How do you analyze evidence? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 108 Old 06-01-2005, 05:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just kinda surfing through this forum there are links to all sorts of different websites, recommendations for various books & of course, individual interpretations of scientific publications. I'm talking both pro and anti vax stuff here.

So how do you go about deciding whether or not a source is presenting the information in an accurate way? What criteria do you personally use to evaluate information you're reading? How do you go about deciding what's worthy of repeating to others or applying to your own life so you aren't classified as 'just another anti-vax nutjob' or 'just another ignorant, pro-vax bully' ?
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#2 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 12:01 AM
 
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What a great question. I have wondered this myself before. Thank you for asking.

I sometimes have a hard time deciding what is a good resource and what is not. There is money to be made from both sides and I find it hard to trust either side. Some of the websites clearly have an agenda and that deters me from trusting them.

When I first began my research, I looked online, but it was overwhelming and I couldn't find many websites that I trusted. I do like the National Vaccine Information Center website. I trust that one more than others because their mission is not anti-vax, but pro-informed consent. So in short, the mission of the website plays a huge factor for me. Another criteria is the articles they use to back up their statements. I usually look at the actual articles (if I can). I look at whether it is a peer reviewed article or someone's opinion. I look at the sample size, who wrote it and other factors that may make the study unreliable.

Much of what I read, I won't repeat it to others as fact, I will just direct them to the site. My reasoning is to let them decide for themselves. Just because I decided something was reliable does not make it so.

As far as books go, I have found few books that I truly like on the subject. The one I always recommend is Romm's book. I know from a previous thread that you do not like Romm's books, but I found her book to be very unbiased. Even after reading it twice, I cannot decide if she is anti-vax or pro-vax. Her documentation is adequate, which is paramount. I want to be able to go to her sources and check what she is saying.

A book I read recently kept claiming that if you get Whooping Cough once you will have life-long immunity. I thought this was wrong so I googled it. I found several state health dept sites that stated that getting WC does not give you life-long immunity, although it may give you immunity for a few years. Because of this discrepancy, I was skeptical of everything else in the book. The author should research everything she includes in her book.

I'm interested in how you decide what a reliable source is.
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#3 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 12:14 AM
 
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ERSsmom, that was very good and I agree with most of what you've said, especially this:

Quote:
Much of what I read, I won't repeat it to others as fact, I will just direct them to the site. My reasoning is to let them decide for themselves. Just because I decided something was reliable does not make it so.
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#4 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 12:59 AM
 
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#5 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 10:08 AM
 
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Not much time...

But a couple of major points for me:

1A. I trust my logic. If a "source" is emloying tactics to persuade me to their side, I generally feel that they must not have facts on their side. To be fair though, I know that some people with truthful messages also do this because it works on many people. But over time, it becomes clear if someone (or a general POV) has merit or not. If a book, paper, or site avoids actually dealing with facts or tries to make people feel silly for disagreeing with their obviously superior opinion, that's bunk.

1B. Kinda in line with the above, I do my own math, as does my DH and a couple of smart relatives. If someones stats are way off from our numbers, they become suspect. I never take a statistic at face value, b/c it is easier to manipulate them than to leave them impartial.

2. If I can find the $$$$ trail, that says everything to me. I think that anyone who spends tremendous effort to persuade is either a real crusader, or has a lot of money at stake. If there are financial ties to their own opinion, I give that opinion NO weight.

3. I do not have "trusted" sources. Well, maybe I develop my own trust in someone over a long time, but I don't listen to anyone else's "trust". It's a huge advertizing ploy. Just look at the TV commercials and note how many times the model says something like: And its from Lysol, so I trust it. It subtly gets in your brain to create mistrust in others. CDC, WHO, etc... do this non-stop.

Baby calls... gotta go!
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#6 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 10:44 AM
 
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Logci!




Quote:
If a book, paper, or site avoids actually dealing with facts or tries to make people feel silly for disagreeing with their obviously superior opinion, that's bunk.
Quote:
I never take a statistic at face value, b/c it is easier to manipulate them than to leave them impartial.

Quote:
If ..anyone who spends tremendous effort to persuade is either a real crusader, or has a lot of money at stake. If there are financial ties to their opinion, I give that opinion NO weight.

Quote:
It's a huge advertizing ploy. Just look at the TV commercials ..the model says something like: And its from Lysol, so I trust it. It subtly gets in your brain to create mistrust in others.

CDC, WHO, etc... do this non-stop.

