Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Skeptify this poll

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 24, 2010

Brother and sisters in, metaphorical, arms: Skeptify this poll.

Do you think vaccines are related to autism?

It’s just too bad they did not have a “Seriously????” option; that’s the one I would’ve gone for, instead I had to settle for the simple No. Go on now my minions, all 4 of you, make your master proud!

Oh Mike, how you amuse me!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 12, 2010

So Mike wrote a blog entry about the problems they are having with the flu vaccine in Australia. The flu vaccine was stopped because there was an unusually high number of adverse effects, and they are now looking into it to figure out why. Well, no need for them to do it, Mike already has the answer. Now instead of poking fun at Mike, I ……ah what the hell let us have some fun. Let me rewrite a portion Mike’s flu vaccine entry, but substituting for the romaine lettuce e-coli issue.

Romain lettuce has sent 19 people into the hospital with life-threatening E. coli O145, reports The Internet. This lettuce was being give to humans to “protect” them from hunger, but after receiving the salad, these humans started going into hemolytic uremic syndrome.

An investigation has revealed that there is no quality control problem with any particular batch of lettuce. They all pass quality control, in other words, so the convulsions are being caused by what is intentionally put into the lettuce, not by some mistaken chemical contaminant.

This, of course, baffles non-organic agriculturers who have all been told that pesticides are perfectly safe and could never harm anyone. So rather than pausing to consider what might be contained in the lettuce that’s causing people to go into hemolytic uremic syndrome, they charge ahead with the recommendation that even more people should eat greens.

Fucking lettuce man, I’ve always said that lettuce causes E. Coli and here is proof!

Ok, fun’s over let us look at some of Mike’s actual claims and see if they stand the test of ……research!

  1. Influenza vaccines have sent 57 children into life-threatening convulsions - True. from what I’ve been able to find out. It appears about 57 children went into convulsions and about 200 others had high fevers right after receiving the shot. This incidence of side effects is higher than the expected 0.001-0.0001% that is expected, thus the suspension of further flu vaccinations for kids under 5 in Australia.
  2. An investigation has revealed that there is no quality control problem with any particular batch of influenza vaccines - True. An investigation by the manufacturer has failed to find any abnormalities with the vaccines.
  3. Conventional doctors have all been told that vaccines are perfectly safe and could never harm anyone.Bullshit! That is flat-out wrong. Vaccines have side effects. This is a well-known fact and no doctor will, or should, tell any parent that vaccines are “perfectly safe and could never harm anyone!”. The probability of the side effects is quite low, but they are not non-existent. The CDC has a nice web page listing the side effects by vaccine. So how exactly is it that doctors are claiming that vaccines could never harm anyone? So either the doctors Mike’s listening to are complete incompetents, or he is …confused, about statistics.
  4. So rather than pausing to consider what might be contained in the vaccines that’s causing children to go into convulsions, they charge ahead with the recommendation that even more people should get vaccines.Wrong. Is Mike even reading the news about this flu vaccine issue in Australia?  When the unusually high number of side effects happened the flu vaccination campaign was suspended for all children under 5 years over there. Batches are being tested to figure out why this happened. How exactly is that not “pausing to consider what might be contained in the vaccines that’s causing children to go into convulsions”?
  5. In reality, an immune system can only invoke an adaptive response when it is properly nourished with vitamin D. WOW! Just wow. He’s either a genious or…….

Measles claims almost 200 in Africa

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 22, 2010

In less than three months, a measles outbreak in Africa has killed 185 children . the UN is asking for help to increase vaccination efforts in the affected areas. As it stands, only about 80% of the population is vaccinated, quite below the desired level of 95%. These low levels of vaccination means that outbreaks,  such as the one gripping the continent now,  can be expected every 3-4 years. I send Jenny McCarthy a tweet pointing her attention to this issue and asking her to change her stance on vaccines. Do you think this story will change her mind at all? …..we can only hope!

What’s the harm in not vaccinating your child?

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on March 23, 2010

Well it’s only one kid, the thinking goes. Isn’t there something called “herd immunity” that is supposed to protect my child so he/she doesn’t have to get stuck with a needle? I’ll be slick; let everyone else’s kid get STUCK WITH A NEEDLE and mine won’t have to! Smart right? What’s the harm anyway? Well, since you asked, how about infecting another 11 unvaccinated children, 3 or which were babies too young to have received the vaccine, one of which was hospitalized for three days with 106 degree fever? If that is not enough, how about $177,000 in taxpayer money spent in containing and treating this infection outbreak?

What began as a family trip to Switzerland in 2008 ended up as a public health nightmare in California.The family’s 7-year-old boy, who was intentionally unvaccinated against measles, was exposed to the virus while traveling in Europe. When he returned home to San Diego, he unknowingly exposed a total of 839 people, and an additional 11 unvaccinated children contracted the disease.

