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Katie Couric took on theKatie Couric journalistic challenge of hosting a show on the HPV vaccine.  And, with this show, Couric demonstrated a serious case of anti-science syndrome.  Truthfully put, Couric almost certainly put people's health, safety, and lives at risk.

Very briefly, as explained by Michale Hiltzik of the LA Times,

The anti-vaccination movement has long been a public menace. It's responsible for the resurgence of numerous serious diseases that were on the decline, including measlesmumps and whooping cough.
Now the movement Solar Powered Vaccine Refrigerator- Vaccineshas been given a big booster shot by Katie Couric, who devoted a large portion of her daily talk show Wednesday to some highly emotional and scientifically dubious claims by critics of Gardasil, a leading vaccine for human papillomavirus, or HPV.
The segment focused on a mother convinced that her 20-year-old daughter died after a cycle of Gardasil immunization, and a second family whose 14-year-old daughter fell ill after the shots. Neither presented any medical evidence to support their claims.
Around the country, an increasing number of people are refusing vaccines -- in no small part due to media reporting like Couric's.  And, this is putting them at risk.  Consider measles.  According to the director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), amid a surge in US cases, about 90 percent of US cases this year are people who did not get the vaccine. As a commentator put it,
The measles vaccine is one of the triumphs of public health; Katz and his co-creators are believed to have saved the lives of 30 million children. Over 50 years, measles has been chased entirely out of the Western Hemisphere. Yet keeping it from becoming re-established, and eliminating it from the rest of the world, requires increasing vaccination at a time when so many are turning away.
In his thoughtful examination, Couric's anti-vaccination segment a symptom of wider scientific illiteracy, Hunter tied this to a larger challenge:
Oh, but we were just raising questions is the well-worn excuse of sensationalists everywhere, but if you are raising questions where there are, in fact, no serious questions, you are doing harm.

The problem here is, once again, scientific illiteracy.

Hunter discussed the challenge of complex science, in the popular discussion, confronted by the "anecdote".  How does mathematics, statistical analysis, long-trend surveying, and otherwise stand up to the "anecdote" of Aunt Martha's certainty that the common cold is cured by hopping on one foot while chewing on garlic?
In the scientific realm, vaccinations and climate change are regularly "debunked" by assertions that "someone somewhere died in the same month that they were given a vaccine for something" or "it is cold today, therefore the climate is not changing." Because the anecdotes are easy to understand and broad statistical measurements are, for many people, not, the anecdotes are given more credibility.
And. let's be clear, the "anecdote" might be true. After all, for example, people do die during heart surgery and get injured by car air bags even if the surgeries and air bags -- in general and in balance -- save people's lives.

Hunter continued in a rather 'unscientific' appeal to a greater deity.

God help us if a single anecdote actually prove true, in the single instance provided, as that shifts the question from scientific illiteracy to statistical innumeracy.
Yes, it might snow in Washington, DC, today.  Putting aside the minor issue of it being December, with all due respect to Jim Inhofe (R-Exxon), that white stuff won't disprove climate science and suddenly stopped global warming.

While I recommend Hunter's thoughtful and passionate discussion, my key take-away was this post's title: that our society (U.S. and global) faces a serious challenge in our public discussion of a wide range of issues.  Whether in the media, popular discussion, or political debate,

we are all too often (faced by)
  anti-science by anecdote
when we should be (discussing options and making decisions on the basis of the)
  evidence-based scientific method thinkers

The first will kill people, is causing damage, and undermines our prospect(s) for the future.

    The second strengthens society.

The choice should be clear.

NOTE 1:

For readers of this blog, a reminder that Katie Couric merits credit for one of the best questioning re climate in American political reporting when she asked 10 questions of the 10 leading Presidential campaigns in 2007 and included this: Is the Global Warming threat overblown? While not the question I would have asked, it did make differences quite clear.  In any event, my reaction at that time:

To be honest, I simply do not know what to write or say in the face of that question. The real value, as someone said to me, is that it did offer the opportunity to respond: “No. Actually, it is being far understated.”
Sadly, none of the candidates answered that way.

NOTE 2:

Amid the many excellent discussions of challenges to science in the United States, I would highly recommend Shawn Lawrence Otto's Fool Me Twice and Chris Mooney's Unscientific America. You cannot go wrong with either (actually recommend both) of these.

One key element (in both) is how anti-science syndrome suffering skews across the political spectrum and its impacts in political discussion/policy making differ across the political spectrum.


According to work done by Stephen Lewandowsky, et al, the climate denial skews very strongly with the "right" and the Republican party while they were unable to make a strong linkage to the "left" with anti-vaccine and anti-GMO attitudes.

Among American Conservatives, but not Liberals, trust in science has been declining since the 1970’s. Climate science has become particularly polarized, with Conservatives being more likely than Liberals to reject the notion that greenhouse gas emissions are warming the globe. Conversely, opposition to genetically-modified (GM) foods and vaccinations is often ascribed to the political Left although reliable data are lacking.

Lewandowsky, in a note to this author, commented that
there is Libertarian opposition to mandatory vaccinations (e.g. HPV) that's allied with the political right. In my study, that effect was stronger than the slight left-wing bias (although the latter shouldn't be dismissed outright).
Note 4:  For some additional sources re Couric, see Tara Haelle's two interesting/complementary pieces:

When it comes to certain issues--such as the risk-benefit analysis of vaccination and the existence of climate change--there are not actually two sides to the issue. There is only the scientific evidence and the consensus about what it means. The "other side" consists of the denialists who simply refuse to accept the science--or to accept the consensus that there is no evidence of serious side effects.


To present “both sides” is to commit the sin of false balance, or false equivalence. Emily Willingham defined  that in Forbes as “giving equal weight to arguments that don’t carry equal weight of evidence.” (The Tracker previously covered an excellent CJR piece by Curtis Brainard about the media’s irresponsible reporting with false balance on vaccines.)

I also wanted to gather some of the best links I found about the show to post here. Ironically, I have been gathering research for an extensive myth-busting post about the HPV vaccine, but that’s a ways off still. I have my work cut out for me with formerly credible journalists like Couric helping to tear down any progress that’s been made in getting accurate information out about the HPV vaccine. ....


Honestly, about the only heartening thing about this whole disaster of a show was that when I googled “Katie Couric HPV vaccine” to see if there were any good articles I missed, every single results on the first two pages was a critical take on just how many ways Couric screwed over science yesterday.

Note 4:  Skepticism vs (science) Denial

Originally posted to Science Matters on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 06:39 AM PST.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We all know about anti vaccine folks and climate (13+ / 0-)

    deniers.

    It's the rest of it here at DK that bothers me, on many subjects that require science I see lots of anecdote and use of hyperbole, the fact based community left a long time ago, and DK reflects the left side of the political spectrum.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 06:53:24 AM PST

    •  The anti-science we see here is mostly driven by (11+ / 0-)

      anti-corporatism. And there is some justification for it, corporations like Monsanto have used their billions to ram thru poorly done science and alter our food system in the name of profits. It doesn't mean GMO food is inherently evil but it does mean we really don't have solid evidence one way or the other for it. Then there are real problems caused by "corporate science" like antibiotic resistant bacteria caused in large part by feeding 80% of the nation's antibiotics to livestock. Poorly designed nuclear facilities have given us Fukushima, Chernobyl, and lesser problems like Yankee or Three Mile Island. And even in the realm of vaccinations some of the push back is from the profit motive behind them -- do we really need a vaccine for chicken pox? How many tax dollars were funneled in the creation and distribution of that?

      There are lies, damn lies, and statistics but they all pale in comparison to conservative talking points.

      by ontheleftcoast on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 07:05:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I would add the misunderstanding of (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blue aardvark, Wino, BlackSheep1

        privacy and the internet. I get a sense that a lot of people here really don't grasp the idea that this note that I am writing isn't physically on your computer at home.

      •  don't have solid evidence one way or the other (6+ / 0-)

        Yes we do.

        http://www.economist.com/...

        You cast a jaundiced eye on the chicken pox vaccine because someone might have made a buck from creating it? Im grateful for vaccines like that and people in the US who dont avail their children of them are delusional.

