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I know you are, but what am I?: Medical Voices’ woo-ful anti-vaccine whine

“I know you are, but what am I?”

That’s basically the child’s version of a familiar logical fallacy known as the tu quoque, which basically means, “You, too!” It’s a very simple and simplistic logical fallacy that tries to argue that, if one’s trait shares one or more of the same bad traits of the people he is criticizing, then his arguments can be dismissed. It’s sometimes very effective in that implied within the fallacy is a charge of hypocrisy. As a diversionary tactic, it can be very effective.

Not too surprisingly, I’ve found a doozy of an example of just this fallacy over at the other anti-vaccine crank site besides Age of Autism, namely Medical Voices. Remember Medical Voices? It’s nowhere near as active as our “friends” at Generation Rescue and Age of Autism, but, being number two, it appears to try harder. Truly, it’s a wretched hive of scum and quackery, and the post over there can be characterized as a combination of tu quoque and a massive straw man argument, in which the word “quack” is turned back on defenders of science-based medicine while simultaneously the positions and arguments of used to criticize quacks are misrepresented as straw men that go beyond Burning Man size and in the article produce a conflagration that could consume a small city as they are engulfed by burning stupid.

Of course, being such a wretched hive of scum and anti-vaccine quackery, Medical Voices has provided me, and more recently Mark Crislip, with blogging material. Dr. Crislip has had perhaps the most hilarious take on the anti-vaccine quackery being promoted over at Medical Voices in a three part takedown:

  1. Nine Questions, Nine Answers
  2. Mumps
  3. Medical Voices: Always in Error, Never in Doubt

Amusingly, as a result of Nine Questions, Nine Answers, Nick Haas, one of the founders of Medical Voices, decided to emulate all varieties of cranks, including 9/11 Truthers, HIV/AIDS denialists, Holocaust deniers, supporters of “alternative medicine”, and believers in ghosts and the paranormal, and challenge Dr. Crislip to a live, online debate. Also not surprisingly, just like Brave, Brave Sir Robin, Mr. Haas ran away from anything other than a “live” debate.

The looniness of Medical Voices Vaccine Information Center (MVVIC) does have an upside, though, and it’s an upside that I’ve unfortunately ignored for a while now. Basically, it, like Age of Autism or NaturalNews.com, should be a copious source of blogging material, and in this case it is. Specifically, it’s a massive case of the aforementioned logical fallacy of tu quoque in the form of an article by someone named Suzanne Humphries, MD entitled Quack. In the post, right is left, up is down, and wrong is right. She begins with one of my favorite quack attacks on science:

Mainstream medicine has hit a new low in its war against physicians who have become alternative healers. The battle has been going on for decades, but lately, in bully-like fashion, pharma’s minions are ramping up the vilification. They’re now discrediting any healing method not based in their version of accepted science – excuse me, I meant their religion of pharmaceutical belief which has been misnamed as “science”.

Hilarious! This is an example of the classic strategies of believers in pseudoscience to bring science down to their level by declaring it “religion.” After all, if science is nothing more than a religion, then its conclusions can be easily dismissed as having no more substance than the beliefs of a competing religion, much as Christians dismiss the beliefs of Buddhists, Hindus, or Muslims and vice-versa. It’s nothing more than doggerel. There are many differences between science and religion, but perhaps the most important is this: Science changes its conclusions on the basis of new evidence. Not only that, it actively seeks evidence that will falsify its current “dogma.” This is in marked contrast to religion, which not only doesn’t seek disconfirming evidence for its beliefs but actively attacks and rejects such evidence when it is presented. Yes, it’s true that scientists may be too fast to reject ideas that are out of the mainstream, but science itself continues. In science, sooner or later, evidence wins out. The process may be messy and contentious, because human beings who do science are, like most human beings, messy and contentious, out of the messiness and contentiousness the explanatory power of science improves. It’s a Darwinian process, in which hypotheses that best explain how nature works and make the most accurate predictions survive.

In fact, Humphries gets it totally wrong in so many ways that I almost feel tempted to leave this paragraph as an exercise for the reader:

They demand explanation and evidence when we reject their drugs, yet they never serve up true evidence or proof that drugs do more good than harm. They insist with religious fervor that vaccines are safe, effective and keep people healthy. They preach as gospel that antibiotics are better or safer than homeopathy, herbs, colloidal silver, vitamin D and natural support for non-life threatening infections, despite the fact that antibiotic adverse effects are common and well documented. Serious effects such as anaphylaxis (inflammatory shock), kidney failure, liver failure, Stevens-Johnson syndrome (a life threatening condition where the epidermis separates from the dermis), Clostridium difficile colitis (commonly referred to as C-diff), and the creation of drug resistant super-bacteria are but a few examples. And now, they’ve recruited some very bright (but not necessarily wise) minds to attack alternative practitioners. Their latest weapon is name calling – most notably, labeling them “quacks”.

