CONSPIRACY THEORIES AND THOSE WACKY ANTIVAXXERS
A few days ago, KEVIN MD (or HERE), ran one of the singularly whackiest blog posts I've seen to date concerning the debate over VACCINES. The article (Should Anti-Vaccine Advocates Get More Respect?) by guest author, Saurabh Jha, MD, started out by comparing those who believe vaccines --- especially the incredible numbers of them that are being foisted on today's citizens --- might not be as safe and wonderful as we've been led to believe; to conspiracy theorists. Jha compared people like myself ("antivaxxers" who really believe in the citizen's right to choose) to those who believe that (quotes are cherry-picked)........
"9/11 was concocted by Bush and Halliburton so that the U.S. could invade Iraq to capture their oil, United Flight 93 never took off, and Mahatma Gandhi plotted World War II to free India from British rule. Vaccination phobia is the perfect storm of paranoia. The lesson I've drawn from conspiracy and non-conspiracy theorists is that crank can coexist with competence, and competence can coexist with stupidity. Maybe if we treated the anti-vaxxers with a smidge of respect they might -- just might -- get over their vaccination phobia."
While conspiracy theories are certainly fun (compare THESE PICS to the owl seen in the dollar bill above right), about the only thing they tell us for sure is that OJ never made it to Mars on Capricorn One. Beyond that, it's all up for grabs. Hitler living in South America, JFK's real killer, Bigfoot, UFO's & space aliens (Roswell and Area 51), The Da Vinci Code, Opus Dei, and the Knights Templar. I mean really; who doesn't love this stuff? It's the same reason you're secretly drawn to Enquirer headlines as you check out at the grocery store --- "Eight Year Old Girl in Svambockian Mountains Gives Birth to Rare Twelve Year Old Spotted Yeti." The thing is, sometimes conspiracy theories actually turn out to be true (HERE, HERE, HERE, or HERE). Dr. Jha (a radiologist of all things) went on to write.....
"9/11 truthers remind me of anti-vaxxers. They share a deep paranoia which is impervious to logic and science and which becomes stronger when confronted with logic and science. What doesn't change their minds, and little does, makes their beliefs stronger."
Here's the rub. We've seen that in medicine, nothing is as it seems. Its practice is far more dangerous than we've been led to believe, or that anyone on the inside cares to admit (LAST YEAR'S BMJ STUDY). A significant amount of research --- by some estimates, more than half --- is being "ABANDONED & BURIED" when results don't turn out as well as industry hoped or expected. Academic medicine is for sale (HERE). And to top it all off, there are any number of ways to make research come out the way you want it to (HERE). Oh; and while I probably don't need to tell you this, it's all driven by money (HERE). So if there's one thing we've learned so far, it's that we can't trust much of anything we've learned so far (HERE'S THE WHOLE KIT AND KABOODLE). However, there are a few things we do know for sure.
We know that the book Jha recommends to debunk conspiracy theorists like myself was written by none other than DR. PAUL "FOR PROFIT" OFFIT --- an individual said to be making tens of millions of dollars in the vaccine industry. We know that the rates of autism continue to skyrocket (HERE). We know that more people have autoimmune diseases than you can shake a stick at (HERE'S a list of the more common ones). We know that CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY DEGENERATIVE DISEASES have become ubiquitous to Western society. We know that the aluminum used as the adjuvant in virtually all vaccines is extremely neurotoxic (HERE or HERE). And above all of this, we now know that germs aren't even really the cause --- or at least the primary cause --- of disease to begin with (HERE or HERE). And while some of this can be blamed on our collectively crappy diets, there are many like myself who think there is more to it than that.
As is the case with many online articles, the comments are far meatier and more interesting than the article itself. Such is the case with this portion of the comment from Andrew Johnstone, RPh / MD of the Johnstone Family Practice in Indianapolis. The interesting thing is how many doctors agreed with Dr. Johnstone's views (he also had some great things to say about the measles vaccine).
A couple of my 'anti-vaxers' are actually very educated (one is a physician who is an immunologist, and the other has a PhD in biochemistry), and several others work in health care as nurses, a physical therapist, and two pharmacists. So writing them off as 'uninformed' or 'stupid' is nonsensical. Maybe 'paranoid', but then I can think of numerous historic examples in medicine where skepticism or defiance of 'standard practice' turned out to be prophetically correct.
Being blind to the clear financial incentives for both private industry and government alike to minimize or even hide side effects is to assume that somehow the vaccine industry is completely different than the 'pill' industry. Physicians are portrayed as 'shills for the pharmaceutical industry' when it comes to pills, as if all we do is happily prescribe the most expensive, unnecessary, dangerous pills the drug-rep with the most exposed cleavage pitches to us over pizza. Then a 180-degree shift when it comes to the government and media attitude to those same pharmaceutical industries - any and all vaccine products they put forth are assumed to be completely safe and absolutely vital, and should be mandatory the day they are released. Any physicians expressing hesitancy are obviously deranged or 'paranoid'.
The double standard is fascinating.
If my kid gets immunized like a good kid, and the neighbor's kid fails to get immunized, then my kid gets measles because the neighbor's kid exposes him......is that evidence the other kid/mom were the problem, or is that evidence that the measles vaccine my kid got wasn't all that effective...?
I guess you could say that Dr. Jha is correct. I am paranoid. With 300 VACCINES CURRENTLY IN THE R&D PIPELINE, who's there to protect us from the zealots --- zealots that all too often have a financial stake in the number of people who get vaccinated? After 25 years of practice I've seen too many horror stories concerning vaccines; many of them having to do with children. If parents believe that their children don't need measles, chicken pox, or flu vaccines, I'm not sure why others feel the need to force them to do otherwise -- especially in light of the last paragraph of Dr. Johnstone's last paragraph.
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).