HuffPo still pushing antivax nonsense

By Phil Plait | September 28, 2009 8:00 am

I used to write for the Huffington Post, an online news and blog collective. It was started by Arianna Huffington during the Bush Era as a response to all the far-right online media. I didn’t agree with a lot of what was on there — I am more centrist — but at the time I thought it was necessary.

Then they started to promote far-left New Age nonsense, and when it came to vaccinations, HuffPo started posting all kinds of opinions that amounted to nothing more than out-and-out health threats. While they do sometimes post a counter-argument, it’s still almost all alt-med, all the time.

Here’s the latest: a doctor named Frank Lipman is telling people not to get vaccinated against Swine Flu. Instead he says you should wash your hands a lot, eat well, and take homeopathic medicine.

Yes, seriously. And he does it while spouting quite a few of the standard antivax memes, like the flu won’t be that bad (maybe he should consult with Dr. Joe Albietz, who I’m sure would disagree) and my favorite, we don’t know how well the vaccine will work. In fact, the vaccine for Swine Flu is based on many decades of research on how vaccines are produced, and will certainly work better than Dr. Lipman’s homeopathic "medicine" which we know is just plain old water, and totally useless. I’ll note that on his own site he promotes acupuncture and chiropractic, too.

It’s the peddling of antivax rhetoric like this that drove me from HuffPo, and I’ve let them know why. I was a minor cog there, so I know it made no difference… and the proof is that they still post articles promoting procedures known to be useless. In fact, it’s worse than that, since someone might try the homeopathic water rather than get actual treatment.

So, as always, don’t listen to people like Lipman, or even to me when it comes to this stuff. Instead, go to your doctor, a board-certified and science-based doctor, and ask them about the H1N1 swine flu, and see if they recommend getting the shot. And yes, as soon as it’s available here I’ll get vaccinated, as will my wife and daughter. We talked to a real doctor about it, and we understand the threat of H1N1, and we understand what vaccines do.

Tip o’ the syringe to Dan Gilbert and Richard Saunders. Note added after I wrote this: Mike’s Weekly Skeptical Rant has also weighed in on Lipman, and Salon.com has an article excoriating HuffPo as well.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Alt-Med, Antiscience, Piece of mind

Comments (96)

  1. captain swoop

    It’s like playing ‘Whack a Mole’ They just keep popping up all over.

  2. Zucchi

    I’m pretty left-wing politically. It really bugs me that there’s any connection between that and what you rightly call New Age nonsense. This stuff is ruining my fantasies about Arianna Huffington.

  3. In fact, the vaccine for Swine Flu is based on many decades of research on how vaccines are produced, and will certainly work better than Dr. Lipman’s homeopathic “medicine” which we know is just plain old water, and totally useless.

    Not only that, but the swine flu vaccine will likely be more effective than the seasonal flu vaccine, since the seasonal flu has some guess work involved as to which strains will be common. The H1N1 vaccine, on the other hand, has been made knowing exactly which strain is going to be troublesome during the coming season.

    Although, Dr. Lipman does give a couple good pieces of advice in there: wash your hands frequently, eat well and stay hydrated (that’s what he meant by homeopathy, right? right?). That won’t prevent infection to any degree similar to being immunized, but it is a good start.

  4. Big Fat Earl

    It was started by Arianna Huffington during the Bush Era as a response to all the far-right online media. I didn’t agree with a lot of what was on there — I am more centrist — but at the time I thought it was necessary.

    So the “necessary” response to far-right irrationality was more irrationality from the far left? That does not compute.

  5. Thanks muchly for the plug, Dr. Plait! Have yourself a great time in London at the Across the Pond TAM!

  6. Perhaps you SHOULD go back to writing there to argue against nonsense like I see there now? Or do they not allow rationality in their bloggers?

  7. Adam

    I’m a little concerned that you are conflating left-wing politics with new-age medicine.

    The number of right-wingers I’ve met who buy into new-age hokum is about on par with my left-wing compatriots.

    Their coalescence in the HuffPo is certainly unsettling, but then again it appears in the mainstream press often enough as well.

    Correlation versus Causation and all that.

    AP

  8. RWB

    The anti-vax stuff has gone right-wing as well. I have a relative who apparently won’t get a flu shot this year (the ordinary flu shot that he has always gotten) because he believes there is some Obama conspiracy to taint it. Anti-science and fear-of-science viewpoints can nestle into almost any set of political beliefs, unfortunately.

  9. APP

    Well, the handwashing part is actually pretty important. Sugar pills, not so much.

    Oscillococcinum: contains 10^-400 g duck liver extract!

  10. Bryan

    So, out of curiosity, I looked up the particular homeopathic remedy that Dr. Quackenstein suggested.

    It’s, apparently, dilute duck liver. How dilute? From Wikipedia:
    “Mathematically, in order to have a reasonable chance to obtain one molecule of the original extract the patient would have to consume an amount of the remedy many times larger than the known universe”

    That’s a beautiful description of the level of stupid involved in Homeopathy.

    Further, the peddlers of this … well, this water … know exactly what they’re doing:
    “When Boiron’s spokeswoman Gina Casey was asked if a product made from the heart and liver of a duck was safe, she replied: ‘Of course it is safe. There’s nothing in it.’”

  11. Jason

    What about the mercury content in vaccines? Isn’t mercury bad?

  12. SJ

    There are several studies (by real scientists) in Canada that suggest (and currently no more than that) that individuals who have had a series of seasonal flu shots may be more susceptible to H1N1. There is also some real epidemiologic evidence that individuals over 65 are less susceptible to H1N1 or at least develop much milder cases of it. (My speculation on this is that if the increased susceptibilty proves correct one might hypothesize that repeated exposure to seasonal flu is providing some protection against H1N1, but that the seasonal flu vaccine prevents an individual from developing that immunity, possibly because one doesn’t develop “natural” immunity with the vaccine.) In any case, the government of Nova Scotia has properly urged all seniors and those in long term care to get the seasonal flu vaccine when it becomes available next week (October 5), as seasonal flu poses many serious problems itself. I understand some other provinces are considering not using the seasonal flu vaccine, however. As it appears the H1N1 vaccine will not be available until November, public health officials are busy scrambling to understand the data and develop policy for both seasonal and H1N1 vaccines. Currently, the priority for H1N1 vaccine in Nova Scotia are children and young adults, given the pattern of H1N1. Certainly in Nova Scotia a large number of the H1N1 cases have been teenagers, but that is probably skewed by the fact that one private school made a trip to Mexico right at the start of the H1N1 epidemic there – and then allowed students from other schools to make recruitment visits to its campus. As for me, as an over 65, I have already made an appointment with my doctor for October 7.

