For the handful of you who don’t know him, Mr. Andrew Wakefieldfraudulently alleged a connection between the MMR vaccine, for measles, mumps and rubella) and autism – this has had the effect of suppressing vaccination rates in many countries. His claims were published in a now retracted paper published in the Lancet, a mostly respected medical journal who seemed to have forgotten how to do proper peer review back in the late 1990’s. This is a quick review of the Andrew Wakefield fraud.
A few months ago, I started characterizing the anti-vaxxer fanatics as being members of the “anti-vaccine religion.” It wasn’t an important point to me, because as I constantly stress, the only thing that matters is scientific evidence – the vast bulk of which supports the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.
In fact, I know a lot of pro-vaccine people, many of whom are leaders in pointing out the flaws of the anti-vaccine religion, are themselves religious. I am an atheist, but I do not decide who are my friends on social media or real life, based on their religious beliefs. Since almost every major religion in the world supports vaccination, and in almost every case, strongly so, it’s clear that organized religion and vaccines are not in conflict.
For me, “anti-vaccine religion” was a throwaway line almost tongue-in-cheek, because, from my standpoint, the group acts as if it were a religious cult. In fact, some people I know, who loathe the anti-vaccine zealots, do classify them as a cult. Anyway, of all the things I represent, my obvious pejorative use of religion ranked near the bottom of my “care” list.
Yep. For example, his constant desire to label anti-vaxx as a religion, without any argument for why it constitutes a religion. He supposedly has a background in medicine. Yet he also thinks he's an expert in the anthropology/psychology of religion. Nope.
I know I shouldn’t use the conspiracy theory fallacy when talking about the pseudoscience-pushing science deniers, who provide bread and butter of topics for skeptics. I keep observing the same ridiculous and insanely illogical arguments used in the same manner by all of the deniers, including the oft-repeated “science mistakes” trope. Honestly, I think the pseudoscience pusher meet annually in Sedona, Arizona, ground zero of woo, to discuss which trope they’re pushing this year.
The anti-vaccine zealots, creationists, anthropogenic global warming deniers, and whomever else pretends to use science to actually deny science frequently focus on this theme of “science mistakes.” And then they produce a list of cherry-picked examples that “prove” that science is wrong (see Note 1). Of course, this indicates more of a misunderstanding of what is science and the history of science than it is a condemnation of science. But your typical science denier is probably not going to let facts get in the way of maintaining faith in their beliefs. So let’s deconstruct and discredit this “science mistakes” trope.
Why are we so obsessed with pointing out that he has been discredited? Because he has become, through media manipulation and many anti-vaccine acolytes and sycophants, the face of the “vaccines cause autism” meme. Note to the casual reader – there is absolutely no evidence that vaccines cause autism.
Is Andrew Wakefield discredited? Damn straight he is.
But really, do these supplements actually do all that much? Well, the real scientific evidence gives little support to the health benefits of these various supplements. I’ve probably written over 50 articles on supplements, and maybe one supplement has any value in health.
We probably see a million advertisements for supplements and “natural” foods that make you thinner, healthier, smarter, stronger, better. Of course, if even 1% of the claims (or outright fabrications) made by these hawkers were supported by real science, we could close down Big Pharma and all those physicians hawking those evil drugs that aren’t necessary.
Except, we know that’s not true. And it’s time to look at the claims of cinnamon for diabetes – what is the real science.
And now it’s time for me correct this egregious oversight on the part of the feathered dinosaur’s body of work on supplements. Just to be clear, I always state an important caveat on my dismissing the usefulness of vitamins and supplements – those individuals with chronic disease or malnutrition may require supplements. For example, if you never touch a fruit or vegetable, you will probably need vitamin C to prevent scurvy. No, I didn’t say that vitamin C will prevent cancer, but it will prevent one disease.
I thought I’ve heard it all about food fads. GMO-free salt! Gluten-free cauliflower crust pizza. MSG-free honey. Raw milk diets. I suppose what we need next is an expensive gluten-free, GMO-free, MSG-free, pure organic raw water.
And guess what? Yes, now you can buy that ludicrously expensive pure, untreated, unfiltered, unsterilized raw water. And put your life and your health at risk for absolutely no benefit but following another inane fad.
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 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. 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.