It's not a secret to anyone who reads this blog that I have an incredibly low opinion of celebrity pediatricians who are, if not outright antivaccine, antivaccine-sympathetic or leaning antivaccine and use their authority as physicians to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about vaccines. Without a doubt, chief among these pediatricians in this country right now is "Dr. Bob" Sears, author of The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child. His book is a veritable object lesson in how to pander to the fears of vaccine-averse parents and make them feel special and superior for "thinking for themselves" and not going along with the "herd," while basically advocating sponging off of herd immunity (or to "hide in the herd," as he put it) while refusing to take even the tiny risk from vaccines to contribute to that herd immunity. He even tells antivaccine parents not to tell other parents about their fears, "lest too many parents develop similar fears." If that isn't a cynical example of pandering, I don't know what is.
More recently, in the wake of the Disneyland measles outbreak, Dr. Bob has been doubling down on his antivaccine tendencies to reveal himself to be truly antivaccine, showing himself to be the master of the antivaccine dog whistle. When California bill SB 277, which would eliminate non-medical exemptions to school vaccine mandates, was introduced, Dr. Bob basically lost it and gave up all pretense of being provaccine, as he spread misinformation about vaccine cloaked in conservative/libertarian "health freedom" rhetoric. He became a prominent opponent of the bill. As the bill gained steam in the California legislature and its passage took on the air of inevitability, Dr. Bob became more and more radical, even to the point of going full Godwin over the law, likening it to the Holocaust. The odd thing is that, after the law finally passed, because all a parent needs under the for a medical exemption to school vaccine mandates is for a doctor to write a letter, Dr. Bob was in an excellent position to profit from the law by selling medical exemptions. This he rapidly proceeded do where he could. He also gave parents advice on how to avoid or bypass the requirement.
That is when last we left Dr. Bob, but what's he's been up to lately?
Well, a little over a week ago, Dr. Bob Sears and Melissa Floyd launched an antivaccine website the Immunity Education Group. I had never heard of Melissa Floyd before, although she has been mentioned in the comments of this blog before. She bills herself as a "data analyst" and testified in front of the California Assembly in opposition to SB 277 as a spokeswoman for the California Coalition for Health Choice (website). That in and of itself is not a good sign. It's also odd that Dr. Bob would align himself with someone so blatantly antivaccine. Or maybe it's not. This particular project could cause glasses to shatter all over California, so powerful are its antivaccine dog whistles:
It's not just about what's right... it's about your right.
We support vaccination as an important and useful public health measure and acknowledge the benefits which vaccines have afforded us by reducing or eliminating many serious diseases. Yet, many concerned citizens do not want any medical interventions to become mandatory for the public, whether it be immunizations, psychiatric medications, antibiotics, or invasive medical procedures. Medicine is always a free choice, and informed consent is a right guaranteed by every international organization. American families are entitled to this right, and parents should always retain the right to make medical decisions for their children.
As I've said more times than I can recall, this is dog whistling, pure and simple. Notice the high-sounding rhetoric about "freedom," "free choice," "informed consent," and, above all, "parental rights" to make medical decisions for their children. Note how Floyd and Dr. Bob state that parents should always retain the right to make medical decisions for their children. Alway? By their logic, children with cancer whose parents refuse to continue to treat them with life-saving chemotherapy should be allowed to make that choice, and Christian Scientists and other radical religions that eschew medicine in favor of the healing power of prayer should be allowed to treat diabetic ketoacidosis and pneumonia with prayer. Or what about parents who choose "natural remedies" over effective medicine, resulting in their child's death? I doubt that they mean that. At least, I hope they don't. However, I fear that they really do believe that children are, in essence, the parents' property and their parental rights are absolute. They are not, even though conservative-leaning politicians speak as though they are.
The Immunity Education Group claims they are pro-vaccine (of course). So are they? What are they saying? What are they doing? What happens with the rubber hits the road? So I decided to look at the IEG Facebook page and at Dr. Bob's page to see what's been going on over the last month and a half. The first thing I noticed is that a couple of weeks ago Dr. Bob updated his suggested strategy for "navigating the new California mandatory vaccination law" (which it isn't, given that no one's forcing children to be vaccinated against their parents' will. It's basically a rehash of the disingenuous to dishonest advice Dr. Bob gave (and I deconstructed) in July, longer and more detailed. Clearly it's his talking points that he's developed since the bill passed. Here's the dishonest part (well, one of the dishonest parts):
Bottom line, it is imperative that all families and doctors operate within the guidelines of the law and the standard of medical care. I would say that at this time there is no certain medical standard of care on this issue. That will evolve over time. We can all work together on this. There's no reason whatsoever to go outside of the law, no matter how angry you are.
Here's the problem. There is a standard of care. Every pediatrician (well, apparently every pediatrician other than antivaccine pediatricians like Dr. Bob) knows that. As an aside, it's truly depressing to note that a Google search for "vaccine medical exemptions" turned up mostly antivaccine websites on the first page, although I was happy to see that this post by me was also there. There are generally three general classes of medical reasons for exempting a child from vaccinations:
- The child’s immune status is compromised by a permanent or temporary condition (i.e., the child is immunosuppressed, as by cancer chemotherapy). This is, however, only a contraindication for attenuated live virus vaccines; vaccines without live virus are not contraindicated in this situation.
- The child has a serious allergy to a vaccine component.
- The child has had a prior serious adverse event related to vaccination.
That's pretty much it. Dr. Bob—shall we say—is quite creative at expanding that list.
