Vaccines are “transhumanism” that subverts evolution?

In the more than a decade since I first discovered, to my shock, that there are actual people out there who not only don’t believe that vaccines are safe despite overwhelming evidence that they are but in fact believe that they don’t work and are dangerous, I thought I had seen every antivaccine argument out there. After all, I just wrote about the tactics and the tropes of the antivaccine movement in which I reviewed, well, the tactics and tropes of the antivaccine movement. One of the favorite (and therefore most commonly used) tropes of the anti-vaccine movement is that vaccines are somehow “unnatural.” There are many variants of this particular trope, for example the claim that “natural” infection is better than vaccination. This delusion sometimes reaches the point where some antivaccine parents will do something as stupid as to try to send lollipops licked by their children with chickenpox through the mail to other parents, the aim being to allow those parents to expose their children the chickenpox in order to give their children the “benefit” of “natural immunity.”

Yes, I thought I had seen every variation of the “unnatural” trope so beloved by antivaccinationists that, I must admit, the following took me rather by surprise. It’s on a website whose name tells you just about all you need to know about it. My brief perusal of the site reveals that it’s chock full of “natural” medicine quackery. Consistent with this, it appears to be rabidly antivaccine, as evidenced by a little dittie by someone named Sayer Ji, who is the person responsible for this website, entitled The Vaccination Agenda: An Implicit Transhumanism/Dehumanism. it’s a crank trifecta, combining antivaccine tropes, conspiracy mongering, and the natural fallacy in heaping helpings, all topped off with fear mongering implying that vaccines are somehow responsible for making us less “human.” At this late date, having been in the trenches for a while, even I don’t recall having seen a screed so full of crazy. It’s perfect for a Friday, when, even though I rarely do “Your Friday Dose of Woo” anymore, this might have been a good candidate for it. You’ll see what I mean right away:

In fact, ever since the adaptive, antigen-specific immune system evolved in early vertebrates 500 million years ago, our bodies have been doing a pretty good job of keeping us alive on this planet without need for synthetic, vaccine-mediated immunity. Indeed, infectious challenges are necessary for the development of a healthy immune system and in order to prevent autoimmune conditions from emerging as a result of TH2 dominance. In other words, take away these natural infectious challenges, and the immune system can and will turn upon itself; take way these infectious challenges and lasting immunity against tens, if not hundreds of thousands of pathogens we are exposed to throughout our lives, would not be possible.

Ah, yes. The appeal to nature gussied up with a bit of evolution. In other words, according to Ji, because we co-evolved with pathogens, living with pathogens is “natural.” And so it is. So are cancer, old age, and death. These are all completely “natural” too, as are strychnine and any number of “natural” toxins. (If you’ll recall, a “toxin” is by definition something made by a living organism.) The point, of course, is that just because something is natural does not make it good, benign, or even just neutral. Nature is harsh, and the battle for survival brutal, and it’s completely “natural” for all manner of animals to be eaten by bigger, faster, and hungrier animals. Yet the mindset behind so much of “alternative” medicine and antivaccine views is that natural is always good and that anything synthetic should be viewed with extreme suspicion. It’s silly, because even “natural” nutrients and medicines are just as much chemicals as any synthetic nutrient or chemical. We have to judge whether such chemicals are harmful based on science and where the evidence leads us, not based on whether the chemical is “natural” or not. Yet it is this assumption that leads Ji to ask:

Can vaccines really co-opt, improve upon, and replace natural immunity with synthetic immunity?

How many will this require?

Are we not already at the critical threshold of vaccine overload?

By “improving” on our humanness in this way, are we not also at the same moment departing dramatically from it?

I’m really at a loss to figure out how, even if we were in a state of “vaccine overload” (we’re not) vaccines would somehow be “departing dramatically” from our humanness. Is there a “vaccine skeptic” out there who can explain this to me using actual science rather than prescientific understandings of the function of the human body and how it is disrupted by disease? I doubt there is, but you never know. In any case, the entire argument behind Ji’s article is that vaccines are somehow stripping us of the things that make us human. The first way they’re doing it, according to Ji, is by challenging us to way too many–get this!–antigens.

