Vaginas, Vaccines, and Vitriol

Got your attention, didn't I? After my last post, I'd commented to Kathleen that I'd really wanted to call it Vagina Roses (although adding Penis Lilies would have been even catchier), and she came up with a post title of Vagina Roses, Vaccines, and Vitriol and basically dared me. I've altered it for the alliterative effect, but I promise to add some roses in along with the text. Hey, why not? Just the other day I was scrolling through the directory and Jillsmo's abbreviated snippet ended on the word fuck: "Seriously, guys, lately I've had *nothing* to write about. Not kidding around here. No.Th.Ing. There's only so many times I can write about how much I fuck..." Why not have a post snippet that included vagina and penises in it? People will be dying to see how I tie that into vaccines and vitriol.

In my post "The Reinforcements That Community Brings: Anti-Vaccine Narratives Provide More Drama" over at Science 2.0 (spiffed the title up from the post here and at wordpress but otherwise the same), I mentioned Jenny McCarthy and how Alison MacNeil accused the science-based side of calling McCarthy a slut and dismissing her. Here's your vaginas.

Anytime a woman, be it a reporter, a governmental official, or a president of a non-profit autism organization is mentioned over at a certain anti-vaccine site, something misogynistic is said about her. The derision that both men and women at that site have for women who don't think as they do is more than palpable; it's choking in its thickness. Now, to be fair, they have no respect for the men, either, but there's a qualitative difference. And it's not one you tend to see done over on the science-based side for the most part. It does happen, and I think that when people find themselves taking Stagliano's name and messing with it, well, it's condescending and potentially misogynistic, and it's not necessary. Whether it bothers Stagliano or not, I couldn't say. Perhaps she feels the same way I do when someone on their side feels the need to mess up my last name: unimpressed with their lack of imagination and juvenile behavior. Oooh, you've called me Wobbly. Wow. Good for you. Or Kwibble. How clever! If you can't do better and come up with something with more shock value to signal your contempt for me, why bother? I mean, really, give it the good old college try, at least. What's between one's legs shouldn't be in play when it comes to deciding the quality of our claims. It's the evidence that matters, not the genitals.

Which brings us to vaccines. Now certainly, you've probably not seen the anti-vaccine's favorite current study covered in quite this way, but why not? Other than Neuroskeptic, no one seems particularly interested in looking at the study the anti-vaccine folks are salivating over. Gayle DeLong, a professor of economics and finance, mother to two on the spectrum, 
board member of SafeMinds and a NVIC petition filer, wrote a journal article entitled "A Positive Association found between Autism Prevalence and Childhood Vaccination uptake across the U.S. Population" in which she writes as a foregone conclusion that "There are several reasons why vaccines may trigger autism." And this is in her introduction. She didn't set out to discover if there was a correlation or a connection between vaccines and autism; she already knows. And she uses articles by the Geiers, Blaxill and Blaylock to bolster her claims. Of course the anti-vaccine people know we'll dismiss her article because our minds are closed. And to be honest, I suspect that's why it's gotten little if any attention. It's mined data by someone with serious conflicts of interest and even a cursory reading of the article reveals problems: "The data in this study were not exact." No, really? The author relied on people like the Geiers to make the claim that autism was linked to mercury, and then decides that even though thimerosal has been reduced, "other ingredients could link vaccines to autism." 

Note that DeLong's first two descriptors are not reason to dismiss her claims. Being a parent or a PhD in an unrelated field aren't disqualifiers. The fact that she's on SafeMinds' board and a petitioner is reason to be very concerned about the quality of her claims and evidence.

All of this appears to have been done to push for a fully-vaccinated/unvaccinated study and to push the idea that it's the aluminum causing it. DeLong closes her tortured article with the admonishment that "Reducing thimerosal and observing an increase in autism exonerates neither thimerosal nor vaccines from being potential links to autism. Further research into the relationship between vaccines and autism is warranted."  

It's muddied and useless for telling us anything. It includes speech disorders into the mix of autism, an arbitrary six year gap between vaccination and autism/language disorder data (data that is ADMITTEDLY inexact and not matched--how do we know that those in a state and vaccinated in a year were still there six years later?), and statistical analysis that throws away some variables in order to make the numbers work better, and relies on bad prior research and a preformed conclusion stated in the introduction. And yet the anti-vaccine movement loves it and believes it proves what they've known all along. 

Already I spent too much of the last two days on it. My time is better spent tweaking flower photos.

Moving on to our last v: vitriol, although this is pretty weak vitriol, just enough to make sure I know that they don't value my opinions. I perturb some folks, doncha know? So much so that they have to do that whole name butchering and prattle on and on, even after they promise repeatedly that they'll go away. Although, as I noted above, the Wobbly and the derision is pretty lame. Yeah, I get they hold me in contempt all because I don't accept their premises.  That's somehow apparently very threatening to them. Doesn't that strike you as more than pathetic? Do they have nothing better to do? Are their ideas so weak, so unable to stand up to real debate that they resort to name calling and delusional rants? Well, yes, they are. And that's what they are left with.

That post was pretty tame for me. All I was doing was pointing out that they often had the upper hand on compelling narratives and we had a hard fight against that. Oh sure, I compared them to Camping's followers, but you know, that's fair, don't you think? Actually, that's not nice to Camping's followers; I bet they're nicer.  

So we've had the ubiquitous flower shots kicked up a notch, right, to hammer in the whole flower thing (oddly enough some of the anti-vaccine folks have nothing better to do than mock my flowers and wonder what's up with that), and I think I've probably made any subliminal points I had. Probably.

Just in case I left any out:

1 comment:

kathleen said...

AND I didn't even have to double dong..I mean dog dare you! Wonderful post..love the black and white..cluster of roses? reminds me of something out of a fairy tale..:)