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    • Tatyana Obukhanych has a history of making false claims backed up by misrepresented or fabricated research citations.

      Many of her claims in the book you recommended are false, misleading, or are not supported by any scientific research:

      Obukhanych is indeed an immunologist, and as one of the few people in the anti-vaccine movement who actually has relevant credentials, her claims are cited frequently by anti-vaxxers. However she is not a physician, and both physicians and other researchers — including immunologists — disagree with her claims.

      Of the three peer-reviewed research papers Obukhanych has published, only one is directly related to vaccination. It found certain vaccination strategies effective against pathogen-associated antigens.

    • I actually just bought her book from Amazon because I'm curious about her. It's just 53 pages, a self-published Kindle book. It gets only 5 & 1-star reviews, almost no 2, 3, or 4-stars.

      I'm curious because she wrote a pro-vaccination Phd dissertation and then switched to a belief that naturally acquired immunity (by surviving a disease) is better than acquiring it through vaccines. I'll report back after I read it.

    • Curious. Are you planning to read any of the articles that @yaypie shared on Tatyana Obukhanych?

      It seems only fair to at least read his articles and then provide a response so that we can all learn from each other.

      H/t to @Chris for his willingness to read your suggested book and then share his thoughts on it.

    • If anyone is interested in listening to opinion of various doctors including pediatricians on the topic (the other side), I would definitely recommend watching Vaccines Revealed.

      I don’t see the point of arguing on anything when it is the attack on someone’s credentials but not the actual information presented. I like to form my own opinions on topics by reading and studying the topic. I don’t take vaccination lightly so I studied in great depth the CDC website, it’s statistics, presentations by CDC, Congress hearings on the topic, the CDC whistle blower’s testimony on fabrication of facts by CDC to present favorable statistics, watched documentaries with opinions on the topic (both pros and cons) from US doctors and scientists as well as interview with one leading Russian immunologist who actually was one of the developers of the small pox vaccine. The latter was actually the first one I listened to when I was just researching my kid’s condition. In her family she is the third generation of immunologists. She was explaining in detail ingredients included in vaccines and their effect on baby’s developing health. Sorry her interview is in Russian only.

      I have done my job studying the topic on both sides, I am vaccinated and my first kid is too. I see both sides. I want to hear from someone who actually studied the topic at length and then discuss pros and cons without the attack on credentials from some dubious sources.

    • I don’t see the point of arguing on anything when it is the attack on someone’s credentials but not the actual information presented.

      I linked to multiple websites that detailed specific problems with the actual information presented in Tatyana Obukhanych's anti-vaccination writings, including in the book you recommended.

      I also acknowledged Obukhanych's credentials as an immunologist, as did the sources I linked to. Her credentials as an immunologist are not in dispute. But her claims are widely disputed, including by other immunologists.

    • I don’t see the point of arguing on anything when it is the attack on someone’s credentials but not the actual information presented.

      But the statements any random person makes need to be weighed by how credible they are. If you are not doing that, the whole thing becomes a numbers game "won" by whatever side is more stubborn.

    • It's hard to know where to devote time because no one can read/watch it all so you have to make decisions. This book caught my interest because a credible Phd immunologist who once supported vaccinations changed her mind and I'm interested in what caused the change. So I bought the book.

      On the other hand, I bought Vaxxed before Amazon removed it and it was soul-destroying. I regret giving money to it. Unlike someone who has honest differences with current science, Andrew Wakefield fakes scientific data for financial gain and makes things up in his documentary. I know, even the president makes a lot up and much of the country adores him, but as a scientist I still don't like it because vulnerable people believe Andrew and children lose their lives.

      Perhaps I'm extra emotional about it because my mom believed so many televangelists who stripped her of all she owned. Up to her final days, she pleaded with me to give the next televangelist a chance, like Tammy Baker. Maybe that's why I went into science, to get away from people like Wakefield, but it didn't seem to work in our modern world.

    • I completely understand that majority of us wouldn’t have time to study the topic in detail. Some of us had to since it is not a generic topic, it is too close to home. Therefore, sometimes arguments cannot go into real depth since we start from different grounds to begin with. It is not a topic of religion where all arguments are about what we believe in. There is science on both sides, it just takes way more digging to learn about science on the other side.

