Research, you’re doing it wrong: A look at Tenpenny’s “Vaccine Research Library”

meme research you keep using that word“I’ve done my research.” If you’ve ever debated someone who disagrees with a scientific  consensus, then you’ve probably encountered that sentence, especially if they were an anti-vaccer. It is the mantra of the anti-science movement, but it’s nearly always misused. You see, in science, doing research generally means conducting a scientific study and adding new information to the general body of scientific knowledge. Nevertheless, I don’t want to dwell on semantics, and I think that people should educate themselves; however, if you are going to educate yourself, then you have to read good sources (which in science means the peer-reviewed literature), and you can’t cherry-pick which papers to read and which papers to ignore. This is where our story turns to Sherri Tenpenny’s “Vaccine Research Library” (VRL).

The title sounds great, doesn’t it? A single library that houses all of the literature on vaccines would be a wonderful tool; however, the VRL does not contain all of the literature on vaccines. Instead, it only contains the papers that oppose vaccines. So, rather than being a legitimate research tool, it is actually the most glorious confirmation bias generator that I have ever encountered. I could not have asked for a more beautiful example of cherry-picking sources. Therefore, in this post I will not only explain why the VRL is a load of crap, but I will also use it as an illustration of how not to do research.

Note: Although they don’t house all of the literature on vaccines, you can find most studies on PubMed and Google Scholar. So use them if you want to actually be well-informed.

What is the purpose of the VRL?
I’m going to let Tenpenny answer this question for me, because her statements are better than anything I could write (I suggest that you don’t drink anything while reading this section because her justification for this website is honestly pretty funny).

Pro-vaccine information is as abundant and as easy to find as ice in Antarctica. But there is a large body of overlooked medical and scientific research that shows the other side – and chronicles the heartbreaking disasters and long-term health consequences caused by vaccines. The problem is that locating this information can be challenging, difficult to interpret and very time consuming to dig out.

On a different part of the site, she says,

In 2011, we realized how difficult – and time consuming – it is to find mainstream medical references documenting the harm being caused by vaccines. Finding these “needles in the haystack” is a tedious and time-consuming task.

Now, a rational person would think that maybe there is a scientific reason that pro-vaccine papers are so predominant, but that doesn’t stop Tenpenny from plowing forward. Further, she clearly contradicts herself. First, she says that there is a large body of anti-vaccine literature, then she goes on about how hard it is to find these papers, and she refers to them as “needles in the haystack.” So which is it? Are they abundant or aren’t they, and if this body of “overlooked” research is so large, then why is it hard to locate? Why do you have to dig it out? The vast majority of journals archive their abstracts in Google Scholar so if there is actually a large body of literature showing that vaccines are dangerous, then it should be easy to find those papers. The fact that it is difficult to find anti-vaccine publications actually demonstrates just how weak the anti-vaccine position truly is. So Tenpenny is really defeating her own argument.

Another section of the page says (the bold text and bizarre capitalization are in the original):

Convinced that Vaccines are Unsafe but Need Scientific Proof? You need information that gives you “The Other Side of the Story.”

Here we have the real problem. As I have frequently argued, anti-vaccers (and anti-scientists in general) have no interest in being well-informed. They don’t actually care about facts. Rather, they care about protecting their preconceptions. This “library” is not designed for people who actually want to learn about vaccines. Rather, it is intended for those who have already decided that vaccines are dangerous. Stephen Colbert brilliantly described this way of thinking when he coined the word “truthiness,“and it aptly describes the purpose of this website. It isn’t for people who want to carefully analyze the facts and evidence. Rather, it’s for people who know in their gut that vaccines are bad, and it is intended to bolster an existing belief rather than help people to evaluate evidence. Tenpenny makes this explicitly clear with statements like,

They want evidence to support what they intuitively know: The Party Line about vaccines is a charade, perpetuated to bolster profits and expand Big Pharma’s cartel.

Once again, it’s about cherry-picking evidence to support a belief rather than actually informing yourself about the topic. According to Tenpenny, however, her site will help to balance your knowledge.

Now, all in one place, is the irrefutable science you need to defend your position against vaccines. You will be able to prove your point, protect your health and that of your children, write balanced news stories, or support  legal cases.

Think about how absurd this is for a minute. First, she claims that reading a tiny subset of the literature will give you irrefutable evidence. Then, she claims that totally ignoring the majority of the literature will help you to write balanced news stories! It’s like me saying, “here is a paper proving that the earth is flat. It disproves all of the papers saying that the earth is round, and it will let you write a balanced news story on why the earth is actually flat.”

To conclude this section, I want to give and discuss one final quote from her site which I find particularly amusing (again the emphasis is in the original).

Concerned that reviewing all this information will be time consuming?  “Pre-search” takes the “grunt work” out of your research.

