What does God know about vaccines?

I don’t like to discuss religion. I don’t like to discuss the existence of nature of a god or the God. Those are all philosophical things that have no place in scientific discourse and, in non-scientific discourse, usually end up getting us all up in arms about this or that. However, we need to acknowledge that an enormous proportion of us humans believe in God or gods, or, at the very least, believe that we are not in charge of our destinies, at least not 100% percent.

There are times when anti-vaccine and anti-science types try to use religion as a way to promote their ideas. Take for example this post by “Megan“. Megan’s about page reads like something out of a quack’s dream:

“I have a degree in Political Science, a law degree, and am a Naturopath, Certified Natural Health Educator, Registered Power Yoga Instructor, writer, and stay-at-home mama. My better-half holds a biology degree, chemistry minor, is a Family Practice Physician, and is a Captain in the United States Air Force. Together we have four kids under three; and yes, we plan to have more.”

Four kids under three?! I’m not a mathematician, but that’s more than one kid per year. Get a hobby, you two.

Oh, and get a clue. Her “better-half” has those degrees but is a “Family Practice Physician”? Either Megan forgot to mention the “doctor of medicine” or “doctor of osteopathic medicine” degree, or we have some shenanigans going on here. I’m inclined to call shenanigans because she goes on and write:

“We eat a gluten, dairy, meat, sugar, and genetically modified free diet; yet, our food still tastes good!”

Nothing genetically modified? I didn’t know people could live on sunshine alone. Apparently, people do. (Of course they don’t.)

Megan goes on:

“We do not vaccinate. We do not medicate… We advocate natural medicine in most situations.”

Which is it, Megan? Do you medicate or not? To me, Megan reads like a Poe. I ran her profile by several rational people, and we agree that it doesn’t make sense. Her husband is a physician but they don’t medicate? Does he medicate his patients? If so, he’s a hypocrite. He’s in the Air Force but they don’t vaccinate? I know first-hand that the military does not ask you if you want to be vaccinated. You kind of just get vaccinated, even against smallpox. So, yeah, hypocrisy again. Furthermore, Megan is a naturopath, and all those other things, but:

“I became interested in natural medicine six years ago when I was hospitalized and diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Determined to avoid drugs, surgeries, and horrible side-effects I sought alternative therapies and a major lifestyle change; and it worked. I no longer have Crohn’s disease and have been symptom and medication free since. I’ve also recovered from candida, hashimotos thyroiditis, liver disease, gastroparesis, kidney infections, adrenal insufficiency, pituitary hypo function, polycystic ovary syndrome, a horrible skin condition, weight problems, hypoglycemia, dysthymic and postpartum depression, infertility, and more…naturally.”

Holy shit. Pardon my French. People that list these many conditions are what we call “train wrecks” and there usually is a strong psychogenic component to being so sick.


“[Her website] is meant to build-up, empower, and encourage you to channel your inner crunch.”

Your inner crunch? I can’t… I JUST CAN’T, OKAY?!

Anyway, I just took ten minutes to myself to relax and be able to write about Megan’s post on how God doesn’t like vaccines. She begins:

“Christians, we need to talk. If you are not a Christian, this post is not for you.”

Because, you know, Jesus only preached to Christians.

“No judgment here, but I need to speak to my Jesus peeps. You see, there’s this little thing called a religious exemption, and it’s being threatened.”

No judgment, then proceeds to judge. More hypocrisy. The whole post is full of it. She goes on to write about religious exemptions and how they’re being done away with a little at a time. Like all of that is a bad thing.

“Then there’s the propaganda by religious leaders geared towards people like us. If your pastor says it’s okay…then it must be okay right? No…because your pastor isn’t Jesus and probably hasn’t read the vaccine inserts or additives list.”

But guess who is about to pretend she’s Jesus (or knows as much as Jesus)? You got it…

“We actually think “we” hold the key to improving upon His design… as if He forgot something when He created the immune system.”

Well, it’s not so much that God forgot. It’s more like He dropped us into a world filled with pathogens, many of them deadly. The immune system can only take so much. If the immune system was perfect, then we wouldn’t get sick at all. Heck, if God really wanted to cover all the bases, he would have just done away with pathogens.

I know. I know. I can feel the atheists rolling their eyes. But that post is not for you, remember? So humor me.

“God is pro-life. This is an un-contested issue. There is zero scriptural support to the contrary.”

