The vaccination debate is a complex one, but I’m glad I got measles and polio shots

photoPardon the resolution on this grainy photo from our upstairs bedroom, but this is an image of my great-aunt Chloe (a name that is now in fashion again) from more than 50 years ago. Her father William Raddon — whom we lovingly called “Grampa Grop” — was an interesting man: He and his wife (also pictured here in the background) raised six daughters in Park City, Utah, around the turn of the century. They came from Mormon stock.

My great grandfather — who lived past 100 years old — was the editor of the Park City Record newspaper and later was a head pressman at the L.A. Times. As it turns out, the family had relatives here: I heard from them when my mom died in Grass Valley in May 2007. A local shared interesting stories about my mom drinking homemade root beer here, but he recalled it only tasted OK.

As for my great-aunt Chloe, she contracted polio almost at birth and was confined in a wheelchair her entire life. I have fond memories of my time with Chloe: We would go together to the beach at Balboa in Southern California when I was a little tyke.

I was in charge of setting her wheelchair on the point overlooking the bay, so she could watch all of us swim. I remember a rubber handle that had to be firmly affixed to lock the chair in place. I made sure I got it right!

During summer vacations, in the early morning, I  got up to visit Chloe in her downstairs bedroom at their little home on Anade Avenue. She was bedridden until one of her other sisters got up to help her, and before all that “commotion” we would visit. Chloe was extremely intelligent and always bought me a wonderful children’s book for Christmas or for my birthday. We still have some of them in the bookshelf at home.

As I got older, I asked my parents why Chloe was in a wheelchair. They told me she was struck with a disease called polio that left her wheelchair bound.

My generation was more fortunate, because we were able to get vaccinated for polio and measles. I remember my measles shots — but not fondly: There were two of them and my arm was swollen for days. Having said that, I also remember the images of people who were stricken with measles, thanks to the media reports at the time.

I also remember hearing stories about how an earlier generation of our next-door neighbor died of measles — before the vaccination was available.

Having said all this, I respect people who are fearful of being vaccinated. I understand their concerns. It’s a complicated issue.

But my memories of my great-aunt Chloe cloud my philosophy of vaccinations — right or wrong. Our son is fully vaccinated.

Chloe died in her 60s. I think she lived a full life given the circumstances, being surrounded and cared for by loved ones. I do know that she left an indelible impression on me. And that’s why we keep her photo in our home, which we can see daily.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

243 thoughts on “The vaccination debate is a complex one, but I’m glad I got measles and polio shots”

  1. Thanks for dealing with this important and — sadly, in light of the recent measles “epidemic” — a very current topic. There’s been a lot of chatter about it on Facebook lately. One of our friends, a pediatric opthalmologist, is fiercely pro-vaccine there, and never misses a chance to call out the anti-vaxxers. Since we live in Nevada County, among the top non-vaccine-compliant counties in the nation, I have reprinted a few pro-vaccine articles in my own blog over the years.

    When it comes to the important question of herd immunity (which those of us who are strongly pro-vaccine like to emphasize) — where the general compliance rate in a community needs to be above something like 95% to be effective in eradicating diseases like measles — then the “leverage” (so to speak) wielded by a relatively small fringe group of anti-vaxxers can be very damaging, as we are seeing now with the resurgence of highly contagious diseases like polio, measles and pertussis.

    It doesn’t help when very ignorant politicians speak out against vaccinatons.

    One thing that continues to perplex me is the demographic profile of the anti-vaxxers, many of whom are otherwise intelligent and scientifically literate. One of my Facebook friends offered this comment:

    An interesting report on NPR a couple of days or so ago stated this surprising fact: putting stick pins in a map where measles has become epidemic and you will find, they said, you can locate a Whole Foods Store in those areas. It seems that many of the non–vaccers are much into natural foods and remedies and have eschewed vaccinations. Hard to believe, but there it is.

    What she said is curious. It’s consistent, though, with the higher incidence of vaccine non-compliance that I’ve heard exists in upscale communities, such as Marin County. Some of our newer acquaintances here in Nevada County who admit to shunning vaccines are environmental activists and in many ways among the more thoughtful and intelligent people we’ve met. I’d rather expect opposition to vaccinations from anti-government conspiracists (you can find plenty of those on the left and the right). It seems like a paradox. We were shocked one evening when one couple among our dinner guests — parents of small children — started speaking out passionately against vaccinations. When I suggested to them that they were not taking sufficient account of herd immunity, they seemed unfamiliar with the concept.

  2. Here’s the very informative NY Times “Retro Report” (this episode is a short history of anti-vaccine movement) mentioned in Chris Hayes’ interview with its author (Bonnie Bertram), above:

  3. I would think there would be a great movement towards homeschooling because- A good question to ask people who refuse to vaccinate- “would you let your kids go to school without it?” I don’t think that in the service, you get a choice of whether you would have a shot or not. You don’t risk the health of the rest of those around you, and they make it your “duty” to get those vaccines with the rest of the unit. Of course in the service, if you refuse to take your medicine, the alternative is rather harsh.

  4. This is really a kind and thoughtful posting, Jeff. Just the thing this debate needs. This is too important a topic to not handle in a way that brings balance and insight.

  5. What I argue over and why I am now vehemently against vaccinations is because of the lack of accountability and oversight of American drug companies. They have been given carte blanche to do as they please with the American public and their children with a 2011 Supreme Court decision:

    “On February 22, 2011 the U.S. Supreme Court shielded drug companies from all liability for harm caused by vaccines mandated by government when companies could have made a safer vaccine.

    The U.S. Supreme Court decision has just given drug companies total liability protection for injuries and deaths caused by government mandated vaccines. The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) called the decision a “betrayal” of the American consumer.

    From now on – unless we stand up and draw the line on vaccine mandates – the government can legally use police powers to force every American to get hundreds of vaccinations or be punished while those, who are hurt by vaccination, can be more easily swept under the rug and left to fend for themselves.

    To understand how this happened, we have to turn the clock back to 1982. That is when four big drug companies (Merck, Wyeth, Lederle, Connaught) blackmailed Congress by threatening to stop selling vaccines in America unless a law was passed giving them complete immunity from prosecution. 21

    The pharmaceutical industry knew they were in big trouble because the old, crude whooping cough vaccine in the DPT shot was causing brain inflammation and death in many children; 22 the live oral polio vaccine was crippling children and adults with vaccine strain polio;”


    This is my beef: we have profiteers who have taken over every sector of American society, US government, agencies meant to protect Americans, Corporate America, the banking and farming industry, etc., and in all honesty, they don’t care if we all end up dead as long as they make their profit. Until Wall Street gets out of the pharmaceutical industry there is NO WAY I would trust them with putting a needle in my arm and especially my child’s arm. Most Americans are under the impression that the pharmaceutical companies of today are that of 50 years ago — when they seemed to actually have our best interest at heart. This is no longer the case. Today, Western medical care is the THIRD leading cause of death after cancer and heart disease! Where is the damn accountability?? (and how ironic this all is in light of our local Dr. Harvey Bigelsen court case who has no deaths, no victims!)

    For Americans NOT to question the ethics and intelligence of this 2011 court decision and demand accountability from drug companies and our western medical system is nothing short of insane — particularly in light of how Wall Street has hijacked our nation.

    Take the profiteers out of the vaccination business, require accountability from drug companies, and then get back to me and all the other parents who are aware of this, and who are incredibly alarmed by the lack of leadership and accountability on the part of our government, its agencies, and corporate America.

    If we really, really want healthier living then reduce war (diseases generally arise after this), give us clean water, healthy food, and improved living conditions and you’ll get better results than any vaccination will ever provide.

    Here’ more on that if you think I’m being all fringe about this topic:

    “The main advances in combating disease over 200 years have been better food and clean drinking water. Improved sanitation, less overcrowded and better living conditions also contribute. This is also borne out in published peer reviewed research:

    “The questionable contribution of medical measures to the decline of mortality in the United States in the twentieth century“. McKinlay JB, McKinlay SM, Milbank Mem Fund Q Health Soc. 1977 Summer; 55(3): 405-28.

    “Symposium: Accomplishments in Child Nutrition during the 20th Century. Infant Mortality in the 20th Century, Dramatic but Uneven Progress” Myron E. Wegman School of Public Health, University of Michigan: J. Nutr. 131: 401S–408S, 2001.”

    1. Hi Reinette, 🙂 I wish we could hug (like we always do when we run into each other at the grower’s market) before we have this discussion, because — while we have worked together and see eye-to-eye on many important issues — this is one where regrettably I completely disagree with you.

      While no vaccine is 100% free of risk, I’m not aware of any credible science anywhere that shows vaccines to have a higher risk than all the diseases they protect us from. And there is overwhelming science to support the claim that vaccinations — along with other public health measures like water sanitation, food safety, etc — have been chiefly responsible for the near-eradication of many of the traditional scourges of mankind (like smallpox, measles, polio,etc).

      We have to weigh the right, for instance, of parents to refuse vaccinations for their children, against the rights of other vulnerable people in our society (such as infants too young to vaccinate, the elderly, transplant patients, cancer patients and other immune-compromised people, etc) to live their lives with as low a risk of these scourges as those who are eligible for vaccination. Who should arbitrate these starkly competing rights if not government?

      The recent widespread resurgence of diseases like measles, pertussis (whooping cough) and polio is clearly due to the growing level of vaccine-refusal. The recent headlines about the current measles epidemic should make this clear.

      The problem of Big Pharma’s unfair influence on government is certainly part of the larger problem of the corruption of our democracy and the devastating growth of oligarchy. But it does not, in and of itself, indict all the good science and statistics on the efficacy of vaccinations.

      Most of us risk airplane flight — not because flying is 100% safe — but rather because its risk is vanishingly small compared to its benefits. And we do not refrain from flying because flying is offered by big corporations. When it comes to flight, it’s really the scientific consensus that we trust, and a whole bunch of government regulations that have made it safer over the decades.

      And so it is, it seems to me, with the scientific consensus on vaccinations.

      Widespread vaccine refusal is slowly — or perhaps rapidly — returning us to the world our parents were born into, a world in which stories like the following were common:

      United Kingdom: Sarah Walton was unvaccinated against measles. She caught measles when she was 11 months old and at the time recovered well. Twenty four years later, however, she fell ill and was diagnosed with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE). SSPE is a persistent viral infection, a rare but devastating complication of measles which leads to a progressive destruction of the central nervous system:

  6. Don, I’m sending you a big hug back at ya! And I simply want to add, I can also show you cases of where receiving a vaccination has had equally bad results. Until we get Big Money out of our health care system and restore US agencies ability to say NO to the bottom line and actually protect Americans I can no longer blindly go along with what the ‘authorities’ say. Again, I want insurance that the pharmaceutical companies have the highest intentions for the American public rather than their shareholders and this simply is no longer the case. Americans should be revolting against this.

    I look forward to seeing you at the Farmers Market….

    1. We may be able to cite cases where vaccines have led to illness but I think the point Don is making is that the good drastically outweighs the bad and the rights of the compromised individual who cannot be vaccinated because of medical conditions have to be considered. The case that this is a matter of personal choice is a rocky road; if we make everything a matter of personal choice we are down the path of a return to diseases we can control or extirpate being common again. Just as I would argue that we should pasteurize milk because listeria is real I would argue we should immunize children because polio is real. Some things simply are real and no amount of denying fact makes up for them being so. This is in my mind just another example of the denial of science, which is sadly all too common, whether from those who deny climate impacts of humans or those who deny the benefits of immunization.

    2. I’m somewhat torn on the issue. I agree with Reinette wholeheartedly but these recent outbreaks cause concern. We didn’t vaccinate our child. Part of that decision was losing a child within days of a vaccination and her death being explained as S.I.D.S.. I’m not going to say definitively the vaccination was the cause but we don’t really know either way. I have very little trust for our medical industry. To have the feeling that their #1 goal was to make our country one of the healthiest nations in the World would be a beautiful thing. I will keep dreaming..

  7. The consequences of measles can bring the following. Mental Retardation. Deafness. Blindness, Brain, liver and lung inflammations that can kill or create a disability. I have friends who are now in their 60’s and 70’s who live with consequences caused by getting measles.
    In conducting family research I found immunization records from the 1920’s. Researching what the immunizations were for I stumbled upon this old argument. The American Medical Association (AMA) was against immunization back then because doctors were afraid they would loose patience (business). This arguments morphed into arguments that nature should take it’s course before it morphed into an anti-government issue. This attitude surprised me given the flu pandemic just a few years before in 1917.
    I disagree with Reinette’s argument about big pharma where this issue is concerned. While I too am leery of Big Pharma alchemy I’m equally leery of holistic arguments. Holistic medicine often sounds like the arguments made by so many of those wagon merchants that sold worthless products with specious information. These folks roamed American communities in the 1920’s as well. American capitalism. Who to trust?

  8. Mercola is number one on the quackwatch. As someone whose life has been saved by Big Pharma alchemy, let me just say that posts such as this are one of the reasons I had to leave Nevada County when diagnosed with a blood cancer that left me dependent on herd immunity. So much anti-science ignorance flourishes there. May you all stay healthy in spite of yourselves.

    1. Lynn, I’m sorry you found it necessary to leave Nevada County, but I have to agree that for anyone who is critically and imminently dependent on herd immunity, Nevada County is — sadly — one of the worst places in the nation to be.

  9. That’s right. There are so many in our community who have bought into the anti-herd immunity “freedom” movement that one really takes an irresponsible risk with the claim to “freedom.” Who would dare play Russian Roulette with a communicable disease that can cause so much damage? Even in the name of “freedom.”
    I neglected to mention in my list of possible effects that birth defects are one of the consequences for pregnant women who get measles.
    I’m not convinced that we can “trust but verify” were capitalism reigns supreme. For example, The medical and scientific community has so often gotten together to support products and services that have been bad for our health. Convincing mothers of baby boomers that breast milk was bad and formula of Karo Syrup, Evaporated Milk and water was the healthiest. Since when? By the 1970’s scientists and medical community reneged. Not before the natural health community suffered a lot of slander and flack from the capitalists selling syrup and canned milk and the scientists who supported the capitalists.
    Who to trust?
    I had the Chicken Pox so on my 60th BD I got the Shingles Vaccine. I know folks who suffer from an outbreak. I don’t have time to deal with that problem….especially since scientists have made a vaccine.

  10. The onset of this child’s seizures looked like the classic smoking gun indicting vaccines, in this case the DPT vaccine:

    The couple’s third child, 6-month-old Michaela, had just suffered a serious seizure and was at a nearby hospital. As Cossolotto raced to be with the baby, she immediately remembered that Michaela had been running a fever after receiving a vaccine against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) three days earlier. “I thought the shot must have something to do with it,” Cossolotto recalled. “I had three kids, and nothing like this had ever happened, so what else could it have been?”

    To find out the real cause, read this:

    Medical Mysteries: It wasn’t the vaccine — so why did baby have seizures?’

  11. There is no “debate” about vaccination and the only thing “complex” is the way that Wakefield’s fraudulent Lancet article back in 1998 gave momentum to people with anti-scientific agendas. Vaccines save thousands of lives. Not vaccinating kills children. Nevada County has by far the highest rate of non-vaccinating children in California.

    1. Just curious, do you have a source for the comment that Nevada County has the highest rate of non-vaccinating children in California? I would love to be able to cite it in something I am working on but can’t find the data broken down by County.

      1. The precise numbers reported for vaccinations vary by definitions, but in every case I’ve seen Nevada County is at the very top of unvaccinated children. The CA Dept of Public Health has authoritative data in careful detail:

        Measles is the latest headline, but whooping cough killed 10 children in California last year. Babies that only died because of their parents’ irrational beliefs. It’s tragic.

        Whooping cough is specifically a Nevada County problem:

      2. Correction: I’m not sure how many of those 10 children who died of whooping cough last year died because they were not vaccinated. Some may have been too young for the vaccination, which means they died because of some *other* parent’s irrational beliefs.

  12. I am trying to be engaged in the Polio eradication efforts in Pakistan. It is surprising to see the same social dynamics active here as they are there. There the consequences are more stark because of the many diseases they live with. In my view, in both cases, the eradication of disease by inoculating people with relatively harmless strains, will come from building trust and not from rational arguments. Fear is the enemy of reason.

  13. Here’s a — to me — very challenging short (3+ min) video by Katie Couric reporting on the financial connections between the pharmaceutical industry and leading pro-vaccine voices, specifically Dr. Paul Offit, someone whom I continue to respect for his scientific brilliance and integrity. This is a challenging report for me because — if it had concerned, say, a prominent naturopath — I might point to it and say, “Aha, look, he’s just being bought off.” And yet, the report in no way shakes my confidence in Dr. Offit’s views. So, am I being a hypocrite? Or, at the very least, enormously inconsistent?

    My wife and I worked for years at the Stanford Medical Center, where pharmaceutical companies would often give money (grants) in support of various clinical trials, but the contractual terms of these grants would always stipulate that the university and the principal investigator have complete academic freedom to publish the results of these trials, wherever the science led them. From time to time it would happen that a trial would be shut down prematurely, if it became apparent that the trial subjects were being harmed in a way not anticipated by the original study design.

    All of this is probably wonderful fodder for the anti-vaxxers, who would find in these facts very compelling evidence that it is all corrupt. And yet, I don’t find it so.

    It’s like a gestalt, where each of us finds different images emerge from this complicated picture. People inclined to conspiracy theories find evil figures acting in bad faith. Others find people of good faith.

    1. I should have said that I find people of good faith and people of bad faith in all institutions, in the university, in the phramaceutical industry and everywjere else.

      Here’s Dr.Paul Offit talking about the irrationality of vaccine exemptions. He makes a good case, it seems to me , for compelling vaccinations, based on the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.

      1. Another good reason why Lawyers should not practice medicine and Physicians should not practice law. The Fourteenth Amendment does not apply to private actions, only governmental actions. Furthermore to argue that the scientific method is the only valid epistemological system is simply ignorant.

  14. This is one of those disturbing stories — an infant developing a seizure disorder within days of her DPT vaccination — that caused the parents (would cause most parents) to suspect the vaccine as the cause. It took years to discover the real cause.

    The couple’s third child, 6-month-old Michaela, had just suffered a serious seizure and was at a nearby hospital. As Cossolotto raced to be with the baby, she immediately remembered that Michaela had been running a fever after receiving a vaccine against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) three days earlier. “I thought the shot must have something to do with it,” Cossolotto recalled. “I had three kids, and nothing like this had ever happened, so what else could it have been?”

