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Science. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I’ve discussed on many occasions over the years how antivaccine activists really, really don’t want to be known as “antivaccine.” Indeed, when they are called “antivaccine” (usually quite correctly, given their words and deeds), many of them will clutch their pearls in indignation, rear up in self-righteous anger, and retort that they are “not antivaccine” but rather “pro-vaccine safety,” “pro-health freedom,” “parental rights,” or some other antivaccine dog whistle that sounds superficially reasonable. In the meantime, they continue to do their best to demonize vaccines as dangerous, “toxin”-laden, immune-system destroying, brain-damaging causes of autism, autoimmune diseases, asthma, diabetes, and any number of other health issues. To them, vaccines are “disease matter” that will sap and contaminate their children’s precious bodily DNA. After all, as I like to say, that’s what it means to be “antivaccine.” Well, that combined with the arrogance of ignorance.

If there’s one thing that rivals how much antivaccinationists detest being called “antivaccine,” it’s being called antiscience. To try to deny that they are antiscience, they will frequently invoke ridiculous analogies such as claiming that being for better car safety does not make one “anti-car” and the like. It is here that the Dunning-Kruger effect comes to the fore, wherein antivaccine activists think that they understand as much or more than actual scientists because of their education and self-taught Google University courses on vaccines, that their pronouncements on vaccines should be taken seriously. If there are two antivaccine blogs that epitomize the Dunning-Kruger effect, they are Age of Autism and, of course, the most hilariously inappropriately named given her history, but nonetheless it’s worth taking a look at her latest post, Anti-science: “You Keep Using That Word. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means.”

Actually, it does. And if The Professor is going to spend nearly 7,000 words riffing on a title derived from a famous The Princess Bride quote, my retort can only be: “Science. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Not surprisingly, “The Professor” feels compelled to begin by asserting her alleged science bona fides. Describing herself as a “geeky physics major” who nonetheless has the temerity to “question” vaccine science, she declares herself “irritated enough by this journalistic trend to rebut to the popular conception of those who question vaccine science as ‘anti-science.'” What appears to have particularly irritated her and sparked this screed is a rather good article by Joel Achenbach from the March issue of National Geographic entitled Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science? “The Professor” is particularly incensed by a passage in the article in which Achenbach makes the case that people who “doubt science” are, as she puts it, “driven by emotion.” Of course, that’s not exactly the argument that Achenbach does make. His argument, as you will see if you read his article, is considerably more nuanced than that. Rather, Achenbach points out observations that have been discussed here time and time again, such as how the scientific method sometimes leads to findings that are “less than self-evident, often mind-blowing, and sometimes hard to swallow,” citing Galileo and Charles Darwin as two prominent examples of this phenomenon, as well as modern resistance to climate science that concludes that human beings are significantly changing the climate through our production of CO2. Not surprisingly, Darwin’s theory is still doubted by many today based not on evidence but rather on its conflict with deeply held fundamentalist religious beliefs.

Achenbach also makes this point:

Even when we intellectually accept these precepts of science, we subconsciously cling to our intuitions—what researchers call our naive beliefs. A recent study by Andrew Shtulman of Occidental College showed that even students with an advanced science education had a hitch in their mental gait when asked to affirm or deny that humans are descended from sea animals or that Earth goes around the sun. Both truths are counterintuitive. The students, even those who correctly marked “true,” were slower to answer those questions than questions about whether humans are descended from tree-dwelling creatures (also true but easier to grasp) or whether the moon goes around the Earth (also true but intuitive). Shtulman’s research indicates that as we become scientifically literate, we repress our naive beliefs but never eliminate them entirely. They lurk in our brains, chirping at us as we try to make sense of the world.

Most of us do that by relying on personal experience and anecdotes, on stories rather than statistics. We might get a prostate-specific antigen test, even though it’s no longer generally recommended, because it caught a close friend’s cancer—and we pay less attention to statistical evidence, painstakingly compiled through multiple studies, showing that the test rarely saves lives but triggers many unnecessary surgeries. Or we hear about a cluster of cancer cases in a town with a hazardous waste dump, and we assume pollution caused the cancers. Yet just because two things happened together doesn’t mean one caused the other, and just because events are clustered doesn’t mean they’re not still random.

We have trouble digesting randomness; our brains crave pattern and meaning. Science warns us, however, that we can deceive ourselves. To be confident there’s a causal connection between the dump and the cancers, you need statistical analysis showing that there are many more cancers than would be expected randomly, evidence that the victims were exposed to chemicals from the dump, and evidence that the chemicals really can cause cancer.

This, of course, is an excellent description of antivaccinationists, except that they no longer accept the precepts of science with respect to vaccines but cling to their “naive beliefs.” They rely on personal experience and anecdotes rather than statistics with respect to the question of whether vaccines cause autism, and no amount of science, seemingly, can persuade them otherwise. The Professor herself is a perfect example of this. She believes herself to be “pro-science” and so she is when science tells her what she wants to believe. When it does not, as in the case of vaccines and autism, she rejects it, spreading her disdain from just vaccine science to all of science. Indeed, her entire post is in general a long diatribe, even more than Orac-ian in length, consisting mainly of three key arguments: the “science was wrong before” trope; the “peer review is shit” trope; and the “pharma shill” gambit.

Achenbach notes that even for scientists the scientific method is a “hard discipline.” And so it is, because, after all, scientists are no less human than any other human being. The only difference between us and the rest of humanity is that we are trained and have made a conscious effort to understand the issues discussed above. We know how easy it is to confuse correlation with causation, to exhibit confirmation bias wherein we tend to remember things that support our world view and forget things that do not, and to let wishful thinking bias us. Even knowing all of that, not infrequently we fall prey to the same errors in thinking that any other human being does. Nowhere is this more true than when we wander outside of our own field, as the inaptly named Professor does when she leaves the world of physics and discusses vaccines or when, for example, a climate scientist discusses vaccines.

