The Most Important Playground Conversation: How to Persuade a Friend to Vaccinate

by Colin McRoberts

A while back a friend asked me to help with a difficult conversation. Someone she cared about was expecting her first child, and had decided not to vaccinate her baby. My friend desperately wanted to change the mother’s mind to protect that child. But she wasn’t sure how to proceed. She had the facts on vaccines, and knew that refusing immunizations was a dangerous and irresponsible decision. But she wasn’t sure how to convince her friend of that without jeopardizing their relationship. There are some excellent resources for health care providers having this conversation with patients. But there wasn’t much that applied to her particular situation. So she asked me whether my experience as a negotiator gave me any insights that might help her plan for what was sure to be a difficult conversation.

As it happens, I had been thinking about the same thing. I’m particularly interested in how laypeople should approach a conversation like this, since laypeople can be much more persuasive than the family physician. In the real world, our family and trusted friends very often carry more weight than experts. The giant but useless homeopathy industry would collapse otherwise. So when you hear that one of your friends or relatives doesn’t plan to vaccinate, you have the opportunity for a conversation that could potentially change their mind and save that child from terrible harm.

Unfortunately, too many people approach that conversation timidly, without a solid strategy for persuading their friend. That makes it hard to respond when things take an unexpected twist, such as your friend spouting off antivaxer talking points you hadn’t considered. Other people are too aggressive, treating the conversation like the comments section of a blog post. That kind of combative and confrontational dialog can feel good, but it doesn’t accomplish much in the real world.

So what does a strategy for an effective, persuasive conversation look like? There is a world of advice we could give about that conversation. We’ve distilled it into four basic points: be sincere, ask questions, be sympathetic, and provide information.


After the fold, we’ll go into some specific thoughts about each one. We want to stress, though, that this is just a framework. The conversation itself will be different every time. We want to know more about your conversations. If you’ve tried to talk someone into getting a child (or themself) immunized, please share your story in the comments section.

Why you need a strategy

Parents who refuse vaccinations don’t make that decision in a vacuum. Anti- and pro-vaccination voices compete for their attention and trust, and each unvaccinated child is a casualty of that war of influence. Antivaxers have an advantage because they only need to create the impression of a legitimate controversy—the appearance of reasonable doubt—to scare some parents out of vaccinations. Pushing back against that scaremongering requires both good information and good rhetoric. The scientific data on their own, dry and out of context, can’t compete against antivaxers’ scary anecdotes. Pure rhetoric, like you’d find in a hot online debate, only reinforces the impression of a legitimate controversy. To be effective you need a plan for presenting solid facts and doing it in the most persuasive way possible.

This is an attempt to create a framework for your strategy. It’s a long post because there is a lot to go through, but we’ve broken it down into four key elements: sincerity, questions, sympathy and information. Please note that although I refer to mothers throughout this discussion, the same points are applicable to fathers and anyone else with a say in a vaccination decision.

Remember, this is only a framework, not a script. Every conversation will be different. As you read through these thoughts, consider how they apply to the conversation you’re planning to have. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment. We’d like to keep updating this guide, and create a more useful pocket version of it, as we get feedback from people using it in the real world.


Sincerity means going into the conversation openly and honestly. You will kill your credibility if your friend ever feels like you were deceiving or trying to manipulate her. That can be tricky because antivaxers will tell her that whatever information you give her in support of immunizations is a lie. Show her that you can be trusted to protect your relationship with her, your credibility with her, and your ability to persuade her.

Be honest. Be straightforward and direct. Tell your friend that you’re concerned about her decision not to vaccinate, and that you want to talk about it. Assume that she isn’t stupid and won’t be deceived if you try to beat around the bush, so there’s nothing to lose by being upfront about your motives. But make it clear that you want to have a conversation, not to lecture her. Explain that you want to hear more about her reasons for not vaccinating, and show that you’re willing to listen rather than just talk.

Your friend should understand that you want to change her mind, and that you think her decision is wrong. (She should also know that you want to understand her position; we’ll focus on that next.) Assume that she’ll find out all of your motives sooner or later—she shouldn’t be surprised when she does.

As the conversation progresses, don’t pretend to have more knowledge or expertise than you really do. It’s ok to be a layperson. After all, almost all antivaxers are. As we’ll discuss later, you can help your friend discriminate between reliable and unreliable expert opinions without being a doctor, nurse, or scientist yourself.

Don’t expect miracles. Your friend knows that vaccination is a Big Deal. If she’s decided to postpone vaccinations, or to reject them altogether, she’s very likely already thinking of it as a fairly momentous decision. Even worse, she may have convinced herself that she’s taking a brave stand defending her child. Confirmation bias will make her reluctant to reconsider that thinking.

The more it seems like you’re applying pressure, the more she will resist it. You may not be able to change her mind on the spot, and you should not expect to. Treat the conversation as a chance to sow seeds. Show her how to discriminate between trustworthy scientific information and hysterical scaremongering, and trust that she’ll be thinking about what you say long after the conversation is over. Be patient and try to stay involved in her decision-making process to the best of your ability.

You might even consider telling your friend your expectations outright. “I really hope this conversation persuades you to get the vaccinations done, but I’ll be happy if we can just talk about it. I think I can give you some interesting resources, and I’d really like to understand where you’re coming from.”

Talk face-to-face. If you can, have the conversation in person. This will take some of the edge off of what could be a difficult conversation. It will also give you a lot more information, since you’ll be able to read some of her body language: does she look engaged when you speak? Skeptical? Upset? How animated is she when she discusses her sources of information, and what does that tell you about how she sees each one?

Be careful about your own body language as well. Hold yourself upright and look her in the eyes. This is important because body language and other forms of non-verbal communication are often more credible than words. Telling someone that you care about their well-being is fine, but it has more impact if you’re leaning in slightly with open body language and good eye contact as you say it. At various points in the conversation, mirror your friend’s body language: if her legs are crossed, cross your legs, and if her chin is in her hand, do the same. Be casual about it. This is a great way to signal that the two of you have a strong connection, which can enhance your credibility.

Don’t fake it. Don’t get involved in a conversation like this because you want to be right, or because you want to prove a point. You’re very unlikely to persuade anyone that you want the best for them and their family if it isn’t true; you’re more likely to make them defensive hostile to your position once they realize you’re being disingenuous. Strategies like mirroring body language aren’t going to help you deceive anyone, they’re simply a way to reinforce the truth of your good intentions. If you don’t actually have a good connection with her, don’t pretend that you do. Try to build that connection instead. One way to do that is to focus on what she believes.


Ask lots of questions and take the answers seriously. You’re trying to be persuasive, and people respond better to back-and-forth discussions than to one-sided lectures. You need to make your friend’s thoughts about vaccination a fundamental part of the conversation. To do that, you have to understand her beliefs. Do not assume that you understand those beliefs, ask her about them. There are two reasons for that:

First, if you assume that you understand the bases for her decision you are likely wrong. We tend to think that other people’s beliefs are simpler than they really are, but most people pack a lot of nuance into their strongly-held and controversial beliefs. Unless you’ve already had a conversation about her reasons you probably don’t understand them as well as you think you do. Once you do understand them, you can start to answer those beliefs by refuting them or giving her your own arguments—just don’t jump the gun. Make sure you understand her first.

Second, you want your friend to know that you truly do understand and care about her concerns. You don’t need to agree with them, but you need to send the message that you take them seriously. (And you should. Her fears are real even if they aren’t well founded.) Just telling her that you respect her beliefs isn’t enough, and frankly it sounds stilted and awkward as part of a conversation. Show her that by listening attentively and asking questions about her beliefs. It’s a more natural and more credible way of sending that crucial message.

Reflect her responses.“Listening attentively” is much harder than it sounds. You will be tempted to brush past her answers to get to your counterarguments. That would be a serious mistake. Instead, try reflective listening. Pay careful attention to what she says, and then summarize it back to her. This not only corrects any miscommunications, it sends that very credible message that you are listening to and understanding her position. The reflected answer shouldn’t be argumentative, because at this point you’re simply trying to understand her position and create a rapport.

Ask open-ended questions. Your questions should invite a conversational answer rather than a yes-or-no response. That’s important because it discourages your counterpart from answering with canned remarks they picked up from antivaxers, and encourages both of you to think about her answer. It also gives you more substantive answers to reflect back to them and to use as a basis for follow-up questions. The result is more, and better, communication.

For example, “Don’t you want to protect your baby?” isn’t a very productive question. The answer is very obviously “yes,” so you’re not learning much from her response. She’ll feel (correctly) like you’re putting pressure on her, and she may fire back with a ready response like, “Yes. And I’m going to do that by not letting people like you talk me into shooting toxins into her.” You’re trying to start a conversation, but that would be the end of it. A better question would be, “How can you tell whether a vaccine is safe?” That would open up a more informative and more productive dialogue.

You aren’t interviewing your counterpart. You should put some thought into the questions you want to ask before the conversation begins, but the discussion should flow naturally from one to the next. Reflective listening can help with that, because it makes it easier to segue from one question to the next.

Don’t be afraid of silence. Your friend may not be very forthcoming with her answers. That’s OK. It’s still important to ask questions, because it signals your interest and respect. You can use silence as a tool to encourage her to answer with more detail. This is an old and very effective negotiation tactic. Once or twice during the conversation (not constantly!) be silent when she finishes answering a question. Don’t stare them down and or be dramatic about it, just don’t react when they finish talking. A couple seconds of silence can encourage them to keep talking to fill the void. Often they’ll do so reflexively, without thinking about what they’re going to say. The result is a more free-form and less scripted answer, which can be a great way to break through the script in someone’s head. Hopefully the result will be a fuller, more honest conversation on both sides.

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Here we simply mean that you should be giving the other person a friendly ear and positive advice rather than trying to berate her. Playing bad cop will jeopardize your relationship with her, and make it harder to persuade her. That can be hard if you strongly feel that her decision is dangerous and irresponsible; it isn’t easy to be sympathetic towards someone who is endangering a child. You must understand that she isn’t wicked, insane, or stupid. She has reasons for her choice that feel right and logical to her. Most likely she’s simply trying to balance many different competing perspectives on vaccines, and doing a poor job assessing their relative credibility.

Consider a hypothetical counterpart. While she’s intelligent and well-educated, she may not have any kind of scientific background. She’s getting her information about vaccines from the internet, friends, family, and her pediatrician. While you might think that she would consider her pediatrician’s opinion above all the non-expert voices in her life, most people don’t think that way. We tend to give more credibility to the people we know and like rather than the best-educated and most expert opinions. That’s why “playground conversations” between young parents are so incredibly influential.

For example, your hypothetical friend’s pediatrician is probably telling her to vaccinate her child. But she may also be hearing contrary advice from friends and family. It’s harder to disregard that contrary advice, because she cares about and spends a lot of time with those people. The pediatrician is easier to ignore because she’s not as present in your friend’s life. It’s much harder for her to ignore her own community.

Another problem is that it’s relatively easy to disregard someone, like the pediatrician, who is making her feel bad about her choices. If someone makes her feel defensive, she may take refuge mentally by deciding that person isn’t credible. That just pushes her more towards the people telling her that she’s a hero for not immunizing her child.

All the antivaxers have to do is persuade her that that there’s a reasonable chance that they’re right. That’s much easier if they’re the sympathetic voices. Deny them that power.

Don’t be afraid to talk about risk. The concept of risk, the fear of something going wrong, is a tremendously powerful motivator. Use it carefully. You should inform your friend, to the best of your ability, about specific risks that are relevant to her situation and her priorities. You should focus on her priorities rather than the things you think she should care about.

For example, your friend may tell you she really doesn’t care very much about public health outside of her child’s immediate welfare. That’s a powerful hint that explaining the dangers of losing herd immunity probably won’t be very persuasive to her, no matter how important you think it is. You’ll simply make her defensive, since she’ll feel like she’s being accused of not caring about her neighbors, without actually shifting her opinion on vaccines. On the other hand, if you know that she’s planning on a larger family, you might want to discuss the fact that unvaccinated older siblings can pose a serious risk to developing fetuses.

Don’t be a bully. When you talk about risk, give her your arguments and then, unless she invites you to keep going, move on to something else. Dwelling on negative concepts like risk makes people defensive and difficult to reach. For example, the more you reiterate that an unvaccinated child risks missing more school days or even death, the less sympathetic you become. She’s going to feel like you’re pressuring her, or even bullying her, if she gets the impression that you’re rubbing her face in the risks.

It’s natural for someone under pressure to find an escape hatch, something that lets her disregard what you’re saying. For example, she might decide that your information ultimately comes from the scientific establishment. If she takes the position that Big Pharma has corrupted all the data for its own selfish goals, then she doesn’t need to take the risks you’re talking about seriously. That alleviates the pressure you’re putting on her and corrodes your credibility with her.

When you raise risks like these, you should do it in a simple and concise way and then move on to a different part of the conversation. You don’t need to reiterate the risks if it seems like she doesn’t take them seriously—repeating yourself won’t change that. It will only increase her sense of being pressured. Give her the information about the risks and trust that she heard you. The effect might be subtle and long-term rather than immediate, and that’s OK.

