The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Debate

Here's a conversation I had over on my Facebook account. Please critique what I said and how to see if I can, in the future, handle these types of interaction better. It started with my posting a link to PalMD's post about the HPV Vaccine over at White Coat Underground and saying it was a "great article". The following then transpired, albeit with all identifying names and details edited out. Person A and Person C are both massage therapists like myself.

person a - did'nt a girl die just last week?

person b - Yes, a girl did die last week, but my understanding is that she died after receiving the vaccine in England, which is a different one than Gardasil. And it is not sure that she died b/c of reaction to the vaccine, or something else. But I need to read a bit more.

person c - Mike, are you working as a pharm rep on the side these days or something? You seem MAJORLY invested in this "vaccines are safe" thing... Or are you just on a mission to stamp out social ignorance! ;) BTW, what do you think of this?

me - That girl in the UK (Natalie Morton) died of an undiagnosed chest tumor.

to person c - yes I saw that piece and almost got violently angry at the CBC for airing it. That was from an unpublished, un-peer-reviewed study with no corroboration anywhere in the world. Since the release of that article, this one followed up to show no link.

I am on a bit of a mission of late to try to keep the rational message of vaccine safety out there to combat the nonsense antivax people are spreading. So many people don't read follow up articles (the Morton death in the UK and the seasonal/swine flu link, to name two) and repeat the mistakes.

person c - Fearmongering is how many (on both sides - sorry, I couldn't resist) make money... and I guess that truely is the bottom line! I found the article to be completely void of substance myself...

person a - EXACTLY person c - any douche can write an article , and they do. Mike- I would respect your point of whether or not you 'prove it'. Just like you should respect an anti-vax. point of view: that is some people's reality!
I am just not gonna be happy until you admit that each person is prone to a different reaction in all cases when taking medication! There is not one answer!!! There is not one reaction, and no others! 7 billion people on the planet and no one with the same genetic makeup!! People who have had bad reactions to vaccines lived that reality!! Some die! Who are you to say how most react, all WILL react?!
Kim Jong Il called: he wants his dictatorship back.


me - Person A, I can't believe that you seriously think that there is that much difference between people. All of humanity is literally 99.9% identical, genetically. People do better when they're treated the same for conditions.

The anti-vax position is demonstrably wrong and dangerous. If you don't think so, then check out what happens in countries where the rate of childhood vaccinations drops. Kids die. That's the "reality".

I seriously can't believe that people like you, in the health field, are against vaccines or think that they maybe aren't worth getting.

Oh, and modern medical science called - it said that you'd be a senior citizen now without it.

And by the way, points of view don't automatically get "respect". I give respect to people, not any silly nonsense that they believe. If your point of view is that taking oscillococcinum will help your flu symptoms, then I'm going to think you're stupid. I'll still respect *you*, but I won't ask for your opinion on health issues - which is the category you are now in.

person a - OMG such ignorance! Mike that was lame at best. You are a drug company's dream and have bought into their onslaught of propaganda! As if! Your first para? OMG!!?! WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT- NOT ONE IDENTICAL GENETIC MAKE-UP! Why are you saying i'm against vaccines? I can't believe you think all people have the same experience with all things. MAN that's just so narrow minded and i'm surprised. You do know that your original post was some guys science blog? I can't post links, but check out: "Girl dies after HPV jab- CDC blames birth control pill". Do you think this person is correct just b/c the wrote an article? Why do you think you know best for all? Abortions for some; tiny, American flags for others!

person c - Person A, you go! Mike, you need to learn to relax (boy, saying that to a MT feels weird) just a little on this antivax thingy. Let people feel what they want to, believe what they wish, as long as it doesn't directly harm anyone - you shouldn't make them feel stupid, ignorant, closed-minded, or uneducated because they don't have 100% faith (and make no mistake, it is faith) in pharm co's drug pushing or latest vaccine. You can't honestly think that it's not a money driven industry that presents itself in the "best light possible". C'mon! And fact is that it is near impossible to match their studies - who would (or could) fund a study that would be large enough to "prove" vaccines possible harmful side-effects (not to mention the ethical issues that would arise from such a study). Don't get me wrong, I am vaccinated - I vaccinated my kids - but it's because I believe that the possible benefits outweigh the possible detriments, not because I think there is no risk involved. Of course, when I say risk I'm not just talking about the vaccine, the vector (where and how and by who) in which you receive any vaccination (or drug of any kind for that matter) must be thought of as well... Okay, now I'm going off on a tangent... sorry 'bout that! lol =P

