Intelligent Design

The Warfare Thesis in Action: Why Jimmy Kimmel is Important

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On July 30 of last year Meredith Prohaska had the misfortunate of having a sore throat. At what would have been a routine visit to the doctor the 12-year-old’s mother was told that Meredith should have an HPV vaccine. By dinnertime Meredith was dead.  Read more

61 Replies to “The Warfare Thesis in Action: Why Jimmy Kimmel is Important

  1. 1

    The imprimatur of science is being used by ideological zealots to pursue their agenda via the Warfare Thesis. Unfortunately, most people – even those involved – have no idea they are contributing to an increasingly fascistic state.

  2. 2
    News says:

    Cornelius, I looked at a related problem in: Media’s methane-based life: No it is not just sensationalism: It is cheerleading for a worldview, one that permits, even encourages, fiction to stand in for fact. At bottom, Kimmel mayn’t care very much whether girls died as the result of the vax. His attachment to fact is low. On the other hand, he sees an opportunity to ridicule the flyover morons he hates anyway. And his attraction ridiculing people he hates is high.

    So if we watch him for entertainment, we enable his approach to the issues, and can be assumed to agree with his priorities. If we change the channel, we don’t.

    Note: The HPV vax prompts a thought experiment: Assume we can vaccinate a 12-year-old against ever starting smoking, because the vaccine provokes a very unpleasant (though not dangerous) sensation? And it is true that a tiny percentage will die, and a slightly larger percentage will encounter significant bad effects. Would the same people approve the vax? Disapprove the vax? Want it made compulsory? Just wondering. But we can see from this what a slope we are perched on. Where we could once persuade, now we remove choice.

  3. 3
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    Wow this is a dumb post. Saved and tweeted for posterity, as with the Hunter’s other anti-vax post.

    Reasons it’s dumb:

    1. The Warfare Thesis was supposed to be about science versus religion. The modern anti-vaccination movement is not primarily religious, it is primarily about liberal forms of quackery. Although, apparently Cornelius is seeking to link the two.

    2. Just where does Cornelius Hunter get off ignoring virtually all doctors, the strong fundamental logic and scientific understanding behind vaccination, and the massive weight of hundreds of studies of millions of vaccine patients? One anecdotal case could have many, many explanations, including mere coincidence.

    3. The fact that ID people, allegedly pro-science, aren’t even challenging Hunter on this, either here or at UD, says volumes about either their shoddy scientific acumen or their crazy preference for perverse contrarianism against the alleged dogma of mainstream science, even in the case where the public health is at stake.

  4. 4
    Zachriel says:

    The medical examiner determined Meredith Prohaska died from an overdose of antihistimine, diphenhydramine intoxication.
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/h.....58462.html

  5. 5
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    Wow, this gets worse the more I research it. It’s not just “official records” that say this wasn’t due to the vaccine, it’s the friggin’ medical examiner’s official report! That’s the whole point of having medical examiners, to investigate these things! And they identified a positive rare-but-known cause, benadryl overdose! How dare you not even mention this stuff?

    Random news story: http://www.jsonline.com/news/h.....58462.html
    ====================
    A much-touted vaccine given to teens and preteens to prevent cancers caused by a sexually transmitted virus did not cause or contribute to the death of a 12-year-old Waukesha girl whose mother found her unresponsive in their home on July 30, the Waukesha County medical examiner said Wednesday.

    Diphenhydramine intoxication — ingestion of a lethal level of an antihistamine — caused the death of Meredith Prohaska, though the manner of death is undetermined, Medical Examiner Lynda Biedrzycki said in a prepared statement.

    “There is no evidence that any vaccination caused or contributed to her death,” Biedrzycki said.

    Diphenhydramine is a type of antihistamine found in various allergy and sleep medicines, including Benadryl, Tylenol PM, Nytol and Sominex, according to the National Institutes of Health. Overdose occurs when someone accidentally or intentionally takes more than the normal or recommended amount of a drug or medication.

    No further details from the 12-year-old’s autopsy were provided. If her death had been caused by an interaction with another substance, it would have been noted in the statement about manner of death.

    The girl’s mother, Rebecca Prohaska, told the news media in early August that she believed her daughter may have had an allergic reaction to the human papillomavirus vaccine, also known as HPV, about six hours after the vaccine was administered in a doctor’s office.

    The mother’s speculation was reported by several television stations and the Journal Sentinel, and was picked up by opponents of childhood vaccinations across the country as inaccurate evidence that the vaccine can kill.
    ====================

  6. 6
    Mark Frank says:

    This disturbs me because while ID is kind of interesting in one sense it doesn’t matter much – very few lives are lost because people make the wrong decision about the origin of life. However, vaccinations matter a lot. Misleading stories cost lives and misery and anyone who is putting forward a public opinion that throws doubt on them has to also take responsibility for any lives or misery caused by not taking them – that includes you Cornelius. I don’t say you shouldn’t express your opinion – but it had better be based on good knowledge and good thinking.

    Vaccines are a complex issue and certainly there are arguments in their favor. But vaccines are not perfectly safe. That is a simple fact that no responsible medical professional would deny

    I hate to be boring about this but it depends what you mean by “perfectly safe”. If you mean that there is zero risk of harm then of course they are not perfectly safe – neither is getting out of bed or eating toast. If you mean as safe as other activities that we regard as acceptably safe then most vaccines fall comfortably into that category; while not taking them is unsafe and also places others at risk. But to prove that you have to get statistical and scientific.  Tales, however tragic, of individuals who took a vaccine, and then had bad things happen to them, are just not evidence.

    And of course the benefits and risks do not fit a simple formula. Each vaccine is different, and each person is different. Science can inform, but it cannot answer the difficult risk-reward tradeoff question.

