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Bad science meets bad broadcasting
February 6, 2009 11:28 AM   Subscribe

Following panic about a now-discredited study on the MMR vaccine, measles cases in the UK are on the rise. Radio host Jeni Barnett hosted a phone-in about it (transcript), defending parents' rights to choose not to vaccinate their children. Bad Science blogger Ben Goldacre had a thing or two to say about Barnett's argument. When the broadcaster of the radio show threatened legal action, bloggers of bad science responded...
posted by creeky (117 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Parent's who do not vaccinate are child abusers. I completely mean that with not the smallest trace of exaggeration. It is exactly as bad as trying to "beat the gay away" or Munchhausen-by-proxy.

And not only do they harm their own children but everyone around them and society as a whole. Children in their neighborhood too young to be immunized. The elderly. Those with compromised immune systems.

These are the people who often die because of anti-vaxxers.
posted by Riemann at 11:32 AM on February 6, 2009 [19 favorites]


*immunizes self against bad threads*
posted by DU at 11:33 AM on February 6, 2009


Looks like the badscience.net web server needed some load immunization.
posted by dammitjim at 11:34 AM on February 6, 2009


And I think that the reason you fill up my telephone-there are no calls being able to come in at the minute- is because you're phoning is because there isn't a definitive answer. There is no absolute answer.

There is no absolute answer if you're an anti-empirical woo-monger attention whore who failed high school-level biology.

And from then on, I decided not to have my children vaccinated – I just thought ‘better be on the safe side’...

That phrase does not mean what you think it means.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:35 AM on February 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Also the "phone-in" by Jeni Barnett would much better be described as an ignorant, insane ranting. Hence why she later tried to have it taken down and look less like a moron.

Some more info here: Bad Astronomy
posted by Riemann at 11:35 AM on February 6, 2009


The most heartwarming part of this thread will be that the folks in the US have absolutely no non-hypocritical way to point fingers at the UK and say, "What's up with their strange fear of science?"

Glad to see the mostly-frightened populaces of both countries, terrorized by bored media conglomerates who look for the latest scare to promote, and led into storming the ivory tower of science with pitchforks by various champions of ignorance, have united on this one issue. Hooray.
posted by adipocere at 11:37 AM on February 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh dear, yes, badscience.net seems to have gone down again. Holfordwatch have quite a bit of it covered, in the meantime.
posted by creeky at 11:40 AM on February 6, 2009


BadScience = more like BadHosting
posted by crapmatic at 11:40 AM on February 6, 2009


Good point adipocere. There have been measles outbreaks in San Fransisco as well because of these dangerous nutjobs.
posted by Riemann at 11:41 AM on February 6, 2009


Because there is no vaccine for stupid.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:41 AM on February 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Ah yes, the tyranny of the absolute answer. Nemesis of moron & genius alike.
posted by aramaic at 11:42 AM on February 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


It would be tremendous if this thread could be anything other than most obvious bog-stupid "NO U" argument of international equivalents. Thank you in advance!
posted by cortex at 11:43 AM on February 6, 2009


This American Life covered an American instance of this recently. I wanted Steve Jobs to make it possible for me to reach in to my iPod and slap the person who's talking.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:45 AM on February 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


cortex - I take it you didn't actually bother to read the comments before posting?
posted by Riemann at 11:45 AM on February 6, 2009


There have been measles outbreaks in San Fransisco as well because of these dangerous nutjobs.

Wait, how does that work? Don't you have to have greater than some minimum critical mass of non-immunized people before you get an "outbreak"?
posted by DU at 11:47 AM on February 6, 2009


Riemann - I think he's just trying to immunize the thread.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:48 AM on February 6, 2009


DU - Yes you do. But you only need to have about 5% non-immunized in a local community.

Currently we are only seeing outbreaks in local communities where many anti-vaxxers live in the same locality. Be it in England or the US or Australia or what have you.
posted by Riemann at 11:50 AM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Speaking of immunizing the thread: Measles, mumps and rubella are all psychosomatic.

Now if all you white blood commentors could quickly shoot that down, we don't have to hear from the doesn't-even-believe-in-anti-science brigade.
posted by DU at 11:50 AM on February 6, 2009


What Flo said: this e.g. is not a harbinger of great things to come, and I'd rather not see the thread proceed in that direction if folks can help it.

*puts Admin Conch down, goes about business*
posted by cortex at 11:53 AM on February 6, 2009


DU, my understanding is that some small percentage of immunizations don't work. When you add voluntary non-immunization to that small amount, you can easily cross the threshold and have an outbreak.
posted by jenkinsEar at 11:54 AM on February 6, 2009


The answer is simple: if you choose not to get your kids vaccinated, they can never leave your house.This should make everyone happy.
posted by GuyZero at 11:56 AM on February 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Let's be fair here and give frightened parents a choice. Every doctor gets two sets of needles. One set is vaccines, the other are actual pathogens. You must choose one. Surely God's natural diseases aren't as harmful as these poisonous, man-made vaccines.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:01 PM on February 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


From the second segment: Phone me, 08456060973, if you chose to stand under the tree, in the field, outside the herd. Tracy in Olympia, talk to me.

It's raining here, and all I can think of is lightning. Standing under that tree doesn't sound so good anymore. Hasn't anyone reminded her that if people follow her, they're not avoiding being sheeple, they're just joining a new herd?
posted by filthy light thief at 12:08 PM on February 6, 2009


My neck of the woods gets mumps. Mumps is generally not life-threatening, but can cause meningitis, permanent hearing loss, and sterility. And, of course, it's easily preventable.

The arrogance of people that don't vaccinate their kids astounds me.
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:12 PM on February 6, 2009


Wait, mumps causes sterility and we have a problem with idiots not wanting to let their kids get it? Lets run with some logical falacies just for entertainments sake: At least there's a chance that if idiocy breeds idiocy, and these idiots are preventing their idiots-to-be from having kids... well... let us not stand in their way.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:19 PM on February 6, 2009


Nanukthedog - As tempting as that line of thought is remember that these are infectious diseases.

It might not be the children of the anti-vaxxer who go sterile. It could just as well be the infant of their sane neighbors who hasn't yet received her vaccine. Or the family friend who has a compromised immune system.
posted by Riemann at 12:22 PM on February 6, 2009


I guess the part that irks me most (so far) is where she says, "I want to know from some kind of expert what measles is and what is in the vaccine..." and etc. I just kind of feel like, y'know, if you're going to do an entire show railing about these things, you might want to have some idea what you're talking about.

I understand that at one point she's talking about 'not knowing what's in the vaccines' as if there were all sorts of additives floating about in them. But if she requires 'some kind of expert' to tell her (who she could have called before the show, by the way, without much difficulty) and she's already railed about how information about vaccines is being withheld from us (?!) then I think she's creating a situation where she can immediately reject what this expert tells her, anyway. Because he'd be one of them.

I don't know if I can make it through the clip, honestly, but this part sort of amazed me.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 12:30 PM on February 6, 2009


I was going to pull out a quote or two from that transcript but I just can't choose!

People like this would be hilarious if they weren't actually dangerous and there weren't so many of them.
posted by lucidium at 12:36 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


FWIW, according to the Dept of Public Health Communicable Disease and Prevention unit, there has been one confirmed case and one probable case of measles noted in SF. The confirmed case is an adult from England, and the probable case is a child connected to that adult.

Even though the number of cases is small at this point, the health alert was issued because of measles' high virulence.
posted by jasper411 at 12:39 PM on February 6, 2009


Parents who do not vaccinate are child abusers. I completely mean that with not the smallest trace of exaggeration.

