[extropy-chat] Are vaccinations useless?

Russell Wallace russell.wallace at gmail.com
Mon Mar 13 22:23:32 UTC 2006

On 3/13/06, Robin Hanson <rhanson at gmu.edu> wrote:
> 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".

Specifically, I'm claiming that the difference in health and longevity
between now and a couple of hundred years ago is primarily due to medicine
in the broad sense (including vaccines, antibiotics, disinfectants,
insecticides, hygiene and sanitation); the denial of this is what I'm
calling silly.

(Caveat: I'm talking about the First World; in the Second World, a case
could be made that people not being herded into gulags anymore makes a
bigger difference, and in the Third World the major advances in food
production came later than they did for us, so again that might have made a
bigger difference; I'm not familiar enough with the data to weigh the
relative effects there.)

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 have higher priority demands on my time, but I have actually read about
the history of the subject, not just what is claimed. If there's really an
academic consensus on the above denial, that says something pretty appalling
about academics. To repeat the analogy, this is literally on the level of
saying academics in astronomy and related fields have a consensus that the
Moon landings were a hoax.

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

Enjoy the conference!
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