37 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on 13 November 2009
I bought this book in the hope that it offered a sound, unbiased guide on "Raising a Vaccine-free Child". In fact what it offers is an extremely poorly written, wholly biased attack on the vaccine industry. Being anti-vaccine myself I'm disgusted that this book is the best (according to Amazon reviewers) we have to go on - it makes a mockery of our standpoint and confirms the pro-vaccine community's idea of us as single-minded, deranged, poorly-read hippies. Every chapter is filled with unhelpfully biased, unwarranted and unreferenced comments such as "Homeopaths have been treating vaccine damage ever since Edward Jenner started creating vaccine damage" - doesn't do much to instil faith in the main sway of her argument.
If you're looking for a useful read on the subject, this is NOT one to buy.
45 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2012
This review is too long, for which I apologise in advance. This book claims to be science-based, so this review is intended to address only the scientific issues within the book. One might consider this review to contain "spoilers" as I do discuss various parts of the book in detail. If you are interested in the validity of the claim that this is a "scientifically-based" book then please read on.
The first question that anyone should ask themselves before reading a supposedly scientific book is: what are the credentials of the author? To this end, reputable publishers will often include an "about the author" section, explaining the author's qualifications and why they feel that they have the right to draw the conclusions that they do. The absence of any such section in this book suggests that the author has no relevant qualifications, and the way that the author references and discusses scientific literature certainly supports this idea.
To avoid being called a hypocrite here is my "about the author" section:
I have a degree in Chemistry and Physics and am currently writing up a PhD thesis on Nanoscience. While my scientific qualifications are not directly related to immunology, my scientific background provides me with an excellent knowledge of Biology, the ability to assess scientific materials and perhaps most importantly: access to the scientific literature so that I can assess the references and claims in this book. Nonetheless this review merely represents my opinion (albeit a scientific opinion) and is not endorsed or supported by any other body. I hope that I will be excused the usual barrage of responses accusing me of having a vested interest in the success or failure of this book, as neither my qualifications nor my work have any direct links to the pharmaceutical or medical industries. This review is intended to be unbiased, and as such I will avoid arguing either for or against vaccination. I was in fact very interested in reading this book when a friend lent it to me. I thoroughly expected to find a balanced review of the arguments for and against vaccinations, which I assumed would conclude (whether rightly or wrongly) that the risks of vaccination are similar to the risks not vaccinating. I was sorely disappointed by what I found.
Let me start with the claim that this book is "fully referenced". It certainly does contain many references which refer to many of the points that author makes in the book, and for many readers the presence of these references may reassure them that this book is based on science. However, there are 3 mains problems with the references:
1) Many of the references do support well established scientific facts (e.g. the comment is made several times that "childhood diseases", an example of which would be mumps, cause further complications in adults and the elderly; this comment is referenced multiple times throughout the book). Such comments are true (in fact the aforementioned example is common knowledge), but will often be followed by the author's own unscientific statements which are not supported by references. Whether intentional or not, the proximity of such references to the author's own unscientific and unreferenced statements gives the impression that the reference supports the authors own statement, which is rarely the case.
2) Many of the references are newspaper clippings and news reports - clearly these are not scientific references, and most people know not to trust everything that the free press publish. However in many instances these references are presented in the same manner as the scientific references, with no indication that they are from a less reliable source (unless you check the references section for each reference). Some of the references are other books which may or may not have any scientific basis (I will hold my hands up here and admit to not having bought and critiqued all of the books that were referenced).
3) There are instances where the author has referenced some scientific articles and praised them as "scientific fact", while declaring that other scientific articles which oppose the arguments of the first are incorrect. In one of the worse instances of this (referring to a link between the measles vaccine and bowel conditions) the author argues that one paper was scientifically accurate while the other was of poor quality. However, a search of the literature reveals that the 'accurate' article was written by a doctor who has since been publicly disgraced, accused of scientific fraud and struck off the medical register - his work is considered by many to be one of the most damaging acts of scientific fraud in modern history. Further searching reveals that there are in fact many papers which oppose the arguments of the original article, but the author of this book only references one of these, referring to it as a flawed study (when it is in fact supported by many other similar articles by reputable scientists). Admittedly the controversy to which I have referred was not concluded until long after this book was written, but it began a long time before this book was written. The fact that this reference was included at all, while the other reference was referred to as flawed, indicates the lack of attention that the author has given to selecting accurate and well-supported scientific literature.
Obviously most of the references in this book (at least the ones that I did investigate thoroughly) are not as controversial as this. However the author does frequently reference articles which support her point of view, ignoring the many scientific articles which oppose her point of view or dismissing them as being poor science when in fact they are often better supported than the articles which support her point of view. This suggests that either the author has intentionally written an extremely biased book, or that she does not posses a sufficient understanding of the nature of scientific research.
Overall the book is not written in a scientific manner. In the first chapter the author likens pharmaceuticals companies to the Nazis, and anti-vaccinationists to medieval astronomers who were persecuted for believing that the earth goes round the Sun. Emotionally driven comments such as these are common place in this book, while balanced scientific discussion is almost completely absent. Much of the book discusses anecdotes and circumstantial evidence, from which the author erroneously attempts to draw scientific conclusions without any reference to scientific literature.
Another topic which has also concerned other reviewers is the author's discussion of homeopathy. The general scientific consensus is that homeopathy has no place in science (although it is widely acknowledged that homeopathy can be extremely effective due to the placebo effect). The reviewer gives an extensive "scientific" explanation of how homeopathy works, which is discussed in terms of Physics and Chemistry (my own speciality), and I can confirm that her explanation is completely invalid and makes no scientific sense at all (and, not surprisingly, contains no references to any scientific literature). The author then proceeds to apply these ideas to Biology in a manner which is not scientifically valid (great care must be taken when trying to apply theories from one field of science to another). The discussion of an unscientific topic like homeopathy is entirely inappropriate for a book which claims to be based on science, regardless of one's personal beliefs about it (again, I do not intend to argue for or against homeopathy, other than to state that it is not considered a science).
