Republicans aren’t anti-vaccine. (Yet)

Last night’s G.O.P debate was notable for many reasons, but it was a particular low point for anyone concerned about public science literacy.  It’s becoming increasingly evident that the G.O.P. candidates are being duped by a false narrative of political polarization on the issue of vaccine safety.  And that is alarming.

This  is a better illustration of what vaccination is really about. Courtesy of Microsoft stock images, so it's even free!
What vaccination is really about. Courtesy of Microsoft stock images.

The CNN moderator for the debate last night asked Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon, to respond to Donald Trump’s often repeated assertion of a link between vaccines and autism. That link is a lie, but neither Dr. Carson nor Dr. Rand Paul (an ophthalmologist) called it out as such. Dr. Carson vaguely (but correctly) stated “There has — there have been numerous studies, and they have not demonstrated that there is any correlation between vaccinations and autism,” and “Vaccines are very important,” but then he qualified this by saying “Certain ones. The ones that would prevent death or crippling. There are others, there are a multitude of vaccines which probably don’t fit in that category, and there should be some discretion in those cases,” and “You know, a lot of this is — is — is pushed by big government.” Dr. Paul didn’t do much better, saying “I’m all for vaccines, but I’m also for freedom.”

(Source for transcribed quotes)

Let’s be perfectly clear: None of the objections Trump raised to vaccines have the slightest basis in biology, medicine, or reality. None. Not one. Nor does the “too many too soon” argument that Dr. Carson floated. As Tara Haelle put it:

“The problem is, our country doesn’t make or recommend vaccines that aren’t important, that don’t prevent death. So, I have a question for Dr. Carson. Below are the vaccines recommended through age 18. I’d like to know which one of these we should “use discretion” with. Which ones are not important enough to administer?”

You can check out the list and the rest of her article here.

Trump will be Trump, but we deserve more from the two physicians in this race. To be honest, I believe that both of them understand and accept the science on vaccines, but they’re pandering to what they believe Republican voters want to hear. But study after study has shown that vaccines are not a partisan issue–the same proportions of conservatives and liberals both accept that they are safe, sound, and necessary to combat infectious disease. Carson and Paul are completely out of touch with conservatives on this issue, and unfortunately their assumption about what their base wants to hear on this issue may itself change those numbers. Colin McRoberts discussed the potential consequences of turning this into a partisan issue a few months ago:

“Right now, most people support vaccination and reject anti-vaccine talking points. (I know that can seem implausible, given how visible those hoary anti-science stories are online. But vaccination rates don’t lie—the vast majority of parents reject anti-vax scaremongering.) If we start drawing party lines on top of the vaccine debate, people will start to use their party affiliation to define their position on vaccines. They won’t realize they’re doing it. They’ll honestly think they’re making decisions about vaccines based on the facts. But they’ll be judging those facts based on the community they belong to, the way we all do. So we can’t let those communities be defined as anti-vax communities!”

Amy Davidson, writing for The New Yorker, nicely articulated the dangers of having presidential candidates giving legitimacy to dangerously unscientific positions:

“A lot of what Trump says—diplomacy by yelling, for example—would be dangerous if put into practice. But most of it, assuming he doesn’t actually get elected, won’t be put into practice. The refusal to inoculate children, though, is something that his admirers can try at home. No other candidate was willing to anger the ideologues by standing up for something as suspicious as science.”

We have seen the consequences of not vaccinating children earlier this year. Do we really want more outbreaks of preventable disease to threaten our communities?  The use of vaccines to protect the health of our children is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. It’s not a liberal or conservative issue. It’s simply what the best science available overwhelmingly supports. I urge conservatives in the Republican party to make this point to your representatives. Only the base can hold the leadership to account, and this is one issue where we all need to take a united stand.

33 thoughts on “Republicans aren’t anti-vaccine. (Yet)

  1. tomh September 17, 2015 / 3:53 pm

    Trump has been beating this drum for a long time. As usual, he doesn’t care about facts.

