Vaccinations are in the news. Everyone’s taking sides and using their best arguments to paint the “other side” as idiots.
Anyone who even questions the safety or efficacy of vaccinations is immediately grouped in with climate deniers and called an anti-vaxer at best, or a moronic muttonhead at worst.
I’ve heard it said that anti-vaxers are actually more informed than the vaxers, but the vaxers fight back, arguing that the anti-vaxers have been informed by fringe science and quacks.
I love the term quack because historically, the first one to scream “QUACK!” is usually the biggest quack. When the AMA was formed in 1847, they were amazingly candid in admitting that they formed because they were going broke competing with other forms of medicine, but they also had an agenda. Topping that agenda was to hunt out quacks.
The main treatments used by these physicians at that time were burning, blistering, bleeding, and prescribing a medicine whose main ingredient was mercury; these were the people calling herbalists quacks. You can read more in our article, The History of Quackery.
Contrary to what “medicine” wants us to believe, the issue of vaccines in not black and white.
First off, no medical procedure or drug is 100% safe.
Take aspirin. It’s considered a safe pain reliever and a safe blood thinner, if used in low doses. Doctors and advertising recommend daily aspirin therapy to prevent heart disease. Yet they don’t seem to tell you that you’ll up your chances of a hemorrhagic stroke by some 40%.
I’ve just received two health and wellness newsletters that point to two recent studies concerning the dangers of aspirin therapy. Do these studies make the news? Sometimes. Do doctors tell their patients? Sometimes. Does everyone know the dangers of daily aspirin therapy? Not even close.
Here is an excerpt from one of the newsletters:
… new information ― published in the online version of the journal Heart ― dropped a bombshell.
Overall, low-dose aspirin probably does more harm than good. At least it does if you’re a woman. [© Copyright 2015 Discovery Health Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.]
Here is a tiny syllogism for you.
If SCIENCE = FACT
And FACTS HAVE CONTEXTS,
Then SCIENCE HAS CONTEXTS.
What this means is that for science to be perfectly true, it must consider the contexts; the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Facts cannot be debated. Contexts can be debated. And facts that aren’t really facts can be debated.
One more thing before we continue. Science is methodology. Doctors and scientists like to point out that science is reproducible. The problem with relying on this concept alone is that bad methodology is also reproducible.
Let us take the famous “Echinacea Study” that was published in JAMA as an example of “bad” methodology.
Children took a pill form of leaf echinacea for a period of six months. The study was conducted by physicians with no knowledge of the use of echinacea, no knowledge of herbalism. Their conclusion: “Echinacea purpurea, as dosed in this study was not effective in treating URI symptoms in patients 2 to 11 years old, and its use was associated with an increased risk of rash.” [JAMA, Dec 2003; 290: 2824 – 2830]
The reason for the study is that people “claim” that taking echinacea shortens their colds and makes their (URI; Upper Respiratory Infections) symptoms slighter.
The questionable methodology used:
To elucidate on these, the quality of a product is always important to the outcome, as is the dosing and “method” used in taking the echinacea. Herbalists will tell you that highest quality echinacea is a tincture made using all parts: root, leaf, and flower. The most effective method of taking this tincture is sublingual.
The length of time the product was used is also very important in this study, because historically, one does not use echinacea for a period longer than two weeks. Why not? Because its effectiveness drops and side effects can occur. Herbalists use the metaphor of starting a car: Once the car starts, you don’t keep turning the key.
Finally, blood tests were never taken for CD4 and CD8 counts that would have demonstrated an increase or decrease in T-Cells.
The fact that this study could be reproduced has nothing to do with sound science; not when the methodology is off.
Free Speech TV recently (02/05/15) aired a great segment on vaccinations. I find Free Speech TV wonderfully objective in giving both sides to an issue equal time, while not letting either side get away with anything.
On the anti-vax side (though she is not an anti-vaxer; she’s someone who wants people to be free to make informed choices) was an attorney by the name of Mary Holland. Mary is a graduate of Harvard and holds a law degree from Columbia University. She is a human rights lawyer who is a research scholar at NYU School of Law. She has also co-authored (along with Louise K. Habakus) a book titled, Vaccine Epidemic. You can find a short review and summary of the book at the Weston Price site. It’s an interesting little piece that I’d like to talk about for a bit.