Emphasize the positive. Since you’re not dwelling on risks of not vaccinating, focus on the benefits of vaccination instead. You can absolutely dwell on those. Whereas we want to minimize the discussion of risk, you should find as many ways as possible to articulate the benefits. Help her understand that she is protecting her child from harm, protecting herself and her other children from contagion, protecting other peoples’ children, educating herself about the scientific process, supporting public health, helping defeat dangerous diseases, etc.

You don’t need to be as specific here. You can and should raise benefits you think your friend hasn’t thought about, or doesn’t care very much about. Going back to our example of a parent who doesn’t care enough about strangers’ health to vaccinate her child in the name of herd immunity, you might still want to explain to her that the vaccination will help protect other children. Even if those strangers are still not a high priority for her, you’re giving her a reason to feel good about herself if she makes the right decision. You always want to be incentivizing the right decision, so you can be fairly broad when discussing the benefits of vaccination.

You should also use this as an opportunity to refute antivaxer scaremongering by stressing how safe vaccines are. She’s not increasing her child’s odds of autism, vaccines have been proven overwhelmingly safe, vaccine ingredients are safer than the ingredients in most Sunday dinners, and so forth. Sometimes vaccine advocates accomplish both goals at once by analogizing vaccines to car seats: they make children much, much safer while imposing a negligible additional risk. Some children do get hurt when they get twisted up in a car seat’s straps, but the seat is much more likely to save their life than injure them. We’ll talk more about information like that a little later on.

Beware of scary stories. The facts on vaccinations aren’t in doubt. The expert consensus is that their benefits vastly outweigh their potential harms. But that doesn’t matter to your friend if she doesn’t trust the experts. She’s making a credibility determination, and stories about mothers watching their child become autistic the day of a vaccination carry a lot more weight than anonymous experts. Those stories aren’t scientifically plausible, but they are very sympathetic and that makes them emotional heavyweights.

Confront that storytelling strategy. Explain to your friend why she should not be persuaded by another parent’s mere belief that a vaccine gave their child autism. For example, point out that there is conclusive evidence that vaccines simply don’t cause autism, and that noticing symptoms of autism after a vaccination does not mean that the vaccination caused the condition. Discuss the difference between correlation and causation.

You might also respond with stories of your own about the dangers of going without vaccinations. The CDC advises doctors to use anecdotes (as well as scientific data) when they speak to parents about vaccines. Here is an excellent example of what that looks like, in which the physician discusses the story, the science, and the psychology of vaccine refusal. This can be a very effective strategy.

Anecdotes are most useful for physicians and other experts, who have more exposure to real-life cases and are more likely to be armed with a useful story. They also have the experience and expertise to explain the hows and whys of their stories. If you are a layperson, you should be careful about using anecdotes.

First, your own personal experiences are drawn from a limited source—the things you’ve seen and done. But the internet is full of “it happened to me” horror stories about vaccines. And while those stories are unsubstantiated, unreliable, and untrustworthy, they are also scary as hell. You’ll have a hard time coming up with a credible anecdote to match them.

Another risk is that scare tactics are a high-pressure strategy. You should be very careful about applying pressure in a conversation like this. It’s more likely to make your friend defensive and confirm her in her beliefs than to persuade her to change her mind.

In other words, anecdotes about the risks of not vaccinating can be a wonderful tactic for physicians, nurses, and other people with serious and relevant credentials. The rest of us need another foundation for our arguments: objective facts.

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There are so many sources of facts and “facts” competing for your friend’s attention that you might not make much (immediate) progress throwing additional information at them. But you should nevertheless give her good, solid, factual information that supports your argument. There are some things to be wary of, though.

Be accurate. Your counterpart may be looking for a reason to ignore your position, either due to confirmation bias or simply because she doesn’t want you to be right (since that would imply that she’s endangering her child). She may also be talking to antivaxers who will hunt for ways to discredit you. In either case, your position is in jeopardy if you have misrepresented any facts.

Protect your credibility by being accurate and honest. Make sure that the information you share is the best information out there. If you don’t know an answer or haven’t read a study, admit that rather than bluffing. (And for those of us who aren’t scientists or doctors, learn how to read those studies.) Even if you think that an answer could be used against you, such as admitting that there are known side effects to most vaccines, be straightforward and honest. You’re trying to persuade her, not manipulate her.

Make it relatable. This RN’s article about the flu vaccine leads off with an excellent example of making information relatable: “Last year 169 children died from influenza. To put that number into perspective, that’s more than six Kindergarten classes.” The raw figure is alarming, but the way she personalizes it makes those children more than just a number. She gives that fact emotional weight and makes it memorable and affecting. Whenever possible, do the same thing with the facts and figures you use to support your position. The simplest way to do that is to explain what every fact means, so that nothing stands alone as an abstraction or confusing number.

Be specific. It’s best to provide information that addresses your friend’s concerns as specifically as possible. Someone who is worried about autism doesn’t need or want to see the same facts as someone who’s worried about fetal tissues in vaccines. If possible, be armed with facts that specifically answer your friend’s worries.

If you don’t know exactly what her concerns are in advance, don’t throw the encyclopedia at her. Ask questions, find out what she is worried about, and continue this part of the conversation when you can respond with specificity. In other words:

Be patient. The facts you give her aren’t going to win her over right away. These aren’t “gotcha” moments. Think of them as seeds. Give her information she can mull over and that will affect the way she interprets the data she gets elsewhere. For instance, if you know that your friend is concerned about autism, you might explain that Andrew Wakefield, who popularized many myths about vaccines and autism, is not a credible source. Be sure to explain why. With that information in the background, she’s less likely to be persuaded if someone else tries to use Wakefield’s name to scare her later. You won’t see the results immediately, in your conversation, but you’re helping provide a critical tool to help her to discriminate between reliable facts and crackpottery.

Rely on experts. The most important information you can give your friend is guidance on how to distinguish informed opinions from nonsense. This won’t be easy, especially if the informed opinions are contrary to her established position—confirmation bias will encourage her to disregard inconvenient experts. But it’s necessary to push back against the antivaxer use of phony experts and bad information.

First, make it clear who the real experts about vaccines are. Antivaxers have lots of spokespeople and cheerleaders for their misguided cause, but very few qualified experts. Jenny McCarthy famously said “My science is Evan, and he’s at home. That’s my science.” Ten out of ten for sympathy, but it’s also an admission of abject, irresponsible ignorance. Real experts use science as their science. They are the researchers who study vaccines, the physicians who administer them, and the epidemiologists who track outbreaks of preventable diseases.

Make sure your friend is aware that among the real experts, there is no genuine dispute about the safety or efficacy of vaccines. You can reinforce that point by providing the sorts of informational resources we’ll discuss later on, but it’s important that you remind your friend that the evidence simply doesn’t support antivaxers’ scary rhetoric. If it did there would be more scientists in the Canary Party and fewer Jenny McCarthys.

Defend expertise. Antivaxers know there is a tremendous imbalance of expertise in this fight, and push back in a few different ways. One is to try to convince laypeople that experts don’t really know very much, or don’t know as much as a mother’s intuition. You can respond by emphasizing the real-world value of expertise. Remind your friend how much we rely on experts in our daily lives, from plumbers to heart surgeons. Contrast antivaxers’ lack of credentials, studies, and tested information with the sound science that supports vaccines. Remind her that doctors and scientists study the safety and efficacy of vaccines using the same methods they use to test antibiotics and anesthetics, and that no one has ever shown that vaccines are more dangerous than those medicines. Would she trust a layperson who told her to ignore the experts and refuse penicillin for her child?

As you’re defending expertise, there are a few of things to bear in mind. First, be careful of your tone. Make sure your defense of expertise doesn’t come across as belittling laypeople. There’s nothing wrong with laypeople working to understand complex issues (that’s likely your personal situation, after all). When laypeople dispute technical issues with experts, though, the experts are usually right.

Second, acknowledge that experts can be wrong. But that doesn’t mean that they are wrong. Antivaxers have had many years to make a case that the expert position on vaccines is wrong, and have consistently failed. Meanwhile, almost every real expert who has investigated vaccines has concluded that they are effective and safe. There are always outliers, and always will be, because experts are people too and tend to fall along a spectrum of opinions. But that just means that the consensus position is constantly being tested. The fact that it’s constantly being proved right is a powerful testament to vaccines.

Finally be forewarned that antivaxers have a few MDs and PhDs they can trot out to demonize evidence-based medicine. (And far more naturopaths and homeopaths, which your counterpart may lamentably find equally persuasive.) But if your friend is tempted by a rogue doctor’s credentials, remind her that it simply reinforces the weight of the vast majority other doctors with the same credentials who support vaccination.

Provide factual resources. Finally, give your friend the resources she needs to find her own facts. Research she does herself will be more memorable and more credible than information you hand her on a silver platter. If she has the patience and willpower to review vaccine studies for herself, give her the tools to do so effectively. Most people would rather get scientific information filtered and synthesized through others, though, so help steer her towards reliable and unbiased sources. Some good starting points:

Stress that these are unbiased sources, to the extent that any source can be unbiased. Antivaxers often claim that pro-vaccine sources are corrupt, but the CDC and FDA exist to promote public health, not sell products for “Big Pharma.” Antivaxers themselves have their own biases, of course. Jenny McCarthy garnered quite a bit of free publicity from her stint as the cover model for preventable diseases. Perhaps more importantly, she got to feel like a hero without having to do any of the hard work. Professional and government agencies are hardly infallible, but they are subject to the kind of public scrutiny that makes them much more trustworthy than fringe anti-science groups.

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Once you’ve had your conversation, you aren’t done. Try to stay involved in her decision-making process as much as you can, without being overly intrusive. You’ll have more opportunities to help her make the right decision as time goes on. You also have an opportunity to influence other discussions by sharing your experiences here and elsewhere. Please leave a comment and tell us how you’ve persuaded someone to vaccinate, or how a conversation like this went wrong. We’d like to continue refining this guide over time, and your feedback is an invaluable part of that process.

Colin McRoberts (@Kolyin) is a Texas attorney and consultant

126 thoughts on “The Most Important Playground Conversation: How to Persuade a Friend to Vaccinate

  1. anewwe December 20, 2013 / 11:51 am

    These are great tips in general. Too bad they don’t teach this stuff in public schools.

  2. ischemgeek December 20, 2013 / 3:04 pm

    If I may: If you have a personal story, use it in place of a third-person anecdote. It helps to prevent sounding like you’re pulling the story out of thin air and personalizes the anecdote further. Plus, people have a harder time brushing off stuff that happened to someone they know, I find.

    People can’t be all, “Chicken pox isn’t anything to worry about!” at me when they know I nearly died of it (yes, really – malignant chicken pox with secondary pneumonia and staph is no joke). Likewise, they can’t be all “Flu is always mild!” when they know it took me 3 years to recover the last time I had it (influenza in an asthmatic is also no joke). If you have a story of vaccine-preventable illness, use it. It might be painful for you to remember those experiences (it is for me), but the pain will lend credibility to your story, and it will help prevent someone else from going through what you did.

    One other tip: If one or more of their fears are completely freaking irrational (say, a needlephobe who doesn’t want their kids to have needles despite knowing it’s irrational), do not make fun of the fear. Phobias are real and problematic things – I had one. Of needles, in fact. It’s why I wasn’t up-to-date on my flu shot when I got influenza.

    Better than ridicule from those in a position to help me decide to get vaccinated would have been advice on seeking help for the phobia. You can’t argue with a phobia – it’s irrational. You can’t shame it into not existing. Shame feeds into it. You can, however, try to convince the person to get into help for it, and that’s where you’ll make progress.

    • Colin December 20, 2013 / 4:06 pm

      Thanks, these are excellent thoughts.

  3. JerryA December 21, 2013 / 9:51 pm

    While asthmatics can not get it, most people who have a phobia (or strong dislike) of needles can get FluMist, the inhaled flu vaccine. It’s limited to the ages 2 – 49 as well.

    • Steve Michaels December 22, 2013 / 4:48 pm

      By the way Jerry, according to package insert for FluMist, you should really give full disclosure of your recommendation.

      “The most common solicited adverse reactions (≥ 10% in vaccine recipients and at least 5% greater than in placebo recipients) reported after FluMist were runny nose or nasal congestion (ages 2 years through 49 years), fever over 100°F (children ages 2 years through 6 years), and sore throat (adults ages 18 years through 49 years). Among children and adolescents 2 through 17 years of age who received FluMist Quadrivalent, 32% reported runny nose or nasal congestion and 7% reported fever over 100°F. Among adults 18 through
      49 years of age who received FluMist Quadrivalent, 44% reported runny nose or nasal congestion and 19% reported sore throat. (6.1)”

      Got that? Over 10% of those “vaccinated” got the flu, they just called it an adverse reaction.

      How about viral shedding?

      “12.2 Pharmacodynamics
      Shedding Studies
      Shedding of vaccine viruses within 28 days of vaccination with FluMist was evaluated in (1) multi-center study MI-CP129 which enrolled healthy individuals 6 through 59 months of age (N = 200); and (2) multi- center study FM026 which enrolled healthy individuals 5 through 49 years of age (N = 344). In each study, nasal secretions were obtained daily for the first 7 days and every other day through either Day 25 and on Day 28 or through Day 28. In study MI-CP129, individuals with a positive shedding sample at Day 25 or Day 28 were to have additional shedding samples collected every 7 days until culture negative on 2 consecutive samples. Results of these studies are presented in Table 5.”

