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How “they” view “us”

Those of us who dedicate considerable time and effort to combatting quackery generally do it because we think we’re doing good. Certainly, I wouldn’t spend so much time nearly every evening blogging the way I do if I didn’t think so. It’s true that I also enjoy it, but if I were doing this just for enjoyment I’m sure I could manage to find other topics that I could write about. In actuality, way back in deepest darkest beginnings of this blog, I did write about a lot of other things. My skeptical topics were more general in nature, encompassing not just medicine but evolution versus “intelligent design” creationism, religion, Holocaust denial, history, and even the occasional foray into politics. Over time such diversions became rarer, to the point where I hardly ever write about topics other than medicine anymore. I think that the reason for that is simple: It’s what I’m most passionate about, and I think it’s where I can do the most good. Like most bloggers supporting skepticism and, in particular, science-based medicine, I think of myself as doing my part to educate, hopefully in an entertaining fashion, and I’ve been rewarded with one of the more popular medical blogs out there and a small degree of notoriety. Indeed, I sometimes think of myself as a microcelebrity, because I have a little bit of fame, but it doesn’t really extend outside of the blogosphere. That’s fine with me.

It’s often instructive, however, lest I become too smug or comfortable, to take note of how the “other side” thinks of those of us who try to promote SBM and, in doing so, educate the world about quackery. The way we think of ourselves does not resemble in any way what the quacks and antivaccinationists think of us. At some level this is not surprising. After all, any of us who’ve been at this for a while and managed to accumulate enough of an audience to be noticed by the “other side” will be subject to charges that we are “pharma shills,” hopelessly in the pay of big pharma. To the “other side,” obviously that must be why we do what we do, because we can’t possibly be doing this because we’re passionate about our beliefs. It’s such a common (and specious) attack that more than seven years ago I coined a term for it (at least I think I coined the term—I can’t find its use before my first post on it), the “pharma shill gambit.”

However, how we are seen by our opponents goes is much worse than mere allegations of undisclosed conflicts of interest, in which (apparently) nefarious drug companies are paying us to sit at our computers in our underwear turning out attack after attack on antivaccinationists and practitioners of “natural healing.” I was reminded of this recently. Let’s revisit briefly a post I did about Stanislaw Burzynski last week. As you recall, I’ve been very critical of Burzynski on a number of occasions for his peddling of ineffective “antineoplastons,” his promotion of what I have referred to as “personalized gene-targeted cancer therapy for dummies,” his playing fast and loose with human subjects protections in the numerous clinical trials he runs, and his arrogance of ignorance. Basically, I view Burzynski as someone who is incompetent as an oncologist and highly unethical as a researcher charging patients huge sums of money to be in his clinical trials that never seem to end up being published.

So last week I noted that word had appeared around some skeptical blogs that a patient’s family that reported that apparently the FDA is in the process of auditing the Burzynski Clinic, that Burzynski hasn’t been able to use antineoplastons in children for a few months now, and that apparently he’s also been banned from administering antineoplastons to adults as well. I kept the identity of the patient confidential, as did other bloggers writing about the family’s post. However, today I learned that the family has learned about how their post has leaked out. More importantly, I learned how they view those of us trying to report on Burzynski’s activities:

It has come to my attention that there are some uninvited guests following our posts about Alynn. Even with all our progress and good news, anti-Burzynski weirdos find ways to take information I privately post and exploit it as negative criticism. I will be upping the security on our site and removing certain users from allowing access to our account. If I block you by mistake, please take a moment and send me a message. Friends, family, friends of friends.. you should know how to contact me. I will gladly add you back. If I have never met you, and you have good reason to follow our page, even if you are just curious about Burzynski and have come across our story, I will add you back if I can verify your intent is not malicious.

Yes, there are anti-Burzynski groups. Makes no sense to me why these people waste time and want to take away our freedoms. Fortunately, they only have each other and no one really cares about all the effort they put into creating articles and web pages and blabber. I never even heard of such people! I wonder if these cavemen even have iphones yet, I’m surprised they can work the computer. I debated making Alynn’s page public, but I am not into exploiting my child, as these groups are into exploiting children and adults, mainly those who are no longer with us who happen to be patients of the clinic. What I have found in following some facebook pages of kids with terminal illnesses, it seems there are always those people that think they know everything and post really evil, heartless comments. Apparently, I’m not immune to this.

Please do not waste a second of your time trying to avenge are little hero and Dr. Burzynski. It really would do them great satisfaction to know that they rubbed someone the wrong way. Evil people feed off of aggravating others. Bad people have no place in our healing journey.

Yes, that’s right, and it might be jarring to some skeptics. In marked contrast to how I view most believers in pseudoscience such as antivaccinationism or patients pursuing dubious cancer therapies, which is that they are wrong, that they’ve made a horrible mistake, but that I can to some extent understand it on the basis of human nature, believers such as Burzynski patients and their families view us skeptics as downright evil. To some extent, one can understand this. These parents believe that Burzynski is the only hope for their terminally ill relatives to survive. They know they’ve made a decision that their doctors almost certainly tried to talk them out of. Rather than let in a modicum of doubt about that decision, it is easier to view those of us who are trying to combat the misinformation that is used to support his clinic and activities as heartless monsters, as enemies who are actively trying to prevent their children from being cured of cancer. And, yes, that is really, really how they view us.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at what Stanislaw Burzynski’s propagandist Eric Merola is now saying on his website about the “anti-Burzynski” bloggers:

Overall, you need to be able to think for yourself. Question everything, including me and this film. Feel free to verify all sources used for this film for yourself via the Sourced Transcript [link]. You will notice the “anti-Burzynski bloggers” refuse to do that or adhere to reputable sources. You might say, “they are preying on desperate cancer patients and families of cancer patients” by carelessly misleading their readers about Burzynski and his invention. This is a natural course of history when scientific innovation like this occurs, and is something that is to be expected. Never underestimate the irrationality of the human brain when it is confronted with something it doesn’t understand. These bloggers have an agenda, and are not open to rational discourse.

Our society is built on propaganda wars, and wars of information and disinformation. The fact that most people will basically believe anything they are told without bothering to find out if what they are told is true or not—makes them for easy prey, especially when they are dying of cancer. The writers of the “anti-Burzynski” bloggers know this—and take full advantage of this.

