Gardasil vaccine – RFK Jr makes false and unscientific claims – Part 1

gardasil vaccine

Recently, Robert F Kennedy Jr has been making numerous false claims about the Gardasil vaccine, which is the cancer-preventing human papillomavirus vaccine. Of course, he has recently become a loudmouth anti-vaccine acolyte, who has been chastised by his own family for helping “to spread dangerous misinformation over social media and is complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines.”

Now, he has decided to go on the attack against the HPV vaccine, providing the world with “25 reasons to avoid the Gardasil vaccine.” For some unknown reason, he’d rather pass along “dangerous misinformation” about vaccines than actually focus on the health and lives of children. I don’t understand his motivation, but it sickens me.

As a result, I must take the time to respond to his 25 lies about the Gardasil vaccine. This article will cover the first 12 lies – the remaining 13 will be discussed in a few days. Continue reading “Gardasil vaccine – RFK Jr makes false and unscientific claims – Part 1”

HPV prevalence drops by 86% since introduction of vaccine

hpv prevalence

Ten years after the introduction of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in the USA in 2006, HPV prevalence has dropped significantly in a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is very encouraging research that further strengthens the evidence behind the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine.

One of the tropes pushed by the anti-vaccine religion is that we don’t know if the vaccine actually will prevent an HPV infection after 10 years. Well, now we know. 

Let’s take a look at the study on HPV prevalence in the USA. Continue reading “HPV prevalence drops by 86% since introduction of vaccine”

Vaccines cause autism debate – it only exists in the minds of vaccine deniers

vaccines cause autism debate

In an op-ed piece in the Washington Post last month, New England pediatrician Daniel Summers effectively wrote that the so-called vaccines cause autism debate was over. He wrote, “not merely one study or two, but study after study after study confirms that vaccines are safe and that there is no connection with autism.”

In fact, there are 100s of studies, many of them with a huge number of data points, that have shown no correlation, let alone causation, between vaccines and autism. None.

Other than stating that I objectively support Dr. Summers’ statements and conclusions, I don’t have much else to say. But you and I know that an op-ed piece by a real doctor will be noticed by someone in the vaccine denier world, and they will pull out every single trope, myth, and conspiracy theory to claim that Dr. Summers is wrong and that there really is a “vaccines cause autism debate.”

I came across an article by Jeremy R Hammond in the right wing alternative news website, Personal Liberty, which attacked Dr. Summers with those aforementioned tropes, myths, and conspiracy theories. The same ones you’d see from any of your standard, run-of-the-mill vaccine denier.

Let’s take a look at Hammond’s article. Generally, I can only get through about half of an anti-vaccine article when I have to stop because I’m banging my head against the desk too much. I need to protect the neurons in my brain from further damage. But I will try to persevere in the name of science.

Continue reading “Vaccines cause autism debate – it only exists in the minds of vaccine deniers”

Japanese HPV vaccine study – new data destroys anti-vaxxer tropes

Japanese HPV vaccine

If you have been paying attention to the pages about the Japanese HPV vaccine, you would know about some controversies there. The whole experience there is the basis of numerous vaccine denier memes and tropes that have always been inaccurate. Now we have some scientific data that makes some of those lies quite funny.

Let’s take a look at this new data. Continue reading “Japanese HPV vaccine study – new data destroys anti-vaxxer tropes”

February 2019 ACIP Meeting – the process for vaccine recommendations

In February 2019, I attended a meeting of the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) for the first time. This post describes my observations from the two-day ACIP meeting process.

Generally, the meeting taught me that the process the committee goes through is highly deliberative, data-intensive, and the committee pays close attention to safety and maximizing benefits. Though no process is perfect, the meeting increased my confidence in the decision-making process behind the vaccines recommendations that apply to my children.

Numerous anti-vaccine group attended added some excitement and some stress, but was, from a standpoint of vaccine policy-making, largely irrelevant. 

