National Geographic, “The War on Science”, includes discussion of vaccines and autism

19 Feb

I just got my copy of the March 2015 issue of National Geographic a couple of days ago. Imagine my reaction when I saw this cover (click to enlarge):

natgeo

In case you are having trouble imagining my reaction–it includes a big THANK YOU to National Geographic.

Yes, they put “vaccinations can lead to autism” up there with “evolution never happened” and “the moon landing was fake”.

This paragraph includes references to Jenny McCarthy (anti-vaccine activist and actress Jenny McCarthy) and Andrew Wakefield’s Lancet article.

Doubting science also has consequences. The people who believe vaccines cause autism—often well educated and affluent, by the way—are undermining “herd immunity” to such diseases as whooping cough and measles. The anti-vaccine movement has been going strong since the prestigious British medical journal the Lancet published a study in 1998 linking a common vaccine to autism. The journal later retracted the study, which was thoroughly discredited. But the notion of a vaccine-autism connection has been endorsed by celebrities and reinforced through the usual Internet filters. (Anti-vaccine activist and actress Jenny McCarthy famously said on the Oprah Winfrey Show, “The University of Google is where I got my degree from.”)


By Matt Carey

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85 Responses to “National Geographic, “The War on Science”, includes discussion of vaccines and autism”

  1. elearah February 19, 2015 at 18:21 #

    I agree there is a war on science. The use of science to support political agendas in spite of the results obtained when applying the scientific method to a subject is a very troublesome trend. It is killing everything good about science, rotting it from the inside out. We are facing a new Inquisition where Science is the cult of choice. This might be relevant to this particular angle of vaccines and autism:

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 19, 2015 at 18:57 #

      Wow, a link to the so-called “CDC Whistleblower” video by Wakefield. Where we learn that trusting Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker to protect one’s anonymity is a waste of time.

      I prefer Wakefield’s “The CDC are engaging in a Tuskegee like experiment and are worse that Hitler, Pol Pot and Stalin”. That’s a better demonstration of the misuse of politically driven “science” (Brian Hooker’s now retracted paper) to drive an agenda.

      Science as the cult of choice? You don’t understand science, nor scientists. While, yes, there are the Andrew Wakefield’s and Brian Hooker’s of the world (add Mark and David Geier, DeLong, and others) who misuse the publication process to promote their agendas, science in itself is as far from cult like as you can get. Scientists can and do test eachother’s ideas and will show when someone else’s “science” is anything but.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 19, 2015 at 19:00 #

        And, yes, I know that you should understand science and scientists.

      • reissd February 19, 2015 at 23:13 #

        I would urge the commentator to read the posts on this blog about the so-called #Cdcwhistleblower manufactroversy.

        Frankly, my conclusion after seeing everything is that the wrongdoing in this story was on the part of Drs. Hooker and Wakefield.

      • Amy February 26, 2015 at 02:28 #

        Rep. Bill Posey, U.S. Congressman from Florida, and part of the Science Committee, is currently reviewing CDC documents regarding vaccine safety testing, and William Thompson is represented by counsel. He gave a formal statement admitting that results were deliberately altered to minimize findings – not in those words. His official statement did not elaborate, but he was clear that findings were altered to achieve a different result. I find it pathetic that any time someone has a valid theory on anything that may contribute to the cause of autism is immediately shot down instead of investigating the theory. Mainstream science says autism is caused – it’s not just inherited and you can’t catch it. A genetic susceptibility and environmental triggers. There are so many toxins in our food, water and air, and it’s shameful to disregard the toxins also found in vaccines. It’s not the same as saying vaccines cause autism. It’s saying that some ingredients in certain vaccines may add too much to the load for some kids, so we need to proceed with caution. Clearly some kids just can’t handle it all. The CDC says the only aluminum in vaccines is “aluminum salts” -but aluminum hydroxide is not a salt. It is a neurotoxin that passes through the blood brain barrier. Pregnant women are to avoid it because it could harm her fetus, and it passes through breast milk. It also accumulates in the body. Aluminum hydroxate is found in numerous vaccines, including two of the Hep B vaccines that are recommended for babies before they leave the hospital with two more doses within the year. There is virtually no way to know if a typical looking infant is in any way immunocompromised at birth, but the vaccine is given regardless – all three times. Babies are already born with high levels of aluminum from their mothers. Aluminum depletes glutathione, which helps the body excrete toxins. The Hep B vaccine has been officially associated with GI problems. The first sign of aluminum toxicity in a child is colic. Jaundice is a sign that the liver is impaired and the vaccine has been shown to actually case liver damage in certain cases. Infants with jaundice are at more risk for developing autism, so says the journal Pediatrics. Perhaps the Hep B causes jaundice in some kids and starts the ball rolling. Other countries just give it to mothers who are positive for the virus, but the CDC, way back when, said they were just going to give it to every baby in case the mom’s status wasn’t accurately reported. Yes – they applauded themselves for this idea in one of their reviews. That is the only reason every child in America gets this vaccine. You don’t think there’s a problem with the CDC recommended vaccines? Try to figure out why the Hep A vaccine was created, much less recommended for every child and mandated in 10 states. See the CDC website – symptoms in children are mild / no lasting effects. Death rare and only in elderly. Anyway, Colic and jaundice are common and not reported as an adverse reaction. As for the multitude of studies that prove no link – the CDC only studied the MMR and thimerosal. They have not published any findings regarding any of the other vaccines. Please look. As for the tens of thousands of children who did suffer neurological damage after receiving the MMR, the CDC could have studied them to see what made them susceptible instead of studying kids in Denmark who didn’t first receive 3 doses of Hep B first. After more than a decade, when it was first noted that some kids were suffering damage after the MMR, testing is now able to show us that many autistic kids have primary immune disorders. MMR II Product Information: Contraindications – Who shouldn’t get this vaccine? People with primary immune disorders. Live viruses can cause brain inflammation – meaning can cause neurological damage. Aluminum toxicity also causes neurological damage. So do pesticides and other environmental toxins, but those contained in vaccines shouldn’t be ignored at the expense of a generation of children worldwide.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 26, 2015 at 04:21 #

