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Congressional Committee Casts a Harsh Eye On Vaccination Science 858

The Bad Astronomer writes "A recent hearing of the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform became a bully pulpit for antivaccination rhetoric when Representatives Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh.) made speeches connecting vaccines to autism — a connection that medical experts have shown does not exist. Although there were actual medical researchers there as witnesses, they were mostly berated by the Congressmen on the panel. Vaccines are one of the most successful medical advancements in human history, having saved hundreds of millions of lives, and after copious studies have been shown to have no connection with autism. Despite this, a vocal antivax lobby exists, including, clearly, members of Congress. In part this is why preventable and potentially fatal diseases like pertussis and measles are once again on the rise."
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Congressional Committee Casts a Harsh Eye On Vaccination Science

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  • Congress Sucks (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @01:45PM (#42181275)

    Enough said...

    • Re:Congress Sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @03:33PM (#42183037)
      Who modded this troll? Honestly, it's hard not to go into hyperbole when talking about anti-vaxers. They're killing children. Literally, albeit less directly than slitting their throats. And these people have ears on congress. It's not enough that congress protects banks above the national interest, protects industry's ability to pollute over the interests of it's citizens and the rest of the world, and erodes our rights to make people think they're doing something to stop terrorists... NOW you have these people spreading lies about an invention that does nothing but save lives?

      What about that doesn't suck? If there's a better example of congress sucking than this, what is it? The patriot act's passage? At least there were two sides in that debate. With anti-vaxers, they've got nothing. Papers which were proven bad, gut feelings, and a lot of movie stars vomiting into the media. That's all there is. Compared to this, the patriot act is a shining beacon of logic from our legislature.
  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @01:45PM (#42181277) Journal
    Pundits have been asking how we can overcome the deadlock in congress, and finally get things done.

    Now we know. There is full bipartisanship on stupidity.
  • Broken System (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @01:50PM (#42181339)

    The US electoral system runs on corporate money. Corporate money prefers politicians that can be manipulated. In some cases you get the direct results of the manipulation, in other cases you get the results because the politicians are not fact driven.

    There is full bipartisanship on stupidity, and it is because the system is broken.

    • Re:Broken System (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @02:29PM (#42181969)

      As a professional political social engineer, I can tell you that there is no such thing as a person that can't be manipulated. In fact the more sure you are you can't be manipulated, the easier it is.

      Essentially, the whole point of communication is manipulation. Either to get somebody else to do something, or to get some information, which will always be biased by the preferences of the other side and hence effectively resulting in manipulation.

      We design whole realities nowadays. and if you ever looked at the schedule of any meaningful politician: It's stuffed with meetings with what are basically purely lobbyist meetings. Sometimes disguised a bit, sometimes not even that. This is where politicians get all their views from. And there is not enough time for any other source to squeeze in.
      The same lobbyists are the "sources" for most of your "news" by the way. (Slashdot is included in this.) So as unacceptable as it sounds... this is where your views come from too. (And mine, I must painfully admit.)

      You can check all of that. You'd be an idiot to believe an AC... especially a SE one. So go ahead. trust your own eyes, and your own eyes only.

    • Re:Broken System (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @02:42PM (#42182191)

      the system isnt broken. it's amoral. i has no rightness or wrongess, no fixedness or brokenness. the system just is. it is a tool. the tool is never anything in and of itself but a means to some end. what the end is is dependent on the user.

      and right now the majority of the users arent paying attention and/or dont care about how the tool is being misused to their detriment. they're too busy watching Biggest Loser and the Kardashians.

  • Understanding Burton (Score:5, Informative)

    by kadams54 ( 855417 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @01:52PM (#42181379)
    This is mostly a side note, but I grew up in Dan Burton's district. He has a grandson with autism and has made the anti-vaccination a personal cause. That's not to excuse his ignorance, but rather to help provide understanding. Powerful emotions are at work here, which is why confronting them with rational logic will not work. To be honest, I wish his constituents would vote him out of office; his district includes a number of employees at the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly (headquartered in Indy) and his anti-vaccination stance puts him at odds with their best interests.
    • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @02:02PM (#42181525) Journal

      There are millions of parents of autistic children who are smart enough to understand that there is no connection between vaccines and autism. The fact that he has an autistic child doesn't help provide understanding. He's an idiot plain and simple.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CajunArson ( 465943 )

      Wait a minute... I thought we were only supposed to like politicians that stood up to big evil corporations*. Here we have a politician who is standing up to big evil pharmaceutical corporations, shouldn't we be applauding him?

      * Note that I never said it had to be *logical* to stand up to them, just that you bash them as "evil." The word "corporation" has replaced "jew" as an acceptable target of pogroms in the modern age.

      • Yeah those poor persecuted billion dollar world controlling artificial entities and the suffering billionaires who run them. How on earth can you say with a straight face that fear of the too powerful is in any way equivalent to persecution.

    • He has a grandson with autism, that to me should mean he would be better informed than the average. Instead he's globbed onto the anti-vaccine crowd so that he has someone to blame for his family's hardships. It's disgusting that we let people like that control the political debate in our nation.

    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @03:50PM (#42183255)

      Burton actually is retiring at the end of this session (this month). Kusinich lost his election, so he's leaving too.

      Basically this is just a bunch of tinfoil hat screeching from a couple of loonies who no longer have to tone down the crazy because they know they won't have to face the voters again.

