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Oprah's Irresponsibility:

Apparently Oprah Winfrey is giving a platform to Playboy-bunny-turned-MTV-starlet-turned-anti-vaccine-activist Jenny McCarthy, and plans to help her have her own talk show. This is the height of irresponsibility. As Arthur Allen explains:

Celebrities take on all kinds of causes. They campaign for presidents, and they rally to save the women of Darfur and the hungry masses of Bangladesh and Africa. Some of these appearances may do some good, while others are merely benign grandstanding. But wealthy, toothsome, vivacious, and sexy Jenny McCarthy's impassioned campaign is actually harmful. Why? Because she is spreading dangerous misinformation—and that could bring some once-controlled diseases back into play.
Or, as Gawker puts it, "Oh, good, Oprah is going to give Jenny McCarthy a talk show, because she wants your kid to die of the measles."

Here's a potential silver lining: McCarthy's quite dingy and can't spell to save her life -- "grimmess" for "grimace" in this blog post -- so maybe people will stop taking her anti-vaccine ravings all that seriously and the Oprah-enhanced part of her career will be short-lived. For our children's sake, I hope so.

zuch (mail) (www):
Prof. Adler:
Here's a potential silver lining: McCarthy's quite dingy and can't spell to save her life -- "grimmess" for "grimace" in this blog post...
Typo: Isn't that "dinghy" [(n): small flat-bottomed vessel with one pole and few spars]?

And "grimmess" is just a female storyteller. Fits, doesn't it?

Cheers,
5.7.2009 8:26am
Floridan:
The anti-vaccine activists seem to have the same attitude toward science as does those who reject climate-change and evolution.
5.7.2009 8:31am
Gerg:
Not "could" bring back these diseases, but in fact already *has*.

Jenny's campaign already has a body count, 163 children have died as a result of vaccine preventable diseases in the last two years.

See Jenny McCarthy Body Count

People like Oprah and Larry King who give Jenny a platform are personally responsible for killing this 5-year-old baby from a disease that hadn't killed anyone in Minnesota since 1991:

HIB Meningitis outbreak kills unvaccinated child

This isn't some hypothetical risk if the craziness continues. These people have been killing people for years and it's only getting worse.
5.7.2009 8:35am
Monty:
If if the risk of being vaccinated is small, it may in fact be a rational decision not to vaccinate a child. That child will be largely protected by the herd immunity of all the other vaccinated children. I don't have a very real sense of the dangers on either side, and would vaccinate my own child, but I can see how the decision could be rational.

Of course if no one vaccinated, the herd immunity wouldn't be there, and it would become very risky not to vaccinate... Is the collective action problem underlying vaccination sufficiant to justify mandating them?
5.7.2009 8:37am
cboldt (mail):
The only way the commercial publicity is irresponsible is if it fails to turn a profit [carve-out of course for obscenity, etc. as also irresponsible]
.
The stuff on the telly is entertainment, especially the "news." People who expect or accept what they take in from entertainment venues is "the truth" are voluntarily assuming the risk that maybe it's "not truth."
5.7.2009 8:39am
Nick P.:
Monty:
If if the risk of being vaccinated is small, it may in fact be a rational decision not to vaccinate a child.

Thus demonstrating that rational decisions can be immoral decisions.

Is the collective action problem underlying vaccination sufficiant to justify mandating them?

IMO, yes, given that we know have evidence showing how rapidly diseases can come back when the percentage of vaccinated children starts to drop
5.7.2009 8:47am
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
zuch --

No, I meant "dingy" (dĭng'ē), defined in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.) as slang for "crazy, insane" and colloquially used for not being all there.

She's a ditz, not a dinghy.

JHA
5.7.2009 8:52am
Anonymous male:
I think Jenny McCarthy and Amanda Peet just need to settle this with an on-air cat fight.
5.7.2009 9:01am
Anonymouse Troll:
And Kerr just linked to Hayek's essay about "intellectuals" (which includes artists with influential soap-boxes, by his definition) yesterday.
5.7.2009 9:27am
Matth (mail):
Strongly disagree with Gerg -- speech is not killing. Even though speech can sometimes have unfortunate effects, indirectly, we are all better off having competing points of view to choose from. *Parents* are responsible for their children and must avoid listening to misinformation. Getting medical advice from celebrities should seem extremely unwise to any sensible person. So no, "People like Oprah and Larry King who give Jenny a platform" are *not* personally responsible for the death of an unvaccinated child. With arguments like that, you should be an elected official.
5.7.2009 9:32am
Rock Chocklett:
What difference does it make that McCarthy is a Playmate who can't spell?

And who gets to decide when science is so settled on an issue that it's "dangerous" to give the minority position a platform? I hear the sirens of the thought police . . .
5.7.2009 9:38am
Houston Lawyer:
Oprah and Larry King may not be legally responsible, but they are morally responsible. There are a lot of idiots out there and giving them bad advice which may result in the death of their children if acted upon is morally reprehensible.
5.7.2009 9:44am
Yankev (mail):
Oprah's irresponsibilty is long-standing. A few years ago her magazine gushed over a teenaged girl who was arrested when trying to blow herself up with a bunch of Israeli civilians. Oprah said the girl was driven to it by grief for her boyfriend, who had been shot and killed while he was trying to murder a bunch of Israeli civilians.
5.7.2009 9:50am
Uh_Clem (mail):
No, I meant "dingy" (dĭng'ē), defined in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.) as slang for "crazy, insane"

I read it as the first definition:


[din-jee]
–adjective, -gi⋅er, -gi⋅est.
1. of a dark, dull, or dirty color or aspect; lacking brightness or freshness.
2. shabby; dismal.


and thought you were claiming she was dirty shabby and dismal.

At least I didn't misinterpret it as a racial slur. (c:
5.7.2009 9:51am
expat lumberjack (mail):
And who gets to decide when science is so settled on an issue that it's "dangerous" to give the minority position a platform? I hear the sirens of the thought police . . .

Scientists decide on settled science, and it is also well settled that the anti-vaccination movement is silly, ignorant, and dangerous. It's a dangerous position because people who listen to it may decide against vaccinating their children, which may result not only in their own children dying, but in the death of other children as well. It's also a canard to call it a "minority" position. Guess what else is a minority position? Geocentrism.

Note that no one here has said (or is saying) that the government should stop Jenny McCarthy from having a show. There's no thought police. People are simply saying that Oprah is making a mistake that has potentially lethal consequences and should rescind her offer to Jenny McCarthy. There's nothing wrong with that.
5.7.2009 10:07am
Yankev (mail):

And who gets to decide when science is so settled on an issue that it's "dangerous" to give the minority position a platform?
How do you feel about teaching intelligent design in public school? Creationism?
5.7.2009 10:08am
Turk82 (mail):
Couple of points:

1. Dingy. That is applied to Senator Harry Reid, meaning he's sorta gray-looking, old, and in need of sprucing up or retirement. Hence the appelation "Dingy Harry" I believe the best word would be "dingbat", but that is a noun, not an adjective.

