Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery Science Skepticism/critical thinking

Quoth “Dr. Bob” Sears: Poor, poor pitiful me, you stupid people


Poor, poor, pitiful Dr. Bob.

For those of you not familiar with him, I’m referring, of course, to Robert “Dr. Bob” Sears, MD, the antivaccine-sympathetic (or, more appropriately, antivaccine-pandering) pediatrician in Capistrano Beach, CA (between Los Angeles and San Diego in Orange County) known for his Vaccine Book, a veritable font of antivaccine misinformation gussied up as a “reasonable” middle ground. Too bad it’s not.

In any case, in the wake of the Disneyland measles outbreak, Dr. Bob has found himself under a lot of criticism, along with our “good buddy,” the other famous antivaccine-pandering pediatrician, Dr. Jay Gordon. As well they should! The majority of the measles cases thus far have occurred in the unvaccinated. More importantly, the association of this outbreak with Disneyland gives this story legs. It’s drawn international attention of a very negative kind on how the antivaccine movement has spread misinformation and frightened parents, thus contributing to declines in vaccine uptake, which in turn have led to pockets of vaccine uptake sufficiently low as to permit, facilitate even, outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. The heat has come down particularly hard on certain antivaccine-friendly pediatricians in the area, such as our old friend Dr. Jay Gordon in Santa Monica and, of course, Dr. Bob Sears in Capistrano Beach, right in Orange County itself. I took Sears to task last time for having downplayed previous measles outbreaks, treating the parents of his patients condescendingly by basically waving them away and telling them to get the damned shot if they’re worried but stop bugging him.

I exaggerate, but not by much.

In fact, on Friday, Dr. Bob cracked. Well, actually, it was the first time he cracked. There was a second time yesterday. But let’s start with the first time. You might have seen this before, but it’s worth covering, particularly as a prelude to covering his second meltdown yesterday. (You can always skip his first meltdown and leap straight to his second if you like.) So let’s go.

On Friday, Dr. Bob posted this update on the Disneyland measles outbreak on his Facebook page entitled “JUST HOW DEADLY IS MEASLES?” In it, Dr. Bob strives mightily to convince his readers that the measles is no big whoop. I’m reprinting the complete text, in case Dr. Bob has second thoughts and sends his Facebook post below down the old memory hole, not to mention for the benefit of those of you who don’t have Facebook accounts:

The full text of Dr. Bob’s little rant follows:

What makes measles so scary? What is it about measles that spreads fear and dread through our population? Three things, in my opinion, set it apart from most infectious diseases that make us afraid: 1. It’s untreatable, and it has a high rate of complications, so we are at its [sic] mercy, 2. It’s been virtually eliminated from the U.S., so we aren’t used to it anymore, and 3. It’s potentially fatal.

Now, let’s play two truths and a lie. Two of these statements are true, and one is not. Well, the one that is not is technically true, but it’s not true in all practical terms.

1. Untreatable? Correct. There is no anti-viral medication that will help, so we just have to stand by as the disease runs its course. We are powerless, and that creates fear. We don’t want to take a risk with something which we have no way to mitigate or control. The only thing that may make measles less severe is high dose Vitamin A therapy (which is approved by the WHO). But that’s not an anti-viral med; it just helps us fight it off a little better.

Complications? Ear infection is the most likely complication – treatable. Pneumonia is next – also treatable. Ya, you don’t want those things to happen, but they are treatable. Encephalitis? That’s much worse. Fortunately it’s extremely rare in well-nourished people (see below).

So, the lie is that measles has a high rate of serious complications. It doesn’t. It CAN, but it rarely does.

2. Eliminated? Virtually. Over the past 20 years we’ve sometimes only had 50 cases a year. Sometimes 150. Nobody knows measles anymore, and when we are ignorant of something unfamiliar, we fear it until we understand it.

Ask any Grandma or Grandpa (well, older ones anyway), and they’ll say “Measles? So what? We all had it. It’s like Chicken pox.” Ask a twenty-five-year-old mom with two young kids, and she’ll scoop up her kids and run away from you for even mentioning the M word.

If you understand measles, you wouldn’t fear it. Respect it.

I do acknowledge that it’s a public health nightmare in that it takes a lot of effort and money to contain these outbreaks. And it causes a lot of people to get tested, quarantined, or treated with preventive immune globulin shots. It’s no joke. But, those efforts are largely because we are trying to contain it, not because it’s going to kill everybody. So, not fear – respect.

3. Potentially fatal? Technically true, but herein lies the lie. It’s been publicized as “the deadliest of all childhood fever/rash illness with a high rate of complications.” Deadly? Not in the U.S., or any other developed country with a well-nourished population. The risk of fatality here isn’t zero, but it’s as close to zero as you can get without actually being zero. It’s 1 in many thousands. Will someone pass away in the U.S. from measles one of these years? Tragically yes. That will likely happen to one person. It hasn’t happened here in at least ten years (or more – I don’t even know how many years we have to go back to find one). When that happens, it will be extremely tragic.

But will it spread through the U.S. and kill people left and right? No. Does measles do that in underdeveloped countries? Sadly, yes. It kills countless people worldwide every year. So, that’s how health officials can accurately say it’s so deadly. They don’t have to tell you the whole truth, just the part of the truth that they want you to believe.

Measles can also be serious for young infants, just as many diseases can. It can also be serious for immunocompromised people, just as all illnesses. It can also cause pregnancy complications, just like many infections can. Measles isn’t unique in these risks. But they are risks nonetheless.

So, fear measles? No. Not in the U.S.. Respect measles? Yes. Take appropriate precautions with it. But don’t let anyone tell you you should live in fear of it. Let’s handle it calmly and without fear or blame.

“Without blame”? As in, “Don’t blame me for the consequences of what I’ve been saying and doing for all these years”? Nice try, Dr. Bob. You’re not getting off that easily, nor will you be so easily allowed to shift the blame to the parents who listened to you rather than your own words and behavior. In fact, Dr. Bob’s reminded me of so much of an antivaccine meme originated at The Vaccine Machine, a virulently and unfortunately popular Facebook page run by the equally virulent and antivaccine Robert Schecter (known on my not-so-super-secret other blog as Sid Offit) that’s dedicated to trashing vaccines and spreading antivaccine pseudoscience that I just had to post it here:


Yes, notice how Dr. Bob even invokes a variant of the “argumentum ad Brady Bunchium” fallacy when he mentions how “grandma and grandpa” poo-poo the measles as being “just like the chicken pox” and dismiss it with, “We all had it,” an attitude that he compares to that of a 25-year-old mother who’s never seen the measles before and therefore fears it because she doesn’t know it. It’s a rather clever inversion of the argument frequently used by pro-vaccine bloggers that points out that the reason parents don’t fear vaccine-preventable diseases anymore—the usual example used being polio—is because they’ve never personally witnessed the death and complications these diseases used to cause. In retrospect, I’m actually a bit surprised Dr. Bob didn’t mention the infamous “measles” episode of The Brady Bunch, actually. Come on, Dr. Bob. Let it out! You know you want to!

On that note, after having read Dr. Bob’s treatise above, I’d like you to go and read Marcella Piper-Terry’s initial response to the Disneyland measles outbreak from January 8 entitled “Measles at Disneyland!” Can you tell the difference between the Dr. Bob and a raving antivaccine loon like Piper-Terry? They are, in fact, making very similar arguments. Other than Piper-Terry’s longer post, with calculations designed to make you think that measles was never a big deal, Dr. Bob is using exactly the same arguments without adding the calculations, in particular the key argument being that measles in developed countries is not a threat, only in those “other” people in Third World countries who aren’t as developed as we are because, you know, we’re superior. Measles doesn’t kill very many of us compared to those poor, blighted savages! (I exaggerate, but, I contend, only a little.) He dismisses complications of measles as being “treatable” and therefore of little consequence. In fact, he makes it sound as though a measles-associated ear infection is equivalent to measles-associated pneumonia, dismissing them both as “treatable” with a jaunty, “Ya, you don’t want those things to happen, but they are treatable.” Never mind that many, if not most, cases of measles-associated pneumonia require hospitalization, many also requiring an ICU stay. As Dr. Roy Benaroch sarcastically puts it in his post entitled “Dr. Sears continues to salute our children with his middle finger“, many parents would indeed consider an ICU stay “somewhat of an inconvenience.” (I like Dr. Benaroch’s style.)

Think of it this way. According to the CDC, before the vaccine, 48,000 people a year were hospitalized for the measles; 4,000 developed measles-associated encephalitis; and 400 to 500 people died. By any stretch of the imagination that was a significant public health problem, and the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1963, followed by the MMR in 1971, made it much less so. As Dr. John Snyder reminded us five years ago responding to Dr. Sears making the same arguments in his book, measles is not a benign disease, regardless of what popular culture thought of it 50 or 60 years ago.

