Archive for the ‘medical woo’ Category
Posted by mattusmaximus on August 17, 2015
For the last month a manufactured controversy has raged about the health-care provider Planned Parenthood. Extremists within the supposed “pro-life”/anti-choice (PLAC) movement (you’ll see why I put “pro-life” in quotes soon enough) have waged a thoroughly discredited campaign to deny Planned Parenthood funding because they claim that Planned Parenthood sells baby parts for profit. Yes, you read that right… and that isn’t the only bone-headed and debunked conspiracy theory from the “pro-life”/anti-choice movement. In this post I will argue that not only is the majority of this movement anti-choice and anti-woman, but it is also driven by religious fundamentalism and is anti-scientific as it attempts to impose a narrow, religiously-based worldview on all of us.
The heart of this manufactured controversy is a series of deceptively edited sting videos from a group misleadingly named the Center for Medical Progress purported to show Planned Parenthood doctors/employees selling baby parts for money. Of course, these videos have been thoroughly analyzed and debunked, and numerous investigations into the matter have provided no evidence of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. But in addition, the so-called Center for Medical Progress isn’t what they seem; on this last point, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State reveals who is really behind the videos:
…The group behind the manufactured outrage, CMP, is really a front for Live Action, an anti-abortion outfit long associated with the more extreme fringes of the Religious Right. It’s headed by David Daleiden, an associate of Live Action founder Lila Rose; Live Action is responsible for a number of other deceptively edited “stings” that attempted to catch Planned Parenthood staffers engaged in illegal activities.
And Troy Newman, the current president of Operation Rescue, is a CMP board member. Newman once defended Paul Jennings Hill, executed in 2003 for murdering a Pensacola, Fla., abortion provider. Another current Operation Rescue staffer, Cheryl Sullenger, served time in prison for scheming to bomb an abortion clinic in San Diego, Calif. According to watchdog site Media Matters for America (MMFA), Sullenger also corresponded regularly with Scott Roeder, who later murdered Dr. George Tiller for providing abortions. …
So there’s the connection to religious fundamentalism. Of course, one of the more embarrassing things about the religious nature of the PLAC movement is that it’s supposed “pro-life” stance isn’t consistent with the Bible; for example, take a look at numerous sections of the Bible where God apparently condones abortion or how the PLAC movement has attempted to edit the Bible to make it more in line with their ideology.
As for the anti-science side of things, there is evidence aplenty to show how the PLAC ignores and distorts science in an attempt to push its religious dogma. For example, they conveniently ignore the fact that the family planning and birth control services that Planned Parenthood offers significantly reduce the need for abortion in the first place…
Not only that, most of the PLAC movement is fervently opposed to the use of birth control; in fact they’ll make crazy and thoroughly false claims that birth control actually increases the need for abortion. But don’t take it from me, take it from a former insider with the PLAC movement who left when she realized they were more about controlling women’s sexuality than anything else:
The Real Solution: Birth Control
But if banning abortion does not decrease abortion rates, what does? Why do some countries have low abortion rates while others have much higher rates? The answer, I found, was simple.
“Both the lowest and highest subregional abortion rates are in Europe, where abortion is generally legal under broad grounds. In Western Europe, the rate is 12 per 1,000 women, while in Eastern Europe it is 43. The discrepancy in rates between the two regions reflects relatively low contraceptive use in Eastern Europe, as well as a high degree of reliance on methods with relatively high user failure rates, such as the condom, withdrawal and the rhythm method.”
As I sat there in the student union reading over my lunch, I found that making birth control widespread and easily accessible is actually the most effective way to decrease the abortion rate. Even as I processed this fact, I knew that the pro-life movement as a whole generally opposes things like comprehensive sex education and making birth control available to teenagers. I knew this because I had lived it, had heard it in pro-life banquet after pro-life banquet, had read it in the literature. The pro-life movement is anti-birth-control. And opposing birth control is pretty much the most ineffective way to decrease abortion rates imaginable. In fact, opposing birth control actually drives the abortion rates up.
