Too Many Too Soon? New Video Explores The Question

“Too many, too soon!” is the favored battle cry of the anti-vaccine crowd. Too many shots, too many antigens, too close together.”

AcademicEarth believes that everyone has the right to a world-class education, and recognizing the existing barriers in academia, they have continued their efforts to curate a collection of free online courses from the world’s top universities.

This video specifically looks at just one canard anti-vaccine parents cite as why they refuse to vaccinate, and why it’s misguided.

Created by AcademicEarth.org

Video from AcademicEarth: Too Many Too Soon?

Andrew Wakefield: Fraud – The Facts

Over on the “Stop the Australian Vaccination Network” (AVN) Facebook page, this got thrown up; a 15-page comic looking at the epic fraud by Andrew Wakefield, the money he gained from it, the money he stood to gain, and the implicit media and politicians who had their heads so far up their arses they literally had shit for brains.

Darryl Cunningham has put together a brilliantly illustrated book with an interesting use of real media in the comic that brings the comic down to earth – perhaps long enough for you to realize the sobering fact that children have died because of the personal greed of Andrew Wakefield and Richard Barr.

Perhaps long enough to realize that it didn’t just affect the children of the parents who were too scared to vaccinate because they believed the misinformation from Andrew Wakefield, Richard Barr, Jim Carrey, and Jenny McCarthey; it affects EVERYONE.

So, check out “The Facts in the Case of Dr. Andrew Wakefield“:

Darryl Cunningham Investigates

The final page really makes the same point as I, and others have been wanting for a long time:

Informed Journalism.

Damage Control: Chiropractic Association of Australia

CAA in Damage Control

The CAA (Chiropractor’s Association of Australia) is the “peak body representing chiropractic” – and has been in Damage Control Mode after a recent article featuring Warren Sipser and his dangerous infant manipulations.

The outdated mentality of Traditional Medicine and Therapies was to “Use it because it seems to work” and was surpassed decades ago by Modern Medicine as critical thinking and statistical analysis has come to the forefront in the investigation of medicine, technology, and the understanding of the world around us.

Widespread acceptance of “therapies” only two centuries ago involved standing in a circle around a tree and being “mesmerized” and sitting around a bathtub full of iron filings to feel better. To their proponents, these “seemed to work”. You may laugh, and rightly so, but this is a result of accepting “Direct Experience” as good evidence. Direct Experiences gives us nothing more than an indicator on which to further investigate critically.

Remembering where we parked the car is “Direct Experience”. This doesn’t prove we parked it where we thought, it only gives us a basis on which we can further investigate. How many times have you forgotten or misremembered where you parked the car?

Direct Experience can be misleading, and Memory is a fallible human function.

It is therefore concerning that in response to customer inquiry, chiropractic practioners are being instructed by the CAA to validate their profession through appeals to tradition, popularity, and introducing safety as a red herring to side-step questions of efficacy – throwbacks to the “use it because it seems to work” age of fallacious reasoning.

The CAA encourages their members to use weasel words such as “regulated” when speaking with customers, as if by virtue of invoking this magical word they are to be accepted as “doing the right thing”, or indeed “have a clue about medicine”. And yet, many of those involved in the running of Chiropractic Associations provide financial support to one of the most dangerous misinformation groups in Australia – The AVN – a group whose work are having real effects on the health and safety of infants, children, and adults alike.

It’s good to see that the CAA coming under the scrutiny it deserves – still far from the level of scrutiny other medical professions are under, but scrutiny none the less.

It seems odd that while the rest of the medical community regularly scrutinises each other (an act that promotes evidence-supported best practice), the CAA is vehemently against such scrutiny of their profession – defending their outlandish beliefs with evidence garnered from poorly controlled studies, research using inappropriate method of investigation or analysis, or with an outright absence of critical thinking.

That being said, I find it amusing – if it is true, that the CAA should then be so afraid of the endeavors of “one particular individual”. Surely, if they are in possession evidence supports the claims their Chiropractors make, there should be no problem!

While not having access to the document in question, I have these points about the CAA’s interpretation of the much of the criticism towards the Chiropractic profession, and the CAA’s failure to effectively regulate their industry.

These types of criticisms:

  • are borne out of a proliferation of practitioners who make claims that are unsubstantiated by robust evidence,
  • are of Chiropractic practitioners who insist on advocating pseudo-scientific theories for mechanisms;
  • who insist on making outlandish extrapolations of unrelated data to support their theories, and
  • who practice methods of manipulations that are not evidence based to treat indications when there is no robust evidence to support its use.

The CAA needs to ensure its members:

  • understand that Chiropractic as a profession must FIRST demonstrate a method is effective for a particular indication then bring it in to practice, and
  • are acting appropriately

While the CAA’s Code & Guidelines has resounding rhetoric, the CAA has proven itself either impotent in addressing those that do not follow them or they are demonstrating they do not care to do so.

The CAA needs to step up to the modern standards of medical practice and ensure their members do too.

The Australian | The chiro kids

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?!

The Australian | The Chiro Kids

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

The Government is Lying about Vaccines again! .. or not.

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:

Reduced symptoms & Increased Mortality Rate vs Reduced Mortality Rate: A hard choice, apparently

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.

It’s cynicism.

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.

Vaccinations, The Flu, and You.

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:

Ingredient Misinformation

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 – Depends! (On which Vaccine)

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
DTaP(625mcg) 2.490 .156
Hep A .996 .063 12 w/ final ~6 mo. later
Hep B .996 .063 birth, 1 or 2, final at 6+
HiB .896 .056 2, 4
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

Measles, United States 1950-2001

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.

Conspiracy Theories

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

 

More Links:

Wakefield Supports Vaccines

“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:

http://www.hccc.nsw.gov.au/Publications/Media-Releases/PUBLIC-WARNING-/default.aspx

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.

Further Information

For further information, contact Mr Kim Swan, the Executive Officer of the Health Care Complaints Commission, on 9219 7483 or send an email to media@hccc.nsw.gov.au.

Court Ordered Vaccination & SMH False Balance

Ordered to have VaccineRecently (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.

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