The real lesson in the Disneyland measles outbreak


We’ve finally found an issue that unites the American Left and the American Right!

Unfortunately, that issue is anti-vaccination.

As many pundits have noted, anti-vaccine activism is prominent among diverse political groups that have virtually nothing else in common. Why?

Because when it comes to science, we are all postmodernists now.

PBS offered this definition of postmodernism in connection with the topic of faith and reason:

[P]ostmodernism is highly skeptical of explanations which claim to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions, or races, and instead focuses on the relative truths of each person. In the postmodern understanding, interpretation is everything; reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually.

If there is any discipline that claims to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions and ethnicities, that discipline is Science.

As philosopher Daniel Dennett noted:

“Postmodernism, the school of ‘thought’ that proclaimed ‘There are no truths, only interpretations’ has largely played itself out in absurdity, but it has left behind a generation of academics in the humanities disabled by their distrust of the very idea of truth and their disrespect for evidence, settling for ‘conversations’ in which nobody is wrong and nothing can be confirmed, only asserted with whatever style you can muster.”

Academics in the humanities were not the only ones disabled by their “distrust for the very idead of truth and their disrespect for evidence.” Ordinary citizens are similarly disabled.

Simply put, what many on the Left and Right share is the belief that each of us create our own reality. For the Left, that reality is that Nature is perfect, intuition takes primacy over rational thought, and all authority should be distrusted. For the Right, that reality is that American/Western European values are supreme, fear takes primacy over rational thought, and government is evil and controlling.

Postmodernism has typically been associated with the Left, and most on the Right, particularly the far Right, would be horrified to find themselves in company with the postmodernists. In my view, however, the “pre-eminent” postmodernist of the early 21st Century was not a philosopher, but a politician, President George W. Bush.

His philosophy, was famously summarized by an aide (believed to be Karl Rove) in speaking to a journalist:

The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

How has this view played out in the world of anti-vaccination?

Reality is that vaccines are one of the greatest public health achievements of all time, saving literally hundreds of millions of lives.

But the Left has created its own reality in which industry is engaged in a gigantic conspiracy to render eveyone autistic while making copious profits. And the Right has created its own reality in which government is engaged in a gigantic conspiracy to abrogate parental authority to determine what is safe for their children.

This belief by the Left and the Right that we can create our own reality is not limited to the vaccine issue. It extends to climate change, evolution, genetically modified food products (which, in reality, is ALL food that has ever existed) and food itself. It makes no difference to the “postmodernists” that the science on these issues is settled and massive consensus exists among experts. Both the Left and the Right feel free to ignore reality in an effort to shore up their philosophical and religious beliefs. Cognitive dissonance is hard; making your own reality is much easier.

The Disneyland measles outbreak is a stark reminder to the “postmodernists” on the Left and the Right, that reality exists independent of their prejudices and beliefs.

Both had argued that the disappearance of measles was the result of “sanitation,” not vaccination. Both had argued that vaccines don’t work and herd immunity was a figment of the imagination. And both had argued that refusing to vaccinate would not allow measles to reappear because it was “gone.”

Those arguments were spectacularly demolished by the reality of one unvaccinated child exposed to measles who then visisted Disneyland. The outbreak has spread to multiple states by now and the unstated consensus that we should let citizens ignore science in favor of personal beliefs has been blasted apart.

The real lesson of the Disneyland measles outbreak is a harsh one. The real lesson is that there is a reality independent of individual belief and that individual belief is powerless to change that reality.

Climate change is real.

Evolution is the only explanation for the world that currently exists.

GMOs in food are not harming anyone.

Alternative health quackery is not saving anyone.

And … unequivocally … vaccines prevent disease and save lives.

190 Responses to “The real lesson in the Disneyland measles outbreak”

  1. Jacqueline
    February 8, 2015 at 6:36 pm #

    Here’s the thing, that isn’t even remotely what post-modernism is like, and most academics like myself believe strongly in vaccinating and science. I’m personally a historian of medicine, and while I don’t believe that ‘truth’ ever comes unfiltered through human understanding, (i.e. there is no way to get at the ‘real’ truth without human language, thought, and history) that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in medicine, or scientific thought. The problem with blaming post-modernists is like me blaming doctors for the stupid neurologist who thinks grains will make you dumb (I think his book is called the “Grain Drain”). Just because some people who think they understand post-structuralist theory are morons, that doesn’t mean those of us with PhDs in humanities are equally slow. I’m on board with your message, I agree with you about anti-vax people and about home births. I personally have a lot to lose if these preventable but totally deadly illnesses come back. However I think that you need to save your energy and focus on what you do know, and it is clear that French theory isn’t your strong suit. I think that’s totally okay. Having an MD is certainly enough for you to talk about and get praised for. It is impressive. There is no need to try to strike out at individuals who have nothing to do with crazy people who refuse to vaccinate their children. Thanks.

  2. scaffnet
    February 6, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    You had me fully on board until you decided to rope GMOs into your argument.

    Here’s the key difference between plant breeding pre-GMO and post -GMO. Pre GMO plant breeders selected from naturally occurring attributes within the plants genome for desired outcomes (disease resistance, yield, drought tolerance, etc.)

    Post-GMO plant breeders are free to introduce foreign DNA into the plant genome. Fish DNA. Pesticide tolerance. And then release the plants, untested, into the wild to reproduce and spew their mutated DNA in all directions via pollen, seed transport by animals, etc.

    GMO is a science experiment released into the world without controls, or boundaries. Will eating the seeds or fruit of GMO crops harm us? No one knows yet. Will releasing novel DNA into the natural world change it or hurt it? Maybe. Maybe not.

    We don’t know yet. To gloss over this – and insist that “GMOs are not harming anyone” – in an otherwise spot on post is embarrassing. And it’s an impossible to support claim.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      February 6, 2015 at 2:56 pm #

      A good portion of our own DNA is foreign DNA naturally inserted by viruses. Why is that any better?

      • scaffnet
        February 6, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

        To assert, without any proof, that GMO food will harm no one, is not science. It’s bluster. We just don’t have evidence to support that claim. Or the claim that it will kill us all. Which is why it’s a particularly foolish experiment that we are all participating in, like it or not.

        I think your perspective on the arrogance and ego of anti-vaxxers is spot on, but trotting out a different arrogant assertion – made by many in the scientific community – erodes your credibility.

  3. Amy M
    February 6, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    I know you’ve all heard of “Melanie’s Marvelous Measles” but the reviews on Amazon are priceless.

    • Nick Sanders
      February 6, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

      I’ve seen a photoshop of the cover that made it “Melanie’s Mom’s Marvelous Munchausen’s”. It was glorious.

      • Amy M
        February 6, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

        The top “review” is a list some guy made which include: Billy’s Bitchin’ Bubonic Plague, Peggy’s Paralyzing Polio, etc

        • Samantha06
          February 6, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

          He certainly came up with some interesting titles!

      • Samantha06
        February 6, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

        I would love to see that!

