If you can’t sell your journalism, sell controversy

I’m in the nation’s capital, as I am from time to time when the rigorous requirements of my job demand it, and I picked up a copy of the Baltimore Sun. (I like to see what’s up in the city where my alma matter is located.) It was the usual bit of this and that, with the mayor resigning, a ton of people coming out of the woodwork to try and replace her, and more violence in the streets. Then I saw that someone had tweeted an article from the Baltimore Sun to a friend of mine… And then my blood boiled.

To call it an “article” is too much. It was an opinion piece by William Reichel and Emily Tarsell from Timonium, Maryland. It has a ton of misinformation about the HPV vaccine. The usual tropes about how the vaccine is not safe, is not effective, causes too many deaths and disabilities. If they had the space to write it, these two would have probably blamed the Kennedy assassination on it.

Dr. Jen Gunter (an awesome, brilliant medical writer and physician) wrote a lengthy rebuttal of Reichel and Tarsell’s nonsense. In it, she goes point-by-motherf*cking-point over the whole thing and demolishes it. The opinion piece is so full of inconsistencies that I’m beginning to wonder if William Reichel really is a doctor. Because, he’s a doctor.

See, the opinion piece omits the titles of the people who wrote it, but they submitted it to an anti-vaccine website a month ago and clearly show the titles of the two people. Furthermore, in the antivaccine site, they post links and “references” to articles about cervical cancer and vaccines from three years ago (or longer). Just their first claim, that the vaccine has “never” been shown to prevent cervical cancer is an enormous lie. (Or it’s a lack of researching more recent findings about the vaccine’s ability to reduce the rate of cervical cancer precursors in women who were vaccinated compared to women who were not, which they’ll probably chalk up to better vaginal sanitation or something.)

First, who is Emily Tarsell? She’s a board member of an anti-vaccine organization and has stated that her child died from an HPV vaccine reaction. She also published “research” in the form of data analysis of a questionnaire and outright dumpster-diving of the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. She was even interviewed by Katie Couric because, you know, ratings. Something happened to her child, sadly, and she has swallowed the anti-vaccine hook, line and sinker.

And William Reichel? He’s thanked in the “paper” published by Emily that I mentioned previously. (Seriously, they interviewed about 40 people who were not selected at random for any kind of adverse event after the vaccine and, surprise, found that the vaccine is made from Satan’s sperm is dangerous.) Anyway, he’s been a darling of the anti-vaccine legions for a while. Back in 2011, he apparently sent Senator Barbara Mikulski a letter about his concerns with the HPV vaccine. In it, he states that he is personally concerned about the vaccine. He signs the letter by identifying himself as an affiliated scholar of a center for bioethics. I guess ethics don’t apply if you’re anti-vaccine.

Oh, have no doubt in your head that these two are anti-vaccine. They’re collaborating with anti-vaccine activists. They ignore some very good, very solid research on the safety and effectiveness of the HPV vaccine. And they play the anti-vaccine card of finding causation between vaccine administration and severe effects (like death) when, at worst, there is an association and, at best, there is nothing there. (See what I did there with the whole worst/best thing?)

What really grinds my gears is the Baltimore Sun’s willingness to publish this nonsense. I’m sure that they’ll say that it’s an opinion piece, and that it wasn’t written by a journalist. (It wasn’t written by an objective person, that’s for damned sure.) But why publish dangerous misinformation? If I were the parent of a teen, and I didn’t know anything about the vaccine, I’d be thinking twice about whether or not to give my teen the vaccine. I’d be wondering if there is any truth to what these two have written. I’d probably Google them and then go down a dark path that would end in my teen getting, at best, genital warts one day or, at worst, cervical/penile/anorectal/throat cancer.

It’s not the first time that the Baltimore Sun has published an anti-vaccine piece. I guess that, if you can’t sell your journalism, you gotta sell controversy.

This is why we will never get rid of tuberculosis and other diseases

After Ren had his information illegally (in my non-lawyer opinion) posted on the “Vaccine Resistance Movement” Facebook page, I decided to dive into that cesspool and see what other kinds of stupidity were there. One of the first posts I read in that sea of stupidity was this post from a woman’ we’ll call “HS” (though you can see her name if you choose to click on the link):


If the stupidity of her comment doesn’t come through right away, let me explain. Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial disease of the lungs that is very infectious. All you need is to share some sort of space with a person with TB to get infected. You might feel fine for a while, but TB eventually evades your immune system and you get active TB. With active TB, you are free to infect others and keep alive this disease that has been around for thousands of years and killing millions of people. Soon after it goes active, TB will destroy your lungs and continue to propagate throughout your body. If you’re lucky and live in a place where you can have access to care, you get antibiotics and eventually get better, though not without losing a lot of lung function. If you’re really unlucky, you get disseminated TB that eats up your bones, brain, etc. And, if you’re lucky after that, you die.

