Sunday, October 14, 2007

Most Chiropractors Don't Believe in Vaccines

Although there is overwhelming evidence to show that vaccination is a highly effective method of controlling infectious diseases a significant portion of the chiropractic profession maintains a strongly anti-vaccination bias. There is at least one survey (Table 1. from PDF pictured above) which shows that a whopping 51.3% of chiropractors do not believe vaccines are effective in the prevention of disease. Another survey queried 1% of American chiropractors and found that:
One-third agree that there is no scientific proof that immunization prevents disease, that vaccinations cause more disease than they prevent, and that contracting an infectious disease is safer than immunization.
Clearly something is amiss among the chiropractic schools. But stealing a line from St. Francis of Assisi: " Where there is darkness, light". Two Canadian chiropractors, Jason Busse and Stephen Injeyen, writing in the highly respected journal Pediatrics with microbiologist James Campbell, identified tactics used to oppose and confuse the public about immunization. The playbook sounds much like something used to fight climate change:

1) Doubt the science
2) Question the motives and integrity of the scientists (greed)
3) Magnify the disagreements among scientists, and cite gadflies as authorities (doubt the consensus)
4) Appeal to personal freedoms
5) Claim action will cause more harm than good

and more...

Anyone that doubts the efficacy of vaccines needs to read up on polio. In the summer of 1916, 27,000 people were paralyzed in the US, with 6,000 deaths. All of which were from polio. In 1952 the United States had a polio epidemic with nearly 58,000 cases reported cases, 3,145 deaths and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis.[5] Today polio survivors are one of the largest disabled groups in the world. The World Health Organization estimates that there are 10 to 20 million polio survivors worldwide with 254,000 persons living in the United States who had been paralyzed by polio.[6][7] Many of these survivors face new disabilities 15 to 40 years after their original illness, which could leave them using wheelchairs or ventilators for the rest of their lives[6] Polio is one hell of a disease.

In 1955 an injection vaccine was announced to the world and in 1962 an oral (pill) form became available. The two vaccines have eradicated polio from most of the countries in the world[8][9] and reduced the worldwide incidence from an estimated 350,000 cases in 1988 to fewer than 2000 cases in 2006.[10][11] In 2006 only four countries, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, had active polio outbreaks. The success of the polio vaccine has led the World Health Organization claim that "global polio eradication now hinges on" these four countries.[12]

Unfortunately chiropractors are not the only group of people on the planet that feel threatened by vaccines. Datti Ahmed, the President of the Kano-based Sharia (Islamic Law) Supreme council, which administers Islamic law, claims that the polio "vaccine is part of a United States-led conspiracy to de-populate the developing world."[13] As with all conspiracies, this one does not escape irony. From the Washington Post:
Six countries in the world still have "endemic," or freely circulating, polio virus in their populations. All except Nigeria are in the late stages of eradication campaigns. That country has had 259 cases of paralysis from the disease this year -- nearly 80 percent of the world total.
And on the chiropractor side:
[A] boy whose chiropractor father did not believe in immunization was the first fatal case of childhood diphtheria in the nation that year.
Clearly Hygeia, the goddess of health, does not like chiropractors or even certain Muslims. Of course if you believe the chiropractors "natural cycle" argument then I guess polio is just that disease that mutated so it no longer affected humans. And so the most fit strain of polio will forever live on... somewhere else. And that my friends is what we call evolution. :-p Darwin would be proud of the chiropractors.

