10/31/2010

Sunday Antsies

First the cool stuff.





Another one of them plants I've got no idea of what it is, but boy, I love it!






Seriously, though, now that I've showed you my critters and flowers for the day, I have got to tell you that I have a wickedly intense case of the skin jumpies today. I may have to run through the house doing jumping jacks, and since I am a rather fluffy, uncoordinated woman, that would be some funny shit for the kids to witness. Sigh. Where does the skin jumpy, itchy skin, oh-my-dear-gods-I'm-gonna-have-an-outabody-experience-here come from? Do my kids ever feel this? Is this another thing I gave them, too?

Okay, well, frak, can't sit to do this anymore, must go run, jump, sing at the top of my lungs, otherwise expend this skin jumpy. Just wanted you to know what was behind the racket that's fixing to be heard if you're in close proximity. It's not my kids this time. It's all ME!

These Feet...



My girls are growing up. They don't need me as much, and between the three kids, they can pretty much work their way around any food/drink needs. A lot of the time, the bright boy and the girlies navigate without much assistance at all. It's a tremendous change. They all also have things they want to do, and I'm not needed for a lot of that, either. We still eat meals together each night (that I'm not teaching; those nights their dad handles things) and we still watch our geek shows together. There's still a lot of time together, and yet, it's different time. It's not time where I'm taking care of them. And wow, but it leaves me feeling a bit weird, you know?

Bobby will be 21 this year, and for most of his life, he's needed my help. He still does, in a lot of ways. He still needs help keeping on track, figuring out what next, and how, but the girls can help him now. He doesn't need me when it comes to figuring a word out, either how to read it or spell it; Lil and Rosie both can help there. The three of them are extremely close, and often play video games or watch shows together. They are in each other's hip pockets. They will, I think, between the three of them be good to go, there for each other, and together, they should be able to take care of each other. It's a relief. 

It's not something we figured, and it's something I'm still hesitant to hope for, but maybe, just maybe, it's okay. They are close, they see each other as integral to their lives, and they like helping each other. They recognize that each has talents and abilities and each has issues, and they find, each and every day, by themselves, ways to get around the issues without demeaning the others. They are gonna change the world by showing what family can do when it loves unconditionally and accepts completely.

Even if it's the latest Goth look.


Getting ready for a Halloween party at the day center.

10/28/2010

In Which I Get Pissed Off: Not Shutting Down, What A Crock.

Many of us are aware of this whole communication shutdown thing that's supposed to happen on November 1. Many bloggers have written eloquently on this. Emily wrote at A Life Less Ordinary? that she wouldn't be shutting down. Corina wrote at No Stereotypes Here about speaking loudly on that day. I put a post on the directory saying I wouldn't be shutting down; I'd be visiting my friends on the spectrum and commenting on their blogs. Many other bloggers have written about this, and Marianne from the shutdown event has been going around to blogs commenting and attempting to clarify. And of course, invoking an appeal to authority and celebrity by invoking Temple Grandin.


I responded to her comment at the directory as follows:




Since there are still many people who do not use twitter or facebook, and since these people who sign off for the day can still talk and go on about their real world social lives, they won't get anywhere close to awareness of what it's like to be autistic. 

Not going on facebook isn't going to give anybody an idea of my son's life or my daughters's lives. And if folks aren't on facebook, twitter, the internet, it doesn't follow that autistic's voices will be all the louder. Who will be listening to them? Really?

No, no, and again no. So, the NTs give some money, get a badge, get to say they're next to Temple Grandin, and feel good about themselves while the autistic individuals who use the social media for their primary communications find themselves further isolated because their NT friends have gone suddenly silent.

I'll pass. And when I choose to give to charities, I'll directly give to those charities where I know how my dollars are spent, and I won't be doing it so I can show a nifty badge and toot my own horn about how aware I am. I'll continue to advocate for awareness, accommodations, and acceptance by running this directory with Kathleen and by communicating directly with autistic individuals.