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#7 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 11:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
I'm interested in how you decide what a reliable source is.
If I write it myself I know it's reliable. :LOL

Seriously though, I don't use those sites like thinktwice or whale or quackbusters or any of that & I don't refer people to those sites either. I like primary research sources & textbooks. And actually I find a lot of interesting things at the CDC, FDA & EPA sites. I do find it challenging sometimes though because some things are difficult to find unless you already know what you're looking for. And if I'm reading a paper about something that's beyond my knowledge base I ask people that are actually in that field to help clarify.

Also, I'm a snob about healthcare authors. I don't particularly like it when practitioners write about things that are beyond their scope of practice - like say a chiropractor that writes about baby food or medication.

Quote:
I know from a previous thread that you do not like Romm's books, but I found her book to be very unbiased.
I've only ever seen the other one that's not a vax book so I couldn't say either way. I'm not big into books like that though. I do use some reference books if I'm looking up clinical information or specific herbs or something but I never sit down & read those other types of books cover to cover.


Quote:
If a book, paper, or site avoids actually dealing with facts or tries to make people feel silly for disagreeing with their obviously superior opinion, that's bunk.
And actually that's something we see here on this forum a lot - people that actually do choose to use some or all vaccines are told that they clearly have not researched the issue because if they had then they'd be nonvaxers too. So that's a big part of why I'm wondering what exactly it is we're calling "research."


What do you all think about these lists?
http://www.lib.purdue.edu/itd/techman/eval.html
http://www.chssc.salford.ac.uk/healt...h/evaluati.htm
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#8 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 12:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amnesiac
Those lists seem good to me. I just skimmed them, sorry. But they seem like all the stuff I learned in graduate school about reliable sources. I try to apply those points when I am doing research for vax. It doesn't always work, but I do my best.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amnesiac
And actually I find a lot of interesting things at the CDC, FDA & EPA sites. I do find it challenging sometimes though because some things are difficult to find unless you already know what you're looking for.
Some of the best information I have gotten from this board have been from these very sites.

Basically, I take everything anyone posts with a grain of salt. I know this board is just a bunch of mommas and grandmommas doing research for their children. I always check out the information that's given and make a decision for myself. Sometimes I like all the info given and sometimes I don't. I take what fits with me and leave the rest. I think the people on this board are a wealth of information. Just because I don't agree with everything everyone says doesn't mean I can't learn from them.
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#9 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 12:36 PM
 
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Gitti...

OK, quoting myself here (sorry):

Quote:
If a book, paper, or site avoids actually dealing with facts or tries to make people feel silly for disagreeing with their obviously superior opinion, that's bunk.
In the context I meant, people who do this without any facts on their side (real facts, not made-up ones) are promoting bunk. Honest people who understand things very well do this too (myself included, if I do say so), but I attribute that to ego, and not what I'm talking about here.

For my point, it's all in the context of their arguement.
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#10 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes & that's really what I'm asking about - how do you go about deciding whether their facts are real or made up or misinterpreted or incomplete or whatever?
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#11 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 12:57 PM
 
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Well I took a stab above at how I tackle whether things are made up or misused, but it is a huge task.

About whether something is complete or not, that is a real issue considering that we can't know what we don't know. My best stab at that is endless reading and asking. Maybe someone somewhere thought of some reason why what I'm seeing isn't the whole picture. Or will ask the right questions to send me in the right direcction to look for more.

At a minimum, someone might just show me that I don't know the whole picture, even if they don't shining a light on it for me.

Much of my info comes from the raw data my good buddy geneticist shares with me. I am privaledged to see stuff before any spinning happens. And her opinion is worth a lot to me, even when we disagree. She asks great questions and is a top notch researcher, with an excellent critical eye. I learn a lot from her.

I think there is no answer for how we know when something is imcomplete. I think you can't know, but you can get a sense. And it's cumulative, so sometimes with a solid knowedge base, you can spot something fishy without much trouble.
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#12 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 01:00 PM
 
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I generally don't trust the sites that are full of 'personal stories'. If it were one mama to another , I'd believe it , but online , it looks like a bunch of hooey and doesn't hold water against the more agressive pro vax sites.

Anti-vax sites I'm more likely to trust if they have some of the 'bigger' names attached to them. The science , altho sometimes over my head , is correct.
They use proper terms , have numerous links (generally to the cdc , who and iom) to support their statements.

I find that some sites , pro and anti , use bully techniques. If they say 'this could happen to you' or use scare tactics (pro or anti) to dissuade your opinion...instead of letting you form your own....then those sites set off warning bells. I've seen on both pro and anti sites the banner "You child could DIE if......[fill in the blank] "
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#13 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 03:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amnesiac
I like primary research sources & textbooks
Pay close attention to textbooks. The information they contain often depends on the publisher and who owns it.
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#14 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 03:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Pay close attention to textbooks. The information they contain often depends on the publisher and who owns it.
What would be an example of what you're referring to?

