Framing vaccines

NOTE: Orac is on vacation recharging his Tarial cells and interacting with ion channel scientists, as a good computer should. In the meantime, he is rerunning oldies but goodies, classics, even. (OK, let's not get carried away. Here's one from all the way back in 2008 in response to Dr. Offit's excellent book Autism's False Prophets. Notice how, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

One of the major points made by Dr. Offit in Autism's False Prophets is how badly the media deals with scientific issues and stories in which science is a major component. Indeed, he devotes two full chapters, Science and the Media and Science and Society, to a lament that pseudoscience such as antivaccine fearmongering is so easily promoted by the media and accepted by large numbers in American society. He lists a lot of the usual culprits, such as a poor understanding of science by the vast majority of Americans. Of course, there is also the false "balance" given antivaccine cranks in the media, which follows the journalistic mantra of "tell both sides," not understanding such a tactic produces a false equivalence of the two when applied to issues of science versus pseudoscience and produces the impression that there is a real scientific controversy when there is not. (Indeed, this is so common that a term has been coined for it "manufactroversy," which is short for "manufactured controversy"; a better description of the antivaccine reality distortion field would be hard to find.) Another excellent point is how the culture of science differs from that of the sound bite culture of media; scientists are often tentative and refuse to speak in absolutes, knowing the limitations of studies. We rarely say "never," "always," or "impossible." So, when a reporter asks if vaccines cause autism, we almost always say something along the lines of, "studies thus far have found no link between vaccines and autism, rather than "vaccines don't cause autism." We do it because it's more accurate and, as Dr. Offit points out, it's impossible for science to completely prove a negative. The best we can do is estimate the probability, and the existing science is conclusive that there is very, very little chance that vaccines cause or contribute to autism. We can never say "zero" chance, but we can say the chance is vanishingly small. Unfortunately, that is perceived by the lay person as meaning that there's still a chance. Finally, Dr. Offit even dares to go one place where I honestly didn't expect him to go and mention the prevalence of religion and belief in the paranormal as contributing factors to the lack of critical thinking skills that allow the antivaccine dogma to flourish.

If only he hadn't so approvingly quoted industry shills and all purpose denialists Steve Milloy and Michael Fumento, as I pointed out in my review on Wednesday, Autism's False Prophets would have been near-perfect in hitting all the right notes on this issue.

One thing, however, I didn't see so much in the book that I would have liked to see more of is how scientists and physicians could effectively counter the propaganda laid down by the likes of Jenny McCarthy and the movement of which she is currently the most famous member. For example, lately she's been on CNN (as I described here, although unfortunately the video appears to have been removed), on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and all over the media promoting her book Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds. Last year at exactly this time of year, she was promoting her previous book Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism. Why is her message so effective, even though she is dumb as a rock when it comes to anything having to do with science and is so full of hubris that she thinks her Google education trumps expert knowledge and a wealth of solid epidemiological studies?

It's her frame.

To recap for those who are new to ScienceBlogs thanks to the book club, two ScienceBloggers, Chris Mooney and Matthew Nisbet argued that scientists aren't doing a very good job of communicating science issues to the public. On issues of importance that science impacts, such as global climate change and evolution education, they postulated, one strategy by which scientists could do a better job of communicating what science tells us about these issues and persuading the public of the validity of the science behind these controversial issues is to "frame" them better. As they said in their original article in Science:

In reality, citizens do not use the news media as scientists assume. Research shows that people are rarely well enough informed or motivated to weigh competing ideas and arguments. Faced with a daily torrent of news, citizens use their value predispositions (such as political or religious beliefs) as perceptual screens, selecting news outlets and Web sites whose outlooks match their own. Such screening reduces the choices of what to pay attention to and accept as valid.

Frames organize central ideas, defining a controversy to resonate with core values and assumptions. Frames pare down complex issues by giving some aspects greater emphasis. They allow citizens to rapidly identify why an issue matters, who might be responsible, and what should be done.

I was initially surprised when Nisbet and Mooney's thesis provoked a great deal of hostility among some science bloggers, and not just members of the ScienceBlogs collective. I say "to my initial surprise" because, initially at least, the whole idea seemed so mind-numbingly obvious to me, as I explained in my usual verbose fashion in these two posts. Basically, I attibuted much of the conflict to a cultural divide between "pure" scientists and science teachers and practitioners of more applied science, such as physicians like me, the latter understanding that you have to find a way to simplify and communicate in a way that your audience understands. And so it was for many months that I remained puzzled by the extreme intensity of the debate, whose nastiness at times seemed to go far beyond the actual difference between the two camps. Before too long, the very mention of the word "framing" became all but certain to set certain members of the ScienceBlogs collective into rabid fits of vicious invective that leave rational discourse behind, inspiring Mooney and Nisbet to return fire in ways that did not bring glory upon them, to put it mildly.