      •  Chicken pox is a menace to newborns (5+ / 0-)

        Many maternity wards, including the one my wife will be giving birth at next month, specifically ban anyone who hasn't either had chicken pox or the vaccines.  I never had chicken pox as a child, but received the vaccine when it came out.  If not for the vaccine, I would not be allowed to witness the birth of my first child!

        "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

        by Brian A on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:34:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes we need a vaccine for chicken pox. (6+ / 0-)

        Look at part of the description in Wiki

        "Varicella infection in pregnant women could lead to viral transmission via the placenta and infection of the fetus. If infection occurs during the first 28 weeks of gestation, this can lead to fetal varicella syndrome (also known as congenital varicella syndrome).[22] Effects on the fetus can range in severity from underdeveloped toes and fingers to severe anal and bladder malformation. Possible problems include:
        Damage to brain: encephalitis,[23] microcephaly, hydrocephaly,[24] aplasia of brain
        Damage to the eye: optic stalk, optic cup, and lens vesicles, microphthalmia, cataracts, chorioretinitis, optic atrophy
        Other neurological disorder: damage to cervical and lumbosacral spinal cord, motor/sensory deficits, absent deep tendon reflexes, anisocoria/Horner's syndrome
        Damage to body: hypoplasia of upper/lower extremities, anal and bladder sphincter dysfunction
        Skin disorders: (cicatricial) skin lesions, hypopigmentation
        Infection late in gestation or immediately following birth is referred to as "neonatal varicella".[25] Maternal infection is associated with premature delivery. The risk of the baby developing the disease is greatest following exposure to infection in the period 7 days prior to delivery and up to 7 days following the birth. The baby may also be exposed to the virus via infectious siblings or other contacts, but this is of less concern if the mother is immune. Newborns who develop symptoms are at a high risk of pneumonia and other serious complications of the disease.[16]
        The more people vaccinated for chicken pox the fewer people will develop Shingles as adults making that vaccine less profitable letting someone in the futire to wonder do we really need a vaccine for shingles?

        Life is just a bowl of Cherries, that stain your hands and clothes and have pits that break your teeth.

        by OHdog on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:35:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Do we really need a vaccine for Chicken pox? (6+ / 0-)

        um, yes.

        Have you ever had shingles, or known someone who did?  Have you ever seen someone cope with life-long debilitating burning pain and vision loss from post-herpetic neuralgia?

        If not, STFU.

        As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

        by BPARTR on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 09:03:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  erm, no, ontheleftcoast, I disagree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        home solar, ban nock

        the anti-science we see at Dkos isn't confined to antipathy to genetically manipulated organisms.

        A vaccine for chicken pox is a good thing. Chicken pox causes shingles.

        LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 10:42:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  do we need a vaccine for chicken pox . . . ? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        T100R

        Anyone who knows anyone who has had the shingles, would never ask this question.

        In the end, reality always wins.

        by Lenny Flank on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 05:30:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I quite agree that anti-corporate ideology fuels (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Meteor Blades, mikidee, T100R, ebohlman

        most of the left's non-science non-sense. Nearly all the arguments I hear about vaccines and GMOs boil down to "Big Pharma/Big Ag are evil !!!"  Yes, indeed they are evil---but that doesn't make any of the anti-science crapola any less crapola. Stuff like the pig GMO study just makes me cringe at the sheer silliness of it. That study wouldn't pass a high school science lab. But alas, the left is just as eager as the right to swallow any idiotic claim, as long as it tells them what they already want to hear. And of course we both have the same herd/pack-dog mentality that brings down the wrath of heaven on anyone who dares question or challenge anything that we already want to hear. (shrug)

        I've been against nuclear power since the 1970's, but alas many of the anti-nuke arguments I hear from the left are also utterly ignorant of basic science.

        The good part, as I have often said here, is that the rightwing allows THEIR anti-science nutters to run the EPA and make policy---the leftwing mostly just laughs at OUR anti-science nutters.

        In the end, reality always wins.

        by Lenny Flank on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 05:38:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  couple things ... (0+ / 0-)

          GMO arguments that I hear are only partially 'Monsanto is evil ..." but about change ecosystems, uncertainties about environmental impact, concerns as to risks to health -- not stating these are accurate/legitimate (or wrong) but that is what I hear.

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 07:14:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  alas many of those arguments are irrelevant to GMO (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ebohlman

            Arguing "Roundup causes environmental damage", for instance (as many here do) may indeed be entirely true, but it is completely irrelevant to GMOs, since (1) Roundup was invented and used for decades before GMO even appeared, (2) Roundup is still used on plenty of non-GMO crops, and (3) none of the effects of Roundup have anything whatever to do with the presence or absence of GMOs.

            Blaming GMOs for the effects of Roundup because it is sprayed on them is exactly the same as blaming grass for the effects of fertilizer runoff because it is sprayed on them.  It's silly. Roundup has precisely the same effect on the environment whether it is sprayed on GMO or non-GMO. The GMO itself is completely irrelevant.

            As for many of the other arguments ("health effects", for instance) the anti-corporate ideology shows up whenever someone points out that the scientific studies and data simply don't support the argument (there is zero evidence that GMOs are any less safe to eat than non-GMOs, for instance), only to be told that "the corporations" are manipulating and falsifying the data and suppressing the "real" data because, well, they're evil. (And obviously by not accepting that conspiracy theory, I must myself be part of the conspiracy).

            (sigh)

            In the end, reality always wins.

            by Lenny Flank on Wed Dec 11, 2013 at 11:48:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  we're disagreeing, I think, (0+ / 0-)

              about number of angels dancing on head of a pin.

              By the way, issue is 'roundup ready seeds/crops' and not just about use of roundup.

              I noted, in another comment, about how GMOs enable more targeted use of fertilizer/pesticides ...

              Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

              by A Siegel on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 04:56:55 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  grass enables more fertilizer, too (0+ / 0-)

                That doesn't mean grass is the cause of the fertilizer damage.

                BTW--roundup-ready seeds are only a problem if roundup is used on them. If it's not, roundup-ready seeds aren't different from any other seeds. So once again, the problem lies with the roundup, not with the GMO. Spray roundup into the environment without a single GMO within a thousand miles, and you get the same results.

                In the end, reality always wins.

                by Lenny Flank on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 11:40:27 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  Since chicken pox leads to shingles (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, we need a vaccine for it.



        Women create the entire labor force.
        ---------------------------------------------
        Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

        by splashy on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:28:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Can you give some examples? (2+ / 0-)
      •  almost all of the deepwater stories, wildlife and (0+ / 0-)

        endangered species, vegetarianism, environmentalism.

        I read an endangered species post top of the rec list recommended by all the famous people that had the geographic location exactly wrong. The entire diary was about the wrong place. The pollution from the CO flood that never happened. it goes on and on and on and on.

        “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

        by ban nock on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 09:24:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  One true sign of intelligence ... (3+ / 0-)

      is being able to say: "that is counter to my understanding but the evidence / analysis is such that I need to rethink/change my perception/views of the issue".  A truly hard thing ... and, well, there are many issues that are hard-wired into people.

      Some that appear here:  homeopathy; nuclear power (risks); GMO; etc ...

      Now, on these three, I probably fall 'in the middle' -- although not trying to be 'middle' in terms of science/scientific method:

      * Homeopathy:  there is a need for a great deal of caution. There are "homeopathic" treatments that have had serious medical testing. The ones that are shown to be beneficial are medicine and the ones that aren't are, well, placebos.  And, there are many that have yet to have serious trials/examination.  While my household has had 'success' with homeopathic -- the ones that I have confidence in could simply be a form of placebo effect that is repeatable. (Giving camomille pills to teething children -- our kids, as babies, calmed immediately on perceiving that they were about to get these pills. They are slightly sweet, like mini candies, thus they were pleasurable for them.  Since there was desired result, at low cost, rapidly, without any reason to think there was harm, ok ... -- however, wouldn't throw a cancer treatment recommended by 50 doctors in the trash because someone on the web recommended a coffee enema in Mexico ...)  E.g., I am comfortable with 'mixing' homeopathy w/medical treatment if there is not (a) direct evidence of homeopathic irrelevance and (b) it does not increase risk/costs.