To discuss all of the science-related problems with this book would take far more time than I have and make this review even longer than it already is, so I list here some of the other worrying claims that this book makes:
* Measles cures cancer (no scientific evidence).
* Homeopathy can cure polio (no scientific evidence).
* There is a worldwide conspiracy by pharmaceuticals companies to sell vaccines which they know do not work, and that they suppress the "evidence" the homeopathy works (clearly conspiracy theories do not belong in a science-based book).
* There is a worldwide conspiracy by health services to suppress any evidence that vaccinations are harmful (clearly conspiracy theories do not belong in a science-based book).
* All scientists who do research on vaccines are controlled by pharmaceuticals companies (simply untrue - most scientists are free to research and publish as they see fit).
* Vaccines do not prevent people from catching the diseases that they vaccinate against (these arguments are based on anecdote, not well researched science).
* Vaccines do more harm than good (no scientific evidence provided).
* Diseases can be separated into two groups: childhood diseases and malevolent diseases, which behave and are treated in different ways (the author appears to have selected which diseases belong in which group based on personal whim - there are certainly no references which support the choices made here, nor the idea of dividing diseases into these two groups).
There are many other problems with this book and few of the topics discussed stand up to scientific scrutiny. This book has little scientific basis. In the instances where genuine science is discussed it is often manipulated or exaggerated to suit the author's arguments, with little insight into the science underlying the topics discussed. This poor manipulation of the scientific data makes it difficult to believe anything which the author writes, as the scientifically accurate parts of the book are so mixed with the unvalidated conjecture which forms a significant proportion (if not the majority) of this book. I did, for example, find the link between asthma and the DPT vaccine quite interesting, but the significance of the DPT vaccine in causing asthma was exaggerated and the statement that the modern prevalence of childhood asthma started with the use of the DPT vaccine is unfounded. On the other hand I found that the discussed link between the measles vaccine and bowel conditions is extremely controversial, with the majority of the research showing that there is no link between the measles vaccine and bowel conditions. I was only able to come to a true understanding of these issues by performing extensive searches of the scientific literature, making this book near useless to anyone who does not have access to such literature or does not wish to spend their time performing literature searches to confirm the validity of every statement that the author makes.
The book includes a discussion of how various childhood diseases should be treated, and I have refrained from discussing these as I do not possess sufficient medical knowledge to write with the same level of confidence as I have about the scientific arguments. However, if the author's medical knowledge is of a similar level to her scientific knowledge then it is reasonable to assume that the medical treatments discussed here are incorrect if not outright dangerous. This book may pose a real danger to the general public, most of whom do not have the strong scientific or medical background necessary to assess the validity of the claims made by the author, and may be tempted to follow the advice here rather to trust the treatments provided by doctors which are scientifically and medically well founded. One of my biggest concerns is that the author seems to encourage the use of self-medicated homeopathic remedies, rather than consulting a doctor. You should ALWAYS consult your doctor with regards to treating ill children.
It has been acknowledged by the scientific and medical communities that vaccines are not free from side effects, and there is a constant flurry of activity by scientists and doctors trying to assess the benefits and risks of vaccines (as I found when I started researching the validity of the claims made in this book). I would be very interested to read a proper review of scientific studies which fully discusses the advantages and disadvantages of vaccination (please feel free to make recommendations if you know of one), but until I am presented with evidence to the contrary, I will continue to support the view of our health care professionals that vaccinations are an effective means of preventing dangerous diseases, and that the risks of vaccination are far outweighed by the benefits. This book certainly does not present a scientific enough nor objective enough review for any conclusions to be drawn about the dangers of vaccination.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2015
Really disappointed with this book.
I bought it hoping for some reliable,trustworthy,professional advice on bringing up a child who has not been vaccinated.
This is not the book i need at all.
It is written by a woman with some strong opinions.Thats basicaly all the book is based on-her opinions.
She is not a good writer.The text and layout of the book is unprofessional,confusing,and at times baffling.
There are strange little drawings scattered throughout the book,which i feel is not fitting with a serious book on a serious subject-childrens health and lives.
The author is obviously an Homeopathy enthusiast,as i am myself,but instead of scattering bits of info on various homeopathic remedies here and there,she could have devoted a chapter to treating diseases with homeopathy at the end of the book.
I have read about half this book,and will not waste my time reading any more.
It is a book based on one excentric womans opinions and experiences,who has no professional qualifications that would help to put any trust in her opinions and advice.
To be honest,some of her "advice" left me so petrified,i actually doubted my decision of not vaccinating for a second,.such as not allowing any skin to be exposed to air with a measles patient.
I am assuming she did not take her children to a doctor when they contracted measles,whooping cough,etc.
I don't think i could be so confident about keeping my children away from the GP if they fell ill with a serious illness.
So i will keep looking for a GOOD book on the subject of keeping my unvaccinated kids safe and healthy.
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 30 November 2013
Most people believe that vaccination prevents disease, and to be told anything contrary to this is like trying to convince people today that the earth is flat. But there was a time when suggesting that the earth was round or that the sun rotated around the earth or that Vitamin C would prevent rickets, was met with ridicule and derision - and could even result in imprisonment or death for the proponent of such ideas. Similarly, I strongly believe that the day will come when just the thought of bypassing the body's first defence systems, such as the skin and membranes, by injecting live viruses and toxic excipients directly into the blood stream, will evoke the same reaction. This book, and many others like it, is essential reading for all loving parents. Do your research.