Monday, September 19, 2011

Another fruit fly moment

HPVAnderson Cooper recently discussed the endless parade of Michele Bachmann gaffes and errors, culminating in her assertion the day after the latest debate that the HPV vaccine has serious side effects, including “mental retardation.”

Setting aside the fact that she seems to be confusing “mental retardation” with brain damage, there is no case for either consequence from this vaccine. I was reminded of the infamous Sarah Palin fruit fly moment (and no, I will NEVER let it go!), in which she ridiculed “fruit fly research in Paris, France.”

It might sound like a strange thing to trigger that last straw, but that was it for me. After that, I stopped being nice about Palin, because I saw that she had no intelligence when it came to science, and even worse, she had no desire to learn. Anything that was beyond her scope of knowledge was deemed foolish and a waste of money. (Never mind that research using fruit flies has numerous applications, including upon autism research.)

I’ve never given Bachmann a break; I recognized from the very beginning that she was a homophobic moron who wants to institute a theocracy in my country. Her remarks about the HPV vaccine, however, put her on a whole other plane of ignorance and irresponsibility. Her initial point in the debate about Governor Perry possibly involved in pushing the vaccine in order to benefit the manufacturer, Merck, was a legitimate one. Her assertions that it was a “dangerous injection” were not legitimate, and the following day, she took it up a notch and mentioned a woman who came up to her and tearfully told her that her daughter became “mentally retarded” after being vaccinated for HPV.

Bachmann tried to portray the vaccine mandate as government overreach, and I have no doubt that she preyed on typical conservative Christian fears that a vaccine for a sexually transmitted infection will lead to promiscuity. Just like free condoms lead to sexual promiscuity. Never mind the fact that it can keep a young woman (and with the new guidelines for vaccinating young boys, it protects them as well) from getting not only genital warts, but it can keep her from getting cervical cancer down the road.

HPV TableThink about that for a moment. I still remember how exciting it was when we first started checking for HPV in my lab, because of the numerous studies that showed a correlation between HPV infection and subsequent cervical cancer. Showing the presence of the virus (and certain strains, which are stronger predictors of cancer risk) allowed for earlier detection and more aggressive treatment, resulting in greater survival rates. When the vaccine came out, it was even more of a breakthrough, because we were essentially vaccinating against cancer. This is astounding to me, and I honestly cannot understand anyone who would place the nebulous possibility of their children having premarital sex earlier than usual (or who thinks that their kids wouldn’t have premarital sex if it weren’t for those pesky free condoms and protection against a sexually transmitted cancer-causing virus) above the childrens’ long-term health and protection against cancer.

There has been no proof that vaccines cause autism. I’ve written about this extensively. For Bachmann to suggest that the HPV vaccine causes “mental retardation” is not just ignorant, it could possibly cause many parents to forgo the vaccine for their children and leave them open to this very common sexually transmitted infection and later cervical cancer. As someone who lost a very dear relative, my Aunt Bert, to cervical cancer, I take it seriously. So should Bachmann, if she can manage to think of the greater good when it comes to public health rather than pandering to the anti-government teabagger loons.

Bachmann made her pronouncement after speaking to one
tearful mother who was certain that a vaccine caused her daughter to suddenly develop “mental retardation.” There are very real, genetic causes for such impairment, and vaccines aren’t one of them. Bachmann’s bizarre insistence on giving full credence to one parent and ignoring numerous studies, extensive research, and thorough vaccine trials should rightfully doom her candidacy. She is obviously someone who just does not want to learn and who does not trust scientists...or even science.


  1. I'm with you, Beth. If Palin is a loon, then Michele Bachmann is a total batshit crazy freakazoid!!!

    I read tonight that Bachmann's campaign is in financial dire straits. That's really too bad... now if she can just take Mr, Perry with her.

  2. These teabagging cons only value the life and health of fetuses. Everybody else is shit out of luck.

  3. It isn't only that she doesn't trust science, but that she doesn't trust anyone or anything that is beyond her intellectual capacity. Is she smart woman..? Arguably she is, she graduate from law school and has an accounting degree. But it is obvious to me that she does not actually like having her knowledge or opinion superseded.

    One of the aspects that I have noticed about the current crop of Repug candidates is that they seem to be frustrated on a deep an personal level, as if they achieve despite having the deck stacked against them. That is why there is a 'take back America' push, one that they believe will again return the country to a place where whites not only are the super majority, but can again assume the top spots in society and preferential treatment overall. Mind you, this is their fantasy and they conveniently ignore that the conditions that they believe exist now because of multiculturalism, also kept the elite class separate from the rest of the serfdom.

    I am concerned not that her candidacy is doomed but that others would spring up behind her fail and learn from her mistakes. But this kind of stupidity can't be hidden forever... I hope!

  4. She is the worst kind of ignorant: dangerously ignorant.

  5. I think "intellectually irresponsible" describes her perfectly.

  6. I know that this is a cheap laugh but I can't help myself. When do you think that Bachmann got her HPV vaccine?

  7. Bachman is scary, though I have to say she's done better in the debates than I would have imagined possible. Love her recent "performance" in a meat plant ... very reminiscent of Sarah Palin and the Great Turkey Day Massacre.

  8. Perhaps if Palin's next bastard grandchild is born with autism, she will get the point.

    Not that I would wish that fate upon any unborn child...

    nor would I wish a child to be be born with autism, for the record!

  9. Selfish, restrictive conservatives around the globe seem hell bent on keeping people clawing their way through survival, when all of humanity could easily be thriving. I wish their ignorance would make them politically irrelevant, and to some it does, but to others it is an attractant. If ignorance were a lethal disease, progressives the world over would have nothing to worry about in the coming years.

    Beth thanks for bringing this forward on NJ. It is an extremely important health issue for both sexes and the media doesn't always sift through everything to get to the heart of the issue.


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