      After this crazy roller coaster of learning about different aspects of the issue at hand, I realized one important thing. I can no longer approach various controversial topics with preconceived notion. Someone may have studied it to much greater extent. If a topic is of interest to me, then I study it myself. If not, I may form some opinion but usually do it keeping my eyes and ears open.

      Some think GMO issue is a hoax, some believe vegetarians go against their DNA. Sometimes it takes years to change public opinion and there are innocent victims in between...

      Finally, follow the money. Does immunologist like Obukhanych have much to gain from the argument against vaccines? It is a professional suicide. There may be a small market of those who will buy her book, but mostly it is not a lucrative path to go against establishment.

    • There is science on both sides, it just takes way more digging to learn about science on the other side.

      There's also water on both sides of a dam.

      I'm not an expert on structural engineering or fluid dynamics. I couldn't tell you how to build a dam. But if you show me a picture of a dam, I can tell you with 100% certainty which side of that dam I want to be on when the floodgates open.

      How am I able to do this? By using common sense and by observing a preponderance of evidence.

      Science is a little bit like this. Through research and experimentation, consensus builds on one side or another, like water on either side of a dam. Research can be complicated. Sometimes different experiments have different results. Sometimes results are mixed. You rarely end up with all the evidence on one side, and that's normal, because that's the nature of science.

      But the overwhelming majority of scientific evidence indicates that vaccines are statistically more beneficial than they are harmful. In other words, when more people are vaccinated, fewer people get sick and die.

      Some people do still get sick. Some people do still die. In rare cases, some people can even get sick as a result of a vaccine. But overall, when more people are vaccinated, more people live.

      Yes, there is water on both sides of the dam. But if you go fishing on the wrong side, you're probably going to have a bad day.

    • Science is never settled. But with enough work, it can reach a high degree of certainty.

      When you get into a car and drive somewhere, you feel safe because you have a high degree of certainty that you will arrive at your destination. But you also know that car accidents happen. You may even have experienced a car accident yourself.

      Every time you drive somewhere, there's a small chance that you will be injured or killed. But you drive anyway. And you'll probably be fine. Not because science has proven that car accidents don't happen, but because statistics show that you're much more likely to arrive at your destination safely than you are to die in a car accident.

      A preponderance of evidence tells us that driving is generally pretty safe. The fact that some people have car accidents doesn't change that.

      In the same way, a preponderance of evidence tells us that vaccines are generally pretty safe.

    • Chris MacAskill

      I read the intro to Obukhanych's book and this was part of the first sentence she wrote:

      I have yet to encounter one among my own kind: a scientist in the trenches of mainstream biomedical research who does not regard vaccines as the greatest invention of medicine.

      It's a powerful sentence and I immediately wanted to know more about her to give some perspective on the book. All I really knew is it was self-published in 2012. Where is she working? So I searched YouTube and found this fascinating talk that she gave a year and a half ago:

      I paid a lot of attention and learned a number things. You can tell she's very educated.

      She opens with a paper from the 60s by two scientists from the CDC who said measles is a relatively mild disease and fatalities are rare. When asked why they wanted to develop a vaccine they replied "because they can."

      She's right, compared to the diseases they had seen recently back then like polio, measles is relatively mild. I would have preferred her to be precise and say about 500 children were dying of measles per year in the U.S. back then instead of using the term rare.

      I wasn't sure where she was going with this. If she could show that deaths from the vaccine were higher, then that would be a valid point. Instead she said the government was taking our liberties away for a relatively mild disease. I understood the sentiment but it's not science and I think it's valid to be concerned about 500 deaths per year.

      The next thing she pointed out is that tetanus is not contagious. I checked and she's right. I didn't know that. Her point seemed to be the government had no right to require the tetanus vaccine if children sick with tetanus don't endanger other kids at school. Fair point, correct science. I just don't think we should have any child go through tetanus unless there is some greater harm from vaccines. I was expecting her to get to that.

      Her next point is people who have had measles have greater immunity than people who just get vaccines. She's right again. It's possible to get measles even if you're vaccinated. So a higher percent of the population has to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity than the percent of the population who has had measles.

      I was still having trouble getting the point. If you don't vaccinate, a lot of people have to get sick and some die to get much herd immunity.

