Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rick Perry and the HPV Vaccine, Irony of Ironies

[Added later: the ironies never cease. Perry just got an injection of his own stem cells, apparently to help his back. Not only is this procedure unproven, it carries substantial risks - infection, thrombosis, etc. I'm starting to think he's a reverse-Bayesian or something.]

Irony #1: One actual good thing that Rick Perry did as governor was requiring immunization with Gardasil in public school girls (against HPV) to prevent later cervical cancer. Ironic, because it's a source of friction with Tea Partiers, who see lack of cancer as an invasion of personal freedoms, and with social conservatives, who apparently see lack of cancer as a way to excuse promiscuous girls from the vengeance a wrathful God will visit on them (not to mention providing a back door for socialized medicine).

My libertarian buddies will never forgive me for saying required immunization is a good thing, but who cares. It saves lives, suffering, and child-bearing ability. I'm a-okay with making an exception for that, every single time.

Michelle Malkin, normally a staunch GOP defender, is so incensed about Perry daring to include the HPV vaccine in the required school vaccinations that she wrote "Perry defenders...are willfully blind to the Gardasil disgrace’s multiple layers of rottenness." Beware, because she rarely displays her teeth like this without immediately spitting her deadly venom. It can blind at 4 meters.

Irony #2: Turns out Rick Perry's campaign team has the equivalent of political quants working for him. Just imagine the doublethink necessary to have heavily empirical critical thinkers creating his campagin strategy, then turning around and saying evolution is "just a theory".

The descendants of Rockefeller Republicans in the Northeast, finally unable to hide from the fact that the GOP has turned into a Southern religious party, are not in love with Perry and are scared of how he'll lose a general election. Many of the GOP rank-and-file digerati are going through gyrations to justify a Perry candidacy, the funniest of which has been that politicians are inexpert in science, so it's okay that he doesn't believe in evolution. (Really.) This set off a bit of a firestorm in the blogosphere, and so far Jim Manzi's response is the most sensible one:

The role of rational politicians, then, is to have an understanding of the boundaries of actual scientific expertise, and accept consensus scientific findings within these fields as practical "givens" in determining policy – but not to be snowed by everybody with a bunch of equations into accepting their personal politics as indisputable by any rational human.


dbonfitto said...


Have you read Interface yet? It's Stephenson and another dude (looked it up 'J. Frederick George'.)
Talk about your political quants.

Michael Caton said...

I haven't, thanks for the rec. Putting it on the pile.

dbonfitto said...

I'll give you my copy next time you're local.

EBMMommy said...

It's too bad Perry reversed his view on making the HPV vaccine mandatory for school-aged girls. Read the evidence behind the vaccine, and the reasoning behind making it mandatory (with an option to decline) on my blog at

Debunking scary science (and politics) everywhere....

Michael Caton said...

Hey EBMMommy, I just got around to reading your post (and some of the other posts on your blog.) Great blog, I'm totally going to plug it. As a fellow skeptical medical person (who will also be practicing medicine in two years if I get my way) I would greatly appreciate a plug also!