      Table 5 shows viral shedding apparent in all age groups from 89% for up to 23 days in the youngest age group to 20% for up to 17 days in the oldest age group. Sooooooo, Flumist gave up to 58% of recipients the flu (Table 2) and up to 89% were contagious. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck….. FluMist gave these people the flu, they just don’t call it that because that wouldn’t be good marketing.

      “13.1 Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
      FluMist Quadrivalent has not been evaluated for its carcinogenic or mutagenic potential or its potential to impair fertility.”

      If you don’t ask the question you avoid wrong answers don’t you?

      By the way, FluMist also includes MSG, a known neurotoxic agent which really doesn’t carry with it a recommendation for inhalation.

      Remember Jerry, all of us who question these things are actually questioning these things and not just accepting what is being spoon fed to us by the establishment healthcare community. We also look at what we are NOT being told.

      • Colin December 23, 2013 / 4:16 pm

        These comments are not the result of a serious analysis of the science on vaccines. You appear to have collected an arsenal of talking points that when read quickly appear to undermine evidence-based medicine. In each case, though, you have simply distorted or invented facts rather than reached a rigorous conclusion.

        For example, the flu is not just a runny nose and sore throat. The people who get those symptoms after a flu shot don’t “have the flu,” and didn’t “get the flu” from a flu shot.

        Similarly, viral shedding does not mean that someone “has the flu” or is contagious. While shedding is common following a flu shot, “the quantity of attenuated virus shed in adults is 100–10,000-fold lower than the median human infectious dose required for LAIV vaccination in adults.” Those who are shedding are not suffering from the flu or passing the flu on to others.

        You claim that you “question these things,” but it doesn’t appear that you actually question the talking points you’ve been given at all. You seem to simply repeat them loudly and often. I know that arguing on the internet feels good, but you might consider the secondary harm you are causing to those who read and believe the falsehoods you spread..

        • Anonymous December 30, 2013 / 9:16 am

          Excellent point

      • benjhamilton December 10, 2014 / 10:01 am

        MSG – a neurotoxic agent?

        It’s a naturally occurring chemical found in foods. It’s found in tomatoes, potatoes, and even human breast milk (not to mention countless other foods).

        For perspective, 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese contains 120mg of MSG. The Flumist vaccine contains 0.5mg of MSG.

  4. Steve Michaels December 22, 2013 / 2:58 am

    If you actually approached these conversations with well researched people and turned the tables, you would change your mind about vaccines. There is a huge pharma industry that profits from vaccines themselves and the chronic diseases they cause. There are numerous studies from reputable researchers published in Plos and PubMed as well as internal memo’s from the CDC, the FDA and the NIH which admit the dangers and lack of efficacy of vaccines. The pharma industry is largest sector in the economy after banking. To make ludicrous claims about the “huge” homeopathy industry, which is neither huge nor directly related to vaccine skeptics is so disingenuous as to be laughable. Vaccine rates are at all time highs and yet we still get measles, mumps, pertussis and flu. This fact is what is speaking loudly to people who want to know the truth and are tired of the propaganda behind the dogmatic belief in vaccines that are obviously failing.

    • JerryA December 22, 2013 / 12:05 pm

      Steve M. made nearly all wrong or highly misleading statements, so it is difficult for me to write in the kind spirit in which this blog post was written. Then again, Steve isn’t trying to tell the truth, just convert you to the anti-science side. (No conversion possible for the blogger, but it might raise doubts among the readers.)
      1. Vaccines are much less profitable than the plentiful me-too hair loss and erectile dysfunction drugs.
      2. No scientist or medical professional ever said that vaccines are 100% perfect, 100% effective, or 100% safe. However, here’s the key point: diseases kill or cripple or disfigure at a much higher rate (1000x) than vaccines. The side effects of vaccines are mainly minor, but there are some real and severe side effects for roughly 1:100,000 to 1:1,000,000 people. Compare that to the 1:100 to 1:500 death rate for many diseases.
      3. Yes, the pharma sector is big. People need and use medicine.
      4. Saying that alt-med is not, however, is simply a lie. Boiron is a multi-hundred-million Euro corporation. Quoting Wikipedia: “Boiron (Euronext: BOI) is a manufacturer of homeopathic products, headquartered in France and with an operating presence in 59 countries worldwide. It is the largest manufacturer of homeopathic products in the world. In 2004, it employed a workforce of 2,779 and had a turnover of € 313 million.” (That’s about a half billion dollars.) That’s just ONE alt-med company selling sugar pills and water as medicine.
      5. See #2. Vaccines are not perfect… but they have saved hundreds of millions of lives over the years. They are probably the most effective life-saving medicine in the world, period, full stop. The University of Pittsburgh published this study in the New England Journal of Medicine in November:
      It wasn’t improved sanitation that saved so many people (though that’s great). It wasn’t anesthesia, or germ theory, or antibiotics, or any other medical advance. The study clearly shows a drop in morbidity and mortality correlates with vaccines. The polio vaccine, for example, came after all of the other advances, and dropped death and harm rates in huge numbers. Gardasil is doing the same for cervical cancer rates, and is yet another target for anti-vax lies.
      6. Vaccines are not failing, but anti-vax people are fear-mongering and out-shouting medical professionals with false claims. I believe the psychologists call this “projection”, attributing to the other person what you are doing yourself.
      7. I think I got an anti-vax bingo.

      • Ken December 22, 2013 / 3:36 pm

        Great points made here, Jerry. I read the NEJM article in November and have posted it to my FB as well. I neglected to mention that in my reply!

      • Colin December 22, 2013 / 4:04 pm

        Thanks Jerry, I appreciate the thoroughness of your response.

      • Steve Michaels December 22, 2013 / 4:11 pm

        Jerry, I will reply in full to your misleading and sometimes outright wrong statements. Being the holiday season and a time for family, I may just take each point in hand as time permits. The easiest to deal with simply are 1, 3 and 4.

        Main point as quoted:

        “While the rest of the pharmaceutical sector struggles to keep afloat as expiring patents send profits plummeting, the vaccine industry has become remarkably buoyant. According to a recent report by medical market analysts Kalorama Information, the vaccine market grew an impressive 14 per cent between 2009 and 2010, despite the economic downturn, and growth is predicted to continue. Such news offers a ray of hope for those wanting to work in pharmaceuticals but who are put off by the doom and gloom of the rest of the sector.”

        And before you start questioning sources, New Scientist is remarkably pro-vaccine. That is point 1. Point 3, I assume, is related to my remark about the size of the homeopathic market as compared to the pharmaceutical industry. I see that you actually agree with me, although you say it in a way like you are making some point other than agreeing with me. Not sure about that one.

        On to point 4. You have quoted the size of one homeopathic company and turned over €313 million (roughly $425 million) with 2,779 employees. That is the LARGEST in the WORLD.

        Well let’s look at the 10th largest pharmaceutical company: Bayer. Remember, there are TEN LARGER pharmaceutical companies.
        Annual Revenue: $22.5 BILLION. That is 53 times larger than the largest homeopathic company and there are TEN that are LARGER with the largest being Johnson and Johnson at $62 BILLION.

        Number of employees: over 115,000. That’s 41 times more employees than your homeopathic example and, again, there are TEN LARGER companies. Looking again at the largest, Johnson and Johnson, well they employ over 128,000.

        So to your comment opener, Jerry,

        “Steve M. made nearly all wrong or highly misleading statements, so it is difficult for me to write in the kind spirit in which this blog post was written. Then again, Steve isn’t trying to tell the truth, just convert you to the anti-science side.”

        Really now Jerry, who is wrong or misleading? You have quoted the LARGEST company in the field of homeopathy because you thought the numbers were impressive. Were you just wrong or purposely misleading? My sources were wikipedia and the mentioned companies’ own annual reports just to make sure I was accurate.

        • Colin December 22, 2013 / 5:59 pm

          Steve, you appear to have started from the conclusion that vaccines are evil and worked backwards in search of a justification. The fact that vaccine makers also make a profit is not relevant to the safety or efficacy of their product. In fact, one would expect that the manufacturers of a safe, lifesaving product would find it to be a profitable business. One should look to scientific trials to determine whether the products are what they are advertised to be. Those, of course, are the kinds of trials that science-based medicine performs but homeopaths shun.

          Similarly, the precise size of the placebo industry is a red herring. The industry as a whole is in the billions of dollars, and it is comprised of multiple extremely large and successful corporate entities. As I noted above, the industry is giant but functionally useless. (Unless one considers the extraction of tremendous amounts of money in exchange for false promises to be a use. I suppose the people getting rich off it would.)

          • Steve Michaels December 22, 2013 / 6:29 pm

            I started as a vaccine advocate and changed my mind when reading that the American Veterinary Association began recommending pet vaccines on extremities to facilitate amputation when the tumors formed. That is when I started researching. I did not reverse engineer my views. They evolved based on the information I found. Having said that, you can’t have it both ways Colin. On one hand you say the size of an alternative industry (which you provocatively call a “placebo” industry) is relevant because YOU made it relevant in your blog, and now you say it is not. Which is it? One thing I do find trying is the expedient argument, which you show now in your moving of the goal posts. I have specifically pointed out that scientific trials exist in plenty which challenge your view, yet you are conveniently ignoring this and arguing with yourself with regard to the “science” of vaccines. Now you also say that the homeopathy industry is still a “giant” when the pharma industry is at least 500 times larger (and that is a vastly conservative figure). But alas, this is your red herring because I was pointing out the falsity of your claim and ALSO stated that vaccine sentiment was NOT related to homeopathy, it is related to critical research. I pointed out your lie, you are ignoring the fact that I have already said that it is not relevant, except as it shows the lack of integrity in your arguments, even as you claim that those with whom you disagree are disingenuous. Your hypocrisy is self-evident, as is your strategic ignoring of my verifiable facts about vaccines and their finance issues. Open your mind as you suggest of others.

          • Colin December 23, 2013 / 3:15 am

            Steve, I think you misunderstood the point of the original reference to the size of the placebo industry. That’s OK, it’s a long article.

            As for your casual references to scientific data, I find them less than persuasive. The expert consensus is clear that vaccines are safe and effective. Waving vaguely at the data and demanding that we come to a different conclusion is not going to change the facts.

          • Jeffry J. Aufderheide December 23, 2013 / 12:50 pm

            Colin, Care to comment on the science and lacking of clinical trials for this?

            Validation of Serological Correlate of Protection for Meningococcal C Conjugate Vaccine by Using Efficacy Estimates from Postlicensure Surveillance in England


            I would like you to, if you can, post the original data used to test the vaccine(s). This is the only true way results can be duplicated by other scientists.


        • JerryA December 22, 2013 / 6:22 pm

          I replied with the largest homeopathy company because it was a name I remembered from my supermarket. Your comment misleadingly made it sound like there were no large homeopathy companies. Boiron is no Mom and Pop pharmacy on the corner, it’s a fairly large corporation with clear profit motive, shareholders, and an advertising department. My guess for the reason why pharmaceutical companies are much bigger than alt-med companies? People want to buy what really works, not snake oil. That is as it should be.

          I don’t have to prove that Big Pharma is holy and spotless, just to point out that the alt-med industry has the exact same profit motive. It’s a lot easier for them to make their profits, though, because they don’t have to do any research, no expensive clinical trials. Food grade sugar pills and bottles of water tainted with a couple of molecules of some random flower or bacterium diluted to nothing is dirt cheap. Selling them for dollars or euros per pill or ounce is a sure-fire way to separate the gullible from money giving nearly pure profit.

          I read the article on New Scientist, which gave clear reasons for why vaccines are a growing portion of medical sales- patents for more expensive medicines are expiring, lowering their costs through competition with generics; more types of vaccines being sold; a larger quantity of vaccines being sold in developing countries. Note the last- developing countries’ governments can’t want to waste scarce medical budgets on garbage that does not work. Vaccines have a proven track record of being cost effective, as well as medically effective. It is a lot cheaper to prevent disease than to cure it once people start suffering. I realize that your agenda is different from my own. I am a research scientist doing basic science. You are not going to swamp me with misinformation or your Google edjumacation. As a parent, however, my goal is to prevent your misinformation from getting another parent without my background from making a grave error with the health of their kids. While I think you might mean well, I know for a fact that you are utterly wrong with respect to vaccines.

          • Steve Michaels December 22, 2013 / 7:05 pm

            I do find it interesting that you stoop to such ad hominem attacks so early in a discussion. You already have been condescending in your replies, but your reference to “edjumacation” really illuminates your arrogance and summary dismissal of opposing views. I have pointed out that your “placebo” company is actually one five hundredth (conservatively) the size of the entire pharmaceutical industry yet you still argue as if it were relevant when it has already been pointed out as a red herring on your part. Vaccines have zero track record of anything. All efficacy trials are based on antibody titre counts and this standard has NEVER been shown to translate to real protection. It is merely theory masquerading as fact. Note that there is one overriding factor in vaccine profitability… Vaccines are legislatively immune (pardon the pun) from product liability. Even with that, the VICP has awarded BILLIONS of dollars in injury claims including multiple concessions (admissions) of autism caused by vaccines. For God’s sake, this stuff is on the public record! Why do you ignore it or pretend that it doesn’t exist? Unless you are an untrustworthy shill? I have no motivation to even bother replying to you except my own sense of morality in seeing your brand of misinformation is harming innocent children.

