Here’s what to say to anti-vaxxers!
By Thom Scott-Phillips via Gizmodo
Anti-vaccination beliefs can cause real, substantive harm, as shown by the recent outbreak of measles in the US. These developments are as shocking and distressing as their consequences are predictable. But if the consequences are so predictable, why do the beliefs persist?
It is not simply that anti-vaxxers don’t understand how vaccines work (some of them may not, but not all of them). Neither are anti-vaxxers simply resistant to all of modern medicine (I’m sure that many of them still take pain killers when they need to). So the matter is not as simple as plain stupidity. Some anti-vaxxers are not that stupid, and some stupid people are not anti-vaxxers. There is something more subtle going on.
We all have what psychologists call “folk” theories, or “naïve” theories, of how the world works. You do not need to learn Newton’s laws to believe that an object will fall to the floor if there is nothing to support it. This is just something you “know” by virtue of being human. It is part of our naïve physics, and it gives us good predictions of what will happen to medium-sized objects on planet earth.
Naïve physics is not such a good guide outside of this environment. Academic physics, which deals with very large and very small objects, and with the universe beyond our own planet, often produces findings that are an affront to common sense.
As well as physics, we also have naïve theories about the natural world (naïve biology) and the social world (naïve psychology). An example of naïve biology is “vitalistic causality” – the intuitive belief that a vital power or life force, acquired from food and water, is what makes humans active, prevents them from being taken ill, and enables them to grow. Children have this belief from a very young age.
Naïve theories of all kinds tend to persist even in the face of contradictory arguments and evidence. Interestingly, they persist even in the minds of those who, at a more reflexive level of understanding, know them to be false.
by Gordon Bonnet via Skeptophilia
At what point do homeopaths and other purveyors of woo non-medicine cross the line into committing a prosecutable act of medical fraud?
I ask the question because of a recent exposé by Marketplace, a production of the Canadian Broadcasting Company, called Vaccines: Shot of Confusion. In this clever sting operation, mothers were fitted with videocameras on visits with their children to homeopaths. The videocameras recorded, predictably, the moms being given lots of advice about the (mostly fabricated) dangers of vaccination, and how little pills with no active ingredients were a better choice.
One mother was even told that “measles is virtually harmless for children over the age of one.” This would have come as a shock to my grandfather’s two sisters, Marie Emelie and Anne, who died of measles in 1902, five days apart, at the ages of 22 and 17, respectively.
Not to mention the one million children who die annually from the disease, and the 15,000 a year who are left permanently blind from its effects.
The homeopaths in the video call today’s children “the sickly generation.” And admittedly, there are some medical conditions that have increased in incidence in modern times (asthma, allergies, and autism come to mind). However, it has been thoroughly demonstrated that none of the diseases which have increased are caused by vaccines (nor, by the way, are they treatable using sugar pills). Further, given that there used to be epidemics of diphtheria, typhoid, measles, mumps, and other infectious diseases that killed thousands of children, you can only claim that this generation is “sickly” if you ignore historical fact.
Know of anyone in the last fifty years who has died of diphtheria? Nope, me neither.
It seems to me that we have crossed some kind of threshold, here.
Vaccines are a medical invention that has been around for a very long time, the very first one being invented by Edward Jenner in 1796 for small pox.
There are alot of things that have been said about vaccines, and taking a look at these claims, as well as the facts about vaccines, I’ve come up with fives things about them.
So here are five things I’ve noticed about vaccines:
5. They cause extinctions.
Most people probably don’t know this, or do but rarely if ever think about it is that vaccines kill things and can very easily lead to the extinction of some species. Infact vaccines have already caused the extinction of one species, small pox.
Vaccines are also very well on their way to causing the extinction of polio, and could in due time and with enough people getting vaccinated, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, and a variety of other well known diseases that can kill people, particularly young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.
Don’t these viruses deserve to exist? I mean true these viruses have caused the deaths of millions, plus have left countless others disfigured and disabled, and other than to do all of that have no real purpose to exist, and are still debated over whether or not they are lifeforms, but regardless of all that you have to ask yourself, don’t these useless and dangerous lifeforms/not lifeforms have a right to exist?
