WARNING: This is another anti-vaccine post, so proceed at your own risk. If you don't like that, then turn back now etc etc.
WARNING #2: This may be my most ambitious undertaking yet. Hold onto your hats.
WARNING #2: This may be my most ambitious undertaking yet. Hold onto your hats.
If you've never heard of a Gish Gallop, prepare to be inundated. Named after creationist Duane Gish, the Gish gallop is a fallacious debating strategy in which one buries his opponent in a torrent of information which may or may not actually support his platform yet makes it impossible for said opponent to rebut each one due to sheer volume. It is a frequent tactic of pseudoscientists, especially antivaxxers, as we saw here quite recently.
If you think that post was long and involved, you ain't seen the proverbial nothin' yet.
With that out of the way, I'm a fan of vaccines. Obviously. I like them a lot. I think I've made that clear here, and I make it abundantly clear on Twitter as well. Vaccines are wonderfully complex little concoctions that stimulate the immune system and prevent several relatively benign disease which can become horrific and potentially deadly diseases, scourges on mankind that tortured humans for centuries. Entire hospitals were devoted to treating smallpox victims: POOF, they're now obsolete. Millions of children were hospitalised and thousands were killed every year by diphtheria and measles; outbreaks of those are now mostly relegated to history books (though there are still a handful of mortalities annually).
But as with everything, vaccines have risks. Fortunately these risks are either fairly innocuous (malaise, injection site pain, fever, febrile seizure) or fleetingly rare (anaphylaxis 1:1,000,000, ADEM so rare that statistical analysis is difficult). Other purported side effects (such as autism, autoimmune diseases, etc) have either not been definitively linked to vaccines or have been definitively not linked.
Still, the antivaccine cohort presses on for reasons known only to them. Their claims seemingly are getting more outlandish by the day:
- vaccines don't work (of course they do)
- vaccines are injected directly into the bloodstream (no they aren't)
- vaccines cause autism (no they don't)
- vaccines cause autoimmune diseases (hasn't been proven)
- vaccines are filled with "toxic garbage" (seriously?)
- vaccines are being used for population control (SERIOUSLY?)
- vaccines are being delivered via chemtrails (no really, they actually claim this)
truthkings.com, whale.to, naturalnews.com, and the paradoxically named vaxtruth.org, I was holding out hope that I was wrong. And if I was wrong, it should be absolutely marvelous. As we just saw recently with Ginger Taylor's ridiculous list of 124 studies purporting to show a link between vaccines and autism (SPOILER ALERT: it doesn't), antivaccine "research" is usually poorly thought out and/or doesn't show remotely what they think it does. But Kelly seemed different . . . somehow.
I asked Kelly for a copy of her document (WITH SOURCES!) and she emailed me one forthwith (available for your downloading pleasure here). In her email, she not only attached the document, she also made some, ah, shall we say questionable recommendations. For example, she suggested I watch the movie "Trace Amounts", a rabidly antivaccine "documentary" not dissimilar to disgraced former-doctor Andy Wakefield's recent catastrophe "Vaxxed". She also suggested I read several antivaccine books including Raising a Healthy Child In Spite of Your Doctor by Robert Mendelsohn, MD, and Saying No to Vaccines by . . . ugh, fucking seriously? Sherri Fucking Tenpenny (not her real middle name™)? When someone has their own page on the Encyclopedia of American Loons where she is called "an abysmally crazy promoter of woo", you know something bad is about to happen.
I felt like Kelly and I were getting off on the wrong foot, not that she knew that.
In her email Kelly also revealed that she belongs to a nonprofit group which includes the words "Vaccine Choice" in its name (she politely asked that I not name the group). While that may superficially sound fine, "vaccine choice" is a thinly veiled façade for "antivaccine". These ridiculously disingenuous people actually expect us to believe that they are actually pro-vaccine, but they are only pro-SAFE-vaccine. But wait . . . "Pro-safe-vaccine" sure sounds great, right? I mean, who in their right mind would be against safe vaccines! No no no, in their strangely addled minds, "safe" means "100% risk free". And nothing, not even this organic recycled non-GMO BPA-free gluten-free bottle of water, is 100% risk free. So based on all that preamble, I fully expected Kelly's list to be some combination of A) not terribly factual, B) cherry-picked, and C) utterly unreliable.