Even so, at the risk of reigniting these wars, I think that the reason Jenny McCarthy, and by extension the rest of the rabid antivaccine movement, succeed is because they use a handful of very simple and persuasive frames. For example:

  1. Autism as vaccine injury. This frame has been so effective that, as has been pointed out, if you ask someone about autism these days almost inevitably vaccines are linked to it. It matters not one whit that there is no convincings scientific evidence that vaccines trigger autism and there's a lot of evidence that they do not. Autism is now "vaccine injury." It's simple and, supported by anecdotes, seemingly compelling.
  2. Vaccination as an assault on personal freedom. This always resonates in the U.S., where vaccination is represented as the intrusion of the nigh-fascistic state into the affairs of families. This is very much of a piece with the "health freedom" movement that promotes quackery in the name of "freedom."
  3. "Green Our Vaccines" and its variant, "We are not 'antivaccine'; we're pro-safe vaccine." Wonderfully Orwellian in its twisting of language and arguably the most effective frame thus far used by antivaccinationists. They argue that vaccines are full of "toxins" (They're not) and do the antivaccinationis version of the Gish Gallup whenever studies are published exonerating a vaccine ingredient in causing autism. When that happens, they just move on to move the goalposts. If it's not mercury, then it must be the aluminum. If it's not aluminum, it must be the formaldehyde. If it's not the formaldehyde, it must be the antifreeze (never mind there's no antifreeze in vaccines; they're on a roll). And if it's none of the above, it's some undefined synergistic combination that demands that every ingredient be tested individually. Since there are so many "toxins" in vaccines, they must be "greened" before they're safe. Of course, to the antivaccinationist, vaccines can never be "green" enough. Just ask one what, specifically, it would take for her to be convinced that the toxins are gone. What, specifically needs to be removed? You'll get a vague and meaningless answer (like the one that Jenny McCarthy routinely gives) to get the "toxins" or "junk" out of the vaccines.
  4. Too many too soon. If it's not a specific "toxin" or combination of toxins in the vaccines, then it must be the whole kit and kaboodle, the whole vaccination schedule! It's "too many" antigens overloading the immune systems of infants, don't you know! Dr. Offit has explained why this gambit is a load of hooey, scientifically speaking, but to the average lay person it sounds compelling. Why not delay vaccines? Why not space them out? Just in case? Oh, wait. It's the precautionary principle again, as I discussed in my review of the book.

There are other frames, but those are clearly the Four Horsemen of the Vaccipocalypse that will, if unchecked, lead to suffering and death among children from vaccine-preventable diseases if unchecked.

One of the overarching topics of this my home blog, Respectful Insolence, since very early in its history has been combatting antivaccinationist lunacy and lies. Indeed, I was, as far as I can tell, the first person ever to point out what a cesspit of antivaccination propaganda The Huffington Post was right from its start. Resistance to vaccination and pseudoscientific misinformation every bit as ridiculous as any creationist nonsense appears to be growing, fueled by Generation Rescue, Jenny McCarthy, and the dedicated band of antivaccinationists who deny they're antivaccinationists over at Age of Autism. It's even progressed to the point of rallies on Washington, such as the recent "Green Our Vaccines" rally.

That is why I now ask everyone reading this post (and especially the pro-"framing" contingent) a question: How can we physicians and scientists deal with antivaccinationism? What "frames" can we use to combat the likes of Jenny McCarthy?

It's a simple question. I would even argue that, in the short term at least, it's a far more important problem than convincing the public of the validity of evolution or that we should do something to try to alleviate or reverse the effects of greenhouse gasses. The dire consequences of global climate change are far in the future, at least when compared to a human lifespan. None (or virtually none) of us will be alive 100 years from now, and most of us will be old or dead fifty years from now. It is not us, but our children, who will suffer if the models for global warming are correct, and it will be very difficult to evaluate end measures of effectiveness of "framing" in that length of time. In addition, the situation with antivaccine activism is very similar to the situation with creationism. The scientific consensus is that vaccines do not cause autism and are, as far as medical interventions go, incredibly safe, just as the scientific consensus supports the theory of evolution. Just like the situation with creationism, there is a hard-core contingent of antivaccine denialists who are loud, vocal, and probably unswayable, bolstered by ideology plus pseudoscience generated by a small cadre of "scientists" who have become convinced that for autism (and other disorders), it absolutely, positively has to be the vaccines. Finally, just like the situation with creationism there is the vast middle, Americans with little knowledge of science who hear the "charges" against vaccines and wonder if maybe, just maybe, the myths are true, making them hesitant to vaccinate their children. After all, the whole concept that there are "toxins" in vaccines sounds compelling to the average, scientifically untrained person, even though on a strictly medical and scientific basis it is not.

In contrast to the effect of ideologically motivated antiscience on evolution education or whether or not we as a society do anything to address global climate change, the ideologically-motivated antiscience known as antivaccinationism has a much more rapid deleterious effect. Thanks to fearmongering over vaccines, measles is already endemic again in the U.K., after previously having been conquered, while in the U.S. it is surging back as well, fueled by lower vaccination rates. If current trends continue, and antivaccine activists make good on an earlier promise of a "fall offensive" against the vaccination schedule, it won't be long before other vaccine-preventable diseases start making a comeback as well.

If ever an effective framing strategy were needed to counter the Orwellian "green our vaccines" movement, the time is now. The question is: How? Whatever the frame, it has to be simple, scientifically supported, and able to resonate with typical parents. Hardcore antivaccine activists won't be persuaded by any frame we can think of, but there are a lot of parents out there who aren't hardcore antivaccinationists but have heard their rhetoric and are afraid of vaccines because of it. How do we reach them?

