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2011 > Paul Offit returns for Books and Ideas #40

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message 1: by Virginia (new)

Virginia MD (gingercampbell) | 321 comments Mod
Tomorrow I will be posting Episode 40 of the Books and Ideas podcast.

It is an interview with Dr. Paul Offit about his latest book Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All.

Feel free to discuss that in this thread. I will post links tomororw.

message 2: by Virginia (new)

Virginia MD (gingercampbell) | 321 comments Mod
Here are the links to Dr. Offit's interview:

Show Notes (includes links and transcript)

audio file

message 3: by John (new)

John Brown | 52 comments Not read the book, but found the interview uplifting. Here in the UK, we have just been treated to an annoyingly patronising BBC Horizon programme by Sir Paul Nurse, a geneticist. It was called "Science under Attack" and complained about the public's negative attitudes to Climate Change, Genetically Engineered Crops, and Vaccination. Good for lining Sir Paul's pockets no doubt, but it did seem to align Vaccination with a lot of rather doubtful science, particularly regarding the way big companies are applying genetics.
It was so good to hear a cogent argument for vaccination on your podcast: I will keep taking the flu' jabs!

message 4: by Brian (new)

Brian | 1 comments Hi Ginger, as always, I enjoyed the interview.

I wonder what the science behind the decisions are that occur in the brains of people who do not have their children vaccinated.

I think there are several basic problems. First, many journalists lack basic understanding in science, probably disliked science in high school, never took a university level science class and so have trouble reporting science news.

Reporting, sensationalizes both risks and benefits and too many qualifiers are used in reporting and it tends to be at a grade 8 level. One day there will be a story headlined "Drinking beer may increase risk of cancer," and the next day there will be a report headlined "Drinking beer could lower risk of cancer."

It is no wonder people are confused.

And the journalistic media, particularly in North America lends itself to wide sweeping "black and white truths."
I do not think it is helpful, in the "Information Age," when everyone has access to enough knowledge to be dangerous, for media to report things like "The Vaccine is completely safe." Anyone can go to the Internet and see that with every vaccine there is at least a small danger to at least some people. I think we would be better served if journalists reported that there is a, for example, 0.1% change of a severe adverse reaction, even death and the chance of contracting, for example only, Haemophilus influenzae type B is say 40% without the vaccine and without the vaccine the risk of death is say 5%.
(I invented those numbers.)

Secondly, there "may" be some merit to what some anti-vaccination people have to say and to simply dismiss them as "crazy" only encourages them. As an example I believe only Canada and the US give the varicella vaccine to all children. It was withdrawn in the UK over fears of an increase in shingles. In Japan it must be paid for out of pocket and is not free like most other vaccines. Malignant chickenpox with purpura is pretty rare and is unlikely to be reduced as the vaccine is only about 70 effective. There is a real debate in the US over dropping the vaccine as well.
If the anti-vaccination crowd in North America claim that it is routinely given because of pressure from the pharmacological industry they may have a valid point. That certainly does not mean they have a valid point if they complain about the MMR vaccine but to simply dismiss everything they have to say is counterproductive.

Finally, there seems to be a real autism epidemic and people are desperate for an answer. Desperate people will grasp hold of anything. People are so desperate that if somebody said drinking water after midnight caused autism people would believe it. That sounds crazy but not any crazier than people clutching on to religion. Even though it has been clearly proven by science, time and again that the strongest correlated factor with life span is the amount of poop in drinking water and not the belief in a god people cannot be weened off of ancient superstitions.

A shocking 90% of American believe in god and an unbelievable 80% actually think miracles occur. In Europe 5 000 000 people a year visit Lourdes looking for a miracle. Anti-vaccination people desperate for an answer to the autism epidemic are no different than the socially acceptable belief in some sort of god, they are all basing their decisions on unfounded faith.

If you believe that all of the christians in America can be turned into atheists through teaching them science, you are fighting a losing battle; they are too "crazy" to ever be reasoned with.

The only way to "defeat" the anti-vaccination crowd is to find the cause of the autism epidemic as soon as possible. (My money is on work related stress during pregnancy.)


message 5: by Virginia (new)

Virginia MD (gingercampbell) | 321 comments Mod

I certainly agree that teaching Americans science will not turn them into atheists, and that is certainly NOT my goal. My goal is to provide accurate science information in an understandable format because I think that it is vital for making wise decisions in many areas including health.

Also, I personally do not believe there is an autism epidemic. If you look at the trends the upsurge in the diagnosis of "autism" mirrors the downsurge in the diagnosis of "mental retardation." Of course, the term "autism spectrum disorder" is supposed to capture the fact that we are talking about a wide range of (dis)abilities ranging from children who never learn to speak (clearly retarded) to so-called Asperger's Syndrome, which seems to refer to otherwise intelligent people (sometimes even brilliant) who can't master social interaction.

This is not to say that it is not worthwhile to look for the causes. In fact, one of the unfortunate ironies of the anti-vaccine movement has been the fact that it has diverted millions of dollars that might have been spent on autism research. (Not to mention the millions desperate parents are spending on cures from quacks like Jenny McCarthy).

message 6: by Bill (last edited Mar 09, 2011 09:51PM) (new)

Bill Graf | 16 comments There does seem to be an anti-intellectual and anti-science air in society and in media today, clouding the many difficult health and environmental issues we face. Media as 'info-tainment' does not help. Fundamentalism in religion is another major obstacle (not religion in general), since it requires you disregard science to be counted among the faithful.

Many thanks to Ginger for bringing good info to those of us who have a brain and are not afraid to use it.

message 7: by Georgem (new)

Georgem | 10 comments With regard to the "autism epidemic", I am reminded of the "AD" epidemic as discussed by Dr. Whitehouse. Doctors find a disease and Pharma steps in with drugs that may or may not help and may even be harmful.

message 8: by Tim (new)

Tim Titolo (goodreadscomtimtitolo) | 7 comments I just listened to Ginger's interview with Dr. Offit. Excellent. I enjoy the insight Dr. Campbell brings to the discussion. It helps me grasp what the author is trying to portray. I am now awakened to the misperceptions of vaccines. Great work.

Tim Titolo

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