    “Medical Mysteries: It wasn’t the vaccine — so why did baby have seizures?”

  15. I think the success of the oldest vaccines are the detriment to the new profit motivated vaccines such as the HPV for example. My daughter went in for vaccines in her freshman year at NU 6 years ago and I asked while we were being rushed through lines and staging areas, “are these just standard vaccines that we all receive?” answer “yes these are the same vaccines you and I received as kids”. HPV vaccine was part of the cocktail, which I would have 100% opted out of form my daughter.

    I guess it is my fault for not being studied up on the vaccinations at the time. But honestly and to my defense like most parents I didn’t find out about it until the night before and was going to school and working full time. As a parent I was very much apart of my kids daily lives despite my busy schedule (Picked my kids up from school and did homework with them everyday. My school schedule had to revolve around their schedules and that is why I would take only 1 to 2 classes a semester) and yet still didn’t get the notice until the night before because it was sent home in a flyer with my kids who knows how many days prior?

    There are very valid concerns and points on both sides of this argument. I don’t have a problem with vaccines for very serious conditions such as measles and polio but do have a problem with vaccines that are for small % of those inflicted among the general population, especially when they are being provided by companies that are for profit. I wonder how much Medicare Part D has to do with this phenomena of being anti vaccine.

    1. Reinette: Dr Hieb conflates the idea of making vaccines prerequisite to admission to a public school with “forcibly vaccinating people,” which I’ve heard nobody propose, much less “shriek” (the word she uses).

      Overall, her argument — that, for instance, the MMR kills more children than does measles — conveniently ignores history, such as the following:

      “The medical risk from the MMR vaccine is minuscule compared with the potential complications from measles. The Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System has received reports of about 6,000 serious side effects following administration of the MMR vaccine since 1990, with 288 associated deaths. Compare that with the nearly 10 million doses of the MMR vaccine given every year, according to the CDC. A 2007 British study published in the journal Pediatrics found the risk of serious neurological disease following administration of the first dose of the MMR vaccine to be one in 365,000 doses. Remember: The risk of brain inflammation from measles is one or two in just 1,000.”

      From “Fear Measles, Not Vaccines

      Moreover, when measles was epidemic, the death rate was (according to one study) about 432 deaths per 500,000 cases of measles (or about 1 per 1200 cases), which strongly suggests (if not in fact proves) that when measles again becomes epidemic (because of widespread vaccine refusal) that we can expect a similar death rate. That’s the history we should all recall.

      The notion that measles carries a lower risk than the MMR vaccine can only be asserted by ignoring that history (or, as Dr Hieb does, narrowing her history to the 2005-present period, when we are still enjoying the low measles death rate due precisely to the success of the vaccine over recent decades).

      Some of Dr Hieb;s so-called facts are contradicted by scientific studies. For instance, she says that “inflammatory bowel disease (i.e. Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis) is 13 times more prevalent in persons vaccinated for measles.”

      But … according to this report …


      “Many researchers have actively investigated an alleged association between the MMR vaccine and autism or inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease). The body of scientific evidence does not support the suggestion.

      All of the scientific evidence has been assessed by the following expert groups who have all concluded that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism or bowel disease.

      • National Immunisation Advisory Committee, Royal College of
      Physicians of Ireland
      • Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM)
      • Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI)
      • Medical Research Council (MRC) Expert Group
      • United States Institute of Medicine
      • American Academy of Pediatrics.

      This is endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the following professional
      • Irish College of General Practitioners
      • Faculty of Paediatrics, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
      • Faculty of Public Health Medicine, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
      • Irish Medical Organisation”

      Etc etc etc …

  16. Such a cheap and pathetic shot.

    In the meantime, more on that topic:

    Basically, we should all simply learn to disagree and do with our bodies as we choose and as we choose for our children. There is no convincing opposing sides… but we all have a responsibility to uphold and protect the right of Americans to choose for themselves.

    Last time I heard this was a free country.

    1. It is a free country, but you are not free to harm children. Not your own, and certainly not your neighbors’.

      The article you cite is misleading in parts, willfully incorrect in others. Snopes has a straightforward response.

      World Health Organization has actual meaningful data. “In 2013, there were 145 700 measles deaths globally… During 2000-2013, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 15.6 million deaths”. We don’t see those numbers in the US because we used to require vaccintation and measles was almost eradicated. And now it’s coming back and children are getting sick again. The CDC has a simple brief on the recent outbreaks:

      1. Thanks for the great Snopes find. It concludes:

        “Few people died of measles in the U.S. between 2004 and 2015 because measles was classified as eliminated in 2000. Relatively few people in the U.S. contracted the viral infection after that, so it stands to reason far fewer would go on to die of it. And while more than 100 reports of suspected adverse reaction or death may have been reported to VAERS in the years cited, that number references unconfirmed public reports, not verified vaccine-related fatalities. Finally, death is not the only reason a vaccine for measles was developed. Serious complications and permanent injury can result from contracting measles.”

        It’s ironic that the low death rate from measles itself in that period is due precisely to the incredible success of the MMR vaccine in the preceding decades, a fact never mentioned in any of the anti-vaccine articles.

        The Snopes article is also worth reading for the detail on VAERS (the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System):

        “Submission to VAERS alone is not evidence of vaccine-related injury or illness. The overwhelming majority of young children residing in the United States receive the MMR vaccine early in their lives, and a small number of those children have become ill (some fatally) due to reasons found to be unrelated to the vaccine. There is nothing to preclude individuals from submitting VAERS reports of sickness or death that are wholly unrelated to vaccines, and the system exists not to track substantiated incidents of vaccine injury but to identify potential trends in vaccine administration.”

  17. Reinette, that was my way of saying that I thought I would see pigs fly before I would see you use World Net Daily as a source, but then since you immediately took it as a cheap shot at the actual content of your post I guess you get a freebie.

    1. Steve: I noticed the World Net Daily source too (an infamous venue for right-wing conspiracy and anti-government theories). But maybe that just means this subject can’t be easily understood in partisan terms.

  18. I myself don’t understand the idea put forth by anti-vaxxers that vaccine refusal is entirely a matter of personal freedom, personal rights. As if their freedoms and rights exist in a vaccum, without any regard for the effect of the exercise of their “rights” and “freedom” on the rest of society. Rather than – as always — in opposition to the conflicting rights and freedom of others.

    There is no doubt — no doubt whatsoever — that the resurgence of many diseases thought to be eradicated is due to the growing vaccine refusal movement. The real victims of the exercise of these so-called “freedoms” are all of those most vulnerable in our society who cannot — for one reason or another — be vaccinated themselves: infants, the elderly, the immuno-compromised, the immuno-suppressed, etc. What about their rights? Do they count for nothing against the “rights” of the anti-vaxxers?

    Rather than face up to this ethical and moral conflict, the anti-vaxxers need to believe that the danger of vaccines exceeds the danger of the diseases which they exist to thwart. No matter how much they need to believe this (in order to avoid the moral quandary) it is simply not true. The risk of vaccines is miniscule compared to the risk of the diseases they combat, especially in their historic epidemic form, which history — as a matter of principle — we owe it to our community to remember.

  19. “Basically, we should all simply learn to disagree and do with our bodies as we choose and as we choose for our children. There is no convincing opposing sides… but we all have a responsibility to uphold and protect the right of Americans to choose for themselves.”

    Yes, well if that is the case I choose to drive 98 miles per hour on residential streets, I choose to fire my gun in city limits, I choose to have unprotected sex without telling my partners, I choose to throw my trash in the street, I don’t need a septic tank, or perhaps I choose to take my un-vaccinated children to Disneyland.

    Certainly I can choose to do whatever I want with my body.

    I thought at first that the idea that choice does not have limits is a logical fallacy of the origins of our country, but then I remembered that it was Thomas Jefferson who had himself inoculated against smallpox when the vaccine was new and crude at best, and advocated the introduction of cowpox nationally as a early vaccine against the more dreaded and deadly smallpox as President.

  20. I know. It’s easier to shoot the messenger than to actually look at the information. You guys are going down a slippery slope if you are saying we don’t have the right to choose what we do with our bodies. You mean to tell me a woman doesn’t have the right to choose whether or not to keep a child? A child that might become a burden someday on society? On social programs? A child that may become a burden on society by being thrown into foster care or prisons for the rest of his/her life? Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, there is as much evidence on either side of the vaccination campaign to keep Americans from resisting vaccinations and until pharmaceutical companies are held accountable for the vaccinations they produce. And if you are telling me nobody has the right to ‘do harm’ to our children then you need to point your fingers at the pharmaceutical companies and our hospitals, that are now the THIRD leading cause of death. Really. What incredible double standards you all have.

    1. Hi Reinette. Thanks for hanging in with this discussion. I’m determined to persist with it in such a way that we’ll still be able to wave in a friendly manner at each other on the street, as we did yesterday afternoon while Jane and I were driving by and you were walking past the boardwalk on Commercial Street.

      I’m confused about what you said here about “shooting the messenger.” That usually refers to attacking the person who is conveying a message (attacking in some personal way) rather than responding to that person’s message itself. Are you feeling personally attacked? Or, do you mean that we’ve been attackinig Dr Hieb and Ethan Huff, rather than attacking the message in their articles?

      I don’t think we’ve been doing that. It seems to me that we (the pro-vaccine contingent) have been very focused on the factual, empirical scientific weaknesses of the anti-vaccine position. I can well imagine that it must be very uncomfortable for you to be so alone in your position here, but that’s probably a reflecton of the situation outside this forum, where vaccine opponents constitute a very small but extremely vocal and (to my view) very influential minority.(It doesn’t take too many vaccine refusers to seriously undermine the decades-long benefit of herd immunity, as we are seeing now nearly every day in the newspaper headlines announcing the resurgence of measles and whooping cough, etc).

      I also don’t understand what you mean when you say, “You guys are going down a slippery slope if you are saying we don’t have the right to choose what we do with our bodies.” I don’t believe this vaccine discussion fits at all into the abortion debate framework in the way you suggest here. I support every woman’s right to choose whether to keep or to not keep a child she is carrying in pregnancy. I support it absolutely, uncondtionally, categoricaally and without question. I might (to be philosophically consistent) make that support conditional if someone could convince me that allowing her that freedom would destroy the freedoms of others. But let’s set that aside as an unrealistic hypothetical, something not likely to occur in real life.

      Here’s a better example than the abortion meme: What if another woman was a heavy smoker? I would support her right to do that to her body. But I would also say that she has no right — none — to inflict her second-hand smoke on me and my children and my friends. That’s a case where — in the very act of freely doing something to her own body — she is doing something unacceptable to ours also.

      I had a job years ago in the Finance Dept of the Stanford Medical Center. Once a week my group had a three-hour meeting (with only one scheduled break), wherein (at first) one lady in the room was allowed to smoke (this was a looong time ago, as you might imagine). One day, after feeling especially nauseous from her smoke, I suggested that smoking be banned during the meeting, but allowed during the break. She literally — not metaphorically but literally — banged her fist down on the table and shouted (and I quote) “You’re infringing on my right to smoke!” No, I still support her right to smoke any place where it doesn’t harm others.

      This is why, whenever I hear a vaccine opponent complain that I’m not respecting her right to do with her body as she wishes, I think of that lady in my Stanford meetings. I suported her right to smoke. I still do. But I’ll never support her in exercising her right in such a way as to do severe damage to others and their right to health and well-being.

      In exactly the same way, I support every vaccine opponent’s right to refuse vaccines on the single condition that by doing so they don’t transmit a communicable disease to others. People who refuse vaccines for themselves or their children should understand why those children may soon not be allowed in the public schools. Home-schooling may solve part of the problem for them.

      But, given the complexity and inter-connectedness of modern society, it’s very difficult to manage the danger that unvaccinated people in general pose to the rest of us. I myself am not ready to support mandatory vaccinations for anyone. So I put my hope in dialog and education, and the compelling arguments of science.

      A big problem, though, is the widespread mistrust today of government and other large institutions. That distrust — well earned in many ways — makes many people impervious to any arguments in support of vaccines, as I suspect it does you, Reinette. That distrust was not so prevalent in the early days of vaccine production.

      You say that there are compelling arguments on both sodes of the debate. But to many of us, the arguments (for instance in those articles you cited) are not only not persuasive, they are demonstrably full of factual errors (of commission and omission).

      I know it’s hard to accept that Big Pharma, despite being organized for profit, could create products that confer widespread benefits on society. But the history of the success of vaccines in (nearly, it now seems) eradicating many of mankind’s most devastating scourges shows that this is exactly what it has done. So, to me, the fact that the pharmaceutical industry makes big profits is a side issue, and does not in itself prove the inefficacy of its products.

      By the way, would you mind sharing your source for the idea that the pharmaceutical industry and hospitals are the thrid leading cause of death? I remember hearing this as well, but I can’t remember where I heard it. I could probably be convinced that this is actually true. I’m just not convinced yet. I’d like to see the studies.

      Lastly, I don’t know what to say about your remark, “What incredible double standards you all have.”

      Really, we could all accuse each other of having double-standards, but I dont want to say it, because it sounds like an accusation of bad faith. It sounds personal, like an attack on the messenger, rather than the message.

  21. What if anti-vaxxers are really the advance agents of Agenda 21?

    What if the secret plan is to start an outbreak of once eliminated diseases like measles, small pox and polio and then use the resulting fear as a rational for imposing strict government control over very aspect of our lives and make us all ride bicycles? Since the sheeple have been filled to the brim with mind control drugs delivered at high altitude through Chemtrails they will be bleating for unbridled government control.

    Yep, that is the secret plan!

    Why do many people who style themselves rational, modern, science based, progressive thinkers give the anti-rationalists amongst us who share many of our values a free pass when they embrace irrationality?

    All of the data points to the fact that vaccine preventable diseases have been one of the major causes of human illness, death, disability and high infant mortality. Diseases that once limited global average life expectancy to 31 years at the start of the 20th century have helped expand our global life expectancy to 67 years at the start of the 21st.

    If vaccines caused autism wouldn’t un-vaccinated children have lower autism rates?
    Contrary to celebrity rumor there is absolutely no proof that unvaccinated children have lower autism rates nor has there ever been a long term study of the link between most vaccines and autism because there is no statistical evidence of the link. Yep, it ‘s true some children who are vaccinated are also diagnosed with autism. But, saying vaccines cause autism is the same thing as saying Agenda 21 promotes alternative transportation thus all people riding bicycles are agents of Agenda 21.

    I wonder how we would handle the ethics of doing a long-term study of unvaccinated children? Would we encourage them to remain unvaccinated for the life of the study? I know of my own study, a little more anecdotal; my once anti-vaccine friend who accidentally exposed her children to chickenpox who says it was the most horrible experience of her life. I would love to see a research scientist suggest she should let her kids remain un-vaccinated for measles so they can do a 20-year study.

    Yet we let our friends get away with this nonsense. Hey, they eat healthy food, listen to bluegrass and indie music, drive hybrids, are pro-choice, and are famous like Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey (or Donald Trump and Michele Bachmann). Or perhaps they do so much good in their lives that they have built up good will or a cult of personality so we give them a pass.

    Irrationality is irrationality whatever cloak it wears. The assumption that people who support vaccines don’t know any better is no different than the right wing conspiracy theorist saying that Agenda 21 is out to control the word and people who don’t see it don’t know the facts.

    All of this comes back to the idea of motivated reasoning. If an idea tends to support our previously held belief we tend to embrace that idea regardless of the facts. The mark of a true rationalist is can they recognize motivated reasoning and allow the facts, the science and the evidence lead them to another belief.

    So if we tend to believe that big business (or government) is out to fuck us, and pharmaceutical companies happen to be big business (or government), and pharmaceutical companies (or government) support vaccines, then vaccines must be unsafe and pharmaceutical companies (or government) are fucking us, regardless of the evidence that we now live to 67 years instead of 31 largely because we have shrunk infant mortality to historic lows and vaccines are one of the primary reasons that is the case.

    I wonder why we reject logical fallacy from people we disagree with but accept logical fallacy from people we like?

    I love ya’ Reinette for all the good you do, for your spirit your leadership skills and your fearlessness, but I am not prone to accepting ideas on straight of personality, I need actual evidence.

    If you really want to fix the vaccination system there are all kinds of good things you can do instead of spreading the idea that vaccines are unhealthy and some proxy for personal choice and “American freedom”.

    You can make the case that vaccines work but could be made better and safer; you could be making the case that the whopping cough vaccine being used today is not as effective against the current strains of parapertussis bacteria and needs to be updated; you could be making the case that we need to study expanding the time frame in which we administer vaccines to limit the aluminum salt or mercury in a child’s blood and see if it improves results; you could be supporting extended statistical analysis to prove whether there is a link to autism.

    I fear it is much more convenient to believe that big government (or pharmaceutical companies) are out to fuck you while you enjoy your now 80 year life span in the United States of Amerika.

    (Clearly I am not as committed to remaining above the fray…I think you are implying things in your response Reinette that require direct challenge).

  22. Reinette: I did have the “courage” (more curiosity in my case) to watch Suzanne Humphries’ Youtube video. I was surprised that while apparently being trained as a scientist (a nephrologist) she makes a lot of assertions that are very unscientific. She makes some broad statements about the harms of vaccines, without giving specifics. She seems skeptical of the benefits and the history of the benefits of vaccination science.

    If the picture she paints of the natural development of the immune system, with its power amplified by mother’s milk, and un-assaulted by these “unnatural” vaccines was so ideal … why was the infant mortality rate so high in the 19th century, before the advent of MMR and other vaccines against childhood diseases, etc.

    Even in her new career as a homeopath, it would benefit her to go a little more deeply into vaccine science.

  23. As we I have said in the past, disease outbreak is followed by many a wars, cramped living conditions, malnutrition, unclean water, etc. A host of things really.

    If you want to hear more on what she speaks about what Suzanne Humphries has to say I would simply look her up on Youtube.

    May I also suggest you listen to Dr. Sherri Tenpenny — “a doctor of osteopathy and the director and founder of OsteoMed II, a clinic established in 1996 in Ohio. Dr. Tenpenny talks about the lack of safety studies conducted on vaccines, pointing out that studies are only conducted on healthy individuals which are not representative of a large part of society that vaccines are given to. People who are chronically sick and are taking many different kinds of medications are never studied.” Here’s a link to what she has to say:

  24. Or perhaps another tangential example….

    That is right, organs have memory characteristics completely unrelated to their actual known cell structure, “cell communication that occurs throughout the body on a continual basis can continue to occur after an organ has been removed from one person and transplanted into another. Information from the donor seems to install into the recipient’s memory.