          • Colin December 23, 2013 / 3:06 am

            The VICP has not “awarded BILLIONS of dollars in injury claims including multiple concessions (admissions) of autism caused by vaccines.” Since its creation in 1986, the VICP has awarded under $3 billion in total.

            That sounds like a lot, which is why antivaxers tout the enormity of the number—similar to how they trumpet the size of the pharmaceutical industry as if it is relevant to the safety or efficacy of vaccines. In truth, though, it is a very small number. Dorit Reiss pointed out that automobile accidents cost over $200 billion in one year; even though the VICP pays out more easily than a normal court would, it has paid less than $3 billion over 25 years on claims of vaccine injuries.

            Of that sum, not one dollar has been awarded as part of a concession that a vaccine caused autism. This is another lie used to prop up a theory that has been thoroughly discredited.

    • Steve Michaels December 23, 2013 / 4:46 am

      Colin there have been too many replies to continue the chain, but it is YOU who is lying.

      “The peer-reviewed study looked at cases of vaccine injury that have been monetarily compensated by the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. It was published today in the Pace Environmental Law Review. The study investigated approximately 1300 cases of childhood brain injury as a result of vaccines in which the Special Masters ruled for the plaintiffs, looking for references to autism, symptoms of autism or disorders commonly associated with autism. It reports that twenty-one cases actually stated “autism or autism-like symptoms” in the court records. The researchers then identified and contacted 150 more compensated families to find out whether the children had autism. They were able to find an additional 62 cases (greater than 40% of their sample) for a total of 83 cases of autism.”

      Numerous cases have been paid out, most notably Hannah Poling. An additional note is that a trigger for the mitochondrial dysfunction which caused Hannah’s reaction has been linked to the at birth hep b vaccine.

      There have been MANY cases of compensation from brain injury through encephalitis directly caused by vaccine inflammatory reactions. MANY of these have ended in “autism like” symptoms.

      • Colin December 23, 2013 / 5:07 pm

        Steve, I find Ms. Holland’s research extremely dubious given her demonstrated biases and the poor quality of this analysis. None of the authors of that paper appear to be doctors or autism experts, and their methodology is transparently designed to manufacture the appearance of a connection between autism and vaccinations. They acknowledge that the experts in many of those cases specifically found no connection between the vaccination and a separate diagnosis of autism (of course one would expect autistic children to naturally fall within the pool of VICP plaintiffs), but nevertheless include them in their count. They also lump in a huge pool of vaguely associated conditions as “autism.” This is not serious scientific research, it is a group of activist lawyers trying to create a record.

        There have been MANY cases of compensation from brain injury through encephalitis directly caused by vaccine inflammatory reactions. MANY of these have ended in “autism like” symptoms.

        Encephalitis is not autism. There have been no cases of compensation for autism, including Hannah Poling. The reason for that is the same as the reason why there are no scientific studies finding a correlation between vaccines and autism: vaccines do not cause autism.

        • Steve Michaels December 23, 2013 / 7:19 pm

          You cannot prove that vaccines do not cause autism, however you can lie about it. The court ruled that she had a preexisting condition that caused the vaccine to cause an autistic result. How many children have this preexisting condition? We don’t know, but we do know that this condition is testable and no test for it is required before vaccinating… So it is all Russian Roulette with our children. That really falls wide of he mark of “do no harm”. Does it mean that vaccines don’t cause autism? No, it means you are arguing semantics with our children’s lives, and that is morally abhorrent.

          • Colin December 23, 2013 / 10:59 pm

            No, I cannot “prove that vaccines do not cause autism.” Nor can I prove that they don’t cause acne, AIDS, albinism, alopecia, or any other condition that they don’t cause. That would be proving a negative, which is rather famously difficult.

            Typically, when claiming something drastic–such as that vaccines cause autism, despite the lack of any evidence supporting that theory or even demonstrating a correlation between the two–it is incumbent on those making the claim to provide positive evidence in favor of their theory.

            In the absence of such proof, many antivaxers fall back on misleading rhetoric and false claims. You have done the same, aggressively and unapologetically lying about vaccines. For example, you claimed that the VICP had paid “BILLIONS” of dollars on autism claims, which is false. Then you claimed that dozens of cases of autism had been compensated, which is false. Now you’ve changed your tune again, claiming that one plaintiff “had a preexisting condition that caused the vaccine to cause an autistic result.” That is not an accurate statement of the court’s ruling, but rather than follow your goalposts around an infinite loop I’ll simply leave your latest iteration alone. I think that readers can compare your various statements against one another and judge your credibility accordingly.

  5. Ken December 22, 2013 / 3:28 pm

    Reblogged this on Ken’s Take on the World and commented:
    An interesting piece on the challenges of discussing whether or not to vaccinate children. This applies to adults as well! Definitely worthwhile!!

  6. Ken December 22, 2013 / 3:34 pm

    I face the same issues with my employees at the hospital where I work. I am happy that about 85% of my department staff members are compliant with the annual influenza vaccination this year and I lead by example. I believe it is an ethical obligation as well as a personal health issue for healthcare workers. Because my department, Sterile Processing, does not provide direct patient care, it is a challenge and I have to focus on the delicate state that patients are in as they pass through our hallways as well as the risk to visitors who may come into contact with them. I continue to push for mandatory vaccination for Hepatitis B and annual influenza. Herd immunity is crucial for any effective disease prevention program. That means 80-90% vaccination rates.

    • Steve Michaels December 22, 2013 / 4:27 pm

      Ken, I suggest you read the Cochrane Review of influenza vaccine studies. They found that results were manipulated, safety studies were flawed and very thin on “evidence” and industry sponsored studies were decidedly more likely to show positive results as compared to independent studies. Couple that with at least 4 Canadian studies showing a higher rate of seasonal flu infections among those vaccinated against H1N1, including one ferret study AND several studies now showing that year on year seasonal flu vaccinations increase infection risk in as little as 2 consecutive years, and you may well be the leader of the lemmings. Instead of reading what your pharma rep gives you to read or what AAP, NEJM and other publications dependent on industry advertising revenue (and sometimes direct funding as well), I suggest you research the PubMed database yourself and read the studies that are peer reviewed and published but ignored in the establishment provided “research” material. They are only showing you what they want you to see. Remember, even if you are an “independent” head of the CDC like Gerberding, there are massive deferred payoffs for supporting the industry propaganda. She was gifted the position as CEO of Merck International Vaccine Division for her support of the fake swine flu pandemic. Remember, according to the Departments of Health from the individual States, less than 10% of reported swine flu cases had even been exposed to any influenza virus and only a handful of them were positive for swine flu. Confirmed cases were less that 5% of reported cases. The CDC outright refused to divulge this fact.

    • Colin December 22, 2013 / 4:52 pm

      That’s an interesting application–I agree that it’s an ethical obligation, and I’m surprised to hear that you run into serious pushback among healthcare workers. What’s the most common objection you’ve heard?

      • Steve Michaels December 22, 2013 / 7:06 pm

        Huh? Your question is completely irrelevant to my comment.

        • chris hickie December 22, 2013 / 8:15 pm

          As soon as I saw you say that vaccines “have no track record”, Steve, it was time to call you out for either the moron and/or liar that you are. As a pediatrician I find your ilk worse than despicable.

          • Colin December 23, 2013 / 3:10 am

            Thank you Dr. Hickie. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the role of laypeople in this process; I presume physicians want their patients’ friends and families speaking up in favor of evidence-based medicine, but are there particular approaches you find especially helpful or harmful?

          • Steve Michaels December 23, 2013 / 5:22 am

            Wow, Chris! A moron? A liar? Please show me the studies that show a reduced incidence of any illness in vaccinated versus unvaccinated populations. Epidemiological don’t count because confounding factors are ignored or can be manipulated to skew the outcomes. How about overall health outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated? Oops, according to the CDC these types of studies have NEVER been done and researching on PubMed reveal no studies of this type except for influenza. Overall influenza results are around 1% difference in reported illness between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. Hardly earth shattering. Virtually all “efficacy” studies only relate to antibody titer counts, which have never been established as being relevant to real world defense against illness. Remember the AIDS vaccine tests? The ones where more vaccinated died than unvaccinated so the study was abandoned? The one where they were so hopeful because antibody titers went through the roof in the vaccinated? And they dropped like flies?

            The problem here with you and Colin and Jerry is that you want to PERSUADE people that you are right. That means doctoring (no pun intended) the information you provide to suit your goal of persuasion. I, on the other hand, am only pointing out that there is more than one side to your coin and urge people to research for themselves. You all seem rather afraid of this notion, hence your vicious attacks on me for pointing out that there is evidence that refutes your claims.

            • weatherbygood December 9, 2014 / 9:17 am

              Steve Michaels,
              What sort of informtion, if it was placed in front of you, would you find convincing enough to change your mind and become an advocate of the current vaccine recommendations?

              I’m very clear on why you are not currently convinced. I’m asking what you would find convincing.

        • Colin December 23, 2013 / 3:08 am

          It was not a response to your comment, which appears to be a hodgepodge of unsourced, dubious, and obviously false facts.

  7. Steve Michaels December 23, 2013 / 4:56 am

    Back on topic Colin and Jerry, it is quite obvious that you are not willing to look at any information which casts doubts on your beliefs. VICP has awarded nearly $3 BILLION (yes, Colin that means BILLIONS) for vaccine injuries including encephalitis and autism, not just through lost cases but concessions of fact. So, when trying to persuade anyone of a given position, FULL disclosure is the only ethical way of doing so. Since you are not willing to participate in FULL disclosure, you obviously have an agenda and a dogmatic view of vaccines which is neither rational nor scientific.

    • cphickie December 23, 2013 / 5:27 am

      Oh, here we go with “full disclosure”. You want full disclosure Steve Michaels? Here it is: WE ALL WILL DIE SOMEDAY. But we live a lot longer thanks to advances in modern medicine and vaccines are one of those key advances. You sit at your computer all smug and bitch and bitch about vaccines like they are killing us, but that is not true. You are free to try and convince parents not to vaccinate, and those of us who are tired of debating your same stupid arguments are free to tell you to get lost. FYI, do you even have the slightest damn clue about what would happen if we stopped vaccinating? Go to and read about it. The problem with your ilk is that you can’t seem to get it into your skulls that vaccines PREVENT so many illnesses and deaths. So let me educate you some more and direct you to , where it is shown that at least 100 million cases of contagious disease were prevented. Your ignorant type would gladly take us back to that, and for that reason, you have earned my ire. And also my reply posts, because I want to make damn sure you don’t scare well-meaning new parents into not-vaccinating.
      -Chris Hickie, MD, PhD

      • Steve Michaels December 23, 2013 / 6:24 am

        If you were my doctor I would fire you. You cannot prove what would happen if we stopped vaccinating and by your unrestrained anger, I would suggest that you know it. There are two questions about vaccinations, one is risk/benefit and the other is full disclosure of the facts. I have related facts that you do not like. The establishment oft say how we would all be dead, or knee deep in dead babies, if we didn’t vaccinate, yet that was never the case. It is fear mongering pure and simple. Measles is a classic example. In the UK there have been over 80,000 cases of measles and one death in an immunocompromised individual, yet we are told constantly how 1 in a 1,000 will die. It just isn’t true. That number comes from Bulgaria, where, surprise, surprise, they suffer from poor sanitation, hygiene and contaminated water issues. Most VPD’s don’t pose the risks that we are bombarded with once a vaccine becomes available. Before the chicken pox vaccine, chicken pox was a non-event illness in children. Now we are told how millions of children died or were damaged by chicken pox. I am old enough to remember before the vaccine and history has been rewritten through marketing propaganda to spread fear. That is what you do doctor. You fear monger. Why are you so afraid of full disclosure of the risks of vaccines as well as their shortcomings? The only reason I can think of is that you know what will come out in the wash with full disclosure. Your arrogance and condescension are breathtaking and wholly offensive.

        • JerryA December 23, 2013 / 8:52 am

          Arrogance, Steve? Some guy who gets his knowledge from Wikipedia is talking about arrogance? Yes, I have “alphabet soup” too: Bachelors and Masters degrees in Biochemistry and a PhD in Biotechnology, with honors, in protein structure. I’ve been doing basic science research on the structure of viral proteins for the past 20+ years. My work has been used to develop medicine and understand how the biology of viruses works. Basic science research like mine gets published in science journals, then summarized in review articles and books, then distilled down into textbooks, then summarized further to encyclopedias and Wikipedia. Where you read it, misinterpret it (whether deliberately or not, you *are* misinterpreting it), and throw it back out as garble. Yet you have the breath-taking self-blindness to call *other* people arrogant. Get a mirror, Steve.
          While you’re at it, get a clue: the reason why people with, as you dismissively put it, “alphabet soup” degrees are speaking condescendingly to you is because you’re wrong in your conclusions and you’re leading people the wrong way. People who could die as a result. You’re dangerous.

