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Yes, there really are people who don’t accept the germ theory of disease

The longer I’m in this whole skepticism thing, the more I realize that no form of science is immune to woo. For example, even though I lament just how many people do not accept evolution, for example, I can somewhat understand it. Although the basics of the science and evidence supporting the theory of evolution as the central organizing principle of all biology, much of the evidence is not readily apparent to those who don’t make it a calling to study biology, evolution, and speciation. It’s not like, for example, gravity, which everyone experiences and of which everyone has a “gut level” understanding. So, not unexpectedly, when the theory of evolution conflicts with a person’s religious beliefs, for most people it’s very easy to discount the massive quantities of evidence that undergird the theory of evolution. It’s not so easy to discount the evidence for gravity.

In many ways, medicine is similar to evolution, but the situation is possibly even worse. The reason is that much of the evidence in medicine is conflicting and not readily apparent to the average person. There’s more than that, though, in that there are a number of confounding factors that make it very easy to come to the wrong conclusion in medicine, particularly when looking at single cases. Placebo effects and regression to the mean, for example, can make it appear to individual patients that, for example, water (i.e., what the quackery that is homeopathy is) or placebo interventions (i.e., acupuncture) cures or improves various medical conditions. Add to that confirmation bias, the normal human cognitive quirk whereby all of us–and I do mean all of us–tend to remember information that reinforces our preexisting beliefs and to forget information that would tend to refute those beliefs–and, at the single person level or even at the single practitioner level, it’s very, very easy to be misled in medicine into thinking that quackery works. On the other hand, at the single patient level, it’s possible to see evidence of the efficacy of modern medicine; for example, if a person catches pneumonia, is treated with antibiotics, and recovers quickly. In any case, because personal experience and the evidence that people see with their own eyes can be very deceptive in medicine, science-based medicine, with its basic science underpinnings and clinical trial evidence, is very necessary to try to tease out what works and what doesn’t.

Medicine does, however, have its version of a theory of evolution, at least in terms of how well-supported and integrated into the very fabric of medicine it is. That theory is the germ theory of disease, which, as evolution is the organizing principle of biology, functions as the organizing principle of infectious disease in medicine. When I first became interested in skepticism and medical pseudoscience and quackery, I couldn’t envision how anyone could deny the germ theory of disease. It just didn’t compute to me, given how copious the evidence in favor of this particular theory is. It turns out that I was wrong about that, too.

On Friday there was a video released that provides a very clear, succinct explanation of germ theory denialism. It got me to thinking about antiscience in general and germ theory denialism in particular.

Germ theory denialism: A little History

The only thing I would disagree with is the conclusion at the end that germ theory denialists are not much of a threat. (I’d also quibble with the inclusion of doctors of osteopathy with chiropractors and naturopaths. These days, most DOs are indistinguishable from MDs in how they practice.) In fact, germ theory denialism is a major strain of “thought” driving many forms of pseudoscience, such as chiropractic and naturopathy, as is shown in the video itself.

Given the content of the video, however, I thought it might be worth considering the question: How on earth could people seriously deny the germ theory of disease, given how much success the application of this theory has demonstrated in decreasing mortality. Think about it: Antibiotics, modern hygiene and public health measures, and vaccines have been responsible for preventing more deaths and arguably for saving more lives than virtually any other intervention, preventative or treatment, that science-based medicine has ever devised. All of them rely, in full or in part, on the germ theory of disease.

The first thing we should clarify is just what we mean by the “germ theory of disease.” In most texts and sources that I’ve read, the germ theory of disease is stated something like, “Many diseases are caused by microorganisms.” We could argue whether viruses count as microorganisms, but for purposes of the germ theory they do. (Most biologists do not consider viruses to be true living organisms, because they consist of nothing other than genetic material wrapped in a protein coat and lack the ability to reproduce without infecting the cell of an organism.)

The funny thing about germ theory denialism is that, long before Pasteur, there were concepts about disease that resembled the germ theory. For example, it was written in the Atharvaveda, a sacred text of Hinduism, that there are living causative agents of disease, called the yatudhānya, the kimīdi, the kṛimi and the durṇama (see XIX.34.9). One of the earliest Western references to this latter theory appears in a treatise called On Agriculture by Marcus Terentius Varro in 36 BC. In it, there is a warning about locating a homestead too close to swamps:

…and because there are bred certain minute creatures which cannot be seen by the eyes, which float in the air and enter the body through the mouth and nose and there cause serious diseases.

That certain infectious diseases are contagious and somehow spread from person to person or from other sources is so obvious that various explanations of how this could happen held sway over many centuries. One common idea was the miasma theory of disease, which stated that diseases such as cholera, chlamydia or the Black Death were caused by a miasma, which translates into “pollution” or “bad air.” Certainly some diseases can be spread through the air. However, it’s long been recognized that other diseases could be spread through the water and in other ways. In any case, various ideas about how disease develops battled it out in various places over various times throughout the era of prescientific medicine. Many of these ideas involved, as we have seen, various concepts of mystical “life energy” such as qi, whose ebbs and flows could be manipulated for therapeutic effect (as in acupuncture, for example). Other ideas involved various concepts of “contamination,” in which miasmas or various other “poisons” somehow got into the body from the environment. Given the knowledge and religion of the time, these ideas were not unreasonable because science did not yet exist in a form that could falsify them as hypotheses, nor did the technology yet exist to identify the causative agents of disease. Given that background, attributing infectious disease to “bad air” doesn’t seem so unreasonable.

The beauty of Pasteur’s work was that it provided an explanation for many diseases that encompassed the concepts of miasma and various other ideas that preceded it. It should not be forgotten, however, that Pasteur was not the first to propose germ theory. Scientists such as Girolamo Fracastoro (who came up with the idea that fomites could harbor the seeds of contagion), Agostino Bassi (who discovered that the muscardine disease of silkworms was caused by a tiny parasitic organism, a fungus that was named Beauveria bassiana), Friedrich Henle (who developed the concepts of contagium vivum and contagium animatum), and others had proposed ideas similar to the germ theory of disease earlier. Pasteur was, however, more than anyone else, the scientist who provided the evidence to show that the germ theory of disease was valid and useful and to popularize the theory throughout Europe. Moreover, it should be noted, as it is in the video, that there were competing ideas; for example, those of Antoine Béchamp, who did indeed postulate nearly the exact opposite of what Pasteur did: That microorganisms were not the cause of disease but rather the consequence of disease, that injured or diseased tissues produced them and that it was the health of the organism that mattered, not the microorganisms.

Basically, Béchamp’s idea, known as the pleomorphic theory of disese, stated that bacteria change form (i.e., demonstrate pleomorphism) in response to disease. In other words, they arise from tissues during disease states. Béchamp further postulated that bacteria arose from structures that he called microzymas, which to him referred to a class of enzymes. Béchamp postulated microzymas are normally present in tissues and that their effects depended upon the cellular terrain. Ultimately, Pasteur’s theory won out over that of Béchamp, based on evidence, but Béchamp was influential at the time, and, given the science and technology of the time, his hypothesis was not entirely unreasonable. It was, however, superseded by Pasteur’s germ theory of disease and Koch’s later work that resulted in Koch’s postulates. Besides not fitting with the scientific evidence, Béchamp’s idea had nowhere near the explanatory and predictive power that Pasteur’s theory did. On the other hand, there is a grain of truth in Béchamp’s ideas. Specifically, it is true that the condition of the “terrain” (the body) does matter when it comes to infectious disease. Debiliated people do not resist the invasion of microorganisms as well as strong, healthy people. Of course, another thing to remember is that the “terrain” can faciltate the harmful effect of microorganisms in unexpected ways. For example, certain strains of the flu (as in 1918 and H1N1) are more virulent in the young because the young mount a more vigorous immune response.