There is also zero scriptural support to rejecting vaccines.

“If you’re a Christian, you might be surprised to know that more than 23 vaccines contain cells, cellular debris, protein, and DNA from aborted babies, including: Adenovirus, Polio, Dtap/Polio/HiB Combo, Hep A, Hep A/Hep B Combo, MMR, MMRV Pro Quad, Rabies, Varicella, and the Shingles vaccines.”

I know for a fact that scripture warns against lying, Megan. There are no fetal cells from “aborted babies” in vaccines. The viruses that are used to create the vaccines are grown in cell cultures. Those cell cultures are derived from other cells. Those other cells are derived from even other cells, and so on all the way back to, like, the 1960s. As someone with so much education, Megan, you and your husband should realize the amount of bullshit you’re spreading. As a Christian, you should be pretty much afraid of eternal damnation right now.

“First of all, sacrificing the few for the many is biblically unjustifiable.”

Like Jesus’ sacrifice for the world? Like the flood, in which the world was sacrificed for Noah et al to repopulate the Earth? Like Samson sacrificed himself by taking down the pillars? No, nothing in the Bible about sacrifice.

“In fact, aborted babies are being used everyday to create new cell lines for more vaccines.”


“It’s true… most Christians don’t question vaccinations and haven’t thought about God’s take on the issue. I used to be one of them. Regardless of your denomination, we all serve the same God, and God does not support vaccines.”

Well, all we have to do is ask God to get rid of vaccines or vaccine-preventable diseases. After all, it states in the Bible that He will answer our prayers, right, Megan?

Perusing through the rest of Megan’s blog, I came to the conclusion that she is, indeed, a big hypocrite. She used a verse from the Bible about how blood is supposed to remain pure and not contaminated, not even with other human blood, but then she writes this on a post appropriately titled “Everyone Needs a Good Quack Doctor“:

“I’m not anti-modern medicine. I think prosthetics and organ transplants and the doctors who help us pick up the pieces from our poor lifestyle choices and sew our legs back on after car accidents are great.”

Ah, so Megan hypocritically tells us that “contaminating” our bodies with organs from another human is okay, but God forbid we get cells into us through vaccines.

Finally, Megan concludes with this enormous lie:

“Modern medicine is an epic fail; and to be honest, the medical community that claims to be ahead of the game is so far behind the curve it’s not even funny. Consider this, we haven’t a single cure for any chronic disease, nor do we know (or acknowledge) the causes either.”

So there’s no cure for diabetes? We don’t know that diabetes is caused by overweight and obesity or pancreatic failure? We don’t know that losing weight or going on a diet cures it? We have ignored that insulin and other drugs control blood glucose to the point that diabetes can be cured?

Nah, we don’t know nothing about none of that.

So I’m calling shenanigans. In my opinion, based on her screeds, Megan is not any of the things she claims to be, not even a Christian. A true Christian, as devout as she claims to be, would be afraid of lying so much. I think she’s a plant to try and bring out the crazy in her readers.

I think she’s a troll. I think she’s Craig Egan.

Where do your autism advocates go to get together?

I don’t know about you all, but I am very skeptical of any autism “advocacy” organization that gets together in the Cayman Islands. Why? Because getting everyone there isn’t cheap, and it isn’t cheap to have a conference there. And it’s much, much more costly than having it in an American city, or over Skype. I can’t help but wonder where the money they spent in getting everyone there and having their anti-vaccine discussions came from and how it could have been better used to help autistic children and adults live better lives.

But who am I to judge? The following screen capture was taken from the Facebook page of the woman who, in her own words, doesn’t have $800 to her name. Must be great to not have any money and still get to go to the Cayman Islands.

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 11.34.25 AM


My autism advocates don’t go to exotic places and spend money on glamorous trips. What about yours?

At least I’m not a hypocrite like Andrew Jeremy Wakefield

Andrew Wakefield is angry. He is angry because he’s being oppressed. He’s being rightfully blamed for the current measles outbreak in Wales, and he doesn’t like the truth. He hates it so much that he wheelbarrowed his balls over to a camera and recorded this video:

If you can stomach the hypocrisy, watch all the way to where he turns to the camera and demands a public debate, with an audience, to settle the score. I would laugh if it weren’t so pathetic. I mean, the about section of the video reads:

“Dr Wakefield responds to UK public health officials call for censorship on MMR vaccine safety debate, measles vaccine failure, and issues a further challenge for open debate.” Continue reading

Who really scares the living daylights out of me

No, not this antivaxer (and winner of this award). She’s a pussycat compared to some real lions out there in anti-vax world. The people who really scare me are the ones that smile at you when they are angry at you, the ones that grin as they tell you to [screw] off.

