When your math doesn’t make sense

I’m just going to leave this here. It’s a comment published on The Kid’s blog. One of his friends posts a link to another anti-vaccine website and perpetuates a lie. Then he realizes that the math doesn’t work out. So then he pleads that his comment not be published. The Kid publishes it anyway.

“But, what happened in Kenya, uncovered by 27 Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, is, to me, the signpost for “The Plan.” There, in Kenya, just three months ago, vaccines were used to permanently, and without their knowledge or permission, sterilize forty-two million (42 million) young Kenyan women. The World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF, were caught, by the Catholic Church leadership, lacing what they described as “Tetanus Vaccine” with Beta-HCG, a hormone that, when combined with the ingredients in the Tetanus vaccine, leads to sterility.”

Then this (with my link to show you who Tim Bolen is):

Tim Bolens story of 42M Kenyans doesn’t make sense given the total Kenyan pop is 45M – so please don’t publish that comment .”

Comedy gold. Here’s a tip, weirdos: FACT. CHECK.

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Need a laugh? Read this anti-vax lawsuit.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: I’m not a lawyer. My expertise comes from investigating infectious diseases, how they spread, who spreads them, that kind of stuff. So take the following criticism of an anti-vaccine cult’s lawsuit against California over vaccine requirements and just that, random criticism intended to bring out the sheer delusional stupidity of the people filing the suit and, sadly, their lawyer.

The plaintiff is a group calling itself “Revolt, Revoke, Restore” which is attempting to overturn Senate Bill 277, which passed recently and eliminated personal belief exemptions from vaccine requirements in California. In essence, the only way a parent can skip their child’s immunization requirements for school is if the child has a medical exemption. No more skipping shots because the parent has bought into anti-vaccine propaganda. No more skipping shots because the parent has some weirdo religious belief against vaccines.

As you can imagine, some people went nuts over the new law. Some even went as far as to threaten violence against those who supported the bill. The people who run “Revolt, Revoke, Restore” decided to do something less dangerous and hilarious. They filed the worst lawsuit I have ever read. Here is their site, and here is the lawsuit. Follow along.

As all good lawsuits should begin, this one starts off with a quote from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., then goes downhill from there:

“Prologue: “They can put anything they want in that vaccine and they have no accountability for it.” – Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

SB 277 removes the “personal beliefs” exemption as a basis for parents to opt-out of state mandated “immunization” requirements for schoolchildren. Plaintiffs oppose this tyrannical bill because it wrongfully places the interests of the national vaccine market above the interests of California children; and sadly, this is a symptom of a larger sickness that debilitates the nation. America stands alone; we are the only nation on Earth in which healthcare is dispensed first and foremost to create shareholder value, and only secondarily for health-related reasons, and even then, with little or no regard for patients’ rights as individuals.”

Again, I’m no expert, but I do believe that you must stick to the facts of the matter is you want to convince a judge or a jury that you’re serious about what you’re arguing and that you haven’t completely lost your goddamned mind. Notice that the bill is “tyrannical”, the Big Pharma shill gambit, and the “what about our rights?!” connotations.

It doesn’t stop there, however. We get hints of race-baiting a few sentences later:

“If SB 277 takes effect, California will be left with a decidedly “segregated” school system — vaxxed and unvaxxed — where many children will suffer invidious discrimination based on “medical status” (a protected class under California law). Under a Brown vs. Board of Education analysis, such a bifurcated school system — vaxxed and unvaxxed — reeks of “separate-but-equal,” and thus, cannot be allowed to stand. Under California law, segregation based on “medical status” is every bit as odious as segregation based on “race,” “creed” or “color.” “

Don’t you see that unvaccinated children will be bussed all-unvaccinated schools and treated like second-class citizens by the society around them? Of course, they won’t. The bill is basically telling parents that they have every right not to vaccinate, but they don’t have the right to place all children at risk by allowing their children to be vectors of disease. Their children can be homeschooled, or go to an private institution that allows such shenanigans (probably in some other state). However, public tax money will not be spent on children whose parents are irresponsible in protecting the health of all children.

