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A misguided “chalkboard talk”

Sometimes I feel like Dug, the talking dog in the movie Up, in that when it comes to blogging I’m often easily distracted. The reason I say this is because there’s been a “viral” (if you can call it that) video floating around the antivaccine quackery blogosphere that antivaccinationists are passing around as though it’s slam-dunk evidence that vaccines aren’t safe. It’s called the Chalkboard Campaign:

Basically, it’s one long series of chalkboard images touting pseudoscience and antivaccine misinformation over and over again, all over a sappy pop music soundtrack, using the tag line from the song throughout the video, “We need to talk.” The video is popping up all over the antivaccine blogosphere, and it’s being touted on—where else?—the antivaccine propaganda blog Age of Autism.

Indeed we do need to talk, but not in the manner that the creator of this video, Rebecca Ferguson, a mother who claims to have “recovered” her child Caroline using all manner of “biomedical” pseudoscience thinks we do. We need to talk about the sheer quantity of rank misinformation, that Ms. Ferguson has packed into a single four and a half minute video. I was half-tempted to put the video up and leave its deconstruction as an exercise for my readers, and, to some extent, I still like that idea. Unfortunately, the new ScienceBlogs layout does not permit me to control where the “fold” appears, so that I could just put all of my take on this video “below the fold” So what I’ll suggest is that anyone who wants to do that watch the video now and then comment without reading my discussion. Alternatively, you can watch the video now, see how many antivaccine canards you can spot, and then compare your take on the video with mine. Ready? Here we go.

The first thing you need to know about this video is that it’s made by a newly minted board member of VaxTruth.org for this express purpose:

When I do address vaccines, I try to put myself in my own shoes. The shoes I was wearing in 2006 – when our daughter was injured and we listened to her pediatrician for far too long – and I ask, “What would it have taken to reach ME?”

What might a friend have sent me that would’ve saved our family’s life as we knew it?

To that end, I recently made a half-dozen chalkboard images. Reducing vaccine controversy to simple black and white messages captured people’s attention.

But I knew there needed to be more. And as a newly appointed board member at VaxTruth.org, the topic weighed heavily on my mind. How can we expand beyond the “choir?” How can we reach new parents?

She concludes, addressing AoA readers:

Today, it’s here. But not just for you. You already know everything it says and more. It’s for your mainstream friends.

Also, this is not her first foray into video. She’s known for making “recovery videos” of her daughter, like this one:

It’s basically one long testimonial that confuses correlation with causation, blaming vaccines for every setback, even though autism can be detected as early as six months, and crediting biomedical quackery with every improvement. In it, it’s assumed that autism is a condition of developmental stasis, so that when Caroline shows signs of improvement, such as developing language or having her sensory issues about various textures abate, the assumption behind the video is that none of these developments would have happened without the antivirals, gluten-free diet, chelation therapy, hyperbaric oxygen chamber, and, of course, homeopathic remedies Rebecca subjected her daughter to. On the other hand, I suppose the homeopathic remedies, at least, serve a purpose. Because most homeopathic remedies are nothing more than water, one can say that any improvement observed after they were administered to Caroline is certainly not due to the homeopathic remedy (homeopathic remedies more “potent” than 12C are, after all, the ultimate placebo), but rather to normal development and/or confirmation bias on the part of the parents. It’s just too bad that the rest of the quackery is not so benign.

Those who know anything about vaccines will know that the “chalk talk” video is cleverly manipulated propaganda mixing half-truths and misinformation in a toxic stew designed to frighten parents. But is it effective? Damned if I know, because the only places I’ve seen this video thus far are on known antivaccine websites, such as AoA and various “alternative health” websites. Personally, I think the video is too simple, so simple as to be insulting to the intelligence of the average person, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s ineffective. Certainly Ferguson has mastered the repetition thing.

It begins by looking at a classroom of 30 children and points out the number who will have various diseases and conditions, such as learning disabilities, food allergies, respiratory allergies, skin allergies, asthma, and attention disorders. She also says that one will have autism, although a one in thirty prevalence rate for autism is far higher than anything I’ve ever heard before, with the exception of one South Korean study. If she wanted to be correct, she’d say that approximately one child out of the children in three such classrooms has autism. One also notes that, despite the huge male preponderance of autism and autism spectrum disorder diagnoses, Ferguson chooses to use a picture of a girl to illustrate her point.

Be that as it may, after the collage of images and chalk font, the next message is, “Too many children are suffering,” followed by a demand, “As their parents, we needed answers. What is causing all the neurological disorders?” Unfortunately, the “answers” Ferguson proceeds to supply are completely wrong. Certainly, Ferguson’s claim that “we dug deep into the science” is risible at best. I’ll show you the “science” she dug into. It’s all on this page.

I must say, I’m impressed at the utter lack of research chops Ferguson shows. If this, as one must assume, is the best that she can come up with, it’s pretty pathetic indeed. For instance, there’s a typically fallacy-laden article by all-purpose quack and crank Russell Blaylock, for whom there apparently is no quackery too quacky for him to embrace. There’s also another article by Andreas Moritz. Remember him? I do. He’s a cancer quack who thinks that chemotherapy doesn’t work, claims that cancer is not a disease but rather the “wisdom of the body,” and is also known for using legal threats to intimidate into silence critics who point out his cancer quackery. In the article cited by Ferguson, Moritz claims that vaccines suppress the immune system, which is so demonstrably not true that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read his article. Another article cited by Ferguson is a scary-sounding list of vaccine ingredients. Yes, indeed, her “evidence” is the “toxins” gambit here, the very same gambit that our old friend Dr. Jay Gordon used when he did a bit of fear mongering about formaldehyde. The list of “references” goes on, being made up mostly of articles from antivaccine sources, such as Ginger Taylor and Fourteen Studies, nearly all not published in the peer-reviewed literature. Sure, there are a couple of exceptions, one of which is mentioned through the antivaccine propagandist reporter Sharyl Attkisson (who is well known not just for her execrable journalism about vaccines but for her ties to Generation Rescue), namely Helen Ratajczak’s hideously wrong “review” of the literature about vaccines and autism.

Yes. This is the “research” Ferguson has done.

