Standing Tall for Vaccines

“Who fears or rejects vaccines, why do they do so, and how might we reach them to change their minds?” On Aetiology, Tara C. Smith answers these questions with a new paper written as a primer for those who want to stand up for vaccination. She says, “for many individuals on the vaccine-hesitant spectrum, it’s not only about misinformation, but also about group identity, previous experience with the health care field, and much more.” The stakes of the vaccine debate are high. On Respectful Insolence, a mathematical model from Stanford shows that slight dips in uptake of the MMR vaccine would cause the number of measles cases in the U.S. to balloon. Meanwhile, in Europe, measles has killed dozens of people in the last year amidst thousands of cases that could have been prevented with a shot (or sufficient herd immunity). Orac blames Europe’s problems squarely on Andrew Wakefield, and as for the bubbling tensions in the U.S., Orac says “antivaxers have figured out how to weaponize their views by coupling them to right wing rhetoric about ‘freedom.'”

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Never Mind About that Paper…

A few scientific papers are retracted after they’re published, such as this analysis of nuclear energy that appears to have been nixed for poor methodology and bad numbers on Stoat. William M. Connolley adds that because of the politics surrounding nuclear power in Europe, “this crude level of analysis would be unlikely to be useful.” But on Respectful Insolence, Orac looks at an anti-vaccine abstract that was so awful the publisher decided to take it down before the paper could be published. Orac writes, “basically, this paper is crap, so much so that even a predatory open access publisher pulled it, at least temporarily.” And on Pharyngula, PZ Myers has fun deconstructing the “balloon animal biology” of Stuart Pivar et. al. which despite being well-illustrated “is all entirely fanciful, not based on observations of real animals at all.” PZ, who knows how a fetus actually develops, says: “I just…I just…I don’t know what to say. This is madness.” As published by Elsevier.