Ah, but notice that the plaintiffs are being oppressed:

“Plaintiffs steadfastly refuse to surrender their constitutional right to exercise “personal beliefs” — i.e., their sincerely held philosophic, conscientious, and religious objections to State-mandated immunization; furthermore, Plaintiffs refuse to surrender their children’s constitutional right to go to school.”

Like any good lawyer, but in a bad way, the argument then turns to semantics:

“It is worth noting that SB 277 is conspicuously silent as to the words “vaccine” or “vaccination.” Remarkable as it sounds, neither the words “vaccine” nor “vaccination” ever appear at SB 277; and Plaintiffs were surprised when they learned this! Most notably, SB 277 uses only the term “immunization,” (but never
the term “vaccination”). And this is quite significant because, of course, there is a world of difference between “vaccination” and “immunization.”

The term “immunization” is a conclusion that a disease-fighting shield is in effect; whereas, by contrast, the term “vaccination” refers to a one-time medical event that (ostensibly) leads to “immunization.” The language of Sacramento lawmakers is clear and unambiguous — no vaccines required! SB 277 requires only “immunization,” and Plaintiffs’ children are already naturally “immunized.” “

Right. The whole “immunization” versus “vaccination” argument is one of the favorites by anti-vaccine zealots. They claim that not all vaccines lead to immunity, so vaccines are not immunizations. This is ignorance of science at its worst. Of course vaccines don’t always lead to immunity. Nothing in this world is 100% perfect. But the terms are interchangeable in the medical community and amongst laypeople. They’re just grasping at straws.

This part made me chuckle and shake my head:

“Science cannot explain “why” vaccines kill, nor can science predict “who” will next suffer vaccine injuries or “when.” Under a simple cost-benefit analysis, the “costs” associated with vaccines clearly outweigh any “benefit” — because vaccines come with no immunization guarantee and instead carry the very palpable risk of death.”

I hope the judge drags this lawyer into the courtroom and demands evidence that “science cannot explain ‘why’ vaccines kill.” Science can very much explain this. Some people, very few and very, very rarely, have bad reactions to vaccines. And an even smaller subset of those people do end up dying, unfortunately. But that very small number is not an excuse to endanger the rest of society by stopping immunizations… sorry, vaccinations… altogether. Furthermore, from effectivity and efficiency studies, science can very much guarantee what percentage of those receiving the vaccine… sorry, immunization… will become immune. Heck, we can even tell you with near certainty how long that immunity will last in the average person in an average community.

In an “epilogue” (EPILOGUE?), the lawyer writes: “Freedom means nothing if you can’t keep the government out of your body.” Except that this is not the government in your body. Not even close. This is the government telling people with weird anti-vaccine beliefs that they are not allowed to make others stick. They are not allowed to endanger public health for their own benefits.

After the weirdo epilogue, we get a description of the plaintiffs, and they’re rather interesting:

“Plaintiff, TAMARA BUCK, believes that vaccinations are extremely risky for everyone, especially infants and children. Her philosophy on immunity is that natural immunity is the safest and best kind of immunity we can acquire. Plaintiff, TAMARA BUCK, breastfed her daughter for 30 months in order to pass on immunity, and to help her daughter fight disease while her immune system matured. Her daughter has been extremely healthy since the day she was born, with no immune issues whatsoever. Philosophically, TAMARA BUCK, believes it is important to continue on her child’s current vaccine-free path. Because her daughter will enter seventh grade this coming fall, it constitutes a new “grade span” under SB 277, which requires mandatory immunization; and unless she compromises her “personal beliefs,” her daughter will be denied the rest of her free public education based on SB 277. Plaintiff, TAMARA BUCK, will be required to homeschool her daughter – and remain out of the work force, or relocate out of state.”

