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by Robert Webb
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.
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.
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 diagnosing a disease if the patient has been vaccinated against it. But if the symptoms match, why wouldn’t they test for it? We all know that vaccines are not 100% effective. The above graph shows that infection and death rates are very closely matched, year by year, so it seems that the doctors’ diagnoses match the coronors’ reports, so where’s the evidence for this supposed misdiagnosis?
So the best way to see if a vaccine worked is to look at infection rates. I’ve only seen one infection graph presented by the anti-vax side (in several places, but I found it on the AVN website), so let’s look at that in some detail. Here it is:
This graph has already been demolished on Science-Based Medicine, so I’ll try not to repeat too much of that, though I need to recap a little. Mostly what I want to show is some new graphs (the big ones further down) that help explain what Dr. Obomsawin did to create the graph he wanted.
Dr. Obomsawin gives his source for the graph as here:
But a better graph of the same data, where actual data points are shown, can be seen in here:
So what’s wrong with the graph?
Here’s some (but not all) of the ways that this graph deceives us.
- First, note the slight difference between these last two graphs. The latter graph shows a different point in 1959, before there was a ten year break in national reporting of measles. It appears to be a glitch in the former graph, showing a data point in 1959 when no data is available for that year. My guess is that the graph was made as if all data points were equally spaced, then the ten year gap was inserted, giving the impression that the graph dips down before the introduction of the vaccine, when in fact the dip should be spread across the gap in reporting where the vaccine was introduced. Dr. Obomsawin’s graph makes good use of this non-existence point. I have recreated his graph over the top of the best version of the original graph:
- You’ll also notice immediately that his graph looks nothing like the source graph. This is because he has only used a data point every 12 years. So he has taken a graph with 68 data points, and used only 5 of them! When accused of cherry picking the data, he responds:
- “the data was not selectively “cherry picked”, but rather consistently spaced giving accurate data for every 12th year running from 1935 to 1983, a period which is roughly equivalent to a half century.”
But cherry picking can still involve evenly-spaced data. Why every 12 years? Why starting at 1935? I’ll show you exactly why this is so important. Simply start at 1933 instead. We’ll even keep Dr. Obomsawin’s arbitrary choice of 12-year spacing. Here’s what you get:
Yep, it looks completely different, though I’m using exactly the same technique as Dr. Obomsawin to generate this graph from the same original data.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tabulated estimates of the toll the 2009 H1N1 pandemic took in the United States. The numbers are sobering and require no additional comments. The CDC tabulated the numbers through direct observation in 62 counties covering 13 metropolitan areas of 10 states, which were then extrapolated to the entire US Population. So without further ado, here is what the 2009 H1N1 pandemic did in the US.
- Total Cases – 60,837,748 (yep, millions) which break down as such:
- 0-17 years – 19,501,004
- 18-64 years – 35,392,931
- 65+ years – 5,943,813
- Hospitalizations – 274, 304 which break down as such:
- 0-17 years - 86,813
- 18-64 years - 160,229
- 65+ years – 27,263
- Deaths – 12, 469 which break down as such:
- 0-17 years - 1,282
- 18-64 years - 9,565
- 65+ years – 1,621
So, to put this in perspective. If you’re a 30-year-old such as myself, over 9,500 of our peers have died; 1,282 of our children are dead, and 1,621 of our parents are gone, all due solely to H1N1 flu. Chances are then, there is someone out there who lost his spouse, child and one parent to this disease. Makes you think twice about not vaccinating no?
American Family Physician, the journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians, has a feature called AFP Journal Club, where physicians analyze a journal article that either involves a hot topic affecting family physicians or busts a commonly held medical myth. In the September 15, 2010 issue they discussed “Vaccines and autism: a tale of shifting hypotheses,” by Gerber and Offit, published in Clinical Infectious Diseasesin 2009.
The article presented convincing evidence to debunk 3 myths:
- MMR causes autism.
- Thimerosal (mercury) causes autism.
- Simultaneous administration of multiple vaccines overwhelms and weakens the immune system, triggering autism in a susceptible host.
Gerber and Offit reviewed 13 large-scale studies that demonstrated no association between the MMR vaccine and autism. These included ecologic studies, retrospective observational studies and prospective observational studies. The findings were consistent; the only outlier in all the studies of MMR was Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s small, discredited 1998 study, which was fully retracted by The Lancet in early 2010.
