A counter to one of Tom’s antivax posts

[ 28/Jan/21 Tom posted against polio virus]

The action of this virus is fairly well understood.

You are becoming a danger to those you love Tom.

Wake UP !

[followed by …” If you look at your own health history, you will see it was your interventions that cost you your health”…]


Without antibiotics and vaccines I would most probably have died in childhood. Certainly without antibiotics I would have died at 12, and at 17.

Certainly, the economic incentives to make profit have resulted in the hiding of evidence, and the pollution of the environment at many levels.

Certainly one can find instances of such behaviour in any domain one looks, every industry sector, all institutions, politics, education, religions, ……

And via testing and evaluation of evidence, personally, we can build confidence in the use of sets of understandings in sets of contexts.

Understanding the evolutionary process of life on earth gives a framework in which viruses are a necessary aspect, as are immune systems at all levels. Same sets of systems and principles apply to the evolution of cultures and individuals (you and me and everyone else). It is seriously complex.

[Followed by Tom presented two graphs

The graphs are perfectly sensible to me – but as you have explicitly stated that you are not interested in Big Bang, evolution or “exteriorist assumption” then there really is no point in presenting you with evidence, as you have already explicitly stated you are not interested in evidence that contradicts your understanding.

I give up.

It is a real shame to see such a potentially talented person as yourself disappearing down such a socially destructive path.

[Tom replied – “Explain the graphs and stop dissembling.”]

The graphs are simple.

The first one shows that medical technology was progressing, and death rates were dropping far quicker than infections rates (person hygiene helps reduce infection rates but wasn’t improving as fast as medical tech).

The introduction of the vaccine caused a major drop in infections (but because a single dose didn’t deliver lasting immunity, and because not everyone was vaccinated, the virus survived at low levels). It virtually disappeared after the booster shot was introduced.

What is so difficult to see about that.

[followed by 30 Jan 21 …” Either way, so much for vaccines actually doing anything regarding death, right? That is the essential point but you so conveniently evade.”]

The major issue with measles was never death from measles, that was always rare, and by the 60s with the medical tech then available very rare indeed.

The major issue with measles was that it reset the immune system of those who caught it, making them again vulnerable to all the illnesses that they had previously survived and built some level of immunity to.

This lead to a lot of down time, and a huge social and medical cost. I certainly had personal experience of that.

It was never just about the risk of death from measles.

It was always vastly more complex and nuanced than that.

[Tom also asked – “OK, so that’s the one graph. Now explain the other.”https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10158507413060589&set=p.10158507413060589&type=3&cft[0]=AZWSKZCOADjgjsZuMB8Z01nH0G5F00pasf6XhpMpfSRz3zviSMF9JC3OSGZFYsc06VH66eCoQO-HNWILIQMo-QdwqjvIANwl3kcoShprTpwGEPLt4d2jMQEMUycHx-jJlUw&tn=R]-R]


The second image needs no more explanation than already given.

Deaths from measles was always quite rare – even at the peak of 1916 less than 500/million (less than one in 2000). The graph overlays two scales.

The total infant mortality is in deaths per 2,000. So measles deaths even at peak was a tiny portion of total deaths – measured directly as deaths from measles.

The total deaths with an involvement from measles in non infants was probably much higher, as many people did and do die form complications of infections of diseases that they get for a second or third time as a result of having got measles in between.

I simply do not understand what implication you are taking from those graphs as you have not explicitly stated it.

I see nothing there that I find unexpected – given my knowledge set and sets of interpretive schema.

[Tom replied “more Ted dissembling”]



I have no idea what it is that you see in that graph that appears to indicate something significant to you.

You need to tell me that, so that I have some clue as to what schema you are applying, and what it is you expect from me in terms of communication.

I do not see any implications in that graph that indicate to me a serious problems.

I didn’t die from measles, but I did spend many weeks of my life in bed disabled, with intense headaches, unable to think effectively, because of them, prior to getting vaccinated. After each measles infection I caught other diseases with low probability of death, but also requiring fever and bed rest to recover, and I have not had a sick day as a result of measles (or its implications of loss of immunity to other things) since being vaccinated (some 50 years ago).

Not every cost is one involving death.

If you tell me explicitly what you think that graph means and explicitly tell me what it is about the evidence set that you think supports a particular interpretation, then I can consider that, and give you an explicit considered response at that level.

I know that I often point to multiple levels of evidence in what I write without being explicit, and that is because I often have multiple levels of evidence and schema, and often there is no agreed labels or words for the schema I use (because I have never had a conversation with anyone else that indicate that they were using precisely what I use). An example of that was a conversation I had with Richard Dawkins on 15 May 2018, in which it became clear to me that Richard had no idea at all about the strategic understanding of the emergence of complexity that I took from reading the evidence sets in his book “The Selfish Gene” when I first read it in 1978.

I have read everything Richard has published over the years, and find them all interesting; and at the same time I am clear that he simply lacks the abstract conceptual framework to make the abstract conclusions that were immediately obvious to me on reading his books. It is hard for me to imagine how someone could assemble such evidence sets, yet be blind to their necessary implications – yet I see it happen at multiple levels in multiple contexts with many very intelligent individuals.

In part, what that has taught me, is that it is impossible to teach another person an abstract notion. Everyone has to discover each level of abstraction for themselves. By the time one is considering abstractions about abstractions about abstractions, then being confident about what someone else is saying or pointing to becomes very difficult. When one gets past 10 levels of such things confidence about communication drops to near random.