  13. David D.

    Sorry, folks–contrary to popular belief, the Left is NOT immune to anti-science and irrational thinking. Watch for increasing amounts of nonsense especially now that Harkin has taken over Kennedy’s old seat on the HELP committee.

  14. JT

    @Big Fat Earl,

    Pay attention to the time-line. He thought it was necessary before the irrationality became apparent.

  15. Big Fat Earl

    Pay attention to the time-line. He thought it was necessary before the irrationality became apparent.

    If it’s far left, the irrationality is always apparent, same as it is for the nuts on the other end. HuffPo has never been rational. He should have known from the beginning.

  16. Pieter Kok

    Phil, I second Doubting Foo: if they let you, you should write again for HuffPost. Face it, here you are mostly preaching to the choir.

  17. Ed

    “I’ll note that on his own site he promotes acupuncture and chiropractic, too.”

    Wait, are you trying to group chiropractors in with the nonsense? Chiropractors who do actual physical stuff to the spine, aligning it, and unpinching nerves. What do you suggest for chronic back pain; constant pain pills and ignoring it?

  18. @Jason

    What about the mercury content in vaccines? Isn’t mercury bad?

    Please pay a visit to antiantivax.flurf.net (click on my name for the link). Also, read the FDA’s and CDC’s web sites on thimerosal. Science-Based Medicine also has a wealth of information you may find interesting.

  19. @Ed

    Part of the problem with chiropractic is that there are numerous cases where chiropractors do not limit themselves to musculoskeletal issues, but make claims that chiropractic can treat or cure all kinds of ailments totally unrelated to the musculoskeletal structure. E.g., whooping cough, ear infections, etc. There is also some reason to suspect that the risks may not be worth the benefits when it comes to neck manipulation.

  20. Ed

    @Todd W

    Well, all I know is that my own chiropractor does not claim any of that crap, and he has solved a number of issues I’ve had with my back since I was a teenager. He hasn’t done neck manipulation; he uses this tool to gently knock/push my vertebrae little by little back into proper position. So I just have a problem with lumping an entire medical field into “crazy” just because of some people within it.

  21. Jason

    So the vaccines only used to kill you?

    What about herd immunity? Isn’t that the idea of giving people live neutered diseases in the hope they’ll spread it to other people who might not want engineered diseases infecting them?

  22. @Ed

    Well, I would suggest, then, to be vocal against those chiropractors who make dodgy claims. They’re soiling the name of the ones who stick to skeletal issues.

  23. @Jason

    So the vaccines only used to kill you?

    What? Where did you get that?

    What about herd immunity? Isn’t that the idea of giving people live neutered diseases in the hope they’ll spread it to other people who might not want engineered diseases infecting them?

    Uh, no. Herd immunity is the idea of having a sufficient percentage of the population (say, 95%) immune to a given disease so that the wild virus or bacteria cannot find a foothold in the population to spread. This will protect those individuals who do not have immunity (e.g., too young, immunosuppressed, lost immunity due to age, certain autoimmune diseases, etc.).

    Vaccines are a method of granting that immunity without the individuals needing to suffer the full-blown illness and its complications and without the individual becoming contagious. The only vaccine that I’m aware of that passes along the vaccine-strain from person to person is the oral polio vaccine, which is only used in areas with low vaccination rates and high risk of polio, as it grants, IIRC, 100% immunity to polio and can be passed from person to person, so that those who might not get the vaccine can still receive the benefits. There is some concern, though, about the OPV strain mutating to a virulent strain, according to the WHO, so a push might be made to switch from OPV to IPV in the areas where polio is still being targeted for eradication.

  24. DemetriusOfPharos

    Note to Huffington Post:

    Fighting right-wing propaganda with left-wing propaganda is a little like fighting a raging forest fire with a flame-thrower. You are not helping.

  25. drewski

    @Adam – anecdotal evidence, I know, but certainly in my experience, the people who tend to be leftist (and the further left, the moreso) in politics also tend to be the most interested in “alternative” medicine. I suspect it has something to do with “traditional” medicine being part of the medico-pharmaceutical complex, or whatever it is lefties are getting angsty about these days, and therefore The Enemy to the more extreme forms of leftist politics. Although how government regulation of vaccines ties into the far right fear of the government being involved in anything, I don’t know.

  26. APP

    RE: #6, #16,

    Interesting question, Phil: Would you go back there specifically to write a rebuttal to this crap?

    I guess the counterargument is that it’s a losing battle with the HuffPo crowd. It might do some good for HuffPo, but probably wouldn’t be much fun for you.

    It seems like HuffPo these days is equal parts stuff about celebrities, stuff by celebrities, stuff you can find other places, and stuff tooting Ariana’s own horn. Not that it was ever much more than that, but it once seemed like it had a chance to be better.

    Whatever happened to “reality has a well-known liberal bias”? I guess liberals don’t necessarily have a reality bias.

  27. Pieter Kok

    “I guess the counterargument is that it’s a losing battle with the HuffPo crowd.”

    That is not a valid argument, even if your premise of an overwhelmingly anti-scientific HuffPo crowd were correct (antivax articles on HuffPo get quite a mixed response in the comments).

  28. Clicky link for people to use when countering the anti-vax pro-disease lies: http://factsnotfantasy.com/vaccines.html

    Of course, facts, data, evidence really have no purpose for these folks, they just believe what they want. It’s almost as abad as this:

    Awareness of Lubrication Controversy Growing

    Backed by famous actress, movement picks up momentum

    (Square root of negative one) Associated News Service, September 2009

    For years, the conventional wisdom had been taken for granted: putting oil into your car will protect it from the effects of friction and maybe even increase its lifespan.

    But now, in this era of ever-increasing consumer awareness, more and more drivers are questioning the value and the safety of this practice.

    “Everybody’s just always assumed they’re supposed to lubricate their cars,” said Big Tom, owner of Big Tom’s Automotive and one of the few experts who’s spoken out on this issue. “But is it really that smart to take the most important part of your car, with all its complicated little moving pieces, and fill it with this goopy black sludge? Most people never really gave it any thought. They just did it because they were told they should – because it’s what everybody was doing.”

    So what’s the harm? “You just don’t know what that stuff is doing to your vehicle,” Big Tom adds.

    And that’s where drivers have started getting concerned. Over the last few years there’s been a growing epidemic of Random Airbag Deployment (known as RAD) as more and more cars reportedly have had airbags that, for whatever reason, go off when they’re not supposed to. It’s dangerous. It causes accidents and injuries. And worst of all, the vehicle suffers from erratic behavior that makes it unable to cope with most normal driving situations – or to engage in meaningful interaction with its driver. Drivers, shocked and devastated to find that their vehicles suffer from RAD, have had no idea where to turn for answers.