  • by crgrace ( 220738 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @01:56PM (#42181443)

    Anti-vaccination rhetoric is nothing new... in fact at the turn of the 20th century there were huge struggles regarding the smallpox vaccine. It's a fascinating instance of the struggle between liberty and social responsibility and the rights and the responsibilties of the individual with respect to the state.

    There's an amazing book about the early-20th-century smallpox vaccination campaigns and the associated anti-vaccination campaign called Pox: An American History.

    I can't recommend it enough. Says so much about the United States and how people's opinions have change (and how for some, they haven't!).

    Anyway, here's the link: []

  • by kannibal_klown ( 531544 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @01:58PM (#42181467)

    These people annoy me more than rabid moon landing denyers.

    The people that believe the autism link, are really out there. I've seen interviews with people that believe this, and no matter what facts/figures/papers you put in front of them they believe they are wrong or lies. Yet they're sure the one report they heard about or read is 100% the truth.

    What's more aggravating is when they invite you to prove them wrong, PLEASE prove them wrong, I don't want this to be true and don't want to fear this. Then someone does, and that same person just ignore them.

    Penn and Teller had a great episode about this on Bull Sh*t. It's quite insane.

    I mean, I have an easier time understanding people that believe the moon landing was a hoax. I don't subscribe to that theory, but I can at least understand them. It was a big deal, we really only have the government's say-so that it happened and that they didn't just send a probe to land stuff. Just 1 source: the government. Fine, be paranoid. It's not really hurting anyone if a person doesn't believe we landed on the moon.

    But these people, they have tons of independent studies, investigations, saying that the link was faked or just plain wrong It would be one thing if just ONE party was saying the autism link was bunk... but we have LOTS of different / independent / smart people debunking it. And they don't want to believe it. Meanwhile children suffer.

    • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @02:05PM (#42181569) Homepage

      What's more aggravating is when they invite you to prove them wrong, PLEASE prove them wrong, I don't want this to be true and don't want to fear this. Then someone does, and that same person just ignore them.

      And then, when you do prove them wrong, they move the goalpost (the "reason" why they think vaccines cause Autism) and then tell you that you need to prove them wrong again. If you refuse at any point, they take it as a sign that they've won. No, anti-vax proponents, you can't just think up wilder and wilder explanations as to why/how vaccines cause autism and claim that everyone else needs to disprove you or you are correct. It is up to you to present evidence. Real, testable evidence. (And, no, "thinking of something in your head" or "listing something that goes into vaccines at some point in the process" isn't real, testable evidence.)

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @02:06PM (#42181599)

    So they're against out-of-date computers?

    Please don't try to invent bad catch phrases that don't make any sense. Nobody refers to vaccinations as "vax". Yes, we get it - "vax" rhymes with "tax", and there's overlap in the two groups. Really clever, we're all in awe of your wordplay prowess.

  • One sided (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TelavianX ( 1888030 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @02:10PM (#42181651)
    I am not anti-vaccine by any means. I am just anti all vaccines for a newborn baby. Why pump a human, at its most critical stage, with a bunch of foreign chemicals? Does a newborn really need to be vaccinated against STD's? Why not wait until the child is more robust?
    • Re:One sided (Score:5, Informative)

      by 241comp ( 535228 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @02:26PM (#42181915) Homepage
      Assuming you really want to know and aren't just asking to start an argument: It is because newborns are at greatest medical risk if infected by one of the many diseases for which they are vaccinated and because for some diseases (such as Hep B), once it is contracted it can be a lifelong illness which later vaccination cannot prevent/cure. From the WHO:
      "Young children who become infected with the hepatitis B virus are the most likely to develop chronic infections:

      90% of infants infected during the first year of life develop chronic infections;
      30–50% of children infected between one to four years of age develop chronic infections."
    • Re:One sided (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @02:40PM (#42182147)

      A child's immune system is well established in the months after they are born, else the vaccines wouldn't do anything in the first place (since they rely on the immune response to actually do anything). We vaccinate children as young as possible because young children get sick! Pretty much the only "STD" that a young child is vaccinated against is Hep B, which is also transmitted any number of other ways and has huge repercussions for the rest of the child's life if contracted. Not to mention that every single "well baby" visit is less likely to be attended than the one before it, especially by the poorest people who are at the highest risk for these diseases.

      This isn't rocket science! Vaccinating children, even newborns has zero detectable health costs (despite the anti-vaccine crowds looking for them for decades) and provides enormous benefits.

    • Hello,

      We have maybe 12 different vaccinations for infants. I read this in a health magazine:

      "When a child is born, he or she is literally assaulted by thousands of species of bacteria and viruses that child has never seen before, because they were in the sterile womb environment. Given that, I don't think we need to worry about the relatively small number of shots we give children."

      I found that a difficult point to refute--you get born, and suddenly, yes, you're immersed in a bunch of germs

  • by bhartman34 ( 886109 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @02:32PM (#42182037)
    ... and the commonality is idiocy. In a just universe, Kucinich and Burton would both be stripped of their seats and set adrift on a large barge with the other anti-vaccine imbeciles. I hope anyone who voted for those two asshats sees the error of their ways, now.
    • I hope anyone who voted for those two asshats sees the error of their ways, now.

      Bah ha ha ha ha! Good one!

      Both been in Congress since the last century.

  • by Hartree ( 191324 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @02:41PM (#42182187)

    This whole submission is an exercise in bipartisanship. We have a story of politicians from both sides being silly.

    We also have slashdotters from both sides assuring us that the politician from the party they don't like is a complete insane moron and that the one from the party they like is just occasionally wrong and shouldn't be written off as a fool.

    There seems to be symmetry here.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN