Fighting Anti-Vaccination Idiocy

Sigh… I don’t know why I’m doing this, because the anti-vaxxers don’t seem to care about facts. I tried to post this on a FB page of people railing against vaccines on behalf of a friend who wanted a counter-opinion, but I kept getting an error.  (quitting FB didn’t help… restarting the browser didn’t help… restarting the computer didn’t help…) Maybe the post was too long. Maybe the owner of the page doesn’t want long posts.  I dunno.  So, I posted it here and hopefully can link it to the FB article.

Facebook "anti-vaxxer" page...

The picture at right shows up on the FB page for a mommy blogger person defending not getting their child vaccinated. First off, any article that shows a baby getting a shot with what looks to be a double shot glass full of whiskey or urine or some glow-in-the dark substance should be considered suspect. That is an idiotic picture clearly made to pull on your emotions and should immediately render the article irrelevant.

Secondly, before I point out how utterly insane the anti-vaccination crowd is, let me also point out that I probably would be liked by a lot of anti-vaxxers, because like them, I try to eat very healthy and try to have my children eat healthy. As a single male in my 20s, I probably went through a gallon of animal-vaccine laden milk in a week and 2-3 Big Gulps from 7-11. Now, in a family of four, we only drink organic milk (no steroids or animal vaccines), the size of a half gallon, and it lasts about 3 weeks (many times we have to throw it out). We eat very little gluten, the kids don’t drink any soda (they will have it occasionally, and they won’t finish it, say it tastes like sugar, and don’t like the “fizz”). They have barely eaten McDonald’s and don’t actually care for it (daughter thinks the taste of chicken nuggets is, to quote, “gross”).

Point is, don’t any of you anti-vaxxers even dare to throw out “you just believe what for-profit corporations say and you don’t look at the science.” Because you will sound stupid.

OK, to start off, if you read the article, all you see about this is an apologetic approach to anti-vaxxers with claims of a vast media conspiracy – “86 cases in 2000, 189 cases in 2013 somehow this is an epidemic Stupid media!” (I’m paraphrasing). What this person left out is that this is about triple the normal rate, and almost all the cases where from people who had brought the disease back from overseas and spread it. We have about 60 cases of measles per year, but those cases are almost always somebody who went overseas where measles is present, and (thought many of these people are vaccinated) got sick. They didn’t come home and spread it. Now, more than ever, they are spreading it, because we have many more people who aren’t vaccinated (because they get their medical advice from Playboy playmates and people like this blogger). And this creates more opportunities for it to hit vaccinated people – it, gasp, “spreads”. Spreading is what makes it an outbreak. An outbreak is not some term that means it has to be like the 1995 movie with Dustin Hoffman where a town is quarantined.

Secondly, in reading the article, all you hear are apologies – well, don’t go to a doctor where somebody got the vaccine, because… “shedding”. You used to get one shot, now you get 3! Basically, using scientific facts (the virus does shed, people do get more shots), and somehow implying that it is a friggin’ conspiracy theory or some such idiocy. She never mentions that the original vaccine for measles was for one strain (viruses mutate, you know), and that it used to be given with human immunoglobin (which had side effects). In other words, this dip weed wants you to believe that companies are making the vaccine to just shove in your kids like a shot of whiskey, and not that the vaccine is safer, with fewer side effects, and protects against more strains. No, it is “big Pharma”, and they just want to “poison” your kids. /facepalm.

Another point i will make is based upon a recent experience. Our school just sent us a notice that our daughter needs to get her Tdap booster. I found this a great opportunity to look into Tdap, because one of my FB friends was all over FB ranting about vaccines and autism (he since got so annoyed with me pointing out how stupid his anti-vaxx stance was that he dropped me as a friend.)

He pointed to a recent study that showed the Tdap vaccine with thermiosol (the mercury preservative Jenny McCarthy’s cleavage started her anti-vaxx crusade with), over a large group of people, had a doubling of autism cases. This sounds alarming. But, wait… the data showed that the increase was from 0.0001% to 0.0002%. This is ridiculously small. It would mean that for every 10,000 kids, there was one additional case of autism.

OK, you say, well, that’s one extra I don’t want, so… NO Tdap PLEASE! But, let’s put this in perspective. If you are 20 years old and decide you want a baby, you have a 1 in 1,667 chance of having a baby with down’s syndrome. that’s 10 times greater than getting autism from a Tdap vaccine (assuming this data is even reproducible, which ALL autism studies from vaccines have proven to not be reproducible). If you are 35 years old, you have a chance of having a baby with down’s if 1 out of 385 times, which is, wait for it, 25 FREAKING TIMES HIGHER! If you are 35, thinking about getting pregnant, and looking into vaccinations, and you decide to not get your kid vaccinated due to a 1 in 10,000 chance of autism (again, assuming this study is reproducible), but you don’t give a flying fig about a 1 in 385 chance of down’s syndrome, then, I have to say this, YOU… ARE… AN… IDIOT. You would have decided to drive across country rather than fly, because there was a plane crash 2 years ago, even though a drive across country has a massively higher chance of you dying in an accident.

