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Epidemiological Podcast S0E2: The Weight of the Evidence

On today’s podcast, I talk to you about a recent tragedy in our family and how it helped me understand anti-vaccine parents a little more. Not completely, but just enough to realize that there is very little in the way of a debate that one can have with them.

See, When people who don’t believe that vaccines save lives tell you that there is no evidence that vaccines are safe, they’re either misinformed or lying. On the flip side, when they tell you that there is evidence that vaccines cause autism, they’re either misinformed or lying again. There is plenty of evidence for both arguments out there, but only one set of “studies” pass the biological plausibility test (not to say anything about ethics).

However, because an injury (perceived or real) to a child triggers such a deep-seeded, primal reaction, it’s hard to be logical or reasonable. When parents see autism as death (when it’s not), their search for answers becomes chaotic and full of inferences that are misguided. Anti-vaccine people looking to make a buck take advantage of that, and then we’re off to the races on trying to stop further harm, encourage critical thinking, and have an actual debate based on facts.

In about 33 minutes, I tell you about the different kinds of studies out there, and I explain to you why we cannot do a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study like the antivaxxers want, but we’ve done plenty of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated studies in an ethical and scientific way.

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Epidemiological Podcast S0E1: The Perfect Epidemiological Surveillance System

Today, I thought I’d share with you a 15-minute presentation I gave in Mexico City last about two weeks ago. It was on a paper I wrote based off a previous blog post. I talk about what I imagine to be the perfect system for keeping track of the population’s health… That is, if money, technology, laws, and ethical considerations were not in the way of such things.

Yes, I’m giving the podcast a season and names. The first season runs from now until the end of the year and will be season zero, along with previous episodes. Kind of like “the lost season” if you will. Then, starting in 2018, I’ll have a first season of six podcasts with pre-planned topics and a little more preparation. You guys deserve it… And it’s a good way to be just creative enough to be doing something but not too busy to forget about the dissertation (which should be almost done when 2017 ends and 2018 begins).

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Talking Tuesday: Spanish Interview on Flu Edition

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Back in 2010, when I was working at the health department, a reporter from 1030AM in DC asked to do an interview with me about influenza. It was the beginning of the 2010-2011 season, and the whole “EpiGate” fiasco hadn’t happened. So the bosses allowed me to do the interview with her. (Also, they didn’t have many people who spoke Spanish.) So I sat down and talked to her over the phone for about half an hour. We talked about influenza surveillance, the disease, and even some virology. It was actually a really good interview. I felt very at ease.

Listening to it now, I can hear some grammatical mistakes here and there from me trying to translate my knowledge of influenza — which I learned in English — into what I’m saying in Spanish. Spanish has a lot of conventions that need to be followed, and I was a bit rusty. Since then, I’ve made an effort to speak and write it to as many people as I can. It would be ridiculous, in my opinion, to not be able to speak it fluently one day when I think in Spanish and when everyone in my dreams speaks Spanish. (Yeah, it’s weird.) Also, it’s my first language, and I hope to pass it on to any eventual Big Fat Baby Ren.

So here it is, 28 minutes of me talking about influenza in Spanish. (If you don’t understand Spanish, then you’ll just have to wait until the next Talking Tuesday.)

As always, you can download the episode by clicking here. Or you can subscribe to all episodes on iTunes.

Talking Tuesday: Catch-Up Edition

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So, yeah, it’s been a while. We haven’t chatted since the great blizzard of 2016 back in January, when I talked to you about impostor syndrome and anti-vaccine shenanigans along with some friends. So here it is, a “catch-up” edition of the Talking Tuesday. I’ll continue to try and be more proactive about recording these.

If you prefer to download the episode, just click here. Or you can subscribe to the podcasts on iTunes here.

Talking Tuesday, On A Saturday, In A Blizzard

What else was I going to do while I waited out the great Northeast Blizzard of 2016 but do a podcast? And what is a better way to do it than to invite a couple of friends to chat with?

I used a new app called ZCast to record a chat with Briana Morgan and Craig Egan about “Impostor Syndrome” and “Trolling” against anti-vaccine people. It was a great talk. It goes for about half an hour. Enjoy!

As always, you can download it by clicking here.