Novel coronavirus myths – crazy conspiracy theories including vaccines

novel coronavirus myths

Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably heard many novel coronavirus myths over the past few days as everyone is breathlessly watching the news about the disease. Well, this article is here to mock the conspiracy theories, just because.

This does not mean that we should ignore the new coronavirus, but we should be aware of the pseudoscience and fake news that’s out there these days. I’m sure that in 1750, people blamed smallpox on the devil. Or on Ben Franklin’s electricity experiments. Or on a solar eclipse.

This article will take on some of the weirder or scary novel coronavirus myths. But if you run across something that makes your eyes roll and makes you wonder about science education, please comment. Maybe I’ll incorporate it into part II. Continue reading “Novel coronavirus myths – crazy conspiracy theories including vaccines”

Vaccines and autism – robust, powerful science says they are unrelated

vaccines and autism

Vaccines and autism are not linked or associated according to real science, published in real scientific journals written by real scientists and physicians. But this false claim that vaccines and autism are related is repeated by anti-vaxxers nearly every day.

Let’s be clear – the lack of a link between vaccines and autism is settled science. There is overwhelming evidence, as listed in this article, that there is no link. Outside of anecdotes, internet memes, misinformation, and VAERS dumpster-diving, there is no evidence that there is a link. 

Probably as a result of reports that more and more children are being diagnosed with autism, people seem to be creating a false correlation (let alone causation) between vaccines and autism. So let’s take a look at the science.

Continue reading “Vaccines and autism – robust, powerful science says they are unrelated”

Vaccine settled science – it is not based on faith or belief, just evidence

I decided to write about vaccine settled science, based on comments I saw on Facebook after someone posted an article I wrote about recently polling on American attitudes towards vaccines. The headline of that article said “atheists support vaccines,” but that was not even close to what the article was about.

In fact, the article described how recently polling showed that nearly 90% of Americans thought that the MMR vaccine was safe and effective. In other words, most Americans think that vaccine science is settled. 

Anyway, the comments to the post digressed wildly from the point, because anti-vaxxers wanted to claim that science is based on faith and belief, just like a religion. And that evolution is based on faith, and creationism is really a science. And that atheism is a belief. 

The forum admins shut down the thread because it began to have nothing to do with vaccines. 

Nevertheless, science is not based on faith or belief, it’s based on evidence. Creationism is a pseudoscience with zero supporting evidence.

And atheism was not the point of the article, which convinces me that too many people read headlines and not the article. This saddens the old feathered avian dinosaur who spends several hours researching and writing these articles.

This article will talk about vaccine settled science, but also what constitutes science. And it has nothing to do with faith and belief. Continue reading “Vaccine settled science – it is not based on faith or belief, just evidence”

Coronavirus facts – crackpot conspiracists claim it exists to push vaccines

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 Gates invented 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. 

This article isn’t going to spend time refuting such nonsense, but we will focus on the science and the facts since this is a serious concern to people. Continue reading “Coronavirus facts – crackpot conspiracists claim it exists to push vaccines”

Big Pharma vaccine profits – let’s take a closer look at this trope

vaccine profits

The old Skeptical Raptor is taking a bit of a break over the next few days to recharge his batteries for all of the pseudoscience that will be coming out in 2020. In lieu of new content, I will be republishing the top 10 most read articles on this blog during 2019. Here’s number 9 – the Big Pharma vaccine profits trope.

The old myth of the huge Big Pharma vaccine profits – it’s the subject of so many memes, tropes, and outright lies from the anti-vaccine religion. These vaccine deniers, who not only lack knowledge of science but also of basic corporate finance, believe that every Big Pharma CEO relies on vaccines for their next bonus check, which they use to buy their new Ferrari to show off to imaginary vaccine-injured children.

I am not naive – public corporations have an obligation to their shareholders and employees to maximize profits. That’s capitalism, I suppose.

But where this trope goes off the rails is when you realize that vaccine profits would be eclipsed by medical industry profits if Big Pharma simply stopped producing vaccines. It’s ironic that the anti-vaxxers claim that Big Pharma’s greed gives us vaccines, but if they were truly greedy they’d be out of the vaccine business.

