V for Vaccine

This slightly NSFW video lays out the statistics involved in vaccination and autism, and why you should consider getting your children vaccinated even if the Anti-vax side were correct:

Found in Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

  • http://medschneverends.wordpress.com medschneverends

    Hmm. Interesting. But I shuddered when he said “kills 30% of those who get it” and then knocked off 30 soldiers. It kills 30% x the prevalence of the disease which would be much less than 30 soldiers. Does not contradict the overall message, but does annoy a non-lay person. Cheers. I enjoy your blog, even if I’m not commenting :)

  • Christine

    This has been my argument for ages! Basically, even if you believe the anti-vaxxers, by choosing to not vaccinate, you are saying that I would be better off dead. I’m not buying a word of it.

    • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

      That’s not what anti-vaccine people are saying at all.

      • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

        They would rather their children not be protected from a (or several) deadly disease(s) than chance them being autistic (which, as many struggles it can cause, is non-lethal). That pretty much translates to ‘better off dead than autistic’.

      • Custador

        Well no. They’re saying “Better off not taking a non-existent chance on Autism, and taking a huge chance on getting a deadly or disfiguring disease”.

        • UrsaMinor

          The anti-vaccination nuts I’ve spoken to don’t see it that way at all. A lot of them seem to have this bizarre idea that among other things, vaccination weakens your immune response. Ergo, vaccinating your kids makes them susceptible to disease. And they’ll also proudly point to their own passle of healthy unvaccinated children as proof that they’re right, while ignoring the fact that their kids are surrounded largely by vaccinated people who are protecting them from exposure to deadly diseases that they have no defense against.

          • Custador

            I’ve already had one argument with a complete idiot who pronounced “Herd immunity is a myth!”

            I believe it ended when I punched him.

            • UrsaMinor

              You should have pointed out that the impact of your fist was a myth too, since despite all apparent evidence to the contrary, it could never actually reach him. See Zeno’s Paradox.

        • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

          It is technically not non-existent, though it is vanishingly small – I think four or five incidents of vaccine induced autism have been admitted by the CDC, in about 20 years. Given the difficulty in getting through vaccine court (not to mention the expense) it could be a little higher than that, but I doubt by a lot.

          And really, punching somebody because they disagree with you? I thought we were meant to be the civilised ones who don’t force our ideas on others through violence. Though the idea that herd immunity is a myth is pretty silly.

          • Custador

            Can I have a citation, please? And I didn’t really punch the guy for that.

    • rtanen

      Yeah, could not agree more. I am autistic, and it sure beats polio and smallpox. Also, I can’t make my friends autistic, but if I had smallpox, I could infect them. Finally, my autism doesn’t reduce my quality (or quantity!) of life, while smallpox would.

  • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

    This doesn’t really help anybody in the United States, where if your child gets autism you’re also fucked, with no insurance and no state help. The 30% death rate for smallpox is kind of a worst case scenario, too. And of course, it’s not as if 100% of people will be infected, so 30% of a population won’t die, up to 30% of the infected may die.

    The whole premise here is that Team Gonna Get Fucked are sitting ducks, all of whom would get a disease if they are not vaccinated. That’s not how it works in practice. It’s also intellectually dishonest to remove 30 out of 100 soldiers for one disease with a 30% death rate, then remove 11 out of 70 soldiers for a disease with an 11% death rate. This illustration is deliberately misleading for effect. This is precisely the kind of thing that drives people away from vaccination. Vaccination has a PR problem.

    Collating concerned parents with anti-vaccination groups trying to get lots of African children killed with measles is also very unfair. Meanwhile, mumps causing infertility is a myth. Somebody interested in science should know better than to propagate an old wives’ tale.