Béchamp is unusual, though, in that he is frequently invoked by peddlers of quackery as having been “right” while Pasteur and Koch were “wrong.” Just Google “Béchamp” AND “alternative medicine”Béchamp germ theory,” or “Béchamp vaccination,” and you’ll see what I mean. Right on the first page are multiple links to that one-stop shopping site for all things quackery Whale.to, as well as links to that king of “acid-base” woo, the man who thinks all diseases are due to “excess acid,” that sepsis is not due to bacterial infection, and that viruses are “molecular acids,” Robert O. Young. One example of how Béchamp has come to be used to justify quackery appears on this discussion of vaccination at the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine:

He [Pasteur] is remembered for promoting vaccinations.

Béchamp had a different idea. He believed in the pleomorphic theory, that bacteria change form and are the result of disease. He said bacteria change into organisms that are increasingly detrimental to the body. The waste products of their metabolism are harmful to local body fluids, causing pain and inflammation. It is not the germs, viruses, and bacteria that make you sick, it is the waste products of the metabolism of those organisms that make you sick.

Here’s the kicker:

Germs seek their natural habitat – diseased tissue. During the Civil War, maggots were brought into hospitals to feed on the diseased tissue of the wounded because the bugs were better at cleaning it up than potions or anticeptics. Think of mosquitoes. They seek stagnant water, but do not cause the pool to become stagnant. So when the terrain is weakened and sickly, all manner of bugs want to set up house. But they come after the disease has begun; they come because the terrain is inviting.

Not surprisingly, included in this article is the myth that Pasteur “recanted” on his deathbed and said that Béchamp is correct. The article also uses poor Béchamp to justify all manner of quackery, including live blood analysis, anti-vaccine beliefs, and claims that, because of Pasteur, the pharmaceutical companies have come to rule health, all standard tropes of the alt-med movement.

Germ theory denialism now: A “softer” form of Béchamp

In 2010, as hard as it is to believe, germ theory denialism still exists. In fact, contrary to the video above, I would argue that such denialism is actually a significant threat, as it is frequently used as a justification for anti-vaccine views, as demonstrated by the article above from Arizona Advanced Medicine. Moreover, it goes beyond anti-vaccine beliefs, to the point where I’m half tempted to label it as the alt-med/pseudoscience equivalent of the theory of evolution in its importance to woo. What I mean is that, just as the theory of evolution is the central organizing principle of biology, germ theory denialism borders on being the central organizing idea behind the alt-med approach to disease.

Right now, the predominant form of germ theory denialism appears to be a “softer” form of denialism, just as the predominant form of evolution denialism is not young earth creationism, but rather “intelligent design” (ID) creationism. True, there are still young earth creationists around, who state that the world is only 6,000 years old and that the creatures that exist now were put there by God in their current state, but most denialists of evolutionary theory now accept that the earth is several billion years old and that organisms do evolve. They simply deny that natural selection and other mechanisms encompassed in current evolutionary theory are sufficient to acocunt for the complexity of life and instead postulate that there must be a “designer” guiding evolution. Similarly, there are still some die-hard germ theory denialists out there who cite Béchamp in much the same way young earth creationists cite the Bible and deny that germs have anything to do with disease whatsoever, claiming instead that microbes appear “because of the terrain” and are an indicator, rather than a cause, of disease (or, as they frequently call it, “dis-ease”). However, most cases of germ theory denialism are of a piece with ID creationism. Like ID promoters who admit that evolution “does” happen, this variety of germ theory denialist accepts that microbes “can” cause disease, but they argue that microbes can only cause disease if the host is already diseased or debilitated. Using such claims, they argue that the “terrain” is by far the most important determinant of whether or not I get sick. As a result, they claim that eating the right diet, doing the right exercises, and taking the right supplements will protect you against disease as well as any vaccine–better, in fact, because supposedly you’re not injecting all those “toxins” from vaccines into your body.

We see this all the time among proponents of “alt-med.” For example, as I’ve written before many times, comedian Bill Maher expresses just such views. My favorite example was when he was having a discussion with Bob Costas about the flu and the flu vaccine and stated that, because he lives right and eats a healthy diet he “never gets the flu” and wouldn’t get the flu on an airplane even if several people with the flu were on that plane, to which Bob Costas made a hilariously spot-on reply, “Oh, come on, Superman!” That’s not too far from the truth, because the modern form of germ theory denialism does seem to claim that diet, exercise, and living the “right way” will make us all super men and super women, able to resist the nastiest of infectious disease.

Germ theory denialism: An example from naturopathy

After I saw C0nc0rdance’s video on germ theory denialism, I couldn’t resist looking at some of the videos that popped up on the sidebar of the YouTube link to see what was there. Prominent among the related videos that Google served up was a video by Dr. Shawn Sieracki of the the Whole Body Healing Center of Lewisville (blog here). One might expect a heapin’ helpin’ of pure woo from Dr. Shawn based on what’s on his practice’s website, which touts woo such as the “detox challenge,” which boasts “Detoxify or die!” and offers services such as the infamous quackery known as the “detox foot bath” on this page.

Dr. Shawn has produced a video that demonstrates the germ theory denialism at the heart of much of what is espoused by naturopathy, entitled Naturopathic Minute: Germ Theory, and he begins by baldly stating that “germ theory is not correct”:

Dr. Shawn bases much of his argument on a straw man version of germ theory. First, he claims that germ theory is what “traditional medicine” bases “all of its studies and researches” on and that the “medical model” is based on germ theory. This is sort of true in that it science-based medicine only bases its studies and therapies of infectious disease on germ theory, but Dr. Shawn seems to be implying that all disease is caused by “germs” according to scientific medicine. He then goes on to mistate germ theory by stating first that it says that disease is caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites (true) but that scientific medicine also says that infectious disease is caused by “toxins” (false; that’s not what scientific medicine says). He then states that germ theory is not correct because:

It’s not the germs that cause the disease. It’s the condition of the environment that causes the disease…I’m going to give you a layman’s terms example so that you can understand. Cockroaches are the germs. Now why do you have cockroaches in your kitchen sink and all over the kitchen counter? Is the cockroaches the problem, or is it the dirty dishes, the stinky syrup on the kitchen counter, the food crumbs all over the place? That, more than likely, is why the cockroaches are there. So, doctors treat the cockroaches as the problem. They spray the insecticides; they spray the pesticides, but they keep the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. OK, does that make sense? A natural health practitioner is going to help you clean up that dirty kitchen sink…If you clean up the dirty kitchen sink, the cockroaches go away. They can’t feed on that environment.

Personally, having worked in a restaurant that had a cockcroach infestation cockroaches before, I’d like to see Dr. Shawn get rid of cockroaches in a house by doing nothing more than cleaning up the kitchen. Once you have cockroaches, they don’t go away. That restaurant was absolutely fanatical about proper food practice and keeping things clean and became even more so after cockroaches were discovered. After all, cockroaches were bad for business. If a customer saw one, it’d be disastrous, and if the health inspector saw them on the next visit, it would be equally bad in that there would be fines and the restaurant might even be shut down. In addition to excellent food hygiene practices, it also took visits from the exterminator to get rid of the cockroaches, and we were under no illusion that they’d be back if our guard lapsed.