I am initially, a public administration scholar – I wrote my dissertation on agency accountability, taught the Federal Advisory Committee Act multiple times, and teach almost annually about agency decision making. This made me very interested in the committee’s process. I also knew in advance that there will be – as there has been in several previous meeting – numerous anti-vaccine activists, and was curious to see their interaction with the meeting in reality.

Initially, I thought I would describe in detail what was addressed in the meeting, but I think that would make this post too long. For those who are interested, here is the agenda for the February 2019 ACIP meeting (pdf).

Instead, I will offer my observations about the process. I will mention that the only things voted on in this meeting were related to Japanese encephalitis vaccine and anthrax vaccine. The committee voted to make some changes to the language of the recommendation of the Japanese encephalitis vaccine for travelers to clarify it, but not changes to the actual recommendation, changes to the timeline for adult priming series (the initial vaccine series) from a 28-day interval to an interval that can span 7-28 days, and expanding the age for recommending a booster for children and putting that recommendation on equal footing to the recommendation for an adult booster.

With respect to anthrax vaccines, the committee recommended giving a booster dose to high-risk people (like first responders) who are not currently exposed but may be at risk of exposure, if they want it.

Everything else discussed was informational – some of it as part of the process of preparing for future votes (Like whether to extend the recommendation for HPV vaccines to include those 26-45), some of it as part of ongoing monitoring (like the examination of flu vaccines’ data). Continue reading “February 2019 ACIP Meeting – the process for vaccine recommendations”

Corvelva promotes fake HPV vaccine “research” – anti-vaxxers dance in the streets

Here we go again – the Italian anti-vaccine Corvelva, the anti-vaccine group which produced laughable pseudoscientific research about vaccines. Their first salvo that missed tried to show that the Infarix Hexa vaccine, which protects infants against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, polio and Haemophilus influenzae B (Hib), didn’t contain antigens to those toxins, viruses, and bacteria. 

Of course, that research was pure unmitigated equine excrement since Corvelva provided no scientific transparency, no peer-review, no data, and no substance that real science uses. As far as I can tell, not a single major national drug review agency spent more than a nanosecond reviewing their bogus claims since they were not in the form of real scientific research.

But like zombies that keep coming because of another failed plan from Rick Grimes, they keep coming back, so a good scientist like this ancient dinosaur must continue to put a claw into their brains. This time, the Corvelva zombies are back with more pseudoscience “research” about the HPV vaccine, one of the handful of ways to actually prevent cancer in this world. 

So, as one of the anti-vaccine zombie fighters on the internet, let’s get to the action. Continue reading “Corvelva promotes fake HPV vaccine “research” – anti-vaxxers dance in the streets”

HPV vaccine fear mongering in an anti-vax book – a critical review

hpv vaccine

In 2018, “The HPV Vaccine On Trial: Seeking Justice For A Generation Betrayed”, was published. It was written by attorneys Kim Mack Rosenberg and Mary Holland, and Eileen Iorio described as a “health coach.”

As the title suggests, the book concluded that the HPV vaccine (from the first vaccine, licensed in the U.S. in 2006) was a betrayal, because it was unjustified, harmful, and with no health benefits. As the authors’ first chapter lays out, their opinion is in tension with statements from health authorities and cancer authorities worldwide – and goes against a large amount of data.

It is no exaggeration to say that the book is ill-founded, misleading, and anti-vaccine to the core. HPV vaccines have been especially signaled out by anti-vaccine activists since their creation. This book draws on anti-vaccine claims made over the years, including most of the older anti-vaccine tropes (claims, by the way, that are not always consistent with each other – for example, is the problem aluminum in vaccines, or a novel and different adjuvant?) and offering new (and ill-founded – see the discussion of chapter 8 below) ones.

To explain the problems with it, three of us divided the subjects in the book, and are reviewing it as a team. A review by Dan Kegel, who has an undergraduate degree in biology from Caltech and maintains a comprehensive site with the data on HPV and HPV vaccines, is found here. A review of the chapters on autoimmunity, aluminum, and a few more by John Kelly, a career biochemist, and molecular biologist and a survivor of HPV+ cancer, will be added later.

