Age Editorial

22 December, 2015

We seem to be riding a wave of mainstream support for a Skeptical / rational view of health policy. The following is an editorial from The Age Newspaper of 22/12/15. The highlights are entirely down to us!

Well done, THE AGE !



You cannot argue against the science

The science is clear. It is beyond argument. It is accepted. For hepatitis C sufferers, there is no dispute, only relief. The federal government announced yesterday that drugs to combat the disease will be placed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The drugs can cost a patient $100,000 but, for Australia’s 230,000 sufferers, they will now be accessible for the PBS co-payment cost of $37.70, or $6.10 for concession.

According to Health Minister Sussan Ley, 10,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. She hopes that the drugs will not only halt the spread of Hep C, an infectious virus that attacks the liver, but in the long term eradicate it.

It is a welcome, and enlightened, move to alleviate suffering.

And then we move, in a historical paradox, from the enlightenment to the dark ages. The science is still clear. It is still beyond argument. It cannot be repudiated. And yet it is. The subject, of course, is the vaccination of children.

Read the rest of this entry »

Happenings Feb 2013

17 February, 2013


Mal Vickers

Pharmai love data

I love data and so does ‘Sense About Science’, the UK based pro-science trust. Sense About Science has launched the All Trials Campaign. The campaign aims to have pharmaceutical companies release the data from all the clinical trials they conduct.

Without the release of all data, pharmaceutical companies are free to indulge in selective publishing. That is, they may only publish the clinical trials that show the most favourable results for the products they would like us to consume.

The campaign coincides with the release of Dr Ben Goldacre’s new book ‘Bad Pharma’.

Countering Antivax Anecdotes with Provax Anecdotes

The New Zealand parents of a child that contracted tetanus change their mind about the benefits of vaccination.

“Mrs Williams said they made what they thought was an informed decision not to vaccinate any of their children because of concerns over adverse reactions, but had since changed their minds.”

Mrs Williams is quoted as saying:

“It was hideous. He was spasming every three minutes. He was biting his tongue and bleeding. His arms were spasming and he was arching his back and his whole face and jaw was completely locked.”

A family in the UK came to exactly the same conclusion – that vaccination isn’t so bad, the benefits of avoiding the disease far outweigh the small risks. They were struck Read the rest of this entry »

Analysis of Anti-Vax Graphs

8 November, 2010

Originally posted here; this article shows how convincing-looking graphs can be misused. Robert Webb writes:

The anti-vaccine movement sometimes presents graphs to support their cause, supposedly to show that diseases were on the decline before vaccines came along, and that vaccines had no effect. Graphs seem hard to argue with. They look scientific, represent actual data, and are compelling to many people. And indeed a good graph should be compelling. But their graphs are not good. Let’s have a look at how the true data, which supports the fact that vaccines have had a huge positive effect, can be manipulated to manufacture the conclusion the anti-vax movement wants.

Death rates

Firstly, most of the graphs they show are of death rates, not infection rates. Yes, death rates dropped significantly before vaccines were introduced because other improvements in medicine and sanitation meant that we were better at treating the disease, but it does not indicate that less people had the disease to begin with.

They also tend to show graphs going back a long time to when death rates for common diseases like measles were very high. To fit these high figures on the graph it’s necessary to scale down all the figures, meaning that by the time the vaccine is introduced you can no longer see any drop it may have caused in deaths.

They never show graphs of death rates from third world countries where due to poor sanitation etc. death rates for diseases like measles can still be quite high.

Here’s a nice graph though showing both infection and death rates in the US and it’s clear from both that the 1963 vaccine had a huge effect.

Measles, cases per year (click - full size)

The anti-vaxxers claim (e.g. here) that death rates are more reliable than infection rates because they don’t trust the diagnoses made by doctors. The idea is that doctors are biased against Read the rest of this entry »