I personally use medical, nursing, child development and microbiology textbooks to look up things like the pathophysiology of a particular condition, or common interventions for specific conditions, characteristics of specific organisms, lab values, color images, that sort of thing.
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#15 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 04:54 PM
 
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I do not think there is any credible source.
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#16 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So what do you base your decisions on?

(love your sig BTW!)
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#17 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 05:09 PM
 
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Why you can't trust medical journals any longer


Quote:
With financial ties to nearly two dozen drug and biotech companies, Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff may hold some sort of record among academic clinicians for the most conflicts of interest.

A psychiatrist, a prominent researcher, and chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral science at Emory University in Atlanta, Nemeroff receives funding for his academic research from Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Wyeth-Ayerst--indeed from virtually every pharmaceutical house that manufactures a drug to treat mental illness.

He also serves as a consultant to drug and biotech companies, owns their stocks, and is a member of several speakers' bureaus, delivering talks--for a fee--to other physicians on behalf of the companies' products.


From all *I* have "researched", this case is NO exception! It's more like the NORM.

Although I don't know whether it's from a reliable source.

:LOL
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#18 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 05:30 PM
 
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I can't quite explain it. My BS radar just goes off sometimes, and I know the author has an agenda.
It's an intuition thing. Yeah, I know, not real scientific.
It's the truth, though.
It happens with both the pro and anti vax sources equally.
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#19 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 05:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Exactly, you should never just put blind trust in any source. Like we've said before, it IS important to consider the author and the funding involved.

So Gitti, what journal articles have you researched where this has been the case & what criteria do you personally use?
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#20 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 06:09 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gitti
From all *I* have "researched", this case is NO exception! It's more like the NORM.

Although I don't know whether it's from a reliable source.

:LOL
:LOL :LOL
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#21 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 07:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amnesiac

So Gitti, what journal articles have you researched where this has been the case & what criteria do you personally use?
Amnesiac,

I actually came to this issue trying to prove to my daughter that vaccines were safe and effective. I read everything that I could get my hands on. I plowed through research after research even though I understood only half of it. The abstract was always the same: Vaccines are effective and have not been proven to cause harm. And I believed it.

BUT, as my dd kept pointing out, my grandson had this little paternal cousin who was born perfectly normal, and in fact had been extremely bright, and remained that way until he got his MMR....

Then something happened to him. He was diagnosed with autism. That's when we started to research the issue.

When I finally opened my ears I heard more and more stories about parents witnessing their children deteriorate after vaccines...

So then I started looking at the diseases that we are preventing with those particular vaccines. For that I actually used a medical book from a medical student. And I saw that those diseases are very deadly. They are some of the most precarious illnesses - UNLESS a child is vaccinated.

Did you ever read those books? They are the source for our doctors. All research is done and cited. No one has to do it for themselves. Nor do they need any other sources. Only the material that is preseted to them. A medical student simply has to remember it and believe it. And they do!

I read up on every single disease that I have had as a child. I didn't know I had been in such peril. Not only I, but also my children, my dh, both our parents, and both our grandparents.

That's when I started to examine my sources more closely.

And you know what I have come to believe is my very best source now?

Commons sense! There is nothing like it. Some people don't have it, but I DO.
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#22 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I plowed through research after research even though I understood only half of it. The abstract was always the same: Vaccines are effective and have not been proven to cause harm. And I believed it.
So then you don't have any specific examples of published research studies where financial interest was an issue? And if you only understood half of what you read how could you decide it's validity? Just by reading the conclusion in the abstract?


Quote:
Did you ever read those books?
Yes, I believe I've already said in this thread that I have & exactly how I use them.


Quote:
That's when I started to examine my sources more closely.
So how exactly are you examining them more closely? How would you go about explaining your evaluation process to a new mother?


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Commons sense! There is nothing like it. Some people don't have it, but I DO.
Common sense is pretty subjective.
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#23 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 08:08 PM
 
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So then you don't have any specific examples of published research studies where financial interest was an issue?

Ahhh... that would be all of them.


I have an idea. Why don't you, Amnesiac, give us a list of credible resources?

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#24 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 09:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amnesiac




Common sense is pretty subjective.
No its not, IMO it is the most reliable source anyone can have. It's your inner knowing, its not your mind it is beyond that, because your mind is corrupted by fear and doubt through a lifetime of programming. Medical scientists, doctors and medical associations are pimps of the pharmaceutical industry. It really is hard to believe anything they say especially when doctors are the sixth leading cause of death in the US behind heart disease, cancer, lung-disease, strokes and accidents.

I'll take my chances with the so-called quacks, if what they say resonates with my inner truth meter.

