Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week

Hello skeptifans. March is a weather-diverse month in Canada. Some of us are walking around in light jackets enjoying the sunshine, and some of us are braving the snow and -20C cold. Wherever you are, I hope you’re staying warm and skeptical.

Canada’s ex-defense minister: U.S. knows how aliens can make us greener
Roger sent in this story. Our former defense minister has made some strange claims about a US conspiracy to cover up alien technology. He will be speaking at a UFO conference to promote his book on the subject. Here’s a video from 2008. Watch it, and then remember he was responsible for the defense of Canada, including overseeing the Canadian Forces:

 

B.C. naturopaths the first in Canada to prescribe medications
Michael sent in this Fail. For several months now, BC Naturopaths have had the right to prescribe certain medications. This article covers some of the concerns MDs have about this, but is mired in statements meant to “balance” the argument. Then, it’s capped off with a history of naturopathy that sounds like it’s straight from the naturopath’s press kit.

Fluoride in water has to go, says doc
Evan sent in this Fail. Dr. Paul Connett spoke to a packed crowd about the dangers of fluoride, and his opinions were published in this article with no challenge or criticism. It’s just another example of a reporter not doing any actual journalism. Listen to a speaker, write down what they say, and publish it with no analysis. That’s what passes these days. On top of that, the article sites an unpublished study linking lowered IQ with fluoride. If it’s unpublished, I wonder how the writer was able to know what the study showed?

India on the front lines in the battle to eradicate polio
Art sent in this Win. Some anti-vaxers criticize the amount of vaccines children get, and say that we should skip vaccines for things like polio, since the disease has been eradicated. Except it hasn’t. The battle to wipe out polio is still on. This article discusses the challenges and successes of the polio vaccination program in India. It covers some interesting things about the evolution of polio vaccines, and the technology used to trace strains of the virus. When you hear stories of mothers carrying their children for miles to get them inoculated, it makes you wonder how some parents are willing eschew this life saving technology. We are very privileged in North America, and sometimes privilege makes us ignorant.

That’s the Fails and Wins for this week, folks. If you have a face-palm moment when reading the news, send me the story at links [at] skepticnorth [dot] com.

36 Responses to “Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week”

  1. daijiyobu says:

    Regarding naturopathy, they may already have become ‘out of reach of criticism forever’, though I’m not quitting my criticisms.

    For instance, they couch their academic programs under the label “health science” (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9N_cRjSSac ).

    Schools are left to their own devices. The state / provincial apparatus to its own devices. Individual practitioners to a standard of care that has no tangible basis in science, and in that sense, anything goes.

    I think it is a horrible idea that in BC, an ND can put up a shingle of “doctor” / physician without specifying their naturopathic context.

    -r.c.

  2. Mike says:

    Wow, that’s quite a leap. Polio still exists in India, therefore the number of vaccines that children in north america receive is justifiable. That’s a brilliant observation.

  3. gmcevoy says:

    yep, no one ever traveled here from India or vice-versa and returned perhaps with a microbial stowaway

  4. Mike says:

    gmcevoy,

    If polio were showing up on airplanes from india, there would be cases of wild polio in north america. You do realise that getting a polio vaccine is not 100# guaranteed to keep you from getting polio, right?

    I’m guessing you also don’t realize that the live polio vaccine has resulted in more polio over the last 20 years in north america than wild polio itself.

  5. Mike says:

    Hi Erik,

    Yes, the US switched from the live polio vaccine to the inactivated one in 2000. The reason for this was that the live polio vaccine was resulting in about 8 cases a year of vaccine-induced polio in the US.

    I’m assuming you mean to say that we’d been declared ‘polio free’ as opposed to ‘vaccine free’.

    Considering that we’ve been declared ‘polio free’ for over 15 years, I’m curious what the risk benefit analysis would be when you look at the cost for every North American child to receive a vaccine against a disease that has been eliminated in North America.

    Mike.