As I mulled this over, I realized how very obvious it was. The cause of abortions is unwanted pregnancies. If you get rid of unwanted pregnancies the number of people who seek abortions will drop like a rock. Simply banning abortion leaves women stuck with unwanted pregnancies. Banning abortion doesn’t make those pregnancies wanted. Many women in a situation like that will be willing to do anything to end that pregnancy, even if it means trying to induce their own abortions (say, with a coat hanger or by drinking chemicals) or seeking out illegal abortions. I realized that the real way to reduce abortion rates, then, was to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. And the way to do that is with birth control, which reduces the number of unwanted pregnancies by allowing women to control when and if they become pregnant. …
Beyond opposing birth control, the PLAC movement is also anti-scientific in the sense of their opposition to Planned Parenthood having any relation to fetal tissue research. Despite the noise and gross rhetoric coming from the PLAC, what is happening is that sometimes, with the consent of the patient, Planned Parenthood will donate fetal tissue to research organizations for the purposes of finding medical cures. Fortunately, while some in the PLAC movement are calling for such research to be outlawed, the record is clear that even many of their political allies support such research, and the scientific community is rallying around protecting the vital, life-saving work.
Last, but not least, is the inherent hypocrisy of the supposed “pro-life” side of the PLAC movement (hence the quotes). If the PLAC were really about “saving the unborn”, the following facts show how empty and vacuous are their real intentions. First, they do not care to advocate for any research into saving zygotes from miscarriages (what can arguably be called a “natural abortion”); again, from a former PLAC insider:
… A few months after reading Sarah’s article I came upon one by Fred Clark. In it, he argues that if those who oppose abortion really believe that every fertilized egg is a person we ought to see 5K fundraisers to save these zygotes. This is very much like what I said above, except that the focus here is whether the 50% of all zygotes – 50% of all fertilized eggs – that die before pregnancy even begins could be saved. Fred suggests that if the pro-life movement really is about saving unborn babies, and if those in the pro-life movement really do believe that life begins at fertilization, then pro-lifers really ought to be extremely concerned about finding a way to save all of these lives. But they’re not. …
… Reading Fred’s article compounded what I had felt reading Sarah’s article. The pro-life movement is not about “saving unborn babies.” It can’t be. As someone who as a child and teen really did believe that life – personhood – began at fertilization, and who really was in it to “save unborn babies,” this is baffling. If I had known all this, I would have been all for this sort of research. I would have been all for sexually active women using the pill to cut down on “deaths.” But I didn’t know any of this. The adults of the anti-abortion movement, though, and certainly the leaders, they surely must know these things. This isn’t rocket science, after all. They must know these things, and yet they are doing nothing.
And if that isn’t enough, there’s this another, utterly damning fact: if “human life begins at conception” and “all [human] life is sacred”, then why isn’t the PLAC doing anything to save all the frozen embryos left over after in-vitro fertilization sessions? I would argue that the answer is disturbingly simple: the PLAC movement isn’t truly “pro-life” as it proclaims, it’s about controlling women’s sexuality…
… The disparity between how the law treats abortion patients and IVF patients reveals an ugly truth about abortion restrictions: that they are often less about protecting life than about controlling women’s bodies. Both IVF and abortion involve the destruction of fertilized eggs that could potentially develop into people. But only abortion concerns women who have had sex that they don’t want to lead to childbirth. Abortion restrictions use unwanted pregnancy as a punishment for “irresponsible sex” and remind women of the consequences of being unchaste: If you didn’t want to endure a mandatory vaginal ultrasound , you shouldn’t have had sex in the first place. …
Fortunately, despite the manufactured outrage on the part of the PLAC movement and its political allies, there is reason to hope. As I’ve stated, upon closer analysis the arguments and the methods of the PLAC movement are utterly falling apart. In addition, contributions to Planned Parenthood have skyrocketed and poll after poll show that far more Americans approve of the work done by Planned Parenthood than those who oppose it. Last, but not least, political support for a government shutdown over this issue is losing steam in Congress, and the Obama administration is investigating potentially illegal denial of funds to Planned Parenthood.