      * GMO:  I am concerned over 'risks' due to mixing of genes from different species, food types, etc into basic food elements with uncertainty in terms of long-term implications for human health (allergies and otherwise) and ecosystems. On the other hand, GMOs are (for example) helping reduce demands for agricultural inputs (water, fertilizer and pesticides ... with resultant lowering of pollution of multiple types), providing paths to enable continued (even expanded) food production in the face of climatic changes (disrupted weather, higher temperatures, increasing salinity from seawater infiltration, etc ...).  

      * Nuclear Power:  There are real issues re storage of waste, pollution/risks from mining, and risk of accident/implications. On the other hand, we are killing 100,000s/year directly due to coal pollution and indirectly from that coal pollution that is a key driving factor in global warming / ocean acidification.  21st century nuclear power is lower risk that coal and I am far from the only one who would do a global switch out from coal to nuclear in a second if that was a real and only option -- but I don't think it is. (See America Can Break Its Coal Addiction! (Or: no, coal isn’t necessary).)  A bigger issue -- and more viable analytic issue -- re nuclear role is (a) cost, (b) timing, and (c) relative cost-benefits to other options (energy efficiency, large-scale vs distributed, renewables, etc ...)   E.g., we are generally not driven re nuclear (or all energy choices) by a serious cost-benefit analysis but by superficial/partial analysis with then 'anti-science by anecdote' creating a driving element.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 12:38:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  One of the many reasons why slashing... (34+ / 0-)

    public education is directly damaging humanity's future on this planet.

    Scientific illiteracy isn't just your quaint uncle Fred muttering 'I didn't descend from no monkeys'. It's a profoundly ignorant way of looking at the world though grime-encrusted tribal lenses, one that says "how I feel about something is more valid than any scientific evidence".

    And it may be why our species becomes extinct in coming centuries.

  •  With climate deniers the delusion is maddening (22+ / 0-)

    I run into this pretzel logic on a regular basis -- they demand that science provide exact details of what climate change will look like and when science fails to predict a chaotic system (See! We're having a week long cold snap!) they offer that as "proof" that climate change science is wrong. What's maddening, of course, is they take observed data without understanding what the data means and claim they're being "scientific" and that those of us who are relying on actual science are "taking it on faith" that the climate is changing.

    There are lies, damn lies, and statistics but they all pale in comparison to conservative talking points.

    by ontheleftcoast on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 06:54:59 AM PST

  •  excellent diary (20+ / 0-)

    and very well done.

    The problem is compounded by the fact that our current media culture absolutely has to have everything have a "both sides" narrative. It seems to have spread globally; I'm amused by the anecdote about astrologists complaining they weren't represented in an astronomy program aired in the UK. There, though, the producers stood their ground. Not sure if that'd happen here.

    A great many things do not have a both sides narrative, period.

    Climate change? Nope, there's not two sides. There's nuance in the one side but not enough to change the consensus, and frankly whatever nuance exists just adds to the fact that it's bad and getting worse.

    Evolution? Evolution is fact, period. The age of the earth is known, period. The age of the universe is well-dated, period. Radiometric dating tells us this, period.

    Birth control pills do not cause abortions. IUDs don't cause abortions. Fact.

    And this.

    In the new year I'm going to stop entertaining that there's "two sides to every story" because for a great many things, there really aren't. (I'm also going to be writing headlines like this as an experiment.)

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility (not an original but rather apt)

    by terrypinder on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 07:07:42 AM PST

    •  Or, as Douglas Adams put it (16+ / 0-)
      All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.
    •  And the Plural of Anecdote ... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, koosah, susanala, home solar

      is NOT data.

      "A famous person once said, 'You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.' But as I once said, "If you don't teach them to read, you can fool them whenever you like." – Max Headroom

      by midnight lurker on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:09:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Evolution (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blue aardvark, A Siegel, Mokurai

      Well, technically, evolution is a scientific theory, which is different than the term "theory" as used in the popular vernacular.  A scientific theory begins as a hypothesis, then through many experiments over the course of time has never been proven wrong.  A fact, however, is something that can be proven affirmatively.

      Knowledge without conscience is the ruination of the soul -- François Rabelais

      by ccyd on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:43:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well technically (8+ / 0-)

        It is the 'Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection' which is an explanation for why evolution happens.  Evolution, itself, is an observable phenomenon so calling it a fact is reasonable.

        "To see both sides of a quarrel, is to judge without hate or alarm" - Richard Thompson

        by matching mole on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:59:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I would classify what you describe as a hypothesis (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kevskos

          that is proven through experimentation to support the Theory.   I think the phenomenom that is observable is natural selection rather than evolution.  Evolution would require the emergence of new species under direct observation, and I don't think that has ever happened.

          I don't normally pick nits with people I generally agree with, but this diary is about scientific literacy and I though picking nits might be appreciated.

          Knowledge without conscience is the ruination of the soul -- François Rabelais

          by ccyd on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 09:14:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  it's a good nit. Thanks for pointing it out. :) (0+ / 0-)

            Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility (not an original but rather apt)

            by terrypinder on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 09:38:30 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Disagree. Evolution does not require the emergence (3+ / 0-)

            of new species per se.  The emergence of new strains within a species, and their rise to be the dominant genotype within a population of the species, is also evidence of biological evolution. This is observable in almost real-time via the tranfer of DNA plasmids between bacteria to form anti-biotic resistant strains. This, of course, would be evolution that is driven by artificial selection (the selection mechanism being the introduction of antibiotics that kill off the non-resistant strains, allowing the resistant strains to become dominant).

            Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

            by bigtimecynic on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 10:02:35 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  evolution is proven affirmatively. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, Kevskos, A Siegel

        The "theory" of evolution is the entire body of knowledge, not something which can be written in one line.  Yes, the scientific definition and usage of theory is different from the popular definition ( which is closer to hypothesis.)  Still, evolution is amply proven.  It is a fact.

        And, changes in gene frequency by natural selection is a tautology, and must occur, simply by its definition:

        1. More individuals are born than survive to reproduction.
        2. There is variation between individuals in characters ( or genes).
        3. Variation in genes/characters is non-randomly related to likelihod of reproduction.
        4. The frequency of the character/genes will change over time.

        Since the definition is in fact tautologolous, it is by definition true, and a fact.  No actual experimentation is required to prove it.   That said, the evidence is overwhelming.  Greater, perhaps, than for any other scientific theory.

        I gather you agree with this- my quibble is that evolution is in fact a fact.

        As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

        by BPARTR on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 09:11:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think there are many natural scientists (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          terrypinder

          who would be surprised to find that their life's work is unnecessary because it has already been proven.

          These are the things we probably agree on:

          Evolution has occurred in the past.
          Evolution is continuing to occur.
          Evolution will occur in the future.
          Every experiment devised to prove it wrong has failed although some have led to further refinement of the Theory.

          A scientific theory is not the end result of the scientific method; theories can be proven or rejected, just like hypotheses. Theories can be improved or modified as more information is gathered so that the accuracy of the prediction becomes greater over time.

          ....

          A few theories do become laws, but theories and laws have separate and distinct roles in the scientific method. A theory is an explanation of an observed phenomenon, while a law is a description of an observed phenomenon

          Here is a brief explanation.

          Knowledge without conscience is the ruination of the soul -- François Rabelais

          by ccyd on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 09:44:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not sure how you get to this (0+ / 0-)
            life's work is unnecessary because it has already been proven.
            I think the natural scientiss to whom you refer would be even more surprised to think that their life's work was to "prove" evolution, as opposed to understanding the mechanisms, effects and ramifications as well as learning the path that it has taken.  I have a doctorate in animal behavior (full disclosure, my doctoral supervisor was Richard Dawkins), and taught biology and ethology and neuroscience before going into medicine.  I have never met a biologist who thought his research was to "prove or disprove" evolution.  Or who thought that evolution had not been "proven" long ago with the publishing of Origin of Species.

            As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

            by BPARTR on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 11:56:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Gravity is a thoeory as well (0+ / 0-)

            but as you said, a scientific theory.

