Point of View Columns

More Science. Less Fear

Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City is one of the most outstanding medical institutions in the world. Its cancer treatment programs are globally recognized for excellence. MSKH has as its motto, “More Science, Less Fear”. These are words that the anti-vaccine lunatics and the climate change deniers would do well to heed – before they mindlessly degrade the planet in the name of……..well, nothing.

We can begin with the recent attention that the anti-vaccine mob has garnered, primarily because of the national outbreak of measles. Measles is a disease that had been virtually eradicated in the United States due to……………….you guessed it….universal vaccinations. But, due to a mindless public health decision, the state of California has given parents the right to opt out of mandatory vaccination regimens.

This anti-vaccination turmoil gained momentum when that world renowned scientist, Jenny McCarthy, started making the talk circuit spewing discredited theories regarding the connection between vaccinations and autism. Ms. McCarthy cited an Englishman by the name of Andrew Wakefield and his “studies” on this non-existent connection. Wakefield’s “studies” were revealed to be bogus and he has been barred from practicing medicine in the United Kingdom – hopefully for the rest of his life.

Somehow, the complete devastation of any logical, statistical or factual basis to claim that vaccinations are a public health hazard, much less that they are connected to autism, has not been enough to deter Jenny McCarthy or her followers. Although one would think that we have progressed from the times when scientists risked being burned at the stake for articulating scientific principles that we now take for granted (see the near death experience of Galileo, for example), it is clear that there remains a deep seated distrust of science, even when it saves lives.

We see the same distrust virus ravaging the logic and thought processes of the deniers of climate change. Presumptive presidential heir Jeb Bush pronounces himself as to being “skeptical” as to the impact of human activity on climate change. And he is not alone. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney and seemingly any aspiring Teapublican candidate has drunk the Koch brothers Kool-Aid and not only denied climate change, but they have also denied the melting polar ice caps, the rising sea levels and the weirdest weather patterns in the history of mankind.

Presumably, the climate change deniers adhere to this madness because to admit that climate change exists and is the result of human activity would require inconvenient modifications of human conduct. Alternative energy sources, conservation and respect for the environment would deny some people the enjoyment of the planet to which they feel absolutely entitled.

But we also know that the purveyors of fossil fuels understand quite clearly that the modifications of human conduct will lessen their bloated profits. And they are quite ready to sacrifice the future (as well as the present), on the altar of their profit and loss statements. And so it is important for climate change deniers to substitute fear for science, in this instance, fear of the change of lifestyle that would accompany the intelligent acknowledgement of the science that supports climate change.

More science and less fear should be our guide in these twenty first century debates that should not even be debates. Science has made undeniable progress in understanding diseases and how to prevent them, making the entire planet safe in the process. Science has helped us to understand how industrial and technological progress could destroy this planet as well as how to escape those consequences through scientifically-based strategies.

There are really no scientific rationales to oppose vaccinations or strategies to offset climate change. The proponents of fear tactics endanger not only themselves, but you and me and everyone we love.

More Science. Less Fear.

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2 thoughts on “More Science. Less Fear

  1. As a parent of a vaccine injured child, confirmed by the head of pediatric immunology at Johns Hopkins, let me share with you what my daughter’s now doctor wrote on the subject:
    As a board certified pediatrician, I took the same oath as all physicians, “to do no harm.”

    The latest media presentation of the measles outbreak at Disneyland as a result of unvaccinated children is very upsetting to me. We are being fed information that is essentially inaccurate by media journalists – none of whom have medical degrees – which may actually be promoting medical harm to our children.

    The latest reports blaming a failure of the measles vaccine on the unvaccinated population are not accurate, and in some reports, not true at all. In fact, over the past 30 years, there have been similar numbers of measles cases reported in various areas of the United States. Studies published in leading medical journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, American Journal of Epidemiology, American Journal of Public Health and others around the world have confirmed small numbers, 75-140 cases of measles annually. So why then is the latest statistic of over 90 cases of measles spread over 14 states, representing tens of millions of people being billed as an epidemic?

    The media would have us believe that this is a result of the fringe population of anti-vaxers who refuse to have their children vaccinated according the guidelines of the current vaccine schedule. Medical reporting has brought to light the glaring ineffectiveness of the measles vaccines in fulfilling their widely claimed promise of preventing outbreaks in highly vaccine compliant populations. In fact, measles outbreaks have occurred in populations that have been vaccinated on the average of 77%- 99%, not the so-called anti-vaxers.

    Last year 1 in every 500,000 Americans came down with the measles. Nearly all recovered in a few days without serious consequences. At the same time 1 in 68 American children were diagnosed with autism or for every case of measles there were 7000 cases of autism. I ask myself which is the real epidemic here?

