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.
The United States Anti-Vaccination Movement is composed of a variety of individuals ranging from former doctors who should know better, to semi-celebrities who have no medical training, to anti-government conspiracy theorists who distrust anything that the government says. They all hold onto the mistaken belief that autism is caused by receiving childhood vaccines.
- inFact: Vaccine Ingredients (illuminutti.com)
via The Soap Box
The anti-vaccination movement is a large group of like minded people whom believe that vaccines cause autism (along with some other stuff, but mostly autism). While there are a lot of things I’ve noticed about this movement, I’ve managed to narrow it down to five.
So here are five things I’ve noticed about the anti-vaccination movement:
5. There’s no need for it to exist.
If you are part of the anti-vaccination movement, then you are in a movement that does not need to exist, and in fact shouldn’t exist.
Every claim made about vaccines being harmful and causing debilitating neurological conditions (most commonly autism) has been proven to be false, and vaccines have been proven to be not only the cheapest method of disease control and prevention, but also the best, and the safest.
Complications from vaccines are rare (around maybe 1 and 1000) and mostly minor. Serious complications are extremely rare (around 1 to 2 per million), and deaths are even rarer than that.
4. It’s biggest supporters are a bunch of cranks.
The biggest supporters (and leaders) of the anti-vaccination are not only people who should not be giving out medical advice, most of them aren’t even doctors (and the ones that are tend to have some questionable credentials).
Andrew Wakefield, the ex-doctor whom’s 1998 research paper that was published in the Lancet that claimed to show a connection between vaccines and autism, was stuck off of the British General Medical Council register (the British equivalent of having your medical license revoked) after the Lancet retracted his paper after it was proven his research was based off of fraud. He still claims his research was not fraudulent, and that there was a conspiracy against him to destroy his research (despite the fact that it took over ten years from the time his paper was published for his paper to be retracted, and for the GMC to strike off his name).
Then there is Alex Jones, who thinks that vaccines are being used to create genetically modified people and causes diseases, not prevent them.
3. The movement is based off of lies.
The whole bases for the anti-vaccine movement is based off of the proven fraudulent 1998 research paper by Andrew Wakefield that claims there is a connection between the MMR vaccines and austim. The paper was highly controversial even when it came out, and the claims made in it had been dis-proven years before it was formally retracted for fraud.
Other lies made by the movement are that vaccines have been made more dangerous over the years (in fact they have been made safer) and that and the rates of autism in children who are un-vaccinated is far lower then those that have been vaccinated, which is false. In fact the rates are the same.
Here is an infographic that shows the rate of incidence of a disease appearing with and without a vaccine. Here is the source of the data.
- Celebrities Endorsing Stupid Things: (like) The Anti-Vaccination Movement (illuminutti.com)
- The vaccine debate (duckduckgrayduck.com)
- Vaccines and Jenny McCarthy: the Oprah mea culpa interview doctors want to see (drjengunter.wordpress.com)
- Anti-vaccination campaigns is a major threat to WHO hopes to eradicate measles (doubtfulnews.com)
- Grieving parents speak out against anti-vaccination extremists (richarddawkins.net)
- Measles in the UK (randi.org)
- The anti-vaccination fraud: Health officials forced to get tough as once-dormant diseases returning (news.nationalpost.com)
- JENNY MCCARTHY, MASS MURDERER: Grieving parents speak out against anti-vaccination extremists. A… (pjmedia.com)
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)