“Common sense” is not so common. Actually, that’s not exactly right. What I meant was that what most people think of as “common sense” has little or nothing to do with what science concludes. Evidence talks, “common sense” walks. I saw a fantastic example to illustrate this point on a certain blog that I’ve found nearly as useful as a target topic to blog about as the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism (AoA). I’m referring, of course, to The Thinking Moms’ Revolution (TMR), an antivaccine crank blog almost as cranky as (and sometimes even more cranky than) AoA., and the post that drew my attention was called, simply, Common Sense. Unfortunately, for BK (the blogger who wrote the piece), her definition of common sense and real common sense are related only by coincidence, not unlike the way that the TMR’s definition of “thinking” and real thinking are related only by coincidence. It won’t take long to show you what I mean.
After saying “But I’m a Thinker now” (yes, she did capitalize the word “Thinker”), BK launches into a list of questions that she apparently believes to be profound. She also apparently thinks that the commonly given answers to the questions by proponents of science0-based medicine are completely off-base because they go against “common sense.” The result is about as mind-meltingly stupid as you would imagine. I was half-tempted to leave the deconstruction of all the questions as an exercise for my readers, but you know that Orac don’t roll that way. On the other hand, I can—ahem—cherry pick a few of my favorite examples and riff on them a bit in whatever order I feel like. You, of course, can feel free to riff on some of the rest to your heart’s content. Given that this is a holiday weekend coming up, and it’s a long week, it’s the perfect low stress way to end the week and, unlike yesterday’s post and other recent posts, doesn’t require me to delve into studies or complicated scientific arguments.
I mean, really. It’s embarrassing. I literally felt embarrassment for BK, and you should too after reading these. Let’s start with one of the dumbest ones of all:
If formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, why is THAT okay to inject directly into our bodies? How is it possible that known carcinogens “strengthen” the immune system?
As has been explained time and time again to antivaccinationists, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen at exposures much, much higher than any that result from vaccination. Formaldehyde is also a byproduct of normal metabolism. That’s right, the baby’s body makes formaldehyde every minute of every day at low levels, and, even better, the amount of formaldehyde in a typical vaccine is small. It never ceases to amaze me how the concept of “the dose makes the poison” escapes quacks and especially believers in antivaccine quackery. To them, apparently, even a single molecule of a chemical in a vaccine is irretrievably dangerous, at least as long as the has a scary-sounding chemical name or an otherwise bad reputation. Many other examples come to mind, such as polysorbate 80, aluminum adjuvants, ether, and of course the most brain dead of all gambit, namely the “antifreeze in vaccines” gambit.
Well, maybe that’s not the dumbest antivaccine gambit. The absolute dumbest antivaccine gambit is the claim that “aborted fetal tissues” and/or “cells from aborted fetuses” are in vaccines. Not surprisingly, BK uses this gambit:
If you are pro-life, why wouldn’t you be concerned/outraged that vaccines were created and cultivated with the cells of aborted fetal tissue?
Yes, as I’ve described before, the manufacture of some vaccines requires that the virus the vaccine protects against to be grown in a human cell line that was derived from fetal lung back in the 1960s. These cells have been passaged in culture for hundreds of cell divisions over the last 40-50 years. It’s not as though vaccine manufacturers grind up fetuses to make vaccines, although that is clearly what is being implied. At the very least, antivaccinationists don’t try to disabuse their followers of this concept because that would defeat the very purpose of using what is in essence a “guilt by association” fallacy. In any case, claiming that there is “aborted fetal tissue” in vaccines or that vaccines were “created and cultivated with the cells of aborted fetal tissue” is like saying that using HeLa cells in an experiment is the same thing as using Henrietta Lacks’ cervix. Actually, it’s even dumber than that, because there are no cells left from human cells in vaccines.
Then there’s another antivaccine favorite:
If vaccines work, then how are non-vaccinated kids a danger to vaccinated children? Wouldn’t that make the vaccinated children protected?