2. "If if [sic] the risk of being vaccinated is small, it may in fact be a rational decision not to vaccinate a child." This makes no sense. If the risk of complications is small and the benefit of disease avoidance is very large, then it is NOT rational to forego the benefit to avoid the risk. Does Monty mean 'if the risk of being vaccinated is large, it may in fact be a rational decision not to vaccinate a child.'?

This might actually be a Darwinian sorting device: Parents with damaged thinking do not vaccinate their children, who then die, not passing along their defective brain wiring. It is an interesting thought experiment.

Or it could be a sinister way for the enviromentalists to bring down the human population - something they have been after for some time. If the population can experience increased morbidity from preventable diseases, that's just a few more mouths that do not have to be fed from the exhausted fields of Mother Earth.
5.7.2009 10:08am
mariner:
Here's a potential silver lining: McCarthy's quite dingy and can't spell to save her life -- "grimmess" for "grimace" in this blog post -- so maybe people will stop taking her anti-vaccine ravings all that seriously ...

The people who believe she's a deep thinker probably can't spell either, so they won't even notice.
5.7.2009 10:13am
mariner:
How do you feel about teaching intelligent design in public school? Creationism?

How about anthropogenic global warming?
5.7.2009 10:16am
zuch (mail) (www):
Prof. Adler:

Your Sarcas-O-Meter needs a tuneup.

But it is heartening to know that spelling will be graded. Around here, that might cut some of the fluff ... or not.

That being said, I do agree that McCarthy's aversion to vaccinations is unfortunate ... and not a reflection of a keen scientific mind. But you might have made your point more cogent by concentrating on that, and leaving other characterisations of less persuasiveness to this point out.

Amongst other things, I suspect that the target audience most likely to agree with McCarthy on vaccinations and to accept what she says is less likely to be bothered by either "dinghyness" or errors in spelling (or even to detect either of these).

And a FWIW:

"dingy":
din⋅gy   [din-jee] –adjective, -gi⋅er, -gi⋅est.
1. of a dark, dull, or dirty color or aspect; lacking brightness or freshness.
2. shabby; dismal.

dinghy: din⋅ghy   [ding-gee] –noun, plural -ghies.
1. any small boat designed as a tender or lifeboat, esp. a small ship's boat, rowed, sailed, or driven by a motor.
2. a boat used by warships, having four single-banked oars and a spritsail.
3. any of various rowing or sailing boats used in sheltered waters along the Indian coasts to transport passengers and freight.
4. an inflatable life raft.

So Uh_Clem may have a point; your ad hominem wasn't very clear.

Cheers,
5.7.2009 10:20am
Free Radical:
Careful Prof. Adler,

1) Ms. McCarthy can easily fix her spelling. Her thinking might prove more resistant to correction. As a pope of long ago said, "be careful what you put in peoples minds, because you will pay hell getting it out of there again." (Paraphrase, obviously.)
2) Given that peoples research time and attention spans are terminally limited, it should come as no surprise that a celebrity with a much larger 'virtual soapbox' can and usually will have an outsized effect in such matters. This does raise Ms. McCarthy's moral responsibility, but I have little faith that she will even seriously question her own position, to say nothing of changing it.
5.7.2009 10:20am
Duke of Earl:
It's called a mute button, fellas. She can talk all she wants about avoiding vaccines-- I'd be there strictly for the eye candy.

P.S. What if Oprah helped Jenny re-launch Singled Out...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeqrGJUHM9w
5.7.2009 10:24am
djung:

How about anthropogenic global warming?

Too late to worry about that; it's already being done.
5.7.2009 10:24am
tarheel79:
The people who believe she's a deep thinker probably can't spell either, so they won't even notice. -- mariner

And that's the problem. Oprah can lend credibility to a cause that will have plenty of people -- including a lot who are quite educated and otherwise sensible -- embrace lunacy.

You'd think someone from the American Medical Association could inform Oprah that the science debunking the purported link between vaccines and autism is fully settled. So much so that the Lancet, the medical journal touting that alleged link a decade ago, retracted its first article making that case.

If that doesn't work, maybe someone with credentials and celebrity firepower -- Dr. Sanjay Gupta, perhaps? -- can convince Oprah she would be saving lives by not pushing McCarthy's nonsense.

Sigh.
5.7.2009 10:25am
Mikee (mail):
Jenny McCarthy was a playmate back in the 70s or early 80s (anyway, long ago last century, and no I am not going to do a google search from my office computer). While I will admit she still looks good for her age, she is indeed a ditzy actress and she is rather old to be talking about vaccinating infants and toddlers, at least from any recent experience of her own. Based on her beliefs against vaccination, I think she also is a scientific illiterate.

My sister, another anti-vaccination advocate, has discussed this subject with me extensively. The amount of misinformation, her lack of scientific rigor in developing her ideas, the inability to process newer research information, and the just plain wrong information she believes is unbelievable to anyone with a technical background. The idea of the scientific method is beyond her. An example: the mercury compounds used in the past (no longer used) as preservatives in vaccines cause autism - according to her, based on a handful of thoroughly debunked, refuted, and just wrongly hysterical research. No matter that the compound is not used anymore in vaccines, no matter that the initial suggestive papers were extensively refuted by better, more rigorous scientific studies, she still stands by her claims as supporting anti-vaccination.

So reason and evidence will have no effect on the belief systems of those following this idea. More kids will get preventable diseases due to promulgation of this idea to other stupid people. May God forgive the, I cannot.
5.7.2009 10:38am
Rock Chocklett:
Scientists decide on settled science, and it is also well settled that the anti-vaccination movement is silly, ignorant, and dangerous.

Doesn't this just beg the question: which scientists, and how many of them, must agree before science becomes "settled"?

Guess what else is a minority position? Geocentrism.

Guess what used to be a majority position? Geocentrism.
5.7.2009 10:44am
Korel:
Any view of a "body count" for unvaccinated deaths needs to be offset by the lives not lost due to vaccine-related complications. The medical literature does show an impact to certain individuals from vaccines, including autoimmune disease (chronic pain, inflammation, diminished immunity), nerve damage (incl. paralysis), and death. If there was none of these, there would be no settled cases before the Vaccine Injury court set up to give immunity to the vaccine makers for injuries suffered by people who took the vaccines. These documents are publically available, just not widely known about.

