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Drum roll

March 24th, 2008 · 9 Comments · Critical thinking

I’ve always appreciated Kevin Drum’s political instincts and insight. He is pragmatic, eschews dogma, and brings an historic perspective to his musings on government, foreign affairs and politics. So it was depressing to read his Public Health Warning today at CBSNews.com:

Someone asked me a while back why I wasn’t Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s biggest fan, and this is why. His reckless demagoging about thimerosal and autism was and is actively dangerous. Ditto for John McCain’s ignorant burbling on the subject a few weeks ago. They should both be ashamed of themselves.In the end, this particular blend of of conspiracy theorizing and New Age ditziness probably won’t attract enough support to be too big a deal. But inchoate fear is a strong emotion, especially when threats to children are involved. The people who feed this fear are playing with fire.

No support? Not a big deal? We’re talking about the same people who buy miracle diet cures over the internet, and let Oprah tell them which books to read. People who believe there’s actually a method to picking the right cases on Deal or No Deal, or think that their annual IRS refund is a great way to save money.

I’m surprised Drum doesn’t see it. The anti-vaccine movement is the latest chapter in America’s distrust of authority that dates back to l’affaire Watergate and the Vietnam War. It’s not only the vaccines the parents hate – it’s the bureaucrats and medical professionals who recommend them. In a culture where the consumer is king, and voters are pampered and fluffed by obsequious politicians, the health care industry can seem stubbornly immune to the fickleness of the marketplace. Need a man’s razor with 18 blades? Here ya go. Carry-out chimichungas? No problemo! A fax machine for your jet ski? That can be arranged. Green vaccines? Uh, actually, no. It’s just not the same thing.

If the anti-vaccine movement gains enough traction to “be a big deal”, if it isn’t already, it will happen because good men like Kevin Drum did nothing.

3fools.jpg

“The people who feed this fear are playing with fire.”

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9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ms. Clark // Mar 25, 2008 at 12:07 am

    I would add to your line-up the photos of three or four of the personal injury lawyers who seem to be at the center or very near the center of this.

  • 2 Liz Parker // Mar 25, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Personal injury lawyers? I wish.

    No deep pockets here, the pharmaceutical industry was given a gigantic free pass – there is no need for them to ensure safety or efficacy of their vaccines as they cannot be held liable for any death or disability resulting from administration of these products.

    Spend a week as a parent of a child with severe autism. you will, quickly, learn the physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual cost of living with this disorder is significantly greater than any “settlement” offered by “vaccine court.”

    No compensation is enough to make up for watching your beautiful, healthy child lose his childhood and independent future. Nor is there enough compensation to make up for the constant pain and inability to communicate even your most basic needs (as a child with autism cannot do).

    Simply put, if you wouldn’t drink it, you shouldn’t inject it into an infant or child.

    Those of you who think this crisis does not really exist, order up a cup full of mercury, formaldehyde, anti-freeze, aluminum, cancerous antibiotic, and rogue virus’ – and drink up. Write back, afterward (if you are able), and let us know how that worked for you.

  • 3 Patrick // Mar 25, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    What specific cancerous antibiotic and rogue virus did you have in mind Liz?

    Any factual data, or just more blowing figuyrative bad smells in the wind?

  • 4 Joseph // Mar 25, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    “Those of you who think this crisis does not really exist, order up a cup full of mercury, formaldehyde, anti-freeze, aluminum, cancerous antibiotic, and rogue virus’ – and drink up. Write back, afterward (if you are able), and let us know how that worked for you.”

    Yeah, because vaccines are like a cup full of mercury. You really showed us Liz.

  • 5 L'asperge // Mar 25, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    It’s all about emotion for people like Liz. She can’t reason.

  • 6 Lin Darling // Mar 26, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Autism Beat is perhaps the most deluded web site/blog to date. Pathetic really. Truly pitiful!

  • 7 autblog // Mar 26, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Care to elaborate? What don’t you like?

  • 8 Prometheus // Mar 27, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    As an example of how well-informed some of the vaccines-cause-autism advocates are, I submit the following statement:

    “Those of you who think this crisis does not really exist, order up a cup full of mercury, formaldehyde, anti-freeze, aluminum, cancerous antibiotic, and rogue virus’ – and drink up. Write back, afterward (if you are able), and let us know how that worked for you.” [emphasis added]

    Not only is this person using a classic “straw man” argument – attacking a position not taken (i.e. that these substances are “perfectly safe” in any dose) – they also show an inability to read labels.

    Although it has been often said (and parrotted) that vaccines contain “anti-freeze” (ethylene glycol), in fact a few vaccines contain polyethylene glycol. The similarity between ethylene glycol and polyethylene glycol is the same as that between ethylene (a flammable gas used to ripen fruit) and polyethylene (or polythene, a waxy plastic used for – among other things – food storage containers).

    If you go to your bathroom, you will find polyethylene glycol used in a variety of toiletries, cosmetics, bath products and – yes – medicines. It is often used as an inert thickening agent.

    In vaccines, the polyethylene glycol is primarily used for its ability to precipitate virus particles, allowing them to be concentrated and removed from the other components of the solutions they are “grown” in.

    “Antifreeze” (ethylene glycol) is not used in vaccine production at any stage, as far as I have been able to determine. In addition, there is no conceivable use for ethylene glycol at any stage in vaccine production.

    Clearly, the people who have been parrotting this “urban legend” about antifreeze in vaccines have a very poor grasp of the science in this matter. Of course, it isn’t about scientific fact for most of them – it’s all about emotion.

    Prometheus

  • 9 Landru // Mar 27, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Liz? I have an autistic son, and I resent your attempt to monopolize the point of view with this sort of nonsense. Go learn some actual science, instead of indulging your futile addiction to scam artists’ quackery, then screaming at the rest of us.

    Or better yet, just shut up.

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