Look. I have a man-cold. For all you men out there, you know how much I am suffering at the moment. But, some things cannot pass.
This morning I received a group email from Judy Wilyman, in which she has finally come clean about her anti-vaccinationist belief system. Anti-vaccinationists rarely admit that they are anti-vaccine; so, most of the time, you need to rely on the constant arguments they use to argue against vaccination. So, think of it as, “I’m not anti-vaccine, but, I rely predominantly on anti-vaccine arguments, although I’m not anti-vaccine, and I just argue against vaccines”. They know anti-vaccinationism is both scientifically and ethically anathema to reason and public health, so, they deny their true selves. Sometimes I feel sorry for them. Denying your denialism cannot be good for the soul.
Wilyman starts out her email with an anti-vaccine favourite: the toxins gambit:
Re Vaccine Ingredients:
Aluminium hydroxide, Aluminium hydroxide/phosphate, Aluminium phosphate, Borax, Egg Protein, Formaldehyde, Gelatin, Gentamicin (antibiotic), Kanamycin (antibiotic), Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Neomycin (Antibiotic), Phenol, Phenoxyethanol, Polymyxin (antibiotic), Thiomersal (mercury compound), Yeast (current up to March 2013)
If you are thinking that this list of ingredients sounds very scary, you would be right. This is always the intent of anti-vaccinationists when practising the toxins gambit. They want to scare parents. What anti-vaccinationists always fail to explain are the minute quantities contained in a vaccine, why they are there, and the fact that these toxins and poisons are not toxic or poisonous at the levels contained in a vaccine. Anti-vaccinationists know this. They just don’t care. It doesn’t fit their narrative to explain nuances which debunk their own arguments. Dr David Gorski’s post, here, provides a thorough debunking of this argument; an argument of which Wilyman should feel ashamed to have used.
Currently the government, doctors and the media are informing the community that if you inject the above ingredients into the tissues of developing infants you will improve the health of your children.
Bollocks. This is an inept Strawman argument. Vaccines are not provided to “improve the health of your children”. Vaccines are provided as a preventative measure to give a child a higher chance of avoiding contracting a vaccine preventable disease.
Wilyman continues to make three central points to back her argument:
1. Vaccines have reduced the deaths and illness from infectious diseases.
Not True: Vaccines did not reduce the deaths and illness from infectious diseases and many vaccines have been added to the schedule without a proper debate of the risks and benefits. Therefore, it is also untrue that deaths to infectious diseases will return in developed countries if people do not vaccinate. You will notice that these diseases are still prevalent in developing countries – even though they have had vaccination programs for decades.
This is known as the vaccines didn’t save us gambit. This gambit is patently false, and dishonest, as explained in this post on Respectful Insolence. Although the common tactic used by anti-vaccinationists is to use mortality rates to prove vaccines have had no effect on disease incidence (they have), it is a rare and untrustworthy anti-vaccine campaigner who will claim that vaccines have had no effect on both mortality and morbidity.
Of special note is what is happening right now, in Wales. MMR immunisation rates dropped due to Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent research, and there is now a huge outbreak, spreading beyond Wales, which is a direct consequence of the low MMR immunisation uptake a decade ago. Preliminary data is now coming in showing that the MMR vaccine has a spectacularly high success rate in preventing Measles infection:
MMR vaccine effectiveness
Data on confirmed measles cases and their immunisation history continues to be actively collected during the outbreak. The validity of the data will not be finally confirmed and published until after the outbreak is over, therefore the following statement is a preliminary and may be revised.
Current data (to 26 April 2013) from the outbreak shows very few confirmed cases have caught measles after having had the MMR vaccine. The vast majority of confirmed measles cases are individuals who have never been vaccinated with MMR.
Less than 10 laboratory confirmed cases are reported to have previously received any MMR vaccination. [out of 1039 cases]
This emerging data suggests that in the outbreak area one dose of MMR vaccine protects against measles in more than 95 out of every 100 vaccinated, and two doses protects in around 99 out of every 100 vaccinated.