I would not be disappointed.
Still, Kelly was very gracious and polite, so I promised to return the favour. She asked me not to "blast" her on Twitter, so I assured her I would go over her list thoroughly, thoughtfully, carefully, and with an open mind. I offered her the opportunity to rebut any critiques, but she declined, saying, "It's quite presumptuous that you believe that you can not only educate me, but also an entire community of people that include doctors, nurses, and attorneys with a specialization in vaccine law."
Yes, we had definitely gotten off on the wrong foot.
I felt it was rather hypocritical of Kelly to expect me be educated by her "sources" and yet believe that she had nothing to learn from me. Shame on me, I suppose, for assuming an antivaxxer would be as open-minded and willing to learn as she expected me to be. As is usually (always) the case with antivax "literature" I expected it to get deep very quickly, and I was again not at all disappointed.
Believe it or not, that's my thoughtful and open-minded opinion.
Kelly's list starts off innocently enough with a website containing vaccine package inserts. There is no comment, just the link. I therefore can't comment on the purpose of that, but I have my suspicions. You know what . . . No, fuck that, I will comment. The package inserts are on her list because they contain the word "autism", and these people seem to think that is either the pharmaceutical company or the FDA (or both) admitting that the vaccine causes autism. Of course it means no such thing. It is simply a statement that someone was diagnosed with autism at some point after getting the vaccine. It doesn't suggest or imply that the vaccine caused it. Everyone who knows the purpose of pharmaceutical inserts and what they mean understands this. Antivaxxers still don't despite having been told it umpteen times.
Perhaps Kelly could have learned something after all. Oh well.
The next three items on her list are Gish Gallop blog posts which supposedly contain peer-reviewed research. While I hypocritically dislike blog posts being used as evidence, in the interest of fairness I decided to sift through it nonetheless. The first, which prominently displays links to the NVIC and Why Not Vaccinate, is comprised of 87 articles, so I knew cherry picking was dead ahead. And yet again, I was not disappointed. No, I will not be going over all of them because I have neither the time nor the patience to do THAT bullshit all over again, and anyway I suspect many of them were in Ginger's list that I thoroughly obliterated a few months ago. But I picked a few at random before I smashed my keyboard and had to go buy another one (ok, that may not be precisely true). The first article describes increases in cardiorespiratory events after immunising premature infants.
OH EM GEE! CARDIORESPIRATORY EVENTS IN BABIES! WE ARE KILLING BABIES! HOW CAN WE BE SO BARBARIC!
Now slow down there, chief. First, these "events" are just a transient decrease in oxygen levels or a transient decrease in heart rate, either of which comes back to normal after a bit of tactile stimulation. A Dutch study found the same thing, and both sets of researchers do not recommend not vaccinating, simply monitoring the babies for 1-2 days after vaccination. And this only pertains to premature infants.
Not impressed AT ALL. Next!
The next article describes supposed increases in neurodevelopmental problems after thimerosal-containing vaccines. There are several problems with this ridiculous "study": first, the "study" was based on VAERS reporting. Just like with the vaccine inserts, all the occurrences in VAERS mean is that something happened at some point in time after a vaccine was given - no causality, just afterwards (otherwise known as the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy). To illustrate just why this sort of VAERS-based study is such horseshit, there are deaths from car accidents on VAERS. No, seriously:
meta-analysis of over 1.2 million children. Oh, and in case you forgot, IT ISN'T IN CHILDHOOD VACCINES ANYWAY.
Since the title of the article includes "neurodevelopmental disorders" and thimerosal", I was surprised and disappointed that Ginger Taylor hadn't put it on her list of 124 studies. Maybe she'll put it in her next update.
Sigh. 0 for 2. Next.