Oh, and I'll be teaching my three children, who just happen to be on the spectrum, to be wary of gimmicks and promotions that don't actually help the people they purport to.

The Real Epidemic: Our Adrenals and Fatigue!

Okay, not. Not really. Scott Gavura reviews the quackery that is adrenal fatigue over at Science-Based Medicine today.


Boy, I bet most of us have those symptoms. We're tired. All the frakking time. How wonderful to have this ready made answer of adrenal fatigue. Why, there's all sorts of products out there that will promote adrenal functioning! Thank the alties; there's a cure!


Hey, it must be real if Mercola's all over it, and you know that he is! Mercola writes "When your adrenal glands are fatigued, a condition known as adrenal fatigue or adrenal exhaustion, your entire body feels it and suffers from extreme exhaustion as well."


Oh no! Say it ain't so. One of my favorite people in the world has Addison's, which is a serious disease which leads to death when not treated. It is scary shit, to say the least, although it can be  managed relatively well. It's always a factor, though, not something one can ever forget she has. Stresses, illnesses, traumas require increasing the dosage of hydrocortisone to help the body handle the situation since someone with Addison's no longer makes her own glucocorticoids (and some don't make mineralocorticoids).


It's frustrating to have a family member have such a significant and very real disease and see woo-nuts like Mercola try to convince the masses that they have a less extreme form: 


"When your adrenal glands become depleted, it leads to a decrease in certain hormone levels, particularly cortisol. The deficiencies in certain adrenal hormones will vary with each case, ranging from mild to severe.
In its most extreme form, this is referred to as Addison’s disease, a condition that causes muscle weakness, weight loss, low blood pressure and low blood sugar, and can be life threatening."


Mercola's source for his adrenal fatigue is the same James Wilson that Gavura skewers in his post. It's like the quacks have this private club where they get together to conspire to sell each other's made up diseases and made up cures. And lest you think that About.com has a lock on being science-based because they've got a medical review board, it appears like their review board is more than a bit like Huff's review board.


Of course, Mercola's got a whole string of suggestions, too. And boy, this one is a keeper: "Probably the single most important area is to have powerful tools and strategies to address the current and past emotional traumas in your life. Prayer, meditation and meridian tapping techniques can be very helpful here. If you were to focus only on one area it would be best to concentrate in this area as this really is the central key to restoring your adrenal health." Seriously, go check out his link on meridian tapping! And hey, if tapping doesn't work for you, it's your own fault: "some people may have a hidden agenda for maintaining their life the way it is, and therefore resist changing. There are people who don't want to face the changes that getting rid of a phobia would require of them."


You know, them meridian tapping techniques are so important, and can cure everything if only you believe! Wow, but you know, you've got adrenal fatigue and sometimes, you need more than tapping; it's not like you can tap yourself to an instant cure, you know. You are powerfully ill, and it's gonna take shitloads of time to get better: 


  • "six to nine months of recovery time for minor adrenal fatigue
  • 12 to 18 months for moderate adrenal fatigue
  • Up to 24 months for severe adrenal fatigue[10]"
Oh dear gods, let's say you bought this crazy shit. And let's say you really actually had Addison's. You do Mercola's suggestions and you'll be dead. Addison's kills. You have to get it caught, identified and begin replacement glucocorticoids or you will die. No doubts about it. Woo can be dangerous and looking on the internet for the answers to your health problems instead of seeking medical care is stupid. Of course, if you really have Addison's, you will be too ill to do the google searches.

Listening to quacks to diagnose real medical conditions is a risk I'm not willing to take; no one should be. Real fatigue and exhaustion can signal real health crises. It may be yet another case of folks using words vaguely again, which is a kick in the ass to people who are incredibly ill. Addison's literally puts a person down for the count; she is unable to rouse the energy to get to the bathroom, let alone carry on the daily activities. Death seems preferable to what the person is feeling. I've watched my loved one too many times go through Addison's crises to think much of folks who take a very real, very dangerous disease and pretend that they suffer from a more mild version.

