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Well how about that, Anti-Vaccination Warren Sipser is in the newspaper again: The chiro kids | The Australian. The article from The Australian is quite good and paints an accurate picture of how Chiropractors take advantage of their clients’ lack of background, espousing to clear up allergies, coughing and “DNA repair” with a few cracks of an infants fragile spine.
After talking about Sipsers’ clinic, Loretta Marron gets a great write up about her work in “quackbusting”.
… she once demonstrated that a “pain-relieving” magnetic mattress underlay has the equivalent energy field of a jar of jellybeans – earned her a Skeptic of the Year award in 2007. But behind her lampooning lies a serious intent. Her campaign began after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 and attended a support group where a naturopath bombarded desperately ill women with mumbo-jumbo. Two years ago, with the help of the Nine Network’s A Current Affair, she used a hidden video camera to expose a Queensland “healer” who charged terminally ill cancer patients $2000 for a “miracle mineral” cure administered intravenously in a suburban garage.
The Old Guard
It’s been long known that Chiropractors fall in at least two camps, those that only treat musculoskeletal conditions, and then those (like Sipser) who is a fundie. – He goes the whole 9 yards and sticks with Chiropractics’ “Magnetic Healer” inventor who believed that illnesses were caused because GODS SIGNALS WERE BEING BLOCKED! I tell ya, you’d think someone made it all … OH right! They did, didn’t they?!
With the two camps in mind, I was amused to read that the vice president of the Chiropractic and Osteopathic College of Australasia, was having a go at the university of teaching “pseudo-science” to its students. In addition to that, Britain’s General Chiropractic Council reiterated that it is a purely theoretical concept “not supported by any clinical research evidence”.
It is, but another profession that is seeking to support it’s ON GOING PRACTICE by trying to find scientific evidence for it. This is NOT good medicine.
Could you imagine the uproar if “Big Pharma” had the ability to sell whatever product they wanted without (the current $800m or so price tag for) clinical testing, or if eccentric doctors were granted the freedom to perform proven fringe surgeries whenever they wanted?
Elizabeth remembers that unlike the doctors, Sipser confidently told her he could “fix everything”.
And yet, as much as Alt-Med Practitioners scream and shout about the established medical institutions, they still continue to advocate that it is THEY who are doing the right thing, “they” who are fiddling with baby spines to treat infections, ADHD, and all other manner of illnesses are apparently so ethically justified to perform unproven medical techniques that they claim victimisation and conspiracy whenever they are criticized for doing so – However, in “real doctor” land, criticism is not just the norm, but is essential to ensuring professional codes of conduct are adhered to, out-of-line doctors are reprimanded, and erroneous research papers are not published as factual.
It’s worth mentioning that we get by without antibiotics for most colds, coughs, and headaches – By far the majority of our illnesses are rather passive and will go away without treatment given enough time. I don’t think anyone serious thinks that what we grab at the local supermarket is there to “cure” something – It’s there to provide relief.
Quack Medicine: It’s the thin edge of the wedge
What can be problematic however is infections, both bacterial and viral can be quite severe with deadly consequences – Patients are brought in to a false sense of security by using these treatments as frequently as they do, and if an infection is particularly nasty, and you have some some kind of pre-existing condition that may weaken your defenses – You may just end up dead because you opted for a garlic juice ear drop rather than an antibiotic.
Sure he may be a CrackerQuack – but Anti-Vaccination?
Now, one may think I am jumping to conclusions about his Chiropractic base and the ties to his unfettering and erroneous crusade against vaccines, but alas – I am not – Warren Sipser is a card-carrying supporter of the Australian (Anti) Vaccination Network.
Available for $2.50 from the Australian Vaccination Network is Warren’s interview piece with them (Obviously, I would not buying as it funds the deaths of babies who’s parents are misinformed by good-intentioned, but dangerously deluded individuals). However, the blurb makes an interesting comment about his qualifications:
This caused him to set out on a crusade to become a paediatric chiropractor! He just graduated with his Masters in Paediatrics and Warren is now one of only about 10 doctors in the world with both these qualifications.
I’m guessing he’s not heard of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association? Very strange.
But, I did say he was in the news again, didn’t I? Earlier this year Sipser … well, you can read more here: Court Ordered Vaccination & SMH False Balance
A commenter on this mother-based website’s article noted that she didn’t care for information that comes from the Government, or from any of its arms.
It seems she won’t accept the data, not on the basis on the accuracy of the data – she doesn’t care if it’s right or wrong. Apparently, it’s automatically wrong BECAUSE it’s from the government:
What I’d be interested in is just where she, and others like her are getting their “facts” from?