“Go [expletive deleted] yourself, darling,” she seems to be saying.

And that’s exactly how that lady up there comes across all the time. She’ll be demonizing people, and even encouraging her followers to harass someone at their place of employment, but she’ll do it all with a smile and a look of a grandmother who wouldn’t hurt a soul.

Of course, she’s not the only one whose facial expressions don’t seem to match their words. This one is also another one who will smile while she gives you the evil eye.

And this guy? This guy will write and sing lullabies about the evils of vaccines, but when pressed about his daughter’s death and why he is convinced that a vaccine killed her, he doesn’t seem to like to offer up the evidence:

“Talking with [him] in his Bainbridge Island home, it’s apparent that he doesn’t like to be questioned about his account. Easygoing and welcoming when he picks a visitor up from the ferry, he turns irritable when asked for a fuller version of events. “Going into details is very painful,” he says.
Yet it soon becomes even more apparent that there are a lot of unanswered questions about his portrayal of [his daughter’s] death and its aftermath. Asked, for instance, if he is sure that the medical examiner talked to Merck before switching her assessment of [his daughter’s] death, he says: “I think so. I told her to.” In other words, [his] allegation is based on nothing more than his own suggestion to the examiner, prompted by his suspicions about the vaccine.
He’s also not sure, now that he’s asked about it, whether it was the examiner or, as seems more likely, the police who came to his apartment looking for evidence of child abuse. “I don’t know . . . somebody . . . don’t ask me,” he says.
Most crucially of all, [he] says he doesn’t know where the pediatrician’s notes are that prove that the examiner initially determined that [his daughter] had a swollen brain. “You have to take my word for it,” he says.
Later, asked whether he would consent to having the case file from the examiner’s office released to Seattle Weekly, he declines. “To me, it’s a very invasive and intrusive request,” he says, questioning the Weekly’s “fixation” with[his daughter’s] death. “To me, it’s not the story.””

Fixation? Like his fixation with comparing healthcare providers and experts in vaccine science with the Nazis? But I digress…

The people that you really need to worry about are not the ones that give it to you straight. I have a lot of respect for people who have openly told me that they hate me and that they wish to one day see me dead. I am not afraid of them. Not in the least.

The ones that I am afraid of are the ones so seemingly disjointed that they want to pass off as benevolent and nice — “warrior” parents just looking out for our children — but who then turn around and say or do the most vile things. That apparent disconnect between what they feel and how they express it is worrisome, even for me. (And, if you know me, you know I’m not one to be afraid of things or people.)

You don’t need the government until you need the government

Whew! That’s was a crazy little hurricane. Several people dead in the Caribbean and in the United States. Lots of property damage. Schools and businesses closed. It was a mess, and it will probably continue to be a mess for a while.

I was listening to the local radio this morning, and they were interviewing a woman from Delaware who stayed in her house on the beach despite the mandatory evacuations issued by the governor and local officials. She said that she was flooded, had raw sewage in her basement, a neighbor’s house was gone, and that she was basically isolated because the only road to the peninsula where she lived was gone. She was also very angry because no one was coming to her aid. She said that she was a taxpayer, and she expected her taxes to pay for her rescue. When she was reminded that she chose to stay despite the evacuation orders, she said that the people who decided that the evacuation order was necessary were useless.

On the one hand, she needed the services of the government she helps fund. On the other, she didn’t pay attention to the expert recommendations of the government she helps fund.

If this sounds familiar, it should. This is the mindset of the conspiracy theorist, the hardcore anti-vaccine person, and all sorts of other individuals and groups. But let me stick to what I know best: the anti-vaxxer.

The anti-vaxxer will typically point to a study as evidence of their fears on vaccines. Said study will be conducted by some academic institution or government agency. However, if the study disagrees with the anti-vaccine worldview, then whatever organization conducted the study is said to be “pharma funded” or have some other “conflict of interest”. The anti-vaxxer wants it both ways.