      Near the end of the talk she brought up the case of a measles outbreak in Canada where the mainstream press reported that it was because of the number of unvaccinated, but she said through surveillance they found out that wasn't true. Wait, surveillance? That seems like a bold claim. Can we see that data? She just dropped that statement and moved on. That didn't sound like science at all. The numbers are usually very reliable about who is vaccinated and how the disease spread from person to person.

      Somewhere along the way she displayed a chart very much like the one below to show you can still have outbreaks in the age of vaccines. I thought it was an extraordinary chart. How two scientists can look at the same chart and take away two completely different conclusions leaves me thunderstruck. The only thing I could think of is she must have some real data to show the vaccines are potentially worse than all those deaths. But she ended her talk without going there. I don't know what to say to that. Maybe she covers it in her book?

    • From an outside point of view, it sounds as if this person is pushing just the right buttons to get the attention of a crowd that values "freedom" and "lack of government interference" above all else.

      This could be a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy (if she hadn't pushed those buttons, we would be talking about a random other person that did instead) - but it could also be by design. Further above, it was suggested to "follow the money" in a different context. I wonder if anyone did the same in this case, following her money back to whatever origin might be found.

      "Divide and rule" is not exactly a new concept. Maybe it is at work here, too:

    • Chris MacAskill

      I stayed up late last night and read the book. I take her at her word that she has yet to encounter one among her own kind: a scientist in the trenches of mainstream biomedical research who does not regard vaccines as the greatest invention of medicine.

      I'm not sure that statement supports or harms her credibility. But she did say up front the book is intended for parents of children, largely non scientists.

      As I read it I couldn't stop thinking of Elizabeth Holmes, the woman who founded Theranos. I am fascinated by that story too, how someone could raise billions of dollars and attract powerful, smart investors, none of whom were scientists.

      This book is filled with perhaps a hundred complicated points with scientific jargon that would take an expert weeks to understand, if ever. Here's an example:

      Furthermore, far from being a biologically inactive substance, alum was capable of activating granulocytes and antigen-presenting cells that prime the immune system for antibody production (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15205534 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19734227).

      👆 Scary. If you follow the first link, you come to a 2004 paper rarely cited whose abstract reads:

      Exposure of naïve B cells to the cytokine interleukin-4 (IL-4) and/or antigen leads to a state of "priming," in which subsequent aggregation of major histocompatibility complex class II molecules induces the mobilization of calcium ions and cell proliferation. However, it is not clear how critical this priming is for immune responses or how it is normally induced in vivo.

      (The exposure was in mice.) I don't think there is a person on earth who could read that paper and understand its significance. Not even the scientists who performed the experiment and published the paper could, and they said so in the abstract.

      The thing is, scary passages like those were the ones being highlighted on Kindle readers.

      I took two things from the book and her talk that will bother me for the rest of my life:

      1. To trust this book you have to mistrust the scientific community. But trust in this book comes from her being a scientist. I can't reconcile that.

      2. She makes very bold and scary claims throughout the book, like vaccines are the cause of the rise of childhood allergies and asthma, but she presents no data, no charts or graphs, to back them up. There is a ton of published data on allergies, asthma and vaccines but she doesn't reference them. They show the same thing as vaccines and autism: no link.

      Here she is in her talk standing in front of one of the world's most astonishing charts. And yet she looked for whatever alternative explanation to the chart she can propose: lack of vitamin A, intravenous injection of vitamin C, better hygiene, quarantining — all without evidence. What makes it believable by some people is better nutrition, better hygiene, and quarantining all help. But as mountains of data show, they are not enough.

      I don't mean this to be sarcastic, but I really do think she explained her opening sentence about why she is the only scientist in her field who does not believe vaccines are the greatest advance in medicine. It's in the chart she's displaying:

    • Chris, your analysis has me speechless—it was that incredible. I think it brings me back to our debate of whether 👏 or 🙌 is the more appropriate accolade.

      **********

      I think the blindness of being “highly educated” is that you think that several hours of research via the Internet and books will give you enough knowledge to make an informed medical decision that’s better than that of the medical community.

      It isn’t that the medical community never makes the wrong treatment decision. It’s that as a layman you don’t have the prerequisite knowledge to understand the data required to draw conclusions.

      And so instead of trusting a doctor, some choose to trust other voices. If your doctor has ever misdiagnosed or failed to diagnose a problem with your child, you’re going to be open to considering those other voices. I think @tornadik mentioned that had happened with her own child.