Perusing the IEG Facebook page, I'm struck at how much it resembles other wretched hives of scum and antivaccine quackery, like Age of Autism, only toned down a bit. (The purpose of the group is, after all, seemingly political, and it would not do to look too loony.) For instance, IEG claims that the medical community denies that vaccine reactions happen, which is nonsense. The problem IEG has with what the medical community says has nothing to do with the medical community "denying" vaccine injuries. Rather, health issues that the antivaccine movement attributes to "vaccine reactions" are not in fact due to vaccines. I'm referring, of course, to autism, autoimmune diseases, sudden infant death syndrome, and other conditions that antivaccinationists routinely blame on vaccines despite a notable lack of evidence that they are actually due to vaccines. There are, of course, the usual dog whistles, posts with titles like MANDATORY VACCINATION: IS IT AN ISSUE OF PARENTAL RIGHTS OR THE RIGHTNESS OF VACCINES? (Nice all caps. Really grabs my attention.) Then there's antivaccine propaganda from SafeMinds (search this blog if you are not convinced that SafeMinds is an antivaccine group). Disturbingly, there's also a post gloating over how Assembly Bill 1117 died in committee. AB 1117 is a bill that would have given financial incentives through Medi-Cal to doctors who fully vaccinate their Medi-Cal covered patients by age 2. Yes, IEG objects to a plan that would encourage vaccination.
Most telling (to me at least, and also to Karen Ernst) is a post entitled CDC PRESS CONFERENCE: ARE THEY STIRRING UP A "WHICH" HUNT? First, let me just reiterate (I've been Tweeting about this and mentioning it on Facebook) that whenever I hear the term "witch hunt," my skeptical antennae start twitching furiously, word play or not.
As I put it, "witch hunt" = criticism of someone I agree with and/or like for statements and/or behavior I agree with (or at least don't disapprove of).
Contrast that to: Justified criticism = criticism of someone I disagree with and/or dislike for statements and/or behavior I disagree with and/or disapprove of.
In any case, the term "witch hunt" has become so commonplace, so devalued, and so casually thrown around to describe things that are not remotely on that level that it has become as meaningless as the use of the word "liberal" as an epithet. Dr. Bob's use of it is no exception. First, he demonstrates his utter statistical ignorance through the questions he asked about a recent CDC teleconference:
The few items of interest in the CDC survey of 4 million kindergarteners from the 2014/2015 school year were these:
- The nationwide median vaccine exemption rate was 1.7% (exemptions for any and all reasons, including kids who were only missing one dose)
- The state with the lowest rate was Mississippi (0.1%) because they don't have personal or religious exemptions - only medical; Idaho had the highest rate of 6.5%.
- MMR median vaccination rate for both doses was 94%
What does the word "median" mean? It's not the same as "average." Median just applies to the very middle number in a long list of numbers. So, the CDC didn't actually report what the "average" exemption rate or the rate of MMR vaccination is. Why not? Why use the median, number, which doesn't really tell us anything? Is the average higher or lower? That's the useful number.
Seriously, how did this idiot get through medical school? How does he even function as a doctor? Certainly, he must not be able to evaluate what is and is not a good study. (That much is obvious any time he discusses science.) Dr. Bob, get thee hence to read this and this. After all, the mean and median are two of the most basic concepts in all of statistics, and if you can't understand why one is more appropriate than others in different situations, you are incapable of intelligently discussing statistics and should just withdraw from such debates to avoid the sheer embarrassment.
Yes, the mean is the average, and the median is the "middle number" in a dataset. Both are designed to measure what is known as the "central tendency." If you have a nice, symmetrical dataset following the classic bell-shaped (Gaussian) distribution, the mean and median will be the same, or at least close to the same. When the data values are clustered towards one end of their range and/or if there are extreme values (i.e., the data are skewed), the mean and median will be different. In this case, the average can be excessively influenced by a few outliers, making it less representative of the the majority of values than the mean. This is frequently true of datasets close to zero that consist of only positive numbers (such as vaccine exemption rates). There can be no values under zero (at least not meaningful ones) and the values above the mean often have a "long tail," much longer than the tail can possibly be for the values below the mean. Under these circumstances, the median frequently provides a better representation of central tendency than average. It's the same reason we often use median survival rather than mean survival for cancer studies; there is frequently a long "tail," and the data are anything but Gaussian.
Jeez. I can't believe that it's even necessary to explain this to a fellow physician! The distributions the CDC was discussing were almost certainly highly skewed; hence, the median is a far better descriptor of central tendency.
Dr. Bob's statistical illiteracy aside, why is he disturbed by this? I'm going to quote liberally:
But instead of only presenting data, the CDC took the opportunity to shell out some well-crafted propaganda with this statement: Parents should find out their local exemption levels to better understand where the pockets of unvaccinated children are that leave communities vulnerable. Sounded benign enough at the time. Even when I heard the questions from what they tried to portray as a randomly selected group of reporters (Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, ABC News, AAP News, and NBC), I didn't quite get what was happening.
This morning, as I look back at my notes, and write this article, their true agenda becomes plain as day, and I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Here are the press questions which I now realize are way too coordinated and orchestrated to just be random thoughts from reporters, almost as it they were actually pre-planned (which I'm sure is not the case, right?). Instead of asking about data, vaccines, or infectious diseases, the reporter thoughtfully asked this:
- If parents were to get a hold of their local vaccine exemption data, what would they do with that information?
- Will states share exemption data with parents?
- Why doesn't the CDC post state-by-state local exemption data for parents to see?
Do you see it now? This press conference wasn't about disease information; it's the beginning of a hunt for pockets of vulnerability. And, I gotta hand it to them, the CDC's answer was sheer brilliance. "No, we're not the bad guys. We won't share the data. School vaccine laws and sharing exemption information is a STATE and local matter. We're are staying out of that." The quotes are my paraphrase of the CDC answer. But the CDC wrapped it up this this statement (my quotes again, but it's almost word for word):
"We encourage parents to find out their local vaccine exemption levels so that they can work together to help everyone do what's good for their community." Yes, they actually said that. It sounded so righteous, useful, and proper yesterday. But when you look at the whole picture, I worry that it's a portend of what's to come.
Methinks Dr. Bob meant "portent," as in the title of one of the better episodes in season one of Babylon 5.
Yes, Dr. Bob is worried about a "witch hunt," which he, erroneously thinking his wordplay is clever, characterizes as a "which hunt," as in which children are vaccinated and which are not. It's all of a piece with his previously going full Godwin about SB 277 and predicting the coming of a modern day equivalent of the Jewish Star of David that Jews had to wear in Nazi Germany and its occupied lands, only this time to identify unvaccinated children. It's as full of hyperbole as it is of risible ridiculousness.