How much time do you spend on the Internet searching and researching…, searching and researching…, and searching and researching…..for reliable scientific facts about the problems associated with vaccines?Because browsers and web crawlers deliver a large number of results, it can take hours to troll through page after page…after page…after page of search results. Then clicking on link after link. Then skimming through reams of material to find a particular fact. What’s worse is the exasperation you feel when you come up empty-handed – after investing so much time, you didn’t find what you were looking for.

Now think about how much you are paid per hour in your Day Job. Take that dollar amount times the hundreds, even thousands, of hours you spend on the Internet, searching for information that can be frustratingly difficult to find.

The annual membership rate has been drastically reduced: A one year membership to the Library is worth thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of your time, you can have full access to thousands of references for only $9.98 per month (for quick research of a specific topic) or only $99 – for a full year!

Let me paraphrase this, “Are you tired of spending hours trying to find that one anecdote that supports your preconceptions? Is cherry-picking data taking up too much of your time? Are you annoyed with having to scroll past website after website that says you’re wrong? Well then I have a deal for you, because I’ve cherry-picked the internet for you! Now, for the low price of $100 per year, you can have all information that conforms to your distorted view of reality without having to be bothered with the thousands of studies that say you’re full of crap! Order now, and we’ll even include a free jar of cherries.”

Addendum (26-1-2016): Originally, there were two paragraphs here that questioned Tenpenny’s financial motives for making this site, but as someone pointed out in the comments, they were admittedly speculative, and I don’t really think that they are relevant to the point that I am trying to make, so I removed them.

What is in the VRL?
tennpenny anti-vaccine vaccine research library darth vader star warsAt this point, I think it is clear that the VRL is not motivated by an honest desire to be well-informed. Nevertheless, let’s look closer because regardless of the motivations for constructing this site, if Tenpenny actually found a large body of properly conducted studies showing that vaccines are dangerous, then we should take those studies seriously. I’m clearly not about to give Tenpenny one penny of my money, however, so I activated a free trial version of the VRL. This admittedly only gave me access to part of the library, but I see no reason to think that the rest of it would be substantially different.

Before I describe the contents of the library, I want to remind everyone that not all scientific studies are equal. Some designs produce very robust, reliable results, whereas others produce very weak, unreliable results. So you should always be careful to avoid the trap of latching onto a study just because it agrees with you. You have to carefully evaluate the study and look at the design that was used to determine whether or not the results are reliable (I explained the hierarchy of evidence in more detail here).

With that in mind, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that the vast majority of studies in the library rank very low on the hierarchy of evidence. For example, there are a large number of case reports. These are the lowest category on the hierarchy of evidence because they are basically just glorified anecdotes. If a doctor observes someone having a heart attack after receiving a vaccine, for example, they would write a case report on it, but that does not in any way shape or form prove that the vaccine caused the heart attack. It could be a total coincidence that the person had a heart attack after the vaccine. In fact, using anecdotes and case reports to draw causal conclusions is a logical fallacy known as post hoc ergo propter hoc. So, rather than proving that vaccines are dangerous, these case reports should (and are) used as the basis for starting large, robustly designed studies to actually test whether or not vaccines cause the reported symptoms, but you don’t see many of those large studies in the VRL because they tend not to fit anti-vaccers’ preconceptions.

Of the studies that did use robust designs, the sample sizes tended to be small, and many of them suffered serious methodological flaws, were published in questionable journals, etc. So rather than being a collection of studies that prove that vaccines are dangerous, the VRL is really a collection of the lowest quality, weakest studies on vaccines. To be clear, there are a few decent studies in the list, but many of those are misrepresented, and you always have to consider scientific papers within the broader context of the literature (more on that later).

What really amazed me about the contents of the VRL, however, was Tenpenny’s ability to cherry-pick within a study. For example, I was very surprised to see a review paper (Shepard et al. 2006) on Hepatitis B infections and vaccinations (remember, reviews are one of the highest levels of evidence). The presence of this paper confused me because it is overwhelmingly supportive of vaccines. Here is an excerpt from the abstract:

Vaccination against HBV infection can be started at birth and provides long-term protection against infection in more than 90% of healthy people. In the 1990s, many industrialized countries and a few less-developed countries implemented universal hepatitis B immunization and experienced measurable reductions in HBV-related disease…Further progress towards the elimination of HBV transmission will require sustainable vaccination programs with improved vaccination coverage, practical methods of measuring the impact of vaccination programs, and targeted vaccination efforts for communities at high risk of infection.

So why on earth is a paper that encourages increased vaccination efforts in the library that supposedly proves that vaccines are dangerous? It’s there because of three sentences.

The earliest recognition of the public health importance of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is thought to have occurred when it appeared as an adverse event associated with a vaccination campaignIn 1883 in Bremen, Germany, 15 percent of 1,289 shipyard workers inoculated with a smallpox vaccine made from human lymph fell ill with jaundice during the weeks following vaccination. The etiology of “serum hepatitis,” as it was known for many years, was not identified until the 1960s, and only following the subsequent development of laboratory markers for infection was its significance as a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide fully appreciated.

