I’ve written a billion (± 0.999 billion) times that one of the greatest of HPV vaccine benefits is cancer prevention. This really isn’t in question with cancer scientists, but as you know Dunning-Kruger anti-vaccine zealots think they know more than real scientists, and they look for any reason to bash the cancer-preventing vaccine.
And if you know anything about cancer, there are just a handful of ways to actually prevent any of the hundreds of different cancers. And the HPV vaccine is one of them.
Which leads us to this moment. Two recent studies have been published on HPV vaccine benefits – one supports the vast scientific consensus on HPV vaccine efficacy, the other is so poorly done, it tells us almost nothing about HPV vaccine effectiveness. Guess which one the anti-vaxxers will cherry-pick?
Recently, the world press is breathlessly reporting an outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus (termed “2019-nCoV”). It was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
Predictably, the second that the story about this coronavirus hit the clickbait headlines across the world, the anti-vaccine conspiracists started pushing all kinds of ignorant nonsense.
You know those conspiracies like the military (unknown which one) created the virus to kill people. Or China is trying to destroy ‘Murica. Or Bill Gatesinvented the virus (well, if he did, it’s because of Windows 7). Or Big Pharma created the virus because they have a secret vaccine that they can sell for billions of gold bars.
Of course, there isn’t a scintilla of evidence that any of those conspiracies are true. However, if the coronavirus does become a worldwide epidemic (and it hasn’t so far), then the CDC, WHO, and Big Pharma will work feverishly to find a vaccine to prevent it.
The “Andrew Wakefield is innocent” trope that is rising again among the anti-vaxxer zombie claims being pushed recently. Professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss critiques this claim in a 7-year-old article. I guess if the anti-vaccine loyalists can bring back old myths, we can bring back the solid refutation of them. This article also shows why Andrew Wakefield isn’t innocent whatsoever.
On March 7, 2012, Judge Mitting of the British High Court of Justice quashed the British General Medical Council (GMC)’s finding that Professor John Walker-Smith was guilty of serious professional misconduct. On November 21, 2014, for the umpteenth time, an anti-vaccine activist linked to the decision regarding Walker-Smith as evidence that Andrew Wakefield is innocent when the GMC found him, too, guilty of serious ethical violations.
The problem with this claim is that it is incorrect.
Retracted anti-vaccine papers are a staple of my articles published here. Usually, they try to create some fake link between vaccines and autism, but these papers try to say anything that casts vaccines in a bad light.
As we know, real science has established that there is no link between vaccines and autism. Anti-vaccine papers generally try to show this link without epidemiological or clinical studies – they just try to make some specious biologically implausible claims trying to link something about vaccines to autism.
Much of the anti-vaccine research is so bad, so poorly designed, that it’s relegated to low quality, predatory journals which have laughably poor peer-review systems. Even then, we can find the occasional retracted anti-vaccine papers, because they are often so bad that even these predatory publishers are embarrassed.
Anti-vaxxers love their false authorities, such as the infamous Tetyana Obukhanych. They also love to invoke Dr. Diane Harper as the authority of choice with regard to HPV vaccines. Obukhanych is truly a false authority, but Dr. Harper is much more complicated.
Because vaccine deniers lack any scientific evidence supporting their unfounded beliefs about vaccines, they tend to rely upon unscientific information like anecdotes, logical fallacies, misinterpretation of data, or false authorities to support their case about the lack of safety of vaccines.
The so-called “lead Gardasil researcher,” Dr. Diane Harper, a former “consultant” to Merck and GSK, had some responsibilities in the clinical trials for their HPV vaccines. But the claims about whether Dr. Harper supports or dislikes those vaccines are substantially more complicated than what the anti-vaccine zealots would like to claim about her.
Amusingly, every few months the social media haunts of the anti-vaccine crowd explode with claims that Dr. Diane Harper, lead Gardasil researcher, hates HPV vaccines.
Let’s take a look at the story and see what we find.
On January 7, 2020, my school informed me that it received a new Public Records Act request for my emails, this time from the Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), a well-funded anti-vaccine organization headed by Mr. Del Bigtree. The request was submitted via the law firm of Siri and Glimstad in New York, though it was not signed by Aaron Siri, a lawyer who represented groupsfighting vaccines in the past.
People demonize food additives all the time. Just see monosodium glutamate, as just one example. And there’s high fructose corn syrup, a sugar that is blamed for everything from cancer to diabetes to climate change. OK, maybe not climate change.
High fructose corn syrup is just sugar, but because it has a complicated name, it must be bad. It’s part of the “chemophobia,” the fear of anything that sounds like a chemical.
The so-called Food Babe has made a lot of money endorsing a belief that all chemicals are evil. Of course, such claims ignore the simple fact that all life, the air, and water are made of chemicals.
They want us to believe that man-made chemicals are more dangerous than “natural” chemicals, but that betrays several things about science:
Many “natural” chemicals are dangerous.
Those “natural” chemicals didn’t evolve for the benefit of humans, so they are not inherently better for humans.
Nature isn’t always better.
And high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is considered one of the evil “chemicals” that are destroying humanity. But is it? Let’s answer that question.
The HPV vaccine is one of the few actual methods to prevent cancer, more important than drinking kale-blueberry shakes every day. Thus, this increase in the HPV vaccine uptake in both girls and boys will lead to a long-term decrease in the rate of many cancers.
Despite the articles you might read on this website, there are many more pseudoscience pushers than the ones we observe pushing their anti-vaccine religion. One of my favorite ones to mock is homeopathy, a quack treatment that is essentially pure water (see Note 1).
Not only is it pure water, but it’s very expensive pure water. It’s much more expensive than your GMO-free, gluten-free water, taken from the melting glaciers in the Alps (thanks to climate change deniers).
It is a scam that tries to convince people that a vial of nothing more than water (and sometimes ethanol) has some magical medical properties. It is magic that requires suspension of much of our scientific knowledge of chemistry, biology, and physics.
Let’s take a look at homeopathy, just so you know more about this expensive water.