  2. lesraff September 17, 2015 / 4:49 pm

    Trump’s little anecdotal tale was positively frightening in its pandering to the anti-vacciners. Is this what political discourse has come to?

  3. tomh September 17, 2015 / 5:49 pm

    I don’t think you can call it pandering. As Orac points out, in 2007, long before he was a candidate, Trump was saying, “When I was growing up, autism wasn’t really a factor,” Trump said. “And now all of a sudden, it’s an epidemic. Everybody has their theory. My theory, and I study it because I have young children, my theory is the shots. We’ve giving these massive injections at one time, and I really think it does something to the children.” He’s been promoting the antivaccine line all along.

  4. James Pailly September 17, 2015 / 5:58 pm

    To be honest, when the debate turned to vaccines and climate change, I was surprised that we didn’t hear a whole lot more anti-science rhetoric than we did.

  5. Paracellsus September 17, 2015 / 9:01 pm

    Fact is your science is research. You may be very well pedigreed in the research arena. You have no clue regarding clinic observations or outcomes. Until you’re on the front lines of clinical medicine, you should keep your myopic research perspective in check. Petri and lab rats don’t translate. Clinical and Research arenas are sadly meant to be separate. Sadly a PhD is a well intentioned soul while in process. It’s after dissertation that the ego solidifies its intellectual superiority while putting on the rose colored glasses of arrogance that peppers clinical ignorance. Your should really rethink your position. It wreaks of shill. Care to discuss the difference between TDap, DTap, and DTP in regards to vaccine failure? How about a discussion of limbic encephalitis ?

    • Jennifer Raff September 18, 2015 / 10:50 am

      You seem to be confused about how vaccine safety is assessed. While laboratory work and clinical trials comprise the early development of vaccines, once they’ve passed FDA approval data on safety and efficacy continue to be collected throughout their use. These data are analyzed by different researchers to address different questions. For example, one of the papers that I cite above (the blue words are hyperlinks) relies on a retrospective study of the outcomes of a massive number (1,256,407) of vaccinated children to test the question of whether they were more likely than unvaccinated children to develop autism (they weren’t).

      Perhaps your misunderstanding derives from unfamiliarity with how to read scientific papers. That’s totally understandable! It’s an acquired skill. I wrote a guide for people in how to do it, in the hopes that they can become more scientifically literate. You’re can find it here: https://violentmetaphors.com/2013/08/25/how-to-read-and-understand-a-scientific-paper-2/

      When you say “it wreaks of shill”, I assume you’re suggesting that I’m paid by some pharmaceutical company to write articles on my blog? I’m not. I don’t receive any money at all from pharmaceutical companies. My salary is paid by my university, and my current research (which doesn’t involve vaccines; I’m a geneticist) is funded by a grant from the National Science foundation and a new faculty startup package from my university. You are welcome to read the details in my CV, which is posted on this site.

      • Anonymous September 19, 2015 / 9:58 am

        Au Contraire Ms. Raff (BTW do you know Riff),
        No confusion here. Also not unfamiliar with reading scientific papers, quite opposite. You familiar with reading vaccine inserts? Any comments on your observation of vaccine reactions and what might be going on physiologically? Your reference to a retrospective study is an interesting notation. Authors weren’t related to the William Thompson (1) Gang where they. Dat was sum dam fine retrospective science. As usual being a researcher you dodge the clinical questions. If you don’t want to engage in clinical discussions, then stay your little research cubicle and don’t drive the meme of that people questioning vaccine safety are somehow obtuse. You can’t engage in clinical discussion, or observation. As I said before, petri dishes and lab rodents don’t translate. Then one takes the every growing question of ethical research publishing and the whole system is can be cloaked with contempt. Perhaps you have read Lancet’s Richard Horton BSc MB FRCP FMedSci-“ The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.” (2) Or maybe Marcia Angel-NEJM. Raff, I don’t need to be school by your protocol on becoming scientifically literate. Such an intellectually arrogant position, as is the case with peeps like you. I didn’t say intellectually ignorant, because obviously being Geneticist you’ve got some intellectual ATP. Problem is you probably should stick to Drosophila. As for being a shill. Direct ? Indirect? What’s the difference? You all intellectually banter those with lessor scholastic pedigrees. If you’re an indirect shill, which it appears you are, then you’re a cheap shill. That being said, your still invited to discuss the difference between TDaP, DTaP, and DTP and reasons for vaccine failure, as well as limbic encephalitis. .

