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Justifying mandatory vaccination 78

The following is a critique of the article, The Clinician’s Guide to the Anti-Vaccinationists’ Galaxy from the journal, Human Immunology. This article is still in press and has not yet been published though it is ready for publication once the journal has formatted and done their final copy-editing. We give full attribution to Human Immunology and post this article here for research and critiquing purposes only. The author of this critique is HPS and we will be seeing much more of this person on the REAL Australian Sceptics blog in the coming months.

Sceptical Rating for the article reviewed: Four Plungers

Another day – another attempt by some doctors to justify the mandating of vaccines. They can’t win on arguments so instead, they resort to force. This paper is kind of weird in the sense that it wants to give doctors an easily-referenced guide to combating the concerns of parents. Apparently, the authors seem to feel they will blow all away with their brilliance and irrefutable logic while at the same time, claiming that ultimately, mandating vaccines is the way to go.

Now the first point to note is at the end of the article where we find out that the authors, Poland and Jacobson, are not exactly disinterested observers. They both work for Merck amongst other vaccine-related activities.

Of course, they are entitled to make their case irrespective of whether they have a vested interest or not. Nonetheless, given these interests, one would hope that they wouldn’t make the mistake of filling this piece with smears, insults or attempts to persuade people using themselves as some sort of authority.

The claims:

First claim: Vaccines saved many millions of lives.

Now as far as I can tell, this cannot be backed up with any evidence. The site, Vaccines Did Not Save Us – 2 Centuries of Official Statistics, seems to debunk this notion as well as any other. If vaccines saved lives, it is hard to find evidence for this in the actual data. Most ‘data’ that demonstrates any life-saving ‘miracleness’ is in the form of projections that take assumptions about how many lives a doctor thinks that, for instance, the measles vaccine will save and multiplies that by the number of measles vaccines handed out. Now some might think that was a ridiculous thing to offer up as evidence given that the authors could come up with any number they like, but presumably that must be our ‘anti-vaccinationist’ brains not being able to understand science like these authors can.

Second notion – the eradication of smallpox.

I have to ask. How did the World Health Organisation (WHO) know that the smallpox virus was eradicated? How could they have known something that no mere mortal possibly could? Did they test every human on the planet to make sure that none of them were ‘asymptomatic carriers’? Did they test every rock, tree, piece of dirt, etc to ensure it wasn’t hiding there? How did they know it was gone? Since smallpox was declared to be eradicated, there have been sporadic outbreaks which  local doctors have put down to smallpox. Then, when the WHO or similar organisations come in, they simply wave their hands and say “Well it couldn’t have been smallpox, could it? It doesn’t exist anymore.” So it seems to be just a self-fulfilling prophecy.

On a related note, did anybody worry about fatal chickenpox 250 years ago? Samuel Johnson’s dictionary suggests that no such condition had ever been reported. It would seem then that the concern for fatal/severe chickenpox is a more modern thing. In particular, and I suspect not coincidentally, after the introduction of the smallpox vaccine. Too many people who had been vaccinated still getting the pox and still dying from it. Some of the reputable medical textbooks at the time actually instructed doctors to use vaccination status when making their diagnosis. Still, that is probably just me not understanding enough about the scientific method and the peer-review process and thinking that there might be an investigator bias in these things. We all know that investigator bias doesn’t exist at all.

So the whole smallpox eradication looks pretty shaky. Of course, Poland and Jacobsen would counter by saying that they are caused by different viruses – but even if that’s true, how could doctors have known which disease was caused by which virus in 1800? I’m pretty sure that electron tunnelling microscopes weren’t in significant use back then. And how often do we test pox victims for the smallpox virus today? Or even in the mid 1970s?

Third point – the efficacy of vaccines

Their next point about the general efficacy of vaccines is similar to the smallpox one. And my retort is the same. In epidemiology the ‘double’ in randomised double blind placebo controlled trial is not there to help the phrase roll off the tongue better. Epidemiological evidence is always subject to bias if the doctors know you have received a particular treatment. This renders it nigh on worthless for trying to prove that the treatment works unless this bias is either quantified retrospectively or controlled for in the original trial (ie with a ‘double’ blinding).

I could list all the so-called vaccine success stories subject to this bias but I will just put polio out as an example. How many cases of crippling/paralysis that had no trauma-related cause in the Western world were under the banner of something other than polio before the vaccine? Virtually none it would seem. Later on, children with crippling/paralysis could have Guillian Barré, non-polio enteroviruses, coxsackie and a plethora of other conditions. Many of these labels didn’t even exist before the vaccine or were thought not to cause paralysis and yet today, they make up virtually all of the acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases. (AFP is a sort of ‘basket’ into which all diseases which are clinically indistinguishable from paralytic polio are gathered together.) This would be fine of course if AFP cases as a whole had fallen significantly. Alas, no such luck as the following paragraph will illustrate.

India is slated as soon to be ‘polio-free’. But what does this mean? Well if you look at the World Health Organisation’s website for India, you will see that even though AFP has risen in the past 16 years (since they have been counting), almost all of these cases have been dumped into the non-polio type. Apparently that makes it alright. You see, doctors couldn’t find a particular protein in the stools of these individuals so they declared them not to have polio (there were zero non-polio AFP cases in 1996 and 16 per 100,000 in 2011).

Now you might think that most parents wouldn’t really care too much about proteins in stools when they have a paralysed child to concern themselves with, but again, that is coming from an ‘anti-vaccinationist’ who doesn’t understand the glories of peer-review and the scientific method. If I did understand those things like our great doctors, I would understand that paralysis is no big deal. It’s the little protein in the stool that matters.

Next point – The Super-Bowl effect

The next point the authors make is some anecdotes (I thought ‘real scientists’ didn’t use them?) about some people getting rashes after a Super Bowl game. It seems reasonable that the entire country would be in a blind panic over such serious phenomena. I mean some of those people might have missed a couple of days work. Catastrophic. Not like those lucky souls in India who are paralysed but who have had the incredible stroke of good fortune to have been found not to have had the polio virus in their stools.

The authors acknowledge that there are real side effects to vaccines but of course, they are extremely rare. What do these scientists tell themselves at night? That hundreds of thousands of parents all around the world all got their children vaccinated and then subsequently decided to become part of a vast global conspiracy to bring down vaccinations for no apparent reason?

At least that is what I assume these ‘scientists’ must think. After all, vaccinations are the only product whereby people ignore the stories of those who actually had experiences of them when ascertaining their safety. Imagine if thousands of people walked into the Toyota headquarters and explained that when they pressed the brakes on their Camrys nothing happened and, in response, the Toyota executives came out with a bunch of graphs and ‘experts’ who told them that it was all in their imagination and that they had no intention of recalling and double-checking their cars.

We might also be people who are innumerate (which presumably includes people who think that the double in double blind trial actually means something), or have low cognitive skills. This is quite strange really given that in the Western world, those who question vaccinations are almost invariably among the more educated and better paid, but never mind.

Still we all reject the ‘scientific method’ and the peer-reviewed literature. But what about peer-review literature that calls into question vaccine safety or efficacy? Well all peer-review is equal but some peer-review is more equal than others I guess.

Is there a scientific method to their madness?