    Yawn at declaring vaccination is 100% nothing to do with autism. That’s not 100% true, there have been a handful of children whose autism was recognised as being caused by their vaccinations, and the schedule itself has never been tested. You’re not going to convince a concerned parent by putting on a silly uniform and making sweeping and inaccurate statements. The Wakefield thing is also misleading – he never said vaccines cause autism. Some newspapers did at the time, but they’re stupid and prone to sensationalism and lying for effect. Wakefield theorised that chronic gut infections, which may or may not have been related to measles vaccination status, were associated with autism. As in, kids who already had autism also appeared to have a unique gut disease and a good number of them had been vaccinated against measles. His work was never discredited on content, but on unethical methodology. Unethical is unethical, but don’t lie about what the guy actually said. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    The problem with videos like this is that they are preaching to the converted and still telling lies anyway. You’re not going to convince somebody who is anti-vaccine that they should put their child at risk of autism (and don’t forget asthma, allergies, auto-immune issues and other chronic health conditions), something that clearly terrifies them, by dismissing how significant that risk is or how much damage it can cause, and certainly not by telling them the same misinformation they’ve heard time and again and never believed the first hundred times. Vaccinations help, they are overall very useful, but we decided as a society long ago that medical ethics forbids anybody from being forced or coerced into submitting to unwanted treatments or treatments designed to help other people rather than themselves. We have got to start being honest about the potential risks of vaccination – they exist, and they are not the fabled “one in a million”. They may be significantly lower than the risks of most diseases, but we don’t know that for sure because no proper studies have been conducted to determine that. Sweden recently announced that their swine flu vaccination campaign had not been worth it because it caused far more cases of narcolepsy than potentially saved lives from H1N1. How many damaged lives are worth a saved life is a complex ethical question with no real answer, but the fact remains that significant damage was done to the lives of hundreds of people. So many continually throw out the factoid that vaccination is the safest, most thoroughly tested medical intervention known to man, but that’s simply not true. The Cochrane Review points out a dearth of quality research into the risks of individual vaccinations (the vaccine makers may follow up for as little as two weeks after administering them on test populations, and are allowed to eliminate people who have reactions and are allowed to only use healthy subjects in the first place), and in particular the cumulative schedule (which has never been tested, at least in the US). Vaccine manufacturers are indemnified against any damage their products might do – why would that be unless they and the US government actually believed damage was a possibility?

    If people want parents who are reluctant to vaccinate to start doing so, they’re going to have to stop trying to have a one way conversation and a one way social contract. They’re going to have to stop the browbeating and the silly, willfully inaccurate stunts and illustrations. Vaccination is important and useful, it has definitely saved lives and made a difference in the quality of life of millions, but it’s not 100% safe, and the sooner we stop pretending it is the better for all of us.

    • Sunny Day

      In other news: Evolution is not 100% proven.

      • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

        That’s not what I said. Try again, after growing up a bit.

        • Sunny Day

          Blah blah blah. The parallels between your arguments and those of a creationist are striking.

          • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

            Are you kidding me? I point out flaws in the use of statistics in a video and suggest that the dismissive attitude and sloppy science of vaccine advocates is helping to fuel mistrust in vaccination and I’m just like a creationist? I’m trying to help fix the problem. You’re the one not paying attention and trying to tease out reasons to insult somebody rather than deal with the facts on the table.

            This is utterly pathetic. Come on, guys, are you really going to be the dogmatic religion theists continually accuse secularists and atheists of being? Somebody criticised a video about vaccination, burn him? Get a grip. I’ve been around here too long for you people to be mistaking me for some kook. Your emotional, irrational reaction is distressing. I thought we were, collectively, better than this. So much for free-thought, you’re not even thinking.

            • Sunny Day

              I just said your points are crap and not worth MY time.
              It read like a bunch of noise and pointing fingers, “look how vaccination people don’t get everything exactly right”, much like creationists attacking Darwin for the holes in his theory or the insignificant faults in the theory of evolution.
              Free thought doesn’t mean I have to seriously consider every boogie man, flat earth, Sasquatch or Bigfoot idea that someone wants to bring up.
              Good luck scraping off all the religious goo from the persecution card.

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              You read it wrong. Completely. I’m criticising a video for doing a very bad job at what it is trying to accomplish. I’m sorry if putting scientific claims under scrutiny and criticism designed to refine and improve them is now crap and no longer worth your time. I’ll put your Critical Thinker card right next to my persecution one in my wallet. It’s still in my wallet because I never played it. Try to actually read the content of posts in future.