They reviewed 7 large-scale studies (again, ecologic, retrospective, and prospective) that consistently demonstrated no association between thimerosal and autism. They showed that the hypothesis was not biologically plausible, since the symptoms of mercury poisoning are distinct from those of autism and are not produced by the thimerosal in vaccines.
They showed that the overload hypothesis is not credible because
- The immunologic load has dropped from 3000 components in the 7 vaccines used in 1980 to less than 200 in the 14 vaccines recommended today.
- An infant’s immune system is capable of handling the thousands of antigens it is exposed to early in life.
- Vaccinated children are not more susceptible to infections.
- Autism is not an autoimmune disease.
No, this is not one of those Mac vs. PC things (although I’m a PC guy myself, but I do own an iPod as well). A little while back I ran across this entry by Mike Adams, the Blue Ranger, Texas Ranger, Power Ranger or whatever he calls himself, of NaturalNews infamy. He linked to Bill Gates’ 2010 TED talk in which he says the following:
The world today has 6.8 billion people… that’s headed up to about 9 billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent
Here is the video in its entirety.
Bill Gates did in fact say that, and through an oversight, or because he thought the meaning was obvious, he did not elaborate what he meant by it. Mike Adams jumped on the opportunity. He set up the above entry, gave a link to the video, quoted the words and clearly implied that Bill Gates knows that vaccines kill and that his comment was meant to say that through vaccines we can kill 10-15% of the world population. Am I reading too much into Mike’s blog entry? No, here are his exact words:
Clearly, this statement implies that vaccines are a method of population reduction. So is “health care,” which all NaturalNews readers already know to be more of a “sick care” system that actually harms more people than it helps.
Thus, if vaccines are to be used as an effective population reduction effort, there are really only three ways in which they might theoretically be “effective” from the point of view of those who wish to reduce world population:
#1) They might kill people slowly in a way that’s unnoticeable, taking effect over perhaps 10 – 30 years by accelerating degenerative diseases.
#2) They might reduce fertility and therefore dramatically lower birth rates around the world, thereby reducing the world population over successive generations. This “soft kill” method might seem more acceptable to scientists who want to see the world population fall but don’t quite have the stomach to outright kill people with conventional medicine. There is already evidence that vaccines may promote miscarriages(http://www.naturalnews.com/027512_v…).
#3) They might increase the death rate from a future pandemic. Theoretically, widespread vaccination efforts could be followed by a deliberate release of a highly virulent flu strain with a high fatality rate. This “bioweapon” approach could kill millions of people whose immune systems have been weakened by previous vaccine injections.
So, to sum it up, Mike Adams, in his infinite wisdom is telling us that Bill Gates thinks that vaccines can be used to reduce world population by killing us slowly, making us infertile or increasing mortality during a future pandemic. I think that fairly summarizes Mike’s “point”.
To be honest I was a little perplexed at the time. What did Bill Gates mean to say when he said if we do a really great job on new vaccines we can lower the world population by 10-15%? As is almost always the case, the meaning has revealed itself with a little bit of time, and luck by happening to find Bill Gates 2009 Annual Letter, posted on his foundation’s website. Here is an excerpt (emphasis mine):
Over the past 50 years childhood deaths have dropped dramatically. Take a look at Chart 1, which is one of my favorites. (I hope you didn’t think you were going to get through this letter without some figures being thrown at you.) What you see is that in 1960, when there were nearly 110 million children born, almost 20 million children under 5 died. In 2005, when more than 135 million children were born, fewer than 10 million children under 5 died. I think this is one of the most amazing statistics ever. The number of children born went up, while the number who died was cut in half.
Not exactly what you’d expect someone who wants to use vaccines as a “method of population reduction”, maliciously of course, to say, no? Why Mike may be surprised to hear that Bill Gates is happy that childhood mortality rates have halved in the past 50 years. He might even reconsider his statements, but I wouldn’t bet on that. Let us continue reading Mr. Gates’ letter (again emphasis mine).
Despite this progress, 10 million children dying is still 10 million too many. Each death is a tragedy. In the United States we don’t think much about young people dying because it is so rare. It would be a huge breakthrough to cut that 10 million in half again, which I believe can be done in the next 20 years.