The hilarity begins when The Professor cites philosopher Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Even more hilariously, The Professor quotes extensively from the Wikipedia entry on Kuhn’s book, rather than from Kuhn himself. Kuhn’s main idea was that science doesn’t progress by the gradual accretion of knowledge but tends to be episodic in nature. According to Kuhn, observations challenging the existing “paradigm” in a field gradually accumulate until the paradigm itself can no longer stand, at which point a new paradigm is formed that completely replaces the old. Kuhn’s view of science is a fascinating topic in and of itself and I haven’t read that book in many years. However, most scientists tend to dismiss many of Kuhn’s views for several reasons, in particular because Kuhn tends to vastly exaggerate the concept of “paradigm shift.” Particularly galling is his concept of “normal science,” where in the interregnum between scientific revolutions he portrays scientists doing “normal science” (science that is not paradigm-changing) as essentially dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s of the previous revolution. (It’s a very dismissive attitude toward what the vast majority of scientists do.) Indeed, Kuhn’s characterization of the history of science has been referred to as a caricature, and I tend to agree. Certainly, at the very least he exaggerates how completely new paradigms place the old, when in reality when new theories supplant old theories the new must completely encompass the old and explain everything the old did plus the new observations that the old theory cannot. As Cormac O’Rafferty puts it, “The new can only replace the old if it explains all the old did, plus a whole lot more (because as new evidence is uncovered, old evidence also remains).” The best example for this idea that I like to cite is Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, which did not replace Newtonian physics, but rather expanded on Newtonian physics, which is what relativity simplifies down to when applied to velocities that are such a small fraction of the speed of light that relativistic contributions drop out of the equations because they are so close to zero that it is reasonable to approximate them as zero.

None of these nuances are for The Professor. She misuses and abuses Kuhn to construct a “science was wrong before” argument that is truly risible:

It would seem likely that a journalist writing a high-profile article on science for National Geographic would not only be aware of Kuhn’s work, but would also understand it well. Achenbach seems to understand the evolution of science as inherently provisional and subject to change when new information comes in, but then undercuts that understanding with the claim, “The media would also have you believe that science is full of shocking discoveries made by lone geniuses. Not so. The (boring) truth is that it usually advances incrementally, through the steady accretion of data and insights gathered by many people over many years.”

This statement is patently false. First off, the mainstream media tends to downplay, if not completely ignore, any contributions of “lone geniuses” to science, as exemplified by the 2014 Time magazine cover story proclaiming “Eat Butter! Scientists labeled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong.” Suddenly, everyone was reporting that consumption of fat, in general, and saturated fat, in particular, is not the cause of high serum cholesterol levels and is not in fact bad for you. “Lone geniuses” (also known as “quacks” in the parlance of the old paradigm) understood and accepted these facts 25-30 years ago and have been operating under a completely different paradigm ever since, but it wasn’t until 2014 that a tipping point occurred in mainstream medical circles and the mainstream media finally took note.

Um. No. This change, which arguably The Professor vastly overstates, came about through the very accretion of knowledge. Moreover, as much as I castigate David Katz for his nonsense on other issues (such as his embrace of homeopathy “for the good of the patient”), he did get it (mostly) right when he criticized this ridiculous TIME magazine article for many shortcomings and exaggerations, not the least of which is that there never was a “war on dietary fat” and the seeming attitude that it’s OK to eat all the fat you want now. In any case, this is not the “paradigm shift” that The Professor seems to think it is. Rather it was a correction, which is what science does. The process is often messy, but science does correct itself with time.

Next up, of course, is an attack on peer review, something without which no antivaccine article is complete. Of course, criticism of the peer review process is something many scientists engage in. As I like to paraphrase Winston Churchill quoting a saying about democracy, “It has been said that peer review is the worst way to decide which science is published and funded except all the others that have been tried.” Yes, the peer review process is flawed. However, as is the case with attacks on the very concept of a scientific consensus, when you see general attacks on the concept of peer review, it’s usually a pretty good indication that you’re dealing with a crank. There is little doubt that The Professor is a crank. Naturally, she can’t resist including a section that is nothing more than a big pharma shill argument claiming that the science showing that vaccines are safe and effective must be doubted because everyone’s in the pocket of big pharma. No antivaccine article is complete without a variant of that tired old trope.

Hilariously, The Professor ends by arguing that all that tired, boring, old “normal science” (to borrow Kuhn’s term) is wrong and that True Scientists who perform “Revolutionary Science” (quoting Martha Herbert in the introduction to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.‘s pseudoscientific new anti-thimerosal screed, of all things!) all have “intuition”:

The ability to “utilize this subtlety and context to make important distinctions” that Herbert describes constitutes the difference between the scientific revolutionaries and those who will continue defending an error until long past the point that it has been well and truly proven to be an error. It is an ability that Albert Einstein possessed to a larger degree than most. Einstein felt that “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” And that “All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. I believe in intuition and inspiration . . . . At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason.” Interestingly, another well-known scientist whom many consider to have been “revolutionary” was known to place a great deal of emphasis on intuition. Jonas Salk, the creator of the first inactivated polio vaccine to be licensed, even wrote a book called Anatomy of Reality: Merging Intuition and Reason.

Of course, the problem that The Professor overlooks is that in science intuition is nothing if it doesn’t lead to results that are supported by data. Moreover, I would argue that what we have here in those who fetishize “intuition” in science is a massive case of that most human of failures of reason: Confirmation bias. We as scientists remember the times when our intuition ended up being validated and forget the almost certainly much more numerous times when our intuition either led nowhere or even led us astray. Yes, even Albert Einstein and Jonas Salk. Indeed, when called out by a commenter for most likely exhibiting confirmation bias about intuition in science and having it pointed out to her that intuition must never trump data, The Professor proves me right:

Confirmation bias on my part, huh? I have to say that that is absolutely untrue. It took me quite a long time to honor and rely on my intuition, and despite the fact that it is proven right over and over again, I STILL sometimes let my conscious mind override it to my regret. I didn’t understand intuition at all when I was younger and thought “hunches” were silly. In all that time, I have virtually never heard anyone say that “I really regret following my intuition on that, while I have frequently heard the latter — often from parents who have lost their children.

No one is saying “I don’t care what the data says.” I have NEVER said that. I read the data. I analyze the data. And I know it DOESN’T say what the mainstream media says it says — ever noticed that you can’t watch a show on TV these days without a few ads for drugs? I’ve read many of those “studies that show vaccines are safe” and I know their limitations — and they are vast. So, nope. Sorry.

So, first The Professor paints herself as a reluctant convert to trusting her intuition. If we’re going to play a war of anecdotes, I could list quite a number of times when I “trusted my intuition” and later regretted it. Her argument here is the very essence of confirmation bias. She remembers the times her intuition led her where she wanted to go, as well as the times she didn’t listen to her intuition and things didn’t turn out well, and forgets the rest. Then, basically, The Professor foes on to rationalize her relying on her “intuition” over data with respect to vaccines and autism by eliminating that cognitive dissonance. She does that by convincing herself that she doesn’t let her “intuition” trump the data in the case of vaccines because she doesn’t think the data show what scientists think the data show, namely that vaccines are safe and effective, do not cause autism, do not harm the immune system, and do not cause all the evils that Dunning-Kruger poster children like The Professor think they do.