            • Theory_of_I

              Sunny Day-

              Exactly.

              JMW is a self-aggrandizing, insulting, condescending whiner, and certainly NOT worth the time it takes to read or respond to his crap.

            • Nox

              There is an important difference between arguing for a conclusion and describing reasons someone might come to that conclusion. If you read what John M White wrote there, it isn’t arguing against vaccination. I think he’s earned the right to at least be heard out.

            • Theory_of_I

              Nox-

              That’s valid, of course.

              The problem is not with the argument content, but rather with the responses that are often far too quick in condescending to and disparaging anyone who disagrees.

            • blotonthelandscape

              ToI, the irony is strong with you ;-)

              SD, stick to the soft targets for your non-responses.

              JMW isn’t wrong. This video is very preach-to-the-choir, in spite of the pretense of being aimed at anti-vaxxers… An anti-vaxxer is gonna be watching this for errors, and will discount it based on those. The analogy is woefully inadequate for describing the complex relationship between diseases and vaccines, and the approach to risks and ratios is completely off; it might be better if he left pro-vax stuff to the experts.

            • blotonthelandscape

              That should read “JMW is not completely wrong”.

              There is no reason to believe that there is a link between vaccines (or gut infections) and autism.

              The video is still fuel to the anti-vaxxer fire.

        • Noelle

          I can’t answer all your questions, because there are too many. Gimme 1, and I’ll try to tackle it if I find time.

    • baal

      John, your anti-vax is showing. Also, do you expect someone to write a 5 page rebuttal to your huge post to clear up the noise from the real points (you have 1-2 buried in there)?

      Anywho, since I should say at least one non-insult.
      “Vaccine manufacturers are indemnified against any damage their products might do – why would that be unless they and the US government actually believed damage was a possibility?”
      Vaccines are old tech and mostly off patent. This means the margins are very small to non-existant. We actually have vaccines for diseases that don’t get made (but would reduce death and suffering) due to limited profitability. This provision (and others) are part of good public policy to underwrite the manufacture and distribution of vaccines. Also, even were vaccines profitable, they could never get the patent protected profits of the latest newest drugs. Turns out the same people make both products and they like to drive useage on therapy instead of prevention.

      • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

        I’m not anti-vax. I made that clear. If you can’t respond to criticism of a poor argument in favour of vaccination without throwing labels at people, you’re part of the problem. This irrational attitude is precisely why anti-vaccine stances continue to flourish even among people who are well educated.

        Also, you are incorrect about vaccines not being profitable, and I don’t believe many of the current ones are off-patent yet. The schedule is added to all the time with new and improved vaccines. Profit isn’t really relevant, though, if a product is unsafe it’s unsafe. The margins on cars are not huge but they are thoroughly tested to ensure those using them are kept safe, and car manufacturers don’t get protection from being sued for faulty designs that impact even a small portion of drivers. Vaccines are not as thoroughly tested as most people assume. Doesn’t mean they are outright dangerous, it just means they are not as thoroughly tested as most people assume.

        The indemnity came from the fact that the old DTP vaccine was acknowledged by the medical community to be causing significant damage to a small portion of vaccine recipients. The government took over liability and planned on paying for the medical care of damaged children so that vaccine companies could continue to produce their product that was, overall, beneficial to society. Like I inferred, damage was actually believed to be a possibility, and a response was prepared for that contingency. Unfortunately something soured and the government over time shifted to an adversarial court system where parents could take a decade trying to get help looking after children they believed to have been damaged by vaccines, and what was once an accepted risk became, culturally at least, something merely theoretical that never actually happens.

        There are always going to be kooks and cranks who think vaccines are part of a population control agenda or are inserting tracking devices into people, and there’ll always be a few who think they’ll kill the midichorlians inside of us so their very use is sinful. But a lot of people, particularly in the United States, see that they are consistently lied to and shown misleading statistics by people who should know better, and these techniques are used to try to pressure them into making a decision that they will get no back-up in should they prove to be one of the unlucky few to suffer serious adverse consequences. You’re not going to bridge the gap until you stop labeling them, dismissing and deliberately misinterpreting what they are saying, and demanding that they take all the risk that you won’t even acknowledge exists.