          • Steve Michaels December 23, 2013 / 9:06 am

            You are afraid of me. Your anger tells all about your fear of open debate. I used wikipedia because YOU used wikipedia, but I confirmed my points from the company annual reports to make sure I was accurate. You were purposely misleading. If you understood anything about vaccinology, you would realize that over 80% of immune response is gut flora and mucosal. Antibody titers are virtually irrelevant in real world disease fighting. It’s like saying that the performance of a car hinges on a lug nut. You are living in a rigid paradigm and can’t see outside your own limited dogma. As this article says, open up your mind and don’t be a bully. I am not intimidated by your anger or your ad hominems. Again, you show your fear of things which challenge your views. Look up “cognitive dissonance”.

          • JerryA December 23, 2013 / 11:18 am

            You’re trying to teach me about vaccines? Then you talk about “gut flora and mucosa” as immune response? Really? No way in Hades do you have one single clue about vaccines. The Dunning-Kruger effect is strong in this one. I’m not “threatened” or fearful of you, though yes, nova-class willful stupidity makes me angry. I pity anyone who listens to you.

        • cphickie December 23, 2013 / 9:32 am

          Actually, I wouldn’t have let your sorry lying butt in my office, dude, so you never would have had the chance to “fire” me. And I did fire all the families I used to see who didn’t vaccinate because they were a big part of the reason there’s a pertussis outbreak where I practice ( And furthermore, if you had challenged vaccines on local community boards, I’d have held you up for all to see for the lying fear monger that you are. I’ve done it here and it’s actually brought more parents in to vaccinate their children when they see that those of us who do vaccinate actually stand up for it. Go pound sand, Steve Michaels. You lose.

          • Steve Michaels December 23, 2013 / 11:51 am

            Your arrogance is truly amazing. Remember that oath you took? DO NO HARM. Refusing a sick or injured patient based on a vaccine status which you yourself must admit is neither safe (so says the Supreme Court “unavoidably unsafe”) nor effective is a violation of that oath. You are not fit to practice. Get that word? Practice! It means you don’t know everything and neither do I. We all go through life learning, or in your case stagnating due to your own hubris. For God’s sake man, even the CDC admits that the pertussis outbreak is NOT from unvaccinated children. In fact, the vaccinated appear more susceptible to this new and naturally improved version of the bacteria which is more deadly than the one the vaccine strain is for AND on top of that, the vaccine may make a person asymptomatic and still contagious, thus the vaccinated are more likely to spread the disease than an unvaccinated person who is symptomatic. You need to keep practicing because you certainly aren’t there yet by a country mile!

            And it’s not about winning or losing. You think its a game. Its about human rights to make informed decisions about our own bodies. You haven’t refuted anything I have said. I can source from your own “approved” sources all of the things you don’t want to hear. I will continue to shout it out. There is more than one side to this issue. By the way, your own State Department of Health admits that pertussis runs in 3-5 year cycles. That is very convenient because you have an outbreak, you have a vaccine drive, cases drop naturally but you can claim the vaccine did it. It is disingenuous. They also admit that, “Most of the cases are in children- and a majority are either unvaccinated or not up-to-date on their pertussis vaccine.” Interesting wording. A majority means anywhere up to 50% minus one were fully vaccinated and Lord knows how many of the remainder were actually vaccinated but missed their last scheduled booster. I believe they are vague on purpose to avoid the fact that vaccination status was not relevant to the outbreak, as the CDC admits.


            By the way doc, how much do you make on your “well baby” visits between hauling healthy kids in to shoot them up and how much bonus do you get for having a high vaccination rate/profit per vaccine administered? Oh, and while we’re at it, how many of your older children have asthma or diabetes? The huge increase in these diseases closely parallels the increase in the number of vaccines administered (like autism). Must be coincidence that 50% of American children are now chronically ill now and only a handful were 50 years ago.

          • Steve Michaels December 23, 2013 / 11:57 am

            And I am sure your overactive ego LOVED be written up in the news as some kind of savior. Narcissists shouldn’t be allow in medicine. It was a calling for the modest before the pharma industry and the AMA made it for profit. How much do you make from your patients? When was the last time you read something NOT provided to you by your pharma reps or read in a non industry funded forum? I hate doing your research for you because you have so many letters after your name and you’ve been in the paper and that makes you special, BUT here’s a bit for you:

            “Vaccines for whooping cough, which is also known as pertussis, contain three to five protective antigens. The presence of the antigens are important to ensure the vaccine is effective. One of the antigens, pertactin, which was present in nearly all isolates of B. pertussis bacteria in the U.S. through 2010, is now missing from more than half of the isolates.”


            You may not have read it yet as it only was published 5 days ago, but it confirms the CDC position and undermines your determination to be God to your patients. You are merely a man. And by what I can see, not a very nice one.

        • C December 11, 2017 / 10:33 pm

          I know these comments are years old, but “Steve” is such a pigheaded arrogant prick who hates autism and won’t listen to reason. His head is so far up his rectum that he can see through his mouth. All he does is post strawman arguments and move the goalposts of his own arguments. I hate concern trolls like this. They’re disgusting horrible people who are literally causing kids to die every day by not vaccinating. I think all antivaxxers should go to prison for reckless endangerment. Let them spread their diseases among themselves there.

      • Steve Michaels December 23, 2013 / 6:26 am

        Oh, and your alphabet soup after your name counts for nothing when you are ranting irrationally. All that those letters mean is that you have regurgitated the answers the institutions wanted you to regurgitate. It does show any propensity toward critical analysis skills.

        • cphickie December 23, 2013 / 9:35 am

          Sure, uh huh. Yeah, right. How many people are bringing their children to you for their child’s care, Steve-o?

          • Steve Michaels December 23, 2013 / 11:59 am

            My friends don’t vaccinate, and oddly, they don’t need doctors except for injuries and my friends who do vaccinate have perpetually ill children. Just coincidence I’m sure….

      • Steve Michaels December 23, 2013 / 12:09 pm

        Just to clarify something doc, where have I tried to scare anybody? I have only pointed out (from your own approved sources) that there is more to this issue than what you claim. I have not recommended in any way whether anyone should or should not vaccinate. I remember that at Nuremberg, it was decided that NO PERSON should be given ANY medical treatment or experiment without FULL informed consent. Why are you so scared of people being informed? I’ve earned your ire because I am not awed by your degrees or your position. You have yet to provide any studies showing morbidity/mortality rate differences between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations under similar circumstances. I’ll give you a clue, measles mortality rates had fallen by over 97% BEFORE the introduction of vaccines. Scarlet fever had fallen by a similar amount over the same time period and there is STILL no vaccine for scarlet fever. The vaccine industry has usurped the credit for reducing these diseases and then rewrote history to make them sound worse than they were. That is called “marketing”.

        • cphickie December 23, 2013 / 2:41 pm

          I am sure glad I don’t have to deal with parents like you any more, Steve.

          • Steve Michaels December 23, 2013 / 3:53 pm

            You mean people who don’t bow down to your “superior” intellect and can’t think for themselves, doc? Your bedside manner is really rubbish! You would have never cut it as a doctor before the profession was corrupted, now you are obviously part of that corruption. I see you are not willing to disclose how many chronically ill vaccinated children you have (and profit from) or how much you make in commissions and bonuses from vaccinating healthy babies before they become the chronically ill cash cows that pervade the nation. It’s doctors like you who open people’s minds to the evils of the profit driven health care system. More and more wake up because of doctors with your attitude make it obvious that there is something be hidden and then they start to search for what it is. For that I thank you!

          • Colin December 23, 2013 / 5:15 pm

            The data (the word is plural) do not agree with Steve’s statement, nor do the links you posted. Orac’s article has an addendum showing a chart going back to the 1920s, demonstrating the trending increase in measles cases from the 20s to the 50s and the enormous decline in cases following the introduction of the vaccine.

          • Colin December 23, 2013 / 5:46 pm

            If you mean the decline in reported death rates, Orac responds to that misleading statistic very effectively in the piece Jennifer linked. Look for the subheading, “Death Rates.”

            The short version is that death rates are a single data point, and that supportive care reduced death rates from serious infections even though incidence rates were trending upwards prior to the introduction of vaccines.

            Incidentally, the chart you are focused on doesn’t seem to agree with other sources, including those used by antivaxers. I don’t know why that is. That problem is one reason, though, why it’s generally unhelpful to zero in on a single data point or factoid and treat it as gospel. Information like this should be analyzed in context, with an eye to definitions and methodologies. I realize that’s difficult for those of us who aren’t epidemiologists or historians to do, which is one reason why their analyses are more informative than those of ideologically-motivated laypeople.

            Are you aware of any epidemiologists who share your apparent opinion that vaccines are unrelated to the collapse in measles and other infectious diseases?

          • Jeffry J. Aufderheide December 23, 2013 / 6:13 pm

            This is from the CDC Vital Statistics.

            What is incorrect with the data, Colin?

            According to the data, the mortality rate decreased quite a bit prior to the 1960s. That is to say, “Vaccines save lives,” in context of this data would be inaccurate.

            Similar results / disease trends can be seen for scarlet fever, as an example. No vaccine exists for this disease.

          • Colin December 24, 2013 / 8:25 pm

            According to the data, the mortality rate decreased quite a bit prior to the 1960s. That is to say, “Vaccines save lives,” in context of this data would be inaccurate.

            Setting aside the misleading nature of the claim that mortality rates “decreased quite a bit prior to the 1960s,” this is a simple logical error.

            Say for the sake of argument that mortality rates for a given disease started at 10 per 1,000 people in 1950, and decreased to 8 by 1960. Let’s also assume that without vaccines the rate would have decreased further, to 5 or 6, by the present day. If the actual mortality rate is 2 or 3 with vaccines, then vaccines save lives even though the rates are independently decreasing.

            In other words, the idea that mortality rates would have gone down independently of vaccination has nothing to do with whether or not vaccines save lives. The question is whether there is a marginal population of individuals who will die but for immunizations. The evidence says there is a very large marginal population benefiting from vaccinations.

          • jeffryjohn December 27, 2013 / 10:53 pm

            Are you ignoring the data from the 1900s to the 1960s?

            Are you also saying mortality rates did not decrease from said period?

  8. Colin December 23, 2013 / 4:54 pm

    Jerry Aufderheide asks,

    Colin, Care to comment on the science and lacking of clinical trials for this?
    Validation of Serological Correlate of Protection for Meningococcal C Conjugate Vaccine by Using Efficacy Estimates from Postlicensure Surveillance in England
    I would like you to, if you can, post the original data used to test the vaccine(s). This is the only true way results can be duplicated by other scientists.

    In an effort to keep these comments on-topic, I’d like to respond as I would if Jerry and I were having the kind of conversation described above. If I were trying to convince Jerry to vaccinate his child, I would ask him why he wants a comment from a layperson instead of an expert? Did the experts not come to a conclusion that he wants to hear? I’d find out as much as possible about why he thinks this study is significant, and why he thinks that my opinion on it as a layperson would be relevant.

    In this case, since this appears to be a “gotcha” question (why on earth would I have this data?), I’d be suspicious that Jerry is starting from an ideological position rather than attempting to find out whether vaccines are effective and safe. That makes it difficult to have a productive conversation, but not impossible. I’d respond by trying to give him some pointers to reliable data (such as the sources I listed above), and reminding him that the study he’s citing seems to conclude that the vaccines were extremely effective.

    To respond more directly to your point, Jerry, it’s silly to ask a layperson with no connection to the research for the original data. I don’t have it. If I wanted it, I would email the authors and ask for the data. Have you tried that?

    • Jeffry J. Aufderheide December 23, 2013 / 5:15 pm

      I guess the point of the matter is this – there are many assumptions made in the name of science without proof. This happens to be one of them and the children being injected are, in fact, guinea pigs.

      Wouldn’t you agree?

        • Jeffry J. Aufderheide December 23, 2013 / 6:05 pm

          The decision was based off of antibody assays for rabbits — and you’re okay with this?

          I’m curious how you can make a statement stating “science” has proven vaccines to be safe and effective… and here we are… evidence that minimal efficacy data exists.

          Caveat emptor.

          • Colin December 23, 2013 / 6:11 pm

            What is it that you are considering “evidence that minimal efficacy data exists”?

          • Colin December 23, 2013 / 11:03 pm

            Yes, I see your link. But I don’t understand what about it is relevant to this conversation. Would you mind explaining your thinking on this point?

            • Jeffry J. Aufderheide December 24, 2013 / 8:53 am

              The information is germane to the discussion because parents are told vaccines have been tested for safety and efficacy. Another message given to parents is that we should simply trust our doctors and the experts because they know what is best for our child (i.e. vaccines).

              You said,

              “Protect your credibility by being accurate and honest. Make sure that the information you share is the best information out there. If you don’t know an answer or haven’t read a study, admit that rather than bluffing. (And for those of us who aren’t scientists or doctors, learn how to read those studies.) Even if you think that an answer could be used against you, such as admitting that there are known side effects to most vaccines, be straightforward and honest. You’re trying to persuade her, not manipulate her.”

              I’m curious as to what you made of the information?

              Do you think this / these vaccines were tested in accordance with GCP & cGMP? If so, can you please elaborate as to why you think so?

          • Colin December 24, 2013 / 11:40 am

            Jeffrey, I still don’t understand what point you’re trying to make with the study. Are you saying that this is the only efficacy study that’s been done? Is it defective in some way? I don’t think that either of those things are true, but I don’t know what it is you’re trying to say when you point to that particular article.

