I have been meaning to write about germ theory for years because a big part of vaccine denialism requires a good bit of germ theory denialism. Some anti-vaxxers want to create an illusion of scientific integrity by attempting to outright reject the germ theory of disease.
Germ theory is one of the central tenets of biology along with biochemistry, cells, evolution, and genetics. It is not some idea that was invented by those of us who support vaccines just to convince people to get vaccines. It is a foundation of medicine and biology that is centuries old.
This article is going to be a discussion of what exactly is germ theory, and briefly show how the anti-vaxxers deny it to “prove” that vaccines are unnecessary.
On 3 March 2018, Google’s YouTube provided us with some good news, because we all need some these days. YouTube terminated Natural News including their whole library of videos. If you search for Natural News on YouTube, you cannot find it. If someone republished one of Natural News videos, it has disappeared. If you have some blog post with an embedded YouTube video with one of Mike Adams’ rants, it will not be there.
I am a fierce skeptic about cancer. If someone says “starving cancer is better than chemotherapy,” well that means some gullible person will take that advice and forgo more aggressive, and frankly more evidence-based, treatments. And that patient could die.
I’ve written over 200 articles related to cancer on this website. Admittedly, my interest is mainly based on the incredible harm done to people by fake cancer treatments, but others, like editors at Science-Based Medicine and the estimable Orac, are actual experts in cancer, so I’ve just limited myself to sniping from the sidelines, like debunking the nonsense about weed cures cancer. Anyway, I’ll let others do the heavy lifting in cancer articles, I’m just going to focus on the really stupid nonsense that pervades places like Facebook or Quora.
Let me start out with my strategy on cancer claims made on the internet — anyone who oversimplifies prevention, development, or treatment of cancer shall be treated with disdain unless their claims meet the standard of “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.” If you’re going to tell me that blueberry-kale smothies™ prevent cancer, I want extraordinary evidence in the form of meta-analyses or systematic reviews published in respected biomedical journals. Anecdotes, logical fallacies, and testimonials are NOT DATA.
Furthermore, I need to keep reminding my readers – and various people who push this nonsense – that there are hundreds of different cancers. Each of those cancers has a different etiology, pathophysiology, and treatment strategy. Starving cancer may actually be a brilliant idea – some research is involved in cutting off the blood flow to cancers. But that’s at a very localized level, and changing your diet will have approximately zero effect on cancer development and growth.
On the other hand, I guess you could starve cancer by starving one’s self. But I don’t think there would be a good prognosis and outcome for the patient, especially since eating is problematic when patients are undergoing adjuvant therapy for cancer.
Let’s take a look at the pseudoscience of starving cancer.
These days, it appears that pseudoscience in medicine, everything from homeopathy to anti-vaccine beliefs to cancer treatments to chiropractic to naturopathy, has taken hold of many people’s choices. It’s become so frustrating to read stories about people forsaking science-based medicine to use some quack treatment to treat their cancer.
I think there’s a basic reason for it — science is hard. Whether it results from the lack of education in science to a misunderstanding of science is irrelevant, too many people think that science-based medicine doesn’t work. Except it does.
I’ve written about pseudoscience over a hundred times, but I never answered the question of why it grabs the attention of people. I’m going to try to answer that here.
Here we go again – I keep seeing the new anti-vaxxer claim that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are not, in fact, vaccines but are either “medical devices” or “gene therapy.” I keep trying to stay up with every single myth and trope pushed by the anti-vaxxers, but I swear that there’s a new one every day.
I would really love to write about something other than COVID-19 vaccines – I’ve got a ton of articles I want to write about GMOs, supplements, and cancer that are just sitting in a virtual pile on my desk. Unfortunately, I’m very worried that the anti-vax hatred of these new vaccines will allow this pandemic to keep going. That’s why many of us keep doing the best we can to stamp out the myths.
Just to be clear, the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are actually vaccines – they are biological preparations that provide active acquired immunity to an infectious disease, in this case, COVID-19. But, I’m going to have to debunk these myths.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve noticed an epidemic of cherry-picking by people trying to prove this or that about face masks, vaccines, treatments, and mortality. If you don’t spend a lot of time reading the scientific literature on these points, you’d think that there was some sort of scientific debate on everything to do with COVID-19.
Even though some people will try to show that science is all over the place about this pandemic, it really isn’t. We know that facemasks worked, and probably helped reduce the infection rate. And it helped crush the seasonal flu across the world.
And we know that the CDC isn’t intentionally inventing mortality numbers because of…reasons!
