Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Pattern of a Conspiracy Theorist

There seems to be a pattern of behavior with most anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists, and it involves the following steps:
  1. Make a claim about vaccines that cannot be proven with science.
  2. When challenged, post links to anti-vaccination websites, editorials, or various articles from the Internet none of which are peer-reviewed and/or published in reputable scientific journals.
  3. After the data posted has been called into question due to bias or the lack of supporting science, accuse those who disagree with you as "having too much to lose" or being affiliated with "big pharma", "mainstream medicine" or having some other profit motive.  It is also a good idea to label anyone who disagrees with your viewpoint as "sheeple" or some other clever insult.
  4. When scientific information is posted in direct response to the original claim, respond by stating it is biased because it came from the government or was financed by a drug company or medical association.  Don't bother to actually respond to the data or offer scientific data to counter it, but rather attack the person who authored it or posted it.  This step is typically more effective when you don't bother to read or examine the data offered and instead just read the titles or abstracts.
  5. Find another anti-vaccination conspiracy theorist who will post the same information as you and therefore claim you are "winning" because others believe what you are saying.  In the event another anti-vaccination conspiracy theorist cannot be found, register a second or third username on the same website in order to make it appear that more than one person has the same views on the subject... and be sure those people all use the same sentence structure, make the same unsupportable claims, use the same grammatical errors, and cite the same websites.
  6. After others have disputed the original claim about vaccines and after scientific data has been shown to invalidate the original claim, respond by claiming you have already provided numerous scientific studies and journal articles and mountains of evidence to prove the original claim in the hopes that others will simply take your word for it rather than recognizing you lack the understanding of what real scientific data actually is.  Insert one or two ad hominem attacks for good measure.
  7. Change the subject in order to confuse those who disagree with you.  If the original subject is the MMR vaccine, start speaking about Gardisil.  If the original subject is Autism and vaccines, divert attention to biomedical treatment.  If the subject is chiropractic, start speaking about chelation therapy, and if the original subject is thimerosal, try to talk about smallpox, polio, or refined sugar etc.  Any form of a red herring argument is helpful at this point.
  8. Eventually after your data has been shown to be worthless and you are to the point of being openly mocked for being an ignorant fool with a complete misunderstanding of the scientific method, respond by claiming you have won the debate.  Post at least four or five additional comments with the same data or slight variations of it.  Bombard the forums or messageboards with post after post of data in order to make it appear that you have mountains of evidence in support of your opinion (even though most of it is from the same anti-vaccination websites or personal blogs).
  9. Go back to step 2 and repeat the process over and over again ensuring to cut and paste the same data and/or list of same websites numerous times in order to make it appear the data is actually more valuable than it was the last time you posted it.  Be sure and add in a statement such as "nothing is ever enough" or "no amount of evidence will ever suffice" or something similar in order to make it appear that you have provided more than enough proof for any independent thinking minds and the only people who would disagree with you at this point are those with a profit motive or those connected to "modern medicine".
  10. In all future debates about similar subject matters, always be sure to make claims about how you have won all previous debates and that your information is undisputed or factual.  No matter how much evidence surfaces proving your claims to be untrue or your sources invalid, continue to make the same claims.  If someone challenges you, simply cut and paste the same message multiple times to show that quantity can be an acceptable replacement for quantity.

Granted this pattern isn't set in stone, but it, or a close variation of it, seems to be followed in the majority of the cases.  True to form, Lowell Hubbs follows this pattern often, and he doesn't even bother to hide the fact that he does so.

Case in point, here is a comment from Mr. Hubbs where he admits he posts the same data more than once as if that makes it factual:
"Thtas [sic] why I posted links twice when I did, because I knew it had been ignored; because the same claims returned." ~Lowell Hubbs
Aside from the broken English, grammar, and spelling errors we can see that Mr. Hubbs believes that because someone disagrees with him it cannot be because they find fault in the data or the sources, but rather simply because they ignored the data.  The only logical response is of course to post the same data again.

When that doesn't seem to work, Mr. Hubbs then makes excuses on why his data is being ignored:
"There are obviously medical field people here, with to [sic] much to lose; damage control."  ~Lowell Hubbs
Ah yes, because the only people who could ever understand the scientific method or who might not believe ever word of a anti-vaccination zealot would be those who are in "the medical field" or those who have too much to lose.  Where have we heard that one before?