4. They prevent our children from having the childhood memories of our parents and grandparents.
My parents and grandparents didn’t have the vaccines like my generation and my generation’s children have, and I can’t help but think of what kind of childhood memories might have been taken away because of vaccines.
Some of those memories I imagine would include attending the funeral of a classmate or family member that died from an infectious disease, or having to help another fellow classmate get around because they have trouble walking or are in a wheelchair due to polio, and even having to be rushed to the hospital because I contracted measles and my temperature got really high.
Yes, because of vaccines I have none of these childhood memories, nor does most of the people in my generation as well, but thanks to people like Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy, as well as numerous anti-vaccination websites, those childhood memories of the past generations are making a comeback.
3. They make people paranoid.
Vaccines make people paranoid, this is a fact.
Via Skeptical Raptor
If you know none of the details of the antivaccination lunacy, then your education should start with the perpetrator of one of the greatest scientific frauds, Mr. Andy Wakefield. Mr. Wakefield published a paper, subsequently withdrawn by the highly respected medical journal, Lancet, that blamed the MMR vaccine (vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella) for causing autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
From that one fraudulent article, some of the most dangerous outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases can be laid at the feet of Wakefield, as parents started to refuse to vaccinate their children against these diseases. And of course, billions of dollars, money that could have been spent on actually treating and assisting children with ASD, was spent to investigate this claim, with over 100 peer-reviewed papers completely dismissing and debunking any link between any vaccine and any type of autism. Let me make this absolutely clear–vaccines do not cause autism even when we looked hard for a link.
But one more article, one more peer-reviewed paper has just been published that should slam the door shut on the vaccine-autism myth. But I am not naïve, I know that the antivaccination cultists will invent some logical fallacy to continue to lie about the tie between vaccines and autism. The research, published in the journal Vaccine, is a meta-analysis of five cohort studies involving 1,256,407 children, and five case-control studies involving 9920 children. As I’ve written before, meta-analyses form the basis, the deep foundation, of the scientific consensus, and they are the highest quality scientific evidence available. This study is like a gigantic clinical trial because it rolls up the highest quality data from those millions of subjects to develop solid conclusions.
So what did the authors find?
The Anti-vaccination movement has had a pretty bad past month, and I would feel sorry for them too if it wasn’t for the fact that their propaganda (which is mainly based upon a long since dis-proven and fraudulent study by Mr. Andrew Wakefield that was published in 1998 in The Lancet, and formerly retracted in 2010) has scared parents into not getting their kids vaccinated, which has caused numerous deaths and unnecessary illnesses, as well as permanent injuries.
First is the news reports of multiple outbreaks of measles in several communities in the United States and Canada. Many of the people who have gotten infected are young children who were deliberately not vaccinate, the results of which have been directly attributed to causing these outbreaks.
Suffice to say there has been quiet a bit of backlash against the Anti-vaccination movement, which they rightfully have coming to them. Also, since these outbreaks first started making the news there have also been multiple articles published telling parents why they need to ignore the Anti-vaccination movement and vaccinate their children, which I feel is sort of sad because it shows we as a society have to publish numerous articles about why you need to vaccinate your children and make them immune to diseases that could kill them because some parents have been scared into not doing so.
Then there is ofcourse what happened to the cult… I mean group formerly known as the deceptively named Australian Vaccination Network, which is now known as the still kind of deceptively named Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network.
What happened to the group is that it finally changed it’s name after it lost an appeal against the New South Wales Office of Fair Trading, which had ordered the group to change it’s name in 2012 due to group’s deceptive sounding name. Shortly after the group changed it’s named, it also . . .
Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)
If you were going to write down the most frightening infectious diseases you could think of, measles probably wouldn’t be near the top of your list. Compared with the devastation of HIV/AIDS or the gruesome deaths caused by hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola, measles, with its four-day-long fevers and pervasive rashes, seems like nothing more than an annoyance.
But there is one thing that makes measles unique, and uniquely frightening to public health officials: It is the most infectious microbe in the world, with a transmission rate of around 90 percent. The fact that measles can live outside the human body for up to two hours makes a potential outbreak all the more menacing.