Way to thoughtfully address the problem. If only we can get everyone to think like this, in no time we should be able to whip up a good lynch mob that can help us find a good and final solution to non-vaccinating parents.

There is no absolute answer if you're an anti-empirical woo-monger attention whore who failed high school-level biology.

I'll wager that a lot of people in a hurry to vilify non-vaccinators are simply taking sides with an authority they trust, rather than actually having learned the technical ins-and-outs of the topic and thoroughly digested all the relevant studies themselves.

The recent TAL episode Ruining It for the Rest of Us did a pretty good job of boiling this down, I think. It really comes down to whether or not you trust the medical system. The people who do vaccinate. The people who don't won't.

So the real question isn't "How can I work myself and everybody I know into a lather of utter antipathy towards those despicable people?" It's how you can get people to trust the system better. And I'm pretty sure that browbeating them with insults about how uneducated, stupid, and anti-sciencey they are isn't it.

And in fact, if the TAL episode is correct, the people who don't vaccinate these days tend to be on the educated and higher income side. I could speculate on a social mechanism at work here. The seed here is an apparently real coincidence between vaccinations and some real problems. Not only real, scary -- autism is certainly more frightening than infectious disease to me on a personal level (though I suspect I'd feel differently if I were living 100 years ago). Far from being a lunatic to pay attention to that, it's pretty reasonable for something like that yo make you wary (though I am aware it is likely coincidence at work here and not cause). But that's not the end of the story. If at this point, while you're trying to decide who you trust, you get messages about the topic from other people, medical professionals included, that range from dismissive about your concerns to, well, insulting, it's not hard to predict a human reaction from that (especially if you're part of the educated and higher income side, and you know you're not stupid, even though everybody is). You're going to be at least tempted to judge the thoroughness and effectiveness of the system based on the quality of your personal interaction with it, and the result is going to be eroded rather than reinforced trust.

Raise your hand if you've never had some kind of encounter like that in the modern medical system. If your hand is up, the reason is probably (a) you don't go to the doctor often or (b) not for anything puzzling or (c) you've really lucked out. I'm not saying modern medicine is a sham and we should be relying on something like homeopathy. I think modern medicine has solid foundations and a lot of dedicated, smart, and well-trained people. But for whatever reason, the system still often sucks at the kind of deferential education that goes beyond simple authoritative statements, and that's probably necessary to convince a large chunk of the antivaccinators.
posted by weston at 12:52 PM on February 6, 2009 [15 favorites]


Wikileak has the audio, by the by.
posted by Shepherd at 12:57 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll wager that a lot of people in a hurry to vilify non-vaccinators are simply taking sides with an authority they trust, rather than actually having learned the technical ins-and-outs of the topic and thoroughly digested all the relevant studies themselves.

Which studies are those? The ones that have repeatedly shown that there is no demonstratable link between autism and vaccines, or the nonexistent ones that show that there is?

You're right, it's about people who don't trust medicine. And just like other people who reject science, we don't have to take them seriously and we don't have to believe that they are acting reasonably or in good faith, any more than we do when people who similarly reject science insist on teaching our children that the world is 6,000 years old. And it's a lot easier to get rid of nonsense taught by Creatinists than it is to deal with childhood deafness caused by a infectuous disease.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:59 PM on February 6, 2009 [21 favorites]


And there is a lot more than just the MMR vaccine!

Polio can easily kill you. And if it doesn't it can cripple you for life. My mother is 4' 11" and needs a cane and brace to walk because of Polio. And she had a mild case.
posted by Riemann at 1:02 PM on February 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Which studies are those? The ones that have repeatedly shown that there is no demonstratable link between autism and vaccines, or the nonexistent ones that show that there is?

Yeah. The ones you've thoroughly read, right?

And just like other people who reject science, we don't have to take them seriously and we don't have to believe that they are acting reasonably or in good faith

Ah. I get it. You're not acting reasonably or in good faith either. This isn't, for you, actually about public health or anything like that. It's part of your own need to justify strawman construction and axe grinding.

See what I did there? You're doing it too. And until you can stop, you're contributing to the problem.
posted by weston at 1:04 PM on February 6, 2009


Yeah. The ones you've thoroughly read, right?

Is there some flaw in these studies? Can you point to one? They have been, and continue to go through peer review, and so far nobody has pointed to any methological flaws that I know of, and the studies are reproducable. This is the basis for good science. I don't need to be a biochemical engineer to trust that when competent biochemical engineers do competent work, their results can be trusted. That's not capitulating to authority any more than I capitulate to authority when I cross a bridge and trust the engineers did their jobs properly.

Ah. I get it. You're not acting reasonably or in good faith either. This isn't, for you, actually about public health or anything like that. It's part of your own need to justify strawman construction and axe grinding.

No, it's totally about public health for me. How did you draw any other conclusion?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:12 PM on February 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Vaccines? Studies? Personal belief systems?!? None of this does anything to assuage my terror at the fact that we are completely ignoring the threat posed by invisible pink unicorns! My god, the things I've seen them do! Where's your filthy science messiah now? Huh? What good will a lab coat do when the pink terror swarms up out of our lawn sprinklers?

If you'd seen them, if you'd seen what they can do to the flesh of the unsuspecting, you wouldn't be so quiescent. No sir. You would not.
posted by aramaic at 1:14 PM on February 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I know it's popular to attack the parents in these situations, but this phenomenon is growing, and I don't think the parents are entirely at fault. Part of the reason for this is that faith in government agencies like the FDA in the US is plummeting. And the reason for that is the FDA is failing us, the citizens. Look at the latest issue with salmonella in peanut butter, Vioxx, Avandia, etc. The FDA is erring on the side of the drug and food manufacturers.

So what we're seeing is that because of the opaqueness and deregulation of the drug approval process, conspiracy-type thinking is taking hold.

Yes, it's a major public-health issue. But calling the parents idiots isn't going to help. Majorly reforming the FDA (and USDA for food) and punishing companies that are not doing adequate testing will help.

And so will making science and research in medicine easier to follow for normal people. For example, searching through PubMed I'm finding studies indicating ethyl mercury has a shorter blood half-life than methyl mercury, but I'm also finding studies showing that there ARE positive associations between thimerosal and negative cognitive performance:
Neuropsychological Performance 10 Years After Immunization in Infancy With Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines


Thimerosal exposure in infants and neurodevelopmental disorders: an assessment of computerized medical records in the Vaccine Safety Datalink.
(this is to a paper by Mark Geier, who published some previous work that was shown to be flawed).

not to mention cellular-level issues:
Thimerosal induces neuronal cell apoptosis by causing cytochrome c and apoptosis-inducing factor release from mitochondria.

We need to make the research easily available and interpretable to parents. Maybe add in some visualizations of the spread of measles and other diseases, and teach people some proper risk-analysis.

If I have kids, I'll be vaccinating them, but I can completely understand the fear the parents are going through.
posted by formless at 1:22 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


So the real question isn't "How can I work myself and everybody I know into a lather of utter antipathy towards those despicable people?" It's how you can get people to trust the system better. And I'm pretty sure that browbeating them with insults about how uneducated, stupid, and anti-sciencey they are isn't it.

This.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:23 PM on February 6, 2009


Should YOU be injected with something without your consent? I mean, it's for the greater good and all. Swell. Now we're going to take care of your kids...

I'm pretty pro-vaccine, myself. I've even taken part in trials. But I've also been in a situation where I had the option of taking a vaccine that was helpful in my line of work, but not mandatory. It was a much tougher call than you'd probably think (I took it, in the end.)