In developed nations, TB can be detected and treated quickly and effectively. You get a skin test or a blood test for screening, and then you get antibiotics for a few months if you’re positive. The antibiotics need to be given for a few months because tuberculosis is a slow-growing organism, and just a few bacteria cells evading your immune system or the antibiotics can really do a number on you. In developing nations, TB can be more complicated. There is difficulty accessing screening and treatment, and housing conditions can be such that TB spreads easily.

So why should HS worry if her immune system is doing a heck of a job keeping the TB in check, as she says? Because the immune system can only do so much. It’s not as if the bacteria have stopped multiplying. The bacteria are just encased in a tubercle created by the immune reaction. Should the immune system be recruited to do something else, or be toned down because of something like pregnancy, allergy medication, or administration of steroids, then the tubercle is no longer held up and the bacteria run free, kicking off the active infection I described above.

But HS shouldn’t worry, right? “TJM” and others have given her all sorts of assurances that she will be fine. None of the people who have done so are licensed healthcare providers as far as their Facebook profiles are concerned. And I’m willing to bet that they’re not licensed healthcare providers because any provider worth their salt would not give her idiotic advice such as:

“Think about seeing a naturopath or homeopath for remedy.”

Neither homeopathy nor naturopathy have been proven effective against TB.

“Almost everyone who goes through medical school (or a lot of the students who complete medical school, incl. probably your own doctor) test positive on the tyne/skin scratch test for TB by the time of graduation … I know of none of these doctors who ever either developed TB or even worried about it.”

They don’t worry about it because they take the antibiotics and are clear of it. Should they test positive again, they take the antibiotics again. They know better.

“Dont know where you live but the big hospitals…cleveland and mayo…clinics now mix traditional and holistic meds…drs…you might try one of the two hospitals.”

If Cleveland Clinic or Mayo Clinic treat TB with anything other than antibiotics, they will probably have a lot of explaining to do to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and to their respective medical boards.

“antibiotics harm your immune system”

Two people like that stupid statement, sadly.

“Look into herbs. I’m sure an herbalist could help you fight this!!”

That’s probably why there is such a huge incidence of TB in cultures that rely mostly on herbal and traditional medicine.

HS is not the only one being taken for a ride in that echo chamber.

Here’s someone we’ll call “AA” whose son appears to be having some lung problems:


What do the healthcare experts in the “Vaccine Resistance Movement” recommend for her to do?

“Do a search on holistic remedies!! If you only do a search for help with pneumonia, you only get the same kind of results from Dr’s you may consult. But, if you search with the words holistic remedies or approach, you get a lot of new and in my opinion much more valuable and effective information!!”

In her opinion? Yeah, you should always follow the opinion of anti-vaccine, 9/11 truther strangers on the internet.

“Get a doctor to give him IV vit C and also give him Liposomal vit C. I’ve heard wonderful things about vit c lately, particularly in regard of respiratory problems”

Liposomal vitamin C? Don’t Google for it. You’ll want to poke your eyes out.

“If it was me I’d be nebulizing colloidal silver for a bacterial lung infection. I haven’t touched antibiotics in over fifteen years… a thought though, could he have whooping cough? (nebulizing CS is exactly what I’d do for whooping cough).”

I guess this person wants the baby to turn blue. I also went through a stretch of about 20 years where I didn’t need antibiotics. It was because I was young and fought off infections well. Now that I’m older, I need them mostly as prophylaxis because I’m going into some very “biologically active” areas around the world (and a couple here at home, but usually inside research facilities) where antibiotics keep me from getting some serious things.

“Cranberry tincture, franks toothache tincture, probiotics and mega doses of vit c!! I’m in the exact same boat! And at first they said phnemonia now it’s RSV, we were in hospital 2 days there drugs didn’t work! So they sent me home and I started my own schedule of meds! Day 4 she’s almost completely better!”