Come to think of it, this is an area that I really wish I had seen more of in Autism's False Prophets. Dr. Offit does an excellent job of laying out the deficiencies in how vaccine science is communicated to the public today, deficiencies that leave a huge opening for antivaccine pseudoscience to permeate the national zeitgeist, but I'd really like to hear from him suggestions for frames or other strategies to counter it.

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NOTE: This post, which is related to a discussion of Dr. Paul Offit's Book Autism's False Prophets, originally appeared over at The ScienceBlogs Book Club. However, now that the book club for this particular book has concluded, I am free to repost it here for those who may not have seen it and to…
Note: The central idea for this post is the same as that of a post I did a few months ago. However, given some of the assertions and comments made by Dr. Offit in Autism's False Prophets, I thought they were worth discussing again, especially given how many readers are around who aren't regular…
I'm teaching a course on Greek and Roman mythology this semester and last week we tackled this question: Did the Greeks believe their myths? That is indeed the title of a 1988 book by French historian Paul Veyne. He writes in his Introduction: Did the Greeks believe in their mythology? The answer…
About four weeks ago, I wrote what I thought to be an amusing piece about how our blog "buddy" J. B. Handley, antivaccine advocate extraordinaire and now second fiddle in the organization he founded (Generation Rescue) to a Jenny-come-lately former purveyor of Indigo Child woo previously best known…

It's always amazed me that Jenny's message has thoroughly convinced some parents into fearing vaccines and other modernity HOWEVER it's quite another thing when the offspring themselves are so enthralled:
today AoA features a young man, Richard, who has bought into the entire tale and has utilised it in shaping his life-

post-vaccination, he had "issues in kindergarten" and his parents changed his school in order to avoid medication. He grew up feeling as though he was "not on the same planet as everyone else" with GI and neurological problems. He even had to leave higher education at 19. Medicine had no answer for his many problems including AS.

Then he decided to educate himself!
He stop eating food with additives, followed Weston Price and homeopathy. He was "appalled" by the CDC's activities.
This couldn't be genetic! It was environmental. Changing his diet reduced his symptoms. Now he has studied organic farming and become a "permaculture" designer. Greening the world, one backyard at a time, I suppose.

Jenny jumped on the Natural Bandwagon at precisely the right time and helped to spread the message like fertiliser.

Unfortunately, it has blossomed and borne fruit in nearly every marketting campaign I hear lately- it's not just anti-vaxxers overly concerned about GMOS and 'toxins". And obviously, product lines and business plans reflect this trend -grocery stores, restaurants, beauty products etc.

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

In last weeks there's been floods of immigrants coming into our country from north through Sweden. Our "NIH" starts influenza vaccinations in north soon and earlier than normally. They prepare to vaccinate against polio, difteria etc.
This could motivate also Finns to vaccinate more ?

There's strange correlation. Our anti-immigration parties and groups (and papers, many even neonazi-like) seem to be anti-vaccine and anti-GMO, too.

Common denominator seem to be common xenophobia, phobia of dirt/poison/strange/diseasse. They want all to be clean, free of dirt poison or bacteria etc.

So, perphaps most important framing should be:

1. Vaccines are clean, diseases are dirty.

By MrrKAT, Finland, EU (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

Sorry, that was premature.

But to sum up briefly, her "green" message helped invigorate a larger, older movement that has waxed and waned for centuries but has been made increasingly popular in the 40-50 years or so, primarily by pop culture.proselytisers.
Back to Nature, Back to Eden, Back to the Golden Age.

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

Back to Nature, Back to Eden, Back to the Golden Age.

Many Americans, especially of conservative political persuasion, tend to regard the 1950s as a sort of golden age. They aren't entirely wrong, at least for white heterosexual Protestants: an average family could afford a decent house on one income, there were decent jobs available even for people who didn't go to college, and college was affordable if the kids did decide to go--in many states you could attend State U. with little or no expenses beyond living costs and books, and those costs were low enough that you could cover them with the earnings from summer work and part-time work during the school year. Now, the economic situation sucks for anybody who isn't in the top 10%.

Of course there were downsides to the 1950s, among which were (most relevantly for this post) occasional outbreaks of diseases which are now vaccine-preventable. Polio outbreaks in summer were a routine occurrence--one of the standard responses was to close public pools, at a time when home air conditioning was an uncommon luxury. Measles, mumps, etc., were also commonplace, and many survivors of those diseases had serious complications--this is a major plot point in one of Agatha Christie's novels set during this period. Vaccines for polio became available in the late 1950s, and for some of these other diseases later. People with 1950s nostalgia often remember that kids weren't routinely vaccinated (except for smallpox, which they forget because that was subsequently dropped from the vaccine schedule following eradication of the disease), but they forget why kids those days weren't routinely vaccinated, or why parents in those days welcomed vaccines as they became available. Today's parents typically don't have firsthand experience with vaccine-preventable diseases. Unfortunately, the ones who do are becoming less atypical.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

Eric, although I DO agree with you about the 1950s ideal for conservatives types, I was hinting about a pre-Industrial Revolution vibe reverberating amongst the more liberal.
Before industrial farms, pharmaceuticals and chemical-laden foods - sometimes I think that they're imagining a facsimile Victorian era without all of the diseases ( sanitised steampunk?)

HOWEVER each side is narrating mythology. Would they truly WANT the lifestyles of these eras as historians portray them? That includes technology, occupational choices and SBM of those times, not to mention fashion.