As much as people get indignant about the vaccine refusers (and not without reason) the mob mentality of the advocates concerns me quite a bit. There ARE potential complications to vaccines, check with your doctor (the mercury thing is overblown, yeah, but you don't eat tuna every day, do you?) If your kid dies from it, the 'good for the herd' argument isn't going to count for a whole lot.

THAT said, good on Bad Astronomer for fighting the fight the way it should be fought, and shame on Barnett et al for playing the cowards game.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:24 PM on February 6, 2009


The government of Ontario wants you to get vaccinated against mumps.
posted by chugg at 1:26 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seriously, though, demanding that people be versed of the ins and outs of specific studies before believing their opinion is anything other than ax grinding is exactly like demanding that somebody be a trained geologist before they can have an opinion on global warming or that they be a paleontologist before they can offer up an opinion that Creationism is nonsense. And it's based on a false structure. Even as a non-scientist, it is not up to me to demonstrate that vaccines do not cause autism. It is up to the people who believe it does cause autism to demonstrate some link between the two.

But they don't. They just say "I don't trust science," refuse to vaccinate their kids, and make their own -- and other kids -- sick. What am I suppose to do? Teach them basic science? This is a panic, and it is not rational, and I think the best response is to treat it as irrational.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:26 PM on February 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


Weston, I've read those studies. I spent one long weekend, read about 5 studies that concluded that there's no link, 3 "studies" that concluded they did, and 1 literature review.

I did it because I was curious, and I had some free time. And it was pretty clear which ones were serious studies, and which ones had an agenda. I'm not a researcher of any form, but I can read a study.

Nonetheless, I'm perfectly comfortable with taking sides the authority of someone I trust. And I understand that anti-vaccinators are doing the same thing. The difference is that I'm right. My "side" makes predictions and they work. The "opposing side" makes ones that fail to do so. Who should I trust?

The whole "medical professionals talk down to me so I'm not going to trust them" is foolish. I'm reasonably smart, I know that. I can understand difficult concepts. But I don't know medicine. If a doctor tells me I'm being foolishly worried, they're probably right. I ask them if they can give me the proper terms to look for (maybe I don't know the precise nerves in my thigh), and then I'll look up details about that. But odds are the doctor is right, not me. It's not an insult to my intelligence. I'm just not trained.

From everything I've seen, the people who don't vaccinate tend to be religious of a form that rejects immunization. Education & income are not the primary factors.
posted by Lemurrhea at 1:27 PM on February 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


This Dr's blog has a lot of entertaining/educational/frightening entries about the antivaccination crowd. I also used to believe in and use accupunture and homeopathy, but now have no faith in those 'healing modalities' whatsoever. I don't know what lead me to gradually turn 180 on these issues, but I definitely have a hard time feeling any sympathy for the anti-vaccination woo-woos. Actually they really infuriate me.

There is no clinical evidence that any vaccine can cause autism-spectrum disorders. There is plenty of evidence that not vaccinating children can lead to illness and death. The UK has shown us a perfect model of what happens when the 'herd immunity' is diluted. We know exactly what would happen if more parents chose not to vaccinate. Kids who are too young to get vaccinated will become infected by these non-vac kids, and some will die. When this starts to happen I expect to see wrongful death lawsuits brought against the non-vaccinating parents.

I honestly kind of savor that possibility, in a sick way.
posted by wowbobwow at 1:29 PM on February 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


weston, for an interesting exploration of how doctors are(n't) educated to explain medicine to patients, I recommend my friend Dave's book Hippocrates' Shadow: Secrets from the House of Medicine.
posted by nicwolff at 1:30 PM on February 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


(He's a doctor.)
posted by nicwolff at 1:31 PM on February 6, 2009


FWIW, I just came back from getting a whooping cough booster shot, even though I'm 33. There have been a few cases in my county, children suffering from the stupidity of their parents.

You might not realize it, but whooping cough boosters are recommended every 10 years.
posted by unixrat at 1:31 PM on February 6, 2009


it was pretty clear which ones were serious studies, and which ones had an agenda. I'm not a researcher of any form, but I can read a study.

Which ones had an agenda, how do you demonstrate that, and what was flawed in their conclusions as a result?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:31 PM on February 6, 2009


There are reasons to be concerned about what megacorps mandate be put in your body. I'll let others rant about the highly-toxic mercury in certain vaccines. There are also the really stupid vaccines like Chicken Pox (Varicella). It's also been suggested that the lack of Chicken Pox in the environment is increasing the incidence of shingles, which is much more dangerous when you're old. Now they're pushing for mandatory HPV vaccination for girls at around 12. Read up on the side effects of that new vaccine.

But back to the basic vaccines. 2 month olds get Hep B, rotavirus, DTaP, Hemophilia, Pneomococcus, and Polio at the same time. You're making a 2-month-old immune system battle six infections at once. And then once kids get to school age, there are nine vaccines: Diphtheria/Pertussis/Tetanus (DTaP booster), Polio booster, Measles/Mumps/Rubella, Hep B booster, and now Chicken Pox too. NINE at once.

I'm all for vaccination (except as noted above), but I think making a little kid's shiny new immune system fight off nine infections at once is nuts.

As I recall, we had the vaccines administered three at a time over a course of a few months. The doctor thought we were crazy hippies.
posted by eatyourlunch at 1:32 PM on February 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm glad to see that Weston takes absolutely nothing on trust from experts or authorities and is sure to check out everything carefully, himself.

I'm surprised he has time to post here, though, as last I heard he was still reviewing the evidence on whether or not DDT is safe after deciding to do some gardening on a sunny 1971 morning.
posted by bonaldi at 1:37 PM on February 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's not that they don't trust science. It's that they don't trust a corrupt FDA, a incompetent medical system, and authoritarian doctors who are often less informed about current developments than their patients (GPs in particular).
posted by small_ruminant at 1:41 PM on February 6, 2009



it was pretty clear which ones were serious studies, and which ones had an agenda. I'm not a researcher of any form, but I can read a study.

Which ones had an agenda, how do you demonstrate that, and what was flawed in their conclusions as a result?


The most notable demonstration was the failure by one of studies to use any blinding in the trials. It's not that there was a flaw in their conclusion from this, it's that the conclusions themselves are suspect, whatever they may happen to be.
posted by Lemurrhea at 1:45 PM on February 6, 2009


2 month olds get Hep B, rotavirus, DTaP, Hemophilia, Pneomococcus, and Polio at the same time. You're making a 2-month-old immune system battle six infections at once.

8, actually, because as you pointed out subsequently, DTaP is diptheria, pertussis and tetanus.

Plenty of doctors are more than happy to space out vaccines. Our pediatrician (5 mo baby) was happy to, if we wanted to.
Likewise, you can opt to get vaccines without the thimerosal preservative. Our pediatric practice has no vaccines with thimerosal.
Some medical practitioners are arrogant and dismissive, plenty are thoughtful willing to work with you for what you consider the optimal treatment of your child. This should include clear and thoughtful communication about the necessity of vaccines. Because they are. Unless anyone thinks that polio is big fun times.
posted by gaspode at 1:45 PM on February 6, 2009


It's not that they don't trust science. It's that they don't trust a corrupt FDA, a incompetent medical system, and authoritarian doctors who are often less informed about current developments than their patients (GPs in particular).

