An 11-month old boy suffered a stroke after chickenpox, an underappreciated risk of varicella zoster infection. This catastrophe could have been avoided if his parents had just vaccinated his two older siblings.
In Houston, a toddler was admitted to the pediatric ICU at Texas Children's Hospital with a serious case of the measles. Unfortunately, one of the nurses there is antivaccine and blabbed about him on social media. The hospital quite appropriately fired her, but I would go further and say that antivaccine nurses should not be caring for children. Ditto antivaccine doctors.
A study released yesterday has led to numerous breathless headlines in the media about Russian bots on Twitter sowing discord about vaccines by spreading polarized antivaccine and provaccine messages. The stories imply that this is a huge problem. But is it? There's no doubt that this study showed some Russian bots Tweeting polarized messages about vaccines, but, contrary to the news stories, it doesn't support the concept of a widespread Russian effort to stoke conflict about vaccines. It's unclear whether the Russian effort was opportunistic or experimental, but it wasn't huge.
Last Sunday, 60 MINUTES Australia broadcast a story about a very sympathetic girl with cerebral palsy and her family, who traveled to Bioss Stem Cells, a stem cell clinic in Monterrey, Mexico, for unproven "stem cell" treatments. The story was nearly completely devoid of skepticism and played, in essence, as a 20 minute advertisement for quacks. It is one of the worst examples of boosterism and false balance about unproven treatments I've ever seen.
In this edition of antivaccine Whac-A-Mole, Orac discusses a large study that fails to find a link between maternal Tdap vaccination and autism in the baby. No big surprise there. So, mothers, get your Tdap to protect your baby.
Melinda Wenner Moyer published an article in The New York Times arguing that fear of how antivaxers will react to scientific findings is leading scientists to indulge in self-censorship. I’m not convinced that this is the case.
A clinical psychologist named Shannon Kroner invited Orac's alter-ego to a "panel discussion" on vaccines. Let's just say Orac knows a trap when he sees one and didn't fall for this one. However, he thought it wise to write this post to warn other science advocates about traps for the unwary—like this one. Heed Orac's advice!
Dr. Kristi Funk is a breast surgeon to the stars in Beverly Hills. She's known for having operated on Sheryl Crow and Angelina Jolie for breast cancer. This year, she published a book about breast health and breast cancer. Unfortunately, it’s full of misinformation and radical advice with little or no basis in science.
Thanks to the Dunning-Kruger effect, many antivaxers think they know more about vaccines than doctors, scientists, and other experts in infectious disease, immunology, and vaccines. It is this arrogance of ignorance that fuels their antivaccine activism and makes them resistant to disconfirming evidence.
Earlier this week, the New York Times ran a fascinating feature about Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop. In it, we learn—surprise! surprise!—that Gwyneth Paltrow does not like fact-checking. We also learn that the criticism of Goop's selling of pseudoscience and quackery has reached the point where Paltrow has given in and plans to hire a fact checker. Unfortunately, I strongly suspect that it will do no good and that skeptics will have as much work to do refuting Goop's quackery after the fact-checker is hired as we do now.