  1. Attitudes on immunization: a survey of American chiropractors., J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1994 Nov-Dec;17(9):584-90. PMID: 7884327
  2. Chiropractors and Vaccination: A Historical Perspective, PEDIATRICS Vol. 105 No. 4 April 2000, p. e43
  3. Attitudes and Beliefs toward Routine Vaccination: A Survey of Kansas Chiropractors, S. Holman and S. Nyberg, Department of Physician Assistant, Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas 67260, U.S.A.
  4. NLM
  5. Zamula E (1991). "A New Challenge for Former Polio Patients". FDA Consumer 25 (5): 21-5.
  6. After Effects of Polio Can Harm Survivors 40 Years Later. March of Dimes (2001-06-01). Accessed on 2007-10-07.
  7. Frick NM, Bruno RL (1986). "Post-polio sequelae: physiological and psychological overview". Rehabilitation literature 47 (5-6): 106-11. PMID 3749588. Retrieved on 2007-06-04.
  8. Aylward R (2006). "Eradicating polio: today's challenges and tomorrow's legacy". Ann Trop Med Parasitol 100 (5-6): 401-13. PMID 16899145.
  9. Schonberger L, Kaplan J, Kim-Farley R, Moore M, Eddins D, Hatch M (1984). "Control of paralytic poliomyelitis in the United States". Rev. Infect. Dis. 6 Suppl 2: S424-6. PMID 6740085.
  10. "Update on vaccine-derived polioviruses". MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 55 (40): 1093-7 (2006) . PMID 17035927.
  11. Kew O, Sutter R, de Gourville E, Dowdle W, Pallansch M (2005). "Vaccine-derived polioviruses and the endgame strategy for global polio eradication". Annu Rev Microbiol 59: 587-635. PMID 16153180.
  12. BBC, Kano shuns Nigeria polio campaign, Friday, 12 December, 2003, 13:09 GMT
  13. Washington Post, Polio Warning Issued for Travel to Nigeria, David Brown Thursday, July 1, 2004; Page A02
  14. Global polio eradication now hinges on four countries, Polio-free countries seek to protect themselves, World Health Organization, 12 OCTOBER 2006
    Wind Power on the Cheap:

    From Popular Science:

    Frayne’s device, which he calls a Windbelt, is a taut membrane fitted with a pair of magnets that oscillate between metal coils. Prototypes have generated 40 milliwatts in 10-mph slivers of wind, making his device 10 to 30 times as efficient as the best microturbines. Frayne envisions the Windbelt costing a few dollars and replacing kerosene lamps in Haitian homes. “Kerosene is smoky and it’s a fire hazard,” says Peter Haas, founder of the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group, which helps people in developing countries to get environmentally sound access to clean water, sanitation and energy. “If Shawn’s innovation breaks, locals can fix it. If a solar panel breaks, the family is out a panel.”

    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Six Degrees:
    "A must read for those who can stomach it"

    "A must read for those who can stomach it" are words recently used by Stephan Rahmstorf Ph.D., a top notch climatologist at Potsdam University and contributor to Recently he wrote a book review in Nature on Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas. Mark Lynas has spent months trawling through thousands of papers on climate change. The culmination of his research is a book of six chapters, each of which discusses the repercussions of every degree Celsius of potential impact for global warming. So if anyone has ever asked you "What is going to happen?" or "What are the consequences?" this is the book. In Rahmstorf's eyes the book is not perfect but it is still a work of exceptional quality:
    His statements are referenced throughout, and, as a palaeoclimatologist, I was familiar with fewer than half of the 500 or so papers he cites. [snip] I have my quibbles with some of Lynas's interpretations and there is the odd error, but such complaints seem petty in view of the overall achievement and importance of this book. [snip] Gloomy as his story sounds, in some cases he may even be too optimistic. [snip] Lynas is a gripping story-teller, making the book infinitely less tedious than the papers it is based on. A must-read for those who can stomach it.
    So if somebody asks you "why should I care?" this is apparently the book to read.

    Nature, Degrees of change, BOOK REVIEWED-Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet. by Mark Lynas, Stefan Rahmstorf
    Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet

    Monday, October 08, 2007

    Hello and Goodbye Mr. Walrus

    Recently Eli Rabett has reported on the opening of the Northwest Passage, a sea route for ships to travel from Europe to Asia via north of Canada. The Washington Post is reporting that the recent ice melt is unprecedented:
    According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, September sea ice was 39 percent below the long-term average from 1979 to 2000. Sea ice cover is in a downward spiral and may have passed the point of no return, with a possible ice-free Arctic Ocean by summer 2030, senior scientist Mark Serreze said.
    Clearly records are being broken. But one thing that has flown under the radar of most of the climate blogs is *why* this is important to those concerned about climate change.