            Not a theory made by my Aunt Beverly because she noticed that she pees more when the cat sleeps on her, so it must be the cat activating her bladder.
            (Not an actual theory purported by my aunt, well, to my knowledge)

            People claiming their own theories and comparing them to scientific theories blows my mind. :/

            There is no "path" to choose. The path is what is behind you that led you to today. What lies in front of you is not a fork in the road - a choice of paths t take, but an empty field for you to blaze your own direction.

            by cbabob on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 12:09:13 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Gravity is a force (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              pimutant

              There is a Theory of Gravity to explain how gravity works. There is evolution, which is a fact about the world, and a theory to explain how evolution works. Conservatives all accept the fact of gravity, it's kind of hard not to. They don't accept the fact of evolution because it isn't as immediate and they have a religious problem.

              If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

              by AoT on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 12:25:28 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  ack, the science fan in me must correct this . . . (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                A Siegel

                Gravity is not a "force"--gravity is the warping of spacetime caused by the presence of mass.

                But explaining that in detail would require lots of relativity theory . . .

                ;)

                In the end, reality always wins.

                by Lenny Flank on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 05:44:08 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Sure, and quantum mechanics (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  A Siegel

                  describes it as a force. It's probably something fundamentally different than a force or curvature. Both the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics have different ways to describe gravity because they are describing different things about gravity. But just because it works best in the math problems doesn't mean that it best describes reality. We don't really know enough about gravity to say for sure exactly how it works.

                  Either way, this really underscores my point. We have plenty of theories that try to describe what gravity really is and how it really works, but we know for a fact that it exists.

                  If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                  by AoT on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 10:45:45 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Underlying causes (6+ / 0-)

    It seems that liberals are skeptical of scientific claims when they involve stuff being put into their bodies (GMO food, vaccines), whereas conservatives are skeptical of scientific claims when they contradict their religious beliefs (evolution) or when they are afraid their taxes will go up (climate change).

    The point of agreement with libertarians and liberals comes when the government tries to mandate something being put into the body.

    •  Not totally true. (5+ / 0-)

      Most "Libertarians" (in name only) have no problem with the Government involved in a woman's reproduction decisions.

      •  I guess the fault line shows up there too (0+ / 0-)

        Conservatives are pro-life on account of their religious beliefs (God ensouls the zygote, so killing it is murder), whereas liberals are pro-choice on account of their protective stance regarding their bodies (the right not to be pregnant).

        I just thought of something else.  If the fluoridation of water were being proposed today, a lot of liberals would probably oppose it as something being forced into their bodies.

      •  True libertarians (0+ / 0-)

        as opposed to the (air quote) libertarians, want the government out of their lives, including their sex lives.  I grew up in a place with a lot of true libertarians, and I know the difference.

        Knowledge without conscience is the ruination of the soul -- François Rabelais

        by ccyd on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:50:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  No. As With Most Things, the Divide Is Between (4+ / 0-)

      the weak and the strong.

      Liberals imagine that powerful forces represent the greatest threats and so should be doubted and restrained.

      Conservatives imagine that the weakest forces represent the greatest threats and so should be doubted and restrained.

      You can see the equivalency right there in front of your face.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:01:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Exception to this rule is when it involves women. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brooke In Seattle, AoT

      The minute you talk about birth control or a vaccine that cures an STD, conservatives question it and become contrarian to established science merely out of ideological convenience.

      Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

      by bigtimecynic on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 10:04:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I may get flamed for this... (12+ / 0-)

    But I would extend the same thought to other topics where  some on the left, including here at Daily Kos, gravitate to the anti-science end of the spectrum.

    I'm referring to the hydraulic fracturing process and its effect on drinking water aquifers. It's quite a bit more in the "gray" zone, of course, than vaccinations, but just as there are those on the right who believe hydraulic fracturing is always safe and never causes problems (or, at least, problems that are not disproportionate to the benefit yielded), there are those on the left who believe that hydraulic fracturing is never safe and always causes problems.

    Reality, of course, is somewhere in the middle.

    And just as the anti-vaxers tout anecdotes of illness or even death to support their positions (ignoring that such incidents would happen even with no vaccine), anti-frackers tout anecdotes, of, say, methane in well water (ignoring that such incidents can naturally occur and were known even before hydraulic fracturing became widespread).

    To be clear: I'm not advocating for either end of the spectrum, right or left: I'm advocating for applying science and recognizing the truth that reality is somewhere between those ends.  If we push for science, push for regulations that are science based, and push for objective scientific studies on the effects of hydraulic fracturing, we will have more success at reducing hydraulic fracturing's negative effects on the environment and be better able to manage this technology in an environmentally responsible manner than if we pretend we can ban hydraulic fracturing in its entirety.

    •  i agree (5+ / 0-)

      which is why in the last few diaries i wrote on that subject, i pushed for stronger regulations.

      I'd prefer a total moratorium nationwide since it seems that we've started an interesting uncontrolled experiment in Oklahoma among other places, but realistically I don't see that happening.

      Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility (not an original but rather apt)

      by terrypinder on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 07:47:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Or even the economics of supply and demand (3+ / 0-)

      in relation to the Keystone XL pipeline. A simple understanding of supply and demand will tell us that shutting down this pipeline will not reduce the flow or use of oil in this world. It will only increase the demand for it to come from somewhere else by some other means. Currently the oil has no problem going through oil country by train.

      The ONLY way to reduce the supply of oil is to reduce the demand through efficiency or cheaper energy sources.

      •  Canadian tar sands carried by Keystone pipeline (5+ / 0-)

        are far from the usual petroleum produced elsewhere. The production methods are far more hazardous to humans and other animals than conventional oil wells (and that is saying a lot). And the processing leaves residues that are toxic and contrbute greatly to greenhouse gas when they in turn are used for energy production.
        http://youtu.be/...

        Life is just a bowl of Cherries, that stain your hands and clothes and have pits that break your teeth.

        by OHdog on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:48:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, and it is shipped through the US (0+ / 0-)

          by train. A pipeline on hold will not stop the flow of that dirty oil

          •  Sugggest that you pause on these assertions (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT, Meteor Blades

            actual business analysis shows otherwise. Take a look at Tom Steyer's comments, for example, re the business case for the pipeline.  

            We are talking about roughly $10-$15 difference in price per barrel for transportation between Keystone and the other options. You seriously think that this has zero impact on tar sands production planning?

            Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

            by A Siegel on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 11:50:31 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  From an energy stewardship standpoint (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AoT

          [and that is the viewpoint from which President Obama must make his decision], the Keystone XL pipeline is objectionable because its construction and use will make the United States critically dependent on tar sands derivatives processing, shipment and transport.   Because of the large environmental footprint of the the tar sands operations, a Presidential decision in favor of the pipeline necessarily makes the United States critically dependent on this Canadian hydrocarbon source which cannot be considered as a long term sustainable use.  

          Because of extensive crude oil production in the United States, there isn't any need to make the United States more dependent on this single source of high impact hydrocarbons.
          I don't ever see any prospect that Canada is ever going to be able to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions produced from tar sands development that is necessary for the extraction and processing of tar sands derivatives to turn it into synthetic heavy sour crude in Canada.

          This single fact of the pipeline making the United States more dependent on this particular liquid hydrocarbon source is what everyone should focus on in fighting KXL and in trying to influence President Obama's decisions.   All of the noise about "export pipeline" is ineffective bullXXXX advocacy because nothing about the construction/operation of KXL causes the customers of those gulf coast refineries to shift all of their outputs to exports.    Making the big play on saying that KXL is an "export pipeline" undermines the ability of enviros to advocate about undesireable of the U.S. dependency-on-tar-sands that is planned for us by TransCanada.

          •  No ... the pipeline will not (0+ / 0-)

            make the us more dependent on tar sands and, in fact, likely less so.

            The pipeline is designed to get the crude, at low cost, to Gulf refineries which export from the US a significant portion of their production. The pipeline will deliver more supply to these refineries which will almost certain send much (most?) of the diesel production to China.

            Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

            by A Siegel on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 02:33:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Science: not all oil has identical carbon release (7+ / 0-)

        especially if you look end-to-end and include extraction and refining.

        I'm on a mission! http://www.dailykos.com/comments/1233352/51142428#c520 Testing the new site rules.

        by blue aardvark on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 09:12:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well then, if nothing else, keeping the oil (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Yoshimi, A Siegel

        going by train creates more net jobs in the long run. No type of conveyance requires fewer manhours to operate than a pipeline. Which, of course, is why the companies want it. So there is always that angle as an economic argument against the pipeline.

        Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

        by bigtimecynic on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 10:10:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Actually (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, Meteor Blades

        Keystone would enable profitable production of more tar sands oil and thus would increase supply.  That additional production would surpress prices by a measurable amount which would lead to increased use.

        Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

        by A Siegel on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 11:47:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. But the point of opposition is... (0+ / 0-)

        ...both real and symbolic. There is no way to stop tar sands development now. But stopping the pipeline will slow down their development and that will buy time for fighting the development itself and simultaneously allow activists to show people the many problems with that development. Obviously, reducing demand (both with non-fossil fuel alternatives and lower per capita usage) is key to the long-term ending that development (and clearly that latter matter will not be easy).

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 06:24:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Uncertainty scares many people. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blue aardvark, blueoasis, A Siegel

       That is one of the big appeals of religion:  "Here's the answer.  It is clear, simple and will never change.  Relax.  You can stop thinking now."
          (And to the many thinking religious people out there, I am speaking of the general appeal, not characterizing religious people.  I know some very serious, deep-thinking, rational-about-most things religious people.  And not one of us is always rational in our thinking and behavior.)
           But another problem with fracking is that it will likely reduce fossil fuel prices (already has, I think) making it harder for new renewable energy sources to compete.  That does not justify taking non-scientific positions on, for example, fracking and drinking water safety, but I think some people are so panicked (with good reason) about the threat of climate change that any argument against fossil fuel use looks good.
           I think we are all prone to think less rationally in the face of great threats, especially when we feel powerless to respond meaningfully to those threats.

    •  Reality doesn't need to be in a middle ground (4+ / 0-)

      I understand and appreciate what you're arriving at, but

      Reality, of course, is somewhere in the middle.
      is not necessarily true either. It is, however, an appeal to moderation, a logical fallacy. With fracking in particular, I'll agree it's a gray area, but nor do we yet have enough data to suggest the extent of its harm on aquifers.

      Therefore...

      To be clear: I'm not advocating for either end of the spectrum, right or left: I'm advocating for applying science and recognizing the truth that reality is somewhere between those ends.
      This is diplomatically phrased, but it's not what science is about. Sometimes, moderation is closer to reality. Sometimes, reality can be an extreme.

      "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~Edward Abbey ////\\\\ "To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships." ~W.E.B. DuBois

      by rovertheoctopus on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 09:37:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tx for an excellent framing of the real problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    and the real challenge. Too often here  stories like Couric's just generate 3000 "how could they be so effing stoopid" comments. Including from me.

  •  With vaccines, (17+ / 0-)

    for some, there is a very small chance that the person being vaccinated will become ill, or even die.  (I will add emphatically that this is NOT the case for the HPV vaccine, which is perfectly safe.)  If you take a hard look at the numbers, the risk of dying from the vaccine are infinitessimal compared to the risk of dying from the disease that the vaccine prevents, but two irrational factors work against unscientific people understanding this huge differential in risk.

    1.  Many of these diseases have disappeared entirely from the West (measles, mumps, rubellla, pertussis and the like), until recently, when enough parents have refused to vaccinate their children that even herd immunity is breaking down.  Very few people living in the West today remember how terrible these diseases were, and so, for them, the danger of losing their child to a rogue vaccine seems greater than the danger of losing their child to the disease, even though the reverse is true.

    2.  The myth that what is natural is always better for you than what's "unnatural" or "atificial" is rampant in some circles.  Vaccines are perceived to be "unnatural" and therefore bad.  The fact is, there's lots of perfectly natural things that will killl you outright, and removing the danger of such natural killing ought to be understood as an overall good for both the individual and society.

    -5.13,-5.64; GOP thinking: A 13 year path to citizenship is too easy, and a 5 minute background check is too burdensome. -- 1audreyrenee

    by gizmo59 on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 07:24:19 AM PST

  •  Even my crazy parents got me ... (11+ / 0-)

    polio vaccinations!  What is wrong with these people?

    I used to have some sympathy with Katie Couric, but she may cause some real harm by her blathering and giving a discredited notion some currency. This could mean real deaths and physical damage.  Shame on her!

    Next up - faith healing - just bringing up the question as to whether we need health care at all.  Why not let God decide?

  •  An "anecdote" is ONE data point (8+ / 0-)

    No more, and no less.  Just ONE data point.  

    If you have two anecdotes, you have TWO data points.

    Now how many doses of Gardasil have been administered? I would guess greater than 5 million and less than 100 million.  To bust into the six-sigma level of concern, you would have to have around 17 "anecdotes" for 5 million opportunities (DPMO).

    The answer to people who hang on ONE data point is: "go collect more data".  

  •  Your Portrayal of My Aunt Martha - (0+ / 0-)

    Is rather simplistic - -

    What if my Aunt Martha is Haredi or Jehovah's Witness?

    Although the two faith traditions are quite different, both stress the issue of placing faith in man over faith in G-d.  And although neither now has a blanket opposition to vaccination, many members choose not to inoculate their children - or choose to inoculate in cases of legal requirement, only.  And, yes, there are some who refuse all inoculations.

    Would you support Aunt Martha's right to refuse to inoculate her 7th grade daughter against HPV in this case?

    <<<>>>

    I am aware that public health responses often require 100% or a number as close to 100% as possible to eliminate a disease.  Still, the compulsory powers of government ought to be used judiciously - in cases of greatest need - when the required action conflicts with core beliefs of even a small group of citizens.  Smallpox, measles, polio, and HPV fit into a continuum.  Rather than create a straw woman, it is more effective to consider the relative merits and risks of inoculation for each.

    I understand the science perfectly well, but science does not exist in a vacuum.  Instead, it intersects with public policy - - and it is the intersection that is most challenging.

    PS - Not to mention the profits for Merck.  I know you would be shocked to discover that companies like - say Halliburton - have used government as a pipeline for money.

    •  "Big Pharma" doesn't see much profit (6+ / 0-)

      on vaccines though, last I checked. Perhaps that's  changed in recent years.

      Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility (not an original but rather apt)

      by terrypinder on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:10:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  For Doctors, Perhaps - (0+ / 0-)

        But not for pharmaceutical manufacturers.

        "Merck set the U.S. wholesale price of its vaccine, Gardasil, at $360 per person."

        Merck expected to have 4% to 5% of its international sales from Gardasil prior to the current pushback.  Which is huge for a multinational pharmaceutical.

        http://content.healthaffairs.org/...

        As for cost of production, that is a difficult figure to produce.  Given the proprietary nature of the information, not to mention R&D costs.  In addition, there is an articulation of private and public processes between corporate research, state, and federal agencies as well as public and private research universities.

        That said -
        Research into low-cost production suggests that the HPV vaccine is produced at a marginal cost of between $1 and $2 per injection - thus, a three-shot regimen has a marginal cost of $3 to $6.  Which is comparable to other antivirals.

        http://www.dnaindia.com/...

        That's a rather nonnegligible difference between $3 to $6 and $360.

      •  not much profit from vaccines? (0+ / 0-)

        And remember, this is with liability protection.

        By 2016, the Global Vaccines Market is Expected to Generate More Than Twice the Annual Revenue of 2009
        “The global vaccines industry was valued at $24 billion in 2009 and is expected to reach $52 billion in 2016 at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11.5%.”
        http://www.businesswire.com/...

        “Gardasil, a vaccine to guard against human papillomavirus and often given to adolescents, is made at the Merck plant in West Point, Montgomery County. Merck reported a 31 percent increase in overall sales to $581 million, with an increase in boys being given the vaccine.”
        http://articles.philly.com/...

