Autism & Wanderland
Dachel Media Review: Vax, Vax, Vax

Too Much of a Good Thing

Too muchBy Julie Obradovic

While doing my Christmas shopping, I found myself in the book isle. Browsing the long shelves, a small white-jacketed book caught my eye. Not only was the cover beautiful, the title spoke right to me.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and The Art of Battling Giants by Malcom Gladwell.

I snickered as I picked it up thinking how I could relate. Any insight on how to do that more successfully was well worth it. Without reading more than the back cover I tossed it in the cart.

A few days later when I finally got to read it, I realized I had seen Malcom Gladwell and this very book profiled on a television show. Gladwell is the author of Outliers, probably his most famous book, and David and Goliath was following in its footsteps.

In short, Gladwell uses psychological research to prove that by changing our perspective and redefining what an advantage or disadvantage actually is, we can navigate and lead the world more successfully.

I devoured the book in less than two days.

Among the interesting arguments he presents, one stands out as most profound to me: that both deficiency and excess have negative consequences, and that although common sense has dictated this for some time, science is now proving it.

For example, most people assume smaller class sizes are better for student achievement. Research says it’s not that simple. Very small and very large classes are both negative for student achievement, although not in the same ways.

Likewise, most people assume parenting is easier the more money you have. Research also says, no. It gets harder. Poverty and affluence are both challenging, although not in the same ways. (Remember the boy who recently had a reduced sentence using affluence as an excuse?)

 

And physically, we know that drinking a few glasses of wine per week can have a positive effect on health, but just a few more and it becomes a negative. No wine, you miss out on the health benefits. Too much wine, you negate them and make things worse.

 

The pattern follows with everything of consequence, Gladwell argues. Deficiency, bad. Moderation, good. Excess, bad. In fact, the most famous philosopher to point this out was Aristotle himself.

The concept is called “The Inverted U.” And this is what it looks like. (These graphs are for mere visualization purposes only and are in no way scaled to meet any mathematical exactness.)

 

What we assume:

  JO More Better

Reality:

  JO More to Point

What we assume is called a monotonic graph. The more you have the better it gets. In reality what we usually have, however, is a non-monotonic graph. The more you have eventually the worse it gets. In other words, there is a threshold or a margin of diminishing returns.

Per Gladwell, “…Inverted U-Curves are hard to understand. They almost never fail to take us by surprise, and one of the reasons we are so often confused about advantages and disadvantages is that we forget we are operating in a U-shaped world.”

Not surprising perhaps, I immediately thought about vaccines.

The idea of too much of a good thing has been the basis of much of the vaccine controversy for some time. Many wonder, like I do, have we gone too far? Have we reached the margin of diminishing returns? Have there been unintended consequences? Are we using the right information to determine that?

And if we haven’t gone too far yet, when will that time come? Is there anything in life that can increase and increase and increase without eventually resulting in a negative consequence?

Science says, with rare exception, no.

We see this research in a paper Gladwell uses to make his point entitled, “Too Much of a Good Thing: The Challenge and Opportunity of the Inverted U”, which appeared in 2011 in the Journal Perspectives on Psychological Science by Adam Grant and Barry Schwartz. I purchased the study just to read more.

To be sure, the paper focuses specifically on psychological domains, not medical ones. For example, the authors argue that a deficiency of courage is cowardice, but in excess is recklessness. A deficiency of pride is humility, but in excess is vanity. And regarding anger, a deficiency is spinelessness and in excess is irascibility. They then go on to cite dozens and dozens of papers to support it.

And to be fair and very clear, the researchers acknowledge the Inverted U may not be applicable to everything. Interestingly, Vitamin C and E are cited (by different authors) as possible evidence given that you can’t overdose on them.

But I wondered, just for the heck of it, if we were to apply this same concept to medicine, what would we find? Is medicine operating in an Inverted-U world as well?

It most certainly is.

Let’s look at antibiotics as an example. Antibiotics are arguably one of mankind’s most important and incredible medical accomplishments. The amount of lives saved by antibiotics would be impossible to determine.

And yet, scientists are growing increasingly concerned that we have overdone it. Bacteria not killed by regular strength antibiotics have required stronger and stronger versions to do the job. Coupled with the overuse of these antibiotics, the unintended consequence is that the surviving bacteria are now extremely dangerous.

So in the case of antibiotics, yes, they have operated in an Inverted U. No antibiotics, bad. Responsible use of antibiotics, good. Too many and too frequently used antibiotics, bad.