Don't forget that obligatory reference to sheeple however... we don't want to miss a step here.  Also be sure to label your data as "truth" even when it has no basis in real science and cannot stand up to the rigors of the scientific method:
"they want to keep the sheeple blind to the truth"  ~Lowell Hubbs
True to form, add in a dose of the famous "nothing is ever enough" line to ensure people understand you are fighting an uphill battle against those who refuse to accept the truth:
"Nothing is enough."  ~Lowell Hubbs
Now comes the part where the wild unsupportable claims come out.  Don't bother trying to find the scientific data to support these wild claims however as it doesn't exist:
"The raw food and juicing diet will reverse almost any condition know to man; [...] terminal cancer can be reversed, and has been."  ~Lowell Hubbs
Yes you heard it here... the mind of the medical genius Lowell Hubbs has proven you can cure cancer or "almost any condition known to man" simply by eating raw foods and juicing.  Do we have peer-reviewed studies which show this miracle cancer cure?  Of course not... but that is merely because everyone is concerned over profits and nobody actually cares about curing disease these days.  What - you didn't get the memo that when people put on white lab coats they automatically lose their souls?

This all sort of makes you wonder why Jack LaLane died of pneumonia considering he had a raw food diet and even had a juicer named after him... shouldn't he have been able to reverse his condition due to diet?  I guess pneumonia isn't considered one of those conditions though.

Granted the father of the raw food movement (Herbert Shelton) actually died of Parkinson's after being bedridden for 13 years should probably be a clue that raw foods aren't the miracle they are claimed to be, but don't let those pesky facts get in the way of an unsupportable opinion.  Don't bother asking Woyah Andressohn what she thinks about raw foods however.  You won't get an answer because Woyah is no longer with us.  She died when she was only six months old and weighed less than seven pounds (half of what a typical six month old weighs) - all because she was fed a a raw food diet by her parents. 

Ice Swinton was yet another example of how raw foods aren't the miracle they are claimed to be.  At 15 months of age, Ice weighed only 10 pounds, didn't have any teeth, and couldn't even sit up on her own.  After she was taken from her parents due to the severe malnutrition, she spent the following four months in the hospital and a rehabilitation center.  Does that seem like a diet that is capable of solving "almost any condition known to man"?

Of course what post by Mr. Hubbs would be complete without the accusations or profit motive or the misunderstanding of what real "research is" (note to Mr. Hubbs... performing Google searches is not 'research'):
"Smear campaigns are the norm; every time anyone steps out of the politically correct for profit line; no matter how good the research!" ~Lowell Hubbs
Mix in approximately 20 links most of which go to known anti-vaccination websites along with a few in support of Dr. Wakefield and you pretty much have a typical post for Lowell Hubbs or any anti-vaccination conspiracy theorist.  The most comical aspect comes in a later post where Mr. Hubbs has the audacity to state the following:

"Your first mistake is trusting Wiki exclusively as an only and accurate source of facts as an accurate source of information. Are you kidding me? Unbelievable." ~Lowell Hubbs
Keep in mind this is the same man who routinely cites websites such as, his own personal blog, and the blogs and websites of known anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists.  In fact in the very same comment that he posted the statement above, he links to his personal website no less than seven times!  That is nothing other than unparallelled hypocrisy to the nth degree.

This just goes to show how Mr. Hubbs erratic behavior is consistent no matter where he is posting.  It could be his own website, it could be any one of the various blogs he has created, it could be on Huffington Post, or on the Argus Leader, or on a scientific website, or on a medical blog, or anywhere else he happens to stumble upon that particular day.  Although one has to wonder why Mr. Hubbs is posting on a website that is setup for and centered around busy Moms.  I've heard of Mr. Mom, but Lowell isn't even a parent much less a mother (thank God), so this is yet another case of Mr. Hubbs thinking he needs to berate others into believing his twisted views.

At least he is consistent.  Consistently ignorant and consistently wrong mind you, but consistent none the less.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lowell Hubbs: Making Friends Wherever He Goes

If you waste more than two minutes of your life interacting with Lowell Hubbs you will soon realize that he believes he is some sort of messenger or warrior of truth.  In fact, many of Mr. Hubbs various usernames involve some form of these terms including the names "TruthStorm", "TruthEducation", and "Anti Vax Warrior" among others.  Although Mr. Hubbs has no formal training to education in any medical, scientific, or related field, and although he has never participated in or contributed to any clinical studies or research papers, he still feels he is the only person on the planet who has a grasp on subjects like vaccines, pharmaceuticals, and the root cause of cancer.

