I’ve had run-ins with anti-vaxxers before – ironically, the first big argument was with people I’d considered acquaintances, if not friends. We’d been to parties together, had drinks together, then suddenly, they lost their shit over a Facebook post of mine and that was that. I had attacked their sense of privilege and their smug ignorance (ok, I’d also called them idiots and that their little disease vectors were potentially infecting innocent people), but they clicked the “unfriend” button on Facebook and stomped off into the sunset.
Because if there’s one thing more intolerant, or resistant to pesky facts, or completely out of touch with reality, than a creationist, it’s an anti-vaxxer. And let’s face it, you can spread Creationism around Disneyland, and nobody gets hurt. These people, however, are a fucking menace to society.
So yesterday on Facebook, I posted a link to the article where an immunologist takes down the dribbling idiot who complains that “if you injected mercury, ammonium phospat (sic) and formaldehyde with VIRUSES (!) you’d be arrested for abuse, but doctors can do it legally.” I just posted it, didn’t make any comment, let it speak for itself, and a couple of friends “liked” it. All was well in the world.
Then, from out of the blue – and from somebody I didn’t know, thankfully – comes the message:
just because a “scientist” said it does not make it true
Uh-oh. Scientist in inverted commas, and of course scientists lie – mostly because they’re saying sane, rational things that are diametrically opposed to whatever germ-ridden fantasy land anti-vaxxers live in. Honestly, I probably should have just left it there. Made a snide remark and walked away. But, I didn’t.
“Ok then, I’ll bite, let’s hear your refutation of his facts. And please don’t let it be a YouTube video,” I said. Because we all know that these people all have Masters in Internet Videos from YouTube University, and if it’s in a video, IT MUST BE TRUE!
Immediately, she goes on the defensive. Maybe because she wasn’t expecting me to ask for facts, maybe because she’s used to throwing around one-liner “refutations” of articles and walking away, satisfied with her own smugness. I dunno.
do you really want facts or is this another vac bash
I’d just asked her for facts, but – again like with creationists – the need to feel persecuted is high in these ones. They feel that if their insane ideas are being torn apart in front of them, that it somehow justifies their ideas, and the more you show them how wrong they are, the more they know they’re right. It’s the Backfire Effect (When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger), and I’ve run into it often enough in dealing with creationists and right-wing nutters, to know that I should have just walked away. Buy hey! It was late, I’d had a beer, and it was either tear her a new one, or go to bed. And I wasn’t tired. However, I thought that it would be fair to warn her that I held her kind in very low regard, so she would have her work cut out convincing me, but that I was willing to be enlightened if she provided the evidence.
Given that I’ve yet to see an anti-vaxxer come up with anything resembling scientific, proven, tested results (and Wakefield can be safely ignored for the fraud that he is), go ahead and enlighten me. I should also warn you that I think people who don’t vaccinate are despicable creatures who put their own unfounded paranoia above the safety of their children and people around them. So there’s your caveat.
I don’t think I could be fairer than that. Plus, I’d also taken the precaution of taking the old favourite of Andrew Wakefield out of the equation. I shouldn’t have bothered:
exactly why is wakefield a fraud? and what is your personal qualifications
It was around this point that I facepalmed for the first time. Not only was here somebody still clinging to the lies spread by that evil, evil man – he has a lot to answer for, and if there is a Hell, I hope they’re keeping an extra warm spot just for him – but there’s suddenly an appeal to expertise too? Presumably because her qualification of “having produced small human from my loins” trumps any qualification I might have in refuting her medieval beliefs. Sorry, but “speaking as a mother” is crazy talk for “talking out of my arse.” Or “Suspending rational thought for a moment.” (To paraphrase Bill Bailey)
Still, I took my hand away, and politely and succinctly pointed out everything that was wrong with Wakefield and his fraudulent research, complete with a handy link, because these guys love the “Look it up!” route. Of course, that was my mistake – I have dared to provide facts and kick dirt on her shrine to Andrew Wakefield. Immediately, we see another trait that creationist display: the “oh, I have so much information for you, but you’re too closed minded to even listen to it” tactic of running away.