        1-William Thompson PhD-http://www.morganverkamp.com/august-27-2014-press-release-statement-of-william-w-thompson-ph-d-regarding-the-2004-article-examining-the-possibility-of-a-relationship-between-mmr-vaccine-and-autism/
        2- https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/caution-vs-alarmism/
        3- http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2009/jan/15/drug-companies-doctorsa-story-of-corruption/
        http://theconversation.com/insight-into-how-pharma-manipulates-research-evidence-a-case-study-4071

        http://jme.bmj.com/content/37/4/249.abstract?sid=905cb3bc-a961-4710-8544-5f0509a6b599

        • Colin September 19, 2015 / 10:57 am

          You familiar with reading vaccine inserts?

          I am. Also with the process of drafting disclosure documents. The purpose is to disclose everything that people claim could be caused by vaccines, not what the evidence actually shows is caused by vaccines. The lawyers writing inserts don’t want anyone to ever suffer an unrelated injury, decide it must have been caused by the vaccine, then sue because the risk wasn’t disclosed. On the other hand, there’s no particular harm in disclosing something that isn’t connected.

          If you actually read the inserts, you will see that they are written that way. When autism is mentioned, and I think it’s only one vaccine, it’s in a section for disclosing the adverse events that people have reported. As in, “Adverse events reported during post-approval use of X include….” And we know that people report autism as an effect of vaccines, even though it’s clear from the evidence that there’s no link. (People also report that vaccines cause broken bones and becoming the Incredible Hulk, after all.) Anti-vaccine paranoia thus becomes self-proving: convince people that vaccines cause autism, use the fact that they claim vaccines cause autism to convince more people. The strategy is based on spreading fear, not understanding the science.

          Here are a couple of good breakdowns of how package inserts work:

          http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com/2014/09/package-inserts-understanding-what-they.html
          http://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/vaccine-package-inserts-debunking-myths/

          You can’t engage in clinical discussion, or observation.

          This is a rhetorical strategy designed to disqualify someone, rather than engage with them. You see it a lot in fringe beliefs: “You’re just a shill” or “You’re just a sheep” or “You’re just a woman” or, in this case, “You’re just a researcher.” It’s common in the anti-vax community because of how few experts support their ideology. If people looked at the opinions of experts, whether clinicians or researchers, it would be very difficult to sustain beliefs like the ones on display here. After all, there’s an overwhelming consensus among general practitioners, nurses, epidemiologists, neurologists, immunologists, rheumatologists, and every relevant specialty that vaccines don’t cause autism.

          Perhaps you have read Lancet’s Richard Horton BSc MB FRCP FMedSci-“ The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.”

          So if you want to sustain an irrational belief that virtually no experts support? Disqualify the experts. This one’s just a researcher, that one’s a shill, and oh yeah, no science is trustworthy. But what does the quote above mean? Was Horton saying that 50% of science, randomly assorted, is wrong? No, he was saying that there’s a lot of bad studies out there. And if you compare the few anti-vax studies–which tend to be of low quality–to the solid research on vaccine safety, you can see that he’s right. (Of course, even if we went mad and just struck every other research study, we’d still have an overwhelming consensus that vaccines are safe and effective. Cutting out half the sample size doesn’t change the rate.)

          These comments are heavy on ego-protection, and characteristically light on any actual reason to believe that vaccines cause autism. For some people it’s just about the fight.