Oh, and Person A... Mike did post this, and you DID comment on HIS link... so you probably should expect him to have the point of view he has (just look at the title, and this isn't the first vaccine crusade he's been on). Ha! ...and knowing what you're both like I'm not surprised the gloves are comming off! lol

me - Really, Person A? The Natural News? That site is a crank's heaven. It matters *where* you get your information from. I have not "bought into...propaganda", I believe what the mass majority of people who do this for a living do. My original post wasn't just from "some guys (sic) science blog", he's a practicing internist. You know, a doctor. Not a "citizen journalist" like the woman who wrote the article you linked to.

I could show you how 24 million doses of the HPV vaccine have been given with about 14,000 reports of "adverse effects" ranging from mild (about 93%) to GBS and death. I could also point out that none (that's none) of those deaths were related to the vaccine by anything other than time - that is, they happened after the vaccine was administered - and that no medical link has been established to the HPV vaccine.

But really, if you're reading and signing up with the Natural News, then there's no point. It'll always be a conspiracy with "Big Pharma" at the top trying to kill people.

to Person C: I have to reply to this bit you said - "Let people feel what they want to, believe what they wish, as long as it doesn't directly harm anyone - you shouldn't make them feel stupid, ignorant, closed-minded, or uneducated because they don't have 100% faith (and make no mistake, it is faith) in pharm co's drug pushing or latest vaccine."

Point 1 - what the antivax crowd believes does directly hurt people. In the worst instances, it kills people. That's why I feel passionately about it.

Point 2 - No, it's not "faith". What I think about vaccines is based on the best science has to offer and that is testing with double-blind placebo controlled trials. Millions and millions of vaccinations have been given with an extremely small percentage of adverse side effects; that's not faith, that's proof.

If a drug from a "big pharma" company fails these, then it doesn't get passed to the public (and yes, there have been/are/will be in the future failures in the system). Of course it's a money-driven industry - everything is a money driven industry. You said it yourself, it's about evaluating risk.

Person A - Person C - i'm with ya. LOL INTERNIST! DUDE--- IT WAS SOME GUY'S SCIENCE BLOG!! You think the good doctor should not ever be questioned? Man you are so sanctimonious!! Crank's heaven? Have you ever even heard of that site until now? You are not all knowing! If you and I went to med school, we would still have our own opposing points of view!!! the degree he has makes him an expert- So you and I know EVERYTHING about english and massage and should never be questioned? Lots of MD's are quacks- you must know this. And lots of MD's would support anti-vax--- and I am not antivax! Some research topics for years and continue to learn new things about them everyday- it's like you have an ego about another's choice. Drug companies have spent billions getting their option for healthcare on your radar-- you are money well invested. I am a realist who is not ignorant to the fact that WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS!!! Untwist the pompadore. Don't promote ignorance, man. We should ask alot more questions when it comes to pharm. companies, not less.

Point 1- VACCINES TOO!!!!!!!!!
Point 2- it IS faith- you don't know whether you will have an adverse reaction to a med. until you take it. And don't get me started on placebo- there's your proof about how well meds can work! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

me - Yes, I've heard of the Natural News. It's well known as a place where conspiracy stories about "big Pharma" run wild and where scientific facts get...let's just say they get them very wrong.

I'm not calling you antivax, I suggested that you might be or that you might think that they weren't worth getting judging by your attitude in this and other debates we've had.