            Do you think this / these vaccines were tested in accordance with GCP & cGMP? If so, can you please elaborate as to why you think so?

            I’m not qualified to determine whether a pharmaceutical product complies with good clinical or manufacturing practices. I suspect that you aren’t, either. I’m not aware of anyone who is qualified to make that decision coming to the conclusion that vaccines in general are negligently manufactured. As for individual manufacturing defects, the VICP assesses claims of vaccine injury and pays out more readily than a normal court would. Its track record suggests that vaccines are a very safe medical procedure. Not completely safe, any more than carseats or antibiotics are, but very safe.

          • jeffryjohn December 27, 2013 / 10:56 pm

            Let me ask you directly. Are you or are you not comfortable with vaccines not having proper efficacy studies before being used on children?

          • Colin December 29, 2013 / 7:44 pm

            Let me ask you directly. Are you or are you not comfortable with vaccines not having proper efficacy studies before being used on children?

            You are assuming that “proper efficacy studies” haven’t been done, which is not true.

  9. Steve Michaels December 23, 2013 / 5:52 pm

    I applaud you Colin. You are able to maintain a balanced commentary. Unfortunately, your supporters come across a bit more rabid dog and really do you no favors in an open discourse environment. We disagree yet I think we could agree to disagree. Jerry and doc come across more as religious zealots worshipping at the trough of their own egos.

    As far as your conversation with Jeffry, it is not a question of taking the view of a layman over an expert. That is a bit of a misdirection or straw man, if you like. I suspect that you are already aware that I have letters after my name. I just don’t think it’s relevant in a forum such as this. At no point have I referenced any blogs or editorial commentary. I have only referred to PubMed level peer reviewed studies which don’t fit your paradigm. My points have been made with the same standards of research as yours, except that mine tend to not be tied to industry funded research or taken place at beholden research centers. My sources are as qualified as yours. They just don’t get the airtime because they refute the establishment doctrine. This is the area where I ask people to look at more than what they are spoon fed by doctors who are spoon fed by industry reps who are approved by regulators who are vying for future riches by playing ball with industry they are supposed to be regulating, like Julie Gerberding. You know the head of the CDC (previously mentioned) who was rewarded for playing ball with the non pandemic swine flu fear mongering.

    Jerry and the doc can’t handle this. You choose to ignore and misdirect, they just turn into insulting, name calling, rabid, egotistical zealots.

  10. Steve Michaels December 23, 2013 / 6:02 pm

    And Jeffry is unfortunately right. Today’s children are guinea pigs, but it’s worse than that. They are guinea pigs that are not being used for the furthering of knowledge. The negative results are completely ignored. As such, they are guinea pigs for no reason but corporate profit.

  11. Colin December 23, 2013 / 6:05 pm


    I suspect that you are already aware that I have letters after my name.

    So do I. But mine, and I suspect yours, don’t reflect the education or experience necessary to analyze medical and scientific data from scratch and to a level of certainty sufficient to disregard an overwhelming consensus of actual experts. Your references have not been to, or the result of, a serious investigation of vaccines. They appear to be the output of a list of talking points designed to create the false impression of a legitimate dispute as to the safety or efficacy of vaccines.

    Some of your talking points are relying on poor-quality work created to distort the discussion, such as you citation to Ms. Holland’s thoroughly debunked bit of scaremongering is a good example. Others are simply fallacious and fact-free accusations, such as your conspiracy theories about the CDC. None of these references reflect serious science or any kind of rigorous analysis.

    I applaud you Colin. You are able to maintain a balanced commentary.

    Thank you. But while I regret that the comments are becoming heated, it appears to be almost entirely the result of your instigation and personal attacks. If you would like to help me maintain a balanced commentary, please tone down your rhetoric.

    • Steve Michaels December 23, 2013 / 6:26 pm

      I have not been calling people “morons” or the like. My education includes research techniques and overall logic and critical analysis. And your linked reference goes nowhere, so I’m not to what you are referring. As far as consensus goes, consensus does not equal truth. Your equating of consensus with fact is a common logical fallacy. Truth is completely unrelated to how many people agree with it or not. Consensus at one time said that smoking was harmless. In fact, doctors were paid to promote cigarettes. It did not change the fact that smoking is harmless. Consensus at one time said asbestos was safe. We now know that it is extremely dangerous. Consensus said that Vioxx was safe, need I go on?

      • Colin December 23, 2013 / 11:11 pm

        Sorry, that link should have gone to:

        Yes, the consensus can be wrong. But that does not mean that the consensus is wrong. It takes evidence to establish that, and historically–in each of the examples you provided–evidence did shift the consensus.

        The evidence in this case strongly supports the consensus. Vaccines simply don’t cause, and are not even correlated with, autism.

        • Steve Michaels December 24, 2013 / 4:14 am

          You treat the term consensus as if it makes it true. It is truly laughable to claim that there is no “correlation” between vaccines and autism. The correlation is freely admitted, it is whether it is causal that it is in question, and as the Cochrane Review found with flu vaccine studies, your evidence is shoddy and blatantly manipulated. However, it in inappropriate to try and have that discussion in a public forum. You have my email, feel free to discuss this with me privately. Not that you would change your mind…. And all Orac proves is that by spinning statistics, they can say anything. The raw data speaks for itself.

          I wish you and all of your readers a very Happy Holiday!!! I hope you do email me Colin.

          • Colin December 24, 2013 / 11:31 am

            It is truly laughable to claim that there is no “correlation” between vaccines and autism. The correlation is freely admitted, it is whether it is causal that it is in question…

            There is no correlation between autism and vaccines. There is only an arguable correlation between the onset of certain symptoms of autism and vaccines, which is the result of the timing of vaccines—the evidence is definitive that there is no causal link.

            Your claim that there is a correlation between vaccines and autism, like your claim that that the VICP had paid “BILLIONS” of dollars on autism claims and your claim that “numerous cases” of autism caused by vaccines have been confirmed by the VICP, is simply a lie.

            Thank you for your invitation to email you, but I don’t see the point. Your comments are full of confident statements that, as you have tacitly admitted, turn out to be false. You have not dealt with any of those false statements. You simply move on to another comment and pump out a few more paragraphs of disinformation. I do not think there is a point at which you will suddenly start telling the truth, and I would prefer to converse with you here where I can demonstrate how dishonest your statements are.

            Despite your attempt to take these comments off-topic, I think this exchange is useful to show two things: what young parents have to deal with, and how not to have a conversation with them.

            Too many new mothers and fathers have a Steve Michaels in their life, who will shamelessly deceive them about their children’s health. And unfortunately when those parents google your claims, they will find thousands of Steve Michaels supporting each others’ lies. That is why real expertise, supported by sound science and objective facts, are crucial. Actual facts are the best vaccine against the kind of dangerous and infectious lies you have relied on here.

            I would not, of course, argue with an undecided parent in the confrontational way I’ve used with you. If I knew that such a parent was subject to the manipulations of someone like you, I would try to arm them to see through you by giving them actual facts. But secondly and perhaps more importantly, I would try to explain what it means that antivaxers have to rely on such hoary myths such as the autism scare to discourage medical care: they can’t rely on real facts, because the actual evidence is that vaccines are safe and effective.

            • Jeffry J. Aufderheide December 24, 2013 / 11:45 am


              You are quick to jump to conclusions in your response.

              My question to you is what do you consider autism to be? A social disorder or a medical condition?

          • Colin December 24, 2013 / 7:42 pm

            Jeffrey, what assumptions?

            I’m not sure what “social disorder” means. I consider autism a medical condition, although it obviously has social dimensions and fuzzy borders.

  12. Steve Michaels December 23, 2013 / 6:42 pm

    Sorry, I said smoking is harmless. I meant harmful. And no, Colin, I never defer my own mind to “experts”. I take it upon myself to learn and use my own mind to draw my own conclusions. That is all I ask of anyone. If you don’t know, research, not what take what I say or what you say at face value. I just tell people to really look, not just be told where to look.

  13. Steve Michaels December 24, 2013 / 6:55 pm

    I wasn’t intending to reply again but your last comment is so wrong on so many points that it deserves a reply now Colin.

    “There is no correlation between autism and vaccines. There is only an arguable correlation between the onset of certain symptoms of autism and vaccines, which is the result of the timing of vaccines—the evidence is definitive that there is no causal link.”

    Another dead link and more misinformation. There are TWO correlations between vaccines and autism. Firstly, autism signs are closely related to vaccine timings. Secondly, there is a direct correlation between the number of vaccines given and the numerical incidence of autism. The cornerstone “definitive” evidence is the Danish study. That has been shown to fraudulent several times. Firstly, the definition of autism itself was changed midstream. When a uniform definition of autism is applied, autism rates dropped. Not only that, but a subsequent study looking at autism in siblings, using the exact same population data found autism rates dropping.

    Thimerosal and the Occurrence of Autism: Negative Ecological Evidence From Danish Population-Based Data, Kreesten M. Madsen, MD; Marlene B. Lauritsen, MD; Carsten B. Pedersen, Msc; Poul Thorsen, MD, PhD; Anne-Marie Plesner, MD, PhD; Peter H. Andersen, MD; and Preben B. Mortensen, MD, Pediatrics 2003; 112:3 604-606,

    This study claims an unabated rise in autism in Denmark from 1994 thru 2003.

    Recurrence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Full- and Half-Siblings and Trends Over Time: A Population-Based Cohort Study. Grønborg TK, Schendel DE, Parner ET. JAMA Pediatr. 2013 Aug 19, 2013

    This study reveals the following chart of autism rates from the same population database that Thorsen used:

    Year Rate
    1994-95 1.65%
    1996-97 1.58%
    1998-99 1.56%
    2000-01 1.43%
    2002-04 1.06%

    So again, there are two studies using the same information with two completely different analyses of the same information. The only difference is one study related to vaccines and the other not.

    “Your claim that there is a correlation between vaccines and autism, like your claim that that the VICP had paid “BILLIONS” of dollars on autism claims and your claim that “numerous cases” of autism caused by vaccines have been confirmed by the VICP, is simply a lie.”

    You yourself provided the number of a little less than $3 billion, which IS billions. On top of that, you are playing a semantics game which is patently misleading. I cited a study of VICP rulings/concessions where autism from vaccines occurred. Generally, they are cases of encephalitis which resulted in “autism-like” symptoms or autism. The awards were generally based on the encephalitis, not the resulting autism even though the determining factor causing the autism was the encephalitis itself. It’s a bit like saying that a series of car accidents in the rain due to loss of traction which all used the same inferior tire was caused by the rain and not the inferior tire. It is mere semantic misdirection.

    “Thank you for your invitation to email you, but I don’t see the point. Your comments are full of confident statements that, as you have tacitly admitted, turn out to be false. You have not dealt with any of those false statements. You simply move on to another comment and pump out a few more paragraphs of disinformation. I do not think there is a point at which you will suddenly start telling the truth, and I would prefer to converse with you here where I can demonstrate how dishonest your statements are.”

    Nobody has provided any substantitive arguments or evidence refuting anything I have said. I have seen only opinion and ad hominems. I recommended a private conversation because it would remove your motivation to posture. You have publicly refused, which tells me that posturing is more important to you than real discourse.

    “But secondly and perhaps more importantly, I would try to explain what it means that antivaxers have to rely on such hoary myths such as the autism scare to discourage medical care: they can’t rely on real facts, because the actual evidence is that vaccines are safe and effective.”

    There is a plethora of peer reviewed studies showing relationships between vaccination and autism, it just isn’t publicised. There are no studies showing the “effectiveness” of vaccines. There are only studies showing increases in antibody titres which are assumed but never shown to impact real world protection. There are ZERO studies comparing incidence between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups, and as Jeffry pointed out, the claims that “vaccines save lives” falls short when mortality rates had already dropped before the introduction of vaccines, which you admitted to.

    • Colin December 24, 2013 / 8:04 pm


      The link has an extra quotation mark. It goes to

      Firstly, autism signs are closely related to vaccine timings.

      As I mentioned, the correlation is between the detection of symptoms and the time vaccines are given. As in, they both tend to happen to children under three. That’s not a correlation between autism and vaccines, it’s a correlation between detecting autism and vaccines. Even that correlation is extremely weak, as noticing the symptoms is highly subject to confirmation bias and other subjective influence. There is no correlation between the disease and “vaccine timings.” If there were, it would show up in hard scientific data instead of the fact-free ramblings of internet commenters.

      Secondly, there is a direct correlation between the number of vaccines given and the numerical incidence of autism.

      No, a direct correlation would show vaccine rates and autism diagnoses rising and falling together. All that you can show, as far as I know, is that autism diagnoses and vaccination rates have very generally risen over time. In the short term, they rise and fall independently of one another. That is not a “direct correlation.” And as for the broad correlation—vaccinations and autism diagnoses are both more prevalent today than they were in 1950—the same thing can be said of satellite launches.

      Your complaints about the “Danish study” are more revisionism. The study hasn’t been debunked. Antivaxers have attacked one of the authors of that study. I have no idea whether their criticisms are well founded, but they don’t discredit the results of the study itself. (To my knowledge, the allegations about that researcher deal with financial improprieties, not problems with the research he did.) If there are specific problems with the research, I’m not aware of them.

