Archive for the ‘medical woo’ Category
Posted by mattusmaximus on September 18, 2013
I am very pleased to announce that a ground-breaking survey conducted on the issue of people’s opinions regarding vaccines and vaccination has been published; the work was a joint project of the James Randi Educational Foundation and Women Thinking, Inc. and it gets to the heart of how those of us who support good science-based medicine can communicate a more positive message on vaccines.
In addition, I am happy to say that I took a personal role in this research during my time with the Women Thinking, Inc. organization
[**Addendum: My skeptical colleague, Jamie Bernstein, wrote a wonderful piece on this survey research over at Skepchick, and she outlines there just how many people were involved in this process over the last few years. Check it out!]
So, without further ado, I would like to link to the JREF’s press-release on the survey; please note that you can download the full paper at this link, so please share it!
The James Randi Educational Foundation and Women Thinking, Inc. have come together for an opinion survey aimed at better understanding the spread of the unfounded “vaccine panic” that prevents some parents from getting important immunizations for their children. The project, Immunization: Myths, Misconceptions, and Misinformation, explores better ways to communicate a “vaccine-positive” message.
“Vaccine misconceptions have been running rampant, which should not only be concerning to science advocates but to parents and the greater public,” said WTinc President Louise Kellar. “Previously it had been unclear which misconceptions had been taking a toll on parents. Through this survey that the JREF funded, we hope that that science advocates and educators will be able to focus their outreach efforts, thereby helping children have the best start in life and hopefully saving some lives in the process.”
The joint project is an opinion survey that includes data from hundreds of parents of young children. The survey data was collected by volunteers at events where parents may be especially vulnerable to “anti-vaccine” messages. The JREF and Women Thinking, Inc. is happy to make the results freely available to public health and science advocates to help inform their efforts to support childhood immunity.
“There are some provocative conclusions that may be drawn from the survey data,” said JREF President D.J. Grothe. “Although the scientific community has done a good job refuting the misinformation of the most vocal anti-scientific anti-vaccine campaigners, the survey data suggests that most parents do understand the importance of ‘herd immunity,’ but just consider this a greater risk than possible harm to their children coming from vaccination. We hope the information from the survey will help science educators and activists better understand parents’ concerns in order to help them make the healthiest choices regarding childhood immunity from dangerous diseases.”
The JREF-WTinc survey, conducted over the last two years and released to the public today, aims to help science advocates fill gaps in the public’s understanding of the vaccine panic. The opinion survey asked specific questions about parents’ beliefs and fears about immunization, their media consumption, and their conversations with friends, family, and doctors. From the report: “The most effective anti-vaccination arguments are those that induce fear in parents by naming frightening ingredients and by greatly exaggerating the risks of vaccinations. The best pro-vaccination arguments were those that focused on a good-parenting message, such as suggesting that not immunizing your child is equivalent to putting them in a car without a car seat.”
You may download a copy of Immunization: Myths, Misconceptions, and Misinformation here.
Click here to read the rest of the press-release
Posted in medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: anti-vaccination, anti-vax, children, data, immunization, information, James Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, medicine, misconceptions, myth, opinion, parents, research, science, survey, vaccination, vaccines, vax, Women Thinking, WT, WT Inc | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on August 27, 2013
Many times we think of vaccine deniers and picture Jenny McCarthy as the spokesperson for the anti-vaccine movement. She goes on and on about how her “mommy instinct” trumps all of modern medicine and insists it’s acceptable to prevent them from getting vaccinated; this despite the fact that kids can die without their vaccines.
Well, there is a disturbing new trend in the anti-vaccine movement: some parts of it have gotten religion… literally. Apparently there is now a confluence of faith-healing with anti-vaccine sentiment, and it has gotten popular enough in some circles that it is – surprise – causing the outbreak of diseases such as the measles which were once thought to be practically wiped out.
Read on for more information:
For several days now, state health officials have been sounding the alarm about a nascent measles outbreak in North Texas. As of Friday, there had been nine confirmed cases, a number that will grow as new reports from local health agencies filter up to the state.
