Saturday, September 15, 2018

Multi-Level Marmoting

I love those fun little internet games. Like when you take your first pet's name and the street you grew up on, and it's your stripper name. I'm Duffy Buchanan--kind of a working man's stripper, I think. Good thing we didn't have a daughter in 1990. She'd have had to work the pole as Larry Twenty-Ninth.

Got a new one for you: take your first name, your favorite vegetable, and your favorite mammal, and you've got your Internet Huckster name. Wouldn't you buy something from Murr Yam Marmot? No? How about David Avocado Wolfe?

He's doing quite well, thank you, peddling horseshit plus marketing to willing marks. He says chemtrails are real. He hawks apricot pits for tumors because of a compound in them that might fight cancer if it didn't dump cyanide in your system first. He claims academic credentials that don't exist. He's a raw-food proponent but first came on my radar as a promoter of anti-vaccine memes. Because that's what we need now.

Gotta state up front, I come from a rah-rah vaccine family. I was swept into the doctor's office a few seconds after the Salk vaccine came out; I was two, so I don't remember it, but it wouldn't surprise me if Dad camped outside the building to be first in line. I do remember the later sugar-cube vaccine and the time I asked "What is polio?" and my sister Margaret burst into tears of joy because I didn't know. Polio ruined her health from age six on and she finally died of it ten years ago. Polio was eradicated in the United States by 1979. It's possible it will be eradicated worldwide soon.

Want to freak out some kid crying over an injection? Show 'em your smallpox vaccination scar. That's a doozy. If you're younger than 45 you don't have one. We spanked that disease, we did. My smallpox scar looks a lot like the scar from a huge chicken pox blister on my ankle. I didn't feel sick with chicken pox, just itchy, and I went to camp with it and promptly infected the whole place. Did worse with measles, second time around: I still sometimes get the nightmare I had when my fever was up around two thousand. I don't remember the mumps. I was a month old.

Well, anyway, the first time I saw an anti-vax meme I didn't trust it. Poor spelling, of course, and oh my! Photos of pathetically sick children! Babies hooked up to tubes! Were these children adversely affected by vaccines? Snopes smacked that down in seconds. Turns out it's pretty easy to come up with pictures of sick children.

I like my science the old-fashioned way. Design studies to prove or disprove a hypothesis. Crunch epidemiological data. Publish in peer-reviewed journals where your results can be challenged or replicated by other educated people in your field.

But Science can't be trusted, you see. Big Pharma wants babies to be vaccinated against everything because they're raking in the bucks. Ah, no. In fact vaccines do keep people from getting nice and sick, and they are dramatically less profitable to Big Pharma than other drugs. One reason is the good old government buys most of it and has negotiated the price way down. (It could do that for almost any drug or procedure if we didn't have a health care system run by insurance companies, but that's another story.)

Yes, precisely because scientists have long since discredited the supposed link between vaccination and autism, this proves science cannot be trusted. You can take David Avocado "Mushrooms Come From Outer Space" Wolfe's claims to the bank, but feel free to ignore the scientists, who are clearly just out for money. And while you're visiting his site, go ahead and shell out $297 for the Zapper, which "delivers positive and negative offset square wave electromagnetic waveforms throughout the body."

We can't get enough of conspiracy theories. They make our brains light up. In conspiracy-world, a study linking vaccines to autism is not withdrawn because it was fraudulent, but because it was repressed. It's good to be skeptical. But don't forget to apply your skepticism to the memes you're helping go viral, too. Because critical thinking is the only vaccine for that virus.

By the way, Donald Trump is also an out and proud anti-vaxxer, too, but that doesn't mean the position has no merit. Wait a minute, it pretty much does.

And there's this, too. There are a lot of reasons people might create an anti-vax meme and promote it. They might have something to sell. But they might be Russian trolls, too. Not only are they apparently active in trying to undermine public health here, but they are interested in creating as much confusion and division in our population as possible--about anything. And even more, they are interested in stoking distrust in our institutions, especially government and the press and science. The less confidence we have in those, the more easily we can be controlled.

Doctors don't care about your baby. Global warming is a hoax. Taxes are theft. All politicians are the same, so why bother voting?

