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Why people ignore vaccine denialists

A lesson that’s worth learning. Of course, I only wish people ignored vaccine denialists; unfortunately, enough people don’t that vaccines are a frequent blog topic for me:

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

32 replies on “Why people ignore vaccine denialists”

Part two seems ironically unscientific. All this bunk can be roundly trounced without even mentioning a name. Spending ten minutes deconstructing individual credentials seems like a woo tactic. Francis Collins is a nutty born again, but that doesn’t affect the validity of the genome. The popularity of the personal attack is a detriment to scientific consistency.

So any person or organization maintaining the slightest association with anything that can be thought of as “alternative” medicine cannot be considered credible. OK. I think I’ve got it.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is the Federal Government’s lead agency for scientific research on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). We are 1 of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is the Federal Government’s lead agency for scientific research on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). We are 1 of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

And boy, hasn’t that worked out wonderfully for everyone?

The second video is an appeal to motive, rather than a personal attack per se.

It is nevertheless interesting, from a sociological perspective, that anti-vaccine doctors generally are invested in alt-med. I’ve never heard of a staunch defender of scientific rigor and evidence-based medicine who also happens to be anti-vaccine.

sid, being a part of a government group does not lend you any credibility. The CIA and Army had groups devoted to “psychic warfare” with all the trappings of officiality, and yet all were just as completely and utterly full of shit as CAM.

The fact that you and your ilk convinced politicians to push stupid bullshit is neither notable, nor even new.

“There are very powerful people in positions of great authority in Britain and elsewhere who have staked their reputations and careers on the safety of MMR and they are willing to do almost anything to protect themselves.”

-Dr. Peter Fletcher, former Chief Scientific Advisor of the UK Department of Health

Jake
Wakefield lied, cheated and stole to break into the vaccine market. If he’s on your good list, you need to rethink all positions you advocate and the support for them.

Why people ignore leftist population control advocates : They are evil!

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I am a proud anti-vaxer. Now, if I could only get that on a bumper sticker!

There are many alternatives to the killer vaccines and killer drugs and the new “healthcare” bill, aka population control bill.

I choose freedom over socialism any day of the week. Mercury slurpers (marxists)need not apply.

“Dr. Smart”:

There are many alternatives to the killer vaccines and killer drugs

Prove it. Show us exactly what science supports those alternatives as effective protection from disease, and the relative risks between these alternatives and the “killer vaccines.” Also give us the real data that the vaccines kill more than the diseases.

James:

Francis Collins is a nutty born again, but that doesn’t affect the validity of the genome. The popularity of the personal attack is a detriment to scientific consistency.

But that is different than pointing that someone who implies she is a “Dr.” who writes medical essays has a PhD in geology.

Or that the medical qualifications of the the other “Doctors” is not in real medicine.

“There are very powerful people in positions of great authority in Britain and elsewhere who have staked their reputations and careers on the safety of MMR and they are willing to do almost anything to protect themselves.”

-Dr. Peter Fletcher, former Chief Scientific Advisor of the UK Department of Health

A common characteristic of “appeal to motive” is the mere insinuation that there might be a motive, without presenting evidence that the motive even exists. In this case, we don’t even know who the people who are “willing to do almost anything” are, or what evidence there is of their low moral fiber.

Dr. Peter Fletcher, just as an FYI, derived £40,000 from anti-MMR litigation (source).

On the contrary, James. considering the source is important.
In science when someone publishes a paper it is considered mandatory to publish your potential conflicts of interest.
In other words, to state what reasons other than sound scientific reasoning might have influenced the outcome of your experiments, observations or conclusions. All of those people referenced in part 2 above clearly have reasons to drive people away from reality -based medicine and towards alternative quackery. That’s why it’s important to note their backgrounds. Finally, remember how many people here and elsewhere have claimed Dr Paul Offit could not be trusted because he was one of the patent holders for a rotavirus vaccine.

DLC:

On the contrary, James. considering the source is important.

Indeed, I suspect that “Dr. Smart” who claims that there are alternatives to “killer vaccines” is actually a Naturapathic Doctor, or has the initials can be more accurately stated: Not a Doctor.

[i]I am a proud anti-vaxer. Now, if I could only get that on a bumper sticker!
There are many alternatives to the killer vaccines and killer drugs and the new “healthcare” bill, aka population control bill.
I choose freedom over socialism any day of the week. Mercury slurpers (marxists)need not apply.
[/i]

Check it out, we have multiple forms of woo here! We have anti-vaccine and anti-medicine woo, but it’s packaged along with anti-Obama woo! I am truly impressed. ‘Idiocracy’ is coming true.

I think some people are misunderstanding the point of Part 2. Part 2 isn’t meant to deconstruct the arguments made by these people — that’s another subject entirely. Part 2 is meant to underscore a peculiar theme across two videos for those that don’t realize such a theme might exist.

That any one individual is a practitioner in alternative medicine isn’t to say any one individual is not credible on other matters, what’s important is the unnecessary consistency in affiliation across all participants, which is worth noting. This is not an appeal to motive, because it is persuading you to recognize a possible motive, not rejecting any claims based on that possibility.

A bit OT, but I just discovered the Discovery Health Channell — never watched it and have no idea if it has any worth — is being replaced by THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK. This can’t be an improvement.

(As I said on a comment to TV BY THE NUMBERS

“If it ducks like a quack…”

Dr. Bumper Sticker Smart,

I am a proud anti-vaxer. Now, if I could only get that on a bumper sticker!

