More juvenile nonsense from the anti-vaccination crowd

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Just to underline how irrational and desperate the anti-vaccination lobby is, here’s a simple graph presented by one of their star speakers (Dr. Julian Whitaker) at a recent debate, as reported in great detail by Orac. The debate was part of ‘FreedomFest‘, which presumably means ‘freedom from reality’, judging by the topics under discussion.

This graph was presented in an attempt to show how the rate of autism was increasing as a result of the intrusion of big pharma in pushing vaccinations onto our children.

Take a look at it. If you’ve done high-school maths (early high school at that), you’ll see how absurd it is, especially as it was presented by someone with a Dr. in their name.

For a start, take a look at the data at 2012. There is nothing in the data for preceding years which would suggest the succeeding years growing at the exponential rate shown. This is sheer fabrication.

The graph also tells us that by around 2030-40, ALL children born will be autistic.

In fact, but the time 100% of girls are being born autistic, about 110% of boys will be born autistic. That’s some achievement, even for big pharma!

The general population curve just doesn’t make sense. Presumable, it’s just the sum of male and female births, but the curve doesn’t seem to work that way. Maybe he’s included some other lifeforms in the general population, but it’s hard to say.

Anyway, simple story, but just another example of the tactics employed by this crowd. Like so many denialists, it’s the FUD tactic – sowing fear, uncertainty and doubt, instead of presenting real facts.



4 thoughts on “More juvenile nonsense from the anti-vaccination crowd

    Dan Rea said:
    July 23, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Errr yes well. As you know I’m a fan of natural selection so I don’t mind too much; in case anyone is wondering why the data only starts at year 2000 it is because all three curves are the same bloody curve. I used a graphical editing program to confirm… cutting out the yellow line and pasting it back onto the original image with transparency shows that it perfectly overlaps the ‘Boys’ and ‘General Population’ curves. When overlapping with the ‘Boys’ curve the first data point lies exactly on year 0, instances 0. They got the original line, copied it across to make the other two lines (‘Girls’ curve was moved down a pixel) and then chopped off the 1990-2000 section in a stupid attempt to hide the evidence of their child-like activity.

    There’s a bucket load of things that make this chart dodgy though, isn’t there?
    Data points not lining up.
    Using the first quarter of the data points to make predictions 30 years into the future.
    Gigantic denominations on both axises.
    Who is dumb enough to think this is the real-deal?

    There was another graph at this schtick allegedly showing mortality rates:

    Anyone who has ever used a graphical package and/or a statistical package like SPSS or PSPP knows that the backdrop was made seperately (looks like SPSS) and the data lines were painted on top using the line drawing tool of another program- never mind the reasons why this second graph is absurd…

    Who the… how the hell? Who are these people? How do they FunCTIoN? Surely day to day hassles like driving a car would kill them all off!

      rationalbrain said:
      July 23, 2012 at 12:07 pm

      Dan, agreed on the natural selection thing, but I’m afraid with vaccination they could take us all with them!
      Unfortunately the consumers of this misinformation are really impressed by anything ‘sciencey’ and latch on to it. Funny how they employ science tools to try to tear down science right?

        Dan Rea said:
        July 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm

        If only we could combat stupidity with pseudo-stupidity.
        I have a couple questions for you rb… you are an expert on the topic so I’ll really appreciate any answer you have. 🙂

        I reckon the ‘latching-on’ you mention above is really accurate. I think lot of it stems back to the human need to belong to something; to be part of some set of sub-cultures as a mirror for our sense of identity. I think you’re touching on this in your recent post on Autism and NWO:
        (warning: severe hand-waving in the following section… personal opinion only)
        That Brian Dunning bloke really worded it well. It got me thinking about how we all have this ‘need to belong’ thing; being aware of it doesn’t mean you’re not human… For instance at the beginning of this year I decided to go for a vegan diet for reasons of health and personal ethics and hoo boy is there extremism, irrationality and pseudo-science on both sides of the fence. We’ve all heard of psycho fruitarian-vegan types, but some people will defend their Aussie-BBQ’s with an equally irrational oz-pride patriotism. If you define yourself purely by the sub-cultures you consider yourself to be a part of then to have one of your sub-cultures attacked gets interpreted as a personal attack. To admit your sub-culture was wrong would be to admit you are wrong, and that who you have been for a large portion of your life was invalid. I think that the more extreme the subculture, the more intense the established identity within that culture will defend it; it’s the difference between admitting you were wrong (eg,ElmoresOil), and admitting you have been incredibly fundamentally batshit-crazy wrong (eg,UFO crackpots).

        As someone who obviously has a lot more experience dealing with the more extreme types of identities out there, have you come to this point (or something similar) yourself? If so, what tips can you give in regards to not offending slightly whacky yet otherwise lovely people? I’ve read that at time’s even you have had to nod, smile, and slowly back away…

        I have really sat down and thought about how to word things in a way that separates the topic from the delusion-holder, but I’ve never had an outright success; these days I’m resigned to thinking that it’s purely the luck of the draw (nature+nurture) that you develop into an adult with enough humility to admit being wrong, and the self-esteem to not completely construct your personal identity as a list of sub-cultures and anti-sub-cultures. Any tips appreciated!

        rationalbrain said:
        July 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm

        Thanks for the thoughtful comment.
        There’s so much in this discussion not sure where to start.
        One thing which is relevant is my friend Pizza’s thesis on tribes, which you’ll find over on the Essays page. But get yourself a strong coffee and prepare to settle in for that one.
        On a more general note, the belonging thing is clearly an evolutionary trait, otherwise we wouldn’t form clumps as we do, although it’s long since ceased having any survival advantage in most cases. So there’s no doubt in my mind we are born with that need to one extent or another.
        What is more interesting is the variation and extent of this need. You’ve pointed to a couple of examples, but there seems to be an infinite number. Religion also qualifies, as does the small group of people who agree with my views on this blog. Obviously they’re at different ends of the spectrum, but same principle.
        But the really interesting thing is what happens when things go beyond simple agreement on a view of the world, as we have now, to outright fanaticism about some aspect of it. Hence religious fanatics, conspiracy nuts and so on. At this point, any possibility to reason goes out the window. For example, while I could try to convince you that a vegan diet means your diet is no longer balanced, and have at least a chance of success, I would have no such chance convincing an Islamic fundy that Allah is not actually that great. Or even that Allah is not actually, well, anything. (BTW, thanks for noticing the tactical retreats when I assess the possibility of reasoning with a correspondent as vanishingly small. This is why I enjoyed the conversation with the MyTK people – I think I managed to make a dent on a couple of them.)
        The point about admitting you were wrong is significant too. But I think it’s a symptom, not a cause of people hanging on to their group-think. To illustrate, take the scientific method and someone who subscribes to it, say, oh, me. I strongly believe that we have sufficient evidence to believe in anthropogenic global warming, and that it’s a significant economic and environmental threat to us over the next 30-50 years. As such, I’m a member of a significant group. Also a member of a significant group are those who disbelieve that the same threat exists. The difference between us is that when faced with sufficient evidence to the contrary, I am prepared to change my mind, while I’m betting most of those on the other side will rationalise some opposition to the issue, no matter what is put before them. So, it’s not the issue, nor the evolutionary need to be a member of a group; rather it’s some wiring which inhibits the ability or desire to take evidence-based positions on issues. It comes back to the way of thinking about the world.
        Hope this stream of consciousness makes some sense!

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