The concept is quite odd, given that Governments are generally the only one in a position to gather the rich data sets – and it’s often quite easy for someone to say “Government” and disassociate the idea of a collective from the vast number of people that work towards the running on a country – many of which would need to be implicated in such a conspiracy.
Most, if not all private institutions don’t have the capacity to gather statistical information as rich as the government can – so, on what reliable, statistically significant DATA is she acting upon? I suggest none.
I suppose, like all conspiracy theorists – there are only two options available when they refuse to believe that others are correct. Either everyone is wrong, or everyone is lying. It’s often too far fetched for them to believe that they themselves could EVER be wrong – and it’s that kind of willful ignorance that gets people infected, and killed.
So, kudos to the parents who vaccinate! – It’s sensible, rational, and responsible.
Winter is on it’s way, and with it the encouragement for the public to get Flu Vaccinations. Many higher-risk public-sector workplaces are offering the service free to their staff, such as Public Transport Services and Hospitals.
Importantly, everyone should have a clear understanding of Herd Immunity. I found as video that demonstrated it well, although the introduction is a bit boring as it has more to do with the USA rather than Australia. The video can be found here at a previous post.
Sydney’s Northern Beaches recently experienced the effects of a reduction in Vaccination rates (The Manly Daily), which I wrote about at the time. It’s a topic that needs to be frequently covered, as anti-vaccination propaganda that gets passed around eventually finds someone who will take it as fact.
It’s worth nothing that some anti-vaccination websites promote “natural” immunisation methods .. such as simply allowing your children to get sick; sometimes herd immunity or germ theory was rejected all together, usually both, and more often than not they dismiss any documentation without reading it. Anti-science rhetoric is common.
Let’s look at some of the common themes of Anti-Vaccination Groups:
Ingredients are generally the first “line of attack” for Anti-Vax proponents. The information they give ABOUT their claims is generally factually incorrect and is often recited verbatim without any fact-checking performed. It is because these concepts are so ingrained it is often difficult to demonstrate through evidence that their knowledge is incorrect.
Anti-Freeze – FALSE!
The “antifreeze” error comes from a misunderstanding of the ethylene chemical compounds – all that is ethylene is not antifreeze.
Formaldehyde – TRUE!
Vaccines utilize formaldehyde that is identical to the substance found naturally in our bodies as a metabolic byproduct of methanol. It is commonly excreted in our urine as waste or converted into formalin.
Formaldehyde in our bodies = H2CO (natural)
Formaldehyde in vaccines = H2CO (synthetic)
Formaldehyde has other uses and is changed to be used in conjunction with other synthetic chemical compounds. These compounds, solutions, gasses, or resins can be, and often are, toxic.
Formaldehyde in embalming fluid = H2CO+CH3OH+CH3CH2OH+solvents
Formaldehyde in plywood = H2CO+NH2CONH2+CH3OH+HCOOH+H2O
Thimerosal is a preservative that is used in the manufacturing process of some vaccines and other medicines to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi, which could otherwise cause illness or injury.
Most anti-vaxers will claim that the amount of mercury that used to be in vaccine exceeded EPA exposure guidelines. However, Thimerosal metabolises into ethylmercury, not methylmercury. The guidelines are specifically for methylmercury, as ethylmercury has a half-life of only a few days to about a week, thus is not considered dangerous enough to regulate. You will literally get more exposure to mercury from a 6oz tin of Tuna.
In addition, Thimerosal has not be used in the MMR vaccine since 2002 and was removed due to political pressure as part of a recommendation, not a regulation. Despite the removal of thimerosal from vaccines, resulting in exposure levels lower than anytime in the past, autism rates have not declined, suggesting that there is no connection between thimerosal and autism.
Baby Foetuses – False!
This was simply scare-campaigning and not true in the slightest.
Aluminium – True!
Vaccines contain aluminum in a salt form. Anti-vaxers claim this is toxic, and some will cite that 4ppm will cause blood to coagulate. However, individuals are not exposed to such amounts of aluminum in a single vaccination visit. Below are the vaccines containing aluminum, with the corresponding parts per million (ppm) for an infant (~251 mL of blood in the body) and an 80lb. child (~4000 mL of blood); note the two numbers for DTaP represent extreme ranges of aluminum content.:
|ppm (w/v) = (weight in grams of sample/volume of sample in mL) * 106|
|Vaccine||ppm in infant||ppm in child||age received (in months)|
|DTaP (170mcg)||.677||.043||2, 4, 6, w/ final ~4-6 yrs|
|Hep A||.996||.063||12 w/ final ~6 mo. later|
|Hep B||.996||.063||birth, 1 or 2, final at 6+|
|HPV||.896||.056||11 or 12 yrs., then 2, 6 mo.|
|Pediatrix||3.386||.213||2, 4, 6 (in lieu of DTaP, IPV and Hep B)|
|Pentacel||1.315||.083||2, 4, 6, 15-18 (in lieu of DTaP, IPV and HiB)|
|Pneumococcus||.498||.031||2, 4, 6, 12-15|
Safety and Effectiveness
After false claims about ingredients, the argument often falls towards Safety and Effectiveness. Essentially stemming from a lack of knowledge in statistics – specifically, gathering, analysis, and interpretation.