And just what is the ‘scientific method’. We hear about this a lot but no one ever really categorically defines what binds say medicine with astrophysics. The randomised double-blind placebo controlled trial (RDBPCT) is considered the gold standard of epidemiology but I can’t imagine how such a technique would be of any use in understanding how stars form. But what do I know? I think peer-review is nothing more than a euphemism for appealing to authority and its main purpose is to protect academic guilds from clandestine thoughts. Now that’s ‘otherworldly and alien’ for you.

And is statistical evidence the best we have in medicine anyway? For those who have studied some economics, you would know that the concept of ‘revealed preference’ has primacy in determining human beliefs. If I say I want to live an ascetic existence in order to win popularity but surround myself with precious jewels and iPods, then fair to say I don’t want an ascetic existence at all. My behaviour is the guide to my true beliefs – not my words. Nothing particularly revolutionary about this and most reasonable people would simply think that was a statement of the bleeding obvious (most sound economics is).

Put your money where your beliefs are

So how about this for true beliefs? Babies are smaller than adults, so their ability to withstand doses of various substances without harm would be significantly less.

Given this, any adult who claims the infant vaccine schedule is extremely safe should, assuming their words matched their true beliefs, have absolutely no qualms about taking a weight-adjusted dose of the infant schedule. And yet to this day, not one doctor, nurse, or any other vaccine-supporting individual has been prepared to put their money where their mouths are and actually do this. Now this simple fact tells us more than a million epidemiological studies. Indeed it simply isn’t possible for any statistical study to trump this fact. If vaccines were safe, its supporters wouldn’t think twice before doing this presumably simple challenge. But they never, ever do.

You see statistical studies are easy to rig. I can rig them to make vaccines look extremely dangerous. Vaccine supporters can rig them to make them look incredibly safe. That is the nature of statistics. An RDBPCT is hardest of all to rig, and yet, they still are. One of the more common methods is to use a non-inert substance instead of a placebo (so the new vaccine is being compared to something that most people wouldn’t assume was safe). Indeed, every single vaccine you have ever been given has been tested in this – what can only be described as fraudulent – manner.

Much harder to rig the results of taking the entire weight adjusted infant schedule.

So I won’t go too much into specifics of the safety aspect because, as I say, ‘scientists’ will come up with a bunch of cherry-picked data and I could do the same. But tellingly, they won’t put their money where their mouths are.

The authors try and make out that vaccines are incredibly safe because the number of antigens are much less than they used to be. Firstly, all that tells us is that in terms of the antigens, newer vaccines are presumably safer than previous vaccines but not necessarily safe. Secondly, last I checked, antigens weren’t the only component of a vaccine. The reason that there are less antigens is because it is cheaper to produce vaccines with less antigen but more aluminium (which increases the immune response). Now, replacing antigens with aluminium may in fact be safer but for the authors not to admit that this is the reason that there is less antigen now illustrates the deception at the heart of this paper.

They mention the pre-licensure studies as proving that everything is fine. Now remember what I said a couple of paragraphs ago about using a non-inert placebo? Well this is where this whole thing comes into play. They will give one cohort the new vaccine and another cohort another substance, be it the old vaccine, a completely different vaccine or, in some cases just aluminium (Merck’s study of Gardasil, for example). So, let us say the previous DTP vaccine resulted in the deaths of 10 out of every 10,000 recipients and the new one results in 9 out of every 10,000 recipients. Based on their definition of safety, the new vaccine will be declared safe! Indeed, the headlines will talk about it reducing mortality compared to a placebo!

Of course, what the newspapers or doctors will never volunteer is that the placebo wasn’t what you thought it was – ie a completely inert injection (such as saline). Instead, it was something that you would never consider to be inert. The information isn’t hidden – you can read the study – but of course only a fraction of people ever do that. They just trust that their doctors will have done so and more importantly to internalise that information in a manner that isn’t self-serving.

It’s there in black and white

What’s interesting though, is that the pharmaceutical company will write up in their package insert every single adverse event that happens in both cohorts. Because the health bureaucrats will approve the vaccine on the basis that it doesn’t do significantly more damage than the ‘placebo’, both they and the doctors will assure you that the chances of any of these adverse events are miniscule because they consider the relative chances to be the difference between the vaccine and the placebo. Since the placebo itself could have caused problems, this is nothing more than speculation – deception, actually. So the package inserts will often look scary for these vaccines but the doctors will assure you that the risks are tiny. They are wrong. The package leaflets written up by the pharmaceutical companies are in fact the only place to get any honest information on the possible side-effects of the vaccine.

Their spiel on Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) can be understood in that light now. If you look at package inserts for vaccines, GBS will crop up regularly. That’s because it happens in the pre-licensure studies. If it happens to both cohorts then it will be dismissed as ‘background’ levels (and won’t affect its approval) but will still be written up in the inserts as a possible contraindication or condition that should prevent you from taking the vaccine.

Now you should be starting to get an idea of the extraordinary deception that vaccine ‘science’ requires. When they say no link has been found, you can rest assured that no link was looked for. More than that, they had to cover their eyes in order not to see all the elephants in the room.

All they had to do was ask the parents for their stories and they would have had hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions of pieces of evidence. But they never do. Remember -many ‘scientists’ only use data that can be easily rigged. Imagine if there was a report written by a government body which detailed thousands of case studies of parents observing their children’s health falling apart after vaccines. If it were any other consumer item, this is exactly what would have been done.

Shonky use of statistics

I note that the paper’s reference on flu deaths caused by A/H1N1 used just the upper range number of 2 million years of life even though the study had a lower range of one sixth that. You would think that lower figures deserve mentioning but I have a sneaking suspicion that the authors don’t put the references there in the hope that everybody will chase them all up. Now you might say that 300,000 person years is still significant, but you have to understand the inconsistent and convenient use of methodologies here.

The authors of the referred study (Viboud et al) did not use actual lab confirmed numbers of A/H1N1 influenza to get their mortality data but an assumption that a certain percentage of pneumonia/influenza mortality must have been due to A/H1N1 (so-called Swine Flu) in the US. The inconsistency arises when you understand what has happened with the polio vs AFP data. Today, you can’t have polio unless it is lab confirmed whereas in the past, the diagnosis was made on clinical grounds (in other words, by using symptoms). This change in criteria makes the vaccine look more effective.

Here, Viboud et al are saying that we should ignore lab confirmed results and just make estimates as to how many people had A/H1N1. Again, this is done to make the vaccine look good – or to show that its implementation was worthwhile. Poland and Jacbosen took this paper’s wild speculation and assumed that the top range must be the correct one and put it out there as though it was an established fact rather than some epidemiologist’s self-serving fantasy.

Again, it is this sort of thing that is pervasive in the pro-vaccination camp. They regularly come up with speculative projections and then try to pass them off as established numbers.

“Public health officials hail routine vaccination as one of the top ten public health achievements of the 20th century [65], but anti-vaccinationists have successfully campaigned to block legislation for school and day-care mandates and other public health interventions designed to increase vaccination uptake.”

This statement reflects that it is these authors who are on another planet. Firstly, why would ‘anti-vaccinationists’ care about the opinions of public health officials when it came to vaccines? Isn’t questioning public health officials kind of a corollary – desired or not – of questioning vaccines?

Secondly, there are many people who absolutely love vaccines yet who still oppose school and day-care mandates. Or at least they say they do.

It obviously comes as a total surprise to our illustrious authors that there are some people who think they should have the right to decide what gets injected into their bodies.

