Human DNA in vaccines – another anti-vaxxer trope debunked

human DNA in vaccines

If you spend time debunking anti-vaxxer nonsense, you’ll run across some meme that claims that someone has found human DNA in vaccines. Since vaccine safety and effectiveness is settled science, the anti-vaccine religion must rely upon memes, misinformation, and lies. Like trying to tell you that human DNA in vaccines is dangerous!

This goes back to something that continues to aggravate me about the science deniers – they make wild claims without completely understanding fields of science like cell biology. If they had even a basic understanding of cell biology they would also laugh at claims about human DNA in vaccines. 

Let’s take a look at this trope – I promise to not laugh too hard.
Continue reading “Human DNA in vaccines – another anti-vaxxer trope debunked”

HPV vaccine autoimmunity – more bad science from Shoenfeld

HPV vaccine autoimmunity

We just posted an article by Professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss who criticized many of Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld‘s anti-vaccine ideas, which include HPV vaccine autoimmunity. We need to examine and critique a new paper from Shoenfeld which tries to establish why the HPV vaccine might cause autoimmunity. Spoiler alert – it’s not very good.

For some reason, Shoenfeld has targeted the HPV cancer-prevention vaccine in much of his “research” lately. He has taken that niche and run with it. And, because the anti-vaxxers love their argument from false authority, Shoenfeld is a hero to them.

So is there any validity to the HPV vaccine autoimmunity claim? Not really, but let’s take a scientific critique of it. Continue reading “HPV vaccine autoimmunity – more bad science from Shoenfeld”

Vaccines cause diabetes – another myth refuted and debunked

vaccines cause diabetes

If you cruise around the internet, engaging with the anti-vaccine religion (not recommended), you will pick up on their standard tropes, lies, and other anti-science commentaries, like the claim that vaccines cause diabetes. Of course, once one digs into the scientific facts, you find little supporting evidence.

A lot of the vaccine deniers believe that vaccines cause a lot of everything and several claims that vaccines cause Type 1 diabetes (or here), based on little evidence. As far as I can tell, this myth is based on the “research” from  J. Barthelow Classen, M.D., who has pushed the idea that vaccines cause type 1 diabetes, through some magical process that has never been supported by other independent evidence.

In another example of the anti-vaccine zealot’s cherry-picking evidence to support their a priori conclusions, they ignore the utter lack of plausibility supporting any link between vaccines and Type 1 diabetes. At best, Classen has cherry-picked statistics to support his predetermined conclusions, “comparing apples to oranges with health data from different countries, and misrepresenting studies to back his claim.”

Moreover, Classen seems to come to his beliefs based on population-wide correlations that rely on post hoc fallacies, rather than actually showing causality between vaccines and diabetes. It’s like finding that a 5% increase in consumption of Big Macs is correlated with a full moon. Those two things may happen at the same time, but it would take a laughable stretch of real science to make a cause for causality.

Continue reading “Vaccines cause diabetes – another myth refuted and debunked”

Elizabeth Warren supports vaccines – she’s been very clear about it

elizabeth warren supports vaccines

Senator Elizabeth Warren supports vaccines, one of the few politicians who makes her point of view very clear. Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts is currently either leading or close to leading the field to become the Democratic Party nominee for President in 2020. Her support of vaccines should be an important consideration for those who want politicians who are pro-science.

This article isn’t going to be about Senator Warren’s progressive bonafides, because, I don’t usually blog about politics, except in the context of science support or denialism. Vaccine denialism is the bailiwick of the left, right, libertarians, and various other nutjobs and crackpots. These people want to go back to the time of dirt roads, children working when they’re eight, no rules, no regulations, and other such 1700s thinking.

For those of us who care about vaccines, the fact that Elizabeth Warren supports vaccines is important. So, let’s take a quick look.