        “Rep. Bill Posey, U.S. Congressman from Florida, and part of the Science Committee”

        With all due respect to the good Congressman, but science is not his field of expertise. I base this on his performance in previous hearings.

        “is currently reviewing CDC documents regarding vaccine safety testing, and William Thompson is represented by counsel.”

        He’s been reviewing these for something like six months. If there were anything there, don’t you think we’d know by now?

        “His [Thomposn’s] official statement did not elaborate, but he was clear that findings were altered to achieve a different result. ”

        I posted the comment here. Your wording is far stronger than his. In fact, I don’t think your comment accurately represents what he said.

        “I find it pathetic that any time someone has a valid theory on anything that may contribute to the cause of autism is immediately shot down instead of investigating the theory.”

        Well, you can’t be talking about vaccines and autism. Tens of millions of dollars and countless man hours have gone into checking these theories. It’s been 18 years since Mr. Wakefield started his efforts and people are still testing his hypothesis.

        “There are so many toxins in our food, water and air, and it’s shameful to disregard the toxins also found in vaccines.”

        I find it shameful that people deny all the work that has been done specifically on vaccines.

        ” There is virtually no way to know if a typical looking infant is in any way immunocompromised at birth, but the vaccine is given regardless – all three times. ”

        So now we are up to the HepB three times at birth? By what schedule? And, if you want to talk about whether vaccines can and should be given to immunocompromised infants, find a forum for that. This is an autism focused website.

        “The Hep B vaccine has been officially associated with GI problems. ”

        Officially? Where? From here you go into more unsubstantiated assertions

        “Other countries just give it to mothers who are positive for the virus, but the CDC, way back when, said they were just going to give it to every baby in case the mom’s status wasn’t accurately reported. ”

        So you haven’t actually researched this, have you? A significant number of children used to contract Hepatitis B in childhood. Not just at birth or from their mother. And the younger a child is when s/he gets infected, the greater the risk that individual will become a chronic carrier of Hepatitis B. Adults tend to get the disease for relatively short time. By reducing the number of chronic carriers, the spread of the disease has dropped a great deal in the U.S..

        So, since Hepatitis A isn’t as nasty as Hepatitis B, we should just let people get sick? Here’s what the CDC says about HepA

        What is Hepatitis A?
        Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter — even in microscopic amounts — from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces, or stool, of an infected person.

        “As for the multitude of studies that prove no link – the CDC only studied the MMR and thimerosal.”

        Because these were the two theories put forth by those who believed that vaccines cause autism. What’s interesting is that most people who say “they only studied MMR and thimerosal” also refuse to acknowledge that those studies put to rest the MMR and thimerosal hypotheses.

        ” After more than a decade, when it was first noted that some kids were suffering damage after the MMR, testing is now able to show us that many autistic kids have primary immune disorders.”

        First–you have clearly failed to do your homework. It was speculated years back that the MMR caused autism. Speculated. Which is being polite since the primary person putting forth that speculation was unethical and lied. Second, immune disorders do not mean that vaccines cause autism. Third, a study out just last week discusses the prevalence of immune related conditions in autistics. There are moderately more autistics with immune disorders than in the general population, but not a lot. Autoimmune disease, for example, is present in 1% of the autistic population. 1%

        “Aluminum toxicity also causes neurological damage. ”

        Well, then, isn’t it good that the amounts of aluminum in vaccines are far below that for toxicity?

        ” Live viruses can cause brain inflammation – meaning can cause neurological damage.”

        Then isn’t it incumbent upon us to prevent infections, where millions of live virus particles can infect a single person?

      • Chris February 26, 2015 at 02:49 #

        Amy, a couple of suggestions:

        1. Paragraphs make what you write easier to read.

        2. You have made several scientific/medical claims, what you need to do now is to support those claims with citations. Just provide us the PubMed indexed studies by qualified reputable researchers that the vaccines and specified ingredients cause the harms you mentioned.

    • Narad February 20, 2015 at 06:24 #

      It is killing everything good about science, rotting it from the inside out.

      Something suggests to me that a hanger-on at the “Chronicles of Human Awakening” might not be in the best position to be making such proclamations.

    • Joseph Clem March 10, 2015 at 18:41 #

      “The scientific method is a process for experimentation that is used to explore observations and answer questions. Scientists use the scientific method to search for cause and effect relationships in nature. In other words, they design an experiment so that changes to one item cause something else to vary in a predictable way.”