Oh, hell. I can’t resist. First of all, I’m really interested in knowing what the heck Humphries means by “true evidence.” Apparently scientific evidence demonstrating that homeopathy is useless, nothing more than sympathetic magic, and her belief that vaccines cause autism doesn’t count as “true evidence.” One wonders what does to her. Anecdotal evidence? Probably? Revelation from on high? Possibly? Whatever it is, it doesn’t appear to be science, and clearly Humphries rejects science. Yes, real medicine has real risks and can produce real complications, but it produces real benefits too. Homeopathy does not. Neither does colloidal silver. Silver salts may have some value in treating superficial infections when applied as part of a cream or paste, the concentration they require to kill bacteria is too high to be useful in treating systemic infections. As for vitamin D, “alt-med” practitioners massively oversell its benefits, while “conventional” practitioners more and more do actually check vitamin D levels and recommend supplementation. The difference is that, unlike practitioners like Dr. Humphries, they’re doing it based on science and a realistic assessment of the potential benefits, risks, and the uncertainties involved in those calculations, rather than a pie-in-the-sky set of claims as vitamin D as a panacea.

Of course, what’s really hilarious about this entire article is not so much that it’s a massive tu quoque fallacy. Yes, that’s funny enough in and of itself, but what’s really both hilarious and pathetic is that Humphries can’t even do a propoer tu quoque fallacy without reinventing the definition of what a quack is. After listing a dictionary definition of “quack,” she writes:

But from its current usage, I’d say they’ve added a new definition:

3. A physician or medical healer who does not profit from creating and maintaining disease, but rather respects the natural tendency of the body to heal itself; one who helps the body eliminate whatever toxins are causing illness, be they environmental, emotional or pharmaceutical; one who uses primarily non-toxic, non-surgical means for routine care, and uses pharmaceutical and surgical medicine as a last resort.

I do like how Humphries has expanded the definition of “toxin” to “emotional toxins.” I wonder what that means. Maybe she’s an advocate of the German New Medicine or Biologie Totale, where various forms of emotional trauma are postulated to be the cause of all disease, in particular cancer. In any case, Humphries goes far beyond just redefining the word “quack” as she does above, going on to write:

As a matter of fact, it seems a quack is apparently anyone in the healthcare industry who does not believe in and support the unharnessed proliferation of the pharmaceutical industry, with its virtually unlimited profits from its worldwide distribution of toxic medications and vaccines. When a physician has the ethical fortitude to reject these massive operations and label them as destructive, s/he will be considered a quack. And most definitely, any physician who no longer wishes to be a mercenary for the pharma-backed junta that has taken over medical schools and medical institutions will be tagged “quack”.

Funny, by this definition, friends of mine could be considered “quacks.” Mark Crislip, for instance, has recently written a post describing how he refuses to take anything from pharaceutical companies and has refused to do so for nearly three decades now. On various occasions over the years, I myself have criticized the pharmaceutical and medical device industry. Does that make me a “quack,” too? Probably not, I would guess. After all, I still accept the paradigm that science is the best way to guide and improve medical care. Humphries clearly does not.

Her view is a massive straw man as well, although it’s a telling one. Clearly the term “quack” stings Humphries more than she lets on. That’s why she has to redefine the word “quack” and turn it into a straw man parody in which defenders of science-based medicine are crazed minions of big pharma who desperately want to pump people full of pharmaceuticals in order to increase the profits of pharma to beyond obscene.

Most gratifying, I think, is this next passage, which appears to be evidence that my humble efforts, as well as those of my “friend” and his partners in crime, are having an effect:

This word “quack” has been turned into a weapon, unleashed on those who notice the scores of patients spiraling to their death at the hands of FDA-approved, CDC-sanctioned medical interventions of big pharma and their affiliated institutions. The self proclaimed authorities of “science-based-medicine,” the paid pharma bloggers, “Quack Watchers” and many others who proselytize the message of drug companies and attempt to discredit the time-tested healing methods used by alternative practitioners, are destined to fail. I take comfort in the fact that the masses are becoming increasingly disgruntled with the results of their conventional medical options. The public trust and confidence in what pharma and conventional medical doctors have to offer is, thankfully, dying.

Yes! The forces of science-based medicine are pissing off quacks like Dr. Humphries, so much so that she’s using the time-honored tactic of people who are losing and they know it:

Those who have attempted to warp our reputations by calling us “quacks” will not succeed. The primal wisdom of the masses is more powerful than all the propaganda promoted by the misnamed “science-based medicine” and “quack watchers.” The pillars that support the sick-care industry are cracking and its architects are getting desperate. In due time, the Yellow Pages will be abundant in so-called quacks. Quack watchers really should watch carefully. The revolution has begun.

