Measles prevents cancer? Another anti-vaccine myth with no evidence

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.

Shinee is repeating a thoroughly debunked anti-vaccine religious trope, but what do you expect from a Trump sycophant? The truth? Especially since Trump has a history of anti-vaccine rhetoric.

Of course, there is a reason why this myth has legs, but it’s not based on what we call robust evidence – it’s based on pseudoscience, misinformation, and nonsense. Continue reading “Measles prevents cancer? Another anti-vaccine myth with no evidence”

The reptilian conspiracy and vaccines – a feathered dinosaur confession

reptilian

As you are probably aware, the reptilian conspiracy theory states that one of the signs of a reptilian is an obsession with science. Well, this reptilian tried to hide in plain sight pretending to be an ancient feathered dinosaur (see Note 1), but now I’ve been outed. And it’s time for me to confess to my using reptilian skills to hide the truth about vaccines.

I know. I tried to use evidence that I cherry-picked out of systematic reviews and clinical trials, which I claimed were the pinnacle of the hierarchy of biomedical research but were really just produced by the reptilian scientists. This was done to obey the orders the Reptilian Overlords at Big Pharma.  Continue reading “The reptilian conspiracy and vaccines – a feathered dinosaur confession”

CDC whistleblower – zombie anti-vaccine trope still lives

CDC whistleblower

Today is Valentine’s Day, 2016. For many of you, it’s all about roses and chocolates. But for a bunch of us, it’s all about The Walking Dead and zombies. And in honor of the return of The Walking Dead, let’s talk about zombie anti-vaccine tropes that never die – the infamous CDC whistleblower oh my.

If you haven’t noticed, any time I can tie something I’m writing to zombies or The Walking Dead, I’m happy. So bear with me.

The antivaccination cult, lacking any real evidence for their unscientific beliefs, tend to grab on tightly to the flimsiest of stories. They love to scream “GOTCHA” to anything that shows up on the internet that puts vaccines in a bad light. A few years ago, they were jumping for joy regarding some comments from Dr. Diane Harper, who was promoted by the antivaccination crowd as the “lead researcher” for Gardasil. Except, the story was a lot different than they claimed.

Or promoting an “Italian court” that decided that MMR caused autism, relying upon the discredited and retracted study by one of the greatest scientific criminal frauds of the past 100 yearsMrAndy Wakefield, who alleged a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism.

Or trying to push the story of a French businessman, who claimed to have intimate knowledge of Merck’s data about Gardasil–all of it negative. Except he never worked in Merck’s R&D department and was made redundant when his company was acquired by Merck.

So what now? What zombie trope has come alive again?
Continue reading “CDC whistleblower – zombie anti-vaccine trope still lives”

Vaccine research – it doesn’t mean what the anti-vaxxers think it means

vaccine research

How many times have you read a comment from an anti-vaccine zealot along the lines of “do your research, vaccines are bad.” That comment seems to imply two things – that the anti-vaxxer believes they have done real vaccine research, and those on the science/medicine side have not done real vaccine research.

Typical of nearly every claim made by the anti-vaccine religion, this is another one where they understate how hard vaccine research really is while overstating their actual skills and experience in comprehending real scientific research. I suppose this is a perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect – a cognitive bias wherein people without a strong scientific background fail to recognize their actual ineptitude in the field and mistakenly overrate their knowledge and abilities as greater than it is.

On the other hand, I’ve done real scientific research and worked hard at it. Time to explain. Continue reading “Vaccine research – it doesn’t mean what the anti-vaxxers think it means”

YouTube terminated Natural News – anti-vaccine Mike Adams whines

YouTube terminated Natural News

Yesterday, 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.

Last year, Google quit indexing Natural News in its searches because of some violation of Google policy by Adams, aka the Health Ranger. We, the science supporters, cheered, as we consider Natural News (and ilk like it) to be at the very bottom of scientific evidence. We all had good fun with it, including the ecstatic Orac, who wrote,

I am, however, very much enjoying my schadenfreude, and will continue to do so as long as Adams’ site is delisted and he continues his tirades against Google and his victimhood conspiracies.

