This American Measles

By Phil Plait | December 27, 2008 10:14 am

Skeptical Dad has a really good post up today about vaccinations and measles. Evidently the NPR show This American Life had a segment about a recent outbreak of measles in San Diego: an unvaccinated kid caught the measles overseas, and gave it to several other children. The blurb for the podcast is interesting:

… Like the San Diego parents who didn’t vaccinate their child for measles … When their seven-year-old caught the disease on an overseas trip, this decision became a whole community’s problem. The outbreak infected 11 children and endangered many others.

Actually, it sounds to me like the community is at fault here as well, since it’s up to everyone to get vaccinated. If we could marginalize the people who are antivax, make them a very very small minority of people, then herd immunity in the community would prevent more of our children from falling ill from completely preventable and sometimes fatal diseases.

As I have said many, many times, the irony here is that antivaxxers want to save children’s lives, but they are doing the exact opposite: putting our kids at a fearful risk of death because they don’t understand the scientific method. Vaccines don’t cause autism.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Piece of mind, Science

Comments (48)

  1. I have never looked into the anti-vax issue. I deal with way too much dumbassery as it is, with regards to creationism and 9/11 conspiracy psychos. Debunking those groups’ crap takes enough of my time as it is. That said, it seems that all these “movements” have at their core a remarkable ability to deny simple reality. Occam’s Razor goes right out the window with all these people.

  2. Timothy from Boulder

    I encourage everyone to listen to the This American Life show (and to support the show financially for their consistent fine work over the years).

    One antivax parent on the show did express a point of view different from that in which they are typically cast … that of solely being concerned about vaccines causing autism. In fact, she was afraid that she would be reduced by media reports and sound bites into a parent who read something on the internet, was swayed by a celebrity and now thinks vaccines cause autism, when in fact she had reasonable questions regarding the safety of vaccines in other areas.

    While her reasoning about the issues was hazy, I think it’s important to not raise the strawman of portraying all antivax parents as “Vaccines cause autism! Vaccines cause autism!” ranters. The arguments that support vaccines need to address all of the (reasonable) concerns, and not just focus on this one. It’s important when making a positive argument to not alienate the people you’re trying to sway. A convincing argument should address all the relevant points, and not harp too much on just one.

  3. The Mad LOLScientist

    IIRC, Gibraltar has been having a hell of a time lately with a measles epidemic. About 10% of the kids have gotten sick because so many parents there don’t vaccinate their kids. Bah. Humbug.

  4. Thanks for recommending my article. I was just reading Death From the Skies chapter one this morning. My wife liked your speech in Cincinnati so much that she bought me the book. Plus, I asked for it.

  5. Pat

    No, Timothy- there are some who are sure it’s an effort to poison or placate children, some who thing Vitalism still applies and don’t accept the germ theory of disease… lost of others who see it as a Libertarian hot-button of individual freedom. All of their objections are just as unreasonable.

    The safety of vaccines is taken into account, which is why we are not globally vaccinated for anthrax. The anthrax vaccine has a comparatively high rate of severe adverse reaction, so the risk of an epidemic of anthrax (normally hard to catch, rarely fatal, and so on) is far below the risk of vaccinating everybody. New vaccines go through clinical trials where Phase I includes simply introducing it to individuals to see if there is any chance for harm. It doesn’t see the public until it’s passed phase III – and even then, some trials shown effective enough are halted due to the ethical question of continuing a control group in the face of very apparent effectiveness and reduction in mortality.

    Not vaccinating is negligence, and should be criminalized. It is a crime not just in not protecting your own children but in providing a haven for deadly diseases to continue to exist and spread long after we’ve had the means to control and eradicate them. We treat tax-dodgers more seriously than people who flap their arms about vaccination with no grounding in reality and trumpet wanting proof that vaccines never cause harm. The comparison between the negligible and often theoretical individual risk of getting a vaccine and the certain risk if one is not introduced are plain enough that they should end the argument.