Poor, oppressed Tamara. Then there’s this doozy:

“Plaintiff, SHARON BROWN, a Riverside County resident, is a 42-year old wife of a law enforcement officer, mother of two children, one of whom had severe vaccine reactions. Plaintiff, SHARON BROWN’S two children are upstanding, honor roll students in the public school system, of which SHARON BROWN is an active financial contributor and weekly volunteer. SHARON BROWN is a degreed, working professional with 15 years’ experience in the engineering recruiting industry. Plaintiff, SHARON BROWN, is a Christian fiercely opposed to the practice of harvesting fetal cells from live babies for use in vaccines. SHARON BROWN, believes in a holistic lifestyle, rejecting genetically modified foods (GMOs), pesticides, pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines, and other chemicals, as much as possible. In addition, SHARON BROWN believes that SB 277 violates her right to privacy by “outing” her family as non-vaccinators.”

Jesus Christ!

And then there’s this one:

“Plaintiff, SARAH LUCAS, a Butte County resident, is a 33-year-old single, low-income, Christian, mother of three children who have had most recommended vaccinations. All three of SARAH LUCAS’ children experienced vaccine failure or adverse physical reactions resulting in urgent care and ER visits. Plaintiff, SARAH LUCAS, believes that, if her children aren’t immune by now, then that is a failure of the vaccines and failure to further vaccinate should not impact public school access. Plaintiff, SARAH LUCAS, refuses to again put her healthy children in danger simply to exercise their fundamental right to a public education.”

This one convinces me that the lawyer has no clue of how to lawyer. If he did, he would have told Sarah that the children could get a medical exemption if the reaction to the vaccines occurred as is claimed. That would get them in the clear to go to school, and, if anything, puts them in the group of kids that need to be protected through herd immunity.

Seriously, who is this lawyer? Where did they go to school?

I have a suspicion that this lawsuit is going nowhere and that the plaintiffs are going to claim that the judge is somehow biased or bought, or whatever… Just like all the other anti-vaccine lawsuits that have gone nowhere and the plaintiffs shriek that there’s been foul play instead of acknowledging how ridiculous their claims are.

To the “Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice,” vaccine requirements are exactly like the Holocaust (UPDATED)

UPDATE #2 (2/24/15, 9pm): Heather Barajas, the woman in the picture below, has taken down her picture and her Facebook profile, so the links below are dead, but I have the screenshot:

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.32.37 PM

Dear anti-vaccine zealots, if you can’t take the heat, don’t do these idiotic comparisons.

UPDATE (2/23/15, 11pm): It gets worse. The woman comparing her decision to not vaccinate to the Holocaust was a pre-med student at California State University, San Bernadino, according to her Facebook page. That’s right. She wants to be a physician. God help us if she gets into med school.

Have you ever been to a Holocaust museum? I was in grade school when I went to one in my hometown. I was an adult when I went to the one in Washington, DC. In both cases, my mind couldn’t grasp the enormity of what happened in Europe under the Nazi regime. People of different races and ethnicities, of different sexual orientations, and those with any kind of disability were rounded up, put on trains and shipped out to concentration camps. In total, over 12 million men and women were systematically killed because they were deemed to be unworthy of being alive. Half of them were Jewish.

On the 70th anniversary of the battle at Iwo Jima, one of the many battles where members of my family fought to save the world from the horrors of the Axis Powers, a picture was posted on the Facebook page of the “Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice.” (I won’t link to their Facebook page or their website. I won’t give them that kind of publicity. Instead, read about what they’re all about from Todd W. here.) Here is that picture:

vaccine_badge

That is the picture of two Jewish children and a Jewish man on the left wearing the Star of David as a symbol of being Jewish. It was a way for the Nazis to mark Jews as a form of public intimidation in the months leading to the Holocaust. On the right is a woman wearing a badge of a syringe with a “no” symbol, meaning that she and the child are not immunized. You see, in her world, the laws and regulations requiring that children and adults be immunized before they can participate in public programs is just like the Holocaust. This is what she wrote with the picture:

“I’m a biological terrorist. I don’t care about the health of others. I’m a moron, idiot, scum of the earth who can’t understand science. I should be fined, jailed, taxed extra because of the burden I put on society. I should have my child taken away because obviously, I don’t care about her health.