The epicenter of the outbreak is Tarrant County, which has now confirmed 10 cases, and the epicenter of cases in Tarrant County seems to be at Eagle Mountain International Church.
Pastor Terri Copeland Pearsons delivered the news in a sermon last Wednesday:
“There has been a … confirmed case of the measles from the Tarrant County Public Health Department. And that is a really big deal in that America, the United States has been essentially measles free for I think it’s 10 years. And so when measles pops up anywhere else in the United States, the health department — well, you know, it excites them. You know what I mean I don’t mean. I don’t mean they’re happy about it, but they get very excited and respond to it because it doesn’t take much for things like that to spread.”
The sermon was awkward, to say the least. Pearsons is the eldest daughter of megapastor Kenneth Copeland, and her church is one of the cornerstones of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, his sprawling evangelical empire. He’s far from the most vocal proponent of the discredited theory that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine causes autism, but, between his advocacy of faith healing and his promotion of the vaccine-autism link on his online talk show, he’s not exactly urging his flock to get their recommended shots. …
Hmm… a plague has struck these supposed chosen people. The way I see it, you can have all the faith you want, but the infectious diseases out there don’t give a crap how devoted you are to your particular religion and/or god; it’s that simple.
In closing, if you’ll permit me a snarky comment directed towards the faith-healing crowd: perhaps this plague a sign from God, people… that you should vaccinate yourselves and your children!!!
Posted in medical woo, religion | Tagged: anti-vaccination movement, anti-vaccine, anti-vax, autism, AVM, bacteria, congregation, Copeland Ministries, evangelical, faith, faith healing, God, infection, Jenny McCarthy, Jesus, Kenneth Copeland, measles, medical, medicine, outbreak, religion, sermon, Texas, thimerisol, vaccine, vaccines, virus | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on January 17, 2013
Sometimes pseudoscience is stupid, sometimes it is annoying, sometimes it hurts our educational institutions… and sometimes it is outright frakking deadly. Case in point, medical frauds who perpetuate nonsense to vulnerable, desperate people; such as when quacks push supposed “cures for cancer” which are anything but or have yet to be proven, such as in the case of Stanislaw Burzynski and his “cancer clinic”. In such situations, it is literally a matter of life and death because when cancer patients delay reliable medical treatments in favor of pseudoscientific B.S. the delay can cost them their lives. Skeptic James Randi helps to break it down in more detail here:
But rather than curse the darkness, let us instead light a candle…
I am happy to announce that the Skeptical Teacher will be joining a coalition of skeptical activists called the Skeptics for the Protection of Cancer Patients (SPCP). The Skeptics for the Protection of Cancer Patients is a grassroots group devoted to the promotion of promising, ethical, and transparent cancer research. For more about this project and the group sponsoring it, visit thehoustoncancerquack.com or visit their Facebook page. Also, please consider donating either some of your time by promoting the cause (if you have a blog or media contacts) and/or your money to the legitimate scientific research of cancer.
Some more background and info on Burzynski:
*Dr. David Gorski has a new Science-Based Medicine post out as of this past Monday on Burzynski’s antineoplastons treatment. Science-Based Medicine » Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski’s antineoplastons versus patients.
*Burzynski gets warning from FDA: Stop promoting your treatment as “safe” and “effective”
The U.S. FDA has sent a letter to the Burzynski Research Institute to cease claiming that their brain tumor treatment, antineoplastons, are safe and/or effective for the purposed for which they are being investigated. In other words, Burzynski’s claims on websites and promotional materials that this treatment WORKS is a violation because supposed to be testing that!
* Supporters often use patient anecdotes to sell his unproven treatments at the Burzynski Patient Group. We have started curating a collection of patient stories at The OTHER Burzynski Patient Group, the ones Burzynski would rather you not hear. Also, these stories can be exported to your own website IN THEIR ENTIRETY via the storify site they were created on. Free content, people. Just sayin’.
*Orac, an oncologist, cancer researcher, and patient advocate, has written extensively about Burzynski at Respectful Insolence.