  6. Julian

    “lots of others who see it as a Libertarian hot-button of individual freedom. ”

    A lot of my best friends would fall into this category. It gets to be infuriating after a while because our culture has come to value individual freedoms above the needs of the majority to point where you get called a Nazi for suggesting otherwise. I never thought I’d be taking an authoritarian position but medicine is one of the few places where it’s acceptable. In my opinion, anyway.

  7. William

    This not just a problem in America, I grew up in scotland in the late 60’s through the 70’s and survived the 80’s greed era, I remember as a child visiting freinds and seeing the large pram with the polio victim who was not going to see his 12th birthday this is one of the reason I made sure that my kids where vaccinated and will continue to shout at idiots who hate their kids and don’t vaccinate it is important get more sources of information and learn.

  8. Mick

    “lots of others who see it as a Libertarian hot-button of individual freedom. ”

    Of course in spite of their disproportionate representation on the interwebs (Which suggest that libertarianism is popular under the ‘angry nerd’ demographic.) Libertarians are politically irrelevant in real life. So whatever they feel is pretty much irrelevant in the real world anyway. I know I sure as hell don’t care about or for their philosophies. And that’s one of the few cases where I fit the general demographic, who also don’t give a damn about ranting students and how much they think Ron Paul is the messiah. They got a loud mouth on the internet, but their nothing in the big picture. Their verbal, annoying and have a ton of made up facts to dispute real facts with. But Libertarians don’t matter in the end. Much as they like to pretend they do.

    Anyway… take that’s aside, to make a more productive suggestion;

    No if you want to influence politics to get stuff done and make vaxxing mandatory, you got two methods available. If you got cash and lots and lots of it, you can pretty much lobby your way onto just about whatever you want becoming law. But assuming you don’t, the way I see it spreading information might be useful, but it won’t convince anyone. No you gotta get people who actually have power to get it done.

    Now Obama has appointed actual scientists to his cabinet, yes? Well maybe if one could get in touch with those people, suggest making vaxxing mandatory and why it should be done. Get the political ball rolling from within with people who might be sympathetic. See if you can get things done and make sure people who’s opinion actually hold real weight know whats going on and what the stakes are.

  9. Teresa

    An important thing that the This American Life piece reinstated was that most of the victims of the outbreak were very small babies. Children are not vaccinated for measles until they are one year old, so any baby that was within 100 feet of the infected child was at risk. One mother had a particularly grueling story about her son contracting the illness–he had a full body rash and fevers spiking to 106, and he was just a little baby.

  10. Russ

    “We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate,” said McCain. “Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it,” he said

    Oh, oops, I mean Obama. How about some equal coverage of stupidity?

  11. SkepTTic

    On a related note, check out this article from the London Times:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article5401129.ece

  12. I actually heard this report on the radio. What struck me was that the anti-vaxxers wanted total control over what went into their children’s bodies, whether it was organic milk or “organic” vaccines or whatever. Also, they were profoundly unwilling to trust doctors and scientific experts. This is the real root of the problem. How do we gain their confidence back? You aren’t going to convince them by forcing vaccines on them or talking down to them or calling them stupid. You need to win their trust. Part of that is going to involve fighting the rampant anti-intellectualism in this country.

  13. pcarini

    Russ @ 1:03 —

    There’s video of this statement available:
    http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/2008/04/dr_obama_and_dr_mccain.html

    Obama is pointing at somebody in the crowd when he says “this person included”. Context- it’s important, eh?

    That said, he’s still off the mark about the science being inconclusive. At least his suggestion is to research it instead of stop vaccinating.

  14. Corey S.

    Mick, since you’re posting on this blog, I’m guessing you’re a skeptic, agnostic, or atheist. Skeptics and libertarians have some things in common. First, they often overlap (I am both). Second, they’re both represent minority positions, relative to the rest of the country. Third, their positions are often distorted by jerkoffs who neither understand nor desire to understand their arguments. So before you spout off a nearly-illiterate rant about libertarians (too late), make an honest effort to understand their positions.