Of course, Adams whined and whined about it with some creative conspiracy theories, although everything we were able to gather about the situation, Natural News violated one of Google’s policies that aim to prevent gaming of search engine optimization. Eventually, Adams corrected the issue, and you could search Natural News again. If that’s your thing.

At least I enjoyed myself for a couple of days. Maybe I can enjoy a couple of days after YouTube terminated Natural News. Maybe I can enjoy a few weeks. Maybe forever? Continue reading “YouTube terminated Natural News – anti-vaccine Mike Adams whines”

Dr Paul Offit is the Skeptical Raptor – anti-vaccine Natural News is wrong

Dr Paul Offit

Here we go again – the pseudoscientific, conspiracy theory pushing, birther, truther, vaccine denying, woo-pushing website, Natural News, is now claiming that Dr Paul Offit is yours truly, the feathery dinosaur known as the Skeptical Raptor.

Yes, you read that right. The Donald Trump-supporting ignoramuses at Natural News think that the Skeptical Raptor is some nom de guerre for Dr Paul Offit. To quote those crackpots, “Insidious Pharma Shill #1: D. Paul Offit, a.k.a. “Skeptical Raptor” – chemical violence promoter and quack pediatrician.” Wow. The feathery dinosaur is laughing hysterically.

I was cackling so hard (it’s hard to describe this old dinosaurs laughing) when I read this that I almost choked on my dinner. Chicken wings, if you must know. Yeah, it’s hard to scroll through an article with chicken wing grease on your hands.

Let’s take a look at this Natural News “claim” – heads up, it’s lame. It’s really lame. But when has that anti-science website gotten anything right. Seriously, have they ever published anything accurate? I doubt it. Continue reading “Dr Paul Offit is the Skeptical Raptor – anti-vaccine Natural News is wrong”

Electronic cigarettes – what is science saying as of today?

electronic cigarettes

Over the past few years, electronic cigarettes (often called a personal vaporizer, e-cigarette, or many other trendy descriptions–I’ll abbreviate them as EC, just to save space) have become a popular alternative to tobacco cigarettes. They originally were developed as a tool to quit cigarette smoking, which is factually linked to lung cancer and other respiratory diseases.

However, ECs have become much more than a tool to end smoking, but they have evolved into popular subculture phenomenon known as the “vaping community” that, in many respects, seem to mimic the marijuana advocates. The vaping community continues to push a belief that ECs are safer than traditional cigarettes, have little health risk to the vaper (electronic cigarette smoker), and is much more socially acceptable than smoking cigarettes or cigars.

One of the most ironic and amusing stories about ECs is that Jenny McCarthy, the antivaccination expert who thinks that all ingredients in vaccines are dangerous, has become an advocate for vaping. I bought a brand new, upgraded version 4.7, nuclear powered irony meter, and it just broke. It’s possible Jenny caused a nuclear accident in my house.

What are the dangers of electronic cigarettes? Are there any at all?

Continue reading “Electronic cigarettes – what is science saying as of today?”

Vaccines need Planned Parenthood – newest Natural News crackpot conspiracy

Vaccines need Planned Parenthood

I’ve been a consistent critic of Natural News, the website run by the self-proclaimed Health Ranger, Mike Adams. Without a doubt, Adams pursues pseudoscience and woo with the passion of a child chasing down the next video game for his Playstation 4. In Adam’s newest conspiracy of bad science, he claims that manufacturer of vaccines need Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health care in the United States and globally. Why? Because Adams claims that vaccine manufacturers require an unending supply of aborted fetuses for testing and production.

You might not be surprised, but Adams is a fancier of incredibly inane conspiracies. For a while, he decided that David Gorski was involved in some ridiculously and massively complex scheme to do something or another, which I treated with all of the seriousness it deserved. More recently, Adams tried to convince the world his website’s delisting from Google was the result of some dark conspiracy against himself, Donald Trump, and Steve Bannon. It turns out that Natural News put some malicious code in its website, a huge no no for Google.