Anyway, what mandatory vaccine spiel would be complete without hurling abuse at Andrew Wakefield as though most people who question vaccines do so because of him? I can’t speak for others who question vaccines, but I have only a cursory knowledge of what Wakefield did and had never even heard of him before I made up my mind. Indeed, believe it or not, I had never even heard of the connection between vaccines and autism.

But what his story shows me is that when doctors tell me that they would happily admit to their mistakes if, indeed, it turned out that vaccines weren’t as great as they are made out to be, that is a complete lie.

The way Wakefield has been treated for doing no more than raising questions proves that doctors are far more concerned with protecting themselves than protecting patients. That is the moral to his story as far as I am concerned. I am not saying his science is flawed – it wouldn’t take much to be a million times better than an industry that compares its poisons to other poisons and then declares them to be safe – but it had nothing to do with my decisions. It does however demonstrate that vaccines are a sacred cow. A religion – not a scientific process.

“By being informed about the charges brought forward by anti-vaccine proponents, especially those of a quasi-immunological nature, clinicians can assist in providing data-driven information to health providers and the public, assist in research where data gaps are apparent, and provide data for the scientific basis for accepting or refuting claims of vaccine safety and function. The only rational way in which to proceed in devising individual and public health policy in regards to the use of vaccines requires high quality studies and resulting data, interpreted carefully and based on the scientific method.”

I personally would have thought this would require providing data that shows the real world efficacy of vaccines and wasn’t subject to the investigator bias.

It would also require the testing of these vaccines against actual placebos rather than non-inert substances.

But frankly, too much use of statistical mumbo-jumbo is how we got into this position of unyielding sides in the first place. So personally, I would prefer the time-honoured tradition of putting your money where your mouth is.

So some people (and I can think of no better candidates than the authors) need to take a weight adjusted dose of the infant schedule. Better yet, weight-adjust it and then multiply it by 5 times to show that absolutely no child – no matter how fragile – could possibly be harmed by these wonderful concoctions.

HPS.

78 comments

  1. Pingback: Autism, Vaccines & The REAL Australian Sceptics « ________________Child Health Safety_________________

  2. Just one more question for you Meryl.

    What other topics, apart from vaccination, are you going to post on the “Real Australian Sceptics” blog? Scepticism covers many diverse areas of science, nature, and human thought, after all.

      • I’m very sorry, Meryl.

        I did actually read that, but I was just wondering if we’ll see any sceptical review of topics completely unrelated to vaccination and alternative medicine, given that there are literally hundreds of them.

        Could I perhaps check back here in a couple of months time and see a robust debate on climate change, nuclear power, the likelihood of space travel, and so on? Or will it be vaccination, vaccination, medical conspiracy, and vaccination?

        • Hi Mike,

          As fun as it sounds to be debating those issues, I’m afraid that this blog is concerned with health scepticism. I can see a possibility of discussions about nuclear power should we have some writers who would like to critique current research for us, but space travel and so on…I don’t think so.

          Also Mike, this website is staffed by volunteer writers. The call has gone out and there are many critiques in the works, but I have to be patient to allow them time to do their work. If you check back in a couple of months, you will see more articles- what subjects they will be covering? Who knows?

            • You may not be aware, but the concept of global warming has implications to the health of all animals and plants living on this planet. So if we discuss global warming and global warming scepticism, it will be in that regard. I hope this has answered your question? Perhaps you might consider moderating your tone and being just a little less accusatory?

            • See? This is exactly what I’ve been talking about. He’s accusatory all of a sudden, but when CHS or others do it, as long as they’re on your side, you suddenly can’t notice the accusatory tone. Perhaps you might reconsider your double standards.

              • Martin, honestly, I have looked over the last day’s worth of comments and I don’t see what you are seeing obviously. Perhaps it’s all a matter of perspective? Plus the fact that I can see posts that I am not moderating from various people – which you can’t – and that puts things into a different context for me, if you catch my drift?

                • I merely wanted to get clarification on the purpose of this site. You should really just rename this site “The Real Vaccination Sceptics”. Wouldn’t that be more accurate?

                  • Elliot, while I appreciate your advice, this group is sceptical about many things – vaccination is just one. Perhaps you should look into being sceptical too because calling yourself a Young Australian Skeptic while you appear to only be sceptical about anything that is not accepted by mainstream science can be considered to be a bit deceptive.

                  • Ha, the site has hardly been running a wet day, is voluntary and someone who comments on it for free is complaining the coverage is not broad enough for him.

                    Let’s make a deal Elliott, when this site runs out of things to be sceptical about vaccination there can be little doubt it will move on to other topics.

                    In the meantime buy a newspaper if you want a bit more to read.

              • First of all, this is a text based forum. There is no tone. It is just words. Secondly, I have the perspective to see how you might take what Elliot said as accusatory. We’re all capable of shifting our perspective, it’s part of our ability to use our brains. If you cannot shift your perspective to see how CHS and others’ comments might be taken as accusatory and/or attacks, then one can only assume that you choose not to.

                I have been repeatedly called on various things, and I can handle that. There is a difference, however, between saying, “you are wrong, and here is why,” and, “you are wrong, and I question your intellect because of it.”

                “You have no evidence” vs “That is the problem with these folks – no real hard evidence.” (scroll down to see the latter written by CHS). No, it is not a problem with “these folks,” it is a problem with the evidence and their argument. Which does not constitute a problem with the people offering it.

                I hope I’ve clarified this for you. Debate the facts, not people’s abilities to deliver them.

                • Maybe this might help Martin [and maybe not?]

                  The difference is between criticising the behaviour and criticising the person.

                  If an argument is poor that is criticising the argument. It may be implicit in the criticism of the argument that the person putting forth the argument is not so good at putting arguments [but not necessarily so - lawyers put forth poor arguments all the time on the instructions of their clients and others do so perhaps to promote some other interests of theirs].

                  In contrast, criticising the person and not the argument can fall into the category of ad hominem – attacking indirectly the credibility of the argument by attacking the credibility of the source of the argument perhaps with matter irrelevant to the validity of their argument and not the argument itself.

                  So here “argument” = “behaviour”. It is not appropriate to equate attacking an argument with attacking a person personally because it is a logical non sequitur.

                  And to exemplify this – as the argument put forth that attacking an argument is attacking the person is a poor one, can Martin please move on to deal with the issues rather than contesting the rules of engagement and doing so with poor argument.

  3. For the record, Meryl, if I’m going to be attacked, I’d better not get my own shots back blocked. You can block this one if you want, or let it through. Regardless, it will be my last comment. Allowing CHS to make such pithy remarks is distasteful, and my attempt at finding any respect for you whatsoever, which I was prepared to try, has ended in my respect for you being lower than ever. This is not a site for scepticism, it is just another platform for you and your kind to flex their muscles in the mirror.

    • Martin – I have yet to see you being attacked. And I’ve been looking. All I see is people calling you on your comments and asking you to produce evidence. If you feel that is an attack, you should probably leave this page for a while and have a good think about what the word ‘attack’ actually means. For a good look at real attacks, visit any of the SAVN blogs, websites or FaceBook pages. There, you will see what attacks are like.

