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Rationality takes work
Old 10-20-2009, 03:19 PM   #1
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Rationality takes work

An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All | Magazine

This article in Wired talks about the trend towards parents not immunizing their children and some of the reasons for the trend. This has resulted in outbreaks of disease in certain areas where vaccination rates are especially low. The article talks about Paul Offit, a pediatrician who is the coinventor of a rotavirus vaccine:

Offit once got an email from a Seattle man that read, “I will hang you by your neck until you are dead!” Other bracing messages include “You have blood on your hands” and “Your day of reckoning will come.” A few years ago, a man on the phone ominously told Offit he knew where the doctor’s two children went to school. At a meeting of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an anti-vaccine protester emerged from a crowd of people holding signs that featured Offit’s face emblazoned with the word terrorist and grabbed the unsuspecting, 6-foot-tall physician by the jacket.


“I don’t think he wanted to hurt me,” Offit recalls. “He was just excited to be close to the personification of such evil.” Still, whenever Offit gets a letter with an unfamiliar return address, he holds the envelope at arm’s length before gingerly tearing it open. “I think about it,” he admits. “Anthrax.”
So what has this award-winning 58-year-old scientist done to elicit such venom? He boldly states — in speeches, in journal articles, and in his 2008 book Autism’s False Prophets — that vaccines do not cause autism or autoimmune disease or any of the other chronic conditions that have been blamed on them. He supports this assertion with meticulous evidence. And he calls to account those who promote bogus treatments for autism — treatments that he says not only don’t work but often cause harm.



The primary example of pseudo-science discussed in the article is the tying of vaccination to autism. Combine the tendency for humans to see causation where there is correlation (autism shows up around the same time as kids are receiving a number of vaccinations), with the desire people have for answers, with the distrust that has developed of drug companies, with the viral nature of the internet, you end up with pseudo-science and a movement.

This is why I don't watch Oprah. Or spend significant time reading the Huffington Post. Or listening to Bill Maher.
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Old 10-20-2009, 11:30 PM   #2
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you end up with pseudo-science and a movement.
Sounds like something from an Arlo Guthrie song.
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This is why I don't watch Oprah. Or spend significant time reading the Huffington Post. Or listening to Bill Maher.
Agree with ya there Martha. Air America and Rush Limbaugh are on adjacent frequencies here in northern Illinois. I tune through that spectrum very quickly avoiding hearing a word from either!
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Old 10-20-2009, 11:55 PM   #3
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Disregard for science and scientific evidence is becoming trendy unfortunately. As a scientist, I find that trend worrisome.
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Old 10-21-2009, 01:19 AM   #4
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(snip) you end up with pseudo-science and a movement. (snip)
Sounds like something from an Arlo Guthrie song. (snip)
Yup, it's the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Vaccinate Movement. And all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar....with feelin'
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Old 10-21-2009, 07:34 AM   #5
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Aw, everybody knows that's a plot by the Communists. Or Space Aliens. Or the Democrats. Wait, maybe it was the Republicans. Or the Evil Corporations.
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Old 10-21-2009, 07:47 AM   #6
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And yet there are a rather large group of believers:

Doctors: Vaccine, not actual flu, best way to give kids immunity

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"I'm just not convinced that never getting sick is a goal for children. I think the body's designed to get sick and build its immune system."
What is wrong with these people? Can we blame the Internet in some way?
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Old 10-21-2009, 08:31 AM   #7
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My daughter was diagnosed with autism about 1 year ago. 1 year ago last week, in fact. When that happened I asked myself a ton of questions, wondering if it was something I did to cause it. Asking if there was something I did wrong, or didn't do right to cause it.

I can see how some parents would latch on to the vaccine as a cause. I think we all want to find out WHY it happened.

I consider myself fairly intelligent and well educated, but I still have reservations about vaccines. Also about bug spray, cleaning supplies, and a host of other things that I never questioned before.

But, there are no real scientific studies proving any link at all, so I'll get the vaccines for DD. But I plan on spacing them out a bit, and splitting them up if I can. Just to be on the safe side.
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Old 10-21-2009, 09:26 AM   #8
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You must do what I have done. Understand and accept that much of the population is ignorant or stupid or both, and that this is going to affect you. Often it will adversely affect you, but not always. Accept that you cannot change this.

