The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Event Honoring Dr. David Gorski & Vaccination Clinic at Dragon*Con!

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 18, 2010

This coming Saturday, August 21st, Dr. David Gorski – contributor to the Science-Based Medicine blog and author of another popular, yet anonymous, blog – will be coming to Chicago to give a lecture on the anti-vaccination movement and various other topics related to alternative medicine woo. This event is co-presented by the Chicago Skeptics, the Women Thinking Free Foundation (WTFF), and the Center For Inquiry Chicago. Details are at the event’s Facebook page…

Chicago Skeptics, The Women Thinking Free Foundation, and the Center For Inquiry-Chicago, are excited to co-present a talk by and discussion with Dr. David Gorski. A breast cancer surgeon and researcher, Dr. Gorski has been on the front lines of the anti-anti-vaccination movement as well as fighting against pseudoscience disguised as alternative heath care in many realms.

From his Science-Based Medicine bio:
Dr. Gorski first became interested in pseudoscience and “alternative” medicine around 2000, when quite by accident he wandered into the Usenet newsgroup and began critically examining the claims there. Since then, he has accumulated considerable experience refuting quackery and pseudoscience online. For the last five years, he has blogged under a pseudonym, producing what is consistently ranked as one of the top ten medical blogs, and is happy to drop his pseudonym in order to join such an accomplished group of skeptical doctors to discuss science- and evidence-based medicine (SEBM) for a broad audience. (Finding Dr. Gorski’s other, far more (in)famous blog persona is left as an exercise for the interested reader.)

Science-Based Medicine Blog:

Now, the evening of Dr. Gorski’s talk, there is going to be a fundraiser put on by the Chicago Skeptics and the WTFF. The proceeds from this fundraiser are going to go towards a vaccination clinic at Dragon*Con in Atlanta during Labor Day weekend! So, if you’re in the Chicago area this coming weekend, please click the link above to get a ticket to the fundraiser, but if you’re not and you’d like to contribute to this worthy cause, then I refer you to this excellent post over at Skepchick about it 😀

As part of the Hug Me! I’m Vaccinated launch at Dragon*Con, the Skepchicks are organizing vaccine clinic during Dragon*Con. We are providing FREE vaccines for any Dragon*Con participants who want them. We’ll also be distributing information and education about vaccinations during the event.

Here’s where we need your help.  While the vaccines and staffing are being provided completely free to us, because of the late notice, we needed to rent space to actually have the clinic.  We are paying for space in the Mall at Peachtree Center, which is connected to the Dragon*Con main hotels and we need to raise some money to cover the rent, plus posters, pamphlets and other materials to help promote this. Our goal is to raise $1,500 which will cover all of that. Elyse and the Women Thinking Free Foundation have already raised $800 for the launch so we need $700 more. Ironically, Elyse can’t come to Dragon*Con. She would have to bring her daughter with her and she can’t risk it because of the pertussis epidemic. So we’re going to be launching this project without her, very sadly.

If you can, please help out by donating a few dollars to this extraordinarily worthy cause. You can donate via PayPal to or visit the Women Thinking Free Store and donate there.

This is literally an effort that will save lives. And, if you’re at Dragon*Con, come by and get vaccinated!

2 Responses to “Event Honoring Dr. David Gorski & Vaccination Clinic at Dragon*Con!”

  1. winwin said

    Gorski: “I do love science, which is one reason why I get so agitated when I see it abused. Since I also love medicine, it agitates me even more to see both science and medicine abused”

    I respect this statement as science and medicine should be well-evidenced, and I applaud your efforts to critically look at those who deviate from scientific principles. Your sentiments are well-echoed by Michael Wilkes, a professor of medicine and vice dean of education at the University of California, Davis: “We don’t like to acknowledge the uncertainty of medicine, either to ourselves or to our patients…But patients deserve to know when their doctor’s recommendation is backed up with good evidence and when it isn’t.”

    I do, however, find it interesting that you, Dr. Gorski, come from the medical specialty where “NOWHERE IN MEDICINE IS THIS MORE OF A PROBLEM THAN IN SURGERY. Even essential surgery may pose risk of infection, medical error, or a bad reaction to anesthesia. But risks are compounded because many common surgical techniques are not as effective as physicians believe or are simply performed on the wrong patients, says Guy Clifton, a neurosurgeon at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and author at Flatlined: Resuscitating American Medicine.

    In 1989, as part of an effort to improve carotid surgery, vascular surgeons began employing a technique called stenting to prop open clogged carotid arteries with metal mesh tubes. Stenting is less invasive, but that does not necessarily mean it is safer. One study, conducted in France
    and published in 2006 in the New England Journal of Medicine, had to be stopped because stenting was killing patients. Another large study, out this year, found that 4.7 percent of endarterectomy patients had a stroke or died within four years after surgery, compared with 6.4 percent of those receiving stents. Rothwell is not optimistic that even this evidence will dampen surgeons’ enthusiasm for stents. “One issue is how these fashions arise in medicine—why do doctors accept a new technique and begin using it widely?” he says. “Innovation in medicine is not synonymous with progress.”


    So it’s odd that you critically attack other modalities for a lack of supporting evidence while your own profession is equally guilty of the same inconsistencies. Where is your agitation for this grand abuse? Seems the pot is most certainly calling the kettle black.

    I look forward to your response.

    • mattusmaximus said

      Modern medical science isn’t perfect, and nobody ever claimed that it was. But it’s better than anything else we’ve got.

      It’s also important to not confuse medical science with the distribution of medical care. The former is a question of science, the latter a question of economics and politics. Just because I have criticisms of how medical care is distributed (and I do) doesn’t mean that I need to throw out all of the valid medical science we’ve developed over hundreds of years of careful analysis. This is the mistake too many supporters of “alt-med” make: they make an unfounded connection to problems with our medical care system (i.e. business and politics) and medical science itself.

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