    • Erik Davis says:

      Mike, yes, I meant polio-free, thanks for the catch.

      As for why we continue to vaccinate, it’s pretty simple: polio is highly infectious and the world is highly mobile. As long as it continues to exist in the wild, the cost benefit will bear out. If the population were unvaccinated, a single imported case could start a new epidemic. By contrast, with our current herd immunity, only those for whom the vaccine was ineffective are at risk, and the ability for the virus to spread between them is limited by the rest of us.

  6. Mike says:

    Erik,

    If imported polio was a legitimate risk, you would see the occasional case of wild polio in people who are either unvaccinated or got the vaccine and it didn’t work. There hasn’t been a case of wild polio in the US in 25 years.

    As I said in a previous post, the polio vaccine has caused more polio over the last 20 years than polio itself.

    • Art Tricque says:

      What risks do you think exist from the use of current vaccine?

    • Erik Davis says:

      Mike, for that to be true, there would have to be contact and transmission with an individual in the 1% of unprotected individuals within the 7-10 day infection period. That’s certainly possible, but by no means assured. Reduce immunity rates and you’ll see that kind of transmission though — the math is pretty simple. Eliminate it as you propose, and you’ll see it creep back up to pre-vaccination levels.

      I guess the reason I’m not buying your argument is that it’s based on a paradox. You suggest that we don’t need to vaccinate because there’s no polio here, yet there’s no polio here is because we vaccinate. If we accept your conclusion, your premises ultimately self-negate.

      • Mike says:

        Unprotected individuals would be at 1% if every single child received all the necessary doses. Unprotected individuals number more than 1%.

        0 cases of wild polio in the US in the last 25 years. 0 cases. 0. Not almost 0. 0.

        As for the notion of polio creeping up to pre-vaccination levels, interesting to know you think the medical community would do no better at treating sick children today than they did in the 50s.

  7. Mike says:

    Hi Art,

    I don’t think the current polio vaccine on its own poses any significant risk. When I think about the risks of vaccines its about the risks associated with the frequency and number in which they’re administered, and the fact that pre-existing conditions that make children more vulnerable to vaccine injury are not screened for. And I’m sure someone will want to take me to task for what I’m saying above, but that wasn’t the reason for my original post, so I’m hoping not to get dragged off on a tangent. And I don’t have all the answers. But I’ve read enough and listened to enough people on both sides of the debate to be very weary of anyone who thinks they do have all the answers.

    The reason for my post was to point out how ridiculous Melany’s statement was in her post above. She’s trying to imply that because people in India will walk for miles to protect their children from Polio, that somehow parents in North America who think a polio vaccine is unnecessary are ignorant. I believe there’s some sort of skeptic term of “appeal to something or other” that describes situations where people try to convince you to do something based on an emotional appeal rather than a logical appeal. With not a single case of wild polio in the US in the last 25 years I think my kid’s pretty safe from polio even if I don’t jab him with IPV.

    As for why I would choose not to administer a particular vaccine to my son, it’s because I don’t think that there’s a relationship between being injected with more live/dead viruses, animal proteins, and preservatives and having better overall health.

    As I had said on a different message board on this site, anyone who wants to verify this can try looking for research concluding that in 1st world countries, the countries with more vaccines as part of the routine vaccination schedule have healthier children.

    • Erik Davis says:

      Mike – your unvaccinated child will be protected from polio by herd immunity. Basically, they’ll be what economists call a “free rider” — someone who benefits from, but doesn’t contribute to, the common good. Ultimately, free ridership can destroy that common good — if many people follow your lead, herd immunity will be lost. And that affects more than just your child — it also affects the people who took the vaccine but for whom it was ineffective (about 1 in 100), and who rely on herd immunity to protect them. You may be willing to risk your own child’s health, but how about someone else’s?

    • Art Tricque says:

      Mike, I am glad you did take a moment to preface your comments, because, contrary to what you think, they directly relate to the matter at hand.

