Just The Vax, Ma’am–Delusional Denialism Has Many Faces…

denialism1finalVaccine Gestapo
They have swastikas on their shoulders
They’re such patriotic soldiers
They’re like a militia in Montana
They’re a government agency in Atlanta

Vaccine gestapo! Vaccine gestapo!
Vaccine gestapo! Vaccine gestapo!

They’re a medical military priesthood
Just like Adolf they preach the greater good
Conscientious objectors are just little snots
Why don’t you quit complaining and go get your shots

Vaccine gestapo! Vaccine gestapo!
Vaccine gestapo! Vaccine gestapo!

(An actual Anti-vaccination rally song!)

I’m a raging curmudgeon. I admit it freely. To paraphrase Hamlet, I take arms against a sea of stupidities, and thus my voice is sometimes drown’d by them.

So just recently, I was once more into the breach, dear friends, here:

A fellow local in the Mountain View area published this rather vacuous article titled To Vaccinate or not to Vaccinate. I have nothing against this fellow personally: his opinion, however, is another matter entirely. This specious opening paragraph is too much:

For some time now, there has been debate about the effectiveness and adverse reactions of vaccines.

In factuality, people have been ranting and raving about vaccinations since the 17th century. And here we are, 4 centuries later, and we still have crazy conspiracy theories that are built up around innocuous items like needles. I dislike them as much as the next person, but hey, it’s either blood or poop. I’ll take the needle, thanks, since I only allow a select form of paper near that orifice, if there’s any choice at all.

But then this paragraph:

Groups such as Doctors Against Vaccines have researched and put together an amazing amount of information and made it available to all of us internet users. I reiterate, us internet users, because although some alternative sources of radio and television exist where these facts are told to the people, mainstream media focuses on the other version, where vaccines are seen as safe, reliable and necessary.

Well, sorry, it reeks of accommodationism. What’s one of my favorite sayings, folks? Oh yeah: “The internet is like the bible: it’s 99% full of shit.” Funnier still, this egregious nonsense started (in this century, anyhow) with the now-debunked Andy Wakefield and his Flimsy Fraudulent Findings. Not to mention non-degreed Jenna McCarthy, whose idiotic stance on the entire ‘debate’ is only taken seriously because she’s good-looking and telegenic. And far, far too many people take Oprah seriously. (This same guy tries to use Youtube videos to back his claim: I re-iterate – Youtube is the National Enquirer of the Interwebs, and I don’t accept it as a viable or informed source.)

I hate doing this shit, because it smacks of an ad hominem, but when I actually go to the website Doctors Against Vaccines, it’s run by a bunch of…homeopaths. Yes, that’s right. They’re not real doctors, any more than chiropractors, aromeopaths, or any of those other New Age quacksters. A simple, objective evaluation of all their wiki pages bears this out. Five minutes on the internet, and the house of cards collapses.

The fact of the matter is, folks, that this is a non-debate on multiple levels. I kept running into these wackjobs on the web who were declaring a world-wide alert that the medical community (and big pharma) are poisoning our kids.

Do these people even listen to themselves? Since when has putting children at risk ever been a good business model? As I noted in the comments, big pharma doesn’t need to keep people sick or make them sick – human beings are a constant litany of ills and woes, and being a doctor is very nearly recession-proof because of that. It’s like saying restaurants are starving people, or dentists are handing out candy to the neighborhood to promote tooth decay. Are there some folks in the medical field who are in it for the money? Of course. But this ‘us vs. them’ mentality is mostly ignorant fear.

It’s a huge problem: first, it’s television, folks. Talk shows are just that: all talk. Secondly, I’ve developed a pretty keen skeptic’s edge (I’d like to think). I don’t run off to someone else’s website to vindicate myself. Anyone anywhere can go on the web these days, and find some nutcase who validates whatever crazy-ass idea the researcher had in the first place. I go straight to a Wiki/Answers.com page, do some preliminary evaluations. If someone purposely goes looking for villainous undercurrents, confirmation bias will validate their paranoia about invidious evil forces out to destroy them/their life/their freedom/[insert paranoid fear here]. In short: detachment is essential in evaluation.