    #1 Predictions & Rate of Change

    The first reason why this is important is the rate of change:
    Deborah Williams _ who was an Interior Department special assistant for Alaska under former President Bill Clinton, and who is now president of the nonprofit Alaska Conservation Solutions _ said melting of sea ice and its effects on wildlife were never even discussed during her federal service from 1995 to 2000.

    "That's what so breathtaking about this," she said. "This has all happened faster than anyone could have predicted.
    In other words all of the worst case scenario predictions made pre-2000 have underestimated the impacts of Anthropogenic Climate Change. This stands in stark contrast from the "fear monger" name calling coming out of the CFC's-don't-harm-ozone and Exxon funded Heartland Institute.

    #2 Loss of Habitat

    The second reason sea ice melt is important is was reported on yesterday in the Washington Post. Walruses are normally "spread over thousands of miles of sea ice" so they can dive down to eat clams, snails and other bottom dwellers. Floating ice is the perfect hunting ground for walruses as it act like a moving conveyor belt allowing them to rest between dives and catch lots of food. Yet the ice has receded to water deeper than their 630 foot diving range and so their natural habitat has literally disappeared. Now the thousands of walrus have picked Alaska's rocky beaches. The walrus has lost thousands of miles of hunting grounds, a natural conveyor belt of food and are not collected in one tiny spot. Clearly things are going to get rather uncomfortable for the walrus.

    #3 Albedo

    The third, and possibly most important, reason why ice melt is important is the albedo effect. Ice acts like a mirror and shines light back into space. When this ice is gone the ocean will absorb quit a bit more light. The effect is rather strong and during the ice ages the albedo effect was calculated to account for 2/3's of the cooling while CO2 was only 1/3. Melting ice can be a massive positive feedback for global warming.

    Of course climate critics like Lubos Motl are praising this as a "Nature's gift". And so the debate starts to exit a scientific field and starts to enter a moral one.


    Wednesday, October 03, 2007

    Sending The Great Dragon Back to Gehenim:
    A Feathered Friend Brings A Gift for Eli

    Apparently Eli Rabbet isn't the only bunny fighting serpents (symbols of deception in the Bible). Ophioneus might have been a suitable metaphor since Eli loves to discuss Ethon, but pious literature from the Anno Domini epoch seemed to fit the situation with far more accuracy than classical antiquity.

    Monday, October 01, 2007

    Bugs of the Corn:
    Our Government's Subsidized Killers

    Corn-Ethanol is frequently touted as a solution to our energy problems. As discussed on logical science's main site there are some major problems with this statement and there are many professors and even nobel laureates that claim "it would be better if we just burnt oil." In addition to the long list of complaints with regard to corn-ethanols poor energy economics, lack of scalability and 'worse-than-oil'* CO2 problems there are also massive health concerns. One of these health concerns is the under appreciated killer known as E. Coli.

    E. Coli can cause several intestinal and extra-intestinal infections such as urinary tract infections, meningitis, peritonitis, mastitis, septicemia and Gram-negative pneumonia. According to peer-review research this little bug is a horribly under appreciated and growing problem:
    the pathogenic potential of different groups of E. coli strains for causing intestinal versus extraintestinal disease, and (iv) increasing antimicrobial resistance. In this era in which health news often sensationalizes uncommon infection syndromes or pathogens, the strains of E. coli that cause extraintestinal infection are an increasingly important endemic problem and underappreciated "killers". Billions of health care dollars, millions of work days, and hundreds of thousands of lives are lost each year to extraintestinal infections due to E. coli.
    Clearly E. Coli carries massive economic implications. Michael Pollen, who is a New York Times Magazine writer and Berkeley Professor, wrote a book called The Omnivore's Dilemma. This book has been discussed by NPR as well as several higher ups at the USDA:
    ... a corn fed cow forms a slime covering the rumen which prevents gas from escaping. The treatment is to put a hose down their esophagus to let gas escape. This happens to some, but not all of corn fed cows. A more common problem is liver disease. If the cow eats too much corn in a short period of time, the rumen can become inflamed and ulcerate. Bacteria are able to enter the bloodstream from the rumen to cause a liver abscess. Although now the farmer has to treat the sick cow with antibiotics, it is still more economical to treat disease than offer a grazed diet.
    It would also appear that the E. Coli experts at Lehigh Valley Hospital agree:
    Q: How can I make sure the food I buy is safe?