Of course, I did just that, going over Merola’s “sourced transcript” over a year ago in my original review of his movie. Be that as it may, notice the message being promoted. “Anti-Burzynski bloggers” are out there to keep you from being cured of cancer! They’re “preying on desperate cancer patients and families of cancer patients”! Why? Who knows? The best Merola can come up with is a variant of the Galileo Gambit, in which we skeptics apparently reflexively resist anything that’s different. In reality, if Burzynski had the goods, he could persuade us, which is why seeing Merola accuse us of “not being open to rational discourse” fried another one of my irony meters.

It’s not just Burzynski fans, either. Antivaccine activists also believe that skeptics and supporters of SBM are out to get them. For instance, last week I also took note of an internecine conflict developing among the crew at the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism. What interests me now is not so much the conflict itself, given that there haven’t been any new developments of which I’m aware, but some of the comments after one of the posts that brought it all to a boil, which are perhaps epitomized by this one about “ScienceBloggers”:

They really go so out of their way (mounting hate campaigns like “ditchJenny” etc. etc. and this is why I honestly doubt their “Oh we’re not paid shills,” claims. Real, open minded science people wouldn’t be so militant and many scientists/doctors actually disagree with them anyways! Someone mentioned that most of them are either young, impressionable types or older has-beens who get off on bashing others with social media. The more that I think about it, they’re above all, bullies, not pro-science people. I have several friends with MS and it makes me sick as to how they malign anything to do with CCSVI (when MS drugs have killed SOOO many more people than angioplasty ever will) – I believe 3 people have died due to angioplasty- mostly due to having been given stents which they don’t even put in veins anymore. There’s a jerky journalist in our town who actually uses “Science”blogs as his source of information to write on health topics which is really scary (and lazy). It is beyond pathetic that grown up people waste time trying to prop up the status quo in healthcare when it is so obvious that there are serious questions that need to be asked and answered to do with vaccines and questions also to issues of MS cause and treatment.

Yes, as I said before, they really, really hate us. They view us as the enemy, evil people who are actively trying to keep them from healing their children of autism, every bit as much as the parents of Burzynski patients view us as wanting to kill their children by preventing them from being treated by the Savior Burzynski. It is an attitude and view that is actively promoted by Wakefield and his ilk, as well as their supporters, the way Eric Merola tries to whip up paranoia about what he calls “anti-Burzynski bloggers,” and, I suspect, the way that the man who is being reported by commenters to have recently been hired as Burzynski’s new PR man, Wayne Dolcefino, will try to demonize and dismiss Burzynski’s critics. (I don’t have full confirmation yet, but, if it is true and Dolcefino is indeed Burzynski’s new PR flack, one wonders if Burzynski chose him because of his investigative journalism skills, which could facilitate digging dirt on Burzynski’s critics.) To them, we are not just wrong, but we are vile, contemptible, less than human pharma shills. That’s also why, like Burzynski patients, they go into full attack mode whenever there is criticism of their heroes, in particular Andrew Wakefield. These practitioners represent hope, and to attack them is to attack hope. We have to remember that criticism of people like Wakefield or Burzynski only serves drive their worshipers closer.

Now of this, however, is to say that we shouldn’t criticize them. Andrew Wakefield has done great harm, and as a cancer doctor and researcher I simply can’t abide Burzynski’s activities—and rightly so, in my opinion. Certainly, I’ve never pulled any punches. On the other hand, we do have to remember who are targets are and what our goals are. I have no expectation that I will ever be able to convince someone like the parents whom I quoted above. Occasionally, I actually do get through to such people, but it’s so infrequent that I can’t count on it. My goal is instead to put science-based information out there, so that the fence sitters and undecided can encounter it. If the occasional true believer listens, then I’ve done far better than I would ever expect.

In the meantime, I don’t make the mistake of thinking that in return for my efforts I will ever receive anything but hatred and contempt from the “other” side.

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]

396 replies on “How “they” view “us””

Time and time again, following accusations of fabrication by skeptics, I’ve asked Burzynski fans to specify any instance where I or any other Burzynski blogger linked on my blog has fabricated anything. Such requests have always gone unanswered.

Whereas I believe Burzynski critics take great care to be accurate and not to mislead, it seems Burzynski supporters are quite happy to sling mud, making broad, unfounded accusations, for which the only purpose can be to mislead.

And while the Science bloggers allow people like Didimus Judge Thomas and other Burzynski fans, to post on their blogs, the Burzynski fans and fans of other quacks and anti-vacs, are blocking all critical voices.

It strikes me that many Burzynski “fans” are not so much fans of doctor but of the narrative – the brave doctor with his alt med treatment fighting alone against the FDA and big pharma.

At no point does it appear to occur to them that if his treatment worked then he should have no trouble providing clinical evidence, no trouble sailing through his clinical trials, no trouble convincing anybody in the medical establishment to adopt his treatment. He’d be a billionaire from the success of his treatments and he’d have to build a wing on his house just to house all the trophies, awards and gifts that a grateful world would shower upon him.

He’s had 30 years to prove his treatment and he can’t even do that.

Sadly, Alynn will likely die of her cancer, Dr. B will have made a few more dollars and the parents will almost certainly continue to defend his sorry ass.

Burzynski will continue to lie and dance to keep making more money off of desperate, scientifically dim folks and get them to cheer him on in the face of no evidence.

It makes me sick how quackery supporters try to twist things. For example, when I debate antivaxxers from my country on the interent, they try to slip the notion that “people vaccinate because of big pharma propaganda that has programmed them to fear those “terrible” childhood diseases.” But no one has ever advertised or used the media to advocate the MMR, DPT, etc. vaccines. There are adverisments only for the HPV and flu jabs, but the companies have the full right to advertise them. Instead we are being flooded from literally everywhere by pseudoscience (homeopathy, structured water etc) which appears on every TV programme sooner or later. We lack skeptical bloggers but are full of forums and sites that promote conspiracies and alternative medicine. Doctors fail to defend vaccines on TV because they know absolutely nothing about the bad science and cherry picked data the quacks cite, so the only thing they can say is “This is not true” which of course makes them look pathetic. So it’s the other way around. What people really fear is vaccines, that’s why they don’t vaccinate and there are outbreaks.

The other pathetic attempt at twisting things is the accusation of us being closed minded and sheeple. Again, no. They don’t see (or maybe they do to some extent) that they have simply memorized a couple of lines which they repeat over and over again, never address the counter arguments and when they run out of lines, they start from the beginning all over again, like ****ing robots. For one has irreversibly become a sheeple, if they falsley think they are enlightened.

I’ve never understood how Big Pharma is supposed to profit from letting people die… Surely live patients are more profitable than dead ones? It’s an “Underpants Gnomes” strategy: suppress cancer cure > ???? > profit!