Demonstrating her even more inept understanding of epidemiology and medicine, The Professor then goes on to ask:

Anenbach makes the argument that our intuition will lead us astray, encouraging men to get a prostate-specific antigen test, for instance, even though it’s no longer recommended because studies have shown that on a population level the PSA doesn’t increase the overall number of positive outcomes. But there are people whose first indication of prostate cancer was a high PSA result, and those people’s lives may have been saved due to having that test. Who is to say that the person requesting the test will not be among them? In other words, intuition is not necessarily wrong just because it encourages you to do something that is statistically out of the norm or has yet to be “proven” by science.

And who is to say that the person requesting the PSA test won’t be one who is overdiagnosed, who has an indolent cancer that would never have done him any harm during the remainder of his lifespan, but is harmed by unnecessary surgery and/or radiation? That’s the whole point! The Professor picks the good outcomes and ignores the potential for the bad outcome. Confirmation bias! She then twists all this into a massive argument for the precautionary principle, going so far as to cite the discredited Andrew Wakefield and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., both whose arguments I’ve deconstructed more times than I can remember. (Just enter their names in the search box of this blog and you’ll see.) She also mischaracterizes Achenbach as saying that the scientists most dedicated to truth are the ones who break with the “existing paradigm,” even going so far as to say that by Achenbach’s own words Andrew Wakefield must be more dedicated to the truth than most scientists. Yes, I laughed out loud when I read that part. I also reread his article and could find nowhere where he actually made that argument.

So basically, The Professor ends up arguing that we should be wary of vaccines based on the precautionary principle, ignoring all the many years of accumulated evidence that vaccines are safe and effective and do not cause autism, in favor of the “intuition” of antivaccine activists and the work of “lone geniuses” like Andrew Wakefield because, you know, all that boring epidemiology is “normal science” (to quote Kuhn) and what her antivaccine heros are doing is “revolutionary science.” It doesn’t matter that their “revolutionary science” is wrong, of course, because, you know, The People:

Science can serve corporate interests or it can serve the interests of humanity. There will certainly be places where the two will intersect, but there will always be places where they will be in opposition, and science cannot serve them both. It is most assuredly not “anti-science,” rather it is “pro-humanity” to insist that, where the interests of the two are opposed, science must serve humanity over corporations. We are nowhere near being able to say that is currently the case, however, and while it may be prudent for individual scientists to stick with the tribe in order to further their careers, it is not prudent for us as a human collective to let corporate interests govern what that tribe thinks and does. Until the day that we can say science always puts humanity’s interest first, not only is it prudent for us to question, analyze, and even scrutinize “scientific consensus” from a humanist viewpoint, it is also incumbent upon us to do so.

She even asks if it’s “antiscience” to condemn Josef Mengele’s atrocities and the Tuskegee syphilis experiment in a hilarious rhetorical flourish against a a straw man argument that no one—and I mean no one—has ever made. You know. The Professor is starting to sound a lot like a toned down version of Mike Adams. Also, instead of “I’m not antivaccine, I’m pro-vaccine safety,” we now have “I’m not antiscience, I’m pro-humanity.” It’s the perfect toxic combination of Dunning-Kruger married to an outsized ego that thinks that a bit of training in physics trumps the knowledge of people who have spent their lives studying vaccines, autism, and the immune system. In other words, it’s a perfect distillation of the antivaccine movement.

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]

165 replies on “Science. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

“Geeky Physics Major”, eh?

I’m a physical scientist myself (as is at least one other frequent flyer in this comment section). Physics teaches you how to design clean experiments on physical systems, isolating one factor at a time, and how to simplify problems. Of all the sciences, I’d think that physics is the least equipped to deal with squishy, multi-factorial problems that are woven through with personal experience.

Of course, as Brian famously said, “We’re all individuals!”, and even physicists can be trained to think like medical scientists. But working through problems in electrodynamics isn’t going to train you in how to think about the costs and benefits of vaccinations.

“Science can serve corporate interests or it can serve the interests of humanity.”

I really don’t understand why some people make our corporations to be some kind of boogeyman. It seems to be the underlying cause of the “Professor”s anti-science feelings as well as the underlying cause of ant-GMO activists anti-science feelings.

One of the things that I’ve learned in epidemiology (which is a science, contrary to what antivaxxers on Twitter say) is that everything lies on a spectrum. The distributions may be skewed one way or another, or have different shapes, but there are always things on the edges, the ones with the really weird p-values. Given that, I can see where one physician here or there can be an antivax loon (*cough* Dr. Bob Sears *cough*) or how a colleague can be misguided about the science of something. It can and will happen.

What some of these people fail or refuse to understand is that there will be that rather large swath of people who should know better and do know better. It’s not even close. To say that “some” pediatricians oppose vaccinations is like me saying that “some” of the Earth’s crust is gold, or that “some” of the rocks on the planet are diamonds.

Antivaxxers have never been good with science or math, so it doesn’t surprise me that they would claim to be the exception to everything, the independent thinkers, the parents of children who would never get measles. And it doesn’t surprise me that they claim to know science better than everyone else. After all, in the tiny, little world they’ve created in their heads, they’re right and absolutely everyone else is wrong.

The antis hover around their websites like campfires, spinning tales they all can use to defend against the darkness (as they see it) of science.

“…who is to say that the person requesting the PSA test won’t be one who is overdiagnosed, who has an indolent cancer that would never have done him harm in the remainder of his lifespan, and is harmed by unnecessary surgery or radiation?”

I have been seeing a number of letters to the editor of local and national publications recently, complaining about new recommendations for mammography screening and reports questioning routine PSA testing. The pattern is to say the the writer (or his/her spouse, or a relative) had their life saved by mammography or PSA leading to detection of a tumor.

Beyond the fact that we don’t know what the natural history of those neoplasms might have been, I wonder where the letters are from people who were left with lower quality of life after radiation and/or radical surgery for lesions that might never have progressed into threatening, invasive cancers?
Either they don’t exist (hmm) or they’re not writing in.