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

To be Pre-Industrial was not Victorian.

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

Just in case someone wants to know: I am fairly certain the Agatha Christie novel referred to in #4 is "The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side".

By aairfccha (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

FWIW - Tower Bridge is what all Steampunk tries to be.

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

@ Mephistopheles O'Brien:

So true.
AND it's real!

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

Why not just phase out all vaccines for a while, or, like I said in another post, make them appear scarce by having parents 'special order' them? Right now, vaccines are viewed as common and Americans aren't interested in anything common, including the 'common good.' In areas such as Orange County, or Marin, pediatricians who vaccinate should be given a sabbatical year (or five) and allowed to go someplace where their talents are appreciated.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

Also, this young man and Jake are a sterling example of why kids with autism should not be raised by their parents or in the burbs.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

By this young man I mean the writer of today's AOA post. I hope he gets some therapy.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

Also, this young man and Jake are a sterling example of why kids with autism should not be raised by their parents or in the burbs.

You just don't quit do you? We have amazing parents here who are raising their autistic children and in the 'burbs' and that's the case with most parents you callous twit.

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

Sciencemom: The problem isn't so much the parents as it is the culture. Parenting in the 'burbs is a rat race: parents encourage competition and anyone who can't compete is shamed, bullied and shoved to the side. This also explains why parents in the autism community are so gullible; they're desperate for way to 'fix' their kids. Sensible parents like you, Chris and the Pwd's mother (can't remember her nym right now but you know who I mean) are few and far between, and the majority shouldn't be trusted with goldfish, let alone kids.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

And (tragically) Christie's Mirror Crack'd was based on a real life tragedy, that of actress Gene Tierney and her daughter Daria.

Sciencemom: The problem isn’t so much the parents as it is the culture. Parenting in the ‘burbs is a rat race: parents encourage competition and anyone who can’t compete is shamed, bullied and shoved to the side.

Oh just a load of bollocks. You said, "...by their parents or in the burbs." Own it.

This also explains why parents in the autism community are so gullible; they’re desperate for way to ‘fix’ their kids. Sensible parents like you, Chris and the Pwd’s mother (can’t remember her nym right now but you know who I mean) are few and far between, and the majority shouldn’t be trusted with goldfish, let alone kids.

Another load of bollocks and you have had this explained to you before when you've gone off on this offensive tangent before. The vast majority of parents caring for autistic children are not curebies. You seriously don't have any idea what you are talking about so you just shouldn't.

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

@perodatrent: There have been several occasions in US history where anti-intellectualism has been prominent, but yes, the 1950s were one of them. In that case, it was correlated with the Red Scare propagated by people like Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon.

@Science Mom: One can argue that US-style suburbs are a bad place to raise any kid--Kunstler earns a living making this argument, and I agree with at least some of what he says. (IMO, suburbs often combine the disadvantages of urban living and the disadvantages of rural living, with few or none of the advantages.) Balanced against that is the reality that in too much of the US there is no practical alternative for families who want decent schools for their kids. I grew up in suburbia myself, and eventually escaped to a small university town. I would say the high school I went to was better than the one here. OTOH, one of the nasty things about suburbia is the emphasis on conformity. That hits a lot of kids hard, and kids on the autism spectrum are hit harder than most. Couple that with isolation due to the practical difficulties of getting around in such a place without a car--at least in a university town there are things within walking distance, and of course in a big city older kids can get around on public transport. Raising an autistic child would probably be difficult anywhere (not that I have firsthand experience), but a suburban environment strikes me as harder than most.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

Oh, PGP, how much time have you ever actually spent with parents of kids/adults with autism or other disabilities? I help with the Team Hoyt running group here in Virginia Beach (a hotbed of conservative suburbia if there ever was one) and the parents of the kids with disabilities are amazing, working with their kids and educators to improve their communication skills and daily functioning, NOT chasing around trying to "fix" their kids with bleach enemas and other nonsense. And it's been an amazing privilege to see how well the kids and young adults respond to these interventions. Oh, and the parents all support vaccinating their kids, because they know that VPD's are going to be extra miserable for a kid with communication problems. I had to provide my own vaccination records before I got to start running with the kids.

@ Eric, believe me when I say that PGP is just rectally-sourcing her nasty arguments again and doesn't have a clue of what she is talking about. Suburbia doesn't strike me as being a harder environment for raising special needs kids, too general a category. Some will be better than others just as some urban or rural environs will be better than others depending upon services and supports.

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

Sciencemom: The vast majority of parents caring for autistic children are not curebies.

Ok, so where are they? They aren't online, they aren't going to hearings, they're just raising their kids? I mean, raising the kids is great, but why is all the public space taken by the curebies? Having the advantage of numbers is pointless if the other side has the loudspeaker.

EL: Couple that with isolation due to the practical difficulties of getting around in such a place without a car–at least in a university town there are things within walking distance, and of course in a big city older kids can get around on public transport.

Or bikes. My sister and I went on a very memorable urban bike trip during one spring break. (Mostly memorable for the car-dodging skills we exhibited.)
I imagine it would be a lot easier since some areas have designated bike paths now.

dusonfnp: I've met quite a few people with disabilities, thank you. However, most of the parents I've met are outliers, and while I know a few adults with ASDs, I don't know any kids with ASDs, currently.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

PGP:" Why is all the public space taken by the curebies?"

