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The Ridiculous Myth of Autism & Vaccines: “Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc” January 10, 2017

Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
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vaccines_do_not_cause_autism-e1429734457599I am the father of a wonder little 7 year old Autistic boy.  He is funny, clever, happy and generally a joy to be around. 3 years ago his school called and asked that I pick him up as he was coughing.  I took him to the Dr. and imagine my surprise when my son was diagnosed with WHOOPING COUGH!..yes…WHOOPING COUGH in 2015.  18 other kids were diagnosed, as well.  Why?  Because some “enlightened” parents in Park City, UT decided against vaccinating their children.  Now..before I hear that “Tyler should have been vaccinated”..he was.  Only..it does not reach full effect for several weeks.  Even better?  I had to cancel all my business travel as i could be a ‘carrier’ and infect the plane.

I am always disturbed when I read about celebrities, politicians and others perpetuating the myth (yes it is a myth) that vaccines cause Autism.  Today, President Elect Donald Trump nominated ‘Anti-Vaxxer’ shill Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to “lead a study on vaccines”. If he is already an avowed ‘anti vaxxer’ I question his objectivity on leading such a study.

So where did the Autism/Vaccine link (there is none) originate?  Simple.  “Dr.” Andrew Wakefield, who has since had his medical license revoked, published a research paper in 1998 in which he claimed a link between the MMR Vaccine and Autism.  In addition to having a financial conflict of interest, 10 of the 12 contributing authors of the paper published a retraction which read:

“We wish to make it clear that in this paper no causal link was established between (the) vaccine and autism, as the data were insufficient. However the possibility of such a link was raised, and consequent events have had major implications for public health. In view of this, we consider now is the appropriate time that we should together formally retract the interpretation placed upon these findings in the paper, according to precedent.

The Lancet formally retracted the article stating: “Following the judgment of the UK General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Panel on Jan 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation. In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were “consecutively referred” and that investigations were “approved” by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record [4]”.

In short, Dr. Wakefield perpetrated fraud.  Unfortunately, the damage was already done.  Actors and numerous ‘Hollywood’ elite jumped on the story and began promoting the false science behind the fraud.  Jenny McCarthy, Jenna Elfman, Rob Schneider, Robert DeNiro and Donald Trump all jumped on Anti-Vaccine bandwagon.  The “anti vaxxer” movie Vaxxed (by Wakefield) only added fuel to the fire and continued to encourage people to forgo vaccinations.

So what is the prevailing “link” between Vaccines and Autism?  Good question.  It is a common  logical fallacy known in Latin as Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc or “with this, therefor because of this”.  In short, children are getting vaccinated around the same age that children begin developing in such a way that Autism is presenting to parents and doctors.  Some people assume that because the Autism presentation followed the vaccine that the vaccine must be the cause.  This is a simple mistake of confusing potential correlation with causation. For more information on the philosophical underpinnings of ’cause’ please read my post here.  The point that I will make again (and the CDC and all respectable medical professionals) is that Vaccines do NOT cause Autism.

Those who are not vaccinating their children are relying on Herd Immunity of the community.  The idea of Herd Immunity posits that a disease outbreak cannot occur of a high percentage of those in the community are vaccinated.  Those forgoing vaccinations are, in effect, free riders on those who do.  A larger issue relates to those who cannot be vaccinated due to compromised immune systems (think immunodeficiency diseases) and those who may not have yet had the vaccine.  I have heard the argument numerous times: “If your child is vaccinated, then why do you care?”  See my original example.

I will leave everyone with this NSFW explanation from Penn and Teller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Security, Risk, and Bayes…oh my! January 6, 2017

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bayes-and-hus-theory(this is an excerpt of some research I conducted for a paper)

According to Dr. Giovanni Manunta, the term security does not yet have a commonly accepted definition and evokes numerous connotations among practitioners. Although often not well defined, the relationship between security and risk is well accepted among business, government, and security professionals (Department of Homeland Security, 2008). While providing fodder for debate to those tasked with the security of information assets, the ambiguous definition of security and the differences in risk analysis techniques create significant challenges to effectively protecting assets.

The practical relationship between security, risk, and decision making is articulated well by the US Department of Homeland Security as it is described as an approach for making and security decisions (DHS, 2008).  This is further established in the NIST 800-37 Risk Management Framework:

“…For operational plans development, the combination of threats, vulnerabilities, and impacts must be evaluated in order to identify important trends and decide where effort should be applied to eliminate or reduce threat capabilities; eliminate or reduce vulnerabilities; and assess, coordinate, and deconflict all cyberspace operations…” (NIST, 2010. p. 3). (emphasis added) (more…)

“Israel can be Jewish or democratic”?- An Analysis of John Kerry’s Statement December 29, 2016

Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
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kerry_israelOn December 28th, 2016, while speaking on the Two State system proposed in Israel US Secretary of State John Kerry made the curious (frightening?) statement that Israel: “…can be Jewish or it can be democratic- It cannot be both.”  The clear implication is that there is a binary choice (in Kerry’s mind) that Israel (and ostensibly every other nation in the World?) can either embrace religion or democracy – but not both.  This concept necessitates some debate on what, exactly, “democracy” is and means.