A term we are hearing lately is “herd immunity.” Here’s an excerpt from the article:
The concept of herd immunity is used to justify vaccination mandates. However, the book exposes the many flaws in this unproven theory. Habakus states, “What is most troubling about the theory of herd immunity is that the original basis for its validity has nothing to do with vaccines. People observed a protective effect in the community when a sufficiently high number of individuals contracted the wild form of a disease and secured lifelong immunity ….
Those who know me know I can’t let something like this go past me without checking it out, and so I eventually found this article that does substantiate the claim about the “original basis” for herd immunity: Herd Immunity: History, Theory, Practice.
Oh, and by the way, an hypothesis is a proposition, or set of propositions, set forth as an explanation for the occurrence of some specified group of phenomena, either asserted merely as a provisional conjecture to guide investigation or accepted as highly probable given accepted facts. This is an established probability which has yet to be tested.
On the vax side was Dr Paul Offit, a pediatrician specializing in communicable diseases and is considered a leading expert on vaccines, immunology, and virology. He is also credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives, world-wide, because of the rotavirus vaccine he co-invented. In other words, he is not just a doctor, he’s a research scientist.
In the segment Mary Holland had her say, and then Dr Offit came on. He attacked Holland’s arguments saying that the studies she says don’t exist actually do exist; that she must think there’s an international conspiracy to hide the truth. (My words, not his; I’m paraphrasing).
But then the moderator, Amy Goodman, pointed out that Dr Offit refused to debate Mary Holland, which had been their original objective; to have these two face off.
Dr Offit responded, “I think that it’s not important to have a debate about the science with someone that clearly doesn’t know the science. I’m sorry, Ms Holland misrepresented the science again and again and again. I don’t think that in any way helps your viewer. I don’t think it’s fair to have a debate with two sides represented where only one side is really supported by the science. I’d like to think we’re beyond that.”
What should be noted is that his reasons for not debating her involve the things she just said on the program, and he refused to debate her long before the program. In other words, he refused to debate her before he heard her “unscientific” arguments.
Also, in my opinion, he takes an elitist’s stand on the science, claiming that she doesn’t understand it, as if lay people have no grasp of the magical methods of the scientific community.
In the end, what this really looks like is he refused to debate an attorney. She claims the studies don’t exist mainly because the studies that do exist were conducted by the pharmaceutical companies that made the vaccines; much akin to putting the fox in charge of the hen house. Additionally, much of the science Offit supports is based upon epidemiological studies, which are the worst studies in medicine because the statistics can be manipulated and the data can be cherry picked.
What Dr Offit didn’t want to do, it appears to me, was to have his “science” scrutinized and torn apart by a woman qualified to cross examine him.
From my knowledge of science, I know that if it is good science, it is unassailable. As stated previously, even a bad study can be replicated. As for science not being open to debate, well that’s something many would love for us to believe, but is far from the truth.
Even the Germ vs Terrain debate from over 100 years ago is back in the forefront as it is now known that 90% of our DNA is not ours but belongs to the “germs” infesting our bodies.
And what about global climate change; is that open to debate? Sure. I’d love to see the debate, because the climate change deniers will be beaten into the ground by the overwhelming evidence that climate change is not only real, but humans are helping it along.
Everything is open to debate. Let the facts speak for themselves. Let the contexts of those facts be debated. Let the debates begin.
The gold standard of science is the randomized controlled, double blind study, referred to as an RCT (randomized controlled trial). (Our posting, Studies Show, is the best piece you’ll find on how science knows what it knows.)
Randomized means once the person has been qualified to be in the study (the qualifications are part of the methodology and can manipulate the outcome; for example, elderly are often disqualified because they tend to die before studies finish), that person is randomly assigned to one of the groups, the experimental or control group. However, there are studies involving more than two groups. By random, you could say it’s a flip of a coin.
The advantages of this type of study are obvious. We find out what works and what are the side effects. The disadvantages are that oftentimes the results are limited to the experiment and hard to validate in the real world. This is where the Heisenberg, or uncertainty, principle comes into play, in that the observer seems to influence the outcome.
The greatest disadvantage to this type of study is a conflict of interest, which happens to be the loudest valid criticism leveled at the pharmaceutical industry, because they are often ones who test their own products.
An ABC news report from June 12, 2002 illustrated this problem when it revealed that drug studies funded by the pharmaceutical interests have a 90% chance of showing effectiveness, while studies funded by sources outside the industry have only a 50% chance of favorable results. [McKenzie J. Conflict of interest? Medical journal changes policy of finding independent doctors [transcript]. ABC News. June 12, 2002]
In the Hierarchy of Evidence, the only thing more trustworthy than an RCT is a collection of RCTs that all point to the same conclusion, called a meta-analysis.