Therefore, it stands to reason that someone of Mr. Hubbs' "character" would feel the need to spread his vast amount of knowledge (sarcasm intended) to others at any opportunity he can find.  Most recently, Mr. Hubbs has discovered the commentary site Huffington Post which is well known for publishing articles by Jenny McCarthy along with any other anti-vaccine claptrap they can find.  Because of the well known viewpoints of the website, one would think Mr. Hubbs would fit right in - yet that hasn't been the case.

Rest assured Mr. Hubbs did go out of his way to post on any anti-vaccine story he could find and he offered some fantastic quotes that tell us more about him.  My personal favorite was the following which was posted by Mr. Hubbs in late February:

Yes you read that correctly.  Mr. Hubbs actually made a statement  complaining others haven't review his "work", as if to suggest he has actually produced something that could be considered "work".  Apparently in the disturbed mind of Lowell Hubbs, collecting links to anti-vaccine websites mixed in with the occasional YouTube video or quote from someone who claims there is a link between vaccines and autism and dumping all of this nonsense onto your own website (essentially doing nothing more than aggregating the data from multiple sources into one) is the equivalent of producing an end result... or in his simple terms it equates to "work".

Aside from the sheer nonsense involved in this line of thinking, as it turns out even in an anti-vaccine stronghold such as HuffPo, Mr. Hubbs was still seen as a moron and the comments posted in reference to his identified flaws in his logic as well as mocked him for his lack of understanding of the issues.  True to form, Mr. Hubbs immediately jumped on the defensive and resorted to his standard tactic of claiming "nothing would be enough" and that he has adequate proof for his claims (even though he is never actually able to provide it from the unbiased sources he pretends exist).

In fact as he so often does, Mr. Hubbs fired of no less than a dozen different comments on that one very same article all in defense of his anti-vaccine stance and including references to Andrew Wakefield, Andy Moulden, the misconception that the Amish don't suffer from autism, and even statements about Jenny McCarthy's son having his autism "cured" by biomedical treatment (even though doctors have openly stated McCarthy's son never had autism in the first place).

Even in one of the most well known anti-vaccine commentary sites on the Internet, Mr. Hubbs nonsense was simply too silly to ignore and soon enough there were other posters coming out of the woodwork to challenge his claims and show him for what he is... a vaccine conspiracy theorist with no education or training and a complete misunderstanding of the issues.

Obviously this upset Mr. Hubbs greatly which resulted in him lashing out as his critics rather than offering legitimate science to support his views.  Ignoring the fact that Mr. Hubbs seems to direct the same language and tired lines at anyone and everyone who doesn't agree with him (as has been displayed within the comments on this very blog countless times), in the end even the people at HuffPo couldn't deal with his idiocy and Mr. Hubbs found his account removed and his right to comment suspended within one month of originally registering.  In fact, if you search for Mr. Hubbs' profile today it cannot be found as it no longer exists.  Case in point:

So if a person is so far off the logic scale that their anti-vaccine rhetoric cannot even be welcomed in an anti-vaccine stronghold, what does that tell us?  How can someone actually get themselves kicked off of a website known for promoting the concept of vaccines being harmful in under a month?  The fact is, even those who have doubts about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines don't want to be associated with a conspiracy theorist nor do they want to deal with someone who is unable to debate a topic on a rational level without resorting to red herrings, ad hominems, or practically every other logical fallacy known to man.

Perhaps one day Mr. Hubbs will learn, but I wouldn't count on it.  I would be willing to bet he has already registered a new username on HuffPo with the hopes that he can slip through the moderators and start his process all over again.  Instead of objectively looking at the reasons on why his messages haven't been so well received, or instead of trying to address his flaws and present his information in a well thought out, articulate, and polite manner, Mr. Hubbs will simply blame those around him for trying to suppress his message and once again return to his pattern of labeling those around him as "sheeple" and "uninformed".

As Alanis Morisette once said:  Isn't it ironic?

Update 03/27/11:  Mr. Hubbs has responded and claims nobody suspended or removed his account.  Instead he claims he removed the account himself because he "did not care to have [his] facebook picture and account exposed on the google listing for that article".  I really don't know if I follow that logic since a Google search of "Lowell Hubbs" will still return links to numerous anti-vaccination websites (this very blog is listed as the top three results by the way) including references to Wakefield, and Mr. Hubbs own website lists the same sad excuses and attempted statements in defense of Wakefield, so I'm not sure what pulling his Huffington Post account down would actually accomplish when the same statements are found elsewhere.

