Just created this meme, please share far and wide 🙂
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.
Anti-vaccine groups are everywhere, and it appears they are growing in number. They’re well-organized and very vocal. Evidence suggests they’ve been quite effective in reducing the vaccination rate in numerous areas.
A central theme of the Anti-vaccine (AV) movement is the opposition to “Big Pharma”, those massive multinational pharmaceuticals who push their dangerous vaccines onto our children purely for their own financial gain. The AV community is chiefly a grass-roots campaign of concerned parents, doing their best to prevent harm to their children. Big Pharma only cares about its profits, and they just don’t care about the harm their vaccines are really doing.
Here’s something really odd though – Big Pharma have been amazingly quiet in combating the anti-vaccine movement. A community group is publicly attempting to derail the vaccine-based profits of Big Pharma, yet there is simply *no* response.
This is doubly weird because Big Pharma generally launches a massive artillery campaign against anyone who even slightly endangers their bottom line. Johnson and Johnson just spent close to a billion dollars fighting a patent dispute with Abbott Laboratories. Yet despite this obvious threat to their huge vaccine profits, and despite having billions of dollars at their disposal to mount a fightback campaign, there hasn’t been a word. Surely Big Pharma stands to lose so much money you’d expect them to launch a blanket TV campaign defending vaccines, with full-page newspaper ads and people handing out brochures and buttons in shopping malls.
So what on earth is going on? Has Big Pharma gone soft? Are these massive multinationals really getting dragged to their knees by a group of angry mothers?
The answer is no – Big Pharma aren’t losing the battle, they’re winning it. Big Pharma aren’t fighting the anti-vaccine movement, they’re supporting it. Sure, their support is very quiet, very ‘behind the scenes’ and definitely not public, but they’re supporting it all the same.
Their reason? Vaccines are very, very bad for business.
Surprised? Don’t be. Despite the constantly repeated claims about “massive vaccine profits” the truth (as revealed in the annual financial statements of these companies) is that vaccines simply aren’t worth very much. The primary purchaser of vaccines are governments. In the USA the vaccine suppliers get squeezed as much as possible. In the many western countries with socialized medicine they don’t even get to negotiate – the governments simply tell the suppliers how much they are going to get paid and that’s that.
On top of that, the pharmaceuticals are constantly pressured to give away huge stocks of vaccines to impoverished countries. It just gets worse, the patents for the majority of vaccines expired years ago, so there’s not even the chance to monopolize the trade. The bottom line: as far as anyone can tell, the only reason that pharmaceuticals are still even making vaccines is because the various national governments will take away their pharmaceutical licenses if they stop.
So the “vast vaccine profits” are an absolute myth, as anyone who reads these (publicly available) financial statements can verify. However vaccines are not just poor profit earners, they’re also a business killer. Vaccines make people healthy. Healthy people don’t need medication. More vaccines equal less profit. Less profit is bad, bad, bad.
So vaccines hurt profit. But if you could somehow convince people to stop taking vaccines, then you could reintroduce a number of persistent, revenue-generating diseases back into the marketplace. Profits would go back up.
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 . . .
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 . . .
This morning while I was going through my Facebook page and looking around at some of the skeptics groups that I belong to I came across this anti-vaccination photo. It was posted to mock and criticize the anti-vaccination movement for their blatant hypocrisy:
Now of course anyone who is either a skeptic or a medical professional can clearly see why this picture is being mocked and criticized, but for those who don’t I’ll explain why:
It’s mocked because of the irony that people in the anti-vaccination movement actually believe that getting “information” off of a website that promotes pseudoscience and alternative medicine rather than a legitimate science and/or medical website or journal apparently makes you well educated, and that those who are in the anti-vaccination movement actually believe that they are well educated about vaccines.