In actuality, the real reason Dr. Bob doesn't want district-, city-, and school-level vaccine exemption rates to be publicized is because such data will identify the pockets of Dr. Bob's patients (and the patients of other antivaccine-friendly pediatricians like Dr. Bob) for all to see and thus potentially result in public pressure to bring the rates down. It's also an unfounded fear, given that 21 states already tally numbers like these and I have yet to hear of mobs of pro-vaccine parents heading to schools and districts with high vacine exemption rates with pitchforks to round up nonvaccinating parents. I'm not even sure I've heard reports of even serious public shaming, especially since the data are collected in such a way that unvaccinated children can't be identified. Heck, California has been publishing these data in such a way that researchers have been able to put together impressive comprehensive spatial maps of where pockets of low vaccine uptake are.
Sadly, Dr. Bob is as good at double-talk as he is bad at statistics, as Karen Ernst demonstrates so well. Give him time. He'll become the new Andrew Wakefield. No, he'll become the new "legitimate" Andrew Wakefield. He's incapable of doing research even incompetently done; so you won't see any retracted Lancet papers from Dr. Bob. You will, however, see Dr. Bob being increasingly blatant about aligning himself with hard core antivaccinationists.
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Vaccine litmus test:
Anyone pictured in close proximity to Andrew Wakefield (and visibly happy to be so) should be regarded as anti-vaccine. Obviously this test is unnecessary in most cases.
Yes and no. What about when Jamie Bernstein?
It should not be necessary to point out that HIPAA prevents the outing of individual unvaccinated children. If that happens to anyone, they have obvious routes of redress. Only aggregate data can be released.
If connedsumers believe for one moment that his "immune boosters" could in any way replace vaccines, they need to study up on the subject. At a glance, the claims made for his "Children's Liquid Immune Boost" product are not sufficiently supportable. Contrary to his claim, because vitamin C is an antioxidant doesn't mean it "helps to neutralize germs in the body" – never mind that neutralizing germs, which includes disease-causing microorganisms, constitutes an illegal claim for a dietary supplement in the treatment or prevention of disease.
Then there's "black pepper extract", which he misnames "Piper Nigrim" and touts as being "Considered an immune support supplement in many cultures", which is a far cry from conclusive evidence to show that it supports the immune system and therefore not an allowable claim, especially when the dose is a mere 0.75 mg/serving. Maybe he's using a highly concentrated extract, but he fails to state that in his label, which means that consumers who might question the safety feeding their child black pepper (a source of piperine, safrole, and pyrrolidines) can't tell how much they are getting. More likely, he included black pepper extract to prolong the metabolism of the other ingredients; an effect that would extend to other medications a child may be given. On top of that, he claims that it "acts as an antioxidant", which is contrary to allowable claims by the US FDA for antioxidants. Only vitamin A, Beta-carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C are allowed the claim of antioxidant. To make a claim for anything else as antioxidant requires pre-approval.
For elderberry, he claims "This berry is also know [sic] to help support immune function." Really? Show me a single human clinical trial in which the particular ingredient form of elderberry used in his formula was demonstrated to support cells of the immune system and which ones were sufficiently modulated to conclusively show enhanced function of measurable benefit to health. Since he doesn't reveal the form or its concentration, there is no way to tell, but then there are no human trials of elderberries in any form in which immune cells were demonstrated to be effected in changing an outcome of health. The same extract or preparation would have be used to support such a claim and in the same dosage. But Until such a time as there is such evidence, the idea remains hypothetical.
His claims for echinacea and vitamins A and D don't exactly engender confidence. Echinacea "helps to improve white blood cell function"? Sorry, but claiming that "When dosed properly [sic], I do believe it gives extra support to the immune system" does not constitute sufficient evidence; nor is it allowable in marketing a dietary supplement. While it's true that vitamins A and D "play a crucial role in keeping the immune system healthy", to state that "Short-term extra doses may provide extra benefit" is about as flaky a claim as anyone can make.
That where Sears practices (in southernmost Orange County) has dismally high nonmedical vaccine exemption rates has been shown well on other maps (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/county-607353-measles-orange.html , and http://www.ocregister.com/articles/parents-534104-vaccines-health.html?… ).
Sears has even been "outed" directly by a physician for the Orange County Health Department as directly causative for low vaccination rates in Orange County (Dr. David Nunez, family health medical director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, who directly blamed the spread of measles in OC on Dr. Sears (http://www.kcrw.com/news-culture/shows/which-way-la/pair-of-quakes-sign… , go to 6:40 to hear). And of course an unvaccinated patient of Sears was "patient 0" for the 2008 San Diego County measles outbreak (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/http-548411-ocregister-href.html).
There is so much Sears has done to harm children and public health (while profiting handsomely just like Wakefield), yet he has not been sanctioned by either the California Medical Board or the American Academy of Pediatrics (including their California state chapter). Sears is a complete and utter disgrace to medicine, but it's just as disgraceful that those groups which should be policing such horrible physicians are refusing to do so.
I don't think Sears cares so much about a "which" hunt in his neck of the woods. That has already happened, and nothing at all happened to Sears. More likely he is fanning the flames of paranoia to add to his Facebook numbers to have even more gulled parents buying his non-FDA-approved supplements.
1. Where Sears practices (in southernmost Orange County) has dismally high nonmedical vaccine exemption rates has been shown well on other maps (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/county-607353-measles-orange.html , and also http://www.ocregister.com/articles/parents-534104-vaccines-health.html?… ).
2. Sears has even been called out directly by a physician for the Orange County Health Department as directly causative for low vaccination rates in Orange County (Dr. David Nunez, family health medical director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, who directly blamed the spread of measles in OC on Dr. Sears (http://www.kcrw.com/news-culture/shows/which-way-la/pair-of-quakes-sign… , go to 6:40 to hear). And, of course, an unvaccinated patient of Sears was "patient 0" for the 2008 San Diego County measles outbreak (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/http-548411-ocregister-href.html).