    Learn more:

    1. I am sorry how am I ‘politicizing’ this? I am saying that your scientifically flawed ideas are as logically flawed as any one else’s scientifically flawed ideas REGARDLESS of their politics or ideology. You have it completely backward. If I have a responsibility to debunk conspiracy theorists on the right I have and equal responsibility to cry foul when the conspiracy comes from someone I have an affinity with.

      By the way I would say ‘politicizing’ this discussion started when you compared being pro-vaccine with being anti-choice.

      1. By the way I don’t think that either Don or I are saying that if the science points to the fact that a particular vaccine is dangerous that we would support the vaccine regardless of the science. We are saying these decisions should be made based on evidence.

  25. Yes. Based on evidence. Whose evidence? Who is paying for this “evidence?” The whole system is paid for by Big Industry so how does this even hold water for you any longer, Steve? “Until science points to the fact…?” Steve, science is allowed to point. They, too, have been paid off. So have the networks and the media. Who is going to point their finger at their own cash-cow? So, until this has been proven on “sound evidence” I think everyone should back off on telling other people what they should be doing with their bodies and that of their children — allow us to decide for ourselves. And I prefer that while you provide evidence on your side, I provide evidence on my side, we keep the conversation going — because from what I can tell the jury is still out on this matter.

  26. Why is the latest Flu vaccine still being served up? Some states are making that mandatory. They knew in advance and yet…

  27. So science has been paid off, media is complicit, clearly government is part of the conspiracy as well.

    For this work every member of a team at a pharmaceutical company working on a vaccine would need to be complicit in either gaming tests or hiding information; every competing vaccine developer would need to be equally complicit or their results would not line up and they might have a preferable product; next the people at the FDA who review the Investigation for New Drug Applications would need to be complicit across multiple offices and complicit with officials reviewing competing drugs internationally; then all of the participants and the researchers involved in the three part test INA process for FDA approval would need to be complicit across multiple competing drugs across multiple competing offices; when the INA process gets to third part of the tests they would need to be verified by completely independent field studies; all of the peer reviewers of the studies would need to be complicit.

    Next the vaccine (and any competing drugs) would go through the Biological License Application process; a multi-disciplinary, multi-specialty review, usually by people who don’t really know each other very well because vaccines are so specialized that they need to convene ad hoc teams to do the review, and they do a risk/benefit assessment. All of them would need to be equally complicit in this grand conspiracy. And all of their findings are third party reviewed.

    Then the vaccine goes to the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. This is a committee of NON-FDA experts (scientists, physicians, biostatisticians, and a consumer representative) and they provide the FDA with review regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

    The facilities for both the initial testing and future manufacture need to be tested to ensure there were not flaws in the process and that manufacture is safe.

    And while all of this is going on pharmaceutical companies in Great Britain, France, Switzerland and China are all racing for the same vaccine to be first to market, under their own testing processes.

    Then it goes public and anyone who wants to do third party review has a fair shot–all they have to do is actually prove their case.

    I coud point to at least 20 studies that have purported to establish a link between autism and th measles vaccine, and under review each and every one of them has been conclusively proved false.

    The very thing that you see as the source of the big conspiracy and the flaw in the system, the profit motive, is the thing that ensures the highest level of scrutiny. I may have my beefs with capitalism but the beef is that while it is arguably the most efficient way to allocate resources it is not efficient enough. All the competing companies have a direct and HUGE financial motive to tear down a proposed new vaccine by a competing manufacturer. Capitalism may be inefficient in some ways but no one can deny that it is brutal on weaker competitors. Or that nations, who have vested economic interest in seeing their companies thrive, are not brutal as well.

    So you see the very thing that you see as a weakness and negative motive in the system is its strength. As I posited in another instance–it is exactly the opposite of what you believe it is.

    And this is where we get to the real nub of the issue, and my point about motivated reasoning; you are allowing the point that you are an anti-capitalist to cloud your vision. Because you believe that capitalism is inherently corrupt, the outcome of the process must be corrupt, and thus vaccines must be dangerous.

    This level of ‘conspiracy’ is almost statistically impossible, and strains the credulity of even the most dedicated skeptic.

  28. Oh for Pete’s sake, Steve. I’m not anti-capitalist or anti-government. I’m anti-corruption. I don’t believe capitalism is inherently corrupt (don’t know when I have ever said such a thing), but I have been and will continue to point out the growing corruption throughout our nation. Get the profiteers out of our government, law enforcement, capitols, and the agencies that are meant to protect us, etc. and then let’s talk. Don’t tell me greed and power don’t corrupt. Our nation is oozing with it. Exceedingly.

  29. OK, I admit i can’t point to you stating that to you are anti-capitalist, so I rescind the statement and ask instead, in light of the fact that you cannot point to a single compelling piece of evidence that points to the the conclusion that there being big money in vaccines inherently corrupts the testing and approval process or a single credible study proving the link between vaccines and autism why you would advance this canard that vaccines are dangerous? You do not appear to have a single shred of actual evidence. I have gone through each of your links and weak would be kind. They are not sourced properly, the sources they do site are not credible, and they appear to be little more than opinion peices. “I just think something” is not evidence. I am tired of a world that countenances wack belief over science.

  30. By the way Reinette, I love the way you answer one part of a post, the ‘anti-capitalist’ part and ignore the other. Show me the corruption you claim exits and back it up with actual evidence. Otherwise this is just another exercise in climate denialism under another name.

    1. The most damning assertion in this article is the suggestion that a strong link exists between the MMR vaccine and increased incidence of autism among certain African American populations. But then, the following Snopes article which you also posted completely debunks that.

      So, what’s left? The whistleblower suit against Merck. which — if anything — supports the idea that we need more effective MMR vaccines.

  31. Hey, great, we are finally getting some actual data that can be read and studies referenced, instead of advertisement for herbal supplements…maybe we are getting somewhere…I will start reading!

  32. Reinette, I read every one of your posts and the links in them and watched the video. Why would I read your Facebook page when we are here?

    1. Chris:

      I agree. And I for one am very happy that my dear mother had the good sense to march me down to the doctor’s office in Arcata in the 1950s so that I could be given a sugar cube with what I recall had a red dot on it.

  33. I’ve read all the postings and watched all the videos referenced here, and I haven’t yet seen any actual evidence — as distinct from a lot of unfounded assertions — that vaccines cause more harm than they confer benefits.

    It looks like this thread has about run its course: Those of us on different sides of the issue seem to be talking past each other, and I don’t think that’s going to change.

  34. Again, there is no “debate”, the science on the efficacy of the primary childhood vaccinations is very, very clear. The measles vaccine, for example, has saved millions of lives in the last decade. (According to the World Health Organization that is.) I guess you can dismiss as being Big Profit, or part of Agenda 23, or simply not faithful enough. In the meantime that excellent organization continues to save lives all over the world.

    Maybe Nevada County will become some horrible new kind of experiment, a place where enlightened intuitionists don’t vaccinate their children. Polio making a comeback would certainly add historical character to our towns.

  35. I’m not saying that there could not be some instances of drug companies gaming the system, or that there could not be some instances where accepted vaccines have problems or need to be improved, or some instances where people have falsified data. I’m also not trying to “crush” Reinette, merely holding her to the same standard we should hold anyone making a specific claim with such serious ramifications. The overall benefit of vaccines is so great that only a very poorly informed person would be “vehemently against vaccinations”. Almost all of the studies cited by the anti-vaxxers have been roundly debunked. The fact that people who have gamed the system, as appropriately cited by Bruce in the Merck instance above, are held accountable is actually proof that the system works as I decided above, that the transparency and safeguards in the system create a feedback loop that tend to protect us.

    1. This is a great example of why comments like Reinette’s are so frustrating.

      Reinitiate is a former elected leader, successful community activist, has led a number of very beneficial community projects–to help the homeless, to start up businesses, to save energy–and has a ‘following’, people who trust her, look up to her, and admire her. Reinitiate has a certain charismatic authority, and possessing and cultivating such authority through the skillful use of media, she has a responsibility to influence people in a rational and positive way, and indeed she has a record of doing so.

      That is why I am so adamant in my statement that what she is promoting in this instance is complete irrational, dangerous, anti-science, nonsense. I am going through the Dr. Suzanne Humphries video she provided yesterday line by line and let me tell you it is complete bullshit. I will post more on that later today.

      I am frustrated that really good people, seemingly rational people who have a record of making good decisions, could be so taken by what amounts to propaganda.

      1. Boy, I wish I could edit this post–damn auto spell–I meant no disrespect by misspelling Reinette’s name.

  36. Mary Baker Eddy thought we could cure all our ills through (the right kind of) prayer – not (yet)!
    Does anyone think we should not vacinnate for anything?
    That said, I think our kids need to “eat more dirt” (so to speak) so their immune systems get a workout in order to help them later on.

  37. O my lord, I come back to read all this, please. Steve and All. How dare you question my character because I have a differing opinion. Really. What low tactics…. simply because I disagree with you all. The point I am making, and have been all along, is that we have the right to choose the best medical options for ourselves. Whether you are in the pro-vaccination camp or the anti-camp there is not enough evidence that vaccinations are safe and should be forced among the American public. As an individual who has lost her natural mother, adopted father, and adopted mother, dogs, and other relatives to western medicine/pharmaceuticals I actually feel it my duty to speak up. Again — western medical care is the THIRD leading cause of death! And this is what I have personally experienced. THIS I am concerned about. I am not alone in this sentiment. All the information I/we have been sharing with each other in this thread STILL leads me to believe that the safety/effectiveness of vaccinations is still inconclusive. Vaccines have NOT been proven to be safe longterm or in conjunction with other vaccinations. So until that day comes along (and it’s a long shot), again, my case is about the freedom to choose for my self and family. I have the right to this opinion.

    If you all would like to continue this conversation, I suggest we sit down in person and talk it out.

    I’m signing out now.

    1. Reinette: you mistake questioning your conclusions with questioning your character; you mistake questioning the validity of those opinions with questioning your right to express those opinions; you mistake the fact that many people share your opinion with validation of those opinions; you mistake support for vaccination with blanket support for all western medical practices; and in my opinion you blur the lines that link leadership and responsibility. hen use

      You intentionally put yourself in the position of prosthelytizing the anti-vaccine cause and by doing so you opened your opinions to examination. If they are found wanting it is a reflection of the opinions not the individual.

      You stated, “I am now vehemently against vaccinations.” You have a right to your opinion, I have a right to state clearly that your opinion is ignorant and should not be heeded by any thinking person. I also have a right to state that I believe that your freedom to remain un-vaccinated or keep any children you may have un-vaccinated stops when you or they leave the house and either you or your kids put others at risk.

      By taking this personally you are implying that opponents of your point of view made it personal, they did not. If you want to question low tactics you might start there, because you were there right out the gate.

      1. Another way off saying this would be, “Oh, for Christ’s sake, get off your high horse and stop taking everything so personally.”

  38. Reinette, you just ‘Jumped the Shark’. Too bad! You’ve now entered the realm of obstinance.

    “western medical care is the THIRD leading cause of death!” Really?!? What are the first two and how are they medically treated?

    See Reinette, I’ve committed my life to teaching Science I’ve always been a process guy vs. a data bank guy. I’ve always thought, though not perfect, the Scientific Method is the best way of finding the truth. I instruct my kids to be questioning and skeptical and to be evidenced based. With that being said, you have to understand data as being statistically valid and logically based. I find your posts on this topic to not meet this standard. I cannot support your position.

    With your response of ‘how dare you question my character’`; well I’m beginning to wonder. If your posts are truly indicative of your intellectual processes and your response to criticism of said opinions are ‘how you roll’, then I am concerned.

    I strongly urge that you review this thread (without malice or contempt), evaluate your position, your responses and grow. I’ve had to do it and it is very very hard.

  39. At the risk of making it sore by continuing to pick at it … here are two fascinating short videos, excerpts from the program Democracy Now three days ago. The first video is an interview with Mary Holland, an anti-vaccination activist and mother of an autistic child, whose illness she blames on the MMR vaccine. The second is an interview with Dr. Paul Offit, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

    Mary Holland is very articulate, apparently well-versed in vaccine science (most likely self-taught after the onset of her child’s illness), not categorically anti-vaccine and — frankly — very very persuasive. I’d be willing to bet that most vaccine opponents would love this interview with her. I found myself being won over by some of her arguments …

    … until i listened to the interview with Dr. Offit. He pointed the many ways that she got the science wrong.

    To me, these two interviews are fascinating for what they show us about why vaccine opponents are so intransigent.

    Amy Goodman tried to shame Offit a bit — it seems to me — for being unwilling to “debate” Mary Holland in the same session, but rather insisted on having the last word. I thought she had him on that point, but his answer was very surprising, very powerful and right on the money.

    Watch them in this order:

    Mary Holland

  40. Yes, Chris, the third leading cause of death….. dwarfing auto accidents, diabetes and everything else besides Cancer and heart disease. According to a new study just out from the prestigious Journal of Patient Safety, four times as many people die from preventable medical errors than we thought, as many as 440,000 a year.: You need to read more instead of being quick to jump on the bandwagon.

    I just got my power back. Will respond more tomorrow.

    1. Reinette, I think you assume ignorance of your readers at your own peril (not to mention the point that it appears snarky). I actually took the time to click through the Forbes article to the Journal of Patient Safety article, and clicked through the abstract to downed the entire study and read it.

      If the case you are making is now that the American medical system could be improved, and that we have a responsibility to improve it, as opposed to your original point which was that, you are “vehemently against vaccines,” then I think you would find a substantial body of agreement.

      Lets look at just one example the study used to illustrate the problem: a patient enters the hospital to have their gallbladder removed and the surgeon accidentally nicks their intestine leading to death by peritonitis. If removal of their gallbladder was necessary to save their life it would seem the solution would be to not nick their intestine rather than refuse to remove their gallbladder.

      The flaw in your logic, after we accept the origin flaw that this was not what we were actually talking about, is that you assume those lives would not have been equally lost or suffered serious consequences if they had not sought treatment.

      No one here was making the case that the American medical system is either perfect or approaching perfection. The answer to the problem you would seem to be positing would be better health care not avoiding health care.

      1. Steve and All,

        I spent most the day without power yesterday, no internet, and in that time I have lost all respect for each of you. Your behavior towards me is paternalist, arrogant, and is nothing short of bully-tactics. The fact that I have come to a different conclusion than your own, formed my own understandings, and am speaking my opinion — only to be attacked and then told that the public should question my character….? This speak more of your character than it does mine. All I can say is that while you are pointing your collective finger at me, (get off my high horse?) there are three more fingers pointing back at each one of you!

        I have the right to my opinion and the process that got me to my current (and always evolving) conclusion. There are many paths to the same mountain top and for each of you to insinuate that your ‘process’ is the only process that can come to a superior-conclusion stinks of arrogance. An arrogance that is actually prevalent in the US medical system today:

        Medical care being the third leading cause of death in America is indicative of a prevailing culture in western medicine: lack of accountability, oversight, and transparency, as well as Wall Street/biotech influence over agencies originally designed to protect Americans…. This includes lack of communication between medical professionals and their patients (a disdain of patients who do ask questions), and withholding of important data by the CDC. And let’s not forget a plethora of conflict of interest and inadequate studies on long-term effects INCLUDING the mixing of vaccine adjuvants (for example, thimerosal and aluminum).

        Americans are unhealthier today than ever before and now addicted to pain pills – a silent epidemic created by western medicine and its doctors (opioid overdose deaths have skyrocketed in recent years). Addiction is something I am dealing with EVERY DAY working with the homeless, youth, all while watching even our grandparents become full-on addicts. 

If you are all so concerned about Americans’ well being then why aren’t you going after the big killers of TODAY? Right now? Heart disease, cancer, child obesity (future patients and deaths). Why are you even forcing Americans to have this volatile conversation when there are bigger issues in our corrupted medical and American systems?

        You are now asking (no demanding) that I and other Americans blindly go along with this vaccination-zeitgeist while there have been no studies of the remaining vaccines on the childhood schedule (beyond MMR and Hepatitis B) for associations with autism. This would include the following vaccines: Rotavirus, DTaP, Hib, PCV (pneumococcal), IPV (polio), Influenza, Varicella, and Hepatitis A.

        There have also been no studies of the ingredients in childhood vaccines, besides thimerosal, for associations with autism. There HAS been a study finding speech delays and tics associated with thimerosal-containing vaccines and this has now been replicated in other published studies.

        (And mind you, I take ALL of these studies with a huge grain of salt, pro or con)


As it stands today, vaccines are a multi-billion dollar industry. It is the fastest–growing segment of pharmaceutical business. Even the CDC makes money through the licensing of vaccines: bottom line, it’s about profit.

        We now know through the Freedom of Information Act that the CDC has also massaged data in the past. “The majority of studies that claim to “prove” that autism is not associated with Thimerosal or MMR have significant conflicts of interest, have significant flaws in their methods and/or do not answer the whole question.”

        Article here:

        Vaccine Industry Watchdog Obtains CDC Documents That Show Statistically Significant Risks of Autism Associated with Vaccine Preservative Thimerosal

“For nearly ten years, Brian Hooker has been requesting documents that are kept under tight wraps by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). His more than 100 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests have resulted in copious evidence that the vaccine preservative Thimerosal, which is still used in the flu shot that is administered to pregnant women and infants, can cause autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

        Dr. Hooker, a PhD scientist, worked with two members of Congress to craft the letter to the CDC that recently resulted in his obtaining long-awaited data from the CDC, the significance of which is historic. According to Hooker, the data on over 400,000 infants born between 1991 and 1997, which was analyzed by CDC epidemiologist Thomas Verstraeten, MD, “proves unequivocally that in 2000, CDC officials were informed internally of the very high risk of autism, non-organic sleep disorder and speech disorder associated with Thimerosal exposure.”

More on this recent development:

        And with this kind of knowledge – no matter what kind of studies come from the CDC or any other agency or university, for that matter, how can we possibly continue inherently trusting their data as the ‘overriding truth?’