    You write as though the risks of vaccines were unknown. That just isn’t true.  Like drugs they have to go through the most horrendous testing before they can be released (arguably too strong because it prevents perfectly good treatments that could save lives being used). Note what a great exception it was to  by-pass these regulations to use an Ebola vaccine. They are also monitored continuously after release. Science may not provide the final answer to the risk-reward decision but it can provide an awful lot of help.

    While these are complex issues, the common thread is that in all cases, the mockers hold to irrational positions. The passion is exceeded only by the ignorance.

    I don’t know about Jimmy Kimmel but the experts are certainly not ignorant or irrational. There is a massive amount of information. Just look at the detail on the CDC website. What is really irrational is scare stories based on half-understood anecdotes and  innuendo such as:

    Meredith Prohaska’s cause of death was not the HPV vaccine. At least that is what the official records say. After all, as Hugh Hewitt assures us, correlation does not imply causation

    She died of an overdose of an antihistamine – not found in the vaccination.  Her mother was absent when she became ill so we have no knowledge of what she might done to have the overdose. 
    On the specifics of HPV vaccination. The recommended treatment starts age 12. That isn’t because the medics expect girls start sexual activity at that age. It is just a good age to complete the treatment and be sure of vaccinating girls before they are sexually active. To quote from the article in the Journal Sentinel:

    About 14 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year. HPV infection can cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in women and penile cancer in men. HPV also can cause anal cancer, mouth/throat (oropharyngeal) cancer and genital warts in both men and women.

    If you want to cast doubt on the vaccine you had better have a very sound case based on solid evidence. A few airy sentences about how complex the issue is and an irrelevant (albeit tragic) tale are not a case. The fate of those who don’t take it and get cancer as a result will be to a small extent your fault.

  7. 7
    News says:

    NickMatzke_UD and Zachriel:

    “The mother’s speculation was reported by several television stations and the Journal Sentinel, and was picked up by opponents of childhood vaccinations across the country as inaccurate evidence that the vaccine can kill.”

    Ah. So people were incited to doubt by legacy media that they falsely believed would follow some standards. That is something I have been writing about, how the loss of a gatekeeper role means loss of a sense of responsibility.

    (The media types are not necessarily worse people, they are just no longer the people one should go to for information.)

    Media no longer fulfil the role they did when the polio vaccine became available in Canada in, I think, 1955-1956. I remember the summer polio scares and the stampede to the local school when the inoculation supplies arrived.

    No one was promoting hysteria; it was needless. The rows of infant iron lungs lined up at Toronto Sick Kids and the adults and children struggling around in calipers saw to that.

    Counterintuitively, the promotion of hysteria can be – depending on the culture – inverse to the level of actual danger.

    i hope Kimmel is helping to identify media failings in these matters.

  8. 8
    OldArmy94 says:

    Oh my, the wailing and gnashing of teeth among the Materialist Prophets is great this morning.

    Look, I am not anti-vaccine, AT ALL. I believe in their efficacy and safety. But, your indignant responses attest to your allegiance and faith to the gods whom you worship. Ironically, you don’t even realize you are making Dr. Hunter’s point for him with such over-the-top rhetoric about him being responsible for people’s deaths.

  9. 9
    Me_Think says:

    IMO,this is an unnecessary post. It is beyond ridiculous.

  10. 10

    I guess I shouldn’t find it surprising that the anti-IDists not only utterly fail to comprehend the point of Hunter’s post, but to exemplify the very thing Hunter is pointing out as a danger – the implementation of warfare thesis techniques (such as marginalization) against anyone who lies outside of the approved view, as if disagreement with the approved view is necessarily due to religious fanaticism/ignorance.

  11. 11
    Mark Frank says:

    #11 WJM

    Is pointing out CH’s errors implementing the warfare thesis?

    Where is anyone implying that disagreement with the approved view is necessarily due to religious fanaticism/ignorance?

  12. 12

    Mark Frank:

    It depends on how you characterize those supposed errors, what implications you offer from those characterizations, and what, if anything, those supposed errors, characterizations and implications have to do with the point of the post.

    Implying that Hunter is being irresponsible and putting lives in danger is not only a scare-tactic distraction from the point, it utilizes interpretive characterizations of what are fairly neutral comments by Hunter to drive a warfare-thesis narrative meant to silence/discredit any remote appearance of disagreement with the approved institutional messaging.

    IOW, you react automatically to what you bizarrely interpret as some kind of challenge to vaccine orthodoxy with a warfare-thesis smear of Hunter, albeit using softer language and mostly via innuendo and implication.

  13. 13
    Cornelius Hunter says:

    Mark Frank (6):

    “You write as though the risks of vaccines were unknown. That just isn’t true. … They are also monitored continuously after release.”

    I don’t think this is quite so simple. First, vaccines carry risk. While medical professionals understand this, what we are seeing in this charged debate is precisely the opposite. Advocates from Sanjay Gupta to Jimmy Kimmel are sending the message there is no risk.

    Second, the point is not that the risks are completely unknown, but rather that the risks (and benefits) are not something science or mathematical formulas can determine and decide for us. The HPV vaccine, for example, is intended to protect against STDs. I hope I do not need to explain that the risk of STDs depends on lifestyle, family values, and so forth. So clearly there is not a one-size-fits-all risk-benefit calculation.

    Third, there are quite legitimate questions about the uncertainty in our knowledge of the risks. Your unequivocal statement that vaccine risks are not unknown is reducing a complex topic to a simplistic, misleading claim. Human testing is difficult and costly to do, with significant ethical constraints. And there is a need to turn a profit on some reasonable time horizon. It is not like you can try vaccines out on hundreds of millions of people and watch them for decades. HPV was tested on a few thousands of patients over several years time period. That is not sufficient to completely understand the risks and, as you note, Congress established a reporting system to provide much more data, once a vaccine goes public. Unfortunately, the reporting system is inadequate and the problem of learning from it is complicated. None of this is controversial. This is an extremely difficult problem and your statement that “They are also monitored continuously” is, unfortunately, misleading. Would that that were the case.