Ooh here we go! Next is an article from the British Medical Journal! Excellent, finally some meat, right! It's the BMJ! Well . . . no. It's not a study at all, rather a letter stating that the flu vaccine caused side effects in Australia, including febrile seizures in 1/110 children who got it. Unfortunately for Kelly (and the letter's author), 1) this is a well-known fact, 2) febrile seizures are common after vaccines, 3) febrile seizures are benign, and 4) febrile seizures do not increase risk of seizure disorders or other developmental problems later in life.
Well this isn't going very well at all for Kelly, is it. 0 for 3. How about the next source?
HAHAHAHA no. The next is a link to "The Greater Good" movie, an antivax "documentary" like "Vaxxed". I skipped it with alacrity and decided to move on to the next source.
Next is another Gish Gallop, this one courtesy of The Refurbished Rogue (What a great pseudonym! Maybe I should change mine from DocBastard to something with a little more ZING). I wasn't terribly hopeful when the author started with "This list is just a thrown together list and pretty helter skelter", but I started dutifully at the top. First off is . . . wait wait wait, is that really an article from the "Medical Hypotheses" journal about how vaccines may cause autism? Goodness yes, yes it is. Where shall I begin? Well, A) It is merely a hypothesis and nothing more, and B) vaccines don't cause autism. Do they not understand what "hypothesis" means?
Next is the Singh article that appears as #26 on Ginger's list that I thoroughly razed previously. After that is an article about the effectiveness of the pertussis vaccine, which states that the vaccine was 53-64% effective and concludes, "Tdap vaccination was moderately effective at preventing PCR confirmed pertussis among adolescents and adults". Apparently Kelly believes "moderately effective" means either "ineffective", "dangerous", or both. It is common knowledge that the acellular pertussis vaccine is less effective and does not confer as long-lasting immunity compared to the whole cell vaccine, but guess what the effective rate of not vaccinating is? FUCKING ZERO. 50-60% is literally infinitely better than 0%! In their minds, anything less than 100% safe and 100% effective means it is 0% useful.
God damn it. Moving on.
The next one on the list appears to be an opinion piece on ethics with a broken link, so instead of chasing after it like I did with Ginger's broken links, I skipped it. Next is the other Singh paper (#13 on Ginger's list) which I discussed (read: trashed) previously. In case you couldn't slog through that one, the author has been criticised for using unsubstantiated and unvalidated lab tests, and his finding has not only not been replicated, it has been refuted by several other studies. In other words, everything that guy just said is bullshit.
For fuck's sake, enough with the goddamned Gish Gallops. Let's get off this train and find another ride, and we'll see where Kelly takes us. Well, next we have the CDC website for lists of vaccine ingredients. Again, no comments from Kelly here, but it's clear she's trying to point out the scary-sounding ingredients like aluminum hydroxide, formaldehyde, monosodium glutamate, polysorbate 80, thimerosal, and all the other not-so-actually-terrifying ingredients for those who either understand science or trust those of us who do. Fortunately they are all really only scary to those who don't understand not only the tiny doses but also that they have all been studied exhaustively for decades and have all been found to be safe.
We're not even halfway through the first page here, folks. Fifteen-and-a-half pages left to go. I'm not even kidding.
In the interest of time and my own sanity, I'm going to pause here. I literally cannot take another minute of your time (or mine) to continue this.
Part 2 will be coming next week. Depending on how thoroughly I dissect the remaining 15 1/2 pages, there may be Parts 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 5682.
But Doc! She sounded so eloquent and smart, why on Earth are you being so mean? Oh. It's because she is in fact an uneducated twat? Well then.ReplyDelete
We appreciate your sacrifice.ReplyDelete
If i actually ever met someone in person who hated vaccines, I'd probably punch them out of sheer reflex.ReplyDelete
Gish Gallop would be a good euphamism for the side effect of an overdoes of stewed prunes.ReplyDelete
I run into the same phenomenon when engaging 9/11 "truth"ers. add in the same circular arguments I'm sure you also see from antivaxxers, and I understand your annoyance quite well.