When I see something like this, I want to reach out and shake the person writing it. No one who has the barest understanding of the concept of herd immunity and how vaccines work would ever say something so revealing of her ignorance. Well, strike that. Obviously BK would. She apparently dosen’t realize that vaccines are not 100% effective, which means unvaccinated children are a danger to vaccinated children. True, they are less of a danger than if the child had never been vaccinated in the first place, but if a vaccine is 90% effective (a very good vaccine), that means 10% of vaccinated children are still potentially susceptible to the disease. That’s where the concept of herd immunity comes in. In order to prevent the organism causing a disease to be able to spread in the population, a certain percentage of the population must be vaccinated, a percentage that depends on the effectiveness of the vaccine and the transmissibility of the disease and is usually north of 90%.
I could go on, but you get the idea. On second thought, I can’t resist one more:
If we know vaccines alter your immune system, why wouldn’t we automatically investigate vaccines as a cause of an autoimmune illness?
Of course, scientists do investigate vaccines as a cause of autoimmune disease. That BK is apparently unaware of these studies reveals her ignorance more than anything else. For instance, a PubMed search of “vaccine” and “autoimmune disease” brings up 3,860 results. You can disagree with the research results if you like (although it would be helpful if you had valid reasons, something antivaccinationists virtually never do). You can even argue that vaccines are not investigated enough as a cause of autoimmune disease. You’d be wrong, but you can argue that. However, to imply that that we don’t investigate vaccines as a cause of autoimmune disease is just wrong, but then there’s so much wrong in BK’s post that it’s hard to read. There’s also a not-so-subtle message inherent in BK’s question that somehow vaccines cause all sorts of autoimmune disease, if only scientists would open their minds.
And this is what BK calls “Thinking”?
The “Thinkers” (as they call themselves) in TMR labor under the delusion that they and they alone have shaken off ignorance and freed themselves to really, really “Think” with a capital T. They place themselves in contrast to everyone else. BK even says this, concluding by asking, “Am I the only one who wonders about these things?” The clear implication, of course, is that no one else beside this merry band of antivaccinationists, these “Thinking Moms,” bother to “Think,” with everyone else being “sheeple.”
If there’s a better crystallization of the arrogance of ignorance, I have a hard time finding it. What BK and the rest of the antivaccine crowd laud as “common sense” is anything but.
66 replies on ““Common sense” that isn’t”
“Common sense” is neither. And people who invoke it are usually fools or liars, or both.
I think it’s a way to reinforce her biases – by writing it down in such a manner, she’s able to (again) justify her (mis)rationalization of vaccines.
Dose/response relationships are, for an AVer, as ludicrous as a ‘safe vaccine’. If it’s toxic at 100000 ppm, it must be toxic at 0.000001 ppm. In their minds, a toxin is toxic no matter what level.
Unless, of course, it’s ‘natcheral’. Colloidal silver has zero side effects, herbal remedies are always safe (because they’re herbal, don’tchaknow) and so forth.
I’d really like to slap some of them upside the head with a “Biology for Idiots” book.
BK lets her ignorance hang out for all to see. If there were any Thinking moms in the group she would be corrected and admonished for shoddy, shallow ideas. Instead, I have no doubt, she will be held up as a beacon.
If there was ever a call for more education funding, this should be one of the loudest.
“BK lets her ignorance hang out for all to see.”
Nonsense, the Thinking Moms have advanced degrees in Stupid. For instance:
“When it comes to researching biomedical therapies for autism, I should have my Google PhD right now.”
In other news, I got my TB skin test read today (no induration, whoopee!) and started wondering whether the antivax mob has discovered the Hidden Threat of TB testing yet (the tuberculin test does involve a sharp pointy needle piercing the skin, Toxins etc.). The answer is: yes.
Makes perfect sense. Wouldn’t you rather your doctor or nurse had active TB and spread it to you and your kids, instead of having infection detected early through this horrific invasion of the human corpus?
It never ceases to amaze me how the concept of “the dose makes the poison” escapes quacks and especially believers in antivaccine quackery.
BK has evidently forgotten (or never studied) A. E. Housman’s Shropshire Lad:
Housman was no scientist, but he got this concept. According to Wikipedia, the Mithridates he referenced actually did acquire immunity to many poisons by consuming small doses of them.