The result is a series of scientific claims regarding vaccines and autism that are so wrong they’re, as we say, “not even wrong.” She begins by asking “What has the power to change our immune system?” I bet you know the answer to that one. Yup, it’s the dreaded vaccines! She even claims, apparently based on Moritz’s nonsense, that vaccines decrease immune reactivity to viruses and increase immune reactivity to allergens. This is next followed by the “toxins” gambit, in which fear is brought to bear about how “even the smallest amounts of heavy metals and toxins in vaccines” can “bypass all natural defenses” because they’re, you know, injected directly into the body, “further impare the immune system, increasing unbalanced reactivity,” leading to “gut-brain encephalopathy,” whatever that is. Of course, doctors won’t tell you this because (of course!) according to Ferguson they rely on pharmaceutical reps for their information and are, of course, “pharma shills.”

In contrast (and please, swallow any drink you might have in your mouth and put your glass or cup down now before you read this), the parents “scour the scientific studies and published research and have an unbiased interest in finding the truth.” Really? Everybody has biases. Everybody. Where people go drastically wrong is when they think that they, alone among all humans, are “unbiased.” There is no such thing. The best we can do is to admit our biases, make sure they’re transparent, and try to compensate for them. In fact, the scientific method wouldn’t need to exist if there were truly “unbiased” people. It exists largely to try to correct for biases in observation and interpretation that we all have. In the case of Ms. Ferguson, it’s clear that her bias is that “something” caused her daughter’s autism and that “something” can cure it. That might or might not be true, but her bias leads her to latch on to vaccines as the cause of her daughter’s condition and quackery like homeopathy and chelation therapy as the cure. Her bias has completely short-circuited her critical thinking skills, and now she’s functioning mainly in the realm of motivated reasoning, cherry picking information sources (not even scientific studies) that support her bias. She believes there must be a reason, even when there isn’t always.

Ferguson’s last major claim is that “there has never been a single study of the current vaccine schedule”:

This is, of course, silly. One might first ask: Which schedule? Every country has different vaccine schedules, designed to meet the needs of its children according to the diseases most prevalent in each country. Moreover, every new vaccine that is introduced is tested in the context of the the entire vaccine schedule as it currently exists. Then there are epidemiological studies looking at different vaccines, vaccinated versus less vaccinated populations. It’s hard to do an epidemiological study looking at vaccinated versus unvaccinated populations, at least in the U.S., because there are, fortunately, relatively few completely unvaccinated children. Particularly hilarious, attempts at “studies” of unvaccinated versus vaccinated children have been made by the antivaccine movement; if anything, they suggest that vaccines are protective against autism. Of course, they’re utter crap as science; so I don’t seriously say that they show this. I do say that even the antivaccine movement hasn’t been able to link vaccines to autism or any other condition in a convincing fashion. Unfortunately, that doesn’t keep antivaccine propagandists from demanding a “vaccinated versus unvaccinated study,” even though there isn’t really any good evidence to suspect that vaccines cause autism (or all the other conditions Ferguson attributes to them) given that the existing evidence is negative. That evidence comes from multiple countries over several decades, too.

After looking at Ferguson’s website and video, I have to conclude that its simplistic message just might work to persuade some parents that vaccines cause autism. However, its message is undermined by conspiracy mongering and just how over-the-top its claims are. Even parents predisposed to believe might have a hard time believing that there hasn’t ever been a “single study” of vaccinated and unvaccinated children, which is why I suspect that this video will probably mainly resonate with true believers, rather than serving as a tool to convert large numbers of undecided parents. (If you don’t believe me, take a look at the copious praise the denizens of AoA have heaped upon this video in the comments after Ferguson’s post.) On the other hand, one of the favorite canards of quacks and pseudoscience supporters is to demand “one study” that shows them everything they want to see. Science and medicine don’t work that way. Conclusions in medical science are built up based on many studies from multiple different sources, and it requires a background in the relevant science and medicine to be able to interpret the totality of the medical literature on the subject.

It takes a lot of arrogance of ignorance to believe otherwise and that you can interpret the medical literature better than real scientists, and that’s what Ferguson demonstrates in abundance: The arrogance of ignorance.

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]

136 replies on “A misguided “chalkboard talk””

Throughout anti-vaxx’s and alt med’s irrevocably contaminated roiling sea of mis-informational websites, I discern a common item floating amongst the refuse there: don’t trust doctors. TMR’s denizens blame them for stealing/ destroying their children; Adams and Null declare them tyrants and call for revolution; AoA dismisses medical sources as irresponsible and as perpetrators of malfeasance

The simple question I then ask is how do they then function in a world where authorities are all corrupt and unworthy of trust.. who do you then listen to or go to for advice? Someone who shares your blather on the ‘net? What if someone gets hurt or has a really serious illness? Thumb through a Guide to Natural Health for herbal/ supplement cures? See if MIkey has a Special Report about it?

Julie Obradovic writes about those horrible bloggers ( guess) who DARE to criticise AutismOne’s conference and MMS while applauding presenters at the conference like Montagnier, Lewis and Herbert.

Although I do truly feel sorry for the women who write about their disappointments and stressful lives @ AoA or TMR, I also believe with all my heart that they are also contributing to their own miseries as well as misguiding other parents.

Fortunately- due to the unlimited mercy of universal probabilty- I cannot view videos at this computer. Lucky me!

So many laughable lies, so little time. Given that I must pick and choose, I pick:

“Ferguson’s last major claim is that “there has never been a single study of the current vaccine schedule”:”

If Ms. Ferguson knew as much about the science of vaccines as she claimed, she would know that the “current vaccine schedule” has been tested every time a new childhood vaccine was tested. Whenever a new vaccine is tested, the treatment group consists of children (for childhood vaccines) who are “up to date” on the currently recommended vaccines. Thus, the “current vaccine schedule” has been tested one vaccine at a time, just as she (and so many others” have insisted.

The other part of this issue – and one that shows another lacuna in Ms. Ferguson’s knowledge base – is the question of what one would test the “current vaccine schedule” against. If the proposal (which I’ve heard repeatedly) is to compare the current recommended vaccine schedule to no vaccines, we (in a global sense) have already done that study.

First, we have the historical study comparing children today who have received the recommended vaccines to those 100 years ago who received none of the current vaccines. The data (some of which are available in older cemeteries everywhere) indicate that the current vaccine schedule leads to fewer deaths in childhood and also fewer long-term and permanent disabilities (deafness, blindness, paralysis, cardiomyopathy, etc.).

Another study – although a bit more “apples and oranges” than the first – is the comparison of children in the “Western World” (i.e. countries with modern medical care) and those from countries where childhood vaccines are not given or are unavailable. Granted, we have to acknowledge the confounding variables of nutrition and hygeine, but the data certainly suggest that the current vaccination schedule – even when it is administered in countries with widespread starvation and poor hygeine – saves children’s lives and prevents disability.