Statistically, the information from numerous data-sets demonstrates that vaccines are, in fact, effective in reducing the incidence rate of infection.
Improved socioeconomic conditions have undoubtedly had an indirect impact on disease. Better nutrition, the development of antibiotics and other treatments have increased survival rates among the sick; less crowded living conditions have reduced disease transmission; and lower birth rates have decreased the number of susceptible household contacts — all factors accounted for.
The only suspected issues Vaccines occur if a child has a rare, hereditary, mitochondrial disorder that pre-disposes them to a reaction – and even for this, the supporting information is not currently conclusive, nor strong. There is a test available that checks for this disorder.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Interestingly, the published speculation about a link between Vaccines and Autism was made specifically about the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine; this information was lated investigated and found to have been manufactured by Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues.
The Paper was initially published in the respected medical journal The Lancet but later retracted after an investigation found Dr. Wakefield had several ethics breaches, including failure to disclose financial compensation from a lawyer representing families claiming MMR cause their children’s autism, failure to disclose financial interests in patents for MMR alternatives, failure to include data which contradicted his conclusions, use of contaminated samples to support his conclusions.
On May 24, 2010, the General Medical Council issued a determination that Wakefield was found guilty of professional misconduct and should be erased from the Medical Register in the U.K. (meaning that his license to practice medicine in the U.K. has been revoked).
And again, to date, no rigorous, controlled study has shown a causal link between vaccines and autism.
Vaccines are injected into the bloodstream – False!
This claim stems from a lack of knowledge about anatomy, specifically – the lymphatic system. Vaccines are either injected subcutaneously, injected intramuscularly, given by mouth, or squirted up the nose.
Since subcutaneous and intramuscular vaccines are injected directly into the body, and antigens and other components are taken into the bloodstream via the lymphatic system (in order to spur antibody production through hyperstimulation of the Th2/humoral response) without passing through our ordinary immune defences.
At this point, no vaccines are recommended for injection into your bloodstream via the intravenous method. The CDC Pinkbook includes a Vaccine Administration section (Appendix D Page 5), which demonstrates the correct route of administration for each vaccine.
By the time Anti-Vax proponents get to this stage they have already exhausted their Ingredient & Efficacy arguments; arguments that are subsequently used time and time again, despite being proven to be false. Usually, it is clear by this point that they have these beliefs because they have been personally affected by some infection, serious disease, or death and are looking for Agency. (Something/someone to blame).
Generally, it starts with the allegation that “Big Pharma” is poisoning your children, or you. The “evidence” cited is often not evidence at all, rather it is rife with innuendo and references to “consumerism”, or “corporate america”. The claim involves everyone from manufacturers, governments, regulators, and health professionals.
Most challenges are met with ad hominem attacks of “You’re a Big Pharma Shill”, or claims you’re part cover-up of the information.
Ironic, given the names of some of these “informed choice” advocates. One, calling themselves the “Australian Vaccination Network” or AVN was ordered by the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission to clearly identify themselves as Anti-Vaccination based on the information that the AVN was:
- provides information that is solely anti-vaccination
- contains information that is incorrect and misleading
- quotes selectively from research to suggest that vaccination may be dangerous.
I am willing to make it clear that there are justified concerns with Big Pharma. However, the allegation of a deliberate attack on the public isn’t supported by anything; most importantly, the statistics. It is purely a tactic – a Red Herring – something to take the argument towards how “terrible and greedy” pharmaceutical companies are, as if that was enough to proven that vaccines were dangerous.
Regardless of the conspiracies, the statistics demonstrate vaccinations work.
Additionally, Anna Kata in the Department of Anthropology of McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario released a paper, A postmodern Pandora’s box: Anti-vaccination misinformation on the Internet set out to examine and analyze antivaccination websites. In which she analysed information contained in Eight-Antivaccination sites, selected through Google searches that were used to identify the highest-ranked anti-vaccine sites using typical search strategies.
Her paper can be found here: http://resources.cpha.ca/CCIAP/data/1700e.pdf
- http://antiantivax.flurf.net/ – Excellent, sound Information, of which portions were used in this article.
