But what if we’re not scientists?

But what if we’re not scientists? September 15, 2014

When Catholics have a hard time understanding or accepting some point of doctrine, their path is not easy, but it is clear. John XXIII reportedly told a man,  “Accept the teaching you can accept, and pray to accept the ones you can’t.” We do this because we understand that the magsterium, the teaching authority of the Church, speaks for Christ and deserves our obedience. We don’t always like it, and we don’t always manage it, but our job is at least to try to accept the doctrine we don’t like or can’t understand, and to work toward understanding why the Church teaches what it does. Augustine, the original Mr. I Did My Homework, said “Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.” 

So that’s faith. Science is different. There is no magisterium in science; and we are never required to work as hard as we can to make ourselves accept an idea that seems wrong or false. If something sounds wrong, it is okay to look for another explanation from another source. It is more than okay: it’s the right thing to do.

But what if we are not scientists? What if we are not capable, because of time, temperament, training, or plain old brain power, to understand certain specialized information? We can’t all be experts in everything. Sooner or later, even intelligent people are going to come across something we don’t understand.

It’s not fashionable to admit this, but it’s indisputable. We all have our limits. We all get in above our heads at some point. This is especially true when we’re talking about medicine, because medicine stands at an uncomfortable crossroads: it involves extremely complicated matters, making it hard to grasp, and it directly affects us and the people we love, making it very personal. What to do?

Again, it’s not fashionable to admit, but all sensible people do the same thing: we decide who we’re going to trust. We pick someone who seems to understand the issue better than we do, and we decide to believe what that person says.

A good many people don’t realize that this is what they’re doing. They say they’ve “done their homework” or “researched the matter thoroughly.” Really what they mean is that they’ve found a bunch of books and articles that are written at a level they understand, and they have talked to a bunch of people who seem trustworthy, and they have decided that they are going to trust that the people who seem to understand the matter better than they do.

There is nothing wrong with this system! In fact, most of us have no choice, because we can’t all be experts in everything. So we decide who we’re going to trust. This is what Debi Vinnedge, executive director of Children of God for Life has done. Vinnedge’s degree is in business administration, and so she has decided that, not being trained in science herself, she will trust someone who is: Dr. Theresa Deisher. And this is what I am doing when I decided to trust the folks at Rational Catholic who have been patiently, systematically plowing through Dr. Deisher’s study and compiling a list of problems they found in the study.* 

I am not an expert in science of any kind. What I do, and what I recommend that other people do, is this:  Don’t pretend to understand more than you do. Instead, be smart about consciously, deliberately choosing whom to trust — and be ready to change your mind, if you have reason to stop trusting that person. The person you trust need not be a degreed expert in the field. Some of the best teachers are people who have educated themselves in matters that interest them; who know how to explain things well; and who are good at pointing other people toward more information. 

So, how do we go about deciding which experts to trust, and which to be suspicious of? Here are a few of the traps we can fall into:

Mistrusting a knowledgeable person because he expresses his ideas in an unpleasant way. I wish people wouldn’t do this, because it ratchets up emotions and makes me reluctant to share otherwise solid information. But unpleasantness of expression is not, in itself, a reason to disbelieve the facts, as long as the facts are there along with the unpleasantness.

Mistrusting a knowledgeable person simply because he said something that makes you mad or upset or scared.

Trusting a knowledgeable person simply because he said something that makes you feel happy or peaceful or contented. 

Trusting a knowledgeable person simply because he has a degree or went to a certain school. Educational credentials tell you something; but in many cases, it’s easy to produce someone who disagrees with your expert but who holds the same degree and who went to the same or an equally prestigious school.

Mistrusting a knowledgeable person because you disagree with him about unrelated things. If he is wrong about lots and lots of things, then beware; but remember that you’re not swearing fealty to a prophet and all that he professes; you’re simply assessing a specific idea. Lots of people are right about some things and wrong about others.

Trusting a knowledgeable person simply because he agrees with you about other things. We see this mistake among secular people when they mistrust scientists who are pro-life, simply because they are pro-life. This is clearly unfair. But Catholics make the exact same mistake when they trust someone simply because he is pro-life. It goes like this: Scientist X opposes his abortion, therefore all of his ideas about everything must be pro-life, therefore you must agree with all of his ideas about everything or else you are not truly pro-life.

Trusting a knowledgeable person because it would be uncharitable to question his findings, or because his personal life is difficult at the moment. This is just bizarre, and I’m always amazed to hear this idea being treated as if it means anything. Being mean to people is a sin against charity. Criticizing ideas is why God gave us brains. (This mistake, too, has a corollary in the secular world: people accept experts simply because they are contrary and annoy people.)

Trusting a knowledgeable person because he has published a study in a scientific journal. This is, unfortunately, not the gold standard for research that it ought to be. There are reputable journals and disreputable journals, and many have low standards for what they will print, but have chosen prestigious-sounding names for themselves.

Trusting a knowledgeable person who says things that you don’t understand at all.  Remember, the reason you decided to trust this person is because you believe he understands things better than you. But he should still be able to convey at least some of what he understands to people who are not experts, or he should at least be able to point you toward more accessible explanations. Someone whose writing is entirely opaque to you is someone you have no reason to trust. Technical words and complicated sentences are often a smokescreen for people who are either trying to fool you, or who don’t understand the subject matter themselves, but have picked up some dazzling vocabulary.

Remember, you’re not a complete moron, or else you’d be off refreshing your news feed for more photos of Paris Hilton’s new puppydog, rather than reading a post about scientific research. As a non-moron, you don’t have to head into these things blind. There are some things you can check yourself. Here is a useful chart to use as a starting point, when you hear a new idea and are wondering whether to get behind it or not.

 

10389088_10152391547183105_6201096141568287393_n

 

And remember: nobody likes to be challenged, but good science stands up to scrutiny. Questioning someone’s study is not an attack, or an attempt to silence that person. It’s just what all credible scientists should expect, especially if their studies contradict what nearly every other researcher in the field has found.  If you are being scolded for the mere act of challenging an idea, then that in itself is a sign that the science may be bad.

 

*Part one: The Numbers went up the other day. It is a response to the way Deisher has gathered and analyzed her statistics. Here is a summary:

– Change points are artifacts of poor statistical approach (i.e. they aren’t real)
– Even if the change points were real, they do not correlate to introduction of changes in exposure to fetal cell line vaccines.
– If the change points were real, they do, contrary to Deisher’s claims, correlate to changes in diagnostic criteria between DSM editions.

Therefore, the central premise of Deisher’s argument (changes in autistic disorder diagnoses correlate with fetal cell line vaccines and not other factors) is not supported by this study.

If you are wondering why Catholics like the authors of this blog are criticizing Dr. Deisher, then you should read Rational Catholic’s post, and stay tuned for parts two and three, where the conclusions she reaches will be analyzed just as closely. There is nothing personal, scurrilous, hateful, or uncharitable in responding in detail to a scientific study. The authors of Rational Catholic believe that parents should not be frightened away, by Deisher’s study or by anybody else, from vaccinating their healthy children.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Julia Cali

    Love the graphic, Simcha! Thanks for helping everyone analyze data with an appropriately critical eye. It’s important to keep these points in mind, no matter which side of an issue we’re on!

