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Anti-Vaxxers and Anti-Science


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#1 Delphi

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Posted 30 January 2015 - 02:53 PM

So I ended up in a discussion/argument (they were swearing and insulting the pro-vaxxers when their points were refuted. I did get a bit bitchy and snarky near the end along with the others.) on my city's Facebook page yesterday.

I'll admit it. I love to see these people ragequit arguments when their data doesn't add up. But it also terrifies me what these people believe and swallow without researching ANYTHING first. The amount of misinformation is just...staggering. I'll provide some examples. And then the pro-vaxxers are accused of not doing research and cognitive dissonance.

The crazy thing is they believe throwing out medical articles and studies give them more credibility. But then I read the article and its more than clear they didn't.

I'm pro-vaccine just because the effects are pretty easy to observe when you get down to it. People are vaccinated and the incidences of the diseases vaccinated for go down. Vaccination stops before a disease is eradicated and the number of people infected goes up.

This is the back and forth from the thread. Funny nicknames and commentary added for your enjoyment. Also spoilered in case of tl;dr. I am also an arrogant little shit. Please forgive me.


Spoiler



Yeaaaah so I never did get a collection of research papers and articles because I was having too much fun. I did link the CNN news story on the Wakefield fraud later on.

And I actually did learn a lot yesterday as I researched quite a bit to see if the anti-vaxxers had a valid point.

New things I learned:
- How attenuated viruses are made with non-human tissues. A very early step towards genetic engineering actually. In the case of polio it was accomplished by passing the virus through non-human tissue, like monkey kidneys, until they mutate into a form that doesn't cause symptoms but still provokes an immune reaction. I'm over simplifying it but it's fascinating. I knew attenuated virus vaccines were live vaccines but I didn't know the mechanism behind attenuating the virus.

- This in turn explained why some polio vaccines failed or accidently caused polio in some cases. The virus reverted into a symptomatic and infectious state. This happens with the oral vaccine but not the subcutaneous one as the one administered subcutaneously is a "dead" virus vaccine.

- Learned more about the immortal HeLa cell line like it's important role in developing Salk's vaccine.

- which led to reading about HeLa again to see if there were any new updates.

- Which led to reading about laboratory "weeds" of cell lines that have bee completely taken over by HeLa and similar immortal cell lines.


I don't think the other side or even some of the people on the pro-vax side learned much.

What is this anti-science thing with vaccines? They're anti-science until "science" can supposedly prove a point. Or this anti learning thing. I know my views have changed drastically in the last couple years when I've had my beliefs challenged by good data. When you have to resort to Mercola blogs or discreted papers, how do you not self examine and go "Wait, maybe I have the wrong idea here."

And these aren't like young 20 somethings. These are all people married and in their thirties or above except for me at 28 with no kids.

Thoughts?

#2 Doctor Pogo

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Posted 31 January 2015 - 12:14 AM

Ugh. The anti-vax thing is SO INFURIATING. It's such a no-brainer, the current evidence and research results are very clear in a way that the evidence in very few other big issues can be.

 

But it's close to home, it's about their kids, it's such an emotionally-driven issue for people that it's just a huge task to try and get the information through to them, and when you do it's easy for them to feel like it's a personal attack or a judgment on their parenting, which is a thing people get insane levels of uptight over.

 

The basic arguments have been settled, at this point probably thousands of times over, settled years and years ago. I got into an extended debate with a woman in a facebook group about a year ago on the subject, and she was super persistent, and fairly level-headed as an arguer, and we went around for a few weeks about it before it finally blew away. As a result, I went deep into the literature, read studies and analysis of studies and studies of trends in studies, chemical analysis, spectrogram data, watched interviews and documentaries, anything. I read all the stuff she asked me to, and watched all the videos she posted, although I'm pretty sure she didn't return the favor nearly as thoroughly.

 

She is an intelligent person with a great deal of education and a high degree of analytical perspicacity, which is why it was so confounding to me that she is so convinced on this particular topic. And I don't think that at the end of our several-week-long discussion she was in any way swayed, despite being big enough to admit a few times that I had successfully disproven or discredited to her some of the key bits of evidence she had presented.

 

I had already heard a lot of the anti-vax controversy, and already heard from reputable sources that it was nonsense, but that discussion was the first time I'd really dug into it and went down to the roots of the thing and really tried to build my own opinion from the best information.