        In your argument you are going on the premise that “the benefits of preventing disease with a vaccine far outweigh the risks.” And I’m saying because of America’s history, lack of oversight/transparency/ long term studies, Wall Street/ biotech influences, and conflict of interest, etc., etc., etc., I can no longer go along with this premise.

        And while you and your cohorts are telling me to trust a variety of studies and conclusions from “leading experts,” their agencies and their directors, there is no mention of revolving door of Wall Street insiders/biotech companies and our US agencies. Do you honestly think they are not having influence over our medical industry? Really?

        Let me give you another fine example (2009): former Director of the CDC landing a job at Merck vaccine division. Obama has surrounded himself with Wall Street Executives. Again, this simply points to the loss of agency leadership and American protection.

        We also have insider trading of longtime FDA chemists, who worked in the division in charge of approving new drugs, the agency’s most visible and sensitive role.:
So, exactly why is the American public even able to trust the CDC when it’s filled with industry insiders?

        The fact is, being sick and HAVING the flu is Big Business that comes with little oversight in America, and ironically, influenza levels have hit an all time high with our elderly while at the same time flu vaccinations have increased. And now we have MANDATORY flu shots being required in order to get full reimbursement of Medicare and Medicaid benefits. While we have nurses refusing their flu vaccinations. Why do you think that is?

        The US Institute of Medicine (IoM) has written report on the relationship between vaccines and side effects and while obviously trying to soften its findings, the report still found convincing evidence that several vaccines are linked to viral reactivation, pneumonia, hepatitis, meningitis, seizures, anaphylactic shock and others

        Here’s a lovely list from the National Vaccine Information Center: 

        1 pronounced swelling redness, heat or hardness at injection site that continues for days or weeks;
        2 body rash or hives;
        3 shock/collapse;
        4 unresponsiveness, prolonged deep sleep;
        5 high pitched screaming (may include arching of back);
        6 hours of persistent, inconsolable crying;
        7 high fever (over 103 F)
        8 respiratory distress (difficulty breathing);
        9 twitching or jerking of the body, arm, leg or head;
        10 rolling or crossing of eyes;
        11 severe head or neck pain;
        12 joint pain or muscle weakness;
        13 disabling fatigue;
        14 loss of memory and mental skills;
        15 paralysis of any part of body;
        16 changes in sleep/wake pattern and dramatic personality changes;
        17 lack of eye contact or social withdrawal
        18 loss of ability to roll over, sit up or stand up
        19 head banging or unusual flapping, rubbing, rocking, spinning;
        20 onset of chronic ear or respiratory problems (including asthma);
        21 severe/persistent diarrhea or chronic constipation;
        22 excessive bruising, bleeding or anemia
        other serious loss of physical, mental or emotional wellness

        So, being none of the above is “serious” then why has the….

”Vaccine Court Awards Millions to Two Children With Autism”

The federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, better known as “vaccine court,” has just awarded millions of dollars to two children with autism for “pain and suffering” and lifelong care of their injuries, which together could cost tens of millions of dollars.

        The government did not admit that vaccines caused autism, at least in one of the children. Both cases were “unpublished,” meaning information is limited, and access to medical records and other exhibits is blocked. Much of the information presented here comes from documents found at the vaccine court website.”

        And to Don, please don’t send me any links… they have proven themselves to be questionable:

        It has become very clear that oligarchs of Wall Street, medical doctors and some pharmaceutical research professionals have serious conflicts of interest, and “the employees of two ‘captured’ US government agencies-the SEC and FDA-by design as well as by simply refusing to pursue the evidence of malfeasance provided to them, deny patients life saving treatments that are demonstrated safe and effective in FDA-approved drug trials.”

 Again, it’s about the bottom line.

        And then to add to all of this, our nation has a terribly dark history of forced sterilization and even eugenics programs. I have seen nothing that tells me our government or military has changed their course:

        As I said, the jury is still out when it comes to vaccinations. Until then, I will error on the side of caution and avoid vaccinations. This is my choice. As it currently stands I have lost my trust in our pharmaceutical industry and in our government and its agencies to protect the American people. For you to belittle me, question my character, and to make an obvious attempt to bully me into silence has been duly noted. Your response(s) is paternalistic, arrogant, and clearly a sign of your own blind dogma.

        I am bowing out of this conversation. It’s Monday and I have more important things to do.

      2. Wow Reinette, talk about jumping the shark. I may question your data, but no one would ever think you could be ‘bullied into silence’. You misconstrue thinking your positions and data are unsupported by science with ‘attacking your character.’

        As I said above, stating that what you are saying is total bullshit in no way implies that you don’t have a right to state total bullshit.

        In the mean time I will cull through the scrupulously detailed and sourced articles you posted from World Net Daily, The Daily Caller and written by people like Ethan A. Huff, an alleged pseudonym for quack health supplement entrepreneur Maria Hurairah, and get back to you.

  41. And more if you think I’m jumping the shark: from the CDC website regarding flu deaths (as of 7/18/2014)

    “As in previous reports, the June 15, 2014, report covering a 3-month period shows that the flu vaccine is the most dangerous vaccine in America. 78 cases were awarded settlements for vaccine injuries, with 55 of the settlements being for the flu shot, including one death. Most of the settlements for injuries due to the flu shot were for Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Other flu vaccine injuries included: Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy, Rheumatoid arthritis, Shingles, Brachial plexus neuropathy, Bell’s Palsy, Brachial neuritis, Transverse myelitis, Lichenoid drug eruption, and Narcolepsy.

    According to the National Vital Statistics System in the U.S., for example, annual flu deaths in 2010 amounted to just 500 per year — fewer than deaths from ulcers (2,977), hernias (1,832) and pregnancy and childbirth (825), and a far cry from the big killers such as heart disease (597,689) and cancers (574,743).”

      1. Reinette, you are correct when you have “privately funded research”: Cigarette smoking is good for you, Fossil Fuels have nothing to do with Climate Change.

        But government spending on scientific research is 10-fold to private research. And, for good reason. It allows for research not incumbered with a desired outcome. I suspect you disagree with this and I’m sure you can find exception (as I’m sure there are). But, overall, it is a self correcting process that will eventually work. It may not be perfect, but it’s the best way we have. We owe our lives and the way we currently live to this process over the past few centuries.

      2. Yes… fraud. By Merck. Attempting to convince the whole ‘herd immunity’ thang is real.

        According to the whistleblowers’ court documents, Merck’s misconduct was far-ranging: It “failed to disclose that its mumps vaccine was not as effective as Merck represented, (ii) used improper testing techniques, (iii) manipulated testing methodology, (iv) abandoned undesirable test results, (v) falsified test data, (vi) failed to adequately investigate and report the diminished efficacy of its mumps vaccine, (vii) falsely verified that each manufacturing lot of mumps vaccine would be as effective as identified in the labeling, (viii) falsely certified the accuracy of applications filed with the FDA, (ix) falsely certified compliance with the terms of the CDC purchase contract, (x) engaged in the fraud and concealment describe herein for the purpose of illegally monopolizing the U.S. market for mumps vaccine, (xi) mislabeled, misbranded, and falsely certified its mumps vaccine, and (xii) engaged in the other acts described herein to conceal the diminished efficacy of the vaccine the government was purchasing.”

        The fraudulent activities, say the whistleblowers, were designed to produce test results that would meet the FDA’s requirement that the mumps vaccine was 95 percent effective.

        Here are the FILED COURT PAPERS:

        Click to access chatom-v-merck.pdf

      1. You may think Snopes is “a joke” but they cite actual data and facts from “both sides” before they issue their own opinion. They don’t pull their citations out of their a**. As you said…”Don’t kill the messenger”. Your shrillness, certainty and aggressiveness is no different then that of the conspiracy ridden Right. It’s just on the other end of the spectrum.

  42. Science, fact, and truth are words that often don’t match their previous definition in today’s society. Curious what you’re thoughts are on those that can get away without getting vaccinations on the basis of their religious doctrine?

    1. I have to admit I am only slightly more tolerant of the concept of religious exemptions.

      If the case one is making is that they believe that man is made in God’s image and ingestion of any foreign substance is a violation of that belief and they belong to a church or movement that can demonstrate that, I would allow religious exemptions in controlled cases as long as during the period of an outbreak the person is segregated from public places.

      Let’s be clear though, if the case is that the body is God’s temple and one must keep the body/temple holy and free from impurities, as some Christian Scientists do, the faithful subject has probably already violated this directive every day of their life through other ambient environmental impurities (air pollutions, lead exposure, etc) If their case is that vaccines interfere with the relationship between the individual and God, that interference is found in everything provided by man that protects one from harm, from having a roof over ones head to washing your hands, the objection is illogical.

      Part of the rational for a more tolerant policy in the case of religious exemptions is that freedom of religion is specifically called out in the Constitution. But the Constitution also protects my health and well being and a public health case for segregation, as we would segregate an active tubercular patient, in a public health emergency exists.

  43. I have to admit that I am somewhat astounded at how quickly Reinette took this entire discussion personally. I admit my ‘pigs flying’ video may have ruffled a feather, but it was sincerely intended to be a comment on the seeming incongruous use of World Net Daily as a source, not a direct personal comparison. It was only upon digging into the other sources Reinette was citing that I realized just how weak and conspiratorial her case really was.

    Reinette’s key point from the beginning was that vaccines are a big business, that big business is corrupt, “we have profiteers who have taken over every sector of American society, US government, agencies meant to protect Americans, Corporate America, the banking and farming industry, etc., and in all honesty, they don’t care if we all end up dead as long as they make their profit”

    Note that Reinette never answered my point that so many checks and balances are worked into the system, and so much competing profit motive exists across so wide a range of countries and competitors, that the conspiracy she posits would be statistically almost impossible to manage.

    But I have to admit that what really bothers me about this is that so much conspiratorial thinking exists in our midst and that the standard response of people of a progressive mind set is to challenge the conspiratorial thinking of the ‘right’, in the form of A21 nonsense and climate denialism, and give the conspiratorial thinking of the left in the form of vaccine conspiracies and another favorite, contrail conspiracies, a pass.

    In short, it ain’t personal, which is what makes this so difficult because I am sure it will be taken personally.

    I grew up in a household of skeptics. Typical dinner conversation revolved around what the kids were reading, current events, and what ideas were coming from them, and perhaps the most common questions asked were, “why do you think what you do? what proof do you have? does it make sense?” For that reason perhaps I have a pretty thick skin. If I am going to state something publicly I expect people to not only question it, but I better be intellectually prepared to defend it. But I was trained to sniff out conspiratorial thinking at a young age.

    There are some common traits to conspiratorial thinking:

    1. There must be some sort of nefarious intent:…in this case big business profit..that drives the conspiracy.

    2. There is a victim of the conspiracy, someone must be harmed:… in this case the poor sod who is forced to use a vaccine and purportedly gets autism, or cancer, or dies on the table.

    3. Refusal to believe anything that is contrary to the conspiracy regardless of the evidence:…in this case note that the change in life expectancy is shrugged off, even though the statistics are clear, we have doubled our life expectancy in 100 years since the introduction of vaccines and antibiotics (the same arguments against antibiotics existed in the early 20th century)

    4. Switching liberally between different conspiracies or theories to prove something must be wrong:…in this case first it is the profit motive, (couldn’t more profit be made if vaccines are effective and safe), then it is the case that vaccines are not effective and safe (regardless of the statistics)…then it is liberally switching between the case against specific vaccines by conflating flu vaccine and MMR vaccine and others in the same case…then it is the case that it is a violation of our personal liberty..then it is the case that everyone is picking on me so they must be paternalistic misogynist bullies (perhaps you are just wrong and no one is picking on you?). By the time you get to the end of the fuzzy chain no one knows where it started.

    5. Circular logic: meaning any evidence against the conspiracy theory is actually evidence of the even more nefarious nature of the conspiracy….(Merck is under indictment is evidence of the corruption and evidence of the effectiveness of the system to root our corruption at the same time..not merely evidence of corruption)..thus my original satirical post that vaccines are really an Agenda 21 conspiracy in concert with chemtrails to soften up the people for the one world government. The conspiracy theorist interprets any evidence against their case as merely more proof of how deeply seated and effective the conspiracy is….so the American Dental Association evidence that fluoride builds stronger teeth is evidence of a an ADA UN conspiracy. For George Rebane the conspiracy would be: people want bike trails, UN Agenda 21 likes bike trials, the people who like bike trails must be part of A 21.

    The real danger in this is that if we accept conspiracies without evidence we become controlled by the conspiracy thinking mindset and we cease to use science and logic to guide our decisions. If Reinette is allowed to profess that vaccines are actually a conspiracy by big business to control us and sell vaccines, without proof that holds up to true scrutiny, then we end up having to accept that the Rothschilds and Bilderburger Group actually control the world, that Obama is a Muslim who was born in Kenya, that the government was behind 911, and that Kennedy was killed by the Illuminati.

    I readily admit that nefarious intent exists in every quarter, that self interest exists, that attempts to game the system exist, that both individuals and corporations act in their self interest, that the world can be a dark place and that life can be short, nasty and brutish. No one is saying there are not bad actors in the play.

    So I went to Reinette’s Facebook page, which apparently all of us should be reading because it is where the truth is revealed, and found chemtrail conspiracies, vaccine conspiracies, GMO conspiracies, NSA conspiracies (the only ones I am prone to believe, so see I ain’t perfect), media conspiracies, military conspiracies, technology company conspiracies, and a host of other lessor conspiracies (that I am sure must eventually roll up into one big one somewhere.)

    I guess what I am saying is that if one is going to profess fuzzy logic and engage in conspiratorial thinking they have to expect to be asked a few questions, and that ain’t personal, its life.

    1. Steve with your formula can you break down and explain these results. My guess we would find similar results all over Nevada County if we were to do the testing.

      via Sharon Rose Facebook wall

      A friend from Penn Valley has had her soil, water, and rainwater tested and these are the results ➞
      The readings are as follows: The first one had 830 ppb of aluminum, 170 ppb of barium, and 290 ppb of strontium. All are consistent with geoengineering patents. When I called the lab to find out how to read them, the tech said, “It’s probably from the soil in the pond.” I said, “There is no soil in the pond. It’s the plastic shell kind.” She seemed surprised and asked me what I filled it with. “Well water,” I told her. She said, “Oh, then it’s probably in your well.” I sent her a sample of that and had it tested. It came back with no aluminum, no barium, and less strontium. The acceptable drinking water limit for aluminum in CA is 200 ppb.

      The second test (pond) is 88 ppb aluminum and 130 ppb barium. I scooped it off the top 1/8″ of the pond because it has visible metallic stuff on it. Readings from the bottom would have been considerably higher. I have a sample at the lab now that I took from the bottom.


      From rain, Sept 2013: 290 ppb aluminum and 130 ppb barium. I didn’t test for strontium that time, as I pay by the metal. Neither aluminum nor barium should be in rainwater in any amount. I accidentally posted the other test twice, so the back pond results are on this one, too.

      In the last two, the numbers are as follows: November RAIN, 2013: 86 ppb aluminum, 33 ppb barium, 190 ppb strontium. I tested for silver iodide to see if they were cloud seeding and there was no detectable silver. January RAIN, 2014: 280 ppb aluminum, 32 ppb barium, 54 ppb strontium, and again no detectable silver iodide. Again, these metals are consistent with geoengineering patents. It should also be noted that barium is a desiccant and is used as an insecticide. I lost every insect on my property in the summer of 2013 and even conducted experiments to attract them. Desiccants dry out the soil.

      1. Sorry I missed this at the time Ben. No I cannot conform Sharon’s number nor explain them. But we all know that is we can’t find an immediate and clear explanation for something there must be either a supernatural cause or a conspiracy somewhere.

      2. Sorry, this should read, “Sorry I missed this at the time Ben. No, I cannot confirm Sharon’s number nor explain them. But we all know that if we can’t find an immediate and clear explanation for something there must be either a supernatural cause or a conspiracy somewhere.”

  44. Very interesting article on the sociology of the unvaccinated:

    “The anti-vaccine movement, then, affects more than just the privileged children whose parents choose to forgo vaccination. As ​scientists at Johns Hopkins​ recently said while investigating a whooping cough outbreak, “geographic pockets of vaccine exemptors pose a risk to the whole community.”

    That whole community doesn’t just include the usual suspects: infants, the elderly, the immuno-compromised, the vaccinated for whom the antigen simply didn’t take. It also includes the marginalized who lack easy access to basic health care. Those marginalized communities are usually people of color. The anti-vaccination community is overwhelmingly white. In a very real sense, this leaves two distinct undervaccinated populations in America: privileged (largely) white people who’ve chosen to eschew modern medicine, and underprivileged minorities whose poverty has placed them, unwillingly, in that position. And it’s the latter who will suffer more gravely for it, because the same economic and health factors that make their children vulnerable to undervaccination make them vulnerable to the worst effects of the diseases themselves.

    Privileged white people refuse the vaccines in the name of individual freedom.

    And public health suffers; this especially affects the lives of the poor. This will, of course, provoke unmitigated outrage from the anti-vaccination community as a whole.

    Is the anti-vax movement itself racist? No. But it’s buttressed by class and race privilege.

    A drop in vaccination rates poses a danger to us all. But it poses a special danger to those least able to cope with serious illness, and least likely to be (unintentionally) fully vaccinated: minority, city-dwelling children.”

    Why Vaccination Refusal Is a White Privilege Problem

  45. Troubling research report (posted to the NIH wesbite) showing a positive correlation between the more aggressive vaccination schedule in the US during the first year of life and higher infant mortality rates here. I wrote to Dr Paul Offit (Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) and asked him whether he finds this research credible and — if so – whether he would support a relaxation of the schedule during the first year of life. I’ve not yet heard from him.

    Infant mortality rates regressed against number of vaccine doses routinely given: Is there a biochemical or synergistic toxicity?

    Conclusion from the report:

    The US childhood immunization schedule requires 26 vaccine doses for infants aged less than 1 year, the most in the world, yet 33 nations have better IMRs. Using linear regression, the immunization schedules of these 34 nations were examined and a correlation coefficient of 0.70 (p < 0.0001) was found between IMRs and the number of vaccine doses routinely given to infants. When nations were grouped into five different vaccine dose ranges (12–14, 15–17, 18–20, 21–23, and 24–26), 98.3% of the total variance in IMR was explained by the unweighted linear regression model. These findings demonstrate a counter-intuitive relationship: nations that require more vaccine doses tend to have higher infant mortality rates.

