Recently, on "Next-door.com" where I am a subscriber to get to know my new neighbors in Carlsbad, hear about recent neighborhood developments, and get recommendations on local bathroom contractors to repair the MORE THAN 6 MONTH OLD water leak on the house I bought less than 3 months ago (thanks, deceptive & dishonest former marine colonel, from whom we bought the house! your lack of disclosure cost me a $1000 insurance deductible! Semper Fi, my ass) ... there was a vociferous and fear fueled debate about California SB277 Referendum to allow parents with superstitious and fear based objections to exempt their precious darlings from receiving vaccines before attending public school. It seems one of the neighborhood moms (we'll call her "Nikki" to defend her identity) with more fear than facts on hand is leading a drive to collect signatures in support of passing SB277.
Now, I had thought that Nextdoor.com was a nice place to get recommendations, help out neighbors (with lost dogs, rat problems, anyone who needed to borrow a ladder, etc) and have a rational dialogue. Apparently, that Does Not extend to the soccer mom with no scientific background who has an internet connection and the inability to differentiate between FACT and popular (and irrational) fiction. I posted the following, last Thursday night:
"Jonas Salk ( http://www.biography.com/people/jonas-sa... ) world renowned scientist, and vaccine pioneer, or Jenny McCarthy ( http://www.jennymccarthy.com) playboy bunny and celebrity; who would you trust? As an engineer, and the spouse of a medical researcher scientist, who is the head of R&D at her company, my choice is clear. You can choose to do whatever you like with your children's future, but your choice endangers the community at large when you choose to intentionally not vaccinate your children against diseases that used to kill and main millions of humans. Deafened by meningitis, blinded by rubella, crippled by polio, deafened and made sterile by mumps (but only your boys), and endangering other classmate school children with cancer, HIV, or other immune system disorders. If you don't vaccinate, and support this proposition, please homeschool and leave your children isolated at home when you go shopping, to the beach, on a plane, or to the movies, so the rest of us don't catch what you've chosen to expose your family to intentionally."
I had hoped that this would help to re-center the conversation on scientific fact and not hysteria or misinformation. Several of my older neighbors had cited living with Polio, iron lungs, FDR, and the devastation a pre-vaccine world had wrecked upon the global community. Instead, it drew this criticism (from "Justin" and "Shannon"" no less):
"Why do provaxxers always think we use Jenny McCarthy as our reference? So lame and so obvious that they've never researched on their own. They are on repeat and puppets for the pharm companies and CDC. Real families with real experience and real damage just don't count if Merck says its so."
Yeah, I am in the pocket of big pharma. Give me a break!! Wait, there's not a single Merck pharmaceutical in my medicine cabinet. But that's a fact...
I am a "provaxxer" because yes, I am pro science. I am anti hysteria. I am anti witch-craft. I am anti rumor, anti herd mentality, anti fear mongering.
In my futile "Nextdoor.com" posting I should have referenced NCBI, but I figured that would be above the heads of most of my neighbors. I was woefully over-estimating even their limited ability of comprehension. Just to help those who don't know what NCBI is, it is the National Center for Biotechnology information. The link is here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
It is, as my wife, my informed friend Ron, and anyone else who cares about Science and Facts, the Central Aggregator of ALL TRUTH about science and publications and what is happening in the scientific community, not just in the United States, but internationally as well. For my parents' generation, it is akin to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, if the Encyclopedia Brittanica were printed everyday, updated every hour, and included peer reviewed and verified references from around the world, focused upon Biotechnology and Science.
Granted, NCBI is not as detailed in it's criticism of vaccinations as Jenny McCarthy, or "Autism Now" who pins nearly all of the cause of autism upon the shoulders of vaccination manufacturers... since childhood vaccinations are given at 15 months, roughly the same age that early on-set autism and other developmental disorders begin to be diagnosed.
After being accused by my neighbors of being in the pocket of Big Pharma and "not doing my research" I decided that this Sunday Night, I would "do my research" and see if I was missing something. I wasn't missing anything. Instead, what I found was a plethora or pseudo-science that tries ineptly and clumsily to criticize vaccinations, and willfully ignores the facts.
First, let's look at the withdrawn Wakefield Study:
Andrew Wakefield will never work again in a reputable Scientific organization. Yet anti-vaccine hysterics continue to cite his falsified work.
Then, look at the rational voice offered by the Union Of Concerned Scientists:
"Vaccinating Ourselves Against Misinformation"
It becomes clearer. The introductory paragraph says it clearly:
"It is dismaying that fears and misinformation about vaccines have led the scourge of measles to return in the United States some fifteen years after it had been officially eradicated here. And it’s especially discouraging to see some early 2016 presidential hopefuls such as Chris Christie and Rand Paul pander on the issue rather than taking a strong evidence-based stance because the facts could not be more clear: Vaccines are safe and they save lives."