    Also, learn the difference between there, their, and they’re. I hope English isn’t your first language. You use the English language about as effectively as creationists and anti-vaxxers use science. (I realize this isn’t so much a defense of libertarianism as it is an ad hominem attack on Mick, but let me channel my inner five year old and say: “he started it.”)

    More on topic: I agree with Pat. Not vaccinating children should be penalized. It’s not simply a libertarian individual rights issue, since it puts other kids at risk of infection. In that sense, libertarians should support mandatory vaccination. Skipping vaccinations, in effect, limits the liberty of others by causing them to contract easily preventable diseases.

  15. Nigel Depledge

    Pat said:

    lost of others who see it as a Libertarian hot-button of individual freedom.

    I find this argument curious.

    Surely, the failure of Parent X to vaccinate their kids impinges on my individual freedom by increasing my risk of catching measles (or whichever vaccines the child of X has not had). In the same way that even a radical libertarian cannot condone murder, because it impinges on the freedom of the victim.

    Or have I just failed to understand what is meant by “freedom”…?

  16. Corey S.

    Damn. Of course, I meant to write “Second, THEY both represent minority positions, relative to the rest of the country.” My points are still valid. At least I caught my error.

  17. The first thing I got out of the This American Life piece was that anti-vaxers felt more comfortable with their choice of not introducing an “unknown risk” into their childrens’ lives than with the prospect of being responsible for some harm to their children. To them, infectious disease can happen to anyone. In other words, the risk of infectious disease is the same for all of us, but they (scared parents) could choose whether or not to introduce the risk of vaccination to their children.

    I also heard some form of a “natural” vs. “unnatural” debate, as well. For organic moms, vaccines are “chemicals” and therefore fall on the wrong side of this debate. One mom even said something to the effect that she wasn’t comfortable with vaccines because she “didn’t know what was in there.”

    What got to me was how the anti-vax interviewees came across as not only poorly educated and badly reasoned, but downright selfish. It was Ok to have an infectious disease risk to their child, other children, and the elderly. It was Ok to have a nearly eradicated disease make a resurgence. It was Ok to distrust the medical profession, the CDC, and 150 years of medical history. Because, dammit, THEIR CHILD was on the line. And because they couldn’t understand the vaccines (didn’t educate themselves), they were going to do nothing because at least it was in their control.

    A healthy education in history, statistics, and immunology would set most this right, I think, but there’s so much easy money to be made from the drama and controversy in all of this. Even my employer is enriched by this controversy. :-(

  18. Kevin

    Gee, what was that sci-fi movie where everything one did was controlled by the government? Told how to think, how to act, what to do. Funny how people are willing to give away their freedom of thought/ideas/etc. What ever happened to making decision for yourself, for your own well-being.

    Soon we will have a law for everything. I was just outside without a jacket, in the middle of winter. Who knows? I might someday be breaking the law by doing that (of course it is in the 50’s here right now).

    I’m not one of these A/V people, but why do others immediately say “it should be the law” when others disagree with them. Why don’t we have a law that everyone must have a 10-ounce steak for dinner on Sunday. “Oh, you’re a vegan? Tough. it’s the law. Eat your steak and like it, or go to jail.”

    Of course, I’m being overly dramatic, but why must people be forced to do something they don’t want to do?

    You know, people rant and rave about the anti-vaxxers and the like, but then try and foist other opinions on those same people – opinions they might not agree with – and they will be the ones up in arms. I guess critical thought and free thinking is fine, as long as everyone does it together and think the same things.

    Let’s all become a species like the Borg then. One entity will dictate what we all do.

    Just because you call yourself a skeptic and a free thinker doesn’t mean you have the right to force your opinions on others, no matter how stupid or wrong they may be.