In the Hierachy of Evidence, on the rung directly below RCTs sits the Cohort Study. This is that study you often hear about in which a group of people with some commonality were followed around for a number of years to determine something. The Framingham Heart Study is probably the most famous of cohort studies, in which “a total of 2090 men and 2641 women members of the original cohort, free of a history of atrial fibrillation, between the ages of 55 and 94 years” were evaluated for up to 38 years.
Many cohort studies are accomplished by giving people a questionnaire to fill out. Their answers are fed into a computer and relationships are discovered that we mere humans would take years to discover. One of my favorite examples of a cohort study is one out of UCLA Medical School in which they found that if a pregnant mother ate, on the average, a hotdog a week during her pregnancy, her child had a 50/50 chance of being diagnosed with a brain tumor prior to his/her 15th birthday. (You can see why it’s my favorite. Whoda thunk?)
Finally we have case studies and then case reports. A case report is basically anecdotal evidence reported by a “doctor.” In itself, a case report is not conclusive, but it could initiate a more rigorous investigation. One thing modern medicine tries not to admit is that many anecdotal accounts do eventually add up to something substantial.
In our ancient history, primitive peoples learned their medicine from anecdotal evidence that added up over a period of time. The study of herbal medicine came about this way, as did Traditional Chinese Medicine. The first “science” on this planet was the “Tao” or the way. It was the science of observation.
We’ve come full circle back to our original question.
We like to think our medicine is based in science. We want to believe this. Many, many people actually do believe this unquestioningly. But sadly, because of the influence of money on our medicine, that belief in the science of medicine is a religious belief, as it has little foundation in actual fact.
For some people, if you tell them that medicine is not 100% science, their reaction is the same as if you had attacked their religion.
There are many papers written on the Religion of Modern Medicine, including one at this site: Modern Medicine: The New World Religion by Olivier Clerc. (I.Link)
Another thesis equating medicine to religion is found in the book, Confessions of a Medical Heretic, by M.D. Robert S. Mendelsohn. In it, Mendelsohn argues that modern medical therapies are often more dangerous than the diseases.
In 1978, the now defunct Office of Technical Assessment published the results from their study in a paper called: Assessing the Efficacy and Safety of Medical Technologies.
In it, they concluded that just about 20% of conventional medicine is backed by the gold standard of Randomized Controlled Trials. For example, in medicals school, doctors today are taught pharmaceutical medicine for the most part. You have a disease and you have a pharmaceutical cure. Sure, those drugs are backed by studies, which were done by the drug companies (conflict of interest). But as to the care of an actual patient, in medical school, old doctors pass onto young doctors their own practices that have worked for them, but have never been put to the rigors of “science.”
When a doctor gets out into society to practice his art, s/he oftentimes falls into the same rut as most other physicians. With nearly 10,000 drugs to choose from, they prescribe from a list that might be 20 to 30 names long; their favorites.
I’ve discovered another paper published by the Office of Technical Assessment right before congress closed their doors in 1995. Why they closed we’ll never know, but I’ve read some of the congressional debates, and it seems that our representatives didn’t like the truth very much. How could anyone attack our health care system that cost more than any other in the world and gave us results equal to those of a third world nation?
The paper is, Health Care Technology and Its Assessment in Eight Countries.
I tried to download the paper but Adobe Acrobat tells me the paper is damaged. It is readable only online, and this is the only site where it is available free of charge.
Others have written about this paper but because they are blinded by their hatred of modern conventional medicine, they tout some very incorrect claims about this paper. One thing they claim is that the paper again reiterates that modern medicine is only 20% science. It does not. It does, however, talk about many things in medicine that are prescribed not because of studies, but because of a cost/risk/benefit analysis. With the costs of our medicine going through the roof, this is something you’d expect, but again, “science” takes a backseat.
What the paper did bring up is, well, you can read it for yourself:
In 1990, life expectancy at birth in the United States was 71.8 years for men and 78.8 years for women, among the lowest of the OECD countries. The 1990 infant mortality rate was 9.2 per 1,000 live births, which puts the United States in the bottom half of the distribution among all developed countries (129). These poor statistical showings have been the focus of political frustration in the face of high spending for health care.