My passionate neighbors sited the PBS Frontline story:
Where businessman J.B. Handley tries to cite vaccines as the cause of his child's autism. Problem is, J.B., there's no credited study that Proves It, either. Correlation is Not Causation.
And if you believe EVERYTHING you hear on PBS, then believe this 2014 Nova:
Which talks about the discredited Wakefield study.
But I am not one to do shoddy or abbreviated research, so I kept looking. I found this:
I looked at Science Based Medicine:
It's introductory paragraph is beautiful:
"If there’s one thing that purveyors of pseudoscientific medical modalities crave, probably above all else, it’s legitimacy. They want to be taken seriously as Real Scientists. Of course, my usual reaction to this desire is to point out that anyone can be take seriously as a real scientist if he is able to do science and that science actually shows that there is something to his claims. In other words, do his hypotheses make testable predictions, and does testing these predictions fail to falsify his hypotheses? That’s what it takes, but advocates of so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or “integrative medicine” (IM, or, as I like to refer to it: “integrating” quackery with scientific medicine) want their woo to be considered science without actually doing the hard work of science."
And the Jenny McCarthy reference I noted... yeah.. it's baseless:
"And, of course, Jenny McCarthy was the keynote speaker in 2008 and then again in 2009. Any one want to make any bets against her being the keynote speaker for Autism One 2010? I don’t."
LOL! Yes, my paranoid neighbor moms, I made that up... out of thin air. I didn't quote it from reputable scientists.
Brian Deer sums up Wakefeild's pathetic work nicely, here:
He holds no punches in his scathing review.
Scieneblogs has a great headline:
"The clueless cite the ignorant to argue against vaccines"
And then this story:
For a more light hearted, and less scientific account, read Vermont Public Radio's piece here:
Granted, Seth Mnookin is the author's brother, and he has received death threats from angry anti-vaccine devotees... but it is still a nice piece.
If you want to go hard-core Science Fact, without ANY belief whatsoever, read Richard Dawkin's scathing account here:
I often think Dawkins is more like this South Park depiction... and sometimes too snooty, but he is rarely wrong.
The "Just the Vax" website used to have 75 cited studies why vaccines are safe. Now they have 107:
Thank you Catherina & Science Mom.
The website for new parents "What to Expect" (int he first year) has this very logical piece:
Even mainstream media NBC states the obvious:
... but that just fuels the anti-vaccine moms even more, apparently.
An informed and informative Slate article on it:
"How sane parents got paranoid about vaccines" ... a review of Mnookin's work.
Public Health.org, a site that has no affiliations to pharmaceutical companies has this insightful piece around the 8 biggest myths about vaccines:
(note the lack of ads or links on their website to ANY commercial organization)
And here's a nice study, cited on NCBI, that shows California Pertussis (whopping couch) skyrocketed in 2010, to 1947 levels, when parents refused to immunize their children:
Oh, but that's facts... not hysteria.
I welcome ALL READERS to submit some peer reviewed journal, scientifically accurate & corroborated study, that proves that vaccinations cause more health problems than they prevent. Or, as one completely clueless mother stated on "Nextdoor.com": "The risks are 100%". No dear Nikki, only if you drink the Kool-aid.
No one is saying that a vaccine NEVER has caused ANY health effect, to ANY child, EVER. Sometimes allergic reactions can results. Sometimes children with compromised immune systems can have severe reactions. But over-all, 999,999 times out of a million, the vaccine IS safe & effective and helps Not Only your child, but the community at large, the state as a whole, and the health & strength of the nation.
While eating dinner tonight, I hypothesized with Dr Desert Flower, what if: a VERY disgruntled, Very disenfranchised, Very angry native American whose family & livelihood was severely impacted from poverty, disease, alcoholism, and geographical isolation on un-aerable land were to "gift" a bunch of blankets or toys to a school full of protected suburban children of "progressive" parents who have not vaccinated their precious darlings, and those toys or placemats or blankies were full of measles, mumps, or whooping cough. Would that person be declared a bio-terrorist, or, would it be more-or-less pay-back for what the U.S. government did to his ancestors? If the kids were vaccinated, it wouldn't matter.
Our child was vaccinated, and grew up to become a productive member of society, just as 999,999 out of a million other vaccinated children would.
In many ways, I am glad that the internet was not around when I was a young parent to spread dis-information and hysteria based upon hunch & rumor. We didn't even have dial-up when our child was a toddler, and I really believe, it made us better parents.
Best of luck to future generations. The intelligent ones will learn how to filter out fear & obfuscation from facts.
1 year ago