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Oh Fer Chrissakes


Apparently Tina Brown’s latest idea is to get in on the HuffPo’s immunization trooferism racket. Well, at least the author isn’t married to a racist assh…er, wait.

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  • Murc

    Good lord.

    My “favorite” part of the article:

    Everyone from your doctor to your neighbor to the barista at Starbucks will tell you it’s a good idea to get a flu shot,

    Yes, because those three people have equivalent medical knowledge! I often ask my barista for medical advice. Financial advice, too. Hell, I don’t enter into a relationship without their approval. They’re going to pick my kids names!

    particularly if you’re pregnant or elderly. But how much do we really know about the vaccine?

    Well, I’d say most people know less about it than the trained medical professionals telling us it’s a good idea to get our damn selves vaccinated.

    Bonus points awarded for the many links that make it look the article is competently sources when in fact it is not.

    • NonyNony

      Unless you’re a completely ignorant anti-vaxxer, you’re a conspiracy theorist. There is no way to be an anti-vaxxer without subscribing to the belief that there’s some form of conspiracy to inject people full of things that are harmful while lying to them and telling them that it’s helpful.

      Once you move into the realm of a conspiracy theory so vast that the bureaucracies of every major Western nation along with all of the research departments at every major university must be active participants in the Big Lie to make it work, the idea that your own general practitioner is either a deluded fool or an active tool of Big Pharma is not a very large step to take.

      (There are some anti-vaxxers who are just plain ignorant about vaccines – they have no idea what the vaccines are, they just read something by Jenny McCarthy or someone similar about how vaccines are bad and absorbed it into their worldview. But those folks are actually reachable, if annoying to actually carry on conversations with.)

      • Warren Terra

        At least Jenny McCarthy has the excuse that she was driven by her own family distress to read causality into coincidence and to follow the false insight into the rabbit hole. She’s a blight upon our society, and there’s a Jenny McCarthy Body Count for a reason, but you can sympathize with the pain that led her embarking on her mad, misguided mission. What’s these peoples’ excuse?

    • Pestilence

      I often ask my barista for medical advice.

      Well they must be expert proctologists, at least*

      *the obvious joke being left as an exercise for the student, as befits a blog so infested by academics :)

      • Mike in DC

        I’d respond to this, but I have to run down to Starbucks to have a polyp examined.

    • It appears that the ‘study’ from Germany was an unofficial, unscientific online poll conducted by an anti-vaccine website.

      • There was a legitimate German study from last year that compared health outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated, and it found that unvaccinated children were more likely to be sick with vaccine preventable diseases!

  • Is anyone surprised? If so, I’d have to ask why. Tina Brown is a woman who hired Sully and McMegan after all.

  • Julian

    How much do we really know about math?

    • rea

      Fuckin’ magnets–how do they work?

      • NonyNony

        Tide goes in, tide goes out. You can’t explain that.

        • Malaclypse

          The tides are like the square root of a million – we’ll just never know.

          • MattT

            Tides are like the Pythagorean theorem – there is no solution.

  • Halloween Jack

    Apparently, now that Newsweek is dead, Brown is trying to kill off her other project.

    • NonyNony

      Sadly, taking an anti-vax position isn’t likely to hurt your ability to get eyeballs.

      Actually far from it – it drives traffic to the site as people link to it and say “oh god – more anti-vaxxers”. Posting anti-vax articles is basically the HuffPo’s way of trolling for clicks.

      • RedSquareBear

        Then what is this site’s posting of HuffPo’s posting of antivax nonsense?

        Oh shit, we’re down the rabbit hole on this!

  • Crackity Jones

    Moron alert

  • Aaron Baker

    I looked up Tina Brown (for the first time in my life) and found she’s married to Harold Evans. What racist ass-hattery has he perpetrated? Just curious.

    • calling all toasters

      The reference was to Deirdre Imus. I was thrown for a while, too.

    • Craigo

      CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden acknowledges that the venerable flu shot is only 62 percent effective in reducing symptoms of the disease. In other words, for every 100 people who get the flu shot, 38 of them will get the flu anyway.

      Why do we hear so much about the flu shot and comparatively little about

      While it’s crucial to prevent and contain potentially deadly epidemics, there has been conflicting evidence to prove that the flu shot serves that purpose.

      Each of these individual quotes caused a separate burst blood vessel in my brain.

      • Bryan

        Same. When I came across that first quote, I gave up. I’d rather stick my dick in a light socket that read things that stupid.