Sounds as though Humphries is getting set to get a French revolution going with her very own Comité de salut public, if you know what I mean. Talk about delusions of grandeur! On the other hand, it is true that quackery such as the anti-vaccine movement championed by Humphries and MVVIC have seemed to be in ascendance for a while. Although I’ve been at times rather pessimistic regarding the anti-vaccine movement, of late I’ve seen encouraging signs of a backlash against Jenny McCarthy and the anti-vaccine movement. Whether that backlash will persist or not, I don’t know, but I do view complaints by supporters of quackery like Dr. Humphries to be an encouraging sign that we bloggers who relentlessly harp on medical pseudoscience and quackery are actually having an effect. There have been times when I truly doubted it, when I thought we were lone voices in the wilderness having no effect.

Thanks, Dr. Suzanne Humphries, for showing me that we’re having an effect.

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]

255 replies on “I know you are, but what am I?: Medical Voices’ woo-ful anti-vaccine whine”

Oh the tribalism. Science has no tribes.

For the past 10 years or so, many naive med students have been encouraged to buy into “integrative medicine.” Once there’s an investment, it’s difficult to back out. So we have our work cut out for us.

If we could get those departments of infiltrative medicine out of our med schools, our jobs would be easier.

Her definition:

A physician or medical healer who does not profit from creating and maintaining disease, but rather respects the natural tendency of the body to heal itself; one who helps the body eliminate whatever toxins are causing illness, be they environmental, emotional or pharmaceutical; one who uses primarily non-toxic, non-surgical means for routine care, and uses pharmaceutical and surgical medicine as a last resort.

If this were true, then anyone who practices, say, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), would be called a quack. Yet, they aren’t, simply because there are countless randomized trials that show CBT to be highly effective.

Indeed, in the autism world there’s ABA, and while one can debate the quality of the evidence for ABA, ABA practitioners are almost never called quacks. That’s because ABA’s provenance is scientific.

And now, they’ve recruited some very bright (but not necessarily wise) minds to attack alternative practitioners.

Yeah, the day I was walking along and saw the Pharma ShillTM recruitment center was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. I mean, all those checks I get have come in so handy. That reminds me, fellow shills. Party on my private island this Saturday. Remember to use the leeward runway when landing your private jets.

Does that make me a “quack,” too?

Hey. Walks like a boxy, Plexiglas duck full of blinking lights. Talks like a boxy, Plexiglas duck full of blinking lights…

The revolution has begun.

Quick! Time to buy guillotine shares! I think sales are going to go up as the blades come down. That or she means that there really is going to be a revolution in alternative “medicine” in that they’re actually going to start providing, y’know, evidence that it works…

Hey, a kid can dream, can’t he?

Orac, remember how you’ve noted in the past that, as science comes down harder and harder against Wakefield et al, they’ve responded with a gradual and growing abandonment of even pretending to sound “science-y”?

This looks to be more of the same. It’s as if midway through a college football game, the team getting its ass kicked 90-17 decides to pretend that they can stop playing NCAA-regulation football and make up their own rules instead — rules which they may change at whim to their own benefit, and which allow for repainting the field markers and putting the goalposts on wheels.

If I found the correct Suzanne/Susan Humpries, MD (you have Susan and Suzanne…which is it?), neither has any training in autism as far as I can tell. Suzanne Humphries has a recommendation by Sherri Tenpenny and we all know Sherri’s area of expertise. Anti-vaccine quacks band together.

Personally, if I want information about a health problem, I’ll seek out someone who is trained in that area. As much as I respect my PCP, I wouldn’t ask him in depth about current treatments in breast cancer, just like I wouldn’t ask a neurologist about my foot problems (unless they might be nerve related, like neuropathy). Each might have some knowledge, but not specific enough for me.

@Todd W: Hey! Where did you find the Pharma Shill recruitment center? I keep looking for it, and can never find it. The last address I was given turned out to be a Paknpost type place (and they disclaimed any knowledge of Big Pharm or Lord Draconis. Is there a sooper sekrit password I am missing?). I want to get in on the free-flowing cash!

“Thanks, Dr. Susan Humphries, for showing me that we’re having an effect.”

Unlike homeopathy, he, he.

One of the favorite defense mechanisms of my Christian friends is that I am not allowed to criticize because of the whole “judge not, let ye be judged” clause. However, they quickly run away in fear and cower under their beds when I point out to them that the principle of that was not to keep everyone from judging others. It was to keep people from being hypocrites.
This is basically the same argument I’ve heard from the anti-vaxers that have crossed my path. How dare I tell them what to do with their bodies? Would I like it if someone told me what to do?
What to do to be healthy and keep others around me healthy? Yes. I’ve been allowing that for years, through my doctor, every year, at my yearly physical. “Mr. Najera,” he says, “you should really boost your MMR with all the lab work you do. And let’s check those hep B titers.” Okay, I agree.
No, my friends, the real hypocrites are those who push all that “natural healing without evidence”. If they were not being paid a cent, they would not do what they do, or say what they say. AoA and all of them would not say a peep if book deals, private parties, and the adoration of many were not involved. I bet my cat on it.