          • Anonymous September 20, 2015 / 10:53 am

            Awesome, now we have a legal beagle in the discussion. No need to expand the Vaccine Insert discussion. It was simply made to point out researchers are far displaced from front lines of clinical care. Inserts are what they are. No need to discuss them any further, or infer that I am using them as the proof that vaccines and autism are linked. Inserts actually make good for good toilet paper substitute. Disqualifying ? You actually did a good job of yourself. You are far from mutual dialogue when you call someone fringe. I believe I actually outlined a couple of relevant discussion topics. Tell you what smarty pants, you are invited to be Ms Raffs riff, or her phone a friend. Your answers will be excitedly awaited. “After all, there’s an overwhelming consensus among…” This is such a great distraction. What harm does one bring to themselves by agreeing with the group that tells the King his new suit looks wonderful. That being said there are enough professionals stating the opposite. At what cost? Professional suicide after years of study? That makes sense. But instead you label their observations fringe or wacko, perpetuating the meme. If you were truly interested in the truth you would be dialoging with these folks about their observations and how they arrived at their current position, instead of discrediting them. When no desire to engage is evident it wreaks of anti-Copernican or anti-Semmelweis mentality. You mention the low quality studies of anti-vax. Perhaps the studies are meant to be low quality. Kinda like the William Thompson Gang. When research becomes a study of vomit, it is always difficult to pick out the piece of corn that resulted in the episode.

            So in the name of mutual dialogue here are the topics for comment for Ms Raff and yourself

            1-Discuss the difference between TDap,DTap, and DTP. Please include a comment on current vaccine failure rates and a scientific comment on why this may occur? You can make brief comment on DTP as it will probably relate

            2-Make a brief comment on the proposed mechanism of Limbic Encepalitis

            Bonus Topics

            3-Give a scientific comment on what physiologically might be taking place in a vaccine reaction. They do exist. They aren’t unicorns. Explain the safeguards in place to control this mechanism.

            4-Make a brief comment on the science of adjuvants.

            • tomh September 20, 2015 / 12:04 pm

              shorter Anonymous:
              Say only what I want you to say and don’t distract me with facts.

            • Chris September 20, 2015 / 12:05 pm

              What does this have to do with the misinformation perpetuated by wannabe politicians other than revealing your own knowledge deficits? This includes you mucking up the capitalization of a vaccine (see PMID 15876927).

              There are several other articles where Dr.Raff discusses those issues, along as other blogs like ScienceBasedMedicine.

              • Anonymous September 20, 2015 / 1:58 pm

                PMID15876927?—There we go tossing the salad so all the vegetables mixed up. Lets get a list of peeps that have had wild type Pertussis twice. Lots of data to back up that statement, eh? And now lets make a list of those fully covered with vaccine and they still got wild type. Should be able to pluck this out of your States yearly department of health reporting. Unless the pulled a Thompson Gang maneuver. This information has to do with the lack of intellectual integrity by the original Raff article demonizing those that beg the question. Where does leadership begin ? She obviously has no respect for those Professionals with pedigrees equal to hers. Dare she sit on a stage with a group of them and debate the topic. That would put the rubber on the road. But alas, when the patron leader of the pro vac movement, Orifitt won’t step on stage with his equals, why would you expect a Drosophila expert to. Since the science experts don’t find the questions posed early worthy of comment, perhaps you have a comment. You know………….. to add some intellectual integrity to the conversation. PMID references are kind of like eating cardboard for lunch.

                • Chris September 20, 2015 / 5:25 pm

                  Immunity from actually getting pertussis can wane in as short as five years. If you survive tetanus or diphtheria, you still have no immunity to either one.

                  Why do you expect a vaccine to provide better immunity than surviving the disease?

                  The rest of your rant makes absolutely no sense.

                  • Anonymous September 21, 2015 / 9:15 am

                    Feel free to take a jab at the questions. If it is in your wheel house of course.

                    • Chris September 21, 2015 / 8:03 pm

                      Actually, no it is not my wheelhouse, this is not my blog. All I see is some Dunning-Kruger behavior from someone who is not at all interested in an honest discussion. Especially since your “questions” are from the standard uneducated anti-vaccine manual, and have nothing to do with the article written by Dr. Raff.