Imagine that! A child got better after four days, two of which were under the care of people who know what they’re doing. Amazing! It must have been the cranberry tincture. Ah, but when her son is sick, she rushes him to a children’s hospital.

And so on and so forth…

The Vaccine Resistance Movement Facebook page is chock-full of postings about how vaccines are evil, how vaccines are made to make us all sick, how reptilians rule the world, how 9/11 was an inside job, how the members of the VRM are the only ones in the whole wide world to be “awake,” etc. Their leader, a Canadian by the name of Joel Lord, is a guy who hasn’t heard a conspiracy that he didn’t like. For example, Ebola started with a malaria vaccine, because he says so.

The unfortunate thing for all of us is that these groups continue to propagate on Facebook and other social media. Echo chambers, secret (which aren’t really secret) and public, are disseminating some very dangerous information. In the case of HS above, she might develop active TB and infect dozens of people by the time it’s all said and done. In the case of AA, her child might die from a serious lung condition. But all that doesn’t seem to matter to people in those groups as long as others are “awakened” to the dangers of vaccines or some stupid idea like that.

Fortunately for me, these idiots will keep me employed and making good money for the rest of my life as I go from outbreak to outbreak, and teach from one public health program to the next. So I guess it’s a conflict of interest for me to try and stop them, but what the hell… I’ve made enough money already.

How anti-vaccine zealots act

Besides being enormous threats to public health, anti-vaccine zealots are also threats to people’s security. A couple of days ago, Ren published a blog post describing how a takeover and takedown of a Facebook anti-vaccine page happened. So many anti-vaccine activists were caught up in that takedown that they decided to lash out against anyone who mentioned the takedown. Because Ren had written about it, one anti-vaccine activist took exception and posted Ren’s home address and home telephone number in another anti-vaccine Facebook page named “Vaccine Resistance Movement”:


Later, this same idiot posted Ren’s cellular phone number.

It was all fun and games until the anti-vaccine idiot decided to call Ren. Here’s how Ren described it to me via email:

“I had just finished talking to my wife when the phone rings. It’s him. He asked if I was looking for him. If you see the post he’s now deleted, he claims that someone from my area code called him, so he called me. Frankly, I don’t know how he got my cellphone number, but I’ve put it out there a couple of times. (LinkedIn?) Anyway, he tells me that he’s not afraid of me, blah, blah, blah. He then says that he’s from Texas, as if that’s supposed to scare me. I told him, “Good. I’m from El Paso.” He was quiet for a few seconds and then raised his voice, yelling at me that he was in Dallas and that I’d be — in his words — “spitting out buckshot” if I went looking for him. (Why would I do that? Who willingly goes to Dallas for anything?) He then cursed at me a few times. I tried to be calm and reason with him, but he wasn’t having any of it. He then hung up the phone. I promptly blocked his number. I hope he has a nice life.”

Ren is a saint, in my opinion. The guy that doxed him has a very public (voted #1 by some group) band in the Dallas, Texas, area. I doubt that the people who try to employ him see what kind of hatred and vitriol he spews against people. And the whole thing about posting private information? What the hell?

That wasn’t the only threat Ren got, and the anti-vax band member from Dallas wasn’t the only one who posted the information. A couple of other anti-vaccine activists posted it too. I don’t know what Ren will do, but I think he shouldn’t worry too much. The overwhelming majority of these jerks run scared the other way and hide behind empty threats.

I offered Ren to bombard the jerk’s band Facebook page with screen captures of the jerk’s actions, but Ren has asked that neither I nor a couple of his friends who offered to do similarly stoop to that level. Yet that’s how nasty and vicious the anti-vaccine crowd can be. They really do think that it’s them against the world, and so, just like a cornered animal, they lash out without weighing the consequences of their actions. What if someone decides to do harm to Ren? How would the jerk who posted his information feel? (He probably wouldn’t think he did anything wrong, even as doxing is illegal.)

Girl kidnapped by anti-vaccine mom is rescued

A little girl who was kidnapped by her anti-vaccine mother has been found in good health in Florida, according to CNN. The story of the kidnapping was shown on “The Hunt,” a show about cold cases hosted by John Walsh. The mother left behind a note for her boyfriend when she kidnapped the child:

“Dear C, If I let them take her and vaccinate her and brainwash her, I wouldn’t be doing what’s right. I cannot let a judge tell me how my daughter should be raised. We will miss you, but I had to leave. I know she will be safer and happier with my family and I. Love, Meg and Lilly.”