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#25 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 09:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ahhh... that would be all of them.
Are you serious?


Quote:
I have an idea. Why don't you, Amnesiac, give us a list of credible resources?
Ahh, I might just do that some day soon! In the mean time I'll be anxiously awaiting your answers to my questions & the input of anyone else here.

But, even if your question were serious, is it really my job to tell anyone else what to think? This thread isn't about learning what I think or what you think, it's about learning how to think critically for one's self. It's not about making a list of good resources, it's about sharing tools we can each use to assess any information we find.
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#26 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 09:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amnesiac

Common sense is pretty subjective.



No it's not...I'll take my chances with the so-called quacks, if what they say resonates with my inner truth meter.
Which may be a very different thing from my inner truth meter or Gitti's or ERSsmom's. That's what subjective means - it's modified by individual bias.
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#27 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 09:45 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amnesiac
Which may be a very different thing from my inner truth meter or Gitti's or ERSsmom's. That's what subjective means - it's modified by individual bias.
No I disagree, if you are really in touch with that part of your being, it will not be influenced by programming. I think we are talking at cross purposes, I am sorry I can't be clearer. But to explain more fully would require me to go into many areas including quantum physics, the nature of reality, holographic universes, the nature of DNA and many other subjects.

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#28 of 108 Old 06-02-2005, 11:22 PM
 
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I think Gitti said it best when she mentioned common sense. I don't solely rely on medical journals or anti or pro vax websites to give me "good resources." And I certainly don't rely on the typical government or pharma funded research in order to form opinions.

Take a peek at the vaccine ingredients I listed below? Common sense would tell you that these ingredients should not be injected into tiny infants or any human for that matter. I have researched every single ingredient.

The vaccine ingredients speak for themselves - this is my "good resource." A little unbiased common sense goes a long way.

Formaldehyde

Mercury

Antifreeze

Aluminium

2-Phenoxyethanol:

Phenol

Methanol

Borax
(sodium tetraborate decahydrate):

Glutaraldehyde

MSG
(monosodium glutamate):
Ammonium Sulfate:

Gentamicin Sulfate: an antibiotic.

Neomycin Sulfate: an antibiotic.

Tri(n)butylphosphate

Polymyxin B:
another antibiotic

Polysorbate 20 / 80

Sorbitol

Polyribosylribitol: a component of the Hib bacterium.

Beta-Propiolactone

Amphotericin B

Animal organ tissue and blood

Animals used include monkey (kidney), cow (heart), calf (serum), chicken (embryo and egg), duck (egg), pig (blood), sheep (blood), dog (kidney), horse (blood), rabbit (brain), guinea pig, etc.

Aborted human foetal tissue and human albumin

Large foreign proteins:

Latex: This is in the hepatitis B vaccine which is given routinely to health workers

Animal Viruses

Human Viruses

Mycoplasma

Genetically modified yeast

Foreign DNA

*******************

By the way, there are many many good resources on the internet that provide all the information a parent needs regarding these ingredients, in particular Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
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#29 of 108 Old 06-03-2005, 01:24 AM
 
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Amnesiac, it seems to me that you are arguing both sides of the issue here. Or are you just trying to play the devil's advocate.

As to the textbook issue, look at who owns the publisher. Alot of these companies are a subsidiery of a subsidiery of a major corporate conglomerate. If the corporation owns a drug manufacturerer or a chemical company, its subsidiery publishing company will not print contrary information.

I am currently working on my degree to teach at the college level, and most textbooks are extremely biased politically. I believe that the medical "industry" is a political isuue. Look at the health care reform debate that has been raging.

And I do think that common sense is a person's best defense. If you are ignorant of a particular subject that requires a decision, your common sense will tell you to educate yourself. Unfortunately there are those that lack common sense, and certain politicians feel the need to legislate and enforce it. IMHO this is taking away our rights of personal choice.
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#30 of 108 Old 06-03-2005, 01:43 AM
 
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Ok. I think each and every one of us has a mental image of what we think is the "truth".
In everything, from politics to religion to parenting, we filter out what we percieve as having "slant" that challenges our "truth".
Some doctor over at babycenter says that CIO babies are the most securely attached.
I read that and hear "bla bla bla - bs bs bs." You know slant when you see it.
When there's just no logic to a statement, it's easily discredited in your mind.
It's not the reliability of the source, but rather the content of the idea.
In regards to the vax debate, I get most of my info from medical publications on illnesses that are not necessarily related to vaxes.
Problems like encephalitis and menengitis...questions about histamines and the way the pancreas works.
These kinds of publications are usually free of slant (although there is the ever present problem of "schools of thought" and the biases therein).
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