  • Laura

    I would addend, Simcha, that the contributors at Rational Catholic blog are not, ourselves, experts. We readily admit this! What we do is write about science topics for the lay audience synthesized from the findings, writings and study of experts. (Often just so people don’t have to wade through rivers of snark and anti-religious superfluous commentary to find the science like you would with a blogger like Orac scienceblogs.com/insolence). Nothing we write that is outside our knowledge base cannot be verified by the reader and except for very basic and easily verifiable.

    • simchafisher

      Absolutely. You guys are the “knowledgeable people” who are interested and articulate enough to point me in the right direction. The fact that you encourage people to read other sources is part of what makes you credible.

    • Jeff_McLeod

      Is statistical regression a sign of pseudoscience?

      People with actual doctorates look at that statement with utter astonishment. This is a fact, my friend.

      • Laura

        LINEAR regression is a “red flag” for pseudoscience. It doesn’t mean it is pseudoscience, only that you have to be very careful about conclusions drawn by the authors because linear regression shows an association between variables, not causality. It has to be very tempered. Compare abstracts—McDonald 2010 (which is hardly above reproach, but I cite it because Deisher does): The “potential for this increase to be real and involve exogenous environmental stressors exists. The timing of an increase in autism incidence may help in screening for potential candidate environmental stressors.” vs. Deisher’s abstract: “Thus, rising autistic disorder prevalence is directly related to vaccines manufactured utilizing human fetal cells.”

  • Jeff_McLeod

    So Simcha, I just want to know what I’m dealing with here.

    The article you linked to began with the claim that “linear regression” is a sure indicator of pseudo-science.

    I’m going to imagine you think that’s a pretty straightforward claim, right?

    Listen closely. Put your ear up to my comment box.

    That statement is off the chart crazy.

    You are being duped, my friend.

    • sillyinterloper

      Maybe you should read the whole thing before you come to that conclusion, since the post it was not about linear regression in general, but its use in a particular study.

      • Jeff_McLeod

        I read the whole painful thing.

        So do you believe linear regression is a sign of pseudoscience? The author said it is. Do you agree, or disagree with this astonishing claim?

        • sillyinterloper

          You’re making this about one term, rather than the whole article. It’s as though you are determined to find it at fault without delving into the specifics.

          • sillyinterloper

            Also, you’re taking that one term out of context from the whole article while refusing to comment on the article as a whole all while demanding to be declared right. That’s not the way to go about it, friendo.

          • Jeff_McLeod

            Crtiticizing Dr. Deisher’s article for using piecewise regression fitting is weird too.

            It is a legitimate technique, and not a weakness of the study as the author claims.

            Listen, in actual scientific articles there is a method section and a discussion section. Rational Catholic confuses the two. The writer acts as if the method is wrong. It is not wrong.

            Go ahead and attack Dr. Deisher for her interpretation of the numbers, but her article is legitimate. It is very mainstream by any standard.

          • simchafisher

            As I understand it, Jeff, linear regression can legitimately indicate correlation; but Deisher treats this correlation (which you can find between lots of random things) as if it is causation, and pins the rest of her research on these findings as if they are causation.

            I haven’t found anyone outside the Catholic world who considers her article mainstream or standard.

          • simchafisher

            I shall now flagrantly copy and past a comment from a friend who understands this better than I do:
            ****
            read the “EPA study”: http://www.all.org/pdf/McDonaldPaul2010.pdf

            In it they make a couple things very clear:
            – They were looking to pinpoint if there were any changepoints (i.e. correlations between birth year and rising AD diagnoses) that might help to narrow the field for what might be contributing to the etiology of autism
            – They only found one changepoint in the U.S. data to be statistically significant (and I’m going to trust the analysis of EPA scientists who had their work published in a journal with an impact factor over an ideologically-motivated cellular biologist who had to pay to publish, since I can’t replicate the data/lack the software to do it myself to verify.)
            – They in no way suggested that this CORRELATION was proof of any environmental factor. What they said was, emphasis mine: “the POTENTIAL for this increase to be real and involve exogenous environmental stressors EXISTS. The timing of an increase in autism incidence may help in screening for POTENTIAL candidate environmental stressors.”

            It’s interesting to note, from that same study:
            – Japan, which never had fetal cell-derived MMR (according to Deisher’s own words (http://www.lifesitenews.com/…/new-study-disproves-mmr…) and sporadic/no rubella-only coverage (http://theconversation.com/vaccination-gaps-led-to…) STILL had significant increases in AD diagnoses from 1988 onward.
            – In order for an environmental factor to be even POTENTIALLY causal, it would have to exist everywhere that saw the same effect. The effect was there in Japan, but not what Deisher claims is the “cause”.
            – In fact, the paper said: “Using our postchangepoint means in AD cumulative incidence for each of the studies, it appears that exposure was higher in California and potentially in other developed countries than
            it was in Denmark (Table 1). However, Kohoku Ward [Japan] may
            have experienced the highest exposure of all.”

          • Jeff_McLeod

            “I’m going to trust the analysis of EPA scientists who had their work published in a journal with an impact factor over an ideologically-motivated cellular biologist who had to pay to publish”

            So basically, Dr. Dreisher is wrong because shut up?

            What is with these haters of Dr. Dreisher? It’s like they can’t force themselves to write a clear and coherent objection without slipping in a personal smear.

            Seriously, I am mystified by this.

          • Laura

            That’s not what that means. It means that she had to pay to get her work published, which, when combined with the zero impact factor of the journal means that it is not high quality work. If it were, she wouldn’t have had to pay $650 in handling fees in hopes of getting published. Even McDonald 2010 isn’t that impressive of an impact factor, but at least it exists.

          • Laura

            Very telling, too, that you cherry-picked ONE point to zero in on and ignored every other point she made.

          • Kate Cousino

            Though it can be fun to pretend that correlation indicates causation:
            http://tylervigen.com/

          • Jeff_McLeod

            Totally fair statement. Does it make you wonder why linear regression is one of the most widely used statistical methods?

            You’re missing a piece.

            One separates statistical techniques from conclusions.

            If someone has found a flaw in the mathematics of linear regression, I’d love to know about it.

            There isn’t one.

            The critics disagree with her interpretation of the results, but they write their piece in a very misleading way to imply that the method itself is illegitimate.

            Again, nobody will admit this, but the author on Rational Catholic began the piece by saying linear regression is an indicator of pseudoscience.

            Surely you, as an independent observer, see the terrible editorial decision that was made in the ever-important first sentence in the article.

          • simchafisher

            Honestly? I am just waiting for parts 2 and 3, which will delve into her actual interpretations. I think I have a better chance of understanding that part. I have always found statistics to be baffling, and the main thing I know about them is not to believe claims that people make based on statistics.

            (I am heading out for my afternoon adventures now, so won’t be able to respond for a while.)