 

And the fact is, none of the anti-vax arguments are confirmed by research or experimentation. Not one. Most are dismissable just by gaining a better understanding of related terminology and experimental methodology. Most of the arguments anti-vax folks put forth are based entirely on not understanding a word in a study abstract, or not understanding a basic chemical principle. It's understandable, but what blows my mind is that once the terms are made clear and the misunderstanding described, they continue to hold on to the conclusion that was based on that misunderstanding.

 

In the course of my discussion with that woman, we covered:

 

  • The Wakefield study that connected the MMR vaccine to autism (quickly proven un-reproducible by other scientists and discredited, later discovered that Wakefield had manipulated and falsified the results for monetary reasons).
  • About a billion other studies addressing other potentially harmful properties or effects of vaccines (despite her insistence to the contrary, literally 100% of these studies concluded that the vaccines were safe for their prescribed use - most of the studies had results that were so varied as to be inconclusive, and a lot of the others actually demonstrated the effectiveness of the vaccines).
  • Mercury in vaccines (the mercury-containing part is a compound which has different chemical properties than straight mercury, much like salt has different properties than sodium and chlorine, plus the levels of the element present are an order of magnitude less than what's in a can of tuna).
  • Other scary chemicals in vaccines (most of which, like formaldehyde, being chemicals that our bodies already contain and produce naturally, the others of which are benign but densely-named compounds in common use as preservatives or stabilizing agents).
  • The financial benefits and motivations of the pharmaceutical industry (which is kind of hit-and-miss proposition - a new vaccine just hitting the market can make a lot of money for whoever holds the patent, but most of the vaccines in common use that the anti-vax folks argue against are old vaccines that have been outside the initial protected period for a long time now, and the amount of money a pharma company makes from them is around 5-10% or less of the company's gross income, depending on the company and how many vaccines they have on the market - that's not an insignificant amount, but it's far less than the amount of money they'd have to be spending to maintain a conspiracy of silence that includes literally every medical professional in the developed world).
  • A mighty armload of personal anecdotes and collections of other people's anecdotes (the plurality of which is still not evidence, no matter how many nor how emotionally charged; in not one of those cases where the relevant people were examined and tested by independent scientists and laboratories did anyone find anything remotely supporting their case).
  • And one big libertarian argument to the effect that 'no one can tell me how to raise my family, it's within my rights as a parent to care for my children without the interference of the Government!' (while yes, we do have the freedom to treat our families in many terrible ways, this is not one of them, and it's not necessarily about your family, it's about your neighbors - your right to swing your diseases ends where my immune system begins, as it were).

 

There were a few other directions it went, I'm sure I'm not remembering all of it. But that's the basic idea. It was awful. I learned a lot, but it was still awful.

 

And a lot of the people I know that buy this stuff are generally not anti-science - many of them are skeptical and reasonable folks with generally well-founded personal values, but somehow when it comes to their children they turn into conspiracy nuts. It's a mind-boggling transformation, and I'm just as confused by it as you are.



#3 Selena

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Posted 31 January 2015 - 10:40 AM

It's infuriating.

 

 

I'd say it primarily comes from distrust of the government and distrust of the pharmaceutical industry. Lots of people are anti-science, but even more people are inherently ignorant about science and only praise/condemn it depending on how it lines up with their personal beliefs. And that's the case here, I think.

 

I know one couple who had natural birth and no vaccinations to avoid "the industry." They're both pretty intelligent, but they are really into conspiracy theories. 

 

To an extent, aversion to "Big Pharma" is somewhat understandable. Except a lot of that doesn't stem from the actual medications, but from doctors being financially motivated to over-prescribe medications when they aren't absolutely needed. Because of that, some people falsely assume every big vaccination wave is simply a ploy to make money. The other side of the coin is the libertarian / anti-government stuff.

 

But in the end, the anti-vaccination argument boils down to this: "I'm okay with another parent's kids dying so long as I get to avoid an imaginary 0.000001% chance of my kid having autism -- a condition which is non-lethal and merely an inconvenience to me."

 

We eradicated various diseases in the States via vaccination for a reason -- because they killed a fuckton of people every year. Often in horrible ways. These dipshits would prefer reintroducing those diseases, potentially killing millions, than risk an incredibly rare chance of getting autism. A chance which, according to actual research, is entirely imaginary. They heard one bad thing from a flawed study, and now all these people are paranoid.