      I can’t speak for Melanie, but my reason for bringing it to her attention was not the fallacy of an appeal to emotion, but rather an appeal to rationality: people *are* ignorant of the harm that can be done — it having been hidden from our direct sight for so long — and the joy that parents felt when vaccination for polio first became available – that they had something that would spare their children the very real harms of disease. So, ignorant of the harms and spurred by charlatans to play up the risks, well-meaning people make a poor risk calculation. The played-up risks for which you have fallen are the “injecting strange things into someone”, and the “too many, too soon” gambit. I am sorry your feel weary of hearing good skeptical science. But your “no one has all the answers all the time” is a gross logical fallacy. No here would claim that, ever. But that does not stop one from knowing all the answers bar an infinitesimal smidgen some of the time. The latter case is where we find ourselves with regards to polio immunization.

      And your “no wild cases” as a reason to forgo vaccination is not valid for exactly the reasons Erik points out: drop vaccination rates before a disease has been wiped out, and it *always* returns, in our mobile world even more so. By the way, per the Ontario government fact sheet on the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV, at http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/public/pub/immun/ipv.html ), it is not surprising that no wild cases have been seen: “The vaccine protects 99 percent of people who get all their shots.” Why endanger such brilliant herd immunity before the disease has been totally wiped out?

      Finally, your “more vaccines don’t equal better overall health” is a strawman. For one, it depends on how one defines overall health. And two, no one would claim vaccines guarantee overall health, for that is not their purpose. However, they do guarantee (“within an infinitesimal smidgen”) freedom from the ravages from minor to the ultimate of the target disease. That *is* a part of health, and one well worth having.

  8. Mike says:

    If herd immunity was the big concern, maybe we should revert back to using OPV, since its better at providing herd immunity. Oh, that’s right. Because OPV has resulted in more polio than polio iteslf over the last 20 years.

    I’d love to see someone try and quantify the number of lives that have been saved in North America due to polio vaccine over the last couple of decades.

    • Art Tricque says:

      Mike, yawn, I think we have heard you attempt to make the argument before. You have are now passing from reason to the Nirvana fallacy. And your “lives saved” measure is a strawman: the benefits of immunization include all harms eliminated or reduced, not just death.

  9. Art Tricque says:

    Mike: “As for the notion of polio creeping up to pre-vaccination levels, interesting to know you think the medical community would do no better at treating sick children today than they did in the 50s.”

    This is a false argument, akin to the “modern hygiene obviates the needs for immunization” gambit. Since polio has no cure, any infection will have some negative effect, even if modern treatments are better than those before.

    Since you are the one advancing a position, can you suggest any credible research to show that stopping immunization against polio would be a superior approach?

  10. Mike says:

    I don’t seem to see anyone denying that the polio vaccine has done more harm than good over the past 20 years.

    And as for my “lives saved” strawman, allow me to expand that and ask someone to quantify the number of lives, or paralyzations, or brain damages, or any other devastating problem that have been saved over the last 20 years due to polio vaccination in north america.

    The only cases of polio we’ve seen here in the last 20 years are due to the vaccine itself. I guess I’m too ignorant to really see the big picture the way you guys do.

    • Erik Davis says:

      Mike, I’m denying it, and I have been for days. Since you seem not to have noticed, let me be very clear:

      The polio vaccine saves us from thousands of cases every year — all ones we used to have before we vaccinated. Even if the OPV caused a few cases itself, the net benefit was monumentally positive. And in the last 15 years since we switched to the IPV, even more so.

      Polio still exists in the wild, and is highly infectious — it will spread through an unvaccinated population once it gains a toehold. So get rid of the vaccine, and you’ll eventually get back to pre-vaccination levels of polio. The only way to avoid this is to keep vaccinating until, like smallpox, it no longer exists in the wild.