I should be shipped off somewhere to live with my diseases. My child shouldn’t be allowed in school or around others. My address should be made public so that all can know and do who knows what. I should be tackled in the street & forcibly vaccinated. I’m the reason the diseases are being spread, the reason people are suffering and something must be done about me.

What’s next? Should all non-vaxxers be forced to wear some sort of visible insignia to identify us to the general public? Should we be segregated from others? Detained somewhere away from the general populace? Hmm, is this starting to sound familiar?

When people say things like I mentioned above, when they think them, they are saying them about me. They are saying them about my daughter. Some are saying I should be killed because I’m such a huge threat & danger. Does making a medical decision for my family justify a death sentence?

This is no longer about pro-vax vs. non-vax. This is about freedom of choice for medical procedures. Our bodies belong to us, not the government. Measles is not a deadly disease. It is not sweeping the nation, killing thousands, as the media hysteria seems to have some believing. It’s being used as a scare tactic. It’s being used to turn people against each other.

If SB 277 {or, in our case, S9 and H212} passes, it will be very bad. Not even homeschooling will be safe, since in CA it’s considered private school. Everyone will be forced to vaccinate, adults as well. They have many new vaccines in the making that you will be forced to get.

I promise you, if you send the message that the government owns your body, you will regret it. What happens if they decide anyone with any kind of mental illness must be force medicated with whatever they deem as best? What if they start making medication that people with certain disabilities must take, whether they want to or not?

I’m not being dramatic. I’m not over-exaggerating. I’m being very serious & trying to get a message across as bluntly as possible. Keeping our rights to our bodies is a must. I shouldn’t have to live in fear in a supposed free country. But I do. I shouldn’t feel anxiety every time I hear a police car, helicopter, or plane pass by. But I do. I shouldn’t fear taking my daughter to the doctor. But I do. I shouldn’t have to wonder if/how my family will suffer, be hurt, or even tortured because we make a medical decision that’s different. But unfortunately, I do, every day.

I will fight for your right to choose, even if you will not fight for mine. Forced vaccination infringes on our constitutional rights, on our religious freedoms, and so much more. It is not the answer, and it never will be.”

The bills she is referring to are bills in the California legislature aimed at reducing the number of “personal belief” exemptions to immunization, making it harder for people to just say they don’t believe in vaccines in order to be exempt from being immunized before participating in public programs.

I hope that I don’t have to explain to you how vaccine requirements are not at all like the Holocaust. If I do, then you march yourself right over to the Holocaust museum and ask a Holocaust survivor or their family how it’s not.

I also hope that this woman gets the care that she seems to need. After all, parts of that screed (like “I shouldn’t feel anxiety every time I hear a police car, helicopter, or plane pass by. But I do.”) point to some sort of a pathology in the way that she views the world, this idiotic comparison with the Holocaust aside.

Another Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics who should know better

With the current outbreak of measles centered around Disneyland, we’ve been paying a lot of attention to what 2014’s Douchebag of the Year, Dr. Robert “Bob” Sears had to say about vaccines. As it turns out, it’s nothing but a bunch of whining and finger-pointing at us “stupid” people. We’ve also been watching “pediatrician to the stars” Dr. Jay Gordon, MD, FAAAAAAAAAAAAP. (Too many A’s?) He’s been more reserved in what he’s had to say about measles, but there are strong hints that he may or may not have believed BS Hooker’s horrible attempt at epidemiology.

