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Vaccines, Anti-vaxxers and Faulty Reasoning

My chiropractor told me I don’t have the gene for autism, so it must have been caused by something else, probably vaccines.

I blame hair conditioner. Widespread use of hair conditioner began in the seventies, shortly before the alarming rise in diagnoses of autism. Well, what do you expect, rubbing chemicals into your head? Even now, places where hair conditioner is not used have a far lower reported incidence of autism. The more hair conditioner a population uses, the higher the rate of autism diagnosis in that community.

Well, no. I don’t really think autism is caused by hair conditioner, though that correlation does exist.

This is the kind of argument frequently used by anti-vaccination campaigners; this happened, then that happened, so this must have caused that. My child was vaccinated, then I noticed his ears turning purple. That had never happened before. Big pharma is trying to poison us!

This kind of faulty reasoning is so old and so common it has a name; post hoc ergo propter hoc. After this therefore because of this. The ancient Greeks and Romans knew this did not necessarily follow over two thousand years ago.

But  anti-vaxxers still manage to fool some people, potentially endangering themselves, their children, and others.

A couple of years ago in a doctors office in Perth, a nurse was drawing down a vaccine to administer to a four year old girl. The child began having convulsions while she was waiting with her mother. If her convulsions had started just a few minutes later, medical staff would never have been able to convince her parents they were not caused by the vaccine.

Just because something happens after something else does not mean the first thing caused the second.

Changes in Climate Have Nothing to Do With Changes in Atmospheric CO2

CO2 is not a driver of climate. Climate changes constantly. There is no long-term correlation between rises in CO2 and subsequent rises in globally averaged temperatures.

CO2 is vital for all life on earth. At levels below 300 ppm, plant growth and productivity begins to be severely impaired. Optimum levels for plant growth seems to be about 1000ppm. This is the level greenhouse operators aim for to give maximum growth and yields. Humans and other animals cope easily with levels as high as 4,000 ppm. Our exhaled breath contains as much as 35,00ppm and is safely used for CPR.

Atmospheric CO2 is currently at near its lowest level ever on geological timescales.
Atmospheric CO2 is currently at near its lowest level ever on geological timescales.

 

Changes in CO2 do not drive changes in climate.
Changes in CO2 do not drive changes in climate.

The City of Adelaide

In 1916 the ship the City of Adelaide was wrecked near Magnetic Island in Queensland. This is what remains now.

Wreck of the City of Adelaide, off Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia
Wreck of the City of Adelaide, off Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia

Seems like an appropriate time for one of my favourite poems:

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said — “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Multivitamins and Supplements

For almost everyone, multivitamins and supplements are not necessary, do not work, and are probably harmful.

Taking vitamin A dramatically increases the risk of developing lung cancer in smokers.

Excess intake of vitamin E increases mortality (in other words, you are likely to die sooner), increases rates of heart failure, and significantly increases the risk of prostate cancer.

Taking calcium supplements actually increases the risk of suffering a hip fracture, as well as increasing the risk of death from cardio-vascular disease.

Taking anti-oxidants increases your risk of getting colon cancer.

If you are pregnant, a dark-skinned person who lives in a cold or dark environment, a diabetic who takes metformin, or if you have been on high dose of a proton pump inhibitor for more than a year, you should talk to you doctor (a real medical doctor, not a scammer like a chiropractor or naturopath), who will check, and if necessary advise about possible short term supplementation.

For everyone else, unless you have been diagnosed with a specific deficiency, vitamins and supplements are more likely to harm you than do you good. And yet people in the USA spend more than $32 billion per year on them.

Police Priorities

“A driver who flipped the bird at a traffic camera is about to be a jailbird.

A court in England has sentenced Timothy Hill, 67, to eight months in prison after he was caught using an illegal laser jammer to avoid speeding tickets.”

Timothy Hill, laser speed trap jammer and moron.
Timothy Hill, radar speed trap jammer and moron.