I'm sorry, I simply disagree with this. Really, it's that they have flown into a panic about one discredited study, and have decided, based on the flimsiest of pretexts, that vaccines are bad; strangely, they trusted that study. When thermisol was removed, and when it was demonstrated not to have any connection to autism, they shifted to blaming vaccines through some other unexplained and undemonstrated process. It's a panic, and it is specifically focused on vaccines (these parents don't seem to reject leg casts when their children break their legs, or aspirin, or other aspects of medicine that they have not been panicked about). To say that they have reasonable reasons for their distrust is just not accurate. They have decided they don't trust vaccines, specifically, and use a more generalized distrust for other aspects of medicine to justify it, but it is not rooted in reason.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:46 PM on February 6, 2009 [12 favorites]


To the Jeni Bennets of the world, quit trying to friggin kill me. I have a nasty reaction to the MMR, and there's a dent in my upper left arm from the last time they tried to give it to me. I'm dependent on other people not having measles, mumps, or rubella, you mad cow.
posted by crataegus at 1:49 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or Barnetts, even.
posted by crataegus at 1:50 PM on February 6, 2009


Speaking of immunizing the thread: Measles, mumps and rubella are all psychosomatic.

Don't spread that shit here, DU. We all know they are caused by engrams.
posted by The Bellman at 1:52 PM on February 6, 2009


Now they're pushing for mandatory HPV vaccination for girls at around 12. Read up on the side effects of that new vaccine.

I'd be more likely to look at it if you could link to it. Pro-tip: research is different from speculation and hand wringing.
posted by peeedro at 1:55 PM on February 6, 2009


Can you say herd immunity? These anti-vaxers are dangerous. Someone should hit Jenny McCarthy with a truck.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:10 PM on February 6, 2009


I don't bother with vaccines. That's what chemtrails are for.
posted by brundlefly at 2:10 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


To the Jeni Bennets of the world, quit trying to friggin kill me. I have a nasty reaction to the MMR, and there's a dent in my upper left arm from the last time they tried to give it to me. I'm dependent on other people not having measles, mumps, or rubella, you mad cow.

Guess what, we are too, its idiots like you that threaten the population, go get vaccinated, dont be a dolt.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:12 PM on February 6, 2009


Some people are legitimately allergic to vaccines. No reason to call someone a dolt. If there is a real medical reason not to get one -- and some people have them -- then they shouldn't get one.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:16 PM on February 6, 2009


Ok, maybe a bit harsh, sorry, maybe not an idiot. But you should be vaccinated, as should children. These diseases kill, they have been responsible for deaths for centuries. We defeated these plagues, it's just unbelievable to me that there are people who want to turn back the clock to the days when sadness penetrated families around the world because childhood disease killed their offspring. It's preventable. Not taking action to prevent such tragedies is irresponsible and should be criminal.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:19 PM on February 6, 2009


I don't think that six or eight vaccines at once are that bad. The suggested upper limit may be 10,000 at a time. I'm having a hard time quickly finding the exact article; if you search for "offit 10000 vaccines" on Google, there's an interesting obliteration phenomenon wherein the anti-vaccine crowd show up for pages and pages before you hit anything technical.

I got a tetanus shot last year, despite the anticipation of the usual gruesome overreaction of my immune system, and that's not even communicable through any reasonable mechanism. I should probably get some Hepatitis A shots, too, now that I think of it.
posted by adipocere at 2:20 PM on February 6, 2009


The seed here is an apparently real coincidence between vaccinations and some real problems. Not only real, scary -- autism is certainly more frightening than infectious disease to me on a personal level (though I suspect I'd feel differently if I were living 100 years ago). Far from being a lunatic to pay attention to that, it's pretty reasonable for something like that yo make you wary (though I am aware it is likely coincidence at work here and not cause).

Weston, what the hell are you trying to say here? Autism may be linked to vaccinations but it maybe just a coincidence?!? Way to spread nasty rumors and cover your backside as well.

I have a son who's autistic. VACCINES ARE NOT LINKED TO AUTISM! Why don't you do the research? I have. Here's a good place to start: Autism's False Prophets

Not only do people like you scare others from taking vaccinations, but you help waste millions of dollars on junk autism research trying to link vaccines and autism, money that could be spent on an actual treatments for autism based on real science.

Maybe you should go blog on Jenny McCarthy's site and those other geniuses at Generation Rescue because Jenny, despite all medical evidence to the contrary, not only blames vaccines but has also found a cure for Autism.

I hate to get all keyboard cowboy here, but this is my son I'm talking about so why don't you shut the fuck up until you know what you're talking about.
posted by cjets at 2:20 PM on February 6, 2009 [14 favorites]


It's not that they don't trust science. It's that they don't trust a corrupt FDA, a incompetent medical system, and authoritarian doctors who are often less informed about current developments than their patients (GPs in particular).

I totally understand the skepticism angle. The risk-assessment and decision-making that we're talking about here, however, despite stemming from a reasonable fear, is dangerously unreasonable in scope. I may have no reason to trust on faith the motives and competence of the corporations, government agencies, and faceless individuals responsible for designing, regulating, and packing my parachute. If it is a choice between gravity and the parachute, however, I will choose the parachute every time.

Likewise, although there is always the remote possibility that any given batch of vaccine could be bad for whatever reason, failing evidence in hand that a particular vaccine is dangerous, the known risks from the diseases they prevent are orders of magnitude higher.

Speaking of risk-assessment deficiency syndrome: I couldn't help but wonder how many people calling in to voice their fear of these vaccines were talking on their cell phones while driving.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:20 PM on February 6, 2009


From where I sit, the problem is simply that we have a generation of parents who grew up not understanding how serious mumps, measles, and ruebella are. They see kids with autism, and that scares them; mumps, measles, and ruebella are largely confined to the history books and therefore aren't meaningful to them.


I'm convinced that there's nothing we can say to these people. Folks have tried. Folks ARE trying, even now. Being nice and respectful isn't working, and being rude isn't either.


No, these fools won't change their minds until they start going to the funerals of people who die from exposure to these viruses, or until they know parents whose kids' health was damaged permanently. Once enough of these funerals are covered by the media, and the media eviscerates the anti-vaccine movement, then the pendulum will swing the other way.
posted by magstheaxe at 2:21 PM on February 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


Is there some flaw in these studies? Can you point to one?

You don't know, do you? You're confident there isn't, not unreasonably. But I'd bet you're not making this rhetorical point because you personally know the first damn thing about the topic. And yet, equipped with that non-knowledge, you're ready to hurl scathing invective and grave pronouncements about matters like whether or not the non-vaccinators actually care about their children or not.

No, it's totally about public health for me. How did you draw any other conclusion?

Well, for one thing, a good chunk of one of your paragraphs upthread tends to wanders more than casually into the Religion vs Science. Anecdotally, this seems wrong to me -- nearly all of the religious people I'm acquainted with (including creationists) also believe in vaccination. Even those crazy Jehovah's Witnesses left it up to individuals starting 50 years ago. But as we all know, anecdotes are no match for data. So, perhaps you have some. Perhaps something which discusses the current ratio between the religious population and the subset of non-vaccinators, and shows that it's far beyond the order of the ratio between the total number of vaccination events and the number that end up being problematic. I'd also be curious to see how many non-vaccinators reject modern medicine in general. Perhaps you have that information too. If you don't, though, one has to wonder why such a scientific fellow as yourself is so ready to boil this down to nothing more than another round in The Science vs Religion Debate(TM) (with the Creationism Expansion Pack), and it might not be an unreasonable conclusion to assume you're not doing this on the basis of reason but because you have personal axes to grind.