MikeMa- it’s statements like that which turn patients’ families against us. Speculating on the patient’s chances, calling them dim, these do no favours to people who are trying their best to do whatever it takes for their loved one.

These people invest a lot of time in research and try to come into these situations as well-informed as possible. They’re not stupid or scientifically dim. There is a lot of credible-sounding misinformation out there. But seeing things like this automatically turns them off, and they get turned off from any message that’s being delivered by people they see as “skeptics”.

@ Dunc, yeah, well that’s because all those cheap and natural cancer cures will make profits from the “very expensive posion” cease. Same with the other medicines. They don’t want to cure your high blood pressure so you can take beta-blockers for life and then there are the side effects which for which you have to take other pills and so on. A very well thought out profit chain, you know. They only acknowledge emergency aid and surgery. It’s been deliberately advanced to the current level so ‘no customers are lost”, because they will have to take them pills afterwards.

Reading patients/parents lash out at anyone who disagrees with their chosen source of hope and their determination to think positive is actually heartbreaking. Hope can be cruel sometimes. And my best friend is still dealing with the aftermath of a guy who was so convinced that he would recover from his metastatic cancer that, although urged, he didn’t make a will or do anything whatsoever about putting his affairs in order, leaving his family in a horrible mess when he died.

Dunc, I am trying to figure out what an ‘underpants gnomes’ strategy is.

I think a decent ‘what’s the harm’ study would be helpful. I think we all know people who have died because they chose alternative treatment over conventional, but do we have any idea what the scale of that might be? At the cancer agency I work for, up to 80% of patients use some kind of CAM, but how often that is in lieu of actual treatment is entirely unclear. Without knowing really how common it is, I have ended up arguing that I knew a woman who tried to cure her breast cancer with reiki (unsuccessfully, as you might image), which is just an anecdote like any other. Mind you, when the reiki master spoke at my friend’s open-coffin funeral, it was a bit much to take.

FionaG – look up “Gnomes (South Park)” in Wikipedia and read about their business plan.

Wow-O, that was kind of self righteous and self pitying. I worry about this “enemies” and backlash approach. Again, I am not a B camp follower, and I’m kind of annoyed about the P2 publishing record.

…coined a term…the “pharma shill gambit.”
As to people “on the other side,” I suspect some will see varied levels of involvement, with many “pharma shills” (and “CAM victims”) being what others have classed as “cannon fodder” or “useful idiots”.

One of the problems I’ve encountered here at R Insolence is the instant dismissal by some. With so many epithets and (ill founded)objections, these seem think that all CAM is bs. If two myths or wrong statements don’t make an guffaw correct, three or four apparently “prove” it. However, point blank, “skeptics” here frequently believe in urban legends where they have failed to do enough homework.

I also have encountered some skeptics trying to be consistently fair minded while properly skeptical, dealing with new views and information that contradict their previous perceptions and those common assertions. Praise to them. Mostly one is just skating on thin ice.

As for desparate patients and parents, the underlying problem is mainstream medicine’s failure to deliver timely, better solutions for many medical circumstances. Sometimes patients find good alternative biological resolutions, and sometimes they arrive at disaster. The average patient needs better tools and support to independently choose treatments, to bridge many serious gaps that exist in orthodox medicine.

There is a lot of credible-sounding misinformation out there.

QFT. There are some alt-med modalities that an educated layman should be able to figure out are bogus, such as homeopathy (anybody who has taken high school chemistry should be aware of Avogadro’s number) or touch therapy (then fourth grader Emily Rosa debunked this for a science fair project). But there are many others which are harder to spot. Burzynski’s antineoplastons are in this category. My background is physics, not biology, so I can’t explain the science of why this treatment is bogus as well as an expert like Orac can. And I can see how somebody who’s desperate to save a loved one would ignore the alarm bells that should be going off when a Burzynski tells them he can do it for a substantial price. Then the people who patronize Burzynski’s clinic double down when Orac et al. try to tell them antineoplastons are bogus–they want to believe that they are not victims of a con.

MedTek- It’s comments like yours that do our cause no justice. I’m sick and tired of all this politically correct nonsense. Since when were we suppose to be a bunch of PR puppets. Let’s face the reality of it. MikeMa is right. Alynn will die a painful death like others have. Sorry, but she will. Burzynski’s crap is just that. Crap. And we shouldn’t have to say it’s crap on one end and then sugarcoat it to death on the other so as to not offend “the public”. We’re saving the public by being real not fake.

I for one am sick and tired of it. If patients want to keep going to a quack then I for one will tell them they’re going to die and further that they’re idiots for continuing to seek a fraud given all this evidence. It’s not like they don’t have resources anymore. Get real. They have no pity from me at this point. It’s harsh, some might not like it, but I’m definitely not the only skeptic thinking this. That’s a fact.

Enough is enough and its time we called out everyone who’s funding this butcher burzynski, which includes his patients. If they would use half their brains for a second, burzynski would be done for. Simple as that.

Same old complaint prn? Now, what have you learned while you hang out here about CAM treatments? If a treatment has been proven to work after trials…then it becomes a standard of treatment.

Why hasn’t Burzynski enlisted any patients into his sole Stage III trial, prn?

The donor site for St. Jude Children’s Hospital is still open. Why not put your money where your mouth is, and make a small donation? Alternatively, you might make a small donation to any other cancer treatment center.

http://thehoustoncancerquack.com/

It’s all in how deep their ideas go, really. I’ve seen plenty of people who have an idea planted deep into their minds, and they cannot let it go no matter what. Someone who is losing a battle with cancer may very well be inclined to hope, and then someone else comes along and implants the idea that the cure for cancer is out there but the government is keeping it from them. The idea is seeded and grabs on because of that hoping for a miracle.

You can reason with folks like that. You can show them all the evidence in the world. But their mind is made up, and all we can do is carry on.

So, prn, you think the problem is that science is not working fast enough for some people? If that is the problem, how would you suggest that be resolved?

ABC: If you have a cure for high blood pressure go win yourself a Nobel prize. Beta blockers are the best we have had since the 1930s. They are used because they work, but unfortunately they work on many systems, not just blood pressure. Also, doctors try many things first before giving a patient beta blockers. They try to have the patient drink more water, quit smoking, get more exercise, lose weight, cut excess salt out of their diet. See, they are trying to cure it before giving medicine, the only way anyone knows how.
See, I have high blood pressure and no one ever tried to give me beta blockers so that they could give me more medicine. I actually have to take a biologic for it because it is immune system related.

“As for desparate patients and parents, the underlying problem is mainstream medicine’s failure to deliver timely, better solutions for many medical circumstances.”