For those of us who are keen  observers of some of the crazy conspiracies foisted onto the internet, Mike Adams always seems to be hovering near ground zero. Adams has claimed he’s a better scientist than Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Yes, he made that claim without any sense of irony. Typical of your average everyday real scientist, Tyson thinks that evidence should lead one to a conclusion, you know, what we call the scientific method. Typical of any pseudoscientist, Adams thinks that he can invent a few lame experiments to confirm his preconceived beliefs.

Mike Adams’ anti-science beliefs includes just about every important scientific fact of our modern world. He is an AIDS denier (meaning he doesn’t think that AIDS is caused by HIV). He is anti-vaccination. In the political world, he is an 9/11 truther, and he is an Obama birther. He thinks chemtrails exist. He has advocated violence against GMO supporters.

If you have a list of nonsense conspiracies, you can tick off Mike Adams as supporting all of them. But this new one he’s pushing? It takes Adams to a whole new level of strange.

 

About that “vaccines need Planned Parenthood” scheme

Planned Parenthood is a wonderful non-profit organization that provides all kinds of health care, at little or no cost, to women across the USA (and in many cases, across the world). They provide education, birth control, and health examinations for women of all ages. They are one of the leading advocates of the HPV cancer-prevention vaccine, one of the most important tools we have to prevent certain kinds of cancer.

And yes, Planned Parenthood provides abortion to young women who have run out of options for their reproductive healthcare. They are the leading provider of abortions in the USA, filling a need in many areas where abortion advocates are threatened and terrorized by the so-called “Pro Life” movement.

In fact, Planned Parenthood provided over 9.5 million discrete health care services for women, only 3.4% (or 324,000) were abortions (pdf). In other words, Planned Parenthood serves an immense need in the country to provide high quality healthcare to women who may lack access to it. They are a wonderful organization, and in a perfect world, they would be above any criticism. And their sole reason for existence is not to perform abortions, but mainly to be a healthcare resource for women.

But the right wing hates Planned Parenthood. Donald Trump wants Planned Parenthood to stop abortions before it receives any Federal funding, even though the organization does not use Federal dollars to perform abortions. And this is where we come to our online conspiracist, Mike Adams.

Adams, relying upon the debunked story about Planned Parenthood selling aborted body parts, claimed, without evidence, that Planned Parenthood “abortion facilities (who) supply aborted fetuses to researchers are offered a fee by the research facilities so that the baby’s organs can be harvested immediately and on-site.” Adams only evidence to support this claim is the nonsense story about the selling of aborted fetuses.

Mike Adams really goes for it all by claiming that,

Most people who have seen the disturbing images of dismembered fetuses resting on blood-covered Petri dishes are able to reach the conclusion that the sale of tiny lungs, brains and limbs of babies for profit is a sick practice. The act of abortion is gruesome enough, given all of the twisted and unethical methods that are used, but to go ahead and sell the cut up remains of what once was a living and breathing form of life is borderline sociopathic.

So vaccine manufacturers put fetal material in petri dishes to grow vaccines? That would be no

Some vaccines are produced using cell culture, a method to grow cells in a culture medium independent from the original organism, from two aborted fetuses. The two cell lines used for this manufacturing are the WI-38, fetal lung fibroblasts originally cultured in the early 1960s, and the MRC-5, fetal lung fibroblasts cultured independently in 1966.

Why do we use these cell cultures for vaccine manufacturing? Well, it’s fairly simple – the viruses, say chickenpox (varicella), grow best on actual human cells. Using these cell cultures, scientists can control certain aspects of the virus. For example, to attenuate (or weaken) some of these viruses before being used in the vaccine, they grow the cells (and the infecting viruses) at a relatively low temperature. The virus then becomes adapted, through natural selection, to the low temperature culture. When the vaccine is used, and it is injected into the 37ºC body, the virus is weakened and does not replicate. So it induces the immune response without the virus become a pathogen and injuring the body.