Because they're trying to get attention for their cause and the media, academia and researchers have already dismissed them .Long ago. So they form multiple advocacy groups, sponsor conferences, litter twitter with their #s and try to get representatives to investigate their latest scandal. They try to recruit new followers and expand their reach.

As an analogy, do real dietitians and students of nutrition have websites and internet radio shows? Or do they just go to work, do research et al whilst the usual suspects drum up business on the net?

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

Speaking of the 1950s, is there any validity in the idea that tonsillectomies lead to the polio outbreaks during that time and reducing them is what reduced the outbreaks?

I see news like outbreaks - in clusters. And the current one I have been seeing is this tonsillectomy/polio meme.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

polio & tonsillectomies.....no.
next question.

And the current [outbreak] I have been seeing is this tonsillectomy/polio meme.

Do they explain how removing a couple of lymph nodes is supposed to affect the virulence of a viral disease?

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

...kids with autism should not be raised by their parents or in the burbs.

Just where should kids with autism be raised? In a 2 BR apartment with neighbors on 5 sides, where you can only see a small piece of the sky, and nothing dimmer than the moon at night, surrounded by 10,000 soul-less humans, none of whom know each other, and care even less?

Sciencemom: The vast majority of parents caring for autistic children are not curebies.

Ok, so where are they? They aren’t online, they aren’t going to hearings, they’re just raising their kids? I mean, raising the kids is great, but why is all the public space taken by the curebies? Having the advantage of numbers is pointless if the other side has the loudspeaker.

WTF is wrong with you?! This has also been explained to you repeatedly and guess what? No one is answerable to you. Yes the vast majority are raising their children, fighting locally to obtain services and supports for their children and there are many who are very vocal advocates. Why don't you look for them before opening your stupid piehole again. Get this through your thick head...
Curebies are a loud, vocal minority

dusonfnp: I’ve met quite a few people with disabilities, thank you. However, most of the parents I’ve met are outliers, and while I know a few adults with ASDs, I don’t know any kids with ASDs, currently.

Then how about STFU and get some experience in something before you say such offensive things.

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

@Not a Troll #28

Polio wasn't being spread by the tonsillectomies unless there were some serious deficiencies in sterile technique.

However, many types of trauma, including injections, including vaccines, can worsen the symptoms of polio the patient is already suffering. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC110068/

Here’s some old information:

I'm not seeing any "there" there. The first reference mentions tonsillectomy, as an aside, as a possible contributing factor that was being bruited about in the 1950s, before moving on to its main topic. The second mentions tonsillectomy as a risk factor, but without evidence, and again as an aside.

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

Why not just phase out all vaccines for a while, or, like I said in another post, make them appear scarce by having parents ‘special order’ them? Right now, vaccines are viewed as common and Americans aren’t interested in anything common, including the ‘common good.’

What galaxy do you live in?

kids with autism should not be raised by their parents

Who should raise them? Strangers in institutions?

^ In case you were wondering, I'm strongly in favor of tonsillectomies - at least in cases of hypertropic tonsils. I have many years of sleep apnea to be bitter about doctors not recommending that surgery.

But I'm not a bitter person so to me it is just another lesson learned. And to all those who complain about surgery as an unnecessary profit making endeavor it has turned out in my life that three elective surgeries have made massive differences in my health and the two upcoming ones stand to as well.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

Shay: What galaxy do you live in?

The milky way. Again, one of the best things we could do for vaccines is make them scarce. Scarce commodities have more value than common goods. And, like I said, Americans don't have any interest in being part of society.

Shay:Who should raise them? Strangers in institutions?

I was thinking something like a kibbutz, actually. that or robots.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

Johnny: In a 2 BR apartment with neighbors on 5 sides, where you can only see a small piece of the sky, and nothing dimmer than the moon at night, surrounded by 10,000 soul-less humans, none of whom know each other, and care even less?

I fail to see why that's a bad thing. It's better than the high and mighty burbs, where parents faint if you wave a slice of bread at them and where the kids are so scheduled they hardly have time to sleep. And it's not like you can see stars in the suburbs either. Cities have these really neat inventions called sidewalks and parks.

Sciencemom: Ok, ok, I'm just suggesting that if people are so offended at being lumped in with the curebies they should maybe make an effort to wrest back the message. Right now, when I think 'parents of autistic kids' I tend to think of 'really unpleasant people who I should avoid at all costs.' The kids I'd be willing to hang with. I'm already kind of worried about what happens if my friends have autistic kids, 'cause most of them are from the demographic where all the nonsense gets spread.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

I should mention that I have ADD and depression. I take stuff like curbieism a bit personally, since most curebies think those should be fixed too. I only have two friends who know about those, and two other friends who know about the ADD but not the depression. And, no, I don't think I'll EVER tell the ones who don't know.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

I get the feeling that PGP might not have "friends."

Lawrence: Now you're just being a jerk.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

Mblockquote>A better reference perhaps (but as confusing as science always is to me). Please see page 12, left hand column.
http://www.journaloforalmicrobiology.net/index.php/jom/article/viewFile…
Ah, that makes more sense. One could make a plausible case that ripping out tonsils for fun & profit might reduce the immune system's opportunities to present viral antigens to B-cells. Perhaps someone else knows whether the reduction makes any difference in practice.