  • anna lisa

    I know a very bright Catholic man who doesn’t believe in evolution. I couldn’t help but laugh when he responded to the fact that our Pope believes in evolution (as did Pope Benedict) by protesting that the Pope is not a scientist. He was willing to declare that the Pope was wrong, based upon the twenty books he had personally read, while dismissing the fact that the Pope keeps himself informed by having the best and the brightest in their field of study advising him; (not to mention that little old Holy Spirit thing)

    There is a possibility that Dr. Deisher is correct. I applaud her efforts to discover the cause of the very troubling spike in autism. But given ALL of the realities and information that can be had, vaccinating still, by far, increases a child’s chances of survival. I am very grateful for the document that the Vatican issued, which allows my conscience to be unburdened by the eight children I have vaccinated with minimal side effects.

    The fact remains that Catholics that believe they have a greater standard of morality than what the Vatican statement spelled out, are not only suffering from that little ole thing called pride, but they are also standing with their unvaccinated kids under the umbrella of parents and children who *do* vaccinate.

    My question to them is:
    today the subject matter is vaccinations. What will the dilemma be tomorrow? Being the sole guardian of the moral high ground is going to get exhausting.

    • JoeCool1138

      Funny thing is, the Pope IS a scientist: he studied chemistry and was going to go into that field before opting for the priesthood.

      • anna lisa

        Yeah,something about that was rattling around in the back of my head, in fact I said as much to the gentleman whom I was discussing evolution with, but he wouldn’t hear of it, as he himself has a degree in zoology that he earned over 50 years ago. He wouldn’t budge an inch, and sent me a 20-year-old book after our conversation.
        Pride. It’s a toughie, and at times better left to itself.

        • Joyfully

          As to your friend, Anna Lisa, I can get how one could question the theory of evolution. For one, “when you only got a hundred years to live” time-lapse photography of change would have to be set a one frame per 500 years, so there is that. Secondly, that whole “missing link” thing they used to talk about over twenty years ago…I digress.

          But if evolution is the human “dynamic”, for lack of a better word, for survival and life lengthening, which I’ve always assumed it to be (my barebones education never delved into it at all, or while I was present anyhow) then, for your friend’s sake and the sake of your friendship, I would like to suggest an idea of evolution that he may not only agree with but also embrace. This idea has brought me more comfort than any other home-remedy for stain removal has: Christianity.

          Hear me out! I know! “CraCra”! Firstly, I will acknowledge that my understanding of the OT Sacred Scriptures and the Creation story with the mythological language as the beginning of “man” as we are today, as the latest “link”. This awareness of “the Other” – God the maker – being pretty humungo. We know, too, from Sacred Scripture that before Christ there was a belief in some form of “afterlife” and resurrection. But then, some 2000 years ago, something happened in the history of man.

          Christ rose from the dead. He ascended. And before he ascended, he taught any one interested in “evolving” (surviving death, prolonging life) what they would need to do to evolve.

          I haven’t the opportunity, ever it seems, to speak with solo-sciencists but I’ve often wonder what how they would respond to that theory. Perhaps I’ll have to wait until they evolve … 🙂

          • anna lisa

            Joyfully, that is a very good point that what we will *be* in the next life requires new transformation–the next step “up” so to speak. In a word–Evolution.

            I think about this state of being every now and then, and feel hopeful about it, but “you will be like Gods” actually makes me squirm. I suppose it will be what causes many of us to go hide out in purgatory for a while until we can handle the dazzling nature of it. It’ also fascinating how similar what St. Paul described is– to the promise that Satan made in the “garden”, but of course without that “little” (!) adversarial detail.

    • The_Monk

      Only people who don’t know how to think believe that evolution is sufficient to explain the causality of life. Randomness is not a physical attribute – it is a confection of the human mind (as Einstein said, (paraphrasing) ‘God doesn’t work like that.) One of the most embarrassing theories to have been offered is m-verse, and it is second only to the scientifically groundless evolution.

      One either believes in intelligent engineering or in mindless, inexplicable magic. There is no middle way out of the muddle….

      • anna lisa

        Hi,
        Thanks The_Monk. I’m just a the_Mom. I’ve never aspired to be a scientist or a mathematician. I tell my children what amazing vocations these disciplines are because they study the “language” of God.
        I always want to tear my hair out when atheists complain that God doesn’t exist, or that he doesn’t speak. When I contemplate the cosmos and all of creation, I begin to have an inkling about who He might be, and how perfect is His perfection. When I realize what took place before he crowned His creation with a man, and then (are there words to convey such a thing?)–stooped to actually become one, it’s almost too much to bear.
        The story of God’s creation is living, vibrant-with-life poetry.
        It is a story that God intimately *continues* to write. His verse is laden with meaning. The life He creates is so overflowing with life that it bursts forth with even more life. No human mind has been able to solve the mystery of it. No theory sufficiently contains or explains the majesty of it, I can’t bring myself to call it a love story–though it is most certainly that.

        I agree with you. To dismiss it with just the word “evolution” would be laughable to the most simple soul.

        • Howard

          Somehow I don’t think “the monk” is a scientist or mathematician, either.

          • The_Monk

            If I am or am not either is germane – how? Surely you aren’t endorsing the view that only “experts” are allowed a voice in a given discussion?

            Anna Lisa is making a proper point, which I support, and to which I was adding. Good science will never contradict true religion. And we must beware the junk science that dominates the headlines. There are many scientists who, while being highly technically competent, do not know how to think. For instance, science can only say of God, “Either he exists, or he does not.” Anything further is merely the opinion of the scientist.

            Peace…

          • Howard

            Actually, when you attempt to separate “junk science” from “real science”, the question of whether you understand what you are talking about is germane. This is especially true if we are confining the discussion to science.

            By way of analogy, consider the 1953 movie “I Confess.” The viewer is privy to the knowledge that Fr. Logan really is innocent, but the evidence that builds up against him really is damning. It was certainly not “junk police work” to suspect Fr. Logan; the viewer only had to hope that the police would find evidence that would reveal the truth the audience already knew. It would scarcely have been satisfactory for the police to have said, “Well, Father, we know you didn’t do it. We’ll ignore all this evidence and just leave this case open.” That really would have been junk police work, regardless of the fact that it reached the correct conclusion.

    • Dave

      I doubt that they are gainsaying the Vatican specifically in saying that it is morally permissible to use vaccines with aborted fetal tissue. They are probably objecting because they believe vaccines are unsafe and/or ineffective, which renders the “proportionate reason” moot.

      How do you know that the vaccines did not produce any side effects? Just because they didn’t die or show some shocking issue doesn’t mean there were no side effects. For example, our son was more or less perfectly healthy until he went into Kindergarten. Then, he got allergies shortly after he went to Kindergarten. We thought it must have been something in the school, but it didn’t go away the next summer. We never did figure it out, until we went to our chiropractor six years later. The problems were due to his kindergarten vaccinations. We never even considered that, because at the time we believed that vaccinations were perfectly safe, but the timing makes perfect sense. Still, I have no proof, but since he made the problem go away, I’m inclined to believe him. Sometimes, it can take years for the effects to manifest.

      I have one other thing to say: Be careful about attributing pride to other people. It is much more productive to find pride in ourselves than to attribute it to others.