    • Art Tricque says:

      Ah, now I think we are to the heart of your argument. It is not that there have been cases of polio arising from immunization in the past 20 years, rather, in your mind, that any complications that have arisen from vaccination have not been worth the benefits. Why did you not just come out and state that at the start? I would be pleased to understand the reasoning and the data behind your conclusion? What benefits would be foregone and/or gained from stopping vaccination, what risk increases and/or decreases would be incurred?

  11. terry the censor says:

    Chris Rutkowski, the sensible gent who gets Canada’s UFO reports directly from the government, has some critical comments about Hellyer:

    People are making a big deal of Paul Hellyer’s comments about UFOs, but I doubt whether he has any significant insight into what’s going on. I had an opportunity to meet and talk with Hellyer when we were both guests on a TV special about UFOs a few years ago. I have found that his comments about UFOs are his personal opinion and not based on much of anything. The fact that he was briefly the head of the Canadian Forces has little bearing on government interest in UFOs.

    Hellyer says he had little concern about UFOs while in office in 1967. He told me that he didn’t see any memos about them while in office but has since stated he saw some, but they were of little consequence. Neither seems likely. This is because while he was in office, the noted Falcon Lake UFO incident occurred in Canada. The Canadian Forces investigated and were deeply involved with this case, and official documents have shown that “CANFORCHQ” directly oversaw operations to visit the site and issue press statements. Yet Hellyer didn’t notice anything significant? He doesn’t even refer to this case, considered one of the most impressive in all of ufology, in his public statements.

    Hellyer also notes that he became more interested in UFOs post-retirement when he was given a copy of Corso’s book to read and was very impressed with it. He says he sought the opinion of a high-ranking military official who confirmed that Corso’s book was accurate. Yet most serious UFO researchers find Corso’s book dubious at best. (Stanton Friedman thinks it’s simply a “fraud.”)

    How does Hellyer know that alien races really exist and that the military has lost dogfights with them over the Earth? He doesn’t say. From the same military expert who told him that Corso’s book was factual?

    So just because Hellyer was in a high-ranking military position does not mean he knows anything more about UFOs than you or I. Or does he?

    http://ufos.about.com/b/2011/03/09/us-know-that-aliens-exist.htm

  12. Mike says:

    Art,

    No, I was talking about complications from polio. i.e. damage due to polio vaccine (the 8 cases per year) vs benefit due to polio vaccine. At first I was asking about lives saved, since polio vaccine in North America was referred to as “life saving technology”. Then I expanded it to include complications due to polio. Erik’s answer is that its thousands every year that we save by vaccinating against polio. And he comes to that number by comparing it to what it was in the pre-vaccination era. But the damage done in the 1950s doesn’t justify insisting that we continue to maintain herd immunity to a disease that hasn’t seen a single case in over 25 years. If you had the occasional isolated case of wild polio and that was it, you could argue that its containment is due to herd immunity. If you don’t see a single case of it in 25 years, its cause its not there.

    Erik,

    Let me know if I’m putting words in your mouth by assuming you’re on board with the following items:

    • Every person in North America should try and get vaccinated for every vaccine preventable infectious disease that exists in any amount in any place on earth.
    • Giving 7-8 vaccines at once to a seemingly healthy child is nothing to worry about.

    I guess what I’m trying to get at is whether you think there is ever a line that you can cross where you have overvaccinated to the point where the incremental risks of additional vaccinations in a population outweigh the benefits. And assume money is no object.

    If there is such a thing as ‘overvaccination’, how are you so sure we haven’t crossed that line? And if there isn’t such a line, then why can’t you find research that shows a correlation between more aggressive vaccination schedules in 1st world countries and healthier children?

    The US has more routine vaccinations in their vaccination schedule than us. Doesn’t that mean that we’re putting our children at undue risk by vaccinating for fewer things than them? What about Finland? Shouldn’t they have higher child mortality rates?