                    • Anonymous September 21, 2015 / 9:31 pm

                      Wow…pretty big psychological profiling hear. So you are a lawyer. You’re also a psychologist. Quite the contrary……..have proposed discussion. To the obtuse observer, the questions are relegated to the anti-vaccine manual. The questions/topics are very relevant to the absolute statements put forth by Professor Raff. The discussion of why DTP was pulled from the market place and replaced with a TDap or DTap is very relevant to the topic. Especially when she slights a world renown Neurosurgeon for his reluctance to go all in on the flop. OP-ED is just that. Unless of course your are held to higher ethical standards. I know, ABA lets you fib a little. Such a cool gig. You get to ignore the truth if it makes you money, or feels fluffy. The fact that you can’t give a DTaP to a 23 year old college student for fear of vaccine reaction, that actually can be reported as the only liable medical misadventure a front line provider can incur should precipitate questions. Why would a DTaP with approximately triple the strength of a TDaP create a potential misadventure? More importantly, why is it OK for a 2 month old, but not a 23 year old. Is vaccine failure relevant? What happened between DTP and DTaP? Are the UN-vaccinated to blame as you would suppose? Hint: ACT The topic of limbic encephalitis raises an interesting mechanistic etiology. Check out the proposed processes of the limbic system. How would a damaged limbic system present? Asking an intellect schooled in physiology isn’t off base. It entertains dialogue. A question on adjuvants might be the red herring you’re referring to. We can agree to disagree on the science of adjuvants. Since it isn’t in your wheel house, why not go on intellectual curiosity. Chris………..BBQ SPAM.

                    • Chris September 21, 2015 / 11:11 pm

                      Your ignorance is still showing. You can’t even get the names of the vaccines right.

                    • Anonymous September 21, 2015 / 11:23 pm

                      Actually Chris, your arrogance is only peppered with your ignorance. It’s a shame, such an important topic gets such obtuse OP-ED. Perhaps you care to educate the gallery in regards to my errors.

            • Colin September 20, 2015 / 8:44 pm

              No need to expand the Vaccine Insert discussion. It was simply made to point out researchers are far displaced from front lines of clinical care.

              It was wholly irrelevant to that point. You raised it because it’s an easy talking point that not many people understand very well, so it’s an easy way to spread fear and uncertainty without having to address actual facts. Those facts not being to your liking, now we’re moving merrily along—as I said above, all the hallmarks of a strategy rooted entirely in rhetoric, rather than a rigorous understanding of the underlying facts.

              you are invited to be Ms Raffs riff, or her phone a friend.

              You’re obviously aware of her qualifications. Does the word “doctor” stick in your throat?

              This is such a great distraction. What harm does one bring to themselves by agreeing with the group that tells the King his new suit looks wonderful.

              An argument that consensus can be flawed is not an argument that consensus is flawed. The anti-vax community has had literally decades to identify facts consistent with their theories; their total failure is not consistent with the theory that the only reason essentially every relevant expert agrees that vaccines are safe and effective is because of corruption or incompetence.

              That being said there are enough professionals stating the opposite.

              There are professionals—with real, valid qualifications—who state that Bigfoot is real and that he has the DNA of angels and/or aliens. We live in a big world. Any group of professionals that’s more than a few dozen people will have outliers, and a large enough group will have a few willing to say literally anything. Which is why we don’t cherry-pick professionals, but inquire into the sum of the research.

              When no desire to engage is evident it wreaks of anti-Copernican or anti-Semmelweis mentality.

              Every creationist and anti-vaxxer wants to be Copernicus or Semmelweis. You know what they say: They laughed at Copernicus, and they laughed at Galileo. But they laughed at Bozo the Clown, too. Being laughed at is not what makes someone an unsung genius. Being right is. And that’s where the anti-vax community is hollow. Because the claims they make would, must, leave evidence in the real world—evidence that they can’t seem to find anywhere. It’s not because they’re marginalized. It’s because they’re wrong.

              So in the name of mutual dialogue here are the topics for comment for Ms Raff and yourself

              You should be getting your technical information about vaccines and immunology from a specialist, not me or Dr. Raff. I’m willing to write an essay on your prompts if you like, though. The last time I billed a client for time spent writing a brief my rate was $400 an hour. I’ll give you a 50% discount. Leave an email address and I’ll contact you with an invoice. Or if you have actual ideas to share, you can just write them down here yourself. Commenting is free.