@Rene,
I think your cat is safe.

The continued fight against science is frightening on many levels. The distrust in some places is nearly universal. In that sense, Mooney is right – science is not being well communicated to the majority of science illiterates – accommodation, however is wrong.

What we need is a PR firm to publicize science breakthroughs using popular media in addition to MSM. Every success touted wildly and with enthusiasm and parties. Lotteries based on the next great discovery. Even every setback considered soberly as the way science advances, self correcting, and able to change. We need cheerleaders.

@MikeMa
I agree, and not just cheerleaders. We need a Twilight-like (or Harry Potter-like) series where the heroes rely on science. Those stories are usually relegated to historical accounts. Humor me here for a bit…

We need the story of a young, somewhat inexperienced epidemiologist who moonlights as a lab tech. One night, while working in the lab, he notices more and more people coming into the ER with the same syndrome. His quick thinking and ability to solve puzzles allows him to stave off an outbreak of some kind. The villains in this story are many, from the old-timer ER doc who will not listen to reason and wants to discharge everyone with a diagnosis of “viral syndrome” (which is correct, but too broad), to the town religious zealot who is convinced that this is the final plague before the return of Jesus Christ. Our hero battles against prejudice and conformity all through the night to figure out the source of what is going on… And the results may very well change the course of human history forever.

The movie would be in 3-D, of course. It will lack the “cheesiness” of “Outbreak” and the implausibility of “The Andromeda Strain”. We’re talking real diseases, with real consequences, caused by a power so insidious, so deceiving, that it has been right under our noses all along… Ignorance.

I’ll compromise and allow Robert Pattinson to play the lead.

@Rene,
Good idea! Secret super lab tech epidemiologist. A science hero is great. McGuyver with a PhD.

Not enough though. Movies, comedies, dramas, TV, online games, everything considered. It has to be a daily march of progress. Something new, something exciting, something tangible. Advances in medicine, physics, chemistry. New proposed studies and where the results might lead. Abbie (ERV) needs to do some of the editing because, like Orac, she can take the most obscure science and make it a party with knowledge as the party favor.

Something must be done to restore reason and science to its place of honor.

Don’t alternative “therapists” ever have repeat business? I mean, Chiropractors seem to live by the dictum “visit early, visit often” – yet it is MDs who are accused of maintaining sickness for profit.

Penelope Dingle reportedly visited and called her homeopath more than once a week for two years in an attempt to cure her rectal cancer until finally submitting (to late) to colorectal surgery. But it’s the medical profession that’s only in it for profit? WTF?

The primal wisdom of the masses is more powerful than all the propaganda promoted by the misnamed “science-based medicine” and “quack watchers.”

For some reason, reading that made me immediately think of Sarah Palin.

“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”
~Albert Einstein

This whole thing feels like a schoolyard brawl. How about injecting some civil discourse and listening from both sides? Parochialism seems to run rampant on both sides of the issue. Let’s not hide behind “evidence is on my side” arguments, but examine and present the evidence and discuss its merits and gaps in a scientific manner. Are we trying to come to a resolution of the argument or, as the author gleefully points out, to get more fodder for blogging?

@Marya

The problem is that we’ve been asking for evidence from alternative “medicine” practitioners for years, and years, and years. And they have yet to present anything of quality. I’m willing to wager that anyone here would happily change their stance if sufficient science-based evidence were presented to support the claims of those like Dr. Humphries.

Marya,

I suspect you haven’t been here long. Orac DOES routinely analyze the evidence on the issues he discusses. In this case, however, Humphries presents such vague generalities that your charge is not meaningful.

They preach as gospel that antibiotics are better or safer than homeopathy, herbs, colloidal silver, vitamin D and natural support for non-life threatening infections, despite the fact that antibiotic adverse effects are common and well documented. Serious effects such as anaphylaxis (inflammatory shock), kidney failure, liver failure, Stevens-Johnson syndrome (a life threatening condition where the epidermis separates from the dermis), Clostridium difficile colitis (commonly referred to as C-diff), and the creation of drug resistant super-bacteria are but a few examples.

The bit I bolded there is really very impressive.

If antibiotics are bad, then why is it so bad that use of antibiotics can lead to the emergence of bacteria that are … immune to antibiotics?