Of course, even Dr. Bob has to concede that measles-associated encephalitis is a Very Bad Thing, but he dismisses the risk with an equally jaunty rejoinder that encephalitis is “extremely rare in well-nourished people” (i.e., his well-off patients at whom his Facebook post is aimed). As for death, Dr. Bob’s message is, “Don’t worry, be happy.” After all, according to him, the risk of fatality is “as close to zero as you can get without actually being zero,” or one in many thousands. Funny how Dr. Bob (and the antivaccine activists to whom he panders) dismiss a possibility of death of this magnitude as being of no consequence; yet, a one in a million chance of Guillan-Barre disease after the meningococcal vaccine (or a one in several hundred thousand risk of severe reactions to vaccines in general) is completely unacceptable. Indeed, if you accept at face value Dr. Bob’s grossly-exaggerated estimate for a severe vaccine reaction of one in 100,000, by Dr. Bob’s own definition, the risk of severe reactions to any given vaccine is even lower than “as close to zero as you can get without actually being zero.” Even if you accept Dr. Bob’s even more ridiculously inflated estimate that the risk that “any one child will suffer a severe reaction over the entire, twelve-year vaccine schedule is about 1 in 2600,” I can’t help but note that we’re now in the range of the likelihood of a child with measles dying due to this disease in the United states. To Bob, the risk of these vaccine injuries is unacceptable, but a similar or much higher risk of death if a child catches the measles is just the cost of doing antivaccine business. According to Dr. Bob, yes, sooner or later a child is going to die of the measles—and won’t that be so tragic?—but it’ll likely only be one.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Bob Sears.

If Bob Sears weren’t such a worthless excuse for a pediatrician when it comes to promoting misinformation about vaccines, I’d almost feel sorry for him. Almost. He is, however, a perfect example of what the phrase “hoist with his own petard” means. Dr. Bob has for years made a profitable career for himself as the “reasonable” face of the vaccine-averse, painting himself as not like all those other loony antivaccinationists out there but rather as a reasonable pediatrician taking a “middle way” and “listening to parents.” Now the consequences of the ideas Dr. Bob has promoted are starting to become apparent, with measles outbreaks becoming increasingly common right on his home turf, leading the parents of his patients to ask him what to do now that the low vaccine uptake encouraged by him are facilitating measles outbreaks like the most recent one in Disneyland. They are asking him for guidance, and he’s fobbing off the responsibility on them, telling them just to “get the vaccine” and if you “don’t want the vaccine, accept the risk.” Nice.

Apparently Dr. Bob hit a nerve. Or, more accurately, the bloggers and writers criticizing him hit a nerve in Dr. Bob. I say this because yesterday, Dr. Bob took to Facebook again to whine, whine, whine. He wrote a post entitled a bitter and sarcastic PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: GET YOUR VACCINE. Compared to Dr. Bob’s first little rant, in this new little rant, Dr. Bob comes off as a petulant child, annoyed that anyone would question him. As with his first post, I’ll reprint this one in full as well, in case Dr. Bob decides to send this embarrassment down the old memory hole. First, here’s the post:

Now here’s the full text:

So, I broke one of the cardinal rules of infectious disease journalism, a rule that I didn’t know existed, but in hindsight is now as obvious as the nose on my face (ya, I was teased a lot about that as a kid). Apparently, the rule is this: When one writes anything about a vaccine-preventable disease, one MUST, without fail, include a statement reminding people to get that vaccine; failure to do so will be interpreted as a declaration against said (or NOT said, I guess) vaccine. People are generally stupid, so one must remind them frequently about vaccines.

So, when I posted a very brief discussion of the disease measles on Friday, which, in no way, claimed to be a complete discussion of all the issues, but failed to remind people there’s a vaccine (because everyone probably forgot about the vaccine, I know), what I was really saying in secret, if you read between the lines, is “don’t get the vaccine.” At least, that’s how stupid people took it.

I know I know. My mom taught me never to use the “S” word. But isn’t it ok to use when people really are stupid? I don’t know. You decide. Oh, and since I did mention the “M” word in this post, let me also remind everyone that there is a vaccine against measles. Get it.

Oh, and just to be complete, since I mentioned the “S” disease as well, let me remind you that there is a vaccine to prevent stupid. If you haven’t gotten it already, you should.

One wonders whether Dr. Bob would like some cheese with his whine.

Really, if Dr. Bob wants to learn how to be sarcastic without being petulant and whiny, Orac can teach him. It’s the very essence of not-so-Respectful Insolence, when required. And, boy, does Dr. Bob require it. Think about it. Dr. Bob is upset that he’s been called to task for not having recommended the MMR vaccine in the midst of an outbreak of measles! Seriously. Is it possible for a pediatrician to be more irresponsible?

Is it also possible for anyone to build a bigger straw man and then set it aflame with, yes, burning stupid? Here’s a hint for Dr. Bob. We didn’t interpret your little rant last week as telling people not to get the vaccine. We interpreted it (quite rightly) as a pathetic attempt to convince people that the vaccine is irrelevant because measles isn’t such a bad disease. Dr. Bob tried his very hardest to convince his readers that measles is just a mild childhood disease that can’t hurt the offspring of the oh-so-painfully health conscious parents who bring their children to him, those “well-nourished” kids who couldn’t possibly suffer the worst complications of measles, such as pneumonia, encephalitis, and even death. As you saw above, for Dr. Bob, those complications aren’t for well-off white crunchy residents of his southern California bastion. Oh, no. Only those “other” (usually brown) people get it.

Because, you know, ear infections and pneumonia are the same. “Ya, you don’t want those things to happen, but they are treatable.”

Dr. Bob’s arrogance is also monumental. Think about it. He’s basically calling everyone who to him “misinterpreted” what he said stupid. One would think that Dr. Bob would remember the first rule of being a writer: If your readers “misinterpret” what you say, first look to yourself. Don’t blame the reader first. Consider first and foremost the possibility that didn’t write it well enough or clearly enough. Nine times out of ten, it’s the writer’s fault if so many readers misunderstand his message.I try to live by that rule. If I write something that’s widely misunderstood, something whose message clearly doesn’t get through, the first person I blame is myself. If you can’t get your message across clearly, you aren’t a good writer.

Dr. Bob is not a good writer. Yes, it’s extreme arrogance on his part to blame his readers first for not understanding the spectacular wisdom you think he’s imparting to them. I realize that Dr. Bob thinks his post was tongue-in-cheek, but, as any decent writer knows, doing satire (or even just a tongue-in-cheek article) is hard. It’s difficult to do it so that it doesn’t come off as whiny or excessively sarcastic. Dr. Bob just couldn’t pull it off.

Of course, Dr. Bob’s real problem is that his critics, including myself, understood his message all too well. In fact, his failure to mention the measles vaccine at all in his post last week was very, very telling. Indeed, if you take last week’s post by Dr. Bob in context with his previous writings, it’s very clear what he meant. After having dismissed his patients’ parents’ concerns about measles outbreaks earlier this year basically by telling them to “get the damned vaccine if you’re worried” and then to shut up and take the risk if you don’t, Dr. Bob’s doing everything he could to argue that in the US the measles is no big deal made his intent very clear, particularly when, as he realizes this week, he also failed to encourage his readers in the least to get the vaccine in the middle of a measles outbreak.

Overall, the message wasn’t so much that children shouldn’t get the vaccine. Rather, the message was that the vaccine doesn’t matter because measles isn’t so bad. This was an incredibly irresponsible message in the middle of an outbreak, and any pediatrician who makes such an argument is a crappy pediatrician. It’s tempting to throw it back at him and conclude that Dr. Bob is stupid, but I know that he’s not. He’s made his bed, and now he has to lie in it. The reason skeptics and practitioners of science-based medicine view him as antivaccine is because his every public utterance tell us that he is.

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]

125 replies on “Quoth “Dr. Bob” Sears: Poor, poor pitiful me, you stupid people”

Can we please stop re-writing history? It’s just insane to claim that no one feared measles or polio.

Try a thought experiment. If we found a cure for breast cancer, after years of effort and millions of dollars, would it make any sense to say 30 years later that no one had feared it?

No one alive today would believe it.

My parents were terrified when we suffered through measles, mumps and the other “harmless” childhood illnesses. They had both lost siblings in the 1930s to diseases we prevent with vaccines. I’m pretty sure my Dad got us to the front of the line for the polio vaccine. He would have kidnapped my kids in heartbeat if I ever evaded vaccinating them. ( And returned them after they had all required shots.)

I had many ear infections as a teen. Usually brought on by a cold and shit anatomy.

They hurt like hell. Seriously. At one point I was chewing habaneros just so I couldn’t feel the pain in my ears.

Never had pneumonia. Only bronchitis. I imagine pneumonia to feel like bronchitis, only worse.

So, if there is a simple, harmless way to prevent these complications from measles on top of not getting measles?

