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Links With Your Coffee - Thursday

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In the interest of fostering rational arguments I'm going to present a common fallacy with each day's links. Today's fallacy is:

Appeal to Consequences

 

Comments

I object to your assertion that an argument is bad when it appeals to the consequences of a statement.

Why, if everyone believed that, no one would ever think of consequences and civilization would collapse. Do you want civilization to collapse?

Of course not. Therefore appeal to consequences is not a fallacy.

Oh no! Part 742 of The War On the War On Vaccines!

Please explain to me how the failure to refute the null hypothesis at alpha=.05 that the MMR vaccine has no link to autism can be extrapolated to mean that there are no current or yet to manifest detrimental side-effects of any childhood vaccine and therefore anyone suspicious of such vaccines is a raving idiot.

[And yes, my child has had every single one of his vaccines]

It seems we have tripped over a fallacy, but not today's fallacy.

Indeed, RedSeven-- I found myself cringing with that very realization not 5 minutes after my post-- seems I get a little emotional about this issue, which is funny because neither I nor anyone I know personally has elected to not vaccinate their children. But I do find that many people who are bravely championing the cause of vaccination have little more knowledge of the essential topics than the crazies who think that vaccination is a giant government conspiracy, those topics being, in my view, a solid knowledge of the immune system, vaccine development, the clinical trial system, and multivariable longitudinal data analysis. I would even go so far out on a limb to suggest that you can't really understand both sides of this issue unless you have children of your own.
So, while I agree, seeing as I haven't read this pediatrician's book, that I was foolish to say that he was lumping all people with concerns about vaccination into the 'raving idiot' bucket, I don't see comparing the "anti-vaccinationists" to the 9-11 conspiracy theorists as all that valid either.

anyone suspicious of such vaccines is a raving idiot.

i don't know about "anyone", but i feel pretty strongly about the "raving idiot" part due to sad and extremely painful personal experience.

the chances of a non-vaccinated person getting, say, measles, growing up in a modern, western industrialized country are as far as i know pretty minute, for the simple reason that everyone else HAS been vaccinated. so the greatest danger in my mind is when kids, who have no say in the matter, find themselves in a school district which doesn't accept unvaccinated kids. this is precisely the situation my own four children are in. my ex wife recently moved to such a district in new york, and my four beloved kids are now being "home schooled" for less than two hours a day. my ex is part of what looks to me pretty much a cult of anti-vaccinators, with whom she is actually trying to change the relevant laws, and until such time these 4 young minds are being left to fend for themselves, essentially. this causes me endless anguish, as i live 6000 miles away, have few financial resources and can do little about it but fight by phone and email with a crazy woman.

i should point out my own responsibility here- when they were born (natural childbirth, home birth, herbs and massage, the works) i agreed to her request about the vaccinations, after reading all the material on the issue i could get my hands on, in the interest of keeping peace in our home. but in israel, there was no issue of schools refusing to accept kids who weren't vaccinated, and i had no idea that, after 11 years of marriage she would kidnap them and move to the states where she could be free to greatly expand her involvement in woo of all sorts. and now i'm babbling and ranting, so i'll stop.

You're right if the number of unvaccinated is small the risk is minimal. The problem is that those few don't see the bigger picture and then it's not long before the suffering begins.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/child_health/article2358240.ece

thanx for the link mr. jenson. oy, more worry for poor me!

do you (or anyone here) know if any research has been done on the alleged dangers of vaccinations specifically on older children? my oldest is 17, youngest is 9. it's hard for me to imagine someone suddenly becoming autistic at the age of, say, 15, outside of a head injury, but i suppose it's possible...?

i'm trying everything possible to see my ex as something other than completely batshit insane.

mr. jenson

wtf

I don't. Your x is probably not batshit insane, she is reacting emotionally not rationally. My guess is she heard some anecdotal evidence, it frightened her, and she has been on the confirmation bias train ever since. The chances for a change in her outlook are slim to none. Your children are at risk, not a huge risk, and there is probably nothing you can do about it.