One can assemble sets of evidence and contexts in which the probability of such abstractions increases, and there can be no guarantees. In a sense, that is what Landmark Education does, but most of the people in the organisation seem unaware of it, and have an entirely different interpretive schema about what is going on (same seems to be the case in most disciplines – educational, religious, political, ….).

The search tree I have of possible interpretations (and levels of interpretations) is vast, and without a lot of clues, I have no way to localise to any particular interpretation about the question being considered or the interpretation taken of the evidence presented.

What level of indirection is implied in the pointers used?

What depth of meaning and interpretation is being hinted at?

Help me – Please !

[Tom replied about Dawkins …””…]

For me, he had seen a small part of the picture, but failed to grasp the deeper systemic implications.
All complexity is based on new levels of cooperation.
All cooperation demands levels of cheat detection strategies in order to survive.
That often leads to deep levels of complexity and relatedness that are open to many levels of over simplification; lead to serious pathologies in multiple levels of systems, thinking, and behaviour.

[Tom replied …”I am hard pressed to think our evolutionary history would leave us so dependent on any form of immune intervention as to be effectively a broken, substandard operational system.”]

Hi Tom
You wrote “I am hard pressed to think our evolutionary history would leave us so dependent on any form of immune intervention as to be effectively a broken, substandard operational system.”

Which to me shows a failure to adequately comprehend both what evolution is doing, and what immune systems are doing.

In broad terms, what I see happening in evolution is essential aspects of random search through possibility spaces.

Viruses use aspects of random mutation in areas of their genome to essentially “search” the space of possible “infection pathways”, and our immune systems used a much more refined form of directed random mutation over a very small subset of our genome to search the spaces of both patterns of invading protein structures, and strategies of invasion.

When viewed in this fashion, immune systems cannot possibly be “perfect” as they are of necessity searching infinite and unknowable domain spaces. And they can be a very close approximation to optimal in some contexts. And that gets very complex as to what approximates optimality, and exactly what the rate limiting factors to response are in any particular individual in any particular context. And it seems clear to me from my investigations that in most people, most of the time, it is vitamin C that is the rate limiting factor in immune system response.

And when viewed in this fashion, vaccines can be a very useful tool, as they allow the immune system to find and develop an effective identifier for an invader (like measles) without subjecting the body the the full suite of damages possible from a live virus attack. Once such identification is made, then the immune system is able to mount an effective response to very low levels of invasion in the future, and prevent the expression of any noticeable form of symptoms. This is the definition of an effective immune system – operating effectively.

In this sense, I fail to see any fundamental objection to the use of vaccines.

Certainly, there are many levels of potential issues with all the various sets of technologies used in making, storing and delivering a vaccine, so there are lots of things that need to be done well to lower those risks from these aspects of the technology.

[Tom replied – “All verifiable with an easily manipulable PCR test! I’m not so naive to think there exists no or little choreograph regarding this “virus.””… and “Isn’t it summer now in New Zealand? Where oh where did those flu symptoms go??”]


It is summer now, and we had no virus in winter.

New Zealand is a small enough place that most everyone interested in any subject has over a reasonable life span met most of the others interested in that subject.

It is very difficult to actually keep a conspiracy quiet, particularly in the public service (and most of our testing is done through the public service).

So, in a sense, it is always possible to mount a conspiracy, but to mount one of that magnitude in this country, would be very difficult indeed.

I have not entirely dismissed the possibility of a grand conspiracy, and it does seem to be very low probability, based upon the evidence sets I have at this time, from the people I have reliable trust networks with in this country.

The possibility of pandemic has always been with us. On the scale of possible pandemics, this is about as mild as it gets.

If we got a really dangerous pandemic, then the only effective strategy is immediate and full isolation, until an effective mitigation strategy is available (probably vaccine, at least until people generally are carrying personal medical nanotechnology in their blood streams, and that technology is still more than a decade away).

That is never going to go away.

At some level, and for some time, isolation is always the most effective mitigation strategy possible – it breaks the infection cycle.

[2 Feb 2021 – to another post of Toms written while I was writing the above]

In respect of polarity and individual vs population, I am a qualified yes.

Yes, certainly, that is a useful approximation in many contexts, and the reality seems to be far more complex and dimensional that a simple “polar” analogy implies. Thus the idea of polarity is to me useful, but not any sort of “Truth”.

And in so far as science is an eternal journey of the exploration of complexity then our explanations tend to become “less wrong” over time, without necessarily ever attaining the title of “Truth”.

In this respect, I dislike the very notion of “Truth” as it seems to embody a disrespect for the complexity that seems, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt in my mind, to actually constitute this reality we find ourselves embedded in.

We seem to be of a sufficient order of complexity, that should we live the rest of eternity, learning continuously, we would still be finding aspects of what we are that would be surprising, and would retain some essential elements of ignorance as to our own being at some levels. That to me just seems to be logical necessity, once one actually starts exploring at sufficient depth.

So yes – polarity can be an extremely useful notion in some contexts, as a simplification, and it does not seem to me to be any sort of “Truth”. Much of reality seems to me to be far more complex than that – and it is certainly a lot better than many of the simpler forms of “Truth”, in many practical contexts.

And sometimes the demands of time and lack of information demand simplifications in order to do something survivable in the time available to change directions (in whatever set of dimensions or abstractions or strategy one is considering). Nothing simple about any dimension of existence!

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
This entry was posted in Technology, understanding and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A counter to one of Tom’s antivax posts

  1. debyemm says:

    I definitely appreciated reading through your logic on this issue. Thank you.


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