In other words, science can’t make sh*t up as fast as CAM purveyers do.

Eric- well put, thanks.

I’ve yet to see nasty comments left on patient blogs or pages from skeptics. However, I’ve no doubt based on the behaviour of Burzynski fans on Twitter that they would have any problem at all posing as skeptics and doing such things. I also can envision “helpful” skeptics leaving anti-Burzynski comments in these places.

I’m certain however that patients are *told* this is going on regularly, whether or not it actually occurs. Certainly most of the people I know would never do such a thing. It’s all part of the campaign to paint the people shining the light on Burzynski as evil and anti-patient.

How do hey view us?
Today Alison MacNeil responds with a post @ TMR entitled:
“Dirty. Rotten. Scoundrels.”
Of course, she’s talking about how anti-vaxxers view those who support SBM, which echoes the sentiments currently a-buzz @ AoA.

“Mama Mac” creates a most wanted list of perpetrators of vaccine lies, i.e. SBM about vaccines. Oddly, our esteemed and gracious host doesn’ make the list, although a visitor to RI does. Ms MacNeil invents a new term, ” vaccine epidemic denier” which is applied to Roy Grinker, of GWU.. isn’t that where Jake Crosby is?

[email protected] Not really interested in B.
…treatment has been proven to work after trials…then it becomes a standard of treatment.
Many patients don’t want that degree of restrictions or expense, and want a different set of options. The current “standard” approvals and insurance system embraces a glacially slow system that often uses outdated techniques, sends patients home empty handed despite often cheap options, or forces them into being lab rats with little or less likelihood of personal success.

Also p=0.05 as “proven” is a self serving corruption of science and language, “officially approved” would be more correct.

@17: I don’t think medicine makes thorough use of the science and technology that are available, especially in assembling individual treatment options. Also I think that there are SBM modes that allow better trial options for the individual with faster overall learning curves than current EBM.

@Will – I don’t see MedTek arguing that we should take it easy on Burzynski to spare his patients, just that we should refrain from putting the patients down for wanting to believe in him. Be wary of succumbing to your own sense of self-righteousness – I personally see no benefit in heaping scorn on scared and desperate people who are grasping at straws to save themselves or a loved one. Fear and stress can cloud anyone’s better judgement, and Burzynski plays on that to rob people of large sums of money and the precious time they have left to live. Absolutely we should keep hammering at Scammyslaus Burzynski and exposing the lies he tells to vulnerable people, but being nasty to his victims is just playing into the stereotyped view of skeptics they hold.

Edith- correct.
I’d like to avoid all reference to patients if we could, however sometimes it’s unavoidable. I was really uncomfortable with Orac’s assessment of little Amelia’s MRI results, perhaps that was necessary but it did make me twitch a bit. We do see it time and time again where Burzynski reports a positive result only to later find that not to be the case. A Burzynski private patient was recently mocked on twitter by a Burzynski supporter for actually stating this aloud.

That’s useful information, part of his M.O. How can you point this out without referring to patients’ self reports? In the absence of any useful publication, you can’t. But man, it’s difficult.

When it comes to patients and parents opting for CAM, I think how one approaches it should vary depending on the situation. If the person is simply desperate for something, anything, to help, it may be more appropriate to take a softer approach. If there is imminent risk of serious harm as a result of the CAM, perhaps something a bit more firm. If they persist in CAM even after copious explanations of why that modality does not or has not yet been shown to work, one can be firmer yet. But if they are actively promoting it, beyond all evidence that it is reasonable, then calling them out and risking hurt feelings is, perhaps, warranted.

@prn

What system would you put in place of the current one? If you think the system is too slow, perhaps you should go back and take a look at early AIDS treatments. Those suffering from AIDS clamored for a solution, complaining about how slow the process was. The FDA heard their complaints and sped up approval of AZT. As it turned out, there were some very significant side effects of AZT that made the whole risk-benefit balance dodgy. Many of those who had asked for it to be approved faster realized, and admitted, that maybe a bit more time should have been taken to improve its safety.

Fast approval and safe approval is a very, very fine line. And there are some processes in science that simply cannot be rushed, because nature just doesn’t play by our timelines.

@DW – Mama Mac’s post reminds me of the infamous Burn Book from the movie Mean Girls, only less mature.

Todd W.:

And there are some processes in science that simply cannot be rushed, because nature just doesn’t play by our timelines.

Exactly. It still takes one woman about nine months to grow a baby. You cannot speed up the process by getting nine women to grow one baby.

Although both sides stigmatize the other, I think the reason they have to demonize us comes down to the implications behind “you don’t accept X because you don’t want it to be true” when X is something obviously and plainly good. This is where wishful thinking has an advantage over scientific skepticism. The things you wishfully wish for are always good things. Scientific skepticism is forced to follow the evidence where it leads.

So when skeptics see the other side in terms of “they’re stubborn because they don’t want a negative thing to be true” we don’t have to go after their character on that. They’re making mistakes because they’re guilty of poor reasoning. They’re wrong. They don’t have to be wicked.

But we have to be both wrong and wicked if we don’t believe in Burzynski/homeopathy/ESP/God not just because the evidence isn’t there — but because we don’t WANT it to be true. We’d rather people die of cancer than be wrong. That’s where they have to place us.

The anti-humanist approach is an anti-science one, and I think it can be summed up by the old quotation “For those who believe — no evidence is necessary; for those who don’t believe — no evidence is possible.” Knowledge is not seen as the result of a process; it’s the result of who you are. Instead of testing hypotheses and arriving together at tentative conclusions, the issue is thrust romantically into the view that we know things by being the right kind of person. You have to want things to be true before you can reason correctly. Faith over reason.

@ Sastra :

Agreed.
I would add that there is a great emotional element involved, as well as building self-esteem and brushing off damaged feelings. The beliefs of those I survey- especially the contrarians- have psychological benefits that surround
their own needs to feel better about themselves by deprecating those they feel are “elitists” or unfairly rewarded by society.

An old feminist psych study asked subjects why a ( ficitonal) female character found herself at the ‘ top of her class in med school’- the answers often say little about her ability or hard work ( unlike those when the character is male) but focus on cheating, she’s not a “real woman” ad nauseum.

People may believe what makes them feel better.

Ooops. I have to run.

.

people seem to think hornswoggling is no longer an issue, we’re all sophistos and above a good swoggling

prn sez: “I don’t think medicine makes thorough use of the science and technology that are available”

Do you mean the science and technology of homeopathy, applied kinesiology, live blood analysis, and Hulda Clarke zappers?