Today we got a tip that there is another pediatrician out there. By “out there,” we mean out there in outer space when it comes about medicine. This is yet another pediatrician who should know better, but doesn’t seem to. It’s another person who committed themselves to the healing arts and then just apparently threw reality out the window and went with the quackery. What follows is from his “about” page, and it contains plenty that should make you shudder at the thought of him having a say in anyone’s healthcare:

“Dr. Palevsky is a renowned board certified pediatrician, sought-after lecturer, and published author, who utilizes a holistic approach to children’s wellness and illness. In his current practice, Dr. Palevsky provides patients and their families with personalized, comprehensive consultations to address their children’s wellness, and acute and chronic illnesses.”

The key word in that paragraph is “holistic.” While it is a good idea to treat the whole person and not just the one symptom when dealing with a patient, the word “holistic” has taken on a different meaning as of yet. It’s kind of like the word “gluten.” It used to mean something that certain people could not eat because of an allergy. Now it means absolute poison. (Spoiler alert: Corn is “gluten free” because it’s corn, not because it ever had gluten in it.) Lately, “holistic health” has come to be synonymous with a wide array of Supplements, Complimentary, and Alternative Medicine (or S.C.A.M., for short). But let’s keep reading:

“He offers consultations and educational programs to families and practitioners in the areas of preventive and holistic health; childhood development; lifestyle changes; nutrition for adults, infants and children; safe, alternative treatments for common and difficult to treat acute and chronic pediatric and adult conditions; vaccination controversies; mindful parenting; and rethinking the medical paradigm.”

Did you catch it? “Vaccination controversies.” I wonder what that is all about? Here’s what Dr. Palevsky had to say to fellow quack Dr. Joseph Mercola:

“When I went through medical school, I was taught that vaccines were completely safe and completely effective, and I had noThey’re (sic) reason to believe otherwise. All the information that I was taught was pretty standard in all the medical schools and the teachings and scientific literature throughout the country. I had no reason to disbelieve it.

Over the years, I kept practicing medicine and using vaccines and thinking that my approach to vaccines was completely onboard with everything else I was taught.

But more and more, I kept seeing that my experience of the world, my experience in using and reading about vaccines, and hearing what parents were saying about vaccines were very different from what I was taught in medical school and my residency training.

… and it became clearer to me as I read the research, listened to more and more parents, and found other practitioners who also shared the same concern that vaccines had not been completely proven safe or even completely effective, based on the literature that we have today.

… It didn’t appear that the scientific studies that we were given were actually appropriately designed to prove and test the safety and efficacy.

It also came to my attention that there were ingredients in there that were not properly tested, that the comparison groups were not appropriately set up, and that conclusions made about vaccine safety and efficacy just did not fit the scientific standards that I was trained to uphold in my medical school training.”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Palevsky appears to have abandoned what he was taught in an accredited institution of higher learning, what was based on verifiable evidence and gone through the rigors of scientific discovery, and exchanged it with anecdotes and hearsay from like-minded people. Evidence be damned. If the people around you say something that jives with your way of seeing the world, that must be correct and not what we know from centuries of scientific knowledge. If something “appears” to be wrong, then don’t learn why it’s wrong, just write it off altogether. If something is not “completely” safe and “completely” effective then it is worthless.

Alright, so we know he’s anti-vaccine. What else does he say about himself on his about page?

“In using his “whole child” wellness philosophy, Dr. Palevsky recommends and incorporates the teachings and therapies of nutritional science, acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, chiropractic, osteopathy, cranial-sacral therapy, environmental medicine, homeopathy, and essential oils, along with natural healing modalities such as aromatherapy, yoga, Reiki, meditation, reflexology, and mindfulness.”

We’re going to just go ahead and stop right there. We don’t need to read any further to know that Dr. Palevsky has abandoned everything that made him a pediatrician and seems to now be embracing the magical arts. After all, that is what homeopathy, Reiki, and reflexology are… They’re magic. It’s pure and unadulterated magic that has failed time after time to stand up to scientific scrutiny. Seriously, there hasn’t been any evidence that any of it works beyond the placebo effect.