Dr. Shawn delves even deeper into the burning stupid:

Another analogy would be a stagnant swamp, a stagnant swamp versus a river. A river is full of life. A river is healthy. It’s flowing just like the blood should be flowing in your body. Okay? You’ve got eagles floating, you’ve got cold water fish floating in a river. Now in a stagnant swamp, you’ve got mosquitos, gnats, flies. You’ve got deadly snakes swimming in that moldy, filthy water. It’s the condition of the pond that attracts that, okay, it’s the condition of the pond that attracts the mosquitos, that attracts the gnats, etc.

Of course, again, there is more than a grain of truth in the idea that the “terrain” matters. If you’re unhealthy or debilitated, your resistance to bacteria is decreased. For example, it’s well known that diabetics have difficulty fighting off infections; a whole specialty (vascular surgery) deals with the complications of that problem in the feet. This is not anything new, and studying the effect of nutrition and overall health on resistance to infectious disease. Where naturopaths go off the deep end is in claiming that good health is enough to ward off infectious disease. You can be a perfectly healthy 20 year old and die of the flu. It happened to millions in the 1918 pandemic, which in the U.S. got its start in Army barracks, where were congregated very healthy 18-22 year old males. You can be perfectly healthy, but if you are exposed to a pathogenic virus or bacteria, you can still come down with a disease that will kill you. It is also not correct to argue, as Dr. Shawn argues, that ill health “attracts” these bacteria. They’re out there. They live on your body; they’re in the environment; just by living you’re exposed to them.

It’s also not true that the flu shot “gives you the flu,” as Dr. Shawn claims in one of his more ignorant statements.

Dr. Shawn also parrots another germ theory denialist argument, frequently found on numerous websites. Specifically, he gives the example of ten people on an elevator with a person with the flu (sometimes it’s a pathogenic bacteria when repeated elsewhere), who’s coughing all over the place. He points out that, although everyone in the elevator was exposed to the flu virus, not everyone gets the flu, as if that were evidence that the germ theory is incorrect! Germ theory denialists seem to think that anything less than a 100% infection rate in people exposed to a pathogenic organism means that that organism doesn’t cause the disease. This is a particularly prominent trait among HIV/AIDS denialists because HIV only causes disease in only a relatively small percentage of people exposed to it once. It’s an example of all-or-nothing thinking that’s so prevalent in promoters of pseudoscience. For example, it’s very much akin to when anti-vaccine zealots in essence argue that if a vaccine doesn’t prevent disease 100% of the time it’s useless, as they so frequently do with, for example, the flu vaccine or the measles vaccine, the latter of which is approximately 90% effective. Sometimes, it leads to arguments like this, where it is argued that pathogenic bacteria are not only not the cause of disease, but they are there to rid the body of disease:

Germs take part in all disease phenomena because these are processes requiring the breaking down or disintegration of accumulated refuse and toxic matter within the body, which the system is endeavouring to throw off. But to assume, as our medical scientists do, that merely because germs are present and active in all disease phenomena, they are therefore the cause of the same diseases, is just as wrong as it would be to assume that because germs are present and active in the decomposition processes connected with all dead organic matter, they are the cause of the death of the organic matter in question. The analogy is absolutely just and fair! And equally ridiculous!

But no one would say that because the decaying body of a dead dog is full of bacteria, the bacteria are the cause of the dog’s death. We know they are there as a part of the natural disintegration process taking place as a result of the death of the dog. And so it is with germs and disease. Germs are a part of the results of disease, not its cause.

Germs are present in disease not as causes, but as superficial helpers brought there by Nature to rid the body of disease. They are the “scavengers” employed by Mother Nature to break up and “bring to a head” the accumulated internal filth of years of unhygienic and unwholesome living, which are clogging the tissues of the body and preventing proper functioning.

While it’s true that there are many bacteria that live as commensal organisms in the colon of each and every human, not to mention the trillions upon trillions of bacteria that live on the skin, the statement is denialist in that it refuses to acknowledge that there are both helpful and very harmful bacteria. To the author, bacteria not only don’t cause disease, but they are what’s trying to eliminate disease. While it is true that there are cases in which the native bacterial flora living on our body “crowd out” pathogenic bacteria and the elimination of that bacterial flora with antibiotics can leave a person susceptible to pathogenic bacteria that are there all along (C. difficile colitis comes to mind), to make such a blanket statement is the sheerest folly.

Still, it doesn’t take very much searching through the “alt-med” parts of the Internet to find all sorts of mind-bogglingly ignorant attacks against Pasteur, for example:

One can’t help but notice that in the last example, a chapter attacking germ theory is the very first chapter in a book on “natural cures.”

Why is germ theory denialism so attractive?

There is little doubt that germ theory denialism is a strain of “thought” (again, if you can call it that, given the logical fallacies, scientific misinformation, and pure stupidity that are associated with it) that undergirds a lot of quackery. The question is: Why? After all, despite its flaws and despite the manner in which microorganisms have become resistant to antibiotics, thanks to our overuse, the germ theory of disease arguably marked the beginning of the scientific revolution in medicine and the birth of science-based medicine. After Pasteur’s popularization of the germ theory of disease, medicine entered a period of remarkable advances that continue to this day. Before Pasteur, there was no unifying theory for infectious disease. After Pasteur, there was, and the success of Pasteur’s theory revolutionized not just medicine but food preparation, particularly the process of Pasteurization of milk and other products, which greatly decreased the chance of illness borne by dairy products and other products that could be treated. Proper surgical antisepsis led to declines in surgical mortality.

I suspect that a large part of the reason that germ theory denialism persists in a range of forms from hardcore belief that Bechamp was right and Pasteur wrong to softer forms that claim that better nutrition and health would be as effective, or more so, than vaccines or antibiotics in preventing and treating disease derives from the very worship of the “natural” that so much of “alt-med” is built upon. If nature is so benevolent, then how could it be that there are microorganisms that will harm or even kill us if they gain a foothold in our bodies? Also, there is a great deal of “Secret”-like mystical thinking in alt-med, making it unsurprising that, if Béchamp were right, that would imply that disease or lack of disease is within us. That further implies that the means of ridding ourselves of disease is also within us through diet, exercise, and whatever activities that promote health we can undertake. This is far more reassuring than the idea that there are microorganisms out there that care nothing for our hopes or activities and are just waiting for an opportunity to attack. It’s far more reassuring to believe that we can have complete control over our health than it is to think that a random twist of fate could inoculate us with microbes that care nothing for any of that.

Death sucks, and nature cares nothing for our wants, beliefs, or desires. Acknowledging the validity of the germ theory of disease involves acknowledging that. It’s more pleasant to live in a fantasy land.

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]

209 replies on “Yes, there really are people who don’t accept the germ theory of disease”

As I wrote elsewhere, I actually went to high school with Dr. Shawn. When I realized what he now did for a living (he treats autism, along with everything else) using equipment banned in the US, I passed along his website information to my friend Thelma of Even Dumbasses Have Feelings; she did some digging into his woo and wrote it up; I’ve reposted her blog again, which is linked through my name.

(I’d also quibble with the inclusion of doctors of osteopathy with chiropractors and naturopaths. These days, most DOs are indistinguishable from MDs in how they practice

In fairness, he said to ask your DO what she thinks about germ theory — which, depending on the DO might not be terrible advice.

I basically agree with your point though. Our family doctor is a DO and he is awesome.

Wow, ok, I had no idea this type of denialism existed.
Here’s the odd thing with this one: As you point out, one of the tenants is, put simply, that a healthier person is *more likely* to ward off *many kinds* of infection. You point it out repeatedly, as would I – it’s probably the single grain of truth. (How healthy and how many kinds is, I’m sure, pretty debatable – and an interesting question)

The belief creep seems to be
1) “more likely” becomes “will” and “many kinds” becomes “all”.
2) Therefore, the well-being of the body is key to not getting sick.

