Oh look! Another Orac rant! More verbal diarrhea. And I get to pick it apart? Awww…I didn’t get Orac anything!
Today’s crapfest, titled “Destroying the vaccine program in order to save it” is just like the rest of his rants concerning vaccines and autism. So, why do I pick them apart, you ask? Why do I torture myself so by dealing with his odious personality and the banality of his multitudinous brain-washed servants? Several reasons, actually. I think it’s important to show that those who claim to be “Science-Based” like Mr. Gorski continually does are not actually science-based. It’s important to show that his reasoning is flawed on so many levels. Orac is one of the go-to guys of the “science-based” movement, and it’s relevant to show that he is biased, close-minded, and hypocritical, all of which are not the qualities of someone who claims to be a critical thinker. I’ll get into that a little later. And most importantly, I do all of this for you, my dear readers, so you don’t have to.
So, let’s start with his article, shall we? His latest tirade begins with the following:
Last week, I did three posts about the anti-vaccine movement. (What? Only three? Well, last week was slower than usual on the anti-vaccine craziness front. It happens.) Two of them were variations on a theme, namely how the anti-vaccine movement vehemently, desperately does not want to be seen as "anti-vaccine, even though that's what many of them are. First, I pointed out how the "health freedom" movement is teaming up with the anti-vaccine movement next week in Chicago to hold an anti-vaccine rally in Grant Park as part of its annual autism quackfest known as AutismOne. My second post asked a simple question: Why, if Age of Autism is about doing better for autistic kids rather than being anti-vaccine, do the the bloggers there spend so much time and verbiage ranting about Gardasil, which, even if the vaccine-autism connection were true, couldn't possibly cause autism because it's given a decade after the typical first onset of autistic symptoms?
My answer is that it's always, first and foremost, about the vaccines, not autism.
Every so often, though, the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism provides me with an insight to how the anti-vaccine movement thinks. This time around, Julie Obradovic serves that purpose with a post entitled How to Actually Save the Vaccine Program. My first impression was that, it's very, very nice of die hard enemies of the vaccine program to give public health officials advice on how to "save it." In essence, the post is a list of what Ms. Obradovic thinks public health officials should do before the the anti-vaccine movement will listen to them. In doing so, she demonstrates perfectly exactly why it's virtually impossible to reason with die-hard anti-vaccine loons. She also demonstrates the utter sense of entitlement that so many of them have, a sense that the world must cater to her.
His first paragraph is just treading over old ground. I addressed one of his posts on a previous blog entry, so I won’t rehash. Do notice that he continues to use the word “quack” in his spittle-flecked rant. I would say that he is projecting, but even those who are really quacks have standards. The second part of his introduction discusses AoA’s aversion to Gardasil, and here I will have to step up and say that I agree with him somewhat.
“What?” you say. “Craig agreeing with Orac?”
Before you run outside to see if the world is coming to an end, keep in mind that I am just acknowledging a point, which reasonable people do (and since Orac consistently fails to acknowledge the valid points from us, what does that tell us about him?), though I’m not acknowledging his point in the way that he thinks.
The reason that AoA focuses on vaccines so much is because so many people who read and post on AoA witness a significant and life-altering event in their children so soon after a vaccination. While Gardasil may not be associated with Autism (I agree), it does have an unusually high record for adverse events. Since many people think that Autism in their children was caused by adverse reactions, or events, to one or more vaccinations, then it is reasonable to say that by showing the high adverse event rate for Gardasil and proving that it is unsafe, then it would call other vaccinations into question. Again, this looks like they are attacking vaccines. However, it goes further than that. This is not an attack on the vaccine; it’s an attack on those that make the vaccines. If Gardasil can be proven unsafe (and I think that will happen soon), then further scrutiny into Vaccine maker policies can be enforced. They can try to force the Vaccine makers to make safer vaccines. But, of course, Mr. Gorski thinks this is a bad thing.
His second paragraph discusses Julie Obradovic’s article that she posted on Age of Autism a few days ago (here). He begins with a false assumption (this tells him how anti-vaxxers think) and moves immediately into ad hominem and hypocrisy (they are loons that are incapable of being reasoned with). Of course, Mr. Gorski has repeatedly demonstrated that anyone who doesn’t follow his point of view is anti-science (or anti-vaccine…they are really the same in his book). This clearly implies that he is also incapable of being reasoned with. Later, he accuses Ms. Obradovic of having a false sense of entitlement towards public health officials and those who make vaccine policies.