      Yet Joel Achenbach can say with absolute certainty “that evolution actually happened. Biology is incomprehensible without it. There aren’t really two side to these issues.”

      So there aren’t really two sides to Darwin’s “idea that all life on earth evolved from a primordial ancestor and that we humans are distant cousins of apes, whales, and even deep-sea mollusks?”

      I believe in the scientific method that shows to a high degree of accuracy that certain causes produce certain affects time and time again. This is what true science is all about. But how does the scientific method show to a high degree of accuracy that all life actually evolved from lower life forms, somehow first transforming inanimate matter into animate matter, then organizing trillions of atoms into billions of DNA cells which determine what kind of growing cell each cell is, and where it belongs in the body of the fully formed creature? Is this the kind of evolution that Joel Achenbach can now say with absolute certainty “that evolution actually happened?”

      As for the earth’s surface temperature rising 1.5 degrees F in 130 years, and that human actions burning fossil fuels is the major cause of this increase, maybe Joel should take a look a look at the CO2 humans and animals exhale which is about 7 times greater than man’s burning of fossil fuels? While he’s doing this, ask him to also look at the world population in 1885 which was 1.5 billion compared to today’s 7 billion?

      • Lawrence March 10, 2015 at 19:32 #

        So Joseph, are you saying that you don’t believe that evolution is factual?

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 10, 2015 at 19:35 #

        There’s always a strange dichotomy in all these discussions. People who promote the idea that vaccines cause autism (as one example) want to speak like people in absolutes. “I know what I saw”. “Vaccines cause autism”. But want scientists to always qualify every statement, “yes, there’s a 1 in 10000000000000000000 chance that this isn’t really a fact. We could be living in a “Truman Show” like experiment and all the data could be fabricated”.

  2. jagman48 February 19, 2015 at 22:37 #

    Vaccines do NOT cause autism. Nothing more to be said.

    • Amanda February 24, 2015 at 21:29 #

      Obviously they have caused below average brain function in you! No critical thought, ability to question nor capacity to do 5 minutes of research.

      • Chris February 24, 2015 at 21:37 #

        Oh, do share that fabulous research! Provide the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers that vaccines cause autism. Make sure the researchers have not had their legal right to practice medicine revoked, and are not lawyers, geologists, finance professors, computer scientists, etc.

      • Lawrence February 24, 2015 at 21:41 #

        I’ve done a lot more than just 5 mins of research, and I have yet to find a single reputable study that would lead me to believe anything other than vaccines, in the vast majority of cases, are safe, effective, and much safer than the diseases they prevent.

        In those very few, extremely rare cases where a serious reaction does occur, I am also glad that there is a process in place to make sure those individual are compensated.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 24, 2015 at 23:37 #

        Again, we see using intelligence (brain function) as a slur.

  3. chavisory February 20, 2015 at 01:32 #

    Not so long ago, National Geographic also ran one of the best articles I’ve still ever seen about the history of gender politics that could underlie the disproportionate diagnosis of boys.

    Thanks again, National Geographic. 🙂

  4. Kathy Sayers Hennessy February 20, 2015 at 17:09 #

    I always enjoy National Geo and now love them even more.

    • Lawrence February 20, 2015 at 18:13 #

      They are growing on me again….

  5. Harry Bronozian February 22, 2015 at 15:34 #

    Vaccines do NOT cause autism IF the immune system of the infant or child is good. Factors that affect negatively the immune system of ANY child are hereditary issues, diet, antibiotics and infections during pregnancy, C-Section birth, no breast feeding, antibiotics during ages 0-2 and ….vaccines that contain various chemicals. Pediatricians should note and evaluate all these factors before they embark on vaccinations, especially if they give 3-5 vaccines in one shot because a child with low immune system can not handle it. As a result vaccines will affect negatively the gut flora of the child, and since there is a gut-brain relationship, it will affect the brain. The immune system of EVERY infant and child is DIFFERENT. How can the CDC have the same vaccination schedule for EVERY child when the immune system of EVERY child is DIFFERENT?? Pediatricians must evaluate the immune system of EVERY child with a questionnaire upon which they will decide on a unique strategy for vaccination for that child. Use of probiotics prior, during and after vaccinations becomes essential to improve the immune system and intestinal flora of ANY child. The gut is the center of the immune system and C-Section birth, no breast feeding and other factors mentioned above affect negatively the immune system of ANY child. Breast feeding contains ingredients that assists in the growth of friendly bacteria such as bifidobacteria. Breast feeding for one year is essential. C-Section born children will not get bacteria from the mother during passage from the birth canal but from the environment of the hospital that will result in overgrowth of other bad bacteria and will affect negatively the immune system of ANY child. Without this kind of information, and there are tons of scientific information on the above, we will see a continues rise of Autism that is affecting families financially, emotionally, resulting into divorces etc. Wake up America, especially so called unscientific “doctors” and CDC!!

    Let me add that the immune system of ANY child becomes established by the age of three. During that time one has to be very careful with children because their brain and immune system is being formed. That is why autism occurs between the ages of generally between ages 1-3 during which vaccinations are being given at higher numbers.

  6. Wade Marks February 23, 2015 at 04:48 #

    What is sad and scary is that most prominent Republican politicians in America promote some of these anti-science views.