      • My comments don’t require evidence, Meryl, but their point is that this site is not an objective, sceptical site. If this is just some personal vendetta against your own feelings being hurt, then all I can say is, the truth hurts, and you should do something about that lying and fraud you think you’re getting away with by blocking this comment. I know you will, because I’m adding this link

        http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/history/2010/1218doreytruth1.pdf

        And you don’t want people seeing that, do you? Why is that not an attack? Because there is proof behind it. If your people want to accuse me of something, directly or indirectly, and have evidence to support it (by evidence I mean not their opinion, but documented proof) then they are welcome to call me on that, but all we do on SAVN, Meryl is call you on what you have to say. Do you understand yet?

        NOTHING that I have complained about being an attack here, on this page, is anything less than what you’ve complained about being an attack elsewhere.

        So which is it, Meryl? Are you being attacked when you are called out for your indiscretions? Or does what constitute an attack only apply if you feel like it’s directed at poor, victimised Meryl Dorey.

        Get over yourself already.

        • Martin – I can’t seem to get past the first line of your comment. You say:

          My comments don’t require evidence

          I’m sorry, I just can’t get any further. Your comments DO require evidence. Start with that as a given, Martin. This is science – not religion. So please, get the idea right out of your head that you don’t need to provide evidence. You do.

  4. A simple thought experiment at 4am in the morning.

    1. Vaccine injected for Hepatitis B
    2. Antibody results from blood serum changedfrom Negative (Prevac) to Positive(Postvac)

    n.b. antibodies are immune molecules that target viral/bacterial infections that then mediates elimination from body.
    antibodies produced from vaccines and natural infections can be indistinguishable (e.g. tuberculosis and BCG vaccine). Thus active against the same infection.

    Just a phenomenon readily observable in the general population that supports the efficacy of vaccines.

    • Hi Eric,

      I’m so glad you’ve brought this up (and I have no idea why this message was still sitting in moderation – I am sure I approved it along with all the rest so my apologies!)

      Does a positive antibody test mean that you will not be susceptible to infection? Please let me know what your opinion of this phenomenon might be? Thanks! :-)

    • Eric Li says “A simple thought experiment at 4am in the morning”.

      That is the problem with these folks – no real hard evidence. And with a Gedanken [thought] experiment it is even easier to ignore the totality of evidence.

      • Why is it, CHS, that you always seem to be able to invent a reason to just ignore everything, instead of actually refuting it?

        The common goal of a thought experiment is to explore the potential consequences of the principle in question. Meryl here has demonstrated a good exploratory question, one that I can’t answer it, I’m not qualified enough and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m not educated in regards to the science regarding antibodies.

        I understand it’s easier to attack the author of the science than it is to debunk the science itself, but the former is just as easy to ignore as you claim a thought experiment is, because it simply doesn’t offer any actual argument. It’s irrelevant and baseless.

        Meryl, if you won’t reign in the accusatory commentary that is coming from some of these commenters, then one can only assume that you approve of it.

        • Martin complains about our comment regarding the lack of evidence “That is the problem with these folks – no real hard evidence.”

          That is a problem and we are highlighting it. To cite a Gedankan experiment as evidence in a debate regarding vaccination is evidence of a lack of evidence.

          Produce real credible scientific evidence for your claims or accept that you cannot. Kindly stop complaining about valid responses and observations in a valid approach to rational debate.

          It is a problem and it remains a problem. Now, is that clear enough Martin? Either debate or go. Preferably the latter as there seem to be problems with the former.

        • Martin wrote:
          “Why is it, CHS, that you always seem to be able to invent a reason to just ignore everything, instead of actually refuting it?”

          Hopefully by the time this is posted you will have seen the response to the unusual suggestion that “Gedankenexperiment” is appropriate.

          Here we comment that this kind of personal attack by you as a substitute for argument is precisely what you keep saying you find [including when there is no justification for doing so].

    • Hmm. But that is baseed on published research in leading medical journals.

      How can we rely on that?

      The former editors of the BMJ and the NEJM, the leading medical journals, were clearly being paranoid and worried about propaganda and conspiracy.

      The former, Dr Richard Smith, advised to avoid the leading journals and the latter Marcia Angell said: “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published”

      See fuller quotes in our comment below and here is a quick link to it:

      http://tinyurl.com/cbfxz2c

  5. “Peer review is nothing more than an appeal to authority”? So who are you going to get to review, say, the immunology paper “Inhibition of Enterovirus 71 by a Novel Antiviral Peptide Derived from EV71 Capsid Protein VP1″ for its content, rigour, and conclusions? Would Bob the Plumber from Margate, Tasmania, be the best person to give an informed opinion on this latest research?

    • Good point Mike. Peer review is actually a very good science practice as it allows the professionals with the relevant knowledge and experience to review the work for flaws. I certainly wouldn’t try to tell my mechanic how to do his job, so why wouldn’t I have a mechanic check my car repairs.

      • Both Mike and Tyson Adams are barking up the wrong tree. “Peer review” in medical journals is not scientific peer review. The peer review process by which science either verifies or falsifies a theory is completely different.

        Pre-publication “peer review” in medical journals establishes nothing other than that some old geezer in a pub on a Sunday afternoon with a pint read a medical paper and thinks it is “OK” to publish or might need a tweak or three.

        And if anyone wants to dispute the “old geezer in a pub” hypothesis, show us where in the major medical journals a description of who the “peer reviewers” are and how, why, when and in what circumstances they thought a paper was “OK” to publish. You won’t find it. As an anathema to any form of review, academic or otherwise, there is a total absence of transparency.

        “Peer review” for medical journals is merely a marketing ploy. In other spheres of academic activity what passes for “peer review” in medical journals is called more accurately academic refereeing of papers.

        The reason the medical journal publishing world adopted “peer review” to describe the process appears merely a ploy to ascribe to medical research the kind of reliability seen in science, when it does not and cannot apply to medical research.

        It is one of the great con tricks of the 20th and 21st centuries.

        • Huh? The articles I referred to are from the Lancet and BMJ and are the two highest ranked and most revered peer reviewed journals.

          As a scientist I take your statements as insulting to every scientist. You clearly do not understand the very high standards held by most science journals.

          • Tyson, may I point out that the lancet published the article on Ileal Lymphoid Hyperplasia in 1998 – an article you no-doubt revile. So your appeal to the authority of peer review does not ring true. Also, your letter ignores the conflicts of interest of the authors of this paper and the known issues with peer reviewed journals concerning ghostwriting, paid experts and fraud – peer review is not a guarantee of truth or accuracy.

      • All you did there, CHS, is reject the peer review process out of hand, without even having a true comprehension of what a peer review entails. Why can’t the reviewer be a “young geezer in a pub”? You seem to have a few preconceived notions, too, that cause you to stereotype the scientific type as being an old geezer. And why a pub? Why not an office, where they actually do it?

      • You should not believe everything you read and particularly not from such unreliable sources.

        According to the previous editor of the British Medical Journal we should scrap “peer review” and beware top journals.

        Smith, R. (2010). Scrap peer review and beware of “top journals”. British Medical Journal.

        http://tinyurl.com/y96fvev

        And according to the former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Marcia Angell: “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”

        Read her book – now at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Marcia Angell is the author of The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It.

      • I read a great line on the internet once… I can’t remember who it was from, which is a shame because I like to give credit where it’s due. Anyway, it was about how awkward it is buying a medical journal on your way home from work these days. The shop assistants always ask if you would like a girlie magazine to roll it up in.

