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Must Read: Bill Maher's Pseudoscientific Anti-Vax Article At HuffPo Debunked

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stopbush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 03:22 PM
Original message
Must Read: Bill Maher's Pseudoscientific Anti-Vax Article At HuffPo Debunked
I'm a fan of Bill, but he has a really bad habit of gaining a surface knowledge of topics and then running to the bank with them.

Bill just got his lunch eaten:

Some Muddled Thinking from Bill Maher
Published by Steven Novella

Bill Maher has been getting a lot of heat lately and seems to be getting a bit defensive. He was particularly stung by Michael Shermers open letter in which Dr. Shermer thought it necessary to give Maher a basic lesson in germ theory.

Unfortunately, Maher has responded not by thoughtfully engaging his critics, but with a rambling defensive diatribe in which he simultaneously protests the criticism pointed his way while repeating and amplifying the pseudoscientific nonsense that garnered criticism in the first place.

Maher presents what we call a target rich environment for skepticism, so I dont think I will be able to address every point, but I will hit the highlights.

Article here:
http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=1238

Bill's original article from HuffPo is here (complete with words of encouragement from HuffPo's fact-challenged anti-vax minions):

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-maher/vaccination-a-...
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 03:24 PM
Response to Original message
1. Under what name does he post here?
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stopbush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 03:25 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Bill Maher posts here? Really?
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 03:34 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. I dunno, really, but he could be one of the anti-vaxxers who
post incessantly.
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wryter2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 03:27 PM
Response to Original message
3. Love Michael Shermer
:loveya:

The Skeptics Society is awesome. His book "Why People Believe Weird Things" is also great.
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Beacho Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 03:28 PM
Response to Original message
4. Is this something new?
Or is this from the story about a month ago?

I think Shermer's response pretty much spanked Maher's nuttiness

An Open Letter TO Bill Maher

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stopbush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 03:30 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Bill's blog was posted yesterday at HuffPo in response to Shermer's open letter.
Edited on Tue Nov-17-09 03:32 PM by stopbush
The link I've provided is an article posted today that takes on Maher's blog from yesterday.

BTW - the real value in the article is not necessarily shooting down the anti-vax crowd, it's exposing the logical fallacies that litter Maher's thinking in just about everything he does.

And I say that as a fan.
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Beacho Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 03:42 PM
Response to Reply #5
11. Yeah, especially when he goes after others 'irrational beliefs'
Having grown up in L.A. I've known too many people like Maher that live in the 'Bubble' of that culture. He really needs to clean up his own back yard before he goes after those 'stupid rednecks'. IMO, I think Maher's anti-vax bullshit is worse than the Creationists he goes after on a regular basis. At least the misinformation that Creationist idiots push doesn't have the potential to get people maimed or killed.

The Jenny McCarthy Body Count Page
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virgogal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 03:31 PM
Response to Original message
6. Uumm,when did Maher get his M.D.,and from what medical school?
He rants like many Scientologists do.
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stopbush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 03:40 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. Worse. He's just like the IDers who prattle that we should
"teach the controversy over evolution" when no scientific controversy exists.

The anti-vax crowd in engaged in the same silliness, except that no one dies from believing in ID.
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Chorophyll Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 03:39 PM
Response to Original message
8. The neurlogica blog piece is great.
Thanks for posting. :)
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spanone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 03:41 PM
Response to Original message
10. ask me why i don't make my healthcare decisions from comedians? ask me?
:crazy: :freak:
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spiritual_gunfighter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 03:44 PM
Response to Original message
12. Wow Bill got destroyed
It's pretty irresponsible of him to peddle his anti-science crap on vaccines like he does.
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stopbush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 03:51 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. Yeah. Novella took him apart in that response.
Worse, he did it by showing Bill's pseudo-intellectualism for the hollow shell that it often is by directly attacking what I'm sure Bill thought were his most-cogent arguments.