This explains the all-hands-on-deck response when officials with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health learned in late August that two unconnected patients — an infant who’d recently arrived in the United States and a foreign-born adult who’d recently traveled abroad — had visited area hospitals with active measles infections. Identifying the hundreds of people who’d potentially been exposed and then checking their vaccination status required, in the words of Dr. Larry Madoff, director of the state’s Division of Epidemiology and Immunization, a “huge effort” on the part of dozens of state, local, and hospital employees.
Fortunately, there were no secondary infections this time around, a fact that is due in no small part to the impressive vaccine uptake rate in this state. It would be a mistake to assume this will always be the case: Massachusetts is seeing a surge in the number of unvaccinated children. Last year, nearly 1,200 kids entered kindergarten with religious or philosophical vaccine exemptions, roughly double the total about a decade ago.
That mirrors what’s happening across the country. What’s so confounding is that many of the parents requesting exemptions for their children cite specious, disproven fears — such as that the vaccine could cause autism — many of which were based on a fraudulent, retracted study or fringe research published in non-peer-reviewed journals.
- Parents urged to get their children vaccinated following huge rise in measles (manchestereveningnews.co.uk)
- Measles popping up in Alberta, AHS promotes vaccination (beaconnews.ca)
- IF ONLY WE HAD A VACCINE OR SOMETHING: Texas Issues Measles Alert. “Measles is a highly contagious… (pjmedia.com)
- Measles warning for Sydneysiders (bigpondnews.com)
God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t He? Far more mysterious ways than the measles virus does, at least — we know a hell of a lot about the virus, like how to inoculate people against it. But God, He’s mysterious, and one of His earthly servants, Kenneth Copeland, is not a fan of vaccines, instead urging his flock to “teach our children to eat right” as part of “God’s health and wellness plan.” (And yes, in that video, Copeland promotes the completely discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.)
Big surprise: Copeland’s church is at the center of a measles outbreak that has infected at least 10 people in Tarrant County, Texas. As another famous Texan said, oops.
The Dallas Morning News says that Copeland’s megachurch released a statement Tuesday explaining that a “visitor” to the church had been exposed to measles on an overseas trip:
Eagle Mountain International Church, about 50 miles northwest of Dallas, released a statement Tuesday that said a visitor attended a service who had been overseas and was exposed to measles.
“Therefore the congregation, staff at Kenneth Copeland Ministries and the daycare center on the property were exposed through that contact,” the statement said.
Al Roy, spokesman for the county’s Public Health Department, said the 10 cases are connected and the department has “been working with individuals who attend the church.”
In what appears to be first-time concern for vaccination, the church offered two free vaccination clinics so that parents could add a little extra to God’s natural protection from disease.
- In Completely Unforseeable Coincidence, Anti-Vaccine Church Hit By Measles Outbreak (wonkette.com)
- Vaccine-Denying Pastor’s Flock Smote with Measles (reason.com)
- Measles Outbreak Traced To Kenneth Copeland’s Church (dfw.cbslocal.com)
- There’s a Measles Outbreak at Vaccine-Denying Pastor Kenneth Copeland’s Fort Worth Church (secularnewsdaily.com)
- Faith Healer Convinces Followers To Never Vaccinate, Now Church The Center Of Measles Outbreak (VIDEO) (addictinginfo.org)
- Vaccine-fearing Texas megachurch urges flock to immunize after measles outbreak (rawstory.com)
Several news outlets today are reviewing the measles outbreak in Wales, citing public health experts who lay the blame for the burst in cases squarely at the feet of Andrew Wakefield’s bogus MMR vaccine scare in 1998 and the subsequent media coverage. The Wall Street Journal has a particularly in-depth story [hits paywall if you click the link here, but clicking from Google News seems to give full access], “Fifteen Years After Autism Panic, a Plague of Measles Erupts,” that digs into the roles of both in the Wales outbreak, that left 1219 people infected with measles and one in ten hospitalized. Most were hospitalized with pneumonia or dehydration, and most fell into the age range of children who should have been vaccinated around the time of the Wakefield scare.
