Non-epidemiologist tries to do epidemiology, feeds anti-vaccine activists

One of the rules of this blog has been to not name any names, but it’s going to be broken for this post because it’s hard not to break it in this case. The person I’m going to write about is putting himself out there, sometimes vociferously, to say some things that, as an epidemiologist, I find frustrating. First, a little background. A few months ago, a friend of this blog wrote this post about influenza vaccines. In that post’s comments, the name of one Peter Doshi, PhD, came up. Dr. Doshi wrote this article in the British Medical Journal and delivered this presentation (PDF) at the “Selling Sickness 2013” conference in Washington, DC. In his article and his presentation, Dr. Doshi, who is not an epidemiologist, makes some clear mistakes about the nature of the yearly flu epidemics that we see, the deaths from influenza, and the benefits/risks of the influenza vaccine. Continue reading

Our “Bipolar Disorder”

I don’t generally write on this blog about social issues beyond those that have to do with science because the discussions can get very complicated. Like many other things, we all exist on a spectrum of social views. Lately, however, it appears that we are not in a spectrum. We, the people of the United States, seem to be completely polarized on a ton of issues that are important. We go at each other’s throats if we happen to disagree.

Just the other day, a friend of mine put a bumper sticker on his car which claimed that the Second Amendment was the most important amendment in the Bill of Rights because it kept a tyrannical government at bay. He asked for my opinion, and we haven’t talked since. We haven’t talked because I said that the First Amendment was the first for a reason. If the government tells me that I can have all the guns in the world but woe unto me if I speak ill of the government, I’d rather keep my free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. On the other hand, if the government says that I can say whatever I want, that journalists can uncover all the secrets they can and expose all the corruption they can, then, please, take my guns. Of course, that’s the polarized view; the view that you either have one or the other and not both, like we do in real life.

My friend, polarized as he is, decided that I was a “liberal” and not someone he wanted to associate with. I’m sure he’ll come around. Continue reading