"the nasopharynx-associated lymphoid tissue (NALT), such as the adenoids and palatine tonsils in humans".
Now I had actually heard of NALT, and Waldeyer's ring... though only through following the GcMAF cancer-curing / autism-curing scam. Various people are selling Magical Probiotic Yogurt which they claim contains GcMAF, and will therefore cure everything; and when it is pointed out to the grifters that any magical glycoprotein ingredients will be broken down to amino acids before they can be absorbed, there is a lot of hand-waving about absorption through NALT. I am not making this up.

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

Re: "framing", I think the CDC campaign mentioned in a recent post works well.

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2015/08/31/the-cdc-promotes-vaccinati…

The CDC message is on point and quite straightforward and I'd expect it to be effective for the average parent.

And the fact that it has some anti-vaccinationists losing it seems to me a testament to it's potential effectiveness.

I think that a consistent flow of plain language pro-vaccine messages in social and other media would deliver results.

Having the message provide links to more detailed plain language information ... much of which is available now ... and plain language rebuttals of all current and any future anti-vaccine nonsense would, in my view, also be beneficial.

I think the pro-vaccine side needs to be pro-active in getting its message out, rather than hoping a parent will find accurate information on their own.

From what I've seen, the anti-vax side is quite pro-active on social media in spreading their misinformation, so the pro-vax side needs to do the same on a consistent basis, rather than a campaign here and there.

One advantage for pro-vax is that the anti-vax side doesn't have the same resources backing it that are available to fund global warming denialist individuals and organizations.

I should mention that I have ADD and depression. I take stuff like curbieism a bit personally, since most curebies think those should be fixed too.

I dunno; if there were a cure for depression, I'd probably be first in line, given how unpleasant it is, and sometimes life-threatening as well, the other complications it causes in life, etc. I mean, unless the cure had some sort of drastic side effects. But it's probably a moot point, since I can't really imagine anything that would cure depression other than, say, a brain transplant, which would be undesirable for obvious reasons. We're pretty much stuck with variously effective and tolerable treatments, at least for the long-foreseeable future, I think.

Sciencemom: Ok, ok, I’m just suggesting that if people are so offended at being lumped in with the curebies they should maybe make an effort to wrest back the message.

Why? So they can appease the likes of you? Look PGP, people are just trying to raise their g-damned children, not everyone is a crusader or blogger or even remotely interested in what some dumbarses are doing because they're just trying to get through the freakin day.

Right now, when I think ‘parents of autistic kids’ I tend to think of ‘really unpleasant people who I should avoid at all costs.’ The kids I’d be willing to hang with. I’m already kind of worried about what happens if my friends have autistic kids, ’cause most of them are from the demographic where all the nonsense gets spread.

Well that is just your unfortunate bias that you should learn to recognise before proclaiming that parents shouldn't be raising autistic children.

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

Not that it means anything but most suburban parents of special needs children that I've met have been pretty much the opposite of what you describe and I can only remember one whose children weren't fully vaccinated due to personal beliefs. Granted, the demographics are probably different because I work in healthcare but its a lesson in how small, unrepresentative sample sizes skew the data. In other words, don't make generalizations like that because it's offensive, probably unsubstantiated and makes you look like an idiot.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

Previous comment was directed at Politicalguineapig in case it was clear.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

Or wasn't clear. Whichever.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

"probably unsubstantiated" was wrong. It is unsubstantiated and probably wrong

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 10 Sep 2015 #permalink

Not a Troll @ 33.
I am soooo with you on the subject of tonsillectomies. I lived with those suckers for 45 years before somebody said OMG those should go. My life is much better even though an adult tonsillectomy is hell.

Over at AoA they are comparing autism to 9/11.These people never give up do they?

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 11 Sep 2015 #permalink

As far as "curbies".Most serious autism researchers would fit into this category.I have made online friends with several serious autism researchers,on both sides of the Atlantic.We all share the same basic belief about autism.That being,autism is a serious neurological medical disorder,not a "difference".We all believe autism is not a single disorder,but a class or family of many different inborn or congenital disorders unrelated to vaccines.Disorders that need targeted cures and treatments.

Unfortunately clinicians have kept quiet,too preoccupied with their work,while they let the antivaccine and and neurodiversity movement each define autism in their own terms.This is very wrong.A third movement that runs counter to both is desperately needed.I would love to gather together enough like minded individuals to start such a movement,but other than Jonathan Mitchell,another online friend of mine,they don't seem to exist.Or if they do,they are not making themselves known.I am convinced that most people who were diagnosed with autism before the DSM-IV ended up in institutions.They did not have parents,like I did,who refused to institutionalize their seriously disabled children.The sad fact is, most children who were labeled as "feeble minded" or "disturbed",and ended up in these institutions,died there.Often in their teens or twenties.This is why the Anne Dachels of this world can say the crap they can,and get away with it.Why there are no severely disabled adults,especially those over thirty,to counter the equally dangerous lies from the likes of Ari Ne'eman and Steve Silbermman.

Both the neurodiverse and antivaccine definitions of autism completely ignore all that science has taught us so far.Both are willfully ignorant of science.Both these movements are harmful,very harmful,to those with more severe,more medically complex forms of autism.Disorders that need cures and treatments,but not the bogus and harmful pseudoscience the antivaccine movement has to offer.