    Republicans refuse to acknowledge climate change and scoff at efforts to protect the environment. Most Republicans deny evolution and many seek to undermine its teaching in the schools. Recently some prominent Republicans have been playing coy on the myth of vaccines causing autism and suggesting that it’s OK for parents to forego vaccinations for their children.

    So in the US one of two major political parties is basically divorced from reality.

    • Chris February 23, 2015 at 05:07 #

      I heard a beautiful rant on the radio yesterday. Apparently some Republicans are so bent on destroying “Obama Care” they don’t care that because of it much of their constituents now have health care for the first time. I think they may be shooting themselves in their own feet.

  7. John February 23, 2015 at 15:18 #

    You are spot on. People who say you shoud think twice before you inject your baby with vaccines are thin foil hat conspiracy theorists, like the reporters and producers of “60 MINUTES”:

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 23, 2015 at 15:24 #

      Thinking twice about vaccination is what made me realize how important it really is.

      • John February 23, 2015 at 15:37 #

        Which means thinking is not your thing. And why should it be when you have government officials like the one in the video and doctors like the one discribed at 11:18 that can think for you.

      • Chris February 23, 2015 at 15:52 #

        Talk about dredging up an old dead horse from forty years ago as an argument for against protecting children from measles, mumps, pertussis, etc.

        Can we call this “argumentum ancient hysteria”?

  8. John February 23, 2015 at 16:19 #

    HAHA HH AH AH AH A HA. you did not see the video before you posted saying that thinking twice was what made you trust government endorsed vaccines, and now that you saw it your argument is that its too old? So now the CDC is not corrupt anymore, the pharmaceutical industry is not corrupt anymore, and now doctors know how a vaccine is going to work once you take it even though they have no idea whats going on inside the labs that make the vaccines? What about the part where they tested the vaccine and then made a new untested vaccine to give to the public using the the tests that were made in the first vaccine as the proff it was safe? Why didnt they gave them the first one if it was so good? What you are saying is that humans were corrupted in the 70’s and they are not anymore.

    Off topic for the morons that think, BEYOND DOUBT, that man made global warming is a fact [i am refering to “CLIMATE CHANGE DOES NOT EXIST”, in the magazine, which in itself is bull, because people that reseache about the climate do not say it does not change ( when one day rains and in the other is sunny, the climate is changing), they just say there is no proff that man is causing the planet to get warmer]. This link is less than one year old. Is that too old for you?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2738653/Stunning-satellite-images-summer-ice-cap-thicker-covers-1-7million-square-kilometres-MORE-2-years-ago-despite-Al-Gore-s-prediction-ICE-FREE-now.html

    • Chris February 23, 2015 at 16:38 #

      Word of advice, we do not consider YouTube videos as evidence, nor random news articles especially if they are from the Daily Fail. Cries of “conspiracy!” are not convincing.

      So if you want to be taken seriously, either go away or start providing PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers to prove your point.

      • John February 23, 2015 at 17:09 #

        So you decide what is a valide research source or not, just like christians say evolution does not exist because the bible says so, you say vaccines are safe because PubMed says so.

        Maybe you know more more about “reputable researchers” than a former British Medical Jornal editor does:

        http://www.theguardian.com/science/occams-corner/2013/sep/17/scientific-studies-wrong

        You do know that a video posted on youtube does not lose its value just because its on youtube right? So if a video of a researcher talking about his published research on PubMed is posted on youtube, the researcher on the video loses the credebility while at the same time he is still credible because he has a study published on PubMed?

        The former CDC director in the video is no longer a former CDC director because he is on youtube? So his lies are no longer lies because its on youtube?

        Can you imagine a judge saying that a video of someone killing a person is no longer proff of murder because it was posted on youtube?

        Ps: sorry to make you use your brain cell so much today.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 23, 2015 at 17:43 #

        The article points out that many, if not most, hypotheses fail.

        Such as the hypotheses that mercury in vaccines or the MMR cause autism. Hypothesized, tested, failed.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 23, 2015 at 17:39 #

      Nice. First you, not I, characterize people who believe in non-scientific ideas as ” thin foil hat conspiracy theorists”. Now you laugh at me for responding. I guess if you had a substantive response you wouldn’t have to resort to this.

      Use the term moron or a similar term again and you are gone from this site. This is a disability focused website. Stigmatizing intellectual disability is wrong, rude and shouldn’t be tolerated in polite company, and using such a term on a disability based website says more about you than me.

      Reading the “science” that “shows” that vaccines are unsafe, especially in regards to autism, is what demonstrated to me that there is nothing to those claims. Hundreds of articles here go in depth in analyzing those studies.
      You are welcome to take your climate change debate elsewhere. Which is a nice way of saying, that conversation is over here.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 23, 2015 at 17:40 #

      You would do better with your mockery if you could spell “HA” correctly. HH is not a word.

  9. John February 23, 2015 at 16:40 #

    One more thing about the “old news”. Remember the swine flu pandemic and the bird flu pandemic a few years ago? Its just like in the video, where was the pandemic? Here you have:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1284133/The-pandemic-Drug-firms-encouraged-world-health-body-exaggerate-swine-flu-threat.html

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1242147/The-false-pandemic-Drug-firms-cashed-scare-swine-flu-claims-Euro-health-chief.html

    Do this articles are too old? They are from 5 years ago. Maybe now the human race is no longer corrupt.