Also, Mr. Hubbs has never been the type to actually walk away from a debate, as we have seen countless times before he just continues to cut and paste, cut and paste, cut and paste time and time again and the only reason he ever stops is when the forum or article he is commenting on is closed or removed.  However, in the interest of full disclosure I felt it was necessary to at least offer Mr. Hubbs' version of events even if I'm not totally convinced he is being honest about the situation.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

ThinkTwice and Polio: An Idiot's Guide to Critical Thinking

As he seems to do several times a week, Mr. Hubbs attempted to leave a comment on one of the blog posts here with a lot of nonsense mixed in with links to numerous anti-vaccine websites (including his own personal website several times).  One of his latest comments included the following quote:
"See if you can do your next blog page as to an analysis on this document? There sure are allot of references in it! But I won't add confusion to your personal issues and use the word "fully" again, you can just judge for yourself. Do a comparison against your figures? Like I said, the information is and has been all controlled. The polio vaccine: a critical assessment of its arcane history, efficacy, and long-term health-related consequence."  ~Lowell Hubbs
This is yet another example of how Mr. Hubbs doesn't understand the difference between peer-reviewed science and an editorial.  Thus, I'll try to walk him through the process one more time although I'm fairly certain he won't be swayed since antivaxers rarely, if ever, rely upon logic or fact when they argue their points.

First of all notice that the article Mr. Hubbs cites here is hosted on the thinktwice website.  So the first thing we need to know is what that particular website is associated with.  Mr. Hubbs may feel this isn't important, but the point is you wouldn't want to read a "study" or "article" that claims smoking is actually healthy and that it doesn't cause cancer as has been proven in the past only to find that article was written by tobacco researchers who work for Altria nor would you give it credibility when you found it was hosted on the Altria website.

For that reason I examined the thinktwice website and tried to determine who was associated with it.  Unfortunately the "about us" page doesn't list any names or any doctors who are affiliated with the website, so I have no way to know who runs or manages the website nor do I know their qualifications.  They do however list a nice disclaimer that includes such phrases as:
  • "Some of the information presented on the Thinktwice Global Vaccine Institute website may conflict with data presented elsewhere. Therefore, readers are encouraged to remain circumspect and use discretion when interpreting contradictory, complex or confusing concepts."
  • "Vaccine recommendations change rapidly. Immunization schedules are periodically revised. Therefore, the FDA and CDC -- not the Thinktwice Global Vaccine Institute -- should be consulted for the most up-to-date information regarding who should or should not receive vaccines, at what ages, and the number of doses."
  • "For official information about vaccines, contact vaccine manufacturers, the FDA, CDC or World Health Organization"
  • "The Thinktwice Global Vaccine Institute does not recommend for or against vaccines. Parents and other concerned people must make this decision on their own. Because the data on this website tends to implicate vaccines (find fault with them), readers are advised to balance the data presented here with data presented by "official" sources of vaccine information, including pharmaceutical companies, the FDA, CDC and World Health Organization."
So aside from the fact that it is glaringly obvious Mr. Hubbs has failed to read the disclaimer, it seems apparent that those behind thinktwice are at least being honest about the fact that they have no credentials and shouldn't be trusted to offer objective advice.  Yet Mr. Hubbs still believes this is a trusted unbiased source worthy of citing?  When will the man learn.
So since we can't determine who is behind the website, what else do they have to offer?  Well as is the case with every single antivaxer website I have found thus far, they have an online store which can sell you books and various supplements.  In this  case they are pitching a colon cleansing product called "Herbal Fiberblend" for only $40, or a product called "HumiKleanse" for Heavy Metal Chelation for only $25.  Don't ask for any science to prove either of these products actually work however, because there isn't any.  They are marketed as nutritional supplements and therefore are not required to prove they do anything other than drain your wallet.