      • anna lisa

        Dave,
        Some of the best advice I’ve heard from a priest is: “we don’t have to figure it all out.” What a relief to those of us who tend to live in our heads.

        I know vaccines are not “perfectly safe”, but statistically they are more safe than not vaccinating. Our generation doesn’t remember what an iron lung is. My grandparents wouldn’t let my mother go to a theater because they lived in dread fear of diseases that have nearly been eradicated due to the God given gift of vaccines.

        I try not to be cynical, but I take everything my chiropractor says with a grain of salt. Sometimes they get a little hocus pocus.

        My kindergarten daughter also has a problem with allergies right now, but through the years, because of her seven siblings, I have discovered that what triggers my kids’ immune systems is related to dust mites. I need to seal her mattress and pillow, but the best solution would be a floor that I can mop clean three times a week. She hasn’t actually finished all of her vaccines because I do them very, very slowly. She will be done in November.

        As for pride? I don’t know why I’m laughing, when I should feel more sober about the devastating reality of it, but all I can think of is:

        “Pride leaves the body two hours after death.”
        -St Josemaria
        Pride is like a balloon. Life has a way of dealing with it, but the ingenuity of the human mind to repair and pump it back up again is stupendous.

        “I came to bring a sword”
        -Jesus
        🙂 May we all be open to God’s blessings. 🙂

        • Dave

          I would agree that we don’t have to figure it all out….just go where we are led. Some will definitely be led to figure out certain things as to help others.

          Personally, I question whether vaccines are really what eradicated these diseases. I have seen evidence that it was vaccines, and evidence that it was the improvement of modern sanitary practices. It’s hard to tell for sure since nothing happens in a vacuum. Historical studies can’t be completely scientific because there is no way to control for all of the variables.

          Well, chiropractors vary greatly in quality, I have found. I wouldn’t listen much to most of them. But ours has gained our great respect by his scintillating results. Of course, he is not God by any means.

          You are right about pride. We are all full of it to various degrees. I am as bad as the next guy, and probably worse. My point was only that the only pride we can do anything about is our own (and MAYBE our kids or spouse…but even that is pretty touch-and-go)

      • wineinthewater

        “The problems were due to his kindergarten vaccinations. … Still, I have no proof,”

        I think statements like this are a big part of the problem. If you have no proof, then you cannot say that the problems were due to his kindergarten vaccinations. You can say that you suspect because of the timing, but you can’t make that kind of statement.

        As to the chiropractor, I think Simcha’s advice applies well there too. You have to remember that chiropractors were maligned so long by mainstream medicine that much of the practice has become entrenched in the “alternative medicine” market. When my wife needed a chiropractor, we had a hell of a time finding a chiropractor who wasn’t trying to simultaneously sell us on all kinds of kookiness and snake oil. It wasn’t that they weren’t good chiropractors, it’s just that it came with a lot of pandering to the alternative medicine crowd.

        My point in mentioning this is that you should ask yourself exactly how a chiropractor could fix something caused by a vaccine. How could proper alignment of the muscular-skeletal system do that? Perhaps a more reasonable response is that a new kindergartner is doing lots of things he’s never done before: spending a lot of time sitting still, sitting in chairs, napping on hard floors, playing on new play equipment, playing new games. Now, that is a whole lot of things that could cause problems that a chiropractor could fix. And since poor alignment can cause mangled immune responses, and a misfiring immune response is all allergies are, it seems that “my son got alignment problems from all the new activities in kindergarten and they caused him to develop allergies (as there is significant evidence to suggest a connection between improper alignment and allergies) but the chiropractor fixed the alignment issues and the allergies went away” is a more logical conclusion than “vaccines caused my son’s allergies through some completely unknown and undocumented mechanism and a chiropractor cured them in some unknown way.”

        There are real risks to vaccination, and real adverse effects, but it is anecdotes like this that prop up most of the anti-vaccination movement. Almost everyone I know who does not vaccinate bases it on this kind of story where someone *knows* that a vaccine caused some harm, but has no evidence.

        • Dave

          The fixes were not due to a proper alignment of the muscular-skeletal system, though he does do that, too. He prescribes herbs, homeopathy, etc. based on a method of testing the body that he does.

          I believe that it was the vaccination that caused the allergies, not just because of the timing, but also because of the fact that the chiropractor (1) told me that a specific vaccine caused the problem, and (2) then made his allergies go away by resolving the damage caused by the vaccine. Without his ability to do #2 consistently, I would be very skeptical of his claim in #1, but when someone can resolve the problems, I figure that they have earned the benefit of the doubt as to their ability to diagnose the problem.

          Also, he got the allergies in kindergarten, and then he had them for six years before we finally saw this chiropractor.

          By the way, I also have a nephew who has autism and my sister-in-law swears that the vaccine caused it – that he sighed and rested his head on his mom immediately afterwards, and was never the same kid after that. I have no reason to doubt her, and don’t much care that the story is anecdotal. She is a dietician and never had an axe to grind against vaccines previously – in fact, she still doesn’t. Would you consider this evidence? I would.

          That said, I don’t believe that vaccines in a vacuum cause autism in general, but they are one of many environmental toxic blows that a child may receive, any of which could be the last straw.

          • wineinthewater

            I saw the symptoms of my very severe allergies cut by over 75% by simply taking a b-vitamin complex. Herbs are great because of their bio-available vitamins, so I’m not surprised he found relief.

            But just because the doctor had a remedy does not mean that he was right about the cause. And the question remains, what damage did the vaccine do that he “fixed” and how did they “fix” it? Where is the evidence of causal link? Like the rule Simcha gave above, just because an authority is right about one thing does not mean they immediately right about another. Just because a chiropractor can replicate well-trod ground in naturopathic and/or homeopathic remedies for allergies does not make him an expert on vaccines.

            I would not insider your nephew’s story evidence, I would consider it an anecdote and take it as such. And it is an anecdote that I would take with a grain of salt. I’ve read of many similar stories where the direct temporal link claim is contradicted by other witnesses. Moms who swear their child was never the same immediately after the vaccine when grandma or child care says the child was her normal self for weeks afterward or where doctors do follow-up visits after the vaccination and have visit notes of a normally responsive child despite the parents’ retroactive claim that the change was immediate and sudden.

            We humans are wired to find patterns. It’s one of the reason we are so susceptible to the correlation/causation fallacy. And our memories are malleable things that we are very successful at getting to conform to a narrative. I’m not saying that this is the case with your sister-in-law, but I have seen it be the case enough times that I can’t see the account as evidence, only anecdote.

          • Dave

            Well, the prescription is based directly on his diagnosis, so I assume that his prescription wouldn’t consistently work if his diagnoses were garbage. For example, I had bad allergies too, but mine were due to a leaky gut, not vaccines, and the remedies for each are very different. It’s not like he dispenses the same remedy for all allergies. It’s all individual.

            That’s fine then. We agree to disagree. To me, it seems that people just don’t believe other people when they don’t want to believe what they have to say, so they attribute hallucination, false memories, etc. if not worse. For example, the miracle of the sun at Fatima never happened – it was mass hallucination. Yeah, right. It is true that people can get things to conform to a narrative, but this isn’t the case with her.

