Homeopaths in denial

This is a tidy-up of a comment I posted on homeopath Steve Scrutton’s blog.

Steve, you don’t seem to understand what a denial means.

Imagine somebody (a he in this case) who anecdotally helps people by playing the piano. This goes on for years. People listen to the music and often feel better – either then or a little while later. Every now and again somebody with a serious illness will get better – breast cancer say (relatively high remission rate) – and he makes sure the world knows about cases like that (selection bias). Continue reading

Vaccines are not 100% effective

It is not uncommon to see online discussions with arguments of the form “if your child is vaccinated, what risk is there from my unvaccinated child?”.

The fact is that while vaccines are generally very good, they are not 100% effective in terms of seroconversion rates. Some vaccinated individuals can still catch and transmit the diseases they have been vaccinated against; although often the symptoms are usually less severe than in the unvaccinated case. Continue reading

Vaccination resources

Many vaccination resources are entrenched in ideology and bias. Some are easy to spot with their emotional but anecdotal stories, conspiracy theories, logical fallacies and downright misinformation. Others have in initial air of respectability and may even appear to be science based, until you dig a little deeper and reveal that the science is cherry picked with studies that are methodologically weak, have since been retracted, or have subsequently been shown to have reached false conclusions. Continue reading

The chemical makes the poison – apparently

Thimerosal is a mercury based organic compound that is used both as a preservative in vaccines and as a sterilising agent during the vaccine manufacturing process.

With the exception of some multi-dose flu vaccines, thimerosal was removed as a preservative from all childhood vaccines in 2001, with the last expiry date being Jan 14 2003. It is however, still present as trace quantities of mercury in some childhood vaccines (e.g. DTaP vaccines) due to the manufacturing process:- Continue reading

Meryl down the rabbit hole

meryl doery down the rabbit holeThis is a slight modification of a comment I posted on an article about Meryl Dorey in the Australian Northern Star.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was once asked how to get through to Somali women that their life was one of total repression and she answered “dissonance”. Her idea being that if you repeatedly hit people with the truth, their beliefs may eventually crack – dissonance will accumulate until a point is reached that no amount of rationalising can support the root belief/bias/ideology. Continue reading

The Australian Vaccination Network is an anti-vaccination group

Like many anti-vaccination groups, the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) presents itself as “pro-choice” or “informed decision” or “balanced” and at first glance the website seems to support that view, but dig a little deeper and their true orientation becomes clear.  What for example is balanced about a tee-shirt that can be purchased in their online shop saying “Love them, Protect them, Never inject them”. Continue reading

Vaccines do not weaken a child’s immune system

Paul Offit et. al. review the evidence as to whether or not vaccinations overwhelm a child’s immune system, concluding:-

Current studies do not support the hypothesis that multiple vaccines overwhelm, weaken, or “use up” the immune system. On the contrary, young infants have an enormous capacity to respond to multiple vaccines, as well as to the many other challenges present in the environment. By providing protection against a number of bacterial and viral pathogens, vaccines prevent the “weakening” of the immune system and consequent secondary bacterial infections occasionally caused by natural infection. Continue reading

Vaccination is a social responsibility

What a wonderful thing it is to be able to vaccinate our children, not just to protect them, but those around them that are too young to be completely vaccinated or cannot be vaccinated for heath reasons. What a wonderful gift herd immunity is to and from humanity. Yes there are risks of adverse reactions to vaccination but such risks are microscopic and completely outweighed by the benefits. Continue reading

Antivax porkies

Joseph Mercola and Barbara Loe Fisher recently had a good old chinwag about vaccination, or to be more accurate anti-vaccination.  They start with the recent news that the FDA have recommended that clinicians temporarily suspend use of Rotarix and end with a truly scary section in which they argue we’d be better off without some vaccines, including Rotarix.

There was even a horrific section on smallpox where Fisher used the ‘naturally falling mortality rate’ argument while conveniently ignoring incidence; a common ploy found all over antivax sites and the weird and wonderful outer fringes of medical journalism – JPANDS for example. Continue reading