  19. Mark Hansen

    Kevin, people are forced to do a lot of things by law because the consequences of allowing them to do as they please are too great. Take drink-driving or seatbelts as examples. There are still people that think it’s OK to down x number of beers and drive because they’ve done it before and nothing happened.

  20. Kevin@2:38 says:
    Of course, I’m being overly dramatic, but why must people be forced to do something they don’t want to do?

    Because, quite simply, them not doing that thing puts other people in danger, without the endangered people’s consent.

    I’ve got no problem letting people live however they want to live, but their ability to live their lives free of my interference ends when it means that my children, or the children of my friends or neighbors or people I don’t even really know, have to be put on the roulette board due to an irrational personal quibble.

  21. Zar

    You’re missing something major in your bizarre analogies, Kevin: people aren’t choosing to avoid vaccination for themselves. They’re choosing to keep it from their children; they’re deciding that their own stupid, selfish desire to be different is more important than their children’s health. People can do what they like to themselves, but people don’t have a right to put their children at risk. You can tattoo a dragon on your forehead if you want, but you can’t get a dragon tattooed on your toddler’s forehead.

    Not to mention that vaccination does not just affect the individual; it affects the whole community. People do have to give up doing some things they’d like to do in order to keep society running. You have to drive on a certain side of the road. It might be fun not to, but you’d cause an accident. You have to refrain from randomly setting things on fire; it might be fun for you, but it can endanger someone else. You have to refrain from murdering people who annoy you. If you don’t like it, go be a hermit in the desert. Welcome to civilization.

  22. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Surely, the failure of Parent X to vaccinate their kids impinges on my individual freedom by increasing my risk of catching measles

    Yeah, I don’t get that either. Whether you are libertarian or anti-libertarian, there are effects such as altruism by kin selection (eusocial colonies, for example), or mob rule (group strategies with sacrificial patsies à la mafia are slightly more successful than tit-for-tat “libertarians” in game theory), that put up practical (and moral!) falsifications of either hardcore choice over all possible events.

    [And what’s with all the anti-libertarianism? I believe I hadn’t even heard of libertarians before I started to read US blogs. What’s the beef – are libertarians actually politically powerful anywhere – and how does that play out?]

  23. JoeSmithCA

    I wonder if you have the legal grounds in the United States to sue parents who do not vaccinate their children, who consequently suffer from a preventable disease and then spread it to others?

    I’m sure nobody is going to care until dozens of kids die from Polio in a single community will anyone care. I really don’t want to see that happen, but sadly its human nature isn’t it?

  24. Oded

    I’d like to give this interesting bit I found out. I have never heard of antivaxxers until I read this blog. Consequently, I checked if such a phenomenon exists in my country as well – Israel. I found out it does, but for a completely different reason…

    You’ll laugh at this, I hope, then return to being sad… There are some ultra orthodox Jews in Israel, that for extremely weird religious reasons, believe that the state of Israel should not exist. For this reason, they intentionally avoid *anything* at all related to the country, even though they live in it. Vaccinations are funded and done by government in Israel (apparently. I did not know this), so these guys intentionally avoid them. I later saw a report about a government organization, which does its best to remove any ties from government, by symbols on forms or anything like that, created for the sole benefit of convincing these Jews to vaccinate their children, and offering the vaccinations.

    Quite a different kind of insane, isn’t it? :)

  25. JoeSmithCA

    @Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    I’ve heard of peers, people proclaim themselves Libertarians but when I’ve attempted to pin them to a political party of the same name I generally get a more well known party declaration (I’m a Republican etc). I’ve come to the conclusion its more of a personally defined philosophy for those I know than any real attempt at being affiliated with the political party. As far as I can recall, there have been no elected Libertarians in US History. I could be wrong though. Like I mentioned, it seems more of personal philosophy tagged onto ones own official political affiliation.

  26. BaldApe

    That said, it seems that all these “movements” have at their core a remarkable ability to deny simple reality.