Before I talk about those sentences, I want to make something else clear about the VRL. Access to this library does not give you access to the papers themselves (despite the fact that her page about the VRL clearly implies that you get the full papers). Rather, you get abstracts and a brief blurb from Tenpenny where she has highlighted the “important” parts of the paper for you. In other words, she is cherry-picking within studies! She is actually encouraging people to not only pick and choose which studies to accept, but to actually pick and choose which sentences to accept. Her excerpt from the Shepard et al. study illustrates that perfectly (the emphasis was hers, btw). Out of an entire review that talks about the massive body of literature showing that the Hepatitis B vaccine is useful, she wants you to read just three sentences. In other words, this entire paper describes why she is full of crap, but she wants you to ignore that and focus on three sentences from the introduction instead. It’s the most absurd and outlandish level of cherry-picking that I have ever seen.

Further, why she thinks that these three sentences show that vaccines are dangerous is beyond me. My guess is that she is arguing that the vaccine was contaminated with Hep B, to which I respond, so what? It makes absolutely no sense to say, “the vaccine was contaminated in 1883, therefore it is dangerous now.” Medical technologies have come a long way since 1883. It’s like saying, “the earliest computers were massive and slow, therefore modern computers are no good.” It seems that Tenpenny is suggesting that we should ignore the massive body of evidence supporting the vaccine and focus instead on a mistake that was made (and corrected) decades ago.

Note: Someone is probably getting ready to accuse me of hypocrisy since I also highlighted just a few sentences from the paper, but before you do that, realize that I was simply using those sentences to show that the paper was pro-vaccine. I am not in any way shape or form suggesting that you use those sentences as evidence that the vaccine is safe. For that, you need to read the entire paper (not just the abstract) as well as the rest of the literature on the topic. Finally, unlike Tenpenny’s quote, mine was actually representative of the paper.

Why Tenpenny’s method doesn’t work
that's not how this works memeScience is a messy process, and reaching a firm conclusion generally involves lots of studies from numerous research groups. As a result, the body of literature on any given topic will contain lots of statistical noise. In other words, there will generally be lots of preliminary studies with small sample sizes or weak designs, and there will be multiple studies that reached the wrong conclusion just by chance. This is why whenever you are trying to learn about a scientific topic, you have to look at the entire body of literature, not just a few cherry-picked studies. There is so much researching being done, that there are lots of bad papers out there (sometimes at no fault of the authors), and you can find a paper to support almost any position that you can think of. There are, for example, still people who think that the earth is flat, and if you start with that assumption, you can find “evidence” and even a few scientific papers to support it (for example, Benard et al. 1904, which you can find an excerpt from here). This is why it is so important that you avoid the single study syndrome. Individual studies have a high probability of being wrong, but it is far less likely that a large body of studies is wrong.

outlier central trand anti-science meme

I’m not sure who created this image, so if it’s yours, please let me know so that I can give credit.

You should never latch onto a single study as irrefutable proof of your position, but that is exactly what Tenpenny is encouraging you to do. In her mind (and in the minds of anti-scientists more generally) all that you have to do to prove your position is find one study that agrees with you (or even one sentence). It doesn’t matter if the study was done correctly, it doesn’t matter what the sample size was, it doesn’t matter if the study used a robust design, it doesn’t matter if there are a thousand other studies that disagree with you. According to her way of thinking, finding that one study is all that you need, but that’s clearly not how science or logic actually works. Replication is one of the central tenets of science, and scientists only reach a consensus after a result has been replicated multiple times and supported by numerous studies. So Tenpenny is ignoring a fundamental principle of science. Further, what she is doing is actually a logical fallacy known as the Texas sharpshooter fallacy. This fallacy occurs whenever you focus on the subset of data that appears to support your position, while ignoring a much larger body of data that refutes your position.

Additionally, she is ignoring a fundamental principle of rational thought: you always have to start with an unbiased question. It’s fine to ask a question like, “are vaccines safe?” then look for answers to that question, but Tennpenny and her followers are starting with the assumption that they are dangerous, then looking for evidence to support that assumption. The problem is that if you do that, if you start with a conclusion, then you will always find something which supports that conclusion (at least in your mind).

Now, invariably some anti-vaccer reading this is going to say, “you’re committing a hasty generalization fallacy. Not all anti-vaccers are like that. I actually have looked at both sides and become well-informed.” In which case, my response is, why do you reject the thousands of papers that clearly demonstrate that vaccines are safe and effective? I’m guessing that it’s either because you have read a few faulty, low quality studies and are choosing to rigidly cling to them (in which case you are doing exactly what Tenpenny is) or you are blindly rejecting them for one of the flawed reasons that I described here. To put this another way, where’s your evidence? If your position is actually based on an unbiased review of the data, then surely you can provide me with a large body of high quality, properly controlled, robustly designed studies that have been replicated by other research groups which show that vaccines are dangerous and which provide a valid explanation for why thousands of other studies disagree with them. Unless you can do that, then you are succumbing to the same confirmation bias as Tenpenny, and you are picking and choosing what evidence to accept (no, the vaccine inserts, VAERS, and NVICP do not count as evidence that vaccines are dangerous, see the links for details).