ABC: If you have a cure for high blood pressure go win yourself a Nobel prize

I read ABC’s comment #9 as anti-quack sarcasm.

Just so. I enjoyed the link to RI 2005 and links therein. Shills, zombies & killjoys, oh my.

I think the conclusions found in Seth Kalichman’s book, “Denying AIDS,” while focused on that particular topic, are applicable to the wider number of people in the “alt-med” crowd. To me it’s not out of character that AIDS denialists tend to be believers of “alternative medicine.” I recommend his book for some insights on the thinking of these people.

Alties don’t understand that you can take thousands of “real” scientists, unrelated and independent, from all parts of the world, lay out all the alt-med arguments for anti-vaxxine or Burzinsky, and these scientists will uniformly and independently shake their heads and say “what are they talking about?” at the least; or “quackery” at the most. Their training and understanding of the real science, of the unbelievable complexity of the human body and what it takes to obtain real evidence, brings them to consensus every time. It has nothing to do with “sheeple” and everything to do with knowing what you’re talking about because you actually DO the science.

The problem for real medicine is that when a lay person becomes ill, it’s very difficult to explain in a nutshell every complexity involved. Alt med, vaccine-causes-autism enthusiasts, etc. succeeds because there are more simplistic explanations that everyone can understand; so they feel as though they really did become educated and control of their own health. One of the mantras of my woo loving sisters is “it’s common sense!”. They have no concept of real evidence and real bias.

Ism, you’re correct. Unless a person studies they probably have unrealistic ideas about what is involved.

The quacks- and other alt med prevaricators- also work hard to convince their audience that they- the quacks et al – ARE experts and able to criticise the entire field of medicine ( they usually are faux-experts in psychology )- they also “teach” their audiences ‘science’.

A quack may go into great detail about his ( or her, but usually his) own studies and research as well as the opposition the ‘Orthodox ‘ world has displayed towards them. Alt med is interdependent with conspiracy mongering-they lead a symbiotic existence because woo needs to explain why its brilliance is not accepted by the mainstream by consensus- there has to be something opposing its assimilation into present day, state-of-the-art SBM.

Obviously the entrenched powers-that-be would be put out of business by these ground-shattering innovations: large enterprises would be replaced by new businesses that supplied the non-pharmaceutical technology. So these companies fight the scientific rebels tooth and claw in order to save their own economic skins.

We see woo-meisters thus expand their own area of (IN) expertise far beyond medicine into economics and politics to explain HOW the conspiracy that cut them out of their rightful place and success has come about. Usually the governments of the western world are implicated to explain how the dastardly deed was brought about and how the media spread the word. People like Jake and Gary and Mike spend a lot on time explaining the conspiracies that explain why woo is not accepted by everyone.

MY question to any alt med sympathiser is:
how can your informants- who often may be barely literate- be able to critique the entire structure of complex, multi-faceted fields like medicine- AND then be presumptuous enough to go far beyond that into social sciences?

No real expert would go that far a field.
They do because they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Ism: The other Altie mantra is “Have an open mind” when they, themselves, are totally closed to any sort of credible evidence.

prn – People react negatively to you because you’ve been regurgitating the same swill for years.

As was mentioned above, AZT was rushed through, and people died as a result.

In response to ‘blah blah insurance wah wah testing takes too long‘ I have two questions.

1. Are you aware that the world extends far beyond America’s borders?

2. Would you travel in a plane that had not been through performance trials and safety tests?

Sometimes it’s like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Personally, I aim to tell the full story as honestly as possible but at the same time, don’t want to be disrespectful or confrontational to patients or their families and try to avoid contacting them or linking directly, even though they might have already made the decision to go public in order to fundraise. So I generally avoid linking directly until it’s got to the point where that person is publicly criticising the clinic. At the same time, I don’t want to cherrypick, but I can still mention patients with positive stories in criticisms of the media (usually the local press), when they have been found to be publicising Burzynski by printing quick and easy personal interest stories which serve the purpose of advertising the clinic.

The standard response from the Burzynski supporters (@BurzynskiSaves, generally speaking) is to accuse critics of cherrypicking (by avoiding linking to patients’ fundraising campaigns) and often to then cc patients in on the conversation, and if you reply and still include the patient, to RT and make it look as though you are “attacking” patients.

Accusing skeptics of attacking patients is a useful tactic for them because it’s about all they’ve got. They might be able to dredge up the odd tweet, the odd tactless remark, or use some justified anger and twist it to make it look bad. This happens time and time again because of course, they are not able to provide evidence of the safety or efficacy of ANPs, or to explain any of the other many, varied, convoluted legal and ethical problems being brought up by skeptics.

seeing Merola accuse us of ‘not being open to rational discourse’ fried another one of my irony meters

I’ll bet that, for each year’s worth of blogging, you must spend a small country’s GDP in irony meters.

@ Josephine Jones:

You’re doing very important work. Thank you.
And more power to you.

Melissa G So… we’re trying to take away their freedom– to get conned?
Taking away peoples rights to decide for themselves, to try to do better than incomplete and often corrupted information processes that apply poorly to individual cases.

Also the ability bargain for a better price than debt slavery. Medicine still has areas where both cost and performance can be changed by an order of magnitude by intelligent investigation and synthesis. Literally life and death stuff.

[email protected] Fast approval and safe approval is a very, very fine line. And there are some processes in science that simply cannot be rushed, because nature just doesn’t play by our timelines.
Todd, often there are good, useful answers laying all around us, unused for non technical reasons. I would rather have more voluntary approval systems, like UL or Good Housekeeping.

[email protected]: prn sez: “I don’t think medicine makes thorough use of the science and technology that are available”
JN:Do you mean the science and technology of homeopathy, applied kinesiology, live blood analysis, and Hulda Clarke zappers?
No thanks, you can keep those. I mean better technology, techniques and results orientation.

[email protected] prn – People react negatively to you because you’ve been regurgitating the same swill for years.
Ok, so there are some resentful, insolent slow learners here.

1. Are you aware that the world extends far beyond America’s borders?
perhaps better than you do

Would you travel in a plane that had not been through performance trials and safety tests
Wrong analogy. Medicine is NOT nearly that objective, well defined, tested or performing.

Watching clinical medicine prattle about science can evoke images between the Cargo Cult, and the WWI generals that pushed another million people through the meat grinder with outdated tactics.

What better technology and science, specifically?

Objective, well defined and tested? Emily Rosa.

Melissa G So… we’re trying to take away their freedom– to get conned?
prn replied: “Taking away peoples rights to decide for themselves, to try to do better than incomplete and often corrupted information processes that apply poorly to individual cases.”