This article is not going to be as much science as I usually do (just read the recent article on natural immunity) – it’s going to focus on finance and accounting. Yes, I’m finance and accounting geek as much as I am a science aficionado. 

Continue reading “Big Pharma vaccine profits – let’s take a closer look at this trope”

Samoa measles epidemic – vaccine deniers causing harm to children

samoa measles epidemic

Recently, the Samoa measles epidemic has been in the news, with at least 60 individuals who have died as the result of the virus (as of 4 December 2019). The vast majority of these deaths could have been prevented with the extremely safe measles vaccine.

Of course, those of us on the science side are appalled what is going on there. Children (and some adults) have died from a disease that should have been exiled to history books as a result of vaccines. 

Once this Samoa measles epidemic hit the news, the vaccine deniers came out of their putrid swamps to use the epidemic as some sort of condemnation of vaccines. Their twisted logic would be the envy of pretzel manufacturers worldwide.

This article is going to review what’s going on in Samoa. And we are going to take a look at a couple of responses and lies from the usual anti-vaccine pseudoscience. Continue reading “Samoa measles epidemic – vaccine deniers causing harm to children”

Grandparents’ vaccines – what’s recommended before they hold newborns

It’s that time of year when we should think about the grandparents’ vaccines before they meet and hold newborns. And also these vaccines protect them against their anti-vaccine relatives and friends!

In a recent press briefing, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the Principle Deputy Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated that “there are two vaccines grandparents need prior to contacting the newest family member.”  Those grandparent’s vaccines are for whooping cough (pertussis) and seasonal flu.

This article will review Dr. Schuchat’s recommendations for grandparents before they meet the new baby during this holiday season. And remember, these vaccines protect both your grandmother and your baby. Continue reading “Grandparents’ vaccines – what’s recommended before they hold newborns”

Polio-like acute flaccid myelitis – research points to a virus, not vaccines

acute flaccid myelitis

Since 2014, I have been writing about acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a mysterious viral disease that presents with polio-like symptoms. Since my initial report, the CDC has stated that a total of 590 individuals have been stricken by acute flaccid myelitis from 2014 through 2019.

Each report of AFM has brought out zombie memes pushed by the anti-vaccine religion, they blame acute flaccid myelitis on the polio vaccine. Of course, these bogus claims aren’t based on any scientific evidence, but that’s never stopped the anti-vaccine zealots.

These outbreaks have caused the public health sleuths to search for the actual causes of this polio-like syndrome. And there just isn’t any robust or valid evidence that the polio vaccine is anyway related to acute flaccid myelitis.

As we know, polio can be a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease caused by the poliovirus, a human enterovirus, that spreads from person to person invading the brain and spinal cord and causing paralysis. Because polio has no cure, the polio vaccine is the best way to protect ourselves from the crippling disease.

The United States last experienced a polio epidemic in the 1950sprior to the introduction of the polio vaccine 60 years ago. Today, polio has been eradicated from most of the planet, as the number of worldwide polio cases has fallen from an estimated 350,000 in 1988 to 32 in 2018 – a decline of more than 99% in reported cases.

Because real scientists wanted to know what caused this acute flaccid myelitis outbreak, they tried to hunt down the actual cause. A recent study of most of the individuals who have contracted the disease seems to be narrowing down on a couple of culprits.

Continue reading “Polio-like acute flaccid myelitis – research points to a virus, not vaccines”

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”

US measles epidemic hits 1241 cases – get the MMR vaccine – UPDATED

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services have reported that the ongoing measles epidemic has, as of 19 September 2019, has resulted in 1241 cases in 31 states. This makes 2019 (which is around 9 months old) the worst year for measles since 1992, when there were 963 cases for all 12 months. 

At this rate, we can expect well over 1500 measles cases for 2019, making it the worst year since the major measles epidemics of the late 1980s. 

In 2000, the CDC had stated that measles was eradicated in the USA. But as a result of fears and misinformation about the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, vaccination rates have dropped allowing measles to again attack children. Continue reading “US measles epidemic hits 1241 cases – get the MMR vaccine – UPDATED”