As Dr. Mark Crislip has stated, adding apple pie to cow dung doesn’t make the apple pie taste better. Likewise, adding a thin veil of medicine through the letters after his name doesn’t make Dr. Palevsky’s quackery any more legitimate. It makes his claims of being a man of medicine worthless.

To seal our indictment of Dr. Palevsky (and we’re using “doctor” very loosely at this point), here’s an excellent piece-by-piece rebuttal of his statements by “Sullivan” at Left Brain Right Brain. In that rebuttal and in this page on Dr. Palevsky’s website, you’ll notice that Dr. Palevsky seems to have abandoned Germ Theory:

“Acute symptoms, such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, cough, runny nose, mucus production and wheezing, are all important ways in which children discharge stored accumulations of wastes or toxins from their bodies. These toxins enter and are stored in their bodies from repeated exposures to in utero, air, food, water, skin, nervous system stress, and injected materials, that for whatever reason, don’t easily exit their bodies through the normal means of detoxification. These toxins are too irritating to children’s bodies and must be removed. Eventually, a critical level of the toxins is reached, and children get sick with symptoms to purge them. Children, therefore, must be allowed to be sick, in order for them to get well.”

Really? Then why does Dr. Palevsky recommend the following in a different page?

“If your child is less than 3 months old and has a fever, please go to the nearest emergency room.

If your child has a fever and a rash of little dots under the skin, please go to the nearest emergency room.

If your child has a fever, neck pain and the light is bothering him/her, please go to the nearest emergency room.

If your child has a fever, along with urinary complaints, swollen joints, inability to walk, or other complaints that concern you, please seek immediate medical attention.

If along with your child’s cough, your child is having difficulty breathing, is breathing rapidly, is wheezing, has a mental status change (see Pediatric Checklist), or is an infant below 4 months of age with a cough, please seek immediate medical attention.”

Why, Dr. Palevsky? Why go to the nearest emergency room if these are all just things that the child’s wonderful self-cleaning, self-healing body will take care of? I think he wrote this as a cover-your-ass set of recommendations because the bullshit he spills previously can get him in hot water if a child ends up having meningitis or measles and the parents go with “cranial-sacral therapy,” whatever the hell that is.

The most telling part of his website is the following statement found all the way at the bottom of most pages:

“Disclaimer: All material on this web site is provided for educational purposes only. Consult with your health care provider regarding the advisability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your individual situation.”

In other words, “I’m not saying what I’m saying, I’m just saying.”

We at The Poxes believe that it is about time that the American Academy of Pediatrics take a really long, hard look at some of its members (the physicians with the “FAAP” after their name) who have abandoned science and embraced magic and attempt to use that magic to convince people that scientifically proven preventative and therapeutic measures like vaccines and antibiotics are not necessary. Because, with “fellows” like these, the AAP doesn’t need any enemies.

Age of Autism makes fun of Autism, draws in the AIDS denialists

This is the seventh post that has nothing to do with vaccines, for the most part.

Age of Autism, the web “newspaper” of the “autism epidemic” had a blog post that was supposed to be poking fun at the CDC response to autism, but it fell flat:

“Dr. Tom Insel, who is the nation’s leading expert in funneling funds away from research that seeks to pinpoint causation or could lead to cure, has been pulled from his post as head of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee to head up the HeEbeeGeeBee program.

An unidentified HeeEbeeGeeBee researcher said, “We anticipate results from HeEbeeGeeBee in approximately 50 – 75 years, really, a blink of an eye in genetics.  We’ve begun studying cockroach leg movement in detail and should progress to small worms within just seventeen years.”

He added, “If you think you have been exposed to Ebola, we assure you that you are wrong.  You have not. However, you are welcome to ask for a quarantine of up to 18 years from your local school district.””

