Exactly a year ago I started this blogging lark with a fairly thoughtful piece about the cognitive biases that compel otherwise intelligent people not vaccinate their kids. Which is apposite because you find me in a country where in many areas vaccination rates are worse than the Sudan. It’s also a country where I can’t watch the TV because they arrest you when you throw things at it – but my blog isn’t banned here (yet) so I’m not in an Arab state this time. So, where can you find a quasi-theocracy that is anti-science, anti-vaccine, where its citizens claim to be god’s chosen people that is stricken by chronic poverty yet a third of the population is morbidly obese, has a public health system that’s irrevocably broken and where you can walk around the supermarket with a machine gun but it’s a felony to be in possession of a hard on?
The land of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happy Meals. Where else? In the 1960s, measles killed about 450 people a year here in the USA and disabled many more and by 2000 it was virtually eliminated thanks to almost universal use of an effective vaccine. But last year the USA saw 644 cases of measles – all preventable – and now, less than a month into 2015 more than 70 cases have been linked to an outbreak originating in Disneyland. Mumps and whooping cough are resurgent too.
So that first post didn’t do much good. I’ve also failed miserably – despite my going viral in Kenya (asante sana!) – in influencing the Catholic Church who are still opposing the WHO tetanus vaccination campaign. Apparently the voices in their head are still saying the science is wrong – but some of their number were kind enough to inform me via Facebook their Imaginary Friend have a nice lake of fire reserved for me. But he loves me. Which is nice.
I did have some successes though; the Cochrane / BMJ Tamiflu paper (where they claimed the Government wasted £500m on stockpiling it) was five years in the making but I pretty much destroyed it in about 500 words. The Cochrane Collaboration were annoyed enough to react like petulant teenagers on my blog but the Lancet and others backed my position and I even got a nod from Mark Crislip at the Society for Science-Based Medicine. The authors’ science was poor and they had a dog (well,several) in the fight. In fairness, BMJ Editor Trish Groves did discuss some of my points in her blog as well as those of some commentators far more eminent than I, which I thought was very gracious given the verbal shagging I gave them.
There’s so much other stuff; the fun parts were winding up Disney for employing Jenny McCarthy, explaining the link between farting and dragon myths, why cat owners should not be allowed to drive and many more.
The strange thing is the most hits (looking at the whole year) go to the factual science posts, such as using UV lights to find bacteria, bullshit diets, ‘natural’ foods or the many posts about Ebola. And others of our Microbial Overlords. The rants are a lot more fun and easier to write but making sure the science is absolutely spot-on sharpens my knowledge as well as keeping me honest.
For which I thank you all. All 30,000 of you.
Oh, and the WWF still haven’t responded to my demand they make the pubic louse their mascot. Bastards.