The Anti-GMO movements and Anti-vaccination movements are probably two of the biggest and most well known pseudoscience movements out there, with millions of people that adhere to their claims.
Besides the fact that both groups do have millions of proponents world wide and promote pseudoscience, both groups are a lot alike in other ways as well. Infact I’ve come up with about ten different reasons why they are so much alike, starting with the fact that…
• Proponents of both get very emotional when you criticize and/or debunk them.
Ever get into an online discussion with someone whom either promotes Anti-vaccination or Anti-GMO nonsense, and you start to tell them what they claim is BS, and tell them why what they are claiming is BS? If you’ve answered yes then you know what usually ends up happening, and that is that they tend to go off the deep end and use all of these made up “facts” and logical fallacies and conspiracy theories, and in the end threats and accusations of being a shill are often made.
• A proponent of one tends to be a proponent of the other.
It shouldn’t be to surprising, but usually if someone is an Anti-GMO proponent, they usually tend to be an Anti-vaccination proponent as well, and vice-verse.
While this isn’t necessarily true many websites that promote Anti-vaccination nonsense also tend to promote Anti-GMO nonsense as well. Infact some websites that claim to be “natural health” websites promote both equally instead of one overshadowing the other. Also, another thing about proponents of both are…
• They tend to promote alternative medicine.
It shouldn’t be to surprising that people in the Anti-vaccination movement are big proponents of alternative medicine, but it shouldn’t also be to surprising that people in the Anti-GMO movement are also big proponents of alternative medicine as well.
Infact many people in the Anti-GMO movement will, besides just promote the usual alternative medicine nonsense, claim that organic foods can heal you of just about anything and everything as well (including stuff that doesn’t even exist).
• The only papers they’ve ever had published in creditable scientific journals have been debunked and retracted.
There are lots of studies that have been published over the years about the “dangers” of vaccines and GMO foods, and while the number of papers published may look impressive to some the reality is that it isn’t, especially when you consider the fact almost all of these papers are published in “scientific journals” that a person pays to be published in.
Infact the only Anti-vaccination and Anti-GMO papers that I know of that have ever been published in credible scientific journals are the Wakefield study (published in the Lancet) and the Séralini study (published in Food and Chemical Toxicology) both of which have been formally retracted by the respective journals that they were published in after it was found that both studies data was founded off of both unethical experiments and fraudulent data, and they were only retracted long after both studies had been thoroughly debunked.
• They both claim the same things about the products in terms of health effects.
Both the Anti-GMO and Anti-vaccination movements not only claim that both GMO foods and vaccines are bad for you and cause a large amount of health problems (all of which have been proven to be untrue), but they also claim that they cause the same health problems!
Both most notably are claimed to cause autism, but both are also claimed to cause the spreading of diseases, and increases in infant mortality, and sterility, and cancer, and who knows what else. It almost seems like Anti-GMO and Anti-vaccination movements are claiming that GMO foods and vaccines causes something new every week.
One of the world’s leading sponsors of vaccine research and bringing healthcare (including vaccinations) to underdeveloped countries is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, located in Seattle, Washington. There is nothing more admirable and moral than a person who has built incredible wealth, and then decides to give it back to the world in a way that cannot be measure monetarily. Bill Gates’ foundation is working to eradicate polio and HIV in countries where they are the some of the leading causes of death.
Of course, the Foundation’s support of vaccinations has caused it to be the target of the vaccine denialism movement. These attacks border on the vicious and insane–here are the worst of the worst:
- Natural News, the faux science website, promoted one of the most pseudoscientific lunatics on the planet, Mike Adams, pushes the frightening news that Gates Foundation partner forces vaccines on Malawian children at gunpoint, arrests parents. And then there’s a blog, that insists that vaccines cause autism (no it doesn’t), has this outrageous headline: 131 African Children Vaccinated at Gunpoint – Do Bill Gates and Paul Offit Approve? So, is this true? Well, every article about these vaccinations done at gunpoint referred to this article. It’s been pulled, for unknown reasons, probably because it was found to be inaccurate. It has not been replaced by any other article. And there’s no other article out there (other than the usual vaccine denialist websites repeating the same nonsensical myth) that substantiates this story. It was probably some police protecting the healthcare workers, but absent any other reliable evidence (and repeating the same myth is not evidence), it is nothing.