    • NonyNony

      I don’t think he’s talking about Tina Brown’s husband. I’m pretty sure he meant Deirdre Imus who actually wrote the article.

      Also – I noticed that the Daily Beast has a rebuttal article up from Ken Sepkowitz. Who is apparently an actual infectious disease researcher and practicing physician. Why would I trust him? I’d rather get my medical advice from someone who is known for medical charity work than someone who is actually an expert in the field.

      • Vance Maverick

        His piece is fine, but it’s not a “rebuttal” in the sense of responding to hers. It’s a contrasting viewpoint. (Insert headline about the shape of the earth here.)

        • NonyNony

          Yeah – I should have put the word “rebuttal” in quotes – that’s how they labelled it, but it’s clear that it isn’t actually a rebuttal of Imus’s article.

        • Charlie Sweatpants

          His article is actually directly above the anti-vaxx nonsense by Mrs. Imus on the home page:


          It contains such perfectly reasonable statements as:

          “The anti-vaccine crowd—and the related flat-earthers like those who “disagree” with the evidence supporting global warming or who view evolution as nothing but poppycock—have adopted a very strange angle. They stand squarely on the unstable ice of the irrational and unscientific, yet come at their adversaries by accusing them of flabby science.”

          The cognitive dissonance is high at Newsweek Jr.

          • Pestilence

            journalistic genetic inheritance, clearly

  • Decrease Mather

    I would have thought 62% effectiveness means 62% lower than without shots (which of course isn’t 100%). In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m right.

    even CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden acknowledges that the venerable flu shot is only 62 percent effective in reducing symptoms of the disease. In other words, for every 100 people who get the flu shot, 38 of them will get the flu anyway.

    • Vance Maverick

      Also, I suspect it’s more about cases of the flu than about individuals, but that’s a smaller criticism. Unless where Imus lives, everybody gets the flu every winter.

    • snurp

      You are indeed correct (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaccineeffect.htm – I’d link the Monto cite directly but it’s probably paywalled off campus), but basic logic should have informed the article writer of this fact: if the vaccine being 62% effective means that 38% of people who are vaccinated get the flu anyway, then 100% of unvaccinated people will have the flu, which would probably be something we would’ve noticed pre-vaccine, what with civilization ending and all. If not deploying the vaccine means every person in the country will have the flu at some point in the course of any flu season, then even a vaccine producing say, a 10% reduction in the flu rate would seem a rather desperate necessity.

    • The statement presented, “the venerable flu shot is only 62 percent effective in reducing symptoms of the disease“, means that if you are vaccinated and are infected with the flu, you have a 62% chance of having less severe symptoms.

      It’s plain English – the statement is about symptoms, not the rate of infection.

      • snurp

        The formatting makes it seem like the author isn’t quoting directly, and the clause following makes any paraphrase untrustworthy. I assumed they were referring to actual infection rate because of the second clause and because the numbers are quite close to this: “Preliminary data for the 2010-2011 influenza season indicate that influenza vaccine effectiveness was about 60% for all age groups combined, and that almost all influenza viruses isolated from study participants were well-matched to the vaccine strains (Unpublished CDC data).” Where effectiveness does refer to infection, not symptoms, but that’s probably an unwarranted series of jumps on my part.

        • I won’t rule out the possibility that Imus wrote something other than what she meant to write, but even if she meant to reference the type of statistic you mention she would still be wrong. That statistic would be derived from comparing the infection rates of vaccinated people to those who had not been vaccinated.

          From what I can see, infection rates for the flu over the last couple of flu seasons are @42%. For her to be correct, the flu vaccine would have to be ineffective.

          • snurp

            I wasn’t saying she was right – I was just explaining why I had discussed the infection rate comparison above on this thread, rather than symptom reduction.

  • DivGuy

    The evidence that flu shots work is real, but the effect that has been found is not incredibly large. It’s good to get one, especially for herd immunity effects, if you ever spend time with kids or old folks – but you could easily still get the flu. The demonstrated effects in the literature are relatively marginal.

    So, flu shots are distinguishable from normal vaccinations, which can be demonstrated to be incredibly effective. Folks who only talk about flu shots are annoying, and probably verging on anti-vaxxers, but there is a fair distinction to be made.

    Of course, the evidence that flu shots are harmful is simply non-existent, and the sort of scare-mongering that Imus engages in here (Guillain-Barre!) is straight anti-vaxxerism.

    • STH

      Folks who only talk about flu shots are annoying

      Discouraging people from getting flu shots is a lot more than annoying–it leads to additional deaths from the flu. And it increases the general unease about vaccinations, leading to more deaths.