        GlaxoSmithKline Q4 profits up 66% from H1N1 vaccines
        “The company's profits are $2.6 billion. The boost comes from Swine Flu vaccine purchases…  Total vaccine sales were up 30 percent for the year to 3.7 billion.”
        http://digitaljournal.com/...

        Pfizer profit tops estimates on pain drug, vaccine sales
        http://www.crainsnewyork.com/...

        Pediatric Vaccines Market, Doses, Immunization, Cases and Forecast: Worldwide Analysis
        http://www.prfire.co.uk/...

        20 Top-selling Vaccines -- H1 2012
        http://www.fiercevaccines.com/...

        Atchoo! Who’s making money out of flu season
        http://www.cnbc.com/...  

        2012: The Top Fifteen Selling Vaccines
        1.     Prevnar 13® – $3.718 billion – Pfizer
        2.    Gardasil® – $1.900 billion – Merck & Co/Sanofli Pasteur MSD
        3.    PENTAct-HIB – $1.522 billion – Sanofli/Sanofli Pasteur MSD
        4.    Infanrix/Pediarix – $1.183 billion – by GlaxoSmithKline
        5.    Fluzone – $1.152 billion – by Sanofli/Sanofli Pasteur MSD
        6.     Hepatitis franchise – $986 million – by GlaxoSmithKline
        7.    Varivax – $846 million – by Merck & Co/Sanofli Pasteur MSD
        8.    Menactra – $735 million – by Sanofli/Sanofli Pasteur
        9.     Zostavax – $651 million – by Merck & Co/Sanofli Pasteur
        10.    RotaTeq® – $648 million – by Merck & Co/Sanofli Pasteur
        11.    Synflorix® – $587 million – by GlaxoSmithKline
        12.    Pneumovax®23 – $580 million – by Merck & Co/Sanofli Pasteur
        13.    Rotarix – $549 million – by GlaxoSmithKline
        14.    Adacel – $469 million – by Sanofli/Sanofli Pasteur MSD
        15. Prevnar – $399 million – by Pfizer
        http://sanevax.org/...

    •  Generally, vaccines are not very profitable (9+ / 0-)

      The most profitable drugs are ones that people use for life or very long periods of time. Moreover, if vaccines are too pricey people won't get them. If you're dying you will pay almost any price for a drug to stay alive.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:14:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Which is why governmental programs are essential (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel

        If there is only a public health benefit and no profit benefit to the manufacturers, it takes a truly altruistic corporation who will incur the expense of developing a vaccine.  As we all know, corporatoins tend to be amoral (not evil, but lacking a system of morality), so someone has to step in and give them an incentive.

        Knowledge without conscience is the ruination of the soul -- François Rabelais

        by ccyd on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 09:00:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  "Big Pharma" would be happier with sick people (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      happymisanthropy

      An annual (or lifetime, or occasionally) vaccine to prevent people from being sick VS days, weeks, or months of medications and treatments to get someone healthy again.

      "He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

      by Hayate Yagami on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:16:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think that's accurate. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Meteor Blades

        Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility (not an original but rather apt)

        by terrypinder on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:28:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It isn't really accurate (0+ / 0-)

          I am not a scientist, but I've worked with people in various areas of health care sciences from basic research to drug development etc.

          It is INCREDIBLY difficult to create new drugs for many reasons.

          If someone had an easy cure for a big disease they'd raise an incredible amount of money and get really rich developing it.

          For one, the easy diseases to cure have been cured already. The reason there is no "cure" for many cancers and disease like HIV is that it's just not easy to cure those diseases. Trust me, people I know and respect are trying very hard.

          There just often isn't a pill you can take one time and boom, your heart disease/diabetes/depression is just gone now and forever.

          When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

          by PhillyJeff on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 11:39:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Her religious beliefs should be irrelevant (8+ / 0-)

      What if her religious beliefs say her daughter should suffer female genital mutilation or that they don't allow her to attend school.

      Children should not be property of their parents. It shouldn't be up to her parents whether she's protected from life-threatening cancers down the road.

      I don't think it's any different than a committed life-long Republican claiming that their deeply held POLITICAL beliefs mean that the government shouldn't be able to enforce the healthcare mandate.

      When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

      by PhillyJeff on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:22:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  quite correct. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tommymet, A Siegel

        Would you support Aunt Martha's right to refuse to inoculate her 7th grade daughter against HPV in this case?

        um, no.

        neither would I support her "right" to send her child to school without other vaccinations, and thereby get the benefit of my child's vaccinations while exposing my child to the risk of her child's lack thereof.

        neither would I support her "right" to prevent ehr daughter from getting medical care for a life-threatening illness.

        As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

        by BPARTR on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 09:15:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  When Compulsion Is Used to Excess - (0+ / 0-)

          It only produces hostility in an unconvinced public, at best.
          And outright defiance, at worst.

          Remember the little thing called "The Draft" in the 1960s?
          And for much of that time, public opinion was on the govt's side.

          Other instances - the black market in the Soviet Union.
          The USSR had rigid price controls and prosecution of profiteers.
          Yet, by the 1970s the Soviet govt realized the black market was essential.
          Yes, there was the occasional prosecution,
          but the black market was part of the economy.

          And with integration in the Deep South - -
          The reality today in much of the rural south is that there is resegregation.
          Private academies are largely white and well-funded.
          The public system is largely black and starved of funds.

          <<<>>>

          The take-away is that compulsory government programs ought to be used as rarely as possible.  Excess use will hardly produce the intended benefits and often causes real harm.

          The HPV inoculation program is a perfect example of the above.  By railing against the Aunt Marthas of the world, you only further the suspicion and hostility of the larger public.

          •  But the larger public supports vaccines. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BPARTR

            And the vocal minority that resists vaccines is a direct and real threat to the rest of us.  People who refuse to get vaccinated for serious diseases are no better than drunk drivers.

            Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

            by bigtimecynic on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 10:13:25 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Talk about Illogical - (0+ / 0-)

              People who choose not to be vaccinated against smallpox
              (if smallpox were still epidemic) -
              May be a serious threat to others -

              But carrying that analogy over to HPV shows a complete lack of knowledge.
              Then comparing such people to drunk drivers is over the top.

              Your illogic
              is the same as that used by anti-gay activists over the past few decades BTW.

              •  the compasrison to drunk drivers is actually apt (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                T100R

                the people who get cervical cancer or create it in others by refusing the vaccine result in costs which I have to bear.

                As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

                by BPARTR on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 11:59:12 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  And AIDS, Too?? (0+ / 0-)

                  Boy, you really are sounding increasingly like Focus on the Family.

                  What about people who smoke, drink, eat sweets, sky dive, or play football?

                  •  well that's a first (0+ / 0-)

                    never been compared to focus on teh family before...

                    what wit me being one of those scary atheists....

                    Regarding AIDS (which I would call HIV)- yes, I would think that those who willfully expose others are criminal. and that, of course, includes the CDC which hid and minimized the details of infection, long after they were known, thereby condemning thousands to die.

                    Regarding personal behavior ( smoke, drink...)   I support helmet and seat belt laws for the same reason as HPV vaccination.  Motor cyclists who get their heads crushed  also cost the rest of us for their "freedom".  I don't support mandatory dieting.  There is a line between personal freedoms and group responsibility.

                    As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

                    by BPARTR on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 12:47:59 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  "costs which I have to bear" (0+ / 0-)

                  That seems rather over the top when compared to actually killing people when you drive drunk. Cervical cancer kills about 3700 women a year and drunk driving kills about 13000, so it's really a different order of magnitude. I don't know if every case of cervical cancer is even caused by HPV.

                  If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                  by AoT on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 12:14:56 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Well, according to (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    AoT, BPARTR

                    Wikipedia,

                    Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection appears to be a necessary factor in the development of almost all cases (90+%) of cervical cancer. HPV vaccines effective against the two strains of this large family of viruses that currently cause approximately 70% of cases of cervical cancer have been licensed in the U.S, Canada, Australia, and the EU. Since the vaccines only cover some of the cancer-causing ("high-risk") types of HPV, women should seek regular Pap smear screening, even after vaccination
                    •  but based on the numbers AoT posted (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      AoT

                      the comparison seems a bit much.