- Another antivaccination group is pushing the story that Gates is at fault for 47,500 paralysis cases after polio vaccine in India. However, the CDC has reported that there have been no cases of polio in India since 2011, compared to the 741 case in 2009. The paralysis cases were identified as non polio Acute Flaccid Paralysis, which can result from any number of non-polio viruses or bacterium. In this case, non-polio enteroviruses were identified as the cause . . .
I must issue a mild language warning :)
Vaccines aren’t dangerous. Stupid is dangerous.
via The Soap Box
The Anti-vaccination crowd claims that vaccines can cause debilitating in children, primarily autism, while the Anti-GMO crowds claim that food from genetically modified plants are unhealthy and possibly dangerous.
While I know that both of these groups believe very strongly that what they are saying is true, and that they are spreading whatever they think is true because they only have “good intention” and think what they’re doing is right, the reality is what they are doing is very wrong.
Besides the fact that the information that both of these groups put out tends to be out right false, or is based upon outdated information, they don’t seem to realize the real damage they are actually doing.
For the Anti-vaccination, the damage is very obvious.
The spreading of the anti-vaccine propaganda has caused some parents to become unnecessarily fearful of vaccines, which in turn has cause those parents to choose to not allow their children to get vaccinated, which has caused the rise of many illnesses among children that I had not even heard of anyone getting when I was in school, and that for the most part I didn’t even think could kill someone because I had never heard of anyone dying from these illnesses before, more or less know someone who died from something like the measles.
As a result of this combination propaganda and paranoia, hundreds of children, if not more so, have died, and thousands of children have gotten sick unnecessarily because their parents failed to get them vaccinated, or because they were to young to get vaccinated, and they got sick from another child that was sick with something that could been prevent with a vaccine shot.
Then there is the Anti-GMO crowd, which while might not seem as harmful, could actually be worse.
- 5 Things I’ve noticed about… the Anti-Vaccination Movement (illuminutti.com)
- JENNY MCCARTHY, MASS MURDERER: Grieving parents speak out against anti-vaccination extremists. A… (pjmedia.com)
- Anti-vaccine mom changes mind (kottke.org)
My skeptical radar is activated each time I hear a celebrity endorse a product or promote a cause. While generally harmless, celebrities have such large audiences that they have the ability to broadcast their message to a large number of people, and can impact their decisions.
Celebrity endorsements in sports, for example, will take a famous athlete, put their name on a box/bottle, and try to catch the consumer’s eye. For substantial amounts of cash, they will lend their name to a product that they may or may not even use, and which may or may not have some benefit to the consumer.
I am concerned, however, when celebrities endorse and promote something that has an obvious negative impact to an individual or to a group of individuals, and when they claim they know the “truth” or “they are the experts” (as if there is some sort of conspiracy and only they have access to the real information).
Case and point, Jenny McCarthy.
Jenny has sipped the antivax Kool Aid, and now spreads her gospel across any media that will let her. She is a strong believer that autism is a direct result from vaccines. I will not spend any time debunking this myth, as it has been covered in countless articles and science journals, but I will review the common misconception surrounding vaccines, and the impact of these misconceptions.
You can make an argument that vaccines have saved more lives than any other medical discovery (smallpox alone has killed approximately 500 million people, until its vaccine was developed), and research shows no evidence to indicate a link between vaccines and autism. No matter which evidence or advantage is put forward, the antivax movement will not change their opinion (sure, maybe there are some, but the big names, like Jenny, won’t). Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s study on autism and vaccines* has been formally retracted by the Lancet. Surely, this would sway Jenny’s to the rational side? No, Wakefield is being treated as a martyr.