There is so much Sears has done to harm children and public health (while profiting handsomely just like Wakefield), yet Sears has not been sanctioned by either the California Medical Board or the American Academy of Pediatrics (including their California state chapter). Sears is a total disgrace to medicine, but it's almost as disgraceful that those groups which should be policing such horrible physicians are refusing to do so.
I was banned from posting on their Facebook page because I asked if they were going to link to legitimate sources of information, like the CDC.
I see that Dr. Bob is defining "propaganda" to mean "statements I disagree with, regardless of their factual basis." Or to view it from the CDC's perspective, they're channeling Harry S. Truman. They aren't actually giving Dr. Bob hell, much as Orac or most of the commentariat here would want them to; they're just telling the truth, and to Dr. Bob it sounds like hell.
At the risk of attracting the attention of our resident Torquemada wannabe, this is just one more thing the anti-abortion and anti-vaccine groups have in common.
True believers don't allow immunization OR abortions ever, for any reason, and are honest enough to admit it.
Sears won't allow CDC because of course, that whole whistleblower thing. But look at the latest announcement he has regarding his spearheading the "overturn SB277" movement wherein he is hosting a meeting that includes one germ-theory denying, measles-glorifying "pediatric chiropractor" Tyson Perez (sorry, Perez, you are not a "Dr." by any stretch of the word)--http://myemail.constantcontact.com/RSVP-for-Sept--5th-Townhall---Family… .
As noted, I too wonder just how Sears made it through medical school (the word "cheating" comes to mind for Sears).
Yeah I think being pushed to churn up support for an anticipated referendum may be driving him into the open. In CA we have a parallel direct democracy system, and many anti-vaxxers believe that SB277 did not have popular support and could be undone if put to the people. Honestly, I'm not sure whether they're right or wrong state-wide, living not too far from Orange County skews my sample.
What's the deal with this "choice" and "freedom" nonsense?
As far I know, 277 does not require anyone to do anything. All it does is put requirements on those who wish to attend school. They are free to pursue other options if they don't like it.
Re: #2 Orac
I think it exclusively applies to the "I'm not anti-vaccine but..." crowd, which I guess is a red flag statement in itself.
That is an awesome display of self-control in Jamie's Wakefield picture. I wonder what the good Dr made of the note.
It's not just supplements. Mom and Dad inspire awesome jewelry, too. https://www.michaelalanjewelry.com/
And slings. https://www.balboababy.com/dr-sears.asp
This is the second time this week I've seen skeptics attacked for being on a 'witch' hunt. In the first case, I questioned the user's profession as this phrase is atypical in normal conversation. He basically told me he had every right to be that emotive. So much for the debate of ideas.
Even though I understand the differences and uses of mean and median, I was quite confused between Dr. Bob Sears and Dr. William Sears for a bit here. Btw, in researching this, I noticed that Dr. Bill has quite an impressive education and background.
Orac, I very much appreciate your explaining the mean/median. It is an art to be able to write to audiences that are not at your level of education and you do it well. NTIM, but this is something I've been paying more attention to since the exchange with the skeptic attacker above. His writing (outside of the insults) consisted of the jargon you find in academic-speak and it was quite annoying to try and figure out his meanings. I'm glad I don't have to do that here.
My favorite factoid illustrating how average can be misleading, or even worthless, is that the average human has one breast and one testicle. Sometimes, it's just the wrong tool.
@Johnny, and one ovary.
With so many witch hunts going on, won't someone think of the witches? I have never met a witch (other than one person who identified as Wiccan), suggesting they are now an endangered species, and possibly extinct. Stop the witch hunt!
Having debated Dr. Bob on numerous occasions, I can safely say that he really is that dumb and ignorant. He doesn't even read the studies he uses to defend his stupid schedule; he reads the abstracts and/or cherry-picks from the discussion but mostly just doesn't understand them. As an aside, it should be noted that it isn't just Dr. Bob that's anti-vaxx, the whole practice should be held accountable regardless of the other brothers' views because at the very least they are tacitly agreeing to Bob's dangerous crusade against public health.
It's strange that antivaxxers go on about "informed" consent (by which they actually mean antivax fear-mongering,) but oppose letting parents find out what their local immunization rate is. How can you weight the risks and benefits of getting vaccinated vs "hiding in the herd" if you don't know whether you live in an area that has herd immunity?
Sarah: As you note, what they call "informed consent" would be more accurately described as "misinformed consent". They expect you to "do the research" (read: visit sites of which they approve and which reinforce their message) and come to the same conclusions they do. Any resemblance between that and a rational thought process is purely coincidental.
OT but are congratulations and bon voyage wishes ever truly OT @ RI?
Let it be known that our most esteemed and magnanimous host and his equally esteemed and more lovely spouse will be embarking upon a transatlantic journey to the land of ale, gin, curry, bangers, Dr Who, JMW Turner and Christopher Wren**.
Thus I send my warm regards for a safe and happy flight and excellent time which I sincerely hope includes shopping for clothes.
** as well as other native art forms, foodstuffs and edifices too spectacular and numerous to mention individually.
AND unfortunately, AJW, although he doesn't live there anymore.
excellent time which I sincerely hope includes shopping for clothes
Be fair. The UK weather isn't cold and wet *all* the time.
With so many witch hunts going on, won’t someone think of the witches?
They enjoy the thrill of the chase almost as much as the hunters do. Often they get away. Also it's a time-honoured ritual, have you no respect for the witch-hunters' culture?
I think the state should rescind his license.
@ herr doctor:
I didn't mean it like THAT but because of the grand selection of fabulous merchandise. Traditional or edgy, take your pick.
-btw- whenever I watch a Tolkien epic, I think "Bimler actually lives there"
( meaning the locale where filming was done by Jackson)
( meaning the locale where filming was done by Jackson)
I was passed over during the casting-call for tall heroic-looking gingers to be extras in a scene with Rohirrim refugees. Peter Jackson is dead to me now.
#25 -- This is the most sensible thing I've read all day.