              • Anonymous September 21, 2015 / 9:13 am

                What ? You didn’t capitalize the word Doctor? Or is that Docta? Doctor Drosophila ? The good Doctor obviously isn’t following objective scientific method. Very easy to keep the blinders on. Even you, a educated legal beagle, should have even cerebral ATP to address the very superficial topics I mentioned. But it has nothing to do with intellectual integrity. It is about that $400 hour ego. It is also about a PhD that perpetuates memes outside her arena. Its understandable. All those years of study. All those years of being a PhD’s minion, then you finally get your chance to slide into dissertation. Then you’re a docta. OMG, this gig don’t pay that much for all the hard work. What to d,o what to do? Cheap Shill. When you’re rigorous enough to look into the facts get back to me. Until then you’re an expensive knockoff shill.

                • Jennifer Raff September 21, 2015 / 9:34 am

                  There’s no need to use titles with me, Jennifer is fine. But if you insist on being formal, I am “Dr.” (or even “Professor”), not “Ms.”

                  What I was able to glean from your comments is that the extent of your knowledge about what a geneticist does is “Drosophila”, doctorates are meaningless to you unless they’re held by people you happen to agree with, you think that I blog for money (I can’t help but be amused by that), anyone who disagrees with you is “lacking in intellectual integrity”, and you refuse to give your own reasoning about the topics you bring up, but instead try to assign them as writing topics to us. Very telling.

                  You are a guest on my blog; you don’t have any standing to insist that the commenters adhere to (or even address) your chosen topics. If you want to discuss them, write your own comments, back up your claims with citations, and see if anyone feels like responding to your points.

                  And tread carefully; if you wish to keep commenting here, you must avoid personal insults. But perhaps your intention is not to have a discussion about the science, but instead see how far you can push the conversation until you get banned? If that’s the case, just let me know ASAP and we can skip ahead to that part. Trolls are boring and a waste of everyone’s time.

                  • Anonymous September 21, 2015 / 3:31 pm

                    Sup Doc ? Glad you piped in Professor Jennifer. My understanding of genetics goes deeper than Drosophila. Simply meant to play on your beginnings, that is where more geneticists start, correct? Gotta laugh at yourself little more. Probably where you start your teaching in Genetics 101, eh? That being said, with big degrees comes big responsibilities. You’re teaching generations to come. You’re supposed to be teaching them how to think, not what to think. Your original blog post said “ Let’s be perfectly clear: None of the objections Trump raised to vaccines have the slightest basis in biology, medicine, or reality. None. Not one. Nor does the “too many too soon” argument that Dr. Carson floated.” This is where you stepped on the slippery slope. Because you are a PhD, also called Doctor, those with less intellectual resources often give you the same credence when it comes to things in the clinical realms. Compound this with your ability express yourself with written eloquence you come off as somewhat of an authority in the realm of medicine. This is wrong, and irresponsible. There were a couple of years where a bunch of white coats ran around authoritatively prescribing Vioxx. Glad they stopped that trend. None the less, they had authority in their realm. Some large numbers of intellectual giants got duped into prescribing harm to their patients, while the pharma actuaries figured out the payoff gamble when they got caught. So back to your flippant gross broad brush good house-keeping seal of approval, from a good Doctor of course. Being a good science based person, I bet you could define a placebo and a control. When did using another vaccine as the control group spell good science? It doesn’t It wreaks of manipulation. Placebos and controls are absolutes. Otherwise you color the results with 50 shades of relative grey. Being a teacher, what material is better retained; That material obtained through analytical deduction, summarily acquired by the student, or that material you vomit on them. So in response to your statement “….anyone who disagrees with you is “lacking in intellectual integrity”, and you refuse to give your own reasoning about the topics you bring up, but instead try to assign them as writing topics to us. Very telling.” Intellectual integrity and honesty is based on one’s willingness to embrace that which seems foreign. I know the answers and deductions to the questions posed. They were meant to open a dialogue. You’re pretty cemented in your position on Trump and Carson. That inflexibility is dangerous. You had have no clinical data to support your statement “None. Note one”. You read what they want you to read and pass if off as absolute truths. William Thompson PhD did the same, for the CDC, in the name of vaccine safety, at the possible neurological insult to African American Males. Surely as a geneticist, that should pique your interest. Interest in the truth. In fact the question of safety most likely will run along the lines of genetics, with racial implications. Oh sh#t, what then?
                    Since you’re into reading studies. Comment on this JAMA article