Three of those infected were babies, too young to have yet received the measles vaccines, and one of the babies was hospitalized for three days with a 106-degree fever, according to a report to be published in the April issue of Pediatrics.

“Measles is just a plane ride away, including places like Switzerland and the U.K.,” said one of the researchers, Dr. Jane Seward, deputy director of viral diseases at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This study serves as a reminder that measles can be a very serious disease that can lead to severe complications and death, and that the measles, mumps, rubella [MMR] vaccine is highly effective and the best way to prevent measles. It’s also a reminder that people who choose not to vaccinate don’t just put themselves and their children at risk, but also their communities, which includes infants who are too young to immunize,” she said.

This 2008 outbreak was the first in San Diego since 1991, according to the report. Before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1963, as many as 500 children died each year from the measles, and nearly 50,000 were hospitalized annually in the United States because of the virus, according to background information in the report.

In recent years, however, the virus has resurged as many parents choose not to vaccinate their children, often because of fears about serious side effects. In fact, a recent study from the University of Michigan found that even among those who do vaccinate, more than half are concerned about serious side effects. Many of these fears stem a reported link between the MMR vaccine and autism. This link has been disproved in numerous studies, however.

Folks, stop being kids and vaccinate your kids!

U.S. court rules again against vaccine-autism claims

Posted in News by Skepdude on March 15, 2010

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT YAHOO NEWS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vaccines that contain a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal cannot cause autism on their own, a special U.S. court ruled on Friday, dealing one more blow to parents seeking to blame vaccines for their children’s illness.

The special U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled that vaccines could not have caused the autism of an Oregon boy, William Mead, ending his family’s quest for reimbursement.

“The Meads believe that thimerosal-containing vaccines caused William’s regressive autism. As explained below, the undersigned finds that the Meads have not presented a scientifically sound theory,” Special Master George Hastings, a former tax claims expert at the Department of Justice, wrote in his ruling.

In February 2009, the court ruled against three families who claimed vaccines caused their children’s autism, saying they had been “misled by physicians who are guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment”.

The families sought payment under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a no-fault system that has a $2.5 billion fund built up from a 75-cent-per-dose tax on vaccines.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT YAHOO NEWS

Skepquote of the day

Posted in Skepquote by Skepdude on March 1, 2010

By offering the vague caveat that “there is no cure” while peddling her Generation Rescue’s slogan “autism is reversible” and telling parents that “for a moderately autistic kid the best prognosis is full recovery,” McCarthy makes a promise that no one on the planet has the authority to make. It’s one that puts the onus of failure on parents whose kids can’t or simply don’t make that “full recovery” and opens up those who take her advice to “try everything” to a buffet of expensive to downright dangerous quackery. Hey cautious party line that she supports a modified vaccination schedule while resolutely insisting on her Web site that “the nurse gave [Evan] the shot … and soon thereafter — boom — the soul’s gone from his eyes” is similarly disingenuous.

Salon.com

Autism, vaccines and fear

Posted in News by Skepdude on February 4, 2010

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE GLOBE AND MAIL

In 1998, The Lancet, a leading British medical journal, published a research study that triggered one of the biggest health scares of modern times. It claimed that autism was linked to children’s vaccines. The evidence was sketchy – it was based on only 12 cases – but Andrew Wakefield, its lead author, became an instant media celebrity.

Over the next few years, Dr. Wakefield was depicted as a courageous maverick who dared to defy the medical establishment. People’s trust in public health – already tested by the mad-cow scare – collapsed and vaccination rates plunged. Before The Lancet article, the vaccination rate for MMR – the three-in-one shot for measles, mumps and rubella – had reached 91 per cent. A few years later, the rate had slipped to less than 50 per cent in some parts of London, and was far too low to prevent serious outbreaks. In 2008, measles was again declared endemic in the U.K.

The vaccination hysteria proved contagious. In Canada and the U.S., anti-vaccination groups warned about the dangers of thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in vaccines (although never used in the MMR one). Parent groups blamed vaccines and environmental toxins for what they said was an autism epidemic. They launched multimillion-dollar lawsuits (all unsuccessful) against vaccine makers, whose product costs, because of legal bills, went up.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. accused the U.S. government and top scientists of a vast conspiracy to cover up the link between vaccines and autism, and celebrity autism mom Jenny McCarthy argued the case on Oprah .