      Orac wrote a detailed and interesting analysis of this line of antivaxer talking points that reveals, once again, the blatant disregard for facts underlying your movement. You refer to Thorsen not because he was the senior or lead author of the study, but because you can attach some scandal to his name. It’s poisoning the well, not analyzing data. It’s also quite misleading, and intentionally so.

      He also points out that the two studies are not analyzing the same thing. Your claims to the contrary are, again, completely false. “Madsen et al studied autism incidence, not prevalence, and Grønborg et al studied prevalence, not incidence. . . . . [P]revalence includes new diagnoses of a condition as well as all of the population diagnosed before. It’s not surprising that studies examining incidence and prevalence could come up with different numbers.”

      (If I flub the HTML again, the link to that article is

      Your comments continue to prove the ethical character of the antivaxer movement, and the need for well-meaning friends and family of new parents to push back against these dangerous fantasies.

  14. Steve Michaels December 24, 2013 / 7:13 pm

    I know I will fall on deaf ears, but all I really ask for is honest disclosure to let people make up their own minds. The only reason I can see for denying this simple request is financial (or effective brain washing). I will state unequivocally that my ONLY interest in these issues is moral. I have zero financial ties to ANY health care company or sector, in fact I run a toy store. The good doc and Jerry (and Colin) have refused to disclose their financial interests. Why? (A rhetorical question for the open minded reader)

  15. Colin December 24, 2013 / 8:17 pm

    I know I will fall on deaf ears, but all I really ask for is honest disclosure to let people make up their own minds.

    No, you are asking to influence their decisions by insinuating that we must be pharma shills. How many bloggers disclose their “financial interests”? I can’t think of any, other than those who have already dealt with this tired old dodge. There is no serious reason to suspect that we are paid to advocate vaccinations, which is of course the consensus position of essentially every expert who has studied the issue. This poisonous insinuation is not a legitimate question, but rather a limp attempt to change the subject from the overwhelming evidence in favor of the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

    Dr. Raff’s CV is linked from the main page. Obviously she is not a pharma shill. Neither am I. Neither of us receives any compensation from these articles, directly or indirectly, other than (unfortunately negligible) ad revenue.

    • Steve M December 26, 2013 / 10:55 am

      “No, a direct correlation would show vaccine rates and autism diagnoses rising and falling together.”
      Your complaints about the “Danish study” are more revisionism. The study hasn’t been debunked. Antivaxers have attacked one of the authors of that study. I have no idea whether their criticisms are well founded, but they don’t discredit the results of the study itself. No, it has to do with the number of vaccines given to individual children and THAT relationship to autism incidence. It has very little to do with rates. And considering the actual number of recommended vaccines has gone up significantly over the past 20 years, a child who was “fully” vaccinated 20 years ago would today be call “unvaccinated”. Although, when you look at the increase in the NUMBER of vaccines administered, there IS a direct correlation between the number and incidence of autism.

      “Your complaints about the “Danish study” are more revisionism. The study hasn’t been debunked. Antivaxers have attacked one of the authors of that study. I have no idea whether their criticisms are well founded, but they don’t discredit the results of the study itself.”

      No, Colin, I did not give you any “revisionism”. I quoted two studies which used the SAME data sets and came to completely different conclusions. The data sets showed a marked decrease in autism over the same period that the Danish vaccine study claimed an increase. Yes, one study was of first line autism rates and the other of incidence among siblings of those already diagnosed. That is irrelevant to the fact that both required an analysis of rates, one of the initial group and the other of BOTH the initial rates and the rates among siblings. Also, it is well known and was shown through released emails that the definition of autism itself was substantially changed through the course of the vaccine study from only those who required hospital admissions to include all clinical diagnoses who received any medical care related to autism. This change, midstream, massively increased the numbers. No study which changes diagnostic methodology midstream can be considered reliable. And I never mentioned the legal issues with Thorsen. You are trying to use misdirection. His financial crimes are irrelevant.

      • Colin December 27, 2013 / 1:31 pm

        I’ll simply point again to Orac’s excellent piece which debunks these deceptive talking points. In brief, the decline in ASD does not track vaccinations; ASD continued to climb after thimerosol was removed from childhood vaccines. Childhood autism rates did too, but eventually plateaued (rather than falling).

        And I never mentioned the legal issues with Thorsen.

        You tried to paint the study as Thorsen’s study, for example referring to the “database that Thorsen used.” That’s indicative of a rhetorical effort to taint the study with Thorsen’s alleged financial crimes, which you concede are “irrelevant.” Nevertheless you want it to be his study, under his name, despite the fact that he was neither the primary nor the lead author.

        The fact that you have to use deceptive rhetoric to support your cause, since the actual data don’t, should suggest to you that you’re on the wrong track.

        • Steve M December 27, 2013 / 6:43 pm

          “Childhood autism rates did too, but eventually plateaued (rather than falling).”

          I shall basically ignore your worship of Orac (or shall we call him Gorski, the industry attack dog?) since he has already been implicated in the Skeptics libel and slander cases. If after the removal of thimerasol, autism rates even plateaued as the US rates over the same period and before the removal (ostensibly) of thimerasol in US vaccines, this is evidence of a relationship. Nobody has said that thimerasol is necessarily a primary autism substance, but rather a component of a multifaceted environmental trigger that can result in autism. This is why I suggested private emails with you. This is a complicated subject and not really properly addressed in a blog comment format. Thorsen was not the lead researcher, but emails between him and the CDC indicate that he was certainly the point man from the CDC within the study. It was the CDC who pressured Pediatrics to “fast track” the publication of the results after several other publications refused the study based on the flaws in methodology which I have already mentioned with regard to changing definitions throughout the course of the study.

          Now then, just to point out your hypocrisy, why is the Walker-Smith study constantly referred to as the “Wakefield” study? It was neither a study nor was it led by Wakefield. In fact, the lead in that paper was Walker-Smith who was fully exonerated and reinstated by the British High Court because the GMC findings were flawed and highly criticized. The fact that Wakefield was not a party to that challenge does not change the fact that the rebuke by the GMC was reversed and found to be “deeply flawed”.

          I made no attempt to link the financial crimes of Thorsen with the findings of his study. The casual reader would not have even been aware of the fact that Thorsen, while still working with the CDC, is also on of America’s Most Wanted for his theft of millions of Dollars from the research fund provided by the CDC to conduct the very study you are defending. Since you brought it up, however, the casual reader should know that not only were the findings spurious due to the changing of the definition of “autism diagnosis”, but the research funds themselves were reduced by the theft of those funds by Thorsen, who, I might add, could not have been an approving authority for fund distribution had he been the minor player you are implying.

          This is what gets me about vaccine cheerleaders such as yourself Colin. You posture as the “moderate” voice about vaccines while keeping to an obvious pro-vaccine agenda. You ignore or summarily dismiss cogent and logical arguments and pretend that since you stick your fingers in your ears and yell “lalalalala” that you have somehow proven some point and then you accuse me of doing what you are doing with regard to arguing by implication and insinuation. I have made multiple points in this discussion which have been either ignored or dismissed without rational ground. I have refuted your points with logic and rational analysis.

          • Jeffry J. Aufderheide December 27, 2013 / 7:26 pm

            A few things changed –

            First, thimerosal was never removed from vaccines. You’ll also find an increase in vaccines being added to the schedule (more aluminum adjuvant) since 2000.

            Second, a new practice of injecting pregnant woman with thimerosal-containing influenza vaccine became an accepted practice.

            This is significant because high levels of c-reactive protein are detected.

            And also, c-reactive protein may be an indicator of a child being diagnosed with autism.

            I emailed the author of the trivalent influenza vaccine and her team is NOT planning on doing any followups with the mothers and their children regarding an autism diagnosis.

        • Steve M December 27, 2013 / 6:46 pm

          “The fact that you have to use deceptive rhetoric to support your cause, since the actual data don’t, should suggest to you that you’re on the wrong track.”

          Case in point to your summary dismissals. I quoted the relevant analysis of the study on siblings which used the same data sets as the “Danish Population Study” (ignoring the Thorsen name), and the best you can come up with is that I fabricated the data that came directly from the study? Give me a break! Talk about ignoring the points and claiming victory…

          • Colin December 27, 2013 / 7:04 pm

            I shall basically ignore your worship of Orac (or shall we call him Gorski, the industry attack dog?) since he has already been implicated in the Skeptics libel and slander cases.

            He hasn’t libeled anyone. He has refuted the kind of nonsense you’re peddling here, and been attacked for it. The fact that he’s been attacked for refuting pseudoscience is not a reason for ignoring his refutations; that’s circular and nonsensical reasoning.

            You posture as the “moderate” voice about vaccines while keeping to an obvious pro-vaccine agenda.

            I am pro-vaccine. I am also pro-antibiotics, pro-handwashing, pro-MRI machine, pro-aspirin, pro-toothbrush, pro-evidence-based medicine.

            This is a complicated subject and not really properly addressed in a blog comment format.

            It’s properly addressed by experts in a laboratory or clinical setting. But since the laboratory and clinical research refutes the claim that vaccines cause autism, antivaxers push the conversation to blogs and other unscientific fora. Why is it that antivaxers can’t get any support out of serious research? What is it that’s preventing them from proving that vaccines cause autism with hard data?

          • jeffryjohn December 27, 2013 / 7:46 pm


            I’m not going to debate this much. It feels as if you completely ignore the political and socio-economic components to medicine. This isn’t specific to you, but also to the “community” at large.

            Consider this:

            (Lancet) Colonisation by Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus in healthy children.

            “These findings suggest a natural competition between colonisation with vaccine-type pneumococci and S aureus, which might explain the increase in S aureus-related otitis media after vaccination.”

            And then this:
            (J Allergy Clin Immunol) The relationship between vaccine refusal and self-report of atopic disease in children.

            “Conclusion: Parents who refuse vaccinations reported less asthma and allergies in their unvaccinated children. ”

            You can further validate this “crazy” conclusion by simply looking into an IgE / aluminum adjuvant relationship, as an example.

            And finally, I want you to carefully review the portfolios for some of the companies mentioned here.


            “By then, Pfizer hopes to have brought its meningococcal B and Staphylococcus aureus vaccines to market. The jabs are currently in Phase III and II, respectively. In MenB, Pfizer is up against Novartis ($NVS), which won European approval for its jab, Bexsero, earlier this year. Pfizer faces competition in S. aureus too, although all its rivals are still in development…Blockbuster sales await whoever is first to market. Pfizer believes its vaccines for Clostridium difficile, smoking cessation and allergic asthma could generate big sales too, but these are still in Phase I.”

            If you think pharmaceuticals are above profiting off of a condition their products have created, then I encourage you to first study history and human beings. Second I encourage you to visit the Department of Justice website which is chock full of examples of unscrupulous behavior.

          • Colin December 29, 2013 / 7:43 pm


            I’m sorry for the delayed response, but I just noticed your comment. I have to say that I’m very skeptical that you’ve read the studies you cited. Your cursory explanation of the ear infection piece is taken from the abstract, and doesn’t have much to do with whether vaccines overall are safe or effective. The self-reporting piece is even less germane. Do you think that parents who opted out of vaccinations might be less inclined than others to self-report atopic conditions? Or that their reduced exposure to physicians might lead to fewer opportunities for diagnosis?

            Of all these weak arguments, I’m least impressed by the conspiracy theories. The fact that pharma companies make money off of vaccines is not evidence of wrongdoing. I doubt that you apply the same lens to Big Placebo and its highly profitable supplement industry.

            I don’t think that pharma companies are above wrongdoing. I’ve litigated enough fraud cases to be skeptical about human nature. But I’ve also litigated enough fraud cases to know that fraud creates evidence. The bigger the fraud, the more evidence. I am very dubious that there could be an enormous, international conspiracy to promote poisons as vaccines that somehow failed to create any actual evidence that vaccines cause autism.

            What I would expect to see is that vaccines would cause some negative side effects, and that the medical and legal communities would deal with them accordingly. That’s what we’ve seen through the VICP and legitimate research. What’s different about vaccines is the rhetorical response of a self-perpetuating culture of victimhood, not actual evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the pharmacy industry.

          • Jeffry J. Aufderheide December 29, 2013 / 8:52 pm

            Can you please tell me how much you have looked into the matter? I’d appreciate an honest answer.


          • Steve Michaels December 30, 2013 / 1:15 pm

            Colin, do you not see that replies such as, “I don’t trust that person” are nothing but “shoot the messenger” replies? You do nothing to refute methodology or any other substantive objection to the information cited. This makes your position look dogmatic and not rationally thought out. You complain about Houston, but the statistics speak for themselves regardless as to who is quoting them. Same with the Danish autism rates. One study, which is well known to have been fraudulent, as previously noted, shows an increase in rates over a given time period, the other, with no known motivation for inaccuracy, shows a marked decrease. You refute this by quoting a blogger. Jeffry has given you food for thought, but you dismiss it without rational cause.

            In addition, you also refer to studies proving “efficacy”, yet it has already been pointed out to you that all “efficacy” studies rely on increased antibody titer counts and there is no proof whatsoever to this translating into real world protection. Again you ignore what you don’t want to hear. Open your mind like you ask others to do.