Likewise, many anti-vaccine organizations will point to records in the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) as evidence that vaccines cause harm. Then, in the same sentence, they will demonize the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for hiding the “truth”. Well, it happens that VAERS is maintained by epidemiologists and staff from CDC. Again, they want to have it both ways. When asked if the CDC lies or not, the answer is “it depends”, and it’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out at the level of hypocrisy displayed.

And that’s how it goes. If something agrees with their fears, the run with it. If it disagrees, then that something is part of a big conspiracy. Just like many people who are against “big government”, they don’t want it interfering in their lives, until they need it to interfere in their lives… Until they need to be saved.

It annoys me.

Everything But The Cursed Vaccine

One of the big arguments that many anti-vaccine people will give you to downplay the importance of immunization is that “vaccines didn’t save us”. They will present as evidence the fact that deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases have been on the decline in the United States in modern times, particularly since potable water and sewer systems were installed in major population centers. They ask, then, that we do away with the US vaccine program and instead encourage good hygienic practices… LIKE WE DON’T DO THAT ALREADY.

If you were to read a public health message from any public health agency in October and November, that message would probably be about influenza, which peaks in the winter here in North America. In those messages, you will never read that the flu vaccine is the only way to prevent influenza. Better yet, you will even read from many public health professionals that frequent hand washing is the best way to prevent influenza, even better than the vaccine.

That’s right, anti-vaxers, the “Pharma Shills” are placing the interests of soap companies above those of Big Pharma. Shocking!

This is because public health professionals, for the most part, see public health problems as multi-faceted, multi-dimensional problems. No one problem is unique. Public health is not monolithic. Every single issue of public health concern has many sides to it, many causes, so it has many ways to approach it. When it comes to respiratory infections – like the flu – that are transmitted from person to person via respiratory droplets, we recommend to the public that they wash their hands, keep their distance if they’re sick and from sick people, and, if one is available, get vaccinated.

Let me explain it this way. What [expletive] general would ever send their troops to war without telling them all the ways they can defeat the enemy and equipping them with the best tools for the job? (Answer: One that doesn’t want to win.) So we tell the public all the evidence-based ways that they can prevent or control disease. It really isn’t all about vaccines.

But that is not what people in the anti-vaccine camp think. In their minds, we’re out there vaccinating at gunpoint. In their version of reality, we want everyone to develop autism from an imaginary conspiracy in their heads where vaccines cause autism while giving those of us who promote them some major profits. It’s almost like we’re not even on the same planet some times.

So you hear all of these talking heads – so-called experts – claiming that there are other ways, better ways to combat disease, so much so that vaccines are unnecessary and – in the minds of some of them – a dangerous proposition. There’s a pediatrician whose answer to childhood diseases is breastfeeding. There is a whacky lady down under whose answer to horrible things like whooping cough is everything BUT vaccines. (She has even denied that such a thing as whooping cough exists.) There are celebrities who trust homeopathy. And there are the poor parents who’ve believed these things and then lost – truly lost, as in dead – a child to a vaccine-preventable disease.

I’m not going to deny that potable water and sanitation have prevented a lot of death and disease in developed countries, nor am I going to deny that those systems are needed in developing countries to improve their standards of living. I’d be out of a job if I did. (Talk about conflicts of interest.) Potable water eliminates cholera. Draining swamps and installing nets eliminates malaria. Sewer systems take care of other waterborne infections.

But what about things like measles? It’s not waterborne. It’s not in the food. It’s in the air around an infected person, and it’s very infectious. What’s worse, the person is infectious to others before they have any symptoms. At least with diarrheal diseases – with the exception of asymptomatic carriers like Typhoid Mary – you have to get the diarrhea before you give it to others. That’s one good control measure we could instal: Diarrhea? Stay away! Yet that is not the case with measles or chickenpox. Even people with influenza are infectious about 24 hours before they are symptomatic.

The other thing about infectious like measles is that humans are the only reservoirs of the contagion. If we all got vaccinated, or at least the overwhelming majority (about 95%), we could eradicated – as was the case with smallpox. Then there wouldn’t be a need for any more vaccination. But no! Anti-vaccine advocates have done enough damage to the point that measles is making a comeback. I mean, those [expletive] will even go as far as to mail the [expletive] virus to other people!

So, yes, let’s have potable water. Let’s have sewer systems. Let’s give antibiotics/antivirals and continue research into their development and improvement. Let’s wash our hands, cook our food, and refrigerate the leftovers. AND let’s vaccinate, a safe and effective way to give these diseases the stab in the heart they deserve.