In the minds of these people, Ebola is like autism, or autism is like Ebola. When will they stop comparing autistics with sick people, dead people, or worthless people, or kidnapped people?

Not to be outdone, the comments section has become a cesspool of AIDS-denialists claiming that the PCR test being used to diagnose Ebola cases is not reliable:

“As we know from our autism carnage (and all the other consequences of vaccines), the Media and CDC, et al. are not at all interested in objectively figuring out cause & effect along with their cock-ca-manie PR releases that some “previously healthy” people have come down with such as Ebola (or AIDS).”

AND

“My red flag IMMEDIATELY went up when I read with horror that they are using the PCR test to ‘diagnose’ Ebola cases. I learned via research into the HIV/AIDS issue the pitfalls with various diagnostic tools that were touted at the time to be the BEST diagnostics available during the HIV/AIDS crisis several years back.”

AND

“So the question is: can the PCR test allow researchers and doctors to say how much virus is in a patient’s body?

Many years ago, journalist John Lauritsen approached a man named Kary Mullis for an answer.

Source-1: For a brief excerpt from John Lauritsen’s article about Kary Mullis, see Frontiers in Public Health, 23 September, 2014, “Questioning the HIV-AIDS hypothesis: 30 years of dissent,” by Patricia Goodson. (See also this.)

Source-2: For John’s 1996 article in full, see “Has Provincetown Become Protease Town?”

“Kary Mullis… is thoroughly convinced that HIV is not the cause of AIDS…”

AND

“Already killed thousands Larry? And we should believe this because …. the main stream media is telling is us that it’s so???

There are only two places where the Ebola outbreak exists Larry:

1. In the mainstream media
2. In the heads of sorry asses like you, who are stupid enough to believe them”

Guess what? PCR works. Just because they don’t understand, or want to understand, the science doesn’t mean the science doesn’t work. You don’t screen with PCR for a virus on a healthy individual. Like all lab tests, you assess their risk of being infected and their symptoms. PCR is not used for general screening. It’s a diagnostic lab test.

But the best comment so far, which I’m sure is going to get deleted is this:

“So you reject Sin Hang Lee’s Gardasil claims, the finding of PCV in rotavirus vaccines, Wakefield’s finding of measles virus in cerebrospinal fluid, and any number of autism-related gut-brain papers?”

Science denialism cuts both ways, jerks.

On the death of Robin Williams and its consequences

I would be lying if I told you that the death of Robin Williams didn’t affect me. It did, and it did so very profoundly. Although I never knew Mr. Williams, I enjoyed his comedy very much. His quick wit and personality were something that I tried to emulate in my own life. I tried to be the funniest guy in the room, many times failing, but many times succeeding and making other people happy. A friend of mine told me that Mr. Williams likely committed suicide when he realised that his sadness inside could infect others, contrary to what he had set himself out to do in life. I agree.

Mr. Williams’ suicide is going to have a lot of consequences. Friends of mine in the mental health field have told me that a lot of people are reaching out to suicide prevention groups to do everything from talking to asking for help. His death has also brought mental health in general, and suicide in particular, to the forefront of our discussions as a nation. (If only we weren’t so preoccupied with things like Ebola in West Africa and wars all over the goddamned place.) If you look at the numbers, there are twice as many suicides as homicides in this country, which should be all the evidence we need to demand a revolution in how we treat people with mental health.

There are many evidence-based treatment for mental health problems, including a variety of medications and therapies. While the fields of psychiatry and psychology are sorely underfunded, plenty of information comes out year after year on what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately, the great majority of the population doesn’t read journal articles. Instead, most people rely on what they hear or see on social media and experience in popular culture. As with the “vaccine wars,” it is sometimes dangerous what a celebrity (even a minor one) has to say about suicide and depression.