    • Reilly

      Of course, the evidence that flu shots are harmful is simply non-existent, and the sort of scare-mongering that Imus engages in here (Guillain-Barre!) is straight anti-vaxxerism.

      No the evidence isn’t non-existent with regard to incidents of Guillain-Barré Syndrome after flu shots, although cases are rare. Imus was right that it happens in “extreme cases”, so I wouldn’t characterize that particular as scare-mongering. The CDC has a page dedicated to GBS in the Seasonal Flu section of their website. Here’s the most relevant part:

      In 1976 there was a small increased risk of GBS following vaccination with an influenza vaccine made to protect against a swine flu virus. The increased risk was approximately 1 additional case of GBS per 100,000 people who got the swine flu vaccine. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) conducted a thorough scientific review of this issue in 2003 and concluded that people who received the 1976 swine influenza vaccine had an increased risk for developing GBS. Scientists have multiple theories on why this increased risk may have occurred, but the exact reason for this association remains unknown.

      And under the the heading The following groups should not receive the flu shot, the CDC includes this group:

      People with a history of Guillain–Barré Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness, also called GBS) that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine and who are not at risk for severe illness from influenza should generally not receive vaccine. Tell your doctor if you ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Your doctor will help you decide whether the vaccine is recommended for you.

      • GBS has only been associated with the 1976 flu vaccine. The background rate for GBS since then has not changed with administration a flu vaccine.

  • CaptBackslap

    Also demonstrated effective in reducing upper respiratory illness: gargling with warm saltwater once a day. It’s kind of gross at first, but you get used to it.*

    *I realize they said the same thing about Magic Cream Shave, but it’s true in this case.

    • steverino

      In the US Submarine Service, where each ship had only a corpsman, gargling with warm salt water was a staple, to the extent that we joked about compound fractures and other extremes: just gargle with warm salt water! The equivalent to “take two aspirin and call me in the morning.”

  • BobS

    I’d be more tolerant of people and their stupid rationalizations for not getting flu shots if they would also avoid coming to overcrowded ERs expecting IVs, Tamiflu, and ibuprofen (the latter which they also frequently don’t bother taking at home) for their cough+fever+headache+bodyaches, i.e. the flu.

  • Michael Confoy

    I got the flu twice. Once when I did not get the flu shot and after 4 days of it I felt so bad that I said I rather be dead than to continue to feel like this. It started to break the next day. The second time I had the shot. It was bad, but not near as bad as the first time. Did it give me some immunity? Who knows. When they point out the effectiveness, I think they mean how well they were at predicting the flu viruses that would promulgate that year, not that the shot won’t work if it is for the right virus and you get that virus. The shot usually covers several viruses. Immunologists go to China about a year ahead of time and study duck crap, etc, for the viruses and make predictions based on what they find. Most of the time they hit the right ones or at least say 2 out of 3 of the viruses. That is the 68% effectiveness. So right antivirus compared to virus exposed to and you should be good to go.

    • The wild influenza virus takes about five days to incubate. The human immune system takes about two weeks after innoculation to build up enough antibodies to fight the wild virus. If someone says they had the flu the day after they got the shot, it doesn’t mean the vaccine caused the flu, or that the vaccine doesn’t work.

  • Someone up-thread noted the stupidity of this remark:

    the venerable flu shot is only 62 percent effective in reducing symptoms of the disease. In other words, for every 100 people who get the flu shot, 38 of them will get the flu anyway.

    Seeing as, on average, only 5-20% of the population gets the flu anyway, this means that the vaccination causes from almost double to seven times more people to get the flu than no vaccination at all! OH NO! THE FLU VACCINATION IS CREATING A FLU EPIDEMIC! WITH MERCURY!

    • snurp

      There was a troll on a forum I used to browse who was convinced that live attenuated virus vaccines were the singular source of any number of outbreaks, and that their continued use was due to scientists not wanting to admit they were wrong/the incredible amount of money pharmaceutical companies make off of vaccines/a desire to decrease the number of poor people or the total world population.

      • Don’t doctors make more money treating disease than preventing it? If there was a conspiracy, it would be doctors discouraging immunization.

        • snurp

          Ah, but if vaccines don’t prevent disease they can continue to make money treating the sick while selling unnecessary vaccinations to the healthy. You miss the real diabolical genius here.

  • CD

    I like the bonus health advice about eating *organic* fruit and veg — we have zero evidence that organicness has any influence re flu, but it fits the uderlying ideology of bodily purity that informs this bullshit.

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