Also, keep in mind that just as Al Gore has a monetary stake in pushing Global Warming, the vaccine makers have a stake in covering up potential problems with their products, so that we will keep buying them.

So, before you jump to an uninformed conclusion, one which includes treating US citizens as part of a herd (of sheep - count me out), get the full facts. The summary of facts would be: vaccines save lots of lives, but some people will be seriously injured or killed by them (and this tendency toward risk runs in families), and the number of suggested vaccines has been almost doubled, while the administration schedule has been compressed, since most of us posting here were growing up.
5.7.2009 10:47am
Roger Schlafly (www):
Oprah frequently has guests who give bad advice. Why does this upset people so much? People have a right to get different opinions on vaccinations. If you don't like McCarthy's advice, then ignore it or rebut it.
5.7.2009 11:00am
Curious about moral objectors:
I agree that most anti-vaccine activists, whether they object on autism/mercury grounds or on general fear of rare side effects, are mistaken. But I am less sure what to make of some of my friends, who are hardcore pro-life/anti-abortion activists who object only to select vaccines, because they were derived from fetal tissue. They tell me that their frustration is with the medical/pharmaceutical establishment, who could accommodate them by making alternatives, as has happened in other countries. They are willing to vaccinate, but don't want to use a prodcut they find immoral.

So, while I understand that many here might find that crazy, that seems to be based on disagreeing with their underlying core stance or on how they weigh the balancing of accepting benefits. But I have to concede that there's consistency to not accepting the benefits of a process you find immoral, whether it's trying not to buy goods made with child labor or whatever.

While this is a small group, it seems to have potential to grow if embryonic stem-cell research turns into real treatments some day.

I'm curious if anyone here has looked much at that issue.
5.7.2009 11:02am
Blue:
Oprah is a deeply negative force for ill in this country. This latest travesty merely continues her previous patterns. She is credulous, overly emotional, and ignorant.
5.7.2009 11:03am
Blue:

People have a right to get different opinions on vaccinations. If you don't like McCarthy's advice, then ignore it or rebut it.


This isn't a discussion about whether vanilla or chocolate is the best flavor of ice cream. It isn't a matter of "opinions." Someone is right and someone is wrong. We know who is wrong--the anti-vaccine crowd.
5.7.2009 11:05am
expat lumberjack (mail):
If you don't like McCarthy's advice, then ignore it or rebut it.
Go here and start reading:
5.7.2009 11:08am
expat lumberjack (mail):
The link didn't work.

Trying again.
5.7.2009 11:09am
Philistine (mail):
@Mikee:


Jenny McCarthy was a playmate back in the 70s or early 80s (anyway, long ago last century, and no I am not going to do a google search from my office computer). While I will admit she still looks good for her age, she is indeed a ditzy actress and she is rather old to be talking about vaccinating infants and toddlers, at least from any recent experience of her own.


I think you have her mixed up with someone else. From Wikipedia--she was born in 1972, was a playmate in 1993 and had her child in 2002. The child was diagnosed with autism in 2005, and she contends it was caused by vaccines.

I completely disagree with her claims--but her age and personal experience certainly don't disqualify her.
5.7.2009 11:19am
zuch (mail) (www):
Korel:

Compare and contrast:
Also, keep in mind that just as Al Gore has a monetary stake in pushing Global Warming, ...
and:
So, before you jump to an uninformed conclusion,...
FWIW, it's really a badge of honour when all the RW foamer sites jump on you with a massive slime campaign. Means you're effective. ;-)

Cheers,
5.7.2009 11:22am
Houston Lawyer:
I think Mikee hits the nail on the head. Those who believe in this crap are completely immune from logic. They are not predisposed to listen to both sides of an argument. They have a greater trust in what they hear from unofficial sources, since they don't in any way trust or believe in the establishment.
5.7.2009 11:22am
rosetta's stones:
Oh goodie, another circlejerk of technically-illiterate lawyers, the most insular profession of 'em all, talking "science". What could possibly go wrong?


Doesn't this just beg the question: which scientists, and how many of them, must agree before science becomes "settled"?


The precise questions. And the answers are... "none" and "never", because science is never truly "settled". We can obtain enough information to make considered decisions, certainly, but anybody who thinks we abruptly cross thresholds of understanding at which it's all "settled"... is probably a rube lawyer.

McCarthy may be an idiot, but I'll never know because I've never listened to her. However, I'd be careful about disparaging and adopting the adversarial kneejerk here. That mercury was removed from those vaccines for a reason, and it might still be there absent bleatings from mispelling idiots like McCarthy (or more likely her predecessor idiots).
5.7.2009 11:38am
David Chesler (mail) (www):
I think you have her mixed up with someone else.

Patti McGuire? (POTY 1977, Married Jimmy Connors.)

Korel has good points, but what Mikee said -- as I see, there should have been a drop in autism diagnoses when mercury in vaccines was reduced -- did it for me. Still I wouldn't mind watching the matter debated as Anonymous Male suggested.
5.7.2009 11:58am
tarheel79:
rosetta's stones,

The additive removed from vaccines is thimerosal, which contains mercury, and it was removed for three reasons.

1) The thimerosal in vaccines could expose infants to levels of mercury that might be unsafe (though, it's not at all clear the exposure was risky). And at high enough levels, mercury is harmful for reasons having nothing to do with autism.

2) The hysteria over the phony fear that thimerosal causes autism had led some parents to not get their kids vaccinated, a much bigger worry for the health of the unvaccinated kids and public at large who will be at greater risk of polio and other communicable diseases. The thought was, if removing thimerosal quells the fear of vaccinations, then why not do it? (To be sure, the anti-vaccine crowd still isn't satisfied vaccinations are safe, because they are idiots and zealots.)

On the flip side, thimerosal has been used in vaccines for decades to prevent contamination by bacteria and other nasty organisms that can make vaccinations deadly. Plenty of docs and researchers worry that vaccinations will become less safe without thimerosal. But that answer doesn't placate the mob.

3) Wait for it ... Fear of litigation. Turns out that some crafty trial lawyers are preying on parents who legitimately hope to learn what, if anything, caused their children's autism and get compensation and/or treatment. (If you haven't guessed, I'm not one of those rube lawyers.)

So thimerosal was removed to insulate vaccine makers from legal damages, even though there's no evidence of a link between the preservative and autism.

Feel better now?
5.7.2009 12:00pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
Rosetta, what if the reason the mercury was removed was the bleatings of the idiots?
5.7.2009 12:00pm
George Smith:
Floridian: My kids are vaccinated, I accept that the climate is changing, I don't think humans are primarily responsible, and I firmly believe in evolution. Can I play in your sandbox?
5.7.2009 12:06pm
rosetta's stones:

1) The thimerosal in vaccines could expose infants to levels of mercury that might be unsafe (though, it's not at all clear the exposure was risky). And at high enough levels, mercury is harmful for reasons having nothing to do with autism.