    Efforts to reduce the relatively high US IMR have been elusive. Finding ways to lower preterm birth rates should be a high priority. However, preventing premature births is just a partial solution to reduce infant deaths. A closer inspection of correlations between vaccine doses, biochemical or synergistic toxicity, and IMRs, is essential. All nations—rich and poor, advanced and developing—have an obligation to determine whether their immunization schedules are achieving their desired goals.

  46. The above paper is completely ripped by “Orac” at Scence Blogs:

    Vaccines and infant mortality rates

    Orac, who notices that the authors (Miller and Goldman) have long histories of anti-vaccine (and even anti-AID/HIV-connection activism) critiques the methodology of their study, and strongly suggests that they have cherry-picked their data sets:

    Miller and Goldman only looked at one year’s data. There are many years worth of data available; if such a relationship between IMR and vaccine doses is real, it will be robust, showing up in multiple analyses from multiple years’ data. Moreover, the authors took great pains to look at only the United States and the 33 nations with better infant mortality rates than the U.S. There is no statistical rationale for doing this, nor is there a scientific rationale. Again, if this is a true correlation, it will be robust enough to show up in comparisons of more nations than just the U.S. and nations with more favorable infant mortality rates. Basically, the choice of data analyzed leaves a strong suspicion of cherry picking. Were I reviewing this paper, I would insist on the use of one or two other data sets. For example, I would ask for different years and/or perhaps the use of the rankings by the United Nations Population Division, which can be found in the Wikipedia entry containing the list of countries by infant mortality rate. And I would insist on doing the analysis so that it includes several nations with worse IMRs than the U.S. Indeed, since the focal point of the analysis seems to be the U.S., which, according to Miller and Goldman, requires more vaccine doses than any other nation, then it would make sense to look at the 33 nations with worse IMRs than the U.S.

  47. Jon: Maybe on Facebook, behind Bj’s post?

    I got a terse (but friendly) reply from Paul Offit, saying only, “Yes. Both Goldman and Miller have a long history of anti-vaccine activity.”

    The Goldman/Miller paper I referenced above is not reliable. “Orac’s” dissection of it is devastating. Goldman and Miller cherry-picked data to get the results they wanted. They selected data only from the US and countries having lower nominal infant mortality rates. The whole notion of comparing IMRs (infant mortality rates) between nations is not really do-able. For one thing, a possibly significant percentage of infant deaths occur before any vaccines are administered. It’s all fully explained here:

    Vaccines and Infant Mortality Rates

    The Goldman/Miller work undermines the credibility of the whole assertion linking the vaccine schedule to increased infant mortality rates. If there’s anything to it, it will have to wait for a more rigorous, less biased study.

    1. Ruh Roh.. back to incremental changes? Japan did not cherry pick any results of any study. It is what it is. I read the Orac paper, they are Pro vaccine, so we can throw that out, too, right? Meanwhile we are going nowhere, slowly.

      1. Jon, I don’t have the impression that you’d discard anything in its entirety simply because it’s pro-vaccine. You’re pro-vaccine yourself, aren’t you, generally?

        Orac himself concedes the fact that Goldman and Miller’s anti-vaccine activities are not in themselves a refutation of their work in this paper, and to suggest so would amount to an “ad hominem” attack. That’s why he goes on to deal with the substance of their arguments, and their questionable criteria for the selection of their data.

        I didn’t understand Orac as saying that Japan cherry-picked anything, but rather that Goldman and Miller cherry-picked national infant mortality data by selecting only the US and nations that have lower infant mortality rates. Why not include data from nations with both higher and lower rates than the US?

        Also, there seems to be no information in any of that infant mortality data about the percentage of deaths occuring prior to the first age of vaccination in all those nations. If they are largely prior to the age of first vaccination, then vaccination cannot conclusively be deemed the cause.

        Like you, I’m now completely in the dark about the correlation between vaccination in the first year of life and infant mortality stats.

        One thing I do now believe however (that I didn’t believe before I read the Orac paper) is that the Goldman and Miller “study” is so flawed as to be completely useless on this question.

  48. Some people are justified with being concerned over some vaccines but in our two party system of governance and only two sides to every issue society people fall into the trap of this issue of being all for or all against vaccines. I am a true believer in heard immunity and vaccines that are tried and true for serious diseases or illness. That being said there are a few vaccines I feel are unnecessary and carry more risk than benefit but are compulsory to enter into a mandatory education system.

    HPV was given to our daughter her freshman year at NU vaccine clinic. After finding out she didn’t follow up for the next two rounds of the vaccine. One of her friends was not so fortunate and has numerous conditions ever since that vaccination was given. All of her other girl friends are fine. Her mother has been unsuccessful trying to get some accountability for it ever since.

    An interesting piece

  49. I didn’t mean to infer that Japan was in the Orac article… just that their decline in their infant mortality rate happened/begun, coincidentally, right after they raised their minimum age for vaccinations. I am not in the dark about the minimum age for vaccinations. I’m a believer based on the information available and will not be swayed, easily. I am Pro Health. Vaccinations can be a tool leading to it, but like anything else they need to be used appropriately. The studies leading to the approval of many of these vaccinations are lacking and if anything should be, they should be more incremental. I am much more interested in those countries that have lower infant mortality rates than ours vs. those that are worse. I don’t need a larger sample size… I want lower infant mortality rates (now) and am rather impatient waiting when it becomes convenient for the powers to be, to get around to it.

    Pediatricians will turn away children who have not been vaccinated-
    “According to a national analysis conducted by an employee at the Vermont-based Physicians Computer Company (PCC), the majority of U.S. pediatricians will turn away patients who refuse to vaccinate their children. The findings come on the heels of California’s ongoing measles outbreak, which has renewed a broader dialogue over vaccine policy, making doctors’ approach to the issue a national concern.”

  51. The whole idea that Big Pharma can’t be trusted on the vaccine issue because it profits from vaccine production should be evaluated in the context of the history of vaccines from the mid-20th-century through the 1980s. Dr Paul Offit recounts this history in detail in his excellent book, “Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All.


    “The amount of money requested by plaintiffs increased exponentially from $25 million in 1981 (one year before Vaccine Roulette) to $414 million in 1982, $655 million in 1983, $1.3 billion in 1984, and $3.2 billion in 1985. In response, pharmaceutical companies increased the prices of their vaccines and scrambled to get liability insurance. In early 1982 DTP vaccine cost $0.12 per dose. In June 1983, the cost rose to $2.30; the next year, to $2.80. By 1985, the cost of one dose of DTP was $4.29, a thrity-five-fold increase in less than three years. Increased revenues didn’t offset the cost of awards. In 1984, the amoutn claimed in lawsuits exceeded DTP sales twentyfold. In 1985, despite a near doubling of the price, the damages claimed exceeded sales thirtyfold.

    “The result was predictable. Pharmaceutical companies abandoned vaccines. In 1960, seven cojmpanies made DTP. By 1982, only three remained.”

    By 1984, “Lederle eas the only company left standing.”

    A that point, the situation was considered desperate, and CDC officials and members of Congress began to look for ways to revive the industry. Doctors were urged to drop some of the stages of the DTP schedule, the idea being that some coverage was better than none at all.

    1. Like almost everybody, I’m fond of Bobby Kennedy because of his work as an environmentalist.

      That’s why it’s especially distressiong to hear him get a number of important
      scientific facts wrong in the statements he has made lately about vaccines.

      For instance, in support of PBEs (personal belief exemptions) he
      asserts that vaccination rates in California remain high (“91%” or
      above). That’s very misleading and completely glosses over the
      dangerous demographic pockets of high refusal rates, any one of which
      threatens the efficacy of herd immunity far beyond its boundaries.

      At River Springs Charter School in Temecula, California, nearly a
      QUARTER of the 556 kindergartners had personal belief exemptions this
      year. A THIRD of the kindergartners at the Visions in Education public
      school in Carmichael hold PBEs, as do 51 percent of kindergartners at
      Ocean Grove Charter School in Boulder Creek. At a handful of private
      schools, the PBE rate is 75 percent or more. It goes without saying
      that a measles outbreak in these communities could be devastating.

      From “California’s epidemic of vaccine denial, mapped”

      The recent resurgence of diseases nearly eradicated (like measles and
      pertussis) should make the danger of these increasing refusal rates

      RFKs recent intemperate remark about how there would be a “holocaust” if California passes SB277 removing the personal belief exemption is just another example of how untrustworthy an uninformed he has become on this subject.

      Here’s the latest study — this time involving 95,000 children — proving beyond any possible doubt that there’s absolutely no link between the MMR vaccine and autism:

      No autism-vaccine link, study finds

      Of course, the more overwhelming and conclusive the evidence, the more convinced the vaccine opponents are that such a link exists. In their minds, in the conflict between anecdotes and hard science, anecdotes prevail every time.

      1. You see Don by insisting you are correct you are engaged in INTELLECTUAL AUTHORITARIANISM, not to mention a liberal dose of misogyny and being a big bully, and demonstrating your support for the police state.

  52. We all really need to have discussions that don’t immediately devolve into opposing sides that filter all information to support a black or white conclusion, depending on the side. Once the emotions get a foothold we become so blind that useful points we might all agree on become invisible to us.

    I don’t know, but I think all sides might agree that mercury should be not used as a preservative and that vaccinations prevent plagues. We need to solve some of these problems instead of simply arguing about them. Arguing is an addiction and no good comes from it.

    1. I agree with you, Greg, about the importance of having discussions that aren’t driven primarily by emotional reactivity (aka “motivated reasoning”). That’s why I support the scientific method (with its emphasis on empirical data, structured dialog in the form of peer review, etc). The scientific method is one of the greatest social inventions of humankind.

      It’s worth pointing out, by the way, that the question of vaccine efficacy and safety is within the purview of the scientific method, unlike questions such as “Should genetic therapy be regulated” and “When does a fetus become a person with rights under the law?” and “Should immigrants be eligible for health benefits?” etc … questions which more properly fall within the overlapping realms of ethics, morals and politics.

      And, in fact, there’s a vast scientific consensus on the efficacy and risk/benefit ratio of vaccines, just as there’s a vast consensus on the subject of anthropogenic global warming.

      So, my suggestion for avoiding the morass of emotion-driven dialog is to simply repeat the facts as plainly as possible, at least on the subjects of vaccines and global warming (and all other subjects within the realm of scientific inquiry).

      Steve’s sarcasm above, I believe, refers to previous attempts he’s made to do just that — repeat the facts dispassionately — only to be met by the sorts of accusations he mock-accused me of. Steve, in my experience, is one of the sharpest minds on the planet. And he’s a person not inclined to lash out angrily in the midst of a discussion, unless he’s provoked … and then he gives as good as he gets. My respect for him has only increased over time.

      On the subject of mercury, I have to admit to some confusion and ignorance. I know that in certain forms and dosages, mercury is definitely a neurotoxin (Think: gold-mining). But its use in vaccines is not so clear. The following CDC page gives a timeline of the use of thimerosol in vaccines:

      Timeline: Thimerosal in Vaccines (1999-2010)

  53. We all agreed to that above a few months ago Greg….and the process of devolving into nonsense was played out months ago. I was merely reminding people about where it left off and at whose leadership.

  54. Let’s go back to the actual origin of this disagreement between Ms. Senum and me. Reinitiate posted an opinion piece in World Net Daily from:

    Dr. Lee Hieb is an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in spinal surgery. She is past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a free market medical organization and author of the new book “Surviving the Medical Meltdown: Your Guide to Living Through the Disaster of Obamacare.”


    Don read through the links embedded in Ms. Heib’s piece and pointed out that they have been rather roundly discredited by the medical community.

    I read through the links and did some looking at the sources and their standing in the research community, and found them severely wanting.

    I posted a satirical link implying that the SOURCE that Reinette cited was questionable, and that rather than accepting countervailing medical information she would deny the veracity and continue to BELIEVE what she believes. I posted that link because in previous posts and in her public persona I have noted this tenancy in Ms. Senum in a number of cases, not just related to vaccination. Perhaps comparing that to Mr. Smithers seeing pigs fly yet continuing to deny his promise was intentionally provocative, but the point is still valid. Those who chose to believe regardless of evidence are prone to continue to do do, one of the tenets of conspiratorial thinking that I later laid out.

    It was pointing out this intellectual inconsistency that led Ms. Senum to personalize the discussion and claim I was some sort of Intellectual authoritarian and bully, or questioning her character. My sin in Ms. Senums eyes is questioning sources, evidence, and the logical system she engages in to support her positions.

    Here was my repossess: “Reinette: you mistake questioning your conclusions with questioning your character; you mistake questioning the validity of those opinions with questioning your right to express those opinions; you mistake the fact that many people share your opinion with validation of those opinions; you mistake support for vaccination with blanket support for all western medical practices; and in my opinion you blur the lines that link leadership and responsibility.

    You intentionally put yourself in the position of prosthelytizing the anti-vaccine cause and by doing so you opened your opinions to examination. If they are found wanting it is a reflection of the opinions not the individual.”

    It is never bullying or authoritarian to seek supporting evidence, read sources, and question the veracity of a source when some one cites them….it is part of the rational process.

    1. Steve:

      Well said.

      Many, many years ago I read Eric Fromm’s “The Sane Society,” and never forgot this:

      “The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same form of mental pathology does not make these people sane.”

      I think I need to find the book and read it again. Timeless insight, for sure.

    2. World Net Daily? It’s no different then the Daily Caller, Infowars, NaturalNews. Totally worthless sources on any topic. But one find support for their preconceived opinions where they exist, not whether they’re worth a s**t.

  55. Steve, I just posted a very thorough piece written and researched by Robert Kennedy and you couldn’t help yourself, but make a snarky comment. As I have said in the past, until we get Wall Street out of the pharmaceutical industry as well as the government agencies that were originally designed to protect the American public, I think it only prudent to proceed with caution. Mandatory vaccinations is not this. There is plenty of supportive evidence that supports my perspective, however, you continue to ignore this and carefully select pieces to base your argument upon while ignoring everything else. The ‘nonsense’ that I was pointing to months ago is being supported by Robert Kennedy, but I’m sure his ‘character’ should be in question now too. I find it ironic that you continue to blast ‘the totalitarian nightmare’ now that vaccinations have been made mandatory in spite of a massive outcry by the public. THIS is the totalitarian nightmare we are referring to. I would imagine you will hold onto this same belief when mandatory vaccinations will be required by every adult…. which, btw, is in the pipeline.

  56. Reinette, you mistake me for someone who questioned your character, I did not such thing. I questioned your sources and the veracity of them.

    The fact that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is equally as misguided about the application of scientific method to a public policy issue as you, is not a defense of your position. I, like many rationalists, do not recognize shibboleths no matter the vaunted position of the source.

    You also mistake agreement for disagreement. I stated clearly above that if the scientific evidence points to dangers of using mercury as a preservative in vaccines, and an alternative or process that is equally as effective as mercury can be found, we should adopt it. That is entirely consistent with the position that Mr. Kennedy is making in the opening paragraphs of his opinion piece.

    Where you, and Mr. Kennedy, jump the shark is the rationale for your point that mercury is dangerous enough to be replaced without having identified a suitable alternative.

    1. The fact that the pharmaceutical industry is a trillion dollar industry, that vaccines are big business, and that they stand to make billions from producing vaccines, is absolutely irrelevant. The same industry makes neosporin, bandages, penicillin, and trusses, I don’t question the validity of using any of these merely because they are manufactured by a ‘business’.

    2. The fact the Merck is currently under investigation for problems with MMR studies does not support the mercury contention, because what Merck is under investigation for is unrelated to the effectiveness of mercury; the two cases are for a) the overall effectiveness of the vaccine, and b) monopolistic practices, respectively.

    3. The fact that CDC recommended 5 vaccines when Mr. Kennedy was a ‘boy’ and 14 vaccines today is not evidence of the expansion of any thing other than our knowledge of disease and our effectiveness combating it. For example, one of those five vaccines recommended when Mr. Kennedy was ‘a boy’ was probably not the polio vaccine, which was not authorized until 1962 and not recommended until 1963. Looking at the CDC historic schedules, we only recommended 5 vaccines up until 1963; thus he would need to be counting his boyhood as over in 1963, when he was 7 years old. Would we have refused the polio vaccine simply because we were becoming uncomfortable with the number of vaccines? Should we reject the HPV today because we think the number of vaccines is a problem?

    4. Mr. Kennedy appears to be a little behind on his review of scientific literature regarding the link between mercury and autism, or cherry-picking his data, since he makes the statement, ‘the best science suggests that thimerosal’s complete removal from vaccines is likely to prompt a significant decline in autism.” Yet while citing the ‘best science’ he is referring to, many of which I have read as well as read critiques of, he fails to cite the huge body of research that shows absolutely no link between autism and thimerosal. He also missed the study Don referred to above, which people watching this issue knew was coming for months.

    I could go on point by point.

    What Mr. Kennedy is guilty of is the same methodology you bring to a real discussion of competing scientific research, false selectivity.

    Once a scientific question has been asked and a hypothesis proposed, selectivity should be based on a) the existence of supporting peer reviewed evidence, b) the quality of the source, c) the ability to test the hypothesis by replicating results in independent analysis, c) the review of the replicated finding by peers, d) legitimate debate about the results and new testing based on new hypothesis.

    If that process shows mercery is dangerous and there is an alternative that improves vaccines without substantively reducing their effectiveness, so be it.

    The fact that you continue to frame this debate as questioning your character rather than questioning your data merely confirms to me that you are incapable of any real unbiased scientific method in your decision-making, thus the propensity for all kind of shark jumping conspiracy theories about how the world around you works.

    No shibboleths regardless of the size of the “following” has always been the rule I have lived my life by and that is not going to change because of the Kennedy name, nor the Senum one.

  57. Hi Reinette,

    I haven’t read this thread from the beginning.

    I think it would go a long ways in the discussion I see if you could acknowledge the extreme value of vaccines to our society. It is probably likely that you or I would not even have existed or would have succumbed to disease if not for vaccines.

    I have to say, though, that from natures point of view that probably would be a good thing. Humans are an out of control infestation if you ask me, and disease would have been a way to prevent that.

  58. BTW I think it is important to note that thimerosal is out of almost every US childhood vaccine and has been for almost 12 years. The last childhood vaccines with Thimerosal in them expired in 2003. Almost every use of thimerosal was removed by the CDC not because there was any evidence that it caused autism but because the unfounded fear that it caused autism was inhibiting parents from vaccinating their kids. There is no thimerosal in MMR vaccine.