In this post, I have been focusing specifically on Tenpenny and the anti-vaccers who follow her, but everything that I have been talking about is widely applicable to everyone. We are all prone to confirmation biases (myself included). It’s ingrained in our psychology to latch onto evidence that supports our views and disregard evidence that doesn’t. The key, therefore, is to acknowledged that tendency and strive to overcome it. If we are going to actually be well informed on any topic, then we must ensure that we are not simply succumbing to confirmation biases. We have to look at the entire body of evidence, not just the subset that conforms to our preconceptions. That’s why I find the VRL so infuriating. Rather than helping people to become truly open-minded, it insists that people should close their minds to any evidence that supports vaccines, and it openly encourages people to adhere to confirmation biases. It equates gut feelings with actual evidence, and it encourages people to seek out “proof” for their views rather than testing whether or not those views are actually justified. This, in my opinion, is the worst form of pseudoscience and pseudoskepticism, because it doesn’t just mislead people about the evidence. Rather, it misleads them about the way to evaluate the evidence. If you want to truly understand our marvelous universe, then you must train yourself to recognize and avoid this false skepticism, and you must always accept the possibility that you might be wrong. So to any anti-vaccers reading this, I’m not trying to attack you, and I don’t think that you’re stupid, but you have been seriously mislead and misinformed about the evidence and how to evaluate that evidence. You need to learn to recognize confirmation biases and you have to consider the entire body of evidence, not just the pieces of evidence that support your view.

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14 Responses to Research, you’re doing it wrong: A look at Tenpenny’s “Vaccine Research Library”

  1. datadroid says:

    There are a couple typos in this (otherwise well-written) article:

    The first sentence of second paragraph after the Death Star meme says “Before I describe the contents of the library, I want to remind everyone that not all scientific studies are equally.”

    I think this should say “equally robust.” or “equally valid” or something.

    The paragraph after the “outlier” meme has a sentence that reads “Replication is one of the central tenants of science”. “Tenants” should be “tenets”.

    This isn’t a typo, but you may want to reconsider this statement: “Further, let’s say that only 1,000 anti-vaccers ever take the one year subscription (I think that is an extremely low estimate).” We really don’t have any subscription data, high or low. Just because something is for sale, there’s no guarantee anyone will actually buy it.


  2. What a great and well written post. Makes my heart swell to see someone talking in a clear and compelling way about how to evaluate scientific evidence. It’s also completely and utterly hilarious to read what Tenpenny says and does with ‘evidence’. Wow. This post is both pure entertainment and a demonstration of scientific thinking in perfect synergy. Thanks!


  3. Talk a about calling the kettle black, this is one seriously biased and uninformed article against the work of Dr. Tenpenny.
    Let’s apply your logic to another situation:
    The first premise is that all current science theories will eventually be proven out to be true, which is false from the very start.
    At one time, “scientists” some very smart guys all believed that the Earth was flat, all the documentation written was with that theory in mind. Had they written 10,000 articles, papers, blogs, tv shows, radio shows and Scientific American articles, when another “scientist” questioned the existing theory and published the first article, it would NOT have changed what the truth eventually was proven to be. 1 article against 10,000 WOULD be the needle in the haystack and WOULD have been very hard to find.
    Truths typically go through 3 stages: First: they are generally ignored; Second: they are violently opposed and ridiculed; Third: eventually they are accepted as self-evident and we wondered why they were ever even doubted.
    This article is in stage 2, opposed and ridiculed.
    She’s correct, there are hundreds of thousands of articles, papers, and studies proclaiming the trustworthiness of vaccines and how safe they are. And while there are several thousand trials, studies, and cases of injured people who have been awarded monetary damages due to vaccine related injuries and deaths, those so called outliers are not single point conclusions, but in fact replicated often times from independent and unrelated studies and trials.
    If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail! The western/traditional/conventional medical trained modalities are two fold, the first is to treat an ailment or illness with chemicals which are called drugs, the second is surgery to attempt to repair, remove, or replace something in or on the human body.
    Case in point, Dr. Frederick Klenner MD during the 1948-49 outbreak of poliomyletis (polio), 60 cases came into his office and ALL 60 left his office fully cured with NO permanent paralysis. That is a100% cure rate utilizing mega-dosing Sodium Ascorbate to bolster the immune system to fight and defeat the poliomyletis virus. This was 6 years before the first polio vaccine was produced. Was that an outlier? Hardly, a doctor in Germany used the same protocols that Dr. Klenner did with the exact same results? Duplicatable is a condition of science to confirm a theory into proven science, case closed. However, when Dr. Klenner presented this protocol to a Medical convention, it literally fell on deaf ears and was not even looked at? I’m not going to speculate as to why, its just a fact that it was. Doesn’t change the results one bit.
    Dr. Linus Pauling PhD, winner of two individual Nobel Prizes, grandfather of modern chemistry and one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century, was then duped into believing that mega-dosing nutritional therapies was somehow better than all the antibiotics, drugs, and surgeries available to humankind. He was ridiculed, but now, some 20+ years later, he is slowly being vindicated that his research was solid science, even though reputable organizations such as Mayo Clinic did “clinical” trials that disproved his “theories”. But when the Mayo Clinic trial information was looked at deeper that “proved” Dr. Pauling’s finding were erroneous, it was found that the study was set up to fail and that the levels of Vitamin C used was of such a low amount, it was no wonder their results were shown to be what they wanted. Now trials are showing that if a person takes, 2,000 mg to 5,000 mg of Vitamin C per day when a cold starts that it will shorten that cold by a significant amount of time. So you could have 4 million studies that prove that it doesn’t and 2 that it does, will not change the truth, that when ample amounts of Vitamin C are taken, it will strengthen a person’s immune system to the point of fighting and defeating many if not all viral and bacterial infections.
    So before passing judgement, go spend $10 and read as much stuff on her site as you can and then go about your disproving each and every point that she makes from her library with studies NOT done by conflict of interest universities, internal medically biased hospitals, or pharmaceutical companies.
    BTW, “observational” studies are quoted all the time by “science” and “medical” people, if they are valid for them, they are certainly equally as valid for anti-vaxers, alternative and complimentary medical people as well. You DON’T get to have it just one way.