    • Samantha06
      February 6, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

      Holy Crap! I actually had never heard of this! Oh FFS!!! I cannot believe someone could be that irresponsible. I loved the review with the “list of similar books.” though, that was pretty hilarious! “Priscilla’s Precocious Preeclampsia”- she could co-author this one with Ina May…

    • Siri
      February 6, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

      The five star reviews are brilliant!

  4. Sonia
    February 6, 2015 at 11:54 am #

    OT: I’m on a different pregnancy related board and one of the women just bought Ina May’s book (SMH), but also asked for other books she could read for pregnancy and delivery. Any suggestions? I think this is an opportunity to introduce her to other ways of thinking about birth than she might find in that book.

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
      February 6, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

      Well, she might not go for this but it’s actually a pretty good read:
      Choosing Cesarean: A Natural Birth Plan by Magnus Murphy, M.D. and Pauline McDonagh Hull
      It might be a little to much info about what can go wrong with vaginal birth but then again some people want all the facts before making a decision.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        February 6, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

        I really like Pauline Hull. She is a great one.

    • Young CC Prof
      February 6, 2015 at 7:43 pm #

      I really liked Mark Sloan’s Birth Day. It’s not actively hostile towards the NCB viewpoint, but it is very very realistic, and it tells you some just plain fascinating stuff about fetal and neonatal biology, along with the incredible process of transition.

  5. sdsures
    February 6, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    Something my husband found:

    • Siri
      February 6, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

      He does have a point. Besides, if other people’s brakes work 100% every single time, why are they so frightened of my brakeless car? Well, I’ve had it with their hate speech and their sheep-like belief in ‘herd braking’. From now on I intend to homedrive my car.

  6. Amy M
    February 6, 2015 at 7:46 am #

    One of my FB friends (who is anti-vax, but got her child fully vaxxed after she couldn’t get him into school otherwise) posted an article about the doctors who are refusing unvaccinated patients (or parents who will refuse to vaccinate). Several of her anti-vacc friends got in there and they were all discussing how terrible this was, and of course, how dangerous vaccines are, you know because [febrile] seizures are listed on the [possible] side effects handout as a MINOR side effect and these people think seizures are major. (which sure, epileptic seizures as a side effect would be major, but vaccines don’t cause epilepsy, which is just ONE of the crazy things this brain trust believes.)

    Well, I think all those vocal anti-vaccinators yammering about choice should put up or shut up now: choices have consequences. If your doctor says that you as a non-vaxxer are no longer welcome (or must be segregated to a specific office/room), well you’ve chosen to opt out of participating in public safety, why should you be allowed in public spaces? You are a danger to others. The worst ones are those suggesting that everyone with young babies, on chemo or otherwise medically unable to be vaccinated should JUST STAY HOME. That’s right–the anti-vaxxers should have the rights to the public spaces, not the people who need protection from the anti-vaxxers via herd immunity which is wrecked BY the anti-vaxxers!! I can’t even get any angrier. So my view is: anti-vaccinators can’t have it both ways. They want a choice to avoid vaccinations? Fine, but then they can’t complain when everyone else wants to avoid them, and they are restricted from various public spaces.

    • Lurker
      February 6, 2015 at 10:57 am #

      As a reminder of the dangers of unvaccinated kids in waiting rooms:

    • Dr Jay
      February 6, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

      I agree wholeheartedly! They don’t want choice, they want choice without consequence. You have the right to refuse medical care for yourself, but you do not have the right to endanger the lives of children and the infirm. Get stuffed. I personally think they should be banned from anyplace where large crowds gather.

  7. Allie
    February 5, 2015 at 11:42 pm #

    There is one thing you have stated that I question: “vaccines are one of the greatest pubic health achievements of all time, saving literally hundreds of millions of lives.” Is it possible that number has now surpassed a billion?

  8. Lisa from NY
    February 5, 2015 at 11:27 pm #

    Very Very OT: What are normal cholesterol levels for a nursing woman? I have a friend who said hers are 350.

    • February 6, 2015 at 2:18 am #

      AFAIK, cholesterol levels do not change because of nursing — but depending on what she is eating, of course, they could be different from her previous levels. She ought to ask her doctor whether he/she is concerned.

    • Dr Kitty
      February 6, 2015 at 9:48 am #

      Who cares?
      Unless there is a strong family history or multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease a pre-menopausal woman is at very low risk of imminent onset of cardiovascular disease.

      Nursing is not the time to embark on a low fat calorie restricted diet or a very heavy exercise regime (which are good ways to reduce cholesterol), and there are very few scenarios in which a cholesterol reading would be high enough in a young woman to warrant medications like statins to control it (absent other risk factors such as diabetes or familial hypercholesterolaemia).

      So really, all your friend should be doing is trying to ensure a healthy diet and lifestyle, reduce any modifiable risk factors and discuss with her doctor whether her cholesterol is likely to require treatment down the road…

      I am not a fan of checking cholesterol for people without obvious risk factors for CVD, because it rarely changes management and causes stress and anxiety.

    • Pen Fox
      February 6, 2015 at 11:20 am #

      For what it’s worth (acknowledging this is purely anecdotal), my cholesterol numbers were north of 250 when I was pregnant, and probably stayed that way when I was nursing. Some of that may have been due to not being able to exercise much and craving lots of cheese and high fat dairy, but I had a physical shortly after I weaned and my cholesterol was back in the normal range.

  9. araikwao
    February 5, 2015 at 8:53 pm #

    Dr A, an awkward spelling mistake makes it read ..”vaccines are one of the greatest pubic health measures..”

    • Nick Sanders
      February 5, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

      Well, maybe she’s talking about Gardasil? :p

    • sdsures
      February 5, 2015 at 9:26 pm #

      Also, “President”, not “Prsident”.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      February 5, 2015 at 11:39 pm #


  10. Eskimo
    February 5, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

    Dr. Amy. Can you please hand The Feminist Breeder her ass over the vaccine debate? She’s over there blathering on about choice and not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings by “choosing a side” and this asshole is getting her masters in public health?!?!? What!!?? Of course she is on the side of science when it comes to breast feeding, but says that the verdict is out when it comes to vaccines. Dangerous morons like her need to learn their place. Grrrrrr.

    • Sue
      February 5, 2015 at 11:24 pm #

      If there’s any successful strategy in public health, surely it must be vaccination.

      Anyone who doesn’t recognise this should not be awarded an MPH.

    • Guest
      February 6, 2015 at 12:35 am #

      How can these people say that breastfeeding, c-sections, nutrition and hygiene affect public health as much as not vaccinating? These people are total loons!

    • anh
      February 6, 2015 at 4:18 am #

      but formula kills 1000 babies in the US a year. didn’t you know? sigh. that woman is a scourge.
      SHe was blathering about how her daughter would have DIED if she had gotten the MMR at 6 months like her ped recommended, because they found out at 9 months she had an egg allergy. She then deleted the thread quickly, I imagine because someone called her out for lying, as anyone who has a kid and has paid attention knows MMR isn’t given at 6 months.