Fair enough, tarheel, and your response does seem to acknowledge a potential problem, one not "settled". You seem to have more knowledge of this than me, certainly, and I have no doubt that the lawyers are all over such litigation as you mention.

But injecting toxins into humans, in any concentration, isn't good practice I think you might agree. Even an idiot's help in broadcasting that is welcome. Perhaps you can confirm, or not, but my understanding is that residual mercury in our bodies is most often resulting from vaccinations, and not environmental or other modes of input.

How and in what ways and what concentrations mercury's toxic effects manifest are not for all time settled. I think we can say that with confidence. So then, knowing at least that it's a toxin, and knowing that we have other methods of accomplishing what we need to accomplish (and no, you're likely incorrect if saying that its preservative function is irreplaceable, and a brief google search seems to confirm this), does that give us enough information to remove it from this one use? The idiots seem to have thought so, as has the medical profession, do you disagree with them?
5.7.2009 12:40pm
loki13 (mail):
rosetta's stones,

1. As was pointed out above, the reason thimerosal was removed was fear of litigation, not any evidence of dangerousness. Ask any trial lawyer- if you can get an injured (or dead) child in front of a jury, you've almost won your case. See also, obstetric insurance rates. As for the evidence of dangerousness, from epidemelogical to animal studies to possible causal connections, there are few substances more studied (and with the results being re-analyzed for the purposes of litigation) and yet... nothing.

2.

my understanding is that residual mercury in our bodies is most often resulting from vaccinations, and not environmental or other modes of input.


You must not be a big seafood fan, eh?
5.7.2009 12:55pm
GMUSL '07 Alum (mail):
Rosetta's stones
But injecting toxins into humans, in any concentration, isn't good practice I think you might agree.


Sorry, don't agree. Nor would anybody with the slightest hint of medical or nutritional background. Yours perhaps one of the more scientifically ignorant statements I've ever come across.

Just about everything that enters our bodies is toxic in SOME concentration. This includes water (esp. super purified, like in semiconductor processing), arsenic (acceptable in low levels in drinking water in the south west), fluoride (why you don't swallow toothpaste or mouthwash), vitamin a, and just about every active ingredient in every injection any of us has ever had.

There's almost nothing that's not a toxin in SOME concentration.
5.7.2009 1:04pm
Dan Bennett:

But injecting toxins into humans, in any concentration, isn't good practice I think you might agree.


Definitely, if its toxic at any concentration I want nothing to do with it. Commencing to hold my breath... now.
5.7.2009 1:07pm
rosetta's stones:
OK, GMU, I'll narrow my flippant statement, as you've correctly discredited it. But, do you favor using mercury in vaccines, when other methods are available for the same purpose?
5.7.2009 1:08pm
rosetta's stones:

1. As was pointed out above, the reason thimerosal was removed was fear of litigation, not any evidence of dangerousness.


The "dangerousness" thing is sort of a clue, here. One lawyer citing another lawyer's comment? ;-)

But, mercury is a known toxin, loki. How, why, how much, when, all questions open for new understandings, to be sure. But the question became, given that we knew it to be a toxin, should we be making use of it in this one case? The answer seems to have come back, no, and now you're seeking to discount particular motivations for that answer, while embracing others. I don't really care to argue that, I'm just glad we're not injecting infants with mercury.

Seafood is a source of environmental input, as mentioned prevoiusly, and my understanding is that vaccinations account for more residual mercury than all such inputs. tarheel may have solid data on this, mine admittedly comes from media sources, perhaps not trustworthy.
5.7.2009 1:09pm
Intersted Party:
I'm not sure what the big deal is. I thought it was pretty much settled that anything on broadcast TV after 8:00AM and before 7:00PM was not to be taken seriously.

Just slide Jenny McCarthy in after Jerry Springer, but before Judge Judy. That way daytime viewers can get good family counseling techniques, cutting edge medical advice, and sound legal advice all in the span of three hours.
5.7.2009 1:16pm
GMUSL '07 Alum (mail):
I am as opposed to "mercury" in vaccines as I am to highly reactive "sodium" and corrosive "chlorine" being used in food preservation, when other methods are available for the same purpose."

Did you ever take chemistry? Do you understand the difference between an element and a compound? Water does not act like Hydrogen and Oxygen; table salt does not act like sodium or chlorine.

Nobody disputes that *elemental* Hg is toxic. But just as with the other compounds above thimerosal, although a compound that contains Hg, IS NOT Hg and does not behave like Hg.

Your "argument" is saying that salted foods are poisoned by chlorine and elemental sodium. "Mercury" is not used in vaccines; thimerosal is. Hg != thimerosal.

"What we need more of is science." - M.C. Hawking
5.7.2009 1:18pm
DennisN (mail):
@rosetta's stones:


But injecting toxins into humans, in any concentration, isn't good practice I think you might agree.


I certainly do not agree. Very many medicinal products are toxic, and many non medicinal ones. You can poison yourself with tap water.

Leaving aside flamboyant extreme cases, almost everything in pharmacology is a risk vs. benefit situation. Some people die of vaccines. Many more live because the vaccines prevent disease. The thimeroseal may have undesirable side effects in a small number of cases. It has not been determined whether the condition inhibited by thimeroseal, the bacterial contamination of vaccines, is a greater danger, nor if an alternative treatment (e.g. irradiation) might be more effective or safer than a chemical bacteriostat.

We're always working with incomplete knowledge.
5.7.2009 1:20pm
rosetta's stones:
Good point.

But does thimerosal ionize to a toxic form of Hg, similar to sodium and chloride ions in water?
5.7.2009 1:24pm
loki13 (mail):
rosetta,

first, you might want to know that not all "mercury" is the same or metabolized the same.

second, you really should think about GMU's comments, above. everything is toxic, in certain doses. for that matter, some of the most toxic things can have approved uses (a teratogen like thalomid (thalidomide) can be used to treat hansen's disease, so long as it is contraindicated for pregnant women).

third, there are not "equally effective" preservatives. there are more costly and less efficacious (in terms of purity- it is an antimicrobial) ones, but hey- don't let that concern you.

so your analysis is this- there is mercury involved. mercury is scary sounding. even though numerous (beyond numerous) studies have shown no link, even though the only study suggesting there was a link was proven to be scientific fraud, and even though all of these studies have been further re-analyzed by plaintiff's experts in hope of finding a link (data dredging)... it sounds scary.

i just know there are some people who would love you to serve on a jury.
5.7.2009 1:26pm
rosetta's stones:

...there are not "equally effective" preservatives.