                    http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=768249

                    The time line has interesting implications.

                    As far as my conversation topics. 50% of the Medical Doctors out there couldn’t formulate a response either. In fact most Doctors spend less than 2 days being told what to think about vaccines in medical school. Kind of scary. Feel free to educate yourself on the topics. They should be treated as catalysts. If you care to add yourself to an important dialogue, I will await your answers.

                    In the name of ethical science, you can’t close the door on a topic you are unwilling gather information on. Nor can you be part of the problem by parroting industry doctrine on a topic that they are completely shielded from liability.

                  • Anonymous September 23, 2015 / 10:42 pm

                    I am a guest on your blog. You are correct. You however just clarified yourself, paid or not. Your aren’t interested in the the truth, nor learning something new. Your presence as geneticist, begs for scientific objectivity. Great “hang” on posting my response to your “Tonto”. Chris has no clue, nor a desire to procure one. I present facts for the dialogue and he calls it inaccurate. It is out of his wheel house. You let my response to his blatant lie sit for 2 days. Bravo Professor. Sad to think that the answer exists in genetics, and a biased scientist already exist. Who is Pseudo?

                    • Jennifer Raff September 24, 2015 / 5:13 am

                      You’re right-I went back through my notifications and saw that I missed one of your comments. It should be posted now.

                    • Jennifer Raff September 24, 2015 / 5:18 am

                      That being said, saying that I’m “not interested in the truth” when a comment of yours sits in moderation for two days–not to mention your insults towards Chris (who is a woman, incidentally) is incredibly rude. You have repeatedly violated my commenting policy, and I don’t see that you’re adding anything of substance to the conversation. You are no longer welcome here.

                    • Chris September 24, 2015 / 9:06 am

                      You had the capitalization of the adult tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis vaccine wrong, it has a specific meaning. It is not my fault you never bothered to correct it, plus it revealed your level of scholarship on the issues. Which included the illogical complaint that the vaccines for pertussis provide better and longer lasting immunity than the wild disease.

              • Chris September 21, 2015 / 7:53 pm

                A comment on this dear brave Anonymous:

                Trollin’ Trollin’ Trollin’
                Trollin’ Trollin’ Trollin’
                Trollin’ Trollin’ Trollin’
                Trollin’ Trollin’ Trollin’
                Rawhide!
                Trollin’ Trollin’ Trollin’
                Though the threads are swollen
                Keep them comments trollin’,
                Rawhide!

                Move ’em on
                (Head em’ up!)
                Head em’ up
                (Move ’em on!)
                Move ’em on
                (Head em’ up!)
                Rawhide!
                Cut ’em out
                (Paste ’em in!)
                Paste’em in
                (Cut em’ out!)
                Cut ’em out
                Paste ’em in,
                Rawhide!
                Keep trollin’, trollin’, trollin’
                Though they’re disaprovin’
                Keep them comments trollin”,
                Rawhide
                Don’t try to understand ’em
                Just rope, laugh, and ignore ’em
                Soon we’ll be discussin’ bright without ’em

                • Anonymous September 21, 2015 / 8:35 pm

                  Legal Beagle dun got skills. Impressive. Should get the Eric Kunzel Round-Up sound track. See what you can do with the rest the old Westerns. Really, I am laughing. Not on the floor laughing, but a dang good chuckle. And that’s Violent Troll to you ! The masked big nosed vertically challenged crusader against arrogance, ignorance, intellectual bullying…….and potty mouth at the dinner table.