    I disagree. What lies at the core of the problem is a remarkable inability to reason with simple statistical reality. They look at a highly unlikely, but possible, outcome. They think about how horrible that outcome would be. What they don’t take into account is the relative likelihood of the two different outcomes.

    It’s the same reason people lose so much money by spending a little bit at a time on lottery tickets. They look at what my father calls the “stand to win/stand to lose” ratio, but ignore the relative likelihood of the two events.

  27. ND

    There is paranoia involved in the decisions and reasoning leading to not vaccinate. Fear basically and it overwhelms reasoning. I know an A/V in my family and she looks at rest of society quite negatively. She hasn’t vaccinated her kids and clings to pretty much any “alternative” medicine that comes to her attention. There is a very binary reaction to the decision making process. Yes vaccines can cause complications but that’s not a reason to avoid them comletely if the chances are insanely minuscule compared to the benefits.

  28. Gary Ansorge

    Libertarians and anarchists, two philosophies that don’t work very well when more than two people try to live together.

    We have all these laws because we have all these people.Trying to maximize individual personal liberty while minimizing the harm they can do to others is the challenge of any social system,,,which is why we started this republic in the first darned place.

    If one wishes to be a total libertarian or anarchist, you are pretty much condemed to live alone and the only place I know of where it might be possible for nearly anyone to do that is in SPACE,,,which, I might note, has LOTS OF ROOM. Room even for anti-vaxers,,, as long as they live alone,,,

    GAry 7

  29. I’ve got no problem letting people live however they want to live, but their ability to live their lives free of my interference ends when it means that my children,

    I’ll go one better.

    Their ability to live their lives free of my intereference ends when it DIRECTLY THREATENS ME. I’m contraindicated for MMR vaccine due to allergies. Every time some wanker doesn’t vaccinate their child, not only do they risk their child but the risk to my life increases ever so slightly.

    Mercifully, if you could call it that, I’ve had measles, mumps, and rubella. Yeah, I had to deal with it the hard way. Hopefully that immunity gained as a child has lasted…

  30. Greg in Austin

    Kevin said,

    “Of course, I’m being overly dramatic, but why must people be forced to do something they don’t want to do? “

    Quite simply, sometimes laws are made to save lives. You are absolutely right, we shouldn’t have to force people to do something they don’t want to, and yet we have seatbelt laws, speed limits, drug enforcement, drinking ages, stop signs, etc. Its sad that we have to work so hard to convince people to save their own lives, the lives of their children, and help protect the lives of people around them.

    Its not forcing an opinion; its ensuring the health and safety of human beings.

    8)

  31. GK4

    Three questions:

    1.) Is it correct to say that even the vaccinated benefit from herd immunity? Am I correct that a small percentage of vaccinations do not “take” in a handful of individuals? So that even if someone has gotten their shots, they can be only 99% sure that it worked?

    2.) A question about herd immunity: What size population does it apply to?

    If my kid has had her shots, and attends a small school that has a low vaccination rate (below the herd-immunity rate *within the school*), is she at any greater risk even if the overall population of our city or state has the necessary herd immunity? (I’m assuming that I am correct about the first question.)

    3.) Until my daughter is old enough to be vaccinated, what can I do to protect her if my community’s vaccination rate is too low? Are unvaccinated children any more dangerous to us than unvaccinated adults?

    Thanks in advance to informed people who can point me to the right answers.

  32. Sman

    Kind of on topic- I have noticed that Amanda Peet has a series of public service spots on the tube this week regarding the vaccination of kids… one even addresses the anti-vaxers.

  33. Corey S.

    Gary- How would you know that libertarian political philosophy doesn’t work in practice? It’s never been tried. (I preface this by saying I am not a believer in teleological historical progress) As history has progressed (for lack of a better word) societies have tended to become more free. Western republican (small r for a reason) governments are much freer than anything that has come before. Why can’t libertarians argue that even freer governments might be more successful than the ones we have now? There’s good evidence to suggest that they might be.