    • Ryan G

      I stopped reading when you said that it is not 100% true that vaccines have nothing to do with autism. That is completely wrong. The Lancet paper that originally proposed this link was partially retracted in 2004 and fully retracted in 2010. Also the author has been banned from practicing medicine for falsifying data. There is no proven link, and anyone who says there is, is lying.

  • Noelle

    Wakefield falsified data to create a bad study which proved nothing and caused an anti-vaccine conspiracy crisis, leading to the resurgence of horrible illnesses that we can prevent.

    I hate him.

    Vaccines are the most important invention that medicine has ever brought to mankind.

    Vaccines do not cause autism. This has been shown repeatedly in multiple huge studies by different resesrchers, making them both valid and reliable sources of information. They don’t even have to falsify data to do this. I shouldn’t have to remind you we’ve been over this conspiracy theory lover stuff before. No amount of real evidence will ever change their minds

    Ya know what? I have a kid with autism. He’s 8. Thinking back, he didn’t make eye contact until he was a few weeks old. He was a touch late at the social smile. He barely spoke at age 2. He threw horrible destructive fits at any little frustration. So those clues were always there. But he’s mostly high-functioning (depending on his mood), so he didn’t have enough symptoms and impairments in place to make that formal diagnosis until 1st grade. His shots had nothing to do with his ASD. He can be difficult sometimes, and what kid isn’t? But I still love the hell out of him. So people who say that they would rather their kid and every other immune-compromised and unvaccinated kid take a chance with preventable illnesses that cause pneumonia, meningitis, encephalitis, paralysis, cancer, birth defects, and death? What the fuck is wrong with those people?

    • UrsaMinor

      That, indeed, is the $64 question. The proximal answer is that humans are very, very bad estimators of probability and risk, and most people are not educated enough to be aware of this. Even those that are often fall into the trap anyway.

      Also, it doesn’t help that we are bizarrely skilled at finding “patterns” in random noise. The combination of the ability to see the patterns that aren’t there and the inability to see the ones that are can be deadly.

  • kessy_athena

    (Facepalm) Did *any* of you, even one person, bother actually looking up the facts about this *before* posting? Is it too much to ask to spend 5 minutes reading the Wikipedia article? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccination_controversy Did anyone take the 0.32 seconds it takes for Google to tell you that the CDC has an extensive website that goes into pretty much any issue about vaccines you could think of? http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/index.html I remember when I was a kid, looking something up took actual effort – you had to walk down the hall to the school library, check the card catalog and some encyclopedia indexes, and (gasp!) actually pull physical books off the shelves. Now you can check almost anything in the time it takes to type the query into a search engine and hit enter, and people *still* run their mouths without bothering to know the first thing about what they’re talking about. Shame on you, all of you – you should be embarrassed for such inexcusable levels of intellectual laziness.

    Okay, now let’s clear up some of the factual issues.

    Wakefield wasn’t just accused of using unethical research methods. He was being paid by litigants who were suing vaccine makers to the tune of £435 643 AND he was out and out falsifying data to arrive at the predetermined conclusion that there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. His entire paper is pretty much classified as a fraud and a hoax at this point.
    http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5347

    The US vaccine court was established basically because the US tort system has turned into a cross between a national lottery and a get rich quick scheme. There was a scare involving the diphtheria–tetanus–pertussis vaccine in the late 70′s and early 80′s and a number of successful lawsuits against vaccine makers had resulted in all but one ceasing manufacture of the DPT vaccine by 1986. Congress stepped in and created the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) to shield pharmaceutical companies from frivolous lawsuits. As VICP is a creature of the political and legal systems, it operates by those standards, not the standards of the scientific community. That’s why the fact that VICP conceded one case involving vaccines and autism (the Hannah Poling case) should not be construed as the government acknowledging a link between the two.
    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp0802904