I think what Ms. Ferguson really wants is a study that will “prove” what she already “knows” to be true. Unfortunately, reality hasn’t been kind to her, which is why she has to resort to a fantasy-based “chalk-talk”.

Thanks, Orac, for providing another wonderful example of the perils of fantasy-based reasoning.

Prometheus

“the parents “scour the scientific studies and published research and have an unbiased interest in finding the truth.””

Yeah, I’m sure that they’ll only accept “the truth” if it has deep enough pockets to sue the hell out of.

For my response to this, I refer to Joe Pesci*ks opening statement in My Cousin Vinny:

“Everything that guy just said is bullshit. Thank you.”

Seriously, what else can you say?

“the parents “scour the scientific studies and published research and have an unbiased interest in finding the Truth.””

(fixing JohnV’s transcription error (-:)

Unbiased. I don’t think that word means what Ms. Ferguson thinks it means.

Are those people complaining about dangerous chemicals in vaccins the same who are administeringbleach to their autistic children?

As far as I know they idea that tobacco was not good for ones health was known before 1958. At least my aunt learned it when she did some course to be able to take care of her dads tobacco-shop. And this was a long time ago, I suppose before her marriage.

I would suggest Ms. Ferguson, in chasing her own tail, has firmly embedded herself in the Cone of Shame.

Okay, I “cheated” and found Rebecca Fergusson’s e-book:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/91473446/Breaking-Through-Journey-Out-of-Autism

Throughout this short (19 page) e-book, Rebecca wows us with her “credentials” (She went to college and “built bridges”, then went to law school.

Page 3…Caroline, at 12 months of age stopped speaking and avoided eye contact.

Page 7…Rebecca, after all her “research” comes to the conclusion “it all comes down to vaccines and immunity”.

Thereafter, she starts “treating” her child, based on her “research” with every bogus treatment modality *known to cure autism*.

Supplements, vitamins, omegas and “more”

Gluten and Casein-Free diets

“Specific Carbohydrate Diet”

Diflucan…to combat the yeast

MB-12 injections to improve the methylation cycle

Hyperbaric Chamber Oxygen Treatments (“to supply oxygen to her brain and strengthen connections”)

Submitted her child to testing for “leaky gut”…which was positive

Testing for “elevated levels of metals” (which were 3X normal) that “were killing her immune system”.

(According to her “research”), “the only way to remove the excess metals was through chelation”

Dosed her child with oral chelation every 3 hours around-the-clock for three days each week for 2 years duration.

Later her child was diagnosed with PANDAS (“an autoimmune reaction to bacteria that creates antibodies that attack the brain including the basal ganglia, which control motor control, learning behaviors, sleep/awake cycles, cognitive and emotional functions”)

PANDAS experts prescribe antibiotics for her child.

After speaking with other “parents who cured their children” she discontinues the use of antibiotics, in favor of “natural treatments”. “The antibiotics were destroying her gut”, according to Rebecca.

One of the (unknown) natural treatments is camel’s milk.

Possibly the only “treatment” that Rebecca did not subject her child to is stem cell transplants.

Oh my goodness! I looked at Rebecca Ferguson’s webpage because I wondered if it would tell me how old she is (why is explained in my next comment). Is there any type of treatment fad this woman will not embrace?

Her daughter is a beautiful child and it sounds like she has a lot of potential. I sincerely hope she allows her daughter to develop into her own person.

I thought that the slide titled “Do you trust the CDC?” was a bit odd; it seems to imply that the CDC claimed smoking was “safe” in 1958. So, I did a little library “research”.

As I suspected, I could find no evidence that the CDC (then known as the “Communicable Disease Center” – it wasn’t named “Centers for Disease Control” until 1970) issued any statement about the safety of smoking in 1958. In fact, I can’t find any official statement from the CDC about smoking until well after the 1964 US Surgeon General’s report , which stated: “cigarette smoking is a health hazard of sufficient importance in the United States to warrant appropriate remedial action.” – not exactly a ringing endorsement of smoking’s safety.

This isn’t surprising because in 1958 the CDC’s mandate didn’t cover smoking (hint: it was primarily interested in communicable diseases – the name gives it away). Now, some government agency might have issued a statement that smoking was “safe”, but the medical literature of the time show that – even in 1958 – there was little doubt among the medical and scientific community that tobacco smoking was linked to a variety of lung diseases (the link to vascular diseases was discovered later).

In contrast, the medical and biological literature of today show no evidence that childhood vaccinations cause autism, SIDS, “immune dysfunction” or anything other than a significant reduction in childhood morbidity and mortality.

What Ms. Ferguson seems to be claiming is that since the CDC – in her Universe, apparently, not ours – issued recommendations (“smoking is safe”) in 1958 that contradicted then-current medical data, that the CDC should do the same today and contradict now-current medical data (i.e. that vaccines haven’t been shown to cause autism, SIDS, etc.) by claiming that vaccines cause autism.

Even if we accept Ms. Ferguson’s “alternative” Universe history, what she’s asking is essentially that the CDC atone for one wrong (which, as far I can tell, it never actually committed) by doing another. Even my mother – no scientist – knew that two wrongs don’t make a right.

Prometheus

It was easy to debunk. Even I managed to do it, and I’m a just a chemist. Here’s just some of my take.

My first complaint: what’s with all the 3’s? Just coincidence? Her repeating that number makes me think she’s making it all up! And with all those conditions – how many of them overlap within the same child? Oh, but there’s only 1 diagnosis of autism – what, she didn’t think we’d believe that there were 3 in one classroom?

Thinking about the classroom numbers makes me wonder how old she is – I have to assume she’s younger (of course, I am an AMA mother, so that would not be a surprise). It’s very difficult to compare the classrooms of the young generation (i.e., my kids and her kid), to my own generation’s elementary schools in the 1970s.

We didn’t have classrooms with 30 kids – we never went over the low 20s. We didn’t have learning disabilities in our classrooms because they went to “special” rooms, and institutions. As for all of those allergies – I don’t know about the food allergies, but there rest of them were all there. Are there more of them now? Maybe. Or maybe we’re just paying more attention.

I find her arrogance in presenting herself as more knowledgeable that professionals who spent years studying for medical degrees and were trained in hospital simply astounding.

And finally, we have this: she superimposes the words

[(from the previous slide) we the parents] have an unbiased interest in finding the TRUTH

over a picture of a mother hugging a child!