And it wasn’t just the vaccines that she was worried about. Per the television show, she was also worried about other conspiracies and participated in gatherings of a Southern group that was all about going against the government and trying to live (or re-live) the Confederacy.

You never know who is listening or reading

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the anti-vaccine crowd is losing their collective minds over the so-called “CDC Whistleblower.” The CDC Whistleblower is a researcher by the name of William Thompson. Dr. Thompson made the mistake of confiding some of his anti-vaccine unease over some vaccine studies at CDC to BS Hooker, known anti-vaccine “researcher” who has a pending case before the vaccine court and would probably want nothing more than to have something (anything!) link vaccines to his son’s autism. If that failed theory doesn’t turn out to be true, there would probably be little else for BS Hooker to do on his spare time… Other than caring for his child, of course.

Bill Thompson had the genius idea of calling Hooker and saying, more or less, “Hey, Brian, I don’t understand vaccine studies very well, and you can probably help me muddy the waters a little more, being as how you’re not an epidemiologist and all.” To which Brian S. Hooker probably replied, “Sure thing, WT, I’ve been shitting on vaccine science for a bit. How about I give it another go?” And he did. Brian S. “BS” Hooker shat out an anti-vaccine paper of such poor quality that it was roundly criticized by several of us and then was properly retracted by the journal that published it.

Months after several phone calls from Thompson to Hooker were recorded by Hooker (legally, illegally, I don’t care), Hooker and Andrew Jeremy Wakefield decided that they were going to tell the world about this “whistleblower” and that his true identity was going to be revealed to the world as well. (That outing really made the kid angry, by the way. Poor kid. He can’t catch a break, and he can probably count his friends in one hand.) Once outed, Thompson had no option but to lawyer up and shut down his conversations with everyone and anyone about his anti-vaccine feelings about vaccines.

For a full discussion of this whole debacle, check out this post by Dr. David Gorski over at Science Based Medicine.

If this incident can teach us anything, it’s not that vaccines are bad, or that there are anti-vaccine-minded people working at CDC. As I told you in the last post, there can be anti-vaccine people in the darnedest of places. This incident should teach us to always be mindful of the things we say or do, even if we think we’re doing it in private, or to a small group of people we trust. We could say or do something that embarrasses us immensely, or makes us look bad in the eyes of others.

Imagine that, a life lesson from the anti-vaccine activists out there.


Breastfeeding advocate is anti-vaccine activist?

Of all the public health interventions the world has ever known, very few compare to breastfeeding… Wait, is breastfeeding a public health intervention? Yes and no. It isn’t because it’s something that is natural, and something that almost all women can do for their babies. Then again, it is because we have to remind women that breastfeeding is natural, and that they need to breastfeed their children.

Yes, there are women who cannot breastfeed for a variety of reasons. They either do not produce the right amount of milk, have an infection that could be passed to the child, or are taking a medication that could affect the child if it goes into the breastmilk. Sadly, there are women who are shamed away from breastfeeding, or they are somehow convinced that they shouldn’t breastfeed. In all of these situations, there are professionals out there who coach women on the right way to breastfeed and the necessity of breastmilk for the developing child.

So it should not come as a surprise that certain state and local governments issue handbooks on breastfeeding. For example, here is the one from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. The history of this handbook is found within it:

“Nikki Lee, RN, BSN, Mother of 2, MS, IBCLC, CCE, CIMI, ANLC, CKC and Marjorie Scharf, RD, Mother of 3, MPH, created the original Philadelphia Breastfeeding Resource Handbook in 1992, inspired by Holly Lucard, BA, Mother of 3, IBCLC, who organized information about breastfeeding resources in the Philadelphia area for the Nursing Mothers’ Advisory Council. Thanks go to Kay Hoover, M.Ed, Mother of 3, IBCLC, FILCA, who, for nearly 13 years as lactation consultant for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, served (and continues to serve) breastfeeding dyads and healthcare professionals with love and the highest level of professional practice.”

Pay attention to the name “Nikki Lee.” She’s going to be important in a little bit. (And I bet you know where this is going, right?)

Maryland also had a 2005 version of the breastfeeding handbook. In it, the authors thank the original handbook:

“This handbook used the original Philadelphia Breastfeeding Resource Handbook (9th edition 1999) as a model. Many thanks to Nikki Lee, RN, MSN, IBCLC, ICCE and Marjorie Scharf, RD, MPH who created the original Philadelphia Breastfeeding Resource Handbook. Special thanks to Kay Hoover, M Ed, IBCLC for sharing the innumerable resources and her support of this project.”

