Monday, August 19, 2013

Vaccines and Science

In reading my usual daily blog posts, I came across a link to this excellent article summarizing the reasons to get vaccinated and to vaccinate one's children. I particularly liked it because it runs through all the evidence (with links) and provides responses to some of the standard anti-vaccine arguments. In so doing the author, Dr. Jennifer A. Raff (with doctorates in Anthropology and Genetics!), does a very nice job of summarizing how science functions and why scientific experiments are really the only way to figure out how the world actually works.  You should read the entire piece, but I want to focus on the following:
Science operates based on the philosophy that the truth is knowable if we design experiments correctly, and we do enough of them to rigorously test our hypotheses. And I hope that you know by now that anyone with a keyboard can make stuff up. Peer review is how we test that someone isn’t making things up. Experts in your field have to agree with your conclusions.
To me, this is the essential point about science and why science is so valuable and important. In this day and age anyone with access to a computer can write and say anything he or she wants. This blog that I write on costs me nothing and I have total freedom to post anything I want. I try to be accurate and I try to ensure that my claims are true, but basically you only have my word (and your own independent analysis) to go on. Science, by contrast, won't accept anything based on someone's say-so. Instead, science consists of a rigorous set of practices and a methodology to eliminate, as much as possible, human bias and human error. In addition, science has peer review whereby other people examine claims and evidence, and retest to ensure that the results are as accurate as they can be. It is often the case that scientists or doctors are accused of being elitists, or in the pocket of this or that special interest group, but even when these claims are true, the methodology of science and the peer review process can weed out these conflicts of interest and get us as close as possible to the Truth. There is simply no other method that we have that can achieve the same results. And this is why, as Dr. Raff writes, "Your physician knows more than the University of Google."

h/t to Pharyngula


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  2. nothing is that black and white - one example of bad science in the article, they say that because Aluminum is present in human milk and therefore consumed orally with no problems, then that means that injecting Aluminum hydroxide intravenously can't give you macrophagic myofasciitis ( proof that it can ), the study provided has no correlation whatsoever with vaccines, she is either being deliberately misleading or has a very poor understanding of science, I wonder if she knows that all food contains aluminium!!!

    most people who show concerns about vaccines are not "anti vaxxers" or "anti-science" that's just industry bullshit to try and ridiculise opposition in the eyes of the public

    take measles as an example, yes it kills, WHO estimates 120,000 a year, a figure the pharma lobby use regularly, however they fail to mention that 95% of measle deaths come from impoverished areas and most notably in refugee camps after disasters, so is it the fault of "anti vaxxers" or more corporate BS, maybe attacking inegality, poverty and malnutrition would work better than vaccines for measles

    you shouldn't be pro or anti virus, nothing is that black and white, but be very carefull because in a capitalist framework profit comes before everything and many vaccines are more than unnecessary


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