    • Fallacy Man says:

      Let me ask if a simple question. Let’s say that you want to know if quarters (i.e., the US coin) are biased. So, you take 4 million people, give each of them a quarter, and ask them to flip it 10 times. Out of all 4 million, most land very close to 5 heads and 5 tails, but 2 of them land on heads all 10 times. Do you conclude that quarters are actually biased or do you conclude that those two coins were just outliers that landed on heads by chance, and quarters actually aren’t biased? In other words, should we trust the 3,999,998 coins that said quarters aren’t biased, or should we trust the 2 that disagreed?

      Also, here are a few other key points. You said, “The first premise is that all current science theories will eventually be proven out to be true, which is false from the very start.”
      This is completely incorrect. Science never actually proves anything; it only shows what is most likely true given the current data. Also, theories are the highest level of scientific truth. They are already as close to “proof” as science ever comes.

      Second, much of your post rests on the “scientists have been wrong in the past” argument which is fundamentally flawed for numerous reasons which I explained here

      Third, yes, many case reports about adverse effects exist, but as I explained, they are very weak evidence and must be rejected if when they fail actual testing. I explained the levels of scientific evidence in more detail here

      Fourth, yes scientists do use case reports, but they use them in the context of the literature. Real scientists don’t make claims like, “20 controlled studies have found Y, but this case report says X, so Y must be false.”