    More and more, however, a small but vocal group has started theorizing that the effects of RAD are at least in part caused by some aspect of the lubrication process. And this group has gained increasing attention – as well as credibility – by the recent addition of a high-profile celebrity to its ranks.

    Bimbo Larue, formerly a porn star, has since become a Hollywood icon, staring in such films as Honk if You Like My Bod, Randy High School Road Trip, and Pull My Finger. But three years ago her world was rocked when her car, a blue 2006 Ford Focus, was diagnosed with RAD.

    She recounts her journey on her web site, as well as on any talk show that will have her: “The first time that airbag slammed me in the face like a brick wall… Well at first I was, like, shocked – then I thought, ‘You know, there’s really something special going on here.’” Based on her experience she came to believe that her car was a “Burnt-Orange Starship of a Higher Plane” and that she was its “Pilot/Aquarial Guide-Presence.”

    “I just knew that car was meant for great things,” Larue said, “that it was just too great for this dimension, you know, too advanced for the narrow little roads it was forced to travel… With all that built up tension inside, it’s no wonder it felt the need to just let go and throw out its airbag.”

    Since then, though, things have changed. “Now I realize that my car’s just, like, broken – and it’s all because those guys put oil in its engine.”

    She’s since started up a crusade, becoming a leading figure in what’s become known as the “Anti-Lubrication Movement.” “My goal is to educate as many people as possible about the effects lubrication can have on a car – to tell my story and help others make more informed choices. The oil industry owes it to us to provide a safe way to keep our engines running without filling them with dangerous chemicals that expose our cars to the effects of RAD.” And her car? She takes her vehicle in to Big Tom to have the airbag repacked whenever it deploys. She rejects conventional avenues, such as having her car’s electrical system diagnosed or reexamining her driving habits – and she says there’s no way she’s changing her car’s oil again. “They’ve already done enough damage to Mr. Ford Focus,” she adds sadly.

    Naturally, there’s been a backlash against this movement, and against Bimbo Larue.

    The Department of Transportation has begun the now well-known “Put oil in your car or your engine will get ruined” ad campaign. And several experts have started to express their disagreement with the movement.

    “Good, clean motor oil is essential to the safe operation of a vehicle,” says engineer Ed McCallister. “Without it an engine will simply burn out, and the car becomes useless… Really, I’m puzzled that there’s even any controversy about this. There’s absolutely no plausible reason to believe that airbag misdeployment could be caused by engine lubrication.”

    “Ridiculous,” says Larue. “This one site on Google says that, like, 150 years ago, almost nobody lubricated the engines on their vehicles. And how many airbags misdeployed? None. Now we have airbags firing off left and right – after more vehicles got lubricated. Coincidence? I think not. Anybody who denies the effects of lubrication on RAD is either in denial or is willfully closed-minded to anything that doesn’t fit their ‘science.’”

    But mainstream engineers like McCallister persist in their denial of the oil-RAD connection. “We’d been lubricating vehicles for decades before the airbag was even invented. And even now, the number of airbags that misdeploy falls within the expected range of electrical and mechanical malfunction. There simply is no ‘RAD epidemic.’” However, most readers will easily identify McCallister as a mean old poo-poo scientist who never agrees with anything fun or interesting, and who only says boring technical stuff in interviews.

    Many other drivers agree, and they’re growing angry that they’ve never been informed of the dangers of lubrication, or the fact that there are alternatives. The government still requires people to lubricate any vehicles they drive on public roads – but in some states they can apply for an exemption based on religious preference or personal fears.

    “[The exemption] is a positive first step,” says Big Tom, “but there’s still much more progress to be made both in laws and in overall public perception. People need to be made aware of their rights. Is it possible that oil might help a vehicle? Some studies say yes – there have been isolated cases where engine seizure has been attributed by some to a lack of motor oil. But there are a lot of different theories out there, and we really need to inform people of both the dangers and the benefits – then let them make the choice.”

    Tom emphasizes open-mindedness. He adds that the Anti-Lubrication trend is not monolithic, that even within the movement people don’t agree on everything. It originally encouraged people to avoid oil altogether. Over time, a few people started demanding the removal of substances like sulfur, detergents, and alkaline additives before they would lubricate. And when a study showed that these measures made no difference in the rate of RAD, some advised spreading out the oil changing schedule – changing the oil only every four to five years, or adding only a quart at a time. “The beautiful thing is, we have our differences, but unlike the ‘scientific’ community, we can live with them and be open to each others’ ideas. That’s really what this is about: letting people decide for themselves.”

    So what about the body of evidence that contradicts the Anti-Lubrication movement? Why would anybody listen to Bimbo Larue when experts with years of mechanical experience disagree with her?

    Perhaps she says it best: “I’ll always trust my driver’s instinct over the so-called experts. I have Mr. Ford Focus back home – he’s my years of mechanical experience.”

    * DISCLAIMER: All people, movements, and organizations named or implied in this article are fictional, except for “the government” and the Department of Transportation. No actions or stances attributed to government agencies in this article are real.

  29. Big Fat Earl:

    So the “necessary” response to far-right irrationality was more irrationality from the far left? That does not compute.

    But of course, since it makes everything average out as moderate. It’s like the old statistician joke:

    Three statisticians go duck hunting. A drake flys overhead and the first statistician jumps up, “BLAM!” He fires but misses five yards to the left.

    The second statistician jumps up, “BLAM” but he misses five feet to the right.

    The third statistician jumps up and cries out, “We got it.”

  30. lefty27

    A centrist huh? I wonder exactly what that is. I believe Hillary Clinton is a centrist. Impressive cohort.

    HuffPo, left wing, please. Circus wing maybe.

    Stick to space stuff, my friend, it’s what you are good at.

  31. JoeSmithCA

    I personally think it’s awesome–AWESOME that anti-vaxxers are declining to get vaccinated. If it mutates and proves to be more lethal in the next few months well then, there will just a few less stupid people in the world.

    Viruses love Anti-Vaxxers!

    Oh btw, where can I pre-order my Platinum Collectors Edition of the H1N1 Flu Vaccine. I hear it comes with a Influenza Plushy and a RNA keychain. :)

  32. Eric A

    I’m now recovering from pneumonia after a week of H1N1. Get the vax! Unless someone comes up with real evidence that the vax will outright kill you … get the vax! I’m a 39 year old, fairly healthy male, and I have never been so sick in my entire life. Furthermore, there is a real possibility that once H1N1 really takes off that health system could become overwhelmed. Even if 0.1% of the population that gets H1N1 needs to go on a respirator (a very real number that is being kicked around by those in the loop), there simply aren’t enough respirators to go around. Get the vax if for no other reason than to slow the spread of H1N1.