I actually think it's plausible you were acting in good faith, and you're just mistaken about a few things. But I think it'd do you more than a little good to think about how much more responsive to persuasion an accusation that you're not acting in good faith makes you.

The whole "medical professionals talk down to me so I'm not going to trust them" is foolish.

It often is.

But how much more foolish is it to assume you're going to solve this problem by MORE talking down to? By golly, if we can just spread enough vitriolic contempt for non-vaccinators, that oughta solve the problem! That's how smart we science pen^Hople are!

Weston, I've read those studies. I spent one long weekend, read about 5 studies that concluded that there's no link, 3 "studies" that concluded they did, and 1 literature review.

Lemurhea, I think that's great. You are now not only one of the few people who might make genuinely informed decisions for their own kids, you are also, unlike most of the people in-thread, potentially more qualified to put together a potentially persuasive case for vaccination based on something else other than frothing at the mouth and insulting people.
posted by weston at 2:23 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


You don't know, do you? You're confident there isn't, not unreasonably. But I'd bet you're not making this rhetorical point because you personally know the first damn thing about the topic. And yet, equipped with that non-knowledge, you're ready to hurl scathing invective and grave pronouncements about matters like whether or not the non-vaccinators actually care about their children or not.

That's ridiculous. I don't have to prove there isn't a flaw in the study, you have to show there is. This is argument 101. And you're calling me part of the problem?
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:26 PM on February 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think non-vacciners care about their children, by the way. That doesn't mean their behavior is not uninformed and misplaced. Weren't you the one bandying about the phrase "straw man" earlier? Please don't put arguments into my mouth that I have not made.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:30 PM on February 6, 2009


magstheaxe, I think you're right. In Marin County, land of many of the anti-vaccine folks I know, autism rates are though the roof for no known reason and of course people are panicking about it.

I wonder if more footage and documentaries of what the old diseases did to people would steer them away from reaching for this particular straw. I have no doubt they'd latch on to another- it's the way humans are, and I'm unable to lambast them for it.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:37 PM on February 6, 2009


I'm glad to see that Weston takes absolutely nothing on trust from experts or authorities and is sure to check out everything carefully, himself.

I'm not sure if you deliberately or accidentally misunderstood my point, but since you brought it up, most things I do take on some level of guesswork and trust, excepting some Math (and even, unfortunately, a lot of that). And I'm pretty aware that a number of my guesses about what is authoritative and what isn't aren't strictly reasoned, or may start from bad assumptions, or for other reasons, end up being wrong.

But when it comes to discussing important stuff, I try to dial down the insults, or at least make them subtle or clever, and when it really comes time to change thinking, I think that education goes a lot farther than vitriol. So I generally don't loudly proclaim other people are stupid, acting in bad faith, and therefore maybe don't even care about their own kids just because they don't trust an authority I do. Especially when my own basis for trusting said authority isn't a close and educated examination of its claims, but rather because it's a roughly philosophically allied with stuff I believe in.

Sometimes I'm not altogether convinced that this itself is a tenable position, however, and some of the counterarguments in this thread are terribly convincing in a roundabout way.

Weston, what the hell are you trying to say here? Autism may be linked to vaccinations but it maybe just a coincidence?!?

I'll clarify:

* I think it's almost certainly a coincidence.
* I don't think people are morons if they become concerned when they happen upon this coincidence
* I think people who treat them as morons when they become concerned, rather than making gentle and persistent genuine efforts at education, are likely exacerbating the concern rather than helping, and are thus acting more stupidly than the people who get concerned. See also "MAYBE IF YOU SCREAM AT THE CHILD LOUDER IT WILL STOP CRYING!"
posted by weston at 2:46 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't have to prove there isn't a flaw in the study, you have to show there is.

That's true if what I'm trying to do is show there's a flaw in the study, but it's false if that's not my aim.

I think non-vacciners care about their children, by the way.

That's good, because it'd be easy to assume that's one of the things you meant when you said that they're not acting in good faith.
posted by weston at 2:49 PM on February 6, 2009


I wonder if the recent upswing in measles is due to the fact that kids can't get separate measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines anymore.

Separate Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccines No Longer Available? What Can Parents Do?
posted by mrgrimm at 2:51 PM on February 6, 2009


I don't think people are morons if they become concerned when they happen upon this coincidence

I don't think they are either. Certainly concern is to be expected. And I bet there are a lot of parents who can be reasoned into understanding there is no established connection between autism and vaccines.

IMy ire is reserved for the ones who insist there is despite all evidence, like Jenny McCarthy, and continue to promote terror of vaccines.

For reference, Wikipedia has a fairly good list of studies done to determine if there is any connection between autism and the MMR vaccine.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:52 PM on February 6, 2009


Now they're pushing for mandatory HPV vaccination for girls at around 12. Read up on the side effects of that new vaccine.

Having suffered through a lot of pain and anxiety caused by a cancer-cell inducing HPV infection, I can say that the side-effects from the HPV vaccine I had afterwards were relief and a soothing sensation in the back of my mind.

Most people who are anti-vaccine haven't seen suffering associated with the diseases the vaccines are for and are relying on others getting vaccinated to keep them from seeing this suffering firsthand. Now, I believe in questioning the establishment but this is not one of the battles I would choose to fight.
posted by Foam Pants at 2:52 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll clarify:

* I think it's almost certainly a coincidence.


Then why bring it up? You become part of the fearmongering as much as the media or anyone else who should know better.

And, by the way, please define the coincidence you're talking about.

* I think people who treat them as morons when they become concerned, rather than making gentle and persistent genuine efforts at education, are likely exacerbating the concern rather than helping, and are thus acting more stupidly than the people who get concerned. See also "MAYBE IF YOU SCREAM AT THE CHILD LOUDER IT WILL STOP CRYING!"

You're not a crying child, are you? I'm speaking with other adults here. And when someone implies that vaccines are responsible for autism (but "not really"), it makes me see red. It's clearly a very personal issue for me but I would expect better on the blue.

And if someone would rather listen to Jenny McCarthy than accepted medical science, you know what, they might be a moron.
posted by cjets at 2:59 PM on February 6, 2009


Mumps Sucks
posted by homunculus at 3:01 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


posted by small_ruminant It's not that they don't trust science. It's that they don't trust a corrupt FDA, a incompetent medical system, and authoritarian doctors who are often less informed about current developments than their patients (GPs in particular).

No, they don't trust science. I know and have spoken with parents who believe vaccines are unnatural and we're supposed to suffer through things like measels and whooping cough and it's how we build our immune systems and oh yeah vaccines may cause autism. These parents--and anyone who believes any of that crap--are idiots who endanger their children out of fear and willful ignorance, and I'm looking forward to the day when someone successfully prosecutes them for child abuse.
posted by mattdidthat at 3:02 PM on February 6, 2009


But back to the basic vaccines. 2 month olds get Hep B, rotavirus, DTaP, Hemophilia, Pneomococcus, and Polio at the same time. You're making a 2-month-old immune system battle six infections at once. And then once kids get to school age, there are nine vaccines: Diphtheria/Pertussis/Tetanus (DTaP booster), Polio booster, Measles/Mumps/Rubella, Hep B booster, and now Chicken Pox too. NINE at once.

I'm all for vaccination (except as noted above), but I think making a little kid's shiny new immune system fight off nine infections at once is nuts.