I’d take that any day.

Which is why I got the MMR as an adult since I never had any of those diseases and my mum couldn’t remember if I got the shot when I was little and there were no records as well.

Do you know what happened when I got the shot?! Nothing!!

Incidentally, I was vaccinated against TBC as a baby. Unfortunately it didn’t work.

Talk about being able to ignore reality – we live in a country today where levels of poverty & malnourished children are at their highest rates in a long, long time.

How many kids in schools get free or reduced-price lunches because their families are living below the poverty line?

It strikes me as extremely disingenuous and ignorant to try to claim that Americans have some kind of “natural immunity or benefit” because we are well-nourished, when the facts say otherwise.

I’m developing quite the dislike and contempt for Dr. Bob – he’s well on his way to earning Douchebag of the Year again.

I am convinced that Dr. Bob really does think we’re stupid. He tried a little bit of revisionist history when he was called out for being the pediatrician of the unvaccinated kid who kicked off a measles outbreak when the kid returned from Europe. He claimed that he never allowed the child to sit in his office, which he didn’t, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that he had a hand in that outbreak. But he was so outraged that he could be accused of having a hand in that whole thing. Then, when confronted with the fact that he was the pediatrician of that child and that Seth Mnookin interviewed him about it for “The Panic Virus,” Dr. Bob claimed to never have spoken or heard of Seth. Seth wrote about it on his blog, including an audiotape of that interview.

I don’t know what to make of Dr. Bob and Dr. Jay. How does someone devoted to medicine so as to go through medical school be convinced of something that goes against all available evidence? It’s vaccines, for crying out loud! We’ve had them for 200 years and nothing has happened except an increase in age expectancy, in productivity, in the sheer number of humans around and not dying of bullshit reasons like measles or chickenpox.

I mean, chickenpox?

I found a Yelp review yesterday for Sears stating he charges (cash up front, no insurance accepted) $170 for an average office visit. That means he charges 2 1/2 times what the average insurance reimbursement is for an average office visit.

Poor Dr. Bob? I think not.

More like, greedy, ignorant, spineless, whiny, two-faced, duplicitous over-charging Dr. Bob–perhaps the most shameful example of a pediatrician I’ve even seen. Again, Sears deserves sanction and loss of his medical license for what he has said and done.

I had pneumonia when I was 13. It was relatively mild. I missed two weeks of school and lost about eight pounds. I was more or less in bed for most of that time, because that’s all I had energy for. I had to breathe very shallowly lest I set off another coughing fit. To this day – thirty-three years later – I can’t stand fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, because that’s what I had with my medication to stop me vomiting it. Didn’t work.
Yep. Just exactly like an ear infection.

I think it would be helpful to see how doctors around the turn of the 20th century talked about measles. Let’s see, here is J. Mayer, MD addressing the 34th Annual Meeting of the State Society (California) in 1904 [emphasis added]:

Measles, as we usually see it, is a disease attended with discomfort rather than danger, and requires little more than judicious nursing. It is dangerous only in its complications; however, it is doubtful whether there is in the human body a single tissue which is exempt from the possibility of modification, temporarily or permanently, as a result of an attack of this disease. It is not the intention to in any way try to exaggerate or to attach undue importance to insignificant conditions, but to express my belief that ordinarily measles does not get the consideration which its importance demands. And medical men are beginning to find this out.

It is hard to combat the old notion that measlesis something akin to a common cold with a rash, and that there is nothing to be done but keep the patient warm. It is also difficult, as you know, to have people accept a new medical idea, which is not to be wondered at. The truth is that we, ourselves, too often encourage indifference by some such remark as “It is only measles.”

Gentlemen, experience has taught me that every case of measles should be looked upon by a physician as involving not only the question of the future usefulness and well-being of the subject, but even that of his life.

He goes on to discuss the various complications and sequelae of measles and concludes by quoting the “Twentieth Century Practice of Medicine” [emphasis added]:

Measles is a dangerous disease-one of the most dangerous with which a child under five years of age can be attacked. It is especially apt to be fatal to teething children. It tends to kill by producing inflammation of the lungs. It prepares the way for consumption. It tends to maim by producing inflammations of the ears and eyes. Measles has carried off more than four times as many persons as enteric fever. It is therefore a great mistake to look upon measles as a trifling disease. Every child ill with measles ought at once to be put to bed and kept warm, for the mildest cases may be made serious by a chill. Measles is for this reason most dangerous in winter and spring. The older a child is, the less likely it is to catch measles, and if it does, the less likely it is to die. If every child could be protected from measles until It had passed its fifth year the mortality from this disease would be enormously decreased. It is therefore a great mistake – because as a rule children sooner or later have measles – to say, “The sooner the better,” and to take no measures to protect them, or even deliberately to expose them to infection.

Physicians have been dealing with the same problem we see with doctors like Dr. Bob for quite a long time. It is reprehensible that a physician should so misrepresent diseases like measles as “benign” and nothing to worry about. Even in the early days of medicine, doctors knew it would be best to prevent the disease than to manage it once it is taking its course. Dr. Bob, it’s time to join us in the modern age.

Whoops. Forgot to include the link to Dr. Mayer’s comments. It is from the California State Journal of Medicine, 1904, “a href=””>Complications and Sequelae of Measles” (PDF).

What is it with Dr. Bob and saying “Ya”? Ya, that sounds pretty dumb.

“More like, greedy, ignorant, spineless, whiny, two-faced, duplicitous over-charging Dr. Bob”

…who is shortly to appear in a DirectTV commercial along with petulant, foolish, snotty, feel-sorry-for-myself Dr. Bob.

Drs Sears, Gordon and the rest of the panderers seem to be doing this for a true American goal: Greed. They ought to pay a price for that to support the local health departments and parents they have overburdened.

If they feel that is unfair, ask their insurance companies.

Poor Dr. Bob? I think not.

Orac was alluding to this song by Warren Zevon. (In Googling it I learned something I didn’t know: Linda Ronstadt had a Top 40 hit with a gender-flipped cover of this song.)

As for Dr. Bob’s claim that measles is harmless: That railroad, like the Double E, don’t run no more.

Meanwhile, ‘Sid’ continues ( @ Vaccine Machine facebook):
” School has no business keeping these kids away from school since it is a public resource..
.self-serving overzealous public health do-gooders .. should be overturned”
in response to Huntington Beach’s high school’s decision to have 24 students who are unvaccinated for measles stay at home.

At any rate, I had the sublime pleasure last night of listening to an entire hour of anti-vaccine balderdash ( see the Progressive Commentary Hour , PRN) provided by that network’s hoary old host and featuring Andy, Toni Bark, Brian Hooker and John Gilmore.
Oddly, no one mentioned the measles in SoCal. Or a court case. And Hooker hasn’t been in touch with Thompson for a long time.

So according to Sid unvaccinated kids should be allowed to go to school, even if they endanger other kids? Or should the endangered kids stay at home?

@ Renate:

I suppose he might say that vaccinated kids have nothing to fear because they are already 100% – or so they think- and the unvaccinated should fear the vaccinated ones’ vaccines shedding… that’s the REAL danger.

oh sh!t, I’m able to construct anti-vax arguments automatically.

Wait a sec, I thought Sid was against Public Schools….what does he care what they do?

This is consistent with Dr. Bob’s style. He lashed out at Catherina and I years ago while we were calling him out on his BS recommendations on his then message board. According to Dr. Bob, we’re “pharma agents” planted there to make him look bad. This is just another of his petulant tantrums when he has conducted himself in such a monumentally irresponsible fashion yet again. As far as doctors go, he strikes me as a piss-poor physician. In fact if he was the only physician in my area, I’d take my children to a veterinarian.

There’s another facet of this issue I haven’t seen addressed yet, but to my mind it’s significant:

The value of Civilisation itself, which consists of things such as reduction of suffering, increase of knowledge, and protection of the weak.

For example protecting the weak from diseases spread by frothing idiots.

We don’t shut down public conveniences and post signs saying ‘Now use the bushes.’ We don’t shut down the cleansing department and say ‘throw it in your back garden.’ If someone wanted an exemption to the rates because they worshipped rats and flies, we’d lock them up in the nut hatch post-haste.

These anti-vaxxers are basically eroding civilisation itself by bringing on outbreaks of once-conquered diseases. They are de-facto barbarians at the gates, no better than those who burn libraries, and should be called out as such.

Re. Ren @ 4, how can they do it? Easily, it allows them to make names for themselves and obtain niche market clienteles who they can overcharge for service. ‘Try Doctor Quacko’s New Improved Vaccine Schedule! Guaranteed better then the Government schedule, or double your measles back (we’ll even count them for you)!’ See also Chris @ 5 who has the numbers: 170 dollars per visit, double the usual cost.

B—– H—!, how I despise those quacks. Fifty-something cases and counting.