*Learn the whole story at Josephine Jones’s Blog. She has kept a comprehensive list of content about Burzynski, his clinic, and his chemotherapy on the web. An invaluable resource!
*You might be interested that the EMPLOYER of one of our members (of SPCP) was recently contacted by one of Burzynski’s misguided supporters.
Posted in medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: antineoplastons, Burzynski, cancer, chemotherapy, clinic, cure, doctor, FDA, fraud, health, Houston, medicine, Orac, patients, pseudoscience, quack, Respectful Insolence, science, science-based, science-based medicine, Skeptics for the Protection of Cancer Patients, SPCP, Stanislaw Burzynski, Texas, The OTHER Burzynski Patient Group, thehoustoncancerquack.com, treatment | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 8, 2012
I’m a bit late in posting this, seeing as how it was time-sensitive, but I would still like to share it because it is an excellent example of how to engage in effective skeptical activism. My skeptical colleague – and general badass mofo – Elyse Anders, recently wrote an article at Skepchick regarding the appearance of actor Rob Schneider on a radio show. Who cares about Rob Schneider? (It’s an honest question, in one sense, because I’ve never been a fan, but I digress)
Well, in this case we skeptics should care about Schneider, because it seems he has become one of the newest celebrity darlings and spokesmen for the anti-vaccination movement. Elyse elaborates in her Skepchick post…
… Tomorrow [this was Friday, Oct. 5th], he’s going to be on the KXRK 96.3 in Salt Lake City to promote his new… oh, I honestly don’t know. Who cares? It’s probably more awful than measles. But the measles thing we can at least do something about.
Last time he was on the show, he was promoting something related to his “career” and decided the best way to fill that time was to start yelling about how Big Vax is in bed with Big Brother. Full-on foil hat style.
Reader Atropos provided a clip of the show you can listen to here (or by clicking the poster from his Oscar Winning Drama Hot Chicks which I’ve provided in place of an embedded player.)
Favorite points/quick and dirty highlights:
- Polio just runs its course. It infects a few million people, gets bored, then stops infecting people. And eradicates itself. But then comes back again… maybe to avenge it’s eradication. Exactly how evolution works.
- Vaccines are not tested. Ever. On anyone. Or anything. A bunch of wild-haired men in lab coats run around making vats of Big Pharma’s HAHAHA WHATEVER patented mix then they stick it into vials and inject it into you then PROFIT!
- Vaccines are not tested. And don’t work. And we know they don’t work despite not testing. Ever. On anyone. Or anything.
- THE GOVERNMENT PAYS YOU TO GET AUTISM! Because??? Autistic people are easy to control? It seems like a poor long term government investment.
- Rob Schneider can read. Why is no one talking about this? …
Yup, a lot of the usual anti-vax talking points and conspiracy mongering. But what I wanted to point out isn’t so much that Elyse was venting her spleen about some idiot celebrity spewing nonsense on the radio, it was that she was willing to DO SOMETHING about it!!! (Which is one reason I love her )
… If you’re local, tune into X 96 (96.3 FM) tomorrow morning at 7 am local time. If you’re not near Salt Lake City, listen online at X96.com. 7 am MDT which is
10 am 9 am EDT. Call in during the show to talk to Mr. Schneider* and confront him with weird ass facts that he’s discussing. 877-602-9696
Brush up on your anti-vax arguments here:
CDC’s common vaccine misconceptions
Google Scholar: vaccine clinical trials (for reference, not for reading)
Anti-Anti-Vax’s The Truth About The Evils Of Vaccination and the Costs of Treating Vaccine Preventable Diseases
Oh… and a little site I like Hug Me, I’m Vaccinated.
So yeah, I missed the boat on this one. But take a moment to learn from Elyse’s activism, and read her links. The next time you hear that Rob Schneider (or Jim Carrey or Jenny McCarthy or any celebrity whack-a-loon) is going to be on a program where he could spew his anti-vaccine garbage, consider calling/emailing/texting in and holding him accountable. If more and more skeptics take their cue from Elyse and act in a like manner more often when some pseudoscientist or conspiracy theorist spews their nonsense in a public forum, it will help go a long way towards countering that nonsense.