Other medicine could also be put into the same graph. It is the reason dosing is so important. The right amount of any medication for the right person has (ideally) the right affect. But too much for the same person and you have an overdose.

Even the use of medicinal mercury has been based on the assumption of the Inverted U. Organized medicine has believed for centuries that this neurotoxin can be harnessed for good if only dosed in the right amount the right way. They have yet to be proven right; however, that has been their prevailing theory, and thus the reason Thimerosal remains in vaccines to this day.

Does this mean that medicines, antibiotics included, are bad? Or that people who draw attention to their potential misuse or abuse are anti-medicine? Of course not.

What it does mean, however, is that in the right time and place and amount they have positive benefits. Without them, people would suffer and possibly die. But with too much of them, people also suffer and possibly die. And it is our responsibility to monitor the situation carefully and accurately so that we can remain between the two.

The Inverted U.

Which leaves one to wonder why anyone would believe vaccines would be exempt from this phenomenon. Why should they be? Or more important, how could they be?

Food. Exercise. Money. Wine. Medicine. Power. Virtue. Sunshine. Even water.

All are subject to this rule.

And yet, vaccines are not? That’s what many would like to believe, because that’s what they believe applies: the monotonic graph. In their reality, the more vaccines children have received the better overall health they have had, and the more vaccines they receive in the future, the better health they will continue to have.

What is reality, however, is the opposite. Although the original vaccines children received (at the onset of their invention) indeed resulted in better overall health, it is undeniable that the more vaccines children have received over time since then, the worse overall health they have had: the non-monotonic graph.

(It is important to bear in mind that in all Inverted U examples the negative consequence of absence and the negative consequence of excess are usually opposite. In this instance, suffering and death from infectious disease versus suffering and death from chronic disease.)

Now, we all know correlation does not equal causation.

But that doesn’t change the graph that describes reality for America’s population under the age of 25, the most vaccinated generation of children in the history of mankind, and by far, the most chronically ill on record. And as such, I believe, reason enough to merit an honest, immediate, and independent investigation into the unintended consequences of a for-profit-liability-free program that appears to have possibly reached its margin of diminishing returns.

As Gladwell says, we tend to forget we are operating in an Inverted U world. It’s time we start remembering both absence and excess have negative consequences; framing our discussions, debates, and research within that context; and holding ourselves accountable for maintaining a responsible middle ground.

Our children are depending on it.

Julie Obradovic is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.

 

Comments

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Benedetta

Gatogorra
Thanks for explaining this to me.
I have been a bit confused about Gladwell and all those people that surround him.

The U - what year did the bottom begin to come up?
I suggest it was way, way back. There were more than just 12 children in 1930s. .
I also am certian that vaccine injuries have taken on the form of mental illness that drives the numbers of drug addiction and the war on drugs in our country.

I am beginning to hear fro the first time that the war on drugs might not can be won.

Gatogorra

The points in this piece are great and well taken. Unfortunately Gladwell himself willingly shills for the pharmaceutical industry-- why the Skeptics and Soderbergh feel so safe using Gladwellianisms to attack the vaccine safety arena (the title of "Contagion" was Soderbergh's nod to Gladwell, his favorite pop-sociologist). He's barked up the "autism as genetic caste" tree: in his pop-think bestseller Blink, Malcolm Gladwell discusses Simon-Baron Cohen’s conception of autistic “mind-blindness” and, in roundabout terms, Baron-Cohen and Yale autism researcher Ami Klin’s views of autistic empathy deficits.

Gladwell is also a huge fan of Bill Gates-- not so much for his "entrepreneurialism" but for his vaccine philanthropy (http://www.geekwire.com/2012/malcolm-gladwell-50-years-bill-gates-revered-steve-jobs-forgotten/): “I firmly believe that 50 years from now he’ll be remembered for his charitable work. No one will even remember what Microsoft is, and all the great entrepreneurs of this era, people will have forgotten Steve Jobs. There will be statues of Gates across the third world and … there’s a reasonable shot … because of his money, we will cure malaria.”