Again, Nikki Lee, RN, MSN, IBCLC, ICCE is thanked. Have you guessed what I’m on about?

Nikki Lee has a website and a Facebook page. You can google her site. I’m not going to drive traffic to it. Her Facebook page, on the other hand, caught my attention because of some of the postings on it. In one posting, Nikki Lee, breastmilk expert, states this:

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Craniosacral therapy? What the heck is that? Let’s read from the Quackwatch entry on it:

Craniosacral therapy (CST) is one of many terms used to describe a various methods based on fanciful claims that:

  • The human brain makes rhythmic movements at a rate of 10 to 14 cycles per minute, a periodicity unrelated to breathing or heart rate.
  • Small cranial pulsations can be felt with the fingertips.
  • Restriction of movement of the cranial sutures (where the skull bones meet) interfere with the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) and cause disease.
  • Diseases can be diagnosed by detecting aberrations in this rhythm.
  • Pain (especially of the jaw joint) and many other ailments can be remedied by pressing on the skull bones.Most practitioners are osteopaths, massage therapists, chiropractors, dentists, or physical therapists. The other terms used to describe what they do include cranial osteopathy, cranial therapy, bio cranial therapy, and two chiropractic variants called craniopathy and sacro occipital technique (SOT).

In other words, it’s bullshit, but Nikki Lee promotes it on her Facebook page as something that could be helpful. It’s not. The page that she links to from Facebook says this about this quackery:

“Craniosacral therapy works on three levels. First, it stimulates the parasympathetic system, our relaxation system. This is very important, as so many of us are in a hypersympathetic state that we never allow ourselves to rest. Second, it assists the body to normalize function in any system in the body, based on the idea that the body knows best how to heal itself. Third, craniosacral therapy can tap into what can be called ‘connective tissue memory.’ Basically, any trauma that we experience in life, whether physical, mental or emotional, gets stored in our tissues. In a sense, we freeze during trauma and never shake it off.”

You could be asking yourself what the harm is in this. In the next paragraph, we are told that a “Dr. Lisa M. Chavez” showed that craniosacral therapy helped a group of Tibetan political exiles deal with their post-traumatic stress disorder. “Dr. Lisa M. Chavez” is not a naturopath. She’s as much a doctor a chiropractor.

Breastmilk cocktails all around!

Breastmilk cocktails all around!

Speaking of chiropractors…

A mommy blog had an interview with Nikki Lee, and this is what she had to say about chiropractic:

“Chiropractors are licensed health care providers who work on the spine, the vertebrae and the joints in a signature strategy called an adjustment. The purpose of adjustment is to restore joint mobility and reduce nerve compression. Adjustment is done by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become misaligned or dislocated. Restrictions and misalignments can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object, an automobile accident, a difficult birth, or by prolonged repetitive movement. Such trauma affects joints, causing inflammation, pain, and diminished function. Adjustment of the affected joint and tissues moves the joint into alignment, and restores mobility, alleviates pain and muscle tightness, and allows tissues to heal. The controlled force, from light fingertip manipulation to directed high velocity touch, varies with the style of practitioner, and the situation.”

It is a very, very, very, very bad idea to practice chiropractic manipulation in children.

Reading the rest of that interview, I became convinced that Nikki Lee believes in all of these scientifically unproven “therapies” and recommends them loudly and proudly. Just read her thing on acupuncture. Acupuncture!

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What’s next? She’s anti-vaccine? Well…

This is what Nikki Lee had to say about vaccines:

“The immunization decision is a complex one to make. How can mothers trust a healthcare provider when situations occur as with the rotavirus vaccine? That vaccine was approved in July 2001 and taken off the market November 2001, as it was implicated in a number of infant deaths. As some news reports indicated, data from certain international clinical trials was not considered during the approval process for this vaccine. How can one trust when egregious errors like that occur?

I remember the major reason for development of the chickenpox vaccine was to decrease the amount of time women had to take away from work to care for sick children, not for any health benefit.

When literature from around world repeatedly concludes that artificial feeding leads to the most death and morbidity in infants and children, it makes more sense for the US government to put a significant portion of the money spent on vaccines towards breastfeeding support and protection. Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, then continuing after the introduction of complementary foods for at least a year, and thereafter as long as mother and baby are content with the relationship would do more and cost less to reduce the costs of infant illness.”