    “If you want to cast doubt on the vaccine you had better have a very sound case based on solid evidence.”

    It is not controversial that vaccines can cause injuries. They have some level of risk. Hence there is a special vaccine court and vaccine manufacturers are protected from law suits seeking appropriate damages. When you get vaccinated, unlike most medical procedures or otherwise purchases you make, you are essentially assuming all the risk. This can be an enormous burden. It is altogether normal, rational and understandable that a consumer would hesitate, question and perhaps decide not to assume that risk, and instead opt for the risk associated with not having a vaccine. Certainly you can argue against such a decision, but that is not what we are seeing.

    Instead, you have demagoguery, going back to Andrew Dickson White, aimed at anyone who thoughtfully questions whether they want a vaccine. The point is not to “cast doubt” on vaccines and their obvious value. The point is that this is an unhealthy example of scientism that seems to be gaining strength.

  14. 14
    Cornelius Hunter says:

    OldArmy94 (8):

    “Ironically, you don’t even realize you are making Dr. Hunter’s point for him”

    What intrigues me is not that people are for (or against) vaccines, but the charged rhetoric. I wouldn’t normally discuss someone like Jimmy Kimmel. As a comedian he has license to poke fun with impunity. But this is different. He actually took off his comedian hat and wanted to make a serious point in the middle of his monologue. He really is not OK with people hesitating and making a different risk-benefit decision than he would.

  15. 15
    Cornelius Hunter says:

    Nick Matzke (3):

    “Wow this is a dumb post. Saved and tweeted for posterity, as with the Hunter’s other anti-vax post.

    Reasons it’s dumb:

    1. The Warfare Thesis was supposed to be about science versus religion. The modern anti-vaccination movement is not primarily religious, it is primarily about liberal forms of quackery. Although, apparently Cornelius is seeking to link the two.”

    The Warfare Thesis is, on the surface, about science versus religion. But those are broad categories. What the Warfare Thesis is really about is dismissal, delegitimization, demagoguery and scientism. You could say its motto is “Offense is the best defense.” Take non scientific, indefensible, positions and advance them with scathing criticism, ridicule and scorn of anyone who would dare so much as question them. That was amply demonstrated in the most important work advancing the Warfare Thesis, Andrew Dickson White’s late nineteenth century work which, yes, included a chapter on vaccines. As with his other myths, anyone who questioned vaccines, and they were known to be dangerous, must be a religious nut.

    Furthermore, religious convictions, as you Nick have so amply demonstrated so many times, are far more fundamental within the Warfare Thesis advocates, such as yourself, than without.

    “2. Just where does Cornelius Hunter get off ignoring virtually all doctors, the strong fundamental logic and scientific understanding behind vaccination, and the massive weight of hundreds of studies of millions of vaccine patients?”

    Ignoring doctors and ignoring evidence? How is it ignoring doctors and ignoring evidence to state indisputable facts? No doctor or researcher would tell you there is zero risk to vaccines. Such false claims are promoted by people like you, seeking to spread scorn and ridicule.

    The point is that vaccines, as with a great many medical procedures, do not fit well into scientific formulas and blanket statements. They are, however, wonderful devices for demagoguery and ridicule.

    “One anecdotal case could have many, many explanations, including mere coincidence.”

    That is dangerous. Even the conservative vaccine court agreed Lorrin Kain was devastated by vaccines. This absurdity comes right out of David Hume. You are doing precisely what you accuse me of, and using your logic there would be no basis for advocating for vaccines in the first place.

    “3. The fact that ID people, allegedly pro-science, aren’t even challenging Hunter on this, either here or at UD, says volumes about either their shoddy scientific acumen or their crazy preference for perverse contrarianism against the alleged dogma of mainstream science, even in the case where the public health is at stake.”

    Unfortunately you have, once again, provided the perfect example, illustrating precisely the OP’s point. For evolutionists such as Nick, it is all about ridicule and scorn on complex issues—the essence of scientism and the Warfare Thesis.

  16. 16
    Cornelius Hunter says:

    Nick Matzke (3):

    “the massive weight of hundreds of studies of millions of vaccine patients”

    So why do they have a vaccine court?

  17. 17
    Learned Hand says:

    Huh! Unbanned? Anyway, the vaccine court exists to protect the manufacturers of a not-very-profitable product from potentially extreme litigation costs that would discourage the production of a public good. It’s much more favorable for claimants than normal court: http://violentmetaphors.com/20.....mcroberts/

    Edited to answer your question more directly: because there are side effects to vaccines sometimes. No one actually takes the position that vaccines literally never have side effects. But the evidence is that such side effects are much rarer than the harms of the diseases vaccines prevent.

  18. 18
    rvb8 says:

    News are you saying at No7 that Cornelius’ outrageous reporting was the result of bad reporting he latched onto by the large news organisations; ‘legacy media’?

    If so shouldn’t he hold his reporting to a higher standard than the media you claim is poor at their job of reporting?

    From what I read at this site it is the regular contributors who use hear say, innuendo, rationalizations, secondary sources (‘my friend’s cousin said’)etc.

    This is nothing more than the worst kind of British Tabloid journalism.

    However, when Nick Matzke and Mark Frank point out these clear and egregious errors you fall back upon, ‘it’s not our fault other people give us misinformation, how could we know?’

    The simple answer is honest research, clear presentation of known facts, checking those facts before printing, and follow ups to insure the reporting is accurate.

    Good scientists know this as wrote, hack scientists copy and paste.

  19. 19
    Axel says:

    When the vaxx issue was raised earlier, here in the UK, I remember a Government minister trying to ‘sugar-coat’ what he was effectively acknowledging as putting one’s children in harm’s way, by saying that the children would be sort of commandos for progress, shock-troops for medical science!

