Doctor Ben Goldacre, he of the withering cynicism against homeopathy and other alternative medicines, he with the cognitive dissonance about Big Pharm (Hates them but loves their products!), he who worships Edward Jenner as the patron saint of the Church of Vaccinology and also all the products that arose from His Vision, Ben Goldacre loves to mock.
It seems to be his favorite weapon, his modus operandi in fact. Nor is he alone in this. Many wishing to support the cause of jabbing adopt similar habits. Sarcasm is liberally used in response to reasoned justification and rational discussion. Shouting, slander, attempted character assassination and stark denial are also common techniques. I have patiently tried to assemble a representative selection of these over the past couple of years in an attempt to understand how this broad church of individuals think, to assess whether their cases have any merit and to see whether any manage to impact upon the deductions that I have made concerning this bizarre subject.
I have yet to find any that do.
Papa Doc, Baby Doc and so many more Haitians have had voodoo in their souls for centuries. Essentially the Roman catholic God grafted into Negro Slave culture brought from West Africa, Vodou – Voodoo in New Orleans – is the spiritual code of the island people covering the conduct of their lives. There is a Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/haitian_Vodou#Myths_and_misconceptions – to refer to, of course.
And further, on the specifics of Voodoo dolls is: http://www.voodoomuseum.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=41.
Of course, the best known habit of the Haitians is the sticking of sharp pins into these special, homemade dolls, where the dolls represent specific people and the transfer of pain to these poor folk is supposed to occur as a direct consequence of these needles. From short, sharp shock to instant death!
In common parlance of late the term voodoo has also come to be a generic term for a vague mystic belief in spiritual practices held against a commonsense understanding that these practices can have no possible beneficial outcome. So, for example,the aforementioned Dr Ben Goldacre can be found writing of “the voodoo lunacies of homeopathy” as he tells you how, of course, the multiple dilutions of the homeopathic extracts have actually left utterly nothing there apart from water.
Now I don’t at this time wish to discuss the Art of the Homeopathist but merely use it to illustrate a usage. When late eighteenth century country doctor Edward Jenner came upon the folk remedy of “rubbing cowpox pus onto your skin to help the body fight off smallpox infection” or, even, when he made his unique individual observation suggesting the same, he devised an experiment. I quote a devotee:
“Jenner now had the opportunity to obtain the material to try out his theories. He carefully extracted some liquid from her sores and then took some liquid from the sores of a patient with mild smallpox.
“Jenner believed that if he could inject someone with cowpox, the germs from the cowpox would make the body able to defend itself against the dangerous smallpox germs which he would inject later.
“Jenner approached a local farmer called Phipps and asked him if he could inoculate his son James against smallpox. He explained to the farmer that if his theory was correct, James would never contract smallpox. Surprisingly, the farmer agreed.
“Jenner made two small cuts on James’s left arm. He then poured the liquid from Sarah’s cowpox sores into the open wounds which he bandaged.
“James went down with cowpox but was not very ill. [Humans do not naturally or normally catch cowpox. The clue is in the name.] Six weeks later when James had recovered, Jenner vaccinated him again, this time with the smallpox virus.
“This was an extremely dangerous experiment. If James lived Jenner would have found a way of preventing smallpox. If James developed smallpox and died he would be a murderer.
“To Jenner’s relief James did not catch smallpox. His experiment had worked.”
[http://www.zephyrus.co.uk/edwardjenner.html] (Yes, I know this is a schools education site but we are dealing with infantile thinking here!)
Can you imagine what was in that pus? What wide selection of degradative bacteria, opportunist viral particles even eukaryotic cells would have been present? But, luckily, the boy’s natural defences were up to the challenge and he did not succumb.
After his initial recovery from what was essentially a natural type injury – a cut – even though far from cleaning the wound the doctor had added fetid materials, the boy then had to endure the same treatment once more. How far decayed it would have been is anyone’s guess – no preservatives or adjuvants here! – but although there was an aerobic cleaning up job I doubt his body had to “fight off smallpox” or any other ailment.
Living on a farm, he was doubtless well fed and had an healthy lifestyle, and had had his share of cuts and scratches to respond to already. Lots of Vitamin C from all those Farm Fruits, too. As I’ve pointed out previously, there’s good evidence to suggest that a proportion of ingested proteins and peptides reach the blood stream naturally where they are duly processed by phagocytic processes. Further skin surface ie “supercuticular” experience of micro-organisms is an integral part of the natural dialogue between host and passenger species. This goes for the gut, the respiratory system and all external skin surfaces.
As Professor Mark Kendall notes (Discussed previously in: https://bmeandothersciences.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/professor-mark-kendall-i-wonder-if-hell-get-this-one-to-stick/) the immediate subcutaneous cells, just under the skin’s surface, are a “vaccine sweet spot”, that is, they react to micro-organisms as and when they meet them with great alacrity.
Naturally. Always. And without any adjuvants. It’s what evolution has programmed them to do.
So Ben Goldacre pours scorn on homeopathy and natural health treatments like herbalism or yoga. He favours Big Pharm’s Big Therapies, the “Allopathic regimens”. A strong plank in all his presentations is the super-high-tech nature of said allopathy. So individualised genetically modified mouse clones producing specifically crafted antigens from which to generate vaccinogenic materials are things of beauty in Ben’s eyes. “This is TheFutureOfMedicine”, he will say.
No, Benjamin, this is Voodoo. You may as well make X-ray crystallograms of viral particles and beam needles of small particles at them whilst uttering some hollow chants and envisioning a particularly unpleasant end to said infectious being. This may well happen in Wellcome or Merck laboratories for all I know!
For all the money and prestige invested in the vaccination industry, it is based on the absurd and dangerous dabblings of an 18th century rural doctor and all simply mask the fact that the body can and does carry out all these recognition and memory functions already and with far greater efficiency than Big Pharm techniques could ever understand let alone reproduce.
Homeopathy may or may not achieve any of the therapy it claims but, most crucially, it does no damage. Allopathic techniques do and vaccination has an abysmal track record. It’s time for the medics to stop sticking needles in people. It’s time for them to stop their voodoo.