            It appears then, that you believe little except scientific studies. Scientific studies usually prove very, very little, but the extrapolated claims of what they prove can be much greater than what is warranted, and the interpretations of what is proved can be very faulty.

  • That graphic is fantastic. It’s about using critical thinking skills. Applying logic to our analysis of scientific study (and helping us listen to the prompting of emotions, but not allowing those emotions be conclusions in and of themselves). Bringing our faith into the science-conversation means both that the lens through which we interpret information recognizes and honors God… as well as the fact that our gift of reason comes from God. We honor God by doing this analysis.

  • Jeff_McLeod

    Nice graph, but be careful because it rules out a lot of legitimate science.

    Quick example. Kepler derived his laws of planetary motion on a very tiny sample of planets! Less than 10!

    Easy on that “small sample size” reflex.

    And Kepler did not have a control group.

    Easy on that “no control group” reflex.

    Science is far grander than anything we can fit in our limited perspectives.

    We owe it to ALL scientists to give them breathing room. That’s all.

    Are you listening, Rational Catholic?

    • simchafisher

      As I mentioned in my post, Jeff, the purpose of the graph is to give interested parties a foothold. It is not designed to be a definitive filter for good science vs. bad science. The purpose of my entire post was to give people like me, who are not trained in science, a few tactics for how to tell when we are being deceived. So when you say “be careful,” I can only agree.

      • Jeff_McLeod

        No Simcha it is a fabulous graphic. I am more admiring the breadth of science than whining about your list. It is excellent. I think it sums up the essential issues for public health research. Absolutely.

    • Katie Huber

      Did you read the entire paragraph on the graphic? “…in some cases, small samples are unavoidable. It may be cause for suspicion if a large sample was possible but avoided.” I think it’s safe to say that applies to Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion.

      And Kepler didn’t have a control group because he wasn’t running a clinical trial.

      • Jeff_McLeod

        Good to hear you admit a substantial element of subjectivity in practice of science.

        So let’s give Dr. Dreisher some breathing room, shall we?

        • Katie Huber

          What does Deisher have to do with you not taking the time to read the graphic before making a false analogy?

    • “We owe it to ALL scientists to give them breathing room.”

      I’m not sure if you’re defending science or dogmatic scientism here.

      Advocacy of the Ghostbusters Protocol (“back off, man, we’re scientists”) would tend to indicate the latter.

      As would the offended reaction to Rational Catholic’s skepticism regarding papers that hang “novel, extraordinary claims” on simple linear regression. (You may or may not have meant to mischaracterize the sentence so that it became a more a shocking act of lèse-majesté, but mischaracterize it you did.)

      • Jeff_McLeod

        Oh if you knew me you’d know I’m the last person who thinks that being a scientist is a privileged form of authority.

        Have you ever read a philosopher named Paul Feyerabend? He’s a wild man but he’s all about tolerance and openness in science. I studied under a student of his. He is my hero! When I see the hammer come down on ANY scientist. Yes ANY scientist, it raises my hackles.

        Feyerabend sounds like someone you would like too, seriously. I absolutely mean it when I say breathing room for all!

  • Simcha, why do you think it is fair to call her science fraudulent if you and the Rational Catholic bloggers don’t understand the science? Calling someone a fraud is a serious accusation.

    When people start out flinging accusations, it is not conducive to having a reasonable discussion.

    You also contradict yourself. You say we shouldn’t fear science, but fear is the reason you want to discredit her research. You fear people will not vaccinate.

    There’s a better way. It would be more helpful if you encouraged people to do both, vaccinate and support her efforts to find safer, ethical vaccines. We have nothing to lose. The vaccines without fetal DNA have already been developed; they are just are not being made available. The NIH already tests for insertional mutagenesis because they already know of the dangers of human but non-parental DNA in certain biological systems of young bodies. Deisher is trying to get the CDC to press the manufacturers to make these vaccines available to us. Please, encourage people to do both. I’d go so far as to say we have a moral imperative to do so.

    Thoughts?

    • simchafisher

      But I didn’t call her science fraudulent, Stacy. The RatCat bloggers are more than capable of defending themselves, but it would be helpful if you would quote the exact phrase they used that you find so objectionable. As it is, in this comment and in your post, you are coming across as once again confusing criticism with a lack of charity, and of perpetuating the idea that we must support our fellow Catholics, even if they are producing substandard work.

      Paragraph two: oh my lord, what sophistry. This is just word play, Stacy. You can do better than that. But to spell it out: I do say that we shouldn’t fear science. A fearless look into the most reliable science tells us that vaccinations make the general population healthier. When people who could vaccinate their kids refuse to do so, that is not “science.” That is people acting foolishly and dangerously. So yeah, I guess I fear danger. That’s on me.

      Paragraph three: I have, at least half a dozen times, commended her and anyone else who is looking for an ethical alternative. So, we are in agreement there. I wonder whether you think Deisher bears any responsibility for encouraging people not to vaccinate, because they don’t want their kids to catch autism?

      Hope that clarifies things for you. I welcome any further questions.

      • “This will be a multi-part series (so hold your questions and don’t expect comments to be approved until the end, please) because I want to do justice to just how much scientific fraud exists in this study.”

        That. They called her science fraudulent. That is not challenging a claim. That’s calling her guilty of deliberate deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain.

        I read everything on her site when my youngest was newborn. I still vaccinated, but I was also thankful to know she was working on safer, ethical choices. It was a hard decision, as you know. But no, it’s not fair to blame her for other people’s inability to own their own decisions. If you want people to vaccinate, and I understand this, I’m on your side here, then trying to manipulate the conversation by trying to discredit a woman who doesn’t deserve it is not the right way.

        She’s not going to stop her research. None of her peers are in disagreement with her. What is there to lose in doing both? Support her work and encourage people to demand the ethical vaccines be made available while they vaccinate now. Win, win.

        • simchafisher

          Again, I won’t presume to speak for the authors of Rat Cat. I do not believe that she’s deliberately misleading anybody. What I said in my original post is this:

          “I do not mean that Deisher is deliberately lying to sell her product. I do mean that, when we have personal reasons for wanting something very badly, it hinders our ability to work objectively.”

          I’ve had a few personal interactions with Dr. Deisher, and she is certainly passionate about this fetal cell-autism link. Passion can make people persist against odds, but it can also blind them to truths that less passionate people see easily. You say that “none of her peers are in disagreement with her,” but this is certainly not so. I have yet to find another researcher who believes that she is right.

          You ask “what is there to lose by doing both?” I’ll say it again: she’s scaring people away from vaccinating. This is very dangerous. Less dangerous but still powerfully annoying, she is making Catholics look silly, and less likely to take religious researchers seriously when they come up with more legitimate findings.

          I am baffled about why you insist on making my words into a personal attack against Dr. Deisher or anyone else. You have made your name as a Catholic scientist. As such, you ought to be eager to see Deisher’s work given the intense scrutiny that any putative major breakthrough deserves.