Here – except for the absoluteness of the statements – it still isn’t a bad conclusion. Do what you can to keep yourself in as good condition as possible.

BUT THEN:
3) Since the state of the body has everything to do with not getting ill, the presence of any microbes (bacteria, viruses, um, maggots apparently??) present during an illness have *nothing* to do with sickness.
4) Why are the microbes present? They’re attracted to the bad state of the body… like maggots to meat. Treating them wont help anything.
5) Also, the way to a perfectly healthy body (thus being uber-resistant to illness) is to clear it of “toxins” (unspecified) and here’s the powders, etc, to do it (sales website link).

Here is obviously where it all goes horribly wrong. Also pretty clearly disprovable.

But this one really has a hook, doesn’t it? I can see why people could fall for it.

I mean the “terrain” thing is intriguing from a microbial perspective. What amount of break in the skin – if any (I don’t personally know) does a Staph bug need to get a foothold and initiate what will become cellulitis? That’s interesting to me. Would having our skin become 100% resistant to tiny micro-cracks make us less likely to skin-initiated infections? I suppose so, if that is an important factor for S.s.. Does any such ultra-skin method exist? No. End of story.

I guess the seductiveness of this kind of BS, unlike homeopathy, is that it can start off quite reasonable with it’s initial statements. Then it’s just leading people along with subtle tweaks in words (“some” becomes “all”) and then play with the logic.

Yrsh! This is depressing.

I think the last section may be spot on. I’ve often wondered how they reconcile personal experience (have they never had a lung infection that responded to antibiotics, or an infected scratch that cleared up within hours of pouring TCP over it?) with their beliefs; the emotional reasons you suggest may be enough to overcome the real evidence.

They simply deny that natural selection and other mechanisms encompassed in current evolutionary theory are sufficient to acocunt (sic) for the complexity of life and instead postulate that there must be a “designer” guiding evolution.

My grandmother used to be very much into the 6,000 year-old earth thing until I sat down with her and explained it a little better. While I didn’t go as far as to eliminate God from the equation, I did say to her that there is nothing written to disprove evolution. Just like the earth’s rotation explains the sun rising very well (I used a basketball and a flashlight). I think it’s exactly the complexity of it all that confuses people to the point where they say “screw it” and go with what they believe.

Remember, not everyone grasps biology like we would like for them to grasp biology. Grandma was no geologist, and didn’t have an education.

Just saying.

Perhaps a substantial portion of alt-med “theorizing” is based on psychological defense mechanisms, as well as black/white, single cause, concretistic thinking: that which is troublesome or frightening can thus be “managed” ( at least in *thought*- “if we can call it that”) by right action, right thinking, force of will, or personal purity. A common theme among woo proselytizers involves the concept that personal actions ( or lack of appropriate actions) are the entire cause of illness, dismissing any randomness. One who eats right, avoids toxins, takes supplements, exercises, and *lives* right will _never_ be a victim of serious illness. A well-known woo-meister estimates that our “true” life span is really about 150- if *only* ( and that’s a big “only”) we follow his “advanced protocols”. Imagine Mike Adams, gleefully hiking across rugged mountain ranges in Ecuador, blazing a trail through the intricately tangled jungle foliage with his *machete*, never fearing a serious cut, abrasion, or mosquito-borne illness , having no need for vaccines or anti-biotics _ever_. He’s *protected*! ( BTW, Mike’s paradisal estate is up for sale @ $695K- see NaturalNews real estate section)

“In addition to excellent food hygiene practices…”

You sort of just slipped that in there with the rest of your strawman argument.

Your argument is really a matter of emphasis.

“You can be a perfectly healthy 20 year old and die of the flu.”

You slipped up here good doctor. It would be very very rare for a healthy 20 yo to die from the flu. Who mostly dies from flu or pneumonia? Old or sick people.(BTW the one’s whom the influenza vaccine works the least in)

What was the terrain in 1918? WWI ring a bell? It’s not 1918 anymore. To refer to that epidemic is a common fear tactic used by pro force mass vaccinators. “ooh, ooh, it could happen at any moment if we don’t vaccinate”. Yes only if we recreate the conditions.

germ theory= # of pathogens * virulence of pathogen/ resistance of host.

So if you stick a bunch of healthy people in an unhealthy situation (crowd them in barrack, U-boats, inner city dwellings, etc,), yes the numerator factors can overwhelm the denominator.

Again just a matter of what you tend to focus on.

“This is far more reassuring than the idea that there are microorganisms out there that care nothing for our hopes or activities and are just waiting for an opportunity to attack.”

Precisely the polemic attitude that led to antibiotic resistance. Germs are the enemy and we must wage chemical warfare to rid them all. Pathogens serve no purpose but to kill or be killed.

Remember the Cutter Labs incident? “The mistake resulted in the production of 120,000 doses of polio vaccine that contained live polio virus. Of the children who received the vaccine, 40,000 developed abortive poliomyelitis , 56 developed paralytic poliomyelitis and of these 5 children died as a result of polio infection.”

80,000 received the live virus yet did not get polio. Only 56 developed paralytic polio. Not 120,000.

“woo proselytizers involves the concept that personal actions ( or lack of appropriate actions) are the entire cause of illness, dismissing any randomness”

My *very*, very uncharitable view of all this guff is that it is a reversion to primitive modes of thinking. In many societies, when someone dies or crops fail or children fall ill the first reaction is to look for someone, anyone, to blame. Usually it’s someone over the hill or in the next village or an outsider in the community – hence the common accusation of witchcraft.

In a modern community, it’s now down to all-your-own-fault if you do get ill. If you miss out on the virus that’s bringing down all those around you, then obviously you’re a superior person, not just a lucky one.

It’s no longer witchcraft, it’s the power of positive thinking to avoid or moral turpitude to suffer from illness.

Denialism believers, in my experience falls into 2 broad categories:

The ignorant – unable or unwilling to look at facts because of the depth of knowledge often required to do so.

The con artists – those who see a pot of gold at the ned of the ignorance rainbow.

Education may help the former. Ridicule and exclusion from decent society should await the latter.

adelady: “In many societies, when someone dies or crops fail or children fall ill the first reaction is to look for someone, anyone, to blame. Usually it’s someone over the hill or in the next village or an outsider in the community – hence the common accusation of witchcraft.”

Let me give you the SBMers version of paganistic religion.

ORAC says “This is far more reassuring than the idea that there are microorganisms out there that care nothing for our hopes or activities and are just waiting for an opportunity to attack.”

SBMer to stupid people : The world is dangerous, random, chaotic, and unpredictable. Here take my pill or vaccine if you want to live. I’ll give you security. Besides you have no choice.

And so the people comply.

“It’s far more reassuring to believe that we can have complete control over our health than it is to think that a random twist of fate could inoculate us with microbes that care nothing for any of that.”

Complete control with vaccines and pills. It’s just a control fight really. People want security and certainty. Doctors sell that. The modern doctor has become what the ancient priest was. A protection mechanism from apathetic nature as opposed to protection from the fickle gods.

Doctors to the world: Don’t worry it’s not anyone’s fault. Nothing you can do. Just take our latest scientific potions. It’s a crazy unpredictable invisible germ or it’s just genetic. It’s a slave mentality. The mind is the master.

Aw man, so much hate for swamps 🙁

I’ll have those people know that swamps are awesome places with an amazing biodiversity

@ MikeMa : I suspect that many who espouse and profit from their own woo-entranced self-delusion might fall partially into *both* of your categories: ritualistically practicing what they preach and self-righteously self-congratulating themselves all the way to the bank.

