Court Ordered Vaccination & SMH False Balance

Ordered to have VaccineRecently (January 15, 2011) printed  in the Sun Herald was the article on the left; the article was about a 5-year-old girl who was ordered to be vaccination after the mother refused to do so – citing evidence that was criticised  by the Judge as “outlandish statements unsupported by any empirical evidence”.

Now, what I’m focusing on here is how the journalist, Holly Ife, decided to present an issue as being balanced in opposing viewpoints, which isn’t what the evidence actually supports.

Was she trying to AVOID bias, or was she trying to SENSATIONALISE the article?

Leading one of the final paragraphs with a contentious “However,” and following it up with a quote from a paediatric chiropractor; namely Dr. Warren Sipser, gives the impression that this bloke has some knowledge or authority on the matter and should be given credence.

He doesn’t, and shouldn’t.

He is a quack, and a dangerous quack at that.

Two Opposing Viewpoints

Sipser is quoted in the article as saying that it’s “dangerous to impose [immunisation] on anyone when there are two opposing viewpoints” – he even went on to say “there is credible evidence they may do more harm than good”.

First off, there is always someone in opposition to a viewpoint. Even today there are people so delusional that they believe the earth is flat; and even today, there are people who believe in magical hand-waving, spine cracking “healing”. To say because there are opposing viewpoints that we shouldn’t do anything is ridiculous. While people may have opposing viewpoints the EVIDENCE doesn’t. The OVERALL EVIDENCE empirically demonstrates that immunisation IS a good thing, and is NOT doing more harm than good.

What Sipser calls credible are articles that come to the conclusions that best align with his beliefs.

Where as I, I call things credible when researchers use excellent scientific methodology that controls against bias through double & triple blind trials, where those results are not just replicated by a number of other independent researchers, but the research is critically examined for faults by a number of peers and finally published in a journal with integrity.

Pseudoscientific Dr. Warren Sipser

Who is Dr. Warren Sipser? Sipser acts as Secretary for the Chiropractic Association.

So what is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic was invented in 1895 by the medically unqualified Daniel David Palmer. Palmer was grocer before becoming a “magnetic healer” — He says by transferring “healing energy” to patients, this was done by touching or waving hands over them.

Classical chiropractic is based on the premise that “subluxations” are the cause of most medical problems. According to classical chiropractic, a “subluxation” is a misalignment of the spine that allegedly interferes with nerve signals from the brain.

As chiropractic states that the subluxation is the cause of all disease, it rejects one of the greatest discoveries in medicine: germ theory; the discovery that much disease is caused from infection by micro-organisms.

The rejection of germ theory also leads to the rejection of another hugely beneficial discovery: vaccination.

Palmer and his son Bartlett Joshua, considered vaccination a form of poisoning.

In a nutshell, it’s bullshit; there is no scientific evidence for spinal subluxations and none have ever been observed by suitably qualified medical practitioners.

Sipser’s Irresponsible Claims

Below are the claims from one of the websites Sipser contributes to; the vast majority of his claims here and on other websites are, like the mother’s claims – outlandish statements unsupported by any evidence. (Read: Bullshit)

http://www.femail.com.au/chiropractic_help2.htm:

  • Chiropractic research on HIV positive patients revealed that those who received chiropractic care showed a 48% increase in CD4 immune system blood cells compared to those who did not receive chiropractic care. – Doctors: Selano, Pfleger, Peeley, Grostic.
  • Chronic Fatigue suffers can increase their immune system blood cells.
  • Chiropractic can be helpful during all stages of pregnancy where hormonal changes, the laxity of connective ligaments and shifting weight bearing structures, may cause pregnant women to experience low back pain. As the centre of gravity changes, so does the stress to the spine, chiropractic helps normalise the nerve system function. Special precautions and modifications to adjusting techniques are made to each stage of your pregnancy.
  • The birth process is potentially traumatic and can stress a still developing spine. During the pushing stages of labour, the spine, particularly the neck may be pushed down the birth canal. As the baby is compressed, the small bones in the neck may be pushed out of natural alignment and cause nerve interference. This neurological disturbance is called a vertebral subluxation.
  • Babies born by caesarean or forceps have a high chance of subluxation of the spine and may result in symptoms such as colic, allergies, asthma, eczema, ADD, poor appetite and more.
  • Chiropractors find that infantile colic may be associated with poor spinal function (Subluxations), arising from physical stresses to the infant’s spine during birth, or inappropriate handling during the early weeks of life. Modern obstetric practices, such as birthing the babies with the mother lying on her back, the use of forceps, suction, inductions and epidurals may subject t he infant to significant trauma. Such stresses may lead to subluxations in the infant causing nerve interference. This nerve interference may upset the function of the gastrointestinal system resulting in pain and colic. Correction of spinal stress and the relief of nerve interference may explain the positive effect chiropractors have on infantile colic.