More to the point of Orac’s article: sometimes I wonder if Einstein, Galileo etc. aren’t continuously spinning in their graves because people are holding them up as examples to back up truly dumbass arguments.

In my experience, at least anecdotally, most of the “intuition” is less like a flash of brilliance that appears from no where and has you running down the street yelling Eureka and more like the data hammering away at your assumptions based on the current understanding of the universe until you finally emerge whimpering and bruised.

Why in experimental design testing all the aliquots or whatever you need to do to let the data hammer away at the assumptions is so important. Which is also something that very often small scale studies (the kind most likely to be wrong) are often so wrong. They may appear to be that flash of brilliance but all too often they are really the experimenter disabling the hammer. Usually not with the intent to disable the hammer but because you just need to collect enough small data points to justify the kind of experimental design in scope and cost that fully unleashes the power of the data to smash it’s way through the current understanding to show you a new room you never knew was there.

I often wonder the same thing as Mike. Research and science requires resources. A lot of good HAS come from private and public research and collaboration between the two. It’s almost as if the ‘shill’, anti-corporation and even anti-government arguments are a jealous rage to not having the resources to produce their own data at best, or an attempt to destroy the validity of the data that causes cognitive dissonance in their own minds at worst.

And a sincere question: I have an acquaintance whose first son had a severe reaction to his first vaccination and almost died. While I, and everyone here, understand that a case like this illustrates how even more imperative for this family to be pro-vaccine, so as her children can be protected through herd immunity. (And that this represents a legitimate medical reason for not vaccinating.) But in her mind it almost cost her the life of her son, and she is very anti-vaccine as a result. That’s a very difficult thing to convince otherwise.

That all being said, while we can talk statistics and science and the great good of eradicating infections disease (which I agree with), it is very real for those few who have been affected by what can be very serious side effects of these drugs in a few people. And that is a very difficult thing I think to talk about, and I’ve wondered how does one address this?

I wonder if Einstein, Galileo etc. aren’t continuously spinning in their graves

Fast enough to separate Uranium isotopes, I’d bet. Nobody tell the Iranians.

The invocation of Einstein is especially galling. Relativity is a great example of a theory that extended and clarified previous knowledge rather than radically replacing it. Einstein invented special relativity because he understood the existing theory of electrodynamics more deeply than others — he saw that Maxwell’s theory already had relativity implicit in it.

Although she has a ‘degree in physics”, her TMR bio ( “Getting Personal”) describes her as an ‘actor/ geek” who has a “lifelong interest in autism”. OBVIOUSLY that’s where all that intuition comes in handy.

Seriously, do people like the Professor and AoA’s Gamondes ever sit down and actually read what they’ve written? Or ask someone else to criticise what their essays? Or do they just read the dreck Mikey and other loons write, go meditate somewhere whilst doing aromatherapy and then regurgitate whatever comes to mind and declare it brilliant?

There’s a concept called executive functioning which usually develops during adolescence and includes abilities like self-criticism and understanding the needs of other people while communicating which the Professor doesn’t seem to intuit.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but are not physics journals also peer reviewed? I guess the counterargument would be physicists are not beholden to Big Electron Microscope.

[email protected]

Fast enough to separate Uranium isotopes, I’d bet. Nobody tell the Iranians.

You think Einstein and Galileo are vulnerable to Stuxnet?

The anti-vax crowd does accept science… But only by citing a few selected research papers that fit their paradigm! Otherwise, they claim that all research needs resources (like El Jefe says) and BIG PHARMA pays for it so thus BIG PHARMA dictates what the study outcomes & conclusions should be.

Seriously, do people like the Professor and AoA’s Gamondes ever sit down and actually read what they’ve written? Or ask someone else to criticise what their essays? Or do they just read the dreck Mikey and other loons write, go meditate somewhere whilst doing aromatherapy and then regurgitate whatever comes to mind and declare it brilliant?

Bloody hell. Gamondes is up to Part 8 of her crank epic:

http://www.ageofautism.com/2015/05/state-of-plague-part-8disease-mongering-as-militarized-trojan-horse-for-globalization-and-surveillan.html

Ohhhhh, ORAC!!!!

Why did you have to tell me that?

I was enjoying a respite from work, tennis and dance class and intending to traipse around the Japanese teenage fashion store- in search of shirts that aren’t long enough for me altho’ I try anyway- BUT now I have to read that slimey biofilm of decaying vegetative free associative thought masquerading as prose.
But I serve skepticism FIRST, entertainment later.

Funny how a “geeky physics major” cites Einstein, who did follow his intuition to fail spectacularly, regarding the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics (you could look for the Einstein-Bohr debate). Einstein, who fought all his life against it, did not hold a grudge though, as he himself nominated for the Nobel Prize the very guy who postulated the uncertainty principle, Heisenberg.

See the study just published in Science discussing measles and loss of lymphocytic memory?
Yet another important point not to get full blown measles, though funded by the Gates, which I’m sure just invalidates it in the mind of the anti-vax ‘science’.

Followed the linkback from mothering forums in #10. First someone posted the TMR article and there was agreement. Then Orac’s article was posted as a rebuttal and someone said “yes but who was more convincing and why? [paraphrased]” It surely is coincidental but I thought that nicely paralleled the problem on a small scale. There “evidence” is infallible and ours is never good enough.

Ohhhhh, ORAC!!!!

Why did you have to tell me that?

Sorry about that. I can resist; I forget that not all can.

No problem: I’m mostly joking.
But a sceptic’s gotta do whatever she’s gotta do.

#7: “But in her mind it almost cost her the life of her son, and she is very anti-vaccine as a result. That’s a very difficult thing to convince otherwise.”

Most find it unsatisfying to shake their fists at the heavens when a rare, random event alters their lives forever. It is very tempting to turn one’s attention to the medical professional holding the syringe. That they know how to fight and feel they are accomplishing something positive.

-btw-
I shouldn’t joke too much about her scavenger-hunt style of prose or the Crosbyan six degrees of relationships because SOME of these people – and I’m not saying which ones- MAY have more serious problems psychologically than being florid exemplars of bad writing.

Followed the linkback from mothering forums in #10. First someone posted the TMR article and there was agreement. Then Orac’s article was posted as a rebuttal and someone said “yes but who was more convincing and why? [paraphrased]” It surely is coincidental but I thought that nicely paralleled the problem on a small scale. There “evidence” is infallible and ours is never good enough.