 

 

 

You can't talk logic to them. They use their own "logic."



#4 Delphi

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Posted 31 January 2015 - 11:41 AM

It's interesting to see what kind of anti-vaxxers you've encountered, Pogo. Most of the ones I've met are very anti-intellectual in this area but your area has more educated and level headed people. Guess it just goes to show how pervasive the misinformation is if it can affect so many different groups.

Discussing with my dad last night he brought up a good point. My parents were born in 1959, only four yeas after the Salk vaccine was announced and two years after it started being distributed.

He said when he was young it was extremely common to see peers with the twisted limbs and muscle degeneration from polio. He said in some places it seemed like one out of five people he knew had some complication of polio. It was real and in your face back then.

He and my mom also have the scar from the smallpox vaccination campaigns. Smallpox was a real threat and they all breathed a sigh of relief in 1980 when it was declared eradicated. My great I grandfather on my mom's dad's side had lost very young siblings to small pox and it was something you always feared. Then it was gone. Mom was especially relieved since when she got the chicken pox at sixteen the case was so bad, having sores down her throat and under her eyelids and poxs so close together you couldn't fit a pin between them, the hospital she was in called in the CDC and isolated her because they thought she might have had smallpox. She still has scars all over her body from the ordeal. They're faint now and mostly seen as areas of depigmentation on her arms, but if you look closely and realize what they're from, it's pretty terrifying to imagine being in that state.

The only reason that the anti-vaxxers movement seems to have any ground what so ever is that from my observations, most of them were born after 1975. They never saw what our parents saw.

And dad said it was a difficult choice when I was a baby when it came to the polio vaccine. He and mom had heard all the horror stories of the children that actually contracted polio from the vaccine. But they researched everything they could and decided to go with the injectible vaccine since it wasn't associated with those cases. They felt it was better that I be protected from what they saw growing up and take the very, very small risk of side effects. And then when I had side affects from the pertussis, diptheria, and tetanus vaccines it was hard for them. They wondered if they did the right thing because I was violently ill. They felt they'd made the right choice and they were vindicated when I recovered with no lasting damage.

My parents were so overprotective because it had taken five years and half a million dollars in infertility treatments just to get me here. They didn't want to make any mistakes. But even then they felt whatever risk was present from vaccines, they'd take it so I wouldn't suffer the more devastating side effects of the actual illnesses.

So I can see from the point of view of anti-vaxxers to a point. The difference between them and my parents though was despite not having the ease of pulling up research articles on the internet, my parents had to do it the hard way. And after sifting through the data they found that the benefits outweighed whatever miniscule risk there was.

In the end I guess the anti-vaxxers campaign feels like a slap in the face to the previous generation that's scarred from small pox vaccinations and took the risk so that small pox became something to read about in history books with polio hopefully soon to follow. It's a luxury to be able to say no to vaccines that was bought with the mass vaccination of other children. And I find that to be incredibly selfish.

Add on that I find it downright insulting that an Anti-Vaxxer that still believes vaccines cause autism would rather risk their child dying than have an autistic child. That really just breaks my heart. That people would rather have a dead child than one like me or the severely autistic little boy I used to babysit with parents who love him so much regardless.

#5 Green Goblin

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Posted 01 February 2015 - 11:49 AM

My little brother is a low-functioning autistic.  He's nonverbal and he's turning 27 in March.  My parents are looking into residential facilities for him.  Up until about 2006, my mom (who WORKS in the medical field) thought that it was her fault that he was autistic because she got us vaccinated.  I would help take my brother to the doctor's office whenever he needed a checkup and I began to notice how uncomfortable the doctor's got when she began to make her hypothesis known about what caused my brother's autism.  I recognized it pretty easily:  They wanted to tell her how wrong she was, but they also didn't want to upset her.  I looked into the subject myself, I was able to show her how the correlation between the vaccinations and the "autism boom" happened to occur right around the time we started to get more and more efficient with autism diagnoses in and of itself.  And to show her that there isn't any direct link to show that autism relates directly to any kind of brain damage.  Then I tried to reinforce the notion that anti-vaccination groups are led by celebrities and former playboy models, meanwhile the pro-vaccination movement is led by people who dedicated their lives to scientific research and the betterment of mankind.  It was at that point where she had to admit that it seems unlikely that the vaccine did anything to my brother.  She basically was stuck, trying to look for a reason as to why it happened and fell on the first one that seems like it COULD make sense out of the chaos and stress it is to raise an autistic child. 