    Perhaps he didn’t realise the mortality rate of the British commandos during WWII was something like 98%. Can’t remember his exact euphemism with any certainty, but ‘guinea pig’ was definitely ‘out’; and it was of the nature of shock-troops.

  20. 20
    rvb8 says:

    And Axel arrives to confirm.

  21. 21
    Seversky says:

    Like News I am old enough to remember the twentieth-century polio epidemics and the images of people being kept alive by “iron lung” ventilation machines. I remember receiving the Salk vaccine by injection and being much relieved to be able to take the later Sabin vaccine on a sugar cube.

    There is little doubt that millions of lives have been saved by vaccines. Yes, there are risks but that is true of many things we use without a second thought.

    Picking on vaccines on the basis of a relatively small number cases of adverse reactions strikes me displaying a lack of proportion at the very least. No one doubts that those cases are tragic for the families concerned but what is the alternative? Allowing millions more, including children, to die from a disease which can be prevented?

  22. 22
    Me_Think says:

    Taliban prevents Polio vaccine administration because it insults faith in Allah. UD is trying to prevent HPV vaccine because some Biophysics guy thinks scientists haven’t tested it enough?

  23. 23
    phoodoo says:

    What, we evolved to need vaccines?

    Its a good thing turtles didn’t evolve this need; its hard for them to hold the needles.

  24. 24
    AnimatedDust says:

    And the point continues to be missed, over the shouting that is the point of the original point!

    This is nothing to do with vaccines Dr. Matzke. It’s about the shouting down of contrary viewpoints.

    Dr. Hunter: Game. Set. Match.

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I think I should make an observation, though this is not my general line of discussion.

    I do so in hopes that some toning down of intensity will result.

    Where, the use of denigration, polarisation, marginalisation and the like — while duly flying the flag of “Science” — is an increasing problem in our civilisation.

    I think, the comparison between polio and HPV (and hoped for onward resistance to Cancers) is over-drawn and some of the rhetoric above is far overblown and polarising as well as seeking to marginalise.

    Polio was a general and involuntary risk; I recall being told I had to come back in for booster “shots” well up in my 20’s and did so. Having had a classmate who wore leg braces due to polio probably served as a reminder, as did knowing someone whose mother as a young adult died of complications due to polio in I think the same epidemic.

    Specific behaviours are involved in exposure to HPV which is in large part a sexually transmissible disease; where relevant behaviours are by and large subject to our control.

    Where too, there is a less risky and effective approach of regular pap smears that apparently can detect and open a door to early and from what I have been told, likely to succeed action.

    So, there are lifestyle and cultural issues here, there is no one generic exposure to HPV . . . which IIRC, is not easily stopped by condoms.

    So, if there are effective means of prevention and there is a less risky path for monitoring and acting in response, why should an avoidable amber-red zone risk be entertained?

    Simply go to the green zone of risk avoidance instead.

    So I read under the above and what is elsewhere, a clash of values and morality, with the use of abusive rhetoric to try to change the focus of the moral and values considerations and project blame.

    It is in some respects as simple as if you do not nibble on the bait there is little risk of being caught on the hook.

    There being no credible reason to imagine that baited hooks are the only source of food in a famine (forcing risk minimisation behaviour in a dangerous situation), avoiding baited hooks seems to be a sounder strategy.

    At least, to me.

    KF

    PS: I think here about two medical decisions made in regards to a child. Years ago, a suggested extra vaccination was refused on grounds of low inherent risk and not being able to justify exposure to potential risks of vaccination. (Growing up, there was a child in my neighbourhood who had been damaged by vaccination; breezy declarations of no risk or little risk will not impress me.) Recently, major surgery was accepted, with implications that are life altering and knowing risks to life and of paralysis, as the alternative was worse.

  26. 26
    Me_Think says:

    KF,
    Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the U.S. but HPV prevention is important mainly because it can cause cervical cancer in women. Every year in the U.S. about 10,000 women get cervical cancer and 3,700 die from it. It is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths among women around the world. Note that HPV vaccine is an inactivated (not live) so there is hardly any serious risk.

  27. 27
    Timaeus says:

    rvb8 wrote:

    “From what I read at this site it is the regular contributors who use hear say [sic], innuendo, rationalizations, secondary sources (‘my friend’s cousin said’) etc.”

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! The man who makes generalizations about the desperate plight of atheists in America without any first-hand knowledge of American life, as he lives 10,000 miles away from it; the man who condemns the writings of Mazur without having read them; the man who condemns ID theory without having read the books of Behe, Dembski, basing his condemnations on what he reads in blogs — this man is upset about the use of hearsay and secondary sources?

    I wonder if rvb8 would recognize the term “chutzpah”?

  28. 28
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Specific behaviours are involved in exposure to HPV which is in large part a sexually transmissible disease; where relevant behaviours are by and large subject to our control.

    By and large perhaps, but then there’s rape, the risk of which should not be underestimated.

    And “simply” staying in the green zone of avoidance is a nice idea, but life tends to get complicated at times. Young people especially have lapses.

    I have to add that as a male, I’m sometimes a bit surprised at how these discussions go, especially when most of the participants are male, as I believe is the case here. I mean, we’re talking about cancer here. If I had a daughter, I would want her to have every possible protection against that disease, certainly more than “just say no”.

  29. 29
    franklin says:

    daveS

    By and large perhaps, but then there’s rape, the risk of which should not be underestimated.

    Absolutely! Prevention always trumps treatment for any disease,….cold to cancer.

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, the pattern continues. I have put on the table a risk management and response scale and linked strategies. That should be enough to guide decision-making. KF

    PS: It is a relevant point that many of the same who are plainly pushing for compulsion on this matter champion “choice” when the like of an inconvenient unborn child is in the stakes.

  31. 31
    Cornelius Hunter says:

    LH (18):

    “No one actually takes the position that vaccines literally never have side effects.”

    Ah, the back-pedaling begins.

  32. 32
    Mark Frank says:

    To address the OP more directly.