And how exactly is consumer protection supposed to work in your paradise? Because if you’re relying on the consumer having perfect information, frankly, I don’t see that happening. You seem worried about medicine’s slowness, imperfections, and “corrupted information”, but what about the outright frauds actively trying to part people from their money with no return value?

To continue the line of discussion raised by prn…
Imagine a sort of consumer-sourced form of medical feedback, where people confronted with a medical condition with a poor prognosis could report on their own results from non-FDA-approved treatments.

A mate of mine, when his colon cancer recurred, experimented with vitamin-C and a mushroom-based chemical. He had the advantage that his antibody levels were being monitored, so that the times when he was taking the treatments and the times when his pills were placebos could be compared to see if they had any effect on his metastases… in the event, they had no effect in Paul’s case, but he figured that the information might be useful for other people.

Is that similar to your line of reasoning, prn? See what works?
Two challenges occur to me. First is to stop unscrupulous people from gaming the system — the Burzynskis of the world on one hand, and Bad Pharma on the other. Second is to stop the crowd-sourcing contributors’ own biases from influencing their feedback.

If I understand rightly, prn wants a wide-open medical system where, every time someone comes up with an idea, it is not first tested and then cleared for sale by some agency, but is rather thrown out to be used or not by the public; and where regulators don’t ensure genuineness and quality control of products, but rather anyone can produce their own versions and offer the lowest prices.

This is a classic “consumer is king” scenario; but it supposes consumers having more power than they do in reality. Could everyone really rely on their own research to make good decisions, aided only by organizations with no regulatory power like UL or Good Housekeeping? And is the power of the free market, aided (perhaps) by lawsuits in cases of blatant malfeasance, sufficient to ensure that manufacturers do their job well? The history of the 19th century, before regulation, suggests that the answer to both those questions is emphatically no.

Furthermore, current research is tending toward an understanding that in most cases, premarket controls are more effective than postmarket penalties in raising quality. The main caveat is that regulators have to be independent of those they regulate, which government sometimes fails at.

@ MelissaG – Snake oil never seems to be part of the equation, at least not the one one has faith in. That one over there? That’s scientifically impossible. Caveat emptor rings callous.

UL (Underwriters Laboratories) is a safety consulting and certification company headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois… established in 1894 and has participated in the safety analysis of many of the last century’s new technologies, most notably the public adoption of electricity and the drafting of safety standards for electrical devices and components.

UL provides safety-related certification, validation, testing, inspection, auditing, advising and training services to a wide range of clients, including manufacturers, retailers, policymakers, regulators, service companies, and consumers.
UL is one of several companies approved to perform safety testing by the US federal agency… (OSHA). OSHA maintains a list of approved testing laboratories, which are known as Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories.

Herr doktor bimler.
An aggregate record (with PCP?), with much better patient records for treatments, blood, biomarkers and images could form a better elemental series of data for meta analysis. This is where insurance sponsored research could have made a difference, even for self experimentation.

Second is to stop the crowd-sourcing contributors’ own biases from influencing their feedback.
As long as we can track death, things should not get too out of whack on catastrophic illness with overall survival curves to bound claims.

More complete individual datasets can be powerful if applied broadly. What is sad is that only new molecules get much attention.

Gamers?
Sunlight, good competition and fraud suits/prosecutions are the principal tools, kind of Gresham’s law in reverse (good version displaces inferior), *in a free society*. When Gresham type law prevails (bad providers drive out the good), something is wrong with the society or laws. However, it has never been easy with strong promotional talent or messianic gone astray.

prn -We could call your new system ‘The Galt Protocol’* As we know, the free trade of ideas, products and information such as you describe, is simply impossible to subvert.

Death is your pass/fail indicator, seriously?

First – There are horrific health conditions (including some cancers) where death from the effects of the disease can take years, even decades. So using patient death as a black mark against a product might mean sanctioning something like ANPs if the initial test subjects were afflicted with cancers that are relatively indolent at first, only metastasising (and leading to death) ten or twenty years later.

Second, using patient death because of a drug as an indicator of quality (or lack thereof) is also flawed. There are dangerous and disruptive side effects that aren’t deadly, and also there’s the point that correlation does not imply causation. (see AoA, JABS, TMR etc). How would you prove that a subject/patient died because of the test drug rather than an underlying medical issue, or pure coincidence?

Finally, gaming your system would be easy. Using such a system to evaluate ANPs would show many “success” stories. These apparently successful cases would include patients who had the type of cancers that can be tackled by surgery or radiotherapy. What would stop unethical researchers from putting forth subjects, or from True!Believers! of the treatment from self-selecting to be studied, without disclosing surgery or radiotherapy from >six months prior?

Don’t forget the dexamethasone scam either. Pumping brain tumour patients full of glucocorticosteroids (a là Burzynski) can produce scans that appear to show that the patient is tumour free. How would your system deal with that?

BTW – Your constant mentioning of health insurance funding this, and [US agency of choice] evaluating that, puts the lie to the snide little remark you slithered out in response to the first question I asked upthread. You’re so totally mired in the US system that the only ~radical~ ideas you have are based on said system, as well as conveniently ignoring the inherent faults within it. But then that’s how Randroids roll, isn’t it?

*I think Ignatius J Reilly is a more fitting literary comparison to you,

The kind of arguments coming from prn, which seem to essentially be “get rid of regulation and let the market manage itself” are old. Really, really old. I mean, we tried that for quite a while. Know what we got? Regulation. The market cannot govern itself. Take a look back at history, circa 1890s-1906+. Every regulation that we have came about because the marketplace failed to protect consumers.

elburro – I wasn’t proposing a system, I was commenting on the nature of a free(r) society and indicators where it deviated into trouble.

You’re so eager to assume and attack me, you just make up sh– as you go along. Even Orac could tell you I might not be so mired in the US medical/insurance system after all. What I see are pathological, costly US medical models of failure being exported, and I don’t like it. So I comment on representatives or sources of the problem, like the US FDA.

“…catastrophic illness” as in death is coming soon, was what I addressed, with Overall Survival as a hard measure to back up to any other measure.

If terminal patients can’t be allowed total freedom to choose the treatments that they will afford, then claims of a free society are more bogus than any buffoon you can name.

Stuff words in someone’s mouth and stab them. Pseudoskeptic über alles.

“Every regulation that we have came about because the marketplace failed to protect consumers.”

Shhh!!! You’ll upset Ron Paul, and he’ll sic a U.N. agency on this website to take it over (like he’s attempting with ronpaul.com).