Looking further on the website, there are also the obligatory "homeopathy kits" ranging in price from $29.95 all the way up to $99, as well as random pamphlets and books an even PowerPoint presentations ranging from $49 to $99... but hey at least the $99 presentation includes a whopping 32 slides about vaccinations, so that must be a bargain.
Let me stop right here and ask if you went to the CDC or FDA website and they had a store where they would sell you books and pro-vaccine pamphlets and slideshows... would you believe for a second that those websites were as reputable and other websites which offer their information for free in an effort to simply educate the public?  If you visited the website of a major pharmaceutical manufacturer and they were selling books for $19.95 that show how their pills can solve all of your ailments and that there are no known side effects... would you actually believe that book is in any way unbiased?  Could you trust the information shown to you was impartial and fair if you knew their goal was to have you pack your online shopping cart with various remedies and books and emergency supplies?  No you wouldn't - because real unbiased science doesn't rely upon pushing the reader towards an online store.  Real science and real unbiased information is only interested in sharing that information, which is why you will never see a reputable website or medical journal offer to sell you some random supplement as a promotional tie-in to the information being disseminated.

So we have clearly established this website is an antivaxer joke with a sole purpose of selling goods to ignorant masses who don't understand science.  Now it is time to move on to the real purpose of this post and that is to review the article Mr. Hubbs feels is so worthy to be cited time and time again.

The first thing you notice about this article is that it is not a research study nor is it peer-reviewed.  That should be red flag number one that you aren't getting the whole picture.  Red flag number two is that there is only one author listed and that author (Neil Miller) is not a doctor, research scientist, or medical researcher.  In fact Mr. Miller's education was an undergrad degree in Psychology and as far as we can tell he has never participated in or added his name to any peer-reviewed science published in a reputable medical journal.

Red flag number three is that this article is "published" not in a true reputable and/or respected medical journal, but rather in Medical Veritas which as we have discussed in the past is not a real medical journal but rather a journal created by the anti-vaccine and anti-mainstream medicine community so they could pack it full of their unsupported and non peer-reviewed opinion pieces and then claim those pieces were "published".

As you actually begin reading the article that Mr. Miller has drafted, you soon realize that he makes numerous accusations but with very little supporting evidence, and the evidence he does use is manipulated to make suggestions or correlations which are unproved.  Case in point, Mr. Miller claims that "Polio cases skyrocketed after diphtheria and pertussis vaccines were introduced" and he shows a chart which lists the number of cases of polio and how from a period in the 1930s to a period in the 1950s the number of cases seemed to be rising exponentially. 

As any good antivaxer would do, Mr. Miller automatically picks a vaccine to arbitrarily blame for this rise, and he doesn't bother to consider any other alternatives.  Unfortunately for Mr. Miller, polio was already on the rise long before the diphtheria and pertussis vaccines were introduced and continued to rise after their introduction even in the portion of the population which wasn't receiving normal vaccinations.  Also, even though vaccinations for diphtheria and pertussis continued to be given throughout the next several decades (and are still given today) polio has not increased as a result.  Miller is guilty of the assumption that correlation equals causation, and either out of ignorance or intellectual dishonesty he fails to recognize or report the glaring holes in his theory.

Miller then goes on to postulate that polio is caused by an "excessive use of sugars and starches" and he uses quotes from the 1940s that suggested nations that used the most amount of sugar also had the highest rates of polio.  He also suggests polio outbreaks were always more severe in the summer months and that was due to children drinking soft drinks, eating ice cream, or ingesting other products which are artificially sweetened.  Mr. Hubbs and other antivaxers have made these claims in the past and as always they are proven to be entirely without merit.

Notice that Miller drills down on one particular state (North Carolina) and shows how their rates of polio dropped after they were warned to decrease the amount of sugar intake.  However Miller offers no data on surrounding states to determine if these numbers were witnessed elsewhere, nor does he provide any evidence beyond personal opinion that sugar intake in North Carolina actually decreased.  He does mention that one ice cream manufacturer shipped one million pounds less in a single week after the sugar-causes-polio claim was first reported, but Miller fails to mention the reason for that drop in shipments nor does he provide any evidence beyond that one week.

The problem is, this was the 1940s and it wasn't like companies had automated shipping lines or replenishment on demand ordering systems.  Besides the fact it wouldn't be feasible for a manufacturer to even be notified that they shouldn't ship massive amounts of ice cream during a single week, there is no background data to support the theory that sugar consumption in general actually decreased.  For all we know this one particular manufacturer (which Miller conveniently fails to mention by name) could have had a plant malfunction or a union strike, or a problem obtaining milk supplies or any other issue which was the root cause for them being unable to produce the same amount of ice cream.