      • Young CC Prof
        February 6, 2015 at 7:45 am #

        Also shows critical misunderstandings of allergy and food allergy.

        Reactions to the trace amounts of egg that may be found in certain vaccines are rare even among children with serious egg allergies. A child who’s never eaten egg before isn’t going to really be sensitized to it yet. No one is born with allergies.

        • Dr Kitty
          February 6, 2015 at 8:25 am #

          A proven history of ANAPHYLACTIC reaction to eggs is a contraindication to some (not all) vaccines.

          A history of vomiting after eating eggs, eczema made worse by eating eggs, a slight rash after eating eggs, a family history of egg allergy, a child who has never eaten egg, diarrhoea after eating eggs and non-anaphylatic egg allergies…none of those are contraindications to vaccination.

          Quite often what people mean by a ” food allergy” falls some way short of what a doctor would mean by a food allergy.

          I have weird and wonderful drug allergies. When I describe them to Drs I am careful to report them as “genuine life-threatening anaphylactic allergic reactions”, because I know how many people consider a few days of diarrhoea or thrush after an antibiotic to be a “serious allergy” (it isn’t).

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
            February 6, 2015 at 9:09 am #

            Isn’t diarrhoea or thrush after an antibiotic just the result of the anitbiotic killing off the “good” bacteria in your body? I always assumed that anyway.
            On the other had my husband got an bad rash and a fever after one dose of erythromycin, the doctor told him after that to avoid that family of antibiotics but that such reactions were fairly rare. Strangely he is also allergic to bee stings..

          • Sullivan ThePoop
            February 6, 2015 at 11:42 am #

            I have a weird but real allergy to salicylic acid and some compound salicylates. Most people only have a sensitivity with no antibody. Mine is a IgG3 mediated allergy. Whereas IgE allergies cause the same reaction all the time no matter how much of the offending antigen is present, IgG allergies have a threshold and can have a different reaction every time. Although aspirin itself always causes pseudo anaphylaxis, oranges, honey, and naproxen cause different reactions. So, some people may have a real allergy to foods or drugs, but if it is not IgE mediated it is not the same as what you typically think of.

          • Dr Kitty
            February 6, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

            Yep..but only the IgE- mediated anaphylactic reaction to egg is a contra-indication to vaccination, because of the dose-response relationship with non-IgE allergies and the fact that the amount of egg protein in vaccinations is too tiny to trigger those kind of allergies…

          • Sullivan ThePoop
            February 6, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

            Oh, no that is absolutely true. I was just pointing out that allergies that are not IgE mediate might not always look like real allergies to lay people. It wasn’t in response to vaccines, just someone who was talking about drug allergies which are often IgG mediated.

  11. Bombshellrisa
    February 5, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

    OT: an update on the Rengo children. Remember the children were taken into temporary custody and there was much discussion about how these “home birthed, breastfed, all natural” babies were taken? You will recall they all had severe excema and were all being breastfed.

    • Samantha06
      February 6, 2015 at 11:00 am #

      Thank God those kids are in CPS custody..

    • Staceyjw
      February 6, 2015 at 11:58 am #

      What a mess. Looks like Dad is an abuser, and the whole family is sucked into the mire. They made it sound like the only reason for CPS was the HB, when there is a list of law enforcement events as long as my arm, including multiple calls for DV.
      So sad. Taking nursing babies from a mom has to be awful for all involved.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        February 6, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

        They made it sound like the only reason for CPS was the HB, when there is a list of law enforcement events as long as my arm, including multiple calls for DV.

        Exactly, and I said that from the beginning. There is ALWAYS more to this than what comes from advocates.

        But note, again, that these are the heroic martyrs of the lactivist community. You think they care about kids? Not at all.

      • Bombshellrisa
        February 6, 2015 at 5:11 pm #

        I wondered if part if it was the UC of the twins, but the judge said that had nothing to do with the initial decision to put the children in custody. The mother did have a CPM with the first child and she didn’t like how “restrictive” the CPM was. Washington state Medicaid pays for home births so I don’t think that it would be anything to do with just choosing to birth at home.
        This family needs real help. I hope the parents can grow up enough to be parents to their children. Having three little ones under two would push any couple to their limits.

  12. T.
    February 5, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

    Totally OT:

    Did anybody posted this? Oldest case recorded of birth distocia, a neolithic siberian woman died delivering twins around 7.5k years ago:

    • Trixie
      February 5, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

      She clearly didn’t trust birth.

    • Hannah
      February 5, 2015 at 10:19 pm #

      I approve of how there’s several comments at the top comparing this to home birth…

    • Dr Kitty
      February 6, 2015 at 8:34 am #

      I find it amazing that there hasn’t been more archaeological evidence of multiple births.

      Although, I guess in cultures without writing, a grave of two or more infants is just a grave of two or more infants unless you can prove they are identical twins by DNA (unlikely, as tiny infant bones don’t tend to be well preserved over millenia). Also, of course, if you have twins who died at different ages it is just going to look like an ordinary sibling burial.

      I think the only reason the bones were preserved this time is because they were protected by still being inside the mother’s pelvis. That must have been an awful way to die.

      • toni
        February 6, 2015 at 9:53 am #

        this is probably a daft question with an obvious answer but what actually kills you in obstructed labour? I understand why the baby/babies would die but what makes the mother succumb as well? is it the baby’s body decomposing causing an infection or is it something like the wound where the placenta detached can’t heal because the baby is still in there?

        • T.
          February 6, 2015 at 11:31 am #

          This is an interesting question, can somebody answer it?

        • Amy Tuteur, MD
          February 6, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

          Usually overwhelming sepsis after days of agony.

        • Young CC Prof
          February 6, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

          Sometimes, the baby actually does come out (dead) and then the mother bleeds to death because the muscles in the uterus are so exhausted they can’t contract.

      • T.
        February 6, 2015 at 11:31 am #

        Yeah, I agree. It is rather amazing that it was found at all I suppose.

      • February 14, 2015 at 1:28 am #

        What I’m gonna say might be disturbing or upsetting for some people, so I’m going to dash spam a bit to prevent skimmers from getting an unintentional eyeful.

        I forgot what show this was, but it was on one of the BBC channels and was about archaeologists, forensic examiners, and historians. They would study very old remains and try to reconstruct what the person looked like, the story of their death, and the hows and whys behind it. Awesome show, wish I could remember the title to recommend it. Anyway, there was an episode about a woman who died whilst delivering TRIPLETS.

        Very fascinating, at first they wondered if there wasn’t a ceremonial reason behind the placement of the babies (one between her legs, one beside her, etc.) but it came to light that her body experienced a grave birth- where a pregnant corpse will eventually expel a fetus.

  13. Dr Kitty
    February 5, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

    Completely OT

    Our cat is home after his first femoral head excision.
    Not loving his cone of shame, slightly stoned on fentanyl, but seems in pretty good form, walking about, trying to climb on things, eating his food and taking his medicine. So far so good.