    I don’t know what Jimmy Rimmel said or how he said it, but I have a lot of sympathy for anyone who points out poor or misleading arguments against being vaccinated. Two of those poor arguments are:

    * Use of individual tragic anecdotes to sway people without a numerical assessment of the risks – particularly when those anecdotes are clearly unrelated to vaccines as in the case of Meredith Prohaska.

    * Arguing that because vaccines, like every activity known to man, sometimes  cause some harm to some people they are “unsafe” or “risky” without comparing the risk to other activities such as driving a car.

    I am not sure what kind of actions count as scientism or the Warfare thesis – but pointing out these errors with some  passion, given the costs of not vaccinating, seems to me an admirable activity.

  33. 33
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related trivia note:

    smallpox: Edward Jenner was an English physician and scientist who was the pioneer of smallpox vaccine,,,, His father was the Reverend Stephen Jenner,,,
    “The most famous champion of vaccination was a Christian doctor, *Edward Jenner* who did his work against fierce opposition and in the teeth of threats against himself. In effect he wiped out smallpox from among the diseases that terrify mankind. He died from a cold caught carrying firewood to an impoverished woman.”
    http://www.rae.org/pdf/influsci.pdf

    polio and measles: John Enders, MD
    Death Bed: “On a September evening at their water front home in Connecticut, in 1985, Enders was reading T.S. Eliot aloud to his wife, Carolyn. He finished and went to bed, then quietly died. He was eighty-eight. At his memorial service his friend, the Bishop F.C. Laurence, said, “John Enders never lost his sense of wonder – wonder at the great mystery that exists and surrounds all of God’s creation. This awareness is what gave him his wide vision and open mindedness, his continued interest in all things new, his ability to listen, his humility in the presence of this great mystery, and his never-ending search for the truth.” His widow said that John briefly revealed his heart when he told her, concerning how creation ran, “There must be a mind behind it all.”
    http://www.scienceheroes.com/i.....Itemid=117
    of note:
    T.S. Eliot’s extraordinary journey of faith
    http://www.abc.net.au/religion.....972229.htm

  34. 34
    Cornelius Hunter says:

    Mark (33):

    “I am not sure what kind of actions count as scientism or the Warfare thesis – but pointing out these errors with some passion, given the costs of not vaccinating, seems to me an admirable activity.”

    So let’s spell it out a little more slowly. In general, vaccines have a risk, and they have a benefit. They can kill, maim, etc. And they can prevent you from being killed, maimed, etc. Those are facts. As for an actual calculation, the chances of injury are far, far less than the chances of some benefit. So your logic is eminently reasonable.

    But can you understand that someone might disagree with you? Is demagoguery appropriate? Is misrepresentation appropriate? Dr. Tim Johnson, at one point, recommended caution with HPV and that parents study the issue, talk to their doctor, etc, before making their decision. Does that make him a leper? I saw a story about a family that had their daughter vaccinated with HPV. They expressed concern about the STD threat and relief that she was now “protected.” So there you have your modern family. The STD risk is significant for them. Premarital promiscuity is simply a given.

    I don’t have a dog in this fight, but what I see looks unhealthy, and reminds me of the same sort of tactics used elsewhere (such as in the origins discussion).

    It would be one thing if people like Sanjay Gupta, Jimmy Kimmel, etc., addressed people’s concerns, showed the tradeoff as they see it, and so forth. But when they misrepresent the science, engage in obvious dismissal and delegitimization tactics, and so forth, it looks unhealthy to me.

  35. 35
    Mark Frank says:

    Mark (36):

    “it is questionable whether anyone dies from vaccinations”

    While vaccines can do tremendous good, the problem is there is no middle ground in the discussion. What you say, above, for instance, while similar to what one hears from Sanjay Gupta, etc., is simply false. Of course people die from vaccines. But this is the mythology which causes the polarity in the debate.

  36. 36
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: One of the delegitimisation tactics too often seen is to try to dismiss eyewitness accounts and people expressing concerns on the basis of their experiences as “anecdotes,” stories of automatically suspect weight. This needs to be addressed.

    The truth is, statistical analyses and inductive reasoning are themselves based on observations and interpretations, so one should be very cautious indeed with such tactics. And particularly, figures don’t lie but liars can figger too.

    Yes, a well done statistical analysis can be helpful, but in many cases we deal with uncertainties regarding processes to evaluate risk, and/or may have no time or resources to do such before deciding.

    In such cases, it is quite reasonable to evaluate impacts of alternative plausibly possible scenarios, come to some reasonable idea of exposure, also of what warning signs and rate of onset one is dealing with.

    Is the exposure to hazards necessary or unavoidable?

    That is material — Polio was unavoidable, I see no reasonable basis for thinking that as a general rule exposure to HPV is unavoidable. (Emergencies such as rape should be treated as emergencies, not an unavoidable risk.)

    Then, a basic red-amber-green rating can be attached.

    Green, no material overall danger exists.

    Amber, in increasing degree: some benefit entails a risk at a managed and tolerable level, but the benefit is worth incurring the risk.

    Red, there is no credible benefit worth the risk being run, walk away from the situation, if at all possible.

    Premarital or extramarital sexual activity of the sorts associated with 3 dozen odd I think it is sexually transmissible diseases (several potentially fatal or at least seriously damaging) is an avoidable risk, with no credible benefit.

    Once there is reason to see that such is being appropriately managed, there is no good reason to denigrate those who on that premise take the view that HPV vaccinations pose more risks than any hoped for benefit would provide. For that matter, such concerns extend to a significant number of other vaccinations and medical treatments.

    As well as a much wider array of behaviours.

    People who judge the risks of HPV vaccinations too high, may be on balance mistaken [or one may think them so], but the sort of ferocious rhetorical and media attacks in question are highly questionable.