I think I'd like to read more by this Novella fellow.
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JaneQPublic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 03:44 PM
Response to Original message
13. Rely on BM for comedy and misogyny, not facts. (nt)
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sharp_stick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 04:06 PM
Response to Original message
15. I think Novella
is getting just a mite sick of the anti vaccine idiocy being spouted. It will be interesting to see if Maher, who is a funny guy, will bother to respond or if he'll just hope it goes away now.
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Th1onein Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 08:18 PM
Response to Original message
16. I think the critics are blowing his comments out of proportion.
And I think he's right. We need to explore the long term effects of these vaccines. And, yes, they've got formaldehyde and methyl mercury in them and that's NOT good, and we need to figure out how to preserve them without this shit.
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stopbush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 08:33 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. Obviously, you did not read Novella's article.
Had you read it, you would have learned that the human body PRODUCES formaldehyde as a by-product of normal cellular biochemistry. Since you didn't bother reading, I'll post an excerpt for you:

Simply referring to dicey substances in vaccines is what we call the toxin gambit. The fact is every FDA approved drug is a toxin. Everything you put into your body contains toxins the water you drink, the food you eat, the air you breathe.

And this is not new since industrialization nature is full of toxins. We live and evolved in a sea of toxins.

But this needs to be put into perspective. We also evolved biological mechanisms to deal with the environment to get rid of or neutralize harmful substances.

Further, toxicity is always a matter of dose the dose makes the toxin.

So the real question always is are there measurable toxic effects from any specific substance at the doses being exposed to. With regard to vaccines, the answer is well-established any toxicity is minimal, and far less than the benefit of the vaccines.

But its easy to scare people by just listing formaldehyde, without putting this into context. Formaldehyde is already in your body it is a by product of normal cellular biochemistry. The amount in vaccines is negligible compared to what is already there. Same goes for squalene (the latest popular vaccine toxin). Aluminum has been studied also I wrote about it here: http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=44

Fearmongering is much easier than careful scientific analysis.


No need to provide a link - it's in the OP.
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Th1onein Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 10:21 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. I read both of them. And I disagree.
Yes, we do make a bit of formaldehyde. But we don't make methyl mercury, and we don't make aluminum. These are toxins that ACCUMULATE in our systems and that is never good. Whether we live in a world filled with toxins, or not, and whether we have the ability to detoxify ourselves or not, these compounds ACCUMULATE in our system.

As a scientist, I am well aware that the poison is always in the dose, but we need to keep a clear head about this and an open mind and not write off people who are concerned about the long term effects of these vaccinations as "anti-vaccination nuts."
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stopbush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 11:51 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Are you saying that the miniscule amount of aluminum or methyl mercury contained in a dose of
vaccine that one may get once a year or even less often is enough to accumulate in one's body over time and cause major (or even minor) problems? Are you saying that any aluminum contained in a vaccine once injected into a person's muscle stays in that person's body for the rest of their life?

You're a scientist. I'm asking.
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Th1onein Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-18-09 10:24 PM
Response to Reply #19
26. Not the entire amount. But some of it, yes.
You know, you don't have to take my word for it. Look it up yourself. It's right there on PubMed.
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stopbush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-18-09 11:50 PM
Response to Reply #26
28. I'll check out PubMed.
Edited on Wed Nov-18-09 11:52 PM by stopbush
BTW - I had never heard of that site before you mentioned it. Don't assume that those of us who aren't scientists are aware of such things.

Thanks for the tip.

As far as worrying about aluminum etc accumulating in the body from getting an occasional vaccine - with your response in mind, it sounds like a tempest in a tea pot to me.
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Th1onein Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-19-09 12:20 AM
Response to Reply #28
30. Oh, believe me, it's not a tempest in a teapot!
And PUBMED? You've never heard of PubMed? It's the US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health website! It's free; available to everyone. And has been, for years; over a decade now. Here are some links, on just THIS topic:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=aluminum%20hydr...

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17114826?ordinalpos=...