        • lewisje October 1, 2015 / 10:23 am

          I think it’s cute that you think that all academic drug and vaccine research involves “petri dishes and lab rodents” and not clinical studies on humans or continuing collection of safety information; also, your later comment about Vioxx is curious, because the drug was recalled by Merck despite the recommendations of US and Canadian government officials, out of fear of litigation over serious adverse reactions that, in sum, still made the drug slightly more dangerous than aspirin (advisory panels in the FDA and the Canadian equivalent would like to see rofecoxib come back to the market, but because Merck still has the patent, it won’t come back).

          http://www.fdanews.com/articles/74191-canadian-panel-advocates-returning-vioxx-to-market

  6. Midnight Knitter September 19, 2015 / 12:51 pm

    I loved your post and the comments even more. I was appalled by the anti-vaccine comment by Trump and the weak support by the doctors on stage. When did the argument become more important than the facts? It is clear that we are seeing anti-science attacks that rely on argument supported by emotional stories that are embellished if not fabricated. Petri dishes don’t translate? Information does, and the vehicle used to acquire it shouldn’t be attacked.

    Love the post! Thank you.

  7. Mark September 19, 2015 / 9:43 pm

    If parents are concerned that their kids might contract measles, mumps, etc, then why don’t they buy masks for their kids to wear from birth to age, say, 10?

    I mean, even if you vax your kids, they can still be infected b/c vaxes are not 100% effective.

    So why don’t parents just put masks on their kids and leave other people alone? My guess is that kids would just be safer all around, from common cold, etc. Probably have them wear surgical gloves as well, and be sure to teach them to wash their hands compulsively.

    My answer, as to why parents just don’t adopt this simpler alternative, is that these pro-vax parents are thinking and acting irrationally due to fear fed to them by CDC, media, etc. Also, some people just like to bully other people, have someone they feel superior to, etc.

    One more thing, if vaccines are super-safe, then why do infants have to wait to receive certain vaccines and why can’t they all be administer at once, with one visit to the doctor? Is it that if they were given all at once, before 12 months say, that these vaccines might overload their young and delicate immune systems and cause significant problems?

    • Chris September 19, 2015 / 11:05 pm

      “If parents are concerned that their kids might contract measles, mumps, etc, then why don’t they buy masks for their kids to wear from birth to age, say, 10?”

      So why age ten? So you are okay with someone entering puberty getting mumps? (guess what is most effected at that age, it is one reason why mumps is a known reason for male sterility, think about your testicles becoming inflamed) Also are you okay with a woman getting rubella in her first trimester? Did you know one of the known causes of autism is Congenital Rubella Syndrome (from the actual virus, not the MMR)?

      “One more thing, if vaccines are super-safe, then why do infants have to wait to receive certain vaccines and why can’t they all be administer at once, with one visit to the doctor?”

      Because the timing has actually been studied. That is why they are super safe. The mother’s immune system prevents certain vaccines from working very well. That is why the MMR and varicella vaccine are only given after age one. The sad thing is that babies can still get the disease despite their mother’s infection history. I had chicken pox when I was six years old, but that did not prevent my completely breastfed six month old baby from getting chicken pox at six months of age (a year before the vaccine was available). Also some babies do get measles, and a few years later succumb to SSPE (which is always fatal).

      It also gets more complicated when even getting the disease does not make someone immune! I got mumps twice! If you survive tetanus, you can get it again the day you leave the hospital, just like you can get another strep infection after recovering after a bout with strep. You can get pertussis again in as short as five years after spending two months coughing your lungs out. You can also get repeated infections from rotavirus, just like you can from norovirus.

      It is complicated, just like all of biology. If you want to learn more you should start by downloading and reading the CDC Pink Book. It is not irrationality when you learn the science. You should try by embracing the science behind the complexity of biology and immunology. Do what I did, go to your local community college and sign up for a biology course.

  8. shay September 29, 2015 / 4:28 pm

    Mark, I’d be interested in hearing how you propose to keep masks and gloves on three year olds.

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