It isn’t a false sense of entitlement because the various agencies are supposed to be working for the people. The FDA and CDC are government agencies, and the US Government is a government that is allegedly for the people by the people. The Vaccine Industry are corporations that are dependent on sales and income from products sold to consumers. If that doesn’t entitle Ms. Obradovic to offer suggestions to these agencies, I don’t know what does. Obviously, however, Orac is completely opposed to that simple concept that is a cornerstone of our Democratic society.
Let’s move on. In the following paragraphs he discusses some of the things that Julie thinks would help the various agencies. I’ll skip the portions where he quotes Julie (I’ve linked the article) and just get to the meat of his sniveling. Ms. Obradovic’s first point discusses transparency on the part of the FDA, CDC and Vaccine Industry and discusses how honesty would be integral to regaining the trust of many people. She discusses the limited studies performed by scientists with numerous Conflicts of Interests on the safety of one vaccine (MMR) and one ingredient (Thimerosal) and then calls a spade a spade by saying these agencies are lying about the removal of Thimerosal from vaccines (and they are).
Of course, it never occurs to Ms. Obradovic that the scientific community has been telling the truth. She's also good at building up straw men of burning man size and then aiming the aforementioned flamethrower of burning stupid at it, incinerating it. No one has said that "all vaccines in any child at any time" are completely safe. What science says is that there is no good scientific evidence that vaccines given according to the current vaccine schedule cause autism and that there is a lot of evidence that they are not at all correlated. She claims that mixing mercury with aluminum causes problems because of "high reactivity," betraying such an ignorance of basic chemistry and pharmacology that it is really, really hard not to be snarkier about it than I've been.
David goes into a clear state of denial in the very first sentence. He says that the scientific community has been telling the truth. If this were true, they would have removed Thimerosal completely from vaccines as early as 2001, when they said they would. But, as can be seen from my earlier link, Thimerosal was still in the formulations of many childhood vaccines as late as 2007, and is still in many formulations of the Flu vaccines today. Not only that, he wants us to take it on faith that the Pharmaceutical Industry, which has on numerous occasions in the recent pas; 1) lied about the safety of their products, using ghost writers to publish fake studies and paying doctors to sign off on them (Vioxx); 2) sold HIV tainted drugs to foreign countries (Bayer); 3) wrote fake journals to publish the fake studies about the safety of their products, then threatened the livelihood of any doctor or scientist who spoke out against these studies by “destroying them where they live” (Merck). The list is a mile long. But David expects us to take it on faith that they couldn’t possibly lie about the safety of vaccines. Riiiight. More on that Faith thing later.
Orac’s second sentence clearly shows his utter lack of maturity and again makes him look like a teenaged boy who has just discovered that he likes boobs. He goes on to moan about how no one is saying that “all vaccines in any child at any time are completely safe.” That doesn’t stop Pediatricians and doctors from grabbing the next child and stabbing them with a needle, does it? Do you think they have all the data on whether or not a newborn child being injected with the HepB vaccine may have a condition that could cause problems or contraindications? Do they know if the child is allergic to a component of the vaccine? No, they do not. Doesn’t stop them from sticking the needle in, though, does it? His next statement is a good example of sophistry. What science has shown is that the science of vaccines and autism is incomplete. The evidence that shows a lack of correlation is done by scientists who have a vested interest in showing a lack of correlation (Verstaeten, who went to work for GSK in the middle of the now famous Danish study; Thorsen, etc.). Does that invalidate their research? No, but it does call the objectivity of the researchers into question. And finally, Mercury and Aluminum are highly reactant to each other, and even the vaccine manufacturers have gone on the record to state that they are unsure about exactly how the adjuvants work.
David then cherry picks a few quotes from the article (hey, I thought science and evidence based people didn’t do that!). Julie’s next quote talks about how the scientists and researchers employed by the Pharmaceutical industry, and those employed by the CDC should acknowledge their bias and lack of objectivity. Orac’s pathetic response?
I call a strawman and raise you a "pot, kettle, black."
And, I see your “pot, kettle, black” and raise you one deluded, narcissistic, egomaniacal asshole. From reading that cesspool that David calls a blog, it is easy to see that he is NOT objective and IS very much biased.
Mr. Gorski gets amused by Julie’s next point. Essentially, she asks that they quit going to Dr. Offit as the spokesperson for vaccines. While I see her point (he’s biased), I don’t necessarily agree with her. More of that in a minute. First, Orac’s response:
I bet the anti-vaccine movement would like it a lot if Dr. Offit gave up, if he refused to do battle with the anti-vaccine movement anymore. He is arguably the single most tenacious and effective combatter of anti-vaccine nonsense there is. Of course the anti-vaccine movement would like to see him removed from the battle!
