the more recent stats."

Do you have a source for the claim that SSPE can develop up to 15 years after an infection? The highest number I've been able to track down is 10 years. Thanks :)

So your claim should read “According to Vaers in the last 10 years people have reported, but have provided absolutely no proof for their claims, that in the USA the Measles vaccine has killed 106 people.”

If one uses just the 50 states as a search filter, there are 60 entries, not 106.

Yes, you wouldn’t want to consider the adverse effects of the illness, would you.

Let’s take a look at those, shall we?

Here is a link showing overall, 5.9% of those who get measles get pneumonia. Two high risk groups in that 5.9% are the under 5 years group (8.6%) and the over age 30 group (9.3%).
In those same high risk groups, 26% of the under 5 years group will require hospitalization, and 27% of the over age 30 will require hospitalization.

http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/189/Supplement_1/S4.full

So, let’s do a little math….

The efficacy of a single dose of measles-containing vaccine given at 12 or 15 months of age is estimated to be 85% to 95%. With a second dose, efficacy in children approaches 100%. However, measles outbreaks have occurred in populations with high immunization coverage rates. Due to the high infectivity of measles (each case may infect 12 to 18 others) at least 95% of the population needs to be immunized to develop herd immunity. (side note: yeah yeah, I know you anti-vaxxers hate herd immunity)

Source: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/cig-gci/p04-meas-roug-eng.php#effimm

So, let’s take 100 four year old kids, all are vaccinated. Let’s put them in a room where the measles virus has been sprayed.

Let’s say that they only got a single vaccine, so 85% efficacy. So, 85 of those 100 kids will NOT get the illness.
15 get measles.
Of those 15, 4 will require hospitalization, and 1.29 (so let’s say 1) will get pneumonia.

Now let’s take 100 four year old kids who are not vaccinated, and put them in a room where the measles virus has been sprayed.

Measles has about a 90% transmission rate among unvaccinated people.
So, of those 100 children, 90 of them will get the illness.
Of those 90, 23 will be hospitalized, and 8 will get pneumonia.

But go ahead…. Don’t vaccinate…. It is really good for big pharma to have all those sick kids in the hospital.

And @Brisbane #48 and Arlin #88

Orac rants, and his view is very black and white. I won’t dispute that.

What I will dispute is the “Orac is making things worse” comment. Pro-vaxxers do their homework. They look at studies, and evaluate those studies for relevance, replication, and verification from multiple sources. Orac provides links to many of those un-biased sources.

Now, let’s look at the average anti-vaxxer, who gets their information from Mercola, Humphries, Natural News, Vaxtruth, National Vaccine Information Center, Blaylock…. All of these organizations are in bed with each other, due to a coalition former by Mercola in 2011. There is no objectivity in their publications, and there is no outside verification. They rotate the same biased information around and around between them, to appear that there are multiple sources, when there is not.
The only way that these groups will change (and hopefully disappear) is through public shaming.

Maher and WIlliamsen are pawns in the anti-vax mentality…. They got suckered in enough to do significant damage, just by being public figures. Even if Williamson stated public health concerns outweigh personal freedoms, it gets lost in the big picture of what Maher was saying – and there is the danger.

So your claim should read “According to Vaers in the last 10 years people have reported, but have provided absolutely no proof for their claims, that in the USA the Measles vaccine has killed 106 people.”
Even in that weakened form the claim would still be a fabrication.

One source for the claim is here:
http://vaccineimpact.com/2015/zero-u-s-measles-deaths-in-10-years-but-o…
... which uses the NVIC version of the VAERS database. The discriminating eye will note, on the screengrab put up on the Vaccine Impact website to illustrate the damning result of their database search, that the very first case lists the infant as receiving Pediarix, Prevnar, PedvaxHIB, Varivax and MMR.
The entry also notes that the infant suffered from congenital heart abnormalities ("Cardiac heterotaxy; Dextrocardia; Complete AV Septal defect; Pulmonary Atresia"), tested positive for Streptococcus pneumoniae, and died of "meningococcaemia/ sepsis".

Subsequent entries are equally free from any MMR involvement.
Eventually we find that the NVIC figure is padded with cases such as this, a stillbirth which the nimrods classify as "Foetal exposure during pregnancy":
ht_tp://www.medalerts.org/vaersdb/findfield.php?IDNUMBER=518671

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

"The problem is that polarizing rhetoric contributes to the decay of trust and the calcification of thinking that is the real problem. You’re literally just making things worse."

It might be wrong to lump you in with other concern trolls who've voiced similar sentiments here.

But I don't think so.

"The decay of trust" is not "the real problem". The real problem is foolish behavior that puts lives at risk, enabled by those who pretend to see "both sides".

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

@sciencemom "Mistrust of science and industry based upon sheer ignorance of them. One can have a healthy scepticism of industry misdeeds without throwing the baby out with the bath water. "

I don't think that mistrust is based on sheer ignorance. Sadly, the public tales of malfeasance are quite credible.

It seems to me that statements acknowledging the science and effectiveness of the measles vaccine while deciding against the annual flu vaccine is an attempt to to not throw the baby out with the bathwater. So why all the contempt for Mayer on the matter?

Herr Doktor, my mind took a minute to translate some of the terms. On the measles database, how can you have a "“Foetal exposure during pregnancy”", MMR is contraindicated during pregnancy. If a patient was given an MMR during pregnancy, isn't that almost rising to the level of malpractice? Since the contraindication is mainly theoretical, how could the nimrods have classified as they did?

Please tell me that parents could never have known about that entry. Having been through, so many spontaneous fetal losses, at least seven, it takes a small hunk of your soul away each time. You wonder and you want to know a reason and in the darkness of your grief you wonder if you walked too much, if you ate the wrong food, if you could have done something wrong. Now some nimrod blames you for having a vaccination. There also must have been some complete cranial-anal inversion that would allow a pregnant women to have a vaccination.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

I'm grateful to have found a site that deals with this idiocy and identifies the logical fallacies employed by the antivaxers/conspiracy (fixed persecutory delusions) crowd These folks have an alternate reality that doesn't take into consideration benefits to risk or the difference between credible and non-credible sources for information. Regarding Mayer-he isn't mentioning how many die of the flu yearly. Only his paranoid ideology is communicated which is a disservice to others.

There also must have been some complete cranial-anal inversion that would allow a pregnant women to have a vaccination.
NVIC's records claim that the mother's last period was Jan 1 2013, and she received the vaccine 10 days later, Jan 11 -- probably before anyone knew she was pregnant.
The date of the miscarriage is not recorded but the estimated gestational stage was 31 weeks. In other words, the MMR is being blamed for a stillbirth over seven months later.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

Since the contraindication is mainly theoretical, how could the nimrods have classified as they did?

That's MedDRA code 10071404. Coders gotta code.

Note the dates, however: The last menstrual period was January 1, while the vaccination was January 11. It's unclear whether the pregnancy was known about.

I don’t think that mistrust is based on sheer ignorance. Sadly, the public tales of malfeasance are quite credible.

Oh really and why is that? What are the credentials and educational experience of those who are "mistrustful of government"?

It seems to me that statements acknowledging the science and effectiveness of the measles vaccine while deciding against the annual flu vaccine is an attempt to to not throw the baby out with the bathwater. So why all the contempt for Mayer on the matter?

Neither Maher (I presume that's who you meant), nor Williamson are qualified to speak at all accurately on the subject. Orac gave numerous examples of their pseudo-scientific and flat-out scientifically-illiterate statements and their attempt to appear balanced (when there is only false balance). Maher is an uneducated, loudmouthed moron who thinks because he has made a living out of atheism and conservative-bashing, his so-called scepticism translates to matters of science. He only gets AGW right like a stopped clock gets it right a couple of times a day.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

Yes the outright aggression here sums it all up.

Quite ironic, Philip Hills of the Hope Osteopathic Clinic Essex. Are you still trolling the Rotarians about polio, you cringing, sockpuppeting fraud?

"It’s a matter of the fact that all of a sudden we’re taking all of them together in one shot."

I'll never the desire to poke babies more times than necessary. At my daughter's 4 month appointment, she was vaccinated for nine things, I think, and only needed four injections. That was more than enough for my ears, listening to her tears. Sadists.

By Jessica Sager (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

Williamson:

We know that the government has suppressed information and withheld information. We know that the medical establishment has suppressed information and withheld information, so that at this point, even when they something that we should listen to, people have a skepticism.

So, what's on the menu here? Greenberg! VIOXX!! SIMPSONWOOD!!! #CDCwhistleblower!1!!!

I've no doubt missed some.

@ Narad:

You missed=
Tuskegee!!!!111!1

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

Oh, now I am going to need to recheck my baby books. If menses started on January 1 than, if I don't screw this up, conception would have been from Jan 10-Jan 16 (my birthday, but I didn't even get a card). Therefore, no fault from the point of who ever gave the women the vaccination. I'm thinking this would have been a bad time to get pregnant, however I am really completely out of my league with that area of biology.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

Therefore, no fault from the point of who ever gave the wom[a]n the vaccination.

Well, the question would be whether she was in fact trying to conceive or, more specifically, whether it was asked.

There's simply not enough detail, and I don't recall stillbirth's being one of the concerns with MMR during pregnancy (which of course has happened inadvertently, although I'm not going to go look the stuff up just now).