That’s because, with the antivaccine movement, it really is all about tribalism. To antivaxers, who makes an argument is as important (or more so) than what the argument says and what the evidence is supporting it. To them, Orac is the enemy, a skeptic, someone who can never, ever be correct. No matter how much evidence I marshal, they will always find a way to discount it, falling back on the “pharma shill” gambit if all else fails.

I shouldn’t joke too much about her scavenger-hunt style of prose or the Crosbyan six degrees of relationships because SOME of these people – and I’m not saying which ones- MAY have more serious problems psychologically than being florid exemplars of bad writing.

In fairness, The Professor’s writing is actually not too bad; it’s at least serviceable prose. It’s her arguments and grasp of science and history that are so risibly bad.

I’ve adapted that Churchill line to peer review too.

I tell my students that half of what’s in the scientific literature at the moment is wrong – it won’t hold up – but that 20 years from now the ideas that were wrong today will be gone and the ones that are right today will still be there. Science is hardly infallible, but it’s pretty much guaranteed to be progressive, and that makes it the best thing we’ve got.

I can see why it’s difficult for nonscientists to confuse that winnowing selection process with Kuhnian paradigm shifts.

Yet another important point not to get full blown measles, though funded by the Gates, which I’m sure just invalidates it in the mind of the anti-vax ‘science’.

Yes, because it makes perfect sense to these people that a man who made his millions selling computer systems would adopt as a business model killing off his clientele.

Speaking as a non-scientist (I have an MBA), business and science both come down on the side of vaccines. This is why businesses large and small offer vaccinations as part of their employee healthcare plans — absenteeism (whether it’s the employee or the employee’s child that’s sick) costs money.

Yet another important point not to get full blown measles, though funded by the Gates, which I’m sure just invalidates it in the mind of the anti-vax ‘science’.

Some additional predictions as to how this study will be interpreted.

1. Only because measles depletes vitamins, so not a worry for any who rattle when they walk or eat all organic, etc.
2. If the disease does that the vaccine does something way worse, probably it destroys the part of the immune system that keeps you from getting autism.
3. The increased survival is obviously only those who are really too weak to survive, so we need more measles to thin out the herd.

This is why businesses large and small offer vaccinations as part of their employee healthcare plans — absenteeism (whether it’s the employee or the employee’s child that’s sick) costs money.

Yeah, and the military.

I was in a unit that could be ordered anywhere at any time, and was required to stay up to date on everything. I’ve been places where I was glad to have all my shots, and wouldn’t have objected if they wanted to give me a few more.

In all of our travels, none of us ever came down with a vaccine preventable disease.

The government spends a lot of money to keep the military and civilian employees up to date on shots. All wasted, I’m sure. /sarcasm

@KayMarie

I followed the linkback from Mothering as well and saw there is already a discussion there about the new Measles study. One response:

“So, if measles vaccination contributed to a decreased death rate in the USA one would expect it to show (if the effect was large enough) in the stats.

The measles vaccine was introduced in the USA around 1963. There was no huge downward trend in childhood deaths after 1963 (graph won’t cut and past – but second page)

http://www.hrsa.gov/healthit/images/mchb_child_mortality_pub.pdf

I get that the graph is on all causes of deaths, not just infections. I do think it safe to say that the so-called (at this point) measles affect did not affect mortality rate in the USA in a big way. The graphs do not show it.”

And:

“To make such claims, there would need to be extensive research. I think being able to determine the infectious diseases in each of these individuals would be important to see if any of those diseases occur at the same rate, or are completely different and random. Are there any common variables? I think breaking down and determining the number and types of infectious diseases they encountered would be an important factor in weighing the information as well. They surely must have recorded the infectious diseases these individuals encountered after the measles infection during these studies, right? Why not present them as well.

Also, it would be important in determining the underlying health of the children who were exposed to the infectious diseases after having the measles, and even their health before measles, and it’s important to determine how the measles was managed during infection? Could mismanaging the measles infection and interfering with the immune system process in the incorrect manner during infection have anything to do with immune system weakness down the road?

What else could be cutting down the rate of all infectious diseases besides the measles vaccine? Many things have changed since the vaccine has been introduced, so why are we to assume it’s the vaccine? There easily can be something else that has changed the course of infectious disease that has nothing to do with the vaccine.

These are all questions that would have to be addressed to verify such claims.

Apparently, they are far from it, as “immune amnesia” is currently just a hypothesis.

I gather they are focusing primarily on trying to search and find and report on more benefits of the vaccine, even if it’s a stretch, because of the current circumstances we are in now. Did you see the number of articles out there on this already? And it hasn’t even been CONFIRMED AS TRUE! But people will see it and believe it sadly.”

These people will never be convinced.

This is the thread if anyone is interested: http://www.mothering.com/forum/47-vaccinations/1505665-measles-vaccine-protects-against-other-deadly-diseases.html

Mike:

I really don’t understand why some people make our corporations to be some kind of boogeyman.

Look at the tobacco industry. A great way to make money was discovered, and then, much later, extremely serious medical side effects were discovered. And the reaction of the tobacco industry was many decades of enormous dishonesty.

Look at the lead additives industry. Again, a great way to make money was discovered, and then, much later, extremely serious medical side effects were discovered, and again, the reaction of the industry was many decades of enormous dishonesty.

Look at the fossil fuel companies. Again, a great way to make money was discovered, and then, much later, extremely serious medical and environmental side effects were discovered, and again, the reaction of the industry has been decades of enormous dishonesty.

Furthermore this blog has over a decade of articles about the organic food industry, the supplements industry, and many other businesses that make money of falsehoods. There are many examples of copious dishonesty in the pursuit of greed, and it’s absurd of you to act like you are unaware of them.

Yes, it is true that corporations, when carefully regulated, can be beneficial. And it is true that many people assume corporations have a kind foresight or a degree of ability to conspire that is unlikely or even impossible. All the examples I gave above stumbled into their decades of dishonesty. They did not plan things that way in the early years, but, when they found out, instead of doing the ethical thing, and finding a different way to make money, they all behaved in an irreparably immoral fashion that resulted in huge numbers of deaths.

Llewelly — Big Tobacco only sells tobacco. Big Oil only sells oil. Big Lead, one assumes, only sells lead.

Big Pharma, on the other hand could drop vaccines from its product line and still remain solvent. In fact, it’s my understanding that the big money nowadays is in statins and fertility drugs (I know someone here will correct me if I’m wrong).