    And, I will note, from when those vaccines came out, that I saw where the strains involved were reported as responsible for 2/3 of cases. My thought was, solving 2/3 of a problem and promoting it as if it solved the whole could simply displace the problem to the other strains.

    There is no simplistic one size fits all answer here.

    KF

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    MF,

    are we to now debate the meaning of how safe “safe” is?

    In which case, AmHD:

    safe
    (s?f)
    adj. saf·er, saf·est
    1.
    a. Free from danger or injury; undamaged or unhurt: He returned from the voyage safe and sound.
    b. Not exposed to the threat of danger or harm: The children were safe at home all through the storm.
    c. Usable in specified conditions without being damaged. Often used in combination: a microwave safe container.
    2. Free from risk; not liable to be lost; sure: a safe bet.
    3. Affording protection: a safe place.
    4. Baseball Having reached a base without being put out, as a batter or base runner.
    n.
    1. A metal container usually having a lock, used for storing valuables.
    2. A repository for protecting stored items, especially a cooled compartment for perishable foods: a cheese safe.

    KF

  38. 38
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Folks, the pattern continues. I have put on the table a risk management and response scale and linked strategies. That should be enough to guide decision-making. KF

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the only guidance I see in your post is to avoid baited hooks. Does the vaccine fit into it anywhere? I really doubt that your proposal is adequate to suit everyone’s needs.

    As I mentioned above, even if a young woman does everything in her power to remain in the green zone, the virus is still a potential threat. Besides the possibility of rape, what if her husband is not so successful at avoiding temptation and contracts the virus? Transfer of STDs from one spouse to another is not unheard of. And, not to be inflammatory, the issue of demonic possession came up recently here. I don’t believe that it exists, but I have a pastor friend who thinks it’s a common occurrence, and that it’s responsible for many of the social ills that plague our area. You can fill in the rest.

    It’s just remarkable to me that we have a vaccine that literally prevents cancer, yet it is being withheld from young women based on “moral” arguments.

  39. 39
    Mark Frank says:

    #38 KF

    So you don’t think taking a bath is safe? Your life must be full of fear and worry.

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    MF, notice why there are often grab rails and friction strips etc in modern bath tubs, as well as wheel-in sit-down showers? A bathtub poses a clear danger from falls and if the water is deep enough [and that does not have to be very deep if you are unconscious and alone], drowning — witness the sad case of Ms Houston in recent years. This puts it in Amber Zone — indeed the whole bathroom: benefits, but precautions to manage dangers. And BTW, I knew a man who died through a fall in his bathroom. Hey, getting out of bed is not perfectly safe either. I suggest you read above on the RAG scale for risk management. KF

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    DaveS: Again, risk management. If you look higher above you will see a range of outlined options which some may reasonably take, including regular pap smears and responsive actions. I note also, HPV risk is not isolated, patterns of behaviour that expose to significant risk bring to bear some 3 dozen plus STDs. There is a much wider risk management challenge and there is no simplistic one size fits all solution. My point is, what looks reasonable to you may not be for another and there needs to be reasonable room for differences on RM strategies, without the sort of denigration and even media lynchings/blog etc piranha swarms I have noted. KF

  42. 42
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DaveS: Again, risk management. If you look higher above you will see a range of outlined options which some may reasonably take, including regular pap smears and responsive actions.

    Yes, I stand corrected. You did mention pap tests. Is the vaccine one of your outlined options?

    I actually didn’t realize this was such a large problem until reading more about it. This is USA-centric, but the director of the CDC states:

    “Our low vaccination rates represent 50,000 preventable tragedies: 50,000 girls alive today will develop cervical cancer over their lifetime that would have been prevented if we reach 80% vaccination rates,” he said. “For every year we delay in doing so, another 4400 girls will develop cervical cancer in their lifetimes.”

  43. 43
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I am not laying out “my” options, but the reasonable options, which will vary person by person, family by family, cultural context by cultural context. Some will find that on balance the risks of vaccination outweigh those of non-vaccination on something that is largely dependent on behavioural choices, others will find that given entrenched behavioural patterns the risk of the vaccine is outweighed by the risk of disease. Put it this way, I have not taken special malaria shots or medication, but you can bet that if I had to go to a malarial region, I would. Of course, that a region is malarial would make me think very hard about going there absent compelling reason. A friend of mine who recently served as a post conflict educator in such a country, faced very different issues than I do. And, when Chikungunya was raging here, my wife and I made very different choices about using DEET. KF

  44. 44
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, I am not laying out “my” options, but the reasonable options, which will vary person by person, family by family, cultural context by cultural context.

    I was just curious why the vaccine itself didn’t appear explicitly on the list of reasonable options; this post clarifies the issue, however.

  45. 45
    Phinehas says:

    I see this issue as primarily about elitism, and not the specific vaccine. If there is a strategy to not discuss risks (or the controversy) because the masses might get confused or might take the information the wrong way, then I think that’s a problem. Just tell people what the reality is and let them decide for themselves. That has to be the most responsible and respectful approach, in my opinion.

  46. 46
    Mark Frank says:

    #46 Phinehas

    Just tell people what the reality is and let them decide for themselves. That has to be the most responsible and respectful approach, in my opinion.

    In principle I agree but it is not so easy to “just tell people what the reality is”. you are bound to impose your view of what the reality is and you have to communicate that view effectively. Taking vaccinations as an example. It is not practical to just list all the research and tell the world to read it (and even then that is only the research papers). You have to summarise it. As soon as you do that you inevitably put your own angle on the raw data. To say a vaccine is “safe” can be considered as a concise way of saying something on the lines of “taking the vaccine is no more likely to cause you harm than other activities that you would consider very safe such as walking down stairs”.

  47. 47
    Phinehas says:

    MF:

    In principle I agree but it is not so easy to “just tell people what the reality is”.

    I’m sure you are right. Still, it is a good standard to shoot for. The more important point I was trying to make is this:

    Phin: If there is a strategy to not discuss risks (or the controversy) because the masses might get confused or might take the information the wrong way, then I think that’s a problem.