[email protected]
One of the problems that I have experienced, is that superior foreign drugs that have gone generic overseas STILL aren’t available in the US or were delayed by decades and then priced as if new. This has happened to my family several times.

And one may not even be able to travel to the US with a clearly life saving foreign drug that cannot be switched to an inferior FDA approved version without problems or risks.

…regulators have to be independent of those they regulate, which government
sometimes fails at.
….usually fails at. It’s called “regulatory capture.”

[email protected] Every regulation that we have came about because the marketplace failed to protect consumers.
…or the legal system failed to do its job on torts and frauds. Poor, reactive legislation may be like cumulative radiation damage that eventually kills the organism. In part the “regulatory capture” thingie is a sure poison.

I wonder how a freer market would handle Thalidomide? Even after tests it appeared to have horrible side-effects. At least after this, medicines were tested even more thorougly. Prn would turn this back? Let the consumer decide?

OK, there’s a 74 year old man, Tom, diagnosed with stage 3 NSCLC; he sold his business a few years ago and moved to the country; he is under ((shudder)) socialised medicine, so no money worries.

What’s he to do? Start doing internet research to find the most appropriate treatment ? Inquire over the alt med blogs to find what’s cooking in Thailand or Hong Kong? Mail order drugs that aren’t approved where he lives?

I should mention that he was diagnosed when he came down with pneumonia and couldn’t breathe ( Nov 2012).
And he may have been brilliant at running his own business but he never studied biology or medicine.
How realistic is it to play games when you are seriousy ill?
(-btw- a real person. my cousin)

*I think Ignatius J Reilly is a more fitting literary comparison to you,

The health care system does not need regulation, just some proper theology and geometry!

The free market could only self-regulate if everyone involved was a perfect Mary Sue nexialist with expert critical thinking skills, time to spare, and other resources needed to do all their own research. This is not a realistic view of humanity, and not how I’d want to live. I want division of labor so that I can safely rely on experts to do their work if I want to, so that I can spend my free time doing things I like.

I’d think such a system would produce more bean-counting: It’s not about the danger, it’s about how widespread the knowledge of that danger is, and how that knowledge will affect sales figures.

It’s also not about how effective a treatment is, it’s about how many marks you can trick into thinking it’s effective. This situation would be a dream come true for quacks who know that they’re quacks. That’s often a big problem I see whenever someone talks about deregulating the medical industry: It never seems to occur to them that medical fraud is both easy and profitable, and would become widespread for those reasons.

There is an odd idea out there that only the people who share the same views as you should be allowed to read or say anything about what you write. Where do this sense of entitlement come from? If you post it publicly, it’s not off limits to discuss it: if you don’t want it discussed by others, don’t post it!

The same people who scream about health freedom are the ones who also insist on destroying freedom of speech.

2 random thoughts:
Recently had to explain to someone I thought they were getting ripped off by a business. One the one hand I felt extremely bad for them because it means lost money and lost emotional investment. On the other hand I felt glad because they are now more aware of what to look for with scams, and can do their best to make plans and keep documentation, etc just in case they actually are in trouble. I apologised so many times even I got sick of hearing it, and the other person was actually glad to be informed about this potential problem. What’s worse is the person felt like they were at fault, and I had to remind them that if someone falls for a scam, the guilty party is not the victim. (If I sound like an evil, callous person, then I obviously am needing a new dictionary) I agree with Medtek and Todd W in that the manner in which you do this makes all the difference. (@Will, we should be polite and tactful to victims or potential victims, but we should raise hell when dealing with the suppliers of woo)

Secondly, this week I was saddened to overhear a family member recommend another family member (regulars will recall I mentioned this provider) who offers woo. Literally shilling over the phone to someone about them.

The second makes me feel worse, because you don’t want people to get hurt; in the first case the person may be hurt but at least he has all the information he needs to make up his own mind as to what to do.

And that, my friends, is our goal – people should have all the info, not just some.

Keep up the good work!

Oh, and if I end up in Merola’s film because Squidymus is actually involved somehow, I’ll be laughing… because it’ll just prove how ridiculously bad they are at offering facts.

And what’s with the continued barking about being in attics and parent’s basements. You’d think they’d grow out of the high school mentality that people with computers are somehow second-class citizens.

@Eric Lund

There are some alt-med modalities that an educated layman should be able to figure out are bogus, such as homeopathy (anybody who has taken high school chemistry should be aware of Avogadro’s number)

I didn’t learn Avogadro’s number at school, but then also didn’t know what homeopathy was. I just assumed it was ‘natural’ herbs, unprocessed as compared to synthetic medicine. I suspect that’s how it gets under the radar for most people.

@MedTek

It’s all part of the campaign to paint the people shining the light on Burzynski as evil and anti-patient.

One thing I’ve learned is that if you’re a good, ethical business, you don’t need to fend off critics, nor do you need an anti-critic PR campaign. You just get on with your work.

@flip

And what’s with the continued barking about being in attics and parent’s basements

Damn straight. I have my *own* basement, thank you very much.

You mean you guys get paid to do this? Where can I apply to become a paid shill for the pharmaceutical industry? 😉

PRN,
Your proposed ideas about de-regulation sound a lot like the breast cancer patient support forum I visit. There are two sub-forums specifically for woo (“alternative” and “complementary”) where, in effect, no questions are allowed and anything goes. Basically, any sort of “regulation” by posting of evidence-based information is disallowed.

What you end up with is a forum full of breast cancer patients (or poseurs) advising each other to avoid the evil cut-burn-poison that “orthodox Western” doctors offer, and instead to self-treat their breast cancer with laetrile, oleander, compounded hormones, vitamins, coffee enemas, iodine, and all sorts of other nonsense you can imagine (and some you couldn’t!). They swear by their “naturopathic oncologists” and their mail-order scammy pathology labs. They advise each other (prescribe?) on specific treatments, dosages, supplements, and products, with accompanying sciency-sounding claims of efficacy and cherry-picked data. They promote misinformation, conspiracy theories, scare tactics, and miracle cures directly to a huge forum of breast cancer patients.

Can you really not see the harm in this one specific example of “free-market” health information?

UL (Underwriters Laboratories) is a safety consulting and certification company headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois…

And the Good Housekeeping Seal, one of the strangest invocations I could imagine in this context short of the Better Business Bureau, is an advertiser-driven limited-warranty operation.

Your proposed ideas about de-regulation sound a lot like the breast cancer patient support forum I visit.