“What else could be cutting down the rate of all infectious diseases besides the measles vaccine? Many things have changed since the vaccine has been introduced, so why are we to assume it’s the vaccine? There easily can be something else that has changed the course of infectious disease that has nothing to do with the vaccine.”

Any researcher worth their salt would have accounted for all of these confounders.

Re: the Gamondes article

militarized trojan horse

Reading this curious mix of words for the second time, I cannot resist asking:
Wasn’t the Trojan horse a militarized thingy in the first place?

Or does this mean there are civilian trojan horses?

civilian trojan horses?

Aren’t those the Clydesdales that pull the condom float in the parade?

“I really don’t understand why some people make our corporations to be some kind of boogeyman.” Mike

Because they manufactured medical peer review, which we now know is a sacred cow that needs slaughter. the ‘evidence’ it presents is largely fallacy, it makes governments pay millions in taxpayers money, over and over again for useless vaccines…………

Maybe you should get past pubmed and read something a bit more useful.

“Any researcher worth their salt would have accounted for all of these confounders.” Ren

yes Ren but the problem is we don’t have many researchers worth crock tiddly pot. We have a pro vaxx camp that makes up the data, fiddles the stats and gets ghost written articles to shore it all up.

“Big Pharma, on the other hand could drop vaccines from its product line and still remain solvent. In fact, it’s my understanding that the big money nowadays is in statins and fertility drugs (I know someone here will correct me if I’m wrong).” shay

Well vaccines are profitable when you get governments to underwrite failure, pay through the nose for a rushed untested product….. where is the ‘not profit’ in that , it is a guaranteed payout for a product that is usually completely useless. Latest estimate on flu vaccine is 3% ‘effective. But it was 100% effective on payment!

“Look at the tobacco industry. A great way to make money was discovered, and then, much later, extremely serious medical side effects were discovered. And the reaction of the tobacco industry was many decades of enormous dishonesty.” whoever

yes and now we have ‘safe vaping tobacco” big pharma is making money by selling the safer option! Double whammy and trebles all round. Well done.

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Yes, because it makes perfect sense to these people that a man who made his millions selling computer systems would adopt as a business model killing off his clientele.

In part 7 of her fantasy novel, Gamondes says that the laptop for every child progran in Kenya was part of Gates’ plan to sterilize African women. Or something.

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The government spends a lot of money to keep the military and civilian employees up to date on shots.

It’s a passive form of biological warfare where soldiers infect foreign countries through vaccine shedding. Obviously.

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Yes, it is true that corporations, when carefully regulated, can be beneficial.

Pharmaceuticals are already one of the most regulated industries in the US. There could be improvements and I worry about “health freedom” nonsense leading to less regulation but as it stands Big Pharma seems much less scary to me than Big Supplement.

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In fact, it’s my understanding that the big money nowadays is in statins and fertility drugs (I know someone here will correct me if I’m wrong).

Last I heard Lipitor (atorvastatin) was the most profitable drug in the history of ever, and by a huge margin and it’s been off patent sibce 2011. Not sure about fertility drugs but I think antidepressants are up there as well.

Intuition – a special gift for a way of knowing for a select few

or, more realistically, a way we coerce observations, accurately made or otherwise, into the envelope of what we already know or think we know

“Could mismanaging the measles infection and interfering with the immune system process in the incorrect manner during infection have anything to do with immune system weakness down the road? ” Annie

yes Annie, when a hyped western death from measles is looked at we always find the death was in a child or adult with underlying health issues. You could say healthy kids don’t die from measles. The WHO found that one carrot a day was enough of the identified vitamin A deficiency in people who died from measles. We don’t need a vaccine, we need to feed people properly and stop messing with the immune system artificially.

Medical science is not the same as other science. They borrow the association and then do what they like, publish any old goo, as long as it supports their narrow view of what they do.

“……….ignoring all the many years of accumulated evidence that vaccines are safe and effective and do not cause autism, …..” the Gawk

But the ‘evidence’ was published peer reviewed medical toast. When are you going to land the rocket, get out and realise that you are on planet gaboo? You need a good shaking, it is the same washing machine of brown pebbles going around and around………………………………..no amount of spin is going to get the brown stuff out………….

“but as it stands Big Pharma seems much less scary to me than Big Supplement.” Cappertypoo

thing is chuffy, the stats for supplement death compared to big pharma death………………………. to have a bias like that you have either misunderstood something or you have some kind of crazy belief system stacked up there. You decide, if you were my doc, I’d make big excuses and depart politely.

” Latest estimate on flu vaccine is 3% ‘effective.”

You do lie about everything, don’t you? I see you’re banging on that German toddler’s death again.

News flash, non-johnny — in the US, the government doesn’t pay for vaccines, insurance companies do, and they are notorious for refusing payment for treatments that don’t work.

I kept wanting to find a clear example of someone descending into the pits of mental disease. I think I just did with Johnny. The number of periods in an ellipses is directly correlated with the level of detachment from reality.

yes and now we have ‘safe vaping tobacco” big pharma is making money by selling the safer option! Double whammy and trebles all round. Well done

This may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen you post, which is saying quite a bit. You do know that most e-cigs are sold by currently existing tobacco companies?

[email protected]

Because they manufactured medical peer review, which we now know is a sacred cow that needs slaughter. the ‘evidence’ it presents is largely fallacy, it makes governments pay millions in taxpayers money, over and over again for useless vaccines…………

Maybe you should get past pubmed and read something a bit more useful.

As we ask you (and you fail to answer) every time you bring this up, what is your alternative? Divination? As Orac said, it’s not perfect, not even great, but it is far, far better than the alternatives.

@38

yes and now we have ‘safe vaping tobacco” big pharma is making money by selling the safer option! Double whammy and trebles all round. Well done.

Because Pfizer manufacters vaporizes now? That’s news to me.

@41
Annie was quoting someone on the Mothering forums there. I know misattribution is kind of your thing but please don’t insult her by attributing that twaddle to her.

@44

thing is chuffy, the stats for supplement death compared to big pharma

I know stats are confusing for you but the one you need to look at is risk vs benefit. Besides, those stats come from peer reviewed sources. If you want to throw out medical science you have to do it wholesale not piecemeal where convenient. That’s beside the point anyways. The manufacture, content, advertising claims, are pretty much unregulated and efficacy and safety testing nonexistent for supplements. The FDA is pretty stringent in regulating pharmaceuticals though.