    • Stacy48918
      February 5, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

      Excellent news!

    • Who?
      February 5, 2015 at 5:03 pm #

      Sounds great. Collar spiteful is never a popular choice.

    • Mishimoo
      February 5, 2015 at 5:32 pm #

      Yay! It’s great to hear that he’s doing well so far.

    • Samantha06
      February 5, 2015 at 5:40 pm #

      That’s great! Hope he continues to improve!

    • Amazed
      February 5, 2015 at 7:23 pm #

      Happy for your kitty, Dr Kitty!

    • Bombshellrisa
      February 5, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

      The cone of shame! Oh glad he is doing well.

    • Trixie
      February 5, 2015 at 8:58 pm #


    • sdsures
      February 5, 2015 at 9:27 pm #

      Enjoy the drugs, Kitty (Cat)!

  14. Tosca
    February 5, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

    If you’re interested in learning vaccine facts in an entertaining way, I recommend Mark Crislip, an infectious disease specialist. He writes on the Science Based Medicine website ( and produces a podcast called Quackcast ( , scroll down the page).

    One of his favourite sayings is “Reality is like a honey badger…it don’t care.”

  15. Modernist Mom
    February 5, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

    I would just like to say that, for what it’s worth, I am not a postmodern critic/academic. I don’t actually even believe in postmodernism. I also vaccinate my kid, had a C-section, and find myself at sites like these because I find it hard to believe that people actually feel the way you suggest they do. I realize I am, sadly, wrong there.

    That said, you often say that your problem with the crunchy, anti-vaccine types is how they say they have done their “research” and fly in the face of professionals who have devoted careers to studying these ideas. Yet, you piece together an idea about postmodernism from PBS and a fight among academics and use that as a label to explain the batshit crazy idea of a few people. I’m not saying your definitions don’t have rings of truth to them, but it is a highly reductive manner to explain something that is actually an interesting and complex intersection of politics and reasoning in two very different groups of people. I get it. This is a blog, but I don’t blanket diagnose gynecological problems in my spare time because I respect that someone undertook years of education for that right. I would kindly ask that you respect my profession and not engage highly theoretical philosophy in generic terms to simply create rhetoric–at least not without reading some primary source material. If you are interested, John McGowan’s _Postmodernism and Its Critics_ has a very good introduction explaining how postmodernism came about. He neglects the topic of postmodern feminism, which is a shame because I think, given the topic of your website, you may find that interesting.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      February 5, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

      Feel free to critique the actual piece, as opposed to complaining about me.

      • Modernist Mom
        February 5, 2015 at 5:01 pm #

        I did! I don’t think you’re really delving into what is interesting about how these two groups intersect. In some ways, it’s not postmodern at all! Both believe in biological essentialism to a degree (the liberal ones attribute this to “nature,” the conservative ones to “God” or a particular faith/nationalism”). That actually isn’t postmodern at all and pretty much what postmodernists attribute to modernism (I say this as someone who gets called “fascist” for being a modernist with some regularity). Look, all I’m really saying is that when you cite philosophical sources, you often use internet sites or Wikipedia. I don’t think it’s ridiculous to hold you–someone who has a HUGE audience–to the same intellectual and philosophical standards as my college students.

        • Sue
          February 5, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

          HI, Modernist Mom.

          You could start with something like:
          “Thanks for the article. Post-modernism is a particular interest of mine. I get what you are trying to say, but here’s my explanation of modernism/post-modernism that I teach my college students”….

          (and then go on to teach us all about this area)

          • attitude devant
            February 5, 2015 at 10:54 pm #

            Because we would all like to learn more

          • Laura Thomas
            February 6, 2015 at 1:23 am #

            Years ago on this site I criticized people for the tone they took with me when I disagreed on a non-childbirth related topic. I got railed by several regular commenters! They felt I should toughen up. It was really upsetting. I do agree that it is always best to approach things as diplomatically as one can, but I think Modernist Mom’s original statement was fair and appropriate.

    • Trixie
      February 5, 2015 at 9:01 pm #

      The difference is, everyone who just read your comment was bored and started skimming about halfway through, whereas Dr. Amy just gave us a useful and concise lesson on vaccine refusal.

      • just me
        February 5, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

        I dunno, I think she has a point. I don’t know one way or another whether Dr A’s explanation was correct.

        • Trixie
          February 5, 2015 at 9:57 pm #

          Maybe there was a point buried in there somewhere but zzzzzzz

      • Laura Thomas
        February 6, 2015 at 1:19 am #

        I actually found it very interesting and I appreciate her educated viewpoint. I come here to learn. I do not agree with everything Dr. Amy has to say, nor all of her commenters, but I really respect this forum for learning. Most commenters are very educated and articulate. I respect their fields of expertise, like Modernist Mom. I have learned a lot, but really dislike the negativity I read at times.

      • Modernist Mom
        February 6, 2015 at 10:21 am #

        Got it. Snarky and short is how you guys like it here.

        Here goes. Dr. Amy did something for which I give Cs on essays regularly: find a snippet of complex philosophy from a random internet source and use that snippet to make broad arguments that don’t have a lot to do with each other (vaccines and George W. Bush, huh?). The result is big holes in your argument that don’t consider elements that YOU talk about.

        Guess what? Not everything you read on the internet is right, including PBS. Also, while Dr. Amy didn’t cite it here, Wikipedia is NOT a source. It’s a great place to start (and the entries on Modernism and Postmodernism aren’t bad–at least they didn’t give my students anything too erroneous when they all used it for their homework on Monday). Meanwhile, they give you the primary source material. Cite that!

        I just don’t think it’s unreasonable to hold her to the same standards as my students.

        By the way, I get the feeling that you all think that my criticism is veiled behind a hidden homebirth agenda–that I am suddenly going to show you pictures of my perfect homebirth or something. I get why you feel that way given the comments I’ve seen (what’s up with the GMO lady, btw?). But, that’s not my beef.

        • fiftyfifty1
          February 6, 2015 at 10:38 am #

          “Dr. Amy did something for which I give Cs on essays regularly”…”I just don’t think it’s unreasonable to hold her to the same standards as my students.”

          The whole world is now the classroom of Modernist Mom the schoolmarm. We are so worried she won’t give us good grades. What good are all our advanced degrees in science and medicine in the face of her scolding?

          • guest
            February 6, 2015 at 11:39 am #

            Can we cut the snark for a second and listen to the argument? I think modernist mom has a point: Dr. Amy’s expertise is OBGYN-related matters and by extension, other medical topics. She rightfully criticizes people who “educate themselves on the internet” and then think their opinions are as valid and well-founded as those of experts who studied the topic in question for years. But I think that this post makes the same mistake. I don’t find the postmodernist angle on this very convincing.
            How about a constructive suggestion: it would be awesome to have a scholar of modernist/postmodernist thought write a guest post on vaccine denialism on the left and right!

