Hi William. By 2001 the preservative Thimerosal, which is made from mercury, was taken out of most vaccines used in North America. It's been replaced by non-mercury compounds. I'm not sure what they use now.
Rob, I have heard that assertion, and the counter arguments. The fix, clearly, would be to remove the mercury from the vaccine. That may be difficult, and my chemistry skills are not adequate to understand exactly what the mercury is there for. It could be a mechanism something like the peanut alergy, where two things work with eachother and cause a problem. Not quite like a catalyst type reaction, but a similar effect. My thinking is that if the correct facts were gathered and correlated that a mechanism of causing the problem would be discovered, and that would be a big step towards prevention. Cures are a different story altogather.
Yes, maybe it was just dozens of parents, William. Their stories are compelling. One day their kid is normal. They take the child for an immunization and boom, their child is autistic. The only change was the immunization. Then they find out there is mercury in the immunization, and since mercury is a neurotoxin . . . well their conclusions makes sense -- except scientific studies say it's not true.
Rob, I would say that is more like dozens of parents blame immunizations for Autism. Of course it may be related to the hungry lawyers eager to sue companies that have lots of money. I do smell a cause and effect there. Besides, how could anyone ever prove it one way or the other? Urban myths are that way. MAD Magazine had an article about it a few months back. (About urban myths, that is)
You're right, William, immunizations save lives. The statistics are clear. While tons of parents are convinced their kids have autism because of immunizations, the data from a number of studies says otherwise. As for schools refusing children who have not had immunizations, it's certainly common in private schools.
@ Stephan B. The reason that many parents are avoiding immunizations is primarily not complacency but an irrational fear, fanned by an ignorant media, that somehow these immunizations cause other problems, such as autism. At least that is what I have read is the cause of the children not being vaccinated. One option that might change their actions would be to forbid nonvaccinated kids to register or attend public schools.
Of course there probably are also a few who are just to lazy to do it, but I am not certain that laziness equates to apathy.
I concur with your recommendation of punishment. Too often when punishments are monitized, the offender(s) can easily pay, or avoid the fines effectively avoiding punishment. By using a punishment directly related to the crime (i.e. taking away BP's livelyhood in US territory), will cause the needed management purge that will allow them to learn from the mistake or fold and let better companies take their leases.
streetrodder, I completely agree with your characterization of medical risks. Hospitals terrify me and I avoid them at (nearly) all costs, given the awful infection and often fatal mistake statistics. And I'm very aware that the better stuff--doctors, procedures, medical devices--are available to the rich and not to me. Thanks for pointing out this big blemish on the American ideal of equal access to quality health care. It doesn't exist.
Great article and follow up dialog. From my perspective, there is a basic human behavior behind the deep water horizon blow out - complacency. As humans, we tend to increasingly disregard / down play risks as our distance from the last personal exposure to the risk increases. Is it a coincidence that the last major blow out in the gulf (Ixtoc 1 in 1979) happened 32 years ago, prior to the professional careers of most decision makers involved with deep water horizon? How many parents have experienced whooping cough or polio? Look at the resistance to vaccinating children against these diseases that has been growing in recent years. Same situation with the lessons associated with the great depression and excessive leverage.
To me, the response is to recognize this human tendency, and replace the searing pain of an actual event (like a blow out) with an equally painful consequence of failing an inspection, or being found to have a deficient safety program. This needs to be sufficiently painful (fines exceeding $500M, decision makers go to jail, disbarment from operating for an extended period) that maintaining a safe operation becomes embedded in the culture of an industry and remains immune to being a factor in a cost benefit analysis.
Then we will see industry investing in safety, be it technology, equipment, or people since the economic survival of a company and personal liberty of its leadership are at stake.
A very good article. Many of us have seen situations with similar 'cost centric decisions' - except in most cases, human lives are not on the line.
The "This 45 percent historical failure rate did not jibe with the 0.07 failure rate claimed" statement looks like a component failure rate vs. a system failure rate. Since there were 'only 5 system failures', I am sure that Management/PR folks have contrived reasons for discounting them - that way, there is no need [in their own legendary minds] to investigate the failures. The contemporary process for dealing with major failures/tragedies is  find someone to blame and  release a 'things to do/fix list' that sounds impressive. That way, things like root cause analysis does not get in the way of "progress"
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In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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