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Frazz
Posted on Wednesday 30 November 2011 at 9:09 am

Pro-Science Rant


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This rant might offend some people here; I have no idea. I am ranting here because I can't do it on Facebook or I know I will offend people. If you come away from this feeling like I insulted you and your beliefs ... I'm sorry in the sense that I am actually trying to find a safe place to say this without insulting anybody but I'm not sorry in the sense that I'm wrong because I'm not.


I have a friend who is very anti medicine. I have had several go-rounds with her when she has been sick and refused to go to a doctor because doctors and all the drugs they prescribe are somehow wrong or evil in her mind. Her typical pattern is to be sick for several days, finally call her "natural healer" in another country, take whatever herbs and supplements the "natural healer" suggests, rest for several more days, and then trumpet it as proof that her "natural healer" was right when she finally gets better. The ignorance and stupidity behind all this completely amazes me and I hope it is self evident why.

She just posted a link on facebook to an article titled "Big Study: Vaccinated Kids 2-5 More Diseases Than Unvaccinated." The article is of course from a natural healing website not a scientific journal or anything like that. The "scientific study" compared government data on disease rates in the general population (and used this for disease rates in vaccinated children) with parental reporting via an internet survey of the disease rate in unvaccinated children and found, as the title poorly indicates, that vaccinated children got sick two to five times more often than unvaccinated children.. The "scientific study" and the reporting on it is so full of holes I can't understand how anyone can take it seriously, but somehow my friend apparently does. Just a few examples of the problems with this study:

(1) Parental reporting via an internet website is not a valid test method. Parents will lie to themselves about their child's sickness. Especially parents who know the purpose of the study and want their kids to be healthy and have decided "Western medicine" is bad. Confirmation bias is all over this thing!!

(2) To make it even better, the websites used to collect the data are for an anti-vaccine site and for a homeopathic provider, which is an even deeper level of anti-science and anti-medicine crazy than the anti-vaccination crowd. Self selection and confirmation bias yet again! The article's take on all this is "The only other bias in this study may include the fact that parents of unvaccinated children are obviously concerned about the health risks of vaccines, and are more likely to make other healthier choices such as feeding their children a much better diet and using more natural remedies and using fewer pharmaceuticals." I think that rather nicely proves my point about the biases of the self-selecting and self-reporting types of people involved in this study.

(3) The "scientist" himself is incredibly biased and likely to have intentionally or unintentionally fudged the data. How do I know this? Again from the article, "The independent study is self-funded and is not sponsored by a large “credible” non-profit or government health organization with political and financial conflicts of interest; hence Bachmair relies on Google ads and donations for revenue." Yes, someone relying on ad clicks and donations from anti-vaccine, "alternate medicine" people has absolutely no vested interest in telling said people that vaccines are bad and their kids are healthier because of the kinds of things advertised on his website and the wise decisions they've made!

(4) The study found an equal number of kids with autism in both groups, the vaccinated and unvaccinated. Autism is of course the big scary monster of the antivaccination crowd. They claim vaccines cause autism (which is NOT TRUE!) yet unvaccinated kids have autism just as much as do vaccinated ones according to their own (highly biased and wrong) study. They come up with some kind of hand-waving nonsense to ignore this bit of information and just made up numbers that they liked better in the report of the study.

There is no way to do a double-blind, randomized study in a case like this because you can't randomly assign children to be vaccinated or not. This is because all children should be vaccinated unless they have a strong reason not to be (e.g. allergic reaction to vaccines or even a family history of such) and no medical professional or credible scientist worth anything would tell random parents to not vaccinate their children. But much better scientific studies than this can be conducted. For all I know they have been. My gut instinct is that such studies would show little to no difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated children on any diseases for which kids aren't vaccinated and that vaccinated kids would be less likely to get the diseases for which they are vaccinated. Because that's how vaccines work! They protect people from the diseases for which they were vaccinated and do nothing to cause or protect from anything else. Again, this is just my gut assumption based literally on the way things work, which might still be wrong, and is not based on any actual data. I just don't understand how someone who is supposedly intelligent and rational can buy into this bullshit. It is so obviously not credible or reliable, yet somehow people embrace it as fact. It really does blow my mind and annoy the crap out of me!

Comments:

pdantzler
pdantzler at 3:13 pm on 30 November 2011 (UTC) (Link)
I'm sorry, but not taking medicine in this day and age is stupid. Childhood mortality rate has lessened in the last 100 years because of medicine. Polio, smallpox, scarlet fever - we don't get a lot of that because of medicine.

I have nothing against healthy living as an off-set of taking drugs. People that eat healthier, exercise, get enough sleep, and avoid smoking don't have to take a lot of medicine as their unhealthy counterparts, but diseases are different. Diseases will kill - diseases don't care if you are 4 or 44.

Get vaccinated, people!
A work in progress
ancarett at 10:59 pm on 30 November 2011 (UTC) (Link)
I loved Seth Mnookin's "The Panic Virus" for helping to put the anti-vax movement into a historical and sociological context. I don't agree with them AT ALL (and I get so angry when one of them tries to co-opt my autistic kid for proof of their theories - she was autistic BEFORE she was vaccinated, idiots!) but it helps me to understand where the idiocy originates.


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