  33. @Larian

    Nice satire. Is it courtesy of the Onion?

  34. Thanny

    Justly dismissing alternative medicine does not make one a centrist. I’m a hard-core liberal, and I despise the “New Age” nonsense that’s unfortunately more prevalent among the political left.

    Phil can call himself whatever he wants, but the political stance he’s demonstrated over the years is distinctly far left of center, which is a good thing.

    Political issues and idiocy issues shouldn’t be conflated, even if it’s hard due to the existing bias of any given idiocy for one political position or the other (e.g. New Agers on the left and religious nuts on the right).

  35. @JoeSmithCA

    I personally think it’s awesome–AWESOME that anti-vaxxers are declining to get vaccinated. If it mutates and proves to be more lethal in the next few months well then, there will just a few less stupid people in the world.

    Only problem with that is that there are innocent smart people who, due to medical reasons, cannot be vaccinated, as well as individuals who have been vaccinated but did not receive immunity. They’ll suffer as well.

  36. @ Todd, nope, it’s actually from a poster over at teh JREF Forums. He has given me permission to repost it as I see fit, and it was just too appropriate. Does sound like an Onion article though!

    @Thanny, Dr Plait comes in very left on social issues, true. I do too. But those are only a small part of the political spectrum. There are other issues such as taxation, government sending, foreign policy, etc. that should also figure into the mix. He really hasn’t articulated many of those views here as far as I am aware. So he may be right in calling himself centrist.

  37. jf

    @Phil: I also think you should return to writing for the HuffPost.

    It is a very high-traffic site, and your reality-based articles would benefit a lot to open-minded readers, who simply did not have enough scientific education in their youth to see through the nonsense from the quackery proponents.

    And of course it would help you to get more attention than e.g. PZ M. ;-)

  38. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    What do you suggest for chronic back pain; constant pain pills and ignoring it?

    A diagnosis and a medical treatment, of course.

    I can see many medical plans on the web, there diagnosis and short treatment plans take care of episodes of back pain, and conversely surgery may be effective for some chronic cases. “Surgical evaluation is also indicated in patients with worsening neurologic deficits or intractable pain that is resistant to conservative treatment.” [AAFP, on "Diagnosis and Management of Acute Low Back Pain"]

    Also weight loss works for overweight, at any time. “Excess weight, however, has a direct effect on the likelihood of developing low back pain, as well as an adverse effect on recovery.”

    All the rest gets down to insufficient research, AFAIU. Which is to say that chiropractic isn’t the cheapest method, if it works at all.

  39. Rift

    Thanny, I disagree. Phil is right, he is centrist. I’ve known him and read him for about 15 years and the only reason he may come off as ‘distinctly far left of center’ is because he has usually been battling the far right.

    I’m also ‘centrist’, although I prefer the term ‘moderate’. Like George Washington I think parties are a bad idea and I’m unaffilated. Some of my views are conservative, some of them are liberal (as are Phil’s) and I have a hard time seeing any party representing anybody because everyone will have different views unless they mindlessly ‘tow the party line’.

    I also don’t see ‘distinctly far left of center’ as a good thing. I don’t see any extremist view as a good thing. True, Phil is far left of center on some things, but not all things, and I think the man himself (as well as knowing him for as long as I have) can label himself better than you can.

    You are correct about political issues and idiocy. I’ve met far left global warming deniers and far right New Agers. Which seems to be what you are doing with Phil, lumping him in with left of center because of some of his views, not all of his views are left of center. Which in my opinion, a good thing.

  40. BJN

    New Age nonsense is not owned by the political left. There’s plenty of right-wing woo. Witness Utah’s beloved Orrin Hatch — champion of “alternative medicine” snake oil (and hero to the multilevel marketing pyramid corporations that promote them). I daresay that many chiropractors and homeopathic fakirs are cut of very conservative political cloth, at least in these parts. From Nancy Reagan’s astrology to conservative faith based “science” funding (and un-funding) there’s plenty of idiocy to go around, be it based on “new age” or “good ‘ol fundamentalism” nonsense.

  41. SteveG

    I just posted this on the HuffPo site (I had to create a logon ID to do it!)

    OK, Let me get this straight.
    The flu that has spread to infect over a million Americans – during the off-season – is benign.
    We don’t know the vaccine will be effective – and how do we know any flu vaccine is effective before the flu season hits? Because it’s based on scientific research and past experience?
    We don’t know if it’s safe – see above
    Vaccine manufactures have limited liability

    So instead of getting the flu shot, Dr. Lipman recommends
    Vitamin D
    Garlic
    Colorful salads
    “Anti-viral” herbs
    And homeopathic Oscillococcinum

    And this would be because we know these things to be safe and effective?
    Really?

    And what exactly is Dr. Lipman’s liability for this “professional” advice?

    The worst part about trash like this being spouted by an “Integrative physician”, whatever that is, is that someone might read this an actually NOT get the vaccine and then stand next to me on the subway.

    Why does the Huffington Post insist on promulgating this crap?

  42. Pieter Kok
  43. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Even if 0.1% of the population that gets H1N1 needs to go on a respirator (a very real number that is being kicked around by those in the loop), there simply aren’t enough respirators to go around.

    Yes, it can be nasty.

    I checked the local statistics for ECMO treatment, as we [Sweden] have/had ~ 4 such cases due to the H1N1. And this from a rather small flu spread, IIRC ~ 1-2 000 sick. (Not all local ECMO cases, one Scottish woman was taken over here. We have also had ~ 1 deaths; all adults.)

    ECMO is ExtraCorporeal Membrane Oxygeneration, used when your lungs are too far gone for respirators and your blood is temporarily (…several months…) oxygenated outside of your body while your lungs heal:

    1987 – 2003 there were 46 adults treated over all, from sickness to accidents. _No_ adults were classified as having pneumonia directly from virus (but some pediatric cases were classified such). The survival rates for ECMO in adults were 65 % over all.

    As a precaution, the number of ECMOs have been increased 3-4 times because of this outcome. (But that is considered enough.)

  44. Gary Ansorge

    37. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    I suggest anyone with low back pain do as I did 30 years ago, read a good book on sports medicine.
    After developing low back pain in 1978, I read up on that subject by a Doctor who specialized in sports related stress injuries. His suggestions for specific exercises were quite useful, ending my low back pain within a few weeks of beginning the exercises. Of course, in my case, it was mere over stressing of the support muscles in the back, compensating for weak abdominal muscles. Addressing those muscles and performing stretching exercises on the lower back tendons and muscles solved my problem. I still do those exercises as needed.