So, apparently the forces of reason, rationality, and science are fighting back vigorously. Whether you personally support or oppose abortion, I think one thing we can agree on is that distorting science, sensationalizing, and lying is a poor substitute for reasoned discourse.
Lastly, I would argue that to be pro-active against this sort of nonsense we should all be more politically active, and we should demand that our elected leaders are held to account for their non-scientific views; a good resource for this is the Science Debate initiative. Then, vote. Then, pay attention to whether or not those leaders are sticking with good science or pushing a non-scientific, religiously-driven agenda. And hold them accountable.
Now get out there and fight.
Posted in conspiracy theories, medical woo, politics, religion | Tagged: abortion, anti choice, baby, baby parts, Bible, birth control, Center for Medical Progress, conservative, conspiracy, conspiracy theory, death, defund, embryo, feminism, fetal tissue, fetus, fundamentalist, GOP, investigation, liberal, Live Action, mother, murder, Planned Parenthood, politics, PP, pregnancy, pregnant, pro-choice, pro-life, religion, Republican, research, Roe v. Wade, science, sting, video, woman, women, women's rights, zygote | 6 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 16, 2014
Ebola is in the news, and unfortunately too many people are speculating and panicking about this terrible disease. And even more unfortunate, there are far too many media professionals who are reporting the news on Ebola in a completely irresponsible manner. In the spirit of lighting candles rather than cursing the darkness, I would like to share an example of very good reporting on this matter from Shepard Smith at Fox News. I don’t often agree with commentary on Fox News, but this just nails it. Folks, get your flu shot, and stop panicking about Ebola; get more facts here:
Posted in media woo, medical woo | Tagged: CDC, Centers for Disease Control, Dallas, death, disease, doctors, Ebola, epidemic, facts, flu, FN, Fox News, health, hospital, infection, influenza, Liberia, media, medical, medicine, news, panic, panicking, plague, radio, reporting, science, Shepard Smith, television, Texas, United States, vaccines, virus | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on September 9, 2014
I saw a great meme going around Facebook the other day and thought I should share it here. Often anti-vaccination activists make loaded claims about how vaccines are “toxic” and whatnot; of course they are playing fast and loose with the facts, and they are trying to use loaded language in an attempt to scare people from vaccinating their children. When confronted with such nonsense, I often tell on-the-fence parents “You wouldn’t put your child into a car without securing them in a car seat, would you?” It’s a pretty effective message for playing the odds and protecting your kids by vaccinating them.
Of course, here’s another way to counter anti-vax propaganda: apply their same ludicrous arguments to all kinds of other technologies, and see how quickly it all descends down the rabbit hole of stupidity. Here you go (make sure you read the entire graphic; my personal favorite is the one about the fire-ax)…
Posted in medical woo | Tagged: anti science, anti-vaccination, anti-vaccination movement, anti-vax, AVM, children, denial, doctors, immunization, medicine, parents, propaganda, science, science denial, vaccination, vaccines, vax | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on June 4, 2014
I have used up many electrons on this blog discussing the problem of anti-science and science denial regarding creationist and climate science denier movements. I have also discussed many times about how those movements seek to destroy the credibility of science in order to prop up either their religious or political worldviews, which usually tend to be quite right-wing in nature.
However, lest we cease to be critical thinkers about the problem of anti-science and science denial, let us not over simplify the issue in to being a problem of only the political right. Case in point: many of the worst of the anti-vaccination movement (AVM) are strongly left-leaning in their politics. This is emphasized rather hilariously in this recent Daily Show segment:
No, this chart isn’t the idiocy. The idiotic part is that anyone would seriously deny that vaccinations are the reason why these deadly diseases went away.