Thirdly, something even more dangerous, is this ‘everyone’s opinion is valid’ crapola. No, it isn’t. Opinion doesn’t trump fact, nor does perception alter reality. Evolution? Reality. Vaccinations? Established science. Anything that’s unprovable, no matter how pretty or poetic (or fear-mongering), is rubbish. I blame political correctness (read: polite fascism) for this. That someone has a dissenting opinion is fine. Free speech and all that. America was built on dissent anyways. But having an opinion is distinct from being able to prove it. Most folks think their opinion is indistinguishable from their character, especially when they have some vested interest or feel passionately about it.

My big issues are these:

A. This is what I categorize as a NON-DEBATE – track records speak louder than dissent in this case. Is it seamless? No. Nothing is. (i.e., One of my pet peeves, is when I talk about GPS, some brainfart blats out that “GPS isn’t 100%”.  Name me ten things that are 100%, please. I’ve gotten horribly lost relying on the directions from strangers more often than from my GPS. Sorry. Onwards.) Some people have adverse reactions to flu shots? Of course they do. Just like some people don’t survive life-saving surgery. A little sense, please.

B. Some non-debates like these cost money. In this case, they cost lives. Children’s lives, no less. So yes, it’s a pisser.

About the only sense I can make of this idiocy, is that the Powers That Be (all human, I might qualify) are creating all sorts of diversionary nonsense to take the heat off of their incompetency.

Till the next post, then.

This entry was posted in Absurdity, And now for something completely different, Delusion, Education, Family, for fuck's sake!, Health, Health reform, Medical research, Mythology, Psychology, Science, Skepticism, Stupidity, Technology, Values. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Just The Vax, Ma’am–Delusional Denialism Has Many Faces…

  1. HMDK says:

    But… but… but Big Pharma is an evil moneygrubbing faceless machine!

    Yep. It is.
    Which is why, as you point out, that the vax-deniers are insane.
    And besides, there are conspiracy-theories and there are conspiracy-theories.
    Yes, people, companies and even countries do sometimes conspire to do certain things.
    However, if someone seriously believes that just about the entirety of doctors are complicit, they are loons eagerly slicing their throats on Occam’s razor. The same with creationists and holocaust-deniers.
    And they never can formulate a credible goal for their supposed enemies.
    It’s always: “Well, they’re just trying to convince me otherwise!”.
    Which is insane.

  2. Captain Al says:

    On a related note, I was watching the Stanley Cup hockey finals last week on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (before the riot) and was stunned to see a commercial by the Ontario Chiropractic Association. They rambled on about how chiropractic was good for you in a tone that suggested it was common knowledge. How do they get away with this? I used to think practicing medicine without a license was illegal in our country (and the USA). Not any more.

  3. stardust says:

    We have friends whose son I wrote about here before…living in Arizona and following the same cult led by a Pastor Anderson who has been praying for the death of Obama. They are not getting their children vaccinated and instead risking the children’s health, and possibly their lives because of their whacko, mis-informed beliefs about vaccines. When some of these kids contract a terrible disease which could have been prevented, then they will relieve their guilt with “it was gawd’s will and it was their time”. Morons. I feel sorry for kids who are imprisoned by their willfully ignorant parents.

  4. jimmer54 says:

    Robert Kennedy also trumpets this nonsence. My brother started into the anti-vax once and I had to remind him that viruses and bacteria are verry real. That vaccines do not cause autism. I also sent him Pz Myers take on it as well as James Randi and quackwatch. He has been coming around quite nicely the past few years.

  5. A splendid rant with lots of content. I throughly enjoyed it

  6. Sayingwhatneedsaying says:

    Children of parents who refuse to have them innoculated should be placed isolated on an Island away from the general population, so that If they do get sick, they won’t infect anyone else

  7. Captain Al says:

    This just in: There has been an outbreak of mumps in the city of Vancouver. The short article doesn’t suggest a reason but the anti-vax sentiment is just as popular here so I suspect it may be involved.