      • The coin toss is a fallacious argument. Primarily because there can’t be any outside influence on the outcome unless the coin has been tampered with, apples to oranges as related to our discussion.
        By your definition I’m probably classified an “anti-science” guy, but disagreeing with one highly suspect possibly tampered with “double-blind clinical trials” studies does not mean I’m anti-science, for I fully do believe in science but also believe given enough incentive, i.e. profits, that studies can be skewed to yield JUST the results that the researchers want.
        That would be the results of the Mayo Clinics “scientific study” that disproved Dr. Linus Pauling’s findings that sufficient amounts of Vitamin C taken orally daily would or could prevent the common cold or the flu or reduce its duration. Mayo Clinic did in fact hold a double blind study, one of the most prestigious medical organizations in America, conducting one of the most highly recognized types of studies, the double blind highly controlled clinical trial study, and in fact concluded that the additional use of Vitamin C had “no discernible decrease in the duration of the common cold”.
        When questioned about the study, it was revealed that the subjects were given just 500 mg of Vitamin C per day after the onset of a cold. What they did prove was that too little Vitamin C did not have any discernible decrease in the duration of the common cold, exactly what Drs. Klenner, Pauling, Cathcart, Stone, Saul, Levy, Hoffer, Collins, Wright, Hunninghake, and more than a thousand other medical practitioners have said all along. What was not proven was that Vitamin C taken at the recommended dosages from most if not all doctors listed above use, that the results would have been much much different.
        Another case in point, Ebola treatments. Other than “supportive care” making a patient comfortable and hydrating them with fluids typically via an IV, there are no known treatments or cures. The “no known treatments or cures” is a false statement unless you limit the modalities with which to treat Ebola infected patients.
        Using “science”, there are some hard facts that we must start with. First, EVERY known viral infection, when attacked by the body’s immune system, will by the very design of the system use up certain chemicals and nutrients. The primary chemical that is seen to be used up at a phenomenal rate is Vitamin C. This happens in 100% of the viral infection cases, period. Its an indisputable fact, science. Right? So is there ANY science out there that will conclude that the Ebola “virus” should have any significantly DIFFERENT result other than reducing the levels of Vitamin C, scientifically, the answer MUST be no.
        Is there evidence to support this claim? Yes. Ebola followed to its ultimate end causing death is from what is called Hemorrhagic Fever, in which case the patient essentially bleeds to death, both internally as well as externally.
        Hemorrhagic Fever and Scurvy are in fact one in the same. The only difference is that one happens over a series of months, while the other is in an accelerated condition and results are seen in a matter of just mere days. From a scientific standpoint, is there any way to reach the conclusion that Hemorrhagic Fever is NOT the result of the complete depletion of Vitamin C in the human body? The answer has to be an emphatic NO!
        How was scurvy cured? Antibiotics? No! Vaccinations? No! Exercise? No! Limes? Yes!!!
        Later it was discovered that Limes contained enough Vitamin C that when given to sailors who were at sea for months at a time could avoid the horrific death of scurvy, simply by eating a lime or two a day.
        All the existing science in the world can not dispute that essentially those that die from the Ebola virus infection were simply depleted of Vitamin C, hence, given 10s of thousands of milligrams of Vitamin C, more than likely would have brought about a quick nearly miraculous recovery, proving that there was in fact a treatment and a cure.
        Unfortunately, those with “alternative” or “complimentary” medical practicing modalities were prohibited from going into the “Hot Zones” to treat patients. What were “they” afraid of? There is absolutely NO downside to adding 25,000 mg of Sodium Ascorbate to the existing IV given to these people for their “comfort” unless there was something to be feared. How embarrassing would that be that a major pandemic of one of the most virulent viruses known to man, was snubbed out by simply giving patients a simple nutrient, Vitamin C, in substantial enough levels to cure them! See Dr. Thomas Levy’s article a full year before Ebola was in full swing:
        All I’m saying here is that true science looks at ALL the facts, that they come at problems with an open mind regardless of how much data perhaps precedes some new idea or take on a problem.
        And in reference to scientists validating scientist’s hypotheses or even theories, that does not mean that a new idea could not come from some kid without a degree sitting on his bed in his dorm, that he couldn’t have a revelation that when a scientist started the process that it could eventually unseat a very entrenched theory.
        Even science says that you MUST at least look at the information Dr. Sherri Tenpenny has acquired and do an honest scientific evaluation to see if any of it has any merit.
        Keep an open mind, who knows what we will come to understand over the next 10, 20, or 30 years if ALL ideas are weighed equally and without bias.
        bit dot ly / out-ahead are some of my ideas.


        • Fallacy Man says:

          You’re completely misunderstanding the point of the coin example. Scientific tests are based on probabilities, and just like the coin example, you get false results just by chance. Let’s say, for example, that I took a massive box of sugar cubes and randomly divide them into two groups (group 1 and 2). I then did 100 studies on the effects of those cubes on symptom X. In each study, I gave half the people cubes from group 1 and half the people cubes from group 2. Just by chance, several of the studies would find that one group was significantly better than the other at treating X even though both groups were just sugar cubes. This happens in real studies as well. Sometimes you get false results by chance, which is why you can’t cherry pick your studies. Anytime that a topic has been studied multiple times, you will have a few incorrect papers. I explained the math in more detail here

          I’m not going to get dragged down the rabbit hole of debating specific pseudoscience topics with you because debating science with someone who does not follow the standards of science is pointless. For example, there have been multiple studies that used large doses of vitamin C and failed to find a significant result, you can find a good summary of the research and citations here Also, in your previous comment, you openly admitted that you will reject studies that disagree with you (even if there are 4 million of them an only 2 that support you). That is the exact opposite of being open minded.
          You can convince me of anything if you have proper scientific evidence for it, but I will not be convinced until you have that evidence. That is what it actually means to be open minded. Also, the more extraordinary claim, the more extraordinary the evidence required. A claim like, “Ebola can be cured by vitamin C” is an outrageous claim that would require extraordinary evidence, which you haven’t provided.

          Also, you are seriously misguided about numerous facts. For example, Ebola is extremely different from scurvy. Scurvy is caused by a lack of vitamin C, whereas Ebola is caused by a virus that attacks your body. What you have done here is actually a logical fallacy known as affirming the consequent. You are claiming the following
          1). A lack of vitamin C causes a hemorrhagic disease (scurvy)
          2). Ebola is a hemorrhagic disease
          3). Therefore, vitamin C can cure Ebola
          That does not make logical sense. The fact that both ebola and scurvy are both hemorrhagic disease does not in anyway shape or form mean that they are the same disease or that they can be cured by the same treatment. There are tons of differences between them other than timing. You are jumping to invalid conclusions that are not supported by evidence. That’s not being open minded, that’s being gullible.