          • Modernist Mom
            February 6, 2015 at 11:55 am #

            The difference is that I didn’t scold you on science. I scolded you on something I have an advanced degree in. What use is my advanced degree if everyone can just get their definition of postmodernism from PBS?

          • RosaInBerlin
            February 6, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

            I feel you, Modernist Mom. My background is in the sociology of culture, not philosophy, but we studied postmodernism too, and I share your doubts about how the term is being applied here as well as the lack of rigour implicit in simply using a PBS definition of the term.

            For what it’s worth, I lived with a lot of natural scientists when I was doing my advanced degree, and quite a few of them had really no idea what people in philosophy or sociology were doing all day. When I explained the notions of scholarly rigour that I was supposed to apply in my work, they seemed surprised that we applied these standards too – they thought they were the only people being required to produce logical or internally consistent work. Surprising, I know, and it certainly did not apply to all, but it was a common misconception.

          • Modernist Mom
            February 6, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

            I realize that. I had a neuroscientist buddy of mine ask me once: “You guys do research too? Like peer-reviewed?” Umm. Yeah.

          • Siri
            February 6, 2015 at 5:32 pm #

            I sometimes think professional people fall into two categories. I mean, no one asks what a neurosurgeon (or a CNM, or a GP, or a supermarket cashier does all day.

          • Siri
            February 6, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

            Found that missing right-hand bracket! It was behind the sofa. )

    • KarenJJ
      February 5, 2015 at 9:05 pm #

      What I enjoy about Dr Amy’s blog posts is that they are there to start a discussion and then others join in with more insights from their own fields of study. I think it’s a bit different to what some infrequent readers are used to.

    • sdsures
      February 5, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

      This (talking about philosophy) is definitely a departure from Dr T’s usual fare.

  16. Guest
    February 5, 2015 at 4:44 pm #

    This AWESOME video about vaccines was made by an ER resident physician from California. It deserves to “go viral”!

  17. StThomas
    February 5, 2015 at 4:15 pm #

    “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away”. Phillip Dick. I have occasionally used this in consultationso with patients.

  18. just me
    February 5, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

    So glad there’s a bill in calif to get rid of personal belief exemption. I really hope the religious one goes away too. Religion shouldn’t trump public health ever. Sad that Mississippi of all places leads the nation in vax rate, thanks to no exemptions s other than health.

    • GiddyUpGo123
      February 5, 2015 at 10:54 pm #

      Ah thank you, I hadn’t heard that news yet. I live in ca and my kids attend a school with a double digit vaccine exemption percentage, so if that bill passes I will be cracking open a really nice bottle of wine to celebrate.

  19. EmbraceYourInnerCrone
    February 5, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    5 babies at Chicago Palatine area Kinder care daycare diagnosed with measles. All under age one.sorry on my phone no link. Those poor babies

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      February 5, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

      Wow, poor babies is right.

      But hey, if they don’t die, then it’s no big deal, right?

      • Amy
        February 5, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

        Wait a minute. Some babies just aren’t meant to live, right?

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          February 5, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

          Well, the non-breastfed ones at least.

          • mythsayer
            February 5, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

            You know… that’s a good point. What do they say when their precious breastfed snowflake dies of measles? Do they just throw up their hands and say “gosh darn it… guess my kid wasn’t strong enough. Natural selection at its finest.” I seriously doubt it. I mean, it’s one thing (and of course I disagree here, too) to say a newborn wasn’t meant to live. But what if their 6 month old has been super healthy up to that point. Do they just accept it?

          • Who?
            February 5, 2015 at 6:21 pm #

            “It wasn’t really measles, just a measles like illness’
            ‘My child was weakened by (insert previously unidentified ‘environmental toxin’ or ‘heavy metal’ of choice) and so never had a chance.’

            Maybe some realise things could have been different had they or others made different choices, esp bearing in mind a baby would have been too young to be vaccinated, so it is the herd letting them down at that point.

          • Samantha06
            February 6, 2015 at 12:03 am #

            Of course, they’ll scramble to find anything else to blame other than taking responsibility for not vaxxing their kid..

          • Samantha06
            February 6, 2015 at 12:01 am #

            Well, good old Wolfman of Arizona (Dr Wolfson) that ani-vax cardiologist nut-bag publicly said he wouldn’t feel bad at all if someone died because they were exposed to his unvaxxed kid with measles, AND said “some people are just going to die”, so I’m guessing if his kid died, he would shrug his shoulders and say, oh well, he wasn’t meant to live…

      • EyeTee
        February 5, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

        Maybe not.
        “SSPE tends to occur several years after an individual has measles, even
        though the person seems to have fully recovered from the illness. Males
        are more often affected than females, and the disease generally occurs
        in children and adolescents.”

        Symptoms include dementia, bizarre behaviour, coma, and death.

        So, parents who had no choice about vaccine (because their babies were too young for it) now have to worry not just about measles, and the “normal” measle complications including hearing loss, pneumonia, encephalitis, and brain damage, but a resurgence years latter that could kill their child.

        I’m waiting for an irate parent of a sick infant to be able to track their exposure to an anti-vaxxer’s child and sue the socks off of that parent.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
          February 5, 2015 at 5:49 pm #

          One small correction. A resurgence that WILL kill their child. SSPE is always fatal. Although it takes years of gradually losing motor and cognitive abilities before it finally kills them…

        • Trixie
          February 5, 2015 at 9:04 pm #

          That’s so terrifying. I had no idea that could happen.

        • Samantha06
          February 5, 2015 at 11:45 pm #

          I did not know that! Unbelievable.. you are so right, there are going to be lawsuits left and right over this.. and rightfully so..

        • Who?
          February 5, 2015 at 11:55 pm #

          Let’s hope they and their lawyers pick the multi-millionaire variety of anti-vaxxers.

          I wonder how it will go for the people being sued? Would you defend it to the hilt, lining up all your nut-job ‘references’-who would likely run for the hills the moment they looked like being in any way implicated in a death?
          Or would you just offer a pile of money for the other family to go away, all the better to avoid the publicity.

          Fascinating to be a fly on the wall when they run those strategies.

          Unfortunately either way litigation is likely to more deeply entrench both sides, as is natural in an adversarial system. Which makes the group on the fence, who can be influenced, much smaller.

    • rational adult
      February 5, 2015 at 4:35 pm #

      This is appalling! Poor babies and families.

    • Liz Leyden
      February 5, 2015 at 11:22 pm #

      I live in Vermont, with some of the lowest vaccinaton rates in the country. My twins are 10 months old, too young for the MMR. They’re not in day care, and we’re now avoiding playgroups until the spring, after they get the MMR.

      • Who?
        February 5, 2015 at 11:41 pm #

        You’ll be having cabin fever by April-hope everying goes well.

        Look after yourself too, it’s a long time to be out of your usual enjoyable routine.

      • Samantha06
        February 5, 2015 at 11:42 pm #

        Good for you! Hang in there..