        • Clandestine – that is the best laugh I’ve had all week! Thank you for sharing it and I will definitely be appropriating it too. If you remember where it’s from, let me know and I will give credit where credit is due :-)

  6. RE: May 9, 2012 at 7:07 pm Tyson Adams:

    Sorry Tyson but the evidence is against you. Over on CHS we covered this but it would be good if The Real Australian Skeptics could cast a skeptical eye over yet more bonkers claims by the medical fraternity. Renaming a disease to pretend it has been eradicated is a pretty clever trick if you can fool the world with it – but it only works for so long and then people wise up:

    “New Paper – Polio Vaccine – Disease Caused by Vaccine Twice As Fatal – Third World Duped – Scarce Money Wasted – Polio Eradication Impossible”

    http://tinyurl.com/cwal43k

    • So you’re saying that the polio survivors are liars then? You’re saying that all the science is lying? This evidence you speak of isn’t in either of those very reliable sources.
      A recent Lancet peer reviewed science article showed that polio vaccinations had been hugely successful. The only problem that has arisen is where vaccination rates are low and allow infections to mutate. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S147330990670603X

    • Presenting an article you wrote yourself to back up a claim that the science is against him is just as substantial as merely stating that the evidence is against him. That is, what evidence? Where is this evidence that is against him? Please provide something that is substantiated with documented scientific proof, and not just an article on your own website that may only be your misunderstood interpretation of said evidence.

      This article is rife with inconsistencies and contradictions. The author fails to grasp that the size of a human being is no measure of it’s bodily functions. Where are the reported and documented and proven cases of smallpox that prove it hasn’t been eradicated? Where is the smallpox vaccine? Where is the polio vaccine? If the package inserts are so honest, then why is the pharmaceutical company that produces them considered dishonest? Why is the government that demands those inserts so dishonest?

      There are so many holes in the logic here that I could sell this article as a delicacy in Switzerland. I am sceptical of the claims made here, because there is evidence to the contrary that has been documented since the very first vaccines were introduced. It is not rigged – and if it was, it would be noticed. For the evidence to be rigged in such a manner as to fool so many would require a grand conspiracy on such a scale as to be not just inefficient and costly (thereby not being worth it if the motivation is money), but virtually impossible. Such a conspiracy would require the cooperation of a vast many brilliant scientific minds, far more brilliant than you or me, who are so ethically challenged that the best thing they can think of to do with their science is to screw us with vaccines.

      There is no such conspiracy. It makes no sense. Unfortunately, the whole idea that there is something nasty about vaccines requires there to be a conspiracy, because there is so much data that flies in the face of that claim that such data would not be easy to rig without a conspiracy. The fact that Meryl Dorey’s presentation of data is so often torn to pieces by many intelligent individuals is a demonstration of that. The problem you face is that there is almost a hundred years worth of documentation and data that demonstrates the safety and efficacy of vaccination. There is nothing wrong with questioning it, that is good scepticism… but asking the same questions over and over, and getting the same answers over and over, and refusing to believe the science that is being done by people who devote their lives to it, is not a sceptical process. It is a position of cynicism.

      • Re: Martin Bouckaert says May 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm:-

        “Presenting an article you wrote yourself to back up a claim that the science is against him is just as substantial as merely stating that the evidence is against him.”

        Martin, you should at least consider looking at what is referenced, even if you have not troubled to read it. If you go to the article and read it you will see it cites “peer reviewed” or “academically refereed” journal sources. That is not “Referencing yourself”.

        So that causes some difficulty in taking seriously your other comments. A point already made regarding another commenter.

      • It’s easy to cite references, it’s something else entirely to get them right, to interpret their meanings and conclusions correctly, and ensure that they are reliable and substantial sources. If your references came from legitimate Cochrane or Lancet articles, for example, I would consider checking them. If I checked them, and discovered you got them wrong, I would have reason to disregard what you had to say.

        But if you want to decide that I can’t be taken seriously because of what you deem as one small error in judgement of what is proper referencing or not, then perhaps you should reconsider why anyone should take you seriously when your article and comments are so wrought with grammatical and spelling errors. How can someone who lacks basic literary education be qualified in more advanced fields such a immunology and virology? Let me be clear, this isn’t an attack, this is a question. If you want to question why I should be taken seriously, should I not then have the same rights?

        I’ll tell you why you should take me seriously, though, CHS. It’s not because I’m superior to you, or smarter, or anything like that – I don’t believe that anyone stands above anyone else. I believe every individual should be taken as seriously as the next, even if it’s just to help them understand alternative perspectives. You should take me seriously, that is, for the exact same reasons that the AVN demand they be taken seriously.

        So before you brush off the rest of my previous comment, perhaps you should try legitimising why what I wrote shouldn’t be answered. Otherwise, the ease with which you brushed it under the rug begs the question – can you really explain such a conspiracy otherwise? Are you capable of answering my questions, or not?

        • Martin, do you see the contradiction in what you say?

          “If your references came from legitimate Cochrane or Lancet articles, for example, I would consider checking them. ……. I believe every individual should be taken as seriously as the next ….”

          There is no difference in principle between individual people and individual journals. But a clear double standard.

          That is reason alone for having trouble taking seriously the comments made.

      • I noticed that my previous comment was approved. It did not breech any of the rules of this site. Removal of that comment demonstrated exactly the point of that comment: That you cannot answer the questions I presented. I know you’re going to read this one, so enjoy knowing that I now know you’re a complete sham. The previous comment that didn’t get past moderation was, of course, screenshot for documentation of this demonstration of your inability to process it. The screenshot was made when the comment appeared as “Awaiting Moderation.” The comment is now completely gone, leaving you, CHS, with the last word, as if it is the word that matters. Unfortunately, there are many who will know now that you are a complete sham, and that this site is not to be trusted as informative at all.

        If you can’t handle sceptical criticism, than you are not a sceptic. If you can’t answer my questions, then I have to assume you have no answers, and you cannot justify a single thing that you have written in this article.

        • Martin, chill out! for goodness sake – maybe you should try moderating 2 blogs, a website, a facebook page and running an office / magazine. You have to allow more than overnight for a comment to be approved. Your comment was approved about 5 minutes before I received this second one. Sheesh! I am not your slave so please get off your high horse and show a little bit of understanding.

      • Please accept my apology for the last statement, the comment had disappeared and must have been in the process of being approved, and has not actually appeared as having past moderation. I humbly apologise for the mistake I have made, and for calling out your own sceptical integrity.

      • Yeah… it happens. I have no problem with you removing those last few comments, we both made small mistakes here and right now it’s just irrelevant bickering taking up wall space, or “comment spam” as I like to call it. Leave it, remove it, it’s up to you, and I’m indifferent, just please don’t feel like I’m going to get ragey if these last few comments disappear. They are irrelevant to the matter at hand.

      • “This article is rife with inconsistencies and contradictions.”

        Well I look forward to you pointing them all out then. We shall see.

        “The author fails to grasp that the size of a human being is no measure of it’s bodily functions.”

        I do? I am quite sure the relationship between dose dependency and weight isn’t strictly linear (which I assume is the point you are making) but I am also sure that if the I heart vaccines crowd want to a) persuade doubters about the safety of vaccines; and b) shore up their own supporters, then they would probably want to do a whole lot better than saying: “Well listen, sure if an adult were to take a weight equivalent dose they would probably die, but we still reckon it’s perfectly safe for you to inject it into your babies.”