I think Dennis' comments above seem to make this statement indeterminate. You might want to review the sentence last in his post, as you're speculate on my "analyis".

That's why bleating idiots get included in the discussion, even if relegated to daytime tv, or internet chatrooms.
5.7.2009 1:43pm
Johnny Ryall:
So we're going to have an idiot on TV who thinks vaccines cause autism at the same time there is an idiot on the radio who thinks autistic kids are faking? It's no wonder all my spare time is spent listening to my iPod and reading nowadays.
5.7.2009 1:48pm
Korel:
Loki, keep in mind that Congress removed all threat of litigation from the vaccine manufacturers in 2001 or 2002 - you CANNOT sue anyone for a vaccine injury today. You must go through the special court set up for such things, with a federal employee as judge and the DoJ as the defense. You case will be handled most likely by a group out of George Mason University Law School. So, keeping thimerisol in would not result in litigation, but it might have been bad for business if folks refused to vaccinate. Regardless, there are only two other industries we've banned from lawsuit - the airlines after 9-11, and the tobacco industry because of the fed-backed settlement - which leads me to ask why that is (smoke = fire?).

Also, FYI, while they removed it from the manufacturing process, they did NOT remove already produced products from the shelves. These continued to be administered well after thimerisol inclusion ceased. This is one reason why autism rates should only now be measured against the pre-exclusion population - almost all of the vaccines containing thimerisol should have been administered or will be past its "sell by" date at this point.

Everyone reading this should also be aware that we do give one vaccine - Hep B - to infants and it is almost entirely useless unless the mother is Hep B positive or suspected of IV drug use. This just happens to be one of the vaccines most often linked to injuries (check the vaccine court cases). This was not done until the last fifteen years or so - we all managed to survive to adulthood without getting this on the day we were born, and every few months twice again thereafter. In this case, the risk is practically zero (unless Mom is positive), and falls under too risky, in my opinion.
5.7.2009 1:50pm
Malvolio:
I'm not sure what the big deal is. I thought it was pretty much settled that anything on broadcast TV after 8:00AM and before 7:00PM was not to be taken seriously.
There, fixed that for you.

If what's on TV were true, my house would be spotless, my car would never break down, my dog would never shed, my kids would get straight As, my wife would be skinny, and I would have a much larger penis.

Unfortunately, TV is just entertainment. Even assuming (as seems extremely likely) that the benefits of most vaccines far outweigh the risks, it is difficult to get worked up about the fact that there's one more idiot on the tube, in this case saying otherwise.
5.7.2009 1:50pm
Thoughtful (mail):
Gee, when I saw the post's title, "Oprah's Irresponsibility," I assumed it was going to be a discussion of her role in the last election...
5.7.2009 2:04pm
GMUSL '07 Alum (mail):
Again, Rosetta, consult your 8th grade chemistry book.

Thimerosal is a covalently-bonded compound (but for the ionic sodium-oxygen portion in one area), including the C-Hg-S covalently-bonded portion.

Ionization in water is usually reserved for ionic compounds and ionic bonds, as the name should suggest.
5.7.2009 2:08pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

But injecting toxins into humans, in any concentration, isn't good practice I think you might agree.

Boy, that's a pretty ignorant thing to say. As just one example, you should see the warning labels for my son's chemotherapy drugs.

He's 11 and has leukemia. So he gets to have his immune system compromised in a world where idiots don't vaccinate their kids.

He's also autistic, as is his twin brother. Really autistic too, not just the made-for-tv quirky-personality version of "autism."

And I wouldn't hesitate to have them vaccinated again. They already face autism, why would I want them to catch an easily preventable, possibly deadly communicable disease?

Because people like you, who have no idea what you're talking about, think we shouldn't "inject toxins into humans"?

It must be nice to live in your world. Mine's quite a bit more real, unfortunately.
5.7.2009 2:10pm
rosetta's stones:
No, GMU, we didn't study chemistry in 8th grade, and qualitative analysis is a fair piece back in my wake.

But you still haven't answered the root of my question. You seem to agree that thimerosal does contain mercury, but does vaccination thimerosal introduce a toxic form of mercury?
5.7.2009 2:18pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
Maybe another celebrity activist could set her straight.
5.7.2009 2:20pm
rosetta's stones:

And I wouldn't hesitate to have them vaccinated again.


Nor would I with mine, http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb, we're just seeing how we're going to get there. As of now, the thimerosal seems to be withdrawn. Are we the worse off, or might we be better off now?
5.7.2009 2:30pm
theobromophile (www):
But injecting toxins into humans, in any concentration, isn't good practice I think you might agree.

I read some interesting research a while back that indicates that toxins, in extremely low doses, are actually helpful; they act as stimulants. (You can water down pesticides - a lot - throw it on your plants, and see this in action.) To use the most common example: ethanol, in high doses, is lethal, but in small doses (perhaps a glass or two of wine per week) has beneficial effects.

IIRC, oxygen is what causes aging, but is obviously necessary for our existence. A total lack of toxins and diseases can, IIRC, cause the immune system to weaken.

That aside, I do take issue with the idea that some positions are inherently "anti-science," considering that many of our policies are also tied up in morality and social good and, of course, science is always evolving. Far better to discuss what science tells us about the issue at hand (ex. the known safety, efficacy, and risks of vaccines) and end the discussion of science with that. Then, talk public policy, morality, free riders, and children that cannot be vaccinated or have compromised immune systems. Science may provide evidence for some of those positions, but is certainly not the only consideration.
5.7.2009 2:45pm
Fub:
GMUSL '07 Alum wrote at 5.7.2009 1:18pm:
Nobody disputes that *elemental* Hg is toxic. But just as with the other compounds above thimerosal, although a compound that contains Hg, IS NOT Hg and does not behave like Hg.
Just a minor nit, especially in view of your 5.7.2009 2:08pm clarification. But worth noting anyhow. It's the ionic Hg that gets ya, not the elemental, unoxidized metal.

Elemental Hg (ie: the pure liquid metal) is not particularly toxic to drink. It was used for centuries as a purgative (it worked because of its physical properties, not its chemical properties). It was apparently effective and safe enough that people didn't drop like flies from drinking it. That's because it doesn't sufficiently readily react (oxidize) with gut chemicals at sufficient rates to dissolve and form ions.

Nevertheless, don't try this at home, kids.

Elemental Hg is toxic ingested via airways and lungs (and possibly gut) in extreme surface area to volume ratios (ie microscopic droplets). But that's a separate issue. It's entirely understandable with frosh chemistry and simple math. Same chemistry, but "amplified" by the sheer numbers of Hg atoms presented to react.
5.7.2009 3:21pm
geokstr (mail):
DennisN:
...almost everything in pharmacology chemical is a risk vs. benefit situation. SomeTens of millions of people die(d) of vaccines malaria. Many more environmentalists somehow manage to live completely guilt-free happy lives because the(y) vaccines prevent disease DDT from being used to control mosquitos. (But not to worry, they were just brown people in other countries.)