I mean, even leaving out the complete misunderstanding of evolution illustrated by that phrase (not just the word ‘creation’, but also the magical thinking that’s indicated in there) … either antibiotics are good and thus the fact they stop working is bad, or they’re bad, and thus the fact they stop working DOESN’T MATTER!

Marya, right after quoting Einstein in a context she doesn’t fully understand then commits a golden mean fallacy in attempting to become the arbitrator of truth and knowledge.

Might want read up why your piece of reasoning is so ridiculous:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GoldenMeanFallacy

We follow the evidence. You seem to enjoy forming straw-men and being a mediocre concern troll.

Rene,

only if someone teaches RPatz how to hold a pipette before they start filming. I am still trying to get over the bad job that Sigourney Weaver did in Avatar….

Yupp, I need to sign up to “I am such a scientist anonymous”

@Catherina
I almost walked out of “Outbreak” because of all the BS. CDC cannot just walk into a town and do what they did. The ER doctor asked to call CDC right away? The State health dept. has to ask CDC to come in and help… That was one of many glaring mistakes.
And Renee Russo only had a welt on her nose after being exposed to the virus while others died a violent death in minutes? What?!
Sigh. I too am too much of an analyst to enjoy science fiction.

Rene, come on! Everyone knows that marksmanship and helicopter piloting is an essential part of medical microbiology training!

Even though it was a ridiculous movie, I was at least happy to see lab docs portrayed as action figures rather than nerds.

————–MESSAGE BEGINS

Shills and Min . . .

Oh, nevermind. It’s just too easy.

Carry on with your evil plans, etc., etc. yrs vry trly.

Lord Draconis Zeneca, VC, iH7L
PharmaCOM Orbital HQ
0010101101001

—————-MESSAGE ENDS

Let’s not hide behind “evidence is on my side” arguments, but examine and present the evidence and discuss its merits and gaps in a scientific manner. Are we trying to come to a resolution of the argument or, as the author gleefully points out, to get more fodder for blogging?

You’re obviously new here, aren’t you?

Hint: I do examine the evidence and discuss its “merits and gaps in a scientific manner.” In fact, I do it frequently. I just don’t do it each and every post. Sometimes I come across idiocy that deserves to be called idiocy. Like Suzanne Humphries’ article.

@Todd: Agree that we need better evidence. Issue is made more complicated by the lack of adequate tools currently to collect such evidence, however. E.g., vaccinations: overall a very useful public health intervention under certain circumstances (life-threatening diseases, high contagion potential), safe when examined as single exposures. It is difficult to study potential interactions with other exposures, be it vaccines or something else, as well as long-term consequences. So, while some conclusions are warranted others are less obvious.
@Scott: Thanks, I am new here. But is it not worth it to keep equanimity instead of spiraling into personal attacks, no matter how stupid and venomous the other guy seems?
@Dalek: Thanks for the link — an interesting read.
@Orac: Thanks for the discussion. I still think that a sober discussion of the evidence is the higher road, no matter how stupid or venomous the other side seems. I do have to confess that I do not always practice what I preach, though — this is certainly an emotional issue.

Marya,
Ask pseudoscience promoters for evidence, you get crickets chirping, or anecdote. Show them evidence, you get accusations of dishonesty, and name-calling. That’s if they don’t just change the subject altogether. You ask for civil discussion, but for any discussion to remain completely civil you need both sides to stay that way. And all the civility you can give them from the science side doesn’t keep them from going off the rails and getting nasty.

Oracio: “This is an example of the classic strategies of believers in pseudoscience to bring science down to their level by declaring it “religion.”

Huge straw man argument you’re trying to put together here. Scientism exists and it is here on this website. Science is separate from scientism.

“There are many differences between science and religion, but perhaps the most important is this: Science changes its conclusions on the basis of new evidence.”

This common defense needs to be looked into and scrutinized more. The main problem with this defense is in the difference in the way the term “science” is used and interchanged to fit the defenders argument. More on this one later because this statement has confused SBMers.

“In science, sooner or later, evidence wins out.”

Yes and what you say today can be wrong in 50 years according the history of medical science. But today you will steadfastly claim it as truth and knowledge in the name of science. If it is true today then it should be true in 50 years. If it were really “scientific” 50 years ago then it should be “scientific” today. The problem is science doesn’t say a lot of things that people say it says. Instead a group of people shove their hand up science’s ass and make it speak for it like a puppet.

Ventrila-science.

But is it not worth it to keep equanimity instead of spiraling into personal attacks, no matter how stupid and venomous the other guy seems?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. That’s why it’s good to have a range of voices discussing these topics, with a range of styles. Orac tends to be insolent insolent. The blog his “friend” posts at tends to maintain a more professional tone.

Bad Dalek-you should preface any link to tvtropes with the obligatory warning-“Tvtropes can take over your life, Enter at your peril”

“And all the civility you can give them from the science side doesn’t keep them from going off the rails and getting nasty.”

