Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

The real truth about vaccinations

Posted in News by Skepdude on October 13, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT YAHOO7NEWS

I want you to imagine a medical product which can save and has saved many millions of lives, the majority of them children.

Imagine that the procedure is safe (not 100%, absolutely safe, of course, because nothing is that) and has been used literally billions of times with only a small number of bad reactions.

It is cheap and can be administered by people with almost no training. It is not very profitable for the pharmaceutical industry because research is expensive, but the buyers are mainly governments and charities who are very cost conscious.

Now I want you to imagine that there is a highly organised opposition to this procedure.

The opponents are prepared to lie without remorse about non-existent dangers of the procedure (and we know they are lying because the truth has been pointed out to them many times).

They lie about the manufacturing process and they even lie about the ingredients in order to suggest that parents who allow their children to undergo the procedure are sentencing those children to eternity in Hell.

Researchers associated with the procedure are vilified and even receive credible death threats.

It is even claimed that people undergoing the procedure might be marking themselves out for extermination in a plan for global genocide.

And what is this terrible procedure which is so awful that its opponents have to discard all truth, science and apparently even sometimes sanity to defeat it?

Vaccination.

I have often been accused of being offensive when I call the opponents of vaccination “anti-vaccination liars”. Well, what else can I call people who lie about vaccines?

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT YAHOO7NEWS

Chest tumor cause of 14-year-old UK teen death

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on October 1, 2009

The 14-year-old British teen that collapsed and died a few hours after receiving the HPV vaccine, apparently had a “large malignant tumor of unknown origin in the heart and lungs” which caused her death, Bloomberg reports. There is no indication that the vaccine had anything to do with this. Hopefully this will lay this matter to rest. Realistically, the woo woos are never persuaded by the evidence. They’ll cry conspiracy and cover up and keep on with their bullshit.

Preliminary autopsy reveals underlying condition for british girl who died hours after receiving cancer vaccine

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on September 29, 2009

Natalie Morton, the 14-year-old british girl who collapsed and died a few hours after receiving the HPV vaccine, seems to have had a “serious underlying medical condition”, an NHS Trust has said. No more details were provided at this time as an in depth post mortem is to be performed.

In the mean time, the NHS maintains that the vaccine is “most unlikely” to have caused this unfortunate tragedy, and earlier today the British Government resumed the vaccination program which was temporarily halted when this happened. Also, the vaccine manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, is recalling the batch for further testing. The response of both the government and the vaccine maker seem appropriate at this time.

More than 1.4 million doses have been given out so far, of which there have been 4,657 suspected reactions reported (about 0.33% or 1 in 300), and the adverse effects were: headache, nausea, dizziness, sore arm and rash. Those numbers imply that the vaccine is very safe indeed, and trying to draw a causal connection between the vaccine itself and this girl’s death is flimsy at best, especially if we consider the new announcement about the underlying condition. I will report new developments as they become public.

School girl dies shortly after receiving cervical cancer vaccine

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on September 28, 2009

BBC reports that a 14-year-old girl has died “shortly after the girl had received her HPV vaccine in the school.” An autopsy has not yet been performed to determine the exact cause of death, but expect the anti-vax woo woos to leap at this opportunity to trash vaccines in general. Obviously it is too early to know exactly what happened so a dismissal of a vaccine connection to this event, or a conclusion that the vaccine is responsible, are unwarranted and cannot be supported by the facts that have been made public. Both sides, us and the anti-vax woo woos should wait before proclaiming one way or another. But something tells me the woo woos do not play by this rule. We’ll see what happens.

Mainstream scaremongering over Gardasil

Posted in Bad Astronomy by Skepdude on August 20, 2009

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT BAD ASTRONOMY

Gardasil is the brand name of a vaccination that protects young girls and women against the human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that has been positively linked with cervical cancer along with other horrible diseases. It also can trigger cancers in men as well.

I’ve written about this topic before; 4000 women in the United States die every year alone from cervical cancer, an appalling 1/3 fatality rate for those diagnosed with the disease. Tens of millions of people — both men and women — carry HPV.

Gardasil protects young women from ever getting HPV. These women have a substantially lower chance of contracting the virus and getting cervical cancer. I consider that a very, very good thing.

But you wouldn’t think so if you read the New York Times, or the (Australian) ABC News. Both posted articles playing up the dangers of Gardasil as revealed by a new government study of the vaccine. That would be fine if it were true, but both reports, in my opinion, unfairly inflate the apparent danger. The ABC article is particularly egregious, with a headline saying “US doctors question Gardasil side effects” when it’s clear from the article that this isn’t really the case.

What are the dangers? The worst one would of course be death. In a study of the vaccine, there were 20 deaths of young girls at some time after they got the shot. Twenty! That sounds like a lot! However, there are two MAJOR problems with that statement:

1) There is no obvious link between the deaths and the vaccination other than in time. One girl died from drug abuse. Another from hepatitis, and others from embolisms, cardiac failure, and other problems. While these are all very sad — and as a father of a young girl at the age to get Gardasil, my heart aches for those families — none of these can be directly tied to the vaccination.

2) There were 20 deaths out of 7 million girls who received the vaccine. Those odds are 1 in 350,000. That’s roughly the same odds as dying from falling off a bed, chair, or other furniture.