    Thimerosal is present in some adult flu vaccines, and hepatitis B vaccine, and was present in childhood flu vaccines until the mid 2000’s.

    Yet Mr. Kennedy, in his USA Today editorial, continues to either intentionally or lazily confuse the two….he uses the terms autism and MMR close enough to each other to make the normal reader equate the two…when there has been no thimerosal in MMR since 2003 at the latest.

    So a first step to being believable would be to stop equating thimerosal in MMR vaccine to childhood autism occurring today, when exposure to thimerosal in vaccines could not possibly be the cause for any child younger than 15.

    The form of mercury in thimerosal is ethyl mercury not methyl mercury. They are two different compounds…for example you drink the ethyl alcohol when you have a glass of wine, you put methyl alcohol in your cars radiator.

    The very report that Mr. Kennedy points to to source his contention that ethyl mercury is more toxic and dangerous in the brain than methyl mercury is in fish does not use that analogy, and having just read the study, clearly states that ethyl mercury washed out of the blood at a much faster rate.

    It is a really big deal to be telling people that they should not use or allow their kids to use vaccines…the consequences could be death for the children or individuals making that decision…but more important it could mean death for the people exposed to the people who do not use vaccines, which is what makes this a public policy issue and where the power of the state to intervene in the interest of public health comes in.

    Thus when someone opens their comment on this issue with the statement, “…I am now vehemently against vaccinations ..” I think they should expect and welcome a few questions rather than acting like it is an attack on their character.

    1. Being Robert F. Kennedy Jr does not mean he doesn’t have some really large freaking blind spots in his world view. He’s just another person who happens to have a larger pulpit then many of the scientists who actually know what they’re talking about. People depend of the cult of celebrity to give themselves and others unwarranted credibility on subjects they know very little about. But no matter what the “fact’s” are, one is not going to change the opinions of people who are deeply invested and intrenched in their pre-digested world view. HAARP, black helicopters, chem trails, Fema camps, false flags. Facts mean very little to too many people.

  59. Such an interesting discussion.

    Does anyone have a position on why autism is on the increase?

    Something from Wikipedia:

    Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy, especially heavy metals and particulates, may increase the risk of autism.[56] Environmental factors that have been claimed to contribute to or exacerbate autism, or may be important in future research, include certain foods, infectious diseases, solvents, diesel exhaust, PCBs, phthalates and phenols used in plastic products, pesticides, brominated flame retardants, alcohol, smoking, illicit drugs, vaccines,[17] and prenatal stress,[57] although no links have been found, and some have been completely disproven.

    Parents may first become aware of autistic symptoms in their child around the time of a routine vaccination. This has led to unsupported theories blaming vaccine “overload”, a vaccine preservative, or the MMR vaccine for causing autism.[58] The latter theory was supported by a litigation-funded study that has since been shown to have been “an elaborate fraud”.[59] Although these theories lack convincing scientific evidence and are biologically implausible,[58] parental concern about a potential vaccine link with autism has led to lower rates of childhood immunizations, outbreaks of previously controlled childhood diseases in some countries, and the preventable deaths of several children.[60][61]

  60. All, I’m getting ready to head out of the country so I don’t have time to repeat what I have already written. I have clearly stated that I am ‘vehemently against vaccinations’ until we have redress in our courts, regulatory agencies that are not corrupt, the government oversight that is due every American, and the removal of Wall Street from the pharmaceutical industry. Read my posts from above if you don’t get it. I’ll let Kennedy take it from here. This should answer a lot of your questions if you still don’t understand my position:

  61. The worst thing that Robert Kennedy has said — because it is both ignorant and vile — is his repeated statement that Dr. Paul Offit is a “biostitute,” apparently because he has made money from his role as the co-inventor of the rotovirus vaccine, a vaccine which has arguably saved the lives of millions of children. In the meantime, Kennedy is poised — by his ignorant campaign against vaccinations — to cost the lives of who-knows-how-many children.

    Offit is the “Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology, Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.”

    I’ve communicated wsith Offit (by email) and I know that he’s proud of his role as co-inventor of the rotovirus vaccine. He feels that the profit issue is irrelevant, and I agree with him.

    Rotavirus vaccines, potential to save 2.4 million lives

    1. Kennedy is dangerous because there are so many people — too many people — who will uncritically agree with him not because what he says about vaccines makes sense, but because — simply — he is Robert Kennedy. That makes his credulous uncritical followers dangerous too.

    2. Don,
      Public interest/ welfare is what our government should be promoting not profits, so it is relevant.
      Lets stick to the vaccination theme here. Jonas Salk vaccine was done in the public interest/ welfare, correct. Profiting off of what should be humanitarian acts through mandatory vaccines has red flag written all over it. It might be the next best thing to vegan, gluten free, locally grown, sprouted sliced bread(ha ha) but when the perception of corruption is present whether real or not there is a major problem. I wish the attacks would stop coming towards those who are pointing this out and would focus more on those who have created the atmosphere where that perception is allowed to flourish.

      Some examples off the top of my head

      1) TSA body scanners
      2) Clean Water Act exemption for fracking
      2) Medicare Part D (whole damn thing)
      3) The numerous conflicts of interest between political parties and the war industry and our foreign relation policies
      4) Health Insurance Industry being exempt from Anti Trust laws
      5) Bailing out Big Banks instead of breaking them up or nationalizing them

      1. “Profiting off of what should be humanitarian acts through mandatory vaccines has red flag written all over it. It might be the next best thing to vegan, gluten free, locally grown, sprouted sliced bread(ha ha) but when the perception of corruption is present whether real or not there is a major problem. I wish the attacks would stop coming towards those who are pointing this out and would focus more on those who have created the atmosphere where that perception is allowed to flourish.”

        Seriously Ben, we live in a capitalist system, whether we want to or not, and people develop new drugs and procedures based at least partly on a desire to profit from it. They may also be motivated by humanitarianism, and failing to see that people can be motivated by both simultaneously is kind of naive.

        Altruism and profit are not inherently inconsistent.

        Let’s take Jonas Salk as an example: he did not patent the polio vaccine, but his rationale was only partly altruism. He is famously quoted as saying, “could you patent the sun?” The truth is his vaccine depended so much on prior research, public funding and team work that a patent would have been almost impossible to defend. But he did become an international celebrity, almost all of his future work was funded through the Salk Institute he founded without question, he made a lot of money in speaking fees, and he became a best selling author.

        Anecdotally he used to frequent a restaurant in La Jolla I was the chef at and he was one of the nicest people I ever met; but make no mistake, he was quite wealthy, and I believe, deservedly so.

    3. I just couldn’t help myself….. I’m floored by what you are saying, Don. Offit is proud of his role? He thinks billions of dollars in profit is irrelevant? Are you serious? Really. Floored. I think your friendship with Offit has really blurred your vision. Now things are making sense. This is a massive, massive conflict of interest…. and he is not alone. He is one of many. That’s the whole point. He should never, ever have been given that position in the first place.

      Really. Now I’m packing my bags. Back in a couple of weeks.

      1. What “friendship” with Offit? Don sent him one e-mail and received what he described as a terse response.

        I am forced to return to an initial point I made that you so vociferously objected to Reinitiate; this entire thing has more to do with your inherent suspicion of anything that has a profit motive than it does the actual science behind the decisions.

      2. Steve,
        You’re right, we live in a capitalist economic system. Didn’t we live in a capitalist economic system in the 1950’s. We are supposed to live in a democratic republic governing system as well. I don’t remember industry profits being part of the US Constitution or the American people approving or voting on it either. Just look around the world capitalism is turning out to be not such a good thing on so many levels, especially crony capitalism that is rampant. FDA is a captured agency just like USDA and others. Getting an FDA stamp of approval isn’t what it once was.

        I think we can agree that it has been proven over and over again saving costs for businesses is common. Once a vaccine becomes approved do you think there are subsidiaries involved in the manufacturing? Could or would a business cut corners(more efficiency is the preferred term) to improve profit? Isn’t that the profit motive at work? If caught what happens, a fine.

        I can give you plenty of examples of medications that were approved that caused massive damage and death but that might be considered anecdotal. So I will concentrate on the FDA lack of actual regulatory teeth in recent years.

        Here is an article about the FDA you might find interesting. It is written by Journalism Professor Charles Seife.

        Are Your Medications Safe?
        The FDA buries evidence of fraud in medical trials. My students and I dug it up.

        Here is another from Center for Science in the Public Interest

        FDA Fails to Protect Americans from Dangerous Drugs and Unsafe Foods

      3. Wow Ben, I could not have made the case that the ideological antipathy to vaccines is a case of an inherent belief in the corruption of capitalism, rather than a science based analysis of the pros and cons of various vaccines, better than you just did.

        Like Reinette, you mistake my statement that she is motivated by an inherent distrust of capitalism as a defense of the inherent altruism of capitalism, which it most decidedly is not.

        To characterize my point as a defense of capitalism being inherently altruistic is to engage in the logical fallacy of the “straw man,” by misrepresenting my argument to make it easier to critique.

        I think to make this case we must look at the definition of inherent, which is, “existing in something as a permanent, essential, or characteristic attribute.”

        I do not believe that capitalism (or any economic system) is either inherently corrupt or inherently altruistic; they are human systems and subject to the same diversity of motivations, foibles, error and altruism any human system is prone to. I believe that an ‘efficiency’ could just as easily be a new procedure that improves effectiveness and lowers cost as it could be a corruption that puts people lives at risk. The proof is in the specific case.

        That is why we have agencies like the FDA, to act as a check and balance against the human flaws in the system, and protect the public from excesses that can risk public health, and ensure that corruptions are not inherent; which does not mean that they do not exist. One could look at the 600 cases cited where the FDA busted food and drug makers for falsifying data as a failure of the system, or as proof the system works. To really make that determination it would take a lot more data than Slate provided, and it would require that Slate not engage in logical fallacy as well; for example, the fact that the FDA recused the names of the offenders before they took formal action against them is a standard protection in every regulatory framework.

        I also found it fascinating that to prove the case of corruption at the CDC you cited an example of purported corruption at the FDA. Of course the CDC and the FDA are two entirely different agencies, so how corruption at one equates to corruption at the other is beyond me. This is also a logical fallacy, the fallacy of “composition/division” because it assumes that what is purportedly true about one part of a thing is de facto true about all or other parts of a thing.

        But I really find it interesting that you cited the FDA case because it really demonstrates how you fall prey to other logical fallacies. To equate all scientific research to corrupt motives simply because there is evidence that some scientific research has corrupt motives is essentially a return to the Dark Ages. The scientific peer review process is designed specifically to ferret out ‘motives’. Thus to use the FDA as proof against the CDC is also the logical fallacy known as “false equivalency.”

        When cases made by people begin to resemble a layer cake of logical fallacies, I begin to question their thought process.

        Instead of using anecdotal (there it is) examples of general corruption to prove specific corruption, I used the links in the paid advertisement (irony noted) in the USA Today for the book and film “Trace Amounts” to track down the three studies of corruption at the CDC cited by Mr. Kennedy. I read most of all three last night.

        Although they are not pretty, none of the three cite specific examples of corruption in the testing or approval process for any specific vaccine. They expose faults in the storage and transport of vaccines, cases where CDC officials shared more data than they should have regarding vaccines with outside entities, cases where schools have not properly implemented the vaccine program, cases where vaccine studies were delayed or incomplete, and cases where some have claimed the CDC falsified data but that under investigation were shown to be standard medical investigative practice such as requiring proof of residency for study subjects in a specific geographic area.

        In short none of the three studies either identify any specific corruption or cite a case where that corruption led to the approval of a harmful vaccine or approval of a vaccine that did not go through the very rigorous national or international peer review process.

        To be clear, I am not some accolade of a free market unregulated system; I believe we must regulate, that we should use regulatory market signals to punish bad and reward good behavior, that governments should invest in basic research, when basic research makes breakthroughs we the people should own the patents, and that we should have a regulatory agency that is vigorous in its pursuit of corruption, regardless of motivation. I believe I have demonstrated that philosophy time and again here. I also spend a good deal of my time trying to improve regulated systems so they are more fair, more transparent and more accessible to both the regulated and the general public.

        The problem I have with your case, and have had in the past with a number of the cases you have made, is that they are essentially absolutist positions.

        Yes, people should be more motivated by humanitarianism; yes, people should be altruistic; yes, we should get money out of both politics and drug approval processes; yes, we should fund basic research and not depend solely upon big Pharma to do so.

        But that is not the real world we live in; to think it could be the world we live in by merely wishing it so is to be a Pollyanna; and, in the mean time, while we are awaiting perfection, a lot of people are going to live, die, and make decisions about what is best for their families. Stomping our feet and exclaiming, “It should not be so” is not going to change it, which is why in one of my very first posts I identified a number of things that sincere reformers of the drug approval process are working on to improve the system.

        Life is both Hobbesian, nasty, short and brutish, and enlightened, punctuated by brief, shining moments of goodness, beauty, and altruism.

      4. Steve,
        My examples of agency capture are a general reference of how our political parties are in cahoots with the very industries they are supposed to be regulating. Not just the FDA but just about all of them. Why do think there is such a big push to get windows put in place between lobbying and legislative offices? Because there is no problem, I don’t think so. There is a massive problem and you just like myself are stuck on your own ideological position and refuse to budge despite things moving in the wrong direction overall with small positives in a sea of negatives, if we are talking about a democratic form of governing that is. Let me get this straight Steve, since we are pushing back against mandatory injections/ vaccines that alter our bodies at systemic levels that deal with immunity, neurotransmitters, and hormones you consider us as being absolutists instead of using precautionary principle. That is as an ideological position as anything. I don’t blindly trust large institutions, governments, or corporations since transparency of their motives are hidden behind massive amounts of bureaucracy, doublespeak, and corruption. Before trusting these huge decision making bodies who would like to force us to inject life altering material into our bodies I want to know it is safe and in the public interests first and foremost. I don’t think they have done that sufficiently and therefore should not have the power to mandate these injections onto people who do not want to take them.

      5. Jesus Ben you don’t understand the ‘precautionary principle’ do you? There is direct and clear proof that vaccination saves lives, and no proof that vaccines harm children in anything approaching the level of lives saved. The precautionary principle proves MY point.

      6. You know what Ben, reading your response it is almost as if you did not even read my post.

        Yes Ben, I know your answers are ‘general’, that is what makes them valueless in helping to make a decision. No Ben, I don’t support business corrupting vaccine approval processes, but if you want to make that case you need to have some actual evidence.

        That is OK, when someone so completely deconstructs the flaws in your logic I would not expect anything other than the same pat response.

        To humorously paraphrase a classic quote, “I cannot forecast for you the mind of Ben. It is a fallacy, wrapped in a belief, inside a comfortable old meme.”

  62. Again, I’m just reading what has recently been posted.

    On Reinette’s link to the Maher show Kennedy is making the point that the selection process for vaccines is flawed because there is so much money in it. He is not arguing against vaccines. That sounds reasonable. Locally I can personally attest to a serious problem with prescription meds being overprescribed because, I presume, there is so much money in it. This is a concern and it, frankly, really pisses me off because it makes helping these people get the lives back after drug addiction that much harder.

    1. But Kennedy’s case is based on the rise of neurological disorders in children which he claims are linked to Thimerosal (mercury), and he fails to point out that almost all mercury has been eliminated in childhood vaccines sine 2000….if they were the cause of AHSD and ASD then the incidents of those disorders would have gone down correct? They have not.

      Believe me I am no fan of the pharmaceutical companies but going after them for a false flag is actually counter-productive. If the case is we ‘over-prescribe’ medication then address that issue.

      1. Hi Steve,

        I brought up over prescription of medications as my window on the need for drug reforms. Something is very wrong with the system if the developer of a drug, with a financial interest in it, can vote to authorize its use. This is no less than “the fox guarding the henhouse.”

  63. The line between our government and industry has been blurred or completely erased at this point creating a justified skepticism of its motives.

    I am not anti vaccine but am anti force. We only have one body and be forced to inject bacteria/ viruses whether they be live or synthetic into our bodies seems flat out wrong. I was vaccinated and both of our kids were vaccinated but that doesn’t mean things haven’t changed. I am concerned with the quality, necessity, and always who is going to profit monetarily from these forced injections? I know my daughters last round of boosters, which I was told about last minute had the HPV as part of the series. I would have 100% objected to this but it wasn’t really explained at the clinic. Again I was told last minute and we showed up stood in line and were told she needed some standard boosters and that was it. As you can expect I was pissed and she didn’t get the follow up injections. Since when did vaccines become about preventing cancer? What does that have to do with herd immunity?

    1. The HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine became about preventing cancer when we identified that the HPV virus, which can be present in numerous forms, causes cervical cancer. There are few places where we can prove that a specific virus causes a specific cancer, but this is one. It has nothing to do with herd immunity. It is a specific virus that causes a specific cancer.

      1. 90% of those(male and female) who are infected with one of the 30 different types of HPV don’t even realize it and their bodies take care of it naturally.

        Do you think the HPV vaccine should be automatically part of the series at a general vaccine booster clinic to girls entering into high school?

        If yes, where do we stop at trying to secure ourselves/ children against possible future health risks?

        How about obesity and diabetes, I know there has to be some medications/ vaccines that would manipulate the pituitary/ hypothalmus/ thyroid on the shelf or on the horizon that can be administered to slow the type II diabetes epidemic happening across the US.

        If no, can you see how this mandatory law could lead to a vaccination spike and it becoming out of control in a political system the goes to the highest bidder?

      2. Yes Ben, and 10% become aware of it, and some percentage of those die from cervical cancer. Since 13,000 women per year get cervical cancer, and 4,000 die from it every year, and we know the vaccine is very effective, I would vaccinate my daughter if I had one.

        I think that when we have a specific vaccine that targets a specific cancer, and it has proved to almost 100% effective, we should require vaccination in children, unless there is a specific exemption for cause. It should be added to the schedule if it is not already (which it is not in some states).

        Obesity and diabetes are believed to be primarily behavioral caused diseases, and as such I would support education to reduce incidents; however, if we were to find a vaccine that reduces the likelihood of incidents of obesity and diabetes I would support using it.

        There is that “highest bidder” logical fallacy again; you go lead the revolution, I ain’t waiting for the revolution.