Plan B is not an abortion pill

I was driving home the other day when I heard an anchor on Fox News say that the audience might be “shocked” to hear what an American university was offering out of a vending machine. My mind immediately made me think of heroin, marijuana, or alcohol. You know, stuff that could really derail a student’s career. Instead, the story was about a vending machine at a university that sells “plan B” contraception pills among other items such as condoms, analgesics, and other health-related items. I know you’re shocked that I listen to Fox News, but it was a nice drive home. I needed something to be enraged about.

The university in question is Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. The university has a vending machine in the heath center that offers “plan B” for $25 and over-the-counter for students over the age of 17. Fox News was not the only one to get the whole thing wrong. A certain presidential candidate got it wrong as well. See if you can identify him:

There has been a lot of talk about the Obama administration’s attack on the Catholic church. The fact is Governor Romney insisted that Catholic hospitals give out abortion pills against their religious belief when he was governor. So you have a similar pattern.

Abortion pills?

That quote is from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He was criticizing his opponent, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for Mr. Romney’s healthcare plan in Massachusetts. I would be fine if this was the only time that “plan B” was confused with the abortion pill “ru486”. That medication, also known as “mifepristone”, actually does end pregnancy. “Plan B”, on the other hand, does not end pregnancy.

It doesn’t end pregnancy because it is taken before pregnancy even occurs. See, “plan B”, is a big dose of synthetic hormones like the ones in the contraceptive pill. If there is an egg there to begin with, and if it is fertilized, it will not be able to implant itself to the wall of the uterus…

Ah, I see. They seem to believe that a fertilized egg that is not allowed to implant itself is a form of abortion. If only they knew how many fertilized eggs fail to implant because of so many factors. Heck, if only they knew how many pregnancies end before they really even started because of so many other factors. But, you know, that’s them.

I guess it’s perfectly fine in the minds of these so-called “conservatives” to have the government intervene to the degree that a seventeen year-old college student trying to get her life together cannot decide whether or not part of her degree plan will include a child she may not necessarily want. I also guess it’s perfectly fine in their minds that a young woman who happens to be raped (it happens, a lot, in college even) but doesn’t want to even think about bearing the rapist’s child will be forced to do so because MEN like Newt and Mitt and the rest of them have some sort of moral authority.

Whatever. I’d have more respect for them if they were not such huge liars in saying that “plan B” is an abortion pill.

That Kid

There’s this kid who is studying epidemiology though he absolutely detests anything that has been proven through the science of epidemiology. Alright, not “everything”, but everything related to vaccines. In his mind, it seems, anyone who’s concluded that vaccines are good for public health must have been paid by the pharmaceutical industry. Likewise, it seems that anyone who’s been discredited and proven to be wrong about vaccines is a martyr. Why is he studying epidemiology if he can’t make heads or tails of it?

Because he really wants to make heads or tails of it, I hope. Unfortunately, his ramblings against science and against respectable epidemiologists – with decades of knowledge and wisdom under their belts – only works against him. Being a harsh, activist critic of science doesn’t get you the best jobs in science.

Maybe he doesn’t want a job in the scientific or public health field? With an MPH degree after his name, this kid can now exert more referent authority on the people who follow and support each and every one of his screeds. See, it’s different when people see that you have an education. You can do a lot more – good or evil, your choice.

This leads me to address the issue of my own credibility as a public health writer with my own audience. It should be obvious to all of you that I am using a pseudonym. As a result, I am unable to actually show you my credentials in epidemiology, public health, and biostatistics. Weirdly, I have less credibility, at this time, than that kid.

However, I cannot and will not reveal my identity to all of you because people in that kid’s camp have made it their lives’ mission to seek out and harass anyone they disagree with. And disagree with me they do, for I trust well-designed, peer-reviewed, scientific studies. They show up at talks, conferences, and symposia. They monopolize the discussion, spewing their own brand of denialism, and then they libel and slander their way through their blogs. All the while, we – with real jobs and real mortgages – are left defenseless, unable to strike back. If we do, there is hell to pay with those who “lead” us but are averse to confronting the evils of anti-science.

Perhaps one day when I am not afraid to be raked to the coals like I saw them do to Epi Ren, I will reveal myself to the Jedi, and to all of you. Perhaps.