                      Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility (not an original but rather apt)

                      by terrypinder on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 12:35:02 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Yeah, I was just responding to the comment (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        AoT
                        I don't know if every case of cervical cancer is even caused by HPV.
                        since I was curious too.
                      •  bear in mind that I didn't make the original (0+ / 0-)

                        comparison.

                          but, from the CDC:
                        www.cdc.gov/cancer/hpv/statistics/‎

                        Jul 18, 2013 - About 21,300 HPV-associated cancers occur each year among females, and about 12,100 occur each year among males.

                        and, yes, almost all cervical cancer is caused by HPV.

                        since I was talking about the cost to everyone of HPV cancers, the total is 33,000 PREVENTABLE cancers every year.

                        As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

                        by BPARTR on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 05:09:28 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

          •  So you're basically channeling Reagan (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            T100R, terrypinder

            saying the government can't and shouldn't do anything because it's doomed to failure.

            I don't remember the South desegregating itself until it was forced to sometimes literally at gunpoint (see national guard being called to enforce desegregation).

            The HPV inoculation program is a perfect example of the above.  By railing against the Aunt Marthas of the world, you only further the suspicion and hostility of the larger public.
            The same could be said about climate change, marriage equality (you know government enforcing the "homosexual agenda" according to Republicans), accurate biological information about sex and evolution in schools etc.

            There is overwhelming evidence that the HPV vaccine is safe and effective.

            Just because some people seem to think that girls who have sex before marriage are immoral sluts who probably deserve to die of cervical cancer for not being sufficiently godly does not to me qualify as a good reason to oppose lifesaving vaccines. But hey, that's just me.

            When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

            by PhillyJeff on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 11:45:08 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  BS - And You Know It - (0+ / 0-)

              I was in Birmingham and Greensboro in the 1960s and early 1970s.  So, do spare me.  Meanwhile, are you even remotely familiar with the issue of resegregation?  Philly??

              Did I say anything my views about girls who have premarital sex?  I believe that is the choice of the individual - albeit laws protecting minors are valid.

              How does marriage equality have anything to do with HPV vaccination.  No one is forcing me to marry Elton John - - but many state laws do require inoculation - which is bodily invasive.

              For the majority of families, this might make sense - but for families from traditional religious backgrounds, it does not.

              <<<>>>

              I do love how you twist what I am saying to the point that I am to the right of Ghengis Khan.

              But wait!  What about Sylvia Khan?

              •  Your outrage (again) goes too far ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                terrypinder

                You wrote:

                And with integration in the Deep South - -
                The reality today in much of the rural south is that there is resegregation.
                Private academies are largely white and well-funded.
                The public system is largely black and starved of funds.

                <<<>>>

                The take-away is that compulsory government programs ought to be used as rarely as possible.  

                amid a diatribe against 'big government' and you claim outrage for someone writing "I don't remember the South desegregating itself until it was forced to sometimes literally at gunpoint".

                While you can bring contrarian intellect to discussions, this faux (or, even worse, sincerely felt) outrage is over the top.

                ===

                PS:  Go back and read through comments you have made on my blog. I have allowed you to post direct insults about me multiple times amid your larger discussion(s). Comments to me are not unique. Do you realize the double standard you are playing at?

                Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

                by A Siegel on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 02:41:11 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Adam - (0+ / 0-)

                  Do you believe that my student should be forced to have an HPV vaccine?

                  Answer that question.

                  •  The History of Integration in the South - (0+ / 0-)

                    Has multiple layers.
                    And I clearly state that compulsory actions should be limited.
                    Was integration necessary - absolutely.
                    But busing added to it alienated a key swing constituency.
                    And who do you think was bussed?
                    Not children from upper-middle class neighborhoods.

                    To equate HPV vaccination with racial integration is a pretty far stretch, no?

                    Even in the "Good War" / WWII planners in the FDR administration realized that four years was probably the tops that the public would accept a draft and massive military operations without war weariness or opposition setting in.

                    In your diary you have painted with a very wide brush - starting out with Couric - then moving on to measles, climate, and Aunt Martha.

                    My intellect is not contrarian - but I do disagree fundamentally with any compulsory program of HPV vaccination.  Not because I don't think that HPV inoculation is a good idea - but because a compulsory program is a bad idea.  The health issue lacks immediacy, it may not apply at all to some populations, there is often significant cost, and it it is personally invasive.

                    Truly feet of clay.

                  •  Guess what .. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    terrypinder

                    My diary does not address "mandatory" or forcing anyone ot have a vaccine. This isn't the subject that I wrote about, raised, focused on, etc ...  That tangent is one that you have raised -- multiple times -- here and not my issue of focus or knowledge base. And, honestly, demanding that I (or anyone else who hasn't discussed about why every female should be forced to have the HPV vaccine) answer that question is a bit out of line.

                    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

                    by A Siegel on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 06:50:55 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  If You Discuss HPV - (0+ / 0-)

                      Then you are discussing mandatory vaccination -
                      Since half the states already require it.

                      It's part of the package.

                      (Kinda like discussing the history of baseball without mentioning the Yankees.)

                      If you cannot understand that this is the crux of the opposition,
                      then you have missed something big.

                      Remove the mandatory part -
                      And the entire issue fades.

        •  There should be no compulsory HPV vaccines (0+ / 0-)

          There are a number of reasons for concern about the safety and efficacy of the HPV vaccines.

          An Interview with Dr. Diane M. Harper, HPV Expert
          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

          GLOBAL CONCERNS ABOUT HPV VACCINES
          http://sanevax.org/...

          The Truth About Gardasil
          http://truthaboutgardasil.org/

    •  I think the answer to that one is pretty simple (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tommymet, Kevskos

      If you (or your Tanta Martha, lol) won't vaccinate your children for ANY reason, including religious beliefs, that is fine.  However, your unvaccinated children will not be welcome in public school to put other children and their young siblings at risk.

      "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

      by Brian A on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:38:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  For HPV? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brian A

        Measles is one thing - HPV is another.
        Their transmission vectors are completely different.
        My Aunt Martha knows that.

        Can government compel someone to say "The Pledge of Allegiance"?
        Or can government compel someone to serve in the military?

        It's funny where people on the left and right view the proper use of government compulsion.  Both find perfectly legitimate applications within their ideologies; yet, often find their opponents' arguments to be anathema.

        •  Thats a good point (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          johnnygunn, Kevskos, T100R

          You're right, the lines are much less clear regarding HPV.  Maybe it should be a requirement for high school?  Especially in light of emerging evidence that HPV can be spread by oral sex and lead to throat cancer.

          "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

          by Brian A on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 09:39:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Very simply ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      T100R, terrypinder

      I do not that one who is not inoculated re a communicable disease (measles ...) should be allowed in public schools due to risks to others.  The issue of 'religious  exception' is difficult but this comes directly in face of public safety. And, quite honestly, I see a religious belief (a la Christian Scientist) as a different issue than 'antiscience by anecdote' and a very different issue in terms of public discussion/policy-making.

      And, well, a blog post is absolutely reasonable for a "straw woman" which was quite clearly written w/hyperbole in ridiculousness to frame the discussion concept without seeking to enter in detailed debate along a continuum that would  require 100s of posts with 10,0000s of additional words.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 11:59:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Let's Stick with HPV - (0+ / 0-)

        Which was the main focus of the Couric show.

        By way of background, I believe that Couric is no Christine Amonpour -
        (although she did say she had her daughters vaccinated against HPV)
        And I believe that prudent vaccination makes sense.

        Still, I am opposed to compulsory vaccination for a condition that is largely transmitted through sexual contact.  I really think there is a parallel with certain state abortion regulations requiring invasive ultrasounds.  A compulsory vaccination is also bodily invasive.

        About half the state now have compulsory vaccination for HPV.  Not to mention that there is the profit motive from Gardasil's manufacturer, Merck.  It does change the playing field when a for-profit company that is banking on record worldwide sales receives compulsory legislation.  When pharmaceutical corps are one of the largest lobbyists at the state and federal level.  Were it a government-developed program, there would be different ethical considerations.