Why not?

That is all that the anti-vaccine movement is – bumper sticker level thinking. It does not even come close to the level of information in a Tweet. It is just homeopathic thought.

There are many alternatives to the killer vaccines and killer drugs and the new “healthcare” bill, aka population control bill.

Calling something a killer is misleading. Anything can kill. Everything can kill. There is nothing that is completely safe, so calling something a killer is meaningless.

What Dr. Bumper Sticker Smart is ignoring is that the alternatives kill far more than any vaccine or medicine will. The reason is that they encourage people to shun effective medicine. Even effective medicine will occasionally kill. That does not mean that the medicine is bad, or that avoiding the medicine is a good idea.

The alternative medicine will do nothing to cure the patient, but it will have side effects. The alternative medicine will also have exorbitant costs, not that there is any reasonable cost for something that provides nothing but harm. No – the placebo effect does not provide a benefit from the treatment, but from the ceremony of pretending it is a treatment.

I choose freedom over socialism any day of the week. Mercury slurpers (marxists)need not apply.

I do not have anything positive to say about socialism or marxism, but they are irrelevant to the topic. The comment about mercury is also disinformation, but Dr. Bumper Sticker Smart does not appear to be smart enough to recognize accurate information.

Nothing kills as effectively as ignorance. Dr. Bumper Sticker Smart is pushing death by ignorance.

Rogue Medic: It’s been my experience that the people who whine the loudest about Marxism (especially in conjunction President Obama, who if anything is to the right of President Eisenhower) are much more likely than most folks to be racist anti-tax loons who got sucked into (or whose parents got sucked into) the GOP by Reagan strategy (and Southern Strategy expert) Lee Atwater back in the late ’70s and early ’80s:

Listen to the late Lee Atwater in a 1981 interview explaining the evolution of the G.O.P.’s Southern strategy:

”You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

”And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Nigger, nigger.”’

[…]

The truth is that there was very little that was subconscious about the G.O.P.’s relentless appeal to racist whites. Tired of losing elections, it saw an opportunity to renew itself by opening its arms wide to white voters who could never forgive the Democratic Party for its support of civil rights and voting rights for blacks.

The payoff has been huge. Just as the Democratic Party would have been crippled in the old days without the support of the segregationist South, today’s Republicans would have only a fraction of their current political power without the near-solid support of voters who are hostile to blacks.

When Democrats revolted against racism, the G.O.P. rallied to its banner.

Marxism is a failed political/economic theory. It is unfortunate that it does not go away. There are plenty of economists, who reject marxism without falling into the stereotype you describe. Is there any reason we should be stereotyping people? Isn’t that often a part of what is so repulsive about people spewing hatred?

Rogue Medic said: Marxism is a failed political/economic theory. It is unfortunate that it does not go away.

I realize this is OT, but we should not relegate Marxism to the dustbin quite yet. The theory provides many useful insights into economic activity and behaviour.

Particularly useful is the role of class analysis and a dialectical approach to understanding the evolution of our political and economic systems.

Furthermore, capitalism has not ‘won’, nor is it the peak of any evolutionary span economically or politically.

Outside the the myopic Red/Terrorist/Drug/Socialist/…/ scare-crazy US other political systems are viewed as being quite viable in theory and practice.

It may be unfair to label “Dr. Smart” as a naturopath. He could be a chiropractor (many of whom preach against vaccines), or even a rug doctor or basement doctor.

My money, though is on one of those M.D. stalwarts who abide by the message of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons Inc., which combines antivax nuttery and other pseudomedical ideas with a far right-wing antigovernment philosophy. Dr. Smart falls right in with that crowd when he follows up his antivaxery with statements like this:

“I choose freedom over socialism any day of the week.”

It may be hard to accept that it’s possible for M.D.s to be so loopy on the subject of vaccination, but as we know, Doc Smart is not the only M.D. vaccine denialist to infest this forum.

Rogue Medic – I think Phoenix Woman wasn’t talking about actual Marxists, but those who label people as such when they are clearly not.

Prove it. Show us exactly what science supports those alternatives as effective protection from disease, and the relative risks between these alternatives and the “killer vaccines.” Also give us the real data that the vaccines kill more than the diseases.

————————

Okay. Name the ailment buddy!

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Here is anice bumper sticker:

A child with autism – with a H1N1 vaccine in the background.

Here is a better one: An atheist leftist marxist lining up people at gun point forcing them to get a vaccine and smiling when half of them die. In the background there is a billboard that reads: “World Domination Through Vaccination”.

Here is anice bumper sticker: (crap deleted)

Despite your ‘nym, you don’t appear to be smart enough to design a bumpersticker that can actually be read by the car behind.

T. Bruce McNeely:

Despite your ‘nym, you don’t appear to be smart enough to design a bumpersticker that can actually be read by the car behind.

Perhaps he does not drive, plus he never gets to sit in the front seat. Either he is too young to sit in front, or must only be a passenger on public transit (oh, the irony!).

Bill, I am afraid I was limiting myself to vaccines on the typical pediatric schedule. Rabies is an excellent idea! I noticed a while ago while catching up on the SGU podcast that Dr. Novella debated some homeopaths, and one claimed that homeopathy cured rabies better than conventional medicine! (homeopathy conference discussion on podcast starts at about 11 minutes in, then the bat crazy rabies commentary is at about 22 minutes in).

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