Anti-vaccinationists have been noticeably quiet about the Measles outbreak. This is why.
That Wilyman invokes immunisation programs in developing countries as proof of her claims is quite startling and telling. There are many reasons, both logistical and ideological, why it is difficult to implement successful immunisation programs in developing countries. Wilyman would prefer to leave out the nuance, again, and stick the anti-vaccine line. It doesn’t matter that, according to the WHO, “Measles vaccination resulted in a 71% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2011 worldwide.” Anti-vaccinationists just don’t care.
Wilyman’s second point:
2. ‘Vaccination’ is ‘immunisation’.
Not True: The government is misusing these words on its website. Vaccination is the act of getting a vaccine – not all recipients receive immunity after a vaccine therefore doctors and the government should always be referring to ‘vaccination’ not ‘immunisation’. Immunisation implies that immunity has been achieved and this is not proven. Some vaccinated people still get the diseases they are vaccinated against so the government has a ‘vaccination policy’ not an ‘immunisation policy’ – this is being misrepresented to the public.
Apart from playing a silly semantic game, Wilyman is relying on yet another logical fallacy called the Nirvana fallacy. This is also known as the Fallacy of the Perfect World, and more recently, The Doreyan Fallacy. Anyone who uses this argument needs to feel shame: but, they don’t. Basically, this immature argument states that if something is not 100% safe – even if it 99% safe – then, it is deemed to be 100% unsafe. And the same is argued with effectiveness: if it isn’t 100% effective – even if it is 99% effective – then, is has zero effectiveness. I know. It’s embarrassing that anyone could run those lines; but, they do, and they do it after being corrected with evidence. Vaccines induce immunity. Some do it better than others (just like the MMR, above). But, to claim that vaccines do not induce immunity is a lie. You can only forgive wilful ignorance so many times before it needs to be called a lie.
Wilyman’s third point:
3. Vaccines do not cause autism
Not True: The government’s schedule of vaccines has never been tested for safety against unvaccinated children (or animals and hence the policy is unethical in children) therefore it has not been proven that vaccines do not cause autism. The current scientific evidence suggests it is the most likely cause of autism.
Apart from using another logical fallacy, called the Argument from Ignorance, Wilyman is making a bold claim which has been debunked Ad nauseam (another logical fallacy), relying on another logical fallacy, the Proof by Assertion. Basically, anti-vaccinationists put forward this argument, incessantly, often unreferenced (as Wilyman has done), and using citations which do not back up their claims. We already know the citations they will use: they have been addressed here. In stark contrast to the claims of anti-vaccinationists like Wilyman, here is a list of 41 reputable studies showing that vaccines are not linked to autism. Seriously, put down the vaccine/autism zombie. Bad dog.
Wilyman continues with some health freedom verbiage. I won’t bore you with it. You can read it for yourself. All I will add is that immunisation is required in some workplaces (such as health), and I wholeheartedly support this. This has nothing to do with “discrimination”. Health workers who shun immunisations should be more discriminatory about which profession is right for them. Health ain’t one of them.
One has to wonder how Wilyman has ever gotten as far as she has, with so little. She likes to make hay of her credentials, yet never shows us anything intellectually as to why she should hold those credentials:
She used to sign off as “PhD Researcher”, which wrongly implied that she was already a successful PhD candidate. As you can see, she still signs off as “PhD Candidate”, yet, attempts to distance herself from the University of Wollongong, but not really. Here is a screenshot from Wilyman’s website, noting that her activism is directly linked to her academic work:
The University of Wollongong to this day defends Wilyman’s work, noting that her activism is not related to her candidature. Given the topic of her thesis, and her own admission on her website, I find that hard to believe.
Maybe the University of Wollongong can offer Wilyman a place in the Physics Department. I’ve already made up a cover sheet, based on her work today.