    The pro-vaccine advocates base their opinions on the supposed mountain of evidence supporting them and ask anyone opposed to them to ‘provide data’. But if you dig through that mountain of evidence, you find that no one’s studying the effects of 8 vaccines in 1 sitting. And even as far as all the ‘vaccines and autism’ research, only the MMR was studied in detail. You also don’t find research showing that more childhood immunizations in the routine schedule lead to healthier children and lower child mortality.

    And if you’re able to admit that there are certain vaccinations we give our kids that are unnecessary, the question becomes why we’ve adopted this policy of assuming that the more things you can inject a child with, the healthier that child will be. The next question would be whether this aggressive vaccine schedule is simply not adding any additional benefit, or whether its actually causing harm. But I’m assuming that anyone who calls themselves a ‘skeptic’ is not willing to admit there’s such thing as an unnecessary vaccine.

    I’m obviously not in favour of abandoning childhood vaccination. But that line does exist.

    • Art Tricque says:

      Mike, I have already answered your question. Until a highly virulent disease like polio with a well-tolerated vaccine — now even more well-tolerated — is *completely* eradicated on the planet, immunization is well worth it. Because, as I have pointed out, and on which I have even cited research, if one stops immunization, polio will always return, and the case count will mount. If immunization is stopped long enough, the case counts, deaths and disfigurements of the 1950s will return as well. And make no bones about it, stopping immunization *is* the alternate case you are advocating, even if you are too coy to come out and say it.

  13. Mike says:

    Art,

    I’m not being coy. You’re making a generalization that’s very common among your peers. You’re assuming that someone who’s questioning the safety of vaccines is against vaccination as a whole. You’re assuming there’s no middle ground for me when it comes to vaccines because there’s no middle ground for you. You haven’t actually answered my question. The only fact you provided is that IPV will protect someone who’s exposed to polio for 99 out of every 100 people who get all the required shots. So people who are vulnerable to polio are the 1 in 100 out of everyone that gets fully vaccinated plus all the people who either couldn’t or didn’t get fully vaccinated. There has not been a single case of polio in ANY of those vulnerable people in 25 years. Despite that, you’re using your 1 fact as “research” indicating that if North America ran out of polio vaccine 20 years ago, that by now there would be thousands of kids ravaged by polio every year. That’s quite a stretch.

    But it’s not about polio. It’s about whether children are being subjected to more vaccinations than their bodies can handle. But if you’ve fallen for the “today’s kids have just as many developmental problems as the ones from 30 years ago” gambit, or the “that twitching your kid started doing 2 days after his dtap is just a coincidence” gambit, then you have no reason to question vaccines.

    Have a look at the number of vaccines in the routine schedule for countries in the 1st world. And look at child mortality rates, and rates of neurological or developmental disorders. Then try to show that there’s a correlation between having more vaccines in the routine schedule and having lower child mortality rates. Or try to show that rates of neurological / developmental disorders are unaffected by the number of vaccines in the routine schedule for a given country. Or try to outline the various ways that kids suffer in countries with fewer vaccinations in the routine schedule. You’d think within a mountain of evidence that screams ‘the more vaccines the better’ that this information would be readily available.

    • Erik Davis says:

      Mike, why don’t you do those correlations and come back to us with some actual evidence. All I’ve seen you do is make generalizations and move the target whenever you’re challenged on them.

    • Art Tricque says:

      Mike, my comment was restricted to the case of polio. You were asking, “are a few case of polio a year for the past 20 years because of immunization worth it compared to not immunizing”, although you could never bring yourself to say it. And again I say, I have answered the question.