Here he spanks Ritalin critics, legitimizes drug industry bs on the benefits of the drug and insists that there's no rise in ADHD, just "better recognition" of a genetic caste: http://gladwell.com/running-from-ritalin/

'Only by a strange inversion of moral responsibility do books like “Ritalin Nation” and “Running on Ritalin” seek to make those parents and physicians trying to help children with A.D.H.D. feel guilty for doing so. The rise of A.D.H.D. is a consequence of what might otherwise be considered a good thing: that the world we live in increasingly values intellectual consideration and rationality–increasingly demands that we stop and focus. Modernity didn’t create A.D.H.D. It revealed it...What further confounds the culture-of-Ritalin school is that A.D.H.D. turns out to have a considerable genetic component. As a result of numerous studies of twins conducted around the world over the past decade, scientists now estimate that A.D.H.D. is about seventy per cent heritable. This puts it up there with the most genetically influenced of traits--traits such as blood pressure, height, and weight. Meanwhile, the remaining thirty per cent--the environmental contribution to the disorder--seems to fall under what behavioral geneticists call "non-shared environment," meaning that it is likely to be attributable to such factors as fetal environment or illness and injury rather than factors that siblings share, such as parenting styles or socioeconomic class. That's why the way researchers describe A.D.H.D. has changed over the past decade. There is now less discussion of the role of bad parents, television, and diet and a lot more discussion of neurology and the role of specific genes...'

Gladwell also shills for Big Tobacco with this "sleazy pro-tobacco masterpiece": (http://exiledonline.com/malcolm-gladwell-tobacco-industry-shill/):

'But even if the overall balance of costs and benefits of smoking is difficult to determine, it is clear that an end to smoking will produce an enormous increase in the financial obligations of the federal government.'

And far worse, he spun some blatant apologism for Penn State's inaction against Jerry Sandusky by omitting a slew of facts in the case (http://deadspin.com/5944033/malcolm-gladwell-turns-jerry-sandusky-into-a-parable-by-leaving-out-some-facts).

Gladwell is a lot like Steven Pinker who sat on the ACSH corporate think tank with alum like Offit-- they produce weaponized sociology/science to attack noncompliant consumers and whistleblowers in service to and defense of corporate and institutional interests.

But that's the thing about pop-sociology and pop-philosophy-- like a horoscope, it's so vague and general it can be applied to nearly everything by nearly anyone, though then these authors tend to show their hand with explicit product promotions. But they're not stupid and if an idea seeds more ideas that venture far away from the authors' corporate-cuddling intent, that's fun. To quote someone famous, "Ideas are not responsible for the people who believe in them." For better or worse.

It's entertaining to think about how much Gladwell may be squirming to see his concepts tailored for this argument. It may cause his industry and front group supporters to pressure him to take a firmer position against vaccine choice. I'm guessing he'll come down on the side he always does but that's useful information since a lot of activists already hate him. I always enjoy how these shills inadvertently help diverse movements see the common ground between causes more clearly.

Carolyn

His book "The Tipping Point" will also hit home. We've passed it as community but we can still get this done.

He addresses epidemics and how the CDC often does not look at causation and but places blames elsewhere to parlay responsibility.

Free audio version: http://youtu.be/H-B9ZMOyQ_0

British Mum, British Isles

I've only browsed through it but Malcolm Gladwell's book "The Tipping Point" is very, very interesting. The ISBN is 978-0-349-11346-3 and was copyrighted to Malcolm Gladwell in 2000. The subtitle is "How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference". The first chapter is "The Three Rules of Epidemics". He describes the movement of a certain disease out of its usual area of Baltimore and the theories behind the fact.

I wish I could believe that we could be almost at the tipping point for the general population to realise that, yes Virginia, vaccine damage is possible and is being covered up.

Bob Moffitt

Julie .. great insight.

"In their reality, the more vaccines children have received the better overall health they have had, and the more vaccines they receive in the future, the better health they will continue to have."

Here is an article that presents an example of the "unintended consequences" from believing "more" is always better:

"NEW DELHI, Feb 8 2014 (IPS) - A spate of sudden infant deaths following vaccination in India has prompted leading paediatricians to call for stronger regulatory mechanisms to evaluate new vaccines for safety and efficacy before their acceptance into the national immunisation programme.

According to data obtained from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, over the last one year 54 babies are recorded to have died soon after receiving the newly introduced “pentavalent” vaccine that is designed to prevent infection by five disease-causing microbes

http://tinyurl.com/keqw367

If this article is correct .. in my humble opinion .. the ONLY reason the "pentavalent" vaccine exists is because it is extremely "cost effective" .. replacing the exhorbitant cost of distributing, storing and administering 5 different vaccines with 1.

The 54 babies who died .. well .. we all know "correlation does not mean causation".

Jeannette Bishop

One thing seems for sure to me, that we do not at this point have too much good data about the cost-benefit ratio.