41 comments:

  1. I wonder why our country, one of only two on the planet apparently (the other is New Zealand) permits TV advertising for prescription drugs. Aside from the rather stunning list of side effects that are required to be disclosed, this kind of advertising might be responsible for people thinking they know as much as doctors do because they saw it on TV -- therefore, they are suspicious of the actual doctor. Who needs 'em, right? They're an industry, not a profession. I heard this twice this week, and one of them was from someone who works in the healthcare field.

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    1. We sure didn't used to. Was it the Reagan era? Quit advertising cigarettes, and started with the other drugs. I still like the Viagra one, with the dude who couldn't fire the football through the tire swing.

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  2. Since the Age of Ignorance began and stupidity is being promoted on a national level I see a return to the Dark Ages. I can't wait to see the religious fanatics swear that cats are in league with the devil and then not understand when the rats and their fleas spread bubonic plague like, you know, a plague. Because they can't see the bacteria, Yersinia pestis, it can't possibly exist. Actually, I can wait and with any luck I'll be dead by the time we as a species start living in caves again.

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    1. I don't mind the caves so much as having to share them with Those People.

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    2. You can share with me then and the rest of my vaccinated family and vaccinated pets.

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  3. You know, Murr... if this leads to people dying.... Well, let's face it: the human species needs some culling. The problem isn't so much that we've been profligate with our resources (although we have). It's that there are too fucking many of us. And I'm hearing of couples everywhere (it seems) who are having a fourth kid. Do they have any idea what kind of life these kids will grow up to have? Presuming, of course, that they grow up at all. I'm content that I have maybe 20 years, more or less, and then I'm outta here.

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    1. Yeah, but the problem with that idea is that it's not just the anti-vaxxers and their spawn that will be doing the dying. There are people who would love to be vaccinated, or to vaccinate their kids, but they can't because the kids are too young, or they have some other kind of medical problem that makes vaccines dangerous to them. Those people rely on "herd immunity"--having a sufficient number of vaccinated people around them--to keep them from being exposed to those dangerous diseases.

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    2. Also, I'd say that although there are way too many of us, as George Monbiot pointed out, it IS the consumption that is the problem. As he puts it, there are entire countries in Africa that don't use as many resources as two New York rich dudes.

      Also, what Unknown said.

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    3. I have four children and the fourth caught measles from another baby who had it, both of them too young for the vaccination against it. They didn't even play together, just passed in the hallway of a hotel, both babies in strollers and the measles one coughed a tiny cough, just enough to infect my boy.

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    4. My son couldn’t have the old pertussis vaccine; other than that, he and his sister were fully vaccinated. We figured “herd immunity” would protect him from Whooping Cough. After all, who gets Whooping Cough anymore?
      Andrew did. In 6th grade, when some unvaccinated kid brought it to Show and Tell.
      Andrew is asthmatic due to a birth injury when they were resuscitating him.
      One month of coughing until he would just...stop breathing. For up to 72 seconds (I timed him). The spasms were merciless. He was put on Home Instruction as the school officials would match his panic when his lungs would slam shut and he would struggle and panic. We couldn’t leave him alone for a minute, so my husband and I would take turns going to work. I slept on his floor. We were in the ER 4 times. He coughed for an additional 2 months (the nickname of the disease: “The 100 Day Cough).
      Vaccinate your damn kids. One moment of “OW!” followed by an ice cream cone to mollify them may save another child’s life.

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    5. If your child has been vaccinated against whooping cough, please do not think that guarantees a lifetime immunity (Check with your doctor for re-vax booster dates).I had the cough at 4 years old and 50 years later, guess what! I saw a locum GP who LAUGHED and said,"Well, if you keep coughing for 3 months, you'll know you've had it again."

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  4. If I play your new version of the Internet Name Game, my huckster named would be "Edward Corn Dog". With a moniker like that, I'd be hard-pressed sell anything to anybody.
    Noooo, I think I'll stick with the Internet Stripper Name formula, which gives me "Liz Williamsburg". The backstory there is that Liz *was* a stripper who, through self-discipline and parsimony, used her cash tips to fund her college education. After receiving her Business degree, she is now a Madam, catering to the Country Club set. (Picture a receptionist with a Lauren Bacall-like voice, answering the phone with "Liz Williamsburg Associates".)
    Well, thought this thread might benefit from a note of levity.....

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    1. 'huckster name', not 'huckster named'

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    2. I think there is totally a market out there for whatever Edward Corn Dog might be selling.