  8. Ms. D says:

    Yes, saying. The biggest issue is the innocent people who will be harmed by this ignorance. Not only the kids whose parents refuse to vaccinate them, but the kids and adults who will be harmed or killed by these kids and their parents. When I was a kid, before there was a chicken pox vaccine, we had an older neighbor who had never had the chicken pox. Chicken pox is quite dangerous for older people, so when my brother and I got chicken pox (in the SUMMER…how lucky were WE?) we were basically quarantined to the house because it was OUR responsibility not to make our neighbor seriously ill.

    Children under 1 can’t be vaccinated for measles, and it’s a very serious illness for young babies. Many older adults with compromised immune systems either can’t tolerate vaccines or they’re ineffective for them because they don’t provoke the immune response necessary to protect them from the illness. A small minority of people are allergic to some vaccine or another. Even vaccinated people with compromised immune systems (cancer sufferers, people with auto-immune diseases) can contract illnesses they’ve been vaccinated against, and can’t fight them off effectively. If you choose not to vaccinate your kids, then you need to stay the hell away from everyone else, because your kid’s illness could easily kill someone who COULDN’T get vaccinated effectively for one reason or another.

  9. jimmer54 says:

    San Diego County we are in the midst of a resugence of Pertussis (Whooping Cough). 241 so far this year, 1144 in 2010 with two infant deaths. Some of whom have all their shots up to date. Summer time is the worst time for this disease. I get the idea that being immunized doesn’t offer full protection if others are not immunized and can transmit the disease.

    More woo. I saw an ad for a Hexagonal water machine. It cost $400+. Apparrently we aren’t receiving the proper type of water for true health and wellbeing. I never would have guessed.

  10. Sue Blue says:

    Every time I read about the anti-vaxxers, I see the face of a little 8-year-old boy whose parents I met at a Compassionate Friends group (a support group for bereaved parents). This little boy died of SSPE (subacute sclerosing panencephalitis), a complication of measles that causes a 100% fatal degeneration of the brain. You see, many viruses have this sneaky little trick of hiding out in our DNA, often for life, after an infection has apparently been beaten back by the immune system. Like the herpes virus, the measles virus can lurk in neurons and emerge again years later, destroying the brain.
    This little boy got the measles as an infant, before he was old enough to get the vaccine, from a non-immunized older kid at a daycare center where the infant spent a few hours a couple of days a week. The older kid was coughing and sneezing around like kids do. Measles is highly contagious for several days before obvious symptoms such as a rash and fever occur. By the time the infected kid was sent home, he’d managed to expose dozens of kids and their caretakers, and, by proxy, dozens more of these kids’ siblings. For those who were immunized, it was just an inconvenience when the daycare was shut down. For those who were not, it was a week or two of illness, sometimes severe enough for hospitalization. Big medical bills, lost days of work for parents, misery and suffering for the kids, and the risk of serious and deadly complications such as deafness, mental retardation, and SSPE. All because some parent(s) wouldn’t vaccinate. All because some parent bought into the Vaccines = Government + Big Pharma + Evil Scientists + Conspiracy to Kill Our Kids!!!!! Our little Johnny could become autistic from the scary needle, and he’s so much more important than anyone elses’ kids; we don’t even care if he’s the next Typhoid Mary!
    To me this is one of the most extreme examples of the results of the kind of ignorance induced by anti-science religious thinking. These parents have grown up in an era of unprecedented health brought about by medical science. They themselves have never seen children crippled, scarred, or killed by diseases like measles, smallpox, or polio. They have not had to give birth to ten kids in the hopes that a few of them might live. They are blissfully unaware of the lengths their parents’ generation went to in order to eradicate smallpox and control polio. Now they worry about mercury and autism and believe that a vegan diet will boost their kid’s immune system more than a vaccine. They don’t understand the principle of “herd immunity”. They don’t see themselves as part of a community to whom they have a responsibility. And they’re raising an entire generation of kids to think this way.
    Welcome to the middle ages. Better start flagellating yourselves to expiate your sins before the next plague hits. Yeah….that’ll work.