I really shouldn’t feed the trolls, but…

Augustine, are you familiar with the 1918 Killer Flu? It was notable for killing the young and healthy. Quickly. Tens of millions of them.

I may have misread this part:

You’ve got eagles floating, you’ve got cold water fish floating in a river.

Eagles floating in the water doesn’t sound healthy to me.

augustine says: “Who mostly dies from flu or pneumonia? Old or sick people.”

augustine apparently has not been following news about the H1N1 flu, which compared to typical seasonal flu has disproportionately struck children and young adults, many in previously good health. In a study published last summer, 20 to 29-year-olds suffered more deaths from H1N1 worldwide than any other age group.

More here about H1N1’s toll on younger people here.

As to the 1918 influenza pandemic, obviously crowded living conditions in the military helped initial disease spread. This did not affect individual “terrain”, contrary to what the Bechampites might believe.

“What was the terrain in 1918? WWI ring a bell? It’s not 1918 anymore.”

With respect, the 1918 Flu Pandemic was worldwide as far as Pacific Islands and the Arctic and lasted for 2 full years. Last I checked, WW1 was primarily a European war.

So far I can’t find any conclusive evidence to show a point of origin.

“Yes only if we recreate the conditions.”

Wrong. If it weren’t for the rapid response of everyone involved, SARS could well have ended up being this centuries Spanish Flu. Whilst things have improved in terms of access to clean water, bleaches etc. There are different pressures and new vectors that nature’s nasties can take. International flights being a damn fine example.

Also, thanks to our cleanliness, those few bugs that can survive long enough to be passed on tend to be that bit tougher – evolution in action.

I hate to break it to you, but:

“Germs are the enemy and we must wage chemical warfare to rid them all. Pathogens serve no purpose but to kill or be killed.”

We are in an arms race. So far we’re holding our own, but sooner or later mother nature will cook up something new that we can’t handle.

And one of the biggest reasons that resistance has increased is because of morons stopping taking their antibiotics the moment they feel better, rather than finishing their course.

“germ theory= # of pathogens * virulence of pathogen/ resistance of host”

That is a grotesque oversimplification of germ theory, at best, but even at its worst it’s no refutation of Pasteur or of mass vaccination, given that (in the crude model above) vaccines increase the denominator by stimulating the host’s immune system into building antibodies in advance of contact with virulent pathogens.

However, immunology and epidemiology are far more sophisticated than a simple line of arithmetic… I suggest that “augustine” look beyond simple algebra and into the modern mathematical fields of probability and statistical analysis.

(Parallel argument to the “not every polio dose caused an infection” to illustrate the fallacy: some people who were in automobile collisions escaped unharmed, therefor automobile collisions don’t cause fatalities.)

— Steve

“What was the terrain in 1918? WWI ring a bell? It’s not 1918 anymore.”

With respect, the 1918 Flu Pandemic was worldwide as far as Pacific Islands and the Arctic and lasted for 2 full years. Last I checked, WW1 was primarily a European war.

So far I can’t find any conclusive evidence to show a point of origin.

“Yes only if we recreate the conditions.”

Wrong. If it weren’t for the rapid response of everyone involved, SARS could well have ended up being this centuries Spanish Flu. Whilst things have improved in terms of access to clean water, bleaches etc. There are different pressures and new vectors that nature’s nasties can take. International flights being a damn fine example.

Also, thanks to our cleanliness, those few bugs that can survive long enough to be passed on tend to be that bit tougher – evolution in action.

I hate to break it to you, but:

“Germs are the enemy and we must wage chemical warfare to rid them all. Pathogens serve no purpose but to kill or be killed.”

We are in an arms race. So far we’re holding our own, but sooner or later mother nature will cook up something new that we can’t handle.

And one of the biggest reasons that resistance has increased is because of morons stopping taking their antibiotics the moment they feel better, rather than finishing their course.

“In addition to excellent food hygiene practices…”

You sort of just slipped that in there with the rest of your strawman argument.

Your argument is really a matter of emphasis.

Not at all, it is a matter of appropriating numerous factors involved. It just doesn’t align with your erroneous biases, which you have yet to present an argument for.

“You can be a perfectly healthy 20 year old and die of the flu.”

You slipped up here good doctor. It would be very very rare for a healthy 20 yo to die from the flu. Who mostly dies from flu or pneumonia? Old or sick people.(BTW the one’s whom the influenza vaccine works the least in)

What was the terrain in 1918? WWI ring a bell? It’s not 1918 anymore. To refer to that epidemic is a common fear tactic used by pro force mass vaccinators. “ooh, ooh, it could happen at any moment if we don’t vaccinate”. Yes only if we recreate the conditions.

You have clearly not read anything about the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, nor the recent H1N1 pandemic. Again, you are relying upon what you have led yourself to believe rather than look at the stats and pathology. Host immune response to the pathogens led to a ‘cytokine storm’, in simple terms, that led to high case fatalities in young cohorts. Tell me, how is that a function of ‘recreating the conditions”?

germ theory= # of pathogens * virulence of pathogen/ resistance of host.

So if you stick a bunch of healthy people in an unhealthy situation (crowd them in barrack, U-boats, inner city dwellings, etc,), yes the numerator factors can overwhelm the denominator.

Again just a matter of what you tend to focus on.

You keep using that equation. I do not think it means what you think it means. By the age of 15, more than 99% of American children were seropositive for measles in the pre-vaccine era. Measles has an infectivity value of close to one, the ‘terrain’ does not matter. Congenital rubella syndrome actually increased when living conditions improved. Such real-life examples belie your fanatical convictions.

“This is far more reassuring than the idea that there are microorganisms out there that care nothing for our hopes or activities and are just waiting for an opportunity to attack.”

Precisely the polemic attitude that led to antibiotic resistance. Germs are the enemy and we must wage chemical warfare to rid them all. Pathogens serve no purpose but to kill or be killed.

Strawman.

Remember the Cutter Labs incident? “The mistake resulted in the production of 120,000 doses of polio vaccine that contained live polio virus. Of the children who received the vaccine, 40,000 developed abortive poliomyelitis , 56 developed paralytic poliomyelitis and of these 5 children died as a result of polio infection.”

80,000 received the live virus yet did not get polio. Only 56 developed paralytic polio. Not 120,000.

What does this have to do with the topic at hand? Other than to demonstrate germ theory and Koch’s postulates.

augie, augie, augie – no one here is saying that healthy living (through exercise, hygiene, and nutrition) isn’t an extremely important part of a the survival profile.

But, there have been plenty of instances of broader diseases (such as the 1918 – 1919 Flu) that adversely effect even those with healthy immune responses (and there is a pretty good theory that it was the healthy immune response that actually killed people).

It has been our access to antibiotics, vaccines, etc that has allowed plenty of individuals to survive diseases that would have otherwise killed them or led to some kind of long term disability (though this does still occur).

Again, I’m really not sure what augie is proposing in lieu of our current system. I’m sure there has to be a manifesto out there or something (otherwise, he/she only continues to blow hot air).

I would recommend a reading of “The Great Influenza” by John Barry. It not only goes into great detail on the actual pandemic, but it also speaks towards the development of current medical science (as opposed to the woo that existed before).

What’s with all the swamp hate? Swamps are not “full of life?” Molds, algae, snakes and insects might be stinky and irritating forms of life, but so is my co-worker and I’m pretty sure he is alive. These guys have such a weird view of nature. The way they oversimplify everything misses some of the most interesting complexities of biology.