What Mercola, Wilson, and other quacks are promoting is catering to folks who are busy, don't eat right, don't exercise, and don't sleep enough. They offer them a catchy title that fits right in with our busy, stressful lifestyles. Indeed, Mercola's suggestions for treatment gives many the permission to slack off, take it easy, sleep in:

  •         "Listen to your body and rest when you feel tired (this includes during the day by taking      
                  short naps or just laying down)
  • Sleep in (until 9 a.m. if you feel like it)
  • Exercise regularly using a comprehensive program of strength, aerobic, core, and interval training
  • Eat a healthy nutrient-dense diet like the one described in my nutrition plan, according to your Nutritional Type
  •           Avoid stimulants like coffee and soda, as these can further exhaust your adrenal    
                   glands."


 I don't know that this will fix anything, other than get you in trouble at your job if you consistently sleep in and lie down on the job. We all know, though, that eating right, exercising, and sleeping enough are important for feeling well. 


Of course, Mercola doesn't stop at the whole eat, sleep, and move suggestions: "You may also want to see a physician well versed in bioidentical hormone replacement, and get tested to see if you could benefit from the use of DHEA. DHEA is a natural steroid and precursor hormone produced by the adrenals, and levels are often very low in people with adrenal fatigue. Keep in mind, of course, that DHEA is not a quick cure, and should not be used as a sole treatment."


And there's more. You have no idea of just how many adrenal stressors there are! Holy cow, we are doomed! We need to head over to Wilson's site and buy his products


Hey, there are tests, you know! Spit in a tube, and you too can know if you have adrenal fatigue! For less than 200 bucks, you can know, so that you'll be able to order the right stuff from Wilson's site! 


It's a scary, scary syndrome, you know; Jigsaw Health reports that "Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, affects an estimated 80% of adults at some point in their lives. Yet, it is one of the most under-diagnosed illnesses in the U.S. Often, patients go from doctor to doctor trying to find out why they feel exhausted and sick. Too often they’re told that there is nothing wrong with them or, worse, they are made to feel like hypochondriacs." You're gonna need a lot of products to deal with it, of course. Imagine, 4 out of 5 of us have this and don't know it! Drats. That's okay, though, we can get this all in one from Jigsaw, for only 70 a month!


Adrenal fatigue is huge, at least as far as the quacks are concerned. There's lots of money to be made off people, especially if you can convince 4 out of 5 folks they've got it. 

10/26/2010

What Do You Mean It's Only Tuesday?

Some weeks you wish were over before they've barely started. Boy, that makes for a long week that way, though. I'm all for positive coping, and I'm a big fan of using chocolate, coffee, and the occasional libation to make the coping easier, but sometimes the hassles pile up and old issues come around and get in the way. Sometimes, there isn't enough chocolate to put one back to rights.

One of the more pressing worries weighing on me has to do with my girls and school. While I was always fond of and appreciated my son's teachers from kindergarten through second grade, I found dealing with the school system incredibly frustrating and emotionally exhausting. There weren't appropriate programs for him at the districts we lived in, and there were no full time special education rooms, which he very much needed. Although we stopped dealing with the school systems for my son when he turned nine (we home-schooled him), the baggage has followed me along. My girls are in good schools with great support systems, but all that baggage is still there; I get anxious over meetings with teachers and really worked up over IEP meetings even when I expect the meetings will go well. I worry over my girls, even though they are in completely different places than my son was and is. That worry is reasonable, but sometimes it amazes me that the heartache and emotions are the same as they were for my son, who is so very much disabled, when my girls are not, not in the same way, not at all. They have issues, but no intellectual disability to add to those issues.

