Anyone know anything about the website "Science-Based Medicine?" Who is Steven P. Novella, MD? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 10:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My daughters are about to enter first grade and, again, I am forced into the vaccination decision.  I have read, and believed, numerous books and articles regarding the dangers of vaccinations.  In discussing this with my college-aged son, I was surprised to be severely questioned about my beliefs on the subject, which has sent me searching once again.  I came across "Science-Based Medicine" which debunks my current understanding of the vaccination dangers  along with sources I have believed (as well as apparently debunking homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, etc.).  I cannot find any information about this website or the founder (Steven P. Novella, MD) except articles written by the editors of their own website.  Has anyone researched this?  Who is Dr. Novella and should I listen to him?

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#2 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 11:09 AM
 
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No answers here, but I'd def. be interested as well. Hopefully bumping this up get us some answers!


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#3 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 11:10 AM
 
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"Founder and currently Executive Editor of Science-Based Medicine Steven Novella, MD is an academic clinical neurologist at the Yale University School of Medicine. He is also the president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society, the host and producer of the popular weekly science podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, and the author of the NeuroLogicaBlog, a daily blog that covers news and issues in neuroscience, but also general science, scientific skepticism, philosophy of science, critical thinking, and the intersection of science with the media and society. Dr. Novella also contributes every Sunday toThe Rogues Gallery, the official blog of the SGU." 

 

Science Based Medicine is an amazing site, everything is extremely well written and well sourced. 

 

I think the clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine probably knows what he's talking about ;) 

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#4 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 11:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, of course I read the Wikipedia info.  But I was hoping for something besides Wikipedia.
 

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#5 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 11:56 AM
 
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A quick Google led me to his profile at the Yale School of Medicine: http://medicine.yale.edu/neurology/people/steven_novella-1.profile


Mother of two living in UK. Daughter (2007) born in USA, son (2010) born here. I'm pro natural birth, midwife care, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing and a keen advocate of cloth diapering. I'm a full time working research scientist (physical sciences) and I'm pro-vaccine.

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#6 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 12:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by at-home View Post

My daughters are about to enter first grade and, again, I am forced into the vaccination decision.  I have read, and believed, numerous books and articles regarding the dangers of vaccinations.  In discussing this with my college-aged son, I was surprised to be severely questioned about my beliefs on the subject, which has sent me searching once again.  I came across "Science-Based Medicine" which debunks my current understanding of the vaccination dangers  along with sources I have believed (as well as apparently debunking homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, etc.).  I cannot find any information about this website or the founder (Steven P. Novella, MD) except articles written by the editors of their own website.  Has anyone researched this?  Who is Dr. Novella and should I listen to him?

That is weird wording. Pr-vaxxer like to "debunk" things, but I have never heard a sel/del or non-vaxxers say they were debunked.  They might say they changed their mind, but usually use words that honour and own their former choices, evenif they have now come to disagree with them.    I  have also never met any sel/delayed or non-vaxxer who did not find science based medicine quite offensive and one sided.

 

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Science Based Medicine is an amazing site, everything is extremely well written and well sourced. 

 

 

Science based medicine is a very, very pro-vax site.  It hates non-vaxxers so much that I doubt it can be a reliable, objective source.  

 

Here is but one snippet from them

 

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/brave-brave-sir-robin/

 

"Going to debate at an event sponsored by the pseudoscience group is always a ridiculous waste of your time. You serve merely as a masturbation enabler for them. Next time, send them a stack of dirty magazines instead."    BARF.

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#7 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 12:07 PM
 
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Here's his bio from the Institute for Science in Medicine (which the wikipedia page seems very largely based on).

http://www.scienceinmedicine.org/fellows/Novella.html


Mother of two living in UK. Daughter (2007) born in USA, son (2010) born here. I'm pro natural birth, midwife care, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing and a keen advocate of cloth diapering. I'm a full time working research scientist (physical sciences) and I'm pro-vaccine.