What this tells us is that we’re paying more and getting less.
And the paper quotes testimony from a representative of the AMA in congress:
… clinical policy analysis and judgments are better made—and are being responsibly made— within the medical profession. Assessing risks and costs, as well as benefits, has been central to the exercise of good medical judgment for decades. The advantage the individual physician has over any national center or advisory council is that he or she is dealing with individuals in need of medical care, not hypothetical cases.
So how’s that working out for us?
Before presenting you with the numbers, let me just say, we the people are losing this war. Medicine has sway in this country like no other “business.” They can kill you, maim you, and injure you and get away with it. We hear all the time how we have to stop frivolous lawsuits to bring the cost of medicine down. But law suits amount to less than 2% of the total price tag. When you lose a family member or a limb, that is not a frivolous law suit, but should we pass tort reform, that will be treated as a frivolous law suit.
A few years ago we wrote in our article, Health Care for Dummies:
Dr Carolyn Dean MD, ND, author of Death By Modern Medicine, after analyzing government databases and peer review journals concluded thus: “I found that 784,000 people are dying annually, prematurely, due to modern medicine, intervention.” She adds that this too is a low estimate due to the medical monopoly under-reporting, or as the adage goes: A doctor buries his mistakes.
Since her book, Dr Dean got together with Gary Null, PhD, Martin Feldman, MD, Debora Rasio, MD, and Dorothy Smith, PhD to further investigate the dangers of conventional medicine and published their results in this article: “Death by Medicine.” (ILink, This file must be ported over to this site and then linked.) [I’ve placed a copy of this article at our site because so many of these articles move about and seem to get lost.]
The paper starts off: “Something is wrong when regulatory agencies pretend that vitamins are dangerous, yet ignore published statistics showing that government-sanctioned medicine is the real hazard.”
The paper does not bury the lead; right away it tells us the following:
This fully referenced report shows the number of people having in-hospital, adverse reactions to prescribed drugs to be 2.2 million per year. The number of unnecessary antibiotics prescribed annually for viral infections is 20 million per year. The number of unnecessary medical and surgical procedures performed annually is 7.5 million per year. The number of people exposed to unnecessary hospitalization annually is 8.9 million per year.
The most stunning statistic, however, is that the total number of deaths caused by conventional medicine is an astounding 783,936 per year. It is now evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the US. (By contrast, the number of deaths attributable to heart disease in 2001 was 699,697, while the number of deaths attributable to cancer was 553,251.5)
Given the above, we must acknowledge that there is science and there is medicine. Science works and can be replicated. If we say that medicine is working, we are turning a blind eye to its dismal failure rate.
Thus we can only conclude at this point in time that medicine is not science; medicine is a business.
Health Care Technology and Its Assessment in Eight Countries has the following finding:
Evidence from randomized clinical trials is usually but not always a necessary ingredient for a positive determination (i.e., that the benefits sufficiently outweigh the risks). No randomized trials of laparoscopic cholecystectomy were available, but OHTA analysis argued that the “risk/benefit ratio of the procedure was similar or superior to that of the open procedure” and recommended that it be approved for coverage. [page 306]
The study basically states that if medicine was science/evidenced based, we would have better outcomes: “Research over the past decade also has continued to highlight the poor state of evidence in health care practice, reflected in high variability in practice styles and high levels of marginally beneficial care.” [page 311]
The bottom line of any business is profit. No wonder it’s called the “bottom line.” When medicine is run like a business, not only do we get a level of care that is substandard, we get “health care rationing” and “price gouging.”
Explicit use of cost-effectiveness criteria for allocating health care resources has been more problematic, primarily because there is no widely accepted cut-off for a level of cost-effectiveness that demands or excludes coverage. The concept of cost-effectiveness is, from a political perspective, difficult to separate from health care rationing, which is roundly rejected by most of the U.S. public.
… As an example, the cost of care for patients with no insurance is partially offset by inflated charges billed for services provided to patients with good coverage. [page 312]
Medicine run as a business is not medicine run as a science.
For-profit hospitals do not make money unless the beds are full. I remember one of my sources telling me how the head of one of the largest HMOs in America (he refused to tell me his name since it would blow his anonymity) said at a meeting: “Running a hospital is like running a whore house. You don’t make money unless the beds are full.”