 

Now, with diseases that were all but eradicated in my generation coming back at an alarming rate, she agrees that vaccinations are an absolute must. 



#6 Doctor Pogo

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Posted 01 February 2015 - 06:05 PM

It's good to hear a story of someone who was able to come around on the subject.

 

I know some folks with autistic children, and it's such a mind-boggling and confusing thing to come to grips with, I've watched them do it. I can totally see how it's easy to latch on to any information you can get that seems to make it make sense.

 

And in the discussions I've had about it, the thing you mentioned about the 'autism boom' has come up again and again. It's a tough one to explain and kudos to you for getting it across so succinctly - that there hasn't necessarily been a huge leap in the number of people who have autism, rather there have been several huge leaps in how the condition is defined and how much we have been able to diagnose it. 

 

Incidentally, and somewhat ironically, the woman I had the one big discussion with in that facebook group posted an article to that group today. It was about confirmation bias.



#7 Veteran

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Posted 01 February 2015 - 06:26 PM

With all this I struggle to understand why pro-vaccination people, otherwise known as normal people, care that there are those who choose not to vaccinate their kids.

There's no downside for us. We're protected to a reasonable degree are we not?

<-- realises this is possibly an ignorant opinion.

#8 Delphi

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Posted 01 February 2015 - 06:39 PM

I'll copy a post I did in a different discussion (on Chik's page actually) regarding the "autism boom" since it's actually really easy to see what happened once I started researching the supposed vaccine induced autism boom and discovered it was one of the reasons I slipped through the cracks for so long. The Asperger's diagnosis wasn't an official one until 1994 and until the early 2000s it was thought it was almost entirely exclusive to males since girls tend to present slightly different on the entire spectrum, but especially in the high functioning range.

But here's the post.

It's always interesting when people claim that there's been an explosion of autism diagnosis since the MMR vaccine and therefore must mean there are more kids with autism.

In reality the answer is that there aren't more children with autism, children with variations on the autistic spectrum were just finally given a formal diagnosis.

Before 1994 there wasn't a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome and high functioning autism wasn't widely recognized. With the changes to the DSM in 1994 that included criteria for those high functioning individuals it appeared like there was an explosion of autistic children. It wasn't that more autistic children were born in the last decade. Instead it was that children and adults who were previously labeled eccentric, rigid in regard to schedule, or just plain awkward socially that fit the previous criteria a little bit but not enough were brought under the umbrella of the autistic spectrum. They always existed but were never recognized as being on the spectrum. Suddenly they were and the diagnosis of autism jumped sharply.


Naturally that's a very condensed version of events but the treatment of autistic people really seemed to change in the mid 90s. My mom's best friend has a son on the very low functioning end of the spectrum, the one I used to babysit, and life was pretty hard out in the sticks with very little in the way of modern behavioral therapists at the school. Poor guy was forced to do a homework page perfectly before he could move to the next one by the special ed teacher. At the end of the school year he was still on page one and she'd really only been yelling at him to make him work. He was already basically non-verbal until he was around eight and that just made him regress so much. It took years before he started to be outgoing again. Fortunately he's had a lot better teachers and in his twenties while he still doesn't like to talk he does like to give bear hugs. I never would have imagined that when he was five.

But I remember his mom going through the same torment, wondering if she had caused this by getting him vaccinated. I wasn't supposed to hear that as she was whispering to my mom but well my hearing is outright abnormally strong. Fortunately they had a doctor with a good head on his shoulders who pointed out that her husband had a lot of traits of autism, but not enough or severe enough to put him on the spectrum so there was likely a genetic component. The relief she got was amazing. It was like someone had lifted an elephant off her shoulders to find out she didn't do this to her little boy.

So it is hard not to blame yourself as a parent when your kid isn't "normal" and wonder Did I do this? Could I have prevented it? Those parents I can see where they're coming from.

Yet most of the anti-vaxxers I know that crow from the mountain tops that vaccines cause autism have never (knowingly) met and autistic person in their life. Them I don't see where they're coming from. I don't see their dog in the fight. And then what happens when they don't vaccinate their kids and they end up being autistic or Asperger's syndrome anyways? Now what do they blame?