I’ve noticed that people who cite “common sense” never seem to have much of it. After all, one thing that real common sense tells us is that common sense is where thinking starts, not where it ends. Common sense helps us to formulate plausible hypotheses–but then we go on to test those hypotheses against reality. Those with genuine common sense know that common sense is not infallible–after all, it is common sense that tells us that the earth is flat.
Well, no one’s done it so it might as well be me:
“BK, I have engaged in thinking,
I’ve even studied thinking**,
All of my friends think:
And lady, you’re no thinker”
But more seriously, BK ( the Booty Kicker) has had breast cancer ( 2010) – thus the reference to the snacks given to patients in the treatment room.
She’s also a Christian thus, the reference to foetal cells: can she possibly be trying to proselytise to other Christians that this is ANOTHER ung-dly reason to avoid vaccines?
Her crystalline arrogance of ignorance- like that of others at TMR- leads to their frequent excoriation of professionals and SBM ( especially by MacNeil).
This week I have been able to view videos of Jake & Cie. at the recent meeting ( IACC?) for the first time,
similarly Null has presented 2 dedicated*** shows ( audio) over the past week or so ( ProgressiveRadioNetwork- shows- Gary Null show – see past several) compleat with guests barking various antivax tropes to beat the band. A new filom on vaccines is on the way ((shudder))
And yes, I’m still here- over one year of TMR and this past week’s overload of nonsense cannot get me down.
Although I do feel rather ill from sinus/ throat problems- right- they wore my immunity down ( as woos note). Joking.
At any rate, TMR has a book coming out next week featuring the highest level of their ‘art form’ ( for lack of a better word)- contributions by all 23 moms and one dad;
it has a forward by Sears and will be published by Skyhorse- den of woo- publishers.
Maybe Orac can get a copy?
** actually true- believe it or not.
*** to idiocy
If our schools are teaching critical thinking skills to our children, shouldn…. oh, wait. Nevermind.
Which leads me to question:
why does she trust the medical establishment about cancer but NOT trust it about vaccines/ autism etc?
Many skeptics (rightfully) rail against invoking “common sense,” but when politicians proffer “common sense gun regulations,” skeptics remain mostly silent. Is this a blind spot? Do we just not speak up because we agree with the cause, if not the rhetoric? This is something that irks me. Hope you don’t mind this slightly tangential topic
Today’s TMR features a cook-off between two TMs using supplies from Box Organics – which ship foods TO YOUR DOOR – courtesy of Curt LInderman ( of Natural News- whose show features TMs)-
And recipes. Bison Balls?
Interestingly, Adams also shills for an organic food company that ships. Endless merchandising.
I’m sure this new study will make BK change her mind http://jpeds.com/webfiles/images/journals/ympd/JPEDSDeStefano.pdf
One of my favorite books on understanding science itself is Alan Cromer’s Uncommon Sense: The Heretical Nature of Science. Scientific thinking comes hard; it’s learned. It’s analytic and objective and thus goes against the grain of human nature, which is associative and subjective. The default is for us to rely on naive intuition run through experience. Personal validation and trusting stories and identifying with your tribe and forming narratives which appeal to “common sense” doesn’t mesh well with a scientific process which encourages us to throw all that out.
That was strange – just after I clicked that link, and while I was waiting for it to load, my wife (knowing my interest in the subject) handed me a newspaper clipping referring to the same study. No doubt there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth in some quarters in response to its utterly unsurprising (to most of us) results.
Since her common sense argues that study must be wrong, mu, she’ll simply ignore it (just as anti-vaxers routinely ignore any incovenient facts).
If you are pro-life, why wouldn’t you be concerned/outraged that vaccines were created and cultivated with the cells of aborted fetal tissue?
To which I would be inclined to respond: “Because those cell lines, derived from aborted fetal tissue, have effectively given that ‘person’ a form of immortality and through that, saved myriad others from potentially fatal diseases.”