In the segment, the Daily Show interviewer discusses the topic of vaccines with someone who can only be described as an ideological science-denier… who is on the political left. I really like how Orac at Respectful Insolence breaks this down:
In the piece, in particular Bee makes fun of a crunchy lifestyle blogger, Sarah Pope, who, after establishing her liberal-crunchy bona fides (after Bee’s amusing prompts, of course), rattles off pretty much every antivaccine trope and bit of misinformation and pseudoscience in the antivaccine canon, claiming herd immunity is myth, that vaccines cause autism, that they don’t work, etc., etc., ad nauseam. Yesterday, Pope wrote about the interview thusly:
” “The Epidemic of Idiocy” that The Daily Show segment labels the no-vaccination movement is head scratching given that the anti-vaccine movement is being led by the most educated in our society.
Are all those parents with college degrees, master’s degrees, PhDs and, yes, even many MDs that are saying no to shots for their kids complete idiots?
No-vax parents aren’t the real “science deniers”. In fact, they the ones most interested in the science because they are digging into the research and demanding unbiased, objective data to support vaccination, not the slanted version presented by the CDC and conventional pediatricians like Dr. Offit who makes millions supporting the very industry that handsomely maintains his lifestyle.”
No matter how much Ms. Pope wants to claim the mantle of science through the University of Google, she and her fellow antivaccine activists are just as antiscience as anthropogenic global climate change denialists and creationists (a.k.a., evolution denialists). They also share another important trait with people holding those antiscience beliefs. They’re just really, really good atmotivated reasoning, and one reason they’re so good at motivated reasoning is because they are educated and smart, which is why vaccine denialists and other science denialists are sometimes referred to as “smart idiots.” It’s a very apt term. I do, however thank The Daily Showfor making me aware of Ms. Pope. Her blog looks like—shall we say?—a highly “target-rich” environment for potential future blog posts.
However, we should take care to not oversimplify the AVM and the political affiliations of its adherents, because while there are many AVMers who are left-wing, there is also a strong (and apparently growing) right-wing element to vaccine denial. More from Orac:
However, there is also a very strong strain of antivaccine views on the right as well, including General Bert Stubblebine III’s Natural Solutions Foundation, far right libertarians, and others who distrust the government, including government-recommended vaccine schedules.
Indeed, many of the the antivaccine people and groups whom I monitor tend to be anything but liberal politically. For example, The Canary Party, a rabidly antivaccine group that pushes the idea that toxins in vaccines are responsible for autism and all sorts of health issues and that autism “biomed” quackery is the way to cure vaccine injury recently teamed up with the East Bay Tea Party to oppose vaccine mandates in California. Moreover, the Canary Party has also recently been sucking up to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), with one of its major financial backers, Jennifer Larson, contributing a lot of money to Issa’s campaign (indirectly, of course) in order to buy influence and win a hearing by his committee examining autism and focused on vaccines as one potential cause. Fortunately, Issa’s hearing in 2012 was a bust.
So what are we to conclude about this question of anti-vaccination and political affiliation? Well, the answer appears to be “not much” because it seems the question hasn’t been rigorously studied…
Unfortunately, there aren’t actually a lot of good data examining whether there is a correlation between political affiliation and anti-vaccine views. I blogged about this very issue a three years ago, discussing an article by Chris Mooney looking at polling data and doing the best he could to characterize the politics of vaccine denialism.
At this point, about the only thing I can say is that regardless of the political motivations of those who buy into and promote the dangerous nonsense espoused by the AVM, their lies and pseudoscience must be countered. So how do we do that? How do we in the skeptical and pro-science movement formulate an effective message to counter the AVM’s noise and misinformation? Well, I am happy to say that last year a study was published (via the JREF and Women Thinking, Inc.) on this very question. Please give it a look
Posted in medical woo, politics, skeptical community | Tagged: anti science, anti-vaccination, anti-vaccination movement, anti-vax, AVM, children, conservative, data, denial, doctors, immunization, information, James Randi Educational Foundation, Jon Stewart, JREF, left wing, liberal, medicine, misconceptions, myth, opinion, Orac, parents, politics, research, Respectful Insolence, right wing, science, science denial, survey, The Daily Show, vaccination, vaccines, vax, Women Thinking, WT, WT Inc | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on April 8, 2014
Last year I blogged about how this blog has joined a coalition of skeptical blogs titled the Skeptics for the Protection of Cancer Patients (SPCP).
