New Yorkers like their science from scientists

I cannot pass up the opportunity to point out this wonderful quote by Ginia Ballafante in her NY Times piece, Fear of Vaccines Goes Viral. The article starts by noting an article on plummeting vaccination rates in Los Angeles:

The piece had the virtue of offering New Yorkers yet another opportunity to feel smugly superior to their counterparts in L.A., because of course here on the East Coast we like our science to come from scientists, not from former Playboy models and people who feel entitled to pontificate about public health because they drink kefir.

As a scientist who works in New York, I can’t help but think that this is not entirely true. This idea is supported by a quote in the article from a New York City pediatrician, who says that 10 percent of parents in his practice express opposition to vaccination. If they oppose vaccination, they can’t be getting their information from scientists.

Here is the second best quote from the article, which comes from another New York City pediatrician after a discussion of current Ebola virus and enterovirus D68 outbreaks:

My feeling is that it will take something like that on a very large scale to get upper-middle-class people to realize that this is serious stuff…most of the deaths in the world are from contagious diseases. Not ISIS.

12 thoughts on “New Yorkers like their science from scientists”

  1. If you look at the underlying data, infectious diseases come in at 5,641,585 (leaving out leprosy), down from 7,533,122 in 2000. The NYT item could have used some better fact checking, but don’t be misled by the way the categories are broken out in that summary figure.

  2. I am one of those ‘vaccine skeptics’ and I don’t get my information from ‘playboy models’, rather I look within my own gut to see if these ‘vaccine scientists’ are making sense. One serious loophole with our current vaccines is that any weakened or dead pathogen used is ‘lab grown’ and not the ‘wild, disease causing variety’. This directly contradicts what Louis Pasteur observed: namely lab grown and infected rabbits with rabies were incapable of spreading disease in the wild, whereas wild rabies could easily infect lab animals. Ditto with immunity, its immunity to the wild pathogen that counts, NOT what is grown in the lab.

  3. “If they oppose vaccination, they can’t be getting their information from scientists.”
    That’s quite an arrogant statement for someone who cannot answer simple questions like how bacteria can thrive in the presence of phages.

  4. Why do you take issue with this statement, when in your next comment you freely admit that as a ‘vaccine skeptic’ you disregard the scientific advice in favour of consulting your ‘gut’?

  5. Wow, your gut seems to know an awful lot about immunology! Did you swallow a textbook on the subject?

  6. No, I swallow Viruses and Bacteria everyday (like everyone else does in their food) and I listen to what they tell me. Why should I believe you, when you cannot explain simple phenomenon I see outside my window (like the one I described in my previous comment)?

  7. Wow, I am a vaccine skeptic,therefore I am not a scientist, that is indeed a loaded statement. By the ‘gut test’, I meant that a common observation: trillions of deadly pathogens happily residing in everyone’s gut, cannot be explained by ‘professional scientists’, so its tough to take their advice seriously.

  8. 1. You are not a scientist. 2. Just because *you* don’t understand something does not make it untrue. To quote Neil degrasse Tyson, “the nice thing about science is, it’s true whether or not you believe it”.

  9. 1) I am a scientist 2) I have presented an observation above that contradicts the basis of vaccines. So the ‘scientific’ approach is to not believe in vaccines, which is the path I have chosen and am advising others to take,

  10. Scientists don’t write the word “scientific” with ironic quotation marks. They also tend to use a thing called the “scientific method” (note the use of referential quotation marks here 😉 ), which normally is a little bit more rigorous and repeatable than “the microorganisms in my gut told me”. Usually.

  11. Wow, pathogens talk to you. That’s amazing. Did any of them tell you that that Pasteur also observed that a weakened or dead pathogen can give you immunity to prevent infection from the wild form? He used cow pox, a pathogen that does not cause disease in humans, to immunize against small pox, which was later developed into a “lab grown” version that virtually eliminated smallpox infection?

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