Orac, thanks for you lengthy reply, and yes, it's possible that I'm "not familiar enough with the antivaccine movement to recognize these patterns". I only started getting interested in such issues recently when I found out that someone close to me believes that anthropogenic global warning is a hoax perpetrated by a liberal establishment. I honestly want to understand how to approach-- from a position of love and respect-- people who are taking what seems to me to be an absurd position on science issues.

After thinking about it for some time, I think it is formally not different from the way that educated people refuse to believe in ESP no matter how many times they hear positive reports of ESP. This seems counter-intuitive, because it seems that we ought to increase our belief in X when we hear positive reports of X. But actually we can understand this differently, from a Bayesian perspective. If there are a large number of hypothesis in the "deception" category under which the observed results are as likely as they are under the "genuine" category, then hearing superficially positive reports of X actually increases our belief in deception rather than in X. I think it is more respectful to treat anti-vaxxers and AGW-hoaxers as rational agents who start out with a different set of prior beliefs. From this perspective, the Anti-vaxxers and anti-global-warming and anti-evolution "skeptics" seem to have a deep well of suspicion of science and scientists. If we don't focus on the source of this suspicion, we won't solve the problem. Our society (US, less so in Canada) has a problem with science. I'm just trying to be practical about how to solve that problem.

By Arlin Stoltzfus (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

Adding to what Narad said, it's worth noting that there's a difference between a wanted baby and a planned one. I have a friend who was very much wanted, but his parents had been planning to start trying to conceive several months later. Someone in that position might not think about whether a vaccine or drug was contraindicated in pregnancy.

Well, there is a Catch-22, you don't test on pregnant women so you can't know the effects on pregnant women.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

I think it is more respectful to treat anti-vaxxers and AGW-hoaxers as rational agents who start out with a different set of prior beliefs.

If you had paid closer attention to the post itself (rather than its tone), which deals with the only use of rationality being to avoid the label, you might have gotten an inkling that frank antivaxxers are anything but "rational agents," which a quick trip to the commentariat of AoA should have confirmed.

Allow me to elucidate:

While, for instance, SafeMinds of the merry band of antivaccinationists at Age of Autism (well, most of them, anyway) can strategically hide or at least downplay the conspiracy theories at the core of their beliefs (and make no mistake, virtually all antivaccinationists—witness Bill Maher last Friday—have conspiracy theories at the core of their beliefs), the extreme ones can’t.

If your basic complaint is that every post should be tailored to fence-sitters, it's misplaced.

^ "elucidate illustrate"

@Vicki, I suspect some consent form that she signed had a warning about "if you are pregnant or are intending to become pregnant", however to be fair we sign those things all of the time and don't always pay attention. In a country of 300 million souls, such things happen.

Now I am sad, the scenario in my head is that she knew she was at risk during her whole pregnancy, aware of the risk, guilt over becoming pregnant at the wrong point. Then, the signs of fetal distress and then the news.

Ahem, I have been through scenario too many times. Yet, without vaccines it would be repeat thousands more times as people would be exposed while the full blown disease while carrying.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

Well, there is a Catch-22, you don’t test on pregnant women so you can’t know the effects on pregnant women.

Actually it has been tested Colonel Tom albeit inadvertently. If your curiosity requires more than my say-so, I will supply refs in the a.m. There were no adverse events associated with MMR vaccination pre and post parturition. The worst that happened was some rubella viral shedding to the foetus but asymptomatic and no tertiary infection.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

S.M. Other than that being consistent with Herr Doktor's apparent skepticism to the measles death in the database, I certainly have no reason to doubt your accurately . I was musing, and a little loopy from my sore teeth. Pregnant women are generally this big "blank spot" when it comes to testing of drugs and procedures because you don't test on them. Then, of course, the drug/procedure/vaccine gets used contraindicated because of great need. Conversely, testing for this population is aethical. I did look at the CDC's guidance before remarking that the MMR was contraindicated for pregnancy. Also know, but failing to comment, that such CDC guidance is overly cautious and sometimes dated.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

Orac gives Bill Maher the righteous ripping he so profoundly deserves, and lets just a bit of his conformation bias spill over onto Marianne Williamson, which is more than understandable under the circumstances. For two days Beth has been 'defending' Williiamson by misrepresenting her statements just enough to admit some pseudo-science hooey, but I could write as fast as Orac I'd have straightened out this mishegoss. But no, Arlin Stultzfus puts his foot straight in his mouth, coming in with guns ablaze ripping Orac for misunderstanding Williamson, leading the blinking box to unleash a full-on screed comparing poor Marianne to Jenny McCarthy. Oh dear.

Here's the deal, on my blog:
https://sadmar.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/williamson/

First, Orac misquotes Williamson on the measles, and left off her last line on the subject, which makes a huge difference. She said:
"“But on this one the facts are in about measles. We had eradicated it. We need to get our kids back safe.” Not "have". "had'. And now the people who are TOO skeptical of science have screwed up the public health system, and it's not eradicated any more. We have to keep "our" kids safe. As in society's kids. As in every kid. Not just your special little snowflake. That's what she saying.

And no, Arlin, she doesn't believe the mainstream media go too far in suppressing dissent on science-policy-related issues. She had to hook on something Maher had said to get into the discussion. What she believes is that mainstream media go too far in suppressing dissent on corporate-policy-related issues. It's not about science.

I saw this flame coming coming yesterday when Orac said he'd never heard of Williamson before. I knew with his time commitments he'd only be able to Google her so far. I knew what would come up first in the hits, and that he wouldn't get deep enough into the maze of hyperlinks to get the whole picture – which is way outside all the usual boxes. The thing is Williamson occupies a very unique niche in the realm of 'spiritual teachers' in that she's also a radical socialist. Her answer to how the government and the medical establishment can get their act together and win back the public trust is single-payer universal FULL medical coverage for everybody.

She's anti-capitalist, anti-corporate, more-or-less pro science in sum, definitely pro-vax. If she sounds a little like McCarthy, it's because she's trying to reach people on the fence who might have some sympathy with the frames McCarthy uses, so she can nudge off onto our side of the fence. She's an ally, not the enemy. We ought to encourage her to say more about vaccines. Bottom line:

"I think there is a public health issue that overrides individual liberty here."

No public figure of any political party has put the issue as squarely, succinctly, and unequivocally as that. She went on Bill Maher, played patty-cake with Maher who's just an asshat comedian, and called out the ideology of Rand Paul. And the "health freedom" mafia heard her loud and clear. A troll claiming to be a 'long-time follower' posted a lovely piece of BS to her FB page: “I was appalled and surprised at Marianne’s endorsement of mandatory measles vaccines on Bill Maher’s Real Time last week.” The troll then offered to alleviate Williamson's "lack of awareness on the controversial topic of vaccinations and how very dangerous they are" with propaganda from a far-right-wing "FREEDOM!" organization of anti-vax quacks, because "I know Marianne will want to expand her education repertoire to this very timely, critical news issue."

Uh, I doubt it. The platform issues for her Congressional primary campaign were "child poverty, mass incarceration, income disparity, diminishing civil liberties, domestic surveillance, student loan debt, corporatization and rule by oligarchy, passing a Green New Deal, and a Constitutional Amendment to rid corporations of the rights of personhood,"

And she wrote this about 'health policy' (condensed):

In case anybody hasn't noticed, democracy in America is dying now. Whatever Wall Street wants, Wall Street gets. Corporatism is the new order of the day. One political party stands for it; the other political party won't stand against it. It’s time to say it: we need a peaceful revolution in America. The American people have simply got to stand up now, say no to a situation in which our government is bought and paid for, and yes to a return to democracy. Nothing short of an historic, nothing namby-pamby-about-it, serious social movement will take us out of our free fall. Things won't get better by themselves. In denial about this? Go stand over there. Too cynical to think we can change things? Go stand over there. Too sedated to be upset yet? Go stand over there. Our democracy is sick -- it is really, really sick -- and all of us are needed now to nourish it and make it well.

Lest anyone imagine I'm a Marianne Williamson fan; I'm not. 'he 'age of miracles’ stuff, and the refrigerator poster cards with the saccharine affirmation statements just make me want to puke. But in the war to keep Maggie and Eli Jacks and uncountable thousands of other innocents safe from the scourge of measles, I’ll take any ally I can get. Especially one with a tactic that might work on folks ‘the usual suspects’ aren’t able to reach. Marianne Williamson has a posse, and I want them on my side. If the god talk gets too loud, I've got earplugs.

Oh, right:

If we don’t focus on the source of this suspicion, we won’t solve the problem.

TINW. HTH. HAND.

Now I am sad, the scenario in my head is that she knew she was at risk during her whole pregnancy, aware of the risk, guilt over becoming pregnant at the wrong point. Then, the signs of fetal distress and then the news.

