Anti-vaccine education – ignorance and bullshit about finance

Anti-vaccine education – ignorance and bullshit about finance

We all  know about anti-vaccine education. They are ignorant about science. They’re unknowledgeable about clinical trials. They’re uneducated about the vaccine court. And they rely upon package inserts, written by Big Pharma of course, as their proof of whatever.

Now, it’s clear that human nature is such that when one takes a position, say on vaccines, they kind of lock in on it, despite the evidence. And the vast majority of unbiased, non-cherry-picked evidence leads to only one simple conclusion – vaccines are relatively safe and effective. A truly open-minded person, say a scaly extinct dinosaur, examines and re-examines their position in light of all of the evidence.

But it’s not just science where the anti-vaccine crowd gets it all wrong. I’ve written before about vaccine profits – if Big Pharma were as evil and nefarious as the science deniers claim, then vaccines would slowly disappear from the market. Why? Because the industry would make boatloads more money selling everything else to hospitals and physicians to treat long-disappeared vaccine preventable diseases.

And there’s more. I completely overlooked the major problem with huge epidemics, which don’t exist today – there are insufficient hospital beds in all developed countries (and it goes with out saying, it’s worse in poorer countries) to care for the hundreds of thousands or millions of kids who get sick. Every new bed in a hospital probably sends $1 million in revenues to Big Pharma (or more broadly Big Medical, which includes devices, equipment, and other products). The windfall to Big Medical/Big Pharma would be so huge that if ending vaccination were a real thing, I’d be going long in Big Pharma stocks, and waiting for the delivery of my brand new shiny Ferrari.

Related to the ignorant anti-vaccine education on Big Pharma profits, their utter lack of understanding about personal finance and investing is almost laughable. Especially, since it’s one of their core ad hominem attacks on several pro-science writers. Let’s look at one.

Anti-vaccine education – finance

 

A regular contributor to the scaly (actually feathery, but thats another story) dinosaur’s website is Dorit Rubinstein Reiss. Dr. Rubinstein Reiss is a legal scholar, a tenured professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in beautiful downtown San Francisco.

I know that it’s difficult to understand for the vaccine deniers, a common issue, but becoming a tenured professor at a respected university system like the University of California is very prestigious. And difficult to attain.

One earns a tenured position through superior academic scholarship, peer-review, teaching, and publishing frequently. It’s not given because of privilege. It’s not given because of anything but earning respect of your peers through hard work. But that’s not the point of my article.

Dorit has been attacked frequently on social media because of her ownership of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) stock. The anti-vaccination crowd uses this ownership of GSK as evidence to support their belief that she is corrupt. Or worse.

There are many more like this, on Facebook, Twitter, and even attacks on her comments on some random article about vaccines in some obscure newspaper. Dorit is attacked all the time, because ad hominem arguments are employed, in lieu of real evidence, against her. And she takes it, publicly, with great aplomb.

On the other hand, I have no patience for it, hence this article.

Let’s look at her ownership of GSK stock from a real-world finance point of view. Not that I think it will actually change any anti-vaccine cultist’s mind, but let me try.

GSK stock

 

I am not sure how many shares of GSK stock that Dorit owns, but if she has a varied portfolio for retirement (a long time from now), I’m fairly certain she owns a lot less than 10,000 shares, probably less than 1,000. It really doesn’t matter, as you will see.

GlaxoSmithKline is a British pharmaceutical manufacturer whose stock is listed on most of the world’s largest stock exchanges, including the New York Stock Exchange. (Note – GSK listings are bit more complicated than that, because it’s a British company.) It’s current share value (6 June 2016) is US$42.88 per share.

Now take a deep breath. There are over 2.43 billion shares outstanding and traded publicly. That’s billion.

Now take another deep breath. GSK’s earnings per share is about US$0.37. That is, last year, GSK earned 37 cents on each share of it’s stock.

I have access to GSK research reports from my stock broker, which I cannot legally post, but from which I will liberally quote. I read 12 detailed analyst research reports on GSK, and here’s what I could find:

  • Not a single report mentioned Dorit Rubinstein Reiss. Not once. If she has such great influence over the stock price (so, technically her own valuation of GSK stock) through her advocacy of vaccines, the world’s leading stock analysts have somehow failed to notice. I guess they could have missed it, but that seems ludicrous.
  • Of the GSK earnings, it appears around 15% come from vaccines (pdf). In other words, if Dorit actually could influence the price of vaccines, it would on the 6 cents per share attributable to vaccines.
  • Most analysts consider GSK to be a “hold” or “sell.” Only 1 out of 12 I read had GSK to be a “buy.” In other words, most analysts are not thinking that GSK has strong earnings growth over the next year or so. Dorit is a miserable failure at promoting their stock.

Again, the claims are that Dorit has some profound influence over the price of the stock. But really, she only speaks to the 6 cents per share. So if Dorit really had influence, which she clearly does not, maybe she could raise the price by 1 cent per share.

If she owned 1000 shares of GSK (worth around $50,000), she’d make $10.00. Enough to get a few cups of coffee, if she drank coffee (I have no idea if she does or not, but maybe she’s a shill for Starbucks).

If she owned 10,000 shares (or about half a million dollars of investment), she’d make $100. Of course, if I were her financial advisor, I’d ask her why she was that invested in GSK – most long-term investors diversify their portfolio.

In other words, Dorit is working hard to promote vaccines for somewhere between $10 and $100. If this were true, I’d ask her to seriously think about another tactic, because, considering how hard she works, she’s earning less than a penny per hour.

I guess the anti-vaccine crowd could invent some other conspiracy, like wealthy investors who own a few million shares are paying her to promote the vaccine. But once again, we are talking about pennies, which even if you owned a million shares, it’s not that much money.

Furthermore, most of GSK’s future earnings for vaccines center around such products as the HIV vaccine. Most people aren’t going to care about what anyone says about vaccines, the HIV vaccine is going to be wildly popular.

 
 

The TL;DR version

 

  1. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss’ influence over GSK’s stock price is overblown.
  2. Not a single stock analyst, those experts who try to determine the future of a stock price, has mentioned her name as a reason to buy or sell the stock. Not a one. Dorit is important to those of us who battle ignorance regarding vaccines, but she’s not even a footnote in the stock price world. I don’t think she cares, but maybe she’ll comment that I hurt her feelings.
  3. And even if you buy into this personal attack and conspiracy, it’s the worst financial move ever by anyone I know. The return on her personal investment in this issue is miserable.
  4. And even if you buy into this conspiracy, she influences around 6 cents per share. Good luck making millions off of 6 cents per share.

The quality of the anti-vaccine education is appalling. Not only do they miss the science, but they can’t even get basic Finance 101 stuff right. But I guess it’s so much easier that they show off their ignorance by making accusations that only stick in the simple minds of the anti-vaccine gang. For most of us with quality educations, it’s laughable.

The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!