The whole thing with the failed rotavirus vaccine comes up time and time again in the anti-vaccine playbook because it is one of very few examples where a vaccine was proven to cause harm. Even then, it was also proven to prevent a ton of rotavirus. (We since then have a much better and safer vaccine.) And that’s not counting the dozens of other vaccines that are very safe and very effective.

So then I went to her website and looked up the term “Vaccine,” and, oh boy!

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In a post titled ““Trust me” said the doctor. “It’s perfectly safe.””, Nikki gives us a laundry list of things that were once thought to be safe but weren’t. Sure, many of them are things that were thought safe because they were never tested for safety. (And she doesn’t mention what quacks have said is safe but has been proven to be less than.) There was no rigorous science behind the stuff she complains about, but that doesn’t stop her from then saying this about vaccines:

“There are more examples than these of how medical recommendations about new devices, drugs, and practices have turned out to be not only wrong, but terribly injurious and even fatal decades later.
Now the public is asked to believe that 49 doses of vaccines given to babies before starting school is perfectly safe. And, that it is a good idea to give more vaccines to everybody, children and adults alike.
How can they know that this is safe? Where are the studies showing that giving babies 8 different types of vaccinations will be safe when those babies are in their 50s and 60s? Where are the studies looking at the impact of vaccinations on the gut microbiome? Or the developing immune system? Where are the studies showing that it is safe to inject aluminum salts into our babies, along with formaldehyde, mercury compounds (still in the flu vaccines), and human proteins from aborted fetuses? Pregnant women are now advised to be vaccinated to protect their infants, despite the package insert saying that there is no research showing this practice to be safe.”

You have to remember that this is a nurse writing this, Nurse Nikki Lee, breastfeeding consultant, someone to whom health departments go for guidance on how to keep babies safe and healthy.

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In another post, this one titled “A new view of germs”, Nikki Lee has this to say about antibiotics and vaccines:

“Now the scientific journals are full of amazing new ideas.The amniotic fluid, the placenta, and the mamma’s milk are all full of germs that are good for the baby and the mamma. I still find it difficult to visualize this new idea. This is the nature of things. Humans are only now discovering this, Humans have been, since the time of Descartes, working to control and manipulate their environment. Learning about the importance of germs is a completely 180-degree turn, and a shock.
We thought, that by using antibiotics and vaccines, we would get rid of old germs like polio and rheumatic fever. Not only have we not, there are now new deadly germs like community acquired MRSA and HIV. Reports tell us that polio is re-emerging because the resources ( refrigeration) are not sustainable, so vaccines can’t be kept cold. Figuring out how to solve this problem is a new challenge. Seems as though we have yet to be successful. Humans have yet to discover that as we are colonies of germs, the planet is colonies of its living citizens. Humans are as varied as any collections of germs. As germs are to us, we are like germs to the Earth. I want to be a helpful germ, like a mold that turns leaves back into soil. I wish all humans thought this.”

Did Nurse Nikki Lee tell us that HIV came about because we couldn’t control Polio? I’m sure I’m just reading her wrong. Maybe HIV came about because we use antibiotics? No, that can’t possibly be it. That’s too stupid a thought to even run it by my head. Yeah, I must be reading wrong.

But here’s the coup d’ grace:

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In it, Nikki Lee falls for the anti-vaccine tropes of “too many too soon,” “sick children everywhere!” and “the immune system can’t take it!”:

“When I was little, I hated going to the doctor for a “shot”; my parents took me anyway. By the time I was 6, I had received 7 vaccines. Today’s child, if following the recommended schedule, would receive at least 36 vaccines by age 6. So, are today’s children healthier? Is giving more vaccinations better than giving less?
In 1972, when I was in college studying nursing, a child with maturity-onset diabetes was an extremely rare occurrence. Today, according to the CDC, “Health care providers are finding more and more children with type 2 diabetes, a disease usually diagnosed in adults aged 40 years or older.”
When I was growing up in the 1950s, none of my peers was overweight or obese. Today, according to the CDC, “Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years.””

We’re fat because vaccines, people! Open your eyes! It’s not that we’ve gotten better at diagnosing children with diabetes so that they don’t up and die of unknown causes. It’s not that we have more sedentary lifestyles and high-calorie foods. No, it’s the vaccines. It’s always the vaccines.