    Look, any respectable libertarian (not anarcho-capitalists, they’re a different breed) thinks that some government is necessary. Of course a society needs to have laws. This isn’t controversial. Arguing that libertarians think otherwise is a strawman argument.

    JoeSmithCA makes a decent point. Most libertarians do not identify with the Libertarian Party. Many voted for McCain, and many voted for Obama. My impression was that in this election, more voted for Obama than for McCain. Personally, I voted for Obama, because he’s definitely not a socialist, and the Supreme Court does not need another conservative.

  34. wb

    As a microbiology technologist, I am aghast at the thought of people choosing not to immunize because they want total control of what goes into their child’s body. It’s ludicrous to begin with, unless they grow all of their own food and have complete control over the groundwater and air in their locale. These folks need to read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”

    GK4: Yes, it is very possible for your immunity to wane after immunization, if your immune system is depressed by age, illness or cancer treatment. It’s important to have enough people immunized that these diseases can’t take hold and become endemic = always present in the community.

    I’d say that unvaccinated children ARE more dangerous to the community. For one thing, many adults are like me and had measles as children (because there wasn’t a vaccine back then). Although unvaccinated, we are now immune because we had the actual disease. I’ve had rubella and rubeola and chicken pox, all before vaccines became available.

    I would keep my child away from unvaccinated children until they are old enough to be vaccinated.

    I now work for a skilled nursing/rehab facility and we aim for 100% flu vaccination for all staff as well as patients each year. But we have a lot of staff in the rehab unit who won’t be vaccinated because they know a patient who got Guillain-Barré syndrome from the swine flu vaccine back in ’76. They don’t look to our own flu outbreak of a just 5 years ago when 2 of our own patients died from the flu and at least 25% of the staff took ill. That was a year when the vaccine “missed” the flu phenotype that was actually circulating. I’d rather take my chances with the vaccine than get the flu and end up killing patients.

    I know people who have been affected by vaccine-preventable diseases: a microbiologist with polio, a deaf writer who is deaf due to her mother getting rubella from someone who was unvaccinated, a laboratory technologist who had a silent case of Hepatitis B contracted in the lab and gave it to her husband who died from it. That last one convinced me to get the Hep B vaccine as soon as it was available.

    It’s sad that you have to have dead and disabled kids to finally shock the selfish anti-vax crowd to get selfish about PROTECTING their kids from preventable diseases.

  35. Sman

    Corey S. wrote:

    (I preface this by saying I am not a believer in teleological historical progress) As history has progressed (for lack of a better word) societies have tended to become more free.

    Huh!!! But, isn’t that what you are doing???

  36. SLC

    Re Kevin

    Relative to the issue of rights, the answer to Mr. Kevins’ comments is very simple. His rights end where my nose begins.

  37. Helena Constantine

    What medical science needs is an advertising campaign that promotes vaccines as an organic medical practice. The basis for this is that the active ingredients in vaccines are all natural (which they are), and they activate the body’s natural immune system to fight disease.

    As has been pointed out time after time, it is useless to argue with the fanatics because they are not interested in establishing the truth through logic. But I think the above approach would be effective with more ordinary people who might be otherwise be swayed by the fanatics.

  38. Gary Ansorge

    Corey:
    From Wikipedia:
    Libertarianism is a term used by a broad spectrum[1] of political philosophies which prioritize individual liberty[2] and seek to minimize or even abolish the state.[3][4] The extent to which government is necessary, if at all, is evaluated on a variety of distinct metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical grounds.[5] The word libertarian is an antonym of authoritarian.[6] The term is also sometimes used as a synonym for anarchism.[7]

    Our republic is NOT the most free society on Earth. Anyone who has enjoyed the hospitality of a hash bar in Amsterdam can attest to that,,,

    What we do appear to be trending toward is the most TRANSPARENT society on Earth, one in which it is possible to shine a bright light into every corner of our land, to know when someone is trying to take unfair advantage and to announce that to the world. Some Libertarians(I’ve known) would like to establish an elite society, basically a meritocracy. Unfortunately, no human has ever shown the ability to be consistently wise, which is why a transparent society, in which everyone can know who’s doing what, with which and to whom, has the potential to allow us to error check the best(and worst) among us.
    I would like to assert that, while our republic is somewhat free, it also accomplishes this by having the most laws in place of any prior society. Property law alone allows us to ensure businesses can reliably engage in commerce w/o being over run by self interested parties(Read:dictators).