- Responding to Anti-vaccine Misinformation: Understanding the issues
- Inside Vaccines
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Get the Picture: Child Immunizations – YouTube video by the CDC
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Office for Human Research Protections –
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
- AAP FAQ
- The Childhood Immunization Schedule: Why Is It Like That?
- Health Canada
- Public Health Agency of Canada – Vaccine Safety
- Canadian Coalition for Immunization Awareness & Promotion (CCIAP)
- “Immunization: Get the Facts”
- Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)
- U.K. Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency
- Immunization Advisory Centre (IMAC)
- Australian Immunization Handbook
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- World Health Organization – “Global Immunization Data October 2008”
- Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)
- Every Child By Two
- Vaccinate Your Baby
- Vaccine Information for the Public and Health Professionals – has links to photos and videos of the impact of vaccine-preventable diseases (warning: images can be graphic and disturbing)
- Vaccine Preventable Disease: The Forgotten Story – Book containing accounts of the costs of vaccine-preventable diseases
“My opinion, again, is that the monovalent, the single vaccines, measles, mumps and rubella, are likely in this context to be safer than the polyvalent vaccine.”
– Andrew Wakefield, Twenty Twenty Television
I found the quote to be quite a far way away from what is preached by the no-vaccination lobby group like the Australian Vaccination Network (Anti-Vaccination Network), who still refuses to place this health warning issued by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC):
More on the Australian Vaccination Network Warning:
PUBLIC WARNING ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN VACCINATION NETWORK (AVN)
26 July 2010
by the Health Care Complaints Commission under section 94A of the Health Care Complaints Act 1993
The Health Care Complaints Commission has investigated two complaints about the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), a non-profit organisation registered in New South Wales that provides information about vaccination. The complaints alleged that the AVN provides incorrect and misleading information about vaccination.
The Commission’s investigation of the complaints focussed on the material presented by the AVN on its website http://www.avn.org.au.
The Commission’s investigation established that the AVN website:
- provides information that is solely anti-vaccination
- contains information that is incorrect and misleading
- quotes selectively from research to suggest that vaccination may be dangerous.
On this basis, the Commission recommended to the AVN that it should include a statement in a prominent position on its website to the following effect:
- The AVN’s purpose is to provide information against vaccination, in order to balance what it believes is the substantial amount of pro-vaccination information available elsewhere.
- The information provided by the AVN should not be read as medical advice.
- The decision about whether or not to vaccinate should be made in consultation with a health care provider.
The Commission recognises that it is important for there to be debate on the issue of vaccination. However, the AVN provides information that is inaccurate and misleading.
The AVN’s failure to include a notice on its website of the nature recommended by the Commission may result in members of the public making improperly informed decisions about whether or not to vaccinate, and therefore poses a risk to public health and safety.
For further information, contact Mr Kim Swan, the Executive Officer of the Health Care Complaints Commission, on 9219 7483 or send an email to email@example.com.
Recently (January 15, 2011) printed in the Sun Herald was the article on the left; the article was about a 5-year-old girl who was ordered to be vaccination after the mother refused to do so – citing evidence that was criticised by the Judge as “outlandish statements unsupported by any empirical evidence”.
Now, what I’m focusing on here is how the journalist, Holly Ife, decided to present an issue as being balanced in opposing viewpoints, which isn’t what the evidence actually supports.
Was she trying to AVOID bias, or was she trying to SENSATIONALISE the article?
Leading one of the final paragraphs with a contentious “However,” and following it up with a quote from a paediatric chiropractor; namely Dr. Warren Sipser, gives the impression that this bloke has some knowledge or authority on the matter and should be given credence.
He doesn’t, and shouldn’t.
He is a quack, and a dangerous quack at that.
Two Opposing Viewpoints
Sipser is quoted in the article as saying that it’s “dangerous to impose [immunisation] on anyone when there are two opposing viewpoints” – he even went on to say “there is credible evidence they may do more harm than good”.
First off, there is always someone in opposition to a viewpoint. Even today there are people so delusional that they believe the earth is flat; and even today, there are people who believe in magical hand-waving, spine cracking “healing”. To say because there are opposing viewpoints that we shouldn’t do anything is ridiculous. While people may have opposing viewpoints the EVIDENCE doesn’t. The OVERALL EVIDENCE empirically demonstrates that immunisation IS a good thing, and is NOT doing more harm than good.
What Sipser calls credible are articles that come to the conclusions that best align with his beliefs.
Where as I, I call things credible when researchers use excellent scientific methodology that controls against bias through double & triple blind trials, where those results are not just replicated by a number of other independent researchers, but the research is critically examined for faults by a number of peers and finally published in a journal with integrity.