According to Dr. Bob, we’re “pharma agents” planted there to make him look bad.

Not that that would be necessary, given the fine job he’s doing making himself look bad all on his own.

@ Denice

Ooops! That should be 100% PROTECTED

It’s OK, we filled in the blank. You are not the only one having anti-vax arguments springing fully-formed out of your mind.

After so many years reading and listening to their credo, most of the regulars here should be able play karaoke on a muted video of the most repetitive ones.

Re: Dr Sears. Oh the poor guy. People are upset because they didn’t get medical advice from him. The nerves of these people, asking a doctor to do his job…

Dangerous Bacon:

What is it with Dr. Bob and saying “Ya”? Ya, that sounds pretty dumb.

Hey! Some of us actually do talk like that, don’t ya know. 😛 That’s commonplace here in Minnesota, and it led to me reading his posts with a thick Minnesota accent.

Uff da.

@Calli Arcale:

Yeah, I was imagining it in my maternal grandmother’s voice. (Norwegian immigrants by way of North Dakota, doncha know.) 🙂

One thing that is mind boggling is the endless comments on his posts from his supporters spewing all the usual anti-vaccine nonsense, and he never goes in to correct them. I saw him post once or twice never saying unequivocally that the vaccine is safe and effective. It’s astounding. If I went to MY doctor today and said I had some vague fears about getting a flu shot she would tell me straight up that it’s safe and it’s much more dangerous not to get it, because she knows more about medicine than me. That’s the real problem with this guy.

The AAP needs to take a good hard look at Dr. Bob – they need to decide if he’s the type of Doctor that they should have in their organization and presenting information in the public sphere that is extremely contrary to not only the stated opinions of the AAP, but represents a clear and present danger to public health.

That’s the thing – if you say ‘you’ like ‘ya,’ you would still type ‘you,’ wouldn’t you? I don’t write out my accent. : (I do type y’all, because I think the Midwest has supplied the English language with a much-needed unambiguous second-person plural.)

“Again, Sears deserves sanction and loss of his medical license for what he has said and done.”

Seriously. How does he still have his license?

Pneumonia can be a rough ride even for a healthy adult.
About 20 years ago I got an anaerobic bacterial infection in my lungs which spread into the chest cavity.
I was stuck in bed in the hospital for two weeks, much of it lying on my side with four tubes in my back to drain the fluids from my body.
It took me a week to be able to walk around the ward. And it was another week before I was strong enough to go back to work.
And I did better than average. The norm was a 3 week stay, probably because most of their patients with the condition were much older.
So when my doctor recommended a Prevnar booster at my visit this month, I was happy to get it. I had a side effect. My arm was mildly sore for a day or two. Just enough that I could feel where I had received the shot.

I also just learned that vaccines have side effects, diseases have complications.

I read a story online set in the UK that had a brief mention of 3 young kids having chickenpox and getting a week off from school. Use calamine lotion and no big deal.

Since the UK still doesn’t recommend the chickenpox vaccination, I guess that’s the prevailing attitude over there.

But it tweaked my nose and I wanted some information, so I did a search on chickenpox side effects. Most of what I got was about the risks of the chickenpox vaccine. Even the good sites were mostly aimed at countering antivax arguments.

It took a search for chickenpox mortality to come up with this.

The United States started the chickenpox vaccination program for children in 1996. We were the first country to recommend routine vaccination to reduce the burden of chickenpox. Before the vaccination program, about 4 million people in the United States got chickenpox, over 10,000 were hospitalized, and 100 to 150 died each year.

So the death rate was an order of magnitude less than from measles, but still nothing to sneer at.

@Calli Arcale

I was thinking the same thing. I think that Ole or Sven might be a good stand-in for Dr. Bob.

Anti vaccine loons on mothering are spouting the same kind of nonsense on a Disneyland measles thread there.

“When people say 1/10 with measles land in hospital it sounds so scary.

I don’t think the disease is so scary as to warrant a 1/10 hospitalisation rate. Here is why:

1. The complication rate does not warrant it.
Here, from the CDC

Ear infections occur in about one out of every 10 children with measles and can result in permanent hearing loss. Antibiotics – not hospital worthy
Diarrhea is reported in less than one out of 10 people with measles. Unlikely to be hospital worthy

As many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children. Sometimes hospital worthy. Typically treatable at home

About one child out of every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain) that can lead to convulsions and can leave the child deaf or mentally retarded. Hospital worthy

2. In the prevaccine era, nowhere near 1/10 people were hospitalised.

According to this stat out of Canada, about 1/70 people were hospitalised. (5000/350 000)
Interestingly, they have the prevaccine fatality rate at around 50-70/350 000 or 1/5000-1/7000.…s/measles.aspx

What I think is happening is twofold:
a. The burden of measles has shifted to the very young, and less so, to older individuals. Babies are unvaccinated, so they are the ones to get measles. Measles is riskier in the under 2’s. Mothers can no longer pass along measles antibodies, which have a protective effect, as they never had measles.

b. Doctors are not used to mealses, and culturally, it is painted as “scary”. Ergo hospital stays. It is a caution thing, and given the poor man in Wales, I can see why.

Caution plus measles burden being shifted onto very young children does not mean measles is dangerous for your average healthy 7 year old, though, or that they are likely to land in hospital for anything other than a cautionary approach. “


Except, in the Minnesota/North Dakota accent, “ya” doesn’t mean “you” – it means “yeah,” or more precisely, just “yes.” (It’s from the Norwegian/Swedish “ja” for “yes.”) 🙂 I write out my accent a lot of the time when I’m writing informally, actually… but my accent is pretty standard Northwest white trash.

I don’t think the disease is so scary as to warrant a 1/10 hospitalisation rate

Yes, because insurance companies will gladly pay for hospital stays for children who don’t really need it.

It is confusing that, on the one hand, Bob Sears goes to great lengths to suggest measles is no big deal. Yet he has also warned parents who avoid vaccines for their kids not to let their neighbors know:

“…that’s what Sears does, making the indefensible suggestion that vaccine refusers simply hide in the herd. In advising parents who refuse the MMR, he writes, “I also warn them not to share their fears with their neighbors, because if too many people avoid the MMR, we’ll likely see the diseases increase significantly.”

Then again, Sears’ worry about measles, mumps and rubella increasing significantly probably has less to do with any concern about the human impact of those diseases, than it does with his not wanting to be blamed publicly for fostering their spread.

Quoting Mothering: “I don’t think the disease is so scary as to warrant a 1/10 hospitalisation rate.”

That was probably written by someone who has never spent a night in the hospital with a child getting oxygen. The child who just hours before was struggling to to breathe, and that was “just” croup.

JP: No, we actually do say “ya” for both. Not consistently, though. As the second person pronoun, you find “ya” in the “ya know” construction, where “ya know” is offered as a complete phrase but is more of a sort of verbal punctuation softening a declaration by turning it into a question.

“Well, it’s pretty cold here, ya know?”

Sometimes it is further exaggerated for comic effect, as “dontcha know,” but it is usually expressed as a question at the end of a sentence that wouldn’t otherwise be a question. It’s always rhetorical in this case. If not expressed as a question, it *hardens* the preceding declaration, rather than softening it.

You’d certainly hear it if you stopped by here, ya know.


“Ya” as “yes” also is more widespread, though I think I hear “yeah” and “yah” about equally. It’s a bit like the two ways of pronouncing “the”; it seems to vary based on what fits the sound of the sentence better. The very upper-midwest affectation of “oo, yah” is a great example. It’s not “Oh yeah,” like you just remembered something. There is definitely a comma between the words, and it’s a standalone phrase to lend emphasis.

“It’s awful cold out there, ya know.”
“Ooh, yah, you betcha.”

Interestingly, “you betcha” never seems to get the “ya” form of “you”.


That’s the thing – if you say ‘you’ like ‘ya,’ you would still type ‘you,’ wouldn’t you?

Most of the time, yes. I usually only spell out “ya know” when I’m trying to be snarky or humorously woodsy. 😉 Same with “yeah”. Even if it’s a case where I’d say “ya”, I write “yeah” because that’s the correct spelling in my opinion. I see “ya” more often in “ya know” than in “oh ya”.

But my all time favorite local phrase is “uff da”. It is universally useful, fitting in all the same situations as “oy vey”, but with I feel a bit more oomph to it. It definitely comes from Scandinavian immigrants, but is unheard of in Scandinavia — I”m not sure if it evolved here from an older usage or if it evolved there and then died out while immigrants preserved it here.

I don’t know where Bob Sears grew up. According to Wikipedia, though, his dad’s from Illinois and one of his residencies was in Toronto, so it’s quite possible that Bob was raised in the upper midwest.

Calli – that all sounds very familiar to me. I moved out of the Midwest as a teen, though, so I’ve been hearing mostly… well, the hodgepodge that my work puts me in touch with, accent-wise, for the last couple of decades. My sister and I hang on to Ya Know and Doncha Know as very useful phrases, but only in spoken conversation.