    • Chris February 23, 2015 at 16:48 #

      Again, news articles, especially if they are from the Daily Fail, are not taken seriously. Please only provide PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers, or just go away.

      • John February 23, 2015 at 17:23 #

        You have a hard time proving me that the information that i posted is wrong. So if some articles on PubMed are proven wrong does that mean that there are no valid information on PubMed, just like if articles are proven wrong in dailymail that means there is no valid information?.

        Come on, tell what is not true in the dailymail articles that i posted.

        No valid arguments, no information posted, just the Christian way of having an argument: “IF IT IS NOT IN THE BIBLE THEN IT IS NOT CREDIBLE, SO GO AWAY OR POST SOME BIBLE STUFF, AND NO, I AM NOT EVEN GOING TO TRY TO DEBATE YOUR SCIENTIFIC ARTICLES BECAUSE THEY CAME FROM PEOPLE THAT SOMETIMES PUBLISH STUFF THAT I DO NOT AGREE WITH!!!!”

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 23, 2015 at 17:47 #

        “You have a hard time proving me that the information that i posted is wrong”

        Since so far your comments have been largely antagonistic fluff, that would be an accurate statement. Present a cogent, substantive argument and we can have a discussion. I don’t see that happening with you, though.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 23, 2015 at 17:41 #

      “Do this articles are too old?”

      Is English not your first language? Or are you ranting so fast that you have given up on grammar?

      • John February 23, 2015 at 17:47 #

        Yes english is not my first language. And thank you for the grammar correction.

        Now where is the rest of your post, where you teach me how much am i wrong for not trusting the vaccines business?

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 23, 2015 at 17:56 #

        I’m not here to teach you anything. If you present misinformation it will be countered.

        I note that you have declined the opportunity to apologize for your stigmatizing remarks about intellectual disability. “Moron”. Not a term welcome here. People who can’t apologize, not really worth my time.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 23, 2015 at 17:48 #

        OK, so likely English is not your first language as your IP address resolves to Portugal. My apologies for criticizing your lack of understanding of English grammar.

  10. John February 23, 2015 at 17:35 #

    Remember when “reputable sources” like the Journal of Pediatrics said that mercury was good for you? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyR2XeLjYTU

    Ups,maybe its not so good: http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/06/05/us-fda-dentalfillings-idUSN0439217520080605?feedType=RSS&feedName=healthNews&sp=true

    • John February 23, 2015 at 18:08 #

      People that believe man made global warming is real because Al Gore said so are morons. If you believe what a polititian tells you just because he has a nice hair cut and perfect white teeth thats what you are.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 23, 2015 at 18:17 #

        And with that we say goodbye, John. Again, this is a disability focused website. If you want to stigmatize my child’s disability you can find many places on the web to do so.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 23, 2015 at 18:19 #

        Note that John left at least one more comment using the term “moron”, in stronger terms than above. Add to that the fact that he’s moved into clearly trolling and I have bid him goodbye.

  11. jagman48 February 24, 2015 at 02:57 #

    As I said earlier vaccines DO NOT cause autism. Full stop. Go away with your mumbo jumbo talks and fancy probiotics. Push your brand of lies somewhere else and leave us alone. You waste my time just trying to read your crap.

  12. Nicole February 24, 2015 at 19:43 #

    I agree that we shouldn’t use disparaging remarks about people’s intelligence in polite company, but this isn’t polite company, this is a serious online discussion wherein one’s ability to conceptualize the problems is a major factor. Calling someone a “moron” is distasteful, and certainly ad homimen, just as questioning one’s linguistic skill is due to a grammatical error. Nonetheless, if a person believes something because it is established by authorities, especially if the history of its evidence is short and arguably unclear, they may lack the mental flexibility and acuity to discuss the issue substantively, creatively. Science has been wrong, as it should be, again and again.

    We as a species fail to understand the synergistic effects of the chemicals we produce, both internally via epigenetics and other processes only now coming to light (as in tip of the iceberg), and externally in factories and labs for consumption. I don’t understand them, science hasn’t got all the answers, and we may get (and have gotten) farther from the answers before we get to them, if we ever can. It makes us all look quite simple to argue over things that are not well understood. Some respect for differing positions is in order.

    These questions of vaccines (there appear to be concerns beyond the old dead-horse autism argument) seem too different than questions about evolution and its evidence to belong in the same magazine article, effectively making anyone who has questions about vaccines look like they same type of person who disbelieves evolutionary theory. It is poor writing at best, and likely misleading and deceptive in the main. We have precious little understanding of the complexity of our world, and to become so supercilious and angry as we try to discuss it is at the heart of our problems as well.

    • Lawrence February 24, 2015 at 20:27 #

      Which is why we rely on science and clear, concise methodology to uncover what we don’t know.

      Anti-vaccine groups aren’t applying this method or methodology – they merely rely on emotional arguments that “something is wrong.” And when their pet theories are disproven by Science, they merely move on to the next argument, however ridiculous it is.

      That’s why National Geographic was correct to include them.

      • Nicole February 24, 2015 at 21:09 #

        Ah. It seems you are saying that due to consistent use of clear, concise methodology (every time without fail, no doubt), the answers provided by Science are always Right. Anyone who thinks vaccines may be questionable is certainly relying on emotional arguments and they are therefore always Wrong. Furthermore, it is likely that their arguments are ridiculous. Thank you for the clarification of this line of thinking. It makes perfect sense.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 24, 2015 at 23:34 #

        Why is it that when people write “it seems you are saying…” they almost never then state what the person was saying? Has anyone said, “every time without fail” here? No.