Filling the beds and trying to keep costs down is a business angle. Focusing on actual care takes a back seat. Thus, hospital medical errors are in the news today because they’re suddenly the third leading cause of death in the US, and this comes from the main stream media.
2013 Year-in-Review: A government shutdown and showdown, Pioneer ACOs exit program and more. Look for: Medical errors leading to patient death are much higher than previously thought, and may be as high as 400,000 deaths a year, according to a new study in the Journal of Patient Safety. [Hospital medical errors now the third leading cause of death in the U.S.]
Medical theory is based, mostly, in actual science. The practice of medicine, as we’ve seen, not so much.
When a physician prescribes three or more disparate drugs, all of the double-blind studies fly out the window. Nobody knows what all three drugs will do because they were never studied together. And many, many patients are on more than just three drugs. Our elderly population is entirely over-drugged.
One of my sources was a nurse at an elderly care home. She reported to me that a new, young doctor took over the home and started slashing drug use.
In case you are unaware of this simple concept, here is something to chew on: The organ most affected by drugs is the brain.
Within a very short time, the residents were interacting better, living more vibrantly, and smiling more. The drooling and sitting for hours ended.
They had been dosed into zombiehood, she told me.
Doctors are like pilots.
There’s a great story from NASA about the early astronauts. They were chosen from a short list of our best pilots. Pilots love to fly. They don’t like being flown. They did not like sitting in a capsule with nothing to do, so the NASA engineers built levers, buttons, and gauges that did nothing but keep them busy, giving them something to do, while the aircraft flew itself or took its orders from the people on the ground.
Doctors don’t like doing nothing. When patients show up with an upper respiratory infection, doctors want to do something, so many prescribe antibiotics. The problem with this is that the CDC says that 90% of these infections are viral and antibiotics do nothing for viral infections. And yet 40% of the 50 million prescriptions written each year are for upper respiratory infection, which can contribute to drug-resistant superbugs. Over 80 thousand people die yearly from nosocomial infections, or infections they picked up in the hospital. Because hospitals flagrantly under-report, we don’t know which percentage of those were from drug-resistant superbugs.
Dr John Goffman, physician and scientist, lost his government job when he reported the deadly effects of nuclear power plants. Tell the truth; lose your job.
Before he died, he warned the American public that we were using way too much radiation in our medical practices. He claimed that x-rays, CT scans, and mammography contributed to 75% of the new cancers diagnosed yearly and even contributed to an increase in heart disease. Before he died, he warned us that ionizing radiation would cause 100 million premature deaths from 2006 to 2016.
And what about women’s health care? You should all know that the term hysterectomy comes from the root word, hysterical, I hope.
Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman [www.pharmedout.org/] is a stern critic of modern medicine who can only dream of a day that science replaces the superstition most doctors hold concerning their female patients.
I Googled her name and a key word and found this page from one of the books on Google Books:
One of our advisers, Dr Dan Harper, reported to us about an unpublished cohort study in which it was revealed that only 9% of oncologists took chemotherapy for their cancers. Are doctors anti-chemo?
The biggest medical fraud perpetrated on the American public is Statin Drugs. No study has ever shown that cholesterol causes heart disease, and people with high cholesterol live longer than people with low, “in the proper range” cholesterol levels. Nine billion dollars a year is spent on these drugs because of a horrible “lipid hypothesis” that was created from cherry-picked data.
Medicine is not science. Medicine is a business.
So Where Does This Discussion Leave Us
There’s enough information above to show that our medical system is deeply flawed, that it is less than scientific, and that despite the facts, many people worship at the altar of modern medicine religiously.
To end the debates and disharmony concerning vaccinations, we have our work cut out, and I shall outline what must be done.
And how do we come full circle on the vaccine debate?
Besides adequate testing and informing the public of the real risks, problems, etcetera, the main problem with vaccinations is that they are given together in multiples, not for the benefit of the patient, but for the sake of the doctor, the sake of the clinic; it’s just easier. Studies on the safety of multiple vaccines were either conducted by or paid for by the pharmaceutical interests, and because of the “conflict of interest,” they are questionable.
The public has a right to:
If we’re going to trust the science, then the science must be trustworthy.
Dr Paul Offit (mentioned above) is, obviously, a brilliant and caring physician. Forbes quoted him thus: “You work in a hospital and you watch children die from preventable disease ─ it makes you passionate.”
I would like to respond to this from my perspective, “When you discover that modern medicine kills half a million people a year (low estimate), it really makes you passionate.”
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