These words are of course a ploy to cover his real malicious reasons, right Mike? But he’s not gonna pull the wool over YOUR eyes, is he Mike? Of course, you could’ve been horribly wrong in your assessment of Bill Gates’ talk, but what are the chances of that?!? No, no this is clearly a cover up. Let us go on.
When Melinda and I first started our giving, in the late 1990s, our focus was on reproductive health rather than childhood deaths. We felt that giving mothers the tools to limit their family size to what they wanted would have a catalytic effect by reducing population growth and making it easier to feed, educate, and provide jobs for the children who were born.
Interesting; it’s starting to sound as if Bill Gates believes that a better reproductive health can help reduce population growth, a not-so-scandalous claim after all; people with better access to reproductive healthcare and education, especially birth control, tend to have less kids, methinks. This has got to be more covering up of the malicious plan, am I right Mike? Let’s go on reading and uncovering this nefarious plan.
A surprising but critical fact we learned was that reducing the number of deaths actually reduces population growth.Chart 3 shows the strong connection between infant mortality rates and fertility rates. Contrary to the Malthusian view that population will grow to the limit of however many kids can be fed, in fact parents choose to have enough kids to give them a high chance that several will survive to support them as they grow old. As the number of kids who survive to adulthood goes up, parents can achieve this goal without having as many children.
This means that improved health is critical to getting a country into the positive cycle of increasing education, stability, and wealth. When health improves, people have smaller families and the government has more resources per person, so improving nutrition and education becomes much easier. These investments also improve health, and a virtuous cycle begins that takes a country out of poverty.
Damn, this guy is really good at pretending to have good intentions, right Mike? Well, he can’t fool you can he Mike?
Now someone of lesser intelligence, such as myself, might reach the conclusion that Bill Gates believes that through better healthcare, which includes vaccines, better sex education and birth control methods, world population can go down naturally by inducing parents to have fewer children; we can argue about the merits of that line of thinking, but there’s nothing malicious about it. Someone like me, who has not the power to read minds, would rely on what Bill Gates actually says and writes, which seems to suggest that his intentions are pure. It appears he cares about improving the living conditions of the millions that are less lucky than Mike Adams and myself; cares about reducing death rates in children; cares about lifting poor nations out of poverty.
But that’s just me Mike; I certainly don’t hold you to the same standards as myself. You’re free to think as you see fit, but I would advise you to reconsider your position. What would be Bill Gates’ reason for wanting to reduce world population? Less iPads sold for Steve Jobs?
Bill Gates: hero or villain? Far as I can tell, hero.
One of the common arguments the anti-vaccine advocates use is the “toxins in vaccines” argument. They say that because some substance in vaccines is known to be toxic, such as aluminum, then its mere presence makes vaccines dangerous. What they fail to mention in almost every case however is how much of said substance is in vaccines, and at what levels is this substance toxic.
Water can be toxic to a human in high enough quantities; it’s called drowning. Oxygen can be poisonous; it’s called oxygen poisoning. The list of examples goes on and on but the take home point is this: any substance can be toxic in the right dose; and most substances will not be toxic at low enough levels. As they say the dose makes the poison. The same applies to aluminum.
So, how much aluminum is there in vaccines anyway, and is that level dangerous for babies? To answer that, the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has set up a short, concise, informative PDF that is available to all, for free, titled “Aluminum in Vaccines: What you should know“. And unlike those in the anti-vaccine camp, the Vaccine Education Center provides all their sources in the PDF itself, for anyone who wants to verify the accuracy of their report.
What they report should satisfy everyone’s curiosity.
During the first 6 months of life, infants could receive about 4 milligrams of aluminum from vaccines. That’s not very much: a milligram is one-thousandth of a gram and a gram is the weight of one-fifth of a teaspoon of water. During the same period, babies will also receive about 10 milligrams of aluminum in breast milk, about 40 milligrams in infant formula, or about 120 milligrams in soy-based formula.
So to put this in perspective: a baby will get 2.5 times the amount of aluminum from breast milk, 10 times the aluminum from infant formula, and 30 times the aluminum from soy-based formula. I know of no babies that are raised without either breast milk or formula, including the babies of each person in the anti-vaccine camp, and any baby who wasn’t vaccinated due to parent’s fear of aluminum toxicity in vaccines.
It appears to me that the anti-vaccine crowd should switch its focus from “greening” vaccines to “greening” baby formula. I hear Big Formula makes a lot of money too out of its product….!