It goes both ways chriskid. Read these blogs for evidence. RI is a popular blog because emotions can’t be checked by those claiming to objectively use logic and evidence. It’s an excuse to take the low road. It’s hypocritical really. But I believe Orac’s right. You can’t win this argument by using evidence alone. You HAVE to resort to emotional tactics and/logical fallacies to persuade.

Marya:“This whole thing feels like a schoolyard brawl. How about injecting some civil discourse and listening from both sides? Parochialism seems to run rampant on both sides of the issue. Let’s not hide behind “evidence is on my side” arguments, but examine and present the evidence and discuss its merits and gaps in a scientific manner.”

Marya – read on the one hand read Medical Voices’ Dr. Humphries going on about “the primal wisdom of the masses”, and contrast that with the reasoned, evidence-based response by Dr. Crislip (linked to in the above article) to Medical Voices’ antivax nonsense (“Nine Questions, Nine Answers”) and tell us who’s being “parochial” and foolish – pro-vaccine advocates or antivaxers.

“You’re both behaving badly” is not a reasonable conclusion.

augustine troll @ 27:

Granny Weatherwax would have a thing or two to say about your ought/is confusion.

Reading that took me back to yesterday when I was reading the Yahoo News comments on a story about a drug that they were considering pulling as a treatment for breast cancer. Oh, the cranks! According to many of them The Cure for cancer has already been discovered but is kept locked away so that Big Pharma can make money off ineffective drugs. Because, ya know, if Big Pharma had The Cure for cancer, they wouldn’t be able to market it and sell it. One person commentating said she was in medical school precisely because she wanted to find out this big secret cure and make sure the world could access it. Ummmmm . . . Yes, because cancer doctors are just greedy bastards who like to see people suffering so they can make money. Sheesh. It’s scary to think I share a planet with these people.

Yes, because in the history of those who hide the Cure for Cancer (because it’s just one disease don’t you know) there has never been one fame-whore who worked on that secret, thus resulting in the the Cure for Cancer being safe from the masses.

Commenting, sorry, long night with a sick kid. Anyway, I am sure that The Cure for Cancer was probably developed by a Brave Maverick Doctor . . . who nonetheless was bought off by a conspiracy between Big Pharma and the FDA, because the US government is actively seeking to keep The Cure silent, because, er, it’s in their best interest to keep people sick because, umm . . . well, if I have to connect all the dots for you, you are obviously a Big Pharma shill . . .

Yes Yes, bought off or something even more malicious, because Big Pharma, the FDA and the WHO want the world to be in their clutches and subdued by the fear of cancer and by keeping them sick… Gotta love those who have figured out our Big Pharma conspiracy…

Speaking of which, I still haven’t received my shill pay…

I find these attacks on evidence-based medicine frankly monotonous and boring. It should be apparent to any discerning member of the public that it is evidence-based medicine that is constantly challenging it’s beliefs based on new evidence. At times we have to eat humble-pie (as in the recommendations for prophylactic ASA for those without evidence of vascular disease) and change our recommendations. Every recommendation is based on the best evidence to date and if you wait for 100% certainty many would suffer for the occasional time when new evidence calls for a meaningful change of direction.
If we are to be accused of being shills for big-pharma please give me the details of the huge profits I should be seeing. I guess they truly believe that we let our parents, spouses and children die, all the time knowing our treatments are toxic and useless, all in the name of profit. Yes it must be a conspiracy millions strong, one of which the mafia would be proud for the total absence of a leak.
Who has the conflict of interest in their treatments, the physician who gains not a penny from the prescriptions they write or the “practitioner” who makes the recommendation, and by good fortune just has it available to sell you?
The fact is it shouldn’t be that hard for any doubters to make up their own minds. The simple fact that alternative practitioners seem to have no treatments for acute illnesses with clear outcomes if not effectively treated should be enough. What are their treatments for the truly ill; those with acute septicemia, bacterial pneumonia, heart failure, status epilepticus, malignant hypertension, anaphylactic shock to name a few. For these conditions where the lack of definitive treatment is obvious (death), they seem to have no answer, but give us the walking well with vague symptoms just ripe for a placebo benefit and now you’re talking their language.

————–MESSAGE BEGINS

Shills etc.

I thought we had dealt with this Augustine rebel several chapters ago. He returns with the dreadful inevitability of an unloved season. No matter, the Sooper Seekrit™ Kancer Kure is in a safe spot here in orbit. The vault is in the middle of the most dangerous place on the station: the hatchling creche. It’s festooned with colorful scenes depicting hatchlings merrily disemboweling and toying with their favorite food . . . rebels.

