Are the graphs misleading?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-14-2005
Are the graphs misleading?
7
Thu, 05-08-2008 - 11:11am

I am going to post a few exceprts from a web site that is trying to dispell anti-vaccination arguments.

MISLEADING GRAPHS

Anti-vaccination sites almost all use graphs to delineate the myth that VPDs fell prior to the introduction of vaccines and that this serves as "proof" that vaccines were never the real reason for their decline. It's commonly held that improved living conditions, diet, and other medical intervention(s) resulted in the decline in VPDs and vaccinations had "nothing to do with it".

This view is partially correct in that the initial decline in VPD incidence and mortality were very much so related to improved hygiene, diet, and medical attention. However, vaccinations HAVE played an important role in the decline of VPDs and the use of these graphs on anti-vaccination websites is clearly deceiving.

An example is seen at the website of Sandy Mintz (http://www.vaccinationnews.com/diseases_and_vaccines/measles_deaths_graph.htm).

A cursory glance at this graph does show a nice decline in measles deaths prior to the introduction of measles vaccine. Couple interesting points about this information becomes apparent, though, when one closely examines the .pdf files under the graph. If you take the graph and blow it up between the years 1949 and 1984, you'll see a couple interesting things:

* The number of deaths were pretty steady for 13 YEARS before measles vaccine was introduced.
* Within 2 years after the introduction of measles vaccine, the number of deaths dropped suddenly from 300-600 deaths to less than 100 with the more recent number of deaths declining to less than TWELVE. (ZERO in 1998).

No doubt many of the measles deaths prior to the 1940's were related to hygiene issues, but the number of deaths PLATEAUED for over TEN years before the introduction of the vaccine and it is clear that the deaths from measles plummeted following the introduction of the vaccine. The Y- axis of the graph in the link is too broad to appreciate this decline.

Other graphs on anti-vaccination websites are similarly deceiving.

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What do you think of this analysis?






iVillage Member
Registered: 06-03-2008
Mon, 06-09-2008 - 9:17pm
I don't think they are misleading, they just place emphasis very broadly whilst discounting any possible benefit that vaccines may have offered in the fight against disease.
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-14-2005
Tue, 06-10-2008 - 10:17am
The site I pulled that from is here: http://vaccinesupport-ivil.tripod.com/graphs/





iVillage Member
Registered: 06-03-2008
Tue, 06-10-2008 - 10:56am

Thanks Tash.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 06-10-2008 - 11:39am

The fact also remains that the amount of deaths stayed steady for 13 years.


iVillage Member
Registered: 06-03-2008
Tue, 06-10-2008 - 11:59am

Yes, very fair point Judi, thank you for that.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-05-2008
Thu, 06-19-2008 - 11:10am
Looking at various graphs recently, I first had the thought - Well, perhaps the diseases were declining but the introduction of the vaccines took it the rest of the way down. But then I looked at graphs for diseases for which there is no vaccine and the death rates for those diseases went to zero or next to nothing on their own. Check out graphs for Scarlet Fever and Typhoid Fever as examples. Personally, that makes me think that perhaps these others (measles, mumps, rubella, etc, etc) would have done the same. We may never know.
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-18-2007
Fri, 06-27-2008 - 11:59pm

Exactly.