Pseudoscience and the desperate anti-vaccine intrigue

Rooting out pseudoscience out in the world is a full time job for literally hundreds of people, but many of the writers out there tend to focus on a few things. This blog, for example, mostly focuses on creationism, the anti-vaccine lunacy, and rarely, global warming. Creationism, for example, has a long tradition of pseudoscience, so the arguments debunking creationism is well known, and the creationists more or less rely upon the age old fallacies, which convince the True Believers™ but make real scientists chuckle. It has really evolved (pun intended) to a static argument but there is no scientific controversy, it’s just evolution denialists on one side and real science on the other. If this were a real debate, it would be over and the creationists would be crawling back home in tears. Continue reading “Pseudoscience and the desperate anti-vaccine intrigue”

Whooping cough: New Mexico records first infant death since 2005

Sadly, whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis) has killed an infant in San Miguel County, New Mexico.  According to the New Mexico Department of Public Health said that it was the first time that an infant in the state has died from pertussis since 2005. The infant was two months old, and had been given the first of three doses of the DTaP vaccine, which immunizes children against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.  The vaccine doesn’t induce a sufficient immune response until the third dose, which is given at around 6 months, so infants are at risk from being infected by the bacteria. The only way the infant could have contracted whooping cough was from another infected person, like an adult (whose immunity has lapsed) or an unvaccinated child.

In the same report, the state’s Department of Health say that New Mexico experienced more whooping cough cases in 2011 than any time since the 1980’s.  They also state that they have confirmed 110 cases of the disease s0 far in 2012, ahead of the rate in 2011.  Of those 110, 13 have been in infants, and of those eight required hospitalization.

This case is very sad, because the parents were responsible, and got their child vaccinated.  But someone else, who was not immune or a child whose parents refused to vaccinate them, passed this dangerous infection on to the dead child.  

Vaccines save lives.  Literally.

via New Mexico records first infant pertussis death since 2005 | Vaccine News Daily.

Washington allocates money for whooping cough outbreak

As discussed previously, the state of Washington is experience a relatively large outbreak of whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis), with 1,132 cases of whooping cough so far in 2012, which the state reports as over 10 times higher than what was reported in 2011.  The epidemic has caused the hospitalization of 20 children under the age of one.  Washington Governor Christine Gregoire released cash from an emergency fund last week to be spent on efforts to contain the epidemic. Gregoire has made $90,000 available to strengthen the public awareness campaign about the need to vaccinate against the highly infectious disease that is also known as pertussis. The state’s Department of Health projects that it will spend approximately $200,000 on the campaign. The state has also sought and received approval to use federal funds to purchase 27,000 doses of pertussis vaccines that will be available for the uninsured.

Continue reading “Washington allocates money for whooping cough outbreak”

Americans believe in debunked myths–shocking news

According to a Reuters poll, nearly 15 percent of the earth’s population believe that the world will end during their lifetime, while another 10 percent think the Mayan calendar proves that the world will end in 2012.  The end of the Mayan calendar, which spans about 5,125 years, on December 21, 2012 prompted a whole field of pseudoscience about the apocalyptic end of the word, sometimes spurred on by some of the junk programs on the History Channel.

What’s worse than all of this is that 22% of Americans believe in an impending Armageddon in their lifetime (the highest rate along with Turkey).  This compares to obviously better science educations in France, where only 6% believe in this silliness, in Belgium, only 7% believe, and the United Kingdom, only 8%. The poll also indicated that individuals with lower education or household income levels, as well as those under 35 years old, were more likely to believe in an apocalyptic end of the world.  Maybe the History Channel has a broader reach than originally thought. Continue reading “Americans believe in debunked myths–shocking news”

Idaho infant dies from whooping cough

A nine week old Idaho girl died Friday of complications from whooping cough according to Reuters.  She was being treated for the disease at a hospital in Pocatello, Idaho; however, her situation worsened, and she was flown to the University of Utah medical center for further treatment as her condition worsened.

There appears to be a significant outbreak of whooping cough in the Northwest US since the beginning of the year.  Washington state has had 1132 cases so far this year, a pace running far ahead of last year, when the state had 961 cases for the whole year.  Montana has had nearly 100 cases in 2012, while Idaho has had 31 cases.

According to Emily Simnit, a spokeswoman with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, “when you have something as tragic as the death of an infant, it underscores the fact that there are really nasty, severe illnesses that vaccines can prevent.”