Edit for Vet:

The reason we get so upset is that not everyone can be safety vaccines. People on chemo therapy can't receive life virus vaccines since their immune system is usually shot. People with egg aergies generally can't get vaccinated since most vaccines are manufactured using chicken embryos. My own cousin is at risk because of an extremely rare immune system disease. They all depend on herd immunity not to get I'll. And in the case of people likey cousin or people with cancer, a wild type virus infecting them could mean death.

Herd immunity doesn't work when people decide they don't want to vaccine their children. We've taken into account the previous group of people in herd immunity but it starts to fall apart when healthy people choose not to vaccinate. It's like cutting too many fibers in a rope. Cut enough and the rope will fail.

In addition, there's no reason these diseases shouldn't have already been eliminated. A young man in puberty that gets the mumps shouldn't have to worry if he can have children or not as an adult because it affected his testicals and now may be sterile. A child shouldn't be deaf or get encephalopathy and die two years later from the measles. Babies shouldn't end up never seeing their second month of life because of whooping cough and they're too young to be vaccinated.

It's just a very selfish thing to say "Even though I can, I won't, because I want you to have to protect me."

The way I see it is like a boat taking on water. Some people won't be capable of throwing water out with a bucket but you don't throw them overboard. But you need a certain amount of people to be throwing water out to keep the boat afloat. Anti-vaxxers are the people that put the bucket down and say "I don't want to do this anymore" and quit and watch while you work. Enough people do that and no matter how hard you work the boat will sink.

Edited by Delphi, 01 February 2015 - 06:51 PM.


#9 Doctor Pogo

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Posted 02 February 2015 - 04:01 AM

^this. Plus, herd immunity doesn't just protect those that can't be vaccinated. It protects all of us, with this caveat:

 

We are protected to a reasonable degree only as long as most other people are too.

 

Basically, the continued effectiveness of vaccines is dependent upon a certain percentage of the population receiving them. If the percentage of the population that's unvaccinated is high enough, the disease can more readily find new hosts and continue replicating itself, and the more it replicates the higher the chances it'll mutate into an new strain, and then it can start spreading freely among the vaccinated population, and then nobody's safe anymore.

 

If only a small percentage of the population is unvaccinated, chances are low those people will come into much contact with each other, and diseases will have no opportunity to spread. Despite what the Libertarians might say, we really are all in this together, and there is a pretty significant downside for us if we don't work together on it. Vaccinations are only truly effective if most people get them. So it's good to get up in arms about folks who want to not get them for no good reason. Because if enough people do that, it could be bad for everybody.



#10 MikePetersSucks

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Posted 04 February 2015 - 02:35 PM

The thing that bothers me most about anti-vaxxers is that their arguments pretty much imply they'd rather risk having a dead kid than an autistic one.

Because that doesn't make you seem like an evil piece of shit that shouldn't have children, no sir.



#11 Jasi

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Posted 04 February 2015 - 02:56 PM

I've heard that anti-vaccination is becoming a Republican thing too now?! But the liberal anti-vaxxers are like "it's not natural and organic" whereas the Republicans are like "MAH FREEDOM". Is this going to be the next way that Republicans pander to people across the aisle, since pandering to homophobes is on its way out?



#12 Delphi

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Posted 04 February 2015 - 03:14 PM

I don't think it's unique to any one party. More like they're in all the parties but each party has different rhetoric.

From the ones I've encountered:

Democrat: You can't make that choice for me!

Republicans: You can't foist your Godless "theories" and "science" on me!

Green Party: You cant tell me all those long chemical names are healthy for me!

Libertarians: YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO!!!

We have a lot of self proclaimed Libertarians out here.

#13 SteveT

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Posted 04 February 2015 - 05:23 PM

I've heard that anti-vaccination is becoming a Republican thing too now?! But the liberal anti-vaxxers are like "it's not natural and organic" whereas the Republicans are like "MAH FREEDOM". Is this going to be the next way that Republicans pander to people across the aisle, since pandering to homophobes is on its way out?

 

Looks like the Republicans are trying to stop that from happening.  Chris Christie and Rand Paul have certainly made some harmful statements regarding vaccines, but a bunch of others are trying to make sure that sentiment doesn't catch on within the party.

 

http://www.politico....nes-114890.html

 

So we have added one more item to the list of things that the GOP won't blindly disagree on Obama about.



#14 Veteran

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 06:18 PM

This came up on the Now Show over here:



#15 Jasi

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Posted 12 February 2015 - 09:08 AM

That is very well done! I love it!






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