We always enjoyed How To Speak Minnesotan when it was a regular Prairie Home Companion sketch. “Well, you’re the expert, but a lotta guys woulda braced that wall.”

(“Well, you’re the expert, but a lotta guys woulda just vaccinated.”)

“According to Dr. Bob, we’re ‘pharma agents’…”
And I’m sure there are never guys in suits with briefcases in the waiting room waiting to see Dr. Bob to give him spiels on the latest wonder-med, set him up with scads of samples (here kid, first one’s free), display ads for the waiting and exam rooms, sponsored ‘health information’ literature, and branded tscotskes. Because Dr. Bob would NEVER have anything to do with a pharma agent. That would so hypocritical.

Ya know 😉 like a physician in rock-ribbed right-wing Orange County charging $170 up front for an office visit asserting the “U.S.[has] a well-nourished population.” See, Dr. Bob’s clientele vote for politicians who think poor people need tough love. And as a result “More than half of US public school students live in poverty,”

Of course, at $170/visit, none of Dr. Bob’s patients are going to public schools, so he can “What? Me Worry?” that. And for those poor brown-ish Other People: that which does not kill them will make them stronger. Hunger makes you stronger, right? And measles. It’s not gonna kill anybody, so it’ll toughen ’em up! It’s painful. They’ll suffer. But so what? Complications are no big whoop in a a well-nourished country like the U.S.!

That’s a big ‘Whoops!’ I’d consider a pretty big whoop.

And I’m sure there are never guys in suits with briefcases in the waiting room waiting to see Dr. Bob to give him spiels on the latest wonder-med, set him up with scads of samples (here kid, first one’s free), display ads for the waiting and exam rooms, sponsored ‘health information’ literature, and branded tscotskes. Because Dr. Bob would NEVER have anything to do with a pharma agent. That would so hypocritical.

Interestingly, in recent years there has been a trend among hospitals and academic medical centers to prohibit such industry-related tchotchkes, not to mention more substantial “gifts”.


I’m sure you’re right, living there. My familiarity comes from my grandma and her siblings on my mom’s side of the family. I do love “uff da” – I used to say it reflexively, though it’s largely been supplanted as of late by the Slavic “Oy,” due to all the time I’ve spent in Poland and Russia.

For me, the slang/informal pronunciation of “you” has been whittled down to a mere consonantal glide – “y’know,” for instance. “Y’know” only really gets used as a question for me, though – or sometimes as a trailing end-of-sentence modifier when I’m being particularly inarticulate: “It’s like, y’know…” The general accent is pretty close to a Californian one, but with a few differences – the consonants are more distinct, generally speaking. (SoCal folks really seem to slur their consonants together.) I have a little bit of a redneck-sounding “Western twang,” too, having grown up out back of beyond. I tend to soak up the accents of people around me or the place I’m living in, too, though, it turns out. I went back home to visit a little while back, and a couple of relatives were complaining that my voice has gotten all “nasal-y.” (Dang Michigan!)

I like to write out my accent and use various colloquialisms when I write informally – it’s fun.

Todd W: You might also want to check out Google’s archive of the complete collection of Life Magazine. A cursory perusal brought up two articles (1) (2) on the measles vaccine and another on polio.

Of course we should not forget that vaccine failures are the reason we have the second measles shot. In short, the vaccinated created this epidemic.

Anyone (Drs Bob and Jay, I’m looking at you!) who thinks measles wasn’t that bad back when everyone had it has never read Mark Twain’s description:

The summer came, and brought with it an epidemic of measles. For a time a child died almost every day. The village was paralyzed with fright, distress, despair. Children that were not smitten with the disease were imprisoned in their homes to save them from the infection. In the homes there were no cheerful faces, there was no music, there was no singing but of solemn hymns, no voice but of prayer, no romping was allowed, no noise, no laughter, the family moved spectrally about on tiptoe, in a ghostly hush. I was a prisoner. My soul was steeped in this awful dreariness–and in fear. At some time or other every day and every night a sudden shiver shook me to the marrow, and I said to myself, “There, I’ve got it! and I shall die.” Life on these miserable terms was not worth living, and at last I made up my mind to get the disease and have it over, one way or the other. I escaped from the house and went to the house of a neighbor where a playmate of mine was very ill with the malady. When the chance offered I crept into his room and got into bed with him. I was discovered by his mother and sent back into captivity. But I had the disease; they could not take that from me. I came near to dying. The whole village was interested, and anxious, and sent for news of me every day; and not only once a day, but several times. Everybody believed I would die; but on the fourteenth day a change came for the worse and they were disappointed.

H1N1: “Of course we should not forget that vaccine failures are the reason we have the second measles shot.”

Only for those who do not understand statistics. But then again, you have given yourself a ‘nym that killed almost three hundred children not so long ago. I am sure you are quite proud of that feat.

Of course we should not forget that vaccine failures are the reason we have the second measles shot. In short, the vaccinated failed to wholly suppress this outbreak. FTFY.

As a parent who just last week was in the hospital with their baby who was suffering from pneumonia, I can unequivocally say it is nothing like an ear infection and is way beyond an inconvenience. Ya it’s treatable, but I would rather have avoided the IV, oxygen tubes, continuous monitoring and having to hold her in a chair upright all night to help her breathe.


Interestingly, “you betcha” never seems to get the “ya” form of “you”

The slogan for Ballard Bitter was “Ya Sure Ya Betcha,” BTW.

LovleAnjel: “Ya it’s treatable, but I would rather have avoided the IV, oxygen tubes, continuous monitoring and having to hold her in a chair upright all night to help her breathe.”

I am so sorry, I know by experience that it is very taxing on the whole family. It is something to avoid. It is also how we once spent a Thanksgiving. Fun times.

Needless to say I am not fond of those who claim it is better to treat than prevent.

It is especially relevant when you start getting the “This is not a bill” statements showing how much it all cost. Since my now adult son ended up in a couple of hospitals again a couple of years ago I have newer statements that show how much is costs now. This is one reason I need someone who complains that companies get profits from vaccines to really tell me how it is cheaper to let kids get sick.


Thanks! I’ll have to give those a look.

As an aside on ear infections, let us not forget that if the ear infection is viral in nature, antibiotics won’t do squat for it and it is essentially untreatable. Just need to wait it out and hope it doesn’t lead to permanent hearing damage.

Bob should really take a look at how many schools for the deaf and blind are still around and ponder why so many have closed their doors.

I am so sorry, LovieAngel. And I just don’t see how a pediatrician can dismiss something that requires hospitalization as “treatable” and that’s it.

Putting aside the fact that Dr. Offit said measles pneumonia is not actually treatable.

And I don’t remember ear infections as something I’d dismiss either, putting aside Todd’s excellent point that a viral one is not treatable.

I am reminded of the man who said he could cure the common cold by staying outdoors, having cold baths, standing in heavy drafts, avoiding food and fluids, and extensive activity. His reply when it was pointed out that this would lead to pneumonia, “And we can cure pneumonia!”

@ Calli #37
Having grown up in an atypical ‘hood in Minnesota where both ‘Uff da’ and various expressions of ‘Oy’ were equally common, I can say with confidence that the best translation of ‘Uff da’ into ‘Yinglish’ is not ‘Oy vey’ but ‘Oy oy oy’. ‘Oy vey’ translates literally to ‘Oh, pain.’ If the Norwegians are feeling pain, they’re not letting on. 🙂

@ Roadstergal #27

I do type y’all, because I think the Midwest has supplied the English language with a much-needed unambiguous second-person plural.

Uff da!
Y’all musta never got South of Albert Lea, darlin’. Poor thang. Can i get you some sweet tea, Hon?

@ Todd #40
“There has been a trend among hospitals and academic medical centers to prohibit such industry-related tchotchkes…”

I’d guess hospital prohibitions don’t reach out to the private practices of affiliated doctors (or do they?). I wonder how much work, if any, Dr. Bob does in hospitals anyway.

The root of my comment is not just seeing all the promo material decorating the offices of my physicians, but how often I’d see the guys in the suits in the waiting room, especially at my PCP’s office. She was an excellent Dr. who’d been run out of her medical group for spending too much time with patients, and falling behind the mandated appointed schedule all the time. At that point she’d joined another practice in a more urban neighborhood that had a lot of low-income patients. (The clinic was bi-lingual English/Spanish.) Her ethics were impecable. I always figured she was doing any mutual back-scratching with the pharma salesmen on behalf of her patients — getting as many samples out of them as possible to give out to folks who would trouble paying for the scrips.