The rest of that post goes on to talk about this journal article as evidence that the immune system gets “overloaded” by vaccines. In that paper, the authors shot up mice with a variety of different antigens at very close time intervals. And I’m talking a lot of antigens from different sources:

“Mice (8 weeks-old) were immunized with 25 µg SEB (Toxin Technologies, Sarasota, FL), 500 µg OVA (grade V; Sigma, St. Louis, MO), 100 µg KLH (Sigma) or PBS by means of i.p. injection every 5 d…

For adoptive cell transfer, B, T, CD4+ T and CD8+ T cells were isolated from spleens to >90% purity using MACS beads (Miltenyi Biotec, Germany). The cells were transferred into naïve BALB/c or β2m-deficient mice via i.p. (5×106/mouse) or i.v. (2.5×107/mouse) injection. The recipients received a single i.p. injection of 25 µg SEB or 500 µg OVA 24 h after cell transfer, and sera, urine and organ of recipients were studied 2 weeks afterwards.

BALB/c mice were injected i.p. with 200 µg anti-CD4 antibody (GK1.5; BioLegend) to deplete CD4+ T cell 24 h after immunization 8× with OVA. Four days later, CD4+ T cells from mice immunized 12× with KLH were transferred to the CD4+ T-depleted mice. The recipient mice received a single i.p. injection of 100 µg KLH 24 h after the cell transfer.”

So, because genetically modified mice reacted in a certain way to an overloading of injected antigens, we humans must react the same way to vaccines. Makes sense since humans are so much like humans. I mean, I have an enormous craving for cheese right now.

All joking aside, mice models are a good starting point for biomedical studies, but you are a fool if you draw conclusions on human physiology from what you see in mice models. Primate models are a whole other thing. Phase I or II clinical trials, yeah, okay, you can draw a ton from that. But mice models? Hardly. It’s only a place to start and move forward, not a place to draw conclusions.

But, if you want to talk about antigen overload, just look at any child who scrapes their knee on the ground. Have you ever seen soil under the microscope? There are bacteria, viruses, and insects. The child who scrapes their knee on the ground and gets dirt in it need only reasonably wash it with soap and water. What about babies?

What about them? Babies have a remarkable immune system of their own. They go from a sterile environment in the womb to our dirty world in a matter of minutes, and they fight it all off very well. They do so because they get antibodies from mom in the womb, and they also get antibodies from breastmilk. But Nikki Lee should know that, right?

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Of course, Nikki Lee also seems to subscribe to the idea that a vaccine that works only some of the time must not work any of the time. She even makes fun of gambling addicts when talking about the flu vaccine. Yeah, the flu vaccine is not the best thing we have, but it still is the best thing we have. I wonder if Nikki Lee would say that no women should breastfeed if not all women can breastfeed?

Anti-Vaccine Bingo!

Anti-Vaccine Bingo!

As far as I can tell, Nikki Lee works for a Department of Public Health. You can use Google to find her email and phone number at the office. I’m not going to publish it here. I’m also not going to call for her to lose her job. That’s not my style and it is something that I detest.

Instead, I wrote this post to show to you that people like Nikki Lee are out there. They have all the right credentials and do all sorts of “good” work. They get recognized by others in public health. However, some of these people have a darker side to them, from a public health point of view. In Nikki Lee’s case, she is anti-vaccine. (If she is not, she has fooled me.) She believes RFK Jr. that vaccines with thimerosal cause autism. She believes that Dr. Paul Offit is still getting money from his rotavirus vaccine. (He isn’t. He’s donated the patent.) She posts on her Facebook page, website, and on Twitter all sorts of anti-vaccine articles, and other articles promoting “alternative medicine” (which isn’t medicine at all), and she does so with the authority of someone who should know better.

Be careful when you encounter these people. Don’t be afraid to counter their bullshit, even if they throw their CV and/or resumé at you. Having all those letters after your name doesn’t save you from being taken in by the dark side of the healing arts.

How sad that the Department of Public Health where she is listed as working hasn’t caught on to the likely damage she’s doing in promoting anti-vaccine views.

Anti-vaccine activists are killing physicians left and right, maybe

I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but mostly in the context of a good novel of movie. In real life, multi-national conspiracies that reach down all the way to the everyday person are pretty much non-existent. Sure, big companies can and do get together from time to time to map out their next moves, but such meetings are hardly private. One of the biggest and most powerful cartels in the world, OPEC, gets together and sets the price of oil. That right there is something that affects us all deeply. If they wanted to, they could jack up the price of a gallon of gasoline to a point so expensive that it would bring our economy to a screeching halt. It wouldn’t be in their best interest since the dollar is tied to their revenues, but they could do it if they lost the goddamned minds.