It is quite possible that other manufacturers shipped even more ice cream to North Carolina during this same period, but we aren't given that data.  We are only given the select pieces of data that Miller wishes us to read in order for him to make his scientifically unsupported position.  A true study would not have relied upon such assumption and rather would have examined numerous states, their rates of polio, the amount of sugar consumed per capita from all known sources, and any other underlying factors which could have been to blame for a reduction in the number of cases (such as a unusually wet or humid summer resulting in less human to human contact, improved sanitation resulting in less fecal-oral contamination, more awareness of the disease resulting in less human transmission, or countless other factors).

A true study would have at least examined other potential causes or other factors, but Miller isn't concerned with digging deep, he is only concerned with cherry-picking numbers and statements to support his anti-vaccine viewpoint.  Case in point out of the 50 US states, Miller selects five states that reported more cases of polio after the development and usage of the polio vaccine than they did previously.  Although he cannot directly connect the rise in polio to the vaccine (as he cites no supporting studies which show those that were vaccinated were the same people diagnosed with polio) he does attempt to make a correlation between the two.  I would have loved to examine the figures for the 45 remaining states to determine if they too saw an increase in the number of polio cases after the vaccine was used, but unfortunately Miller doesn't tell us where he obtained his numbers... merely that they were sourced from "U.S. Government statistics".

Does it strike Miller as odd that the five states he has represented (Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut , and Massachusetts) are all in New England and all border one another?  Does it strike Miller as strange that although the vaccine was in widespread use nationwide that he was unable to find any other areas that saw this sudden spike in the number of cases of polio?  Did Miller consider other possibilities for these increases such as an outbreak in New England?  Obviously not.  This is why such an article would never be taken seriously in a true medical journal and why Miller had to resort to publishing this idiocy in Medical Veritas and on his own website.

The fact is, across the entire US there were close to 58,000 cases of polio in 1952, whereas after a massive vaccination campaign we witnessed a massive decrease in cases to around 15,000 in 1956, to just over 3000 in 1960, and in 1965 there only 72.  A few years after that in 1969 there were less than 20 total across the entire US, and by by mid 70s there were only around 8 cases per year.  Does Miller believe this is all due to the US vastly decreasing the amount of sugar intake? 

If that is Miller's suggestion, then he is being incredibly dishonest because sugar consumption in the US has actually increased during that same period from 6,846,000 tons in 1948 to 9,884,000 tons in 1969.  Unlike Miller I would like to disclose that those figures are total across the US and are not broken down per capita nor did I cherry pick just a few select states to make a point.  However it should be noted that per capita sugar consumption rose during this same period.  I know this because I am capable of doing basic math, and according to the US Census Bureau the US population was 146,631,302 in 1948 and 202,676,946 in 1969.  That tells us that American consumption of sugar in 1948 was 93.4lbs of sugar per person, while it was 97.5lbs of sugar per person in 1969.

Note to Mr. Hubbs:  There are 2,000lbs of sugar in a ton, thus 6,846,000 tons of sugar equates to 13,692,000,000 pounds.  If you divide that figure by the total population of 146,631,302 your end result is 93.37706079, or roughly 93.4 pounds of sugar per capita.  Math doesn't lie.

In fact actual consumption per capita continued to rise until the development of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) which started to supplant sugar in many of the foods and drinks Americans consume beginning in the 1970s.  With all of this being said, one might think if Miller's hypothesis is correct we would have seen a massive increase in the cases of polio as sugar consumption rose, but sadly for Miller that wasn't the case and in fact the opposite was true.  That isn't to say more sugar consumption is good for people by any means, but it obviously doesn't relate to the number of nationwide cases of polio either.

Miller then goes on to suggest the vaccine isn't actually helpful and rather it is responsible for causing polio.  He also suggests polio was on a decline on its own before the vaccine was introduced, but there is some clever word play used here.  Miller's actual quote is "from 1923 to 1953, before the Salk killed-virus vaccine was introduced, the polio death rate in the United States and England had already declined on its own". 

Notice the clever diversionary terms "death rate".  Miller isn't saying the cases of polio decreased which is what so many antivaxers don't understand.  The numbers I have shown earlier clearly show the number of cases of polio was still increasing at a rapid pace until after mass vaccination programs took effect.  Miller attempts to confuse people by focusing on the death rate as if that is significant, but once again he is cherry picking figures to support his viewpoint.  Notice that at no time does Miller suggest actual cases of polio were on the decrease before the vaccine, merely that the death rate was on the decrease.  This begs the question on why Miller would think polio by itself was perfectly fine provided it doesn't kill people.  I'm sure all of the paralyzed polio victims who have suffered for decades due to this disease would be happy to hear that Mr. Miller doesn't feel their disease is all that significant since it didn't kill them.