Hep B: recombinant DNA
Rotavirus: live vaccine
DTaP: diphtheria toxoid, tetanus toxoid, inactivated B. pertussis cell components
Hemophilia: not sure about this one...
Pneumonococcus: two types, both inactivated virus
Polio: inactivated virus
Measles/Mumps/Rubella: all three are live, attenuated
Chicken Pox: live, attenuated

There is a misconception that 'oh, shit my baby is fighting off all these infections!' during vaccination. Out of the ones listed above, rotavirus, MMR and chicken pox are live, attenuated viruses; the rest are not capable of reproducing inside the human body. A live, weakened form of a pathogen is sometimes needed to produce a good, lifetime immune response because their ability to grow, yet remain harmless allows the immune system to encounter the bug in the right environment (eg. in the intestines) and produce memory cells to a huge variety of antigens found on the bug.

The other vaccines do not cause an infection and merely allow the immune system to familiarize itself with and build up an immunity to components of pathogens.

Honestly, I don't see what the big deal is. We are constantly bombarded by pathogens and allergens every second of the day. Every time a kid plays in dirt, brushes his hands off and rubs his eyes/nose or sticks his fingers in his mouth, he is exposed to harmless and harmful bugs which could very well cause an infection. We touch doorknobs and payphones, grab handles in subways and buses and expose ourselves to all these pathogens all the time. Getting a couple of vaccines at once, most of which are simply not capable of infecting the human body seems to pale in comparison. But IANAD, and I recognize that spacing out vaccinations are needed, especially since maternal antibodies are still coursing through the baby's bloodstream early in life and can affect the efficacy of a vaccine.
posted by extramundane at 3:15 PM on February 6, 2009 [13 favorites]


Now they're pushing for mandatory HPV vaccination for girls at around 12. Read up on the side effects of that new vaccine.

Yeah. It's going to completely beat a form of cancer.
posted by you're a kitty! at 3:35 PM on February 6, 2009 [10 favorites]


extramundane:

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine is a synthetic vaccine as well, no cells at all, not capable of causing the disease.

Incidentally it has nothing to do with the hereditary clotting disorder hemophilia.
posted by oats at 3:39 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


oats, thanks for clearing that up. I was wondering why hemophilia was on that list...
posted by extramundane at 4:23 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, they don't trust science.

mattdidthat, obviously we know different subsets, which is something the "anti-vaccine people are dumb and crazy, amirite?!!" contingent needs to bear in mind. Just because people end up making similar decisions doesn't mean their motivations are the same.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:40 PM on February 6, 2009


Should YOU be injected with something without your consent?

If the result of not doing so is that you harm a bunch of people? Absolutely.

Or should we allow people with, say, tyhpod to work in restaurants because they don't want to be treated and don't care if other people get sick?

Moreover, I fail to see why parents' stupid, dangerous beliefs should be allowed to put their children's lives at risk. If a parent believes that smacking their kid in the head with a 4x2 is good discipline, we put their child somewhere safe.

It's not that they don't trust science. It's that they don't trust a corrupt FDA, a incompetent medical system, and authoritarian doctors who are often less informed about current developments than their patients (GPs in particular).


But apparently they do trust softcore porn actresses and a corrupt, disbarred doctor whose career has been spent cooking research to support litigation.

No, these fools won't change their minds until they start going to the funerals of people who die from exposure to these viruses, or until they know parents whose kids' health was damaged permanently. Once enough of these funerals are covered by the media, and the media eviscerates the anti-vaccine movement, then the pendulum will swing the other way.

No, they'll assert it's a conspiracy of 'big pharma' and 'government' or any other damn thing.

I wonder if the recent upswing in measles is due to the fact that kids can't get separate measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines anymore.

When did that happen? In the last 6 months? Because my daughter sure as hell got them, since she reacted poorly to her first round of MMR.
posted by rodgerd at 4:50 PM on February 6, 2009


So the real question isn't "How can I work myself and everybody I know into a lather of utter antipathy towards those despicable people?" It's how you can get people to trust the system better.

That's not the real question.

The real question is "What degree of punishment and level of enforcement is necessary to prevent a sufficient number of parents from not vaccinating their children?"

I want them to vaccinate their kids. I don't really care how they feel about it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:49 PM on February 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


I'm all for vaccination (except as noted above), but I think making a little kid's shiny new immune system fight off nine infections at once is nuts.

So, uh, why? Let's say you've got an incipient infection of some kind or another. By your accounting that's one thing your body has to deal with right?

Not so much. You're going to rip that little bastard (and all 3000 or so of it's component proteins) eighteen ways to Sunday, and present the bits waiting for something to stick. A good size protein can have hundreds of epitopes. And this is going to happen every time your immune system (well, the non-humoral side of the house) finds something new to grind on.

Fortunately, it's not like your macrophages have to get together and talk about this in committee. They're all off acting on their own. And they're pretty much going to do this every time something new comes down the pike. In the state of nature, that's going to be pretty much every time you breathe.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:59 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


When it really comes time to change thinking, I think that education goes a lot farther than vitriol. So I generally don't loudly proclaim other people are stupid, acting in bad faith, and therefore maybe don't even care about their own kids just because they don't trust an authority I do.

And, hey, you know what, you might have a point if there was someone here going "I'm not sure if I should have my child vaccinated, what do you think?", or if Astro Zombie was addressing his comments to particular parents out there. But that isn't the case.

People are vilifying those who reject vaccines because they're doing something stupid -- doing something that has proven and life-threatening dangers for reasons that border on the tinfoilish -- and what's more, something that ultimately harms their entire society. That certainly excuses invective, as far as I can see.

If they were trying to persuade a particular parent, I'm pretty confident that each one of them would take a different approach. But, even if they didn't, peer pressure, shame and ridicule are pretty damn powerful motivators anyway. Not every parent can read a lab report. Every parent will know all about it when their unvaccinated children are shunned and the nonsense woo science they're going on is being roundly mocked.
posted by bonaldi at 6:01 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am eternally baffled at the parents who appear to have got the idea that whether or not their children are vaccinated is up to them. I don't know where such a ridiculous idea comes from.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:02 PM on February 6, 2009


posted by small_ruminant Just because people end up making similar decisions doesn't mean their motivations are the same.

I agree. But in this case, we know what's motivating them: emotions. Their decisions and actions are based on emotion, which, in this case, means the distrust and rejection of scientific fact and logic which proves them wrong. They're deciding 1 + 1 = 5 because it feels better to think it does, or the mathematic community is conspiring to hide this information, or because Jenny McCarthy says so.

I like to ask people who are anti-vaccine why they use car seats for their children. Don't they know car seats are just a money-making gimmick invented by the auto industry? Being restrained in a tiny car seat stunts kids' growth and causes autism since the kids can't move around and be stimulated. Besides, our bodies are designed to heal more quickly from massive blunt-force trauma when you have lots of it as a child--all this safety stuff has depleted our injury-resistance and healing systems.
posted by mattdidthat at 6:16 PM on February 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


posted by ROU_Xenophobe The real question is "What degree of punishment and level of enforcement is necessary to prevent a sufficient number of parents from not vaccinating their children?"

Sadly, the parents aren't the ones who will be punished. The children who get these preventable diseases and suffer the devastating, lifelong misery of their aftereffects will be the ones who will be punished for their parents' idiocy and abuse.
posted by mattdidthat at 6:24 PM on February 6, 2009


You don't have to trust any authorities about the safety of vaccines. You don't even have to trust the many double-blind, peer reviewed studies (though I do.)
Just look around you. We find drug side effects that affect one out of 500,000 people. Thalidomide was used by several thousand women in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Hundreds of millions, probably billions of people have taken these vaccines over several decades. With that population, problems are not going to be hard to ferret out. Any dire side effect of vaccines would be leaving piles of bodies and mobs of deranged children. It's not happening.
posted by msalt at 6:35 PM on February 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


eatyourlunch - but I think making a little kid's shiny new immune system fight off nine infections at once is nuts.