    As an addendum, please note: these exercises will do absolutely no good if your pain is caused by a structural deformity, such as compressed discs, ruptured discs, bone spurs or a fractured spine.

    Gary 7

  45. @Gary Ansorge

    As an addendum, please note: these exercises will do absolutely no good if your pain is caused by a structural deformity, such as compressed discs, ruptured discs, bone spurs or a fractured spine.

    In other words: consult a physician?

  46. Calli Arcale

    Wow — H1N1 is causing some folks to need ECMO! That’s pretty serious stuff. For those who don’t know medical terminology, “extra-corporeal” means “outside of your body”. If you need oxygenation by this method, it means you have two lines run into your veins — one to remove blood, which is then run through a machine which oxygenates it, and then another to put it back in. Basically, it’s like a heart-lung machine. It carries risks of its own; whenever you remove blood from the body, you have to persuade it not to clot, and that’s a dicey proposition on its own, never mind the increased infection risks. It’s fabulous that there is a technology for those too far gone for even a respirator to help, but it’s terrifying to think of being in such a position.

    Jason:

    What about herd immunity? Isn’t that the idea of giving people live neutered diseases in the hope they’ll spread it to other people who might not want engineered diseases infecting them?

    No, the antigens (and, sometimes, live attenuated viruses) included in vaccines are not intended to replicate at all, let alone become contagious. (That’s why the live viruses are attenuated.) There are a few vaccines which use live virus; of those, the only one that I’ve heard of causing outbreaks is the oral polio vaccine (OPV). It’s given as a droplet on the recipient’s tongue, and it has been linked to outbreaks of polio. The only reason it’s used at all is because it’s vastly cheaper than the inactivated polio virus that we get in first-world countries, and the risk of outbreaks is fairly low if wild-type polio is endemic. (The wild-type outcompetes it.)

    The way herd immunity is achieved is by having 90-95% of the population innoculated, either by everybody getting infected with the real disease (normally not possible, because diseases don’t transmit *that* effectively) or by having everybody get vaccinated. That’s why mass vaccination campaigns get pushed so aggressively. If all that was needed was for a few people to get vaccinated and then spread the vaccine strain, it would be much easier to wipe out these diseases.

  47. anyone seen this garbage:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlDjDAFW1Ck

    ? it’s all over facebook.

  48. The Huffpo is all about making its readers feel good about themselves. What they write often is based on pure emotion, regardless of the subject. Their articles on economics and public policy are just as silly as their views on health care.

  49. Mena

    I went over there and managed to look at a few comments but couldn’t go on reading them because it felt like I was at an event horizon of a black hole made up of highly compressed stupid. Wow. Just wow. Someone claiming that someone got a Nobel prize for water having a memory and linking to the Ig Nobel prizes was just too hilarious though.

  50. Beagledad

    Please refrain from characterizing antivaxxers as being aligned with a particular political ideology. As far as I can tell, antivax people want simple answers where there are none, and they have a need to affix blame for anything bad that happens. It’s an affluent society’s version of the type of magical thinking that, in other times and places, blames disease on someone giving the “evil eye.” I’ve run across this combination of intellectual laziness, blame-fixing, and wishful thinking everywhere on the ideological spectrum.

  51. Phil, I assume you would like to see a more intellectually honest and valid HuffPo. That’s why I think that continuing to write for them might be the way to go. Same goes for that squid guy PZ. If more responsible people write for them, the tenor of the site might change.

    I appreciate not wanting to be associated with the woo meisters. But I think your content and character can withstand the association.

  52. Gary Ansorge

    “Feeling good is good enough,,,Bobby sings the blues,,,”

    I recall Janet Joplin. She felt REAL good,,,once,,,

    I feel good when I work out, or walk a couple of miles(especially after eating forbidden, simple carbs). In fact, I feel pretty good, most of the time but, as most LIVING beings know, the only way to feel good ALL the time is to be dosing on heavy meds. Ups and downs are the normal tide of life.Making someone else feel good is not my responsibility. Neither is it the responsibility of HuffPo or anyone else. Having said that, I realize there is money to be made doing exactly that, which is why we have drug runners, booze and other tranks. Music is a mood elevator as is, on occasion, a good book. Those I find more useful than mere drugs. Conversation with people brighter than me is also energizing. I guess what I’m trying to say is that feeling good is up to the individual. I make myself feel good by what I choose to experience. I don’t need HuffPo or anyone else to do it for me(do you get the feeling I’m just a real tight wad?).

    GAry 7
    PS: Todd W: Exactly!!!

  53. Paula

    I read a lot of HuffPo but they are totally pushing new age crap all the time! I hate it! There was an article there the other day that said vegetarianism would cure cancer and that it was primarily an old person disease. Very irresponsible.

  54. Jason

    Todd W.: On your site, it says, “no properly controlled study has shown a causal link between thimerosal and autism”. Does that mean studies which were perhaps not done correctly did show a causal link, and also that studies done properly have shown a correlation between vaccinations and autism?

    Someone once told me there was a link between vaccinations and down syndrome. I thought this sounded a bit fishy. Any thoughts?

  55. @Jason

    Occasionally, people in the thrall of the anti-vax movement will cite studies in the journals Medical Hypotheses or Journal of the American Physicians and Surgeons, as well as studies by folks like Mark and David Geier. These studies purport to show a connection (correlational or causational) between vaccines and autism. Yet, upon closer examination, there are serious methodological or other flaws in the studies that render the results meaningless.

    Sometimes, they will also quote studies looking at some ingredient and how it is linked to some type of injury, claiming, then, that that ingredient causes autism because autism shares supposedly similar symptoms (e.g., they will point to studies of mercury poisoning, which generally look at methyl mercury, and claim that it is proof that thimerosal (which is ethyl mercury) therefore causes autism, despite the fact that the two mercury compounds are quite different, have very different pharmacokinetic profiles, and that mercury poisoning and autism are nothing alike).

    The only real correlation that has been presented is based on the assumption that there has been a real, rather than merely apparent, increase in autism since the time that the vaccine schedule was expanded.

    The well-designed, properly controlled studies that have been done have found no link between vaccines and autism. Not even a correlational link.

    Science-Based Medicine would be a good place to go for additional information. At the top left, there’s a Topic-Based Reference tab. That will help you find articles on vaccines and autism a bit faster than just using the search function.

    As to vaccines and down syndrome, I’m not familiar with any claims, so I can’t comment one way or another. My guess is that it’s similar to the autism-vaccine manufactroversy.

    I got a bit long-winded, but I hope I answered your questions.