Next, let’s talk about these scientific papers that are claiming to show a link. This whole anti-vaxx thing started based upon one article in a British journal. This one article was based upon self-reported cases from parents (i.e. not double blind or in any way scientific). It was based upon an incredibly small number of people (not in any way statistically significant). It was based upon the doctor, who hated vaccines anyway, seeing kids with a digestive problem (not even autism related). And, it was discovered, he lied. He changed the answers of some of the self-reporters who said they had no digestive problems or autism, and he said they did.

This is what kicked the whole… mess… off. This paper has since been discredited about 1000 times over, but the anti-vaxxers still hold onto it (because the original “doctor” still holds onto it), and again, the apologists and conspiracy theorists come out, claiming the CDC is bought off, big Pharma controls government, blah blah blah. I bet if you look hard enough, you will probably be able to prove Merck assassinated Kennedy.

Additionally, as far as scientific papers go, yes, there are papers showing links between autism and vaccinations. These links are incredibly specious, and are never reproducible. And, they are in the vast minority of studies. Something like 1%. What the anti-vaxxers don’t understand is just because a study comes out that matches your point of view, that doesn’t mean you get to discount everything else and just hold onto that. You will find, in fact, scientific papers, written by people with PhDs and peer reviewed, that will find that smoking causes no increased chance of lung cancer, and that the earth is actually really young (only 6,000 years old). You actually can find these “studies”. They do exist. What you have to understand is that scientific studies that are in the minority are produced all the time, because as long as they use strong scientific and mathematical analysis, they pass “peer review”. These kinds of studies must be published, even if they seem “crazy”, because that is how scientific knowledge advances. A minority opinion can become a majority opinion, and the only way this can happen is for things that follow good scientific protocol to be published so that why can be confirmed or disproven.

So, if you are holding onto your 1% of scientific papers that show links between autism, and saying that is “proof”, what you are doing is  cherry picking data. You might be right, but then again, so might the young earthers. Do you really want to be in that camp?

I will end this with one more comment about scientific papers. About 1% of the scientific papers that are published show that there is no link between human activity and climate change. The Republican party in the US uses these studies as a way to not adopt public policies for more solar, wind, geothermal, etc., and to keep giving tax subsidies to oil companies to poke holes in the ground and gas companies to explode cracks in rocks underground that cause earthquakes and poison water wells.

If you think global warming is real, and one of the arguments you use is “look at the sheer scientific data that says humans are causing global warming”, then, I’m sorry, you are not allowed to be an anti-vaxxer. The phrase I would use is, “in for a penny, in for a pound”. You do not get to use the scientific process where you are in the majority, and simultaneously cite “scientific process” when you are in the minority. If you trust scientists one way, you have to trust them another way. Science, my friends, is not something you get to use for your political hobby horse. It is either right, or it isn’t. It isn’t right when you want it to be and wrong when you want it to be.

Just like with global warming, you can’t make a “personal choice” to make the problem better. You can’t decide that we’ll be OK as long as you personally drive a Prius, or install solar panels, or make your own biofuels. We can only change the course of climate through collective action. Your personal actions won’t affect jack squat. Similarly, we can’t let every person decide, on their own, whether to get vaccinated or not. Lots of non-vaccinated people running around will spread disease, even to the vaccinated, so “personal choice” is not an acceptable criteria.

OK, I lied…. one more thing. How come all you anti-vaxxers want to go off on “big Pharma” all the time? You seem to want to discount everything they say because… “profit” or something. Have you ever put that same spotlight on all your favorite anti-vaxx writers and lecturers? You know, these aren’t exactly non-profits doing all this talking. There are people that make incredible sums of money every year flying around the country peddling their anti-vaxx crap. Their model, in fact, is very similar to the religious leaders like Joel Olsteen – hawking their conspiracies and gospel of truth, fleecing you for money. If you are going to question somebody’s profit motive, you need to question ALL of it.

Get your F***ING KIDS VACCINATED, or move to a country where they don’t care if you are vaccinated. I do not want my kid to grow up with measles scars or be stuck in a wheelchair due to polio because of you idiots, even though he was vaccinated.  I hear Somalia is really nice this time of year, weather wise.


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