  11. ChuckA says:

    Excellent comment, Sue!
    And those same ignorant fucktards want “Intelligent Design” taught in all Science classes.
    I’m reminded of this atheist’s Blog page:

    Personally, I remember, in particular, the then all-too prevalent polio scare during the 1940s; and as a kid, who WAS, in that Era (thanks to increasingly evolving Science), immmunized against SOME of the known common diseases, being generally warned not to take (and/or) suck on pieces of ice off the (still horse drawn ca. 1946!) alley-way ice delivery wagons.
    [Yes…refrigerators were still called “Ice Boxes”, then!] 😯
    Of course, we all did it, anyway.
    I think I did have a mild case of the Mumps; but not the measles. And, recently, my doctor asked me if I wanted to get a new ‘shot’ which supposedly prevents “shingles” for anyone who DID have childhood measles…
    another one of those “sneaky DNA hiding” little bastards!
    I explained my ‘history’, and declined.
    [I do have one older cousin who has experienced some of that little sneaky evolutionary delight.]

  12. Sue Blue says:

    Thanks, ChuckA. I’m too young to remember the polio scares but I did get rubella, measles, chickenpox and mumps as a kid because the vaccines for those were just coming out when I was starting school. Fortunately I have not had any complications from them. I did get have to get all my “childhood” vaccinations as an adult when I went into nursing school because antibody titers showed I had no longer had immunity to these diseases – it is being discovered that vaccines do not last forever and even getting the disease doesn’t always guarantee complete lifelong immunity – but I’ll take the shots any day over the diseases. I also got the shingles vaccine to protect against recurrence of H. Varicella (the virus that causes chickenpox). And I always get my flu shots. Both my kids were vaccinated to the gills with all the latest shots without a single complication between them (anecdotal evidence, I know).
    My mother is another example of how the religious mindset influences judgment in this matter. She herself had cousins who were crippled by polio in the 1940s, and you would think that would make an indelible impression, but – no. She’s a devout Seventh-Day-Adventist deep in the thrall of magical thinking and suspicion of science, and because some church member’s son had a bad reaction to some unspecified “shot” he got when entering the army, she’s convinced the Evil Government is poisoning kids at the behest of the Evil Scientists Who Say We Come From Monkeys. It’s un-fucking-believable.

  13. ChuckA says:

    ^ Correction…
    In talking, subsequently, on Skype with my 1st cousin, she informed me that it was childhood “Chicken Pox” which is the sneaky culprit in later adulthood “Shingles” problems.

  14. Bronze Dog says:

    Doing a bit of catching up, since apparently I somehow forgot to check by the place for a while.

    Good points on all the vaccination stuff. I’ve recently been keeping up with some troll roasts over at Orac’s, especially a thread discussing the 96% drop in Chicken Pox deaths as a result of the vaccine. And I thought I had a nasty case of it as a child. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that some people get such severe cases, especially from a virus that can come back to haunt you with shingles.

    What’s really annoying is that one of the trolls thinks he can perform a magical practice he calls “due diligence” to psychically know where contagious people are or have been, and avoid them. He seems to think that people just spontaneously learned “due diligence” with regard to specific diseases, and that it’s just coincidence that the number of cases dropped shortly after the introduction of vaccines.

    Personal note: I like that you brought up the Perfect Solution Fallacy with regard to GPS. I’m currently writing up a thesis proposal about making a GIS database for a public park, so the managers can update new plants, removal of dead plants, etcetera, with the college’s GPS units. It’ll be better than working in the non-georeferenced CAD ether they had before.

    Amusing troll note: A long while back, I managed to get a troll to paint himself into a corner: If the theory of Relativity and our understanding of nuclear physics are wrong, it’s essentially saying GPS, which relies on relativistic correction of atomic clocks in the satellites, operates on dumb luck.

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