    • Samantha06
      February 5, 2015 at 11:41 pm #

      OMG! I heard it was exposure, not actual diagnosed measles! Horrible!

  20. February 5, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

    Where the science of medicine meets the art of medicine. The science knows the hard facts, the statistics at a population level. The art knows that all of medicine is dealing with people, and people are individuals with individual needs, and individual choices to be made. A skilled physician is guided by the statistics, but not ruled by them and knows when to exercise judgement. A great choice for patient A is an utter disaster for patient B – and a skilled doctor can guide patient A towards the best choice for patient A, and guide patient B towards the best choice for patient B. When it comes to vaccination – absent some really limited and discrete circumstances – vaccination is a great choice that should be made.

    • Sue
      February 5, 2015 at 5:23 pm #

      Indeed. That’s why skilled physicians will take precautions for kids with egg allergy, inform themselves of the issues for those with diagnosed immune system issues etc.

  21. Young CC Prof
    February 5, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

    What I always say is that if you’re rejecting vaccines because no government can force you to taint and impurify your precious bodily fluids and it’s better to trust in God, you may be a right-wing nut. If you reject vaccines because they aren’t natural and your children will be fine as long as they eat their organic kale, you may be a left-wing nut.

    • Alcharisi
      February 5, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

      Except I have definitely heard versions of the latter from self-identified right-wingers, and versions of the former from self-identified left-wingers.

      • Sue
        February 5, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

        Currently-under-the-spotlight Arizona ex-cardiologist Wolfson DO has been quoted as saying that his son remains “pure”. That word is a red flag if I ever heard one.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks
        February 5, 2015 at 10:52 pm #

        Also, both can be true, as in the (frankly, weird) homeschool circles in which I grew up. The Evil Government (TM) was simultaneously trying to force your poor innocent children to be vaccinated against–OMG!!! Eleventy!!!–SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES. This would simultaneously fulfil their nefarious, nay, DEMONIC mission of pumping your kids full of Evil Chemicals. And as for the non-ST diseases, if you just ate all-natural this, totally-organic that, and drank plenty of raw milk, you’d never get them, not that measles or mumps are a big deal anyway, because God would take care of you since you were respecting your body by only eating clean, whole foods. *rolls eyes*

  22. Wtf?
    February 5, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

    What a bunch of sh!t Prove any of this.

    • attitude devant
      February 5, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

      What a remarkably concise demonstration of your personal idiocy! Do come again soon!

      • sdsures
        February 5, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

        He’s succinct; I have to give him that.

  23. Susan
    February 5, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    Applause… Would love to see this one as a column other places. I remember noticing this years ago among the homebirth crowd as well.. People about as politically different as one could imagine were making the same unorthodox choices. The same can be said regarding homeschooling as well. I remember well pointing this out to rather liberal homebirth dad who was incredulous that the choice he and his wife made was also popular among the extreme religious right.

  24. February 5, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

    I want to stand up and cheer for your last 5 sentences.

  25. Amy M
    February 5, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    I’ve been trying to find it online, but can’t seem to: what’s the number of confirmed measles cases linked to Disneyland so far? I found one article from today saying CA confirms 99 cases there, but I know other states have cases too, and I can’t figure out the current total. Also, I saw another article from today saying something about measles in Illinois, but I’m not clear if it was one case, more than one, and/or if it had anything to do with Disney. The CDC (at least the page I found) was not updated since Jan 30.

      • Amy M
        February 5, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

        Thanks–it has changed since then, at least in CA, so if we add at least 7 cases, since CA confirms 99 instead of 92, it must be at least 109 at this point.

      • Amy M
        February 5, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

        Here we go, more up to date: total = 126, though not all may be linked to Disney, as some are isolated cases in states far away from CA.

        • Dr Kitty
          February 5, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

          My understanding is that at least one of the “Disney” measles cases flew on commercial flights and passed through several airports while infectious.

          Nothing like air travel to bring a highly infectious disease like measles across a country and cause multiple sporadic outbreaks in geographically distant areas.

          • sdsures
            February 5, 2015 at 9:30 pm #


          • Dr Kitty
            February 6, 2015 at 8:47 am #

            Think about it- assuming measles infects 90% of people exposed to it, and assuming a 90% vaccination rate with a 90% effectiveness, 1 or 2 people out of every 100 people someone with measles comes into contact with will contract measles (comes into contact with means within sneezing range).

            100 people on a plane
            100 people sitting at the check in desk or departure gate
            100 people at the baggage claim
            5 people in the public bathroom at the airport
            10 people in the line at the taxi-rank
            250 people at the food court and shops and security lines in the airport

            That’s probably at least 3 cases of measles…all off to different corners of the country (or, if you’re very unlucky, they’re cabin crew on the plane or TSA staff at the airport with close contact with a lot of passengers).

          • Bugsy
            February 6, 2015 at 9:46 am #

            Yep. We are headed home today after a vacation in (Northern) California, and this has heavily been on my mind. My 2-yr-old has had his first MMR and I have had both rounds; my parents, also traveling with us, had measles as kids. From the stats I’ve seen, we should all be between 85-100% immune…still, traveling on two metal tubes full of 100 people each and recirculated air, plus spending time in three international airports. Glad we vaccinate.

            My husband keeps saying that we can’t let the idiotic decisions of the anti-vaxxers keep us from living our lives, and I agree…but the thought of being exposed to measles (even vaccinated) is so damn terrifying.

  26. Amy M
    February 5, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

    The current fad of science-denialism just makes me tired. Someone in one of my FB groups recently announced she found some crazy group that was dedicated to pointing out “toxins” in all the products in the grocery store, so people could stop buying them. I asked: “which toxins” and got a list like “aluminum, DEA, triclosan, …and more” which are supposedly HARMFUL and UNTESTED! I didn’t even have the energy to seriously refute these claims, instead, I just said “yeah, I don’t buy that, but whatever you are comfortable with.”

    I don’t care if an individual decides she would rather use vinegar than Clorox in her home, but it bothers me if she spreads misinformation all over the internet like “Clorox causes autism” or something like that. If the choice not to vaccinate only affected the individuals in question (not that those poor kids should suffer for their parents’ idiocy), it would be less of a big deal, but of course, its a major public health issue. I kind of think deliberately spreading lies about scientific things that the [lie-spreader] knows nothing about, is also a public health issue.

    • MegaMechaMeg
      February 5, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

      Also vinegar doesn’t clean for shit and your kitchen smells like salad.
      But you know, to each their own.

      • Allie P
        February 5, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

        I love vinegar for removing the hard water build up in my teakettle and on my shower head…

        • MegaMechaMeg
          February 5, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

          I think we are just experiencing different realities. I am not one to deny your inner truth.

        • Roadstergal
          February 5, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

          I use this shite. CLR and Simple Green are my ways of altering the reality of my bathroom to suit my desires.