Not all those with a less-than-stellar knowledge of science are on the right, and many of them are not nearly as dangerous as those on the left, some of whom actually even have science degrees.

Were you as contemptuous of those "scientists" who "proved" Alar, saccharine and lots of other chemicals that are harmless in ppm/ppb were dangerous carcinogens when the equivalent of a 400 year dosage to a human was injected directly under the skin of a lab rat and surprise, surprise, the rat died? Now that many of these dangerous chemicals have been subsequently cleared by the FDA, can we hold those scientists and Meryl Streep and the other entertainment nitwits liable for the billions in losses suffered because of their (to give them the benefit of the doubt) ignorance?

Science is something I am totally in support of. However, "political science" is what much of it should be called now, including the "consensus" on AGW.

I actually agree with you on this issue but environmentalism has become a religion now for its adherents, not science.
5.7.2009 3:27pm
ShelbyC:
Well, I've read all these science-type arguements, and I've listened to Jenny, and for some reason Jenny just seems to make more sense.
5.7.2009 3:38pm
rosetta's stones:
And I understand her work's been published in some high profile periodicals, too.
5.7.2009 3:55pm
pintler:

Are we the worse off, or might we be better off now?


That's not clear. One of the problems with rare side effects is that it takes a lot of data to find them. If you have a product that has been widely used for decades, and eventually enough data accumulates to show that it kills 1 in a billion times it is used, should you switch to a new product? IMHO, the rational way to decide is to ask whether the new product has a fatality rate that is higher or lower than the existing one. Unfortunately, the new product is ...new... and so doesn't have a track record. You at least knew the old one killed at most 1 in a billion; with the new one, it will take years to tell if it is better, and it may well be worse.

Another question is why we worry about rare effects when, e.g, wearing helmets in cars would reduce the greatest danger most people face by 50%, but that's a psychological question :-)
5.7.2009 4:02pm
ShelbyC:
There was a post way back when about the collective action problem in vaccination. If everyone else's kid's are vaccinated, it might not be worth the risk to vaccinate your own.
5.7.2009 4:07pm
tarheel79:
pintler (4:02) --


If you have a product that has been widely used for decades, and eventually enough data accumulates to show that it kills 1 in a billion times it is used, should you switch to a new product? IMHO, the rational way to decide is to ask whether the new product has a fatality rate that is higher or lower than the existing one. Unfortunately, the new product is ...new... and so doesn't have a track record. You at least knew the old one killed at most 1 in a billion; with the new one, it will take years to tell if it is better, and it may well be worse.



Good point. And one that's often lost on those who believe it's possible to fully eliminate risk from our lives, or that it's somehow the duty of the government or the plaintiff's bar to do so.

From all I've read (and I'm not a scientist or a lawyer), adding thimerosal to vaccines appears to prevent a lot more problems than not adding it. Or if there are similarly effective preservatives out there, they've not as safe or they cost a lot more.
5.7.2009 4:12pm
tarheel79:
ShelbyC,

Can you guarantee your unvaccinated child is never going to come in contact with other people who have been exposed to communicable diseases? What if the disease isn't spread human-to-human but by other means (airborne, waterborne, etc.)?
5.7.2009 4:16pm
DiversityHire:
"wealthy, toothsome, vivacious,", sure, but "sexy"? Dude, she looks like David Spade with breast implants.
5.7.2009 4:34pm
Pendulum (mail):
ShelbyC,

I see your point. But, since one can't determine whether everybody else is and will continue to be vaccinated, it seems very unlikely that one would ever have the certainty required to tip the scales in favor of rational individual non-vaccination. If it did, then I'd consider favoring mandatory vaccinations.
5.7.2009 4:53pm
wfjag:

That mercury was removed from those vaccines for a reason, and it might still be there absent bleatings from mispelling idiots like McCarthy (or more likely her predecessor idiots).

Dear rosetta's stones:
Please identify the vaccines you are referring to. Thimerosal was never -- never, ever - in the MMR vaccine.

The "vaccines cause autism" hoax was mainly started by Dr. Andrew Wakefield's article in Lancet. He alleged that he found measles virus DNA in the guts of autistic children, which he asserted came from the MMR vaccines they had received. Wakefield, however, failed to disclose a few things -- most of which were brought out in the Omibus Vaccine Trial last year (although some were known before then).

1. He was being paid by trial attorneys in the UK and US to develop evidence for them to bring tort suits against vaccine manufacturers;
2. He had patented a competing measles vaccine -- which wasn't as effective as the MMR vaccine (but, his patent would have become very valuable if the MMR vaccine was withdrawn or its safety brought into serious question);
3. His lab was connected to a lab that contained a strain of measles virus that is neither found in the wild nor used in the MMR vaccine. Testing of the measles viruses' DNA taken from the guts of the children who were the subjects of his testing showed that that DNA was neither from wild measles viruses nor from the measles virus used in the MMR vaccine, but was from the strain of measles in his lab. It appears that he suppressed this information, so that the article in Lancet went to publication although he knew that the best explanation for the results was lab contamination; and,
4. No one, including his co-authors (almost all of whom have withdrawn their names from the article) has been able to replicate any significant portion of his work.

There's a lot more, but, that's enough for now.

However, despite the fact that even Wakefield's work fails to support the "vaccines cause autism" assertion (or possibly because it fails to), other "causes" have been asserted. When the evidence became overwhelming that Wakefield's work was bogus, the anti-vacers started making other assertions. One of the most popular is that "mercury in the vaccines causes autism." As noted, there's never been any mercury compound used in the MMR -- or in any other vaccine that contains a live agent. That's because thimerosal is an effective preservative because it is very effective in killing viruses and bacteria. That, however, defeats the purpose in using a weakened virus or microbe to generate an immune response.

Further, in addition to there being no support for the assertion that "mercury in the vaccines causes autism," the timing that children receive vaccines that (used to) contain thimerosal (it's been removed from nearly every vaccine) does not correspond with the onset of ASD symptoms, because they are given after the onset of the symptoms.

Additionally, none of the "vaccines cause autism" assertions have any explanation for the mounting evidence of genetic bases (plural deliberate) underlying ASD. Although radiation can mutate DNA, there's no known (or even proposed) theory on why any of the scheduled vaccinations would do so, or mutations in the wide number of genes that appear to have some association with ASD (mutations or recessive genes involving over 130 genes have been identified so far as having statistically significant associations with ASD. Of course, in any particular individual with an ASD diagnosis, only a few of the mutations or recessive genes are found. So, to be a little more precise, there is no known or proposed theory on why any of the scheduled vaccinations would cause mutations of some -- but not all and not in any recognizable pattern -- genes, especially given the wide number of genes that appear to some association with autism).