No need to search medical schools or pharmaceutical laboratories for it. We paid that brave, delicious, maverick scientist for it and we’re not giving it back until we’re done with Operation: Monkey Brain Shrink. Then we shall sit back and enjoy our vast army of strapping, brainless and cancer free primates.

Marya dear, you are new here, aren’t you. This isn’t venom. If you want to see venom, ask The Gregarious Misanthrope to show you the video of his clown act at our last PharmaPicnic. Now that’s venom. Remember darling, you taste just like chicken . . . or is it cherry? I can never remember.

In any case, Cindy asks me to let you all know that sign ups for the Karaoke Contest are now closed. Thanks for your enthusiastic response.

Now back to work, Markuze is loose on Facebook.

Lord Draconis Zeneca, VC, iH7L
PharmaCOM Orbital HQ
0010101101001

——————-MESSAGE ENDS

I like how you never mentioned that Dr Humphries is a physicist, Internist and Nephrologist. I wonder why you left her credentials out of the discussion. What are you guys so afraid of. Why won’t you debate on a public forum. They want a public forum because Dr Tenpenny gets edited out of taped programs. Why are you folks so afraid to debate them? come out of the shadows, pick your battle with worthy opponents, and not just parents trying to defent their children’s lives on Matt lauers facebook page, and using Jenny McCarthy against a group of doctors .Shame on Offit, Orac and friends for not taking on the real debate with real doctors.

Ian: “What are their treatments for the truly ill; those with acute septicemia, bacterial pneumonia, heart failure, status epilepticus, malignant hypertension, anaphylactic shock to name a few.”

You’re making another strawman. Medical treatment has it’s place and it’s boundaries. Nobody is saying to throw the baby out with the bath water. But it’s time to change the dirty water.

If you were truly evidenced based you’d be looking inward instead of outward. All of the combined non allopathic “treatment” in the world does not kill more than “science based medicine does in a year. I know an ad hoc will come next but that’ll just support the argument.

Why are you folks so afraid to debate them

No one is afraid to debate. The issue, and something you types seem to not be able to grasp, is that science isn’t settled on the debate podium. It is settled in peer review, research and the lab.

Period.

Zee you might as well be arguing as a creationist.

Exactly the same piss poor bullshit.

“But but Michael Behe has all kinds of letters after his name!!! You’re just afraid to debate him!!!”

“The issue, and something you types seem to not be able to grasp, is that science isn’t settled on the debate podium.”

Ever heard of Clarence Darrow vs. Willliam Jennings Bryan? What peer reviewed paper were they researching again? Were there any test tubes involved? Where is this famous lab?

If you’ve ever seen one of their best, stephen barrett, live then you’ll know why they don’t like live debate.

Articulation, appearance, and connection with an audience probably isn’t this group’s strong suit. Cynicism, pessimism, and skepticism generally are not endearing qualitities to other human beings. Best to stick with blogging and not show your personalities.

Susan, one vaccine. While it has been a horrible experience for you. It has been noted, and its use for young children is no longer recommended. Plus you did win in Vaccine Court.

It does not mean all vaccines are always bad.

By the way, my kid at about the same age got a trip to the hospital by ambulance because of seizures, and losing consciousnesses. It was over a week after his MMR vaccine, but we knew that was not it. He was sick with something else that did not have a vaccine yet. Oh, and he is still disabled as an adult.

In case you didn’t know, diseases also cause problems. Very often. Measles will cause encephalitis one out of a thousand times.

“In case you didn’t know, diseases also cause problems.”

Now you’re insulting her.

augustine:

All of the combined non allopathic “treatment” in the world does not kill more than “science based medicine does in a year.

1. That could have something to do with CAM doing nothing at all. 2. It could also have something to do with the numbers of people getting treated with medicine vs. the number being treated with CAM. And, lastly, it could have a lot to do with the shitty record keeping for CAM.

Ever heard of Clarence Darrow vs. Willliam(sic) Jennings Bryan?

The Scopes trial settled whether it was legal to teach evolution in Tennessee, not the validity of the science of evolution.

Articulation, appearance, and connection with an audience probably isn’t this group’s strong suit.

And that’s what determines who’s right. Right?

@ 27 augustine,

There are many differences between science and religion, but perhaps the most important is this: Science changes its conclusions on the basis of new evidence.

This common defense needs to be looked into and scrutinized more. The main problem with this defense is in the difference in the way the term “science” is used and interchanged to fit the defenders argument. More on this one later because this statement has confused SBMers.

First, science-based medicine does not really change.

In science, sooner or later, evidence wins out.

Yes and what you say today can be wrong in 50 years according the history of medical science. But today you will steadfastly claim it as truth and knowledge in the name of science. If it is true today then it should be true in 50 years. If it were really “scientific” 50 years ago then it should be “scientific” today.

Then science changes too much.