    Finally, yes there is a risk of adverse reactions with *any* vaccine. Or any sort of medical treatment in general. According to the CDC, “Most vaccine adverse events are minor and temporary, such as a sore arm or mild fever…. More serious adverse events occur rarely (on the order of one per thousands to one per millions of doses), and some are so rare that risk cannot be accurately assessed. As for vaccines causing death, again so few deaths can plausibly be attributed to vaccines that it is hard to assess the risk statistically.”
    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/6mishome.htm

    As for the video in the OP, I agree that it’s pretty bad. As has been previously noted, it grossly misuses statistics. Because of that, someone who is skeptical about vaccination will look at it and say (correctly), “Well, that guy is saying that half of all kids who aren’t vaccinated are going to die, and the survivors are going to be horribly crippled for life. But I know X people who’ve never had their Y kids vaccinated, and they’re all healthy – that’s clearly a lie.” Observing that an argument made for a position is complete bollocks is in no way even remotely close to implying a disagreement with that position.

    @Sunny Day: Have you *ever*, even once, made a post anywhere on UF that includes an actual factual argument? Do you even know what a factual argument *is*? Do you know how to do anything at all other then snark and personally insult anyone who disagrees with you in any slight way? If you have a problem with what someone says, then get off your lazy ass and make an actual argument with actual facts. Sulking and throwing a temper tantrum anytime anyone says anything that might in anyway challenge your preconceptions and require you to think to say something intelligent in response is the behavior of someone who’s wrong, knows they’re wrong, and is too childish to admit it to themselves.

    • Custador

      Let’s try to keep this one civil between ourselves, guys. That argument has been had, there is disagreement among us, that is not the end of the world, but it has already consumed an entire thread’s worth of comments. I can’t see any benefit in it consuming another one. @SD: If the bigfoot thing was a passive/aggressive swipe, it clearly hit its target. Please leave it alone now. I can’t compel anybody to drop this, but I am asking you to.

      • Jabster

        “@SD: If the bigfoot thing was a passive/aggressive swipe, it clearly hit its target. Please leave it alone now. I can’t compel anybody to drop this, but I am asking you to.”

        Why should he drop it?

        If someone is stupid enough to think that when it comes to their pet subjects then all reason goes out the door … well they deserve what they get when they want to talk about something else. Did you really not see the irony in this:

        “If you have a problem with what someone says, then get off your lazy ass and make an actual argument with actual facts. Sulking and throwing a temper tantrum anytime anyone says anything that might in anyway challenge your preconceptions and require you to think to say something intelligent in response is the behavior of someone who’s wrong, knows they’re wrong, and is too childish to admit it to themselves.”

        • Custador

          I’m not going to comment on that either way; I just think the argument is stale and tired, and is not going to be resolved in any amicable way.

          • Jabster

            If you feel it’s stale and tired then fair enough … you can move along to another part of the thread. Personally I’m amusing myself with the latest classic of …

            “It just irritates me no end to see fact free arguments going on when it’s so easy to look things up…

            People actually believe anything the Daily Fail prints? That’s disturbing.”

            Now you’ve got to say that is funny …

    • Custador

      @ Kessy: Um… Yes? I’ve read a staggering volume about Wakefield’s allegations and the subsequent research; I have a good friend with two autistic children who was very much an anti-vaxer. He’s not anymore, though decisions like the one made recently at the US vaccine court (and widely publicised by such dross as the Daily Mail) still make him sit up and dust off the tinfoil hat occasionally. I should thank him really; the reason I know so much about it is simply through trying to convince him that he’s barking up the wrong tree.

      • kessy_athena

        Sorry, Custy, I guess I went a bit over the top in my rant there, and it wasn’t really aimed at you in the first place. It just irritates me no end to see fact free arguments going on when it’s so easy to look things up…

        People actually believe anything the Daily Fail prints? That’s disturbing.

    • Sunny Day

      Kessy and everyone else I don’t have time to put their initials into this response.
      Maybe you can make a list of people who I’m allowed to respond to or start your own fucking blog and moderate it.
      I have always been the low hanging fruit. :)
      Since I read this blog primarily at work and post replies when I have time or on breaks I won’t be able to capture the deeper intricacies of their response when I reply to them if at all. I’m sorry if reading and responding to this blog for my own amusement is insufficient. Maybe you should get over yourself and consider for a moment just because I mentioned bigfoot that I wasn’t somehow attacking you. I must have missed it when I was told to grow the fuck up that it was actually me who was I was laying down the insults. Irony is not just for Irons anymore.