    Frank Bruni in an editorial in the New York Times on February 1, 2015 states that this measles outbreak is a result of “wealthy, educated people who deliberately didn’t vaccinate their children.” He refers to measles as “the scourge once essentially eliminated in this country is back” when, in fact, it never left! He refers to all links between autism and MMR vaccines as having been discredited yet he obviously has not read all the studies from the U.S. and around the world proving his information false. As a recent example, I would ask him to justify the 340% increase in autism in African-American boys in Chicago – a report that was supposedly squelched by the CDC . While he reports that the incidence of measles has increased over the past 10 years, no patients have died.

    Scare tactics were used to terrorize those who attended this year’s SuperBowl in Phoenix because of one woman who sat in a clinic without being properly isolated or that every one of the thousands of people passing through Penn Station are at risk because of one man who rode an Amtrak train. It appears that the saturation of the media amplifies the hypotheses to a point that seems misleadingly worthy of consideration. In other words, if enough people say things enough times there must be some truth to it. Does that justify USA Today publishing an article claiming that non-vaccinated parents should be jailed or sued or have their children removed from the home if they chose not to vaccinate their children against the measles? Does that justify the immediate vaccination of every child and adult in this country regardless of their immune status or overall medical health? Will the local pharmacies be hooking pedestrians into their stores for MMR vaccines as they have been doing for the less than effective flu vaccines?

    As I write this piece, the director of the CDC states that the overall vaccination rate in this country is 92% !! Yet he is very concerned of a large outbreak because of the trend in not vaccinating certain children. Does this make sense?

    I wish these journalists, vaccinologists and infectious disease specialists spent a week in my office. I wish they would actually listen to the testimonials given to me by parents of autistic children who were obviously affected by these vaccines adversely. I wish they would tell parents that the risk of dying from the measles in the United States is around zero. I wish they would admit that they are being told by pharmaceutical companies not to report certain statistics or to cover up factual scientific information. I wish they could be free to report honestly about vaccines rather than being dependent upon drug advertising and internet information.

    This is an emotional debate for sure. If we discount emotion and fear, we would realize that a child may have a greater chance of getting struck by lightning, accidental drowning or possibly from adverse side effects of the MMR vaccination itself than from acquiring live measles infection. I wish that my pediatric colleagues would offer parents factual pros and cons of vaccines in general so that a parent can make an informed decision and then give consent to vaccinate rather than being told that if their child isn’t vaccinated they will be thrown out of school and they are guilty of child abuse!

    I am not advocating that vaccines be discontinued. I am advocating that doctors and patients become aware of the ingredients of these vaccines, what they can potentially do to affect an adverse outcome in an immunologically compromised child. Adverse reactions to MMR and other vaccines have been reported in numerous clinical trials and studies. I am advocating that medical practitioners and researchers, not journalists, address the real medical epidemics of autism, asthma, GI disease and autoimmune diseases facing our society and people around the world. Stop hyping the safety of MMR vaccines which may actually be more dangerous than live measles and may be ineffective in preventing the illness which they are so anxious to report as a dangerous epidemic itself.

    Let’s stop believing that the mainstream media is telling us the truth when all they are doing is shutting down any intelligent and open discussion about vaccine safety and how to improve it.

    Sincerely,
    Dr. Michael Elice, M.D.

    AIM Integrative Medicine
    http://www.aimintegrativemedicine.com

  2. More facts less smearing…

    1. The affluent, heavily liberal counties of California, i.e. Marin County, are where the “outbreaks” are concentrated. In these counties, parents, adhering to the ex-playboy bunny, Jenny McCarthy’s warnings, deliberately signed waivers of vaccination, allowed under CA law.

    2. Currently the largest measles outbreaks are sourced from two major groups, an Amish community (who have religious objections to vaccinations) and a group of undocumented immigrant Filipinos. The collateral infections were then free to affect those unvaccinated by parental consent. Not many conservatives in that bunch.

    3. As recently as 2013 Robert Kennedy Jr. was, and as far as I can find still is, a major proponent of thimerosal’s causality to autism through childhood vaccinations. Kennedy is certainly no conservative.

    4. It is interesting to note that RFK Jr. is also “liberally” quoted as proudly recounting how Rachel Carson (who was vilified by the press in the early 60’s) was given Presidential cover by his uncle JFK. That all led to the ban on DDT. Over the years, millions and millions of Africans have died due to insect born Malaria. Meanwhile, in a study at a university, a group of men were given mega doses of DDT each year for 20 years and exhibited no, not any, consequences of ill health, greater than the incidents in a control group, which were not given the DDT over the same two decades.

    There is a resonance of negligent death in these “liberal” causes, which are reminiscent of the horrors of Fabian socialism (as championed in the early 1900’s by “progressives” like M. Sanger, B. Shaw and T. Roosevelt) inflicted to this day as a form of planned genocide by parental abortion on “undesirable races.”

    I have never heard or been alerted to any of this being echoed or murmured in any of the Tea Party or conservative communications and platforms.

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