On a side note: She was also the mother of a severely autistic son, to whom she gave self-less love, never tried to ‘fix’, and wanted to be as independent as possible (which was not much, I’m afraid) — though the demands of caring for her son had caused her considerable personal stress, the end of her marriage, and so forth. Her favorite thing in life was to go with her son to the local Arthur Murray Dance Studio, because moving on the floor made them both happy, and let her feel an emotional connection to her child that was otherwise elusive in their everyday lives. Having had the privilege of being her patient is one of the reasons the AoA crowd makes me so upset I can’t even go there to woo-check. I’ve seen what they could be — should be — and it’s just to damn painful when I think of Dr. G. — who’s probably still paying off her med school loans even after 20+ years of practice.

In the south they’ve even created a new grammatical number:

Superplural-all o’ y’all

Narad: “The slogan for Ballard Bitter was “Ya Sure Ya Betcha,” BTW.”

Which if were still being brewed would not be a favorite of any Green Bay Packers fan.

@The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge – correctly said:
You – singular
Y’all – plural
All Y’all – plural but inclusive of the entire group. As in the phrase “do all y’all want coffee” when speaking to a group of 3 or more. One or more may want coffee.

There’s also “both y’all” which is somewhat redundant.

On the subject, y’all — somewhat, anyway —

Often dialects that are denigrated because they’re non-standard are, properly understood, using idioms that concisely express exact meanings not available in the standard language. The Black English use of “be” in “He be workin'”, for example, means “he is typically working”, or “he has a job”. If you want to say someone is working right now, you just say “He workin’.”

Or so I understand it. The point is that this way of speaking is only “wrong” because it’s non-standard — to those raised speaking the dialect, it’s actually a precise mode of expression with well-defined rules.

I asked him to politely correct people’s misconceptions in the first threat. He told me directly he didn’t have time. The man’s a putz. A schmuck. A yutz. I think only Yiddish can fully convey the right tone of insult here.

I think only Yiddish can fully convey the right tone of insult here.

The Royal Navy has been working on it. Certain items from this list, purportedly of actual phrases used in officer fitness reports, would be appropriate for Dr. Bob. For example:

He would be out of his depth in a car park puddle.

Since my last report he has reached rock bottom, and has started to dig.

This man is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.

This [gentleman] has delusions of adequacy.

While we’re using Yiddish–I think that the word “gonif” describes Sears quite nicely.

Of course we should not forget that vaccine failures are the reason we have the second measles shot. In short, the vaccinated created this epidemic.

How is that? There were once 3-4 millions measles cases/year, now we’re “down” to 650/year and over 95% of those are in unvaccinated. We were once down to ~50/year until tossers like you decided you knew more than actual scientists and stopped vaccinated.

@Eric Lund – I think the tonality of Yiddish gives it the edge when it comes to insult.

Just a reminder that the first dose of MMR has a 90+ seroconversion rate. That doesn’t provide herd immunity, and we still had isolated outbreaks of measles. One dose was better than the pre-vaccine era, but not enough to eliminate periodic outbreaks. The second dose reduces the number of non-responders to the high level needed to maintain herd immunity.

I remember one such outbreak and a teenager admitted for a severe bilateral measles pneumonia. I don’t remember the details of why she had not been vaccinated, except that her father taught nutrition and got the scare of his life being with his daughter in the ICU.

Disneyland is missing out on a fantastic promotional opportunity.

They should hold a special one-day event for the unvaccinated. Think of it – kids from all over the world (there must be gobs in Southern California alone) and their vaccine-refusing parents, enjoying the park without having to rub elbows with toxin-laden vaxed children.

They’d be greeted at the front gates by the famous Mickey Measles and his lovely sidekick Melanie Measles. Co-masters of ceremonies Bob Sears and Jay Gordon would hand out fomites and bottles of homeopathic remedies.

Then it’s on to the attractions – Mr. Meningitis’ Wild Ride, the Mumps Fun Wheel, Hemophilus Influenzae Tower of Terror, Rubellaland and the Mad Cow Party.

A fun time for all – followed in a few days by a healthy revving up of humoral and cell-mediated immune systems, then lifetime immunity!

@Dangerous Bacon

You’re forgetting about the midway games, where kids can win hearing trumpets, sunglass/cane combos, IV hydration bags, turns in an ECMO machine, etc.

Ya know DB; the ‘natural immunity’ crowd would pay extra for such an event. I would add a caveat though; they all have to sign up for a “vaxxed v. unvaxxed” study examining outcomes. What could go wrong?

Lurker @19, I would just like to say how much I love your comment. I’ve made the last paragraph the cover photo on Anti Vax Wall of Shame. If this is not acceptable to you, please let me know. Thank you for expressing so well the dire effects of this “movement” on modern society.

Reinforcing Todd #50 (I think/hope…)

let us not forget that if the ear infection is viral in nature, antibiotics won’t do squat for it and it is essentially untreatable. Just need to wait it out and hope it doesn’t lead to permanent hearing damage

My step-brother suffered permanent hearing damage from a series of childhood ear infections. He retained just enough hearing ability to become a professional singer. Crystal clear tenor, long retired from the road, he still gigs singing at Christmas services and such (the big churches pay decent for that). But his whole life he had to be worried about his ears — one more head cold that got out of control and he’d have been deaf. I doubt he’d be down with the idea that ear infections are no big whoop, and if you gave him a ‘do-over’ magic-genie-choice he’d take the measles, mumps, chiken pox and whooping cough over the ear infections.

Anyway, I’m disturbed if not downright appalled by the narcissism/solipsism/whateveryawannacallit of anyone declaring any infectious disease is “no big whoop.” Right, it was no big whoop to you or your grandaddy or whoever, but there are a hell of a lot of people in the world who aren’t you (or anyone you’ve ever known). I’ve had what’s commonly referred to as “the flu” scores of times, and it was never a big whoop for me. I’ve also had the real flu twice, surviving both times with no lasting damage, and that was a big enough whoop I’d like to apply those strains to Bob Sears ass and see how he feels about it.

But thanks in no small measure to the blog of a certain box of blinking lights, I’m acutely aware that this is a numbers game, that even that no-big-whoop-to-me little “flu” hits such a wide population that a good number of people who are not anything like me health-wise are going to get it. And some of them will die.

@Eric Lund – I think the tonality of Yiddish gives it the edge when it comes to insult.
Glaswegian offers many useful additions to anyone’s vocabulary.

Which if were still being brewed would not be a favorite of any Green Bay Packers fan.

Yeah, yeah. It’s a long story,* but that was the best (and likely last) post that I could manage with a “smart phone” that I received as a hand-me-down and was able to get free service for. On a bus ride that is generally at least 20 minutes.

* Of the practicalies; a defense of the mental connection might be worse.


Holy crap, that anti-vax is an oncology nurse?!

I don’t know what to say, except I hope that she hasn’t killed any of her patients.

The point is that this way of speaking is only “wrong” because it’s non-standard — to those raised speaking the dialect, it’s actually a precise mode of expression with well-defined rules.

Except that AAVE doesn’t have well-defined borders. The question then becomes whether “it” has become “Spanglishized” or whether the notion of a skin-color dialect was, overall, a fiction hinged upon a less-than-thorough search for counterexamples.

I mean, RLY?

“‘She BIN had dat han’-made dress’ (SE: She’s had that hand-made dress for a long time, and still does.)”

I’ve only been on the South Side for a few decades, Prof. Rickford, but no, “been had that” riding low in the water with that “Standard English” cargo ain’t gwine whistle Dixie.

sadmar #70

I’m acutely aware that this is a numbers game, that even that no-big-whoop-to-me little “flu” hits such a wide population that a good number of people who are not anything like me health-wise are going to get it. And some of them will die.@sadmar

Tragically as this case shows, you are right. RIP little Emmy.

‘Ask any Grandma or Grandpa (well, older ones anyway), and they’ll say ‘”Measles? So what? We all had it. It’s like Chicken pox.”’

Well, if I’d asked my Grandma (while she was still alive), she probably would have said “Eh? What?”, because complications from measles had left her mostly deaf.

Even if you accept Dr. Bob’s ridiculously [underrated] estimated risk of severe reaction over 12 years as about 1 in 2600, we’d now be in range of the likelihood a child will die due to measles in the U.S.

Lessee. There’s over 20 million kids in the U.S. under the age of 5. So if they all caught the measles, by Dr. Bob’s numbers that would be 19.99 million no big whoops. No problemo then.

But, Dr. Bob, what about the 7,692 potential big whoops?

Hahaha. This is the U. S. A. Hardly anybody catches measles here.

But Dr. Bob, there were about 50 measles cases in the US in 2012, about 200 in 2013, and about 650 in 2014. Now there’ve been more than 50 cases in the first 2 weeks of 2015 alone, which would pro-rate to 1300 for the year. So if we plot a curve — I’m not so good at math…

It’s OK. Dr. Bob isn’t either.

… I’m getting what looks like around 8600 cases per year 5 years from now, for a total of over 23,000 for the 5 year period. Could that be right? Wouldn’t that mean there’d be some serious complicat…

I told you. Dr. Bob isn’t good at math.