Yes, antigens. Scary, scary antigens. Plus the dread aluminum, of course:

A new paper published in the journal Lupus entitled Mechanisms of aluminum adjuvant toxicity and autoimmunity in pediatric populations, points out that as many as 125 antigenic compounds, along with high amounts of aluminum (AI) adjuvants are given to children by the time they are 4 and 6 years old, in some “developed” countries. The authors also state: “Immune challenges during early development, including those vaccine-induced, can lead to permanent detrimental alterations of the brain and immune function. Experimental evidence also shows that simultaneous administration of as little as two to three immune adjuvants can overcome genetic resistance to autoimmunity.”

I actually have already seen and read this paper, even though it just came out within the last few days. In fact, I had even thought of blogging this paper. Then I remembered. This paper looked mighty familiar. So I searched my blog on the names of the author, and, sure enough, I quickly found that I had dealt with this sort of thing before just last month. I read my old post, and quickly became apparent to me that this article in Lupus is basically the same article as the one in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry that I had likened to an “argumentum ad pirates,” or confusing correlation with causation the way that was so deftly illustrated a few years ago when global warming was linked to the decrease in the number of pirates. And that, dear readers, is why I didn’t bother with this article. I didn’t need to. It’s more or less the same article; at least it uses very much the same arguments. So I’ll just point you to my original deconstruction and leave it at that. Let’s just say that both articles are a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys.

What follows next is a rapid-fire listing of common antivaccine tropes, most related to the “natural” gambit. For example, we have what I like to call the “toxins gambit”:

Common adjuvants include: aluminum, mineral oil, detergent stabilized squalene-in-water, pertactin, formaldehyde, viral DNA, phosphate, all of which are inherently toxic, no matter what the route of exposure.

We have the “naturalistic fallacy” applied to the route of administration of vaccines:

Many parents today do not consider how dangerous injecting adjuvants directly into the muscle (and sometimes blood, due to incorrect and/or non-existent aspiration techniques), especially in non-infected, healthy offspring whose immune systems are only just learning to launch effective responses to the innumerable pathogens already blanketing their environment.

I’ll give Mr. Ji minimal credit. He at least seems to know the difference between injecting vaccines intramuscularly and injecting them “directly into the bloodstream,” which appears to be the approved description favored by antivaccine activists. (Don’t believe me? Google “vaccine injected directly into bloodstream.”) Realizing the difference, he had to mention “incorrect and/or non-existent aspiration techniques” as a way to imply that vaccines are frequently injected “directly into the bloodstream” by accident. It’s all nonsense, of course, particularly the bit about how injecting antigens into the muscle is harmful when administered to babies “whose immune systems are only just learning to launch effective responses to the innumerable pathogens already blanketing their environment.” I suppose in this natural world babies never suffer injuries that introduce pathogens into their subcutaneous and even intramuscular spaces. Perhaps the most telling line is when Ji characterizes humans as having “strayed from their mammalian roots by creating and promoting infant formula over breast milk and then promoting synthetic immunity via vaccines over the natural immunity conferred through breastfeeding.”

Do I really need to say it again? If breast feeding was so effective in saving babies from infectious disease, then why was the smallpox vaccine needed? Why did the measles affect so many thousands of children before the development of the measles vaccine? Why did Hib affect so many children, even kiling some, until just around 20 years ago. The disease only came under control after the vaccine against it came into widespread usage. Don’t get me wrong. In most circumstances, breastfeeding is undeniably best. But the passive immunity conferred by breast milk is not long-lasting and can’t be counted upon to prevent diseases that vaccines can prevent.

Then my irony meter exploded.

Ji likens vaccination to transhumanism, which he apparently abhors because he views it as a “movement which intends to improve upon and transcend our humanity, and has close affiliation with some aspects of eugenics.” He then continues:

The CDC’s immunization schedule reflects a callous lack of regard for the 3 billion years of evolution that brought us to our present, intact form, without elaborate technologies like vaccination — and likely only because we never had them at our disposal to inflict potentially catastrophic harm to ourselves. The CDC is largely responsible for generating the mass public perception that there is greater harm in not “prophylactically” injecting well over 100 distinct disease-promoting and immune-disruptive substances into the bodies of healthy children. They have been successful in instilling the concept into the masses that Nature failed in her design, and that medical and genetic technologies and interventions can be used to create a superior human being.

