Antivaccine nonsense Autism Medicine

Anti-vaccine nonsense is everywhere…like Elvis

You know, sometimes I think that the United States, Australia, and the U.K. must be unique in their level of tolerance for pseudoscientific nonsense. Of course, that’s probably mostly because that’s the majority of the English-speaking world, and I speak English. I don’t see and can’t understand anti-vaccinationists in most other languages. Unfortunately, fellow ScienceBlogger tells me that they have anti-vaccinationists in Sweden too. Worse, they’re peddling the same idiotic “vaccines didn’t save us” gambit that Raymond Obamosawin is peddling.

I don’t feel better that pseudoscience isn’t limited to the English

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

21 replies on “Anti-vaccine nonsense is everywhere…like Elvis”

There there, Orac. It just means we need more translators.

Although, it kinda figures, since a lot of pseudoscience around in the Western world is very much “Eastern mystical medicine vs Western logical medicine”.

Honest to goodness, when I was singing to my son before bed tonight, I honestly sang a bit of Mojo Nixon. Don’t ask me why I pulled it out tonight.

I included the line, “Elvis needs boats. Elvis needs boats.”

Elvis, last I heard, lives and operates a gas station in the little town of Tweed, Ontario. 🙂

Chances are, just like Elvis, anti-vaxxers can also be found in Tweed.

The discussion of pseudoscience leads me to ask for your comments about these quacks in the BMJ who have written an article which might lead to the death–according to the World Health Organization and UNICEF–of millions of babies.

Thanks for your input. Apparently the BMJ will publish just about anything. (That last part’s an attempt at levity.)




Posting links to inaccurate facts won’t help your cause, nor will you get an answer to your loaded question.

Of course Jay totally misrepresents what the linked article – SOP for such a shameless disingenuous gobshite. It’s Limbo Time – how low can Jay go?

@7 they stopped because supplies were low. When you only have so many vaccines you prioritize who you give them to first. It seems like parents were quite annoyed by this which suggests they really, really wanted their kids to get the flu shot. If Mercola thinks they did it to “save lives” he is living in cloud cuckoo land.

The discussion of pseudoscience leads me to ask for your comments about these quacks in the BMJ who have written an article which might lead to the death–according to the World Health Organization and UNICEF–of millions of babies.

Interesting that you make a statement “might lead to the death of millions of babies” when your citation says nothing of the sort. It’s also fascinating that “millions of babies” could be of relevance when the article is discussing recommendations specifically for the UK (total population ~62M per Wikipedia). One has to conclude that you simply made that part up.

As for the article and response, what exactly is pseudoscientific about it? Both are discussing what the scientific evidence has to say, supporting their claims with proper citations, and drawing conclusions therefrom. Quite scientific.

Seems like yet another knee-jerk completely unthinking reaction on your part, completely devoid of any scientific understanding or critical thinking. “Any questioning of breastfeeding = TEH EVULZ BABY KILLRZ!!!111!1!one!1”

I didn’t think you could beat the Germans in woo-believe, so the anti-vacs movement there isn’t as big.

OMG, Orac, woo is rampant in Europe! Most of their health plans pay for it! I have a number of well-educated European friends who live here and in Europe and they ALL indulge in and BELIEVE in CAM. Most people have substituted belief in anything remotely “spiritual” for their traditional religions. Even some atheists I know easily buy into lots of woo. You being a doc and surrounded by academia, have no idea how widespread this stuff is. Dr. Oz is widely perceived as a very smart and wonderful doctor, just as Oprah is honored almost daily by some group or magazine article (the kind I pick up while waiting at the allergy clinic). When you say “studies” to the average person, you only get the response that: “studies mean nothing, all they do is disagree with each other all the time”. This pops up in comments at the NY Times with almost every science/medical article they publish. The mantra that you read in all these articles (check with your doctor) goes right by these people–or produces a scoff and a pronouncement of “pharma-shill”.

Your work has only begun–science needs to reach a wider audience with basic facts presented in a very dumbed down and easily absorbed format. Sorry. Although, surely, efforts such as this video will begin to turn the tide. Hopefully, at some point, there will be a “star” with Oprah type of appeal who will do science and reach the masses. PBS has some people and programs that do this, but they don’t exactly have a huge audience and most of it is aimed at kids (which is good, but not enough).

Here’s another annoying thing. There’s a new health plan (federally funded trial program) in my state for single adults (is actually MAKING money!) that covers chiropractic, but won’t pay for an eye exam from an ophthalmologist or an optometrist! I’m pretty sure we can than Senator Harkin, et. al. for such nonsense

Hello, long time lurker from Germany here. First, I am deeply thankfull for all your articles and views here and on, they are highly incentive for me and some of my fellow medical students.

CAM is indeed very wide spread in Germany, first and foremost homeopathy and acupuncture. From my personal perspective, CAM-Groups who support cancertreatmeant only by dieting ore praying are not that strong and publicly accepted like in the USA. Also there is a slow but steady increase of academical-backed CAM, for example this here….

Keep on fighting Mr. Orac, I wish we had a similiar strong voice of sanity back here in Germany.

Unfortunately there are anti-vaccinationists in Spain as well but things here are a bit different. Firstly, the poor knowledge of English doesn’t allow woo-enabling TV programs to be popular or even broadcasted. Oprah is only “another rich American woman that presents some program on TV” and I’m sure the vast majority of the population wouldn’t recognize her from a photo. That means all her minions like Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil are total strangers here. Jenny McCarthy? Who is she?

Secondly, vaccination is compulsory for every child as is schooling in a proper school.

Homeschooling has just been considered unconstitutional due to a case that finished in the Constitutional Court last month (link here).

Also last month (December 2010) a measles outbreak in Granada (south of Spain) lead the sanitary authorities to force the vaccination of 35 children. It seems 58 parents didn’t want their children to be vaccinated. The measles vaccine is given when the babies are 15 months old but the authorities decided to advance it to 12 months. The case was quickly settled in court with the judge declaring it was a case of public health and the children should be vaccinated at once to prevent the spread of the virus that had already affected 46 people of which eight are adults and a third is less than 15 months old (link here).

Sometimes it just makes me happy to live in a non-English speaking country.

@13: Quite. “Government stops local pilot programme to vaccinate healthy children due to vaccine shortage” becomes “Government denies vaccine to teh babbies” in the hands of the tabloids and “Government stops vaccinating kids BECAUSE VACCINES ARE TEH EBIL AND WILL KILL THEM” in the hands of the anti-vaxxers.

It’s somewhat heartening that the press are coming down on the side of vaccination right now. As I said in another thread, though, I do wonder if they’d be quite as firmly in favour of the vaccine if a shortage of it wasn’t currently embarrassing an unpopular government.

In my country of origin (Italy) for some reason “resistance against vaccination” has become a cause celebre for the far left – science is seen as a Western “thing” and therefore inherently evil. I had a huge argument with my sister a couple of years ago – there was an outbreak of meningitis in some Italian regions and she and her husband, both political activists and firm believers in the “west=evil” and “science=capitalism” equations, went to great length (breaking the law – but they weren’t caught) to ensure that both their children avoided vaccination.

Well As for the item and answer, what precisely is pseudo scientific about it? Both are considering what the technical clues has to state, carrying their assertions with correct citations, and drawing deductions therefrom. Quite scientific

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