Abbie Smith on vaccines, your immune system and viruses

By Grant Jacobs 14/08/2011


Here’s a talk for non-scientists about your immune system, viruses and vaccines by Abbie Smith, a graduate student from the University of Oklahoma who writes the ERV blog. (ERV = endogenous retrovirus) She also spends a little time talking about HIV, which she studies. She’s an enthusiastic and natural speaker. (Being a Freethought meeting these are a few of passing references to creationists but just gloss over that it it’s not your thing.)

Besides that it’s a nice effort to explain a fair complex subject, I’m offering this talk in small part because of  measles cases in New Zealand.


Other articles on Code for life:

Reviewing Deadly Choices

Haemophilia — towards a cure using genetic engineering

Doggie ERVs

“Knowledge is merely opinion.” Storm – in cartoon and words

Reproducible research and computational biology


0 Responses to “Abbie Smith on vaccines, your immune system and viruses”

  • Grant,

    Fascinating talk with some good explanations. I do wonder about the anthropomorphism of the micro-organisms though. Is it a useful tool for explaining science or does it mislead people to some extent about how biology works?

  • I suppose it depends on who your audience is and what you are trying convey. She uses a lot of analogies, rather than direct explanations – I think that’s fine for her purposes. The full explanation is considerably more complex and she’s trying to get over the general concepts, rather than the specifics.

  • Grant,

    yes analogies are really good. But I know some people get quite irritated with anthropomorphism in science explanations and was curious to see what others think.
    I think it comes down to that whole balance between what makes science easy to understand and what is technically “correct.”

  • Very clear explanation of the science from Abbie. This is the sort lecture that should be promoted to the public to counter the negatives and misinformation campaigns by anti-vaxxers.

  • to counter the negatives and misinformation campaigns by anti-vaxxers

    it could be useful that way, but I have to admit I was more thinking that it might provide some interesting insights for people who wanted to learn a little more of how the immune does it’s thing. (Conceptually, that is; as Edmond pointed out if you were presenting a more formal explanation you’d want to take a different approach.)