Squalene seems to be the latest frightfully deadly ingredient that anti-vax blogs are wringing their hands about – Did they mention that?
Some more inconvenient evidence out today in the form of this excellent new study in J Pediatrics:
But I’m sure, as usual, actual science will never sway those with “common sense.”
Tray – I don’t know if that’s true or false, because I haven’t been following skeptical blogs that discuss firearms legislation (or legislation in general). I personally would tend to look chicken eyed at any proposal where the only stated justification is “it’s common sense” (as opposed to simply using the term as a piece of rhetoric). I also have to wonder about any proposal that uses recent events as a justification without a good discussion of how the proposed regulation would have improved or prevented the event.
Yay, the ~Thinkers~!
Idiots. The two most commonly ingested. chemicals are almost certainly the terrifying dihydrogen monoxide and sodium chloride. Both can kill, so do you think the ~Thinkers~ would like to remove those two compounds from every food, medication, etc? Cos that would be so much fun to watch.
I’m watching Frontline’s Vaccine Wars again (it angries up my blood, I thrive on it!) and the idiotic bleating of “BUT NOBODY’S DIED OF POLIO FOR YEARS BAA BAA!” is just bizarre. Stop vaccinating against polio because the OPV killed polio… Fabulous theory that one.
@Tray – this is a blog primarily about medicine, not gun control.
Not to mention that lots of us here aren’t American, we don’t live around guns. We’re all affected by disease and medicine, that’s universal.
“According to Wikipedia, the Mithridates he referenced actually did acquire immunity to many poisons by consuming small doses of them.”
On the other hand, Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op once famously investigated a death that turned out to be due to someone credulously thinking they could build up immunity to arsenic by taking many, increasingly potent doses (and thus survive a poisoning that would kill someone not so “habituated”).
You could look it up. 🙂
The less formaldehyde, the more poisonous it is–to people who very likely believe in homeopathy, too.
Wait, I know this works–at least for deadly iocaine powder:
@Dangerous Bacon #22
That same concept with an unnamed poison(s) is a significant thread in The Count of Monte Cristo.
Mmmmmmmm. Monte Christo . . . a fried sandwich with sugar, what’s not to love?
c0nc0rdance posted a youtube video about the pitfalls of “common sense” a while back
Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op once famously investigated a death that turned out to be due to someone credulously thinking they could build up immunity to arsenic by taking many, increasingly potent doses
I refute your evidence by citing a more famous case.
The Handbook of Pesticide Toxicology (2001) cites animal studies as recent as 1906, 1916 and 1945!
Wait, when did colloidal silver become “natural”?
Silver has to be mined, then the ore purified, then processed to make colloids. How is this any more natural than any other product that needs to be processed before use?
It’s sometimes hard to avoid the suspicion that, as regards medicine, “natural” means “not approved by Big Pharma/the FDA/the Man”.
To them, apparently, even a single molecule of a chemical in a vaccine is irretrievably dangerous,
Except for bleach. Sodium chlorite is perfectly fine to give to children, by any convenient orifice.
Best is how H20 isn’t a “chemical”, yet CH20 (formaldehyde) is for some reason.
Clearly, common sense is an uncommon virtue.
Best is how H20 isn’t a “chemical”, yet CH20 (formaldehyde) is for some reason.
H2O is organic.
ROFLOL herr doktor!!!
I did freak out the first time someone told me there was formaldehyde in beer. I wish someone had been on hand to tell me that it’s also naturally occurring in human blood– I could’ve gotten a lot more drinking in over the years.
@Denice – are they talking about Rocky Mountain Oysters? Those are truly bison balls.
@ bad poet:
No, it’s just some crappy ground bison with which to make koftas/ meatballs.
Real bison balls might contain actual male hormones and you know how these autism-woo momsters would freak out about that! ( as in Geier woo).
I find their labels hilarous. But seriously, they are educating others into the ways of woo.
Thus I keep my eyes on them.
As Dara O’Briain would put it, “BK, into the feckin’ sack!”
Commonsense tells one, one does not ascertain if a firearm is loaded by looking down the barrel and depressing the trigger.