“littlebear”‘s reaction is interesting:

One of the best reads! Very detail oriented, thorough,logical arguments.

As far as the rebuttal…its hard to take the author seriously when it’s written in such a hateful way. Really,name calling in nearly every paragraph,poking fun,laughing at,etc. A scientific rebuttal that is strong in their reasoning doesn’t need incessant child-like behavior to make their point. The author simply can’t help themselves. Its like listening to an angry highschool breakup where all they do is bad mouth the other person while trying to piece together why they’re mad. Yet,antivaxers are the emotional ones….riigght. To be fair,i don’t prefer that type of writing even if the author is writing on a topic i agree with.

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I kept wanting to find a clear example of someone descending into the pits of mental disease. I think I just did with Johnny. The number of periods in an ellipses is directly correlated with the level of detachment from reality.

Honestly, I feel a little sorry for him. He seems to live in a reality where nothing can ever trusted be true because of shadowy conspiracies involving the government and Big Pharma, to keep everyone eternally sick or something. That quite the terrifying delusion.

‘Cappertypoo’ is a pretty accurate nickname as my last post demonstrated. Good job johnny, at least you’re improving in that area. Maybe next you can learn about blockquotes.

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“I kept wanting to find a clear example of someone descending into the pits of mental disease. I think I just did with Johnny. The number of periods in an ellipses is directly correlated with the level of detachment from reality.”

He annoys me less than the one obsessed with latex at least.

What I want to know about this whole corporate conspiracy idea is why the Soviet Union decided to go along with it. You’d think that it would make better PR to point out that capitalistic greed was leading to whatever they’re accusing Big Pharma of instead of doing the same things to the citizens of the Soviet Union. I don’t see the motivation for that.

I don’t think johnny is mentally ill – I believe he’s just an Internet troll that likes the attention he gets when he says something so blatantly stupid that even the average person, horrified at the ignorance shown, feels compelled to correct him.

So, he’ll keep repeating the same tired lies, over and over again….because he’s the one “using tissues” and getting his jollies from it.

As far as the rebuttal…its hard to take the author seriously when it’s written in such a hateful way. Really,name calling in nearly every paragraph,poking fun,laughing at,etc. A scientific rebuttal that is strong in their reasoning doesn’t need incessant child-like behavior to make their point. The author simply can’t help themselves. Its like listening to an angry highschool breakup where all they do is bad mouth the other person while trying to piece together why they’re mad. Yet,antivaxers are the emotional ones….riigght. To be fair,i don’t prefer that type of writing even if the author is writing on a topic i agree with.

Hateful. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. And I actually ended up being less brutal towards The Professor than I had originally thought I’d be. Oh, well.

One can’t help but note that this denizen of Mothering.com doesn’t mind The Professor’s basically painting the entire medical enterprise as corrupt, greedy, and ignorant—as long as she does it relatively “nicely.” That’s why I call BS on her claim that she doesn’t like this sort of writing even when she agrees with it. She doesn’t like my post because she agrees with The Professor and doesn’t like seeing her arguments and examples deconstructed in a snarky fashion. Particularly hilarious is that she finds The Professor’s arguments “logical” when they most definitely are not. More nauseatingly depressing are the numerous comments after her post proclaiming it “brilliant,” saying that it should be published on the front page of the New York Times (which is never going to happen with a 7,000 word article), that it’s “logical and well-argued.” Methinks these readers mistake length and tendentiousness for insight.

I don’t think johnny is mentally ill – I believe he’s just an Internet troll that likes the attention he gets when he says something so blatantly stupid that even the average person, horrified at the ignorance shown, feels compelled to correct him.

OK, people. I’m not particularly fond of johnny either, but I am not liking seeing it implied and speculated about without evidence that he is mentally ill.

@Orac – we’ve seen a lot worse than johnny.

Again, I don’t believe that he’s that particular way – he’s a plain old troll….getting his jollies off getting peoples’ dander up.

OK, people. I’m not particularly fond of johnny either, but I am not liking seeing it implied and speculated about without evidence that he is mentally ill.

I would like to point that being a stupid obnoxious jerk is rather more damning than being mentally ill, which shouldn’t really be an insult, and there’s actually plenty of evidence to back that up it comes to “johnny.”

I’m not particularly fond of johnny either

If he would stick to the lowercase pseudonym, I at least would be spared his repetitive idiocy altogether.

Stop with the stigmatizing of mental illness, y’all, just stop.

The entrenched Pharma Shills here locally have saved my sons life in grand style, TWICE just last month.

I’ll take their science any day.

And it took twice because complex things can lead to complications. At least he was here for the complication to be an issue.

Thanks, to all of the Docs, Nurses, BioMed folks, and the pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers that make his wonderful life possible.

Liz Ditz: “Stop with the stigmatizing of mental illness, y’all, just stop.”

Yes, please.

Though I did just watch the movie “Frank” where it was handled fairly well.

@Orac
littlebear seems to be lacking in self-awareness for several aspects. 🙂

I do have to wonder if idiosyncratic writing mechanics is one of the skills taught in antivax school.

More nauseatingly depressing are the numerous comments after her post proclaiming it “brilliant,” saying that it should be published on the front page of the New York Times (which is never going to happen with a 7,000 word article), that it’s “logical and well-argued.” Methinks these readers mistake length and tendentiousness for insight.

Connecting lots of things together would be insightful if the connections were real and meaningful instead of mistaken and wrongfully assumed. 🙂

I went to the Japanese hipster shop and didn’t buy anything.

Then, I re-read Gamondes and found nothing of value to discuss- we’ve heard it all before and we’ll hear it all again.

Reflecting upon a few comments here:

None of us can diagnose anyone over the internet. We should all remember though that bloggers and commenters are writing _for an audience_ and may exaggerate their outrageous memes because they are in competition with others who write similarly so I wouldn’t take what they write as an indication of what they really believe.

Perhaps Gamondes is courting Skyhorse’s Lyons for a book deal *a la* Dachel or KIm. Wouldn’t that be fun!

HOWEVER I believe that some of those who write for anti-vax websites like AoA and TMR DO have psychological problems- as do certain individuals in ANY group of people. Most of these parents have stressful, difficult lives because of their children’s condition; in addition, they could have underlying lifelong disorders that they can’t help having- with which I’d sympathise .Thus I am not as rough on them as I am on various woo-fraught entrepreneurs who lie for a living..

Should we criticise people who have ‘problems in thinking’? Yes, if what they write endangers public health.