So I can’t ask him about the numbers for the flu, and the curve of flu cases, complications and deaths now that anti-vaxers are onto that vaccine, too?

I’m sorry, Dr. Bob isn’t available to answer any more of your bad math questions. He’s busy shopping for formal wear. He left this note on Facebook indicating his availability for questions in the coming weeks:

On Feb 4th, 7:30 pm at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood, I’ll be walking the red carpet for the premiere of the documentary Trace Amounts… After the film, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Dr. Jay Gordon, and myself will host a Q and A panel for the audience to discuss mercury in vaccines and the particular risk for pregnant women who get a mercury-containing flu shot… There will be press, but they won’t be the ones from the Golden Globes. They will be serious reporters who are there to discuss a serious issue. I’m going to help spread awareness that mercury is still in many flu shots, and people have a choice to decline it… See you all there!

Sears made the FB post from which I took that last week, when he was still under the delusion that infectious disease journalists were smart people. Now that he’s realized how stupid they are, I’m sure he’ll be editing that post to remind people to get the flu vaccine; as failure to do so would be interpreted as a declaration against the flu vaccine. Like some stupid reporter might read between the lines of that post, and think what he was really saying in secret is “don’t get the flu vaccine.”

And then the stupid reporter might ruin everybody’s red carpet fun by asking Dr. Bob stupid questions about that during the Q and A after the screening at the Chinese. Like why his post doesn’t mention the tag line for Trace Amounts is “Autism, Mercury and the Hidden Truth”. Like whether he believes there’s a “global health crisis that links thimerosal to the autism epidemic” or a “continued greed based decision to keep mercury in the vaccines” or whether autism is “a tragedy which brought one of the greatest nations to its knees and stole a generation of children” or whether “special gluten, casein, and sugar free diets; hyperbaric chambers; chelation… may be a way out” or whether ASD “children are extremely sick, psychologically” or whether he encourages people to “share this information with a stranger on a bus, a classmate, a co-worker, or a legislator” or any other concept a stupid infectious disease journalist might cherry-pick from the Trace Amounts website just to tease good Dr. Bob.

After all, Dr, Bob’s just going to the premiere to talk about pregnant women and flu vaccines, and the website says “as stated in the film, the Trace Amounts team is NOT anti-vaccine” so it’s not at like anyone could read between the lines and think his appearance there is some kind of secret code for “don’t get the MMR.” Dr. Bob has told you to get a measles vaccine. He’s just going to the movie so he can panelize with RFKJ as a public service to spread awareness. It’s not like the Trace Amounts web store is hawking Dr. Bob’s book, or mis-spells his name “Robert W. Spears, MD” in the listing or anything.

I would like to help Dr. Bob, and if I knew you were a infectious disease journalist in Los Angeles (or with travel money to get there) I would contact you to make sure you were properly informed just in case you might head down to the Chinese Theater — 6925 Hollywood Boulevard, at Highland; it’s where the star’s footprints are in cement, including Jim Carrey — on Feb 4th, 2015, 7:30PM, or contact the film’s PR firm via [email protected] or 714-436-0855 to inquire about obtaining a press pass. After all, Dr. Bob hopes to “see you all there!”

But I don’t know any infectious disease journalists. If you do, could you give them a heads up for me? Thanks!

Think we are stupid? We are stupid.
I hope Jenny McCarthy gets the measles.
We are becoming a third world nation

I got chickenpox when I was 13 years old – one year before the vaccine became available in the States. My siblings and I had been exposed at least two times as young children, but none of us got it. For whatever reason, we all became infected following exposure to a toddler who had not yet developed pox. Other than when I had pneumonia at age 5, I have never been sicker in my life. I had pox everywhere (and I do mean EVERYWHERE). I ran a high fever, and was so sick that our pediatrician considered hospitalizing me. I have scars to this day from where my clothing rubbed on the scabs.

Whenever I hear someone like Dr. Bob talk about the chickenpox as a “minor inconvenience,” I want to smash things. My mother remembers having the measles, and she says it too was miserable (although maybe not quite as bad as the mumps, in her opinion). That one in four people in the current outbreak have been hospitalized is clear proof that measles is not benign.

I would like to see the AAP censure Bob Sears and Jay Gordon for willfully promoting misinformation about vaccines and VPDs. I am disgusted by both of them.

Whenever I hear someone like Dr. Bob talk about the chickenpox as a “minor inconvenience,” I want to smash things.

I want to smash Dr Bob. Three of us had chickenpox at the same time and I’m surprised my mother didn’t have a mental breakdown.

sadmar brings up an interesting point:
Drs Bob and Jay are associated with an anti-vax film.

It seems to me that a new one ( or an altie ‘Your food is poisoning you!’ style film) is premiering nearly every week. I just learned that Toni Bark was involved with ‘Bought!”

Sceptics might like to view this _dreck_ ( believe it or not- I can’t think of a better word in English to describe it today), films like this make their way around the ‘net via facebook, you tube and altie sites, dis-enlightening whomsoever watches and is not immune.

It seems to me, after viewing several of them, that they re-iterate the same, tired old vaccine/ pharmatocracy / industrial food myths but are packaged in more pleasing ways in order to engage ill-educated viewers. Using all the tricks of the advert trade: expressive music, cartoons/ illustrations, dramatic narration and personal testimony to make their point- limited though it be.

So far, I’ve stuck to my metaphorical guns and have avoided paying any money to survey woo so it’s possible.

So sadmar, why not fire up the g—gle and find a few altie opera to criticise? I think you’d do a good job.

@ Dave:

I think that Jenny is old enough to have been vaccinated and escaped the 1990s-on irrational parental fears of vaccines as well.

I want to smash Dr Bob.

I’m sure Dr. Bob would be just fine with that. After all, very few people die each year as the result of being involved in a fist fight so I’m sure he’d agree the beat down was “no big whoop”. [toggle sarcasm off]

@shay – it was worse in my family. All three of us kids caught Chicken Pox, but it was staggered – I had it first, then my sister and finally my brother….by the time it was all said and done, there had been a sick kid confined to the house for over 5 weeks….and of course, as we kids got it, each case was worst than the last (my brother had a raging case that lasted almost three weeks).

I remember when I first stumbled upon the sh!tholes that are NVIC, etc, regarding the MMR vaccine, I asked my mother what it was like growing up with all those ‘benign’ diseases. I told her that some folks were suggesting I not vaccinate my kids against measles.

A complete look of horror came over her face at the thought of not vaccinating. She had all those diseases, suffered through them (except polio), and wouldn’t wish them on anyone. She lost friends and playmates to those ‘benign’ diseases.

Phone call conversation with my GP’s receptionist this afternoon;

Dave: Is my doctor giving the MMR vaccine? Can I get it there?
Jolie: Hmm. (somewhat of a snarky laugh) Your probably immune from the measles from the vaccine a long time ago.
Dave: Well I was born in 1958
Jolie: Have you been to Disneyland?
Dave: laugh, no and I likely will not ever.
Jolie: long pause, well he is giving the vaccine but you can also get the blood test to check if you are immune.
Dave: OK, well then I could get the blood test then at my next appointment (month and a half from now likely dead by then). But I had the Mumps at age 16.

WTF! Pissed with people working for my GP!!!!
Somewhat Pissed at response to questions let alone somewhat snarky feeling from office staff. Should have called plumbing guy in aisle 6 at Home Depot.

Question to actual MD’s out there. Please only professionals on this subject matter.

I likely had gotten the vaccine (large public inoculation program at public school), however I had a very ugly time at age 16 or 17 (1974-75) of coming down with the mumps. Do you bother getting the vaccine again or just get the blood test first, or at all?
I could have been one of the “no effect” individuals that got the vaccine but it did not stop the mumps?
My wife is a teacher and she of course is immunized; but do I get the vaccine again even though I may have gottenvaccine back in the 60’s?
Err on the safe side? On the phone idiots leave me wondering if the end is near.

P.S. To those that did not experience the mumps, let alone contract the disease until they were 16 or older and do not believe in vaccines you can go screw yourselves in the head with a large drill and then innumerate on how it felt for over a month.

Healthy physically active young male
1. Prior to diagnosis, fever in excess of 102 F. Prolonged fever (2 days) in excess of 102 F. (Rosanne Rosanna Danna: “thought I was gonna die!”)
2. Severe swelling of the glands (hence term mumps) and bed ridden for about 2-3 weeks unable to eat or open my mouth (liquid diet), visual difficulty. Looked like I swallowed a football.
3. During recovery phase had long period of painful Testicular swelling (sorry for the details but will leave out other details).
4. Survived with no apparent signs of permanent damage although this is difficult to baseline.
5. Still have slight fear of needles but surpassed now by massive fear of head exploding.