The whooping cough immunization is a component of the DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) vaccine, which is typically given at the age of 2 months.  So the infant probably was not immunized against the disease, and probably got it from an unvaccinated individual, or possibly from someone with lapsed immunity.  It could have even been a sibling or another adult.  However, there is no indication that the parents were opposed to vaccinating the infant, so this is probably just horrible luck, though the prevalence of the disease in those areas increased the chances of any infant contracting whooping cough.

Idaho and Washington are two of about 20 states that allow for philosophical exemptions to vaccinations.  Because of the drop in vaccination rates, herd immunity, where enough people are vaccinated that the disease has little possibility of being transmitted from an infected person to an susceptible one, has probably developed some cracks that allow the diseases to start spreading more quickly.

There are few legitimate reasons to refuse to get vaccinated.  There should be medical reasons for not being vaccinated.  However, refusing to get children vaccinated because of unscientific, unproven, and ridiculous reasons should stop.  Children shouldn’t die of diseases that can be eliminated.  One preventable death is unacceptable and unconscionable.  

via H5N1: US: Idaho infant dies from whooping cough amid regional outbreak

Another measles outbreak in United Kingdom

This shouldn’t be happening.  There are over 200 cases of measles confirmed in an outbreak in Merseyside, UK, the largest such outbreak since 1988.  So far, there have been 210 confirmed cases of measles (and another 92 cases still under investigation).  Of these cases, 39 have required hospital treatment.

What’s sad is that 50% of the confirmed cases have occurred in children under five years old.  There is probably only one reason why these children are being infected by this disease–no vaccination.   Continue reading “Another measles outbreak in United Kingdom”

Dumb Asses and Vaccines

Though published last fall, prior to the flu season, Biodork (great name), reprinted key parts of the 2011 edition of A Budget of Dumb Asses by Dr. Mark Crislip, who takes anti-anti-science to a new level of snark.  It’s hidden in Medscape, so unless you have an account, you can’t read it it, but we have it here for you.  It’s all about flu, but you can replace flu with any other vaccination.  For your educational and humorous pleasure, and thanks to Biodork, here we go:

I wonder if you are one of those Dumb Asses who do not get the flu shot each year? Yes. Dumb Ass. Big D, big A. You may be allergic to the vaccine (most are not when tested), you may have had Guillain-Barre, in which case I will cut you some slack. But if you don’t have those conditions and you work in healthcare and you don’t get a vaccine for one of the following reasons, you are a Dumb Ass. Continue reading “Dumb Asses and Vaccines”

Evidence for evolution–rapid human evolution

One of the most amusing (amongst so many) from the evolution denialist crowd, lead by Ken Ham and his creationist zombies, is that evolution has never been observed.  According to Answers in Genesis

Macroevolution is a term used by evolutionists to describe the alleged, unobservable change of one kind of organism to another kind by natural selection acting on the accumulation of mutations over vast periods of time.

If you take a genetics course in any reasonable university (not one run by anti-evolutionists), you use fruit flies (Drosophila) to select for or against certain features, evolving a population rather quickly.  Some anti-evolutions say that this is “microevolution,” which to a scientist is no different than “macroevolution.”  The problem with the evolution denialist viewpoint is that fruit flies have a very short lifespan, so generations upon generations can be studied over a few weeks or months.  If humans lived only 2 days, then we could observe evolution in humans. Continue reading “Evidence for evolution–rapid human evolution”

Analytical thinking undermines religious belief

When reading statements from creationists, it’s always unclear why they accept the premise that the world is only 6000 years old, despite a huge amount of evidence that shows otherwise. Or why they cannot accept or just reject common descent of all organisms, including humans, through the powerful processes of evolution. Is it because biological evolution is so difficult to grasp? Or the evidence takes a certain amount of scientific knowledge? Or is it because it is impossible to comprehend the almost infinite number of changes in DNA that are required to evolve from a single cell organism to an ape?  Continue reading “Analytical thinking undermines religious belief”

Ken Ham and a horse’s ass

Actually, this article is about Ken Ham, horses, and the height of a horse.  Close enough.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Kenny, he is an evolution denialist whose anti-scientific ideas could be easily disregarded, as he preaches his silly ideas to ignorant, uneducated Americans.  Actually, it would have been best if he had stayed in Australia with his anti-science pal, Meryl Dorey, the vaccine denier who runs the vaccine-hating Australian Vaccine Network.  So, Kenny runs Answers in Genesis (AIG), a creationist faux-science screed, that was originally written to counter the more scientific, and better written, TalkOrigins website, which was constructed over the years to debunk the stupidity of creationism, which is rather easy.  Admittedly, AIG is a prettier website, but Kenny lacks any evidence whatsoever for his claims, so, as we all know, if you don’t have a message, make it look nice. Continue reading “Ken Ham and a horse’s ass”