I read the details --

This case concerns a foetal patient who received MMR vaccine, batch and manufacturer not reported on 11-JAN-2013 transplacentally. On an unreported date, at 31 weeks gestation the patient''s mother experienced a stillbirth of the patient for an unknown reason. The patient was described as normal.

and from all the missing details it was clearly not the mother who entered the case into VAERS, but someone on the periphery who knew of someone else's personal tragedy and saw a chance to coopt it for the antivaccine cause. "Foetal patient". Really.
I am optimistic that the mother did not endure 7 months of anxiety and self-blame.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

@hdb #124

Obviously, I don't KNOW either, but it sounds to me like you hit the proverbial nail on the head there, and my fingers are screaming. I absolutely believe someone would surreptitiously co-opt this stillbirth for the anti-vax cause, and the hypocricy, the immorality, the selfishness, the complete lack of human decency in that just re-inforces how warped and disgusting these people are. This is not stupidity. This is not mis-understanding science. This is just evil. "Foetal patient"? I don't know anything about the VAERS process. Did whoever filed this need to get a Dr. to sign off on this? Is there some Paul Broun-type anti-abortion 'Army of God' physician enabling this kind of bull? Do they really process 'injury reports' based on 31-week-later post hoc anti-logic, on a stillbirth the occurred "for an unknown reason" with no forensics, no linking mechanism between the injection and the death even posited? Had the mom seen Star Trek: Into Darkness the moth before the stillbirth? Those Damon Lindelof scripts are frickin' dangerous and ought to be banned!

Great detective work hdb! This is the kind of stuff fence-sitters need to know. This is how trustworthy 'vaccine injury' stories can be. These are the kind of people they are letting shape their view of the world. Yeah, it's just one case, and I'm shouldn't go PGP and say 'they're all like this' or 'most of them are like this' but this kind of thing doesn't fall into official records out of a tree either. That even one of these exists ought to be enough for someone just beginning to look into this to question that vague buzz going around the office about the dangers of vaccines might just be a bunch of clueless dupes talking out of their butt holes.

OMG..

Sadmar&hdb #124/125.

I've been following this thread and I have no words. Indeed anyone can file a report at VAERS. WIth the proviso that they *may* be contacted for additional information. In another thread over at SBM I learned that the reports stay in the system no matter if the VAERS folk learn that the adverse effect had nothing to do with the vaccine. It has crossed my mind re: whether the antivaxers would go and put in false reports...It felt cynical of me. But, I think this example illustrates that indeed they may be doing that....

Aside, I found one of the funniest, fact-filled take-downs of Dr. Wolfson tonight----written by an MD/PHD student in Wisconsin.

https://annamirer.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/i-read-the-anti-vaccine-doct…

By Pragmatist (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Arlin #114
Hmm, the source of the suspicion, what could that be? Hey! Do you think that people with ideological agendas, who make a lot of money causing doubt and have no medical or science backgrounds, getting on TV and telling lies, could possibly be contributing to the suspicion?

Maybe we should do something about that, like calling them out for it and showing worried parents why they should ignore them. Which is because their arguments are the same as those used by hard core conspiracy theorists.

@ Beth #102
'I don’t think that mistrust is based on sheer ignorance. Sadly, the public tales of malfeasance are quite credible.'

This only follows if mistrust of the science of vaccination and mistrust of pharma or the CDC are the same. They aren't. Our confidence in vaccination comes from sources such as universities and other country's health departments and governments. Believing they have all been contaminated by questionable corporations is truly a conspiracy.

@ Deb

Well said.

Hmm, the source of the suspicion, what could that be?

Speaking of people complaining that there are suspicions going around, that reminded me of a Republican senator telling Obama his time would be better spent fixing the US economy instead of showing his birth certificate.
Because, you know, Republican politicians in general and Donald Trump in particular have never expressed any doubt about the current US president being truly born in the US.
(OK, maybe a little)

And with Donald, we got back to attention-whore people expressing doubts about vaccination...

By Helianthus (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

Herr Doktor, alas I am often over emphatic to matters of stillborns. However, this reminds me of when I had the old records being moved over to the new data mine back in the day, when we were looking for patterns useful in insurance. Some records would get forwarded to medical professional (mainly students and interns making some extra) to be coded as MUS, or "made up shite" because the diagnostic codes were just near impossible. That certainly sounds like a MUS.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

Beth: "Sadly, the public tales of malfeasance are quite credible. "

Which makes it weird that even after being shown to be a fraud, Wakefield has a very strong fan base.

It seems to me that statements acknowledging the science and effectiveness of the measles vaccine while deciding against the annual flu vaccine is an attempt to to not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I realize that I mayresponding to this statement a bit late, but on what rational basis would one acknowledge the safety and efficacy of the MMR vaccine while simultaenously discounting the safety and efficacy of seasonal flu vaccines?

Someone else flogging the idea that science is as much to blame for antivax nonsense as antivaxers is Daniel Henninger, columnist for the Wall St. Journal.

Dan's column today, after an obligatory nod to the usefulness and safety of vaccines, blames scientists for the "vaccine mess" because, you know, climate change. Dan thinks use of that term instead of global warming somehow indicates that climate scientists have sold out to politicians, i.e. Al Gore and the Democratic Party, and that "politicization" of science is at the root of public distrust*, along with the startling discovery that Science Wuz Wrong Before.

"The people doing basic science should learn a well-proven truth about basic politics: Any cause taken up by politicians today by definition will be doubted or opposed by nearly half the population. When an Al Gore, John Kerry or Europe’s Green parties become spokesmen for your ideas, and are willing to accuse fellow scientists of bad faith or willful ignorance, then science has made a Faustian bargain. The price paid, inevitably, will be the institutional credibility of all scientists."...
As with Jenny McCarthy, the word for what too much of science purports now is half-baked."

See, if you're a climate researcher defending the science, you're a tool of a political party Dan doesn't like, and you're as bad as Jenny McCarthy.

I am all for legitimate criticism of scientific methods and potential conflicts of interest. Scientists themselves are heavily engaged in working for improvements in these areas. I am less impressed with people who draw false equivalencies between science and woo in order to further their own, dubious agendas.

*Dan is not big into irony, it seems.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

"Novavax starts Ebola vaccine trial in humans"

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/novavax-starts-ebola-vaccine-trial-in-huma…

Would be great if folks like Mike Adams would step up to the mark and volunteer to be part of the trial.

Maybe "good nutrition", "good water" and a "strong immune system" could be proven to fend off Ebola, or at least demonstrate that it's a "no big deal" disease, similar to what anti-vaxers claim for measles.

In other anti-vax bs news...

The chief loon @ PRN today claims that his anti-vax exposes of last week led to the powers-that-be hacking his prn website so that the public was unable to access his 'hard-hitting, ground-breaking' so-called journalism including a 5 hour woo-fest featuring Brian Hooker and Boyd Haley and another with Mary Holland.
AFAIK the site still remains off line.

Heh. Now don't tell me , let me guess,- who was it?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

Ahem, the idea was to "translate" individual "style" into standardized nomenclature. The designation of "MUS" was only used when two screeners looked at the claim and decided it was, inconsistent with with medical diagnosis.

Apparently, your vaccine database appears to suffer from some of the same problems. Not that it is necessarily bad, as an investigation of potential problems is poorly suited for standardization. Better to allow someone to put in some crap, than to have a real problem ignored because there wasn't a code for a repeated observation. Except, now an anti-vaccine pudding head comes along and wants to prove the principle of SiSo, aka Silliness in, Silliness Out to pretend that vaccine present at conception is responsible for a 7 month stillborn.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

"Maybe “good nutrition”, “good water” and a “strong immune system” could be proven to fend off Ebola, or at least demonstrate that it’s a “no big deal” disease, similar to what anti-vaxers claim for measles." GDR

Real facts surrounding Ebola are that the WHO suspended its hemorrhagic fever budget, to the three countries that had the biggest issue, that provided basic nursing and dehydration. These countries have the greatest filth and running sewers and the food base is dreadful here. Most patients recover with this basic intervention, according to nurses on the BBC, others also pointed out that mortality and use of Ibuprofen to lower temperature were directly related because it upped the bleeding rate. Pleas to stop using antipyretics went relatively unheard, as usual.

The CDC having a patent on the Ebola virus and a vested interest in telling us we are all going to die, is to close for comfort. Of course they will be ramping up the paranoia, like they are with the 'measles outbreak' and here on ORAC central the guano poureth forth to feed the plant. Like the lovely job they did on pandemic flu, but failed.

Why doesn't lord ORAC and his minions step up to the plate and submit for Ebola tesing?

Just had a look at Mr Hill's site, I wish I was him, looks like a nice kind of guy.

By pop socket (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

"I realize that I mayresponding to this statement a bit late, but on what rational basis would one acknowledge the safety and efficacy of the MMR vaccine while simultaenously discounting the safety and efficacy of seasonal flu vaccines?" jvc

None at all, they are both shit and only exist because medical peer reviewed science regularly shags them senseless. Why would any sane scientist even attempt to validate a vaccine as a therapeutic concept, unless they had shares in the company.

By pop socket (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

@pop socket.

How would you propose dealing with Ebola?

By Pragmatist (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

"Which makes it weird that even after being shown to be a fraud, Wakefield has a very strong fan base." chris

Chris, the bowel specialist who was struck off with Wakefield has now had all the charges dropped and been reinstated. It's only a matter of time before Andrew is exonerated and the vested interest peer review medical synod are rightly trashed as downright liars.

I don't see the same amount of fans for the pro vaccine movement, do you?