Staying with Mr. Williams’ case, a friend of his, comedian/actor Rob Schneider, took to Twitter to announce to the world that it was the medication that Mr. Williams was taking for his newly diagnosed Parkinson’s disease that triggered the successful suicide attempt. I don’t know if Mr. Schneider had confidential knowledge of the medications prescribed to Mr. Williams, but I do know that Mr. Schneider likes to dive into pseudo-science and make some “controversial” claims. For example, he has stated that vaccines cause all sorts of ailments:

“The doctors are not gonna tell you both sides of the issue… they’re told by the pharmaceutical industry, which makes billions of dollars, that it’s completely safe.”

“The efficacy of these shots have not been proven,” he later continued. “And the toxicity of these things — we’re having more and more side effects. We’re having more and more autism.”

Excuse me for being a little skeptical of Mr. Schneider’s assertion on what made Mr. Williams commit suicide. I can’t help myself, based on what he has said in the past. If he is making this assertion based only on the listed side effects of any medication used for Parkinson’s, then he is not helping anyone. He would not be helping people with moderate to severe depression or people with Parkinson’s.

The worst thing is that he would not be the only one whose statements can be “dangerous.” Plenty of other people of questionable mental health credentials came out shooting-off their mouths about what made Mr. Williams commit suicide, most if not all of it based on assumptions, most if not all of them wrong.

The Humpty Dumpty of blackmail

I’m still on vacation in an undisclosed part of the world that is south of Florida and west of Havana. If you can’t figure it out, it’s too bad. All the clues are there, and you shouldn’t really care where I am. Likewise, you shouldn’t really care who I am. Rational people need only be worried about the accuracy of my writing, the science behind my observations, and the veracity of the accounts that I put forth. All others should get a hobby rather than trying to figure out my real identity.

Yes, they’re at it again. I received an email via Facebook from a person who will be anonymous for the time being. She said she knew I’d publish her email, but I think she did it more out of wanting attention and getting some sort of credit for her efforts. I write that she is a “she” because the name she used on Facebook is 99.9% of the time used by women.

I’m not going to post her message to me. That is exactly what she wants. Instead, I’ll tell you the gist of it. She claims to have figured out who I am in reality and is threatening to go to anti-vaccine people at different anti-vaccine blogs with that information. She gave me until midnight tonight to reveal my identity or “face the consequences.” She said I was an “existential threat” to her non-vaccinating self and her children. So I guess I’m worse than whooping cough. She closed her email by claiming that she would not rest until I was “brought to justice” for my “crimes” against vaccine refusers.

Yawn.

If this scenario seems familiar to you, it’s probably because The Joker did the same thing to Batman in “The Dark Knight”. In that movie, The Joker threatens to kill a person each hour until Batman turns himself in. Not knowing what to do, Bruce Wayne goes to turn himself in at a press conference held by DA Harvey Dent. He does this against the advice of Alfred, his butler. Alfred explains to Bruce that Batman can endure the anger of the people if he doesn’t reveal his true identity and focuses on catching The Joker instead of playing the game. At the press conference, Harvey Dent lies and says that he is Batman and is led away in handcuffs. Long story short, they don’t play The Joker’s game.

I’m not playing this woman’s game. I’m not playing it especially because the details she offered were not close at all to reality. In her unhinged version of reality, I’m a pharmaceutical researcher at Merck in New Jersey, pulling in three million dollars a year and leading a team in developing a new vaccine. I wrote back to her and “pleaded” not to reveal the information and that I would “turn myself in” on this blog before her deadline.

Well, guess what? You weren’t even close, lady. Go ahead and give that information to whomever you feel would do the most damage. (She hinted that it would be The Kid who would listen to her the best.) Had you not provided me more details when I asked for them, I might have believed you. But you showed your hand, and now you’re left with nothing. Never show your hand when you’re trying to blackmail someone and when that someone has a superior intellect to yours.

It didn’t work for Charles Augustus Magnussen, and it won’t work for you.

Now, if I may be so allowed, I’m off to get more tanned. Alfred is making daiquiris.