Irony meter exploded! There is absolutely nothing more biased than a parent dealing with his or her own child.

This is self-evident. If this weren’t true, she wouldn’t be even be on her misguided crusade. We (all responsible parents) want to help and protect our own child. And she has the gall to try to pain herself as unbiased?

Possibly the only “treatment” that Rebecca did not subject her child to is stem cell transplants.

Actually, I couldn’t find any evidence that she’s subjected her child to bleach enemas. Yet.

Remember, I’m only the messsenger:

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings BUT-
it appears to me that material resembling the aforementioned tripe is multiplying exponentially, Malthusianly because the readers of AoA, TMR *et les autres* think of themselves as being bold, hard-arsed rebel freedom fighters and thus loudly proclaim THE MESSAGE via blogs, videos, facebook, twitter in an endless, sickening, mind-numbing tsunami of terrible prose, outright lies and misplaced paranoia. Many have just returned jived up from the conference : a health freedom one is upcoming next week ; there’ll be a Canary Party in August, IIRC.

It ain’t gonna stop anytime soon. I have scanned the facebook numbers of most of these sites and see thousands of likely suspects who are itching to get into the game.

Fortunately, we’re prepared.

My evidence is totally anecdotal. But in a world of anecdotes whose trumps whose? I was a child with skin allergies, asthma, respiratory allergies and attention problems ( guess I was four different children-that could explain…oh never mind). That was over 50 years ago. Thirty years ago my children were the ones in the classroom with those same problems. There are other adult family members with autism spectrum disorders. None of us had the “too many too soon” vaccine schedule. As the mother of 3 children who were hospitalized with asthma attacks. (Teenaged boys don’t think they need maintenance medication) I am perfectly willing to say that there was a genetic component to their asthma, which at times has been life threatening and their attention problems which also are life long challenges. These parents need to learn to accept the child they have. Guilt should not be an issue.

I noticed in the beginning the child with the asthma MDI is using it wrong. It all went down hill from there.

@Rob
I didn’t notice. I was busy counting up how many of those problems I had and my dad before me, back in the day before the evil vaccine schedule.

Wow, another video of the same misinformation that been said by every single antivaxer throughout the world. As for the allergies. If I remember allergies are associated with IgE, which is usually involved with the immune response to various parasites. In areas where parasites are very common allergies are much less common, then in the areas where they have now become uncommon such as the US. Though I could be remembering this wrong. So, if they want less allergies go bring back all the parasites that used to be common in the US.

because the readers of AoA, TMR *et les autres* think of themselves as being bold, hard-arsed rebel freedom fighters

And scream like wounded rabbits when anyone is mean enough to correct them.

@ Shay:

I’m wondering when they’ll start suing people like their patron saint does.
The warriors/ revolutionaries are role-playing fancy dress notions of societal transformation based upon an obviously deranged conception which is heard all-too-frequently @ AoA, TMR, Natural News, Progressive Radio Network ( political actions to change scientific data?). I suspect that many of them have been somewhat privileged and have never had to deal with harsh reality UNTIL they discovered that they had a child with ASD so now they’re shrieking holy, bloody murder and blaming the hard, cruel, corrupt establishment for their woes. Wake up ladies, the world is not necessarily your oyster.

@ Autismum:

I believe that Ms Obradovic ( AoA) may be writing about your take on MMS

@ lilady:

Please don’t tell me that you did not spend some euros *chez* Signora Prada, …

Lilady, I thoroughly jealous and mightily hungry after reading those posts.
Back on topic, I’ve had this awful vid sent to me a couple of times now. The whiny music and the text effects are almost as bad as the BS.

Lilady if I want clear I apologize. I remember reading something in one of my bio text books the takes about fewer alergies in areas where parasitic infections are still a problem. Yet you don’t see them calling for that even though it would be right of their alley. So the allergies are just a sign of progress we made, and they a always view that as bad.

I’ve posted twice on this thread within the last two hours and am having difficulty getting through.
When my post doesn’t appear and I resubmit, I get this message

“Duplicate comment detected; it looks as though you’ve already said that!”

What gives?

“1958: Smoking has been studied” (by big tobacco)”

As people have said, this is untrue on multiple levels. From “Autism’s Failed Prophets”:

In 1953, tobacco companies hired the most powerful public relations firm in the United States, Hill and Knowlton. The firm’s job was to seed doubt about the validity of epidemiological studies that clearly showed cigarette smoking caused lung cancer — to make the public believe the case against tobacco was a medical controversy.

So when Generation Rescue hired Fenton Communications (the contemporary counterpart of Hill & Knowlton) to launch a similar campaign against the evidence in the autism / vaccines context, naturally they used the same tactics. They have a new tactic, though, where the now-recognised dishonesty of anti-science lobbyists in the tobacco war is used to claim that scientists are dishonest.

Naturally Ferguson goes along with it. You can’t fix stupid.

@ Matt F:

Those I survey attribute illnesses like arthritis, asthma, MS, Alzheimer’s, allergies, Crohn’s as well as ASDs, LDs, SMI to medical interventions like vaccines and pharmaceuticals and the advent of modernity including pesticides, metals, non-organic fertilisers, fluoridated, chlorinated water, pollution et al: I believe paradise was lost sometime c.1900.
– see esp. the Canary Party.

Before I finish reading the deconstruction as a writer, musician and artist my first thought was, “Did she ask The Fray or The Goo Goo Dolls for permission to use their music in her “public service announcements”?” Because they may not WANT to be “attached” to antivaccine rants.

Another thing, as I listened to her classroom lists – the incidence of autism (1 in 30) seems to be a bit high, and MANY of those could very easily be comorbid – i.e., the child who has respiratory allergies has asthma, etc., etc.

Further, I always thought that vaccines were to INCREASE reactivity of the immune system to the disease by “letting it know how to recognize the disease” and having antibodies already in place to help fight the illness (in layman’s terms). She says that the purpose of vaccine is to REDUCE immune response to viruses and it accidentally increases reactivity to everything else as an unwanted side effect.

WBBM Newsradio here in Chicago reported this morning that a study done by Northwestern University found that urban kids had a higher incidence of allergy to shellfish and tuna than farm kids. I call BS (bad science) – farm kids are a whole lot less likely to ever eat shellfish or tuna. Duh.

I love it how the video says that doctors get their info from med reps while they, the parents, actually rely on scientific evidence.

The level of arrogance of ignorance is too damn high!!!

Chemmomo @12:39

I am afraid that most of these parents are raising a generation of Jake Crosbys,not a pleasant thought.