And, while I realize that such great minds as RFK, Jr. and Keith Olbermann have asserted that "mercury causes autism" and "it's the mercury in the vaccines", I'm not aware of any solid scientific support for those assertions.

Floridan wrotw:

The anti-vaccine activists seem to have the same attitude toward science as does those who reject climate-change and evolution.

Ain't spent much time looking at HuffPo, have you? It seems to be a Kool-Aid Watering Hole of choice for Antivacers. And, it's also a watering hole for believers in AGW. But, not many ID or creation science supporting comments there.

How would you rate RFK, Jr. on AGW and evolution? He's definitely anti-vac.

On the other hand, Francis Crick, a co-discoverer of the DNA double-helix, appears to support ID. I don't think that he's either anti-science or anti-vac. However, on race, he's definitely politically incorrect (as in scoring about a 15 on a scale of 1 to 10).

Be careful with broad brush brush-offs. A scientific hypothesis has to stand or fail on its own. How another, unrelated hypothesis fares is not relevant. And, authority figures, like all humans, tend to have their flaws.
5.7.2009 5:13pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
JM recently announced her retirement from nude modeling. Talk about irresponsible.
5.7.2009 5:17pm
DiversityHire:
wfjag, isn't Jim Watson the one with the race issues?
5.7.2009 5:40pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
it seems very unlikely that one would ever have the certainty required to tip the scales in favor of rational individual non-vaccination.
There are many vaccines, and the vaccine authorities have made many decisions. Are you saying that no one could rationally disagree with any of them?

I think that you are wrong, but if you are correct, then why bother with Oprah and McCarthy? Simply tell the parents your rational convincing arguments, whatever they are.
5.7.2009 5:41pm
Bozoer Rebbe (mail) (www):
But injecting toxins into humans, in any concentration, isn't good practice I think you might agree.

No, I don't agree. It's an old saying, but still accurate, the dose makes the poison. There are a variety of substances that in large quantities may kill you but have some therapeutic uses. Curare is used to temporarily paralyze muscles for surgery. Plenty of cancer chemo is hazardous to your health under normal circumstances.

In sufficient quantities, drinking water will kill you.
5.7.2009 6:19pm
Bozoer Rebbe (mail) (www):
my understanding is that residual mercury in our bodies is most often resulting from vaccinations, and not environmental or other modes of input.


Analysis of fish bones found in pre-Columbian habitations in Michigan shows that mercury is present, so there's a very real chance that the presence of mercury in the Great Lakes predates the industrial age.
5.7.2009 6:22pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

As of now, the thimerosal seems to be withdrawn. Are we the worse off, or might we be better off now?

In the wake of scientifically baseless anti-vaccine campaigns, aimed first at the MMR and then at thimerosal, we are clearly much worse off.

Not just because people went unvaccinated, for no good reason. That's bad enough. But also because of the huge waste of time and resources devoted to the issue, well after legitimate scientists and other rational people justly considered the issue dead.

My kids need scarce research dollars spent on the most scientifically promising theories and leads -- not wasted on ceaseless efforts to undo the damage to public health done by idiots like McCarthy.

You are of course free to engage in your patently uninformed musings about wholly speculative harms from vaccines. Knock yourself out. But don't think you're a friend to those of us actually living in autism's trenches. You're just the opposite.
5.7.2009 6:23pm
Whitecoat Tales (www):
Hey guys, I'm the author of the blog expat lumberjack posted here earlier - Beyond the Short Coat. I noticed the full on attack on science hereand felt compelled to interject a few comments.

rosetta's stones said

But injecting toxins into humans, in any concentration, isn't good practice I think you might agree.


The toxin's gambit is hard to defend. What toxins? What concentrations. In med school we learn that the dose makes the poison. The doses here are ridiculously small. When people like JM list off "toxins" in vaccines, they either don't identify them, or they list things that are present small amounts.

When a vaccine denialist brings up these vague unnamed "toxins" they're not using a defensible argument. It's a fear mongering tactic. Why not assume your food has more unnamed toxins? If you can't identify the toxin in question, you can't identify it's presence anywhere. The argument the denialists use, is that the correlation of vaccines and autism. I would argue that correlation isn't causation, but I don't need too. All of the studies done show NO CORRELATION between vaccination and autism.

Saying that "any concentration" is too high is just silly. Some vaccine denialists bring up formaldehyde. Our bodies actually create small amounts of formaldehyde, on the same level of concentrations as are present in vaccines.


but my understanding is that residual mercury in our bodies is most often resulting from vaccinations, and not environmental or other modes of input.

Your understanding is incorrect. Tuna fish is the biggest source of mercury in our bodies. Mercury from vaccines even when thimerosal was common is a very small amount. Eating tuna on a regular basis far exceeds thimerosal. Please note, that areas where tuna consumption is high do not have higher rates of autism. Vaccines were never a large source.

How and in what ways and what concentrations mercury's toxic effects manifest are not for all time settled. I think we can say that with confidence. So then, knowing at least that it's a toxin, and knowing that we have other methods of accomplishing what we need to accomplish (and no, you're likely incorrect if saying that its preservative function is irreplaceable, and a brief google search seems to confirm this), does that give us enough information to remove it from this one use? The idiots seem to have thought so, as has the medical profession, do you disagree with them?

Korel said


Loki, keep in mind that Congress removed all threat of litigation from the vaccine manufacturers in 2001 or 2002 - you CANNOT sue anyone for a vaccine injury today.
You must go through the special court set up for such things, with a federal employee as judge and the DoJ as the defense. You case will be handled most likely by a group out of George Mason University Law School.

This is entirely incorrect. You are required to go through the vaccine court FIRST. After you go through the vaccine court, you are then allowed to go forward with your civil suit.

Regardless, there are only two other industries we've banned from lawsuit - the airlines after 9-11, and the tobacco industry because of the fed-backed settlement - which leads me to ask why that is (smoke = fire?).

This argument is ridiculous. Firstly because you aren't banned from lawsuit. Secondly because you haven't even pretended to defend this comparison between tobacco and vaccines. Jim Carrey tried to make a similar comparison between tobacco and vaccines. The difference is that the moutain of evidence was AGAINST tobacco. There is no evidence against vaccines.


Also, FYI, while they removed it from the manufacturing process, they did NOT remove already produced products from the shelves. These continued to be administered well after thimerisol inclusion ceased. This is one reason why autism rates should only now be measured against the pre-exclusion population - almost all of the vaccines containing thimerisol should have been administered or will be past its "sell by" date at this point.