Linda

Julie,
Great article. I think you're being too kind though about there being "unintended consequences" of vaccination. Those pushing vaccines and protecting the industry have made it clear that they are willing to risk lives. They are willing to maim and kill in order to maintain the program and profits. They know exactly what they're doing.

cia parker

I agree with Laura, vaccines have never been beneficial overall. Before the vaccines for them were developed, doctors were saying that pertussis and measles had become so much milder than they had been, that there was no need to develop vaccines for them. The smallpox vaccine was a disaster, dirty, ineffective, causing huge levels of death and disability, and causing unprecedented large outbreaks of smallpox in which hundreds of thousands died, with a background vaccination rate of 98-100%. Yes, some have been saved who otherwise would have died from the diseases like measles, pertussis, and Hib meningitis, but many more have been killed or disabled by them, and have been prevented from developing immunity and stronger immune systems by combatting the actual diseases. Vaccines have been a disaster, and have not given better health to anyone. Better health means a more efficient, stronger immune system, not specific, temporary artificial immunity to specific diseases, and vaccines do nothing but damage and impair the overall function of the immune system.





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Stand Up!

"Although the original vaccines children received (at the onset of their invention)indeed resulted in overall better health"....NOT true, as there is NO unequivocal evidence to support this statement. Vaccination has never been proven to improve health at a physiologic, or immunologic level because the procedure is inherently toxic and immunosuppressive. (Evidence by the CDC has actually demonstrated a perversion of immunity, with antibody production-only elicited. This is not true of naturally acquired infection or exposure, whereby a comprehensive response, if appropriate, is elicited, and remains for a lifetime)

The original smallpox vaccine was proven deadly for many who received it, and never conferred natural immunity to anyone as it was based on the theory of protecting people from cowpox, an animal-based virus as opposed to the human form--smallpox--which was genetically different.

Physiologically supportive, health promoting measures (the non-toxic-kind) are the best ways to get well and stay well.

Consider Dr. Tim O' Shea's book "Vaccination Is Not Immunization" as a well-referenced review of the history and consequences of vaccination.

Beth

Great post! Thank you!

Not an MD

You have written, "That’s what many would like to believe, because that’s what they believe applies: the monotonic graph."

Actually, Julie, what I think "they" believe regarding vaccines comes right from the pages of Aldous Huxley's famous book, Brave New World. On page 47, it is written, "Sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth. Idiots!"

I kind of think that is exactly what they think-- repeat the same crap over and over again in every single media outlet (thimerosal contains a "good" kind of mercury, the dose makes the poison, vaccines are good for your health, anti-vaxxers are nuts, anti-vaxxers are selfish, anti-vaxxers are stupid, anti-vaxxers are guilty of bringing back childhood diseases that were vanquished…blah, blah, blah, etc. ad nauseum) They promote that we are the idiots, even as they fear us for speaking the truth. Proof of their fear is their over usage of their paid online trolls. That they feel the need to employ such trolls in the first place, is proof that we are winning the war.

Here's my take on the matter. Vaccines are vile, animal-contaminated crap. They both overstimulate the human immune system that God created and cause molecular mimicry leading to auto-immunity-- lupus, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, ALS, type 1 diabetes, food allergies, etc. Considering the extraordinarily high number of people diagnosed every single year with auto-immune conditions, a logical and thoughtful person would find this to be obvious and undeniable.

Just imagine a loud speaker broadcasting that to the people over and over again----"Vaccines are vile, animal-contaminated crap. They both overstimulate the human immune system that God created and cause molecular mimicry leading to auto-immune conditions…." What a wonderful dream that is! Love it!

Twyla

The prevailing philosophy seems to be that you can't be too rich, too thin, or get too many vaccines.

Laura Hayes

Hi Julie,

I always enjoy reading your articles :) I do want to point out that I disagree with this statement you made: "Although the original vaccines children received (at the onset of their invention) indeed resulted in better overall health..." I have yet to ever find any proof that vaccines have ever been effective, safe, beneficial to overall health, or a good idea, and actually, there is much proof to the opposite. Here is but one book, which is relatively new, titled "Dissolving Illusions" that addresses these issues, and here is an article by the book's 2 authors re. the mythology behind the practice of vaccination, since its inception: http://www.vaccinationcouncil.org/2013/08/27/vaccination-a-mythical-history-by-roman-bystrianyk-and-suzanne-humphries-md/?

Thanks, as always, for sharing your wonderful insights with us!

Louis Conte

Well said.

This is the issue in nut shell.

A deeper understanding of vaccine injuries is so critical and must be stated openly and plainly.

Otherwise no one knows what part of the curve they are on.

Introvert

Actually, even too much vitamin C may well be a problem if you have oxalate issues...

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