        • Guesteleh
          February 5, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

          Also works in the dishwasher as a rinse agent. Cheaper too.

          • MegaMechaMeg
            February 5, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

            I just used the stuff to wipe counters and mirrors and was unimpressed. I was seduced by the promise of cheap, non-toxic, pet friendly housecleaning and felt cheated. Maybe I should have done something crazy like scrubbed.

        • Who?
          February 5, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

          And a bottle down the loo does the same thing. We have new low water use toilets and let’s just say they don’t always move things the way you might like. If they were a human, an enema might be called for, particularly in our hard water area.

          One bottle down the loo, leave it awhile, and it’s flushing freely again.

          Also makes your pure cotton sheets very soft if you put it in the final rinse, apparently. But since I don’t watch the washing machine doing its thing, and don’t want to wake up smelling like a tossed salad, I’ve never tried it.

      • Trixie
        February 5, 2015 at 9:08 pm #

        Not to mention white vinegar is made from grains…GMO GRAINS!!!!

    • just me
      February 5, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

      In trader joes one day I couldn’t help myself and engaged with a man who was complaining about tjs selling dangerous canola oil.

    • Tosca
      February 5, 2015 at 4:35 pm #

      Nonono, bleach does not cause autism! Bleach (in enemas) CURE autism!!!

      Yeah, that’s a thing that anti-vaxxers are seriously doing. To children with disabilities. And yet the “toxins” in VACCINES are the problem??

      I’ve been following the whole anti-vax trainwreck for years, and let me tell you the hardcore ones make the NCB movement look like Mother Theresa. At least incompetent homebirth providers can only kill one or two people at a time.

  27. SarahSD
    February 5, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

    Individual belief does not change the principle that vaccines are safe and effective, the fact that climate change exists, etc.

    But think about ‘reality’ as including our shared situation rather than the principles or frameworks explaining it. When beliefs guide individual action or policy, it certainly does have an effect on reality, that is, the situation that we inhabit together. We are in a situation where, because of particular personal beliefs and the actions or inactions associated, vaccination as a whole social and ethical project is becoming compromised, reducing its ability to prevent disease and save lives. With anti-vax, the belief is literally undermining the effectiveness of vaccination.

    Of course, you know that the belief and reality are not wholly independent, or you would not care so much about what people believe.

    • Elaine
      February 5, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

      Beliefs don’t impact scientific truth, which I think is what Dr. A means by them not impacting reality. Obviously they impact people’s actions and those actions shape the world we live in.

      I too am irritated that the science-denying is on both the left and the right, but I do take comfort in the fact that now everybody is talking about vaccines and both the left and the right have large factions in favor of them, as well.

  28. lawyer jane
    February 5, 2015 at 11:45 am #

    Well, at least the Republican leadership is not anti-vaccine:

  29. Are you nuts
    February 5, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    I’m a staunch Republican and get tired of all of the anti-science crazies being on “our side”! It’s nice, for once, to have some anti-science crazies on the other side!

    • Roadstergal
      February 5, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

      We have plenty of our own flavor of crazy – anti-vax, NCB, anti-‘GMO,’ ‘organic’ food, acupuncture, reiki, chiropractic, naturopaths, anti-‘toxin’… I’m a liberal tattooed pierced wannabe hippie peacenik and it drives me nuts.

      • Susan
        February 5, 2015 at 1:29 pm #

        Agree… It’s on the extremes of both spectrums the nuts gather. I believe it has an association with cult-like thinking and a need to feel one has access to some special wisdom that makes a scary confusing messy world safer.

    • just me
      February 5, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

      But most are still repubs sorry.

  30. demodocus' spouse
    February 5, 2015 at 11:15 am #

    Ah, philosophy. Even my pet philosopher and singer (he has a masters in the former) isn’t fool enough to apply it to the harder bits of science. If you need a piece of iron to 11′ 5″ to span a portion of your bridge, a piece that is 11′ 4.25″ could cause a collapse. The only useful bit of philosophy to hard science is ethics, in my opinion.

    • Guesteleh
      February 5, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

      Actually, there are some philosophers who are studying how the materiality of physical objects and how they are created and used used influences culture and language. I know very little about it but the bits I’ve read are fascinating.

    • Young CC Prof
      February 5, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

      We are all human, and understanding the human mind and experience is useful in itself. We all ask the big questions. The fact that some philosophers say ridiculous things doesn’t make the discipline useless.

      • demodocus' spouse
        February 5, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

        I’m not arguing that. I’m only arguing that the actual technical parts of science, like surgeons really need clean hands when they are in surgery, don’t need much philosophy. Humans in general seem to need philosophy and/or religion for all kinds of other stuff. Questions like “Should I participate in a procedure to make a 50 year old woman pregnant?” or “Should I treat unvaccinated children in my office?” or “Will this bridge benefit the people who live around its footings?” are important.

  31. Box of Salt
    February 5, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    Pedantic but. . . Dr Amy you need to correct Disneyworld to Disneyland in the penultimate paragraph (you have the right park in the last one).

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      February 5, 2015 at 11:14 am #


    • fiftyfifty1
      February 5, 2015 at 11:22 am #

      Pedantic is traverso vs a bec.
      Disneyworld vs Disneyland is important.

  32. KeeperOfTheBooks
    February 5, 2015 at 10:02 am #

    *twitches violently*
    This all reminds me of a brief time during grad school when I had a particularly obnoxious post-modernist as my advisor. He was so post-modernist that he insisted that I never, ever state anything as an objective truth, which was difficult in my field (humanities, but heavily theoretical) to say the least. At some point, I said, bluntly, that even though we disagreed about quite a lot philosophically, surely we could agree that there is objective agreed-upon truth in fields like the hard sciences–say, physical laws. For example, I said, the law of gravity is a generally accepted truth. He said that, and I quote, “since not all Andean tribes believe that gravitational laws apply all the time, your truth is no more true than their truth.”
    In the interest of my grades, I refrained from suggesting that he test gravitational laws by jumping out of his third-story office window. I also left shortly thereafter for a somewhat saner area of study.

    • lawyer jane
      February 5, 2015 at 11:47 am #

      love this story. I had a similarly post-modern prof in college c. 1995 who insisted that nobody every really wrote anything themselves because there was no such thing as objective ideas. my response was – then we should all get As on our term papers because nobody was really writing them!

    • attitude devant
      February 5, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

      OMG. Hilarious. It’s like the wonderful story about Bishop Berkeley’s claim that there was no ‘reality,’ that we were all merely dreams in the mind of God. Boswell observed to Samuel Johnson that, absurd as the idea was, you couldn’t refute it. Johnson replied by kicking a large stone, saying “I refute it THUS!”

    • Roadstergal
      February 5, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

      “So I resist the urge to ask Storm
      Whether knowledge is so loose-weave
      Of a morning
      When deciding whether to leave
      Her apartment by the front door
      Or a window on the second floor.”

      • attitude devant
        February 5, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

        Oh Roadstergal, THANK YOU! I found the whole poem and just about croaked with laughter. I love Tim Minchin.