I think Ms.Ferguson may possibly be onto something,in suspecting her daughter might have PANDAS,or a related disorder,but from what I have read,her daughter seems kind of mild even for PANDAS.Like all of these diseases, PANDAS does have a spectrum,and has all kinds of psychiatric,and behavioral diagnoses attached to it.But chelation is the last thing you want to do for PANDAS.

I have met a lot of people in internet groups over the last decade or so,one was this man,who,like me,had a lot of weird,and serious medical issues.This was 2007,if I recall.I think he had a combination of ADHD,tics,and Asperger’s.He went to NIH,and had a full week-long workup,.He was diagnosed with PANDAS in his early 30s.No one knew what was wrong with him as a child,because the diagnosis didn’t exist.

These are the cases you never hear about from the likes of Ferguson,and AoA.

bad poet — I live in the middle of the upland Illinois corn prairie. Tuna fish casserole is practically our national dish (right up there with Herman Munster-green jello with marshmallows and fruit cocktail in it).

Shellfish, now, you may have a point.

But shay, what about shrimp?

We had a lot of shrimp growing up. Imagine Bubba Blue reciting the litany…

“You got fried shrimp, and fried shrimp, and fried shrimp. There’s shrimp that’s fried, and shrimp that’s fried….etc”

Yep, we had a lot of shrimp.

I have a question for anti-vaxxers; are you sure autism is something you develop instead of something you grow out of?

I live in the middle of the upland Illinois corn prairie. Tuna fish casserole is practically our national dish

One word: tarragon.

Just watched the video and read the comments. No one commented about their incredibly poor synopsis of the immune system yet, probably because it was too easy of a target. The classic divide between Th1 and Th2 helper T cells that I learned in immunology class was that Th1 cells were involved in cell-mediated immunity while Th2 cells were involved in humoral immunity, NOT “acute reactions vs. autoimmune/allergic reactions”. For example, Type IV or delayed type hypersensitivity reactions are cell mediated, not antibody mediated. Also, antibodies (humoral immunity) are definitely involved in acute reactions, often appearing within days to an infection. Anyways, that misinterpretation and oversimplification of the immune system would be expected in a video like the one above.

Then they tried to split Th1 vs Th2 into inside vs outside cells, however, bacteria can be both intracellular and extracellular pathogens and yeast is facultatively intracellular, but hey, they dug deep into the science, right? Oh and antibodies (Herceptin) can be used against cancer.

Of course an obligatory misrepresentation of vaccines as “lowering immunity to viruses and increasing it to allergens” with no regard for the fact that there are vaccines that increase the humoral response and also vaccines that target the host cell mediated response (eg many live-attenuated vaccines). Oh and of course zero references to back up any of their wild statements otherwise.

Gratuitous metal-toxin gambit, which “impairs the immune system and unbalances reactivity”. Of course, the metal adjuvants in vaccines actually increase the immune response, but that must have just been a little deeper into the science than the makers of the video thought to dig. The stupid burns indeed.

I also liked how “digging deep into the science” involved a textbook page with a picture of a mitochondrion. I personally would have chosen a screenshot of Pubmed, but to each their own.

Final point: even if you do have an unbiased interest in finding the truth, if you don’t have the skills to find the truth (scientific literacy), there is no reason to believe you will find it. Of course, when you are emotionally invested with an affected child, your fervor to find the truth may also bias you to overly simplified solutions as a way to comfort yourself and gain control over the uncaring universe. <–nothing that hasn't been said here many times before, but with particular application to the video.

Oh and how on earth did this study make it into Clinical Reviews of Allergy and Immunology?? (saw it while refreshing my memory on Th1 vs Th2 cells)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22669752

Can't reach the full study because I'm on my home computer and it's behind a paywall, but just the abstract makes me cringe. Appeal to antiquity much?

Can't reach the full study because I'm on my home computer and it's behind a paywall, but just the abstract makes me cringe.

Firstly, this song by The Fray was used to better effect in that Scrubs episode where the transplant patients were dying of rabies, and Dr. Cox was losing it.

Secondly, I’d just like to say hello. As someone who has only been reading this blog for a few weeks, I can’t tell you how much it warms my heart to see that the position based in reality has at least some web presence. Say what you will about these homeopaths and pseudo scientists, but damned if they aren’t all over the internet getting their ridiculous message out (and selling supplements!)

I’m currently a medical resident and perhaps had been surrounded by logical folks for too long to notice which way the wind is blowing in some circles. I recently had some time off and got to speaking to a family member who is a newly minted chiropractor. I was talking about some bizarre parenting strategies I’d recently heard of some old friends practicing, and to drive my opinion of these ideas home, I stated, “They don’t even believe in vaccinating their children, can you imagine?”
This 6 months post graduate chiropractor who insists everyone call him “doctor” looked me dead in the eye and said, “Well yeah, I tell all my patients not to vaccinate their kids.”
Felt like someone had punched me in the gut. A medical practitioner, a relative I’d known since we were children to be fairly intelligent, starts talking about Wakefield’s study, toxins, too many too soon, and on and on. This person gives medical advice! He went to school for 3 years after college to learn what? How can you call yourself a doctor and not “believe” in vaccines? It’s like a NASA engineer being a moon landing denier…

It only got worse from there. He’s indoctrinated and believes I’m in the pocket of big pharm, while I’m just as broke as every resident in the country. No amount of evidence, data, or reasoning will ever persuade this person.

Orac, you’re doing wonderful work. For days after that conversation, all I could think about was starting some sort of physician edited skeptic’s blog, but you’ve already done it in a magnificent way better than I ever could have.

But this being the internet, you have to wonder, is this just a polarizing echo chamber like AoA and the others? Are the only visitors to this site people who want to hear how correct they are and how stupid the other side is? The hardcore believers in woo will never be swayed, but I sure hope that at least every now and then you convince an open-minded person or two…

One reaction to tarragon: ewww! Yuck!

Now we need to talk about those Midwestern fish fries.

Fresh water fish fully battered and deep fried was a staple on Friday in near by Wisconsin! They were yummy if the fish was good, the batter had good beer and the oil was less than a month old!

Yeah, I was not a fan. But I do enjoy fishies done right. It is sad when I can take a piece of individually wrapped piece of frozen fish from Costco and make it more edible than a MidWestern Friday night fish fry.

