Sunday, March 15, 2015

Measles Bet: Never Gamble Lots Of Money On Silly Anti-Science Argument

This guy, Stefan Lanka, bet 100,000 Euros that
the measles virus doesn't exist. It does,
say almost all scientists, and a German
court ordered him to pay up.  
A guy in Germany learned that if you're going to place a major public monetary bet on some loony theory, you'd best be expected to pay up.

Stefan Lanka, who claims to be a biologist, and probably is, has a silly notion that measles is not caused by a virus, but is a psychosomatic condition brought on by "traumatic separations."

Yeah. I guess if you miss somebody and are upset you'll come down with the measles.

On a personal note, my husband is working out of town, and I miss him, but my skin remains unblemished and I don't feel sick. Go figure.

Measles, as you probably know, has been in the news a lot lately because some parents don't vaccinate their kids because they believe the vaccine causes autism.

A whole bunch of scientists and health experts looked into that autism claim and found the vaccine doesn't cause the disorder. Something else does, though admittedly nobody is sure what.

But a number of people still cling to the theory that the vaccines are bad.

Even most people opposed to measles vaccines concede measles is caused by a virus, but Lanka takes the anti-vax activism one stop further and says a virus has nothing to do with measles.

He's so confident of his theory that he offered to pay 100,000 Euros (a little over $95,000) to anyone who could prove measles is caused by a virus, says the gambling news site

Lanka said his intent was "to get people to enlighten themselves."

Well, somebody was enlightened. Lanka for one. takes up the story:

"Enter German doctor David Barden, who saw not only the lunacy but also profit in Lanka's challenge. Barden gathered a suitably weighty collection of scientific evidence of measles' viral origin and presented them to Lanka with a request for the (100,000 euros). Lanka rejected Barden's evidence so the undeterred Barden took Lanka to court."

A panel of judges reviewed Barden's documentation and concluded there was "no doubt about the existence of the measles virus," says the CalvinAyre article.

The judges ordered Lanka to pay up.

Lanka said he would appeal the ruling against him.

If he loses the appeal, I worry he'll come down with the measles. Traumatic separation from his money, you understand.

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