Also, it’s criticized because it gives the impression that people who advise against vaccination are themselves well educated, which is often not the truth and that in reality they are actually to dumb to realize that they don’t know anything about vaccines other than what they’ve been told (or scared into) by the anti-vaccination movement. Even those that really are well educated have either just been fooled by the claims of the anti-vaccination movement into believing that vaccines are dangerous, or are just lying about their beliefs for reasons that are their own (usually because they don’t want to admit that they are wrong).
If pictures like this were truly honest they would . . .
. . . MORE . . .
- Vaccines and their effect on public health (slideshare.net)
- Taking the sting out of vaccines (sophiaakl.wordpress.com)
- Katie Couric’s irresponsibly misleading “Conversation” (violentmetaphors.com)
- Why is Couric promoting vaccine skeptics? (politico.com)
- Why Did Katie Couric Invite Vaccine Deniers On Her Talk Show? (thinkprogress.org)
- Anti-Immunization Rhetoric Is Simple Simon Paradigm (peoplesadvocacycouncil.wordpress.com)
For a moment there that headline might seem like preaching the converse of “The Secret”, the toxically ignorant book promoted by the toxically ignorant Oprah. But this isn’t about the notion that thinking bad – or good – thoughts produces bad or good results. That notion is just plain dumb. (It’s also hateful because it inescapably claims that bad things happen to people because they don’t think good thoughts.)
What I mean by “bad thinking” here however is poor thinking – the inability to think critically, the inability to understand or effectively utilize science and scientific reasoning. And when that kind of bad thinking is in effect, then in fact, very bad things do happen. Not to mention: to good people. And their children.
This was evidenced yet again a few weeks ago when a study published in the journal “Pediatrics” provided further evidence that the 2010 pertussis (whooping cough) outbreak in California was partly the result of increased numbers of parents opting out of vaccinating their children.
Sometimes too much education, too much disposable income, too much free time and above all, too much good medicine and good health, can lead otherwise seemingly intelligent people to make appallingly ignorant and hazardous choices. That appears to be the case evidenced by the new study. According to a story at salon.com (quoting a report on NPR):
“… a community loses herd immunity after the vaccination rate drops below 95 percent. In 2010, only 91 percent of California kindergarteners were up to date on their shots. The researchers found that in some neighborhoods, especially those with high income and education levels, exemption rates were as high as 75 percent.”
The significant point to understand about herd immunity is that the greater percentage of vaccinated community members in turn helps protect infants, who are too young to be vaccinated, and anyone else unable to safely be given the vaccine, from contracting the disease.
A piece in “Scientific American” points out that, “Unvaccinated individuals in the 2010 epidemic were eight times more likely to contract pertussis than vaccinated ones. But unvaccinated individuals pose risks to the community as well. ‘It’s a choice you make for yourself and a choice you make for those around you,’ Offit [Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia] says. “Infants need those around them to be protected in order not to get sick. We have a moral and ethical responsibility to our neighbors as well as to ourselves and our children.’”
So bad thinking does make bad things happen – and in this case, not just to the people doing the bad thinking, but to other people, and to other people’s children – and since I live in San Diego, my children are at risk thanks to that bad thinking. If you don’t think that science education and critical thinking skills are important, think again. If you don’t think the skeptic movement does important work, think again. If you don’t think that educating people about how to think about psychics and Bigfoot claims has a direct connection to the unnecessary medical risk my children face thanks to bad thinking – think again.