In this culture of vaccination, the non-vaccinated child is “inferior,” “dirty,” perhaps even “sub-human” to those who look upon vaccination as the answer to what perfects the human immune system. Transhumanism participates in a dialectic which requires a simultaneous and systematic dehumanization of those who do not share the same way of thinking and behaving. The eugenic undertones of mass vaccination and the cult of synthetic immunity are now only thinly veiled, as we move closer to the point where a psuedo-scientific medical dictatorship lays claim to our very bodies, and the bodies of our children.

“Eugenics undertones” to mass vaccination programs? How ridiculous! How is it “eugenics” to administer a preventative measure that saves children from infectious disease? Isn’t that saving the “weak” and “subverting nature’s intent”? The whole idea behind eugenics is that modern medicine is saving the “unfit” (who would normally have died if it weren’t for modern society, science, and medicine preventing that) and thereby “weakening” the gene pool by letting the “unfit” reproduce. In the U.S., eugenics led to mandatory sterilization of the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. In Nazi Germany, it lead to the killing of children who were deemed Lebensunwertes Leben (“life unworthy of life”), either because they were developmentally disabled, had serious illnesses, or were deemed to be of “inferior” racial stock, among other reasons.

Now that’s eugenics. Vaccination to save all children? Not so much.

Not surprisingly, as well, there is a strong undercurrent of “health freedom” in Ji’s argument. Note the appeals to fear of a “cult of synthetic immunity” (actually that’s one cult I could actually get behind–what’s wrong with immunity?) and to a medical dictatorship that “lays claim to our very bodies, and the bodies of our children.” It’s not about science, given the copious evidence that vaccines are safe and effective. It’s about fear of the government and big pharma. It’s also about fear:

The point of no return (if not already traversed) is only around the corner: the mass introduction of DNA and Recombinant Vector Vaccine technology. Vaccines moved through the following stages (a tortured history of failures and massive “collateral damage”): Live Vaccines > Attenuated Vaccines > Subunit Vaccines > Toxid Vaccines > Conjugate Vaccines, only now reaching towards converting our living tissue into “vaccine-making factories” through the use of DNA and Recombinant Vector Vaccines, which are designed to directly alter cells within the vaccinated person’s body so that they create the antigens normally provided by vaccines themselves.

That’s right! Those evil scientists are, like the plot of a 1950s B-grade science fiction or horror movie, usurping Nature (with a capital “N,” of course!) and accessing Forbidden Knowledge and Making Themselves Into Gods. You know, all the horror movie cliches. In this instance, to Ji vaccines are the fruits of such forbidden knowledge and are turning us into monsters as a result. There are reasons to be very careful and conservative about vaccines designed to infect cells and thereby generate antigens that provoke an immune response, but Ji goes really overboard. DNA vaccines are nothing more than injecting naked plasmid DNA into the muscle, whose cells take up the DNA and express the proteins encoded therein. They don’t integrate into the genome or permanently alter the cells.

Ji’s article is the naturalistic fallacy on megadoses of steroids. To him, science isn’t just subverting Nature (with a capital “N,” again!) but it’s producing vaccines that are allegedly going to permanently alter us to make us no longer “human.” Vaccine scientists and doctors are somehow “callous lack of regard for three billion years of evolution,” as though evolution could never be improved upon. What is medicine, after all, if not interfering with evolution. Antibiotics interfere with evolutionary selection in that they save lives that might otherwise have been lost, allowing reproduction that might never have happened. So does surgery, a whole host of medicines, and a number of other treatments. That’s the idea.

It’s an idea Sayer Ji appears to reject utterly. This would be bad enough if he just rejected it for himself and his family, but he’s not content with that. He wants to persuade others to follow his boneheaded example, too.