Back to reality, the reason that fewer people (as a percentage of polio cases) were actually dying from polio from the 1920s to the 1950s was not because polio had magically transformed from a deadly disease to merely a harmful disease.  Instead, the decrease in deaths was due in no small part to advancements in treatment of polio such as massage for muscle relaxation, confining patients to bed, increased usage of iron lungs, and perhaps most importantly usage of antibiotics to prevent infections.

As you can see, a little objective analysis of Miller's work easily shows gaping flaws in logic, blatant intellectual dishonestly, misleading conclusions, and even factual errors.  I could easily spend several days identifying the countless significant errors throughout the entire article, but at the end of the day no amount of facts or figures is about to sway a devoted antivaxer.  In their minds Miller is a hero for trying to suggest a vaccine causes more harm that good no matter how much evidence exists to the contrary.

Obviously antivaxers like Mr. Hubbs aren't intelligent enough to examine such a document and identify the gaping flaws and therefore they just accept it at face value.  The most comical aspect of this is the fact that Miller actually makes a reference to the concept of herd immunity (second page of the document under item 5) which is the total inverse of what Mr. Hubbs believes, but it is pretty clear that Mr. Hubbs never actually bothers to read the sources he cites and instead is lucky to make it beyond the title and the abstract.

Is it any wonder why nobody will ever take the antivaxer movement seriously?  I think not.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Medical Veritas: The Journal For Quacks

Medical Veritas is the name of a "medical journal" invented by promoters of alternative and homeopathic medicine.  They have even coined the phrase "Journal of Medical Truth" as if to suggest they are the only journal interested in finding truth and fact, and they have recently featured such articles as "Ending Vaccination Humanicide", "American Academy of Pediatrics' Shaken Baby Syndrome Fraud", and  my personal favorite "Musical Cult Control: The Rockefeller Foundation's War of Consciousness Through the Imposition of A=440Hz Frequency Standard Tuning".

NO I did not make any of this up, NO as sad as it may sound these articles are not meant to be satirical in nature, and YES that last one actually does in fact suggest that radio waves are guilty of mind control.  Specifically it states "this imposed frequency that is “herding” populations into greater aggression, psychosocial agitation, and emotional distress predisposing people to physical illnesses and financial impositions profiting the agents, agencies,  and companies engaged in the monopoly".  So basically they feel a specific frequency is guilty of forcing people against their will to do a variety of things including becoming agitated and sick, and then in turn it forces them to spend money on remedies.

I've read science fiction that is less far fetched than this crazy idea, but it does beg the question: "What's the frequency Kenneth?".  Did we mention that the homepage of Medical Veritas is hosted of a "" blogger page?  You could probably stop reading right now as it is clear this journal is far from scientific or reputable, but for humor sake let's dig a little deeper shall we?

Medical Veritas is not a respected journal nor is it recognized within the medical community and aside from some alternative medicine or anti-vaccine websites you aren't about to find it cited, nor will you find reputable research scientists mentioning it on their curriculum vitae. It's editors include numerous anti-vaccine types including several who don't hold any relevant education or experience. It includes one (Bonnie S. Dunbar) who holds a PhD in Zoology, one (Betsy Hicks) who is specifically called a "well respected diet counselor" but has no formal education whatsoever (although she is married to a doctor so that should count for something I guess), and they even include one (Toni Krehel) who is listed as an "AP" which is an acupuncture professional from what I gather. Ms. Krehel claims to specialize in the "approach of fusing together Chinese Medicine, Homeopathic Medicine and frequency specific BioEnergetic technology" (I am seriously not making this up).

The fun doesn't stop there however. One of their Senior Editors is a man (Michael K. Primero) who holds a masters in science and technology and who wrote his masters thesis based upon the premise that HIV is not the cause for AIDS.  Another (Tomas Teskey) is a DMV... which is a Veterinarian.  His self-proclaimed expertise is not in vaccines or humans, but rather in horses where this expertise (and I quote) is "taking a specialty approach to the equine hoof".