The impetus for this is a particularly loathsome man – Stanislaw Burzynski – who is a quack that promises to cure people of their cancer, despite the fact that decades of research show that his claimed cancer cures don’t work. Unfortunately, Burzynski has been able to skirt common decency, good medical science, and the FDA regulators and continue to practice his quackery, resulting in an unfortunate number of people going to him in the hopes that he can cure them. A good rundown of Burzynski’s history of fraud can be found by listening to this recent podcast of Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe.
As I mentioned in my previous post, the SPCP has decided to take down Burzynski due to the particularly flagrant manner in which he practices his dangerous pseudoscience; it will also serve as a message to all other medical quacks and charlatans to be on notice because we in the skeptical community are watching.
Well, now things are going to the next level – straight to Congress. Burzynski has been able to get away with so much for so long because he has political allies in high places, so we’ve decided to fight fire with fire. My skeptical colleagues at the SPCP have put together a petition asking Congress to step in and force the FDA to do its job and properly investigate, regulate, and (hopefully) put out of business Burzynski and his quack clinic.
Please consider signing and passing along this petition; the text of the petition follows – click here to sign:
Petition by Skeptics for the Protection of Cancer Patients
We are writing to request your urgent attention to a matter that involves the exploitation of cancer patients, their families, and their communities.
For nearly 40 years, Houston cancer doctor Stanislaw Burzynski has been treating cancer patients with an unproven chemotherapy he calls “antineoplastons.” Following an agreement in the 1990s with the FDA, he has recently only been able to administer the drug under the auspices of clinical trials. For this questionable treatment, he charges patients exorbitant fees (often hundreds of thousands of dollars) to participate in a trial, and he claims to cure the most difficult, almost uniformly fatal pediatric brain cancers. His claims are not supported by science and evidence; despite opening more than 60 trials in the last 15 years, he has not published the results of a single completed clinical trial.
On Friday, November 15, 2013, many concerning issues about Dr. Burzynski were detailed in a front-page exposé in USA Today, including his past use of antineoplastons as an AIDS and Parkinson’s treatment. Sickeningly, critics of the Clinic have found a pattern going back 20 years of patients publicly celebrating unambiguous signs of disease progression as signs that antineoplastons were working.
The FDA recently released site inspection notes about Stanislaw Burzynski’s clinic. Their findings were horrific:
— Burzynski “failed to protect the rights, safety, and welfare of subjects under your care.”
— “Forty-eight (48) subjects experienced 102 investigational overdoses“
— Burzysnki allowed overdoses continue: “Overdose incidents have been reported to you [….] There is no documentation to show that you have implemented corrective actions during this time period to ensure the safety and welfare of subjects.”
— All baseline tumor measurements were destroyed: “Your […] tumor measurements initially recorded on worksheets at baseline and on-study treatment […] studies for all study subjects were destroyed and are not available for FDA inspectional review.” Without any measurement there is no way to determine any actual efficacy of the treatment, making Burzynski’s claims unsupported and unpublishable.
— Burzynski’s reported success rates are inflated: He “failed to comply with protocol requirements related to the primary outcome, therapeutic response […] for 67% of study subjects reviewed during the inspection.” Nonetheless, these inaccurate outcomes are used to convince dying patients antineoplastons can save them.
Other issues cited by the FDA included:
— Paying patients who failed to meet the inclusion criteria for the study were admitted to Burynski’s trials;
— Burzynski did not report all adverse events as required by his study protocols, and many exhibiting toxic effects were not removed from treatment;
— Adverse events were not reported in a timely fashion (in one case 7 years);
— The FDA received two different versions of a pediatric patient’s records during an inspection, especially significant because the child apparently died of a known side effect of antineoplastons.
Shockingly, these observations were made after a decade of abysmal site reviews by the FDA. Currently, Burzynski’s trials are subject to a partial clinical hold, which means Burzynski is still treating patients already on his protocol.
