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.
It seems as though I have to write a post like this every year or two, as measles outbreaks keep raging and children keep getting sick and even dying. I feel obligated to "thank" the primary author of this misery, the man whose scientific fraud and other efforts have fueled antivaxers' fear of the MMR vaccine. So thanks Andrew Wakefield. Thanks for the measles. Again. In 2018.
Our old friend anti antivaccine activist J. B. Handley invokes the “vaccines didn’t save us” gambit. It doesn’t go well for him. You could say that he fought vaccine science, but, as always, the vaccine science won.
Orac discovers the Luminas Pain Relief Patch. He is amused at how how quacks confuse the words "quantum" and "energy" with magic.
Orac recently came across an antivaccine post called "The Adult Vaccine Pledge." So he deconstructed it. It did not go well—for the Adult Vaccine Pledge.
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!