It’s possible that sometimes thinking oddly is not free of choice but merely a way to enhance self-esteem by contrarians who are not mentally ill but who seek to arrogate positions they have not earned- e.g. as critics of medicine without ever having studied that science.

I’d ask though, isn’t it odd that they NEED to set themselves up as authorities and advisers? Do they have so little that validates their existence? Why do they need to take down entire sectors of research implicating all professions as well as governments around the world and most media as well? Do they feel that badly about themselves and their lot that they need to be right?

And -btw- in order to accept their theses, you need to accept that widespread, entrenched corruption exists nearly everywhere or else their entire castle built on air collapses pathetically in a heap.

As Gamondes today admits herself “substantiation” is difficult because the great conspiracy takes place in “secret meetings” so it can’t be shown. Right.

Nowhere is this more true than when we wander outside of our own field, as the inaptly named Professor does when she leaves the world of physics….

That’s not her field. She’s a (fairly obsolete, judging by the LinkedIn profile) random IT monkey, with a B.A. in “physics, computer programming” from Williams College that’s at least a quarter-century old.

Look at the lead additives industry. Again, a great way to make money was discovered, and then, much later, extremely serious medical side effects were discovered, and again, the reaction of the industry was many decades of enormous dishonesty.

The neurotoxic side-effects of tetraethyl lead were known right from the beginning, but General Motors convinced legislators that the convenience was worth the mortality. It was only the advent of catalytic after-burners that forced the phase-out of TEL.

To be honest, I didn’t remember what her real name was; so I didn’t bother looking up anything more about her and just took her at her word.

capnkrunch:

Pharmaceuticals are already one of the most regulated industries in the US.

Yes – but as far as I can tell, we both support that regulation, for the most part, because that is a big reason why their products are relatively safe and effective. As for the “health freedom” thing – I don’t think allowing people to make unsupported claims – let alone demonstrably false claims – in a for-profit support of a product, improves the freedom of any decent person in any way. In fact, I think allowing unsupported claims in the pursuit of profit enables an enormous amount of misleading advertising, which makes making good choices difficult, risky, and confusing. That makes freedom useless. (There are some other “health freedom” ideas I may support, but the term is so often misused by people who as far as I can tell are confused or even unscrupulous, that I am wary of any use of it.)

But most people have no clue how or why the pharmaceutical industry is regulated, so it’s absurd to keep saying “I really don’t understand why” when people are afraid of it. That remark wasn’t directed at you, though. I don’t recall you ever taking that attitude I was objecting to.

capnkrunch:

Big Pharma seems much less scary to me than Big Supplement.

I think we agree that Big Supplement needs to be regulated a lot like Big Pharma. Actually I think they are great example of how giving businesses the freedom to advertise however they like makes consumer freedom almost useless. For example, I have no idea how to figure out which supplement manufacturers can be relied upon to put what they claim on the package in the actual pills. But I don’t buy supplements anymore, because the last time I went looking for B12 supplements, I couldn’t find any in nearby stores that were less than 500 mcg, and a quick google shows that’s still the case for the first few links. I can’t take the 500 mcg pills; they make me vomit. I can’t remember what the NIH says for B12, but it’s small number of mcg – like 2 mcg. it’s nowhere near 500. I can order 50 mcg pills online from CVS, and those seem to work, but the local CVS doesn’t carry them. And I would rather CVS did not get my money.

herr doktor bimler:

The neurotoxic side-effects of tetraethyl lead were known right from the beginning …

My apologies – I had forgotten that. Thank you for the reminder.

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Hope your son is doing well.

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Connecting lots of things together would be insightful if the connections were real and meaningful instead of mistaken and wrongfully assumed.

Honestly, I think “connecting” is giving her too much credit. Following one concept with another doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve connected them, either meaningfully or otherwise.

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But most people have no clue how or why the pharmaceutical industry is regulated, so it’s absurd to keep saying “I really don’t understand why” when people are afraid of it. That remark wasn’t directed at you, though. I don’t recall you ever taking that attitude I was objecting to.

I gotcha. That was poor reading of your original post on my part suppose.

I rethought #70:

Following one concept with another doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve connected them, either meaningfully or otherwise.

I was wrong here. At the very least Gamondes connects things by proximity.

“Science can serve corporate interests or it can serve the interests of humanity. … and science cannot serve them both (when those interests are in opposition).”

I’ve been seeing this kind of relativistic thinking leveled at science a lot lately (partly b/c I’m helping a woo-y friend on one of his personal projects).

Like, I’m a little out of my depth here, but science is a process, right? Sure, you can use it to answer a question for profit – “What combination of flavors is most likely to produce repeat customers” – but how does that stop science from answering other questions?

And in this particular case, science could be used to uncover the benefits and risks of vaccines, but it couldn’t be used to lie about those benefits and risks – if you’re ignoring data, you’re using flawed science! You’re not doing it right!

I mean, this argument just feels like it’s even more numbskulled than shouting “the science is on our side!” when it clearly isn’t – it’s saying that science is merely a tool to build your argument, rather than a process designed to winnow out falsehoods (however chaotically or slowly). It’s basically saying, “We have our science, and they have theirs, but ours is superior because we’re righteous.”

It’s ironic that she mentions HST right before going into the “lone genius” routine. Yah, dark energy was just like the structure of benzene.

“Consider the case of a child growing up in a house with chain smokers in the early 1900s” is a fine example of her attention to “the data” as well. Cigarette smoking didn’t even take hold among women until the 1940s, IIRC.

And, in classic argument-by-aphorism tradition, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination” is a bogus quote.

johnny–

So you’re opposed to the measles vaccine because it only saves the lives of sick and disabled people?

You vile bigot, why should I listen to someone who has just told me that perfectly decent people don’t deserve to live because they don’t fit his eugenicist prejudices?

@Palindrom #8

And Galileo’s theory was an extension of work by Tycho Brahe and whose-it (Johannes Kepler?) at the Austrian court.

Galileo got pillared, not really for the theory but because the Pope thought that Galileo’s latest book was a personal attack.

It seems likely that no one would have bothered Galileo if the Pope had not taken offence and called an inquisition out of pique.

Unfortunately it was a bit difficult for Galeleo to make a good defence since his theory, was a bit incomplete. It predicted one tide a day.

To a lot of prelates from the Atlantic coast (Spain, Portugal and France come to mind) Galileo’s theory might have looked a bit dodgy.

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