The book has four parts. I will not cover all of it, out of concern of making this review overly long. But I will raise some of the highlights. I am putting chapter 2 and 15 aside to address in my discussion below of the general use of anecdotes. Continue reading “HPV vaccine fear mongering in an anti-vax book – a critical review”

Vaccine clinical trials – the anti-vaxxer pseudoscience is wrong again

Of all of the ridiculous tropes, memes, and lies about vaccines pushed by the pseudoscience of the anti-vaccine religion, vaccine clinical trials are the most annoying. They simply get it wrong on so many levels.

The anti-vaccine myths have popped again in a letter to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from Del Bigtree, the producer of the fraudmentary Vaxxed, who has approximately zero credibility on vaccines. He, and his anti-vaccine organization, Informed Consent Action Network, is nothing more than a sycophant to Mr. Andrew Wakefield, serving to push Wakefield’s fraudulent claims about vaccines for money and profit.

The aforementioned letter is an 88-page, yes, 88-plodding-pages, treasure trove of cherry-picking, pseudoscience, appeals to authority, other logical fallacies, lies, ignorance, misinformation, and delusion about vaccines. This is a letter is a follow-up to a response from HHS to Bigtree’s original laughable letter to HHS from January 2018.

Since my tearing down an 88-page rant would take 100,000 words, unless I showed some brevity and simplified my response to “Bigtree is a dumbass,” I thought I’d focus on a few key points over a few days. Of course, I might get bored and give up after this one article.

Given all that, I’m going to focus on Bigtree’s vast ignorance of vaccine clinical trials. He gets it all wrong. He doesn’t understand it. And, he is a dumbass. Not necessarily in that order. Continue reading “Vaccine clinical trials – the anti-vaxxer pseudoscience is wrong again”

Annoying cancer myths – more zombie memes that can’t be stopped

Anyone who follows the cantankerous feathered dinosaur knows that we tend to focus on vaccines, where the anti-vaccine religion focuses on tropes, pseudoscience, misinformation, and outright lies. Cancer myths seem to steal from the anti-vaccine playbook by pushing similar tropes, pseudoscience, misinformation, and lies.

I keep responding to these cancer myths all across the internet, so I thought that it might be useful to list out my favorite ones. No, it would take 50,000 words to debunk all of these cancer myths. For example, the Burzynski Clinic quackery is best handled by a real cancer specialist, David Gorski, MD, who has written well over 100 articles critiquing the Burzynski pseudoscience. So I’m going to stick with my personal favorites.

So, let’s take a look at these cancer myths, and I’ll do my best to debunk them. Continue reading “Annoying cancer myths – more zombie memes that can’t be stopped”

The official 2018 top ten list from the Skeptical Raptor

2018 top ten list

Since it’s the end of the year, and all good bloggers do some sort of 2018 top ten list. Of course, I’ve been doing this since 2012, so it’s a tradition. At least for the last seven years.

My 2018 top ten list actually is voted on by you, the loyal reader. I don’t choose this list, it’s just the top 10 (with a couple of bonuses) most read articles published on this website. Sadly, some of my favorite articles didn’t make it to the top, but maybe what interests me doesn’t interest you. I can live with that.

So here we go. I think there’s a drum roll somewhere.