Posted in medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: activism, anti-vaccination movement, anti-vaccine, anti-vax, autism, AVM, Elyse Anders, Hug Me, Hug Me I'm Vaccinated, interview, Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, petition, radio, Rob Schneider, Salt Lake City, Skepchick, skeptical, skepticism, thimerisol, Utah, vaccine, vaccines, X96 | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on July 21, 2012
One of the most rewarding things I did at TAM2012, which was full of rewarding things, was to help run and staff the Hug Me! vaccination clinic. Hug Me! is a campaign by the Women Thinking, Inc to educate women and parents (and pretty much anyone else) on the importance of vaccinating their children and themselves. While at TAM2012, we gave 161 free TDaP – that’s Tetanus, Diptheria, and Pertussis (whooping cough) – booster shots to attendees of the conference. If you are interested in learning more and possibly supporting our work, by donating or buying a Hug Me! shirt, click here :)
**Update: if you want to buy a Hug Me! shirt (as pictured below) send an email to marsmattus [at] yahoo [dot] com
The volunteers from the Women Thinking, Inc posing with James “The Amazing One” Randi (note our mascot, the sloth)
Posted in medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: anti-vaccination, anti-vax, anti-vaxxers, astronomy, booster shot, CDC, Centers for Disease Control, clinic, conference, convention, diptheria, hug, Hug Me, Hug Me I'm Vaccinated, James Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, Las Vegas, medicine, meeting, pertussis, public health, science, Skepchick, skeptic, skepticism, space, TAM, TAM2012, Tdap, tetanus, The Amaz!ng Meeting, The Amazing Meeting, vaccination, vaccines, vax, whooping cough, Women Thinking, Women Thinking Free, Women Thinking Free Foundation, Women Thinking Inc, WT Inc, WTFF | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on March 12, 2012
The Women Thinking Free Foundation, an organization of which I’m a board member, has come up with a great idea for skeptical activism: setting up NCAA tournament brackets and giving the proceeds to the promotion of vaccinations via the Hug Me I’m Vaccinated campaign! And how do I know this is such a great idea? Simple: because I know little to nothing about sports (and I don’t really care about them much either), and this got me to sign up for a bracket! Check it out and spread the word…
Do you like basketball? Do you hate deadly diseases? Have you been trying to find a way to use basketball to fight deadly diseases? Well, now you can by joining the Vax Your Bracket NCAA Tournament Pool. It costs a mere $10 to enter! Half of the proceeds go to the winner …and the other half go to Women Thinking Free Foundation to help us do things like run our Hug Me! I’m Vaccinated! pro-vaccination campaign. Check out http://www.hugmeimvaccinated.org/
to see where the money will be going.That’s right! You can now combine sports with saving the world!
We’re using simple CBS Tournament rules and there will be prizes for the top 3 winners. Plus, did I mention that you’ll be helping to save the world by promoting vaccinations?
1st place: 1/2 of the $$ collected
2nd: Hug Me T-shirt or Hug Me bear
3rd: Money back
The directions are simple:
1. Go to http://www.womenthinkingfree.org/ and click on the “Buy Now” button on the bottom right.
2. Once we get your payment, we’ll send you an invite to the Pool at the email you provided. You’ll have to create an account with CBS Sports. The deadline for sending us payment to join the tournament is Wed March 14 at 9am.
3. Starting on March 11, you can log on to CBS Sports and make your bracket. You must make your bracket before the first tournament game is played on Thursday night.
4. Log into CBS Sports during the tournament to see where your standing is compared with all the other players. We also approve of trash talk.
5. Save the World!
Posted in medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: activism, basketball, bball, bracket, CBS, college, donate, donation, gambling, game, Hug Me, Hug Me I'm Vaccinated, March Madness, NCAA, skeptical activism, skepticism, sports, tournament, tourney, vaccinations, vaccines, vax, wager, Women Thinking Free Foundation, WTFF | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on February 4, 2012
I found this image via a skeptical Facebook friend, and it just screams “skeptical teacher”! I’m just jealous that I didn’t think of it first
Three words: FOR THE WIN!!!
