[extropy-chat] Are vaccinations useless?

Robin Hanson rhanson at gmu.edu
Mon Mar 13 22:07:43 UTC 2006

At 04:50 PM 3/13/2006, Russell Wallace wrote:
>Am I the only one who feels this is rather like someone coming into 
>a space discussion list and saying the academic consensus is the 
>Apollo landings were a hoax, and a bunch of people nodding and 
>agreeing it's a great subject? :P No offense intended to Robin, 
>whose writings are usually of excellent quality, but this is just 
>silly. At least the "we never went to the moon" crowd offer an 
>alternative explanation, however bad it may be. ...
>Read a bit about the history. ...  anti-mosquito campaign that was 
>effective enough to tip the balance.
>DDT has been credited with saving tens of millions of lives ....
>In Ireland in my parents' day, survival was in large part a matter 
>of not dying of TB ...
>How many deaths did smallpox account for in the course of history? I 
>don't know either, it's that many. ...
>As one writer put it, hospitals used to be stuffed with men, women 
>and children dying of random bacterial infections while doctors just 
>watched helplessly; antibiotics put an end to that.
>Today, there are an awful lot of people walking around alive and 
>healthy who had cancer that a few decades ago would have been terminal. ...
>Now the proposition that spending more money on health care today is 
>useless is a different one, and much more plausible; ...

You never say what claim it is that you think is "just silly."   If 
it is the claim in the subject line, that is not a claim that I ever 
made - Rafal Smigrodzki created that subject line.  As I keep 
repeating, the main claim that this thread has been discussing is as 
Hal Finney says " whether advances in health and longevity are 
largely due or are not due to medicine".   You may have heard many 
claims made about that topic over the years, but take an intro class 
in public health (or health econ, or health sociology) if you want to 
learn the non-doctor academic consensus on this subject.

I'm off to the Oxford conference, so I won't be posting again to this 
list until at least next Sunday.

Robin Hanson  rhanson at gmu.edu  http://hanson.gmu.edu
Associate Professor of Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444
703-993-2326  FAX: 703-993-2323 

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