      “The video was preaching to the converted…” really? No Fucking Shit!
      The inaccuracies of this video will add fuel to the fire of anti vaxxers? Please. Are you seriously expecting a 6.5 min video to be the breakthrough epiphany that convinces a someone who already has already disregarded years of medical collected medical data and the advice of nearly every single medical professional? You are expecting too much of videos and too much of anti vaxxers.

      “Yawn at declaring vaccination is 100% nothing to do with autism. ” yeah thats where I stopped reading too and the rest of the post became TLDR decided to skim.

      Yeah reasoned arguments work to convince people and, like many previous posters on this blog have previously attested, so do insults.

      Thanks for the info Custy I knew it was only a matter of time before you weighed in on a medical topic.

      • Noelle

        Aw, I still love ya, Sunny Day.

  • Custador

    A lot of people have pointed out that this video plays a wee bit fast and loose with its numbers. I had some time to kill. So I’ve done it properly.

    Because a lot of the data are very old, I’ve had to hash some figures by finding actual population and then actual incidence of a disease within that population to calculate mortality within an un-vaccinated group. The figures may vary according to which source you use to check them, but I’ll stand by them being ball-park correct. Assume I’ve used global stats where possible, national stats where not.

    So, first of all:

    In the USA, Autism affects 1 in 88 children. That’s about 1136 per 100,000.

    In 1920 in an American population of 106,000,000, there were 110,672 reported cases of smallpox, with around 13% mortality. So, morbidity of 104 cases per 100,000, mortality of around 14 per 100,000.

    Diptheria: America in 1920 – 147,991 cases reported, 13,170 deaths reported. Total population 106,000,000. So, morbidity of 140 per 100,000 and mortality of 12 per 100,000.

    Tetanus: I’ll use Somalia since I can’t find any other country reliably unvaccinated; all we can say is that morbidity of Tetanus there is HIGHER than 750 per 100,000, and mortality is HIGHER than 250 per 100,000.

    Whooping Cough (Pertussis): USA, 1922 – 107,473 cases in a population of 107,000,000; morbidity of 100 per 100,000. Mortality was just under 5 per 100,000.

    Measles: ‘Murka again, 1920: 469,924 cases of measles, 7575 dead. Morbidity of 443 per 100,000, mortality of 7 per 100,000.

    (I’m ignoring mumps and Rubella because this is taking forever, they don’t kill you, and I need to get ready for work).

    So:

    Autism. Morbidity: 1136 Mortality: 0
    ———————————————————————–
    Smallpox. Morbidity: 104 Mortality: 14
    Diptheria: Morbidity: 140 Mortality: 12
    Tetanus: Morbidity: 750 Mortality: 250
    Pertussis: Morbidity: 100 Mortality: 5
    Measles: Morbidity: 443 Mortality: 7
    Totals: Morbidity: 1537 Mortality: 288

    In conclusion: Even if the anti-vaxers were correct (they’re not) that there’s a link between vaccinations and Autism (there isn’t), then by abolishing vaccines we’d be exchanging a risk to our children of around 1.1% that they’d get Autism, with no risk of death, for a risk of around 1.5% that they’d get something horrible, with a further risk of about 0.3% that the horrible thing would then kill them.

    Of course, this is entirely an academic exercise since there’s no link anyway, but I hope it serves to demonstrate how thoroughly STOOOOOOPIIIIIID the anti-vax movement is.

    • blotonthelandscape

      Thanks for those custy.

      My problem wasn’t with the numbers themselves, but with the way the analogy misrepresents the nature of risk and prevalence. I think your summary stats at the bottom really show that (compare 0.3% mortality risk to the 70ish% “Team GGF” deaths).

    • Nox

      Diagnosed cases of autism have skyrocketed…

      In the less than seventy years that we have even had a category for diagnosing autism.