Just as I carry this baggage over the difficulties that my son has faced into the present and my daughters's situations, I carry the baggage of sibling relationships into the present day, so that situations are filtered through the prism of past situations (yeah, I know that we all do, if we've got siblings, so even if your sibling relationships are good, I know you get me here). Family dynamics are complicated and when we're dealing with folks who know all our buttons, it makes being a grown up a right bitch and a half. And then I think, wow, middle-aged and it's just not ever gonna happen that my brothers won't want to push my buttons. It can really be difficult to handle the reality that our present day relationships are continually colored by our varying interpretations of our collective pasts, and I imagine it's even harder for my parents to have to wade through the tangled mess that sibling relationships can be. Trying to communicate honestly and openly is the only way I can figure out of the messes we make, but that's often easier said then done and requires the person on the other end to do the same. Hell, and humanity comes on in and kicks me in the ass, and the resentments of a lifetime rise right on up. Ick and sigh. Sometimes being a grown up bites. How can I help my three learn how to navigate their relationships with each other without baggage? Even kids on the spectrum are good at picking out their siblings' triggers and consistently pushing those buttons. Of course, they may smile and be honest, saying "I'm pushing your buttons now!" Siblings serve a purpose, I guess. They remind us of who we were, and they keep us from getting too cocky.

Combine a day of hassles, heartaches, and worries over one of my girlies and how best to help her function at her capabilities along with slow simmering sibling resentment (be interesting to see if either brother reads this and asks if it's him I'm resenting, won't it?), add in some disappointment with a couple students, and top it off with the nightmares from this morning, and I'm gonna venture that this has not been the best of days.

It certainly hasn't been the worst of days, either, and it's important for me to remember that these are indeed just hassles. They are hassles that can be put into perspective. My attitude can be adjusted, my relationships can be renegotiated, and I can decide how I will handle the challenges I face.

Ah, sure, sometimes we all need to whine a bit, bitch a bit, and vent a bit, and there's no shame in that. The shame would be in continuing the whine, bitch, and vent ad nauseam. But still, is it really only Tuesday? Frak. I need more chocolate.

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of...Umm, No!


This morning while waiting for the girls' bus.

Most mornings start way too early, even when they are mornings that I can sit for a bit, until pain subsides and creaky joints loosen. Some mornings, though, require instant moving and complete responsibility for getting folks up, ready, and out (oh, how spoiled I've grown since Rick changed to a shift that has him home and up in the mornings!). This was one of those mornings; Rick was gone to work before we all stirred. 

We get up here early enough to manage any issues, meltdowns, hissy fits, etc, and still get out to wait on the bus without a lot of tears, so all was well (as well as it gets here), and I stopped to grab this photo of the sky while we waited. 

The girls gone happily off to school, I came in to check on the bright boy, who was just as happily watching cartoons, all his chores for the moment forgotten.Worked for me; it's my late morning at the college, so I wandered into the bedroom, intent upon curling back up and snoozing. 


Mabel, my kitty of the five, was waiting for me, less than thrilled with the flash. I turned the lights off, curled up in bed, put the covers over my head, and rested there, waiting for sleep to find me. Instead of sleep, I listened to the house, to the sounds of the boy's feet as he anything but lightly moved from room to room, hollered at him where I was so he'd quit searching for me, and turned over, hoping for some sleep.

Well, crap. It found me, but it's a good reminder of why I don't go back to bed. Instead of nice dreams and sweet rest, I found myself in a multilayered nightmare with my frigging elevators (a frequent motif in my dreams), along with the ubiquitous dufflebags and boxes (I frequently move in my dreams, a constant stream of packing dreams, left over from all the military moves). That would have been fine, all in all, until it turned into monsters attacking me while I was in search of an elevator. I kicked, I fought, I screamed, and I realized I was asleep, so I screamed at myself to awaken. Which I then did, to find myself in my bed, wrapped in my lovely purple chenille bedspread complete with Mabel the itty-bitty kitty beside me, being attacked again, and I again kicked, screamed, fought, and hollered at myself to wake the hell up. Which I did, into another loop of dream. I finally woke up on the dream of where I was in bed, screaming for my son to help me. For whatever reason, that was the trick.

