Science mistakes — the favorite trope of the anti-vaccine world

science mistakes

Those people who disagree with science love to remind us that science makes mistakes. I keep observing this same ridiculous, illogical argument being used by all of the science deniers, repeating various “science mistakes” tropes as if it is all the evidence they need to refute scientific claims. Honestly, I think the pseudoscience pushers meet annually in Sedona, Arizona, ground zero of woo, to discuss which trope they’re pushing each year.

The anti-vaccine zealots, creationists, anthropogenic global warming deniers, and whomever else pretends to use science to actually deny science frequently focus on this theme of “science mistakes.”  And then they produce a list of cherry-picked examples that “prove” that science is wrong (see Note 1). Of course, this indicates more of a misunderstanding of what is science and the history of science than it is a condemnation of science. But your typical science denier is probably not going to let facts get in the way of maintaining faith in their beliefs. So let’s deconstruct and discredit this “science mistakes” trope.

By the way, in my story, I admit that there are many “science mistakes,” so read on. Hopefully, it’s somewhat enlightening.

Continue reading “Science mistakes — the favorite trope of the anti-vaccine world”

When does correlation equal causation in the research of vaccines?

correlation causation

One of the frustrating things when discussing the science of vaccines is the misuse of correlation and causation. Too many people accept that correlation implies or is even equivalent to causation.

One of the foundations of biomedical science is whether correlation implies causation. Anti-vaccine activists often conflate or misunderstand the two, rejecting or accepting correlation as long as it fits its narrative.  The “correlation implies causation” story is often abused, misused, and confused by many people who are examining studies that involve vaccines..

One thing we do know about correlation is that if you can’t establish correlation, despite numerous attempts, it is nearly impossible to claim causation. If you have a correlation between X and Y, you need a lot more data to establish causation between X and Y. Dumpster diving into VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System may show a correlation between an adverse event and a vaccine (and I would contend you can’t even really do that), you are a long ways from showing causation.

But there are powerful scientific methods to establish causation from observations of correlation. Correlation can imply causation if hard scientific work was done to establish that the correlation equals causation. This article will try to walk the reader through the methods to determine causation between an adverse event and a vaccine. But again, it’s not going to be easy.

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Cancer prevention in 12 steps – HPV and hep B vaccines included

cancer prevention

I have railed against pseudoscientific charlatans who claim that they have the easy way to cancer prevention. Generally, these snake oil salesmen try to convince you that they have some miraculous food, supplement, spiritual energy, and on and on, that can either kill cancer in its tracks or keep them from even growing in your body.

Of course, none of their claims are actually supported by robust science. On the other hand, real science has 12 evidence-based methods to actually prevent cancer.

But what about those memes that say that supplements prevent cancer? Nope, they don’t. And that’s been shown in study after study after study after study (yeah, I could go on for a while).

How about avoiding GMO foods because they cause cancer? Again, studies show that GMO foods have no effect on cancers. Oh, one more thing – bananas don’t have tumor necrosis factor, and the yellow fruit can’t prevent or cure cancer (but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t delicious).

Despite the absolute lack of evidence that supplements, kale, bananas, or drinking the pure waters of a glacial fed stream (which may not be an option with climate change), there are only a few things that can be done to manage your overall risk of cancer.

How to prevent cancer has been codified by the World Health Organization’s  (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) into 12 steps (no, not that debunked one) that are called the European Code Against Cancer.

Let’s look at cancer and how to prevent cancer.

Continue reading “Cancer prevention in 12 steps – HPV and hep B vaccines included”

Tobacco smokers are 6X more likely to die from COVID-19

no smokinh signage

I know this will shock everyone, but a recent study showed that tobacco smokers are 80% more likely to be admitted to a hospital with COVID-19 than non-smokers. And tobacco smokers are 6X more likely to die from COVID-19.

From the beginning, I assumed that smoking was one of the biggest comorbidities for COVID-19 hospitalization, but it took until now for an official, peer-reviewed paper to provide evidence.

So, add COVID-19 hospitalization and death to lung cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, all cancers, cardiovascular disease, emphysema, and everything else as something that tobacco smokers should think about the next time they light up.

Continue reading “Tobacco smokers are 6X more likely to die from COVID-19”

BCG lung cancer vaccine? The avian dinosaur analyzes the clinical trial

lung cancer vaccine

Recently, a paper was published which described a potential lung cancer vaccine. Interestingly, it’s not a novel vaccine, but it’s the BCG vaccine that’s been around for nearly 100 years.

Unless you are really into vaccines or had a typical education as a physician or nurse, you probably don’t know much about the BCG vaccine, because it’s not a typical part of the  CDC immunization schedule for either adults or children. 