Maybe people wouldn’t think of the chicken pox as “no big deal’ if we called it “primary herpes zoster”, to indicate
1) It’s a herpes virus and therefore will never leave your body.
2) It will cause the shingles later in life.

i remember having the chicken pox when I was 3. I was miserable, with a moderate case, but what I remember most of all is the realization that my parents were not all powerful, and could not make any of it better. Everyone comes to this realization at some point, but I think that 3 is unnecessarily early.

I called out “Dr. Bob” (and I can’t wait until I can call him “Dr.” Bob for being a menace to public health and a disgrace to pediatrics, and he took umbrage to that and banned me in less than 2 hours.

Dr. Jay Gordon, MD, KCB, VC, FAAP, CBS, ESPN, BNSF, CSXT, King of Scotland and Emperor of India has also been surprisingly quiet throughout all this.

Todd, @67, don’t forget souvenir iron longs and leg braces from POLIO: World of the Past!, and the Smallpox Dome- Three People Enter, Two People Leave- one with scars all over their face and torso, the other blind and limping.

Dr Bob. Please stop being a ninny. thanks.
ORAC : the little blinking lights in your plastic box shine some daylight on Dr Bob and his carnival of crazy.


my brother was the index case of chicken pox. Exactly 2 weeks later (at least that’s how I the eldest remember it) I came down with it and the remaining 3 kids toppled each succeeding day. Mom gave up and put the 4 of us in their king size bed during the day. Once we were starting to quarrel in earnest (aka recover) we were summarily dispatched back to our own rooms and in the case of us 2 older ones, to see to our own feeding until we were cleared for return to school.

Why is it that no one bothers to ask Merck to start producing separate vaccines for M-M-R again? Oh, and without rubbish like aluminum, cow serum, or monkey serum added (read- lab created toxic soup). Maybe more parents would feel comfortable giving it to their kids. Just maybe…


Why is it that no one bothers to ask Merck to start producing separate vaccines for M-M-R again?

Because one vaccine given at one time is cheaper than three vaccines given at separate times. Also, because there’s one visit, there’s less chance that vaccines will be skipped either accidentally or deliberately.

without rubbish like aluminum

There is more aluminium in a banana than in the entire vaccines schedule.

cow serum

Used to grow the germs, and processed till harmless.

or monkey serum

Monkey serum?? Seriously??
I guess the PL in your pseudonym stands for “Peabrained Liar”.


Sure, if you don’t mind paying Merck 3 times (one for each vaccine), risk three times more to get complications (3 injections instead of each one), and either have vaccines with a lot more virus particles in them or way less effective (what’s that the aluminium bit is for – make a little dose of particles more effective at attracting the attention of the immune system)

As for the “cow serum”, sure, if you can provide us with a way to grow mammal cells in petri dishes without it (the cells we use to grow the viruses we use to make the vaccine). Seriously, there is a Nobel prize somewhere for the person who would invent it.
As for “monkey serum”, did you mean monkey cells?

monkey serum
Is that one of the novelty cocktails that the kids are drinking these days?


Why is it that no one bothers to ask Merck to start producing separate vaccines for M-M-R again?

Which components would you choose, and with what dosing regime? Please include a rationale.

Or cop to having tried to recycle a lesser “talking point” most recently hacked up by Laura Hayes at AoA, whatever.


MMR isn’t adjuvanted. It isn’t propagated on monkey pus Vero cells. There isn’t even any bovine serum.

As everyone knows, the production medium is a steady supply of human fetuses ground together with the male chicks that would otherwise represent a sunk cost in the poultry industry.

Why these people can’t do even basic fact-checking is anyone’s guess.


What do you have against eating beef?

Unless you’re a vegetarian and all that stuff.

@Narad / Lilady

Sorry, I answered in a Pavlovian fashion.

I was unsure about aluminium oxide in MMR (why would I add a protein emulsifier/stabilizer to live-attenuated viruses?) but thought, oh f***, let’s go for “what would happen if aluminium oxide is removed from vaccines containing it?”

Since I’m at it, I’m heading back to the page provided by Lilady. Time for a refreshing course for me.

Helianthus: That link was provided for PLMom who is absolutely clueless about the MMR II vaccine…and every other vaccine on the Recommended Childhood Vaccine Schedule.

The crank anti-vaccine groups are feeling the heat and the backlash as evidenced by multiple mainstream media articles, which put the blame squarely on vaccine-phobic parents and the doctors (Dr. Bob Sears and Dr. Jay Gordon), who pander to them.

Just for laughs, check out AoA’s science journalists’ posts and the comments by the usual suspects.

lilady, it’s not just the mainstream media. Even The Onion is having a go.

@ Lilady

I know. I was just feeling the need to do some belated fact-checking of my own after one of my patented half-a@@ed post and since you provided an apropo link, I may as well use it.
Thanking you en passant, because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t know if our recent visitor would put this link to good use, but I did, so your post was useful to at least one person.

I did learn stuff. MMR viruses are grown on cells from chick embryo, so no need to add fetal serum, from cow or otherwise. Eh, fancy that!
Also, no monkey serum in sight. Just making sure. I was thinking, this one would have been expensive.

PLMom: “Why is it that no one bothers to ask Merck to start producing separate vaccines for M-M-R again?”

Because it has shown itself safe and effective from almost forty five years.

If you have evidence that there is a greater risk to the MMR vaccine than to measles, which has hospitalized several people recently, then provide those PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers. Make sure they actually know what is in the vaccine, and its history. Like being introduced in 1971.

@ herr doktor:

Yes! It’s a new cocktail: mix equal parts of Grenadine, Crème de Menthe and Tanqueray with a dash of sea salt. Yum!

In other anti-vax news:
dear little Jakey, apparently miffed that his comment section @ AI has been rather inactive has decided to reverse his decision to close comments @ EP and has re-opened them all AND he writes about AJW doing something for money: in other words, same old same old.

@ Denice Walter: Jake really did open his Epoch Times Comments section…in spite of the “trolls” who posted on his previous blog post on his ET blog:

“Jake Crosby on December 28, 2014 at 3:47 pm said:

All – comments under The Epoch Times version of this post have been closed due to ongoing abusive and harassing comments from certain trolls. Sorry to anyone who has been following the rules and lost comments in the process. From now on, please comment on articles here at AI and not through The Epoch Times website. Comments will be closed on all future Epoch Times posts.”

I wonder which “abusive and harassing trolls” posted on his blog?

Aren’t .’vaccine transparency advocates’ asking Merck to produce separate MMR vaccines? Isn’t that what ‘Dr. Bob’ and ‘Dr. Jay’ would like to see for they’re ‘delayed schedule’ thing. Because one vaccine given at one time is cheaper than three vaccines given at separate times, that would mean more office visit fees for Sears and Gordon, and more vax sales for Merck, as they’d get to triple their profits by sellinf three times as many vials, yes?

Smells like pharma shilling to me… 🙂

Thanks Mike #42

I enjoyed seeing the comparison of measles and polio in the context of the introduction of the measles vaccine. It gave the historical perspective that although measles with greater number of complications and deaths than polio, was not as feared even dismissed by the public and was urged to be taken more seriously by medical science as it still is today.

On a thread about a couple (both medical professionals) canceling a Disneyland trip to protect their infant, an anti-vaxxer was pontificating about vaccine injuries and polio being a serious disease but measles was more in line with chicken pox and the flu, meaning not that serious. I had thought that the collective memory of polio being serious was reinforced by visions of iron lungs and run Forrest run leg braces while measles is only associated with a rash. Those articles in Life told me I was wrong but I was going in the right direction. It was always easier to fear polio because the disabilities are visible and mechanical. Blindness is somewhat visible, deafness less so, pneumonia can scar lungs and understandable but many of the consequences of encephalitis are invisible and it is very poorly understood. Back in the 50s and 60s though measles encephalitis would be more common, because of the nature of the brain injuries causing intellectual and behavioural problems, parents were urged to place the children in a home (as my parents were— measles E @ 4 months) so many of these children weren’t integrated with society. The stigma, it still exists, but is diminished and we have the “luxury” of treatment for issues that would have been ignored because they weren’t serious enough. No one noticed my memory, initiation problems when I was young because they were too involved with my status seizures. I know I’ve rambled off…but my point being that we need to make the consequences of measles as visible in the collective consciousness as an iron lung and paralysis. How can we do it and how can I help? Encephalitis, no one knows what that is.

@ harriet huestis

It was always easier to fear polio because the disabilities are visible and mechanical.

That is a very good point.

There is an echo of this in the way anti-vaxers dismiss the risks of the wild illnesses: they talk a lot about the low mortality, but conveniently forget about the less visible sequelae.
Well, see Dr Sears previous ranting for an example (“eh, it’s rare and treatable, so stop worrying”).

I have started to make it a point to send the link to he WHO measles information sheet to each and every one of this wingnuts fans.

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