Orac, kick David Cameron in the nutsack for me. Or not.
@ herr doktor:
That casting director had n taste.
had NO taste
-btw- whenever I watch a Tolkien epic, I think “Bimler actually lives there”
( meaning the locale where filming was done by Jackson)
So very jealous. Oh well, perhaps someday a trip to the movie set is in the cards.
I also wish our host and his wife a safe trip and an enjoyable holiday across the pond.
Yeah, one of the days I want to visit sites in New Zealand where LotR was filmed. I understand that the new sets they made for the Hobbit movies were constructed to last with the plan to make Hobbiton a theme park or tourist attraction. From what I read, the Hobbiton sets from LotR were constructed like most movie sets: Flimsy and very temporary.
I always watch very carefully, assuming the good Doktor is lurking somewhere as an extra. That said, despite being a devout Tolkein fan (I read LOTR 7 times as a kid, all 1077 pages as I recall) I got bored with the last Hobbit movie and still haven't finished watching it.
UK weather really isn't that bad: it's a comedy truth that it is awful. For many years I cycled to work in the UK, and I could count on one hand the number of times the weather was so unpleasant I took the car. I have a Michigander here who prefers the more temperate climate in London to that in MI (I always tease her that Michigan is unbearable baking heat for two months a year and under six feet of snow for the remainder). I don't possess a snow shovel or snow tires or air conditioning, all essentials in Michigan, but only required once every few years here.
Hah! Cross-posted HDB admitting he isn't an extra after all.
I've never been to MI but the US is rife with extremes like this.
Once within several hours, I was in over 100 degree dry heat and then at a moist, windy cool shoreline in Sonoma County, CA ( barely 60)
I've been near a ski resort in NY where it was 20 below F. and then over 100 in NYC ( months apart though).
Right now, the US Open has had quite a few young, fit, trained tennis players suffering from the heat and having to quit. Notice that most of the stars get to play featured matches AT NIGHT.
Pretty spot on. There's a saying, in fact: "There are two seasons in Michigan: winter and hell." Another version has the second season as "construction."
I actually don't own any of the things above, but I don't have a car to dig out, and my landlord takes care of the sidewalk, stairs, etc. AC would be nice, but you only really need it like 10 or 15 days out of the year, and I guess I just suffer through it. Builds character, I say.
That said, despite being a devout Tolkein fan (I read LOTR 7 times as a kid, all 1077 pages as I recall) I got bored with the last Hobbit movie and still haven’t finished watching it.
Love Tolkien. Cannot stand the films.
I'll get my coat.
My parents (Liverpool and London) always bitched about the weather here (Toronto). "Two seasons, hot and cold." They grew up without central heating, though, so their opinions were not to be trusted.
Michigan's not so bad. Try living in Chicago for a few years. The winters are way more brutally cold, and the summers seem hotter. Basically, winter continues until sometime in May, when, like the flick of a switch, it goes from freezing to roasting.
I tend to agree with the Hobbit films, but I really like the LotR movies. Peter Jackson hadn't yet gone crazy from years of being successful and no one telling him "no" when he wanted to go overboard.
I think I'm really getting old because I can't stand most "modern" films. The last one I liked was Argo, and Mr. Delphine had a conniption in the theatre because they used "Little T&A" and Tattoo You had not yet been released at the time said events took place. We are really old and miserable and we're watching The General for the eight millionth time with a bottle of wine once the kid's asleep.
Pretty much on the money. This summer wasn't so bad but the past week or so has been 90+ and sauna level humidity. Don't forget get the city and the state to just an awful job of plowing and salting. Of the states that get frequent snowfall that I've been to, Illinois does the worst at keeping the roads clear.
Also, hope you enjoy your vacation. Though, I'm not quite sure what a box of blinky lights needs a vacation for.
Why, that sounds just like Michigan to me! But then, I'm from the magical PNW, where the weather is perfect. Even growing up in the mountains, we had snowy winters, but they were relatively short and it never got brutally cold like (I think) it does here. And after that I was living in Olympia and Portland, where "winter" means "50 degrees and drizzly." Granted, that lasts for like 8 months, but it's also pretty much my favorite type of weather - though the lack of sunshine does start to get depressing toward the end.
Krebiozen, you have me beat there.
I've only read the books twice through. I started with the Hobbit in 4th grade only because I read a lot back then and it looked interesting. That was well before I knew it was a thing. (I also liked the Freddie the Pig series as I recall).
As far as the P. Jackson films, I haven't seen the Hobbit movies because friends warned me off of them but I really appreciate the LotR movies. The screenplay can't compare to the books obviously, but the visuals are amazing and I am very impressed he could pull off the breadth of the sets, stages and actors (sorry Herr Doktor) that he did.
Reminds me so much of the old epics such as the Ten Commandments and Spartacus. Granted he cheated with CGI but you use what you have and they are still compelling visuals.
Though, I’m not quite sure what a box of blinky lights needs a vacation for.
Change the bulbs?
Orac: have a great time in the UK. I haven't ever been but it's a MUST on my life list (along with Oz, NZ, and some parts of Europe)
Michigan and NJ are pretty much the same, weather wise - at least comparing the Detroit area to north and central Jersey. I honestly can't tell the difference most of the time...
Pretty much agreed about the Tolkien films, Orac:
- LOTR was mostly quite good with flashes of brilliance although I could do without the multitudinous, video-game like battle sequences
- The Hobbit ( which I saw on television) was mostly just alright with some good acting and effects scattered throughout. The dragon and the molten gold were effective. Jackson made a mistake in drawing the short novel out to a film trilogy.
I've heard that he hasn't the rights for other JRRT works so we won't see more I suppose.
^ Yet another blockquote fail, on the last paragraph.
Before I forget:
one of the glories of London is its architecture- there are all sorts of tours that focus on one aspect or another: this can be either through a formal guided tour or via a download-able map that can be done on your own. One topic is the Great Fire and what happened afterwards.
Interestingly, one can also do a Fire ( and earthquake) tour of SF.