      I’m no medical expert, but I think I might have solved this mystery.

      • Noelle

        Most specialists will agree with you on this one. It is difficult to find true numbers for something we just recently started diagnosing. In the past, people who would these days be placed on the autism spectrum were called other stuff. Mentally retarded, slow, learning disabled, emotionally impaired, delayed motor/speech skills, quirky, etc. My brother was born in ’78 and had speech and motor delays, mild learning impairments, and the social characteristics that one would these days associate with a high-functioning ASD. He went to tons of specialists when he was a kid, and no one ever had a diagnosis for him. But I bet they would these days.

        I’m not old enough to get a feel for what things were like in generations before that, but I’m not seeing an obvious increase in ASD-type behaviors in young people vs old people. Now, I’d feel better about that if I had real numbers, but that’s not possible.

        • Custador

          I’d lay money that my surviving grandmother has Aspergers. She is 86, though, so I suspect she’ll never actually be diagnosed. But yes – Lack of formal diagnosis does not mean that a condition doesn’t exist.

    • Noelle

      The other thing I don’t care for with this video is that he only brings up mortality rates. (And then his numbers and percentages are sloppy, but that’s more mathematically annoying). He completely glazes over the comorbitidies of these illnesses. Now it doesn’t strike me that the young man has any medical training, but as you and Kessy pointed out, this info is so nicely presented on the CDC website. And you I love me some CDC-brand epidemiology and information.

      When I discuss vaccines with people, I like to break it down one illness at a time. They are too much to lay out all once. One could write volumes on each. I find many people have no idea what tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, H. flu, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis A & B, pneumococcus, human papilloma virus, rotavirus, varicella, influenza, and meningococcus all actually do to you. They also don’t have a good grasp on how the immune system works and how vaccines fit into all this. I don’t fault them for it. Took me many hours of study to master it. But I am a nerd and happy to share it, given time and opportunity. I wish schools taught the basics of scientific method and language. I think this is where I lose the most people and where they are unable to understand the difference between what they read on the CDC site vs an anti-vax conspiracy site. I didn’t learn how to read and critically analyze studies and statistics well until college. Research Methods through the psych department was one of the most useful courses I’ve ever taken, because they taught us all the ins and outs of putting together a study and using data to write a paper. We were expected to understand the statistics, how they came to be, and how to use them. If you can write a paper to professional standards, you can read one just as well. My undergrad science classes never even came close to teaching us this. Most people never get to that level of education though, and could use some basics at an earlier age, especially if they’re to be Googling a world of information and attempting to understand it

  • Dan

    What an absolutely terrible video, which is unfortunate. I agree with him that even if the anti-vaccination, anti-science groups were right and some autism was caused by vaccinations that vaccination are still worth it, and of course this issue has been extensively studied and the overwhelming preponderance of evidence shows that there is absolutely no increased risk of autism for vaccinated children. Vaccines do not cause autism.

    Still, his arguments are so bad that I almost think the guy is an anti-vaxer trying to make the pro-vaccination side look dumb with his atrocious misuse of statistics. According to his logic we would have expected every person in America to have died of AIDS in the 80s, since it was just about 100% fatal in people who developed it. That’s the problem though, not everyone got it. You can’t say 30% of the population would die of smallpox if the mortality rate was 30%, because everyone doesn’t get the disease. His smallpox point is incredibly ignorant to make a point about modern vaccinations anyways, because almost no one except first responders and the military get vaccinated for smallpox, so according to his logic around 30% of the population would still be dying of smallpox. That’s why his thinking is so muddled, you can’t use mortality rates for a disease that has been eradicated to scare people into doing other vaccinations now. Most people will see right through that.

    You also can’t add statistics together the way he is doing. This video is just as inane as if I said that 90% of the people who get regional pancreatic cancer die within 5 years, and 85% of people with metastasized melanoma die within 5 years, therefore 175% of the US population will die of melanoma or pancreatic cancer in the next 5 years. Statistics don’t work that way.

    What a poor and embarrassing video. This is the kind of unscientific information that hurts our cause.


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