By pop socket (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

"Here is a link showing overall, 5.9% of those who get measles get pneumonia. Two high risk groups in that 5.9% are the under 5 years group (8.6%) and the over age 30 group (9.3%).
In those same high risk groups, 26% of the under 5 years group will require hospitalization, and 27% of the over age 30 will require hospitalization. " Annie get ya knob

What is missing here is that any kid who ends up with sequalae and in hospitial, from a western country has already been medically mal managed. Usually this is because they have been 'treated' with anti fever meds prior to the crisis and the immune reaction has gone tits up as a consequence. In the UK doctors routinely ignore the NICE guidelines on fever management that is clear, do not us antipyretics just to reduce fever, it causes bigger shit.

We need to expose this malmanagment because it is getting tiring seeing the septic pathway of causality being applied willy nilly to anything that supports their lost cause.

By pop socket (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

It’s only a matter of time before Andrew is exonerated

Do tell how that's going to happen, Philip Hills.

You may need some more booze to really flesh it out.

"It’s only a matter of time before Andrew is exonerated"

It's only a matter of time before the black hole at the center of our galaxy evaporates.

In the UK doctors routinely ignore the NICE guidelines

You've already* been utterly humiliated with this routine, remember, dipshіt? Get some fresh material.

* It starts here.

@narad.

"Interesting" idea re: treating Ebola with acupuncture and osteopathy. But, I'm afraid that a projectile vomiting, watery diarrhea excreting patient will be a challenge.

Although, I may be letting my pro science-based-medicine bias inform my opinion.

By Pragmatist (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

But, I’m afraid that a projectile vomiting, watery diarrhea excreting patient will be a challenge.

I sorely doubt that Philip Hills would notice the difference from his usual state.

“Interesting” idea re: treating Ebola with acupuncture and osteopathy"

It odd that MSM never mentioned the many osteopaths and acupuncturists who bravely employed their skills in the treatment of African Ebola patients and the numerous successful outcomes that were no doubt achieved.

“The decay of trust” is not “the real problem”. The real problem is foolish behavior that puts lives at risk, enabled by those who pretend to see “both sides”.

For the actual people I know IRL that don't vaccinate, trust is exactly the issue. In almost all cases they've had personal, often malpractice-level bad experiences with the medical system and as a result, they don't trust it. Even the ones that I don't know of them having a personal story show a distrust of the medical system that goes far beyond vaccines.

They aren't in any case horribly anti-medicine, but it doesn't take much to persuade them against any procedure that doesn't have obvious and dramatic immediate consequences.

Trust is a huge factor in human decisions, about what to believe, because deception is so easy and verification so challenging. Let's face it -- if Andrew Wakefield discovered a simple and effective cure for cancer, most people here would not take him at his word, not take his evidence as being worth much, and view any allegedly independent reproduction with a great deal of skepticism. This is as it should be.

Now imagine that you've had experiences that make you feel about the medical system in a similar fashion. Imagine someone tels you that they don't vaccinate because they think that there are potentially bad consequences. Can you see how you would weigh evidence differently in that case?

you might have gotten an inkling that frank antivaxxers are anything but “rational agents,” which a quick trip to the commentariat of AoA should have confirmed.

It's amazing how in basically every human disagreement the other side is irrational. I haven't read much AoA, but I haven't personally seen much irrationality there or among the commenters that visit us from time to time. They weigh evidence differently than we do, but that doesn't mean they aren't following a logical process to arrive at their beliefs. If they weighed things the same way we do and still came to those beliefs, they wouldn't be rational, but I don't see evident that that is what happened.

We also tend to assume that everyone who doesn't vaccinate is aware of the mountains of studies that have been done on vaccine safety by lots of different groups. They often aren't. An ignorant but rational person can come to a different conclusion than they would be if they were exposed to more information.

By justthestats (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

It’s amazing how in basically every human disagreement the other side is irrational. I haven’t read much AoA, but I haven’t personally seen much irrationality there or among the commenters that visit us from time to time. They weigh evidence differently than we do, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t following a logical process to arrive at their beliefs.

You can barely swing a cat over there without running into a New World Order depopulation conspiracist. Ebola is man-made, and HIV doesn't cause AIDS. Even the ones who maintain a veneer of rationality will persist in falsehoods that have been demonstrated to them over and over again, such as Cynthia Parker's insane claim that childhood measles prevents cancer in later life. I could go on.

Indeed anyone can file a report at VAERS. WIth the proviso that they *may* be contacted for additional information. In another thread over at SBM I learned that the reports stay in the system no matter if the VAERS folk learn that the adverse effect had nothing to do with the vaccine. It has crossed my mind re: whether the antivaxers would go and put in false reports…It felt cynical of me. But, I think this example illustrates that indeed they may be doing that….

The SafeVax grifters have indeed put up posts explaining to their readers how to report to VAERS anything they believe to be an adverse consequence (nudge wink). Then there are the entries reported to show the gameability of the system (vaccines turned me into the Incredible Hulk!).

Now at the VAERS website itself, if you want to access it you must click past reminders of its fallibility and general uselessness for determining causation. That was not good enough for the NVIC people, who copied the data into their own database so users could skip the warnings.

In the process they omitted some fields. VAERS lists the location from whence came a report; NVIC doesn't. This makes a difference because VAERS reports are not restricted to the US... in fact the 7-month-delayed stillbirth report (518671-1) is explicitly described in VAERS as "Foreign". This does not deter NVIC from including it among their 108 US Deaths from Measles Vaccine.

This lumping of non-US reports among US reports is crucial for allowing NVIC to dredge out 108 deaths that mention MMR (whether irrelevant or not).

It’s unclear whether the pregnancy was known about.

In a similar vein, consider the previous VAERS report 518670-1 -- in which a woman reports that she received a Gardasil after checking that she wasn't pregnant, only to check her status again a week later and discover that the first test had been wrong and she had in fact been pregnant all along. No ill-effects are mentioned, unless I wilfully misunderstand the report and conclude that a Gardasil shot caused the woman's pregnancy.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

@DGR
"""It odd that MSM never mentioned the many osteopaths and acupuncturists who bravely employed their skills in the treatment of African Ebola patients and the numerous successful outcomes that were no doubt achieved."""

I bet someone in the NSA knows but they're probably in kahoots with Novavax.

By Pragmatist (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

"I bet someone in the NSA knows but they’re probably in kahoots with Novavax."

Damn ... thought there might be a conspiracy at work.

Sadmar:
This is the kind of stuff fence-sitters need to know. This is how trustworthy ‘vaccine injury’ stories can be. These are the kind of people they are letting shape their view of the world.

Pointing out the spurious nature of the cases making up some shroudy-wavy number is not going to affect the career Antivax campaigners. I mean, the NVIC people know all that; they can't be bothered trying to hide it. The very first entry in their "108 deaths" list -- the case they include in the screen-grab on their website, as a poster-child for the whole series --
http://vaccineimpact.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2015/01/VAERS-Measl…
-- notes that the infant picked up a Streptococcus pneumoniae infection (from which it died).
They have no shame.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

@herr doktor bimler

Thank you. It truly saddens me to learn how people will manipulate and lie in order to perpetuate the lie that they are pedaling. Well, yes, this happens in other aspects of life but what I can't understand is how physicians and nurses(I am an RN) can live with themselves. I was in a debate with an antivax nurse practitioner who in her state has prescribing privleges, hence, has a huge influence in her patients medical decisions. I was stunned since I don't know anti-vax health care providers and I've been out of the clinical setting while this movement was hitting its stride.

Unfortunately, to state the obvious, the internet, like any other "object" can be used as a tool for good and a tool for really bad.

By Pragmatist (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

@DGR # 152.

Just when we try to wean ourselves from this conspiracy-biased thinking........a conspiracy unfolds before our very eyes.

By Pragmatist (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

It’s amazing how in basically every human disagreement the other side is irrational. I haven’t read much AoA, but I haven’t personally seen much irrationality there or among the commenters that visit us from time to time. They weigh evidence differently than we do, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t following a logical process to arrive at their beliefs. If they weighed things the same way we do and still came to those beliefs, they wouldn’t be rational, but I don’t see evident that that is what happened.

Um what?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

It’s only a matter of time before Andrew is exonerated

It's been three years since Walker Smith had the GMC's decision overturned. I wonder what is taking No-longer-a-doctor Wakefield so long to fly back to the UK and file another appeal?

@ herr doktor bimler. #153

I opened the link and ID 217129. The credibility of the report should have been nixed at the initial questions?

Life Threatening? No
Died? Yes.

Adrenal haemorrhage????(note nonUSA English spelling)????

By Pragmatist (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

“Novavax starts Ebola vaccine trial in humans”

A two-dose protocol is doomed if NewLink's (pitifully mismanaged) VSV-vectored vaccine works as designed with only one. That and GSK's (also two-dose) are the ones here; the reports of joint pain are presumably NewLink.

Adrenal haemorrhage????(note nonUSA English spelling)????

Again, MedDRA coding.

It’s amazing how in basically every human disagreement the other side is irrational. I haven’t read much AoA, but I haven’t personally seen much irrationality there or among the commenters that visit us from time to time. They weigh evidence differently than we do, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t following a logical process to arrive at their beliefs.

You can barely swing a cat over there without running into a New World Order depopulation conspiracist. Ebola is man-made, and HIV doesn’t cause AIDS.

None of these beliefs are by themselves evidence of irrationality. For example, I'm not at all convinced that there is a depopulation movement (and if there is one, it's not very competent.) But if the President told me in a private conversation in all seriousness that "that Agenda 21 stuff is totally true" I'd believe him.