thanks, norm. i hope you understand that my main worry is not, at this point, the immunizations, but the removal of the children from an educational framework that they were (finally) doing quite well in. namely, the secular n.y. public school system. oh, did i mention the x is/was "orthodox" and the kids had been in religious jewish schools up to that point? you still think she's not insane? :)

the interesting thing about that, is that while they weren't doing so well academically in the jewish schools, the difference in quality between the school systems meant that they suddenly looked like little geniuses when they switched to public school a year ago. an interesting paradox, i think, considering the "religion and reason cannot coexist" tone of your blog. i wonder how you would explain it. i know its off topic...

the interesting thing about that, is that while they weren't doing so well academically in the jewish schools, the difference in quality between the school systems meant that they suddenly looked like little geniuses when they switched to public school a year ago. an interesting paradox, i think, considering the "religion and reason cannot coexist" tone of your blog. i wonder how you would explain it. i know its off topic...

I'm not sure that there is anything to explain. I haven't said they cannot coexist just that when push comes to shove, religion wins even if it contradicts science and reason. Most of what is taught in any school is not controversial. As to why they would do better in public schools that is also easily explained. In private school they have smaller classes, they probably are competing with students who on average come from wealthier families, whose parents are better educated, blah blah blah.

All things being equal, the product of a secular school is on average better prepared to make rational, science based decisions than one who is taught in a religious school.

Batshit crazy, okay batshit crazy!

In private school they have smaller classes, they probably are competing with students who on average come from wealthier families, whose parents are better educated, blah blah blah.

you know what? i totally accept that. you are hereby spared from spurious arguments about the superiority of traditional jewish ways of thinking and educational approaches,blah blah blah.

:)

My guess is she heard some anecdotal evidence, it frightened her, and she has been on the confirmation bias train ever since. The chances for a change in her outlook are slim to none.

you have, with only skeletal information, put your finger right on the button. that is exactly how i see it. i also, to my sorrow, saw that anecdotal evidence 18 years ago and, while not particularly frightened (saved by my faith :) in the scientific method!) allowed it to influence my decision in the matter. woe is me. let this be a lesson to somebody.

On homeopathy, I think many people are simply drawn to ancient practices as long as there's a little mystique, evidence be damned. Maybe they hope they'll connect spiritually or supernaturally with something, or maybe they just like the romance of it, but whatever the illogical fantasy, that's why this bunk persists!

And if they get better after a homeopathic remedy, why not go there? Placebo effect or just running its course, it beats taking unneeded drugs.

Course if someone continues homeopathy and nothing cures them...therein lies the rub.

Atheist Buses - just across the water from me this happened:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hampshire/7832647.stm

I see vaccine debate as very similar to the 9-11 conspiracy folks. There is no evidence that vaccines are the sole cause of major health issues(in fact they are a major cause of good health) and there is no evidence that the world trade center was vaporized with a space laser after a holographic plan was run into the building. But some of the dismissal of the crazy point of view stifles the real debate as to whether the chemicals in vaccines could be contributing factors in things like the severity of autism or the extent to which the bush administration was willfully incompetent in the run up to the attacks.

I was meaning to look more closely at the studies that refute the vaccine-autism link but have been too busy. My take on what research shows at this point is no evidence of a link between having autism and being vaccinated. That said, there being no real evidence of the positive doesn't prove the negative and there are lots of holes in autism data because of inconstant diagnosis before the 1980's.

I know nothing of your personal level of knowledge on the subject of vaccine safety; however, I've known more than a few people who think that perusing a few papers related to this topic on PubMed makes one more or less an authority on the subject. To me, this is something akin to me claiming to be qualified to build a multi-span suspension bridge based on the fact that I have a coffee table book of bridges at home.

wait, what?

I am not claiming expertise.

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