Other ways in which it adversely affects you:

  • People drive their cars when drunk -- one may hit and kill you.
  • The government enacts stupid laws.
  • Twice a year you have to change the 10 or so clocks in your house.
  • Religious fanatics cause wars and terrorism.
  • You must type ".com" or ".org" or ".gov" when entering URLs.
  • Your computer is an unending source of grief.

However, always remember that if everyone in the world were as smart as you (or smarter), you would probably still be working (that is, you wouldn't have had a high-paying job).
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Old 10-21-2009, 09:35 AM   #9
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However, always remember that if everyone in the world were as smart as you (or smarter), ...
Great post!

However, is that one of those "Statistically, 50% of the population is smarter than the other half. Whose side are you on?" kind of questions?
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Old 10-21-2009, 09:39 AM   #10
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  • Twice a year you have to change the 10 or so clocks in your house.
You change the time on 10 clocks? WOW. You are really thorough. I only change the time on 2 clocks and my watch - - I just ignore the time displayed on my microwave, stove, etc.
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  • You must type ".com" or ".org" or ".gov" when entering URLs.
Or ".net", or...
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  • Your computer is an unending source of grief.
Take that back! I love my computer.

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However, always remember that if everyone in the world were as smart as you (or smarter), you would probably still be working (that is, you wouldn't have had a high-paying job).
Well, high paying relative to what we spend, anyway.
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Old 10-21-2009, 09:41 AM   #11
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Good one, Al. That basically is what I do and why I avoid certain websites and talking heads.

Almost time to change the clocks.

Interestingly, how smart and successful you are doesn't mean you won't believe weird things. For example, Dr. John Mack, a psychiatrist at Harvard University, is weirdly taken in by stories of alien abduction. And those who claim to be abducted by aliens are often smart and imaginative people who aren't nuts. It fascinates me why people believe odd things.

It is less interesting when it involves things like vaccination, where so much illness can result, or the politicizing of science.
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Old 10-21-2009, 09:45 AM   #12
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Interestingly, how smart and successful you are doesn't mean you won't believe weird things. For example, Dr. John Mack, a psychiatrist at Harvard University, is weirdly taken in by stories of alien abduction.
I didn't believe in alien abduction either until I started hanging around here.

Ha
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Old 10-21-2009, 01:07 PM   #13
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(that is, you wouldn't have had a high-paying job).
I'm an IT guy, so appreciate the dumbness of the every day user.
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Old 10-21-2009, 06:31 PM   #14
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I'm an IT guy, so appreciate the dumbness of the every day user.
I was one, and also appreciated the dumbness of management (and I was one of them too).
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Old 10-21-2009, 07:12 PM   #15
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I didn't believe in alien abduction either until I started hanging around here.

Ha
Speaking as a genuine alien, we don't abduct anyone. We just mess with their minds.

Oh, wait, I've been assimilated, now I am one of the Americans.
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Old 10-21-2009, 07:13 PM   #16
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I'm an IT guy, so appreciate the dumbness of the every day user.
I have, on occasion, had to call the "help" desk so... Me too!

(Is this one of those "massive generalization" threads I keep hearing about?)
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Old 10-21-2009, 08:45 PM   #17
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you end up with pseudo-science...
You must have met my project manager.

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...and a movement.
I did plug something up today.
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Old 10-21-2009, 09:47 PM   #18
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  • You must type ".com" or ".org" or ".gov" when entering URLs.
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Or ".net", or...
At least they haven't come out with the .xxx domain yet. That's sort of hard to disguise.

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I'm an IT guy, so appreciate the dumbness of the every day user.
Back in my early days in IT (very early 80's), I used to compare programmers in the 20th century to wizards in the middle ages. We didn't do anything anybody else couldn't do, we just kept the techniques secret so it would impress people and drive up our prices.
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Old 10-21-2009, 11:23 PM   #19
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At least they haven't come out with the .xxx domain yet. That's sort of hard to disguise.
.XXX Domain – The Terrible Idea that Refuses to Die Filtering Facts
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Old 10-22-2009, 12:57 AM   #20
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After years of socialization outside the submarine force, I've learned that the vast majority of humanity isn't interested in behaving rationally... not even after I've carefully explained it to them.

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Almost time to change the clocks.
When do you guys do that, anyway? Didn't it used to be sometime this month, or was that changed to next month?
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