If someone showed me an amazingly ahead of its time secret lab that was capable of genetically engineering things back when Ebola first was discovered, I'd start asking them questions. If it was shown that some other retrovirus was the reason that antiretrovirals are so successful with AIDS, I'd be willing to give the "HIV is just an opportunistic infection" hypothesis the time of day.

Obviously, those are not the reasons that those people believe those things. It still boils down to how much they weigh the evidence they've seen for their beliefs vs. the evidence against.

Even the ones who maintain a veneer of rationality will persist in falsehoods that have been demonstrated to them over and over again, such as Cynthia Parker’s insane claim that childhood measles prevents cancer in later life. I could go on..

I hate to break it to you, but she doesn't believe you. That's why what you've said doesn't change her behavior. It's not evidence of irrationality. It's exactly the same as the hypothetical Andrew Wakefield curing cancer. If he did it and told you he did and you didn't believe him, your incorrect belief would not be irrational.

It's also why all the "devastating" things that the antivaxxers have said to you haven't convinced you to change your ways. You probably don't believe them for different reasons than they don't believe you, but rationality is about making logical inferences from what you believe, so it's possible for you both to be rational.

Not that I'm saying that antivaxxer beliefs resemble reality much. I'm pretty sure they don't. I'm just saying it's pretty easy to start with a few bad premises and rationally come to spectacularly wrong conclusions.

By justthestats (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

@ narad. #161.

""Again, MedDRA coding."""

I don't understand. Sorry ;-(

By Pragmatist (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

@herr doktor bimler(hbm)

# 159.

Thanks so much for that LBRB link. Filing it.

By Pragmatist (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink
It’s amazing how in basically every human disagreement the other side is irrational. I haven’t read much AoA, but I haven’t personally seen much irrationality there or among the commenters that visit us from time to time. They weigh evidence differently than we do, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t following a logical process to arrive at their beliefs. If they weighed things the same way we do and still came to those beliefs, they wouldn’t be rational, but I don’t see evident that that is what happened.

Um what?

It's true. On the other side of the fence they are calling us irrational too. Do a search for "vaccine logic" (quotes required) and you'll find tons of examples. And for the most part if you believe the premises they are based on, we come off looking dangerously irrational.

Of course, I don't believe those premises.

But if you do believe those premises, they make a good argument that we are irrational. I'll leave you to draw conclusions about how to apply this lesson with the parties involved switched.

By justthestats (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

“”Again, MedDRA coding.”””

I don’t understand. Sorry ;-(

This is the system being used. See #106.

But if you do believe those premises, they make a good argument that we are irrational.

The AoA commentariat does not proceed logically from given premises. Ms. Parker is simply lying about the Mayo result. The Dachelbot declares that the Supreme Court has decreed vaccines "unavoidably unsafe" when they in fact explicitly rejected the notion. The claim that there is peanut oil in vaccines persists through a bizarre contortion involving misunderstanding of GRAS.

#166 Thanks Narad for the pointer to MedDRA coding. I'm not famliar with it.

By Pragmatist (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

Ahem, #163. People that develop these reporting systems often hire foreign and even Canadian programmers to work on the system. As such, from time to time, the Queen's English spelling sometimes works into the system, as does the more common English as taught in foreign countries.

http://radiopaedia.org/articles/adrenal-haemorrhage

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

I hate to break it to you, but she doesn’t believe you. That’s why what you’ve said doesn’t change her behavior. It’s not evidence of irrationality.

When the very case report states that loss of measles immunity was necessary for oncolytic virotherapy of multiple myeloma, this is pointed out to Parker, and she responds not just by repeating the claim but extending it to plural "cancers," she is either delusional or lying. The former is irrationality writ large; the latter makes rationality irrelevant.

"ch as Cynthia Parker’s insane claim that childhood measles prevents cancer in later life. I could go on." Nobrad

It is known that ovarian cancer and mumps have a relationship or do you prefer the idea that cancer is deficiency in chemo?

What is rational about thinking that all infection is an invasion?

By pop socket (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

I’ll leave you to draw conclusions about how to apply this lesson with the parties involved switched.

Cute syllogism and all but about as barmy as any of the AoA braintrust.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

Colonel Tom #169.

I must say that in 15+ years of Peds ICU/Er where I saw my share of septic kids, and its cascade of life-threatening processes: ensuing DIC, etc., I don't recall us identifying an adrenal hemorrhage....it's this that surprised me. Although its plausible the autopsy was done immediately post death in that particular case...

Cynicism meter has taken a worrisome upward pattern for me today as I learn more and more...thank you and all for sharing.

By Pragmatist (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

the bowel specialist who was struck off with Wakefield has now had all the charges dropped and been reinstated

"Re-instated"? Professor Walker-Smith retired in 2001.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

On when a Yale-trained MD who will appear (has already?) on Oz show offers a free webinar on vaccines.

Judging by the kind of comments and questions she got on her Facebook page, this will be something to watch...as entertainment or a study in the socio-psychology of "woo under siege". (measles outbreak)

https://www.facebook.com/AvivaRommMD/photos/a.425877204138451.100770.42…

By Francois Theberge (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

hdb:
Most antivax campaigners are so far from the fence they can't even see it from where they are. NVIC is different from AoA only in that Fisher's slick enough to make the woo look less psycho enough that it might fool someone NOT suffering some psychological disturbance. Which the hard-core loonies mostly seem to be.

I know they're not going to be affected by anything. (I'm not a fr!ck!n idiot). I'm talking about fence-sitters — people who have delayed acting on vaccination due to "I'm just not sure" doubts. An antivaxer is an activist absolutely convinced vaccines cause harm, urging policy to keep vaccines from our pure natural bodies. As Deb said #127, they pretty much have to posit a conspiracy theory to maintain their position. They have gotten exemptions for their kids, no matter what lies they've had to tell. In contrast, the fence-sitters aren't "anti-", they just don't do it.

Read this, a one-time fence-sitter addressing other fence-sitters, "Why I regret not vaccinating my child":
http://goo.gl/d5JyZ7

I'd guess most folks who post here have educational training in going to primary sources for research, at least in their own field. But even RI commenters will rely on secondary sources (or just 'gut feelings', and intra-community truisms) when venturing outside their own zones. Now, the vast majority of folks have never developed the habits or attitudes of going to primary sources for anything. And I'm not just talking about science, obviously, so on the question of vaccine argument anti-vax sites and sbm sites ARE the primary sources, and onlya very small percentage of the relevant public will ever land at any of them either by extreme dedication or hyperlink accident. Put all the readers of all the anti-vax sites together, and you don't have anywhere near enough un-vaxed kids to create the current outbreak.

Sentiment on vaccines is almost certainly best viewed as a spectrum, with many possible degrees from end to end, with tipping points of action that vary from one individual to the next, and a considerable mushy middle-ground that might (?) even be a classic bell curve (?). That is to say, the spectrum can be considered to have two more tipping points of belief towards the ends with a good distance between them. You have to get a ways toward one end to be 'pro-vax' and a ways toward the other end to be 'anti-vax'.

IDK if there's sociology on this, but my hypothesis would be that many people who actually have vaxed their kids are NOT unequivocally pro-vax. They have some doubts about vaccines. They have some mistrust of medical institutions. They're not sure government agencies always know what they're doing. But these are what we might call 'qualms'. They're not obsessions. They come with nothing resembling certitude. They are not wrapped together in any kind of conspiracy theory at all. So these parents weigh what they know, and what they believe, and the scale tips far enough to 'our side' they take the kids for the shots with a measure of confidence, and cross their fingers when the needle breaks the skin.

So, folks don't need to be all that far away on the spectrum to NOT-vax. For one thing, not-vaxing is NOT necessarily a decision. it can just be putting it off. Kids are supposed to get the MMR between 12 to 15 months, right? Well, the first time that's going to be a real issue is when they head off to kindergarten. So if the parents do their weighing, and it's even close to a push, all they need to procrastinate is to hear one knowledgeable-sounding friend or co-worker say 'well I've heard there's a very well-known pediatrician in Los Angeles who says you can wait until the kids are three to get the vaccine'. And this interpersonal 'source' has probably never heard the names Jay Gordon or Bob Sears, may be a parent who has vaxed their kids with no problems, or might not be a parent at all — just the one member of the circle that ever listens to the news. By the same token, a parent could be tipped into action by an interpersonal source who says, 'well, I know all the scientific studies say there's no link between vaccines and autism' even though knowing that is not enough for that source to have taken their kids in for the shots yet.

I mean, this the way the vast majority of politics experts say elections are decided. You've got (X) number of partisans on either side who are 'well-informed' on their candidate's position and rhetoric, and the contest will be decided by 'swing' voters with no great passions either way, have been paying much less attention to 'the issues', and have only vague ideas about where either candidate stands on anything. I mean, elections only decide things like whether we send young people off to war, how were going to do health care... I see no reason to think vaccine decision-making is radically different from that.

When the very case report states that loss of measles immunity was necessary for oncolytic virotherapy of multiple myeloma, this is pointed out to Parker, and she responds not just by repeating the claim but extending it to plural “cancers,” she is either delusional or lying. The former is irrationality writ large; the latter makes rationality irrelevant.

There's another possibility here. Your sentence probably sounds to her like "loss of measles immunity was necessary for sciency virusy therapy of multiple cancerthings where they give you measles." So obviously they had to undo the vaccines and give you the good measles, and multiple cancerthings must be different kinds of cancer.