Screw naps. I'll stick to coffee.

10/24/2010

Of Metzinger's Ego Tunnels, Lanza's Biocentrism, Panic Attacks and Belly Laughs

When I woke up this morning, I had the kernel of an idea on a post about Thomas Metzinger's book The Ego Tunnel, which I've been working on reading for the last two weeks. It's my take-to-bed book, and I keep getting stuck on the intro and first chapter, rereading the passages as I try to take it in (perhaps as I'm drifting off into the land of nod is not the best time for weighty reading). 


This post isn't going where I initially intended it to (how like life, right?); almost immediately, instead of writing about how I'd been putting myself into panic attacks, which often dissolved into giggle attacks, over the whole idea of ego tunnels collapsing and losing oneself (really, who thinks about these things and then sets oneself straight into full blown panic attacks?), all at three in the morning, it occurred to me that putting Metzinger up against Robert Lanza, supposedly "one of the leading scientists in the world," would be way more fun than laughing solely at myself and the shit I dream up as I lie awake in the wee small hours of the morning.


First up is a nearly hour long lecture given in 2005 by Metzinger (start about six minutes in and watch for a few minutes to get a taste).





Now want to have your head spin in a different fashion? Listen to Lanza (forward to about 5 minutes in on the Lanza); you'll quickly grasp the difference in someone coming from a scientific perspective and someone who's so deeply woo woo he's got his head up Deepak Chopra's backside.





If that wasn't enough, there's nine parts of this radio interview. Go ahead, listen to them all! Oh boy, I'll pass, if that's okay (and I suspect you will, too).


Maybe you'll enjoy this video, though, at a short four minutes and some change, from The Biocentric University (hah, arrogance, anyone?), which serves as a clear illustration of how off into the land of woo Lanza is:





Perhaps you're not a visual fan, though. Words work well.


From Metzinger's book:




and this:
Now let us look at how Lanza strings his words together. From Lanza's latest Huffington Post article:


"Is there a higher level of being? Or are we merely a collection of atoms -- more dust spinning around the center of the galaxy?"
"According to biocentrism, the mind transcends space and time in that they're its tools, and not the other way around. This conception of reality dissolves away human individuality. "Sometimes," said Thoreau, "as I drift idly on Walden Pond, I cease to live and begin to be." The walls of space and time are illusory. We're all ephemeral forms of an individuality greater than ourselves, eternal even when we die. This is the indispensable prelude to immortality, and its highest form; we're forced to recall the words of the English poet John Donne, "Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee," and to understand them in a more scientific way."
Now, back to Metzinger:


Lanza conceives of the mind as the first thing, the primary thing, the only thing. In this, he attempts to create a poetical view of the universe in which there are as many realities as one can imagine, in which there is no death because of the endless plurality of universes in which we exist, and because, to him, we control space and time. It is woo beyond woo. Does it give him comfort, ease his mind, prevent those three-in-the-morning panic attacks? I suspect it does not; I imagine this kind of cockamamie "theory" arises directly from those existential crises that find no ready resolution. We have all, no doubt, experienced these moments that leave us breathless and shaking. What we do about it, the kinds of answers we seek, determines what our particular tunnel through reality will be.


I don't think Lanza's tunnel is working for him; it takes him further from reality. For someone who professes to be a leading scientist, to turn so far away from empiricism is to divorce himself from the attempt to understand the true nature of the universe. Forget waxing lyrical. Perhaps it works as a pick up line, but is it a satisfying way in which to live? 


Metzinger's conceptualization of the self is not an easy thing to face, but it is an honest attempt to tunnel through towards objective reality, regardless of how daunting a reality it is, and it is based on actual scientific reasoning backed by evidence, unlike Lanza's answer to everything. 