You can be 20 years old and seemingly perfectly healthy and die from Ebola. It doesn’t matter how sterile your environment, how hygenic your routines, or how healthy your diet. You get Ebola and there’s a very good chance you’re good as dead, without medical intervention.

Of course, there is now a vaccine for Ebola (though still in the experimental stages – it shows great promise).

So far as I can surmise, based on its postings, augustine has no alternative explanations to offer up. No other way of thinking that we should do. Its aim is merely, it seems, to argue a contrarian viewpoint, using whatever logical fallacies it deems useful to distort and distract from its lack of any coherent, thoughtful, valid alternative.

Germ theory denial seems to be a secular version of ‘prosperity gospel’. Instead of believing that if one has enough faith, demonstrated of course by doing all the right religious things and carrying the right attitude, God will bless with money and happiness, it has translated into the idea that if one just eats the right foods, does the right exercise, and has a positive outlook, one will never get sick.
As was said earlier, it’s a superstitious way of staying in control, in a world where that’s pretty impossible most of the time.

Gah! As a historian of medicine, I am most deeply annoyed at alternative-medicine types who justify their beliefs through a misreading of history. I often hear things like: “in the past people didn’t die of cancer” (?!?!) and “my great grandfather and his generation lived to be 100 because they were only eating organic food” (!!)

Bacon: “augustine apparently has not been following news about the H1N1 flu, which compared to typical seasonal flu has disproportionately struck children and young adults, many in previously good health.”

“disproportionately”. That is a relative comparison. The fact is that most people were compromised.

Objectivity, please. If using a microscope on the statistics in order to manipulate them and induce fear in a target population is your cup of tea then so be it. I nearly spit my coffee out when Kathleen Sebelius used that statistic in Congress and was challenged by Dr. Phil Gingrey on the exploitation of it.

There is actually a very simple explanation for this denialism. These people do not have medical degrees or licenses. Only licensed M.D.s can prescribe antibiotics and even vaccines can only be delivered by RNs under medical supervision.

But these folks want to charge for their own services and sell their books and enjoy the prestige that comes with claiming to be a physician of some sort. But they don’t want to do the very hard work required to become a real doctor, and/or they couldn’t have gotten into medical school anyway.

Ergo, they make up this bullshit. It’s all business. Not hard to understand.

Todd: “So far as I can surmise, based on its postings, augustine has no alternative explanations to offer up.”

Are you sincerely earnest in your request of my “alternative explanation”. Why do you want to hear it? Are you open to another perspective? No. Your explanation works perfect for you. There is no reason for any alternative explanation because the one you have works and is your truth.

You want to know because you want to attack. Not because you want to understand. That is the nature of a skeptic not a scientist.

Your argument of “there’s nothing better” doesn’t make what you say true.

What’s with all the swamp hate? Swamps are not “full of life?” Molds, algae, snakes and insects might be stinky and irritating forms of life, but so is my co-worker and I’m pretty sure he is alive. These guys have such a weird view of nature. The way they oversimplify everything misses some of the most interesting complexities of biology.

Swamps are bad because they don’t fall in line with the Di$ney model of nature. You know, nature’s supposed to be full of fields of flowers and cute twittering birds. Snakes and non-butterfly bugs are plagues caused by the encroachment of human civilization.

I wonder if part of the reason people find the idea that “germs cannot attack a healthy body” so reasonable, is that this sounds very much like the sort of thing most of us heard from our mothers when we were very young. Wear a coat, or you’ll get sick. Eat your vegetables, or you’ll get sick. Stay out of the rain, or you’ll get sick. Take your vitamin, or you’ll get sick. If you get sick it’s your own fault for not taking care of yourself. Listen to your mother.

Perhaps our instinctive view of disease was formed not just on the biases of a brain that takes simple essentialist shortcuts — but on very early conditioning. We internalized the message in a way that’s very hard to budge.

I wonder if part of the reason people find the idea that “germs cannot attack a healthy body” so reasonable, is that this sounds very much like the sort of thing most of us heard from our mothers when we were very young. Wear a coat, or you’ll get sick. Eat your vegetables, or you’ll get sick. Stay out of the rain, or you’ll get sick. Take your vitamin, or you’ll get sick. If you get sick it’s your own fault for not taking care of yourself. Listen to your mother.

Perhaps our instinctive view of disease was formed not just on the biases of a brain that takes simple essentialist shortcuts — but on very early conditioning. We internalized the message in a way that’s very hard to budge.

Interesting thought. It probably doesn’t help that such “wisdom” includes dramatic, catastrophic thinking. “Tie your shoes, or you’ll trip and break your neck!” It’s bad enough that we’re predisposed to looking at risk in terms of dramatic examples, rather than simple probability. We don’t need cultural reinforcement on top of that.

That’s why we get reckless drivers who are more concerned about shark attacks at the beach than getting into an accident on the way to the beach.

Sastra – this reminds me, I was listening to a Bill Cosby routine the other day, and he was talking about how his wife thinks that if the kid is wearing 1944 coats (that is the actual number he said) when they go outside, then they won’t get a cold.

He missed the real punchline, which is, “Until they take them off when they get to the daycare”

Offspring the Elder didn’t start going to daycare until he was more than 1 year old. Before that, he stayed home with mom and/or dad all the time. When he did start going to daycare, however, he would no more than look at the door to the place that he’d catch some bug that would cause a fever (usually with an ear infection) that would send him home. Moreover, he was only going part time so he’d heal up, go back, and do it all again. That was the process for about 6 months.

Perhaps our instinctive view of disease was formed not just on the biases of a brain that takes simple essentialist shortcuts — but on very early conditioning. We internalized the message in a way that’s very hard to budge.

Exactly the Modus Operandi for the medicalization of society.
An indoctrination of the mind. From womb to tomb.

It’s all focused on disease.

Perhaps some of our anti-germ theory, super-nutritious eating, uber-healthy-supplement-gulping-never-gonna-get-sick advocates would like to demonstrate the truth of their germs-don’t-cause-disease theory by snorting up a few grams of anthrax?

Daycare is an excellent place to test and build the immune system. If yours is like mine, Pablo, he/she will never miss a day of real school (K and beyond), or only a very few.

I really dislike this “if you live/eat/exercise right, you won’t get sick” thing, because the corollary is that if you do fall ill, it’s your own damn fault. Horrible thing to say to someone who’s struck with cancer, West Nile, or other bad diseases.

Can anyone explain to me why germ theory denialists harp on antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance is relevant only in situations where antibiotics are relevant. (For example, it’s not an issue if the problem is a viral infection or an inherited disease.) If someone thinks bacteria are harmless or irrelevant, why do they care that some bacteria have become hard to kill? If they really believe their theory, antibiotic resistance should be about as relevant to their discussions of medicine as Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Interesting thought. It probably doesn’t help that such “wisdom” includes dramatic, catastrophic thinking. “Tie your shoes, or you’ll trip and break your neck!”

“We’re going to get sued and lose the goddamn house” – (Comedian) Bob Marley

@17
“Germs are the enemy and we must wage chemical warfare to rid them all. Pathogens serve no purpose but to kill or be killed.”

Really?
—————————-
http://www.actionbioscience.org/biodiversity/wassenaar.html
Without bacteria we would not survive. They help us digest our food, produce vitamins, and occupy niches that would otherwise be available for competing pathogens.

I suppose these delusions are popular for several reasons, among them the illusion that one has control over disease by doing the “right things”. There is a bit of truth to that idea, but only a bit. Disease strikes even those who do all the “right things”.