Image source: Reddit
The solutions (pardon the pun) to these questions reveals one glaring fact: homeopathy, there’s nothing in it, except water.
**Update (2/5/12): For those interested, I have calculated the actual answers to these questions. Contact me if you would like to see the math; here are the answers:
a) 3.46 x 10^21 or 3,460,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms
b) 3.46 x 10^15 or 3,460,000,000,000,000 atoms
c) 3.46 x 10^-39 or 0.000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 00346 atoms (a number so stupidly small we can safely say that there are effectively NO arsenic atoms remaining within the solution!)
Posted in education, medical woo | Tagged: alt-med, alternative medicine, chemistry, class, dilution, homeopathy, homework, physics, question, Reddit, skeptic, solution, teacher, teaching, woo | 6 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on December 28, 2011
Just yesterday I learned that the National Vaccine Information Center, a deceptive title for one of the worst anti-vaccine propaganda groups out there, has a new ad playing in New York City’s Times Square. Worse yet, this ad is going to be playing on the megatron screen there during the New Year’s Eve celebration on Dec. 31st! Folks, this is bad, not just because of the content of the ad, which plays on the “pro-choice” mentality that parents are better equipped to make medical decisions than doctors and also directs viewers to the NVIC’s website, but because of the timing: due to the fact that millions (perhaps even billions) of people watch the Times Square festivities on television, this ad could easily get worldwide exposure.
The NVIC and other anti-vax groups would rather this kid get whooping cough or another deadly disease than take a life-saving vaccine.
We need to fight back, and we’ve already started. Elyse Anders has already written a post at Skepchick on this, and I’ve also blown the whistle via the JREF Swift blog. But more needs to be done, so here’s what you can do:
1. Direct people to reliable and trustworthy outlets for vaccine information – a quick and handy one is the Women Thinking Free Foundation’s Hug Me I’m Vaccinated FAQ.
2. Sign the new petition demanding that ABC Full Circle pull the NVIC Times Square ad.
3. Join our Twitter campaign: Tweet @DisneyChannelPR using #ABCsSickNYE. You can copy/paste one of these or write your own:
I resolve to end deadly anti-vaccine propaganda. @DisneyChannelPR Pull NVIC’s anti-vax Times Square ad http://wp.me/pbblq-6RR #ABCsSickNYE
Whooping cough is on the rise thanks to things like NVIC advertising on @DisneyChannelPR screens in NYC. #ABCsSickNYE http://bit.ly/rXLHOd
4. Go to the NVIC YouTube video link and “dislike” the video.
5. Share this information on Facebook and other social media outlets.
6. Contact Gerald Griffin at ABC Full Circle by emailing Gerald.T.Griffin@abc.com or calling 212.456.7389 to voice your displeasure with them playing the NVIC ad.
And this campaign needs to be mounted from the inside as well as the outside: it seems we in the skeptical and pro-science community need media connections within the companies which rent out space for these high-profile ads. We need to inform and educate these companies about the part they are playing in spreading this dangerous anti-vaccination misinformation, and we need to raise such a fuss that they’ll simply refuse the NVIC the next time they come wanting to rent the space.
Of course, none of this will work without you, because we are going up against an organization that has literally hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on anti-vaccine propaganda. So please take some time to get involved and take action now – it really is a matter of life or death.
Posted in environmental hysteria, media woo, medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: 12-31, 12/31, 42nd street, ABC, activism, ad, advertisement, anti-vaccination movement, anti-vaccine, anti-vax, autism, AVM, Body Count, celebration, Change.org, Dec 31, December 31st, Full Circle, Hug Me, Hug Me I'm Vaccinated, Jenny McCarthy, megatron, National Vaccine Information Center, New Year, New Year's Eve, New York, NVIC, petition, Skepchick, skeptical, skepticism, thimerisol, Times Square, vaccine, vaccines | 2 Comments »