Well, your kid is not fighting nine infections at once.

Vaccines are not infections. Most modern vaccines are 'dead vaccines'. ie., if they were shot into you without an adjuvant, they would do nothing. Zilch. Nada. Bupkiss.*

Most modern vaccines are just bits of pathogens (which cannot harm you) along with an adjuvant (which, basically**, tells your immune system that what comes with it is bad and that your immune system should get rid of it.

It's like giving your immune system a bunch of photographs of bad people and telling them that if they see something like that, that they should get rid of them. Without the adjuvant, it's like just giving your immune system a bunch of photographs.

Doing a bunch of them at once is a convenience. Vaccine combinations have been tried and tested in their many permutations and the combinations that are routinely administered are to decrease the number of needles (kids hate needles, right?) while maintaining the highest level of effectiveness.

*when people get "sick" from innoculations, the majority is just from an overactive response to the adjuvant. Basically the same thing as mild food poisoning, only there's no live microorganism.
**basically. If you want, I can talk about how adjuvants and vaccines work from a historical and from a modern molecular basis. It's going to take a while, and I'm going to have to lecture on a lot of background knowledge, and if you *really* wanted the "truth" I'm going to have to spend even more time digging up all of the original basic research and then round it off with systems and epidemiological research. If you're up to it, I just might be, too. Maybe make a Meta.Projects out of it. Maybe, but you wouldn't believe it even if I did.

posted by porpoise at 7:15 PM on February 6, 2009 [12 favorites]


Pope Guilty - I am eternally baffled at the parents...

Are you a parent?

A couple of my co-workers (both with MScs in the biological sciences and have demonstrated themselves to be competent and rational and willing & able to read & evaluate the body of peer-reviewed literature) have publically stated their hesitancy in innoculating their children. Albeit, against influenza - which is a little more controversial than the standard battery of childhood infections. True, the data for influenza vaccinations for children under the age of 2 is a lot cloudier, but there's something about "your flesh and blood" that they got really emotional over.

I sympathize and understand, really, I do. But we're going to keep seeing this kind of divide in our society as long as public education is actively being sabotauged by people who want a stupid and gullible populace that would vote for them.

Fuck bailing out bankers and corporations. Roll the spending into general education and the educated. Spend money to get scientists to go out and educate people (entertainingly) and spend some money to advertise/promote those events. Our university does a lot of volunteer programs but, from my perspective, most of the graduate students who go don't know their shit and are just about as bad as the radio jockeys who have an agenda. Pay for these things and do some screening. It'd be fucking cheap compared to the secondary and tertiary outcomes.
posted by porpoise at 7:44 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


How many of these anti-vaccination people are raising their children downwind of a coal power plant? There's some tasty mercury for ya.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:16 PM on February 6, 2009


Perhaps unvaccinated people who cause outbreaks of disease should be financially liable (if they are not already?)
posted by alexei at 12:19 AM on February 7, 2009


I think the reason people get so mad at the anti-vaccination crowd is that they already have a body count (2 3 links there). I'll repeat that. They've killed children. We are not talking theoreticals here. We are talking dead babies.
I want to see these people on trial for manslaughter and public endagerment. I want to see lawsuits by parents to keep these children out of schools to prevent infants at home from being infected. These people are killers, and that alone is enough for me. I cease caring about your fears for your child when you might as well be out on an overpass with a rifle shooting at anyone under the age of 2.
It boils down to this: if you don't want to vaccinate your children, make sure they never come into contact with anyone who has contact with children under the age of 2 (the standard age for pertussis (whoophing cough)) vaccine. Simple enough, and that way the only one you're trying to kill is your own child.
I know I am ranting here. But the irresponsibility, the harm already done, the discredited "science" of the anti-vaccination crowd gets me very angry. So I have trouble being reasonable, I have trouble looking for common ground. Just like I have trouble looking for common ground with drunk drivers.
posted by Hactar at 11:29 AM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're not a crying child, are you? I'm speaking with other adults here. And when someone implies that vaccines are responsible for autism (but "not really"), it makes me see red.

If you genuinely think that my metaphor was meant to implicate anyone in the discussion as a child, or that I actually implied that vaccines are responsible for autism, then you ought to consider the possibility that your self-admitted strong feelings on the issue may have at least temporarily distorted your reading comprehension.
posted by weston at 12:14 PM on February 7, 2009


**basically. If you want, I can talk about how adjuvants and vaccines work from a historical and from a modern molecular basis. It's going to take a while, and I'm going to have to lecture on a lot of background knowledge, and if you *really* wanted the "truth" I'm going to have to spend even more time digging up all of the original basic research and then round it off with systems and epidemiological research. If you're up to it, I just might be, too. Maybe make a Meta.Projects out of it. Maybe, but you wouldn't believe it even if I did.

Porpoise, if you decide that you actually want to do this and you'd like a research assistant, I'm you gal. Exam schedule permitting.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:57 PM on February 7, 2009


Your gal.

Um, yeah. I think I'm going to go find some coffee now.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:58 PM on February 7, 2009


If you genuinely think that my metaphor was meant to implicate anyone in the discussion as a child, or that I actually implied that vaccines are responsible for autism

Here's what you said:

The seed here is an apparently real coincidence between vaccinations and some real problems. Not only real, scary -- autism is certainly more frightening than infectious disease to me on a personal level (though I suspect I'd feel differently if I were living 100 years ago).

As I said earlier, if you didn't mean to imply that vaccines are responsible for autism, why bring it up? And, once again, I'll ask: What is the apparently real coincidence?
posted by cjets at 2:06 PM on February 7, 2009


Before I go any further, I'm interested in what meanings you ascribe to the term coincidence, because I suspect this could be the root of the problem.
posted by weston at 2:44 PM on February 7, 2009


Porpoise: *when people get "sick" from innoculations, the majority is just from an overactive response to the adjuvant. Basically the same thing as mild food poisoning, only there's no live microorganism.

I'd guess this is what eatyourlunch and others worried about their kid "fighting off nine infections at once" are getting at. They know you can feel like crap after one shot. Whether it's from the bits of pathogen, the adjuvant, the preservative or whatever, someone uninformed on the contents of a vaccine doesn't know and may not care. They are just mentally extrapolating the observed effects of one shot out to nine shots and on a very small body. Which, on the face of it, is an entirely reasonable concern and probably responsible for a lot of parents spacing the shots out longer than usual. Do you know if the combination testing you spoke of addressed the question from that angle?
posted by sapere aude at 3:54 PM on February 7, 2009


By spacing out the shots, then, the're just guaranteeing their kid feels shitty nine times, instead of just once. Brillo.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:02 PM on February 7, 2009


One should mention that the television personality Obama selected for Surgeon General or Health Czar or whatever they call it, Dr. Gupta, has promoted the idea that vaccinations are a cause of autism. Along with some other asinine statements he's made, and the rather interesting follow-the-money sponsorships his show had, I'm very disappointed that Obama chose him. Seems like more of the same, rather than doing the right thing.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:06 PM on February 7, 2009


I'm interested in what meanings you ascribe to the term coincidence, because I suspect this could be the root of the problem.