      3. Alright Steve,
        We are finally getting somewhere. You would choose to give your daughter the HPV vaccine. That’s fine but my wife and I would not. What happens when it becomes part of the mandatory vaccinations? Do parents become criminals because they don’t agree? Do people need to lie and forge medical documents or just withdraw their kids from school and break the law that way? I shifted my language from we to parents/ they because both or kids are now adults in their 20’s.

        “There is that “highest bidder” logical fallacy again; you go lead the revolution, I ain’t waiting for the revolution.”

        You’re right Steve I’ll keep trying to get the political revolution and you continue tuning the instruments in small increments as the ship is sinking. As I have ask with people in labor on their reluctance to get on board with political spending restrictions, do you think it is a smart and winning strategy that your $100-$150 million political spending will compete with the $600- $900 million that will be spent from the corporate side?

        “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” -Upton Sinclair

        When in Rome, right Steve.

      4. Lets be clear Ben, you are choosing the one place where you could choose not to vaccinate, and, depending upon the behavior of your daughter, she might be just fine.

        In no other case of a vaccine is that true.

        There is a compelling states interest that affects public safety in having you daughter immunized.

        So my contention is that if your daughter wants wants to attend a public school or mix with large groups of people in any way, and does not have a specific medical reason to not be immunized, she should be required to be immunized.

        That is not ‘finally getting somewhere” I made that clear in the beginning.

  64. There is just so much that is wrong with what Robert Kennedy said on Bill Maher, but before we go there lets actually just say how ludicrous it is to say, “I’m correct, and as proof I am going to point you to a 10 minute clip of RFK Jr. on Bill Maher promoting his new book and movie.”

    Seriously, the burden of leadership is to be thoughtful and thorough.

    But let’s go to what was wrong in the clip:

    1) Once again RFK Jr. fails to make any distinction between ethyl mercury and methyl mercury. He is playing on people’s fear of mercury without making a dissection about what kind of mercury and at what levels.
    2) Once again, RFK Jr. claims corruption, but fails to cite any evidence that due to corruption a vaccine that was either ineffective or dangerous was approved.
    3) Once again RFK Jr. uses the “when I was a boy we have 5 vaccinations” argument, as though the number of vaccines on the schedule going from 5 to 16 is some sort of evidence of recklessness by the CDC.
    4) RFK Jr, makes the charge that the NIH and WHO are ‘controlled by’ the CDC; I know people personally who work at the NIH who would disagree with that, but regardless of my anecdotal information, no studies
    5) RFK Jr. makes the charge that the increase in the number of diagnosed cases of ADHD and ASD after 1989 is de facto evidence that vaccines are the cause; but that is also the year we changed the screening processes to identify ASD, and instituted the Autism Diagnostic Interview, diagnosis before 1989 was unreliable. We did not have a widely accepted for screen for ADHD until 2000. These disorders causes have not been in any way conclusively identified, and most scientists studying them agree are probably a combination of multiple factors, genetic and environmental. He states that the ‘science is virtually unanimous’ about the link between Thimerosal and neurological disorders, but that is clearly not the case.
    6) RFK Jr. states that he can tell the difference between ‘real’ science and ‘junk’ science; if that is the case why doesn’t he specifically identify the junk science?

    I will let Don’s comments about attacking Dr. Paul Offit’s research and drug patent address that issue.

  65. Steve,
    In your own words what is the distinction between ethyl mercury and methyl mercury when it pertains to vaccines and please explain the scientific properties why it matters?

    1. Sure Ben, the biggest difference, besides the point that they are different chemical compounds, is that ethyl mercury does not bio-accumulate, and has weak bonding properties, thus it clears from the blood stream and body tissue in about two weeks after exposure, thus its toxicity and the opportunity to trigger other health issues is presumably much lower than methyl mercury.

      Methyl mercury bioaccumulates and has very strong bonding properties, particularly with proteins, which means it not only bioaccumulates but it crosses over into amino acids and proteins which allows it to affect a much wider range of human cells. There is a very strong body of evidence that exposure to methyl mercury causes neurological disorders and loss of cognitive function.

      No such body of evidence of the link between exposure and cognitive dysfunction exists for ethyl mercury.

      But once agin, let me be the first to agree that if we do not need ethyl mercury in vaccines to act as a preservative, fine, then lets get rid of it, which we have already done in children vaccines.

      The problem I have with this entire debate is that people like Reinette and RFK Jr. are using fear of ‘mercury’ to cast doubt on all vaccines, even the ones that do not contain mercury (which right now are only Hepatitis B and flu vaccines for adults).

      1. Thanks Steve,
        So now that is out of the debate lets focus on the real issue here, the vaccines being mandatory.

        What are the actual numbers of people refusing to MMR vaccinate their children with having the exemptions in place? 1%, 2%, 5%. Lets say 100% of these are people actually deliberately not giving the vaccines to their children. What is their main concerns? If 100% is necessary wouldn’t you think addressing these concerns would be a better way of getting to that number? I do. Forcing people to do something has proven to be a losing strategy many times in the past.

      2. As sourced above by Nelson, according to the Nevada County public health officer, “Last year, only 73% of children entering kindergarten in the county were fully immunized. In some cases parents were unable to get the shots for their kids. But 17% opted out of vaccination claiming an exemption based on personal belief. As a result, Milman says Nevada county doesn’t have ‘community immunity.’

  66. Reinitiate, you previously said, “I don’t believe capitalism is inherently corrupt” Yet your rationale for opposing vaccination is corruption due to the profit motive. How do you square these two positions?

  67. Reinette:

    Steve’s right. I have no friendship with Offit. I cc’d Offit when I emailed Thom Hartmann complaining that Hartmann allowed Robert Kennedy to repeat his slanderous remarks about Offit on his radio program, without giving Offit a chance to defend himself. Offit replied thanking me for defending him, and indicated his willingness to be interviewed by Hartmann. Apparently (based on a subsequent query I sent Offit) Hartmann never offered him equal time, despite his (Hartmann’s) oft-repeated boast that he doesn’t like to attack people behind their backs, without giving them an equal chance to defend themselves.

    I’m disappointed that you assume that if I did have a friendship with Offit, that it would screw-up my ability to think rationally about vaccines.

    Truly, if I had the choice, I’d vote for the US to become a socialist utopia, including the nationalization of all human goods that should be part of the commons, such as water, power, most infrastructure (like highways), post-office, education, police and fire departments, etc, and … human health. I’d be happy to have the government take over all manufacture of pharmaceuticals.

    But, since we don’t live in that world yet, Offit worked within the world in which we do live to help co-create the rotovirus vaccine, which will ultimately be credited with saving the lives of millions of children. Should he have asked all those children to just be patient and wait until we become a socialist paradise?

    What does Offit have to be ashamed of?

    We live in bizarre upside-down world in which a culture hero like Bobby Kennedy (whom I admire in many ways) has more influence — mostly bad on this subject, probably leading to the deaths of many children — than a dedicated physician.scientist like Offit, who will probably live forever in obscurity (except for Kennedy’s smearing of him) despite the fact that Offit’s work on Earth will probably save millions of lives.

    Many vaccine opponents frame their refusal as a matter of individual freedom.

    Every freedom has some cost associated with it. The question is, “Who pays?”

    Who pays for the freedom to refuse enjoyed by the opponents of vaccines?

    Who pays for your freedom to refuse?

    In this case, it’s clear that the people who pay are the immuno-compromised, the statistical minority whose vaccinations were less than 100% effective, children too young to be vaccinated, etc.

    That’s not the just world I’m working for.

    1. By the way, I support your right to refuse vaccinations, and would oppose any legislation that threatens that right. I would hope, rather, to persuade you to do what’s right.

      On the other hand, I would support legislation (like SB277) that would require school-age children to be vaccinated as a prerequisite to being admitted to public and private schools.

      It sounds like California legislators are weighing everyone’s rights by extending their consideration of SB277 with the hope of incorporating support for more schooling options (such as homeschooling) for the children of vaccine refusers. This is a very rational approach. Parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated should exercise their rigfht to conduct homeschooling, where their children are less of a risk to the public at large.

  68. I got curious and read some of Robert Kennedy latest book (“Thimerosol: Let the Science Speak … “). It turns out that in his book Kennedy does deal with the distinction between emthyl-mercury and methyl-mercury, but then argues (in contrast to the scientific consensus) that they are not essentially different in their toxicity … that all mercury is toxic and can cause neurological problems in trace amounts.

    The book is copiously annotated and footnoted and appears to be heavily science-based. But how good is the science and how credible are the citations?

    The following gives a clue:

    Helmuth …fact-checked a couple of Kennedy’s contentions. In particular, he named one scientist whom he claimed had admitted to him that thimerosal “destroys kids brains.” According to Helmuth, who didn’t print the person’s name so as to not “spread the defamation”:

    I asked the scientist about their conversation. She said there is in fact no evidence that thimerosal destroys children’s brains, and that she never said that it did.

    Kennedy also named another scientist whom he claimed had conceded flaws in thimerosal research. Again, Helmuth:

    I talked to the scientist, who would prefer I not use his name because he gets death threats from unhinged anti-vaxxers. He said, “Kennedy completely misrepresented everything I said.”

    That’s pretty bad. Yet after dissembling on one point after another, Kennedy still had the nerve to tell Helmuth that it is journalists who won’t pursue the truth about vaccines and autism because they are scared of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and won’t read scientific papers.

    This isn’t the first time Kennedy has spouted conspiracy theories about how the CDC and pretty much the entire modern medical establishment have lied and covered up data in order to hide a link between childhood vaccines and autism. In reality, there is no proof of such a connection, but Kennedy has advanced his theory for years, most infamously in a 2005 article for Rolling Stone and Salon. The article was subject to a laundry list of corrections and clarifications, and Salon eventually retracted it altogether.

    From this article in the Colmbia Journalism Review:

    Don’t pick up!
    “RFK, Jr. talks journalists’ ears off with his vaccine conspiracy theory

  69. Here — in a comment following the article cited below — is a fascinating and very telling anecdote about one non-vaccinating family:

    “I think I may have shared this story here, but I’ll share it again. This one person I know who used to work at a busy family practice had a non-vaccinating family as patients. The mom and dad in the family had been told that they were welcomed to bring their kids to the practice with one caveat: They had to call before they came in so that they would not go into the waiting room and go in the back door and into the far rear room, which also had negative pressure to it. The practice did not want to risk measles or chickenpox in the waiting area because there were several children being seen there who had immune deficiencies. (One had leukemia and was being treated. I forget what the other two had.)

    “On more than one occasion, the mother showed up with the five unvaccinated children (ages toddler to second grader) into the waiting room and to the front desk. She didn’t call or put masks on the kids. One of those times, she brought in the children because SHE HAD TAKEN THEM TO A CHICKENPOX PARTY AND THEY WERE FEVERISH. I wish I was joking.

    “The family was discharged from the practice for failing to follow the simple instruction of calling ahead and being seen away from the waiting room. They complained over and over but to no avail. The practice was well within its right to do this after the family had been warned several times. Because the community where this happened is close-knit (with only one other family practice and one pediatric practice), the family had to travel 15 miles up the road to the next town. None of the other practices in town would take them, except for emergencies.

    “My friend in the practice sent me a letter that the mother wrote on why she didn’t vaccinate. (All identifying info was blacked out, of course.) It really is something to see. All the typical anti-vaccine stuff is in there, with citations to whale, AoA, NaturalNews, and Mercola, of course. Rarely did she cite CDC or WHO, and only to point out that vaccines worked by showing that there were no cases of polio or measles and that other vaccine-preventables were on the decline. Of course, she never acknowledged the roles of vaccines in that little miracle.

    “So, no, the people who get fired from practices for not doing the bare minimum to take care of their children are not “thinkers”. They’re sheep. They’re the worst kind of sheep because they are ignorant AND they think they know better. I have more respect for blind followers than for blind preachers.”

    From “Pediatricians versus the Dunning-Kruger effect on vaccines

  70. Really? Posting (or re-posting) this story is really grasping for straws. All sides of an issue have their village idiots. To characterize those against vaccines as sheep is kind of humorous. However ludicrous their reasons/information for their opinions, they aren’t choosing to follow the herd. For many of us I think that we have plenty of reasons to question the validity of many vaccines, their use protocols and the companies making more profit off Americans than pretty much anywhere else in the world.

    1. Jon: I can appreciate why you’d complain about that reader comment I quoted above, since I didn’t directly include the context for his comment (the article itself). I did provide the link to the article, but you would have had to read the article to get that context (and considering your negative reaction to that comment, I’m not surprised you didn’t bother).

      The article focused closely on a unique subset of anti-vaxxers who exhibit what the author calls the “Dunning-Kruger Effect,” (” … a cognitive bias wherein unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than is accurate.”) In particular the article focused on an anti-vaxx blog called “The Thinking Moms’ Revolution” wherein the particpants regularly deride science-based medicine and crow about their superior understanding by referring to fringe “authorities” like Mercola, etc.

      Given that context — which in no way applies to you, as i understand what you’ve posted here before — I wholeheartedly agree with the negative comment.

      I don’t understand what straws you think I’m grasping for. I’m not desperate to characterize all anti-vaxxers as “village idiots” (and I agree there are always a few). Rather, many (if not most) anti-vaxxers are dangerously misinformed. And the “thinking moms” appear to be both dangerously misinformed and proud of it.

      I didn’t use the word “sheep.” The problem is much more nuanced that that.

      In any case, I find nothing about the whole debate funny at all, as this recent excerpt from a SacBee op-ed shows:

      “”Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, the pediatrician who has co-authored Senate Bill 277, has been called a child killer, depicted as Hitler and has endured photos of his home being posted on Facebook, with his home phone number and address … Pan has small children. Last week, opponents of SB 277 filed recall papers against him.”

      From “Pass vaccination bill quickly and end this ugly fight

      1. Yes, the commenter used the word “sheep” but applied it only to the Dunning-Kruger afficted.

        When it comes to the scientifically-established efficacy of herd immunity, it is indeed much smarter to follow the herd.

      2. Maybe you should have posted the article vs. the readers comment? Posts like the readers comment will lead some to believe that most/many of the Anti vaccine crowd are like this mother. There are many of us that aren’t necessarily anti vaccine but see way too much room for improvement with protocols, etc.. It seems we that fit somewhere in the middle of the issue far too often get placed with anti- vaxxers, conveniently.

  71. Jon, your dismissal of the above article is truely perverse. It’s no more “grasping for straws” then your statements about The Union improving. Now THAT’S grasping for straws. But we all see the world through our own filters. Some filters, however, are more smudged and opaque then others.

  72. I don’t know Jon. It’s hard not to lump all anti-vaxxers together — as unfair as that may seem to you — as a significant fringe group that is mostly reponsible for the recurrence of many diseases we had nearly eradicated. Pertusses, measles, chicken pox … what’s next, polio? And that’s all because it takes only a small minority of vaccine refusers to destroy herd immunity for those diseases that need a 90+% compliance rate to be effective.

    As far as that commenter’s anecdote is concerned — about the woman who continued to disregard community values by ignoring the doctor’s conditions for treating her vaccine refusal family — she deserves all the reprobation we can dish out. It’s just absolutely unconscionable.

  73. Don,
    Pro vaccers are either ignoring one humongous factor or have a very significant blind spot. Being mandated to inject a foreign substance into a persons body(especially a baby) is a very dangerous precedent. Blindly following directions/orders is very dangerous as history has proven over and over.
    I was vaccinated and both of our kids were vaccinated. It wasn’t until our youngest entered into high school did we first opt out of a vaccination that wasn’t mandated but was having to be opted out for young girls. Under a mandate system our daughter would have had to have the complete series of HPV vaccines that have been proven to be not so good.

    1. Ben:

      Speaking of blind spots, be careful about what you read on the Internet. Here’s Snopes on Harper:

      “In a 2012 peer-reviewed article about Cervarix, Dr. Harper states that “Cervarix is an excellent choice for both screened and unscreened populations due to its long-lasting protection, its broad protection for at least five oncogenic HPV types, the potential to use only one-dose for the same level of protection, and its safety.” Again, she speculates that cervical cancer screening may be just as useful, but nowhere does she recommend that the vaccine not be used, that it’s safety profile is unacceptable, or that the vaccine cannot prevent cancer. In fact, she recommends expanding the guidelines for HPV vaccines for older women because as they age, they are more susceptible to other serotypes of HPV, against which Cervarix confers protection. She also states that Cervarix may also have a protective effect against some autoimmune disorders. This does not sound like a researcher who is losing sleep about the HPV vaccine, but who fully supports its use, with some exceptions.

      Dr. Diane Harper is one of the leading researchers in biomedical science, an individual who has spent her life studying vaccines. She has the academic training and research credibility at a level that if she said “Gardasil is dangerous,” many of us would stand up and begin to wonder. But the facts are she has not said anything of the sort about Gardasil and Cervarix. In peer-reviewed articles published in important, high impact journals, she has given strong, but scientifically qualified, endorsements to HPV vaccines. These are the facts. Any other allegations about her lack of support for vaccinations is based on misinformation, disinformation and lies.”

      From “On Gardasil

  74. Don,
    I use and read global research all the time. That article had nothing to do with our decision not to HPV vaccinate our daughter in 2009. So please don’t make it about the article. In our parental opinion it wasn’t needed. This has nothing to do with the links or information this has to do with being forced to have an invasive procedure done. So please comment on blindly following directions/ orders. As human beings we should have the power to say I do not want that injected into my body or my child’s body.

  75. Ben:

    Thanks for the clarification of your decsion-making process as parents. You certainly have the right to use whatever combination of reason and emotion you choose.

    As parents of grown children, we too have had to do much the same. We do try to make our decisions — especially our medical decisions about vaccinations — as science-based as possible, with special attention to all the known facts about risks vs benefits.

  76. Don,
    From what I can tell, the benefits of HPV vaccines are minimal at best and the risks associated with it are just as likely to happen. So we opted out after the first shot. The fact we were misled
    about which vaccines were given didn’t help and is what prompted me to look up the vaccine. I girl our daughter went to school all the way through 8th grade and who is a close family friend had a very negative response to the vaccines given that day. So bad that she had to drop out of school and to this day has some major issues. Her mother has joined a class action lawsuit. This family owns a business in Penn Valley and had two older children that went through the same system and vaccines, except the HPV that was being introduced between the oldest daughter and our daughters age.