First let me say that I have had all the vaccines except mmr. Didn't have that since I had measles and mumps as a child. My kids and my grandkids had their vaccinations. So one day I was looking at some vaccine sites and read some articles about the polio vaccine given in 1955 to 1961 may have been contaminated with a monkey virus that causes cancer. Of course I was trying to figure out when I had that vaccine. Early 60's for sure.ReplyDelete
So Doc B, is this true or is this from the anti-vaxers propaganda??
which leaves the question of how many people who contracted polio before the vaccine was available would have traded it for the cancer.Delete
I usually point out how the huge list of things that may cause cancer then point out how little it increases the chances beyond the normal amount.Delete
Makes people less worried when they realize that.
(Can't figure out how to connect...)Delete
These links should be useful :
Thanks. I found the snopes article. Maybe anti-vaxers would rather their children had polio.Delete
I remember way back standing in a line with parents getting the polio vaccine in a sugar cube not a shot.
Mary - it's unfortunately true. The vaccine was contaminated with SV40 before it had been discovered. There is fairly good evidence that SV40 has an etiologic role in several human cancers.Delete
The Pacific Justice Institute, which you may remember was involved in stranding the Stinson child and parents in Central America, is also involved with an organization called A Voice for Choice, an anti-vaccine movement dedicated to preventing state legislatures from making vaccines mandatory for entrance into school.ReplyDelete
Perhaps not the same one "Kelly" is involved with but they share many of the same "sources".
My maternal grandma was very proud of her smallpox vaccine scar. It was on her thigh, and it was big. I am very proud of my smallpox vaccine, it is small and on my upper arm. I am humbled by all of the people that got the smallpox vaccine, as my kids and grandkids now have a zero chance of getting smallpox, and they did not need a vaccine for it. That is all the proof I need that vaccines work. My proof is anecdotal, though, and no scientist worth his bunsen burner would accept it as proof.ReplyDelete
It irritates me to no end when I see people using blogs and message boards as evidence and proof of stuff. I can write all kinds of nonsense in message boards, and link back to it as "proof" of whatever I am claiming. Just because someone wrote it does not make it true.
Grandma, I must respectfully disagree that your "proof" is non-scientific. The World Health Organization, in 1979, actually *did* officially declare the eradication of naturally-occurring smallpox in humans.Delete
DocB, several years ago, my sister received the flu shot after an appendectomy, which was almost immediately followed by Guillain-Barre syndrome. Have you encountered this before in any of your patients or studies?ReplyDelete
the H1N1 year, my entire department was vaccinated for H1N1. the next day one of our members had his infant daughter diagnosed with a confirmed H1N1 infection. he never got it. (the infant recovered) we had multiple confirmed exposures with no infections in the vaccinated personnel.Delete
GBS is a very rare disorder, and its link with vaccination is unclear at best. If there is any increased risk, it's on the order of 1 in 1 million. I've only seen it once, though I've never seen it following vaccination.Delete
Interesting that there is no confirmed link between GBS and vaccinations. They advised her to never receive the flu shot again, for fear it could happen again.Delete
I currently have a family member recovering from GBS. We have been told it was one of the most severe cases of GBS they have seen. Fortunately he is in the recovery stage. The family and patient have been told he is at risk of having GBS return. His onset of GBS had no connection to any vaccine. My point being is once a GBS patient, there is a higher propensity of GBS returning to that patient versus it occurring in the general population. Just for the record. His GBS was so severe at one point the only reflex he had was a corneal reflex. Without the exceptional life support he received he would not be sitting in a rehab facility today.Delete
The worst reaction to vaccine I've seen was a nurse who woke up with Bell's Palsy a day after getting her flu vaccine. I assumed the two were connected.Delete
Doc B, I deeply respect your commitment to continuing to write about this subject, and I also understand your reason for doing so.ReplyDelete
Trying to actually *educate* the true antivaxers, by getting them to acknowledge actual facts as reality, is just as pointless as trying to get Dr. Paul Byrne to admit that an apnea test, when properly conducted, doesn't "kill" the patient, or cause additional brain damage.