          Finally, and most importantly, you seem to be under the delusion that all ideas are equally valid. Let’s say, for example, that I came to you and said, “The Big Bang theory is wrong. The universe was actually created when a giant unicorn took a dump, and you should take that position seriously because ALL ideas should be weighed equally and without bias. True science looks at ALL the facts. We should come at problems with an open mind regardless of how much data perhaps precedes some new idea or take on a problem.” That would clearly be absurd.

          In other words, not all ideas are equal, and therefore they should not be treated equally. When an idea flies in the face of countless studies, it should not be taken seriously unless there is new and compelling evidence to suggest that the previous studies were wrong.

          To put this one final way, all ideas should be treated as equal until there is evidence to say that they aren’t equal. So, when 100 studies say X and one says Y, X and Y are no longer equal.


          • Here’s what will convince me that I am wrong.
            That my personal experience of using the protocols from Klenner, Pauling, Hoffer, and Saul let me down and didn’t accelerate my recovery from the flu while all those around me were sick for an extended period of time.
            What do we do with personal experience? Invalidate it because its “not science”, that will never even sound right if you say it out loud. In 2012, it was a particularly bad flu season. I don’t get the flu shot ever, the shop I worked in at the time, everyone, and I mean everyone, got the flu all of us in one afternoon. I went home, took colloidal silver and 5,000 mg of Vitamin C and went to bed. 12 hours later I got up with no symptoms, feeling fine. Went to the shop to find out that no one else was there and proceeded to visit a few of them at their homes to see how they were doing. They were even sicker than the previous afternoon. For the record, it was 2 full weeks before any of them returned to the shop to work. What was the reason for different results between myself and them. The control was that I took what I believe to be protocols that would strengthen my immune system to accelerate recovery, which happened just as I had expected and thousands of doctors practice with their own patients seeing the same results. Do I HAVE to chalk that up to the placebo effect? Science would say that recovery THAT much quicker would have to be the result of something other than just positive thinking and placebos.
            That was essentially the duplication of the 2005 California flu, where those that did not use these protocols were sick for 8-10 weeks, while I was sick for just 7 days.
            So all your studies in the world will be hard pressed to convince me that what I am doing is wrong.
            Next, that if the NIH were to conduct double blind clinical highly controlled studies in conjunction with Saul, Mercola, Levy, or Hunninghake, NOT some predetermined outcome staged trial to prove those guys ARE wrong like the previously stated Mayo Clinic trial.
            I have 2 scenarios which I’d like to hear from you why we should completely ignore these results or if science was truly followed why there wouldn’t or shouldn’t be further research and testing.
            First, Dr. Klenner’s 100% successful treatment in 1948-49 of 60 polio cases. He meticulously documented each of these cases with specifics to stage of infection, level of paralysis, etc.
            Second, Why is Autism at a 0 rate among the Amish?
            While these may be outliers, they MUST be investigated or otherwise, the medical community has broken even their own rules of science. Simply saying they hold or carry no weight is NOT science, its ignorance and being closed minded.
            Is your position that vaccines are 100% safe and never cause injury or death?
            BTW, my understanding that Ebola IS a virus does NOT change the fact that viral infections can and do reduce and if severe enough deplete Vitamin C levels in the body. If you deplete Vitamin C levels in the body, the result is always exactly the same, regardless of whether it is virus related over the course of just a few days or simply not replenished over several months. If you don’t understand that, then you need to do a bit more research yourself, those are the facts and not you nor any scientist nor PhD can change them.
            We’ve proven them, can you disprove them and no its not proving a negative.
            The reports of Vitamin C levels among surviving Ebola patients vs the levels of those that are deceased would prove we are wrong. Be my guest.
            With no downside to adding 10,000 mg or even 25,000 mg of Sodium Ascorbate to an IV, what could possibly be the harm? Other than embarrassment.


            • Fallacy Man says:

              Well since you’ve basically just admitted that nothing will ever convince you that you are wrong, there is clearly no point in continuing this conversation. You say that you would need evidence that your personal anecdotes are wrong, but you refuse to accept any studies that say that they are wrong, which means that you are simply refusing to accept any evidence which says that you are wrong. In other words, the studies are the evidence that your anecdotes are flawed. Again, that this is the exact opposite of being open minded. You are saying, “I am 100% sure that my personal anecdotes are correct, and no amount of studies will convince me otherwise.” That is as close-minded as you could possibly be.

              I explained at length why using personal anecdotes in the way that you are using them is invalid here (not that I expect it to convince you, but you are committing a logical fallacy whether you want to believe it or not).

              Once again, I agree with you that potential outliers should be investigated, but you are insisting that we believe the outliers in spite of investigation. You brought up autism which is a great example of this. The idea that vaccines cause autism has been investigated over and over again, including studies with enormous sample sizes like over 1.2 million children, and they have constantly found that vaccines don’t cause autism. Anecdotes and outliers should be the starting point of further investigation, not the conclusion. You are latching onto the anecdotes, outliers, case-reports, etc. and ignoring the actual studies. Again, that is the exact opposite of being open minded.