I'm not against questioning authority, but when you question and then get an answer that makes sense (like yes, vaccines have caused harm but it's so much less than the diseases they prevent that it is a risk that is well worth engaging - much like driving a car...they kill people every day and yet, here we are still driving...and the vaccine safety record is WELL above that of automobiles), going into the realm of ridiculous conspiracy theories is just irresponsible.

Saying that placebos prove your point just makes me want to go to bed. Literally a facepalm. I agree that this is over. If you hold these views as fervently as you seem to, then when I post any other links/articles regarding vaccines or medicine, there's really no point in commenting.

person c - Don't misunderstand me Mike, I'm not suggesting that vaccines are dangerous (not compared tothe alternatives anyway). I'm not saying that I believe that it's all a big conspiracy. The hard science behind vaccines cannot be disregarded. I'm am suggesting that there can be an argument made against well, anything really... and that money will weight things one way or the other in many cases. I have to admit I can't help but feel sometimes that pharmaceuticals (in general) are a little over-accessible or possibly even overused. But that isn't what you were talking about originally anyway... and I'm not trying to start some kind of holistics argument, so... In the case of this, I'd have to say that people should get the vaccines if they want to, especially if they are in a high risk category. I'm not a doctor, nor do I have any formal education in Biochem or Pharmacy, so I can't really do anything but have faith in the fact that the science is sure and I'm not going to be the statistic that day when I go and get a shot. ;)

person a - Lol are you for real? My view is that we all have different views!! I have never taken a side, I say that some have good responses to meds, some bad. Sorry but it's true. I don't feel strongly either way about the vaccinate/ don't- but I fell strongly when someone tries to propogate ignorance in the guise of 'science'. To what ridiculous conspiracy theory are you referring? You've lost me.
PS- cars don't kill people. People kill people.

I you don't want my comments on your posts b/c you don't want your 'authority' challenged? LOL. Then delete me dude cuz you will always hear me speak my mind- hey we gotta listen to you! I'm sorry, but if we put my comments vs. yours to statistics, I hypothesize, statistically, more would agree on a broader world view. Put that in your pipe and i'll smoke it.

me - Person C, I totally agree that some pharmaceuticals are both over-accessible and overused. A point I once heard an infectious disease doc make was that there are brilliant scientists working for pharmaceutical companies making incredible, life-saving drugs - then those drugs are given to scumbag used-car salesmen to distribute. The proof, however, is in the testing and the usage. Again, I totally agree with your last point with the exception that I don't have faith that I won't be a statistic, I have the weight of millions of safely given doses behind me.

person c - Well, someone gotta win the lottery, get struck by lightning, etc,... or whatever else is more than a one in a million(s) chance. =P

me - Person A, my point is that yes, there are different views out there, but they're not equal. When I hear the "but they make BILLIONS of dollars" argument against large pharmaceutical companies, it implies that they're evil and out to...what? Hurt people? "Big Pharma" isn't all good, but it's not all bad either and the products they produce are generally a net good.

My quip about you not commenting wasn't about "questioning my authority" or any intent to make you stop, just to point out that it's unlikely to be productive. Here's the thing: if you can show me that what you say is true - that is, show me that vaccines are more harmful than good or that treating people for diseases individually rather than by a statistical norm makes for better overall success rates, then I'll be interested enough to start to change my mind.

And with respect to my statistics vs. your comments - science isn't a democracy. I don't care how many people think that the world is 6000 years old, that doesn't make it right.

person a - SIGH. You don't know if the HPV vaccine is safe, or any other for that matter. It is not responsible to profess that one thing (OMG esp. medication!!) is the be all end all for all. What makes you think you know best? You've read articles? What makes you think the author knows anything? OK- you know the vaccine is safe; you know how old the world is; you know how billion dollar companies are'nt interested in marketing their product; you know all motivations and realities for all people. Cool man.

me - What will it take? Over 24 million people have had the HPV vaccination with less than 0.06% complaining of adverse reactions - over 90% of those have been soreness in the arm. What level of safety are you looking for? Whatever it is, it certainly seem unrealistic and hypocritical, seeing as we both drive cars, as I mentioned before

You keep saying that I think I know everything. I've never said that I do, nor have I said that the people I reference do. I'm providing what I can see as the best, most evidenced and safe measures for, in this case, preventing the HPV. If you have any information (apart from your vague, "We're all different, man" bit, then show it.

