T Nation

Penn & Teller Bullsh*t on Anti-Vacinnation

These guys did a nice job taking apart a lot of the anti-vaxxer myths. There’s a whole bunch of stupidity surrounding this topic, and I don’t have the time to take it all apart. Three things that I’ll leave sitting here:

  1. the comment around 14:00 that “vaccines are the backbone of the pharmaceutical industry” - really irks me (the video does a really nice job taking this claim apart, thankfully). Pharmaceutical companies generally have a tiny budget for vaccines and a net loss. Vaccines are all but free and in some cases bring zero back to the company. It would be more beneficial (because a zero return would be more beneficial than a loss) for drug companies to stop producing vaccines and not support their use if profit was the only motivating factor.

  2. anti-vaxxers love to cite the long list of ingredients in vaccines (i.e. the discussion around 9:00-10:00 about aluminum and mercury) as evidence of their danger, with a basic misunderstanding that the amount of those supposed toxins (aluminum, mercury, etc) contained in a vaccine is less than we’re exposed to in daily life through our drinking water, air, and food.

  3. anti-vaxxers also love to cite the long list of potential side effects without understanding how these trials work. If any person that received a vaccine during trials experiences a particular side effect at ANY time during the long, long process of getting a new drug approved, that side effect must be listed on the label as a “potential side effect” even if there is no plausible biological mechanism linking that side effect to the drug.

  4. One more bonus comment: when people say “do the research yourself” it really torques me because they’re throwing a phrase out there that sounds impressive without actually “doing the research” themselves. They’re ignoring the dozens of large, well-designed studies that conclusively demonstrated no link between vaccines and autism. Vaccines are the most rigorously tested and least profitable of all the ways a pharmaceutical company could attempt to make money. Pharma companies are guilty of their share of shady practices and profit-chasing for sure, but this is absolutely not one of them.

A friend of mine goes to great lengths to propagate this nonsense. The really troubling thing is that so many people believe her. She’s also a very good-looking person (actually an ex-stripper now working as a trainer) who also propagates a lot of good information, such as healthy eating and exercise habits.

Her healthy appearance and good body of knowledge about other health-related topics gives her a lot of credibility to people who are vulnerable to misinformation about vaccines. I wish she would just shut up about it.

I see this as a side-step away from people who sell certain alternative medicine treatments. The anti-vaccine people are, for the most part, not malicious, just misinformed. What really grinds my gears are crooks who profit from other peoples’ desire for good health by selling stuff that does not work while promising miracle results. I nearly slapped another friend of mine who was pressuring me to get my cancer-stricken father in to see her chiropractor. According to her, my father could cure his stage 4 lung cancer by simply changing his diet, because “cancer cannot live in an alkaline body.” Her tone implied that we were foolish for passing this miracle cure up. I just walked away from that, probably avoiding an assault charge in the process.

But that’s another topic, and I’m pretty sure Penn and Teller had a go at CAM as well.

cases of measles are at a 20 yr high as children being adopted from overseas are bringing it to North America. anti-vac’s are setting the stage for a major outbreak. I had it and it is bad but at least I didn’t die. The last large outbreak of measles in the U.S. occurred during 1989-1991, with 17,000 cases of measles and 70 deaths in California alone.