    I am sure you are familiar with the Milgram experiment.

    I am not against vaccines I am against them being forced onto people who do not want their children to receive the vaccines.

  77. From the Grand Jury report it seems Charter Schools opt out more by far, and have made Nevada County number one on another list –
    According to the report, Nevada County’s public health agencies “appear to be prepared for an infectious diseases outbreak,” but low vaccination rates in Nevada County “create the potential for infectious disease outbreaks.”

    “The Nevada County Grand Jury found these organizations have managers who are knowledgeable and dedicated to providing a high-level of response for any infectious disease,” the report’s summary states. “Additionally, these organizations have numerous well-developed emergency plans that clearly identify roles and responsibilities for handling such crises.

    “The Nevada County Health and Human Services Agency noted childhood diseases are a serious concern. Their records show Nevada County has the lowest statewide percentage rates (75 percent) of childhood vaccinations. California statewide childhood vaccination rate is 90 percent. Their records reflect the lowest vaccination rates are at the local charter schools (20 percent).”

  78. Yeah, Nevada County has been among the top ten least vaccine compliant counties in the state for as long as I can remember. Many diseases (like measles) remain contained below epidemic rates only when the herd immunity compliance rate is above about 94%. That low compliance rate (especially in the charter schools) is the “dry grass” for the next epidemic “wildfire.” It’s a matter of when, not if.

  79. Steve,
    This is where stats can be played with and are with the cdc link. 1% of sexually active people have genital warts. So this vaccine is for 1% of the population, definitely not an epidemic and something that needs to herd immunity.

    Since you guys are afraid of addressing the issue many people you would mistakenly call “deniers” are bringing up I will take that as you have no answer.

    I am not against vaccines I am against the forcing of vaccines on to the public against their will. I was vaccinated, my kids were vaccinated, and I will go get vaccinated again this summer for a trip I will be taking to South East Asia this winter.

  80. Ben:

    I have high regard for you and find that I agree with you on many issues, so I have been thinking about your position on the HPV vaccine in particular and I’ve concluded that if we had preteen girls in our household right now I might have many of the same reservations that you do, and I might even make the same decision with regard to that specific vaccine. All of us are on occasion more influenced by anecdotes than by scientific evidence and stats, most particularly when we are directly involved with the issue personally.

    But now you’ve crossed a big line and profoundly disappointed and offended me when you say this:

    “Since you guys are afraid of addressing the issue many people you would mistakenly call “deniers” are bringing up I will take that as you have no answer.”

    Can you appreciate how arrogant that sounds?

    Please explain to me how you feel that you know more about my own motives in defending vaccines than I do? Here I thought that I’ve been arguing passionately and somewhat relentlessly in defense of vaccine science and against the modern plague of denial (all while allowing for some honest disagreements with some refusers) … but you’ve decided that I’m simply motivated by fear.

    If your statement was intended as rhetorical device, a persuasive debating tactic, it has failed catastrophically. It rather inclines me to feel that I’m wasting my time talking to you about this at all.

    I’m interested in having a spirited debate, but only so long as we can at least grant that we are both acting in good faith.

    1. Geez…really? Arrogant? You’ve denied most everything I and others have brought to this discussion that have anything negative to say regarding vaccinations. I see a bit of arrogance on both sides.. maybe it’s a ‘herd’ thing?

      1. Maybe we’re both taking disagreement with our ideas as personal attacks. I’ll make an effort to do that less, and I hope you will too.

    2. Don,
      I have put that point forward a number of times without anybody addressing it. I am sorry if you are offended but my comment was addressed to Steve and his comment “Seriously skeptics (or should I say ‘deniers’)” , which you liked.

      I am not a denier, I’m not irrational, and I’m not an extremists. Yet somehow those labels continue to be aimed at myself and those who share my concern of the no opt out legislation trying to make it through the CA legislature.

      I use the HPV example since that actually happened to our family, it is not a story of someone else. We had the option to opt out so I didn’t make a big deal about it. If it lands on the mandated list what options to future parents that can no longer say “No”.

      On this thread:

      “I don’t have a problem with vaccines for very serious conditions such as measles and polio but do have a problem with vaccines that are for small % of those inflicted among the general population, especially when they are being provided by companies that are for profit.” February 5, 2015 at 10:31 pm

      “I am a true believer in heard immunity and vaccines that are tried and true for serious diseases or illness. That being said there are a few vaccines I feel are unnecessary and carry more risk than benefit but are compulsory to enter into a mandatory education system. ” February 23, 2015 at 8:10 pm

      “Before trusting these huge decision making bodies who would like to force us to inject life altering material into our bodies I want to know it is safe and in the public interests first and foremost. I don’t think they have done that sufficiently and therefore should not have the power to mandate these injections onto people who do not want to take them.” April 27, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      “I am not anti vaccine but am anti force. We only have one body and be forced to inject bacteria/ viruses whether they be live or synthetic into our bodies seems flat out wrong. I was vaccinated and both of our kids were vaccinated but that doesn’t mean things haven’t changed. I am concerned with the quality, necessity, and always who is going to profit monetarily from these forced injections?” April 26, 2015 at 7:50 am

    3. Not to mention the point that ben’s response only dealt with the use of the HPV vaccine against genital warts, which is NOT the only use. The other use is to protect women from cervical cancer, which HPV is the known cause and which is carried by about 80 million Americans and lead to death for 4,400 women per year. Now that may mean that a woman only has a 1/5000 chance of getting cervical cancer, I would say that is worth protecting against, since there are virtually no proven negative side effects (notwithstanding Michelle Bachman’s objections.)

  81. Here is the straight forward question that needs to be answered.

    If the opt out choice is eliminated, which seems to be the crux of this debate.

    What happens when a vaccine that makes its way on the mandated list doesn’t belong there? I would argue the HPV is one of those vaccines. What choices do I have
    a) deny my child an education and not accept the vaccine injection

    b) give that child an injection directly into their body that we really don’t know what the cocktail contains.

    c) become a criminal and lie about vaccinations and have my child attend school anyway

    Hopefully we can agree that there has been a history in the US of unethical and forced experimentation with public or publicly supported institutions. Cancer and sterilization are two that pop into my mind.

    1. I’m not here to defend nuclear testing (a supposed cause of the global rise of cancer), or forced sterilization (an aberrational relic of past eugenics), or the Tuskegee experiments. I am not going to fall for the ‘logical fallacy’ of a false equivalency, no one is proposing sending your daughter off to Doctor Joseph Mengele. The fact that you would construct this straw man speaks volumes about the intellectual honesty of your case.

      I am not saying that the fact that past vaccines have proven effective at low risk necessarily means that all proposed future vaccines should be required.

      I am merely saying that if one is going to argue against mandatory vaccines, and those vaccines have proven effective and safe, that the burden of proof, AFTER the vaccines go through the very vigorous national and international standards testing, is on the denier.

      I am not even saying that a vaccine, once approved should not be de-listed if it proves problematic; which in fact has happened, and happened with MMR and many other vaccines when they found replacements for mercury as a preservatives.

      You have a problem with the HPV vaccines (Cervarix and Gardasil) the burden of proof is now on you to show that they are dangerous. But you have to make your case on the science, which you are not doing….you are so busy constructing straw men, being suspicious of profit, and rejecting vaccines based on your mistrust of government, that you are failing to make the case that a specific vaccine is unsafe based on the science.

  82. By the way Ben, while we are waiting for the profit motive to be eliminated from human society, should we all go back to getting infectious diseases?

    1. Really good article. In one of Dr Paul Offit’s books, he recounts the same history of waning vaccine production, with more and more pharmaceutical companies getting out of the business of making vaccines, to the point where the Federal govt had to step in and pass laws holding those companies harmless against claims for adverse reactions. This apparently revived the industry.

      This cultural bias against profit — as if it is always evil — explains, for instance,. Bobby Kennedy’s ignorant slander that Dr Offit is a “biostitute.”

      1. Cultural bias against profit? Hmm… too many adverse reactions and too many lawsuits lead to higher prices than anywhere else in the world? Pharmaceutical companies needed protection for adverse reactions? You seem to be making the case for some of us ‘deniers’. Thank you.

    2. Jon, perhaps you could answer the question I posed to Ben, what do we do to protect public health while we wait for society to determine that vaccines should be free? And if vaccines were free who would provide them? The government? It seems the whole case here is ‘we can’t trust the gubmint.’ So who provides these magical perfect flawless vaccines?

      1. I don’t trust the guvmint? I want vaccinations for free? Are you trying to lump all ‘deniers’ together? As in vaccinations one size doesn’t fit all.

      2. I was referring to the question I asked Ben. My core question remains the same, why is the profit motive inherently suspect, even in the face of the evidence I provided above that the ‘profit’ is over stated by many, and, in lieu of the ‘profit motive’, how would we advance the development and use of vaccines? The reality is we have the system we have. I would applaud changing the system, but what do we do in the mean time? Get polio?

      3. Steve, We eat better, we exercise, and we do whatever we can to lower our stress levels. Patients need to be treated by doctors that have the goal of keeping our health as optimum as it can be. Patients need to be treated as individuals and not perceived to be one size fits all. We pay more for medical care and prescriptions (including vaccinations) than most countries yet receive less. Why? Exorbitant profits (Maybe?) ? Vaccines are not perfect and flawless and should not be prescribed (or required) to everyone. I want to see better analysis from both our doctors, researchers, and YOU.

      4. I am sure all that good diet and strenuous exercise will help you out when you are exposed to the polio or measles virus.

  83. Late to this thread as usual. Perhaps it’s time to invest in a spinning wheel.
    Mandatory vaccinations for children attending public schools is an important issue. However, I don’t see the profit motive as being a particularly important element in this debate. True, the HBV vaccination is really a series of three, costing in total two or three hundred dollars. However, if the vaccination doesn’t take, or its use is rejected based on all kinds of twisted and diseased logic, the costs to the individuals and society can and usually are, astronomical. Should an individual be unfortunate and be included in the 5 to 10 percent of people who contract the HB virus and their immune systems fail to neutralize the virus, thus becoming what is known as a chronic case, then the two or three hundred dollars can multiply in treatment costs faster that a bunch of Tribbles fro the first Star Trek series. A month’s supply of some of the HBV antivirals can surpass $700 or $$800 a month, and those months soon turn into years, then decades. Additionally, there is a host of other expensive test that are routinely performed to track the effectiveness of the particular anti-viral one is on. If all treatment fails, then perhaps a liver transplant is the last resort at a cost of $100K to $200K, or more.

    For one of my cancers, #3, B cell lymphoma, one injection of this disease’s wonder drug, a monoclonal antibody called Rituximab, was billed at the rate of about $6,500.00 per injection, of which there were six in my case. The point being, in my experience with illnesses, which has been extensive and extremely complicated, that proverbial ounce of prevention has certainly surpassed a pound of cure in cost effectiveness.

    If I was more computer literate, I’d post a wonderful bit Penn and Teller did on this vaccination debate. They are not one of my preferred comedians, but they sure hit this nail on the head.

    The debate shall go on surely persist. Too bad there’s no vaccine capable of ending this contentious issue.


      1. It’s all about autism? Should we return to 1913 or whenever? Sorry didn’t find it funny or useful. Shortsighted and just coming up short like some comedians..

  84. My contention is the profit motive objection is a red herring, we live in a capitalist system; the ‘don’t trust the government’ meme is a red herring, it is not 1920 and we are not engaged in eugenics; the ‘personal choice’ objection is a red herring, we have proof vaccines work and protected our neighbors in a classroom, thus we are not just protecting the individual child; the ‘huge decision making bodies” meme is a red herring, vaccines are not just approved by the FDA in some of the most vigorous testing processes known to man, they are competitive, approved across national and international markets, and tested not just by the FDA but by dozens of other approval bodies and peer reviewed science.

    If one wants to de-list a vaccine prove, based on peer reviewed science, that the vaccine is flawed or dangerous. That is the rational standard. Red herring are things people create when facts don;t save their ends.

    1. We’ve seen a rise in cases of autism, yet the parameters defining autism have also become more inclusive – so I’m told and agree with as a former teacher who sat In meetings with student, parent and school psychologist and was appalled by the psychologist telling a parent her son was autistic and would have to be on drugs the rest of his life. I wanted to knock his head off because he was full of BS. Much more could be said but I’m not going to get into the whole subject. As I see it, the anti-vaccination spokespersons I’ve seen come off as displays of pure ignorance.

      1. There is plenty of ignorance to go around as I see it. Wishing for our medical system and vaccines as a part, to show improvement, is not ignorance. Assuming to know why someone has the views they do without some sort of understanding/listening taking place is.

      2. Jon, I think part of the point I am making is that no one seems to be able to make the case based on science that our vaccines DO need improvement.

        Now I understand that everything in life could use a little improvement, so I am prone to accept that vaccines need improvement, but the fact remains that if one wants to improve them, or support not allowing their use, they need to show what vaccine is flawed, why, and how to replace it with something BETTER.

        My guess is that as we are talking people are working hard to improve vaccines…great….you and Ben can set up a lab and do it…then go through the process to get it approved….which is what immunologists do. My guess is the more they do it the better they get at doing it..

        By the way, there has been a whole lot of listening going on here for many months, much of it after people have been called names, had their motives impugned, and been charged with silly things like misogyny and ‘bullying.’

        The standard for de-listing a vaccine should be science based.

    2. We do live in a capitalist system. We also live in a system that has government selectively bailing out some and not others. Is anything more important than our health? Corporations should have a responsibility to the citizens of a country they operate in along with their shareholders. We have proof that vaccinations work and don’t work… some of them barely work. There are far too many foxes in the chicken house when it comes to the agencies approving vaccinations and many other products. I want more… yet you call me a denier. Do facts really suggest that premise? Let’s keep putting vaccines out there and then we can de list them later if they’re deemed dangerous. I would call that a ‘red herring’ and not very smart or constructive or healthy…

      1. Wow Jon, I am like the first person in the world that would agree with you that corporations need to be good citizens. So you say that vaccines have been approved that some vaccines don’t work, or barely work,…my response consistent has been that if there are flaws vaccines they should be taken off the market, but based on science that shows they are flawed.

        So show us the science.

        Which vaccines, what are the flaws, and what replaces them that works better?

        Generic claims that there are ‘too many foxes in the chicken house’ without showing me the chickens is what is known as OPINION not proof.

        People who challenge science based on OPINION instead of proof are deniers, pure and simple, and THAT is what is not smart, constructive or healthy.

      2. Sorry for the garbled first paragraph, it should read:

        “Wow Jon, I am like the first person in the world that would agree with you that corporations need to be good citizens. So you say that some vaccines have been approved that don’t work, or barely work,…my response consistently has been that if there are flawed vaccines they should be taken off the market, but based on science that shows they are flawed.”

  85. This discussion has been going on for over four months, with more than 200 comments, with the depressing result that most of us are now more entrenched in our positions than before we started, with apparently more resentment and vitriol than before we started, just the opposite of what I had hoped might come from so-called civilized debate. I’m confident that I contributed in my own way to this deteriorating dialog, and I’m sorry for that.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think that anyone still actively particpating in this discussion is a full-on denier in the most damning sense (absolute, unequivocal across-the-board unwillingness to take any vaccines ever, or to allow their children to have any … ever). The word “denier” has occurred 9 times in this discussion so far, and in only one of those cases was it used in such a way as to sound at all personal, but was in that instance posed as a question, possibly rhetorical.

    I participated in this disccussion because — living in one of the least vaccine-compliant counties in California — I feel passionately pro-vaccine and frankly resent being unnecessarily exposed (and having my children and grandchildren unnecessarily exposed) to resurgent plagues that we nearly eradicated, all because of the patent ignorance of these full-blown deniers.

    If dialog doesn’t change minds. what does? The most significant mind changes I’ve witnessed on this subject have been from denier parents whose children have contracted the serious diseases they refused to protect them from:

    View at

    It’s clear to me that — for me at tleast — there is no further value in continuiing this discussion.

    You’re all good people, but we’re really stuck here,

  86. I’m comfortable in the decisions we made with our daughter. I have seen or read vey little to make me think any different. Most has been just to support the poster’s side of the argument. I still believe the approval, handling and protocols of vaccinations isn’t what it could be. It’s sad that there is not much or any feedback from truly knowledgeable professionals that have hands on experience. They remain silent in large part, publicly. Done.

  87. Hey guys, I respect everyone here, and using the word ‘denier’ is a descriptive word intended to allude to the idea that denial of the findings of peer reviewed and tested vaccine related science is functionally the same thing as denial of peer reviewed and tested climate related science.

    It is not personal, it is a comparison.

      1. ..evaluation of work by one or more people of similar competence to producers of work.. Are you sure it doesn’t in some cases? My comment was sarcastic.. but I have read a few peer reviewed studies/papers that were lacking in factual scientific evidence. Does red herring mean anything that Steve doesn’t agree with. Hmm.. wonder what Wikipedia will have to say on that?

      2. Jon, “red herring” to me means anything that you cannot support with outside evidence independent of you own opinion or a clearly identified set of logical questions and conclusions. Logic means using a valid set of data to answer questions to reach a conclusion.

        Show me your data.

        Have a problem with the science behind the approval of a vaccine? Present your evidence. Question whether or not a vaccine was appropriately peer reviewed? Present you evidence. Believe a vaccine is unnecessary or ineffective in meeting its goals? Present you evidence. Believe the risk of exposure is less than the risk of vaccination? Present your evidence.

        If a vaccine was approved and later found wanting? Was is altered to eliminate the problem? Is this proof of the failure of the system or the success of the system?

        Is our system perfect? No.

        Present no evidence then its just another uninformed opinion.

    1. Yeah, Ditto….it doesn’t. I mean really, another red herring?

      Why can’t anyone ever make a specific case against a specific vaccine based on specific scientific research?

  88. Can anyone comment on the process of adding to the list of required vaccinations under proposed legislation?

    1. California Senate. Senate Bill 277 would remove the personal belief exemption that currently lets parents opt out of vaccinating their children as required to attend state licensed schools, daycares and nurseries in California. The bill leaves the medical exemption intact for children who have a medical reason they cannot be vaccinated.
      So aren’t Charter Schools State licensed?

  89. I wish everyone kept this taxonomy of logical fallacies on their desk tops and checked their comments against it. Everyone is guilty of a little logical fallacy every now and again….myself clearly included…but double checking the case make against this chart could really do some good 🙂

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