12 Barbaric Yawps:

At 16/10/09 1:13 am, Blogger Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

Sounds pretty much how I would have handled it

At 16/10/09 12:39 pm, Blogger Shawn said...

I like to think I would have handled it as well as you did. You were patient and considerate with stupid, that actually burnt my eyes.

Way to go guy.

At 16/10/09 1:43 pm, Blogger J. Dack said...

You did fine. Can't really reason with dipshits like them.

I could barely stand to read their comments, between the capslock and the eight-hundred exclamation marks.

That shit about how we should 'respect other's beliefs' is garbage. I respect intelligence and reason, not ignorance and stupidity.

People need to earn respect, and typing! like! this! is one of the quickest ways to fail at that.

At 16/10/09 7:21 pm, Blogger pendens proditor said...

It always amazes me that there are so many people out there who think that broadcasting their willingness to erode and even tear down some of the greatest achievements of humanity (vaccinations, medicine and science in general, etc) makes them look smarter.

At 18/10/09 10:23 pm, Blogger Rob said...

I thought you were amazingly patient with them. My own circuits trip out after about 50 exclamation marks.

You need to be wary of the phenomenon of two commenters getting into a pissing contest over who can be more outrageous than whom. All you can do is encourage them: you're never going to convert them to evidence-based thinking. I'm pretty sure I'd have given up and left them to it about a third of the way in.

At 19/10/09 10:17 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mike. Long time reader here. Anyway my wife had a related conversation at work the other day. She walked into the breakroom to hear a woman spouting antivax thoughts. She was talking about someone dying from a vaccination and how it was a big risk etc and she wasn't going to get vaccinated cause she didn't want to die. My wife, unable to stay silent told her that was a stupid position to take. That one person in millions having an adverse reaction to a vaccine is far better odds than the 44,000 people who die from the flu every year in the U.S alone. That even if the flu vaccine had the impossibly small potential to kill it far was far outweighed by the flu's ability to kill. The woman told my wife she had never thought of it that way. I think she may have changed her mind, or at least given her something to think about. It's like I heard on some podcast recently, One scare story has more of an effect on peoples thinking than 1000 success stories.

At 22/10/09 12:08 am, Blogger King Aardvark said...

Mike, that was honestly at least as painful to read as my discussion with the church elder at the Alpha course. Probably the happy "LOLS!!!!" that made them seem so smug about it. Sometimes you try your best and facepalm is the only answer.

At 23/10/09 10:38 pm, Anonymous Tomato Addict said...

It might not have helped those two, but anyone else that reads it should benefit from your stalwart efforts. Well done (and linked!)

At 23/10/09 10:45 pm, Blogger Heathen Mike said...

Thanks, everyone. It's nice to get some support on a debate/conversation I thought I sucked at. Special thanks to the new commenters!

At 24/10/09 12:15 am, Blogger Nikolas said...

I don't know anyone personally who could have handled that better. Normally, the social tactic people would take is to ignore them, but spending that much time to explain level-headedly to people who may seem to just want to be contrary, don't even know their basic HS biology, and are plainly ganging up should be grounds for winning ant internet worth of virtual pats on the back.

At 25/10/09 2:09 am, Blogger Carol said...

I got into a discussion like this with someone claiming pertussis is a minor illness (ask someone who has had it..) and on and on then said that saying that one is for vaccines is saying she's a bad mother. I told her that she was deciding that some people are worth more than others, and that people that are immunocompromised deserve to die because of her beliefs. Doesn't make her a bad mother per se, but sure doesn't make her a good citizen.

At 13/11/09 12:16 am, Blogger salomedesade said...

I don't trust anyone who writes with as many exclamation points as your would-be debate partner did. You handled the stream of bullshit as well as any reasonable human being trying to make a solid point would. Well done.


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