        • Roadstergal
          February 5, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

          I adore Tim. We’ve been fortunate that he’s come to SF twice in the last few years, and we’ve been able to see him both times. 😀 😀 (My husband had all the sads that he didn’t do Storm this last time.)

        • February 6, 2015 at 2:26 am #

          There is a Youtube animated video that you will enjoy.

    • Nick Sanders
      February 5, 2015 at 9:12 pm #

      You have more restraint than me, then.

  33. Ellen Mary
    February 5, 2015 at 9:30 am #

    I personally have just gotten much farther with the message that you can still eat organic foods, Breastfeed, strive for a low intervention hospital birth, etc AND Vax.

    • fiftyfifty1
      February 5, 2015 at 11:15 am #

      Keep going with what works for you then. This opinion piece is not stopping you.

    • Young CC Prof
      February 5, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

      From a harm-reduction standpoint, you may be right. If a new parent is on the fence about vaccines but really loves homeopathic teething remedies, address the vaccine issue, let the homeopathy go with a reminder to see a pediatrician if there are any signs of potentially serious illness.

      Still, the ultimate goal is to get enough knowledge out there that parents reject both.

    • Sue
      February 5, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

      There was a recent public health campaign in Aus that featured parents who could be identified as “crunchy”, saying things like “I am vegetarian, eat whole foods, use cloth nappies (diapers) and breast feed, and I vaccinate my child.” I don’t know how effective it was, but the idea was to dissociate anti-vax from “crunchy”.

  34. Ellen Mary
    February 5, 2015 at 9:24 am #

    I don’t get it, if you really want everyone to Vax, why attempt to shove Transgenic crops in alongside it? And all food are not transgenic, that is a creative fiction. FWIW, I believe climate change is real, I also believe it will be used to impose childbearing limits rather than to regulate fossil fuels, as has already been proposed by Singer, et al.

    That is where Skeptics mess up, IMO. Focus on one issue. Don’t be like AND you have to like RoundUp, AND you have to cut off your son’s foreskin, AND get an IUD, and use GMO formula, etc.!!!

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      February 5, 2015 at 9:36 am #

      Because at its heart, this is not about vaccines. This is about how individuals want to view themselves.

      • Ellen Mary
        February 5, 2015 at 10:08 am #

        What I am basically saying is this: yesterday there was a brilliant parody article about MSF opening a clinic in Whole Foods. What do you think would be more effective: opening a clinic in Whole Foods to give MMR or standing outside of Whole Foods with a placard saying ‘Organic Food is BS, btw, we have a MMR clinic @ Kroger’

        • fiftyfifty1
          February 5, 2015 at 11:18 am #

          Actually, neither would likely be effective. And it turns out neither is actually being considered. It was a parody.

        • Mariana Baca
          February 5, 2015 at 11:19 am #

          Organic food is a thing that means certain things that might be important to people. It does not provide significant health benefits, other than maybe some very specific products. It provides Whole foods with the necessary surplus profit to provide more speciality goods to people willing to pay for them — thus why they are called “whole paycheck” and tend to exist in gentrified or affluent neighborhood.

          Providing an MMR clinic in Whole foods is a good idea. But that is because there is an issue of priviledge and class underlying some of these parenting movements. And whole foods is way classier than kroger. But not, as you say, because it is any healthier.

          • Roadstergal
            February 5, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

            I avoid Whole Foods both because of their crazy anti-‘GMO’ stance and because I strongly disagree with the politics of their management. I’m going to Trader Joe’s for now until someone tells me what batshittery they support that I was formerly ignorant of, and then I’m really running out of options.

          • just me
            February 5, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

            Didn’t tjs plan to stop giving pt workers health insurance once the aca took effect or something?

            I shop at both. WF is expensive but they also have a lot of vegan stuff I can’t find elsewhere locally.

      • Sue
        February 5, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

        This type of thinking appears to cross various areas of belief – from birthing and vax to diet and use of implausible “remedies”.

        It’s not as simple as choosing which science to accept and which to reject – all these areas are amenable to a rational, evidence-based framework.

    • Stacy48918
      February 5, 2015 at 9:44 am #

      “That is where Skeptics mess up, IMO. Focus on one issue.”

      She is. The issue is science denialism.

      • Ellen Mary
        February 5, 2015 at 9:49 am #

        It is a mistake to reduce a complex issue like transgenic agriculture to ‘science denialism’. There are specific products & companies involved, issues of agricultural rights (like when patented genes are found in organic crops due to drift). To flip the Vax analogy on its head (like your right to skip Vax ends where my body begins), your right to plant GMO crops & blanket spray them with herbicides ends where another person’s farm begins or where someone else’s property & children get exposed to your spraying.

        • MLE
          February 5, 2015 at 10:24 am #

          Your point being that we need to encase individual farms in separate biodomes?

        • Trixie
          February 5, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

          GMOs reduce spraying. Do you know how often the GMO corn field behind my house gets sprayed? Once a year. Once. And they have gone low-till, reducing soil erosion and improving water quality in the process.
          Do you know how often they have to spray organic corn? Like 5 times.
          Do you know how often I have to spray the “heirloom” corn in my own garden 100 yards away, so it doesn’t turn to mush from caterpillars? At least once a week.

      • Trixie
        February 5, 2015 at 9:12 pm #


    • moto_librarian
      February 5, 2015 at 10:06 am #

      We get it, Ellen Mary. Can you please quit derailing every damned post with your pet agenda?

      • Ellen Mary
        February 5, 2015 at 10:10 am #

        There’s a spot way above my post that you can drop a comment & cause my post to be pushed into oblivion.

        • moto_librarian
          February 5, 2015 at 11:35 am #

          I’m tired of your crap about GMOs and transgenic crops. Last time your brought this up, you started complaining about “superweeds.” When I posted an article in rebuttal, you had nothing to offer. Unless you can back this stuff up, quit posting about it, and quit derailing.

          • fiftyfifty1
            February 5, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

            But but but, if we allow GMOs then The Government will come in and force all women to have non-removable IUDs like in China!

    • Zoey
      February 5, 2015 at 11:44 am #

      Why only focus on one issue? Do you really think that these people you aim to convince will tolerate differing opinions on one issue (vaccines), but suddenly if you have two differing opinions (vaccines and GMOs) then they’ll never listen to you? It’s been my experience that one differing opinion is more than enough to get you banned and shunned in a lot of these communities.

      Skeptics use science and evidence to evaluate all issues, even ones you don’t happen to agree with. Deal with it.

    • Sue
      February 5, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

      Maybe Ellen Mary needs her own blog. This is Amy’s blog, and participation is voluntary.

    • Trixie
      February 5, 2015 at 9:12 pm #

      Because the facts, whether you’ve accepted them or not, are that genetically engineered foods currently on the market are incredibly safe.
      You honestly think childbearing limited are just around the corner? Sorry, that’s nuts.

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