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 11 Sep 2015 #permalink

@Roger Kulp: no they don't, since rage is all they have. As the cliche goes, if you have the law on your side, pound the Judge; if you have the facts on your side, pound the jury; if you have neither, pound the table. AoA is pounding the table.

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

Why there are no severely disabled adults,especially those over thirty,to counter the equally dangerous lies from the likes of Ari Ne’eman and Steve Silbermman.

What lies are they telling?

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

Roger @49: Those people at AoA really know how to dig around in the bottom of the barrel, don't they? 9/11 is a tragedy that most of the adult population of the US has immediate and strong memories of. Don't they have any tact or sensitivity?

Heck, in Seattle the teachers are on strike, but to be respectful of 9/11 they're off the picket lines today to do volunteer work.

But yes, AOA, you keep making these comparisons. Plaster them across your website, so everyone knows just what kind of people you are.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 11 Sep 2015 #permalink

Roger Kulp@48
My god are they despicable. More vilenrss from the comments (posted by Rand):

In addition, there are still 3000+ SIDS cases in the US every year which is simply more of the same damn thing. Those children do not live to become messed up...

Yup. Autism: it's the same as dying as an infant.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 11 Sep 2015 #permalink

@ JustaTech:

But to these people, their child being diagnosed with an ASD is EXACTLY the same as over 1000 people dying violently in flames and dust, a major financial hub grinding to a halt and the rest of the world reeling with shock and sympathy.
Exactly the same.

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

Device Walter@54
Yup. From the comments (Benedetta):

Like the Twin Towers; our family had been targeted many times, and like all of New York City, and the authorities ;no attention much was paid to these near misses

One more just for kicks:

My son, who is nearly off the spectrum, is angry at me because I won't join him in his belief that 9/11 was an inside job. I tell him that I will never say he is wrong, but I don't have the expertise in that area to say he is right (he doesn't either). What I do have is enough expertise to say there is serious government and pharma corruption and collusion around the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and that has changed me forever.

Dunning–Kruger anyone?

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 11 Sep 2015 #permalink

Device?

I guess you've figured out I'm an android.

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

Sorry. Didn't mean to let it slip but the secret's out now I guess.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 11 Sep 2015 #permalink

Politicalguineapig opines

Why not just phase out all vaccines for a while, or, like I said in another post, make them appear scarce by having parents ‘special order’ them? Right now, vaccines are viewed as common and Americans aren’t interested in anything common, including the ‘common good.’

It seems to have escaped her notice that although there was an outbreak of measles recently, there was not an epidemic. That's because the great majority of children are in fact vaccinated (anticipating the response that "oh, the epidemic was avoided because so many adults are vaccinated" -- no, recall that measles epidemics used to sweep through the nation's children even though essentially all adults were "naturally" immune).

It seems to have escaped her notice that although there have been mumps outbreaks, there haven't been mumps epidemics. That's because the great majority of children are in fact vaccinated. 

Her blazing hatred of Americans seems to have blinded her to the fact that other nations, which are not America, are dealing with endemic measles because their vaccination rates are so low.

Phasing out all vaccines for a while or forcing parents to ‘special order’ them would immediately lower vaccination rates because the average parent won't know to special-order them, or won't be able to obtain them on the black market. Children would then suffer, be maimed, or die as a direct result of Politicalguineapig's deliberate decision to deprive them of vaccines. Good thing she's not a politician. 

In areas such as Orange County, or Marin, pediatricians who vaccinate should be given a sabbatical year (or five) and allowed to go someplace where their talents are appreciated.

Yeah, those doctors sure are stupid, shelling out the costs of running a medical practice where no one wants them. You'd think they'd have figured it out and packed up and moved somewhere else all by themselves. Lucky for them that they have Politicalguineapig to explain the financial facts of life to them!

@55 capnkrunch
Dunning–Kruger anyone?
No. My reading of Dunning & Kruger suggests that someone who suffers from Dunning–Kruger has some intelligence and grasp of reality.

Mind, it has been some time since I read it.

By jrkrideau (not verified) on 11 Sep 2015 #permalink

It seems to have escaped her notice that although there was an outbreak of measles recently, there was not an epidemic.

PGP took up permanent residence in my killfile some time ago, but from what I infer of this exchange, she's not particularly concerned about collateral damage,* either.

The whole trip just seems to be some sort of funhouse-mirror version of whatever she's complaining about in the first place.

* Meaning the children of those who don't "deserve it."

JustaTech: "Heck, in Seattle the teachers are on strike, but to be respectful of 9/11 they’re off the picket lines today to do volunteer work."

Dear hubby and I spent a good portion of our day downtown. We had an appointment with an estate lawyer, so since he was on vacation went down early to get lunch at a very popular pasta lunch place.

We got our order "to go" and walked up the hill to eat at the new city hall plaza. After eating the shared pasta (Pappardelle, alla Bolognese), kale salad and focaccia we wandered into Seattle City Hall (after properly placing our lunch refuse into "compostable", "recyclable" and "waste" containers by the door... as is expected as a citizen of our fair city).

What did we see when we visited our city hall? Striking teachers giving blood in the Bertha Knight Landes meeting room on the lobby off of 5th Ave (named after our one and only mayor without a Y-chromosome).