  56. Utakata

    I believe this is what PZ Myers refers to as the “woo-woo” left…

    …along with their New Age nonsence and anti-vax clap-trap, they believe is other strange and destructive notions: Such as carbon taxing, a regressive tax that may or may not help the environment threw the elimination of the poor. Or assuming all gentically modified food is bad – leaving the third world wondering how they suppose to grow their crops without harmful pesticides. Or liberation of other animals at the expense of human life threw the use of terrorism (I’m looking at you PETA). I could go on..but I think you get my gist.

    I assure you, there is “rational” left…which I am happy to be part of. That believe reason and scientific method is an important part of being socially and economically just and responsible. And don’t subscribe to fairies at the bottom of your garden.

  57. JoeSmithCA

    Wow, the NVIC website is just full of quacks. Wow according to one doctor on the site, I’m apparently not taking enough animal fats, eating enough salt, drinking enough beer or sitting on my rear enough. (hmmm but McDonalds apparently isn’t good for you by the same admission)

    So, apparently by eating right and getting enough sleep and a good old homeopathy cure I shouldn’t get sick at all or wait now is that I’m not eating enough unhealthy food and sitting around doing nothing will keep me healthy? I’m so confused now.

    But wait I’m not worried. I’ve got my crystal necklace, a good stoggie, magentic arm bands, holy cross, chicken foot necklace, tin foil hat and homeopathic vaccine booze (distilled 100 times for better taste).

  58. The Mutt

    “Ask your doctor…”

    One of the main reasons people try to get medical information from the internet is that they don’t have a doctor. They can’t afford one.

    I have a doctor, but I can’t afford the cost of the office visit and the lost hours from work it would take to ask him about vaccines.

    I’m looking into ways I can get a free flu shot. We’re a socialist country now, right? So it shouldn’t be too hard.

  59. JoeSmithCA

    @The Mutt
    If you have any kind of insurance, you should be covered or re-imbursed. Most medical plans are covering the H1N1 flu shot this year and/or the regular flu shot. In my area, the shot runs around $20 US. That might be a lot for some people but I figure if it reduces my symptoms or prevents them it’s worth the cost to the penny–especially since if you do get the flu at full force, you’ll be loosing more time at work and possibly paying a lot for health care.

    and BTW we’ve been a semi-socialist country since FDR :)

  60. All of this antivax stuff is really upsetting to me. And it seems to spreading to our normally pro vaccine Canadian government. A government that even Phil praised back in February I believe for its vaccine commercials.

    And now they and the Canadian media have dropped the ball here. I wrote this following blog as a desperate plea to others to really think before giving into fear. Please take the time to read it.

    http://juliasherred.com/blog/2009/09/think-before-giving-into-fear/

    It is my response to these news stories:

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2009/09/28/bc-swine-flu-vaccine-program.html?ref=rss

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5g-jBo3N9xWt8pxrXRQvzljFetL0g

    http://www.thespec.com/News/CanadaWorld/article/640676

    Lives literally depend on people not giving into fear and panic. And I am more upset at the moment than I could ever say.

  61. Bloc Liltinn

    Don’t bite the hand that feeds you “Bad Astronomy”. You’re flip flopping ways will not go down well with your liberal comrades.

  62. Gary Ansorge

    58. The Mutt

    I don’t know where you live but here in Georgia they give free flu shots at both Krogers and Publix grocery stores. If one is indigent(living on the streets) emergency rooms will treat for free, including pulling an infected(abscessed) tooth and providing anti-biotics to treat it. One should not be too clean when attempting this sort of medical access and leave your id at home.

    GAry 7

  63. Um, riiiight, Bloc Liltinn (#61). What flip flopping? I stick with the truth wherever it may lead.

  64. Tortorific

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/09/28/2698762.htm

    Sentencing just came in for a homoeopath who let his kid die of eczema, he got 6 years his wife 4. The kid was in excruciating pain, when she finally got to the hospital (3 days before she died) her corneas were melting. The infection the kid had was too far gone to save her but the hospital at least gave her real morphine.

    With this and the complaints against homoeopathy plus, it almost seems as if Australia is becoming a sensible place.

  65. Believe it or not, I agree 100% with Frank Lipman: You SHOULD wash your hands, eat right, and drink water.

    Because taking homeopathic medicine = drinking water. Of course, there are cheaper ways of doing it that should be explored…

  66. defective robot

    The comments by ‘mofmars333′ after the HuffPo piece have to be about the funniest things I’ve ever read. You have to follow along a bit, but if you do you’ll be rewarded with this gem of an exchange:

    Etrusci: “Water does not have a “memory.” If it did, it would be a revolution in our understanding of physics, and someone would probably win a nobel prize for it.”

    mofmars333: ” Etrusci, enjoy the crow because you couldn’t be more wrong.
    Guess what?
    Jacques Benveniste did actually win the Nobel Prize for his work on water memory.”

    And then, as proof, he provides this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Ig_Nobel_Prize_winners

    I was too busy laughing to follow the link. And no, I’m fairly certain that ‘mofmars333′ is not a Poe.

  67. VAL

    “Perhaps you SHOULD go back to writing there to argue against nonsense like I see there now? Or do they not allow rationality in their bloggers?”

    I read it for entertainment purposes, rationality is pretty much banned.

  68. Gary Ansorge

    Progressive/regressive/liberal/conservative. Truth doesn’t care about political ideology and neither do I.

    I packs me a Colt .45 and voted for Obama. Truth is the only thing I adhere to. It keeps the daemons away. They can’t stands the light.

    GAry 7

  69. Niall

    Interestingly while the full political spectrum of UK newspapers is vulnerable to woo, the main outlet for the antivax movement has been the rabidly right-wing Daily Mail.

  70. I'd rather be fishin'

    Bite the hand that feeds him? I bought Phil’s book. Does Bloc Liltinn (#61) mean I now have to get a tetanus injection as well as a H1N1 flu shot? Thank socialism/common decency and a liberal (note the small l) country for decent healthcare.

  71. About the only thing I have against the H1N1 vaccine is that it seems to have interrupted the production of flu vaccines for children under 3. Our doctor was able to vaccinate my wife and older son. I was vaccinated at work. (I work in a health care setting.) They didn’t have the preservative-free version that is recommended for children under 3. They said to call back a few weeks later.

    That was back at the end of August. They *still* don’t have any. What’s more, my wife did research (calling around including the Health Department) and no one in this area has any! Finally, she found out that they can’t even order any since the company that usually makes them was told to stop production and instead churn out H1N1 vaccines.

    Now that’s all well and good, except my son has a history of febrile seizures. In one he stopped breathing, turned gray, and didn’t start breathing on his own. Thank goodness my mother-in-law knows how to do rescue breaths! Trust me, you don’t know fear until you see your child stop breathing and turn gray!