Regrettably, the real world displays the reality that the commonsense view isn’t the prevailing one.
Commonsense tells one, look both ways before crossing the street. Regrettably, people are run over every day.
The reality is, commonsense is hindsight 20/20, foresight largely zero in the general populace. People don’t rationally think. Or, people don’t think rationally. Choose your use of phrase, both are equally valid here in the real world.
Ah, some would decry that education provides some level of protection against that.
I’ll regale you the story of two registered nurses.
Some years ago, two nurses went through their RN program together. It was well under a decade ago.
Both attended the same classes. Both were graded on the same scale of learning.
One graduated and became an antivax type, the other highly pro vaccination.
The latter is my eldest daughter. She still can’t comprehend how her peer got so misguided against all of her education and all of science.
But then, as I explained to her, some people choose to be idiots.
Idiocy cannot be treated. Ignorance can be treated by education.
New post up on TMR…using the *Galileo Gambit*…along with a rogue’s gallery of photos of doctors who *treat* autism:
If I hear about doctors subjected to witch-hunts, I tend to think about the doctors who are pro-vaccination, hunted down by TMR and other autism quackery-organisations.
Einstein said it best–common sense is the collection of prejudices we’ve acquired by the time we’re 18 years old.
@Renate, I usually see the term witch-hunt used by the quacks when they are being investigated by the medical boards or law enforcement.
lilday, I tried to call your attention to this elsewhere, but they’re claiming a witch hunt in NY now. As you know, both groups share the same set of doctors. Looks like they’ve gone and bought themselves a reporter.
@ S: I have to go offline now…I’ll check it out on Monday. 🙂
It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. Actually, of course, it’s an EASY job, which makes it more boring, BUT somebody’s still gotta do it. Somebody has to take or make the time to refute their tediously repetitive wrong claims.
And the best place to do it isn’t here amongst the choir, it’s out there, in the comment sections of THEIR blogs.
There’s a great deal of satisfaction (FUN!) to be had upsetting trolls by being all reasonable all over their own turf, and knowing that you’re still NOT a troll even as you enrage them to screaming empty threats in impotent rage.
Catharsis and good karma is yours, rage is theirs.
Yes, I know the quacks are mostly complaining about witch-hunts. It’s just my own association that is a bit different.
“And the best place to do it isn’t here amongst the choir, it’s out there, in the comment sections of THEIR blogs.”
Most of their blogs are carefully moderated to remove any posting that doesn’t fit into their narrow paradigm!
It’s not as though vaccine manufacturers grind up fetuses to make vaccines, although that is clearly what is being implied.
My very favorite South Park of all time involves Cartman trying to get hold of stem cells to save Kenny. After being stymied on various other avenues, he finally resorts to standing outside a Planned Parenthood clinic holding a sign saying “Bring Me Your Aborted Fetuses.”
I’m a great fan of subtlety.
How ignorant you can be! Until the day your child is diagnosed with autism……….and within hours of receiving a vaccine! This is all too often the case of families of autism. I don’t need to prove it chemically when all signs are pointing to common sense. Can one of you supposed scientists prove or disapprove it for us? Be an advocate for so many hurting families. What research have you done for it?
Stacy, many of us here have children, relatives, and friends on the spectrum. Many others here are researchers actively studying ASD.
Are you saying your child was diagnosed with ASD by a physician within hours of being vaccinated? This seems unlikely.
Also, Stacy, an example:
You see a bolt of lightning, and a few seconds later hear thunder. Wouldn’t ‘common sense’ lead you to believe that the lightning happened first, and that it caused the thunder?
@Stacy, I am intrigued by your experience. How does one diagnose autism in a child who was (presumably) absolutely normal in every respect just hours before? Wouldn’t the normal diagnosis be some sort of acute reaction?
If instead they’d been diagnosed within hours of taking a subway ride, would it be common sense to conclude that riding subway trains causes autism?
The fact is that whenever a child is diagnosed with anything the diagnosis must happen within hours of their doing something else, eating or drinking something else, etc. Therefore something more than temporal proximity is needed to support a claim that there’s a causal link.