I don’t think that Dr. Offit is particularly effective. Nor do I see him as tenacious. He certainly has experience with infectious diseases, but he’s also biased in favor of vaccines. Personally, I have no problem with him continuing as the voice of the “grab ‘em and stab ‘em” movement. He has failed to demonstrate the safety of the product he’s defending and has failed to come across as a reasonable, unbiased supporter of his science. He has failed to provide those “death threats” that he goes on and on and on about. The only thing he has done is made himself look foolish and made himself out as a whiner because no one will listen to him. Oh, and isn’t he on the Merck payroll? I wonder if that has something to do with it…
The next comment from Ms. Obradovic I will write in full, because I want there to be no misunderstanding about what Mr. Gorski turns the comment into.
Here is Julie’s comment:
Understand that you are under investigation by the parent community for a crime: medical negligence. Understand that no amount of self-investigation will ever be good enough to convince them of your innocence.
And here is David’s response:
Actually, no amount of investigation, period, will convince someone like Ms. Obradovic that vaccines don't cause autism. It doesn't matter who does it. It doesn't matter who funds the research. It doesn't matter how bulletproof the research is from a scientific standpoint. It won't convince Ms. Obradovic. It won't convince J.B. Handley. It won't convince Jenny McCarthy. It won't convince any of the leaders of the anti-vaccine movement. The best way to illustrate this, should you ever get into a discussion with a die-hard vaccine rejectionist, is to ask that person to tell you in very specific terms exactly what evidence would make her change her mind and vaccinate her child. Then follow up on the questions. Inevitably, what you'll find is that no evidence will. Either that, or the level of evidence will be so unrealistically high that science could never provide that level of certainty.
Now, Julie’s comment does not say what David thinks it says. Julie says that no amount of self-investigation (emphasis is mine) will convince her. This is true. Right now, the CDC and the Pharmaceutical industry have a nice, incestuous relationship going on. The only people who are investigating them for the medical negligence that Julie proposes are themselves. That’s right…they are investigating their own alleged crime. And we are supposed to take it on faith that the results are unbiased and true. And I’ve mentioned how Orac’s next canard is wrong, i.e. the asking “what evidence it would take” thing. What happens is, when we give what evidence it would take (a retrospective study on the neurological health outcomes of unvaccinated children done by an independent researcher), we are told “It can’t be done.” This, as I mentioned in my last post, is known as a Burden of Proof fallacy. Additionally, he again throws out the “No evidence will ever convince you” hypocrisy.
Ms. Obradovic’s next comment is quite reasonable. It asks the medical community and researchers to reach out to those who criticize them. Listen to their stories, because their dismissal of these parents’ stories makes these parents feel betrayed.
Actually, been there, done that. What makes Ms. Obradovic think that the public health community hasn't reached out to its loudest critics? I once criticized a friend for naïveté for proposing exactly the same thing. In doing so, I pointed out several examples of scientists and public health officials doing just what Ms. Obradovic claims that she wants to see. Not only did it not work, but at every turn representatives of the anti-vaccine movement took advantage of the gullibility of those trying to "reach out" to them in order to cause more trouble.
This is not to say that we shouldn't reach out to parents. Of course we should! Parents who are confused, parents who keep hearing that vaccines cause autism and are afraid, parents who don't know the science and don't know whether they can trust their doctors, these are the people we should reach out to. These are the people whom we should treat with respect. The J.B. Handley, Julie Obradovics, Kim Staglianos, and Jenny McCarthys of the world, not so much. The reason is that they have shown themselves over a long period of time to be about as close to unreachable as can be.
I’m sure all of you can see what’s wrong with these 2 paragraphs, yes? In the second paragraph, he says that the scientific community should reach out to parents who are frightened by the bloated vaccination schedule, but contradicts himself in the first paragraph by saying that he criticized a friend for doing just that. He doesn’t want to reach out to anyone; he only wants to insult those who don’t adhere to his narrow-minded paradigm and marginalize anyone who disagrees with him. This is further reinforced by his insults to J.B. Handley, Ms. Obradovic, Kim Stagliano and Ms. McCarthy. To him, they shouldn’t have a say, nor should they be reached out to. And then, he further calls himself a hypocrite by saying that they are unreachable.
I once reached out to him in an attempt to turn him from his treatment of parents like me. You can all see how he reacted to that, I’m sure.
