I visit the self-styled dark lord’s blog less often these days. He’s still saying mostly the same things in the same way. One predictable pattern is if he writes a post about the poor quality of scientific research papers on a given day, then within a short period, he will be breathlessly quoting some particularly dodgy paper as if it holy writ — indeed he’s likely to assert stronger conclusions than the paper.
Case in point this post (*) he asserts that:
“Never forget that science cannot be considered reliable until it is called “engineering”. Until then, the most that one can accurately assume is that it has about a fifty percent chance of actually being correct.”
Is followed on the same day by a post pushing more anti-vaccine nonsense. This time his target is anti-HPV vaccines and a paper that claims reduced birth rates. The paper is here and it is bad in multiple ways: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15287394.2018.1477640?scroll=top&needAccess=true
There is a thorough take-down of quite how bad the paper is by the indefatigable Orac at the Respectful Insolence blog: https://respectfulinsolence.com/2018/06/13/antivaccine-pseudoscience-about-hpv-vaccination-gayle-delong/
Suffice to say it is a bad piece of very speculative epidemiologist by an economist with a bias against vaccines. The study ignores factors such as contraception or other behavioural differences between people who have or haven’t had the HPV vaccine to draw a fallacious conclusion.
Orac points out:
“After all, existing evidence largely contradicts Delong’s findings, with HPV vaccination having no effect on fertility except in one group. The group? In females with a history of sexually transmitted infections or pelvic inflammatory disease (i.e. a group at high risk of exposure to HPV infection), HPV vaccination made pregnancy more likely.”
Earlier in his essay Orac speculates on why vaccines against HPV get such pushback:
“For some reason, HPV vaccines seem to have an uncanny ability to turn such people into raging antivaccinationists almost as loony as the merry band of antivaccine loons over at Age of Autism. At the very least, they seem to make seemingly reasonable people susceptible to blandishments and tropes for which they’d normally otherwise never fall. Truly, Gardasil and Cervarix seem to be vaccines that make reasonable people lose their minds. I tend to think it’s about the sex. After all, HPV is largely a sexually-transmitted virus, hence the tendency for fundamentalist Christians to find it particularly objectionable.”
I’d add to say that it isn’t just the anti-sex attitude but also misogyny or both in tandem. The idea that sexually transmitted diseases are a punishment for sex and in particular a punishment for women, is one that is prevalent in right-wing circles. There really are people out there who would rather women died of cervical cancer than eliminate a virus.
At least with the apparent pro-cancer stance of the cigarette lobby, you could see how the money trail worked. In this case, we have Vox acting like he is being paid by the pro-virus lobby**.
*[I’m not bothering with archive links in this case – the links are here for completeness but there’s little to be gained by reading them:
I don’t particularly want to archive this nonsense.]
**[That is a joke. Viruses don’t have a lobby as such and this is pro-bono lobbying work by Vox for viruses.]