In other words, never underestimate the power of incompetence. Your comprehension of the material is much better than most any antivaxxer's.

But Cynthia Parker isn't exactly what I was trying to get at. I'm pretty sure that she is dishonest about some things, which makes me suspicious that she's dishonest about others. That trust thing again.

What I'm trying to say is that of all the antivaxxers I know in real life, none of them show any signs of having thought disorders. They all came to their beliefs by the same kind of process that you have come to yours, but unfortunately using sources that mislead them. I have no doubt that they are genuine, and in some cases even pretty well informed, after a fashion.

What I'm also trying to say is that in every case they wouldn't have become antivaxxers, and in many cases anti-vaccine evangelists, if they trusted the medical system. That's the root of the problem. While it's true that in most of the cases I know about someone else introduced them to the idea that vaccines might not be worth it instead of it being a de novo idea, none of them would need much suggesting to come to that idea.

So if you go about thinking that you can solve the problem by getting the ringleaders to stop ringleading, and getting the facts out more prominently, you're wrong. The Hydra didn't have as many heads, and if they don't trust the messenger and the source of the message, they're going to ignore it.

Trust me, no one I know would be the least bit impressed with the argument that just because the drug departments of the pharma corporations have pulled a few fast ones on the drug departments of the FDA doesn't mean that you can't trust the vaccine departments of the pharma corporations to not pull fast ones on the vaccine departments of the FDA.

They're probably ignorant of the enormous amounts of independent research about vaccine safety, but they probably wouldn't be impressed. They don't know who these people are, but they do know they company they keep, so it makes sense not to trust them either.

It seems to me like finding a way to increase trust in medical research and the medical regulatory system is the only way to be effective in the long run, if the people I know are any indication. I'm not sure how to increase that trust, though.

By justthestats (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

Cute syllogism and all but about as barmy as any of the AoA braintrust.

I've just been trying to help you see through your cognitive biases. I know it's hard. Sorry I've failed.

By justthestats (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

Not that I’m saying that antivaxxer beliefs resemble reality much. I’m pretty sure they don’t. I’m just saying it’s pretty easy to start with a few bad premises and rationally come to spectacularly wrong conclusions.

But that is EXACTLY the core of why most* antivaxxers are in fact irrational: they do not attempt to reason from premises to conclusions, but rather backwards from conclusions to premises. That's why their arguments abound in kettle logic: measles is simultaneously something your kids will never encounter because it's gone from the US AND it's something that's actually good for kids to get AND vaccinated children are disgusting and should be shunned because THEY are the ones who actually spread measles through 'shedding'. Ask antivaxers whether an Ebola or AIDS vaccine would be a good idea and they'll almost certainly tell you no, the very fact that it's a vaccine means that it causes autism and infertility and ADHD and diabetes and lupus and scabies. And yet confront them with the fact that Saint Andy Wakefield had applied for a patent on a vaccine and somehow THAT'S all right.

I'm sure there are some people who, not knowing any better, have set out to 'research' vaccines. They've encountered the outlandish claims generated by the antivax movement in its frenzy to justify its untenable position, and naively take these to be true premises. They then reason forward and say "my God, if it really is true that vaccines kill millions of children a year and the pharma manufacturers can't be held accountable - then vaccines are a disgrace and an evil that should be stopped!" Those people are not irrational. But they are not the core of the antivax movement. The core of the AV movement are people like J.B. Handley and the other fanatics of AOA, who present the "Fourteen Studies" as studies that should be held as the best evidence because they're so well done... and then reveal that 'agrees with our position on vaccines' is one of their criteria for "well done".

* I do not intend to pursue a long, tedious, unsolvable quibble about how can I possibly know it's "most" antivaxxers, how can I be sure it's not just an actual minority that's nevertheless extremely loud, etc. If it bothers you, simply substitute some other descriptor of frequency for "most" and pretend I used that one.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

I’ve just been trying to help you see through your cognitive biases. I know it’s hard. Sorry I’ve failed.

Well how kind of you. And yes you failed...from the very start of your premise.

@ Antaeus, spot on and since justthestats stipulated the AoA braintrust, it's safe to say that your last paragraph was extraneous.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

or do you prefer the idea that cancer is deficiency in chemo?

Where do cranks get this "argument"? There's a chiropractor's office out by my friend Eugene's place with a big sign that says, "Pain is not an aspirin deficiency." Well, duh! There are any number of things that might cause a person pain, and nobody's ever suggested, to my knowledge, that an aspirin "deficiency" is one of them. Doesn't mean aspirin, as a medication, might not help relieve pain, though.

Is it something they get from watching SSRI ads or something? Like the ones from the late 90s and onward with the Pacman-looking guy that tell you that depression may be caused by a serotonin deficiency that SSRIs could help correct?

So obviously they had to undo the vaccines and give you the good measles, and multiple cancerthings must be different kinds of cancer.

Except for the part where wild measles wouldn't even work,* which was also explained to her. Parker has a J.D. and a Ph.D.; it wasn't over her head.

But Cynthia Parker isn’t exactly what I was trying to get at.... What I’m trying to say is that of all the antivaxxers I know in real life, none of them show any signs of having thought disorders. They all came to their beliefs by the same kind of process that you have come to yours, but unfortunately using sources that mislead them. I have no doubt that they are genuine, and in some cases even pretty well informed, after a fashion.

That's fine, but you specifically objected to my characterization of the AoA commentariat. And just today, there's somebody repeating the same line. Yes, this guy is entirely rational: pictures of people with measles have all been Photoshopped by "Them."

I’ve just been trying to help you see through your cognitive biases. I know it’s hard.

Has it occurred to you that extrapolating from the sample of "all the antivaxxers I know in real life" might demonstrate a bit of bias itself?

* Myeloma cells overexpress CD46, which Edmonston-strain measles has been trained to use; wild types use SLAM for cell entry.

@Antaeus Feldspar

Those people are not irrational. But they are not the core of the antivax movement.

If you go back to what I originally wrote, you'll see that I wasn't talking about the core of the antivaccine movement, although I've touched on them later. There is certainly mental illness and dishonesty in the core of the antivaccine movement, although even for them I think you do yourself a huge disfavor by assuming that those two things explain everything about them.

That’s why their arguments abound in kettle logic: measles is simultaneously something your kids will never encounter because it’s gone from the US AND it’s something that’s actually good for kids to get

It's true that if you take every antivaccine talking point and put them together, it doesn't form a coherent narrative. Humans are actually amazingly good at compartmentalizing that kind of thing, though. I have to say that I've noticed a few times that I've had a few beliefs that seemed reasonable in isolation but only fit together in an Escher-like fashion. When I've discovered such things I've been amazed at how powerful my cognitive biases were at hiding the contradictions.

It's also true that you rarely see one person state that many things at one time, so it's quite possible that there actually aren't that many people who hold enough of those beliefs to be contradictory. There is a whole lot of disagreement among antivaxxers, although they seem to be pretty willing to get along for the good of the cause.

AND vaccinated children are disgusting and should be shunned because THEY are the ones who actually spread measles through ‘shedding’.

It's interesting that the only one of these so far that is required to form the contradiction is this one, which seems like a classic defensive reaction to me, since the unvaccinated are repulsive to everyone else. If having that kind of belief is enough to make you "irrational", then there isn't anyone on the planet that is rational, since we all have those kinds of belief.

Ask antivaxers whether an Ebola or AIDS vaccine would be a good idea and they’ll almost certainly tell you no, the very fact that it’s a vaccine means that it causes autism and [everything else known to man]

Not actually contradictory if you really do believe that those "risks" outweigh the benefits, and they probably imagine themselves to be in a low enough risk group for getting those diseases anyway.

And yet confront them with the fact that Saint Andy Wakefield had applied for a patent on a vaccine and somehow THAT’S all right.

No doubt they would argue that fighting fire with fire can be justified.

if it really is true that vaccines kill millions of children a year and the pharma manufacturers can’t be held accountable – then vaccines are a disgrace and an evil that should be stopped!

I have to say that none of the antivaxxers I know would agree with that sentence. They just see vaccines as sketchy and not worth the risks.

@Science Mom
I'm often surprised at how people can interpret things differently from what the speaker intended. I can assure you that my intention today was to talk mostly about the rank-and-file who are against vaccination but not always strongly so. Even when I talked about AoA I really was talking more about the commenters there than the ringleaders. But I can see how I wasn't clear enough on that point.

By justthestats (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

@justhefacts
# 177

What I’m also trying to say is that in every case they wouldn’t have become antivaxxers, and in many cases anti-vaccine evangelists, if they trusted the medical system

How did antivaxers that you know get to distrusting pediatricians who use science-based-medicine? In my experience, pedi's are loved by their patients, are viewed as more gentle and wanting/doing what's best for their child than, for example, the surgical subspecialties.

By Pragmatist (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

@sadmar #176

So, folks don’t need to be all that far away on the spectrum to NOT-vax. For one thing, not-vaxing is NOT necessarily a decision. it can just be putting it off.

I agree, but I also find the OP to be a rant for the opposite of that - i.e. that anyone who as much as deliberate delays a vaccine without sufficient cause is clearly an anti-vaxers and just as as the worst of the bunch.