      You logic is fatally flawed. If we had stopped immunizing 20 years ago, all those 20 years ago or less would be potential targets. According to my Economist 2011 Pocket World in Figures, just the population 15 and under in North America in 2010 was almost 100 million, or 22% of the roughly 450 million total. The 20 and under population is fir sure greater than a quarter. And because we have few wild cases here does not mean they could not happen here again because there is a reservoir of the disease that still exists elsewhere, in India and Nigeria, for example: we are not shut off from the rest of the world. The outbreak in the Netherlands mentioned in the research I cited was in a susceptible population of about 300,000 on 16,000,000, or less than 2%. And the foreign reservoir 20 years ago was much higher than today. Put that all together and we would have had a resurgence of cases orders of magnitude greater than the few cases from immunization, a number far reduced now because of the OPV vaccine. The case is crystal clear: until the disease if totally eliminated around the world, immunization in North America makes sense.

  14. Mike says:

    Erik,

    What I outlined in the last paragraph of my previous post was the evidence YOU would need to have access to in order for YOU to defend the notion that more aggressive vaccine schedules in 1st world countries result in less childhood suffering, compared to 1st world countries that don’t vaccinate as much. I thought ‘evidence based medicine’ is the big thing you preach. I also thought ‘evidence based medicine’ involves collecting the required evidence BEFORE making policy decisions. So when someone points out that you don’t actually have the required evidence to support the number of vaccines we administer in North America, you respond by asking me to go out and collect this evidence on your behalf.

    Art,

    Your last post is a little tough to parse. Again, I don’t see the research you’re referring to, unless you posted it on a different comment board. The only link you had provided in this thread was about the IPV in Ontario. However, you mention that we have ‘few cases here’ of Polio. No, that is not true. 0 cases. 0 cases in 25 years. I understand what you’re saying though: if we stopped vaccinating for Polio 20 years ago, we MAY have already had an outbreak or MAY face an outbreak at some point in the future. And assuming that polio vaccine is inexpensive, and if you assume there is no legitimate risk associated with the vaccination (or with vaccination in general), then yes, I would think it is crystal clear to be in favour of making everyone take an IPV shot.

    But as with any vaccine, no one’s really tracking what type of neurological impact the vaccine may have, because unless the reaction to the vaccine (or the 7 or 8 that are routinely given at once) is fairly substantial and seen/reported within 7 days of the vaccine itself, the reaction doesn’t get counted and is assumed not to exist. And if the required evidence I was referring to in my previous post was actually available, you could make an ‘evidence based’ argument for/against our current vaccine schedule. But when it’s pointed out that this evidence does not actually exist, the Eriks of the world seem to be more irritated by someone mentioning it as opposed to being curious about what they might find out if someone actually did the necessary research.

    • Art Tricque says:

      Apologies re references. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poliomyelitis_eradication#Herd_immunity, references 15 (Fine 1993) and 18 (Duintjer et al 2005). Please do not employ constructions like the repetitive use of the word “may” in all caps. If large outbreaks can occur at 2% of population, the probability approaches certainty at 25 to 30% of population. Attempting to harp on “may” is intellectually dishonest.

      There are no other complications from polio immunization. You certainly have provided no scientific evidence of any, only insinuation, and a laughable attempt to call parents’ correlation of immunization events with other occurrences “a gambit”. A gambit is a ploy. False correlation is a well-known logical fallacy (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_hoc_ergo_propter_hoc and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation ). Show us the studies that *give strong proof* of your point, not hand waving and concern-troll nonsense. I suspect you will not because you cannot.

      So, in answer to your question “is polio vaccination worth it”, the answer is unambiguously, crystal-clear: yes. Please agree with this point. If you cannot, then your participation in the comments here is a sham, and your missives do not deserve further attention.

  15. Composer99 says:

    Mike:

    With regards to your comment:

    Then try to show that there’s a correlation between having more vaccines in the routine schedule and having lower child mortality rates.

    Do you mean evidence like this WHO chart?

    And you say the evidence doesn’t exist?

    To be sure, there are reasons besides low vaccination rates why the very poorest countries have high mortality for communicable diseases, usually related to inability to treat complications/co-morbidities due to inadequate infrastructure or to particular vulnerability to epidemic diseases (the measles mortality rates for Afghanistan vs. Bangladesh in 2004 for children 0-14 being cases in point).