              You are also making absurd leaps of pseudo-logic. For example, I never said that all vaccines are safe 100% of the time. Nothing is safe 100% of the time (even water and vitamin C), but overall, they are extremely safe and the benefits far outweigh the costs. Similarly, you are making this bizarre leap from “viral infections deplete vitamin C” to “therefore it is a lack of vitamin C that kills you.” That’s a ridiculous conclusion. Viral infections cause numerous physiological changes, and there is absolutely no reason to latch onto that one as the one that kills you. Orac explained the problems with a bunch of your other claims here

              Given that you are clearly not going to accept any evidence which is contrary to your views, this conversation is utterly pointless and I won’t be wasting any more time on it. Fare well.


              • Apparently the only conclusion left is that Drs Klenner, Pauling, Cathcart, Saul, Levy, and myself are plain and simple liars. Some of the greatest minds have been utterly and completely duped even though they have personally witnessed near miraculous recoveries. And you can’t explain the Alan Smith New Zealander who recovered from Swine Flu in 2009, and the ridiculous idea that a bus passing by or that they turned him on his side that healed him just shows to what level those that do NOT want mega-dosing Vitamin C to be a viable alternative to western/traditional/conventional medicine will go to discredit it. We all had personal experiences that while anecdotal, do give some legitimacy to our own beliefs and continued support of the use of mega-dosing Vitamin C in spite of how many possibly biased studies that suppress the successful treatments to tens of thousands of patients.
                Based on your last post, would you recommend I abandon taking Vitamin C in significant levels because there are none of your clinical studies that support it will help me? Is that what I and the rest of us morons who believe it is doing some good should do?
                Just as you did not appreciate me suggesting that you believed vaccines are 100% safe, those of us who believe in the use of Orthomolecular medicine and specifically the use of mega-dosing Vitamin C do not appreciate being called quacks, liars, idiots, or simpletons. What do you care? Its America and its called free speech. You have the freedom to propagate your beliefs and we have the same freedom. The only difference is that our beliefs and practices have no known side-effects or downsides or deaths from mega-dosing Vitamin C, whereas vaccinations (albeit minimal) have caused death and paralysis. Maybe they could be used in conjunction? Heaven forbid!
                Pro-vaccine people seem to be less tolerant of us who don’t want to get them and are getting legislation passed to “force” even those with personal or religious reasons to be vaccinated, whereas “anti-vaxers” simply want the choice to get them or not for themselves and their families, they are not out trying to force no one to get them, but are choosing to try to get what they consider valuable information out to everyone to perhaps help them make an more informed decision about getting them. Are they NOT free to do so? And please don’t use the “herd immunity” argument, I’ve done the formulations and anti-vaxers come no where close to exceeding those numbers as to violate the herd immunity valuations.


        • Fallacy Man says:

          Also, I should note that I did actually say that we should look at the anti-vaccine papers, but we have to consider them in the context of the broader literature, and that is what you and Tenpenny are both failing to do. You are saying, “see this paper found that vaccines are dangerous” and ignoring the fact that 100 other papers found the opposite result. For all your talk of being open minded and looking at “ALL” of the facts, you’re doing the opposite.


          • We’re not saying that the other papers don’t exist or have no truth in them, what we are saying is that there just may be valuable information that could help people learn that there is another side of the vaccination story.
            Please stop trying to state what we think or believe, we seem to be more open minded about the whole vaccination debate, at least we are looking at both sides and aren’t resorting to name calling. Time will eventually tell who was right.


        • Fallacy Man says:

          At this point, it is pretty obvious that you and I could go back and forth for an eternity and never get anywhere, and I just don’t have time for that. So let me just ask you one simple question that will determine whether or not this conversation is worth having. What would it take to convince you that you are wrong? For vitamin C curing colds, for example, you admitted that even if 4 million studies said that vitamin C doesn’t cure colds, and only 2 said it does, you would believe the two and reject the 4 million. So given that position, what could possibly convince you that you are wrong? Similarly, you latch onto Tenpenny’s collection of low quality studies and case reports, while rejecting the much, much larger body of RCTs, case control studies, cohort studies, etc. which show that they are safe. To put this another way, you preach open mindedness and treating all ideas fairly, yet you are saying, “I will never be convinced no matter how many studies say that I am wrong.”

          I can tell you exactly what it would take to convince me that I am wrong: large, properly controlled, blind studies that have been replicated by several research groups. Case reports, anecdotes, speculation, non-peer-reviewed books, etc. aren’t convincing. Show me the properly controlled studies that have found that vitamin C effectively treats colds, for example, and I will admit that I am wrong. That’s not being close-minded, that’s being skeptical. It’s demanding evidence before accepting a position. What you are doing, is accepting a position based on weak and insufficient evidence, then ignoring all studies to the contrary. That is the exact opposite of being open minded.

          So I ask you again, what would it take to convince you that you are wrong?


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