      I don’t think there’s a rejection of science. Instead there’s a rejection of who mainstream society is telling them to trust.

      I choose to put my trust in mainstream medicine, including vaccination, but I definitely understand why some parents make the decision not to.

    • It's hard to reconcile that all progress depends on believing we can do better than something that exists today — that what we have now isn't perfect, there are flaws, advances to make. I think that's what makes Elon Musk such a great inventor.

      But all progress also depends on someone being able to show that they can make improvements. Anyone can point out that air travel isn't safe, but the people who really matter are the ones who make it safer.

      Anyone can point out that, like air travel, vaccines aren't perfectly safe. But I think the ones we should listen to are the ones who either improve their safety or come up with something better. I don't think the ones we should listen to are the ones who propose that because jets crash we should drive instead. That takes us backwards in safety.

    • I completely agree. I would love for more public push for safety. I am still against uninformed forced “one fit for all” approach due to so many medical deviations in our health condition so I think we should have a right to discuss options.

      We all agree that food is essential for surviving yet somehow we want our food to be tested for safety, quite a few would prefer it to be local and organic, nonGMO, etc. But food saves lives, so shouldn’t we agree that pros outweigh possible cons of someone getting sick from bad food? Yet, we continue on insisting on safe standards.

      Same applies to vaccines or any other no matter how mild medication. If I can exercise informed consent, I feel much safer. The more the topic becomes hush-hush and any questions on safety are put down, the more it fuels anto-vaxxer movement.

    • If I can exercise informed consent, I feel much safer. The more the topic becomes hush-hush and any questions on safety are put down, the more it fuels anto-vaxxer movement.

      I think that's very fair. That's what my son-in-law the family physician advocates.

      On a slightly different topic, one thing I have no understanding of is why vaccines are terrifying and painkillers are not. By the numbers, painkillers are incredibly dangerous and vaccines are incredibly safe. The worry about profit motive of pharma makes more sense with painkillers than vaccines.

      There must be something very important about human emotion I don't understand.

    • Very good point! I think painkillers have only recently started getting the spotlight and people started paying more attention to this matter. Hopefully, this will change too.

      Chris, I just wanted to thank you for your insight, thorough analysis (taking time to read/listen and share) and thoughtful comments. We may not fully see eye to eye on this topic but I very much respect your opinion. This issue is usually so touchy for many but this is the first time I participated in such respectful discussion. Your son-in-law must be from a rare these days breed of doctors and his patients are really lucky.

    • One of my best friends is Nigerian and lives there. In his country and neighboring ones, they have similar fears of vaccines but different theories. One of the scarier diseases is Ebola and there's now a vaccine that's 100% effective during an outbreak if you get it before exposure.

      The issue is you could well have been exposed to Ebola before getting the vaccine but not show symptoms until after getting the vaccine because it takes time for the disease to incubate and for the vaccine to help you develop immunity. That ignites one of the common theories — that the vaccines were developed to control the population and getting the vaccine causes Ebola.

      Public health workers there know that administering the vaccine is the easy part but public outreach is where the hard and important work happens. One thing they do is have public officials publicly receive the vaccine so the population can see that it's safe, although even then there are fears that public officials are not getting the lethal shot they may get.

    • Chris, did you happen to read a testimony by the CDC whistleblower Dr William Thompson? It was not covered in the mainstream media but he did come out explaining that the study to which CDC and the medical community refer to as debunking autism link between the MMR vaccine and symptoms of autism was actually compromised. The study did show 3.4 fold increase in incidents of autism among African American boys when MMR is administered prior to 36 months of age. The results were removed from the published version of the study.

      What if there is much higher risk depending on the age when vaccines are administered? What if MMR vaccine given to a kid of 5 years old has benign effect compared to when it is administered at 18 months when the brain is actively developing? What if the fight should not be against vaccines per se but quantity administered at once and age/health condition of a child? As a child I personally got just a few vaccines and I got the rest at the age of 25. I did not know a single child with asthma, allergy or mental disorder in my entire school. Each class had around 35 students. Right now there is just an epidemic of these chronic conditions. What if the timing and overall quantity makes all the difference?

      Why are there no studies comparing the presence of chronic health issues between unvaccinated and vaccinated kids? Wouldn’t we want to know?