One of the most common refrains people repeat in arguing against vaccinating their children is that diseases like measles simply aren’t their problem. That virus, they say, is a “third world” or “developing world” problem, something to worry about in places where water isn’t clean and nutrition is poor. Of course, that kind of insouciance about being a fortunate first-worlder is in itself misplaced; children in developed nations have died from measles. But the Wall Street Journal story makes an important point–one that yes, has been made ad nauseam but bears repeating: In this global society, there are no “first” and “third” worlds. A well-fed child with measles can take that infection anywhere, including to more resource-poor parts of the world where children live unprotected by vaccines. As Jeanne Whalen and Betsy McKay write in their WSJ piece:
The outbreak matters to the rest of the world because measles can quickly cross oceans, setting back progress elsewhere in stopping it. By 2000, the U.S. had effectively eliminated new home-grown cases of measles, though small outbreaks persist as travelers bring the virus into the country. New York City health officials this spring traced a Brooklyn outbreak to someone they believe was infected in London.
From London to Brooklyn or Wales to … anywhere. Terrible that unwarranted anxiety–flogged into a froth of vaccine resistance by the news media and opportunists looking for a buck–leads some parents to leave their children unvaccinated. Even worse if the result is an outbreak in places where children might not be lucky enough to access hospitals to treat their measles-related pneumonia or where they join the 1 in 1000 who die from measles infection.
As the WSJ article points out and many others have frequently noted, measles is an extremely contagious respiratory illness spread by coughing and sneezing. Most people do recover from it, but it can cause deafness and pneumonia, and it can be fatal.
- Vaccines & Autism: Controversy Persists, But Why? (illuminutti.com)
- The Price Of The Autism-Measles Panic, 15 Years Later (forbes.com)
- Fifteen Years After Autism Panic, a Plague of Measles Erupts (science.slashdot.org)
- Fifteen Years After Autism Panic, a Plague of Measles Erupts (junkscience.com)
- UK: After autism panic, measles (crofsblogs.typepad.com)
- Fifteen Years After Autism Panic, a Plague of Measles Erupts (richarddawkins.net)
- The Price Of The Autism-Measles Panic, 15 Years Later| Forbes (catalyzingillinois.com)
- Why Vaccinate?? (vaccinatenow.wordpress.com)
Heidi Stevenson has recently wrote a blog post were she claims that the Welsh Measles Epidemic is faked. In this video Nega talks about the data she presents and her ruthless censorship.
Heidi Stevenson blog post
My blog post about her
- Measles epidemic costs health board £500,000 (walesonline.co.uk)
- Swansea Measles Epidemic claims a life… (theartformedicinex.wordpress.com)
- 7,000 measles cases reported in northern Syria: MSF (theglobaldispatch.com)
- US: Measles case confirmed in Orlando area near attractions (crofsblogs.typepad.com)
- Man who died during Swansea measles epidemic died as a result of the disease, inquest hears (walesonline.co.uk)
- Measles Outbreak in Northern States: 36 Kids Dead, over 4000 Infected (joshijoshiblog.com)
The vaccine-autism controversy has been brewing ever since Andrew Wakefield published his infamous 1998 paper in The Lancet. Fourteen years later, the study has been retracted and scientists have had no luck finding a legitimate link between childhood vaccinations and autism. Yet, the debate rages on.
Why does over 20 percent of the population still think that vaccines cause autism? And what happens when parents act on their fears, refusing to inoculate their own children against dangerous diseases like measles, mumps, and rubella?
JENNY MCCARTHY: Evan was diagnosed with autism in 2005. Without a doubt in my mind, I believe vaccinations triggered Evan’s autism.
SETH MNOOKIN: Vaccines do not cause autism.
CARA SANTA MARIA: Hi everyone, Cara Santa Maria here. And that’s Seth Mnookin. He’s a lecturer in MIT’s graduate program in science writing and the author of “The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy.” I asked Seth to chat with me about why this is still a controversial subject, even though there’s not a shred of legitimate evidence linking vaccines with autism. First, we talked about Andrew Wakefield, author of the infamous 1998 paper published in The Lancet, which described 12 children who showed symptoms of autism sometime after receiving a vaccine to protect against measles, mumps, and rubella infection.