Not as if we could make this any more entertaining, but the chief editor and founder (Gary Goldman) holds a PhD in Computer Science but no education in any medical related field nor has he spent any time as a medical researcher, and one of the editors is actually Andrew Wakefield... yes that Andrew Wakefield. The same Andrew Wakefield who had his medical license pulled in the UK after he was found to have manipulated research, engaged in unethical bias, and essentially fabricated information that was included in his now-retracted "study" which attempted to link the MMR vaccine with autism. Wakefield even lists this study (keep in mind it has already been retracted and is no longer published) on his Medical Veritas biography (see item 80) without so much as a mention from Wakefield or from Medical Veritas that the study was found to be a fraud, officially retracted and thus no longer consider published, and Wakefield himself stripped of his ability to practice medicine.

Now I'm not trying to suggest every editor affiliated with Medical Veritas is uneducated or not qualified to speak on medical issues. I'm sure there are numerous doctors and experts who have given their names to Medical Veritas and who speak on other matters unrelated to vaccines, but as I have shown above there are also a number of individuals who are totally unqualified to speak on the subject of vaccines or any other human medical issue for that matter.

This just goes to show if you dig beyond the surface, you always find the lack of science and dishonesty associated with the anti-vaccine movement.  They generally don't care because the people they prey on aren't intelligent enough to figure these types of things out on their own, and antivaxers generally don't care about facts in the first place, so any antivaxer who reads this information will find excuses to dismiss the facts as if they don't matter.  Science does matter however... it matters a lot.

The reality is, there are dozens upon dozens of legitimate medical journals out there who would be more than willing to publish peer-reviewed science that can improve upon modern medicine.  You will often hear anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists such as Lowell Hubbs claim that "big pharma" or the CDC, FDA, AMA etc controls all of these journals, but that simply isn't true.  In fact, there are dozens of journals from other nations far, far outside any perceived influence of the American government.  In fact, The Lancet did in fact publish Wakefield's MMR "study" where it remained for years before his fraud was finally discovered, so that just goes to show that respected journals will in fact publish information which is contrary to popular opinion.

Other medical journals have published numerous articles which have called into question knowledge which was previously accepted, and that is the entire point of continuing to study medical and scientific issues.  Doctors, scientists, and researchers are continually improving upon established treatments and they are continually learning new things about the human body, which is why we see thousands of studies and articles published each and ever year many of which expand upon or even correct existing knowledge.  Nobody is trying to suppress such knowledge, but they do require studies to be peer-reviewed and the results must be able to be replicated by others, which explains why so much of the garbage found within Medical Veritas could never be published in a true medical journal.

But hey - you can purchase all 10 issues of Medical Veritas for only $700 - and for that kind of money you are guaranteed more medical conspiracy theories than you can shake a stick at.  If you would rather just flush your money down the toilet (which would likely offer you just as much scientific information as an entire collection of Medical Veritas issues), you could also just send them a donation via a link on their homepage. Actually I take that back... flushing your toilet would at least offer you a visual display of fluid dynamics, so that is actually more scientific information than you would receive by reading Medical Veritas

It seems the quacks finally realized since they couldn't be bothered to actually perform double-blind clinical trials or to produce peer-reviewed science it was much easier to just rewrite the rules of scientific publication and invent their own journal.  That is sort of like getting turned down from a few dozen different publishers for your book and then starting your own printing company.  Then when you print a few copies of your book you can run around and tell others you are a "published author".  If only it were that easy.

How far will these people stoop in order to sell a few nutritional supplements, some newsletters, or a few books?  It is not only disappointing, but it is downright disgusting, and the editors and contributors to "Medical Veritas" should be ashamed of themselves for attempting to circumvent the system for their own selfish interests.  If you have legitimate peer-reviewed science to publish there are countless journals who would love to have it, but if you have to resort to rewriting the rules of publication just so you can play... all you have done is show that you are incapable of meeting the qualifications for legitimate publication. 

That is really no better than collecting all of the medical conspiracies you can and posting them on your own personal website as if that somehow adds credibility to them.  Then when someone challenges your claim on an issue, you don't refer to a legitimate medical journal or peer-reviewed study, but rather point them to your personal website where you have collected a vast assortment of unscientific nonsense as if quantity somehow suggests quality.  Unfortunately for the editors and publishers of Medical Veritas, it just doesn't work like that.  Real science can stand on its own merits and doesn't need to bend the rules in order to be proven or accepted as fact.