        According to the I heart vaccines crowd the dose that is in vaccines is infinitesimal. So it would seem reasonable then that if you upped the dose a bit and put it in a much larger body there would still be no ill effects. And yet not a single person is willing to do this challenge. They obviously know it will kill them (or at least do great harm). And yet we’re expected to believe that the weight equivalent dose would do absolutely no damage to babies? Get real.

        By the way, there is nothing inconsistent about that. So we can strike that off.

        “Where are the reported and documented and proven cases of smallpox that prove it hasn’t been eradicated? “

        Sorry, but did you read the article with the goal of understanding it or just the goal of taking anything you could from it to be the basis of your critique? You and others here demand proof of some authority telling you that smallpox hasn’t been eradicated. Of course even if the sayso of authority comes you then say those aren’t true Scotsman authorities so it doesn’t count.

        But I’m not interested in authority I am interested in putting the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together myself. Here are the facts. I have already laid them out but I will do so again:

        1) Doctors declared smallpox to be eradicated without having checked all potential asymptomatic carriers (if any) not to mention all the rocks, trees etc the variola virus could have been hiding in.
        2) Since then there have in fact been outbreaks of deadly pox conditions but authorities have dismissed them as not being smallpox on the basis that smallpox doesn’t exist.
        3) Chicken pox was always defined as harmless in the English language until such time as the smallpox vaccine came along. Since then we have been told that chicken pox can be fatal.

        Now I put these pieces together and you know what I get? I get that the whole eradication thing is nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy. But you and others here clearly aren’t interested in putting anything together you just want to be told what to think.

        “Where is the smallpox vaccine? Where is the polio vaccine?”

        What’s my prize for guessing?

        Sorry, but I can only speculate on where you are going with this. If you are trying to say that the fact that these vaccines don’t exist somehow proves that the disease doesn’t then, even apart from the massive non-sequitur of your argument, you should probably realise that the polio vaccine is still in regular usage.

        “If the package inserts are so honest, then why is the pharmaceutical company that produces them considered dishonest? Why is the government that demands those inserts so dishonest?”

        Sorry. Are you seriously telling me that you want to run with the argument “Neither the companies that make them nor the institutions that approve them can in any way be trusted, however, we should all trust vaccines.”?

        Read my description again. It tells you exactly what has happened and why the inserts give useful information but the approval process is a sham. If you disagree with either the premises or the validity of the argument then can you explain why please?

        “There are so many holes in the logic here that I could sell this article as a delicacy in Switzerland.”

        Maybe, but you still haven’t found any.

        “I am sceptical of the claims made here, because there is evidence to the contrary that has been documented since the very first vaccines were introduced. It is not rigged – and if it was, it would be noticed. For the evidence to be rigged in such a manner as to fool so many would require a grand conspiracy on such a scale as to be not just inefficient and costly (thereby not being worth it if the motivation is money), but virtually impossible.”

        I am guessing you have never taken any statistics courses Martin, regardless though, I can assure you that at no stage will your lecturer stand up and tell you that “All statistical models can only be biased if there is a grand conspiracy. Given that grand conspiracies are virtually impossible no statistical models are biased. QED”. You know why they would never say that Martin? Because it would be absolutely ridiculous. Everybody has their own biases. Sometimes groups of people have the same bias. That is what has happened here. Practically everybody in the medical industry desperately wants vaccines to be safe and effective. The reputational and monetary blow to the industry if a contrary position came to be believed would be enormous.

        As for noticing the studies being rigged. Well I noticed it. In fact I told you all about it. So you don’t need to worry about that little rejoinder anymore because clearly some people have noticed it. The trials are rigged. By using non-inert substances as placebos the vaccines look safer than they actually are. But you don’t have to trust me on this you can look at the studies yourself and then you can thank me for making this information available to you. Indeed I would have thought that is what any intellectually honest person would do. A new piece of information comes to light and you a) check to make sure it is true; and b) when you verify it you alter your position accordingly.

        “Such a conspiracy would require the cooperation of a vast many brilliant scientific minds, far more brilliant than you or me, who are so ethically challenged that the best thing they can think of to do with their science is to screw us with vaccines.”

        No. It just takes people with a significant vested interest. And that is exactly what we have.

        “There is nothing wrong with questioning it, that is good scepticism… but asking the same questions over and over, and getting the same answers over and over, and refusing to believe the science that is being done by people who devote their lives to it, is not a sceptical process. It is a position of cynicism.”

        So it is good to be sceptical unless people of authority really and truly believe it in which case to doubt them is to be cynical (and presumably wrong).

        I don’t know if I would describe that position as inconsistent (although I would describe it as ridiculous) but I reckon it is certainly a lot closer than any of my so-called inconsistencies.

      • Your whole breakdown, piece by piece, of what I’ve had to say, has ignored what I’ve said entirely, and missed many points I was making. It was also unnecessarily condescending. If you have to explain something with complexity, then you simply don’t understand it.

        The simplest explanation is that there is no conspiracy, and there are no vested interests. Vaccine manufacturers openly and honestly disclose their financial affairs on a regular basis to auditors, they openly publish reported cases of possible reactions to vaccines, and they openly tell us who should and shouldn’t be using their vaccines. Vaccines themselves only make up, on average, less than 10% of their profit margins. The rest is in treatment medication and cosmetics, the latter being where their highest profits are.

        Where there are undisclosed vested interests, such as in the case of Mr Wakefield, there is proof. It is not proof that has been doctored, because the courts and investigators would have detected it. Considering the quantity of the evidence against him, such doctoring would have been easy to detect. (By the way, a conspiracy regarding vaccines would also require the cooperation of many legal organisations).

        It would take more than just a few people with vested interests to uphold the rigging of scientific trials, because those trials have to be demonstrably repeatable, not just peer reviewed, before they are accepted as factual demonstration of a vaccines efficacy. If the results are rigged, then the trial will not be able to be repeated, as is required for a vaccine to be approved.

        In any case, you have insulted me twice by presuming to know my abilities in statistics, and by questioning my intellect in regards to the process of scepticism. You have used the words “I’m guessing” far too many times for me to accept that you have a fully factual understanding of the scenario required for such a conspiracy regarding vaccines, and the mere fact that you think smallpox and chickenpox are the same thing is damaging to your argument.

        For future reference, though, I will help you. Smallpox and chickenpox are caused by different viruses, and have different disease courses. Chickenpox, caused by the varicella-zoster virus, typically causes an acute bout of disease that resolves after several days, but the virus persists in the body for life. It can kill older people, but it is usually mild in young people. The reason the vaccine is given younger is to reduce the chance of complications when they are older. It reduces the chances of getting shingles in the elderly vastly when the vaccine is given to you as a child.

        Smallpox, caused by the variola virus, can cause life threatening illness, and often results in permamnent scarring of the tissue. Smallpox is no longer present on the planet, except in a couple of laboratories, while chickenpox is worldwide.

        • Martin,

          To whom are your remarks addressed when you wrote “Your whole breakdown, piece by piece, of what I’ve had to say, has ignored what I’ve said entirely, and missed many points I was making.”

          And for someone [Martin] who complains that “If you have to explain something with complexity, then you simply don’t understand it.” it is remarkable how complex some of Martin’s explanations are.

      • If you want to tell me you think I’m wrong, then do so. There is a difference, however, between, “you are wrong and this is why,” and “You must not be very good at statistics.” Can you see the distinction? If you want to take this further, I suggest you try to avoid treating people like they are somehow lesser beings than you. Try discussing the points, not your intellectual superiority.