The shelf life of vaccines is on the order of months. This argument shows that you didn't even do your homework before writing.


Everyone reading this should also be aware that we do give one vaccine - Hep B - to infants and it is almost entirely useless unless the mother is Hep B positive or suspected of IV drug use. This just happens to be one of the vaccines most often linked to injuries (check the vaccine court cases). This was not done until the last fifteen years or so - we all managed to survive to adulthood without getting this on the day we were born, and every few months twice again thereafter. In this case, the risk is practically zero (unless Mom is positive), and falls under too risky, in my opinion.

HepB vaccination is done to prevent maternal-fetal transmission of HepB. HepB is almost never diagnosed until a patient is symptomatic, which is often years after they've been infected. If they have children in this time period, they will pass it on to them at a much higher rate than any other type of transmission. The younger you are at age of infection with HepB the more likely you are to have chronic HepB, and die of liver failure.
Having checked the vaccine court case, I'm not sure what you mean by "this just happens to be one of the vaccines most often linked to injuries". I suspect that you still haven't done your homework before posting. Either that or you're purposefully being deceptive.

Roger said

There are many vaccines, and the vaccine authorities have made many decisions. Are you saying that no one could rationally disagree with any of them?
I think that you are wrong, but if you are correct, then why bother with Oprah and McCarthy? Simply tell the parents your rational convincing arguments, whatever they are.


What basis do you have to say that anyone is wrong about this? Do you remember what pertussis looks like? Polio? Even now measles is one of the largest killers of children world wide. How about infectious Hib meningitis? Hell we just have a vaccine shortage of that and children in Minnesota have died of Hib.

We've been mostly spared these diseases in this country because of comprehensive vaccination programs. Your decision not to vaccinate your child affects my child's health. Because my child may catch an infectious disease from yours before said child is old enough for vaccination.

Now, do you have any evidence that vaccines DO cause autism? Scientists don't! So what's your rational argument NOT to vaccinate when you don't have any proof vaccines cause autism, and we have tons of proof that infectious diseases kill many more people. That's my compelling rational argument.


Sorry for writing a book guys. It's just that there is so much utter bilge being floated by some of the anti-vacciners here. I don't think I've hit any more than the tip of the iceberg, but I'm already out of time.

PS: before anyone calls me a pharma shill, I'm a med student, I don't get paid by anyone. I merely study the evidence, and pass it along.
5.7.2009 6:48pm
wfjag:
DiversityHire:

wfjag, isn't Jim Watson the one with the race issues?

I think you're right, at least most recently (since Crick died a few years ago, he hasn't said anything recently). I recall (always chancy relying on memory without cross checking) that Crick made some non-PC statements, too. However, that may reflect more of an upper class British early 20th century education and culture -- from a time when the sun never set on the Empire. Although that's not a good source for Title VII standards of conduct, (what I take you're implying) you're correct that it's unfair to judge his attitudes from today's standards, and I shouldn't have.
5.7.2009 7:03pm
rosetta's stones:

You are of course free to engage in your patently uninformed musings about wholly speculative harms from vaccines.


Well, I thank you for your forbearance.

And, as apparently nobody has answered my question, as to whether thimerosal introduces a toxic form of mercury into our bodies, I'll assume this to be an open question. The volume written above didn't appear to answer it. You may think you have it, but evidently the medical profession appears to have preemptively answered it for us, against your wishes. I make no claim to understand what does or does not cause illness, but if you have a problem with their decision on this, you better get with those who do think they know.

Oh, and for our med student friend, infants don't consume tuna, not even by injection. Maybe they didn't get to that part in school yet. When you gain the understanding to know how infants react to the injection of this specific toxin, let us know, because you'll likely be the first to have done so.

You have an opinion that vaccinations are not the greatest source of residual mercury, and I have another opinion. You seem to think you have the answers, and you seem to think you have them for all of us. That's a bit off.
5.7.2009 9:47pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):

Any view of a "body count" for unvaccinated deaths needs to be offset by the lives not lost due to vaccine-related complications.


I'm not old enough to remember a time when kids going back to school in September had to wonder if everyone in their class had survived the summer polio season. My parents went through that. So I think it would be more realistic to offset any vaccine-related deaths by the probable number of deaths that would have occurred if there were no vaccines at all.
5.7.2009 11:15pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

And, as apparently nobody has answered my question, as to whether thimerosal introduces a toxic form of mercury into our bodies, I'll assume this to be an open question.

Do you have any evidence that thimerosal in vaccines has ever had adverse health effects in humans? That would probably be a better way to frame the issue. If you don't, I'll assume that to be a closed question until you present some evidence.

Meanwhile, do you believe autism has been caused by vaccines (either MMR, or vaccines with thimerosal)? If so, what is your evidence for that claim?

I believe there is no legitimate evidence suggesting that autism is caused by vaccines. In the absence of such evidence, I think it is irresponsible, indeed immoral, to campaign against vaccines by stoking fears of autism.
5.8.2009 8:50am
Dan Weber (www):
So I think it would be more realistic to offset any vaccine-related deaths by the probable number of deaths that would have occurred if there were no vaccines at all.

Eh, it pains me to give a point here (since some people will misinterpret it as approval of their other points), but we should realize that vaccines do cause harm to a tiny minority of the recipients.

Now, this number is very very small. There's an upper-bound of about 100 on the number of vaccine injuries per year in the US. And that's out of the total population. I'd be surprised if I would need more than one hand to count the number of injuries that Jenny prevented. The number of deaths (not just injuries) easily exceeds this by an order of magnitude.
5.8.2009 12:47pm
rosetta's stones:
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

Frame away, however I believe you'll find the answers to your questions in my post of 5.7.2009 11:15pm, with reference also to a precise open question, still open it appears.

As your apparent reading comprehension doesn't merit the effort of scrolling down to this discussion, I'm gonna leave you be now.
5.8.2009 4:02pm
rosetta's stones:
correction: 5.7.2009 9:47pm

Good luck with your kids.
5.8.2009 4:05pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

Good luck with your kids.

I'll need it, with the likes of you out there. Thanks for the insult about my "reading comprehension," that was classy.
5.8.2009 4:53pm
markm (mail):

Korel:
Any view of a "body count" for unvaccinated deaths needs to be offset by the lives not lost due to vaccine-related complications.

And that's only a real question if you don't understand the difference between parts per thousand and parts per million.
5.8.2009 6:30pm
Careless:

wfjag, isn't Jim Watson the one with the race issues?

Diversityhire: it's actually both of them, but Crick never got in trouble for it. It was pointed out that he was writing the same things Watson said after the Watson thing.
5.8.2009 6:42pm

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