    His latest were febrile seizure was in March. So him getting the flu scares us. And yet, apparently many children under 3 in our area are going to go without the flu shot until at least the end of October (maybe later). Nice giant hole in Herd Immunity there. Plenty big enough to drive a flu through.

    So I guess I’m in the opposite situation of “Doctor Homeopathic.” He could get the flu shot if he wanted to and is refusing them. I want to immunize my child but am being told there’s no vaccine. And if he gets sick and walks past my son in the store, his sickness could make my child ill. Or worse….

  72. JoeSmithCA

    Well, damn… Homeopathy could indeed work!

    “Research published in 2005 on hydrogen bond network dynamics in water showed that “liquid water essentially loses the memory of persistent correlations in its structure” within fifty millionths of a nanosecond.[6]”

    Alright so now all one has to do is to figure out how to consume the solution and absorb it into the body in less time than that! I know, freeze the water instantly to near absolute zero degrees kelvin . No wait, that changes the properties of water. Hmmmm. Ok, I got it. Stop time around water using an enormous source of gravity. No wait, that’d change the properties of the water too, not to mention all the other nasty side effects to the person…

    Hmmm then there is the dilution issue, how do you dilute the water without ruining its struture. As a matter of fact moving it would cause it to move it’s structure. Come to think of it, just moving water from the glass to your mouth in within fifty millionths of a nanosecond* would probably require an enormous amount of energy, again ruin the “water memory” and quit possible have some nasty effects on your body as the water imparts all that energy to your mouth.

    Hey, but at least you wouldn’t have to worry about the issue you’re trying to cure.

    * I wonder how much energy would be requires to move 1dcl of water approximatly 1 meter in under fifty millionths of a nanosecond? How much energy would be stored in that water? :)

  73. Mena

    JoeSmithCA@73:
    “I wonder how much energy would be requires to move 1dcl of water approximatly 1 meter in under fifty millionths of a nanosecond?”

    After reading some of those comments, I wanna design an experiment to find out. You? ;^)

  74. Madame Rogue

    drewski: I have to agree with you. I’m more of a centrist myself, but all the people I know who are anti-vax are all, to a person, passionately liberal/progressive. One I know used to go to a kook doctor who kept prescribing homeopathy remedies and mis-diagnosed her breathing difficulties as asthma, when it turned out she had blood clots in her lungs; she is now in the care of a “real” doctor (but still frets about the effects on her body of the medicines he’s put her on). Its seems to be more of a spiritual thing with them, as if they consider modern medicine somehow metaphysically tainted. In contrast, the more conservative acquaintences of mine wouldn’t even think of about going to anyone that wasn’t a board certified medical doctor.

  75. Madame Rogue

    Ugh.

    Some health care workers in New York state are objecting to being ordered to take the H1N1 vaccine.
    http://www.wor710.com/2009/09/28/top-news/Rally-in-Albany-Tuesday-Over-H1N1-Flu-Shot-Debate/5316988

  76. Madame Rogue

    Some health care workers in New York state are objecting to being immunized with the H1N1 vaccine.

    http://www.wor710.com/2009/09/28/top-news/Rally-in-Albany-Tuesday-Over-H1N1-Flu-Shot-Debate/5316988

  77. JoeSmithCA

    Mena@74
    Unfortunatly I just ran the basic numbers and the speed of light in vacuum will have only travelled .00000000599584916 meters during that time so it’d be rather difficult experiment to do :)

    However if we could manage to get 100grams of water moving along at oh I dunno a billion times the speed of light I think homeopathy would be a worthless practice. Too many people would be exploring the entire universe and beyond :)

  78. Andrew

    Phil,

    Stick to the astronomy mate. Its much more interesting. You wouldn’t believe the crap that they pump into vaccines:

    Heres a list for you to ponder over
    *mercury
    *aluminum hydroxide
    * aluminum phosphate
    * ammonium sulfate
    * amphotericin B
    * animal tissues: pig blood, horse blood, rabbit brain,
    * dog kidney, monkey kidney,
    * chick embryo, chicken egg, duck egg
    * calf (bovine) serum
    * betapropiolactone
    * fetal bovine serum
    * formaldehyde
    * formalin
    * gelatin
    * glycerol
    * human diploid cells (originating from human aborted fetal tissue)
    * hydrolized gelatin
    * mercury thimerosol (thimerosal, Merthiolate(r))
    * monosodium glutamate (MSG)
    * neomycin
    * neomycin sulfate
    * phenol red indicator
    * phenoxyethanol (antifreeze)
    * potassium diphosphate
    * potassium monophosphate
    * polymyxin B
    * polysorbate 20
    * polysorbate 80
    * porcine (pig) pancreatic hydrolysate of casein
    * residual MRC5 proteins
    * sorbitol
    * tri(n)butylphosphate,
    * VERO cells, a continuous line of monkey kidney cells, and
    * washed sheep red blood

    You’re simply pandering to multi-national drug companies (who incidently are only concerned with making a profit) with this pseudo-intellectual sheep-mentality rhetoric. Yes, I’ll agree that without some vaccines, like TB, measles etc., public health in general has improved over the last couple of centuries.

    Theres nothing new age about homeopathy or acupuncture. The Chinese have been using it for thousands of years. I recently attended a talk by a leading neurologist in evidence based medicine in one of the leading centres for stroke care in her country. She still uses acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine, along with conventional western medicine to treat patients.

    I suggest you should dig a little deeper as to the origins of swine flu. There is a German lawyer currently attempting to sue the drug company being accused of manufacturing the virus and releasing it into the general population.

  79. I didn’t agree with a lot of what was on there — I am more centrist — but at the time I thought it was necessary.

    What on God’s Green Earth does “I am more centrist” mean?

    Centrist, by definition, means nothing.

    Oh. I don’t take a position on plate tectonics vs. eugeosynclines. I am “centrist.”

  80. It won’t hurt to remain critical of vaccines. Swine flu is severe but often not deadly. But we know flu very well, and there is decades of experience with the vaccines against it. You can be critical of it. The Netherlands (where I’m from) got scared into buying 34M doses for 17M people. That was overdone, in retrospect (hahaha, I said retro in a flu virus paragraph, I kill me) but the categorical refusal is not going to help being critical.

    The main reason mothers can choose not to vaccinate their children, is that most of the children that live around their kids, are being vaccinated. And yes, we vaccinate against illnesses that are not a threat to most kids, but they are a huge threat to some. Children who have survived leukemia, should not die of a silly illness that could have easily been eliminated from society.

    Really vaccines are not a threat. Today there’s only one serious infectious illness that can not fought with either antibiotics or vaccines, and that’s a certain meningitis.