    But notice how the richer countries with larger vaccine programmes tend to have mortality rates for communicable diseases that tend to be 0.0 or otherwise nonexistent?

    In fact, the WHO seems to be an excellent source of a plentitude of information on this topic.

    Why not go there and look for evidence instead of complaining to hobbyist bloggers about how it doesn’t exist?

    • Composer99 says:

      HTML fail on the blockquote of Mike’s text. Thought I wrote in blockquote tag properly. Guess not (or the tage doesn’t work on SkepticNorth).

      Also, with regards to links, the colour of a hyperlink is very similar to the colour of the body text (at least to my eyes) in comments, which I have complained about before.

  16. Mike says:

    Composer,

    Maybe we’re not on the same page as far as how we define ‘evidence’. The WHO chart you provided is an excellent source of ‘data’, and I appreciate you taking the time to provide it. Is there a similar chart that shows the number of vaccines in the routine schedule for each of those countries, and the percentage of children who fully follow the routine schedule? If there was, one could try and compare them and try to draw correlations between number of vaccines and overall health. I would consider the ‘evidence’ to be whatever correlations could be drawn based on that data.

    Also, over and over, I’ve been referring to 1st world countries where children’s overall health are less affected by lack of education/health care/clean water/proper nutrition. So for example, would such research actually show that children in Canada are suffering by being exposed to less vaccinations than their counterparts in the US? Whatever might be happening in Afghanistan or Bangladesh is not relevant to that discussion.

    I have no issue with trying to scour the WHO website or other means to try and gather that data myself, although I’m not really skilled enough to crunch the numbers and determine what constitutes a significant enough correlation to make any conclusions. So you’ve done a good job at providing at least some of the data that would be required to try and come up with the evidence I was outlining in previous posts. Overall though, considering the irrefutable mountain of evidence that is routinely claimed to exist, you’d think someone would have already done the necessary analysis to answer the questions I was asking.

  17. Art Tricque says:

    “Overall health” is an imprecise and ill-defined term. Health is the absence of illness. Immunizations unambiguously reduce a targeted illness and the consequences of that targeted illness, with minuscule legitimate drawbacks. Thus, immunization improves health. Case closed.

    Of course, the are not the *only* factor in health, even in rich countries. We can both come up with factors like type of diet, exercise and so on.

    The issues around multiple immunization *have* been studied, since the trend has been to vaccines with components that target several diseases. Each of those multiple vaccines has had to be studied before it could be used, and there is significant follow-up examination as well. As for the possible neurological effects, there is no basic science, no in vitro work, and no animal model that would support a relationship between immunization and such conditions. The hypothesis thus does not merit further study, and has been relegated to the realm of quackery, pseudoscience and concern-troll fear mongering.

  18. Mike says:

    Art,

    I see you responded in two places. I will address both of them here. You’ve now come full circle to the point of ‘we’re so sure that more vaccines is the way to go that it’s ridiculous to even ask the question’. I’m sure we’re both tired of responding here when there’s no chance we’ll ever find common ground. So I will not be offended if this thread gets dropped on the floor. I realize I’m not about to change anyone’s mind who’s reading this. And that was never my intent. I realize that if you were to start questioning the evidence you believe is so clear cut, that you would lose your ‘freethinker’ badge. But I was curious if anyone could point me to something outlining the ways in which Japanese or Finnish children suffer by being exposed to less vaccinations than their American counterparts. And I have my answer, so feel free to ignore this post. But I will address your comments:

    Your link to ‘research’ on polio –

    The wiki page discusses herd immunity. I understand the concept that if you had a polio outbreak, the outbreak would be much more controlled if everyone were immunized. But that doesn’t address the comment I was making. I couldn’t access item 15, but I did read 18. And again, that piece of ‘evidence’ or ‘research’ as you call it doesn’t address my comment either. Item 18 describes a model that was created to simulate how polio would spread within a population based on how many people were immune. The paper discusses potential response scenarios to a polio outbreak for populations where they cease vaccinating . i.e. it’s a tool for anyone thinking of scaling back on polio vaccinations. So not only does it not prove the point you were trying to make that we need every single child to get a polio vaccine in countries where it’s been eradicated, but it’s actually a tool for planning how to do the opposite.