SM: It was an atrocious paper, it was called, almost the minute it was published, the worst paper The Lancet has ever published. And we’ve since learned a lot of things that were wrong that we didn’t even know at the time in 1998, like the fact that Wakefield was receiving research money from a law firm that was working with parents who were interested in suing vaccine manufacturers, like the fact that Wakefield had taken out a patent for an alternative measles vaccine several months before the paper was published. But what I think is kind of interesting is, forget all of that, it’s insane to make population-wide conclusions on a 12-person case series. And you know sometimes if I’m talking to a group of people and this comes up, I’ll count off 12 people and say, ‘and based on that case series I’m going to go ahead and conclude that population is 90 percent female or everyone is over the age of 50,’ or whatever.
CSM: The media played a large role in spreading misinformation about vaccines and autism following the publication of Wakefield’s study. Although The Lancet officially retracted the paper in 2010, the controversy still persists to this day. In fact, just last year, 21.4 percent of respondents in the Thomson-Reuters NPR Health Poll said they believe that vaccines can cause autism. It doesn’t help that well-known figures like Jenny McCarthy continue to spread anti-vaccine rhetoric. There’s even a website called JennyMcCarthyBodyCount.com. It claims that even though she’s not directly responsible for the thousands of preventable illnesses and hundreds of preventable deaths since 2007, if her campaign against vaccination caused even one preventable death, that’s one too many.
SM: Once you introduce misinformation into a society, it then lives on its own. And, it’s, as we’ve seen with vaccines, it’s impossible to unscare someone. Once an idea is planted in your mind, especially about your children, you can’t just then sort of wipe the board clean, ‘oh it turns out that actually ignore everything we were saying.’
CSM: But we have to learn to wipe the board clean, because there’s no scientific evidence linking vaccines with autism. None. If I left dinner last night and it started to rain, would I avoid that restaurant in the future, fearing that every time I ate there, it would influence the weather? Of course not! Autism symptoms commonly appear in children soon after they’re old enough to get vaccinated. This doesn’t mean they’re connected. And those who refuse to see this may be less likely to vaccinate their own children, putting them at risk of infection. And if their kids don’t get sick, sometimes they see this as proof positive that vaccines aren’t necessary. But what they don’t know is that the reason their kids aren’t getting sick is because all the kids around them are vaccinated. It’s called herd immunity, but it’s only so effective.
SM: I compared it once to like a herd of buffalo, kind of encircling their weakest members to ensure that they don’t get picked off by predators. So when you have enough members of a population protected or who have immunity against a given disease, that disease can’t get a toehold in the community. So you know take measles, which has a 90 percent infection rate, and if you were in a community where there was 95 percent immunity and then you had a traveler from Africa or Europe come over infected with measles, there would be a good chance that you could contain that because it’s going to be hard for measles to spread from person to person because there just aren’t those vectors.
JM: Take a look around. I believe science was wrong yet again. [cheering]
CSM: Do you know someone who still sees a link between vaccines and autism, even though no link exists? Reach out to me on Twitter, Facebook, or leave your comments … on The Huffington Post. Come on, Talk Nerdy To Me!
via The Huffington Post
- ABC’s ‘The View’ gives Jenny McCarthy a platform for crackpot autism theories (illuminutti.com)
- The Benefits Of Vaccines (illuminutti.com)
- MIT professor: ABC’s The View legitimatizing dangerous unscientific autism claims (rawstory.com)
- Backlash over Jenny McCarthy’s ‘View’ on vaccines (thelead.blogs.cnn.com)
- Toronto Public Health is right to defend vaccination: Editorial (thestar.com)
- Jenny McCarthy’s disturbing views on autism: Editorial (nj.com)
- Fifteen Years After Autism Panic, a Plague of Measles Erupts (junkscience.com)
- The Price Of The Autism-Measles Panic, 15 Years Later (forbes.com)