  48. 48
    rvb8 says:

    Actually Timaeus I don’t use the term ‘Chutzpa’ and never have. Nor do I over use the simile ‘like’ overly much. If you mean chutzpa to be a synonym for ‘nerve’ or ‘audacity’ then I do have the nerve and audacity to comment on all spheres of US life as US citizens seem to deem it all right to comment, condemn and generally slate almost every one else; plus I’ve been to California, watch the Simpsons, and am a regular of Colbert and co.

    You still refuse to tell me if the atheist girl in a class full of believers is brave for proclaiming her atheism. I think she is beyond brave, and as I know such bullying of atheists by the believers occurs in the US (the Airforce), an answer would be appreciated.

    I write from Hainan University, China by the way, and teach Politics to Communists, and oddly enough some Protestant converts. Their communist classmates are bamboozled when I ask them if the Protestants are true citizens. Yes! They proclaim. Perhaps Schlaffly, Robertson, Falwell and co could come here and learn some civility, you could join them.

    I don’t need to read Mazur as she is such a damp squib in the world of anything as to be truly insignificant, kind of like the mental giant that is Dembsky.

    You have noted my spelling is off occasionally well done you. However as a still learning dyslexic I hope you can still follow the gist, here it is.

    ID is vacuous and has never produced any science, or scientific ideas. Creationism remains strong as it is an honest, if completely barren field. I trust career scientists because they have a career, and the market tends to weed out crackpots and send them to you.

  49. 49
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8:

    >> ID is vacuous and has never produced any science, or scientific ideas.>>

    1 –> Speaking in disregard to truth, motivated by ideology and probably failing to recognise scientific ideas

    2 –> the considerable ferment triggered by design oriented ideas such as cosmological fine tuning, specified and/or irreducible complexity etc stands as a matter of record that you refuse to acknowledge.

    >> Creationism remains strong as it is an honest, if completely barren field.>>

    3 –> Creationism stands as a minor paradigm and linked research programme.

    >> I trust career scientists because they have a career, and the market tends to weed out crackpots and send them to you. >>

    4 –> Career science is just as prone to fads and ideological domination as any other set of academic schools of thought.

    5 –> Heavy state funding motivated by needs of war and economic domination, has by and large undermined market discipline in especially state subsidised university systems. (Current attempts at smear and dismiss in the climate and astrophysics domains targetting Dr Soon (who has spent half a career investigating solar influences on climate), deeply underscore this concern. [Note Soon’s reply, here.])

    6 –> If you want market disciplined scientific work, go to engineering (including software engineering etc) and pharmaceuticals. These tend to be strongly regulated but are far more subject to market forces.

    7 –> You will find that such disciplines as a matter of fact are far more friendly to design thought than ideologised faculties and institutions.

    KF

  50. 50
    Timaeus says:

    rvb8:

    Since you seem to be having trouble comprehending my post, let me help you.

    The “chutzpah” I was referring to was in this statement of yours:

    “From what I read at this site it is the regular contributors who use hear say [sic], innuendo, rationalizations, secondary sources (‘my friend’s cousin said’) etc.”

    Mr. Hearsay himself, complaining about others relying on hearsay? Mr. “I read only secondary sources on ID written by hostile witnesses” himself, complaining about people using secondary sources?

    And of course, you show the chutzpah again in this post:

    “I don’t need to read Mazur …”

    So you haven’t read Mazur, but know she is “lying for Jesus”? Funny, in the book of hers I read, she doesn’t mention her religious faith at all, and I have no idea what her faith is — whether she is a Christian, a Jew, an agnostic, or something else. So how do you know that “lying for Jesus” is her motivation? Oh, I forgot — secondary sources and hearsay!

  51. 51
    Timaeus says:

    rvb8:

    I thought I made it clear that the little atheist girl would be brave, as would anyone who stood up against social pressure. For example, Gonzalez was brave to publish his book The Privileged Planet, knowing that the atheists in his field might strike back at him for it — which they did. And Behe was brave to publish Darwin’s Black Box, knowing that it would probably cause all kinds of abuse to be rained down on him — as it did. I admire people who, where a principle is at a stake, go against the majority of the population, or the majority of their own peers or colleagues.

    What I don’t admire is people who follow the accepted views merely because they *are* the accepted views. Those people don’t think for themselves, and someone who doesn’t think for himself, by virtue of that very fact, has no intellectual courage.

    So your little girl is brave. But of course, you have not shown that such little girls exist in present-day USA. And if they don’t exist, all your indignation is baseless.

    I reject your assumption that if someone is a career scientist he must be a competent thinker. University hiring and tenure are based on many criteria, and intellectual merit is only one those criteria. You yourself are currently teaching Politics in a university, yet your knowledge of contemporary politics (at least, US politics) does not seem to be very great. Why, then, would you assume that all the biology professors who attack the ID people have a vast knowledge of the relevant biology and biochemistry and probability theory and information theory etc.? If you aren’t even aware that school prayers were banned in the USA more than 50 years ago, and you hold a faculty position in Politics, how do you know that all the biologists you admire have kept up to date on the latest criticisms of neo-Darwinism within evolutionary theory?

    I am sorry to hear about your dyslexia. Perhaps the difficulty you experience in reading explains why you have not read any ID books, Mazur’s book, etc., and prefer to form your opinions by reading short blog articles rather than 300-page books. But sadly, this cannot be accepted as an excuse for your behavior here. If you cannot read long books because of a disability, no one would blame you for that; but you *are* blameworthy for claiming to understand books you haven’t read, and for claiming to be able to evaluate their contents. If your position were: “I read more slowly than most people, so I haven’t got all the way through Behe’s book yet, so I’ll withhold my judgment until later,” that would be reasonable. But your position is: “I don’t need to read Behe to know that he’s wrong, because other people have told me that he is.” And that’s more than intellectually lazy; it’s intellectually dishonest. No one who practices such intellectual dishonesty deserves to hold a teaching position at a university. Someone who bases his judgments on hearsay, rather than personal understanding of the subject matter, is not a good model for students to emulate.