So, why does it seem like there are scientific debates about all of these? It’s because we seem to be in a world of false equivalence where cherry-picking one “science” article, irrespective of its merits, can “prove” a contradictory point. But this is not how science is done.
Not to be repetitive, but real science requires one to review all of the published evidence, giving more weight to published studies in respected journals, written by respected scientists, using respected methodologies and analyses, with respected conclusions. It is absolutely not cherry-picking those studies, irrespective of their quality (and they usually have no quality), just to support one’s pre-ordained conclusions. That’s pseudoscience.
I hate cherry-picking unless it’s gathering that delicious fruit. I can get behind that kind of cherry-picking.
One of the things that the anti-vaccine zealots hate is a science-based vaccine forum. They cannot tolerate accurate and unbiased information being disseminated about the settled science of vaccine safety and effectiveness. Rather than have accurate facts being presented to parents, they would much rather do their best to suppress this information to make their cult of lies seem more impressive.
As the title of the program suggests, this vaccine forum was to be a discussion of vaccine mandates, exemptions, and related issues. I had planned to drive from my home to attend the lecture since I thought it would be both interesting and enlightening.
Unfortunately, for safety issues, mostly in the form of “protests” from the science-denying anti-vaxxers, Loma Linda University decided to postpone this important forum until a later date. With the mass murders of people in El Paso and Dayton, at roughly the same time, I’m sure that the university was worried about the somewhat violent tendencies of the anti-vaccine nutjobs played a significant role in the decision process.
I was genuinely worried about violence from the anti-vaxxers towards Professors Reiss and Kim. And against those in the audience who are strongly pro-vaccine, myself included. Although California does have strong anti-gun laws, that doesn’t mean some crackpot from another state could carry a weapon here to do harm to those of us who speak about science. We live amongst some awful human beings who place little value on human life – why else would they want little children to be a risk of horrible vaccine-preventable diseases.
There are literally dozens of Facebook posts from anti-vaxxers who have threatened harm towards Professor Reiss, Dr. Paul Offit, Dr. David Gorski, and many others that have put themselves at the forefront of supporting the science behind vaccine facts. These anti-vaxxers, who have nothing but fear, uncertainty, and doubt to support their pseudoscience need to resort to violent metaphors and hatred, just to make sure others support their cult of bovine fecal material.
If they had real scientific evidence supporting their claims, they would, of course, engage in civil discourse. Well, if they were actually capable of understanding those words.
An open vaccine forum, like this one at Loma Linda University, would have provided important information to parents so that they understand why mandatory (not really mandatory) vaccinations are critical to the well-being of not only their own children but all of the children in their communities. Sadly, the anti-vaccine religion cannot abide by accurate information, because it negates their lies.
I am hoping that Loma Linda decides to bring back Professors Reiss and Kim to lead this vaccine forum in a safe manner sometime soon. And I will, once again, ride by horseback from my isolated cabin, where I observe Sasquatch, to attend the discussion. Because I like fact-based information, as opposed to the anti-vaccine, pseudoscience-loving, hate-filled, pro-disease, bogans that make up the anti-vaccine mob.
The LA Times reported recently that pro-vaccine physicians have been “terrorized into silence” by hate-filled online harassment from anti-vaccine activists. Since they have almost no scientific evidence supporting their anti-vaccine ignorance, the anti-vaxxers must resort to hate speech to try to shout out the facts about vaccines.
This blog, and by extension this writer, has been skewered by anti-vaccine trolls so many times, it has become a badge of honor. I mean, I don’t really take myself too seriously, the whole point of this blog is mock pseudoscience.
Let’s see. I’ve been accused of being a shill of Big Pharma (about a thousand times), Kaiser Permanente, and Monsanto (another thousand times). These anti-vaccine trolls certainly believe I must be rolling in the gold bullion from these companies.
One more silly accusation and I believe I get the skeptic merit badge for Laughing at Ad Hominem attacks. I’ve been working hard on it thanks to the anti-vaccine trolls.
But most of the junk science that comes my way is fairly easy to mock. It writes itself, as they say. Frankly, there’s just too much out there on the internet. I bet most skeptics ignore 99% of the silliness on the internet. I mean Natural News would require 24/7 debunking.
Usually, I ignore this stuff. But hey, he called me “troll.” Oh no. Except, this new member of the anti-vaccine trolls connected the dots in such a way that I’m not sure if I should feel honored. Or insulted. Possibly both? What
Darla Shine, a former Fox News producer, and wife of the White House deputy chief of staff of communications, of course, posted a dangerous and ignorant tweet that implied that measles prevents cancer.