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    3. Corn Dogs! Hot and fresh. Get your Corn Dogs here....

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    4. Hmmmm, in my mind, Edward Corn Dog evokes 2 different images, each one inappropriate in its own way. First: Edward Corn Dog is a too-thin carnival barker, with buck teeth, tattered straw boater hat, and a cheap plaid sport coat. The second image is one of those all-chocolate lollipops, formed in the shape of a giant penis -- the ones that made everyone titter back in the 1980s....

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    5. I still can't get used to the idea that people play Cornhole.

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  5. "Because critical thinking is the only vaccine for that virus." Critical Thinking isn't taught any more -- the helicopter parents thought it was too frightening and complex for the delicate sensibilities of their little geniuses....

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    1. There are those who suspect that a lot of our media offerings are in fact dedicated to eliminating critical thinking. On purpose.

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  6. We have the anti-vaxxers too. If they were the only ones to be affected I would be happy to let them go right ahead.
    The day I first felt unwell with chicken pox is possibly my earliest memory. I really didn't feel good and the two block walk home was hard work. Apparently when I was well enough to return to kindergarten the entire class (and teacher) was at home with the illness I had so generously shared.

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    1. Camp Elizabeth Furnace was similarly afflicted by moi.

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  7. I’m with you, honey. Big ol’ scar and all. Remember how horrifying those scabs looked? Like thick, angry purplish scarabs on our skinny little arms. I stood in line at William Sidney Porter Elementary for my own first polio vaccine shot, along with all the other little Salk guinea pigs, and sang the theme song from Disney’s “Cinderella” at the top of my lungs when it was my turn. So I’d be brave. Because I had seen my Cousin Joanie in an iron lung, and, later, with skim milk-colored, limp spaghetti arms trapped in braces with hinges and screws and suspended from some frame, so she could maneuver a spoon to her own mouth. She was a redhead, too. Smartest, sweetest child I knew. I’d have gotten a shot every single day.

    She lived to become an artist. Here’s to Margaret and Joanie. Damn the David Avocado Wolfes of this world, wherever the lurk.

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    1. I've forgotten the name of a girl in primary school who missed a year and a half to polio and eventually came back with one arm braced from wrist to elbow and both legs braced from hip to ankle.

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    2. My sister had a full body cast (well, from the hips up) for six years.

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  8. The force is strong in those anti-vaxxers. Otherwise intelligent people are willing to risk their children's health, and that of other people, for an idea I suspect they feel superior for having. *We* are just uninformed and hopelessly out of date . . .

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  9. The first thing I thought of when I heard that vaccines cause autism is "why doesn't every vaccinated person have autism then? Clearly these people are wrong", not to mention some kids with autism were never vaccinated so according to the anti- crowd they shouldn't be autistic.
    I've mostly ignored the rest of their claims. I'm vaccinated, my children are vaccinated, my grandchildren are vaccinated and I expect future generations will be also.

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    1. Do kids still get polio shots now? (Inasmuch as it hasn't been eradicated worldwide.)

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    2. Strange you should ask, because this morning's Washington Post just did an article on that. The story featured a child who received the Sabin vax. He had a very rare, undiagnosed immune disorder, and was that 1 in a million who developed Polio. The focus of the story wasn't at all anti-vax, but rather to explain why medical practice has returned to using the original, injected Salk vaccine from 50+ years ago.

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    3. Yes, but it's a liquid given by mouth at age two months, four months and six months, it's a triple vaccine for polio, diptheria and whooping cough. Then a booster shot(liquid) before they start school. There's talk here of the government cracking down on anti-vaxxers. If your child doesn't have up to date immunisations they may not be accepted in kindergartens or pre-schools.

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    4. I got that wrong. The polio vaccine is the liquid and the other is still given by injections, it's a triple but I can't remember what the third disease is. And I may still have this wrong. It's been a long time since my kids were vaccinated, three of them are now in their forties.

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    5. Yeah, that's BEEN a while! And has anybody ever known anybody who had diphtheria?

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    6. River...in Australia the triple vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.

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  10. I was a Polio Pioneer! And I got the real stuff. My brother got the placebo. Richard Ott fainted. Horrible disease. I live in Amish country so the threat is real.

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  11. I know OF someone who died of dipthia- my uncle, who was very young, during the Depression when the family could only choose 2 of the kids for vaccinations. I guess they picked badly for that one....

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