You know, I'm not saying that these vaccines are not useful. I'm not saying that people should forego vaccinations. I'm saying that we CAN DO BETTER. And no one should be told that they are some kind of nutcase anti-vaxxer just because they have concerns about the effects of the ingredients in these vaccines. Anytime a company seeks immunity from damages related to their product, that should be a red flag. We need to know what is in these products. We need to know if there are deleterious effects caused by these adjuvants. And we should NOT give these companies blanket immunity. They should pay for their mistakes, just like anyone else. If you can put any goddamn thing you want into these vaccines without having to pay the price when someone sues you because your product fucked them up, then you have no incentive to change things and make your product less dangerous.
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stopbush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-19-09 01:12 AM
Response to Reply #30
32. Yes, I've never heard of PubMed. Medicine/Science isn't my vocation.
Is that so surprising?

Perhaps I should list a number of publications and websites that deal with the classical arts and then act incredulous when you say that you've never heard of them.

Nobody's an expert in everything. Get used to it.

As far as "paying the price when someone sues you because your product fucked them up" - I have no problem with that as long as the proof offered that the product fucked you up is proof and not wild conjecture or gossip- and rumor-driven fear. At this point in time, Team Anti-vax has a credibility problem as it's being led by people who ignore science and argue against research. Having the Jim Carreys as your public face isn't helpful. There is certainly no incentive to change things when the science is on your side and the people complaining are making fools of themselves.

Currently, Team Anti-vax is assuming that adjuvants have deleterious effects. The research says they're wrong, but like the nuts over in the JFK CT wing of DU, they believe absence of evidence for their beliefs is evidence of someone covering something up. They need to get past such simple-minded fears if the want to actually help, not to mention have people take them seriously.

BTW - when you say people should pay for their mistakes, are you willing to hold the Anti-Vax crowd to the same standard as they urge parents to avoid all vaccines in their mistaken beliefs that vaccines cause autism, leaving a trail of death in their wake of children who died because they didn't get their vaccines? If so, how should they pay?
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Th1onein Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-19-09 01:21 AM
Response to Reply #32
34. You don't have to be rude. Really.
I'm surprised that you haven't heard of PubMed because many people NOT in the medical field are very familiar with it. It was a big deal on the news when it was made available to the public. Certainly you've heard of the National Institutes of Health?

Adjuvants DO have deleterious effects. Documented. There's no assumption on that. It is a fact.

And as for the anti-vax crowd being held to the same standard, do you think that as a group of people who make NO PROFIT and NO PRODUCT, they should be held accountable? I don't. Especially not since they do have science on their side. Maybe not the medical establishment, but the research on aluminum hydroxide seems to support their contentions.
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stopbush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-19-09 11:36 AM
Response to Reply #34
35. Sorry, but I'll go with the medical establishment over your unnamed
"groups" who supposedly "have science on their side" with "research (that) seems to support their contentions." That's a half-baked conclusion arrived at through wild assumptions based on what is most charitably seen as a hopeful guess.

The fact is that the scientific community and the courts have held that autism is NOT caused by specific vaccines, as the Anti-Vax crowd avers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Institute of Medicine have found no credible link between vaccinations and autism. Yep - that's the medical establishment, the people who actually test this stuff and announce their results, rather than imagining an unfounded belief in a casual relationship between a disease and a vaccine is grounds for imagining an ever-expanding conspiracy among the establishment to do harm to people.

Railing against the medical establishment's profits is hardly sufficient cause to embrace assigning unfounded blame as scientific "support" for the lunatic fringe's contentions.
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Th1onein Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-20-09 12:57 AM
Response to Reply #35
36. LOL! Unbelievable!
Did you even go to the abstracts that I provided? They ARE the research YOU talk about! They ARE the scientists who are doing studies on this! They ARE the medical establishment!