We are asking that you:
— Encourage the FDA to dissolve the Burzynski Research Institute’s clearly deficient Institutional Review [ethical oversight] Board and toplace a permanent hold on any more cancer patients receiving antineoplastons;
— Investigate how Burzynski has been allowed to conduct experiments on pediatric cancer patients while repeatedly cited for violating rules designed to prevent uncontrolled human experimentation.
— Investigate why the FDA allowed this abysmal researcher to advance to phase 3 clinical trials without publishing a single phase 2 trial;
— Protect cancer patients from abuse through legislation and FDA oversight reform.
Please help end a medical ethics scandal that involves eight times as many patients as the Tuskegee Experiment. I look forward to your response on this important matter.
Posted in medical woo, politics, skeptical community | Tagged: antineoplastons, Burzynski, cancer, Change.org, chemotherapy, clinic, congress, cure, doctor, FDA, fraud, health, Houston, medicine, Orac, patients, petition, politics, pseudoscience, quack, Rep. Issa, 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 | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on March 22, 2014
A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about that most infamous of anti-medical charlatans, Kevin Trudeau, and how he was doing all that he could to dodge both common decency and the law by continuing to push his “Natural Cures” nonsense…
Many times you’ll hear skeptics venting their spleens about this huckster or that charlatan and “How is it possible they’re allowed to get away with this crap?!” One of the worst such pseudoscientific offenders in recent years has been “natural cures” quack Kevin Trudeau, who has used his infomercial sales pitches to convince countless people that he has a cure for cancer (he doesn’t) and that they shouldn’t trust modern, science-based medicine because “‘They’ don’t want you to know the truth”. I think it would be reasonable to say that Trudeau has not only bilked people out of millions of dollars with his bogus “cures”, but in addition that his nonsensical anti-scientific conspiracy mongering has even gotten some people who believed him killed. …
… Well, I think this is one case in which the charlatan is getting his just-desserts. Of course, to Trudeau’s followers, this will likely be interpreted as more evidence of their “Big Pharma/Big Medicine/Big Government” conspiracy theory, and they will paint Trudeau as a martyr for the alt-med cause. Which is fine with me, so long as Trudeau is a martyr in jail. [emphasis added]
Well, today I am happy to report that, while the wheels of justice do indeed grind slowly, Kevin Trudeau has finally gotten what he deserves: a long stay in prison
Best-selling author Kevin Trudeau, whose name became synonymous with late-night TV pitches, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday for bilking consumers through ubiquitous infomercials for his book, “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About.”
As he imposed the sentence prosecutors had requested, U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman portrayed the 50-year-old Trudeau as a habitual fraudster going back to his early adulthood. So brazen was Trudeau, the judge said, he once even used his own mother’s Social Security number in a scheme.
“Since his 20s, he has steadfastly attempted to cheat others for his own gain,” Guzman said, adding that Trudeau is “deceitful to the very core.” …
I could go on, but suffice it to say that despite Trudeau’s lame attempts to defend himself and his actions, the judge was having none of it. Too often hucksters and liars like Trudeau play upon the fears and ignorance of science and critical thinking among the general population in order to line their own pockets or push an agenda (other notable examples include the late Sylvia Browne and creationist Ken Ham).
What is so satisfying about this outcome is the fact that, when the chips are down and someone like Trudeau and his ilk wind up in court, what really matters isn’t talking points, it’s all about evidence and logical arguments. That’s why creationists have consistently lost in the courts, and that’s also why Trudeau is now going to prison… because they have no evidence to back up their baseless claims.
Personally, I’d like to see more of this kind of thing; hopefully, it will send a message to those pseudoscientists who want to play doctor but not actually be responsible for what they say. But for now, I shall bask in the afterglow of Trudeau’s epic pwning…
Posted in medical woo | Tagged: alt-med, alternative medicine, Big Pharma, charlatan, Chicago, complementary medicine, conspiracy, contempt of court, court, doctors, federal, Federal Trade Commission, FTC, guilty, Guzman, health, health care, jail, judge, justice, Kevin Trudeau, medicine, natural cures, Natural Cures They Don't Want You to Know About, prison, pseudoscience, quack, quackery, sentence | Leave a Comment »
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 | 1 Comment »