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#8 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 12:19 PM
 
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That is weird wording. Pr-vaxxer like to "debunk" things, but I have never heard a sel/del or non-vaxxers say they were debunked.  They might say they changed their mind, but usually use words that honour and own their former choices, evenif they have now come to disagree with them.    I  have also never met any sel/delayed or non-vaxxer who did not find science based medicine quite offensive and one sided.

 

Science based medicine is a very, very pro-vax site.  It hates non-vaxxers so much that I doubt it can be a reliable, objective source.  

 

Here is but one snippet from them

 

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/brave-brave-sir-robin/

 

"Going to debate at an event sponsored by the pseudoscience group is always a ridiculous waste of your time. You serve merely as a masturbation enabler for them. Next time, send them a stack of dirty magazines instead."    BARF.

 

That's not a snippet from a writer of Science Based Medicine.  That is a snippet from a man named Brian Dunning's podcast which was linked on SBM.  

 

You can find things that are worse than that on Anti Vaccine websites.  Here's a nice little gem 

 

"Court orders rape of a child. Think this is an exaggeration? Think again. This is assault without consent and will full penetration too. If we as a society allow this crime to take place, we are every bit as guilty as the judge who made the order and the doctor who carries it out..."

Source: Meryl Dorey - AVN Facebook page, 15 January 2011

 

Now if that isn't BARF I don't know what is.  Comparing a life saving vaccine to rape? Wow I guess over 90 percent of parents in the US have "raped" their children by her definition.  Absolutely disgusting.

 

Meryl Dorey owns the Australian Vaccine Network and says things like this fairly often and then tries to deny she is anti vaccine. 

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#9 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 12:20 PM
 
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Science-based medicine is either in favor of mandatory vaccines or making exemptions so difficult they might as well be mandatory.

 

Here they are on exemptions:

 

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/vaccination-mandate-exemptions-gimme-that-ol-time-philosophy/

 

"There is no constitutional right to exemption from mandatory vaccination laws on religious grounds. Thus, religious exemptions to state vaccination mandates are not constitutionally required. Indeed, they may be constitutionally suspect. If a state’s intention in enacting a religious-based exemption – to accommodate those who sincerely believe their established religious tenets prohibit vaccination – cannot be achieved by constitutional means, then the only way to achieve such accommodation is to open the exemption up to essentially everyone who claims a religious reason, whether sincerely held or fabricated for the occasion. This essentially creates a “philosophical” exemption. The consequences of this meaningless exemption, open to anyone who opposes vaccination, are a threat to public health."


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#10 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 12:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by teacozy View Post

 

That's not a snippet from Science Based Medicine.  That is a snippet from a man named Brian Dunning's podcast which was link on SBM.  

 

You can find things that are worse than that on Anti Vaccine websites.  Here's a nice little gem 

 

But we are not discussing anti-vax websites, are we?

 

I am sure some non-vax websites say some inappropriate and vile things.  Do two wrongs make a right?  I sincerely hope you are not defending  or excusing SBM vileness.  

 

As per it being a snippet - it was a snippet they applauded and gave space to.  It was also handy, so I used it, but I could literally fill pages and pages here on the nasty things SBM has said about non-vaxxers, thus proving their bias and lack of objectivity  (or, to quote them from the same article using their words "denier, denialist, crank")

 

SBM has the right to create hate blogs if they want.  I don't think it should be used to justify a postion as the bias and non-objectiviy is so over the top, and I do not think they should be used here as they are incredibly offensive to a large number of posters and go against the mandate of non-mandatory vaccine. 

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#11 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 12:56 PM
 
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But we are not discussing anti-vax websites, are we?

 

I am sure some non-vax websites say some inappropriate and vile things.  Do two wrongs make a right?  I sincerely hope you are not defending  or excusing SBM vileness.  

 

As per it being a snippet - it was a snippet they applauded and gave space to.  It was also handy, so I used it, but I could literally fill pages and pages here on the nasty things SBM has said about non-vaxxers, thus proving their bias and lack of objectivity  (or, to quote them from the same article using their words "denier, denialist, crank")

 

SBM has the right to create hate blogs if they want.  I don't think it should be used to justify a postion as the bias and non-objectiviy is so over the top, and I do not think they should be used here as they are incredibly offensive to a large number of posters and go against the mandate of non-mandatory vaccine. 