- Bad Thinking Makes Bad Things Happen (randi.org)
- Vaccination Opt-Outs Found to Contribute to Whooping Cough Outbreaks in Kids (scientificamerican.com)
- Vaccination Opt-Outs Found to Contribute to Whooping Cough Outbreaks in Kids. (zedie.wordpress.com)
- Combining Shots with the Pediarix Vaccine (pediatrics.answers.com)
- Health Officials: Marin Parents Opting Out of Vaccines Put Community at Risk (blogs.kqed.org)
- Flu Shot Side Effects And Vaccinations (pediatrics.answers.com)
- Vaccine Refusals Fueled California’s Whooping Cough Epidemic (npr.org)
- Doubting the Safety of Vaccinations: How safe are they? (vaccinesforchildren.wordpress.com)
- Vaccine-Refusing Parents Falsely Blamed for Whooping Cough Epidemic (activistpost.com)
- Unvaccinated kids hurt the people in your community (kevinmd.com)
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)
If there’s one thing antivaccinationists hate having pointed out to them, it’s that they are antivaccine. If you really want to drive an antivaccinationist up the wall, point out that they are antivaccine. Sure, there are a few antivaccinationists who openly self-identify as antivaccine and are even proud of it, but most of them realize that society frowns upon them—as well it should given how antivaccinationists are responsible for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease. Moreover, most antivaccine activists really believe that vaccines are harmful. They’re wrong, of course, but that doesn’t make them any less true believers. They really believe they are doing good as they do evil. Part of the reason that they believe that they’re doing good is because they manage to convince themselves that they are not actually “antivaccine,” but rather “pro-safe vaccine” or “pro-vaccine safety.” Of course, it’s fairly easy to put the lie to that claim. All you have to do is to ask them which vaccines they recommend, or if there are any vaccines that they would give to their children; alternatively, you can ask them what, specifically, it would take for them to start vaccinating their children. In the first case, the usual answer will be that no vaccine is recommended. In the second case, the response will usually be so convoluted and with so many conditions as to be virtually impossible for any vaccine to meet. For example, absolute 100% complete safety will be demanded before vaccination would even be considered.
Another thing that belies the claim by antivaccinationists that they are not “antivaccine” is how so many of them seem to be proud of discouraging other parents from vaccinating. For instance, I once pointed out that J.B. Handley, the founder of the antivaccine organization Generation Rescue, gloated over how his band “held together with duct tape and bailing wire, is in the early to middle stages of bringing the U.S. vaccine program to its knees.”
Now, Anne Dachel, “Media Editor” for the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism is doing the same thing in a post entitled Google News Search on Vaccines, Exemptions Turns Up? All of Us:
Forget the autism issue. Just go to Google News and look up “Vaccines, Exemptions.” It’s a really big topic. Parents aren’t buying all the claims that vaccines are safe.
Despite a massive effort by health officials and doctors, parents continue to fear that vaccines can do more harm than good. Stories about more parents exempting their children are everywhere. I can’t help but notice that there’s special concern about the vaccination rates for kindergarten kids. If the youngest students are more likely to be exempted, that can’t be good for the vaccine promoters.
And I’m sure the pro-vaccine people don’t like to see these stories out there. If more parents are opting out, they may have good reasons. It causes other parents to be concerned too. If they start to really look into the issue, there’s plenty of info out there to scare them out of vaccinating.
Did you get that? Let me repeat it: Scare them out of vaccinating. That is the goal of people like Anne Dachel and her ilk. It is not to improve vaccine safety. It is, rather, the classic denialist desire to foment fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about vaccines. The end result of this FUD is . . .
- inFact: Vaccine Ingredients (illuminutti.com)
- Chiropractic and antivax: Two quacky tastes that taste quacky together (illuminutti.com)
- The vilest antivaccine lie comes to South Africa (autismjungle.wordpress.com)
- Chiropractic and antivax: Two quacky tastes that taste quacky together [Respectful Insolence] (scienceblogs.com)
- Measles outbreaks, religion, and the reality of the antivaccine movement (scienceblogs.com)
- Jenny McCarthy: An antivaccine “View” is hired [Respectful Insolence] (scienceblogs.com)
- The truth about vaccinations: Your physician knows more than the University of Google (violentmetaphors.com)
- A favorite tactic of the antivaccine movement: When science doesn’t support you, use the law (sciencebasedmedicine.org)
Two Charts That Should Make Anti-Vaccine People Ashamed
McCarthy is a prominent anti-vaxxer — a growing segment of individuals who believe that autism is caused by vaccinations. McCarthy’s son was diagnosed with autism in 2005.