I’m sure a preponderance of autism diagnoses happen in doctors’ offices. Can we then conclude that visiting the doctor causes autism? It’s only common sense.
Not the book from Robert A. Heinlein, though it made a similar point…
@ S #44:
“lilady, I tried to call your attention to this elsewhere, but they’re claiming a witch hunt in NY now. As you know, both groups share the same set of doctors. Looks like they’ve gone and bought themselves a reporter.”
It also looks like the Lymies *impressed* another Senator (Kirsten Gillebrand), who, along with Senator Richard Blumenthal, conducted another U.S. Senate Lyme Disease hearing (August, 2012) and co-chairs local hearings about Lyme Disease:
Dr. Harriet Hall at SBM, touched on unlicensed NDs and LLMDs treating “chronic Lyme disease”…and I had a nice dialogue with another commenter from Virginia, about “chronic Lyme disease:
It takes common sense to look at the current vaccine protocol, ingredients, lack of testing, big pharma involvement etc, etc and be very leery of what we are injecting into our children. I am an ex-Pfizer employee and have been trained on drug testing, vaccine testing is a joke. Something is not right and I do not want my children to be a part of that protocol. I’m holding out for the government to wake up and make some changes; however I am not holding my breath. Everyone has the right to make their own decision for their child. I will graciously stand back while others inject their children with harmful chemicals. Formaldehyde created naturally in the body and Formaldehyde injected directly into the bloodstream are clearly different. After reading the article and some of the comments, it is very clear why the numbers of children with Autism, ADD, ADHD, Allergies, Diabetes, seizures, Asthma and other chronic childhood conditions have been on the rise.
And this is why I suggested/complained about people reading websites before diving in.
Two sentences in CB’s paragraph do not match. Can you figure out why?
How are they different? Be specific.
Exactly which vaccines are injected intravenously (i,e, directly into the bloodstream) rather than intra-muscularly? Again, be specific.
And if you’re willing to satisfy my curiosity, what exactly were you employed to do at Pfizer? Your job title? Department?
It boggles the mind that CB can comment on how vaccines are tested when he makes a basic mistake about the way vaccines are given. Or that a chemical is different because of its location.
Eric Lund: Rasputin was also believed to have been an arsenic eater, though there is apparently no known way of preventing high-velocity lead poisoning.
Tray: I agree with the cause, but I heard the same rhetoric and saw the same frantic rush to regulate after Columbine. Nothing changed then, nothing will change now. And there *are * places on the net that concern themselves with politics. This is not one of them, so kindly take yourself off.
I swear the most popular argument against vaccines is that it is injected directly into the blood stream. Where do these people go to get their shots? The question is, how is that relevant even if it was true? It does not change the “toxicity” Is the concern that the “blood stream” is going to circulate formaldehyde in amounts enough to embalm the child? I thought the argument was that these toxins cause autism, so is autism caused by a bloodstream full of chemicals? Does a substance have a greater probability of crossing the BBB if injected intravenously vs subcutaneously, or ingested, or is it completely irrelevant? I’m not a doctor or scientist, but these convenient omissions seem problematic even to my untrained eyes. Remember the days people died prom botulism? Now we inject it into “the blood stream” of faces and armpits. (Well sort of anyway)
#57 Formaldehyde created naturally in the body and Formaldehyde injected directly into the bloodstream are clearly different.
… er, no, they’re not. They do have the same chemical makeup and structure, I’m afraid. “Formaldehyde” is a specific word denoting a specific arrangement of atoms and so forth. You…. did take high school chemistry, right?
I’m a bit late commenting on this thread, but:
leads one, ineluctably, to note that, while antifreeze in vaccines might be an anti-vaccine semantic gambit, antifreeze in wine is a serious crime in France. True story!
Non linear response must really confuse her – the dose makes the poison is a relatively simple concept that likely confuses any non-scientifically minded person.
Here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Median_lethal_dose is a chart which includes the median lethal dose for such items as water, salt, sugar, and vitamin C, where is the crusade to eliminate those from clearly hazardous substances?