@justthestats #177

Trust me, no one I know would be the least bit impressed with the argument that just because the drug departments of the pharma corporations have pulled a few fast ones on the drug departments of the FDA doesn’t mean that you can’t trust the vaccine departments of the pharma corporations to not pull fast ones on the vaccine departments of the FDA.

QFT - likewise with folks I know personally. Frankly, it's an argument I agree with.

Should read: viewed as wanting to do what's best for their child.........

By Pragmatist (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Narad

Parker has a J.D. and a Ph.D.; it wasn’t over her head.

I'd rather not talk about her behind her back, so suffice it to say that I personally don't believe that she has the mental capacity at this point you'd expect from someone with those credentials, even in the credentialed areas of expertise. I'd tell you in private what my reasoning is, but I'd prefer not to do so in public.

And just today, there’s somebody repeating the same line.

I've repeated things I've heard other people say before that turned out not to be true when I've looked them up. Of course, that guy probably won't look that up in anywhere that we'd find credible.

Yes, this guy is entirely rational: pictures of people with measles have all been Photoshopped by “Them.”

I didn't watch the movie -- does he actually say that? Nevertheless, there are some signs of mental illness just in the text of the page. I didn't say that nobody who is antivax has mental illness by any means.

Has it occurred to you that extrapolating from the sample of “all the antivaxxers I know in real life” might demonstrate a bit of bias itself?

It's not a random sampling by any means. I won't bore you with the Research Methods textbook answers I could give about possible sources of bias that could introduce. I'll just say that AoA is not a random sampling either, and it's probably likely to attract a unique subset of the total antivax crowd.

In short, in lieu of an actual scientific sampling, it's the best I got.

Myeloma cells overexpress CD46, which Edmonston-strain measles has been trained to use; wild types use SLAM for cell entry.

This is the coolest thing I've read all day.

By justthestats (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

Chris Hayes is going to take down Bob Sears tonight on "All In" on MSNBC. This should be good....

@justhefacts
# 177

What I’m also trying to say is that in every case they wouldn’t have become antivaxxers, and in many cases anti-vaccine evangelists, if they trusted the medical system

By the time you're one of the AoA-posting loons, you've basically decided that the vaccine program is a grand conspiracy. Seriously, there's no other practical explanation for ignoring decades of science and conclusive evidence of vaccine safety and effectiveness. To believe that vaccines cause harm means you have to believe that not just the medical establishment is lying, but that the government is lying, mainstream media is lying, pharmaceutical companies are lying, and the people that pour their lives into those professions are lying. There is no way a rational human being can come to those conclusions.

That's a different subset of people than those that have delayed or refused vaccinations out of fear or lack of understanding. Those folks can be reached with evidence and some reassurance.

The rest of them? Not a chance. You're better off bashing your head against a brick wall than arguing with a hardcore anti-vaxer, because you'lll hear the same recycled arguments and logical fallacies over and over again. It isn't fun. But they're dangerous because some of them have money, notoriety and influence, and that's the primary reason to continue to push back. Otherwise they'll get way more attention and traction than they deserve.

@Michelle
#188

Kinda hoping that Chris Hayes gets Sharyl Atkisson back on his show, not to explain her alleged hacking by the government, but for her years of aiding and abetting the anti-vaccine movement from her position at CBS News.

@Michelle #188. Thanks so much for the pointer. I usually wait until later in the eve to see the repeat segment since it's dinner time in these parts.

By Pragmatist (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

BOOM! First question to Bob Sears: in what peer-reviewed literature can I find the evidence to support a delayed schedule? Also, do you do any research in immunology or any other relevant field? No? Well, I'm just wondering on what basis you're advising parents to delay shots?

And now the squirming begins!

@Michelle 193. That was great.

By Pragmatist (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

Pragmatist:
Darn good question, actually. I'm guessing there's more than one answer and I'm wondering if it might be different for anti-vaxers and non-vaxers.

"Pedi’s are loved by their patients, are viewed as more gentle and wanting/doing what’s best for the child..."
My first thought was that's how it was when I was a kid, but things may be different now. If contemporary pedi's are anything like contemporary PCP's, they'd be vassals of the insurance companies and medical groups, over-scheduled, under-paid, lacking he time to establish rapport with parents, hurried and hassled into making medical mistakes...

But we know core anti-vaxers tend to be affluent, able to patronize expensive hand-holding pedis like Bob Sears and Jay Gordon — even if we dial those guys way down, and give them sense on vaccines, you've still got your old-school caring and symathetic pedi... As somebody mentioned on some thread here I don't have the energy to find, a lot of medical mis-trust traces back to perceptions of actual injuries to familiy and friends. The classic anti-vax meme, after all, is "the lights went out of my beautiful baby's eyes after he got the MMR!" Now, if that happens to a well-off striver with a caring and conscientious pedi, that's just going to make things worse, and foster a deeper conspiracy theory: 'My child was betrayed by someone in whom I placed absolute trust!" It's all falling dominoes. Your supposed-to-have-been-perfect kid has ASD, which is going to mess up YOUR life more than anything. There has to be a reason, and it can't be genetic because then it would be YOUR fault. So it has to be the vaccine. Then why didn't your doctor TELL YOU? Oh.my.god.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned

If perfect pedi can let your kid get autism, anything is possible, yes? And if that's out there in the wind, what if the kid just has a 'normal' temporary but still-freaking-you-out reaction your nice pedi didn't really prepare you for (maybe because you just weren't listening)?

So eventually maybe everybody in your social circle comes to think it might just be possible that caring pedi is a shape-shifting reptilian alien. You don't change your behavior, but, you know, you keep an eye open.

Now, the study of NoCal un-vax clusters that was published in Pediatrics (Lieu, et al) was based on data from Kaiser Permanente. I don't know is Kaiser has different plan levels, or how the med centers may differ in different communties, but this is not private practice. It's a mass consumption HMO and the primary care is mediocre. (Can't speak to the pedi depts., as I don't have kids...) It's not the physicians, who all seem to be good doctors and fine folks to me. It's the system.

It's far from the worst, and within the context of healthcare as is it, I still recommend Kaiser to young freinds who have a choice. But I could see how the system could seem really impersonal and alienating to a young parent — not enough to make anyone normal actually ant-vax, but maybe push them towards that mushy middle where it's not a no-brainer, there are weighings to be made, and decisions maybe delayed.

Pure conjecture of course. But I'd guess there's no way economics doesn't play into this, and doesn't have something to do with how things may be sorted out on any sort of spectrum scale.

pop socket, your evidence that the MMR and seasonal flu vaccines" are both shit and only exist because medical peer reviewed science regularly shags them senseless" would be what, exactly? Be specific.

I mean, you do have some--right?

Someone explain to me why Sears would agree to this. Surely he is self-aware enough to realize that he's in for a shellacking?

Well, that was delicious:

Chris Hayes MSNBC "All In" demolishes Bob Sears in interview

http://www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/challenging-vaccine-delayers-39840672…

Bob: 54 vaccines throughout all of childhood, and.... that's just too much for their little babies

[NOTE The 54 includes the HPV vaccines and meningococcal vaccines, given later in childhood, plus the TdaP booster]

Dr. Corey Hebert is the schizznit. And NOW Corey Hayes is giving airtime to the Elizabeth Warren - Anne Schuchat interchange.

AND SLAMMING DR. BOB AGAIN!!

Bob: 2,000 serious vaccine reactions are reported to the CDC every year, 2,000! I will also say that these are not prooooooven reactions to the vaccine. But what does the medical community do with that? They simply IGNORE those reports! [the medical/science community says] because we can't PROVE these [are linked to vaccines] we are just going to set them aside and ignore them!

[NOTE: The reactions are VAERS reports]

ob: I think that is dangerous and I think it does a disservice

Bob claims that he vaccinates for rotavirus and whooping cough on time.

It’s interesting that the only one of these so far that is required to form the contradiction is this one, which seems like a classic defensive reaction to me, since the unvaccinated are repulsive to everyone else. If having that kind of belief is enough to make you “irrational”, then there isn’t anyone on the planet that is rational, since we all have those kinds of belief.

This was directed at Antaeus, but I don't find the unvaccinated "repulsive," just BTW. Going back to your first comment, though, I'll break this passage into two pieces:

We also tend to assume that everyone who doesn’t vaccinate is aware of the mountains of studies that have been done on vaccine safety by lots of different groups. They often aren’t.

As a way of getting through to non–frothing lunatics and non–congenital liars, more evidence of this sort doesn't work. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that the average, firm antivaccine type has been exposed to at least some of the propaganda of the "14 Studies" or Ginger Taylor type.

Drawing from something like this (a denoised version of Science Mom's one) is aimless, because – rational or not – the issue isn't weighing evidence differently, it's an inability to weigh this sort of evidence.

An ignorant but rational person can come to a different conclusion than they would be if they were exposed to more information.

It is rather difficult to undo such an edifice, however. Believe it or not, I'm actually able to modulate my tone. If the forum is right, patiently taking apart specific falsehoods for the sake of an apparent audience – even, or even especially – with an intransigent peddler of the crottin du moment.

This is the coolest thing I’ve read all day.

It's tempting to anthropomorphize to having been raised with certain regional foods.

^ "inadequately denoised," now that I glance back it. The non-English papers should (mostly) go.