          • Colin December 30, 2013 / 1:38 pm


            Observing that people who have opted out of vaccinations have an incentive to underreport adverse consequences and fewer opportunities for diagnoses is actually a critique of the methodology, not shooting the messenger. Conversely, no matter how many times you say a study is “well known to be fraudulent,” it doesn’t matter if it’s only well-known among a rabidly ideological community that refuses to engage with actual data.

            Those who do engage with the data–the scientists, epidemiologists, and MDs who are hands-on with the relevant information–are essentially unanimous in their conclusion that vaccines are safe and effective. You would need to up your game to compete with that, since you aren’t doing the same kind of serious research and analysis they are (and what analysis you are doing is so obviously ideologically motivated).

  16. Ben S December 26, 2013 / 3:58 am

    I’m pretty doubtful about this advice, unless you’re a researcher in a public forum with a well rehearsed anti-vaxxer.

    There are some issues where this style works. For instance, I’ve argued with a tax protestor. I listened to him describe the various loopholes he was going to exploit. I said, “Jimmy, the judge is basically a government thug, right?” “Yeah, of course.” “So if you start reciting this stuff and reading from the Constitution, won’t he just have the bailiff put a muzzle on you and assign you a public defender?”

    In that case, I had a wedge, his fundamental distrust of government officials. When I have talked to a few people about adult vaccinations, such as the flu shot, they basically have a vague distrust of vaccines, and often drug companies and artificial substances in general. I’ve found there’s nothing substantial to use as a wedge to make my case, and they get defensive if you try to extract the reason for the distrust.

    A key problem in debating persuasively is how to avoid the other guy losing face, that is, how do you win without winning? In the case of Jimmy, he just had to admit his tactic was flawed, but I didn’t challenge his underlying distrust of the government or sense of injustice.

    The antivax movement is a very typical story in politics where most of the people who are “against” it are really just unfamiliar with it. It’s basically FUD, fear, uncertainty and doubt.

    There’s a maxim in politics that showing up is 90% of the game. If you’ve canvassed for a party, you were knocking on doors to answer a few questions, but the cumulative effect is to show that your side is really there, has energy, and is made of real people and not the caricature the other side presented.

    To “show up” to this debate, talk about your experiences. If you vaccinate your kids, describe it, talk about how well they’re doing. Just point out that you did it, and the practical reasons why. Lead by example.

    The “just showing up” approach works over time by creating an environment where vaccinations are normal and reasonable, thus changing the social context in which they frame their arguments and make decisions. The hard part is being patient enough to wait for people to change their minds.

  17. Colin December 27, 2013 / 1:41 pm


    Thanks for your comments. I’m particularly interested in your analogy with tax protesters; I’m currently lining up some interviews with tax protesters (and sovereigntists) as part of a book project.

    First I’d say that my advice is better geared towards talking to an undecided parent, or one who has made a decision but isn’t committed to it. I agree that it’s a much more difficult job trying to persuade someone who has made a decision and invested something (whether time, effort, or some sense of self) in it.

    For example, see the comments by anti-vaxers on this thread. They certainly won’t be persuaded by the tactics I outlined above. And a parent who is a committed anti-vaxer probably won’t either. Confirmation bias, if nothing else, would make them a much harder sell. But for an undecided parent with anti-vaxers on one side and EBM advocates on the other, there is certainly a place for a careful conversation like this.

    Your comments about saving face and just showing up are excellent. I will make sure the next version of this guide addresses them explicitly.

    I think there’s more to be said about each, though. Particularly about showing up. We’re already in a world where vaccinations are normal and expected–empirically, most people vaccinate. But when anti-vaxers try to convince parents that the only reason for that is the profit-mongering of Big Pharma, or some other baloney reason, it gives parents who are inclined to take the road less traveled a good reason to do so. I think just showing up will be insufficient to make a difference to those parents, just as the fact that most people pay taxes is insufficient to make a difference to someone taking their first, tentative steps down the road of being a tax protester.

    Even if it’s not sufficient to make a difference in and of itself, though, “just showing up” is a very important part of the conversation. (After all, none of the things I discuss are enough to make a difference on their own.) Saving face is as well–it was very much on my mind as I wrote the guide, but it should be broken out separately and discussed in more detail.

    Thanks again for your comment, which is very helpful.

    • Steve M December 27, 2013 / 7:00 pm

      “Thanks for your comments. I’m particularly interested in your analogy with tax protesters; I’m currently lining up some interviews with tax protesters (and sovereigntists) as part of a book project.”

      Yes Colin, I am sure that you and Ben see eye to eye that anyone who questions vaccines and the pseudo science behind them must be involved in all sorts of things and not just interested in health and truth.

      “For example, see the comments by anti-vaxers on this thread. They certainly won’t be persuaded by the tactics,/b> I outlined above.” (emphasis added)

      The request for full disclosure does not require “tactics”. Your choice of words gives away your game. There are a plethora of evidence on both sides of this issue. I do not dispute that. I can use reason and logic to question the evidence your propose in support of your view. Having said that, I have not said that you should not be allowed to fight your corner, I have only said that other views AND evidence needs to be available and shown to people to provide FULL DISCLOSURE of the evidence for AND against. This is a fundamental right from the Nuremberg Code. This is something the Government has signed on to. Why do you resist full disclosure unless you have something to hide?

      • Steve M December 27, 2013 / 7:02 pm

        Sorry about the “end bold” mistake there.

      • Colin December 27, 2013 / 7:09 pm

        The allegation that there are hidden facts that, if “disclosed,” would finally supply the antivaxers with the data they need to prove their case crosses the line from pseudoscience to full-blown conspiracy theory.

        Should we also “fully disclose” to parents the opinion that demonic possession causes psychiatric illnesses?

        • Steve M December 27, 2013 / 7:19 pm

          No Colin, I did not say “hidden” facts. I have provided data and relevant fact surrounding research that defies your dogma. The best you can do is an ad hominem attack? References to “demonic possession”? Give me a break! You call that a response? I call it clutching at straws. For God’s sake man, it only takes a quick search of PubMed to find this stuff. I never said it was “hidden”, I said it was not “publicized”. It is evidence that is ignored. You pretend that it is non-existent. Email me on my thirdparty address and we can talk sensibly. The fact that you don’t tells me you are either afraid of what might shake loose or are being compensated to argue (albiet miserably) publicly. And yes, I discovered that you (or your paymasters) blocked me from my usual isp/email account. Why? I suspect an attempt at censorship. I find that telling as well….

        • Steve M December 27, 2013 / 7:24 pm

          You do truly follow the playbook to a T with your false claims and attempts at creating straw man arguments to refute when the actual arguments are irrefutable. FULL DISCLOSURE! Such a simple concept, yet you resist it so vehemently, even when it is ostensibly the Law of the Land.

        • Steve M December 27, 2013 / 7:25 pm

          Why are you so afraid of people making up their own minds? Given the full gamut of available information, I am not afraid, why are you?

  18. Anonymous March 3, 2014 / 1:25 pm

    This is a ridiculous article on mind control. I would LOVE for someone (most likely very uneducated on vaccines) try and change my mind! People pumping thier kids full of vaccines don’t even know the names of the vaccines let alone the reactions, aluminum and laundry list of garbage they put in them. It boils down to fear. What do you fear most? The vaccine or the disease? Statistically, the vaccines are FAR more risky. And last I checked this is still AMERICA. If you forgot what that means, then read the constitution.

    • Colin March 3, 2014 / 3:39 pm

      Hi Anonymous,

      You have an idiosyncratic way of thinking about “mind control.” I suspect you haven’t read the article. The point is simply to help provide parents with the information they need to make good decisions, not to undermine their sovereignty or make decisions for them. Since the goal is to give them good information rather than rely on health fads, scaremongering and rumor I think it’s fair to say that a conversation like the one I describe would empower parents rather than control them.

      You note that parents are “pumping thier kids full of vaccines don’t even know the names of the vaccines let alone the reactions, aluminum and laundry list of garbage they put in them,” but those aren’t the relevant facts. The relevant fact is not whether an ingredient sounds scary, but whether it is actually harmful in the relevant dosage and delivery mechanism. For example, many of those scary things (like formaldehyde and aluminum) in the “laundry list” of ingredients are also found far higher quantities in all-natural fruits and vegetables. The evidence does not support the fearful, often self-serving rhetoric of anti-vax gurus, which is one reason why they focus on how scary something sounds instead of empirical evidence.

      (Or, as you’ve done here, assert without evidence that the statistics state that vaccines are more risky than vaccine-preventable disease; this is false.)

      “And last I checked this is still AMERICA. If you forgot what that means, then read the constitution.”

      I’m not sure what you mean by this. Is there some specific constitutional (or other legal) issue you think is at stake?

    • C December 11, 2017 / 10:35 pm

      You’re the one who is being brainwashed, Anon. Please don’t breed.

  19. Elizabeth S March 3, 2014 / 5:42 pm

    Does anyone even care about the cause of all these diseases? If you know the causes you no longer fear them. I know the causes, I researched disease history, I’d encourage anyone who wants to know where the diseases originate to research it. I do not vaccinate, I am well informed, and not afraid.

    • Colin March 3, 2014 / 10:20 pm

      Does anyone even care about the cause of all these diseases?

      Yes. Us, to echo what Jennifer said. But also everyone else. In particular I’d point to epidemiologists, virologists, and other medical professionals who not only care what causes diseases but work hard to determine those causes and submit their empirical findings to verification by third parties.

      If you know the causes you no longer fear them.

      Really? Knowing the cause of wolf attacks does not mean you have nothing to fear from them.

      • Colin March 3, 2014 / 10:27 pm

        Hmmmm, link snafu. That important scientific research regarding wolf attacks is here.

  20. Abby March 5, 2014 / 3:54 pm

    If more people had a conversation like this to the T, they themselves would realize that 1) There is a legitimate case for both sides. 2) People who choose to go about vaccination in a way different from themselves are too people, and are trying to do the best they can for their children. 3) Most people who don’t vax according to the normal routine do so with plenty of unbiased scientific studies and resources to back their decisions. (You may even find out that they believe that your sources are biased at best) The sad part of it all is that this argument is even taking place. There is benefit to having the freedom to choose what is best for your children.
    It is not a mothers intangible “intuition” that spurs her, it is a mothers observations and knowledge of the very concrete intricacies of her wonderfully unique child, and all the variables that play part in their own bodies, taking them into account, researching like the dickens (yes there is info out there that contradicts what you believe no matter who you are), and deciding what is best, thereafter continually revisiting her decision making sure it is still the best option. No one is a child’s advocate more than their mother (save rare unforeseen situations). Dehumanizing mothers for protecting their kids the best they can in this situation, is inaccurate, unfair and quite frankly a slap in the face. You are never going to convince a mom to do something she truly believes could harm her child. Every mom has to weigh the risks and benefits, to which there are both in this debate. And she should not be targeted for her choice. (This is coming from a person who chooses to remain neutral, and believes there is no general answer to such arguments.)

  21. Anon March 5, 2014 / 7:34 pm

    So I have a dear friend who doesn’t vax her kid. I have tried time and time again to have this conversation with her, every time she gives me more resources, studies, cases, and also is able to show me why my studies are not completely compelling…. I don’t know what else to say, her sources and science is good (don’t tell her I said that) and I am a bio major and know the human body and how to research. On top of that her relatives otherwise healthy baby just died right after getting the first round of childhood immunizations, what can a person really say to that, I don’t think “oh it’s just coincidence” will cut it…

  22. Anon March 5, 2014 / 7:59 pm

    Please disregard my above statement, it is not a valid discussion (about the friend who doesn’t vax)

  23. heather December 14, 2014 / 8:23 pm

    You people are pushy and paranoid. Youre also very judgemental and disrespectful of others’ right to choose. I bet if asked, however, youd be quick to puff yourselves up and brag about how nonjudgemental and open minded you are.

    • weatherbybad December 14, 2014 / 10:14 pm

      I’m confused. To which people are you referring?
      And how are the people the “other side” (whatever that may be) different from the ones you are describing?

  24. thomascoruzzi February 25, 2016 / 6:48 pm

    This is very helpful, thanks!

    The TL;DR is: How do you prepare for and subsequently handle, on the fly, whatever new unfounded belief happens to come up? A frequent and discouraging occurrence I encounter stems from how easy it is to get caught off guard when presented with unfounded beliefs.

    From my blog: “Many intelligent people become unjustifiably convinced that they have reached the most probable conclusions on a given topic in as disciplined a manner as possible. Behind unwavering conviction, they assert that the theories they cobble together remain suppressed at every turn by insuperable powers. Reasoning someone out of something that they did not reason themselves into usually proves to be impossible. The wind of unreason often generates a gust too strong to allow even the flame cast by Carl Sagan’s demon-quelling candle to soften the shadow of ignorance under the light of scientific scrutiny.”

    … Always remaining on the balls your feet, ready at a moment’s notice to address whatever might come up is not practical if even possible.
    There’s an overwhelming amount of good and poor information available. Some of which is highly technical, making it seemingly impossible to grasp sufficiently well enough to explain tersely in a short time. Concepts in Physics is one example.

    Conspiracy theories A, B, and C coming from the left and crystal therapy on the right. Admitting, “I don’t know, let me look into that and get back to you” often results in the death of potential for sensible conversations.

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