Metzinger's ego tunnels may invoke those panic attacks in the wee small hours of the morning, but any real examination of what makes us who we are, what our place is in this universe, and how we find meaning and purpose in such a stark landscape requires the experience of awe and panic. And then, if we embrace that for what it's worth, it requires a deep-throated laugh at our own expense. This may be all I am, this may be all there is, and it may be an ego tunnel that I constantly fear is tunneling off in the wrong direction (a worse fate to me than a total tunnel collapse), but it's a hell of a ride, and for that, I will shake my fist and belly laugh in hopes that my ego tunnel will expand to allow me to see more of what really is rather than what I wish would be.

10/23/2010

Denialism, Bill Maher, Sneers, and Looking the Fool

This information won't be new to the regular readers of Countering (as I know many of you read Orac's stuff), but it's good, occasionally to put stuff together in one place, especially so that when someone says, nah, Bill Maher's not against vaccines, "Western" medicine, or the whole germ theory of disease, you can simply link them to one post that collects a lot of the stuff that's been put out there on the internet.

What follows is a series of video clips and blog posts relating to germ theory denialism and anti-vaccination, specifically relating to Bill Maher, along with some closing thoughts about being science-based.





Bill Maher starts defending his previous wacky remarks, and proves in his denial of being a germ theory denialist that he still doesn't get it:



The interview that prompted the above video response:




Orac has written several posts on Maher; here is a select sample:


Bill Maher: Antivaccination wingnut





And, let's not forget that Orac's counterpoint, as well,  has written on Maher's lack of critical reasoning skills regarding medicine, germ theory, and anti-vaccination several times. Here are some of these:

“Oh, come on, Superman!”: Bill Maher versus “Western medicine”

“Oh, come on, Superman!” (Part II): Bill Maher meets Kryptonite over vaccines and “Western medicine”

Germ theory denialism: A major strain in “alt-med” thought


Many people applaud Maher's stance against organized religion and some of these individuals are no doubt tempted to brush off the fact that he doesn't apply logic and reason to matters of science and medicine. He's an atheist, and he disses believers! Go, Maher! Yeah, not so much, really, unless it's go back to school and take a critical thinking course.

He's a pompous ass who thinks a biting wit and a sardonic sneer make him superior to anyone who thinks differently from him, especially as it involves organized religion and science-based medicine. Until folks get that their particular beliefs don't make them superior to others, it will always be about in-grouping and out-grouping. It's harder to think of oneself as equal to those who hold what we believe are irrational beliefs; it's hard to remember that they think if we disagree we're the ones who are wrong, but it's the right course of action unless you want to lose the ability to move in compassion towards others who are different. By gods, sure, some folks are asshats, but they aren't any less human for it. None of us is perfect, and we each occasionally act the dumbass, after all.

Denialists go around thinking they've got a special claim on the truth, that everyone else is the fool. If we're science-based (and humble, no easy task for any of us), we allow that we're working at getting at the truth, and that we might be wrong, but here's what the preponderance of evidence suggests, and we work our way from there. It ain't perfect, but it beats the hell of looking a fool while wearing a sneer.

10/22/2010

Friday's Happy Joy Joy Photos

Holy cow, it's Friday again! Hah, time's moving way too fast! :-)

















10/21/2010

Appealing to Evidence

CNN covers the vaccine issue in a news article on its website, highlighting a family who nearly lost their child to Hib because they had bought into the doubts, fears, and misinformation out there regarding vaccines. 


It's an effective story, highlighting the very real dangers, say, from contracting Hib, where one in twenty children who contract it will DIE.


According to WHO:
"Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is a bacteria responsible for severe pneumonia, meningitis and other invasive diseases almost exclusively in children aged less than 5 years. It is transmitted through the respiratory tract from infected to susceptible individuals.
In 2000, Hib was estimated to have caused two to three million cases of serious disease, notably pneumonia and meningitis, and 386 000 deaths in young children. Hib disease is observed in all parts of the world but is difficult to confirm because it requires prompt laboratory investigation in patients that have not received prior antibiotic treatment.
The vaccine is now used in the routine immunization schedule of more than 100 countries and WHO recommends the use of Hib conjugate vaccines in all countries. The vaccine is available in monovalent presentation or combined with DTP and other vaccine combinations including with hepatitis B and inactivated polio vaccines."
Even in survivors, "it leaves 15 to 35% of survivors with permanent disabilities such as mental retardation or deafness. Contrary to what the name Haemophilus influenzae suggests, the bacterium does not cause influenza."