I would like to know why there is so much “Autism” in the US compared to other countries in the world.
My two cents is that Autism is used as a too broad diagnosys.
I agreed with Alan up, I believe it is possible that some “Autism” diagnosys aren’t autism at all, and as such the child grow out it.
And this thing about vaccines? Honestly how can people be so stupid? I learnt something about it at 14 and then believe it. I grew up it by 16.
I don’t get people.

The runoff election for US Senator from California will include incumbent Diane Feinstein and her Republican challenger Elizabeth Emken, who has been associated with Autism Speaks. According to Wikipedia, Emken is the former Vice President for Government Relations at AS.

I think it’s sad the lengths people will go to to try to ‘cure’ their child of something which isn’t ‘curable’ in that manner.

All that time and money could be better spent on enriching their child’s life and understanding what their child needs to thrive, rather than subjecting them to unproven, dangerous ‘cures’ that they’re chasing from the internet.

Some kids do ‘grow out’ some aspects of autistic behavior. They’ve taught themselves (or adapted to) how to ‘read’ other people and what is (more or less) acceptable social behavior. Are they still autistic? Yep. They’re not cured – they’ve adapted.

Chemmomo @ 12:46
I don’t know if schools still have Special Ed,or if budget cuts killed it off in most states,but when I was in school Special ed was a disaster.You did have children with autism,severe learning disabilities,or who were mildly retarded,but often it was also a dumping ground for students who were budding felons,and caused all sorts of problems in school.

I wear one of these with pride,and for all I know,maybe a lot of other disabled people do too.

http://www.bewild.com/irishbusho.html

Speaking of fish…

http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0032917

Oh GRichard – sorry to hear about your family tragedy, chiropracty is incurable. Be brave eh? You can get through this.

Lord Draconis is the space-monarch in charge of distributing payment to Ebil Pharma Shills. I’ve triggered the Minionator to let him know there’s a new EPS in the ranks. He should see the signal on his next flyby part the Milky Way,with the fleet.

Ooh. and check out http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/

It will gladden your poor chirot-saddened heart!

Welcome to the ranks.

@GRichard

I know that feeling, bro. I, myself, have a family member who believes almost any unscientific therapy. Magnet therapy, TCM, acupuncture, supplements, alkalinization, chiropractic etc. When I point out to this family member that all of these are nonsense, she played the “close-minded” card on me. Explanations of epidemiology, clinical trials and medical science don’t work. She even told me that I’d be a horrible doctor in the future when she found out that I was skeptical of a lecture on acupuncture in my medical school. She acts as though being a skeptic is a bad thing! When she told me that cancer can be cured by “alkalinizing”, I told her that it is nonsense, and that cancer isn’t caused by acidic blood or that “alkalinizing” will cure it. She angrily looks at me and asks me how the hell I can come to that conclusion.

The consolation is that she isn’t anti-vaccine. Although, when she watched Jenny McCarthy on Oprah, she got slightly convinced that maybe it’s possible. When I told her that the vaccine-autism link has been refuted, she looked at me angrily and asked me how the hell I could come to that conclusion when we don’t know what causes autism. Explanations of the power of epidemiology didn’t work. At least she still believes vaccines are important.

She even claims, apparently based on Moritz’s nonsense, that vaccines decrease immune reactivity to viruses and increase immune reactivity to allergens.

“Neonatal and early life immune responses to various forms of vaccine antigens qualitatively differ from adult responses: predominance of a Th2-biased pattern which persists after adult boosting.” [9711791]

We need to talk, squirrel.

She even claims, apparently based on Moritz’s nonsense, that vaccines decrease immune reactivity to viruses and increase immune reactivity to allergens.

Orac, the misguided infection-promoting squirrel.

“Overcoming dendritic cell tardiness to triumph over IL-13 receptor: a strategy for the development of effective pediatric vaccines.”

Neonatal exposure to antigen gives rise to a primary response comprising both T helper 1 (Th1) and T helper 2 (Th2) lymphocytes. However, re-encounter with the same antigen yields an indubitably biased response with minimal Th1 but excessive Th2 cells. Since Th1 cells combat microbes while Th2 cells react to allergens, the neonate faces susceptibility to both microbial infections and allergic reactions. The Th1/Th2 imbalance of neonatal immunity stems from a delayed maturation of dendritic cells that yields limited IL-12 cytokine during the neonatal stage. Th1 cells developing under these circumstances up-regulate the IL-13Ralpha1 chain that physically associates with the IL-4Ralpha chain, forming a potentially hazardous heteroreceptor. During re-challenge with antigen, IL-4 from Th2 cells utilizes the heteroreceptor to signal the death of Th1 cells, leading to the Th2 bias of neonatal immunity. Our view to overcome Th1 deficiency is to supplement neonatal immunizations with toll-like receptor ligands that could stimulate maturation of dendritic cells and augment IL-12 production to counter IL-13Ralpha1 up-regulation. This regimen would yield Th1 cells devoid of the heteroreceptor and resistant to IL-4-induced apoptosis. Accordingly, the neonate would have balanced Th1/Th2 immunity and withstand both microbes and allergens. Such approaches could open new avenues for better pediatric vaccines and allergy therapies.

PMID 20587345

GRichard:

We try not being an echo chambre: you’ll notice that our esteemed host alllows dissenting comments – we sometimes are critical of the so-called establishment as well. But we is not perfect.

I have been running into the most egregious nonsense spread far and wide- like organic manure- since about 2000 : I try to use whatever i’ve learned via formal education and real-world experience to expose how this garbage – being both products and ideas- gets sold to the unsuspecting, how woo-meisters capitalise on fear and how they will say ANYTHiNG to get a sale AND their audience’s adulation. We need to have people start seeing these websites as being COMMERCIALS, advertisments- not the informational sources that they spuriously masquerade as.

Here’s an old strategy from tennis: when you play, you need to ‘cover’ your opponent’s shots- you can’t be everywhere at once and cover every possible entry so you learn what is most likely and work on that: if you are met with an impossibly good shot, you let them have it.

Translating this to our situation: the die-hards are the impossible shot, so we try to seek out the reasonable people – the ‘most likelies” and speak to them If you imagine a bell curve: we talk to the middle sections – one extreme is already on our side, the other is un-reachable.

And yes, I sometimes feel badly that I single out nonsensical information perpetrated by hurt parents who have kids with ASD but they spread information which can harm others.

Keep up the good work at school.

GRichard: You’ve ARRIVED!!! You have attracted the attention of Th1Th2, a/k/a “Thingy” our resident insane troll.