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT BAD ASTRONOMY

Antivaxxers and the media

Posted in Bad Astronomy by Skepdude on August 6, 2008

I have said this before, and I will say it again many times in the future: antivaxxers are potentially the Number One health hazard in America.

These are people who (very incorrectly) think that vaccines are linked to autism. It has been shown, conclusively, that no such link exists. Every time an antivaxxer is shown this data, they move the goalposts, claiming it’s some other vaccine feature causing autism, or cite outdated and flawed studies. The problem (for them) is, you can show that the number of autism cases diagnosed is totally unrelated to vaccines. They deny this, they spin, they distract, but in the end this simple fact proves them wrong.

We need vaccines. We have stopped smallpox cold with vaccines. Rubella, measles, and pertussis can be stopped. Where antivaxxers have sown distrust in vaccines, these diseases have been making a comeback, and kids have died.

Read the rest of this entry at the “Bad Astronomy” blog.

Germ theory denialism and antivaccination myths on Medscape

Posted in Respectful Insolence by Skepdude on August 4, 2008

I’ve lamented time and time again how much woo has managed to infiltrate academic medicine, even to the point where prestigious medical schools such as Harvard and Yale have fallen under its sway. I’ve even gone so far as to lament that resistance is futile when it comes to the rising tide of woo threatening to wash over academic medicine, although lately I’ve been in a more pugnacious mood.

But what good is a pugnacious mood when denialist pseudoscience starts popping up credulously reported in news sources tailored for physicians and other health care professionals? That’s exactly what happened last week.

Read the rest of this entry at “Respectful Insolence”.

Skepnews – 7/24/08

Posted in Skepnews by Skepdude on July 24, 2008

  • Cancer center director warns of cell phone use – The head of a prominent cancer research institute issued an unprecedented warning to his faculty and staff Wednesday: Limit cell phone use because of the possible risk of cancer. Herberman is basing his alarm on early unpublished data. He says it takes too long to get answers from science and he believes people should take action now — especially when it comes to children. – Maybe it takes too long to get the answer YOU WANT from science. It seems that there were some serious studies on the matter ( one involving 420,00 participants) and they all came back with no association, except for a remote correlation with one specific type of brain tumor. Let’s see, he’s ignoring existing studies, citing unpublished (thus not peer reviewed) data and bringing children in. Sound familiar?
  • Cancer Vaccine??Researchers have developed a plant-based cancer vaccine capable of kick-starting the body’s immune response and being tailored to a patient’s specific tumor type, according to a study released Monday. While they have not yet determined whether the immune response is sufficient to destroy the cancer, the researchers are hopeful that the technique could one day lead to a cure for at lease some types of the deadly disease – Too bad vaccines cause autism, so we won’t be able to use this one if it pans out. What you don’t trust Jim Carrey?
  • Amanda Peet backs up her vaccination statementsHowever, I still believe that the decision not to vaccinate our children bodes for a dangerous future. Vast reductions in immunization will lead to a resurgence of deadly viruses. This is as indisputable as global warming. I know a lot of parents who secretly use as a justification, “Well, enough other people are vaccinating, so therefore, we don’t have to.” – I understand why from a PR point of view Amanda Peet must apologize for using the word “parasite” in regards to the parents that refuse to vaccinate kids. Thankfully I don’t have to worry about PR so let it go on record that THOSE PARENTS THAT REFUSE TO VACCINATE THEIR CHILDREN ARE NOT ONLY PARASITES BUT DOWNRIGHT IRRESPONSIBLE AND SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE IF THEIR KIDS DEVELOP THE DISEASES THAT THEY WERE NOT VACCINATED FOR. That said, Amanda Peet remains my favorite Hollywood actress!
  • Kidnapped a little girl, forcefully married & converted to Islam? No problem, not in Pakistan – A Christian father in Pakistan is trying without success through the courts to gain custody of his two pre-teen daughters who were kidnapped and made to convert to Islam. The kidnappers, who had married the girls, had also filed for custody of the girls at a local police station on 28 June, asserting that the sisters had converted to Islam and their father no longer had jurisdiction over them. – What? And hear this, the judge agrees with the kidnappers! Ah, is there anything we won’t turn a blind eye on for our “allies in the war on terror”?
  • Radovan Karadzic was practicing CAM – Could this be the moment when alternative medicine finally gets the reputation it deserves and is seen for what it is – a massive social and intellectual fraud? Everything that is wrong with complementary and alternative medicine is contained in the two stories that have dominated the news this week – the discovery that Radovan Karadzic had reinvented himself as a white-haired guru offering homeopathy, energy medicine and acupuncture, and the story of Dawn Page, a woman who is now brain-damaged after she went on a “detox diet”. For alternative medicine is not only founded on lies and falsehoods, but it can be very bad indeed for your health – Do you think the fact that a guy like Karadzic can easily infiltrate the (S)CAM community will deter the believers? I don’t think so. I mean, they already know you don’t need any kind of accreditation to become a (S)CAM practitioner. The likely result? They’ll consult a psychic before they sign up with their new (S)CAM “doctor”! **DEEP SIGH**