Additional information about Hib can be found at the Immunization Action Coalition:
"Is there a treatment for Hib disease?
Hib disease is treated with antibiotics, usually for 10 days. Most cases require hospitalization. Even with antibiotic treatment, 3%-6% of all children with Hib meningitis die from the disease.
How common is Hib disease in the United States?
Before the introduction of a Hib vaccine, H. influenzae type b (Hib) was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis among children younger than age five years in the United States. Every year about 20,000 children younger than age five years got severe Hib disease and about 1,000 children died. More than half of children who developed severe Hib disease were younger than age 12 months.
From 1996 through 2000, an average of 68 reported cases of Hib disease occurred in children younger than age 5 years each year. By 2006, this number had dropped to just 29 cases and, although some of the 179 cases with unknown serotype could have been due to Hib, the significant decline in incidence (>99%) since the pre-vaccine era is truly remarkable.
Can you get Hib disease more than once?
Yes. A child with Hib disease may not develop protective levels of antibodies. Children younger than age 24 months who have recovered from invasive Hib disease should be considered unprotected and receive the Hib vaccine as soon as possible."
It isn't an fallacy when it's an appropriate appeal to authority or fear. The tendency for some individuals over at Huffington Post who have a passing knowledge of fallacies is to take an argument which has been made logically but whose conclusion is disliked and throw out a charge that it's an example of some particular fallacy; they never show how it's a fallacy exactly, though. 