        • Martin says “Try discussing the points, not your intellectual superiority.”

          How strange, that is just what we have indicated in another comment [just prior to posting this] that Martin start doing instead of what he has been.

          And the other problem is that the connection between his comment and the article the comments are meant to be addressing is opaque to the extent that it is almost possible to lose the will to live when it is noted what he is arguing about is not relevant to that.

          Martin also says “If you have to explain something with complexity, then you simply don’t understand it.” Which appears to be the sort of personal and irrelevant attack he appears to feign to decry – along with of course the personal attack implicit in “Try discussing the points, not your intellectual superiority.”

          We are beginning to wonder whether Martin is commenting here just to disrupt as his comments do not appear to address the matters in hand. There is a web term for that kind of conduct and it normally results in the person concerned getting banned. But it does of course help to have clear evidence, which this seems to be.

          So Martin, when are you going to start addressing the matters under consideration? And if you are not going to address them – what are you doing commenting here? No need to answer – it is now plain.

      • “Martin, do you see the contradiction in what you say?”

        No. There is a difference between taking someone seriously, whether they are wrong or right, and getting the right information from the right people. Doesn’t mean you don’t take wrong people seriously – to do that would be ignorant. Ignoring those who are wrong can cause as much damage as ignoring those who are right. There is no contradiction in what I said, so please stop trying to find things to accuse commenters of, and stick to validating your arguments.

        • Martin says:

          “so please stop trying to find things to accuse commenters of”.

          How deeply offensive Martin. That is not what we were doing and you know that perfectly well. We highlighted a seeming contradiction.

          So kindly follow your own advice and not attack others here as a substitute for answering with valid argument

      • Really, CHS? More attacks? I guess I’m not really surprised anymore, neither at the attacks nor at the moderators obvious approval of them. I am officially ignoring you, because you have absolutely nothing of substance to offer. All you have demonstrated so far is your intangible ability to ridicule those who disagree with you.

      • May 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm

        Martin says:
        1) “Vaccine manufacturers ….. openly publish reported cases of possible reactions to vaccines, and they openly tell us who should and shouldn’t be using their vaccines.”

        2) “Vaccines themselves only make up, on average, less than 10% of their profit margins. The rest is in treatment medication and cosmetics, the latter being where their highest profits are.”

        1) This is not true. Vaccine manufacturers do not systematically collect and publish reported adverse reactions. Some of the largest multinational drug dompanies have a proven track record across the board of withholding and manipulating information about the risks and alleged benefits of their products – not just vaccines.

        2) Vaccines are a great money maker. If you take a look at the breakdown of GSK’s sales they have managed to breakdown the world’s ills into three main money-spinning areas – two of which are respiratory/allergy and mental health drugs – each making up roughly 1/3rd each of GSK’s annual sales.

        It is a great way to make money – create life-long chronic conditions with vaccines and then make your victims pay for life for the inhalers, anti-histamines, epinephrine injectors etc and of course the death and misery acute attacks of conditions like asthma bring as well as the economic cost to every nation.

        Mental health drugs of course are the controversial dumpster drugs of the 20th and 21st Centuries, backed by an absence of science to support their use. Too toxic for anyone else we can cynically give them to people with mental disorders because we cannot cure them [or maybe we could but then there might be no call for the money-spinning drugs for the drug industry - oops - that would be what some here call a "conspiracy" theory but which everyone else calls a commercial greed fact.] – [Oops, sorry Martin - is there some hidden personal attack in that remark for anyone falling back on conspiracy theory as their last line of argument? Or is it perhaps a valid approach to argument demonstrating the bankruptcy of the position adopted by an opponent in argument?].

      • “Your whole breakdown, piece by piece, of what I’ve had to say, has ignored what I’ve said entirely, and missed many points I was making.”

        No. It answered every single relevant point. Indeed I even answered points that you were trying to make but did so in a manner most wouldn’t have understood. The only point I failed to answer was about your belief that Meryl Dorey was constantly taken down in debates regularly. But given your track record hopefully most reasonable people will forgive me for not placing too much faith in your judgment as to who defeats who in debates.

        “It was also unnecessarily condescending. If you have to explain something with complexity, then you simply don’t understand it. “

        It was condescending but not unnecessarily so given what you wrote about my article. At any rate its complexity was no more than necessary to get across the relevant points.

        “The simplest explanation is that there is no conspiracy, and there are no vested interests.”

        That is quite possibly the single most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my entire life. Do you honestly expect people to believe that doctors have absolutely ZERO vested interests in vaccination? So according to you it would make absolutely no difference to doctors whatsoever if they were to view what they were doing as saving babies or harming them? Do you actually think about any of the things that you write?

        “It would take more than just a few people with vested interests to uphold the rigging of scientific trials, because those trials have to be demonstrably repeatable, not just peer reviewed, before they are accepted as factual demonstration of a vaccines efficacy.”

        Listen, are you going to comment on whether or not it is OK to use non-inert substances as placebos or are you just going to go around in circles with this nonsense? By the way there are more than “just a few” people with vested interests. There is the entire medical industry. And the fact that vaccines are not their sole source of income is largely irrelevant. That is why I pointed out that it wasn’t just monetary it was REPUTATIONAL as well (not to mention self-esteem). But you missed that obviously.

        “If the results are rigged, then the trial will not be able to be repeated, as is required for a vaccine to be approved.”

        It’s frightening just how little comprehension you have of this issue but here you still are debating it. Again, I have to ask, do you have anything to say about using non-inert substances as placebos? You refuse to even mention this. Like I said, I gave you a piece of information that was clearly news to you. You should have thanked me, verified it and adjusted your position accordingly. But you are clearly stuck in your current view and no amount of reason or facts will sway you. When you wrote this sentence didn’t you think about how ridiculous it would look? The results are rigged by using non-inert substances as controls. You can repeat this process over and over and always get a rigged result. How was this not obvious? Why are you still here desperately clutching at straws?

        “For future reference, though, I will help you. Smallpox and chickenpox are caused by different viruses, and have different disease courses. Chickenpox, caused by the varicella-zoster virus, typically causes an acute bout of disease that resolves after several days, but the virus persists in the body for life. It can kill older people, but it is usually mild in young people. The reason the vaccine is given younger is to reduce the chance of complications when they are older. It reduces the chances of getting shingles in the elderly vastly when the vaccine is given to you as a child.”

        Thanks Martin. And for even more future reference I am going to let you in on a little secret. They never differentiated the various proteins back in the 18th century between varicella and variola. You know why? Because they couldn’t. The technology didn’t exist. They were able to do so a couple of hundred years later but how regularly, consistently and accurately they did it is anybody’s guess. And you know something else? Chicken pox was ALWAYS considered harmless in the 18th century (ie before the smallpox vaccine).

        And you just can’t seem to help yourself making blatant factual errors. First you (seemingly) claimed that the polio vaccine was no longer in regular usage and now you claim that varicella vaccination has nothing to do with preventing childhood deaths from chickenpox.

        I mean I can forgive making mistakes but the fact is I have already pointed all these things out to you. Twice.

        “Smallpox is no longer present on the planet, except in a couple of laboratories, while chickenpox is worldwide.”

        Oh sorry I didn’t realise. I didn’t believe it when I was told this by every single doctor, teacher, government official etc who repeated it over and over but now that YOU say it I know it must be true. Did you not actually read the comments I wrote? I honestly thought I went through it all in a nice simple step by step fashion for you. Obviously not simple enough.