  52. 52
    Cornelius Hunter says:

    Mark (36):

    “it is questionable whether anyone dies from vaccinations”

    While vaccines can do tremendous good, the problem is there is no middle ground in the discussion. What you say, above, for instance, while similar to what one hears from Sanjay Gupta, etc., is false. Of course people die from vaccines. No serious medical professional would ever say that. Yet this is what one hears. This is why there is such demagoguery. It is the mythology which causes the polarity in the debate. The topic is far more complex than such simple reductions imply.

  53. 53
    rvb8 says:

    Timaeus,

    such long posts betray something very common in the ID movement; try to get over yoursself, everyone else has. If not, keep writing endless spiels and kairosfocus and BA77 will answer endlessly.

    I confine my reading to biography, and history (big fan of Robert Gellately, Antony Beaver, Isaac Deutcher, Ian Morris, Robert Fisk etc etc) with the occasional foray into popular science (Dawkins, Hawking, Coyne etc); no time for fringe writers, with no new ideas, revamping Paley’s discredited ideas. You do that. How boring it must be, for your reading life, that you read the Bible only, and ideas that are regurgitated on the conveyer belt of insignificance; that’s so Islamic.

  54. 54
    Mung says:

    rvb8: I confine my reading…

    No one here ever thought otherwise.

  55. 55
    Mung says:

    Nick’s probably bowed out after having taken his usual spanking. One has to wonder about the psychology of it all.

    Meanwhile, Nick’s book on Macro-Evolution continues to languish in search of a publisher. Or an author.

  56. 56
    Timaeus says:

    rvb8:

    Thanks for confirming that you condemn the contents of books that you have not read. And you are actually proud of doing so! What a pathetic excuse for a university teacher you are! I would fire you tomorrow if I had the power. You should not be allowed within 500 feet of a student.

    So I read the Bible only? Young man, I have read probably 4,000 books in my life other than the Bible, including a good number of the most difficult books produced by Western (and Eastern) civilization. I have also read hundreds upon hundreds of academic articles in many fields, including politics and including the natural sciences. I’ve also produced many academic books and articles myself. So I can tell an intellectual fraud when I see one. And I do see one.

  57. 57
    Mung says:

    Timaeus: So I can tell an intellectual fraud when I see one. And I do see one.

    ARRGGGHHHH! I was hoping to escape detection.

  58. 58
    rvb8 says:

    Of course I limit my reading, and am very careful about what I choose to read following a strict regime of checking the writer’s legitimacy, past efforts, and index size; a large concise index is a good place to begin if you are checking non-fiction, history science etc.

    My students are largely interested in govt structure in the West, and how legislation is developed and passed. They are also interested in the role of Christianity in Western culture, and I do my best to explain its fundamental, and foundational importance. While at the same time pointing out the absurdity of the miraculous, it’s the main reason I am permitted to discuss Christianity in China, the school is well aware of my atheism, and therefore complete objectivity.

  59. 59
    Timaeus says:

    rvb8 (59):

    One of the criteria you use to decide on *the merits of a writer’s argument* is *the size of the book’s index*?

    And you like *large* indexes, because they are more “concise”?

    As Bugs Bunny would say, “Whatta maroon!”

    Somehow, though, it makes sense that you are teaching in China. A country with a long record of making sure that its citizens are inoculated against the truth, by causing them to believe falsehoods about the contents of Western books that they have not read (and up until recently weren’t allowed to read), would just naturally hire a teacher who believes that it’s right to reject the thesis of books he has not read. Who needs evidence for truth or falsehood, when one has atheistic/materialistic ideology? The ideology saves one a heck of a lot of reading time. You just toss all the books with the wrong ideology into the fire, since you know in advance of reading them that they can’t be true. On that, you and the late Chairman Mao would surely be in agreement.

  60. 60
    rvb8 says:

    Actually my students are considerably more curious than ‘small town’ US students. They are interested in Christianity, their government is quite uninterested in their non-ideological interest, and I am happy to oblige.

    It is amazing that in the ‘free’ society that is the US, that you are so blind to truth. My Communist students are far more curious than you or your sidekicks.

    Your ‘school boy’ knowledge of China and history generally, suggests to me that I will give you some advice; travel!

    Most US citizens who don’t travel have this childish ‘Fox News’view of the world, you fit into this category. Get out a little, the world is bad, but not so bad as you imagine.

    My students are noble, brave, honest to a fault, loving, family orientated, evolved human beings. I’m not sure about the contributors here.

  61. 61
    Timaeus says:

    rvb8:

    Again you speak without knowledge. You don’t know the first thing about small-town US students. Your portrait of US life is a caricature which you have picked up from growing up in a left-liberal country where you could fire a cannon down Main Street without there being any chance of hitting a conservative.

    I made no comments at all against Chinese *students*. I was speaking about the Chinese *authorities* — at least, about their track record from 1949 up to the near present. If the attitudes of the authorities are thawing somewhat recently, that is a good thing. But up until very recently they put ideology above the open-ended search for truth — which is exactly what you do by making up your mind whether or not a book is correct without reading it, blindly following the negative reviews of those whose ideology you share without actually examining the arguments of the authors. You have the doctrinaire kind of mind that would have caused you to do very well in Mao’s China.

    I’m glad to hear the Chinese youth are interested in Christianity. Too bad their Politics teacher isn’t the right one teach them anything about it. You should be teaching what you know, i.e., New Zealand studies: the theory and practice of proportional representation; the legal rights of rivers (and coming soon: of trees and rocks); the going price of kiwi fruit — and leave the instruction in Christianity and Western Civ to those more competent to deliver it.

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