[extropy-chat] Are vaccinations useless?

deimtee deimtee at optusnet.com.au
Sun Mar 19 02:40:18 UTC 2006

I have a conjecture :)

1/   As travel increased over the last few millenia people were exposed 
to new/different diseases.
2/   The rise in average lifespan is apparently due in large part to a 
reduction in infant and child mortality.
3/   Anything that kills a significant percentage of offspring in a K 
type species is going to be a strong evolutionary driver.

Which leads to -

The human species has over the last few centuries actually evolved to 
have a stronger immune system in childhood.

Other supporting evidence would include the apparent increase in 
allergies / auto-immune diseases - the system is still evolving and 
sometimes overshoots the optimum activity level.


Robin Hanson wrote:

>My conference is over, and I have read through this thread.
>I see that Hal's heroic efforts have convinced some people of my claim
>which this thread had been discussing, namely that medicine (as
>usually understood) is at best responsible for only a small fraction
>of the mortality reduction over the last few centuries.
>I have also made two other claims that were mentioned in the
>discussion.   I suppose many will remain skeptical about those claims
>unless Hal puts in more heroic efforts.
>First, I said that the evidence I have seen regarding the health
>value of sanitation and water supply is not encouraging about that
>explaining a big fraction of mortality reduction. And since it is hard
>to understand how nutrition could be driving current mortality
>reductions in rich countries, even though the rate of reduction has
>been steady for a century, I am led to a state of high uncertainty.
>But I should also say that I have only done a moderate amount of
>reading in this area.
>In contrast, I have done a lot more reading on the subject of my
>second claim, that the marginal health value of medicine seems
>near zero today, both in rich and poor countries.   This is also
>the consensus among health economists.  Now for a few selected
>Samantha Atkins wrote:
>>Why would I care about a non-medical consensus on the efficacy of  medicine?
>Why would you care about an evaluation of Chrysler cars that isn't
>done by Chrysler?
>At 03:12 AM 3/14/2006, BillK wrote:
>>... if you include the huge scale of medical fraud, worthless
>>treatments, unnecessary surgery, 'snake-oil' concoctions, useless
>>supplements, etc. etc., then Robin may have a point that 'overall'
>>there isn't much benefit. But I feel that including all this fraud is
>>a mistake. There are many medical treatments and operations with
>>obvious life-saving benefits. You just have to stay away from the
>>hucksters and conmen
>Most of those worthless treatments and unnecessary surgeries are
>recommended and performed by respected and credentialed doctors.   How
>are ordinary people supposed to distinguish them from the valuable
>Rafal Smigrodzki  wrote:
>>BTW, the Rand study he quotes is junk.
>The RAND study is the single most informative study we have about the
>overall (marginal) health value of medicine in rich nations today.  I know
>Rafal has complaints about it, but one can find imperfections in any
>study.  I challenge Rafal to point to another study he thinks is more
>informative.   We could then compare flaws.
>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 
>extropy-chat mailing list
>extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list