OK, Timothy Hill is an idiot. And probably not a very nice person. Speeding is not OK, and being rude to law enforcement is stupid. But eight months in jail? When Yorkshire police apparently don’t have time to investigate burglaries, common assaults or the mass rape of teenage girls? Something is very wrong here.

We all know resources are limited. Please, police – priorities!

Aflie Evans, Alder Hey Hospital, and Socialised Medicine

“Britain’s Court of Appeal on Wednesday rejected a new bid by the parents of terminally ill toddler Alfie Evans to take him to Italy and continue his life support against the wishes of his doctors and judges.

Doctors say the 23-month-old boy suffers from a degenerative neurological condition that has left him in a “semi-vegetative state” with almost no brain function. Medics caring for him at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool have said further treatment is futile, and the toddler’s life support was withdrawn Monday after a series of court rulings sided with the doctors and blocked further medical treatment.

Alfie’s parents continued their fight to take him to Italy to be cared for at the Vatican’s children’s hospital, which has said it is willing to take him.

High Court Justice Anthony Hayden dismissed the parents’ case on Tuesday, and said his ruling represented “the final chapter in the life of this extraordinary little boy.” From the US ABC.

Alfie Evans nursed by his mother Kate James at Alder Hey Hospital
Alfie Evans nursed by his mother Kate James at Alder Hey Hospital

People are upset. They are right to be. It is one thing for a hospital to decide it can no longer care for a dying patient. Resources are limited, and bed space, medication, nursing time and other resources which are given to one patient cannot be made available to others, who may be in greater need, or who in the opinion of medical staff have a greater chance of recovery.

It is another thing entirely to use the force of the law to prevent loving parents from taking Alfie to another hospital where treatment is being offered.

Life

Gary Larsen is one of the greatest cartoonists ever. What a pity he actually retired when he said he was going to! I am hoping I may have a the same privilege sometime in the next five years.

Gary Larsen Butterfly Life
Gary Larsen Butterfly Life

Life. It’s not really like that, thought it sometimes seems so.

Julian of Norwich had it better, when she said “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Vitamin D Deficiency and Diabetes.

If you are vitamin D deficient, you are up to five times more likely to develop diabetes.

“People deficient in vitamin D might have a greater risk of developing diabetes, report researchers in a new study.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Seoul National University studied 903 healthy adults without pre-diabetes or diabetes during clinic visits from 1997 to 1999, and followed up with them for 10 years, to study their levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin and their medical condition. Their findings were published this week in PLOS One.”

Moderate sunlight and increased intake of foods containing vitamin D will be enough for most people. If you live in a cold part of the world or are dark skinned, you may also need supplementation.

If you are in doubt, especially if you are over forty or pregnant, check with your doctor. A real medical doctor, not some unqualified “health professional.”

News and Not News

From Andrew Klavan:

“This is a country of 325-million people. If two guys getting tossed out of a coffee shop is news, then things in Donald Trump’s America must be going pretty damned well.

Two black men walk into a Starbucks in Philadelphia — Starbucks, a leftist company that is unlikely to encourage old-fashioned racism — Philadelphia, a multi-racial city where a Starbucks would be serving people of all colors all day every day without incident. But these two jokers, according to their own version of events, refused to follow the store rules and make a purchase. They were asked to leave by the manager, Holly, a “social justice feminist.” When they refused, she called the police and calmly reported, “I have two gentlemen in my cafe that are refusing to make a purchase or leave.” The police arrived and likewise asked the guys to leave and they refused to obey the police. So they were taken out in cuffs, though never charged.

The usual puerile race-mongers showed up to protest and call for boycotts. The usual puling apologies, firings and Soviet-style re-education followed. And it’s news.

Only it’s not news. It’s two guys in a nation of 325-million getting turfed from a coffee shop for acting like entitled jerks and then refusing to obey law enforcement.”

Meanwhile, in the world of real news, President Trump is the first world leader in fifty years to make any progress leading North Korea to more open interaction with the world and its own citizens, and ending its war with South Korea.