The fact of the matter is, Jenny McCarthy is not helping people. She is jeopardizing the lives of children: vaccinated, and not. When the general population loses herd immunity, then very young kids (babies), who aren’t old enough to take certain vaccines, are at risk.
Phil Plait, says it best on his blog, Bad Astronomy:
“If you think Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, and the rest of the ignorant antiscience antivax people are right, then read this story. I dare you. David McCaffery writes about his daughter, Dana, who was four weeks old when she died. Too young to get vaccinated herself, she contracted whooping cough because vaccination rates in that part of Australia are too low to provide herd immunity. This poor little girl died in her father’s arms, and the blame rests squarely on the antivaccination movement.”
MORE . . .
Andrew Wakefield’s delusions have expanded to the point where he will go down as one of the most notorious cranks in medical history. In a rambling interview with the illustrious Mike Adams of NaturalNews, Wakefield says all the great thinkers of medical history are ignored in their lifetime. Many are eventually recognized for their brilliance, but some (and I suspect Wakefield is one of these) are never recognized.
Wakefield, as you may remember, first made a name for himself at a press conference prior to the publication of what should have been a widely ignored article on an observational study of twelve children involving a possible connection between bowel disorders and developmental disorders. The paper had nothing to do with vaccine safety. At the press conference on 26 February 1998 to promote the paper (published 28 February 1998), Wakefield shocked his colleagues by using the occasion to suggest that the MMR vaccine, in use in the United States since the early 1970s and in Great Britain for a decade, could be responsible for the rising rates of autism. He speculated about “some children” having especially sensitive immune systems that made them unable to handle the three vaccines at once. He made further speculations about autism and asserted that he could no longer “support the continued use of the three vaccines given together.” We now know that he was hoping to cash in on a patent for a single shot measles vaccine. He was then, and continues now, to just make stuff up.
MORE . . .
Many people believe that childhood MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccinations are linked to childhood autism, and that the link was covered up by the government and medical establishment. The vaccine-autism link claim was originally made by Dr. Andrew Wakefield and published in a small 1998 case report. The British General Medical Council found he had acted unethically in his research, and his paper, which was championed by celebrities including Jenny McCarthy, was retracted. The vaccine-autism link has been completely discredited in follow-up studies and research.
- Vaccines and Jenny McCarthy: the Oprah mea culpa interview doctors want to see (drjengunter.wordpress.com)
- On Ignorance: The Anti-Vaccine Movement – Don’t come cryin’ to me when your child has whooping cough, or rubella, or polio, or some other “outdated” disease you were too ignorant to vaccinate against. (michiganjournal.org)
- Medical Myths: When Urban Legends Kill (livescience.com)
Vaccine hysteria is a trend of mistrust of vaccination that is almost as old as the technique itself. “Anti-vaxxers”, “vaccine deniers”, or “anti-vaccinationists” blame vaccines, or their ingredients, for a range of maladies whose mechanisms are rejected or have not been explained by current scientific research. Some of these maladies can often be childhood illnesses in order to increase the emotive factor of the argument. The ubiquity of vaccination often makes it an easy target for blame.
Vaccine-preventable diseases have been a major cause of illness, death, and disability throughout human history. The advent of the modern vaccine era has changed this significantly; most North Americans and Europeans have little memory of a pre-vaccine era where diseases such as mumps and measles – to say nothing of smallpox or polio — were common and often deadly.
Keep Reading: Vaccine hysteria – RationalWiki.
- Author talks about autism-vaccination hysteria at state Immunization Summit (wvgazette.com)
- Doctors Ramp Up the Vaccination Hysteria (txwclp.org)
- Doctors Ramp Up the Vaccination Hysteria (lewrockwell.com)