This is a risky stance. Vaccines are incredibly effective at controlling and eliminating infectious diseases. Because the viruses and bacteria that cause vaccine-preventable diseases are still out there, stopping vaccinations would make people extremely susceptible to infections that can kill or severely disable them.
“If vaccinations were stopped, each year about 2.7 million measles deaths worldwide could be expected,” according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The chart below gives some examples of how disease levels have declined since vaccinations began. Check out the right column for the incredible drop in annual morbidity for each pre- and post-vaccine.
Because of the anti-vaccine movement, including McCarthy’s outspoken anti-vax stance, there has been an increase in vaccine exemptions over the last several years.
This has led to an upsurge in the rate of vaccine-preventable diseases, especially whooping cough (known as pertussis to doctors). A study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2013 found that in New York State “counties with high exemptions had overall higher rates of reported pertussis.”
Here’s the chart:
Via Business Insider
- Two Charts That Should Make Anti-Vaccine People Ashamed (businessinsider.com)
- Deadly Choices: How The Anti-Vaccine Movement Can Kill Your Children (dadalmighty.wordpress.com)
- Brooklyn Measles Outbreak Shows How Dangerous Anti-Vaxxers Can Be (businessinsider.com)
- ABC’s ‘The View’ gives Jenny McCarthy a platform for crackpot autism theories (illuminutti.com)
- Death toll from the American anti-vaccine movement (boingboing.net)
- Pseudoscience Watch: Anti-Vaccine Propagandist Jenny McCarthy Goes to “The View” (reason.com)
Antivaccine activists claim that vaccines contain all sorts of terrifying poisons. Is this true? http://infactvideo.com/
Antivaccine activists claim that vaccines contain all sorts of terrifying poisons. Is this true?
Antivax conspiracy theorists tell us that vaccines are deadly and contain some extraordinary toxins. Let’s examine a few of these ingredients, starting with:
FORMALDEHYDE: Absolutely true. Formaldehyde is used to sterilize some vaccines. We use formaldehyde for this because it’s found naturally in the human body, as it’s a normal byproduct of metabolism and digestion.
ANTIFREEZE: False. However some vaccines are sterilized with something called 2-phenoxyethanol, which is also used as a topical antibacterial for wounds. This and antifreeze come from the same family of hydrocarbons, but they are not the same thing.
MERCURY: Sort of true. Some vaccines are sterilized with thimerosal, also used in contact lens fluid and many other products. However, it contains mercury bound as an ethyl — the version of mercury that can be dangerous has to be bound as a methyl, which is different.
I must issue a mild language warning 🙂
Vaccines aren’t dangerous. Stupid is dangerous.
I was recently asked about this article, Bedrock of vaccination theory crumbles as science reveals antibodies not necessary to fight viruses, which is a year old, but is making the rounds recently on social media. I was asked if there is any validity to the article. It’s from NaturalNews (not to be confused with NatureNews), which means, in my experience, it is almost certainly complete nonsense.
For the average consumer my advice is to completely ignore NaturalNews and Mike Adams. He is, among other things, an anti-vaccine crank. This article is written by staff writer Ethan Huff. Let’s take a close look and see if it lives up to the site’s reputation.
While the medical, pharmaceutical, and vaccine industries are busy pushing new vaccines for practically every condition under the sun, a new study published in the journal Immunity completely deconstructs the entire vaccination theory. It turns out that the body’s natural immune systems, comprised of both innate and adaptive components, work together to ward off disease without the need for antibody-producing vaccines.
He opens with a bit of hyperbole – medical science is developing vaccines for infectious diseases that respond to vaccines, not “practically every condition under the sun.” Further, his word choice marks his piece as propaganda, referring to the medical “industry” rather than medical “science.”
He takes a nose dive, however, in his next sentence – he claims that one study (already a dubious claim) deconstructs the entire vaccine theory, which is built upon thousands of studies over decades of research. The study in question: B cell maintenance of subcapsular sinus macrophages protects against a fatal viral infection independent of adaptive immunity, is not even a study of vaccines.
He claims that the study shows . . .