Bainbridge was as dry as the week before last when I visited, just BTW. They're going to need that rain.
^ Dammit, "as a bone the week before last...."
We had a brutally cold winter in these parts. Mr. Delphine grew up in a little town in Quebec, being pushed out of an upper window on a tea tray behind/in front of his brothers, so they could dig out the front door and their Dad (the town doc) could walk to work. And they to school. My point is, he does not flinch at cold and snow and wind.
We acquired a puppy in January. He undertook the process of housebreaking. It was -26 some nights, others maybe colder. He said, and I quote, "we are never f*cking doing this again."
It may well also be driving AoA out of their recent grant of 501(c)(3) status if anybody has the time to finish it off.
Bon voyage, Orac, and enjoy the UK. If you're renting a car, try not to spend too much time in the car park they call the M25.
For temperature extremes, it's hard to beat Fairbanks. I've been through temperatures as cold as -59 F (not wind chill!), which was not close to record cold. I've also seen it rain there in January. I haven't been there in the summer, but I hear temperatures over 100 F are not unheard of--particularly in late June, when the sun is above the horizon for 22 hours a day. In Alaska, if you see a motorist pulled off the road, you are required to offer assistance--situations that would be merely annoying elsewhere are potentially life-threatening there, and cell phone coverage outside of the main cities is close to nonexistent.
Yeah, this summer has been something else as far as wildfires go all over the Northwest. I actually called my mom to make sure she (and my brother and his family, and, well, everyone else) was doing okay when I read that a particularly violent fire was creeping way too close to home on the south side of Mt. Adams. She said everyone was okay, it was just "terribly smoky."
Back to how-did-he-ever-earn-an-MD Lob Fears (as real MD Chris Hickie has dubbed him).
I think I've mentioned this here before. California has been publishing searchable spreadsheets of (1) day care/preschools (2) schools with at least 10 children in kindergarten (3) schools that include 7th grade, with detailed vaccine uptake information (including PBEs and PMEs) for at least 4 years (if not longer).
No witch or which hunt in all those years, even with measles and pertussis outbreaks.
Because I have an odd schedule, I've recently taken a liking to KFSK, which is neither here nor there, but I'm reminded that several years ago – and here plural extremes is out – I was seriously thinking about trying to talk my way into an instrument-tech overwinter gig with IceCube.
Which is all just prefatory to my self-indulgently noting that my world is worse off for the loss of Nicholas Johnson, of "Big Dead Place" fame.
^ Oh, I didn't because I finally realized that Raynaud's was probably a deal-killer on the physical. BDP had excellent summaries of the psych test.
Mr. Delphine had a conniption in the theatre because they used “Little T&A” and Tattoo You had not yet been released at the time said events took place
That's how I felt watching "Without a Clue", which shows the Victorian counterfeiters using a Heidelberg windmill printing press, several decades too early.
Jackson made a mistake in drawing the short novel out to a film trilogy.
They did not strike me as *movies* per se, and more as "extended pay-to-view promotional videos for the accompanying computer games and theme parks".
My only lame contribution to this turn of comments is, why in the hell am I the only one who doesn't know what Herr Doktor Bimler looks like?!
And Orac and Mrs. Orac, have a lovely time in the UK and a meet-up with Brian Deer and/or Dr. Ben Goldacre would be epic. Also museums and the library in Birmingham would be worth your while if you're there.
The only good things about the Hobbit films were Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch. Which, they're usually the only good things, especially when appearing together.
I was banned from the Immunity Education Group page for pointing out a major problem in their "statistical" work.
And by the way, the Melissa Floyd who bills herself as a "data analyst" is actually an SAT prep coach.
Orac & Mrs. Orac, enjoy your well-deserved vacation.
I have visited the Museum of London every time I've been in said metropolis:
I have also visited the Lambeth venue of the Imperial War Museum at least twice. Recommended.
Science Mom: "why in the hell am I the only one who doesn’t know what Herr Doktor Bimler looks like?!"
Don't feel bad, I don't either.
Also, I did not see that Dr. and Mrs. Orac were going to the UK. I am so jealous.
I am a bit upset since my brother is now stationed at the US Embassy in London, and we can't go visit him while he is still there (they get apartments downtown!). Le sigh.
Just like when my brother was stationed in Cuba we are dealing with things due to our oldest son. Previously it was his open heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic... now it is long conversations with very expensive lawyers. Woo hoo
Oh, and I have developed IBS, which is affecting my lifestyle. I can't do my favorite sport, swimming, due to the danger of me causing the closing the pool for 24 hours. In a couple of weeks I get to prep for another colonoscopy. Woo hoo.
On the "bright side" I just learned that my grandmother and both her sisters had strokes at about my age due to "hardening of the arteries." Since I am controlling my cholesterol, I got something else. (my mother died in an airplane crash, one cannot plan for that)
Well, since you're all such science lovers; let's do a simple test. I'm 59. I have not been sick in 16 years. I have had no surgeries, have no ailments, and no aches and pains. My system is simple. I avoid vaccines like the plagues they precipitate, and take no meds, at all ever. We use herbs if anything is needed. My son is 16. He has never been vaccinated. Today he has not been sick a day in 10 years. He got over his childhood sicknesses by age 6 (measles, mumps and chickenpox) and has not been sick since. Never had an ear infection; no alphabet soup learning disabilities; nothing. On the other hand, all of my siblings and my son's cousins, take meds and vaccines. (My siblings and I are within 1 year of each other. That's how it was in the 50s) Today 3 are in wheelchairs and all have myriad ailments; and all get sick constantly. So, how many of you who obviously love vaccines, and take them regularly, have gone 2 years at a time without getting sick. (Oh and BTW, not to provoke you or anything, but when we do have any issues in this household, we pray. Our only physician is Jesus Christ. Our medical bills in the last 16 years since my son was born, are under $500.) (No we have no health insurance, that was out of pocket and amounted to less than $100 per year). If any of you can match our results, let's hear it. It should be interesting.
Hey, have you heard of this fellow by the name of Arthur Krigsman?