 

You pasted a snippet from SBM (that was not written by anyone who contributes to the site)  so I countered with one example of many from an extremely popular anti vaccine website. This is a debate forum after all.  Do you disregard all information from any anti vaccine website that says something "distasteful" about doctors, or people that are pro vaccine? 

 

In any case, SBM is very upfront about being extremely pro vaccine.  They are very upfront about believing that not vaccinating is dangerous and that the evidence is very clear that vaccines are extremely safe. 

 

In contrast to many people that are anti vaccine that try to deny they are actually anti vaccine. 


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#12 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 01:17 PM
 
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You pasted a snippet from SBM (that was not written by anyone who contributes to the site)  so I countered with one example of many from an extremely popular anti vaccine website. This is a debate forum after all.  Do you disregard all information from any anti vaccine website that says something "distasteful" about doctors, or people that are pro vaccine? 

 

In any case, SBM is very upfront about being extremely pro vaccine.  They are very upfront about believing that not vaccinating is dangerous and that the evidence is very clear that vaccines are extremely safe. 

 

Your point to either of the above?  The Op asked what my opinion was - and I gave it.  I stand by it.  SBM is not capable of objectivity on vaccines given their hatred for non-vaxxers.  Oh - and did I disregard the quote you posted?  I said some non-vax sites may say some inappropriate and vile things, but I do not see you owning up to the fact that a site you find "amazing" posts some hate-filled commentary on non-vaxxers.  Hmmm…..

 

In contrast to many people that are anti vaccine that try to deny they are actually anti vaccine. 

Again - your point?  Some non-vaxxers are anti-vax, but certainly not all.   Non-vax, as a term,  is just more inclusive and less assumptive about the range of beliefs of people who do not vaccinate than anti-vax.    

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#13 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 01:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am a very busy person and "debunked" was the first word that came to mind when trying to ask about the website.  Please don't make my wording the topic of conversation.  I am struggling with a decision and just wanted to get a wider perspective of the website because I haven't seen it before today.
 

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#14 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 01:22 PM
 
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nm


There is a battle of two wolves inside us.  One is good and the other is evil.  The wolf that wins is the one you feed.

 

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#15 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 01:28 PM
 
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I am a very busy person and "debunked" was the first word that came to mind when trying to ask about the website.  Please don't make my wording the topic of conversation.  I am struggling with a decision and just wanted to get a wider perspective of the website because I haven't seen it before today.
 

Ok then  smile.gif

 

If you are struggling, why don't you get back to basics and read the CDC pink book - appendixes included?  

 

Do you want a further reading list?

 

If you are looking for support, you could post in one of the subforums - or both.  Debate and discussion can get intense, so if support is what yoiu are looking for, it might not be the best place. 

 

I would read from both sides, stay away from over the top sites on both sides, and look for things that are well cited.   

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#16 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 01:35 PM
 
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My point in pointing out the fact they are upfront about being very pro vaccine was in response to my understanding of your post that because the information on their site is pro vaccine it isn't a reliable source.  They aren't trying to be neutral on their stance of vaccines.  They don't have prominent anti vaccine proponents write material for their site. That doesn't mean that they aren't a reliable source.  They have scientific studies and data and sources to back up all of their claims. 

 

Would you say that a scientist who has a Ph.D and specializes in evolution is unable to write a blog about the scientific validity of evolution by default? That the information would be unreliable  just because he claims that people who believe the earth is a few thousand years old are scientifically wrong?  Because he isn't balanced in his opinion that humans are a product of evolution? 

 

This is just an analogy. 


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#17 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 01:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, I am trying to read from both sides, which is why I asked my question in the first place.
 

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#18 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 02:00 PM
 
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My point in pointing out the fact they are upfront about being very pro vaccine was in response to my understanding of your post that because the information on their site is pro vaccine it isn't a reliable source.  They aren't trying to be neutral on their stance of vaccines.  They don't have prominent anti vaccine proponents write material for their site. That doesn't mean that they aren't a reliable source.  They have scientific studies and data and sources to back up all of their claims. 

