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Eight polio cases in Israel, seven did not receive the vaccine

It is 2022, and I cannot believe I have to write about polio. But here we are, some parents in Israel did not vaccinate their children against polio, and they ended up catching the disease, which was so close to becoming extinct.

I am ancient, so I remember classmates in high school who were disabled from polio, probably catching the disease before vaccines became widely available. But most of you probably have not met someone in an iron lung or required braces just to walk from class to class.

The disease was so close to being extinct. dropping to around 5 cases of wild-type polio across the world in 2021. So close.

Let’s take a look at these eight cases in Israel while reminding everyone that the polio vaccine is important.

Read More »Eight polio cases in Israel, seven did not receive the vaccine
polio vaccine causes cancer

Polio vaccine does not cause cancer – anti-vax myth debunked

Apparently, the “polio vaccine can cause cancer” zombie memes have been reanimated by the anti-vaccine world. Lacking evidence for their beliefs, retreading old debunked memes is their standard operating procedure. And once again, I’m seeing it.

The interesting thing about social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Google, Reddit) is that it’s fairly easy to push pseudoscientific beliefs. The first problem is that many people read the headlines, and never the underlying discussion. If it can be said in 200 characters, or a misleading infographic, many individuals will share that across the internet as a “fact”. So, if you see a claim that “Polio vaccines infected 98 million Americans with a cancer virus,” many people will immediately see that and accept it without much criticism.

Of course, this leads to a second problem. To refute anti-vaccine claims take a lot more than 200 characters. The refutation is often complex, nuanced, and highly scientific, and may take 2000 words or more to send that claim into orbit. It’s highly emotional to claim a vaccine can cause cancer. On the other hand, to say it is not isn’t emotional–it’s coldly logical. And takes a lot of words.

And the third problem is that social media fallacies have multiple lives, so when someone reads one of these memes a year from now, they think “yeah, this is great information”, and pass it along as if it’s the Truth™. Killing zombie anti-vaccine tropes and memes are just as difficult as killing zombies in real life, or at least, on a TV show. Debunking these anti-vaccine fake facts is a full-time job. Sadly, even after a thorough debunking, someone will call us a paid shill, ignore the evidence, and repeat the trope.

I need to create a bot that automatically refutes every repeated trope. In lieu of that, let’s just discuss the myth. And refute it once again.

Read More »Polio vaccine does not cause cancer – anti-vax myth debunked
Paul Offit

Paul Offit MD – debunking the anti-vaccine tropes and myths

I have long considered Paul Offit MD as one of heroes and leaders of the public discussion of how vaccines save lives, and how they have made the lives of the world’s children healthier and better. Dr. Offit, together with Edward Jenner (the father of immunology), Jonas Salk (discoverer of the polio vaccine), and Maurice Hillman (inventor of the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella), should have statues place outside of every pediatric hospital in the country for the number of lives that they have saved.

Unfortunately, since Dr. Offit is considered one of the “leaders” of the pro-vaccine majority, his name has been demonized by the anti-vaccine cult. These people use the Big Lie, a Nazi propaganda technique where a known falsehood is repeatedly stated, then treated as if it is self-evidently true in hopes of swaying the course of an argument in a direction that takes the big lie for granted rather than critically questioning it or ignoring it.

The vaccine deniers constantly repeat untruths about Dr. Offit so that those lies eventually evolve into apparent truths, at least for those who hold onto their pseudoscientific anti-vaccine beliefs.

The problem is, of course, that if you’re a new parent who is confused by what vaccines may or may not do, you’d assume you could not accept anything that Dr. Offit says because of those Big Lies, and many of the ridiculous tropes and memes of the vaccine denialists. And this is sad.

Let’s counter the Big Lie with the Big Facts.

Read More »Paul Offit MD – debunking the anti-vaccine tropes and myths

antivaccine hate speech on Paul Offit

Antivaccine hate speech – Canadians ought to be insulted

The antivaccine hate speech is a fundamental strategy of their vaccine denialism. I’ve spoken about it before, but the vitriolic attacks on Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a frequent contributor here and a renowned expert on vaccines and law, any time she speaks about vaccines has moved into the surreal.

Although I lack no statistics per se, I’d say that the anti-vaccine hate speech has focused on a few individuals – Professor Reiss, Dr. Paul Offit, Brian Deer, and in a group just slightly below, important skeptics like Dr. David Gorski and some chap named Orac.

Just as an aside, there used to be an amusing trend on Wikipedia whereby pseudoscience-pushing editors would accuse various editors of being the real Dr. Gorski. One of my sockpuppets was accused of being that, which made me laugh. I am not, nor have I ever been, David Gorski. Though I admit my ego is gratified to be thrown into the same conspiracy theories with an esteemed researcher and physician, even if it’s proposed by tinfoil hat wearing lunatics.

But the crazies have become, if this is possible, crazier. Stay tuned.Read More »Antivaccine hate speech – Canadians ought to be insulted