Sorry, you may find that really funny or think I'm a gigantic arse. I apologise in advance if it's the latter. In any event, I hope that you find some answers and can get some relief soon.
If he is 16 years old, how did he catch measles, mumps and chicken pox? These illnesses are not common in the US - outbreaks of measles make the news.
This statement alone makes me doubt the veracity of the rest of your comment.
I'm sorry to hear that. Hopefully, you'll find that the condition is cyclic and/ or can be controlled with foods and meds.
I'm not saying this to be funny but my giant cat had similar issues** a few years ago that seem to be amenable to dietary changes- he's practically normal ( well, in that respect anyway) His food consists of chicken, brewers' rice and corn with vitamins ( which I purchase).
Unfortunately, IBS can put a cramp in your style ( I know, I know- I'll stick to my day job) especially because you like to travel , plane, train and long car trips are not easily managed if you have GI issues.
I hope you're better soon.
** believe it or not- they do colonoscopies on cats but his doctor didn't find it necessary
Looks like we drew another troll who thinks that "data" is the plural of "anecdote". I agree with Krebiozen@68: said troll is a poor fiction writer.
OK, let's see..
I'm close in age to Christine, have no health problems, rarely see doctors and have been vaccinated more than is average because of lost records, change of schools/ universities/ residence/ travel and working with people who had reduced immunity/ for elderly relations.
Interestingly, my father and his sisters had no major health issues until very advanced age and were also vaccinated.
And I'm an atheist so I doubt Jesus was involved.
Christine hasn't been sick in over 16 years and her son is 16. She is 59. Apart from the fact that anyone who claims to have never had a cold in 16 years is likely to be a big fat liar (or live 50 miles away from any other human), the correlation here is astonishing. Not sick for 16 years, son is 16....hmmmm. I think we need to investigate the son. Obviously there is some kind of health 'field' surrounding him. This needs to be tested, this could be the answer to all the world's woes. A good Christian would support something like that, wouldn't they Christine?
Christine, I'm 44, BP of 110/50, weigh about 5 lbs more than I did in grad school. No surgeries save for LASIK for my eyes, and one during a PPH after childbirth. Never been truly sick, not sick enough to be hospitalized, anyway. A few broken bones vaccines wouldn't have prevented. Had a lot of parasites most people haven't had because of where I grew up. Had a lot of vaccines most people haven't had because of where I grew up and where I sometimes travel now.
I'm just really lucky, Christine. Just like you.
Not to provoke you or anything, but why are you so selfish with your prayers? If you have that direct line to Jesus and he actually heals you when asked, I would expect you to be praying for your siblings and their children, even if you don't have time to pray on behalf of strangers with malaria and cancer.
Christine - which parts of your system helped most to keep you healthy? How do you know? Thanks.
Somewhat OT, but ran across the gofundme for the referendum this weekend. It looks to have been established last week, and claims $92k (~1100 donations, with only a few over $100 and the 2 largest $5k each, so the maths look... dodgy) toward their target Tuesday of $100k to hire a professional petition company, and $750k overall. The 2 anonymous $5k donations put me in mind of Matt Carey's analysis of the Canary Party board members' "donations" that turned into loans afterward, but who knows?
Adding my good wishes to the minions' for a good trip and restful time for our host and spousal unit.
Oh, and Heckenlively only chipped in $250.
"Our only physician is Jesus Christ."
Should be interesting to see what happens when Christine develops appendicitis, or when her car is rear-ended by an atheist.
Even worse, I communte from the suburbs.
Krebiozen@68 is right.Your kid is a moocher off the herd immunity of all the other kids that were vaccinated.That is why he never got any of these diseases.
A quick search reveals at least two gofundme fund raisers to overturn SB277.The one you are talking about has raised $93,335.There is a second one that has raised $27,718.There may be others.
Some of you may have seen this article a while back at Huffington Post.In the last dozen years or so,Dr. Frye and Arkansas Children's Hospital have made remarkable progress in finding inborn metabolic and immune disorders that cause autism.Treatable conditions,that once they are treated,have had life changing results for many,including myself.Because of the diagnoses I have gotten,and my response to treatment,I was the first autistic adult to be seen at ACH in 2014.
The thing is,Dr. Frye's department having terrible funding problems from the hospital,for reasons too complicated to go into here.They have had to set up their own gofundme page,which as you can see,has only raised a miserable $15.00.
As I have said to people I know who work for Dr. Frye,had he found real evidence vaccines cause autism,he would be rolling in all kinds of money from the likes of Donald Trump,Jim & Jenny,and countless other wealthy antivaxers.
But it just goes to show where the priorities and interests are of many autism parents.Antivaccine pseudoscience and fear mongering will win over real science and real provable results all the time.
Looking at "Dr. Bob's" nostrum nook, I noticed that they're "free of chemicals".
Seems like the Food Babe is working at his Simi Valley lab.
@ Orac: have a wonderful time in London. Wonderful museums & parks & monuments :)
@ hdb: "I was passed over during the casting-call for tall heroic-looking gingers to be extras in a scene with Rohirrim refugees."
Ahem, did you mislay the platform shoes?
Ahem, did you mislay the platform shoes?
The spectacles probably didn't help either.
I too was born in the late 50s; I had all the then recommended vaccinations, caught measles, mumps, chicken pox and rubella; had more vaccinations, mostly Hep B as an adult; since my mid-20s all my sick time from work (aside from sciatica) was directly caused by work one way or another (who knew that being a nurse could be so unhealthy), including chest infections caught by patients coughing indiscriminately. Jesus isn't protecting anyone from that stuff...
I would describe myself as a fit and pretty health atheist.
My niece and both nephews, aged 21, 18 and 16, have all had full UK vaccination schedules and more for some foreign travel and are all as fit as the proverbial lops. No Jesus involved there either...
So, your point is?
Contagious disease tourism?