Continue reading “Elizabeth Warren supports vaccines – she’s been very clear about it”

Pseudoscience vs science – former is fake, the latter is fact for vaccines

pseudoscience vs science

Pseudoscience vs science – the former is a belief system that uses the trappings of science without the rigorous methodologies that value evidence. The latter is an actual rational methodology to discover facts about the natural universe.

Pseudoscience is bullshit. Science is rational knowledge.

Pseudoscience is seductive to many people partially because it’s not only easy to comprehend, but also it oversimplifies the understanding of the natural universe. Pseudoscience is the basis of alternative medicine, creationism, the anti-vaccine religion, and many other “fields” that true believers try to say is science.

Pseudoscience tries to make an argument with the statement of “it’s been proven to work,” “the link is proven”, or, alternatively, they state some negative about scientifically-supported ideas. It really is appealing because it oversimplifies complex systems and ideas.

For example, alternative medicine relies on this pseudoscience by creating the illusion that medicine can be really easy if you drink this blueberry kale shake, you will have a 100% chance of avoiding all cancer. Real science-based medicine provides real clinical information about every cancer, how it can be treated, and what the real prognosis is.

Acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, naturopathy, and many other “alternative medicine” beliefs are pseudoscience. They simply lack robust evidence to support their efficacy. In fact, science has failed to establish the clinical usefulness of most alternative medicine (CAM) therapies.

Because I can’t help writing about vaccines, the pseudoscience vs science discourse applies perfectly to it. Pseudoscience uses logical fallacies, anecdotes, and misinformation to make it appear there is evidence supporting the anti-vaccine beliefs. Real science has debunked the claim that “there is a proven link between vaccines and autism,” a common and rather dangerous belief of the anti-vaccine world. 

This article will explore the pseudoscience vs science debate (not really a debate) by examining what exactly makes an idea scientific (and spoiler alert, it isn’t magic), and contrary the logic of science, what makes an idea “pseudoscientific.” So sit down, grab your favorite reading beverage, because this isn’t going to be a quick internet meme. Continue reading “Pseudoscience vs science – former is fake, the latter is fact for vaccines”

The great vaccine debate – only exists in the brains of anti-vaxxers

Lately, I’ve seen ludicrous articles from the anti-vaccine religion demanding a vaccine debate between the well-known pseudoscience liars, like Robert F Kennedy, Jr and Del Bigtree, and legitimate vaccine scientists and experts. I always laugh, and then I always recommend not participating.

The problem is that if you pay attention to any scientific topic, like climate change, evolution, and, yes, vaccines, you’d think that some scientific principles were actually being debated by scientists. The unfiltered information about important scientific subjects allows the science deniers to use a false equivalency to make it appear that the minority and scientifically unsupported point of view is equivalent to the scientific consensus which is always based on huge amounts of published evidence.

From listening to the screaming and yelling, you would think that there is a great vaccine debate. Or an evolution debate. Or a climate change debate. 

There aren’t any debates in any of those (and hundreds of other) scientific topics. Just because someone, like RFK Jr or Bigtree, thinks that there is some “debate,” it doesn’t mean there actually is one. All that happens is one side, almost always the science deniers, use misinformation, lies, anecdotes, and pseudoscience while attempting to scream and yell as loud as possible, then claim they’ve won.

Science can’t be debated. And there is no vaccine debate. Continue reading “The great vaccine debate – only exists in the brains of anti-vaxxers”

BCG lung cancer vaccine? The avian dinosaur analyzes the clinical trial

lung cancer vaccine

Recently, a paper was published which described a potential lung cancer vaccine. Interestingly, it’s not a novel vaccine, but it’s the BCG vaccine that’s been around for nearly 100 years.

Unless you are really into vaccines or had a typical education as a physician or nurse, you probably don’t know much about the BCG vaccine, because it’s not a typical part of the  CDC immunization schedule for either adults or children. 