 

 

Lots of sites are pro-vax and I think they are reliable(ish). The CDC is pro-vax and I use it all.the.time.  

 

I think, based on their hatred filled spews, that SBM is incapable of rationally looking at both sides of the vaccine issue.  I think their hatred colours their assessment of issues and probably causes them to cherry pick data that supports their conclusions.  If you disagree, that is fine - although, wow, holy batman refusing to look at issues with sources.  

 

I think SBM has its place.  It is good for preaching snarkily to the snarky choir, and perhaps churning up feelings of smug superiority, while polarising the issues.   I just don't think it is very useful for anything else.  


There is a battle of two wolves inside us.  One is good and the other is evil.  The wolf that wins is the one you feed.

 

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#19 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 02:02 PM
 
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Yes, I am trying to read from both sides, which is why I asked my question in the first place.
 

 

Well welcome to mothering!  Hope we haven't scared you off yet! 

 

So I guess my question is : What kind of information are you looking for, other than the information on Dr Novella?  Or was that all you were interested in asking? 

 

Do you find numbers and studies from organizations like WHO (World Health Organization), the CDC or research hospitals like Mayo Clinic to be reliable?  If not, what kind of websites would you want your information to come from? 

 

Just trying to get an idea of how best to help you! 


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#20 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 02:10 PM
 
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In doing initial research, I would steer clear of any obviously one-sided website. If the tone of the site is snarky then I would skip it. This goes for either side. What you want to find are facts, not opinions. A good way to gage this is to see if there are generalizations made about the "other side", such as calling people pro-vax and anti-vax.
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#21 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 03:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, originally I wanted to know about Dr. Novella because I hadn't heard of him or his website. 

My son has given me links to WHO and I am looking into it.

What am I looking for?  The truth, I'd say.  But I find it difficult to discern what is and isn't true anymore and it is stressing me out.  I don't want to give into fear mongering but I also find it difficult to just believe that vaccinations are safer than the diseases when I "hear" the opposite.  Also, one of my daughters has had some minor neurological issues, so I want to be  extra cautious.

When I saw the title "Science-Based Medicine" I was skeptical, because I didn't know who was behind it.  Anyone can make themselves sound credible.  I want to know if Dr. Novella really is credible or if he simply has an personal agenda.

I just want to make the right decision for my family at this point. 

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http://www.cochrane.org/search/site/vaccines


There is a battle of two wolves inside us.  One is good and the other is evil.  The wolf that wins is the one you feed.

 

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#23 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 03:31 PM
 
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I would second Kathymuggle's recommendation of Cochrane systematic reviews (the link she gave). They do systematic reviews of all the literature, to come up with as close as they can manage the best consensus evidence based view on a whole host of issues. 

 

I think that Science Based Medicine have an agenda of debunking what they see as minsinformation about alternative medicine choices online. I wish they would be more polite, as they host some really great information in my opinion, and in my opinion being mean just alienates people from reading their site (as we have clear evidence of on here). 


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#24 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 04:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by at-home View Post

I want to know if Dr. Novella really is credible or if he simply has an personal agenda.

 

Both?  Yes, he has an agenda.  He believes that not vaccinating is dangerous and foolish, and he's not shy about it.  But that doesn't make him in-credible.  His science is solid even if his rhetoric could be friendlier.


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#25 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 07:07 PM
 
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What am I looking for?  The truth, I'd say.  But I find it difficult to discern what is and isn't true anymore and it is stressing me out.  I don't want to give into fear mongering but I also find it difficult to just believe that vaccinations are safer than the diseases when I "hear" the opposite.  Also, one of my daughters has had some minor neurological issues, so I want to be  extra cautious.

 

I think part of the issue is that the "truth" is a moving target, right? I mean, isn't the search for truth a whole philosophical question in itself?

 

Have you got a good GP of family doctor who is respectful and you can work with? In our case, we've discussed vaccines a number of times, he listens and is supportive of concerns (not dismissive) and when we put forward what we would like to do and how we would like to proceed (which in our case is very delayed, fraction of what's on the schedule), he says, "That's fine and reasonable," (keeping in mind we're going from a family where the children have not been vaccinated to date, he's not about to berate us and slam the door shut--he sees working with us on our own proposed schedule as a positive from his point of view). 