It’s hard to blame parents of autistic kids for grasping at causes and cures. The causes are poorly understood, and the chance of cure is exceedingly remote. Life with an autistic child is unrelentingly hard. Untested treatments, and claims of cure, run rampant. The field is prone to “pseudoscience and quackery,” says Michael Fitzgerald, a British autism expert and long-time critic of Dr. Wakefield.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Breaking News: Australian antivax group to shut down

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on February 3, 2010

The great news keep on coming! First the bomb dowsing magic stick was discredited, then Andrew Wakefield first got torn to pieces by the GMC and then the Lancet retracted his 1998 paper that sparked the MMR-causes-autism scare, thus dealing a deadly blow to the anti-vaccine movement. And today we get news that Meryl Dorey the head of the grossly misnamed Australian Vaccination Network is resigning and unless huge amounts of donations come in the AVN itself will close its doors by the end of February. Woot!

After almost 17 years of running the AVN, it is my bittersweet duty to inform you that within the next 3-4 weeks I will tendering my resignation as President of this great organisation and moving on to the next stage of my own personal development as mother, wife, activist and researcher.

Alternatively, if a benefactor or series of benefactors come forward to establish a fund that would guarantee the AVN’s existence for at least the next 2-3 years, or if donations were to be come in during the next week that would give us the same financial sustainability, then I would be willing to continue in my role for the foreseeable future.

If nobody comes forward to take on the role of President or if the funds are not provided to allow us to continue however, the AVN will be ceasing operations on or about the 28th of February.

Yeah, they’re asking for all their supporters to give up 1% of their incomes to support the AVN. I hope that does not happen. The AVN, while it may be guided by a desire to do good, is seriously misguided and what it does is hurt the very same children it aims to protect. Unfortunately bad deeds can be done out of the best of intentions, so while I don’t doubt that the motivations of most of these folks are to do good, that doesn’t make them any less dead wrong! So yes I am happy to hear this news, and can’t wait to see what Thursday and Friday will bring us. Chalk another one up to reason!

The only bad news is that Dory hasn’t seen the light, metaphorically speaking. The decision to resign and possibly shut down the AVN was a purely financial one; it appears she intends to keep up her fight for the right to spread misinformation as a “researcher” and writer, which roughly can be translated in “there’s a book coming out soon enough”, am I right? It would have been better if she’d actually understood that she is wrong and had decided to accept reality, especially in the wake of the Wakefield scandal, but that does not appear to be the case, but I’m keeping hope alive. You just never know!

Breaking News: Andrew Wakefield in deep sh#$

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on January 28, 2010

UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) has concluded that Andrew Wakefield has “failed in his duties as a responsible consultant” England’s Sky News reports.

Dr Andrew Wakefield showed a “callous disregard” for children’s suffering and abused his position of trust, the GMC’s disciplinary panel found.

His conduct brought the medical profession “into disrepute” after he took blood samples from youngsters at his son’s birthday party in return for payments of £5.

He also acted dishonestly and was misleading and irresponsible in the way he described research later published in The Lancet medical journal, the panel of experts ruled at a hearing in London.

Wow, those are strong words, callous disregard, abuse, disrepute, dishonestly, misleading, irresponsible! How many adjectives like these are left unused? But this surprises us in the skeptical movement not a single bit; we’ve been pointing out the problem with Dr. Wakefield’s research for a while, though probably not in such strong terms as the GMC just did.

But that’s not the end of it. Dr. Wakefield may lose his license apparently.

Dr Wakefield now faces being struck off the medical register after the panel decided the allegations against him could amount to serious professional misconduct, which will be decided at a later date.

Let us watch the antivax crowd go apeshit to deify Wakefield as some sort of hero being framed by Big Pharma as part of their evil conspiracy. And now the mike goes to Age of Autism who’s bound to spew more stupidity than Mike Adams showered on us over the past week or so.

Measles kills the unvaccinated in Zimbabwe

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on December 29, 2009

CNN reports that 22 people, most of them children, have died of measles in Zimbabwe.

WHO’s head in Zimbabwe, Dr. Custodia Mandlhate, told journalists in Harare the outbreak has totaled more than 340 suspected cases this year, and “this is not acceptable.” She said the outbreak came about “mainly because of people who have denied their children vaccination.”

She said that all of the 22 people who died were unvaccinated. Measles is a disease that can be easily prevented with the MMR vaccine.  Since the MMR vaccine was introduced in the US, measles cases have gone down by 99%.   According to the CDC website:

However, measles is still common in other countries. The virus is highly contagious and can spread rapidly in areas where vaccination is not widespread. It is estimated that in 2007 there were 197,000 measles deaths worldwide—that equals about 540 deaths every day or about 22 deaths every hour.

Thus, what has happened in Zimbabwe is not an isolated case. It happens worldwide every hour. There is a simple lesson in these stats. Vaccines save lives. Not vaccinating causes death, mommy instincts be damned!

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