Sadmar #196: Thanks for your thoughtful reply. My experience is via my hospital work in major teaching hospitals---dated by about 10 years. And contemporaneously via my friends who are raising children. As I said in another thread: to a person, not a single one is anti-vaccine. Like minded people selecting each other for social framework? My friends really like their pediatricians and trust them(they're all back East). One friend in the East Bay who has 2 toddlers and is studying nursing is provax. So, I think I have a pretty insulated direct personal experience from which I opine. I agree with you that there has to be a spectrum of competence and likability-- the USA is pretty big! Money a factor. Check.

Your supposed-to-have-been-perfect kid has ASD, which is going to mess up YOUR life more than anything.

Yes. I'm coming to learn that this issue is so about them(antivaxers). Jenny McCarthy is an example. She exhibits distinct narcissistic traits----as defined by DSM.

As somebody mentioned on some thread here I don’t have the energy to find, a lot of medical mis-trust traces back to perceptions of actual injuries to family and friends.

I hear you and agree---but there seems to be something else. Because pediatricians, pediatric surgeons, oncologists, etc., have been making errors for decades. People have been hearing about folk going in for a routine procedure and going to the morgue instead of home for all their lives, getting the wrong medicine at a toxic dose yet most? still have procedures done and go the hospital when sick. I feel like we're missing something---that "thing" that has created the environment for misleading pediatricians like Sears, and all the other antivaccine leaders to thrive and make a whole lot of money from well-intentioned parents----while endangering the sacred social compact we've all grown up with.

Interesting that you bring up Kaiser---I moved back to the area last summer and fortunately, I have choices and have chosen UCSF. I also hear they're better than in the 90s....but....not for me.

But I could see how the system could seem really impersonal and alienating to a young parent — not enough to make anyone normal actually ant-vax, but maybe push them towards that mushy middle where it’s not a no-brainer, there are weighings to be made, and decisions maybe delayed.

Excellent point and I'm planning to explore this to see what's going on with these young families in my area...

This is so vexing. What came to mind today since I've had the time to be online, follow links, discuss here----is that there's a whiff of terrorism in this dynamic. The antivaxer leaders mislead, lie, use our honor system with VAERS, for example, to their advantage, to advance their agenda that has no basis in truth while harming children all around the country.

This pedi is also concerned about this mimicking terrorism.

http://www.medpagetoday.com/InfectiousDisease/Vaccines/49988

By Pragmatist (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Liz #196. Yes, I thought the whole package was a terrific job done by Hayes.

Did you note that Sears also lied re: his measles schedule? "I give it at 12 months and 5 years."

By Pragmatist (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

Just finished watching Chris Hayes take Dr. Sears apart and it was a thing of beauty. This is how journalism ought to be done: instead of simply giving Sears a platform and then tacking on the obligatory "scientists say vaccines are safe" at the end, every time Sears tried to sneak in an anti-vax talking point Hayes was ready with the facts to refute it then and there.

I'm happy to see someone in the mainstream media specifically addressing the issue of vaccine delayers, since a lot of the antivax backlash against the recent increase in pro-vaccine sentiment has been taking the form of "I'm not one of those crazy antivaxxers, I'm just taking a sensible, better-safe-than-sorry approach by spreading the schedule out." If your kid gets measles when they're two years old, it doesn't really matter if you were never going to give them the MMR or you were just waiting until they turned 3 - the end result is the same.

Something I keep looking for and not finding among the anti-vax set is an actual, principled, disciplined, and rational scientific disputation of the science behind vaccines. You know, something with actual evidence behind it that isn't make believe wish fulfillment or written by cranks or quacks. You know, something evidence-based ? Not just gainsaying or blaming "big pharma". Should I blame antivax sentiment on big coffin ?

This pedi is also concerned about this mimicking terrorism.

Well, if you can't see through your cognitive biases (hard), you'll never something grok something Daesh something something and happy something happy.

Hi,

I am a pro-vax parent, but I live in an area with really low vax rates and many of my friends and neighbors are vaccine skeptical. Someone posted this this morning -- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/autism-vaccine-_b_817879.html -- and it's making me really anxious. I have a full time job and kids so I can't spend my time tracking down every reference. Can you do me a huuuge favor and help me debunk some of these claims? i.e.

"One paper in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health suggested that boys who received the HepB vaccine beginning at birth were three times more likely to develop an ASD than boys who did not. "

AND

Some of these parents actually keep up with the science, including a new review of autism studies in the Journal of Immunotoxicology which concludes: "Documented causes of autism include genetic mutations and/or deletions, viral infections, and encephalitis following vaccination."

I'm especially concerned with that Immunotoxicology one. I really want to have confidence in science, but it's so hard when I'm constantly up against these stories that seem designed to make me worry.

I'm also curious about his claim that Canadian kids (except immigrants) do not get HepB vaccines and have lower rates of ASD.

I know you're super busy but I would really appreciate you're treatment of this article.

Thank you!

Think I may have duplicated a post. if so, my apologies.

Yup, One too many linked URL's in response to zoe's request. I thought two was acceptable, but three sent you to moderation? Am I mistaken?

@Zoe #207

SO, I read the J. of Immunotoxicology paper, and basically its just a loose collection of unsupported opinions and hypotheses. Autism is, by definition, a developmental disorder that manifests by age 3 - developing "autism-like" symptoms later in life due to brain damage, whether that brain damage is caused by encephalitis or being hit over the head with a shovel, is not autism. I was surprised that any legitimate, published researcher would so egregiously re-define autism to suit her pet hypothesis, not to mention the fact that she cites the former-Dr. Geier (who lost his medical licence for chemically castrating autistic kids), so I googled her name - turns out Orac already has a take-down of the article here

re; the gallagher paper, the short take is that the number of autism diagnoses in the decades before the intorduction of routine Hep B vaccination were lower than the number following its introduction. That's it--correlation, but no demonstration of causation. Anything at all that increased over the same time period--increased use of social media, reality television programs, increased consumpton of organic foods, etc.--would show a similar correlation.

J. of Immunotoxicology

I have no idea what kind of study or preconceived conclusions would be invited by a journal with a title like that.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 13 Feb 2015 #permalink

This health ranger danger and quite a few actual news outlets I've seen, have been touting this phrasing of "forced vaccinations". I have not seen a single piece of proposed legislation that would mandate forcibly vaccinating anyone against their will, or that of their parents. What I have seen in the stories that follow these sensationalist headlines in legit news media, are more stringent requirements for children attending public school.

Given that we have even more knowledge these days about how infectious diseases are transmitted, as well as how infectious diseases can affect the most vulnerable among us, restricting participation in public schools seems reasonable to me.

We cannot deny an education to those who cannot be vaccinated due to legitimate medical reasons. We also cannot unnecessarily put our most vulnerable population at risk of contracting infectious, preventable diseases.

The way these folks get from "if you are able to be vaccinated, then proof of vaccination (or immunity) is required to enroll in public school" to "the government will physically force everybody to vaccinate whether you like it or not" seems dishonest to me.

If one wants to enjoy the privileges (and conveniences) that accompany scientifically-based public-health practices, one must do their part. Otherwise, one is free to not participate in group stuff. Homeschooling is more viable than ever these days, live off the grid in isolation, go wild and relish in the purity of essence you love— just don't get other people sick as a result of your choices.

Vaccination is and always has been a choice — nobody is advocating for the forcible vaccination of a child by the government against one's will. We are advocating for schools are safe from outbreaks of infectious and preventable diseases.

By I am not a doctor (not verified) on 14 Feb 2015 #permalink

I thoiught Rand Paul is personally opposed to refusing to vaccinate.

By Joseph Hertzlinger (not verified) on 14 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Dororthy
Why a waste? Ron Paul was an Obstetrician, if I recall correctly. Did he have multiple malpractice issues? I thought I read that he worked with patients who did not have insurance and would still be their doctor.

By Helen Hollis (not verified) on 14 Feb 2015 #permalink

Ron Paul was not an Obstetrician.

By Helen Hollis (not verified) on 14 Feb 2015 #permalink

How long do you have to read and follow this bolg before you understand that Rand Paul is anti-science?

By Helen Hollis (not verified) on 14 Feb 2015 #permalink

Blog. My deepest apologies.

By Helen Hollis (not verified) on 14 Feb 2015 #permalink

Zoe, every Canadian province has their own vaccination schedule and it appears from my (very limited) research that the universal hepatitis B vaccine birth dose is not being implemented in Canada. I don't see where only immigrant children are given hepatitis B vaccine...can you provide a reference?

According to Autism Speaks Canada, Canada has not tracked the prevalence of ASDs:

http://www.autismservicesinc.com/pdf/Autism%20Speaks%20Canada%20Updated…

You can package it anyway you like, but the biggest problem pro vaxxers have is that the only 'evidence' you have is the medical peer reviewed paper that you quote.

We all know this is as 'scientific' as much as you pay for it.

When a vaccine fails, it has nothing to do with the vaccine it is always the patient, or bad procedure or a bad batch.

We are all sick of the advertising and fake placebo trials and the appeals to emotion. No one managed properly should die from measles.

By pop socket (not verified) on 15 Feb 2015 #permalink

Let's see - strawman, strawman, strawman.....got anything else Pop?

The thing that really confuses me is what would it matter whether you "admit" to being anti vaccine or not. What does that really have to with the topic that you are discussing?