But if someone who's still uninformed or yet undecided reads the facts, and makes the decision to go ahead and accept a vaccination and/or to have her or his child vaccinated, you've helped make the world a bit healthier for all of us. Thanks for your perseverance.
right, we don't do this to get the true believers to see the truth - we do it to prevent them pulling the wool over other people's eyes.Delete
I got the smallpox vaccine when I was a child (in the 1950s). It damned near killed me. My mom says my fever went out the top of the thermometer (108F+) and she put me in an ice bath (she had been a Pharmacist's Mate in the Navy) and I lived. And yet there was never any consideration of not vaccinating the three kids who followed me. Mom was no dummy.ReplyDelete
In my 20's, when she told me how horrible she'd felt about it, I would come back with "Gosh, I've tested at a genius-level IQ. Think how smart I'd be if you hadn't fried my brain!" Smart does not preclude smart-ass.
Strange question. This post made me realize that a lot of the "debate" techniques are similar between the anti-vax movement and the anti-circumcision movement. I know it's very common in the US and less common elsewhere, but I'd be curious to know your thoughts on infant circumcision from a scientific perspective.ReplyDelete
The only benefit to going uncircumsised last I heard was it's more sensitive in sex. It can cause a lot of infections though.Delete
But I'm no expert on this matter.
The science is mixed, but there is some emerging data suggesting that circumcision can help prevent the spread of HIV (there are numerous articles from Africa on this subject this year).Delete
If boys washed their penises then that wouldn't be an issue. However, seeing as most teenage boys run from showers like the Wicked Witch of the West should have ran from the water bucket, I can see how infections might be an issue.
I have nothing against vaccines. However, let me ask you this. Could it be possible for vaccination (antigens) to break down the blood brain barrier (BBB) and allow those antigens to enter the brain in some cases? And with regards to the human body's immune response to infection. Are they the same with the human body's immune response to vaccination?ReplyDelete
I had a severe allergic reaction to measles vaccine. While I was too young to remember it, my mother said the reaction was severe enough to land me in the hospital. In high school, there was an outbreak of measles where they required every student/teacher to get an updated vaccine. I ended up with a note from my doctor stating it would be safer to take my chances with measles than to risk another reaction to the vaccine. That being said, both of my sons have had ALL of their vaccines. I did talk with the pediatrician about my experience, and we watched closely for reactions - thankfully, they did fine, but we were prepared just in case. I can not imagine a parent thinking skipping vaccinations is safer than giving them. It makes me angry that their skipping vaccines puts others that truly can't take them at risk. We have had a couple of measles outbreaks where I live, and while I can protect my kids, I can't protect myself unless I completely avoid going out which just isn't possible.ReplyDelete
No ones talking about skipping vaccinations. How bout doing an approach outside the CDC's schedule where we can actually study these vaccines in different time intervals and given apart from each other instead of grouping them together?Delete
ummm, actually 90% of antivaxxers ARE talking about not vaccinating at all.Delete
Anon - The schedule has been studied.Delete
When two or more vaccines are mixed together in the same formulation, they can interfere with each other that could result in a more robust and overactive inflammatory response. Overactive inflammation is at the root of most autoimmune diseases.Delete
and at risk children are given courses of vaccinations designed to minimize risk while low risk children receive courses designed to develop full immunization as quickly as reasonably possible. as I recall, I was below school age when I had mumps and chicken pox. fortunately not at the same time.Delete
No. The CDC has a “one size fits all” schedule which holds little regard for an individual’s state of health, health history or genetic background prior to the administration of vaccines. This policy permits the same quantity of vaccines to be injected into a premature baby as that given to an older child with much greater body weight.Delete
Anon you're arguing with people who work in healthcare who obviously know far more than you do.Delete
Listen to them not the rumors you hear about.
And just this week I read about a woman who received a double mastectomy in a case of mistaken identity. So we see how awesome a doctor and medical professionals are. BTW, I also work in healthcare.Delete
Janitor or naturopath?Delete
Please be specific about your job title :)
Anon - Ah, now I know exactly who you are. You're the one who claimed to be a pathologist on Twitter and then changed it to "I work in a pathology lab", right?Delete
If you have any evidence for multiple vaccines causing autoimmune disorders, post it. You make not make baseless claims here. You can go back to your antivax echo chamber for that.