The same is true with “Big Pharma.” If Big Pharma wanted to kill all of us, fast or slow, their plans would become unraveled so fast that hardly anyone would get hurt. Now, I know that some of you reading this want to believe that pharmaceutical representatives get together and plot on how to hide evidence of drugs causing harm or drugs that cure cancer, but that’s just not the case. The biggest weakness in such plots would be the individuals involved in those plots.

Think about it. How much would you have to get paid to hide a complex plot to hurt people?

And the US Government? Come on! Have you seen the blunders by the over-blown bureaucracy we have going on? There are leaks about the government’s activities left and right. There are hardly any secrets any more because even the most powerful among us rely on less powerful people to get their evil deeds done, and those less powerful (in seeking more power) ask for fame and/or fortune to keep a plot going, making it all fall down. Seriously, for the US Government to have some big, convoluted project going on to deceive all of us is incredibly unlikely.

That’s were we are with vaccines. Even with the claims of a “whistleblower,” and “conflicts of interest” between pharmaceutical companies and the regulatory agencies that oversee them, the evidence of an autism-vaccine connection continues to be flimsy at best. With all of us walking around with smartphones, no one has video evidence of their child becoming autistic after being vaccinated? No one has before and after video of this, even with all the claims to the contrary?

Better yet, with all the money that hapless souls pour into sham treatments, none of that money has been used to coordinate the long-desired “vaccinated vs. unvaccinated” study that so many anti-vaccine advocates want? With the academic affiliations of all those anti-vaccine zealots with MD and PhD after their name, they can’t come up with a feasible study and conclusive results? If there’s a conspiracy somewhere, my money would be on the anti-vaccine machine trying to keep going their illusion of vaccines being bad. They’ve had all the chances to prove it, yet their papers keep being retracted for being so awfully incompetent.

The latest conspiracy is that “they” are killing anti-vaccine-friendly quacks. By “they” I mean “the government,” “Big Pharma,” or whatever conspiracy theory fits the order of the day. For example, Dr. Jeffrey Bradstreed died of a self-inflicted gunshot would to the chest days after his offices were raided by federal agents. The raid came as part of an investigation into the illegal and unethical use of a drug to “treat” autism. The drug was being manufactured in less-than-desirable conditions in Europe and shipped to Bradstreet. He would then use it on autistic children, with poor results and charging the parents a ton of cash. When the jig was up, he drove out into the boonies and offed himself.

Of course, it is not possible that Bradstreet would commit suicide. Other quacks, like Andrew Wakefield, say that Bradstreet had no reason to do this. Never mind the fact that his world was crumbling down, and that federal charges were sure to come along with civil suits for malpractice. Anti-vaccine activists are raising money to investigate the suicide further, because, true to form, they can’t live with the evidence that experts come up with. They have to stubbornly question everything that doesn’t fit into their narrative of the world.

Before and after Bradstreet, other “alt-med” practitioners have died under different circumstances. In the death of Dr. Amanda Crews, a man was arrested for her murder and those of others. Although her murder has been cleared, it doesn’t mean anything to the “true believers.” They’re eating up any mention of a death of someone associated with “holistic medicine” and chalk it up to a big conspiracy because, in a nation of over 320 million people, people dying from suicide after their world crumbles, or from frailty at old age, or from any number of other reasons means only one thing: The Government is killing them in collusion with other big groups.

Well, I’d like to start my own conspiracy for you, if I may. I’d like to start a conspiracy where anti-vaccine activists are killing physicians left and right by using their own language:

Isn’t it eerie that so many physicians are dying so close in time to each other? Doesn’t it strike you as odd? In the last month, this trauma physician, this emergency physician, this other emergency physician, this pulmonologist, and this pediatric cancer specialist have all died. Pay no attention to the official causes of death, ladies and gentlemen, because the truth is out there. These physicians all died in a matter of the last month alone. That’s too much of a coincidence. And the fact that they died in different parts of the country points to a very powerful force behind their deaths.

My money’s on death as being that powerful force that touches (or will touch) every one of us, but you’re free to think for yourself and not be a sheeple. Open your eyes!