Also, the fountain which is essentially a waterfall like stream that goes down the five stories between 5th Ave and 4 Ave was turned off. Le sigh. Seriously in the old city hall (which was an eye sore), you entered the first floor on 4th Ave, and then took the elevator to the fifth floor to get to 5th Ave. They made that a bit more illusive by the grand staircase and the (now dry) waterfall like fountain.

Now the best way to get from 4th to 5th is to use the escalators of the Central Library a few blocks north (or Columbia Tower next door, perhaps, I haven't been in there for years). Wow, I haven't been downtown enough to know which are the best ways to go up the hills. Some buildings have better elevators/escalators than others.

What did we see when we visited our city hall? Striking teachers giving blood in the Bertha Knight Landes meeting room on the lobby off of 5th Ave (named after our one and only mayor without a Y-chromosome).

I used to give blood fairly often when I lived back in the Seattle area; my blood's pretty ordinary, as it turns out, but still useful, I'm sure.

Wow, I haven’t been downtown enough to know which are the best ways to go up the hills.

I had it all in my head once upon a time. Of course, I was skinny enough back then that it was all the same to me, but there were some good corners to stand on and play the saxophone. (Long story.) There was this one part of downtown in particular where an old Chinese lady would drop a ten or twenty in my case every time I played. In general, it was always far more than worth the bus far from Olympia and back, even if I stopped at a Chinese place around Pike Place to get lunch.

^ bus fare, I of course I meant. I think it was like a dollar and a half with a student ID back then to get from Oly to Seattle on the intercity bus.

I used to give blood fairly often when I lived back in the Seattle area; my blood’s pretty ordinary, as it turns out, but still useful, I’m sure.

It is disappointing to find myself to be a universal donor. "B Negative" would have better suited my philosophy.

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

even if I stopped at a Chinese place around Pike Place to get lunch

I'm too tired to even classify this: Piano Man Jonny Hahn was my shrink's college roommate.

I believe that Narad will be pleased to learn that

Dan Olmsted is back! ( AoA, today)

And he opines that
"it is a big freakin' deal that the Republican front-runner embraces our issues when we aren't respected in virtually any other way". He wrote about Trump last year.

He is annoyed that Ms Begley at The Mellow Yogini Times puts his cause into the same niche as AGW denial.
Rightists sneer at him, leftists insult him, pray tell, what's a fellow to do?

Then he carries on about what Brian Deer wrote earlier concerning Child 11's father. I believe that we've been over this already @ RI. But Dan knows his audience and what they want to hear and about whom they want rubbish written.

Then he harps upon Lariam. He was right about it.

Then he does some math about parents home-schooling or leaving California in order to escape from the clutches of the new law.

In other news:

it's Caturday! And I have a Cat!

I'm going to gallery openings and then will have achingly fashionable food at a ridiculously hyped restaurant and will later have some drinks near the river. And perhaps I will hear a few hipsters' weekend band. Hipsters do that.
I have a new Italian cotton shirt It's artfully on-trend but looks like I'm not trying so hard. That always works.

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

Right now, vaccines are viewed as common and Americans aren’t interested in anything common, including the ‘common good.’

"No one goes to that restaurant anymore; it's too crowded."

Childhood vaccination is viewed as common because it is common in America, as evidenced by the lack of endemic vaccine-preventable diseases. But if "Americans" are not interested in anything common, what do we call those common people -- the great majority of people living in America -- who get their children vaccinated? Peasants? Perhaps Politicalguineapig should update her terminology:

Right now, vaccines are viewed as common because they are commonly desired by peasants and the aristocrats aren’t interested in anything common, including the ‘common good.’

Therefore vaccines should be withdrawn from the peasants so that the aristocrats will be induced to value vaccines for their own children. That peasant children will suffer, be maimed, and die of vaccine-preventable diseases is a foreseeable but irrelevant consequence of encouraging aristocrats to protect their own children.

I’m too tired to even classify this: Piano Man Jonny Hahn was my shrink’s college roommate.

Yeah, I know that guy, and Artis the Spoonman, too, although I actually encountered him the first time at the Oregon Country Fair.

This old friend got his start as a Seattle busker, too.

I didn't actually play in Pike Place Market, since you had to get a permit from the city to do so, but I typically didn't stray too far from the waterfront.

^blockquote fail is, I hope, obvious.

Orac writes,

How can we physicians and scientists deal with antivaccinationism?

MJD says,

Financially reward families that vaccinate their children. Convince the federal government (i.e, Congress) to double or triple the child tax credit for each child when fully vaccinated.

Eliminate the National Vaccine Injury Compensation program because it fuels antvaccinationism.

Give tax credits for adults that are fully vaccinated.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 15 Sep 2015 #permalink

Eliminate the National Vaccine Injury Compensation program because it fuels antvaccinationism.

Supporting evidence definitely needed for this, Michael.

Abandon respectful insolence and praise those who question vaccine safety and efficacy in that it stimulates continuous improvement.

Once again Michael, you are being thoroughly disingenuous. Antivaxxers don't "question" anything. Their minds are made up. They are convinced that vaccines are bad and ignore all evidence that contradicts their belief. Your oblique tone trolling is fooling nobody.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 15 Sep 2015 #permalink