  81. @Andrew

    A more interesting list would be what is in the finished product, not what is used in the production process. It’s like saying you shouldn’t eat organic tomatoes because the farmer used copper sulfate to keep pests off.

    I also see that you seem to favor conspiracy theories over science. Stick to science-based info, rather than paranoid fear-mongering sites. Science-Based Medicine would be a good place to start.

    It’s actually interesting that you list TB vaccine as a useful one, since its actually one of the worst vaccines we have, in terms of efficacy, not to mention it often leads to false positive skin tests for TB.

  82. @Andrew,

    About that list of “ingredients”, I’m sure someone else could post a detailed rebuttal. (There’s probably one online.) I’m guessing that most of those are used in the production of vaccines and only appear in the final version in trace amounts, if that.

    About “pandering to multi-national drug companies (who incidently are only concerned with making a profit)”: Yes, drug companies love making profits. I don’t think anyone is questioning that. However, if you think vaccines are their best chance to make a profit, you’re mistaken.

    Let’s assume that a vaccine came out tomorrow for cancer. One shot and a person would be guaranteed to never get cancer. Obviously, this would be very well received and people everywhere would rush to get it. But would it be in the drug companies’ financial interests to make such a vaccine? Each shot would likely cost about $30. After the initial windfall of people rushing to get vaccinated, they would be left with an annual intake of $30 times the number of children who just reached the eligible age. Treating cancer, however, via chemo and other treatments costs a lot more. They rake in a lot more money treating diseases than vaccinating against them.

    This was one reason behind the creation of the Vaccine Court. If manufacturers were sued constantly, whatever shred of financial incentive to make vaccines would disappear and no vaccines would be produced at all. Then we’d be back in the days of children dying from polio and whooping cough.

    As for the Chinese using homeopathy and acupuncture for thousands of years, just because something has been used for a long time doesn’t mean it actually works. People performed sacrifices for thousands of years to appease the gods and get various results (favorable weather, forgiveness from sins, an edge in an upcoming war, etc). Does this mean we should start chopping off animal (or human) heads to appease the various gods whenever we want something? If I slaughtered a chicken so that Asclepius (Greek god of healing, yes I looked it up) would cure my cancer, would you think it was a valid “therapy” just because people did that thousands of years ago?

    Finally, about the swine flu being made by drug companies. First of all, anyone can allege anything. I can take you to court claiming that you created the swine flu in a hidden lab in your basement and then released it into the world in an attempt at World Conquest. I’d be rightfully laughed out of court. So just because this German lawyer *says* that a drug company made the swine flu doesn’t mean that they actually *did* make it. Come back when he’s either won or at least presented some compelling evidence. Secondly, can you post a link to a reputable source about the lawsuit? I’ve checked in Google News and haven’t found any mention of it. (Though I did find a few sites who think that Obama or some other governmental figure manufactured the swine flu to declare martial law. Gotta love wild conspiracies!)

  83. Just to update my comment (#72) about the under-3 flu vaccine shortage, my wife told me that it’s actually the end of November, not October when they’ll get it in. She also contacted a local television news reporter via Twitter and that reporter is going to meet with Health Department officials today! (Who said Twitter is useless?)

  84. Mena

    JoeSmithCA@79:
    Aw, darn. Maybe we can just spray them with a hose when they aren’t expecting it instead. Maybe we could use the excuse of the water remembering that it did that back in the long hot summer of ’22 and wanted to do it again. Think that would work?
    Andrew @80:
    I’m going to have to check the MSDS for pig blood, chicken egg, duck egg, gelatin, glycerol, potassium diphosphate, potassium monophosphate, neomycin, neomycin sulfate, polysorbate 20, polysorbate 80, and sorbitol. I’d never want to put any of those on or in my body and I can’t imagine anyone ever wanting to, especially glycerol which is also know as “soap”. Scary stuff! Those chicken eggs too. Yikes!!!
    By the way, you do realize that all human cells except for gametes are diploid, don’t you? Can you back up the hysterics of “human diploid cells (originating from human aborted fetal tissue)” with I dunno, some actual product information sheets about the vaccine? Anti-choice and anti-vax sites don’t count because those people seem to be the living embodiment of hysterics.

  85. JoeSmithCA

    @Andrew
    Oh no, the horrific list of chemicals! OMG, did you know it also contains Dihydrogen monoxide. That’s some nasty stuff, especially if inhaled into the lungs it can cause asphyxia.

    Dude, check out the chemical composition of apples–like omg it contains Oxalic acid! Someone should sue Big Nature! I’m sure the trees are in this for a profit!

  86. JoeSmithCA

    @TechyDad
    If you don’t do the offering to Asclepius correctly you may not get the desired results. Also Greek gods tend to be really moody, so try sacrificing on different days, maybe throw in a bottle of scotch or offer to detail his chariot.

  87. Jason

    Funny thing about acupuncture: even the Chinese don’t use it anymore. They used to use it, before they began using modern medicine. Soon after, the west found it, and somehow the ancient people of China know more than modern doctors and scientists. It’s like going up to a historian and asking how they used to cure sickness, then trying that since it was used successfully for hundreds of years. Yes, successfully. Ask any Shaman if his magic works.

    Rather than using acupuncture, why not use a panacea that worked for 2000 years?: bloodletting. It even had a logical method of operation, you have too much blood. Easily remedied mind you, with a couple of leeches. How much blood is too much? Well, we’ll let the leeches have at you for an hour or so and about that much was too much. Acupuncture works on similar logic, your chakras are off balance. How off? Well, let’s poke you with needles and find out!

  88. @Jason,

    Next thing you’ll try to tell people that fortune cookies aren’t an ancient Chinese tradition or that they aren’t written by Chinese elders endowed with great insight. ;-)

  89. @JoeSmithCA,

    So that’s why we can’t get any flu vaccine for my 2 year old. I just haven’t gotten the sacrifice right. I’m no good at detailing chariots, but perhaps Asclepius needs some web site work done. After all, stone inscriptions carved into ruined temples just don’t scream 21st century. ;-)

  90. Jason

    @TechyDad,

    Poe’s law?

  91. Mark Hansen

    Andrew, do producers of homeopathic remedies hand out their products for free? Do acupuncturists work for nothing?

    Here’s something for you to ponder – Oscillococcinum. Dire Straits put it best – Money for Nothing.

  92. L

    You should tell this to Glenn Beck too. I saw him ask his audience of Mothers (he was holding some special “9-12 mothers” thing) if they would allow this government to give their children swine flu shots. The resounding answer was “No” and it was because, as an earlier poster mentioned, the Obama administration supposedly has tainted it. Crazy talk is on all sides. I do recommend the hand washing though. That’s just good hygiene.

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