24 February, 2009

Anatomy of a Scare: How Childhood Vaccines Became Villian

This is a fantastic article outlining the history of the anti-vaccine movement. 

excerpts which spoke to me (bolding is  mine):


On Feb. 12 Special Master George Hastings Jr. announced his decision in the Cedillo case. Every study conducted to test Wakefield's MMR hypothesis, he concluded, "found no evidence that the MMR vaccination is associated with autism." And the evidence "falls far short" of showing a thimerosal connection.


"That is hardly the end of the legal cases. All three sets of parents in the test cases saythey will take their claims against the manufacturers to civil court, hoping to convince juries—through the emotional power of tragically damaged children—of what they failed to prove to the vaccine court. And if those cases, too, absolve vaccines? In postings on antivaccine sites such as GenerationRescue.org and SafeMinds.org, parents have made clear that they think the system is rigged and that vaccines condemned their children to a lifetime of being barricaded behind the impregnable wall of autism. Perhaps it should not be a mystery why people refuse to believe science, with its tentative hypotheses, zigzag pathway to finding answers and a record of getting some things wrong before getting them right (see hormone-replacement therapy). On the day the court announced its decision, Offit pointed out that "tens of millions of dollars have been spent trying to answer these questions [about vaccines and autism]," but many people "refuse to believe the science." Perhaps, he mused, that's "because while it's very easy to scare people, it's very hard to unscare them.""

and perhaps the most tragic line: 


"... it's impossible to prove a negative such as "vaccines do not cause autism."

I know that Jake was not one of those kids who seemingly disappeared right after his MMR... so I cannot imagine how I might feel if I thought that had happened to him. I'd like to think that in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence I would still eschew undocumented theories and pseudo-science that has maintained its appearance of truth merely by preying on parents’ fears and dashed hopes.

03 February, 2009

Show Me The Love

I just received this mug from one of my best friends on the planet. She is one of those women with whom I feel so close, I sometimes forget that I am not just talking to myself (she is very tolerant of my ramblings). She knows all sorts of things about me. For example: I do not like cats. I think it is great if other people want to love cats, I don't want to strip anyone of their rights to love whomever or whatever they so choose, but just don't make me love your cat.. and please do NOT start collecting them if you find yourself suddenly without a spouse. In my opinion there should never be more cats than people in a household, more fish possibly, but more cats...no. I don't think this makes me such a bad person. AND not to make excuses, but I do possibly have a minor allergy to cats....I do not have Ailurophobia. Oh wow, here's a gem I just found:
"Historical records suggest that a number of infamous people have suffered from Ailurophobia, including:
Alexander the Great
    Genghis Khan
        Julius Caesar
            Napoleon is also often cited as a cat-phobe, but there appears to be no historical evidence to back this up.
            Cat lovers often point to the list of supposed Ailurophobic dictators to back up claims that those who are not fond of cats have many other unappealing qualities." 

            Great, now I am Mussolini (that's what Descartes and I say on really, significantly bad days at our house...one of us must have been Hitler and the other Mussolini.. though neither of us really believe in reincarnation).

            So my relationship with cats is fairly well known... which is why this is the best mug on the planet. It could only have been made better if had come with a balloon tied to the handle or if it were filled with a) a heavily scented musky candle or b)Hershey kisses. A small teddy bear holding the mug would also have been appreciated, but any of those additions would really have been a waste of money, whereas I will actually use this mug. Really.  

            Now my sister has said before, "Uhm, Jennyalice, don't you think that's it a little bit f*cked up that your friends nearly try to out do each other with the purchase of trinkets and such that they just KNOW you are going to hate?" but I see it exactly opposite of that. It means that she saw this mug and knew... instantly that I would hate it so much that she simply had to buy it for me... it is perfectly not right for me. That's how well she knows me. And we are such good friends that she knew I would laugh and be thrilled and honored to use such a mug. 

            ...in the privacy of my own home of course...
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