    A: Cattle that are fed grass instead of grain have less E. coli O157:H7 in their intestines, but most of the beef in supermarkets is from grain-fed cattle.
    To make matters even worse all of this antibiotic usage is literally breeding super bugs. A study of 56 E. Coli strains from 20 years ago and 15 different antibiotics found that every antibiotic was effective against every strain of E.Coli. But times are changing. A recent study found that "All E. coli exhibited resistance to five or more [antibiotics]". Many scientists blame the overusage of antibiotics in agriculture as a major part of the problem. And some scientists are worried that farmyard E.Coli will serve as a reservoir for antibiotic resistance genes and these genes might be transfered to other bacteria. Another study found that E. coli O157:H7 actually releases more toxins when exposed to antibiotics. The researchers concluded that patients might be at a higher risk of developing the life threatening hemolytic uremic syndrome and kidney failure when treated with antibiotics. So if antibiotics must be used it is more important than ever to have quick acting drugs. Antibiotic resistance will make that feat much more difficult.

    Recently the NYT's reported a 21.7 million pound beef recall due to E. coli O157:H7. While this is certainly a special case it would appear that meat recalls aren't exactly a rare event. A quick search of the web reveals a 25 million pound recall in 1997 and a 19 million pound recall in 2002. Now to make the matter even more complicated it appears that E. Coli in the fecal matter of cows can contaminate crops on farms. The FDA claims the antibiotic resistant E. Coli outbreak in spinach in 2006 has been linked to cattle:
    FDA and the State of California announced October 12 that the test results for certain samples collected during the field investigation of the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in spinach are positive for E. coli O157:H7. Specifically, samples of cattle feces on one of the implicated ranches tested positive based on matching genetic fingerprints for the same strain of E. coli O157:H7 that sickened 204 people
    So why are we feeding cows corn? Giant Miscanthus, a grass that can grow 13 feet high, is much easier and cheaper to grow than corn. It's even been trumpeted as a very promising bio-fuel.

    Funding our nations corn and corn-ethanol industry isn't cheap. The NTU estimates every dollar of ethanol profit costs taxpayers $30 in subsidies. In 2002 congress approved a $190 billion farm-subsidy package with much of it going to corn. If you take away the multi-billion dollar corn-ethanol subsidies and add the costs of E. Coli related health care costs it would be interesting to see if corn could even come close to the economics of grass.

    It's not just scientists that are attacking corn. Senator John McCain had also been on the offensive. Well, that is until it cost him the state of Iowa, a major corn growing state, when he ran against George W. Bush. In November 2003 McCain said:
    "Ethanol is a product that would not exist if Congress didn't create an artificial market for it. No one would be willing to buy it … Yet thanks to agricultural subsidies and ethanol producer subsidies, it is now a very big business - tens of billions of dollars that have enriched a handful of corporate interests - primarily one big corporation, ADM. Ethanol does nothing to reduce fuel consumption, nothing to increase our energy independence, nothing to improve air quality."
    Using surplus grain and corn cobs to supplement a natural grass diet and balance farming surplus is one thing but spending billions of tax dollars to feed cattle an almost exclusively unnatural diet when many scientists and even politicians claim that it does lots of harm and only benefits a select few is something entirely different. I don't have the time, money or manpower to perform a thorough analysis of this enormously complex situation to arrive at reasonably precise economic impact estimates. And e-mail communication with Berkeley Professor Tad Patzek has informed me that discussion of certain aspects of agriculture is discouraged. A bold claim but nothing worse than the widespread politicization and even blocking of research that has occurred in other fields. Maybe someone with ample resources will produce a Stern style report which will hand reporters more than enough ammo to report on the obvious.

    Grass fed beef is supposed to be much healthier for you for nutritional reasons and many claim that it even tastes better. So maybe your local steak house and the average beef conisour will benefit from a switch to grass as well. But the most important thing is simply managing the high starch diet in a way that reduces the amount of antibiotics needed.

    *Corn ethanols CO2 emissions are highly dependent upon the fuel used for brewing the beer, distillation (natural gas > coal), costs of transporting the corn over distances and many other factors.