So, let’s talk about this vaccine, and its use as a lung cancer vaccine. Continue reading “BCG lung cancer vaccine? The avian dinosaur analyzes the clinical trial”

CDC tobacco science – discrediting another ridiculous vaccine myth

CDC tobacco

And today we have another vaccine myth to debunk – since the CDC tobacco smoking science was wrong 50 years ago, how can we trust them about vaccines? Of course, the problem with the myth is multi-faceted, typical of every anti-vaccine trope pushed on the internet.

Let’s start right at the top – is there any evidence whatsoever that the CDC tobacco science was anything but what we know today? Spoiler alert, nope, nothing there. 

I have kind of written about this subject recently, but that article focused more on the claim about “doctors endorse smoking” rather than the CDC. This is a more specific article debunking the old CDC tobacco claim – so annoying.

So, let’s get into another ignorant anti-vaccine trope/myth/lie that is used constantly used by the anti-vaxxers to dismiss anything the CDC says. They do this because they lack any evidence supporting their claims, so inventing a conspiracy is so much easier than accepting the truth. Continue reading “CDC tobacco science – discrediting another ridiculous vaccine myth”

Doctors once said that “smoking is safe” – another anti-vaccine myth

smoking is safe

If you hang around discussions about vaccines, you will see the oft-repeated claim that doctors once claimed that “smoking is safe.” The anti-vaccine religion (or terrorists) use this trope as a strawman argument in an attempt to discredit physicians, scientists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who claim that vaccines are safe and effective.

Anti-vaxxers really lack much evidence to support their science-denying arguments against the settled science regarding the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Thus, they have to rely upon misinformation, tropes, and lies to make arguments that vaccines are something. 

I would laugh at this “smoking is safe” claim, except it’s used to dissuade parents from trusting wonderful organizations like the CDC, which only has one goal, to protect lives from diseases. So, let’s debunk this anti-vaccine myth because that’s what we do around here. Continue reading “Doctors once said that “smoking is safe” – another anti-vaccine myth”

Cancer mortality rates – mostly great news in war on cancer

cancer-mortality-rates

Despite the cancer tropes that seem to afflict Facebook and Twitter these days, which includes the laughable “Big Pharma is hiding a secret cancer cure” myth, recently published evidence shows that cancer mortality rates in the USA are dropping. This is great news if you’re wondering if cancer is an end-of-life diagnosis – science-based medicine is attacking and beating cancer with numerous strategies for each cancer. And yes, instead of hiding cancer cures, Big Pharma is providing a lot of the successful medications in treating the disease.

The report, published in the journal Cancer by researchers at the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, provides us with the mostly good news. Cancer mortality rates, which describes the number of cancer deaths per 100,000 people per year, have dropped significantly in the USA. This drop includes most of the common cancers, such as lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate.

Unfortunately, the news isn’t all good – some cancer mortality rates have increased, and I will try to explain why. Let’s take a look at cancer and this new paper. Continue reading “Cancer mortality rates – mostly great news in war on cancer”

How to prevent cancer in 12 easy steps – vaccines are critically important

how to prevent cancer

This article has been updated and reposted here – Reduce cancer risk in 12 easy-ish steps – number 3 is “get your vaccines”. The comments for this article are closed, so please click on the link and go there. The old raptor thanks you.

I have railed against pseudoscientific charlatans who claim that they have the easy way to prevent or cure cancer. Generally, these snake oil salesmen try to convince you that they have some miraculous food, supplement, spiritual energy, and on and on, that can either kill cancer in its tracks or keep them from even growing in your body. Of course, none of their claims are actually supported by robust science. On the other hand, real science has 12 evidence-based methods to actually prevent cancer.

But what about those memes that say that supplements prevent cancer? Nope, they don’t. And that’s been shown in study after study after study after study (yeah, I could go on for awhile).

What about avoiding GMO foods because they cause cancer? Again, studies show that GMO foods have no effect on cancers. Oh, one more thing – bananas don’t have tumor necrosis factor, and the yellow fruit can’t prevent or cure cancer (but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t delicious).

Despite the absolute lack of evidence that supplements, kale, bananas, or drinking the pure waters of a glacial fed stream (which may not be an option with climate change), there are only a few things that can be done to manage your overall risk of cancer.

How to prevent cancer has been codified by the World Health Organization’s  (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) into 12 steps (no, not that debunked one) that are called the European Code Against Cancer.

Let’s look at cancer and how to prevent cancer.

Continue reading “How to prevent cancer in 12 easy steps – vaccines are critically important”

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?”