    I have a guest.. I must go.

    Gary

  39. JoeSmithCA

    Speaking of Wikipedia, has anyone donated to Wikipedia? I did :)

  40. Fly

    Way to support Big Pharma.

  41. Gopal

    @Fly and others who argue conspiracy/moneyspinner viewpoint:

    You should know that there is no money in vaccines business. That’s why it is very difficult to get Big Pharma to develop, manufacture and distribute vaccines. That’s why we are dependent on few small companies/facilities to manufacture our vaccine stock. The reason we had a flu vaccine shortage a few years back was that a SINGLE facility in UK was shutdown due to contamination threat. Get it? Single facility in UK (and not Big Pharma) supplies (at least) a major portion of our flu vaccine requirement.
    Know your facts before you shout yourself hoarse about community-fleecing vaccination cartels.

  42. Fly

    Gopal,

    You should know that Big Pharma does make money on vaccines, otherwise why would they do it?

    First of all, you are only talking about flu vaccines and 2nd, all you proved is that it’s a monopoly. That’s even worse.

  43. Julian

    “You should know that Big Pharma does make money on vaccines, otherwise why would they do it?”

    Many organisation do things because it’s part of their mission statement or the leader feels honor bound to do so. While there are examples of businesses behaving irresponsibly many of the people involved are good people asking decision based on how much good they can do. And you’ve failed to demonstrate why ‘Big Pharma’ is bad. Hell. You haven’t said anything in your two comments.

  44. Fly

    Julian, I guess you don’t read the other blogs at Discovery Mag – but this from Reality Base blog:

    “The 2008 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine went to three people this year, Luc Montagnier and his (ahem, female) partner Françoise Barre-Sinoussi for discovering HIV, and Harald zur Hausen for his work on the human papilloma virus (HPV) and its link to cervical cancer.
    Wouldn’t you know it, AstraZeneca just happens to have a big fat stake in two lucrative HPV vaccines.”

  45. ndt

    Greg in Austin Says:
    December 27th, 2008 at 9:12 pm
    Kevin said,

    “Of course, I’m being overly dramatic, but why must people be forced to do something they don’t want to do? “

    Quite simply, sometimes laws are made to save lives. You are absolutely right, we shouldn’t have to force people to do something they don’t want to, and yet we have seatbelt laws, speed limits, drug enforcement, drinking ages, stop signs, etc. Its sad that we have to work so hard to convince people to save their own lives, the lives of their children, and help protect the lives of people around them.

    Its not forcing an opinion; its ensuring the health and safety of human beings.

    Which is part of the problem. The government should intervene to protect people from other people – that’s why we have laws against drunk driving and why most states require children in public schools to be vaccinated. But a government that tries to people from themselves is too intrusive for me, which is why I oppose seat belt laws for adults. I always wear my seat belt, and I’d be an idiot not to, but that’s none of the government’s concern.

  46. ndt

    I left out the word “protect” in the comment I just made. It should have said “But a government that tries to protect people from themselves is too intrusive for me.”

  47. Greg in Austin

    @ndt,

    “But a government that tries to people from themselves is too intrusive for me, which is why I oppose seat belt laws for adults. I always wear my seat belt, and I’d be an idiot not to, but that’s none of the government’s concern.”

    Um… ok… So, a government of the people, by the people and for the people is all good and well, unless you disagree with those people, in which case… what?

    If you don’t like what the government does today, what have you done about it lately?

    8)

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