So, let’s talk about this vaccine, and its use as a lung cancer vaccine. Continue reading “BCG lung cancer vaccine? The avian dinosaur analyzes the clinical trial”

Gardasil facts – debunking myths about HPV vaccine safety and efficacy

Gardasil safety and efficacy

The HPV cancer-preventing vaccine, especially Gardasil (or Silgard, depending on market), has been targeted by the anti-vaccine religion more than just about any other vaccine being used these days. So many people tell me that they give their children all the vaccines, but refuse to give them the HPV vaccine based on rumor and innuendo on the internet. This article provides all the posts I’ve written about Gardasil’s safety and efficacy.

As many regular readers know, I focus on just a few topics in medicine, with my two favorites being vaccines and cancer – of course, the Gardasil cancer-preventing vaccine combines my two favorite topics. Here’s one thing that has become clear to me – there are no magical cancer prevention schemes. You are not going to prevent any of the 200 different cancers by drinking a banana-kale-quinoa smoothie every day. The best ways to prevent cancer are to quit smoking, stay out of the sun, keep active and thin, get your cancer-preventing vaccines, and following just a few more recommendations.

The benefits of the vaccine are often overlooked as a result of two possible factors – first, there’s a disconnect between personal activities today and cancer that could be diagnosed 20-30 years from now; and second, people think that there are significant dangers from the vaccine which are promulgated by the anti-vaccine religion.

It’s frustrating and difficult to explain Gardasil safety and efficacy as a result of the myths about safety and long-term efficacy of the vaccine. That’s why I have written nearly 200 articles about Gardasil safety and efficacy, along with debunking some ridiculous myths about the cancer-preventing vaccine. This article serves to be a quick source with links to most of those 200 articles.

And if you read nothing else in this review of Gardasil, read the section entitled “Gardasil safety and effectiveness – a quick primer” – that will link you to two quick to read articles that summarize the best evidence in support of the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.

Continue reading “Gardasil facts – debunking myths about HPV vaccine safety and efficacy”

Californians support vaccine laws – new poll diminishes anti-vaxxer power

A new poll from the LA Times and conducted by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies shows that Californians support vaccine laws. These laws mandate vaccines for students entering public or private schools while restricting the ability of some physicians to abuse the medical exemptions allowed in the original 2015 California bill, SB277.

During summer 2019, two new laws, SB276 and SB714, which restrict abuse of medical exemptions through a loophole in the original 2015 bill, were passed by the California legislature and signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.

According to the new laws, in 2020, the state will review medical exemptions by physicians who have written five or more medical waivers and at schools with a vaccination rate below 95%. In a compromise between the Governor and legislature, the new laws say that the state can only reject medical exemptions issued after 31 December 2019, unless that physician has been disciplined by the Medical Board of California. 

In addition, all medical exemptions written by these physicians who have been disciplined can be invalidated.

As expected, the anti-vaccine zealots showed their nasty side by pushing violence against Dr. Richard Pan, odd racist metaphors, and all-around weird behavior. Because of their loud voices, you’d think that they were the majority opinion. 

Apparently, they aren’t. Continue reading “Californians support vaccine laws – new poll diminishes anti-vaxxer power”

Anti vaccine conspiracies – the Skeptical Raptor is Paul Offit delusion

anti-vaccine conspiracies

Here we go with another set of anti-vaccine conspiracies from crackpots running a vaccine denier website. Once again, the old feathered dinosaur (modern or Cretaceous) is part of a broad conspiracy that includes Paul Offit, Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, UC Hastings College of Law, and Kaiser Permanente. Because anti-vaccine conspiracies are only more hilarious when they get more complicated.

Because I am amused by all of this, I must, according to the rule of scientific skepticism, snarkily debunk it. Now, science isn’t good at “proving the negative,” like trying to “prove” that I am not, nor have ever been, Paul Offit. On the other hand, I cannot prove that I am not Barack Obama. Or Tom Brady. Or Elvis. You just never know. Continue reading “Anti vaccine conspiracies – the Skeptical Raptor is Paul Offit delusion”