To understand governance and democracy it is important to understand the concepts.  First, let me make a bold statement (explained later in this article so keep reading)..”democracy is NOT a binary concept.  A democratic country is  not “Either democratic OR XYZ. Democracy is gauged on a scale.”

Democracy, while seemingly simple, can be a quite difficult concept to explain especially when considering the many different governments in the World.   First…let’s understand democracy from a common source.  Wikipedia states that Democracy:

“… is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Democracy allows eligible citizens to participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.” 

A better resource (sorry Wikipedia) is the Center for Systemic Peace’s  Polity IV project. The Polity IV project dataset compiles information from 1800-2015 related to various aspect of regimes.  As stated on their website: The Polity conceptual scheme is unique in that it examines concomitant qualities of democratic and autocratic authority in governing institutions, rather than discreet and mutually exclusive forms of governance.”  The Polity project attempts to quantify and qualify governance and code them based upon their level of autocracy to democracy.

Democracy, as described by the Polity study, is defined by three factors.  Each democratic government may implement these in different ways and in differing amounts.  Democracy requires the “…existence of Processes and Institutions through which citizens can 1) affect their government 2) constrain the power exercised by the executive and 3) guarantee civil liberties.”  (BTW: You can read this in Dr. Heather Mark’s Dissertation found here.)

There are numerous forms and styles of democratic governments.  There are direct democracies in which citizens take part in the process directly.  There are representative democracies (like the US) where the citizens vote for representatives who then represent the interests of their constituents.  Each of these general types of government then have sub-types.

The US is a Presidential Republic, the UK is a Parliamentary Republic, and so on.  It is much like dogs.  All Rottweillers are dogs but not all dogs are Rottweillers.  So is a Poodle more of a dog than a German Shepard?  It is this type of question that the Polity study addresses.  The Polity study ranks each form of government based upon the ‘democratization’ of the government.   Countries can be more autocratic or more democratic.  All governments will find themselves somewhere on the spectrum.

Governments with a score of +6 to +10 are counted as democracies, with the higher scores representing more democratic governments.  A perfect 10 is reserved for those that are absolutely democratic.  Those who range from a -5 to a +5 are considered Anocracies. As Polity states: “Anocracies are a middling category rather than a distinct form of governance. They are countries whose governments are neither fully democratic nor fully autocratic but, rather, combine an, often, incoherent mix of democratic and autocratic traits and practices.” Those with a score -6 to a -10 are Autocratic with a -10 representing complete autocracy.

All governments will fall somewhere in the spectrum. Simply because the United States is polityisraela Presidential Republic does NOT mean we are NOT a democracy any more than the ugly dog down the street is NOT a dog because it does not look like my rugged, handsome, purebred Rottweiler.

So where does Israel fall in the spectrum?  Great question.  Israel has, since its founding, been coded by Polity as a “perfect 10” through 2013 with only a dip to a 9 between 1965 and roughly 2000.   In short, according to Polity, Israel is considered the “most” democratic country in the world! Even if one uses the UK’s Economic Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index Israel is ranked at #34 in the world with a score of 7.77 out of 10 which make it a ‘Flawed Democracy” but..still democratic.

It is simply naïve and irresponsible for the sitting US Secretary of State to declare that a country must adhere to a single tenant to be considered ‘democratic’.  It is not supported by definition, research, nor by the objective facts.

You can see the regime trends by country and year in the graphic below.

polity1800

 

Great Gift Idea! www.AmericanBuiltClothing.com December 16, 2016

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ablogoIf you are still hunting for that perfect Christmas, Hanukkah, or Festivus gift..here is another great idea.  How about a T-Shirt, Hoodie or even some Leggings for that special person or even your own selfish self?!

American Built  is a Veteran owned company founded by Nick Carson who is both a Purple Heart Recipient and Marine Scout/Sniper.  American Built specializes in Patriot and American styled clothing and gear manufactured and finished in the United States of America!  “Be Proud Of What You Wear, Be Proud Of Where You’re From” is American Built’s motto! The company is founded and managed on these ideals.

abpatriot

American  Built t Shirt

Their designs are unique and the prices are very competitive. They have great hats, and other gear, as well.  Make sure you check out their site at www.AmericanBuiltClothing.com Here is a better deal for readers of this page only…if you use Promo code proudamerican you get 20% off AND free shipping on orders over $50!  (I have no dog in this fight so don’t think I am getting anything in return…just trying to help my readers!)

Check them out today and pass the word!

Holiday Gift Book Recommendations December 15, 2016

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As we march toward Christmas, Hanukkah and, for some, even Festivus (you  know…for the rest of us)..books are always great gifts.  Here are some of the better books that I have read over the past ten years or so that could make a reader and history buff happy.   Have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season! I had to add some Mary Roach 😉  Have fun!

bluewateresmryagainstgodsedgworldriverdoubtnoeasydaylisloldbreedpiratecoasthalseystyphoongreatestknightbloodandthundergatesooffiresistinelastsupperflyboysillustriousdeadgreatinfluenzagreatmortalityheartseamedusalostzstoffbonk

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