He then mentions some of the comments posted on Julies article, then ends his article with this gem:
It's not the current vaccination program that it madness. Far from it. Rather, it's the anti-vaccine movement that is madness. It is madness to try to pursuade parents not to vaccinate based on fears born from fear and ignorance and suckled on pseudoscience and conspiracy mongering. What Obradovic seems to want is for scientists to "destroy the vaccine program in order to save it." She doesn't want "dialog," at least not any meaningful dialog where both sides listen. Her post makes it abundantly clear that she wants to be heard without listening. Rather, what she is in essence demanding is unconditional surrender of the "enemy" to the demands of the anti-vaccine movement as a precondition for negotiations. Under such circumstances, it would be madness to give in, because, as Ms. Obradovic has shown us in no uncertain terms that anything less than total capitulation to what she wants is unacceptable! "Reaching" out to such people runs the very real risk of giving up more and more ground in a futile hope that a reasonable accommodation can be reached, until one day everything has been given up and there is nothing left. What the anti-vaccine movement wants is nothing less than the utter destruction of the current vaccination program. After all, her leader J.B. Handley himself has said as much!
The sad thing is that Ms. Obradovic, for all her spewing of anti-vaccine canards, misinformation, and pseudoscience combined with a sense of utter entitlement, is, compared to the commenters on AoA, about as close to reasonable as anti-vaccinationists come.
Whew!! There is a lot of bullshit in those two paragraphs. I’m going to have to deconstruct his argument sentence by sentence.
It's not the current vaccination program that it madness.
The current vaccine schedule was made with the convenience of the parents and pediatricians in mind. There is nothing that looks at potential contraindications prior to vaccination; no tests that determine if a child has conditions that could cause injury. So yes, it IS madness.
Rather, it's the anti-vaccine movement that is madness. It is madness to try to pursuade parents not to vaccinate based on fears born from fear and ignorance and suckled on pseudoscience and conspiracy mongering.
Strawman. There are very few people who are saying “Do not vaccinate.” Not once has Ms. Obradovic said that. Nor Ms. McCarthy, nor Mr. Handley. And I call a conspiracy reductionist gambit on Orac here. And who, exactly, is doing the fear mongering? How many times have we heard Orac and the rest of his talking heads go on, ad nauseum, about the dangers of teh eebil Chicken Pox? Oh…we’s all gonna die from teh Chicken Pox. (Disclaimer: this is just satire. I understand that chicken pox has rare cases that can kill a child, but this is mostly in 3rd world countries where this happens). The truth is that he is just as guilty (if not more) of fear-mongering as those he is accusing.
What Obradovic seems to want is for scientists to "destroy the vaccine program in order to save it."
So, asking for transparency; asking for the scientists to listen to the parents who have children who regressed after a vaccination; asking for independent research into Vaccines and the claims of the CDC; asking for an independent oversight committee into the Pharmaceutical companies’ practices and their vaccine policy; asking for the CDC to open the VSD to independent researchers; asking to remove known neurotoxins from vaccines; all of that is bad in David’s book. All of that will “destroy the vaccine program.” I think you all get the point.
She doesn't want "dialog," at least not any meaningful dialog where both sides listen. Her post makes it abundantly clear that she wants to be heard without listening.
And I call hypocrisy. Mr. Gorski has clearly shown that he is completely uninterested in meaningful dialog and that he should be heard without him having to listen. His only interest is in insulting those who don’t agree with him, and with being right.
Rather, what she is in essence demanding is unconditional surrender of the "enemy" to the demands of the anti-vaccine movement as a precondition for negotiations. Under such circumstances, it would be madness to give in, because, as Ms. Obradovic has shown us in no uncertain terms that anything less than total capitulation to what she wants is unacceptable!
And so has David. He has clearly shown that he thinks that we should all capitulate to him because, by golly, he’s a SCIENTIST and he’s smarter than everybody else. He demands that we listen to him, but doesn’t want us to question or think for ourselves.
"Reaching" out to such people runs the very real risk of giving up more and more ground in a futile hope that a reasonable accommodation can be reached, until one day everything has been given up and there is nothing left.
No, that’s your interpretation. In any argument between reasonable adults, people give ground until there is a point where equilibrium is reached. Since Mr. Gorski thinks that there should be no reason to even listen to Julie’s requests, then he is showing how unreasonable he is. That goes back to my whole point about the “critical thinking.” More on that in a minute.
The sad thing is that Ms. Obradovic, for all her spewing of anti-vaccine canards, misinformation, and pseudoscience combined with a sense of utter entitlement, is, compared to the commenters on AoA, about as close to reasonable as anti-vaccinationists come.