Resources:
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/court-orders-girl-5-to-have-her-jabs/story-e6frf7kx-1225988096060
http://www.ukskeptics.com/chiropractic.php
http://www.skepdic.com/chiro.html
http://www.chiro4life.com/theclinic_sfc_team.html
http://www.femail.com.au/chiropractic_help2.htm

5 thoughts on “Court Ordered Vaccination & SMH False Balance

  1. Dear Bayani,
    Unfortunately for someone who appears to be quite enteprising, you seem to act with emotion and not intelligence. You have quoted ‘claims’ which I make, not understanding that these ‘claims’ are actually exerpts from PEER REVIEWED PUBLISHED JOURNALS. What are you purporting to be skeptic about?
    Maybe you should DYOR before simply copying the often nonsensical ramblings of some of the skeptic sites you claim to gain inspiration from.
    Not sure what your qualifications are in order to form an informed opinion other than your emotional tirade against anything not produced by a pharmaceutical company.
    I worked as a paramedic for 2 years in impoverished parts of South Africa and have seen the benefits medicine can provide in emergency situations, you on the other hand seem to have little appreciation for anything outside of a narrow view of bloggers.

    Pity, because you may have better things to offer the world.
    Anyway, thanks for the SEO.

    Warren

  2. “is a misalignment of the spine that allegedly interferes with nerve signals from the brain.”

    Actually it’s worse. Palmer codified it not as signals from the brain being blocked, but as “innate intelligence” being blocked, which was – get this – signals coming down from GOD, through the top of your head and out to your extremities via your spine.

    Which makes it doubly ironic that so many chiropractoirs are also tinfoil-hat nutcases. Surely the tinfoil would block the signals from GAWD?

    This is what Sipser thinks is a valid medical treatment.

    Oh, and I’m so pleased to see he can use Google Alerts. Because he has no clue about searching… oh, I dunno… pubmed.

  3. Dr Sipser lives ! He never contacted skepticbros.com despite being awarded the inaugural Fishslapper of the Week for these exact comments. Despite being rubbished by even the magistrate (who presemable has no chiropractic qualifications either) for making ‘outlandish’ statements, it appears the best he can offer in return is some sulky whining which suggests he has not even read what Bayani has written. For the record Warren, the post is about the false balance in the story, and highlights that in many areas of controversy, there is an overwhelming scientific consensus on one hand, and few cranks on the other. Reporting both sides in this case constitutes false balance.

    I would have thought that being a paramedic in South Africa you may have seen some of the damage and tragedy that can be wrought by muddled thinking about science, given the needless suffering of HIV-positive people there who were denied anti-retroviral treamtents because the Health Minister believed the claims of a vitamin conman instead of the scientific consensus. In any case, just because you once did something selfless does not influence the validity of any opinions you may hold. I have personally have donated thousands of dollars a year to OxFam and the Smith Family, but that does not mean I would be right if I thought the earth was flat or quantum mechanics was wrong….

  4. Hi Warren!

    Thanks for dropping by, and for the lovely compliments!

    To answer your question, I am skeptical of everything – So should you when people make extraordinary claims without the robust evidence that should accompany such claims.

    I am curious though, being the Skeptic that I am, can you please list the Peer Reviewed Published Journals from which each of these individual excerpts are located and include the reference to each article? It would be interesting (perhaps even a joke) to see what you consider to be robust evidence!

    It may be worthwhile noting some problems with your response.

    “you should DYOR” — If you’re talking about clinical trials, I don’t need to personally do my own research, because there are suitably qualified medical doctors and researchers that do this – of which, you are not.

    Ironic though, is that you state my opinion is based on “copying the often nonsensical ramblings of some of the skeptic sites”. To reply, I’ll use a quote from you about this. Because it’s clear your response is made without the “understanding that these ‘claims’ are actually exerpts from PEER REVIEWED PUBLISHED JOURNALS.”

    I base my opinion on the overwhelming number of robust and replicated evidence conducted independently. Where as you base your opinion on evidence that is from the results of the poor scientific methodology found throughout the Complimentary and Alternative “Medicine” industry.

    Qualifications that state someone went to a school for x amount of years is not required for an informed opinion. In fact, having a piece of paper doesn’t even make you right. Reason, and Critical thinking should be employed by everyone — even you, to come to an informed decision. I don’t say I’m right because I said it, I say that the claims are right because they are supported by strong, robust, replicated evidence.

    Now, you may have thought you were being clever to try and sneak a Strawman Argument in there. But, alas. I will address it:

    I at no time said that medicine doesn’t work.

    Suggesting that I am against medicine is not only erroneous, but deceptive.

    You naughty man, you.

    I suppose I can’t blame a desperate man for trying, after all, perhaps you just don’t know how to spot logical fallacies. I’m skeptical.

    And, as someone who is skeptical, I am happy for you to being to my attention evidence that shows that vaccines are as terrible as you say they are, or indeed that “Babies born by caesarean or forceps have a high chance of subluxation of the spine and may result in symptoms such as colic, allergies, asthma, eczema, ADD, poor appetite and more.”

    You certainly wouldn’t be the first, and have a strong feeling you won’t be the last. Why? Because at this time, the overwhelming evidence demonstrates that your statement is erroneous – and by making the scaremongering claim, you are in fact being dangerous.

    I also found entertaining that you specifically mentioned the conspiring pharmaceutical companies (OoOOoOo! – Scary!), it demonstrates your dogmatic ideology quite clearly.

    It suggests that not only do you not understand by whom research is conducted, but demonstrates that you are not even interested in investigating any scientific research that suggests that your are wrong. Rather, it shows that you chase cherry-picked data to support your passionate cynicism of the medical establishment!

    Way to go Confirmation Bias! Yay!

    To finish this up, I want to add that it’s great you point out the opinionated emotion I use! Thanks for that, it’s very important to me.

    Anyway,
    Keep Smilin’!

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