Thursday, March 3, 2011

Taking the Machine to School: Welcome Aboard, Dr. Glenn D. Braunstein

Medically speaking, the good old days aren't something a physician gets sentimental about, unless there's a soft spot in his or her heart for the Middle Ages when small pox wiped out most of Western Europe; or the nineteenth century, when typhoid had its way with millions of children; or after World War I when influenza practically killed more people than the war itself.
 These were terrible diseases we've conquered thanks to vaccines.
OK, where to begin? Since it's rare for two paragraphs to contain so much misinformation, I'll just start from the top. Did the smallpox wipe out most of Western Europe during the Middle Ages? Of course not. According to Wikipedia:
During the Middle Ages, smallpox made periodic incursions into Europe but did not become established there until the population increased and population movement became more active during the time of the Crusades
So it's difficult to have an increasing population at the same time smallpox is raging through and decimating that very same population

But before we continue lets define what we mean by the Middle Ages. Again, using Wikipedia, we learn:
The Middle Ages...was a period of European history from the 5th century to the 15th centuryAnd just to make sure we're correct, let's look at another source that examines the incursion of smallpox into Europe.
And to be sure we've got our facts straight about what the smallpox was doing during this time period, let's look at secondary source. On page 28 of Donald R. Hopkins' book The Greatest Killer: Smallpox in History we learn:
During the fifteenth century...smallpox apparently began to slowly gather momentum in Europe 
So at the end of the Middle Ages smallpox is not wiping out population; rather it's just slowly gaining a foothold.

Maybe Dr. Braunstein simply has his time periods confused. The population must have been nearly wiped out, just at a later date: when smallpox was in its prime. But when smallpox was, in the 18th century, a leading cause of death in Europe, the population was exploding, going from one hundred to two hundred million people.

OK, so even given the benefit of the doubt about time frames, its clear the assertions regarding the smallpox are complete nonsense; lets then move on to his next claim: that typhoid was conquered thanks to vaccines.

According to the textbook Vaccines (4th edition pages 1060-61):
The highest incidence usually occurs where water supplies serving large populations are contaminated by fecal matter. This situation existed at the end of the 19th century in most large cities in the United States...causing the disease to be highly endemic in large cities. With the introduction of water treatment at the turn of the 20th century...the incidence of typhoid plummeted precipitously in the large cities of the united states
And according to Arthur Allen, a great friend of vaccination and the author of Vaccine: The controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver,
Nationwide, the typhoid death rate declined 99 percent from 1906 to 1936, with little vaccination. P 137
So in reality vaccines had nothing to do with the conquest of typhoid. The assertion is just another erroneous claim advanced to further the cause of vaccination.

And now finally, in regards to Braunstein's last claim -- the conquest of the flu --I was not personally aware that the flu had been conquered. But this is of course wonderful news. Please excuse me while I go tell my Walgreens pharmacist.

Before the article ends Dr Braunstein advances one final noteworthy declaration:
And as far as all the scares and controversy about vaccinations lately, let's not confuse sound medical practice with making healthy choices on a visit to Whole Foods, especially since the assumption that vaccines aren't pure and natural is inaccurate.
And on this point I must agree. After all, in France, cave paintings clearly show early humans injecting one another with all types of vaccines. Additionally, the now-extinct trees and bushes on which syringes and vaccines grew are also depicted.

Correcting this shocking degree of institutional ignorance wont be easy, but we at the Vaccine Machine stand ready to do our part by communicating with and educating those blinded by their idealized images of vaccination. So come aboard medical establishment, the lessons are about to begin.

1 comment:

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