          • simchafisher

            I am also puzzled about where to find Deisher’s study where she explains her efforts thus far in developing a vaccine. So far I’ve seen a lot of very public stuff about an autism-vaccine link. If someone were invested foremost in developing a new vaccine, then why isn’t she putting all of her effort into that? That’s all it would take for me to support her.

          • simchafisher

            Let me put it this way. If someone said he was working on a way to desalinize water, but he was most famous for his published works putting forth the idea that drinking milk causes schizophrenia, would you be defending a scientist like that, because desalinzation is such a worthy project?

          • It does look like there’s a link to autism, not a cause but an environmental trigger. Watch the video on my blog. She explains it. She cannot make the vaccines all on her own. Ultimately, the big companies have to be pressed by the CDC. She needs data so the CDC will investigate.

          • sillyinterloper

            There is no credible scientific evidence linking any vaccine to autism in any way. That is a fantasy. That you believe that says all we need to know about your credentials.

          • Have you read what’s on her site? Those vaccines already exist. They are already developed. She has the ingredients to make them. She’s trying to make it available. It takes money.

            http://soundchoice.org/ethical-vaccines/

            http://soundchoice.org/about-us/

          • simchafisher

            I wish her well. As I’ve said more times than I can count. The fact remains that she is most well known for putting forth science which 99% of the scientific community considers too laughably unsound even to bother refuting. If that is her idea of raising her profile to raise money for a worthy cause, then I would caution donors to save their funds for someone with a better business plan.

          • You cannot support that though. That she was interviewed by Nature alone shows that you are flat wrong to say that.

          • Laura

            She was interviewed by Nature as the stem cell “crusader.” This was the result of pertinent lawsuit that could affect stem cell research, thus, was pertinent to Nature’s audience. Being profiled for that reason says nothing about the quality of her work, especially on an unrelated topic. (Human stem cells is not autism epidemiology). http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110209/full/470156a.html

            And, frankly, that Nature article terrified me. She was called the “Sarah Palin of stem cells” by one of her peers. Palin was a contributing factor to why her side LOST. I don’t want my side to lose.

          • Julia Cali

            So, you’re saying she’s willing to publish less-than-accurate information in order to pressure the CDC to allow her work to proceed? So then, the ends justify the means?

          • Of course not.

          • So you assume she’s doing bad science because she is blinded?

            None of her “peers” have disagreed with her findings. Search for it. If you can find a scientific paper that says she’s discredited, show me. I can’t find none. Nature journal does not invite quacks for interviews.

            There are plenty of researchers working along the lines she is. All you have to do is look at the list of her citations. That’s how you write a paper. You cite what’s been done and either build on it or alter it to further the science.

            I am eager to see scientific scrutiny, but what you and they did was neither. If you want me to go through Laura’s piece line by line, I will, but only if I have your promise that you are trying to understand.

            I contacted Theresa back when I was trying to decide what to do with JJ (our son). She was the one who told me to vaccinate if I chose to, but to also talk to my doctor about better choices. I did. I see no reason others can’t as well. You need data to do that though. That’s why she has to do this work.

            But no, I don’t believe you when you say she is anti-vaccine. She’s anti harm to children, same as you, same as me.

          • simchafisher

            “So you assume she’s doing bad science because she is blinded?”

            Yes, that is the most charitable assumption I can make.

            “None of her “peers” have disagreed with her findings. Search for it. If you can find a scientific paper that says she’s discredited, show me.”

            Well, I also can’t find the scientific paper that discredits the idea that my mattress if filled with dolphin meat, but that doesn’t mean it’s a sound thesis. Scientist don’t write duelling studies to be published in journals, as you very well know. The articles I’ve read by Deisher’s peers do indeed discredit her idea.

          • Can you cite them?

          • simchafisher

            Again? You didn’t respond when Laura posted them last time. I gotta read to the kids and put them to bed – will post them when I get a chance.

          • simchafisher
          • simchafisher

            ANd here is an article that compiles over 100 studies showing that there is no link between autism and vaccines:
            http://justthevax.blogspot.com/2014/03/75-studies-that-show-no-link-between.html

          • Does that list include any articles that deal with fetal cell lines or de nuvo DNA fragments?

          • sillyinterloper

            That’s already been debunked. I’m sorry, but you lose credibility every time you try and make this point. This is like listening to someone argue about the moon landing, or who was really behind 9/11, or if the earth is flat.

          • Can you cite the set of papers where it’s been “debunked”? I’d like to read it for myself.

          • The first three articles have no bearing whatsoever on the real scientific community. You’ve decided to trust the opinion of an anti-Catholic, pro-abortion doctor with a science blog which he uses as a platform for his agenda. I do not place trust in him. I trust the Catholic surgeons and scientists more.

            The last link just states DNA from the vaccine is not able to incorporate itself into cellular DNA.

            But recent studies have shown that children with regressive autism have hundreds of ‘de novo’ gene mutations. (I.e., as I said, human DNA fragments not from the parents.) And yes, they do insert and they are believed to be associated with autism.

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3619976/

            http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v485/n7397/abs/nature11011.html

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3350576/

            http://www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273(11)00439-9

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21658582

            Deisher lists 20 of these articles. http://soundchoice.org/research/

          • Simcha and others,

            I would like to get something straight.

            You trust the assessment of Orac the pro-abortion, anti-Catholic surgeon who calls her “thermonuclear stupid,” because Orac is not biased.

            You do not trust the assessment of the Catholic surgeons/scientists who say the paper is neither a fraud nor bad science, because the Catholics are blinded.

            Is this right?

          • simchafisher

            No, Stacy. I’m not basing my assessment of anyone’s scientific chops on their religious affiliation. You’re the one who’s doing that. I think that Orac et al make a better scientific case than Deisher and her one or two defenders do. Religion doesn’t and shouldn’t come into it at all. If a Martian who worshipped Baal practiced good science, I’d listen to him about science.

          • Ok. You think Orac makes a better case than Dr. Deisher and the rest of us who think her work is not a fraud or bad science.

            Is that right?

            I would like you to address the “blinded” part too. Do you think all of us are blinded, but Orac is not biased?

          • simchafisher

            I think the 100+ studies that looked for and showed no autism link make a better case than Dr. Deisher. I’m not sure why you’re fixating on Orac.

            I am not going to venture an opinion about Dr. Deisher’s state of mind. I was simply pointing out that it is *possible* to be biased or blinded by all sorts of things. I do not think, as many Catholics seem to, that being a decent, religious person protects us from being biased or blinded.

          • None of the 100+ studies address fetal cell lines or the mechanisms Deisher explains in her paper, that I can find.

            You did say this earlier when I asked (for clarity), “So you assume she’s doing bad science because she is blinded?”

            You wrote, “Yes, that is the most charitable assumption I can make.”

            It’s not my choice to fixate on Orac. He’s the one you all brought up, and he’s the only critic of her work you’ve cited.

            Again, do you think he is not biased?

          • simchafisher

            You went through the 100+ studies and read them all? Wow, you are fast!

            I said that Deisher being “blinded” was the most charitable assumption I could make, because the other assumption was she was either incompetent or dishonest. It would be best not to make assumptions at all, you see, and simply to evaluate the actual science involved. This is what I”m trying to do. You do realize that the writers at Rational Catholic are Catholic, too, right? We have Catholics arguing both sides here; so it makes sense to me to take Catholicism, or lack thereof, right out of the equation.

            Naturally, Orac or anyone else may be biased. That’s what I’m trying to say here: we can take possible bias into account when assessing how reliable the science is, but we can’t just say, “Well, I’ll *assume* the science is bad because I’m *assuming* he or she is biased.”

            I’m trying as hard as I can to evaluate the science as I understand it, without making this emotional or personal. All right?

            I have to go out and pick up my kids now

          • I read the titles. If there was one about fetal cell lines, something to indicate it would be in the title. I thought perhaps you’d read them, which is why I asked in case I missed something.

            Okay. I trust you’re trying to understand the science and I respect that. I do understand what I’ve read of her work, the overall story anyway. And I have the same concerns as you about the safety of children. You are welcome to email me if you trust me to try to answer questions.

            Have a good afternoon.

          • anna lisa

            So who’s going to slog through all the reports to see if *anybody* actually did an honest and through study on foreign DNA causing mutations? Isn’t that evaluation, performed on a reasonable scale by unbiased scientists (good luck with that) the missing piece of the puzzle? Why *wouldn’t* they do it?
            Perhaps because of the Billions of dollars in settlements going to thousands of parents with autistic children? I don’t know. But their militant views on their right as scientists to exploit and discard embryos certainly creates a religious-like fervor in a good number of them.
            .
            btw, I’m reminded of Dr. Nathanson testifying on abortion in the 1970s. He was the so-called preeminent expert in his field. He has of course repented of his misguided zeal.
            I don’t trust *any* doctor who exhibits zeal for abortion. Dr. Whatshername (Orc?)has *zero* credibility and thermonuclear-scale pride.

          • anna lisa

            I do however understand and agree with *never* putting our religious blinders on, though we are all apt to do it from time to time. You couldn’t be more right about it.

          • Dave

            What was the methodology of these 100+ studies? Did they compare vaccinated vs. unvaccinated? I believe you’ll find the answer to that is no. Almost without exception, the studies are trying to isolate whether a single ingredient of the vaccine by itself causes autism.

            Did you hear about the CDC coverup where a study showed a rise in autism of 340% in African-American boys due to the MMR? They decided to remove some of the participants in the study so that the results would no longer be statistically significant. Of course, now the spin factory is in full swing so that it looks like there’s nothing to see here.

            Basically, it’s “oh, the study contradicts the desired results….that can’t be right. We better massage the data because we know for sure that the desired results must be the real results.”

          • Quyen P.

            Well, obviously, nothing is going to be in the published literature because the study just came out. You cannot assume from the absence of published literature that “none of her peers are in disagreement with her.” And just because she cites scientific literature does not mean that you can imply the scientists in her bibliography are in the same line of research (trying to make a connection between vaccines and autism). And since you only seem open to scientific criticism from someone with a PhD, how about this one: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2014/09/09/religious-fundamentalists-try-to-prove-fetal-dna-in-vaccines-causes-autism-and-fail/

            (I’d hardly say this link qualifies as agreement)

          • She’s been working on this for years.

            From an M.D., former USMC Reconnaissance SF doctor, Benedictine Oblate, and practicing surgeon specializing in Gynecologic Oncology:

            “I cannot believe that any Catholic would have anything bad to say about her, or about this great paper.”

            I’m going trust the Catholic surgeon over an anti-Catholic surgeon blogger who uses his platform to argue for abortion, among other things.

          • Quyen P.

            You seem to be falling into two of the traps Simcha warns about above. Aren’t these classic
            examples of “Mistrusting a knowledgeable person because you disagree
            with him about unrelated things” and “Trusting a knowledgeable person
            simply because he agrees with you about other things”?

        • Laura

          Yes, I called it fraud— because everyone with the appropriate credentials has said FAR worse about her work. It has the effect of deceiving people into thinking “science” has said something that it hasn’t. Do I need to clarify that when I say fraud coming from inappropriate methodology, unjustifiable conclusions, and press of a study is not the same thing as saying the person is out to nefariously deceive you? Because I will if that’s necessary because that was never my intent. Seriously, though, if saying lots of scientific fraud exists in this study is a character assassination, what is calling her work, “thermonuclear stupid”? A fatwah?

          And, you know what Dr. Transancos, YOU are not capable of “understanding the science.” By your standards, you have NO grounds to say anything since your background is in chemistry. Dr. Deisher has NO grounds to say whether her epidemiological methodology is sound because her background is in molecular & cellular biology. Except… no one is making that suggestion that either of you are too stupid to acquire and apply knowledge outside your respective fields of study, especially if it is with consult from people/references with expertise. But you are saying that about everyone who criticizes Deisher’s study!

          What awful presumption on your part to disparage the intellectual capabilities of your fellow Catholics! I suppose, though, it is a lot easier to uncritically accept Deisher’s work based on counter-cultural appeal and attack the messengers than to exit your comfort bubble and approach the criticisms of her work with an open-mind.

          Honestly, if I were Dr. Deisher and truly believed in my work, I would be offended by your behavior. Your behavior suggesting we should operate like some high school clique just because someone is pro-life or Catholic really disparages the merit of her work if the only way to address the criticism boils down to “stop being mean!”

          • anna lisa

            I never trust the opinions of people who take pleasure in being rude. (Something I am guilty of from time to time, and hopefully cause for reflection)
            It just proves that the ego is too invested in the argument.

            I’m afraid I’ll be tempted to use that term “thermonuclear stupid” It kinda gave me a little rush just typing it.
            Up until now, I’ve been calling my teenagers “brain dead”.
            “You left your iphone in an airport terminal?!?!?! You didn’t get a job all summer, and you want me to buy you a NEW iphone?!?! WHAT? Are you thermonuclear STUPID?”

            Really rolls off the tongue.
            Maybe that’s why they sometimes reject my opinion.

  • I appreciate everything you do, Simcha. You’re doing good work here.

  • Anna

    And Dilbert contributes too, with why we should renounce science!
    http://www.dilbert.com/strips/comic/2014-09-16/

  • Good stuff. Love the chart. Two things:

    “Believe” is just so much the wrong word when talking about the claims of science. If some zealous pollster were to ask me if I “believe” in evolutions, I’d be sorely tempted to say no. Because what I conclude through thoughtful examination of the evidence and arguments is that the only explanation for the origin of species that stands up to critical scientific examination is natural selection. “I believe in evolution” is not shorthand for that, but is nearly the opposite.

    Lies, damn lies and statistics. While everybody uses statistical analysis, and it is in fact an indispensable tool for science, it is important to note that statistics, especially regression analysis, do not prove anything in the real world. What statistical analysis can do is point at or point away from certain approaches to the question. By the time you include all the necessary caveats – that the analysis applies to these data, under these assumptions, gathered in such and such a manner – it should be clear that the *theory* under which the analysis was conducted (and there’s always a theory!) determines to a large extent what the analysis discovers. So, statistical analysis should be one leg that supports the theory, but not the only or main one.