Best to just ignore Thingy. It is germ-phobic, it hates children, it “claims” to have been a licensed Registered Nurse and it has been banned from websites which are known for tolerating alternative theories and alternative medical treatments.

Just another health care professional wannabe nasty troll who craves attention.

On a more positive note, we have turned people around who a fence-sitters about immunizations and other medical topics. This blog is highly regarded in the medical community and the wider “civilian” community as well.

> This blog is highly regarded in the medical community and the wider “civilian” community as well.

Damn right it is.

@elburto
Thanks for the link, and I’m sure my bank account will thank you soon too. ‘Bout time I get a cut of these huge vaccine profit margins.

@FilipinoMDstudent
I’d say fight the good fight, but it’s just so frustrating. People back in my home town ask me how school is going (hint: residents draw a salary and are licensed to practice medicine, school’s over) while they ask the chiropractor for adjustments and medical advice. I will admit I am a little jealous I can’t treat healthy 20-somethings for a living though, they’re almost impossible to break, of course you get better outcomes than the trainwrecks we see at the charity hospital.
My current strategy is to become a walking anecdote, since that’s what these people seem to value more than data. What I mean is that I do my very best to present a picture of health to patients and acquaintances without touching any of this nonsense. Then when asked about what supplements I’m taking or how long I’ve been gluten-free or some other such BS, I can laugh and say, “Eat what you want, but not too much. Throw in some vegetables. Get up and move more, and have a drink every now and then if you want. See a doctor if you’re sick, and get it taken care of. The end. Oh, and don’t smoke, for the love of whatever god you may believe in, just don’t.” This might not be the best approach, but if you’ve even seen how these hucksters market themselves, it seems to be effective. Basically, “look at how great he looks/feels/is, if I listen to him, I can have it all too.” It’s nonsense – no two people are the same, results not typical, etc… But if these folks can use themselves as “proof,” so will I.

@Denice Walter
I see the dissenting opinion just above yours, and I went ahead and followed up on it by reading the actual paper. It’s a review article which makes some interesting assertions and postulates, and if correct could lead to better vaccines. It certainly doesn’t support the video though.
I like your tennis analogy. I less like the idea that my views are as extreme as the other side’s, but I have noticed myself becoming somewhat fanatical about issues like this. Best to remind ourselves very frequently that we can be, and often are, wrong.
But not about vaccines 😉

@lilady
Troll or no, presenting a published article is light years better than just making crazy unfounded claims. I didn’t mind chasing down the link and reading it. Something I really credit my med school for was being very interested in teaching its students critical appraisal. Lies, damn lies, and statistics and whatnot. In this case, there weren’t statistics, just commentary, so whatever. I’m not sure what it was supposed to disprove anyway; it’s just looking for avenues to improve vaccine durability, so um, keep up the good work I guess?

Glad to be here though, thanks for the welcome.

@Narad – Two words: Soy sauce.

@GRichard – Welcome!

@Lilady – Welcome back!

And for all Pharma Shills and Minions in the Chicago area, there’s a “health freedom expo” this weekend. Woo warriors wanted to ward off wackaloonery and master money mindfulness. Lord Draconis, if you and your lovely Lady have any powerful PharmaStink™ bombs, please let me know so I can target them alternately.

Roger Kulp
@Jun 8: I agree with you – and I’m afraid that whatever real medical issues the girl has are going to end up untreated in favor of using all that other stuff.
@Jun 9: I think Special Ed in all its forms has improved a lot since when we were kids, but that’s based just on teachers I know. I don’t have any first hand experience.

@ GRichard:

Extreme alright- extreme sanity.

A recent focus group by Gardner et al showed that parents were more likely to accept information about vaccines when the source was other parents than if the information came from authorities, thus illustrating the dangerous power of anti-vax groups run by parents.
-btw- those who listen to hucksters and buy their products and line of bull may wind up ill or even worse.. some settle out of court but others hang on.

Altho’ I ‘m on my way out the door, I will warn you that His Lordship will not pay you in currency- it’s purely luxury goods, autos, expensive trips. Hope you enjoy that sort of thing.

Health Freedom?
How about building freedom? People should be able to make buildings or bridges without safety-rules and regulations. And if it fails, we just say: “Building freedom”.

@Narad – Two words: Soy sauce.

That’s a horrifying thing to suggest doing to a tuna casserole. Seriously, it would be like adding raisins.

Renate — you’re absolutely right! After all, it worked so well in Port au Prince.

Narad: I brought pesto with linguine to my very first potluck shortly after I moved here. I overheard one of the church basement ladies asking who made the green spaghetti. Tarragon is a non-starter. After all, this is a part of the country where Jello technically is a vegetable.

MESSAGE BEGINS———————-

Shills and Minions:

You must forgive me for my innatention of late. Astra and I are returning from a three day music festival on GV-238. It was to be a trip to escape the pressures of planetary subjugation, the daily hatchling induced mayhem and the constant sniping and whinging of the Rothschild and Windsor clans. Well, this trip brings to mind two of your primate proverbs, “you can’t go home again” and “I’m too old for this shit.” Wise words from endotherms.

The music was “rad” as the hatchlings say, but honestly, rekindling one’s youth is hardly worth the effort on the high side of 100 terran years. My ears ring like a wailing V’maach and although our Obsidian Unit was comfortable enough, my back and dorsal spines long for the sublime comfort of the low-gee sleep chambers back at PharmaCOM Orbital and Terrabase DIA. And three days of Klevk, M’vasct Opera, Sleemot and Durr performed by more than three score groups? My nervous system is simply not up to it any more.

In any case, we welcome our latest warrior Gritchard. What shall it be sir, Shill or Minion? Betrayal of one’s species is never undertaken lightly and while the rewards are great, there’s always that gnawing “loyalty” thing you people have. Well, not to worry, we, your Reptiloid Pharma Overlords, really do know best. You were ruining the place anyway, why not go out in style? In closing, we know you have your choice of marauding species to serve in the subjugation of your homeworld, we thank you for choosing to serve the Glaxxon Corpus!

Back to work.

Lord Draconis Zeneca VH7iHL
Pharmaca Magna of Terra, Foreward Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Monkey Master of Mars, Requester of “Free Bird”

In Transit
0001110101101010111110101010

————————MESSAGE ENDS

Danged WP ate my last comment. Because I was “commenting too fast”. Not.

Welcome, GRichard! I too have a chiropractor-relative. He’s anti-vax. In the name of family peace, we confine our conversations to sports. But I have to say, his anti-vaccine nonsense is one of the things that’s prompted my pro-vax advocacy.

