Rand Paul thinks there’s a “debate” about vaccines. On one side, the ignorant, the uneducated, and the logical fallacy lovers, without any evidence whatsoever, invent some dubious and truly head-shaking nonsense about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.
On the other side (as if there really are two sides), are the educated, the logic lovers, and the skeptics who value published scientific evidence as to the most important and fundamental guide to determining a scientific consensus. This scientific consensus has determined that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, that all organisms on this earth have evolved from a single organism 3 billion years or so ago, and that vaccines are safe and effective. A scientific consensus exists not because I say it, it exists because a vast majority (not 51-49, more like 99-1) of experts in the field agree to this consensus.
Some people believe that a scientific consensus is based on some vote, political maneuvering, without understanding that a consensus in the US Congress (as if that’ll ever happen) is almost the opposite of how science works, and eventually arrive at a scientific consensus.
If there were a debate about vaccines, the pro-science/pro-vaccine side would score about 1547 points to 1 pity point for the deniers. In other words, it would be a world record victory for the real science side.
Today is 2020 Vaccine Day. It’s not an official holiday with Hallmark cards but it is an annual event where #DoctorsSpeakUp about vaccines and remind the world that vaccines stop diseases.
And they are safe.
And they are effective.
This article isn’t here to argue about some obscure point about vaccines like they don’t cause autoimmune diseases, because they don’t. I just want to cover some of the more important issues about vaccines about which I wrote over the past few years (I’ve been writing here since January 2012).
Here is one of the most annoying questions asked on the internet – “Is Big Pharma hiding a secret cancer cure just to make bundles of money?” Seriously, I think a see a variation of that question every day on sites like Quora, where people ask occasional intuitive but mostly ridiculous questions to get answers from so-called experts.
Since I end up answering this question every day, I thought maybe I should put down my thoughts in an article here. It will allow me to cut and paste the answer right from here – a true sign of either extreme preparedness or laziness. Maybe both.
I’ve written a billion (± 0.999 billion) times that one of the greatest of HPV vaccine benefits is cancer prevention. This really isn’t in question with cancer scientists, but as you know Dunning-Kruger anti-vaccine zealots think they know more than real scientists, and they look for any reason to bash the cancer-preventing vaccine.
And if you know anything about cancer, there are just a handful of ways to actually prevent any of the hundreds of different cancers. And the HPV vaccine is one of them.
Which leads us to this moment. Two recent studies have been published on HPV vaccine benefits – one supports the vast scientific consensus on HPV vaccine efficacy, the other is so poorly done, it tells us almost nothing about HPV vaccine effectiveness. Guess which one the anti-vaxxers will cherry-pick?
Anti-vaxxers love their false authorities, such as the infamous Tetyana Obukhanych. They also love to invoke Dr. Diane Harper as the authority of choice with regard to HPV vaccines. Obukhanych is truly a false authority, but Dr. Harper is much more complicated.
Because vaccine deniers lack any scientific evidence supporting their unfounded beliefs about vaccines, they tend to rely upon unscientific information like anecdotes, logical fallacies, misinterpretation of data, or false authorities to support their case about the lack of safety of vaccines.
The so-called “lead Gardasil researcher,” Dr. Diane Harper, a former “consultant” to Merck and GSK, had some responsibilities in the clinical trials for their HPV vaccines. But the claims about whether Dr. Harper supports or dislikes those vaccines are substantially more complicated than what the anti-vaccine zealots would like to claim about her.
Amusingly, every few months the social media haunts of the anti-vaccine crowd explode with claims that Dr. Diane Harper, lead Gardasil researcher, hates HPV vaccines.
Let’s take a look at the story and see what we find.
The HPV vaccine is one of the few actual methods to prevent cancer, more important than drinking kale-blueberry shakes every day. Thus, this increase in the HPV vaccine uptake in both girls and boys will lead to a long-term decrease in the rate of many cancers.
Despite the various tropes from internet scam artists, the American Cancer Society (ACS) reports falling cancer death rates in the USA. Maybe we haven’t won the “war on cancer,” but it is far from bleak.
As you know, cancer myths run rampant on social media. One of them is that cancer is a massive epidemic these days, killing everyone. And the second myth is that “Big Pharma is hiding a secret cancer cure. So, according to the internet scam artists pushing fake cancer “cures,” not only are we dying more of cancer but the evil Big Pharma scientists are hiding a miracle cure from us.
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’s safety and efficacy as a result of the myths about the 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.
An economist, with absolutely no background in science, writes a lame article that claims that the HPV vaccine affects pregnancy rate. Somehow, because of reasons, unknown to modern science.
I thought I had read it all, but here comes one out of recesses of the anti-vaccine mind – where logic and science disappear into a black hole. Gayle DeLong writes another useless article that’s embraced by the anti-vaccine religion because they’ve got nothing else.
The anti-vaccine religion definitely hates the HPV vaccine more than any other one out there. They invent more lies about it while ignoring the overwhelming scientific consensus about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. But relying upon facts is generally not something found in the anti-vaccine wheelhouse.
Of course, the false claims about the HPV vaccine often rely upon pseudoscience produced by anti-vaccine shills like the oft-retracted Shaw and Tomljenovic, the infamous Lyons-Weiler, and the preposterous Shoenfeld. Because the anti-vaxxers lack any evidence to support their dislike of the HPV vaccine, they require the appeal to false authority to claim that these discredited pseudoscientists’ work is somehow more important than all of the body evidence, from real, respected scientists, that supports HPV vaccine safety and effectiveness.