Disease strikes even those who do all the “right things”.

I think most of us would agree that the real problem is not the claim that living healthy helps protect against disease, but the implication that if you do get some disease, it was because you “weren’t living healthy.”

Sid is right. Our bodies have more bacteria than cells, and many are necessary, which probably freak out germaphobes. On a recent This Week in Virology episode there was a discussion that some viruses are also important.

Swamps were associated with bad air (gasses produced by plant decomposition), they were the source of the mosquitoes spreading the protozoa that cause malaria. So there was some truth. Except they do form a very important part of the ecosystem. They absorb and filter water running off of the uplands, and are nurseries to many animals.

(Okay, I missed where he was quoting “pathogens”… but it still stands that there are bacteria we need, and sometimes they will turn on us like the infections we get from the bacteria that live on our skin, or if something like unfamiliar bacteria in water while traveling disrupts our gut flora giving us tourista)

SM:

Host immune response to the pathogens led to a ‘cytokine storm’, in simple terms, that led to high case fatalities in young cohorts. Tell me, how is that a function of ‘recreating the conditions”?”

—————-
I guess we just don’t have enough “healthy people as we did in 1918. That cytokine storm would’ve surely wiped us all out.
Lesson that health authorities wanted us to hear and that Science Mommy took to heart: Don’t trust your body. It will attack and kill you at any random moment. Preemptive strike by the CDC and AAP is the only answer. Vaccinate or die. No one is immune. Especially mommy’s and babies.

Science mommy, stick to homeschooling. You’ll have more influence with your arguments there.

I wonder how that virus knows the sex and age. Some imply that it knows ethnicity too. Pertusiss can target hispanics from miles away yet leave a non-hispanc child beside it completely alone. Jlo says so.
—————
SM : “By the age of 15, more than 99% of American children were seropositive for measles in the pre-vaccine era.”
————-
You like that stat I gave you? How about this one that you forget about. 99.9999+% of those will not have permanent sequelae. And guess what? They are immune for life. No lifetime cdc approved bosters needed. Awesome!

I guess you can’t a sell a vaccine to just a couple of hundred parents though. You gotta go BIG. BILLIONS BIG. But you gotta make them think they need it. Stats alone won’t do it. You gotta have campaigns. Posters, ads, TV commercials, etc. BTW that’s called propaganda there Science Mommy.
—————–
“Strawman”

Really? Tell that to the poster who said we were in an arms race against microbes and it was only a matter of time before they got us.
———————–
“What does this have to do with the topic at hand?”

The fact that the Germ LAW is a theory. Yes germs can cause disease in certain conditions. In 80,000 people those “conditions” didn’t exist. hence the germ did not cause disease. Why did some get abortive polio and 56 were paralyzed yet 80,000 got no clinical disease? Please just tell me it was the scientific “G” word. Genetics. That’ll really explain it.

“It’s not 1918 anymore.”

It’s not 1818 either, but it’s sometimes hard to tell from listening to the alt med denialists and worshipers of outmoded and discarded medical theories and treatments.

Homeopathy continues to have adherents, people use colloidal silver as a cure-all, folk remedies like cider vinegar are good for whatever ails you…the list goes on.

It’s one of the pillars of woo – the old folks knew how to stay healthy (when they weren’t dying of burst appendices and “blood poisoning) and ate wonderful organic food (when they weren’t dying of malnutrition or sickened by heavy metal pesticides or the processes used to preserve meats, such as smoking).

Beyond misplaced nostalgia, sometimes the only reason for embracing this nonsense seems to be that modern medicine rejects it.

@Chris

OK, lets leave out the pathogen part since it’s irrelevant:

Germs are the enemy and we must wage chemical warfare to rid them ALL.

Sid, which is silly. Oddly enough, in the back of Michael Crichton’s book Andromeda Strain were descriptions of what happened when volunteers did get rid of all their bacteria. It was not pretty (this is from memory, I read it over thirty five year ago and no longer have a copy around).

I guess if they just had enough vaccines and antibiotics in the dark ages then disease would be no more prevalent than today.

Screw the swamp like conditions. Just throw chlorine in it.

I don’t personally know of anyone who believes that germs cannot cause a disease under any cirumstance.

I’m not a denialist in the sense that many on here would label (for propaganda purposes of course). I just choose to focus heavily on the “resistance” of the host part of the equation.

Again, augustine, what about rabies? Do you how many healthy people die from rabies?

“Again, augustine, what about rabies? Do you how many healthy people die from rabies?”

Well, go get a rabies vaccine. Or a valium.

SM:

Host immune response to the pathogens led to a ‘cytokine storm’, in simple terms, that led to high case fatalities in young cohorts. Tell me, how is that a function of ‘recreating the conditions”?”

—————-
I guess we just don’t have enough “healthy people as we did in 1918. That cytokine storm would’ve surely wiped us all out.
Lesson that health authorities wanted us to hear and that Science Mommy took to heart: Don’t trust your body. It will attack and kill you at any random moment. Preemptive strike by the CDC and AAP is the only answer. Vaccinate or die. No one is immune. Especially mommy’s and babies.

You’re revealing your psychopathy more and more, not to mention your utter ignorance of pathogenesis and well, even basic biology. “Trust your body” is a vapid MDCism if I ever heard one and it isn’t about ‘trusting your body’, nor has anyone made the proclamation of vaccinate or die. That is a machination of the paranoid delusions that your ilk have in order to fabricate an enemy. Pathogens are not predictable, neither is host response. Prevention for some is preferable.

Science mommy, stick to homeschooling. You’ll have more influence with your arguments there.

A complete non-sequitur, I can hear those hinges squeaking.

I wonder how that virus knows the sex and age. Some imply that it knows ethnicity too. Pertusiss can target hispanics from miles away yet leave a non-hispanc child beside it completely alone. Jlo says so.

Good grief that is stupid and vile. You are an asset to your ‘side’ augie.

SM : “By the age of 15, more than 99% of American children were seropositive for measles in the pre-vaccine era.”
————-
You like that stat I gave you? How about this one that you forget about. 99.9999+% of those will not have permanent sequelae. And guess what? They are immune for life. No lifetime cdc approved bosters needed. Awesome!

I guess you can’t a sell a vaccine to just a couple of hundred parents though. You gotta go BIG. BILLIONS BIG. But you gotta make them think they need it. Stats alone won’t do it. You gotta have campaigns. Posters, ads, TV commercials, etc. BTW that’s called propaganda there Science Mommy.

Your stat is incorrect, using it repeatedly does not make it so. You are also dodging the point, which was that you, as a germ theory denialist can’t account for the fact that entire birth cohorts became infected with measles by the time they were 15 years old. You, as a germ theory denialist can’t account for the increase in CRS as a result of better living conditions. Oh, and it is more and more probable that a single measles, mumps and rubella infection did not confer life-long immunity, that periodic re-exposure was required to maintain immunity. I’ll take a couple of jabs.

“Strawman”

Really? Tell that to the poster who said we were in an arms race against microbes and it was only a matter of time before they got us.

A Tu Quoque to answer a strawman; you’re just full of win.

“What does this have to do with the topic at hand?”

The fact that the Germ LAW is a theory. Yes germs can cause disease in certain conditions. In 80,000 people those “conditions” didn’t exist. hence the germ did not cause disease. Why did some get abortive polio and 56 were paralyzed yet 80,000 got no clinical disease? Please just tell me it was the scientific “G” word. Genetics. That’ll really explain it.

Wrong, in those people, they were exposed to the pathogen and there are numerous factors, such as infectious dose and prior exposure that account for why some did not exhibit and others did to varying degree.

