[extropy-chat] Are vaccinations useless?

Damien Sullivan phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
Tue Mar 14 19:40:56 UTC 2006

On Tue, Mar 14, 2006 at 02:34:28AM -0800, Samantha Atkins wrote:
>    What accounts for the largest part of overall health/longevity
>    increase is a VERY different question from the subject line.  I would
>    point out that many of the supposed non-medicinal contributors were
>    invented or greatly strengthened and perfected due to
>    our understanding of medical science.

Hygiene and nutrition may come under medical knowledge, and be practiced by
doctors, but if the bulk of medical spending is to doctors in hospitals that
could suggest the bulk of medical spending is of low (not non-zero) marginal

One thought about vaccinations: a series of childhood diseases, none of which
actually kill, might still reduce lifespan by hampering growth, causing the
body to fail at 60 instead of 75.  This doens't affect "mortality rates
falling since 1750" but might be a monkey wrench in some later numbers;
smallpox vaccine would same some immediate lives, but might also extend the
life of those who would have been survivors.

On a contrary note, someone mentioned the use of antibiotics in cattle
feedlots, and that they wouldn't be used if ineffective.  That's probably
true, but the whole practice of cattle feedlots goes against the reductions of
exposure and stress that developed humans have benefitted from.

Robin's consensus might be understandable not as medical practices being
ineffective, but as their being effective, but having been largely pre-empted
by hygiene and improved nutrition.  There's more than one way to preserve a

Didn't post-Katrina New Orleans have surprisingly low disease rates, relative
to what happens when South American water systems fail?  If true (in both
parts), that might be evidence of the effects of superior nutrition.  (Or
maybe of the water being too toxic for water-borne germs to live.)

-xx- Damien X-) 

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