The official 2018 top ten list of articles

  1. Nick Catone son dies tragically – blaming vaccines with no evidence. An article by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss describing a sad story where parents try to blame vaccines, yet there is little evidence supporting such a belief.
  2. Gardasil facts – debunking myths about HPV vaccine safety and efficacy. This article is a list of everything the feathered dinosaur has written about the HPV vaccine or Gardasil. Let’s summarize – the vaccine is safe and it prevents cancer.
  3. MTHFR gene and vaccines – what are the facts and myths – the MTHFR gene is one of the canards of the anti-vaccine religion – they believe it’s got something to do with vaccines. It doesn’t.
  4.  The Medical Medium – junk medicine with psychic reading – The Medical Medium is one of the most creepy individuals pushing pseudo-medicine. He thinks he can use psychic reading to diagnose and treat serious medical conditions. I’m glad people are reading this article to find out facts about this charlatan.
  5. Colon detoxification – myth versus science. People think that detoxing is useful. It isn’t.
  6. MSG myth – debunked with real science. MSG is just a simple amino acid that is part of the structure of nearly every protein that one consumes. It has no effect on human physiology unless we throw in observation bias and a dash of racism.
  7. Tetyana Obukhanych – another anti-vaccine appeal to false authority. Obukhanych is someone who has what appears to be sterling credentials but denies science to push false claims about vaccines. This is why we should always ignore all credentials.
  8. Marijuana medical benefits – large review finds very few. Marijuana advocates try to push a narrative that cannabis has medical benefits, usually to create some level of credibility for marijuana legalization. However, real science shows us that marijuana only has a few medical uses. And it has no effect on cancer.
  9. Japan banned Gardasil – another ridiculous anti-vaccine myth. This trope, based on really no good information, is one of the favorites of the anti-vaccine world. Gardasil is still available in Japan.
  10. Bananas prevent cancer – debunking another myth about food. This article was first written during the early Cretaceous, yet it is still the most popular article ever written here. It has been read over 120,000 times, which is amazing as blog articles go. The basic facts are that pseudoscience-loving foodies misread an article thinking that bananas contain a protein called tumor necrosis factor. Bananas don’t. Even if they did, you cannot absorb tumor necrosis factor, since it will be broken down in the digestive tract into amino acids. And even if you could absorb it, the factor does not kill cancer. In fact TNF increases inflammation which increases risk of cancer. But it’s not in bananas, so this is all irrelevant.

2018 top ten list – bonus #11

Argument by Vaccine Package Inserts – they’re not infallible – anti-vaxxers constantly misread and misrepresent what is written in package inserts. Why do they do this? Because all of the clinical and epidemiological evidence contradicts their claims, so they resort to cherry picking information out of the insert to support their claims. If only they read this article, they’d understand what a package insert is or isn’t.

2018 top ten list – bonus #12

Gardasil killed Colton Berrett? The evidence does not support this claim. This is another tragic story of a child’s life taken too early. But the parents, manipulated by the Vaxxed fraudumentary team, want to blame the HPV vaccine. But the vast mountain of evidence tells us that it wasn’t the vaccine. We should tire of this fake new pushed by the anti-vaccine religion, but they persist, because, once again, they lack evidence for their claims so they move to blatant emotional manipulation. They’re vile people.

And that’s it for 2018

It’s been a very successful year for the old feathered dinosaur’s blog. We’ve had almost 2.5 million views of articles, and over 10 million hits. It remains one of the most popular websites on the internet, ranking in the top 300,000 websites – I know what you’re thinking, that the old Skeptical Raptor isn’t Facebook or Twitter. And it isn’t. However, since there are over 1.8 billion websites on the internet, it means that this website ranks in the 0.00167% of all of the websites in the world. As I joke frequently to friends, I remember cheering when I hit 100 visitors…for a whole freaking month.

I’m planning to do a few things a bit different in 2019. I’m going to do a weekly article on an interesting clinical or epidemiological study that crosses my desk. These articles will be outside of my normal articles on pseudoscience – they may be on psychiatric or cardiovascular drugs. They may look at new medical technologies.

Finally, I want to thank all of the readers who have made my articles here and the cross posts at the Daily Kos so popular. I really appreciate the support, kind words, and vibrant discussions. Time to watch my undergrad and graduate schools play football games – hopefully, they win. And to cheer against Notre Dame and Alabama. Well, Notre Dame lost badly, so that made me smile.

Everyone, please have a safe and fun New Year’s celebration. And have a Happy 2019. May Trump please be indicted – that will make my year the best.