And back to the first bunch of misinformation:

The main problem with this defense criticism is in the difference in the way the term “science” is used and interchanged to fit the defenders critic’s argument.

No problem with augustine having trouble deciding if he is the pot or the kettle, again.

The problem is science doesn’t say a lot of things that people say it says.

Maybe you are smoking pot out of a kettle-sized bong. Time to hand over your car keys. You have had way too much.

You appear to be high enough that you actually believe some of what you write.
.

@ 53 Chris,

I just keep thinking about a bowl of petunias . . . and a whale.

Your previous comment being number 42 might have had something to do with that. 😉
.

Wow, this is the most ridiculous pro-vaccine douche-baggery I’ve ever read, promoting Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company’s vaccinations foundation, into the modern I.G. Farben sister company Bayer, spreading AIDS knowingly through their vaccine Factor 8.. type into google “bayer knew aids” also “Merck Vaccines Aids” and “Robert Gallo AIDS” to find the TRUTH about vaccines and what they are really for, depopulation and mutation of nearly every human being on earth, into a sub-human species with all the animal cells, heavy metals and toxic chemicals.

Vaccines, petro-pharmaceuticals, petro-soaps/lotions, bisphenol-a plastics, processed and genetically modified foods are the largest health frauds in modern history!

“I like how you never mentioned that Dr Humphries is a physicist, Internist and Nephrologist.”

A regular Doc Savage, that one. Note to zee: I have a degree in physics as well. That doesn’t make one a physicist.

@ 58 Otto,

Physicist/Physician/Phrenologist/Phaeomycotic cyst/Phallicist/Phthisis – whatever it takes. It is unfair for people to have to discriminate among these. As long as they sound smart, they must mean smart.

She might even be a quantum physicist. 😉
.

I’m totally looking forward to more insightful comments by Mr. Wiederholt.

I have a degree in physics but I would not call myself a physicist. I am still interested in the topic, I do know a fair bit about particle physics after having worked in the field, but I think physicists are my friends who are still working in physics and to call myself one would be unfair to them. I am something else now.

Sort of off topic, but I did see some good news on the anti-vax front on gawker today:

Jenny McCarthy and Valerie Bertinelli have scrapped their plans to host talk shows: “They thought it would be a few hours a day. They didn’t realize launching a talk show is 24/7 work for months.” America, you have narrowly avoided Autism Denial Daily with Jenny McCarthy. Thank your lucky stars.

http://gawker.com/5591547/today-is-the-day-lindsay-lohan-goes-to-jail

Yes and what you say today can be wrong in 50 years according the history of medical science.

As opposed to what augustine says, which is empty BS today, and will still be empty BS in 50 years.

Seriously, this is the most disgusting tactic of the anti-rationalist con-artists: using their opponents’ honesty against them, making it a liability, and pretending that our willingness to admit our errors prove we’re less realiable than people who consistently lie, make mistakes, and never admit their errors. Obscurantists like augustine are pond-scum, pure and simple(minded).

depopulation and mutation of nearly every human being on earth, into a sub-human species with all the animal cells, heavy metals and toxic chemicals….

… that would make a kick-ass anime comic mutant, zombie superpowered army. Maybe a team of plucky anti-science teens can thwart this dastardly master plan.

ragingbee: “Seriously, this is the most disgusting tactic of the anti-rationalist con-artists: using their opponents’ honesty against them, making it a liability, and pretending that our willingness to admit our errors prove we’re less realiable than people who consistently lie, make mistakes, and never admit their errors.”

Talk about the blatant use of a logical fallacy by a SBMer. Using their opponents honesty against them? How about using your arrogance against you.

Admit our errors? YOU will not admit your errors because YOU believe your way is the only way. You will go down guns a blazing. Your descendants will admit your errors for you in the name of science and progress. But today you’ll claim “science is on your side.” Whatever that means.

@augustoons,
You live in a world of hope but no evidence. Must be tough for you.

Science is not in error ever but scientists are and they, when presented evidence, usually admit it. Even if some scientists cannot accept evidence against them, the community will eventually leave the errors behind. Not so your merry band of faithists.

“Do you even know what a product insert is? Try reading one for your favorite vaccine.”

I’m guessing you probably did read the insert(s)…you probably also completely misunderstood the information therein.

Do you even know what a product insert is? Try reading one for your favorite vaccine.

Yeah, it’s basically a legal disclaimer written by lawyers under rules created by politicians. Are you confusing that with scientific evidence or are you the kind of person that really needs that big warning label on your lawnmower that tells you to not stick your hand in the spinning blades?

@Poogles
He did. Go to his website, but only if you haven’t had anything to eat recently. I think I puked a little in my mouth. The dude is really “out there”, in my opinion. He couldn’t find a definition for “illness”, so he made up his own… Richard, I could have saved you a lifetime of Woo…

Let me Google that for you!

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