No less so than Orac and some of his commenters. Hell, I’ve seen people over there saying that they hope that parents like me all die of vaccine preventable diseases. Or, how Orac mocked parents saying that he didn’t become autistic after his vaccines. And then, his drones all jumping into the comments saying the exact same thing. For someone who claims to be science-based and a critical thinker, he sure fails to realize that people react differently to different things. For instance; not everyone can eat peanuts. But, Orac thinks they can, according to the logic above! Not everyone can safely take Penicillin. But Orac thinks they can! Oh, I know…if he reads this, he will say that I’m building a strawman. No, I’m taking the stupidity of his mindset and showing how ridiculous and preposterous he is.
Now, onto the critical thinking part. Here is a good list of what a critical thinker should be, and I will post whether or not we see these qualities in Orac.
Assuming that critical thinking is reasonable reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do, a critical thinker:
1. Is open-minded and mindful of alternatives (Nope)
2. Tries to be well-informed (Nope)
3. Judges well the credibility of sources (Uh uh)
4. Identifies conclusions, reasons, and assumptions (Since most of his reasoning is based on assumptions? No)
5. Judges well the quality of an argument, including the acceptability of its reasons, assumptions, and evidence (Again, no)
6. Can well develop and defend a reasonable position (No, he just hurls insults and ad hominems against those he disagrees with)
7. Asks appropriate clarifying questions (I’ve never seen him do this)
8. Formulates plausible hypotheses; plans experiments well (Yes…when he discusses his expertise area, i.e. cancer)
9. Defines terms in a way appropriate for the context. (Yes…again, when he’s discussing cancer)
10. Draws conclusions when warranted, but with caution (HAHAHAHA…Definitely not)
11. Integrates all items in this list when deciding what to believe or do (Not at all)
Critical Thinkers are disposed to:
1. Care that their beliefs be true, and that their decisions be justified; that is, care to "get it right" to the extent possible. This includes the dispositions to
a. Seek alternative hypotheses, explanations, conclusions, plans, sources, etc., and be open to them (Nope)
b. Endorse a position to the extent that, but only to the extent that, it is justified by the information that is available (Absolutely not)
c. Be well informed (Heh)
d. Consider seriously other points of view than their own (HAHAHAHAHAHA)
2. Care to present a position honestly and clearly, theirs as well as others'. This includes the dispositions to
a. Be clear about the intended meaning of what is said, written, or otherwise communicated, seeking as much precision as the situation requires
b. Determine, and maintain focus on, the conclusion or question
c. Seek and offer reasons
d. Take into account the total situation
e. Be reflectively aware of their own basic beliefs
(I’ve seen him do this when he talks about Cancer)
3. Care about the dignity and worth of every person (a correlative disposition). This includes the dispositions to
a. Discover and listen to others' view and reasons
b. Avoid intimidating or confusing others with their critical thinking prowess, taking into account others' feelings and level of understanding
c. Be concerned about others' welfare
(I will allow all of you time to read this and think about if you’ve seen Orac do this. And then, please take the time to compose yourselves. Please try not to rupture something while laughing).
We’ve all seen Orac say, definitively, that there is no connection between Vaccines and Autism. The science has spoken. This sounds an awful lot like faith, doesn’t it? We are supposed to take it on faith that the Pharmaceutical industry is telling the truth. We’re supposed to take it on faith that their studies are unbiased. We are just supposed to shut the hell up and take our medicine! That sounds like a religion…not science.
My good friend Hellbilly wrote this little tune about such blind faith. It’s sung to the tune of George Michael’s “Faith”
Well I guess it would be nice
If I could vaxx your baby
I know not everybody
Has got a baby like you
But I've got to think twice
Before I collect my pay
And I know all the things you’ll say
Because Jenny says them too
Oh but I
Need some time off from that commotion
Time to pick my needle up off the floor
And when that vaxx comes down
With excessive promotion
Well it takes a straw man baby
But Orac’ll be a good whore
'Cause I gotta have faith...
I know you're asking me to wait
Say please, please, please, don't vaxx today
You say I'm giving you the flus
You mean every word you say
Can't help but think of yesterday
And how easy it was without Thimerosal rules
Before this river
Becomes an ocean
Before AoA shows everyone the score
Oh no I won’t reconsider
My greedy notion
Well I need another Mazarati
So I can be like Offit some more
Yes I've gotta have faith...
Ok…Shower time...again. I feel so…defiled!