## Hey antivaccination gang–it’s really simple math

As you may be aware, there is a relatively large measles outbreak in New York City, hitting 26 individuals according to the most recent report (pdf) from the New York City Department of Health. An outbreak of 26 cases of measles may seem small, but compared to the historical average of around 60 measles cases per year for the whole United States, it really is a relatively large outbreak.

According to the most recent data, 12 of the cases are children and 14 are adults, and nine of 12 children were unvaccinated (2 were because parents got an exemption, and the other 7 because they were too young to be vaccinated with the MMR vaccine). In addition, it was difficult to determine the vaccination status of the adults, but we’ll focus on the children.

If you read the most obnoxious antivaccination websites (and I did it for you), you’d see claims that only 2 of the 26 were unvaccinated (simply not true or an ignorant misreading of the actual data), implying that 90% of those who caught measles were vaccinated. In fact, it’s at least 9 who were unvaccinated.

So let’s go with some simple math, just based on this small sample. But if the antivaccination lunatics are going to invent numbers, it is my job to obtain real numbers that show factually what is happening.

The outbreak is centered in Upper Manhattan and The Bronx areas of Manhattan, a total population of just under 2 million individuals. Now the outbreak is actually more focused than those areas, but it makes the math easier for the anti-science crowd.

I’m going to vastly oversimplify the risk of the measles outbreak, because I am aware that the antivaccine crowd is math challenged. If I used real epidemiological data, measure the risk in the exact geographical areas of the outbreak, data that I don’t have, the incidence rate would be much higher. If I did this by actual age, say 0-18 months, the risk would absolutely frighten you. But we’ll keep it simple.

• Total risk for measles for vaccinated children, 3/496,850 or 6 out of one million
• Total risk for measles for unvaccinated children, 9/53,372 or  169 out of one million

So, despite what you’ve heard from the antivaccination squad, the risk for contracting measles in an outbreak is nearly 30X higher in the unvaccinated group. Again, my numbers here vastly underestimate the risk, because the actual calculation would be done using data from the small area that this outbreak occurred, with the risk for the unvaccinated group probably being 10,000X higher than stated here. And I’m not even getting to risk reducing strategies like increasing the vaccination uptake rate to 95 or 96%, and the herd effect would have stopped this outbreak in its tracks.

It really is simple math. So simple that a caveman could do it.

Use the Science-based Vaccine Search Engine.

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## Hey vaccine deniers–it’s just simple math. Part deux.

A few days ago, I wrote an article discussing how antivaccination trope inventors could not understand the most basic elements of mathematics in reading a vaccine label. They misinterpreted some simple math like that the toxic level of a substance is several million times higher than what is injected. I suppose in the minds of vaccine deniers, 1=1 billion. Or 1 trillion. Or 4783.2226. It just depends.

And if they can’t understand the simplest of math principles, assuming that they would understand population level statistics might be a really bad assumption.

Recently, I was pointed to an antivaccination article, on the Political Blindspot website, which is dedicated to finding news articles swept under the rug by mainstream media. My skeptical radar always goes into full energy mode whenever I see the word “mainstream.” Continue reading “Hey vaccine deniers–it’s just simple math. Part deux.”

## Antievolution and anti-science education–New York City?

The reach of the crazy creationists always seemed like a southern thing.  Mississippi and Alabama are backwards states with bad education where they invest more in football than science education.  Tennessee is trying to relive the Scopes Monkey Trial.  Oklahoma and Louisiana are trying to have their students deny all kinds of science from evolution to climate change.

But we have always assumed that the northern progressive parts of the USA were resistant to these science denialists.  Unfortunately, the stupidity has reached north into the New York City Department of Education, by far, the largest public school district in the United States with over 1.1 million students.  They have decided to ban the following words for testing, because it might offend some of their students: Continue reading “Antievolution and anti-science education–New York City?”