        Why don’t you just say what you think?

      • Chris February 24, 2015 at 21:20 #

        “Ah. It seems you are saying that due to consistent use of clear, concise methodology (every time without fail, no doubt), the answers provided by Science are always Right”

        Absolutely not. Science will change, but it seems that even when policy makers bend backwards to satisfy certain constituents (like removing thimerosal), there seems to be a shift of goal posts.

      • Lawrence February 24, 2015 at 21:43 #

        Nicole – that isn’t what I said, and you know it.

        At this point, the anti-vaccine brigade can’t even come up with a biologically-plausible theory as to how vaccines could be harmful (like cause autism), since all of their previous pet theories have been demolished by actual scientific research – which, ironically-enough, includes a study funded by one of their own organizations (SafeMinds), referenced on this very blog.

    • Chris February 24, 2015 at 21:16 #

      Nicole: “Calling someone a “moron” is distasteful, and certainly ad homimen,”

      Calling someone a “moron” is an insult, not an ad hominem. An “ad hominem” means that you disregard a person’s opinion for what he/she is, not for the content of their argument. It is a subtle difference:
      http://www.skepticsfieldguide.net/2012/05/ad-hominem.html

      Matt is very sensitive to the words that were commonly used to describe children like ours who have intellectual disabilities. He gave John one warning, which was ignored.

      “We have precious little understanding of the complexity of our world, and to become so supercilious and angry as we try to discuss it is at the heart of our problems as well.”

      We have enough understanding that certain claims are not valid. This was the point of the National Geographic article. This is also why I request a certain quality of evidence to support stated claims. My request that it be indexed in PubMed is a way to filter out unverified Youtube videos and erroneous news articles. It is not perfect, but it brings up the level of veracity.

      • Nicole February 24, 2015 at 22:04 #

        Thank you for the reference on ad hominem. I enjoy a discussion of logical fallacies, and found this article interesting: http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2011/09/15/what-is-an-ad-hominem-what-isnt/.

        I honestly don’t remember the structure of John’s argument very well, but both parties were interested in discrediting the others’ argument with insults. Both cases provide evidence of the main issue I brought there, which was the lack of respect when addressing others’ viewpoints.

        I disagree that we “have enough understanding” in all cases presented in the NG article. We make grave errors in many cases where we take action on the assumption that we “have enough understanding,” especially when we cannot possibly.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 24, 2015 at 23:31 #

        “but both parties were interested in discrediting the others’ argument with insults”

        Really? Since I am a part of this conversation perhaps you could ask me what I was interested in doing. Then I could tell you.

        John was a troll. I don’t use the term often nor do I use it lightly. But John demonstrated early and clearly that he was interested in provoking. John’s comments lacked substance. If he managed to provoke a response, well, shame on me for letting a troll do that.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 24, 2015 at 23:41 #

        We can spend forever saying, “all we need is one more study”. Or we can take the mountain of data we have and draw a conclusion. And then take another mountain of data. Which is what happened over the past decade with the question of vaccines and autism.

      • Chris February 24, 2015 at 22:17 #

        “I honestly don’t remember the structure of John’s argument very well, but both parties were interested in discrediting the others’ argument with insults.”

        There are still on this thread. He was basically using videos and news articles telling us that vaccines and global warming were all conspiracies and everyone is corrupt.

        When we did not care for his arguments, he resorted to calling us morons. Can you look up the thread and explain where I used an insult? Do you consider joking that using an incident from 1976 could be called “argumentum ancient hysteria” as an insult? Can you please tell us what insult Matt used on John?

        Can you also please explain to us if John had a valid point that could be discussed?

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 24, 2015 at 23:27 #

      “I agree that we shouldn’t use disparaging remarks about people’s intelligence in polite company, but this isn’t polite company, this is a serious online discussion wherein one’s ability to conceptualize the problems is a major factor”

      My site. My rules. Simple. Not only did he refuse to accept that simple request, he was clearly trying to provoke.

      “Calling someone a “moron” is distasteful, and certainly ad homimen, just as questioning one’s linguistic skill is due to a grammatical error. ”

      And you will notice that I apologized, even before “John” responded to confirm that English is not his first language.

      ” Science has been wrong, as it should be, again and again.”

      Science has been right. And it will be right again, and again.

      • Nicole February 25, 2015 at 22:38 #

        It is easy to become emotional and trade insults, I understand. And it is nice that you apologized, and telling that he did not. While I have time to respond quickly now, I cannot review John’s arguments and spend more time looking for more evidence. I agree he was potentially wrong, and that his approach was poor, yes. As a language teacher, I am sensitive to people arrogantly commenting on grammatical mistakes from the comfortable vantage of arguing in their native language (and in English, frequently it is a monolingual perspective with utter lack of appreciation of what it takes to become anything more than functionally bilingual).

        It was not my intent to come in and defend one line of thinking or the other on any of these points.

        My original point was that the NG article is putting superficially related topics together in a deceptive way: evolutionary theory and the safety of vaccines do not have analogous scientific theory/proof behind them, but for the many who will not get any farther than reading the cover in a store, the message is that those who doubt the safety or efficacy of vaccination are in the same group in the “war on science” as those who doubt evolution. And for those who do read the article, the conclusion will likely be similar.