    If Finland was vulnerable to a polio outbreak with only a 2% at-risk population, then we’re vulnerable too, no matter how hard we push immunization. The fact that we’ve had exactly 0 cases in the last 20 years is not because we continue to maintain herd immunity. Herd immunity will prevent it from spreading, but until we have our outbreak and herd immunity controls the damage, the IPV shots we’re giving today are not “life saving technology”. And if polio gets wiped off the earth before we have our outbreak, then in fact we’re not saving anyone’s life by injecting them with IPV, and the polio we’ve given children when we were still using OPV was a worse fate than they would have suffered if none of them received a vaccine for polio.

    “There are no other complications from polio immunization”

    I tried to find a vaccine insert for just an IPV. All I could find are inserts for DTP-IPV. Here’s one. http://us.gsk.com/products/assets/us_kinrix.pdf. I love how it’s littered with notions like “if your child started twitching after a pertussis-containing vaccine in the past, then they should not get another one”. Well, if the twitching was clearly just a coincidence, then why deprive your child of more of this ‘life saving technology’?

    “Show us the studies that *give strong proof* of your point”

    My point was that you don’t have the evidence you would need to declare that first world countries that administer more vaccines have healthier children than first world countries that administer fewer vaccines. I’m not really sure what kind of study could give strong proof of that. But, If pubmed is your bible, you can search for 21299355 to see how far fear-mongering has come over the past few years. I’ve already seen a teardown of the paper, so don’t bother. And no, the paper is not talking about IPV. But at least now, any time someone points you to research on pubmed that you don’t like, you can say “well pubmed publishes quackery, so you can’t trust anything you find there”.

    “overall health is an imprecise term”

    Actually, the WHO chart that was provided in one of the commments above uses a formula to come up with their ‘DALY’ number. In fact, they are trying to condense “overall health” into a number you can use to compare different countries. But as I mentioned previously, if you wanted specific conditions to look at, it would be child-mortality, developmental disorders, neurological disorders. And if you wanted to go crazy you could add severe allergies, learning disabilities and asthma to the list, and that would be an even better list to compare among 1st world countries. It’s unfortunate nothing other than child-mortality was actually available in the WHO chart that.

    “Multiple immunizations *have* been studied”

    No, single vaccines containing multiple viruses have been studied. There’s a difference between that and studying the effect of 8 separate injections at once. Check out the link Erik provided http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/cig-gci/p04-poli-eng.php and have a look at the “simultaneous administration with other vaccines” section.

    “There is no basic science, no in vitro work, and no animal model that would support a relationship between immunization and such conditions. The hypothesis thus does not merit further study, and has been relegated to the realm of quackery, pseudoscience and concern-troll fear mongering”

    So vaccine injury is a myth because science can’t currently explain how it happens? And what’s even worse, is that the CDC is going to be blowing so many tax dollars over the next 5 years studying things that you know are a waste of time. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/00_pdf/ISO-Final-Scientific_Agenda-Nov-10.pdf. I suppose fear-mongering parents have gotten the best of the CDC. Perhaps you could contact the CDC and let them know they’re wasting their time.

  19. Art Tricque says:

    *sigh* Good luck with that, Mike.

  20. Mike says:

    Good luck with what?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks


  • Melany Hamill

    Melany proudly uses the titles of both geek and nerd. As a science-enthusiast and fan of debate, Melany likes to get her facts straight. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Since then her career path has meandered to its current spot as a project manager at a video game studio. Melany lives near beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. She is not seeking treatment for her caffeine addiction.