Keep digging, I can now see that you are a proponent of eugenics as well as being ignorant of basic science.

OK, lets leave out the pathogen part since it’s irrelevant:

Face, meet palm.

“The fact that the Germ LAW is a theory.”

Who, apart from the hopelessly incompetent Augie, would call the germ theory a law? And how many here, besides Augie here, have no understanding of what theory means in a scientific context?

And – anybody want to tell Augie here why ‘just throwing chlorine’ into a swamp wouldn’t sort out the issue of conditions like swamps?

Y’know, every time I see augie or its like toss statistics around, I can’t help but think that if there were laws protecting the welfare of statistics, making their abuse illegal, that augie, et al., would be locked up for numerous counts.

germ theory denialism is bad. therefore please describe the experiments that proved hiv was lethal that justified the nas and iom recommending 1 billion for hiv funding in 1986, the blood transfusing inducing drug azt being approved in 1987 and magic johnson getting a death sentance by society in 1991. Our world was terrified with a new plague in the late 80’s and early 90’s please decsribe the experiments that proved HIV’s causality that justfied the massive public health measures above.

In the early 90’s another plauge came to us , hepatitis c, please describe the experiments that prove hepatitis c is pathogenic in its own right.

Question, and be honest in answering: Why, oh, why do you feed the trolls? You all know that Augustine (if that is indeed his name), and Sid Offit (if that is indeed his name, because I doubt he’s the Baltimore journalist from the 1950’s)… You all know that they know better. They get their vaccines and see their doctors. They’re knowledgeable of science and the scientific method. You guys know this. Why do you keep feeding the trolls?

None, not one of their contributions to this blog have been productive. They’re out to get you guys in a never-ending loop of bullshit. Leave them alone… Systematically ignore them, and we’ll all be better for it.

Magic Johnson has not gotten a “death sentence by society”: he has, among other things, built a movie theater in Harlem. In what world is “popular, successful businessman” a death sentence, literal or metaphoric?

@Rene Najera

None, not one of their contributions to this blog have been productive.

Au contraire. Their contributions have produced a lot of quality rebuttals pointing out not only where they have made gross errors of fact, but also they serve as excellent examples of logical fallacies. Why, sometimes they even combine three or more in a single post!

Magic johnson did receive a death sentence by society in 1991 and received high doses of AZT that was approved in 1987, Describe the experiments that proved HIV’s pathogenic role that justified azt’s release in 1987 and Magic being given a bleak fatal prognosis in 1991.

DavidN Andrews M.D. PhD.M. Ed., C. P. S. E. L.M.N.O.P. : “And – anybody want to tell Augie here why ‘just throwing chlorine’ into a swamp wouldn’t sort out the issue of conditions like swamps?”

Precisely!

Todd W, you just had to mention augie and its like, didn’t you? And now we’ve got its like, cooler.

Methinks cooler might want to brush up on the history of AZT. In particular, the group that was demanding its rapid approval. (Hint: It wasn’t the general public or the manufacturer.)

Cooler–

As long as we’re giving instructions in the imperative: Please enroll in an accredited university and get a degree in biochemistry. While you’re there, get the university librarians to show you how to do library and internet searches.

Todd : “Y’know, every time I see augie or its like toss statistics around, I can’t help but think that if there were laws protecting the welfare of statistics, making their abuse illegal, that augie, et al., would be locked up for numerous counts.”

You don’t like it when a fact messes up your ideology? Therefore it’s not a fact then? I thought evidence was evidence? Is it not? Oh I see.

One of the reasons Azt was approved rapidly because the public was terroized with a new plague in the mid 80’s and the drug companies wanted to cash in on the panic. Describe the experiments that proved hiv causality that justified the government having a press conference in 1984 that the probable cause of aids was hiv, the nas and the iom in a book called “confronting aids” saying 1 billion in funding was needed to combat hiv and to be able wage a massive media blitz in 1986, azt’s approval in 1987 and magic being given a bleak fatal prognosis by doctors in 1991.

vicki if you’re too dumb to describe experiments to back up your beliefs than please return your degree, its useless. You are no different than the snake oil peddlers you pretend to criticize, both of you people have one thing in common, the inability to describe any compelling experiments to back up your beliefs.

Vicki: “Can anyone explain to me why germ theory denialists harp on antibiotic resistance?”

You’re confused because of all of the strawman arguments your supposed critical thinking brothers have put forth.

“None, not one of their contributions to this blog have been productive. They’re out to get you guys in a never-ending loop of bullshit. Leave them alone… Systematically ignore them, and we’ll all be better for it.”

I will have to respectfully disagree. Most of my learning (which changed me from anti-vaccine to pro-vacc!) happened in the comments. Orac’s posts are wonderful sources of information, of course, but the back and forth in the comments has always gone much further in helping me to grasp the concepts and spot errors in logic. While I also get fed-up with the trolls, I very much appreciate all the patient, knowledgeable commenters here who craft detailed rebuttals with evidence – it is invaluable to me (and others, I’m sure).

Thank you again to all here who take the time to explain these concepts and science in general.

That certain infectious diseases are contagious and somehow spread from person to person or from other sources is so obvious that various explanations of how this could happen held sway over many centuries.

That’s what amazes me about hard-core germ theory denialists, especially when you factor in the modern understanding of epidemiology. Bubonic plague, smallpox, and so on weren’t contagious? That takes some serious denial.

(Not that I’m convinced that “soft” germ theory denialism is actually denialism of germ theory)

Béchamp further postulated that bacteria arose from structures that he called microzymas, which to him referred to a class of enzymes. Béchamp postulated microzymas are normally present in tissues and that their effects depended upon the cellular terrain.

It goes a bit further than that. According to Béchamp, microzymas are immortal and indestructible, and under the right circumstances naked microzymas could form bacteria. For instance, he claims that he found naked microzymas in limestone, broke up (or dissolved) some limestone in sterile circumstances, and later there were bacteria.

Also, I’m not sure if this was originated by Béchamp or someone building on his theories, but part of pleomorphic theory is that, in addition to bacteria turning into other bacteria, bacteria can turn into fungi. That’s right, not only can the terrain cause changes in a microorganism’s species, but in it’s kingdom.

In most texts and sources that I’ve read, the germ theory of disease is stated something like, “Many diseases are caused by microorganisms.”

For some people who say that germ theory is wrong, I think some people interpret this as “germs are the distal cause of many diseases”, rather than “germs are the proximate cause of many diseases”. Others, for whatever reason, interpret “germs causes many diseases” as meaning “exposure to germs will cause an infection”. It might be better to phrase the germ theory as something like “there are contagious diseases, which are spread via germs”.

@cooler:

Jeez, cooler, do you have to derail every discussion about infectious diseases into a discussion about HIV/AIDS?

@cooler

History fail. The ones that were clamoring for the rapid approval of AZT were not the manufacturer, nor the general public. Rather, individuals with AIDS had heard about the development of AZT and heard of some of the preliminary results from clinical trials. They felt that the FDA was needlessly holding up what was potentially a life-saving drug for the treatment of AIDS (whether or not HIV caused AIDS was not really big in the discussion, as AZT was meant to treat AIDS itself, not the cause, HIV). FDA rushed approval for the drug before the full safety profile was evidence from clinical trials in response to the call from AIDS patients.

As to evidence that HIV causes AIDS, there is no single study that proves it. However, the totality of the literature lends enough weight to the hypothesis that we can reasonably conclude that HIV does, in fact, cause AIDS. Here is a good site discussing the evidence.

Now. What is your evidence that HIV does not cause AIDS?

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