    • The Indian Journal of Medical Ethics is hardly a reputable journal. They seem to take the same stance as any anti science woo pushers in regards to the pharmaceutical companies (yes, I know they are not exactly angels).

      If you have ANYTHING from an actual reputable journal, that would be great.

      • Scott, that really is not good enough. Is that the best you can do by way of argument to an evidenced paper published in a reputable journal?

        Here is a parry to that:

        The former of the BMJ, Dr Richard Smith, advised to avoid the leading journals and the former editor of NEJM latter Marcia Angell said: “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published”

        See fuller quotes in our other comment here and here is a quick link to it:

        http://tinyurl.com/cbfxz2c

        • CHS, allow me to re-word that for you without the provocative jibe at Scott.

          “Scott, that really is not good enough. The former [is there supposed to be a title here, like "editor"?] of the BMJ, Dr Richard Smith, advised to avoid the leading journals and the former editor of NEJM latter Marcia Angell said: “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published”

          See fuller quotes in our other comment here and here is a quick link to it:

          http://tinyurl.com/cbfxz2c

          That would have been substantial enough to make your point, so why did you feel the need to questions Scott’s ability to argue? If he truly is not as good at arguing as you, then you should not feel any need to point it out. Just come up with a better argument.

          • Martin said: “why did you feel the need to questions Scott’s ability to argue? If he truly is not as good at arguing as you, then you should not feel any need to point it out. Just come up with a better argument.”

            So not only must everyone make sure their children are vaccinated as these folks demand when they lack basic evidence of safety and efficacy, but we now must also make sure we only make our points in they manner they demand. That is a wonderful demonstration of the mentality parents the world over are presented with. Thanks for that Martin.

            But also, when someone comes out with a truly awfully bad argument, as the person concerned did, you demand that we are not allowed to say so.

            • if it’s a bad argument, why do you need to say so? If you have a better one, then use it. Why is it so hard if you have a better argument? Why do you keep putting words in my mouth and assuming I mean something other than what I’ve said? Why do you insist on debating with attacks and sarcasm instead of any kind of actual argument? You’re not winning any awards in reason, just cynicism. But I digress, if you want to argue like a seven year old that doesn’t like getting their own way, then who am I to stop you? I’m off to have an adult conversation with my 15 year old brother. It’ll be far more intellectual than any further attempt at discussion on this site.

              • Martin – again, pointing out an error or contradiction in someone’s argument is what being a sceptic is all about. We are Sceptical – you are being defensive. Calm down a bit and listen to what is being said with an open mind. Then, if you don’t feel you can take part in the argument by defending your position with evidence, I’m sure I’m speaking for everyone when I say I would welcome your input.

              • “if it’s a bad argument, why do you need to say so? ”

                Couldn’t agree more Martin I am right with you on this. Just FYI, there was a guy on this site who wrote “There are so many holes in the logic here that I could sell this article as a delicacy in Switzerland.” Can’t remember who it was exactly, but if he posts again I’ll be sure to let him know exactly what you think of this foolishness.

      • Journals that agree with my position are omniscient and authoritative. Journals that disagree with my prejudices are “purveyors of woo” and can be instantly dismissed.

        QED

        For your benefit – because I have sneaking suspicion that it will go over your head – I was being sarcastic.

  7. Vaccination has not saved millions of lives as far as you can tell? One word. Smallpox. That is all.

    • Re: May 9, 2012 at 8:13 pm Guy Curtis:

      “Vaccination has not saved millions of lives as far as you can tell? One word. Smallpox. That is all.”

      Unfortunately, the alleged success of smallpox vaccine is based on very shaky and unscientific foundations. And those unscientific foundations have serious national security implications. So it is a topic well deserving of a sound scientific and skeptical approach.

      Apart from the fact that smallpox vaccine killed around as many and sometimes more people than the number it is alleged to have “saved”, the success is confounded by the fact that the more effective approach to control of smallpox has always been isolation. No true scientist would make the claims for smallpox vaccine which the medical fraternity make – but then they are not scientists nor trained in science but do routinely abuse the very word itself “science”.

      You can get all the fundamentals about the bonkers claims for smallpox vaccine from our posting on CHS here:

      “Small Pox – Big Lie – Bioterrorism Implications of Flawed Theories of Eradication” Posted on November 3, 2010 by ChildHealthSafety

      http://tinyurl.com/c36f5l8

      Sorry Guy but your one word scientifically does not even come close.

      And great blog you other guys. These jackasses need to be given a run for their money.

      • Ground rule one: no profanity. ChildHealthSafety, please reconsider your use of the word “jackasses”.
        Ground rule two: respect each other and not making abusive comments. Again, please reconsider your use of the word “jackasses”.
        Ground rule three: use references. Referencing yourself is not a valid reference.
        Ground rule four: I’m Ian Seymour. Who are you, ChildHealthSafety?

        • Ian, my apologies and you are right – I missed the last line of that post and moderated it when I should not have done so, I will try to be more careful in future but please do call me on any other errors that get through. I have written to several other commenters asking them to please moderate their language so I could approve their post but I missed this one.

          As for your other two points:

          References are not required – but people can be up for criticism if they don’t use them. ChildHealthSafety referred to an article published on their own website and there has been criticism for that which is interesting. If someone is going to criticise a person for a reference, don’t you think it would be better to criticise the content itself rather then the location or authorship of the material? The sort of criticism referred to seems more like an attack on the person than a truly skeptical look at what they were saying.

          Last point – it is everyone’s right to use an assumed name on this blog and that was discussed in the ground rules. Having myself been the target of harassment and bullying by the pseudo-skeptics, I support everyone’s right to protect themselves from the same treatment.

          My name is Meryl Dorey, Ian – thank you for your input on this blog.

      • Hi Ian,

        If you go to the article and read it you will see it cites “peer reviewed” or “academically refereed” journal references. That is not “Referencing yourself”.

        So that causes some difficulty in taking seriously your other comments.

        Saying “I’m Ian Seymour” does not mean anything. We could say we are “Elizabeth Windsor”. It does not mean anything either.

      • Do you have anything that is actually credible regarding your nonsense claim regarding smallpox not being eradicated by its very successful vaccination campaign?

        Hint: Whale.to, Natural News and Mercola are not credible sources.

      • Scott, in a word, “yes”. It is a self-evident from the historical evidence. Smallpox was eradicated by three mechanisms, none of which depended on vaccination for their efficacy: isolation, attenuation and improved living conditions, particularly nutrition and sanitation. The effect cannot be attributable to the smallpox vaccine – any vaccine which takes over 100 years to work ipso facto proves itself not to have and in the process killed around as many and sometimes more than those it was claimed to have saved.

        And that is based on documented journal and published evidence which is cited and linked to here:

        “Small Pox – Big Lie – Bioterrorism Implications of Flawed Theories of Eradication” Posted on November 3, 2010 by ChildHealthSafety

        http://tinyurl.com/c36f5l8

        You see Scott, a real sceptic questions everything. And in this case, having asked the questions and considered the evidence, the conclusions are inescapable. But it is a free world. You can choose to escape them if you wish but others with open independent minds and thinking considering that evidence will make their own minds up.

        It was surprising to discover this bearing in mind the repeated claims made for the vaccine for 200 years and the deification of Edward Jenner in the process.

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