Seems to me that people are self-experimenting anyway (here “experimenting” is a term of art meaning “engaging in a certain amount of magical thinking”). If some internet infrastructure could be constructed for recording and collating their results (as I was thinking aloud in #47), that might address some of prn’s concerns, while obtaining some information… in the cases where the unrecognised treatment has *some* foundation and is not Black Salve or Magical Iodine or whatever.

I am deeply skeptical that this would work (given the signal / noise ratio), but a few years ago I was equally skeptical that a community-based data-pooling system like Wikipedia could ever become a useful resource, so my skeptical intuitions don’t mean much.

I do not know whether prn wants to *abolish* the FDA (which seems to be the general response), or is interested in a kind of parallel system. Anyway, tthis is thinking aloud, from someone who does not have a poor-prognosis condition (apart from age) and can afford to regard it as an intellectual game.

Slight diversion: the Wall St. Journal today published letters in response to its recent op-ed, “Rolling Back the War on Vaccines”. Most of them agreed with the premise of the article (that better education of parents is needed to overcome resistance to immunization). One puzzling response came from a professor at the UC-Irvine med school, Frances Jurnak, who says the article ignored “the elephant in the room” (rare serious harm due to vaccines) and that “rather than spend money trying to convince parents to ignore the potential harm to their own children”, we should use money to determine which children are at risk and ways to safely vaccinate them (sort of an educated version of “green our vaccines”). My open letter to Dr. Jurnak:

Dear Dr. Jurnak:

I read with interest your letter to the Wall St. Journal (published today) in response to the op-ed about antivaccine sentiment (“Rolling Back The War On Vaccines”).

I can understand how someone chooses to focus on rare serious side effects caused by vaccines instead of mentioning what others consider the “elephant in the room” – much more common serious effects of vaccine-preventable diseases.

What puzzles me, however, is your suggestion that we should spend money on improving vaccine safety _instead_ of encouraging parents to get their children immunized. Are these two goals mutually exclusive? I don’t believe so – and in fact there is a great deal of continuing research on how to ensure that vaccines are as safe as possible (a PubMed literature search turns up more than 11,000 papers dealing with the subject).

We are never going to make vaccination (or any medical intervention) 100% safe, as I’m sure you realize. Seeing as how vaccination has been a hugely successful public health initiative and has an excellent safety record, arguing against efforts to promote it on the grounds that it should be utterly devoid of risk seems counterproductive to me.

May I re-introduce the Wakefield-v-BMJ et al libel action in Texas. This seems to have ground to a halt. It’s at Appeal stage, here’s the link to the court record: http://www.3rdcoa.courts.state.tx.us/opinions/case.asp?FilingID=17395 which should by now have seen the appellees’ response filed by February 4th, but nothing reported actually since oral argument request lodged by appellants on January 4th. Has that caused an hiatus? Are there any familiar with Texas appeal court procedures out there, or maybe actually know what’s going on? Total silence.

Herr doktor bimler,
In a perfect world, the database of self-reported results of alternative treatment might fly, but in the real world, it would be about as meaningful as VAERS. On the alternative forum at BCO, they report results like tumor size measured by school ruler or what their “gut” tells them, or their lab results from scammy mail-order labs like Doctors Data and others.

The thing that really gets to me is that most of the people posting there (supposedly being fellow cancer patients) and promoting these “alternative” therapies just so happen to be affiliate marketers or sellers of woo themselves.

Hello, I wish the two sides of the argument were not viewing this as a ‘war’. I believe you and your commenters are sincere and informed individuals but I don’t agree with all you say. In my humble opinion there IS evidence for SOME people being harmed by a vaccine – for example: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/22/us-narcolepsy-vaccine-pandemrix-idUSBRE90L07H20130122 and therefore there exists the possibility that vaccines are neither 100% safe nor effective even given the fact that vaccination is capable of preventing certain diseases.
However, if you consider the annual ‘flu jab there has been scientific evidence that it is nowhere near as efficacious as we are led to believe: http://www.kare11.com/news/article/994888/391/U-of-M-study-challenges-effectiveness-of-flu-vaccine so why try to persuade everyone to be vaccinated every year? The manufacturers can only guess at which strains will ‘attack’ us anyway. Where I live many people have had flu-like symptoms whether or not they were vaccinated. In my family no-one has the ‘;flu jab but we haven’t had ‘flu for many a year either.
It also concerns me that young babies are being injected more and more and often against several illnesses at a time. Has anyone (apart from so-called quacks) researched the longterm effects of this on a child’s development?
The incidence of some childhood diseases may have declined since the introduction of vaccines but the incidence of autism and other developmental problems seems to have increased. Is this just a coincidence? Why not seriously try to find out?
Many doctors accept – dare I say ‘blindly’ -that vaccination is the best thing since sliced bread but in the recent case of the whooping cough vaccine for pregnant women even the makers own website stated that it was NOT RECOMMENDED during pregnancy because they had not researched the effect on foetal development. Yet doctors were promoting it as a wonderful way of preventing whooping cough. Don’t they have time to read the smallprint??.
Quite honestly, until or unless someone can PROVE that it doesn’t do any harm I’d rather not pump a baby full of chemicals/dead viruses etc.
But I do believe that everyone has the right to make their own informed decisions about healthcare . I respect your views on vaccination and I hope we can agree to disagree in a civilised fashion.

therefore there exists the possibility that vaccines are neither 100% safe nor effective even given the fact that vaccination is capable of preventing certain diseases.

Only fools would think anything is 100% safe or effective: scientists and doctors never state this anyway.

As for the rest of your comment, try reading the other posts here on vaccinations. You’ll find all your questions and more have already been dealt with. Your whole comment in fact is a regurgitation of every single anti-vax talking point ever invented. Including a “prove the negative” fallacy.

Well, as I said, you have every right to make a choice but unless something is guaranteed safe (OK 100% is asking a lot) then I think there’s no harm in considering carefully before accepting the risk. And what’s wrong with expecting some research into the longterm effects of vaccinating babies with more and more chemicals? Do you honestly believe that there’s absolutely NO harm in giving more and more shots? Don’t you think we should find out just how much of a risk there is?
Anyway, as flic has dismissed my comments as worthless I suppose I’ve poked my nose into the wrong website. Sorry!!

The incidence of some childhood diseases may have declined since the introduction of vaccines but the incidence of autism and other developmental problems seems to have increased. Is this just a coincidence?

Not a coincidence but instead the result of a number of factors unrelated to vaccination:broadening of diagnostic criteria, diagnostic substitution, increased surveillance, etc.
You actually describe what’s happened quite accurately by your use of the phrase “seems to have increased”

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