        My other point was that by disparaging one group or the other, acting superior when you belong to the mainstream or majority (or to the minority), the rift grows deeper and people become more likely to cling to their beliefs. We may be as blind as those who ostracized Galileo when it comes to the long-term consequences of some (NOT ALL) our recently concocted medical interventions, but with more potentially harmful consequences. Not believing in a heliocentric system or evolutionary theory will not have a direct impact on our health, as far as I can imagine. However, since we do not understand well how vaccination will affect our health in the long run, especially the vaccination schedule currently used in the U.S., we must admit that the unknowns may potentially cause problems that we cannot foresee.

        Frankly, I enjoy very much reading your thoughts and evidence here, as I am extremely interested (my hobby, we could say, JM) in the debate on vaccination and on other more routine medical intervention (as well as diet). I am a mother of two young children, I work full-time, so you will have to excuse that I do not spend time right now pulling up research to provide backing to one point or another. It is not to say that I haven’t done research (I have free access to academic/scholarly/medical journals and an appropriate background in research), but I don’t have time to blog and organize all my findings like so many others. Joining one of these discussions is something I rarely do, but felt compelled to squeeze it in between tasks. Feel free to dismiss me now. Or humor me and tell me where you stand on issues of diet and autism. My brother is autistic so you need not assume I know nothing about it. (And we do not think vaccinations caused it!)

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 25, 2015 at 23:00 #

        “It is easy to become emotional and trade insults”

        Just to be clear, I didn’t become emotional. I rifled off a quick response and later decided it was not appropriate. Not that it matters one way or another, but I’ve seen enough “John’s” to not let such simple trolling get me emotional. Nor, frankly, did his repeated use of “moron” make me emotional. But it is something I do not tolerate and it was a simple test of whether he was trolling. Inform him that he would be banned for continued use and, predictably, he took that as a sign that his trolling was getting to me and pushed again.

        National Geographic did not assert that scientifically there was any relation between these various topics. One might say that scientifically they are superfically related, but that’s not the theme of the article. They are all common themes taken by those who do not accept scientific evidence. I don’t think they intended a different message so I don’t find it deceptive in any way. But that’s me.

  13. JM February 25, 2015 at 20:02 #

    You all need to find a productive hobby.

    • Chris February 25, 2015 at 20:09 #

      Why? Are you bothered that Matt specifically writes articles on this blog to combat anti-science?

  14. Nicole February 26, 2015 at 01:41 #

    It’s the nature of the scientific evidence here, Matt. Look at the saturated fat debate and where science has been on that. We will all differ on when we think adequate evidence has been supplied to believe something. None of us can possibly do all the research ourselves and will, at some point, have to take someone’s word. Of all the issues brought by the NG article, the vaccination issue stands out to me as something more like the saturated fat debate, the one where we just don’t understand the long term issues. Articles like the NG one that drew my attention validate claims that people who consider vaccines to be of questionable safety and efficacy are anti-science, and that is just not true. This is a dismissal and an attempt to vilify those who choose not to vaccinate for whatever reason.

    • Chris February 26, 2015 at 02:01 #

      “None of us can possibly do all the research ourselves and will, at some point, have to take someone’s word.”

      How do you determine that one person’s “word” is better than another person’s “word.” Do you look at their credentials and body of work? Tell us whose “word” you would prefer over that of researchers like Dr. Brent Taylor, Dr. DeStefano, Dr. Hornig, Dr. Tozzi, Dr. Uchiyama, Dr. Fombonne, Dr. Makela, Dr. Madsen, Dr. Peltola, Dr. Pichichero, Dr. Stehr-Green… and all of the researchers who in the past two decades have done studies showing vaccines are safe and effective. And that includes the researchers of the most recent Safe Minds sponsored paper, “Examination of the Safety of Pediatric Vaccine Schedules in a Non-Human Primate Model: Assessments of Neurodevelopment, Learning, and Social Behavior”, that Matt has written about on this blog.

      “Articles like the NG one that drew my attention validate claims that people who consider vaccines to be of questionable safety and efficacy are anti-science, and that is just not true.”

      How is it not true? Be specific on what claims that are made questioning the safety and efficacy of vaccines that have been supported by actual science. Explain what scientific findings have overturned the conclusions in this list of studies: Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 26, 2015 at 04:40 #

      “None of us can possibly do all the research ourselves and will, at some point, have to take someone’s word”

      No. One takes the results of many studies when a scientific consensus is reached.

      ” Articles like the NG one that drew my attention validate claims that people who consider vaccines to be of questionable safety and efficacy are anti-science, and that is just not true. ”

      Really? You’ve never been in conversations with people who claim to be “vaccine safety advocates” and the tell you that vaccines don’t work, there is no vaccine science (it’s religion), diseases don’t really cause harm or any of the other common “vaccines are of questionable safety” common talking points? Because all those are common and they are completely anti-science.

      • Chris February 26, 2015 at 18:15 #

        “One takes the results of many studies when a scientific consensus is reached.”

        I am still curious over what “other” results we need to believe in over the scientific consensus. Especially since I read this reply on ThePoxesBlog: “And to all those who try to shut others down with the “science” argument: start doing some real research then!”