What I find so absolutely astounding here is that people are always talking about "causal relationships," and they don't have the first idea what it means to substantiate a causal relationship. There's been no "causal relationship" proven between cigarettes and lung disease. Ever wonder why? Because you can't take one group of people and have them smoke cigarettes, and another not smoke, and test to see if they get cancer. It's unethical. All you can do is get a correlational link there. And correlation does not prove causality.

When your doctor tells you, "Oh, there's been no causal relationship proven....." that only means that no tests have been done to study causality. It says NOTHING about whether those tests would be ethical, should they be done; or if they even will ever be done. But they KNOW, from the studies, that aluminum has been found in the damaged neurons of the brain tissue of Alzheimer's patients, and they KNOW that this makes Alzheimer's worse. They CAN'T feed people aluminum and then test them, in order to establish a "causal relationship," so they will NEVER find a causal relationship! If you want to buy that bag of beans and figure that you'll be safe, go for it.
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stopbush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-20-09 12:46 PM
Response to Reply #36
37. Better to buy a bag of beans than a load of shit.
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Lagomorph Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 11:56 PM
Response to Original message
20. Did anyone actually consider Bill Mayer an authority on the subject?
He's an entertainer.
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ohheckyeah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-18-09 12:31 AM
Response to Original message
21. I think the question that hasn't been asked or answered
is why are so many people distrustful of medical science. And of course the answer is we have been lied to in the past and the FDA process has become a joke. Drugs that are extremely harmful get released to the public, people start dying from them and then they get taken off the market. Why wouldn't we be distrustful?

I've never gotten into the vaccine argument because I think each person needs to decide for themselves if the benefits outweigh the side effects and risks. I do research on medical procedures, drugs, etc. and I think I have the right to determine what I do or don't do and/or what I put into my body or don't.
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Fire_Medic_Dave Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-18-09 12:36 AM
Response to Reply #21
22. Who said you didn't have that right?
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ohheckyeah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-18-09 12:37 AM
Response to Reply #22
23. I didn't say anyone did. n/t
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Fire_Medic_Dave Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-18-09 12:52 AM
Response to Reply #23
25. Just checking.
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nadinbrzezinski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-18-09 12:42 AM
Response to Reply #21
24. Actually people are distrustful because we are pretty illiterate about science
and that is a general statement.

Yes, there have been disasters, thaledomyte comes to mind... but the standards of research before release of meds, from the 1950s until now have gotten quite more stringent. IN fact, the going joke is that ... if aspirin was under research today it would never be released.

Oh and 1976 was a disaster in some ways with GIlliard Barre Syndrome, but even then it was pretty low in the population. You can also get it from other stuff, not just vaccines and sometimes from no known cause. The problem in '76 is that a vaccine was released that was not needed. Our current vaccines are that much safer and the rate of Gillian Barre is best case 10 million : 1, worst case ten million : 6.

Karl Sagan was right, we have been infected by quite a lot of magical thinking, and witches and warlocks now run the world.

Don't believe me? How many ghosts are real programs are on the TV? How about UFOs? Prophecy any one? And while they are fun... people actually believe that stuff is real and WE ARE DOOOMEED the world is going to end in 2012!!!!!!!!!!
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Th1onein Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-19-09 12:25 AM
Response to Reply #24
31. Ultimately, there is only one person who is going to pay the bulk of the price if they get bad
medicine, and that is you, yourself. People have the internet now, and there are a lot of nuts out there, spouting bullshit. But the internet can also be a good tool, to inform oneself, and I think that it should be used for that. And, when it IS used for that, I think that it is quite chickenshit of others, who want their info spoon fed to them by the pharmas and big medicine, to call them conspiracy nuts.
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Maru Kitteh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-18-09 10:58 PM
Response to Original message
27. This is worth a kick.
:thumbsup:
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krawhitham Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-19-09 12:13 AM
Response to Original message
29. shocking something Bill Maher said was Debunked
he is an entertainer nothing more
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DU GrovelBot  Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-19-09 01:12 AM
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