IMHO a must-see in the UK is the Tate Modern. Great collection, but the building itself is worth seeing by itself. It's the old Battersea power station (seen on the cover of Pink Floyd's 'Animals') and the galleries take up only one side. leaving a massive open space on the other. For historical stuff, the Tower of London is really good, as it gives a physical reality to the stuff we've read about the Middle Ages, and the nature of monarchy, the power of the state etc. As you move from one spot to another, it's mainly a litany of who was beheaded where. So much blood. If you've never done it before, I'd also catch a play in the West End: get tickets from the bargain booth for whatever seems the most interesting available on the day you want to go.
Mind the gap!
@79 -- it's usually the immaculate conception that gets them first.
So, here's my experience with the Bob and Melissa three ring circus. They were up in a tizzy about how, according to Melissa's wonky math, a high percentage of those who voted for SB277 are not parents and a high percentage of those who vote against are parents. That was so very telling to them! Shocking! The convo was full of "oh horrors!" And this was leading to something, I don't know what.
So, a friend and I analyzed the voting data. We found that Melissa was including abstainers in the against category because, according to her take on Robert's rules, that is what that means. When I politely pointed out that Robert's rules states abstaining is neither voting for nor against, she deleted my post.
Then, friend and I pointed out that more democrats voted for SB277 and more democrats are Ggy and also not parents and more Republicans who voted against 2b277 are married with stay at home wives. The democrats have a far more impressive educational background than the republicans, as in many of the dems have doctorates, JDs, or are medical doctors. The Reps have more businessmen and woman and land owners.
Our point being that there is far more to the voting record than simply who is and who is not a parent because you don't have to be a parent to care for public health.
Our posts got deleted and then we got banned. Mind you, we were posting politely.
So much for their initial claim that their immunity education page would be open minded.
Also, FYI: Melissa doesn't seem to actually have a stats background. She is a former singer and now an SAT tutor. That explains her wonky math.
you don’t have to be a parent to care for public health
And conversely, just because you are a parent doesn't mean you care about public health. Dr. Bob's practice depends on that fact.
This Melissa seems to have one of the nastiest cases of Dunning-Kruger I have ever seen. This is just speculation on my part, but maybe she became known as an expert on stats because somebody misread her resume/CV, which notes that she is an expert on SATs. Or some telephone game like variant on that theme.
And let me interpret Melissa's claim about legislative voting patterns on SB277: "...a high percentage of those who vote against are parents who would be inconvenienced by having to demonstrate a medical need for exempting their children from vaccine requirements." The bold part is my addition, of course, but I suspect that's what Melissa really means.
British Museum. Do not miss. Most better restaurants, definitely miss. A good meal in London can set you back by more than 100 pounds for two people. Mainstream major hotel expenses are stratospheric, and little boutique operations are not much better.
I take it that you meant "drive." This is bonkers. Where are the burb–IDOT–city boundaries? Are you having mechanical difficulty parking on the street?
You don't want to imagine the pedestrians' situation.
Then again, in this vein, the recent restoration of the northern mural must invite even more asshurt from the matriarch of "The Fairy Castle":
Idle observation: It appears that raving lunatic "White Rose," who has used Jake's place to piteously whine about being "banned" from AoA (except when she's not) has morphed into "Sophie Scholl" for some reason at AoA.
Not, "no reason" - all part of the theme:
And she's still a huge nutjob.
She was claiming that she was banned but then I did see her comment .
HOWEVER I can't imagine why they'd ban any non-SBM commenter because they allow such absolute drivel-spliced-with-tripe as POSTS- par example-
Adriana Gamondes confabulates 10 part fantasy-based explications of intertwined conspiracies that include everything except the kitchen sink and Lord Draconis.
Teresa Conrick weaves together strands of microbiome fan fiction with faux immunology and neurophysiology that she creatively makes up as she goes along by artfully inserting words from said disciplines nearly at random and then free- associating.
Kim Stagliano brags about her various martial arts/ writing skills whilst elaborating upon her daughters' inabilities and dire future without her perfected (s)mothering actions.
Even yesterday, reliable ranter, Kent Heckenlively writes up stirring** polemics about the next revolution ( although usually it's superheroes'/ paranormal detectives' rallying calls to the good people for total
obliteration of evil or other adolescent-friendly themes he's met in his YA reading/ film adventures).
Now, since he's in the state with the bear flag ( and short-lived bear republic) and squawking about the new ban on most non-medical exemptions, he's managed to riff upon the bear theme. I wonder if he realises that that assignation has a particular meaning in certain communities- I doubt that they would be interested in being associated with him.
So being banned while being anti-vaccine is quite an accomplishment at AoA. Jake should take a bow.
** yes, you can stir crap if it's not totally solid
Actually, I spent part of yesterday searching and searching for juicy tidbits of woo and anti-vacciniana to entertain Orac's minions in his ( partial) absence**
BUT I was not rewarded by much - save Heckenlively's drippings. TMR has been quiet for almost 3 weeks. Jake continues to beat various dead horses. I expected Bolen to have something to say about JREF but nada.
Mike Adams continues his wet dream of expanding NN into a news network HOWEVER how could it be news if it is edited solely by its good fit into his fantasy system which would make it rather tiresome after a while- the same themes, the same scandals, the same MO. Fantasy systems do tend to revolve upon the same axes over time.
** for he is ALWAYS aware and on guard, I know that.
Expect a lot of flailing about from the Usual Suspects reacting to news of a case of paralytic polio in Mali, derived from a mutated vaccine strain.
I look forward to explanations of why it's much better not to vaccinate and let the "natural" polio spread unchecked (once infected, if you survive you're immune! Yay!).
once infected, if you survive you’re immune! Yay!
AFAICT that is the argument they actually do make. It even happens to be true--vaccines wouldn't work if it weren't. The problem for them is to handwave away the costs of achieving immunity by this route: unnecessary suffering and hospitalizations, as well as the complications and side effects that often come with these diseases. Their argument, in effect, reduces to a claim that these costs are less than the costs involved with vaccinating against the same diseases. To do this they have to exaggerate the dangers of vaccines and simultaneously minimize the dangers of contracting the actual diseases. That takes a bit of cognitive dissonance, but nothing beyond what anti-vax activists have publicly displayed.