Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Some skeptical reading on matters of health

I'm not sure why I've spent a lot of time reading way-out health claims and their rebuttals.  I have yet to find anything directly connected to my own health in arguments over vaccines, GMOs, and so many other things, and I have no medical background, so why do I bother?
I guess I am intrigued by controversy.  But the point to remember in a lot of these debates is that controversy exists only on the Web, or in the minds of a fraction of the population (or in a fraction of a percent of those medically educated in some way).
Take vaccines. They are the greatest advance in human health in the history of the world.  Antivax activists say they are only in favor of more information. The trouble is the information they cite is, to use a precise scientific term, crap.  Vaccines don't cause autism, which is present genetically in the womb. They don't cause much of anything they are accused of. There ARE people, very rarely, who have a strong allergic reaction to an ingredient in a vaccine, and in the US there's a vaccine injury legal system for precisely this.  The system does not exist for people given autism by vaccines because there aren't any.
Parent like to know a cause when their kids develop problems.  I'm a parent, and I still want to know why my daughter has lupus, and I may never know.  Parent want to know, not only for themselves, but because they genuinely want to help other parents avoid seeing the same (often heartbreaking) problems.  But correlation in time - whether it's your child showing symptoms of autism soon after a vaccination or a child who develops a gastrointestinal disease after eating a normal diet for some years - doesn't mean that what you see is caused by what you think it is.  That's why there is exactly one discredited / withdrawn / fraudulent study saying vaccines = autism outside the fringe-medicine press.  It's why there is one withdrawn / discredited French rat study linking GMOs to ANY health problem in ANY mammal.
Peer review is not a perfect tool, but it's the best we have. And think before you claim "conspiracy" - the claim really means that doctors and pharmaceutical execs let their own families, their own children, themselves all die rather than suggest "secret" natural cures. (Actually, another writer pointed out a contradiction here: leftist activists claim Big Pharma is hiding cures for cancer, but they also claim that simple natural substances cure cancer, so what would those Big Pharma cures be NEEDED for?)
So ignore sites like naturalnews.com, which is neither natural nor news.  Eat a healthy diet, which does matter. Exercise.  And when something goes wrong, remember that one doctor may be wrong about it, but it's pretty unlikely that they all are.  Don't listen to people like the one described here.  Read real medicine and science by people with real expertise (like this blogger here ) and real medical organizations, like here, and real journals, like you'll find here, and accept - as bad as it is - that we simply don't have cures for anything yet.
But hope.  There's a lot of hope.  Keep funding real science and real medicine, and every decade, we'll say goodbye to another "incurable" malady.  The future is bright. It's just not perfect.


Azaleah Banks said...

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Laurence Clark Crossen said...

I have wondered how it can be that mercury is supposed to be poisonous in even the tiniest doses but is used in vaccines to preserve them. How can this be safe?

Matt Bille said...

Mercury-based preservatives were taken out of vaccines. And you do take i n tiny quantities (greater than the quantities left in any vaccine) from the environment every day.

Laurence Clark Crossen said...

Thank you. That seems like a completely satisfactory answer.