 

Personally, I don't pay much attention to blogs from either "side." I've read the published papers, epidemiological data, government handbook, CDC Pink Book, and discussed the issue with our GP. There's a lot of claims to the truth out there. Those debates may not be resolved in my lifetime, so we're going to get on with our lives the best we can.

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#26 of 56 Old 07-29-2013, 08:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for the later a comments which have been very helpful.  I will check out the Cochrane link and also appreciate "Japnoica's" sentiments.  We do have a family physician who has always been supportive of our convictions which I am thankful for.  However, things seem to be becoming more confusing to me, thus my original inquiry.

Thank you to all who have posted, especially those of you who have been gentle.
 

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#27 of 56 Old 07-30-2013, 06:52 AM
 
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Originally Posted by dalia View Post

In doing initial research, I would steer clear of any obviously one-sided website. If the tone of the site is snarky then I would skip it. This goes for either side. What you want to find are facts, not opinions. A good way to gage this is to see if there are generalizations made about the "other side", such as calling people pro-vax and anti-vax.

I agree. When hearing about how parents make choices, I am usually put off slightly when folks seem to be developing their initial bias about a subject from resources gained at an obviously biased site. It's not that I don't think these polarized sites have value (though at the same time I agree with KM's assessment of their value, honestly) but it's just not a good place to start, IMO.  

 

If I really wanted to know about the value of a site that seemed really biased, I think I would pick an article at random and then do my own research. What you may find is that the really snarky, biased sites will conveniently leave out information that doesn't back-up what they want to say. I was on one skeptic site recently because I do use them sometimes to find source material and EVERY SINGLE citation went to the same article. They had like 50 sources cited but they were all linked wrong. Then, of course I couldn't find any way to contact the writer or manager of the site to let them know. Of course I was trying to "debunk" a NaturalNews article that I found irritating. It's like equal opportunity irritating at the really one-sided sites, IMO.  

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#28 of 56 Old 07-30-2013, 07:00 AM
 
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J.B. Handley's take on Dr Novella

 

 

Quote:
Dr. Novella is a clinical neurologist and assistant professor at Yale’s school of medicine. His areas of specialization are neuromuscular disease and botulinum injections (see appendix below). He appears to have done both his undergrad and med school at Georgetown University. Looking at his biography on wikipedia (which he undoubtedly wrote himself), he became a doctor 11 years ago and turns 45 years old this July*. It doesn’t appear that autism, vaccines, immunology, toxicology, nutrition, or gastroenterology are part of his area of focus, expertise, or study.

Written in 2009

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"If you find from your own experience that something is a fact and it contradicts what some authority has written down, then you must abandon the authority and base your reasoning on your own findings"~ Leonardo da Vinci

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#29 of 56 Old 07-30-2013, 07:02 AM
 
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However, things seem to be becoming more confusing to me, thus my original inquiry. 

 

I agree that it seems to be more confusing out there for certain things. There are so many websites with their own stake in the game. Many of the biased sites, IMO, are using snark to gain popularity and fame...and money.  Then they pretend that it's all in the name of science or health and concern for others. Yea, right!  

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#30 of 56 Old 07-30-2013, 07:46 AM
 
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I have to confess that when I first hears the name Science-Based Medicine, I got naively excited. I imagined some site where doctors were holding other doctors accountable, perhaps discouraging routine electronic fetal monitoring or reminding them that pap smears should happen not annually but every 3 years. Boy, was I ever wrong. All I found was a refection pool for those wishing to defend their turf, spread the gospel of medical machismo, and fan the flames of the latest culture war.

Good on you, OP, for keeping such a critical eye on your sources. Like IdentityCrisisMama, I also avoid sites like Natural News . Others I avoid in my decision-making research: "Skeptic" blogs (everyone's skeptical of *something,* for heaven's sake!), Gaia Health, Mercola, Immunization Action Coalition, Shot of Prevention, and Health Impact News. There are more, but I can't think of them all.

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