Again, an argument may be an appeal to a particular thing, but that doesn't automatically render it a fallacy. As stated at the Nizkor Project
"It is important to distinguish between a rational reason to believe (RRB) (evidence) and a prudential reason to believe (PRB) (motivation). A RRB is evidence that objectively and logically supports the claim. A PRB is a reason to accept the belief because of some external factor (such as fear, a threat, or a benefit or harm that may stem from the belief) that is relevant to what a person values but is not relevant to the truth or falsity of the claim. For example, it might be prudent to not fail the son of your department chairperson because you fear he will make life tough for you. However, this does not provide evidence for the claim that the son deserves to pass the class."
Some of the favorite fallacies to throw out there are ad hominems and strawmen, but appeal to fear/appeal to emotion work, too. In Stagliano's Huff thread, a poster provided a link to the CNN story with no commentary attached. Most people who take the time to read that story at CNN would be horrified that this family went through this, that this child nearly died. They might be even more horrified when they realize that 1 in 20 kids who get Hib die. Most people, anyway. So, to find instead that the sole reaction to the comment was that the poster who provided the link was committing a fallacy in posting it, using an appeal to emotion, was rather interesting, to say the least. Especially since the argument put forth was that in the very first paragraph of the story, the appeal to emotion was supposedly used. Except it wasn't. Not even close. Here's the first, second, and third paragraphs. Heck, I'll through in the first six:
"For years, Kelly Lacek felt she and her husband made the right choice by not having her two youngest kids vaccinated. After all, the children were thriving without immunizations.
But in 2006, Matthew, their youngest, complained of a sore throat and a pain in his neck. The 3 year old suddenly developed a high fever. Hunched over, he struggled to breathe.
When his parents brought Matthew to the hospital, an older pediatrician asked, "Was your son vaccinated?" 
No, he wasn't. The Laceks were among those parents who had decided to postpone or skip vaccines altogether, because of skepticism over the number of shots required, the ingredients or concerns over a now-largely discredited link between vaccines and autism. 
While vaccine rates are strong overall, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among people who have private health insurance, there's evidence of a troubling decline. 
The rate of vaccination for kids covered under private insurance fell 4 percentage points in 2009, according to a nonprofit association that certifies health care organizations. It was the first time a drop had been seen. Read the full story on CNNMoney."
Hmmm. Nope. No overt appeal to emotion there. It's just relaying the events. Must be some serious reading into it. Oh I get it, just relaying a story without a particular conclusion renders something an appeal. After all the Nizkor Project does note this:
"It should be noted that in many cases it is not particularly obvious that the person committing the fallacy is attempting to support a claim. In many cases, the user of the fallacy will appear to be attempting to move people to take an action, such as buying a product or fighting in a war. However, it is possible to determine what sort of claim the person is actually attempting to support. In such cases one needs to ask "what sort of claim is this person attempting to get people to accept and act on?" Determining this claim (or claims) might take some work. However, in many cases it will be quite evident. For example, if a political leader is attempting to convince her followers to participate in certain acts of violence by the use of a hate speech, then her claim would be "you should participate in these acts of violence." In this case, the "evidence" would be the hatred evoked in the followers. This hatred would serve to make them favorable inclined towards the claim that they should engage in the acts of violence. As another example, a beer commercial might show happy, scantily clad men and women prancing about a beach, guzzling beer. In this case the claim would be "you should buy this beer." The "evidence" would be the excitement evoked by seeing the beautiful people guzzling the beer."
 The obvious conclusion to the CNN piece is that parents should vaccinate their children so that they will be protected against Hib and not be in the 5% of kids who DIE from it or the 35% who are permanently disabled. So, maybe the whole piece can be argued to be an appeal to the evidence, with a nice anecdote to make folks connect. After all, "In all fairness it must be noted that the use of tactics to inspire emotions is an important skill. Without an appeal to peoples' emotions, it is often difficult to get them to take action or to perform at their best. For example, no good coach presents her team with syllogisms before the big game. Instead she inspires them with emotional terms and attempts to "fire" them up. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. However, it is not any acceptable form of argumentation. As long as one is able to clearly distinguish between what inspires emotions and what justifies a claim, one is unlikely to fall prey to this fallacy" (Nizkor Project).


See, it isn't a fallacy to provide information that is factual. Here, let's look at it this way:


Hib is an infectious disease that kills 1 in 20 children who contract it. It also leaves as much as 35% percent of survivors with permanent disabilities.


Hib is preventable through the use of vaccines.


Based on the risks of death and disability, it is reasonable to protect your children from this disease through the use of vaccination.


This is not a fallacious appeal to fear, even if you add to that argument the real life story of a family who didn't  vaccinate and then nearly lost their child to this disease. There's no question the child contracted Hib. There's no question the child nearly died. Putting a face on facts isn't fearmongering. It's an example. 


The question of whether or not to vaccinate yourself and your children should be made with your doctor. It should be made based on an accurate assessment of the risks of getting the disease, the risks of death and disability from getting the disease, and the risks of vaccination. If the risks are greater without vaccination, then logically, we should vaccinate. Unfortunately, too many of us do not make decision based on logic or rationality. 


It's time to quit being knee-jerk about this. Make informed decisions based on the evidence, not on fear. Don't assume what you've read or heard is the correct information. Go to WHO and look it up if you don't trust the CDC.


I know there's a lot of clatter out there that gets in the way. There are horror stories at every turn. What should make people sit up and take notice in the CNN story is not the family's story, horrifying as it was. People should pay attention to the statistics that all the major health organization in the world agree on. Hib is dangerous. Pertussis is as well. They are both incredibly dangerous infections when it comes to our most vulnerable, our infants and small children. Adults in these children's lives have a responsibility to do what they can to safely protect their children, and sometimes that means vaccinations for those children who are old enough (again, that's for you and your doctor to decide). It should always means that we provide a protective barrier by keeping our vaccines up to date if we can safely be vaccinated.