anti-vaccination activists – deluded and dangerous

anti-vaccination activists – deluded and dangerous

The latest news reports indicate that the mumps outbreak in Auckland is spreading. As you might expect, the very first commenter on the FB page for that story is someone claiming that vaccines don’t cure mumps and offer a significant risk to health. (I wish Moveable Type allowed the Comic Sans font…)

The only reason I bother dipping my toes into the rather septic cesspool that such comments threads can become is to try to inject some science, in the hope that anyone sitting on the fence might come down on the side of reality. And to support those who offer science-based responses, like Blue.

The ‘study’ Blue’s referring to is probably the one discussed here by Steven Novella: it was a survey of parents who home-schooled; it allowed participants to self-select, and it relied on parents’ reports of events (ie there was no triangulation to ensure the accuracy of the data thus gained.

Orange may feel he’s a gung-ho researcher himself but his maths skills appear sadly limited. This is in the context of Auckland DHB having provided him with the data (following his OIA request) on the proportion of fully, partly-, and non-vaccinated individuals who’ve come down with mumps in the current outbreak.

What Orange simply doesn’t get – refuses to get – is that he needs to look at the data in terms of the proportion of the total vaccinated and unvaccinated populations in Auckland. (It was explained to him.)

However, we should give up on maths and become more aware of the corrupt practices of Big Pharma (not to mention Big Science):

There’s a reasonable helping of redirection and also, along with unsubstantiated claims about corruption & deceit there are teh ebil toxinz:

None of these claims were substantiated by Pink or Orange. (Orange even states elsewhere that smallpox never really went away & wasn’t all that bad anyway!) I did point out to Orange, elsehwere in the thread, that parotitis from step is easily detected via a visual exam and a swab, but apparently this was simply supporting his case… Then Brown came along (Lilac & Yellow are on the side of science).

In her first comment, Brown is referring to the so-called ‘whistle-blower’ saga, claiming that a CDC scientist uncovered evidence of a fraudulent cover-up of a supposed link (there isn’t really a link) between vaccination & autism. This has been extensively discussed on a number of science sites, most notably by Orac at Respectful Insolence; here, for example.. This really was a manufactroversy, based on a rather shaky analysis – by someone who isn’t an epidemiologist – after discussions with CDC scientist William Thompson. The documents in the case are apparently fairly widely available, as Orac describes here. He goes on to say that

So what emerges from all these documents? One thing that doesn’t emerge is any evidence of a coverup. There’s no contemporaneous documentation to suggest an effort to “hide” findings viewed as “inconvenient,” although Thompson’s retroactive markups of the meeting agendas sure tries to make it seem as though there were. In the end, after this document dump, we’re left with no evidence of scientific malfeasance or attempts to whitewash data.

Brown then goes down the ‘toxins’ route – she has quite a lot to say about toxins, a lot of it based on the scaremongering site (to which I refuse to link). Needless to say, she doesn’t understand the relationship between dose and effect, and appears to be unaware that there’s been no mercury in paediatric vaccines since the turn of this century. Yellow’s comment on fruit is quite apt in this context – there is more formaldehyde in a pear than in the normal vaccine schedule.

For any ‘discussions’ that move beyond that level, here’s a great resource from the writer of the vaccinesworkblog – it looks at (& debunks) various papers held up in anti-vaxx circles as supporting their claims around vaccines & autism. However, while it’s definitely useful in discussing things with the ‘undecideds’, for the pro-disease activists Orange, Brown & Pink I can’t help feeling that the saying about playing chess with pigeons is more appropriate.

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