Pathologist on twitter? No. I don't get involved with such childish entertainment. Also, if you read my previous post. I said overactive inflammation is at the root of autoimmune disorders. Would you agree with that?Delete
Of course you don't.Delete
You specifically said, "When two or more vaccines are mixed together in the same formulation, they can interfere with each other that could result in a more robust and overactive inflammatory response." Support your claim. And "I work in a pathology lab" isn't evidence.
I feel sorry for that poor pathology lab worker that you hate so much on twitter. But it's not me so you can calm down. Here: 1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22235050 2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20193633 3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24514081. I have more if you like.Delete
That "poor pathology lab worker" is just as disingenuous as you are.Delete
1) This is a study of people who already have autoimmune rheumatic diseases. There was a slight tendency towards anti-ENA in a small subset of already-autoimmune patients. This is worthless.
2) This is a review article regarding autoimmune disorders that have been reported after vaccines. It is worthless.
3) Another review article about demyelinating diseases after vaccines, 71 of which were reported from 1979 through 2013. This is against the billions of doses of vaccines given over that period.
None of these offers any evidence that multiple vaccines given at one time can "interfere" with each other and cause autoimmune diseases, as you claimed. I'll give you one last chance to show evidence to back up your claim. And you may not tell me to "calm down" for 2 reasons: first, I'm perfectly calm, and second, this is my goddamned blog and I'll speak however I goddamned well please. Got it?
Looks like we have another case of rectal cranium reversal syndrome, doc. (I tink that's what Ken called it)Delete
Or perhaps JB has returned?
and this week I read about a short guy taking a magical ring to destroy by throwing it into a volcano.Delete
Sorry, that's still to vague. I mean I applied to a forensic pathology assistant job not too long ago and I do know there are a lot of of job titles in a path lab, forensic or not. When I asked you to be specific, this was to assess your educational requirements for your particular job title (I.e. Scientific coursework assessment to be even more specific).
and it's too articulate to be cornboy.
Ah thank you Ken.Delete
And you're right far to coherent for him.
And Alain he probably works as the janitor
apparently he has now moved on to less educated pastures, to peddle his propaganda.Delete
I knew you'd done the work on anti-vax papers, so I thought I'd link to it in a post on vaccines. Still; even knowing you'd done that much work, I had difficulty finding it on your blog.ReplyDelete
I've found it now, but I spent so much time that others might well have become discouraged and wandered away. Would you consider posting it on your blog's sidebar?
Sorry, I'm not sure what you mean. Posting what on which sidebar?Delete
he means having a convenient link to your post addressing the 128 papers which didn't show a link.Delete
Ah, I see. I don't know how to do that, but I'll look into it.Delete
I would just think setting a link in the footer of this post would be sufficient.Delete
Doc is anti-job, which is why he's pushing his pro-vax views on us. Disgusting, Doc. Making people healthy will only eliminate your own job! Haha! You're edging out the competition but eventually it will bite you on the butt!
(That's as logical as arguing that doctors are intentionally making us sick so they can keep themselves busy)
I'm trying to figure out why vaccinations, among so many medical procedures, have been singled out for this paranoia.ReplyDelete
If you look into history, however, you will see that opposition and paranoia are almost as old as vaccination itself. (I say "almost" because smallpox vaccination far pre-dates Dr. Jenner, and was practiced for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years in India and Africa. In fact many slaves in colonial times had no need to be vaccinated against smallpox, because they had been already vaccinated at home. We have no records about any anti-vax movements which may have arisen in these places.) Smallpox vaccination in Europe and the Americas immediately gave birth to vigorous opposition movements, which are alive today under different rationales.
Originally there were good reasons. The old vaccination procedure had a chance of producing the actual disease, which, however, was almost invariably a very light case. People played the odds, which made some sense.
It doesn't make sense now, but opposition continues.
The benefit isn't clear and undeniable, which allows people to get confused.Delete
Ancient Chinese Secret...wise man would travel to royalty and place crusty smallpox scabs into their nostrils A really really long time ago. I remember reading this somewhere and feel the need to provide a link for verification.ReplyDelete