The following vaccines are manufactured using either the WI-38 or the MRC-5 cell strains:

  • Hepatitis A vaccines
  • Rubella vaccine
  • Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
  • Zoster (shingles) vaccine
  • Adenovirus Type 4 and Type 7 oral vaccine
  • Rabies vaccine

 

Debunking Mike Adams. Again

Let’s just stick with evidence-based knowledge to list out the facts about this whole nonsensical story:

  1. There is no evidence that Planned Parenthood is selling aborted fetal tissue to vaccine manufacturers.
  2. In fact, vaccine manufacturers use two cell lines, both 50 or more years old, to produce some vaccines. Other vaccines aren’t grown on human fetal tissue, but are grown in other cell lines like chicken and other animal cells. There is no evidence, at this point in time, that vaccine manufacturing needs another human fetus cell line for new tissue, but it could happen. I can’t imagine the controversy when that day comes.
  3. The reason for using human cells is to produce safer and more effective vaccines.
  4. Sometimes, researchers avoid using animals for production of vaccines – supply of animals can be subject to a lot of issues, but more importantly, the viruses may not grow sufficiently in a non-human cell to be useful in a vaccine.

Adams claims that Christians should refuse to take vaccines that are based on human fetal cell lines. He argues that,

..people, especially Christians, should boycott the products in order to force pharmaceutical companies to produce vaccines in an ethical manner instead of using cells from aborted babies.

In fact, the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) states that,

 

One is morally free to use the vaccine regardless of its historical association with abortion. The reason is that the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine. This is especially important for parents, who have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children and those around them.

In other words, individuals should, when possible, use vaccines that don’t rely upon these fetal cell lines. But if it’s impossible to do so, the parents still have a “moral obligation” to protect the lives of their children. Adams is attempting to invent religious dogma, without actually considering the ethical consequences of his proclamation, to avoid vaccines.

I feel like Mike Adams is low hanging fruit for criticism. He’s basically off on another planet of verifiable information. Vaccines save lives, and sometimes to save lives, we need to use half a century old cell cultures from aborted fetal tissue – this thoroughly debunks the “vaccines need Planned Parenthood” trope.



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Starving cancer – more pseudoscientific nonsense

starving cancer

I’ve written a boatload of articles about cancer on this website. Admittedly, my interest is mainly based on the incredible harm done to people by fake cancer treatments, but others, like Science Based Medicine and the estimable Orac are experts in cancer, so I’ve just limited myself to sniping from the sidelines, like debunking the nonsense about weed cures cancer. But then I saw someone post a link to some pseudoscience about starving cancer. I just had to take a look.

I have a rule about cancer science. Anyone who oversimplifies prevention, development or treatment of cancer shall be treated with disdain unless it meets the standard of “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.” If you’re going to tell me that blueberry-kale shakes™ prevent cancer, I want overwhelming evidence in the form of meta-reviews.

Why am I such an aggressive skeptic about cancer? Because, 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, relying upon junk medicine.

Furthermore, I need to keep reminding my readers – and various people who push this nonsense – that there are approximately 100 to over 200 different cancers– the variation in numbers is a result of different definitions. Each of those cancers have 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 the other hand, I guess you could starve a cancer by starving one’s self. But I don’t think there would be a good prognosis and outcome for the patient.

Let’s take a look at the pseudoscience of starving cancer.

Continue reading “Starving cancer – more pseudoscientific nonsense”

Another anti-vaccine article – bad journal, bad data

anti-vaccine article

Here we go again. An anti-vaccine article was published in a journal, and now every vaccine denier will use it as absolute “proof” that vaccines are evil, bad, and useless. And that means one of the pro-science community has to provide a critical analysis so that those on the fence know what is supported and not supported by real science.

The article, “New Quality-Control Investigations on Vaccines: Micro- and Nanocontamination,” published in the International Journal of Vaccines and Vaccination on 23 January 2017. I want to examine this from the meta level, discussing the quality of the journal, down to the actual data. Spoiler alert – it’s bad. Continue reading “Another anti-vaccine article – bad journal, bad data”