        Sadly, I did not get an answer when I asked about what “real research” meant.

  15. Truthout March 9, 2015 at 22:37 #

    I was looking to post something to National Geographic’s own website about their “War on Science” issue, but their site is a jumble of a mess and the “infringement” notice too wordy to understand, so I came here.

    In a nutshell, the reason there are so many “doubting Thomas’s” is that the public has been lied to numerous times by those in authority, mostly government, but acadeamia and scientists as well. Lies make people skeptical. Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you! Here are some of the biggies of late:

    -WMDs in Iraq
    -9/11 towers felled by fire from airplanes
    -Sandy Hook false flag shooting
    -life after death
    -exterrestrial craft and contact
    -man-caused global warming (it’s the Sun, you idiots!)
    -“If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”
    etc., etc.

    Meanwhile Fukushima continues to dump radioactive water in the Pacific but the
    FDA says it’s fine to eat Tuna.

    The more lies, the more impossible it is to believe what you profess to claim.
    Scientists are pompous, for the most part.

    • Lawrence March 9, 2015 at 22:47 #

      Conspiracy-BINGO!!!!

    • Gray Falcon March 10, 2015 at 01:04 #

      Anyone heartless enough to call Sandy Hook a “false flag shooting” has no right to comment here. Begone!

  16. novalox March 10, 2015 at 03:26 #

    @truthout

    Someone so heartless as you does not belong here. And saying such things without any shred of proof says a lot about your heartlessness and nothing about actual science.

  17. jagman48 March 10, 2015 at 20:54 #

    Truthout would have to the biggest idiot I have seen on this page. And that is big. BTW my strong stance of pro vaccination is as a result of polio at 18 months old. I have seen what good vaccinations do in my lifetime. Ok I am not a doctor, scientist etc. But the decrease in infections over 60 years is proof to me.

  18. Abigail March 21, 2015 at 14:04 #

    That’s really professional journalism; to lump the complex and tragic experiences of the vaccine-injured in with climate change and evolution skeptics. In fact, this was the ONLY paragraph in the entire article to touch on vaccines and within it, contradicts itself saying vaccine doubters are often well -educated but are actually wholly represented by Jenny McCarthy who got a ‘degree from Google’ .The anti-vaccine movement has been going a lot longer than 1998! About a century longer. This and your own article should be called, ‘The War on Journalism’ the articles themselves being battering rams against it.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 21, 2015 at 17:27 #

      “…but are actually wholly represented by Jenny McCarthy who got a ‘degree from Google’ ”

      Wholly represented by Jenny McCarthy? The paragraph doesn’t come close to making that claim.

      The idea that the rise in autism diagnoses is due to vaccination is so clearly wrong that those who promote it still are pure denialists. Go ahead and call my article whatever you want, but the fact is that many in the “vaccines-cause-autism” community are just as guilty of denialism as flat earthers, holocaust denialists, evolution denialists and many other denialist communities.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 21, 2015 at 17:34 #

      The vaccine injured are NOT represented by those who promote the idea that autism is a vaccine induced epidemic. If someone in my family were one of the rare cases of serious vaccine injury, I would be LIVID with the way those groups have taken over the discussion and, frankly, made it harder for true advocates to get their work done.

      One of the best vaccine safety advocates was a gentleman whose child got polio from an oral vaccine. He advocated for a change to the inactive polio vaccine and helped make a change. He didn’t do this by spreading fear of vaccines, or claiming vaccines don’t work, or claiming that vaccines cause everything from homosexuality to criminal behavior, along with every medical condition in the world. He did it by sticking to the facts and making his case persistently.

      I wonder if he’d be able to be as effective in today’s America where the “leaders” of the faux vaccine safety community are so irresponsible in their actions.

    • jagman48 March 25, 2015 at 22:11 #

      Once again and I will say it slowly for you. Vaccines do not cause autism. Period full stop. Vaccines save lives and this is a proven fact. Look at polio for a start.

  19. Lawrence March 25, 2015 at 14:03 #

    Somehow I don’t think this post is going to last too long……

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 25, 2015 at 21:57 #

      I considered leaving them up as a testament to the angry trolls who oppose vaccines, but no. The comment on this thread and another are now trashed.

  20. John Heininger June 7, 2015 at 11:03 #

    The issue for a growing number of people today is not “Is it science”, but rather the extent to which mainstream science now lives in a surreal world of its own making, far removed from realty. Where the assertions of “Metaphysical” naturalism and SCIENTISM, rather than “Methodological” naturalism and the scientific method, now dominate mainstream science at every level, and in every way. This is precisely why a growing number of people, myself included, no longer trust National Geographic and mainstream science SCIENTISM, and have turned increasingly to scientists who are theists and creationists Whose numbers are growing by the day. Sorry about that!

    • Lawrence June 7, 2015 at 19:34 #

      I’m pretty sure not much of that is actual English…

    • novalox June 8, 2015 at 07:37 #

      @john

      So, any actual evidence for your assertions, because your beliefs flies in the face of what science actually is.

      And what you believe in isn’t science, it’s religion, which is not what science is about.

    • Roger Kulp June 8, 2015 at 14:51 #

      I have been reading some of the literature from the original antivaccine movement of the 1880s-1910s.They were saying exactly the same thing you are.

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