There are a number of skeptical medical or health-related sites in addition to RI and Science-Based Medicine, such as Skewed Distribution, The Poxes Blog, Harpocrates Speaks, Neurologica (for starters).

If you want to read science-based articles on autism, The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism*, LeftBrain/RightBrain, Photon in the Darkness** and Cracking the Enigma come to mind. But you should really be reading blogs by autistics. One place to start is The Autism Hub; another is ThAutCast.

Herr Doktor Bimler, this is the best comment on the silly fish paper yet, from Sullivan on twitter: “with a great deal of therapy, can they make the ssri’d fish indistinguishable from peers?”

More seriously, Neuroskeptic thrashed the study here Antidepressants in Water Cause Autism Study, and Dorothy Bishop (@deevybee) at PLOS Blog Network went at it with Fish, Antidepressants, Autism, and a Problematic Research Premise.

Deborah Blum, at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker, focused more on the news coverage: Taking the Bait: A Fish (and Autism) Story.

@ herr doctor bimler: Just what the world needs now…a study by fresh water ichthyologists that links SSRIs to fish autism.

The study is sure to be picked up by AoA, Safe Minds and Babs at the NVIC. Too bad though, that none of the fish received vaccines.

After all, this is a part of the country where Jello technically is a vegetable.

Now, now, my great aunt, of similar location and descended from noteworthy Lutherans, was famous for her orange Jell-O with shredded carrots, served on a bed of iceburg lettuce with a dollop of homemade mayo. You just have to sell it. I promise, a pinch of tarragon will make that tuna casserole stand out. Using cream of celery is also a nice change from cream of mushroom. And tricolor rotini.

(Also: canned pear halves in lime Jell-O. Makes for an elegant presentation if set in ramekins, but you might want to switch to red cabbage or radicchio for the base.)

GRichard:

“But this being the internet, you have to wonder, is this just a polarizing echo chamber like AoA and the others? Are the only visitors to this site people who want to hear how correct they are and how stupid the other side is? The hardcore believers in woo will never be swayed, but I sure hope that at least every now and then you convince an open-minded person or two…”

I was one of the fence sitters. I have a daughter who was diagnosed with Autistic Disorder just before her second birthday (she got re-evaluated two years latter with a dx of PDD-NOS). I got on the biomed wagon and was wary of vaccines. (My daughter was fully vaccinated, except for chicken pox, up till her autism diagnosis. I freaked out and she didn’t receive any boosters from that point on).

I’ve been reading this blog for almost two years. It’s been my experience that all commenters have their concerns and questions addressed patiently and thoroughly…until they prove to be rude and/or impenetrable to reason. It’s this blog, among many others, that convinced me to accept my daughter for who she is and to get her vaccines up to date. Welcome!

a study by fresh water ichthyologists that links SSRIs to fish autism.

I read into the paper as far as the point where they state:
In that study, Croen and colleagues found a 2-fold increase in ASD risk associated with SSRIs, with the strongest effect occurring in the first trimester.

— which is where I threw up my hands in disgust. In fact Croen &c measured the adjusted odds ratio which is not the same as risk In their words,
mothers of children subsequently diagnosed with ASD were twice as likely to have at least 1 antidepressant prescription in the year prior to delivery of the study child
— the increase in *risk* works out to much smaller.

Now to be fair, Croen &c made the same mistake in their press release, where the massive overstatement of an increased risk is more sensational and more important than telling the truth; and the Fish Autism study is merely quoting the press release. But I really think the authors should have read the *paper* before citing it.

One day I would love to be good enough to be a minion. I’ll never make it to shill status.

I read something rather horrifying in a book by a former hygienist (though she insisted she cured several people of cancer, she died of it in her 50s; her loving husband published the book posthumously in her honor):

“The AMA has a stranglehold on the sick. There is no effective competition for its methods. Alternatives are suppressed. In my version of a better world, if anyone that wanted to could hang out a shingle and offer to diagnose, treat and cure disease, a few quacks would really hurt a few people. But many genuine therapies would appear and the public would be exposed to workable alternatives. If anyone that wanted to market it could put a label on a bottle of pills, power or tincture that said its contents would heal or cure disease, yes, a few people would be poisoned. And a few would die needlessly by failing to get the right treatment. But on the positive side, all this liberty would result in countless new therapies being rediscovered and many new uses for existing substances would appear.”

This is from “How and When to be Your Own Doctor” by Isabel Moser.

In her book during rants about some treatments (she was an RN and supposedly had a PhD in psych) she would talk about the ‘first do no harm” ethic required in medicine.

When I read her closing comments (sorry, the book had all of the rubber-necking appeal of a train wreck – I just wanted to understand how they think this stuff up!) I was absolutely horrified.

“Sure, people might get poisoned by “medicine” someone concocts in their basement, and others might die because they go to someone with absolutely no training who is sure that they can heal people (or just wants to pretend to and make lots of money), but it is worth it so we can have “health freedom.”

I know that sometimes there are failures in our current system that lets that happen, but there are also processes in place to watch and if there is the possibility that at treatment or drug is causing injury, the drug is pulled. I can’t imagine the horror of living in a world where you would have no idea what treatment was safe, what doctor was qualified, etc.

Then again, it’s kind of what a lot of these parents of autistic children do – they throw away all reason and assurances and chase after anything that “promises” (no matter how flimsy the theory behind it) to give them back their child.

The rant mentioned earlier by the one blogger at AofA made me sad – I don’t think any of us think the parents are stupid – we think they are desperate and being taken advantage of by people who should not be allowed to. That’s not the same as stupid. They’re being victimized and it hurts their pride to hear it.

@tangentgirl –

I am so happy you shared that. I have been reading this blog for a few years now, and occasionally even bravely commenting. I have often wondered, with how firmly entrenched some can be in woo (I’m married to one, thus the nickname), if all of the deconstruction of faulty logic, etc., ever actually helped anyone begin to ask questions about their fears and look for better answers. It is good to hear that some actually listen!

Dear Lord Draconis Zeneca VH7iHL,

Your consort Lady Astra, She Who Must Be Obeyed, ran into me at the local Starbucks and asked me to inform you that the new mammal pet, Zeta Puppis, escaped his newspaper-lined potty-training capsule and somehow got into her lingerie drawer. The Lady Astra suggests that this might require her to make a few trips to Cadolle.

Ah, memories of a cylinder of green jello with pineapple rings. Though i much preferred the pineapple upside down cake made in the big cast iron skillet.

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