  • Howard

    “Mistrusting a knowledgeable person simply because he said something that makes you mad or upset or scared.” That’s not quite as bad as it sounds. Sometimes errors are subtle, or small errors have a cumulative effect. It is perfectly OK to say, “I know (or strongly suspect) you’re wrong, but I’m not sure just where the error crept in.” After all, the road to heresy is usually made up of a series of plausible steps.

  • Stu

    This post comes across as attempt to cover for the previous one on this topic where the author absolutely overextended herself or in her words, “got in over her head.” It’s also amusing to see the not-so-subtle jab at Debi Vinnedge for having but a degree in business administration (the author has but a recent degree in literature) but then noting, “The person you trust need not be a degreed expert in the field. Some of the best teachers are people who have educated themselves in matters that interest them; who know how to explain things well; and who are good at pointing other people toward more information.” I guess it just depends which side your are on. Regardless, I think good advice for anyone in “over their heads” is to head back to shore.
    One of the more troubling aspects of the Catholic blogosphere over the last few years is the tendency of some bloggers to speak on matters completely and obviously out of their “wheelhouse”. It’s just painful.

  • hilaritas

    I was disappointed to read these posts from Simcha. Not because they were critical of Dr Deisher’s study, but because they were unprofessional, and yes, unpleasant. Rude bordering on ridicule.

    Reading the comments on multiple blog posts from Simcha and Laura at Rational Catholic, has now tainted what you will write on the subject in the future.

    There was an opportunity for you all to perform a dispassionate analysis of Deisher’s study, but I honestly think you blew it. And this is disappointing because I want to see her study put through the grinder. And I would love to see her study debunked because it would give me peace of mind. Unfortunately I don’t trust you with all the passion that is stirred up… which is ironically one of your criticisms of Deisher.

    “Mistrusting a knowledgeable person because he expresses his ideas in an unpleasant way. I wish people wouldn’t do this, because it ratchets up emotions and makes me reluctant to share otherwise solid information. But unpleasantness of expression is not, in itself, a reason to disbelieve the facts, as long as the facts are there along with the unpleasantness.”

    I believe people in positions of influence and authority with trust placed in them need to hold themselves to a higher standard. You affect the way many people think and act Simcha. You are a Catholic authority figure. I hope that you elevate the Catholic blogosphere in the future.

  • Dave

    I am not interested in reading the battle of the studies, as most scientific studies prove very little anyway. Look at how “fats” as a whole were labeled as bad for us for many years because a result that actually proved that a certain class of fats (used in the study) were bad was taken to mean that ALL fats were bad.

    However, my stomach turns to think that Catholics would spend their precious time trying to show that, in fact, using vaccines obtained by using aborted fetal tissue are safe. I don’t think I want to hang out with such Catholics.

    Anyway, my personal experience has been that, yes, vaccines are very harmful, but it can’t be isolated to one aspect or another. There are toxic heavy metals in most vaccines, there is foreign DNA, and there can be contamination. It can be the synergy between the toxins more than one individual ingredient. My methodology is very anecdotal. All four of my family members were suffering from various maladies from chronic pain to arthritis to allergies to asthma. Conventional medicine could do little to nothing to help us. My wife, in fact, saw probably a dozen MD’s of various specialties in her search for help. Finally, we gave up and saw a chiropractor (who is a devout Catholic who prays the rosary every day, by the way)

    Using what many here would consider quackery, he diagnosed us and then prescribed certain herbs and homeopathy, etc. A year later, all of our problems are virtually gone. For example, I had arthritis and my allergies were so bad that I’d sneeze and snort for two or more days after mowing the lawn. I went to a rheumatologist for nine years with little gain except temporary pain relief, while taking meds that were later shown to be very dangerous. After going to this chiropractor for one year, my arthritis is gone and my allergies when mowing might consist of one sneeze while I’m mowing.

    Some of the problems that came up were toxins from vaccines, human genetic materials from vaccines, viruses from vaccines, etc. By no means were all of the problems related to vaccines, but it was a significant part. Can I prove this scientifically? No, of course not. But I feel 95% better thanks to him, so I am inclined to believe that what he said were problems really were. This is pretty much the same experience for all of us, except for that our kids got better a lot faster. Their allergies/asthma were gone in a week or two after starting.

    Our chiropractor pretty much gets people after they are in desperation mode and have tried everything else, and the results, for our friends too, have been uniformly positive. I know, it’s probably just placebo, right? Well, if so, I’m good with that. His placebos have helped us infinitely more than the placebos of the medical establishment.

    Do vaccines really save lives? There’s a good case to be made that modern sanitary practices are really the chief reason for the eradication of many diseases.

    • Eileen

      Regular medicine has saved the lives of my family and me, but we have also received plenty of relief from alternative medicine. More and more we avoid doctor trips through alternative means. Although it’s no longer possible for me to get pregnant, I would be curious how I would do treating a pregnancy holistically (right alongside my high risk OB). I wonder if my baby and I would be much healthier with alternative treatments? I’m not comfortable pitting alternative medicine against traditional medicine as has been done here time and again – I would use my OB, but she is unable to treat me – she simply takes the baby early and prevents me from bleeding or seizing to death. I naturally mistrust everyone – big medicine/big pharma and alternative practitioners. However, I’ve reached a point where I will generally try to treat something through alternative methods before I will seek out traditional medical advice.
      I vaccinate my kids, but I can well believe this woman is right, or largely right. And I refuse to believe that injecting vaccines derived from aborted baby tissue is ultimately healthy – at this point it’s simply less scary to me than the alternative of not vaccinating. To the medical establishment and people who hold the medical establishment’s word to be Gospel, “There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

      • Dave

        Eileen,

        I love your ending quote. So very apropos to this discussion.

        Yes, I find that the main argument for doing vaccines comes down to fear, as you say. I have reached the point that I’m more afraid of giving my kids the vaccinations than not, but that took a long road of experience and research.

        It’s good that you are somewhat cynical of all sides. There is a huge money motive in both conventional and alternative medicine. The difference is in terms of scale.

  • Gerard Nadal

    I would caution people about using the status of a journal to assess the quality of a study. The American academy has become so thoroughly radicalized that it is all but impossible to publish certain topics in top-tier journals because of the prevailing orthodoxies.

    If, for example, one tries to publish about the link between abortion and breast cancer one is going to discover that the topic is considered settled science by top-tier journals (i.e. no such link exists). In fact, any paper that finds in favor of a pro-life argument will almost always get excluded. So, be very careful about using this criterion to ascertain the quality or trustworthiness of a researcher.

  • David

    Great topic for discussion. I hope it continues. Speak the truth in love. ;0) It seems a contradiction to me that the persons who think they are ‘safe’ with a vaccination, fear those who are not vaccinated.

  • Hans-Georg Lundahl

    Here is my answer, in part to you and in part to a few more:

    http://nov9blogg9.blogspot.fr/2015/02/answering-simcha-fisher-david-palm-alec.html