Here's Merriam Webster's definition (it works for me as well): the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection.
posted by cjets at 4:11 PM on February 7, 2009


What magstheaxe said: From where I sit, the problem is simply that we have a generation of parents who grew up not understanding how serious mumps, measles, and ruebella are.

That's my guess too. People having children today (in the US, at least) grew up in a world where disease was maybe an annoyance, if it gets bad you go to the doctor and get immediately-effective medicine. Not in the pre-vaccine pre-antibiotic world where well-known diseases kill or cripple a good fraction of children, or random scratches lead to deadly infections. We're safer today because of modern medicine, but a visceral risk-estimation doesn't understand that, and decides that modern medicine is unnecessary today because we're safer.

(And vaccines do have risks of course. Every time in my adult life I've gotten a vaccine, I've been given a handout describing the particular vaccine's pros and cons, and the doctor has summarized why it's worth it— or in one case, when I was getting some immunizations before travel, why he thought one of the vaccinations wasn't worth it (marginal effectiveness, possible side effects, infrequent disease, won't seriously injure me even if I do get it).)

msalt: To be fair to the thimerosal-causes-autism crowd, we are seeing unexpectedly high rates of autism. And mercury is associated with neurological disorders. I think it's a fine thing that the possibility of a link was investigated more fully, but it's unfortunate that, having nothing else to do, the thimerosal crowd has wandered off into general anti-vaccine crazyland.
posted by hattifattener at 5:27 PM on February 7, 2009


eatyourlunch: There are also the really stupid vaccines like Chicken Pox (Varicella). It's also been suggested that the lack of Chicken Pox in the environment is increasing the incidence of shingles, which is much more dangerous when you're old.

You don't explain why you think Chicken Pox vaccine is "stupid". Chicken Pox can be deadly, and the vaccination has proved to be very effective against it, so I would hardly the vaccine "stupid".

Your comment seems to imply that the Chicken Pox vaccine causes shingles among the children who are vaccinated. That is not true. Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the Chicken Pox virus. Once you have Chicken Pox you will always have the virus; your body's immune system simply keeps it suppressed, as long as your immune system stays healthy. So if you never get Chicken Pox, you will never get shingles.

There are some studies that show that the effectiveness of the Chicken Pox vaccine may have the unintended consequence of increasing shingles among adults, who had Chicken Pox as children (before the vaccine was available). Evidence does show that for adults who have the Chicken Pox virus: exposure to children with chickenpox helps act like a booster shot to the immune system, keeping shingles from occurring (same NYT article).

However, this effect is temporary. Once the first generation of immunized children reaches old age, this effect will go away.
posted by javelina at 1:09 AM on February 8, 2009


Today's Sunday Times: MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism
THE doctor who sparked the scare over the safety of the MMR vaccine for children changed and misreported results in his research, creating the appearance of a possible link with autism, a Sunday Times investigation has found.

Confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients’ data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition.

The research was published in February 1998 in an article in The Lancet medical journal. It claimed that the families of eight out of 12 children attending a routine clinic at the hospital had blamed MMR for their autism, and said that problems came on within days of the jab. The team also claimed to have discovered a new inflammatory bowel disease underlying the children’s conditions.

However, our investigation, confirmed by evidence presented to the General Medical Council (GMC), reveals that: In most of the 12 cases, the children’s ailments as described in The Lancet were different from their hospital and GP records. Although the research paper claimed that problems came on within days of the jab, in only one case did medical records suggest this was true, and in many of the cases medical concerns had been raised before the children were vaccinated. Hospital pathologists, looking for inflammatory bowel disease, reported in the majority of cases that the gut was normal. This was then reviewed and the Lancet paper showed them as abnormal.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:26 AM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's Merriam Webster's definition (it works for me as well): the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection.

So working with that definition, if someone says there exist coincidences between the onset of notable autism symptoms and vaccination, how do you arrive at the conclusion that they have implied a non-accidental, causal connection?

if you didn't mean to imply that vaccines are responsible for autism, why bring it up?

It's about establishing a narrative that puts you inside a series of mistakes that a non-lobotomized human being might make: noting the coincidence, wondering if there is a causal connection, having that question dismissed or insulted without education, and then assigning trust of the medical system writ large on the basis of the quality of that interaction (and, potentially, other interactions).

It was written in response to a quite clearly expressed view earlier in the thread that anybody who doesn't vaccinate their children is not only guilty of a mistake, they're child abusers, murderers, attention whores, just plain stupid, and in general, good for nothing other than the gas ovens of your hottest contempt. It was written because I suspect these kinds of responses contribute, at best, absolutely nothing whatsoever to any kind of solution, and may even amplify the social mechanisms by which the idea that vaccine is a danger spreads. It's also not nice, but maybe that's as orthogonal to the issue at hand as the depth of anyone's outrage on the topic.

The funny thing is that the argument I'm presenting isn't particularly radical for scientific, socially conscious, and progressive Metafilter. You've probably seen discussions of terrorism and suicide bomber where someone will present a case for examining the motivations and social forces behind an act that they ultimately think is wrong, and you've probably seen how often, especially from certain parts of the political spectrum, this provokes outrage and the assumption that you're defending terrorism and suicide bombers! Those are contemptible acts and deserve nothing but contempt! And how dare you suggest that anything the U.S. has ever done might have contributed to the problem!

A lot of people here understand what's wrong with that trajectory of thinking, and that empathy and understanding aren't mere tools of capitulation.
posted by weston at 11:33 AM on February 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


hattifattener: To be fair to the thimerosal-causes-autism crowd, we are seeing unexpectedly high rates of autism.

Exactly. Since thimerosal was phased out of vaccinations in the U.S. and U.K. in 1999 (with rare exceptions), that is damn-near conclusive evidence that vaccinations not the cause.
posted by msalt at 1:24 PM on February 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Measles on the rise in Australia and Switzerland, too
posted by homunculus at 9:29 AM on February 9, 2009


Now they're pushing for mandatory HPV vaccination for girls at around 12. Read up on the side effects of that new vaccine.

And you knwo what? The Daily Mail are claiming that this is encouraging 12yr olds to have sex. That's why we shouldn't protect them, right?
posted by mippy at 6:51 AM on February 11, 2009


anybody who doesn't vaccinate their children is not only guilty of a mistake, they're child abusers, murderers, attention whores, just plain stupid, and in general, good for nothing other than the gas ovens of your hottest contempt.

Agreed.
posted by electroboy at 7:15 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


US court rules against autism case family
posted by aramaic at 8:32 AM on February 12, 2009


anybody who doesn't vaccinate their children is not only guilty of a mistake, they're child abusers, murderers, attention whores, just plain stupid, and in general, good for nothing other than the gas ovens of your hottest contempt.

Whereas oddly I, on the other hand, tend to wonder whether this kind of almost unbelievably hate-filled spew, towards largely well-meaning and sometimes very well informed random strangers, about a complex issue, is a sign that people are afraid of the consequences to some part of their core belief system if they turn out to be wrong.
posted by namasaya at 12:52 PM on February 13, 2009


Measels eliminated in Australia (Pharyngula)

quote:
Unfortunately, there are occasional setbacks.
A total of 125 cases were reported in 2006 - equivalent to six cases per million - but more than half of these were attributed to a outbreak linked to the tour of a foreign spiritual group.
A "spiritual group"? It was a Hindu spiritualist who traveled around, dispensing hugs…and a deadly disease. Keep that in mind next time some mystic claims to be completely harmless.
posted by klanawa at 10:08 AM on February 16, 2009


sv40 monkey virus
posted by hortense at 4:45 PM on February 17, 2009


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