        For example, I had a student from a very conservative religious background at my community college.  She was home-schooled.  She dressed in traditional long dresses and covered her head.  She made it very clear to me - she was confident in discussing her beliefs BTW - that she would never consider premarital sex.  Why should she be forced to undergo vaccination for HPV?

        And then, finally, there is the issue of the failure of compulsion which I have discussed above.

        HPV is different than measles.
        It's way different than smallpox.

        It makes sense to vaccinate young people.
        But it should be free and public, if required.
        And there should be clear exemptions.

  •  What would happen is someone found a way (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, AoT, A Siegel

    to monetize anti-vaccination pseudo-science?

    For example, if someone was making $50B / year selling the medicines used to treat measles, mumps, and rubella, and these were different people than those who make the vaccines?

    Might the makers of these hypothetical medications be able to persuade some politicians on the left to be stridently anti-vaccine?

    If we reduce the influence of corporate money on our elections, we will reduce the anti-science component of our political discourse. With all due respect to HL Mencken, in these cases I think we do have to attribute the problem to malice rather than stupidity.

    I'm on a mission! http://www.dailykos.com/comments/1233352/51142428#c520 Testing the new site rules.

    by blue aardvark on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 09:07:45 AM PST

  •  Yes, no Vaccine, no going out in public anything. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tommymet, A Siegel

    No school, no grocery store, no parks, no subway. Get caught and you get locked up until you agree to be vaccinated.

    I sure as shit don't want your little brats anywhere near my kids, keep your festering puddles of disease home in your little Petri dish.

    Public Health has an established power in the law to force the anti-science idiots to do what is in their and our best interests. Enforce it.

    On climate, it's funny and counter-intuitive, but the wacky super cold temps over the north central US right now I have a feeling are ted to climate shift and the polar warming. We cannot let the Pinheads, the Zippa-heads, the bafoons, get us all killed ... and by us all, I mean much of life on earth.

    The worst case scenario's are so extreme that it is justified to take action against the deniers who actually get in the way of corrective action.... and by action, I think imprisonment is the least we should do to stomp out the idiocy.

    I'm all for the 1st amendment, until it puts all life on earth in danger, then it's time to shutup or be shutup for good, so the rest of us can try and keep the planet liveable.

  •  Yes, but Couric is a renowned expert on.... (5+ / 0-)

    practically nothing. Her only moment of quasi-talent as a journalist was when she asked the dim-wit from Alaska what was on her reading list. And that was a question you probably wouldn't start with if you weren't interviewing a simpleton.

    It's a symptom of "news" coverage in the US. It isn't news, it's entertainment. And just like most entertainment, it's fiction.

    News is covered 24/7 on about 680 or so stations. There isn't enough news to fill more than 5 minutes once every 2 or 3 hours. But that doesn't stop the CNN's the Fox's or any other outlet. They blather on, making it up as they go along and they provide such knowledgeable and concise "analysis."

    I'd apply George Carlin's observation here, "...she ain't worth shit 'n a handbag."

    I think that Republicanism is revealing itself as a personality disorder, not so much an ideology." -- Naomi Klein

    by AllanTBG on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 09:11:57 AM PST

  •  You're forgetting about ratings. Couric (0+ / 0-)

    needs lots and lots of viewers. Nothing raises ratings like a good "controversy."

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 09:28:17 AM PST

  •  Gotta go with Pierce on this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, A Siegel, terrypinder, ebohlman

    I'm working my way through his book "Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free"

    There's an interview with him at the link above, at Amazon, which gets right down to it. This excerpt seems apropos:

    Question: Is there a specific turning point where, as a country, we moved away from prizing experience to trusting the gut over intellect?
    Charles P. Pierce: I don't know if there's one point that you can point to and say, “This is when it happened.” The conflict between intellectual expertise and reflexive emotion—often characterized as “good old common sense,” when it is neither common nor sense—has been endemic to American culture and politics since the beginning. I do think that my profession, journalism, went off the tracks when it accepted as axiomatic the notion that “Perception is reality.” No. Perception is perception and reality is reality, and if the former doesn't conform to the latter, then it’s the journalist's job to hammer and hammer the reality until the perception conforms to it. That's how “intelligent design” gets treated as “science” simply because a lot of people believe in it.
    I stopped being impressed with Couric's alleged journalistic skills some time ago. My impression is that her ability to project a certain kind of earnest sincerity is matched only by her cluelessness while doing so.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 04:08:06 PM PST

  •  Vaccines (0+ / 0-)

    You guys are so sure that you know so much about vaccines, but these essays and most of the comments consist of blanket, simplistic, unsubstantiated statements that Science has spoken, vaccines are good and adverse reactions incredibly rare, and diseases are dangerous.  End of story.

    Most of you probably grew up in days when far fewer vaccines were given than today.  Were we in the middle of terrible fatal epidemics in the 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's?  Yes, polio and smallpox were terrible.  But most of the diseases we vaccinate against today are not so dangerous, communicable, and prevalent.

    Diane Harper explains about the risks of HPV infection and some of her concerns about the vaccine here:
    An Interview with Dr. Diane M. Harper, HPV Expert
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

    Very serious adverse reactions to Gardasil have been reported around the world - moreso than with other vaccines.  We are told that fainting after a vaccine may occur after Gardasil  but that this is nothing to be concerned about.  Fact is, sometimes this vaccine injures the brain.

    GLOBAL CONCERNS ABOUT HPV VACCINES
    http://sanevax.org/...

    The Truth About Gardasil
    http://truthaboutgardasil.org/

    Judicial Watch reports on Gardasil adverse reactions
    http://www.judicialwatch.org/...

    Gardasil and Unexplained Deaths
    http://www.gardasil-and-unexplained-deaths.com/

    There have been reports from all over the world of adverse reactions, including now in Japan:
    “Cervix vaccine issues trigger health notice”
    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/...

    “Victims hit cervical cancer vaccines - Paralyzed teens, parents demand subsidized shots be eradicated”
    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/...

    Human papillomavirus vaccine and systemic lupus erythematosus.
    Authors
    Gatto M, et al.
    Clin Rheumatol. 2013 Sep;32(9):1301-7. doi: 10.1007/s10067-013-2266-7. Epub 2013 Apr 28.
    Department of Medicine, University of Padova, Padova, Italy
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/...

    HPV Vaccine: A Strong Criticism from Leading Israeli OBGYN Doctor
    http://www.prweb.com/...

    Are some people benefiting from this vaccine?  Is there overall more benefit than harm?  I don't know, but I do know that we cannot answer this question if our health authorities discount adverse reactions as coincidence instead of studying these individuals to understand causation, mechanism of injury, and who is susceptible.

  •  "Mainstream Media Attacks Katie Couric…" (0+ / 0-)

    Mainstream Media Attacks Katie Couric for Publishing Truth on Gardasil Vaccine

    "The issues communicated in the show regarding the Gardasil vaccine, which are readily available online and not new, are probably less significant than how the mainstream media responded to the show. Attacks on Katie Couric for talking to a parent of a child who died from vaccine injuries, and a physician who was involved in bringing the vaccine to market, clearly show the mainstream media bias and censorship that still exists regarding vaccines….

    "Sifferlin’s treatment of the subject is very typical of mainstream media’s coverage of vaccines. The rules of investigative journalism do not apply. For them, it is a closed issue: vaccines are proven to be safe and effective by science, and to suggest otherwise puts one on par with a mass murder…

    "Did you catch that last sentence: 'Merely to ask the questions is to validate them.' The topic of vaccines is exempt from regular investigative journalism, and if you ask the wrong questions, expect to be attacked just for asking the question. The public does not deserve such information – journalists know better…"
    http://healthimpactnews.com/...

  •  Chapter 19 - Vaccine Epidemic - A License to Kill? (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    terrypinder

    A very thorough analysis is available here:

    http://vaccineepidemic.com/...

    http://www.ageofautism.com/...

  •  Parallel between global warming and vaccine events (0+ / 0-)

    This writer has the parallel backwards.

    The parallel is between global warming denialism and vaccine problem denialism.

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