I am sitting here with so much data and just realised that i have no desire to educate someone who has already closed their mind to a world different to your own. I have no personal qualifications,but mom in law was head of research at glaxo for years and refused to vaxx kids, sister is head of a lab as microbiologist and guess what refuses to vaxx kids.so if you really wake up tomorrow and want the truth,you know where to find me.by the way,go back and research wakefield again without the propaganda.
“Go and research Andrew Wakefield without the propaganda.” And you’re going to provide anecdotal evidence?? Excuse me for a moment…
Why, dear goddess, is it that those who are always totally closed to any idea – and especially evidence – that contradicts their own worldview, are the first to accuse you of being close minded. I’ve asked her twice to produce evidence and twice told her that I’m willing to be enlightened – provided her evidence stands up to scrutiny. Of course, given that she’s wheeled out Wakefield straight off the bat, my hopes of such enlightenment happening were diminishing fast.
Luckily at this point, one of my friends stepped into the fray, who happens to have a Ph.D in chemistry (thus also handily solving the Appeal to Expertise argument). (He blogs too. About stuff. Read it. It’s good.) His take-down of the belief in Wakefield is so good, and so simple that it bears repeating:
We’ve known for 17 years that Wakefield’s 1998 study didn’t prove vaccines cause autism (this information brought to you by the people who actually read it).
We’ve known for 11 years that he had financial conflicts of interest in publicising his apparent work that meant he stood to profit significantly from scaring people away from a triple-vaccine.
We’ve known for 8 years that his infamous study was performed unethically, from unnecessary procedures performed on children to blood samples being collected at a birthday party.
We’ve known for 5 years that his ethical violations were deemed sufficient for him to be banned from practising medicine in the United Kingdom.
We’ve known for 4 years that the BMJ have declared that his work on the MMR vaccine was not just unethical, but outright fraudulent.
It’s 2015 now. There is literally no excuse for believing his shit anymore.
Of course, arguing with these people is like trying to nail jelly to a wall. Having had Wakefield trashed, but without acknowledging that fact, she suddenly swing tact, posting a link to the – also discredited Dr Hooker “whistleblower” who claimed the CDC falsified the data. Again, a very familiar anti-vaxxer trope and one that is equally easily debunked as being a storm in a petri dish.
Along the way, I’d also asked her if she’d be happy if people still suffered from smallpox and polio. Yeah, I know, puerile argument really, but by this point it was clear we were being faced with the usual anti-vaxxer standard talking points, so why play nice? The reply was a special kind of crazy:
people still suffer from polio, we just call in guillian barr now, look up
No. Just no. At this point, I’m indebted to another commentator who pitched in:
Umm Guillain-Barré syndrome is not another name for polio, it’s another name for Guillain-Barré syndrome. I always heard people like you existed but I assumed you were a myth, like unicorns or human kindness.
Because by now, we’d reached plutonium levels of stupidity and really, being nice wasn’t going to help anyway.
But once again, we switch tack – back to the ingredients of the vaccines. Because, in true Food Babe style, if something sounds bad, then it must be bad. The irony of this is that by going this route, she immediately validates the point raised the the OP that she started out criticizing.
guy in lab coat did not say they did not use aluminium in vaxx he said they had to use it, look up aluminium in the child brain,formaldehyde in the system,and the insert of any vaxx you are putting in your kid
aluminium phosphate is a poison with level 2 warning,maybe not for injecting?
all you are doing is quoting povaxx and not considering the important facts here,like what is in the vacines
So, clearly she’s done her research, so I asked for a bit more clarity. I also lost my shit with her repeated “look it up!” claims. And yeah, if you’re using “provax” as a snarl word, we might need to revisit your “close minded” claims.
Stop saying look it up – seriously, that is the most infuriating thing with you lot – “look it up!” ‘Google it!” – because it means the other person has to waste time looking for stuff and you get away without providing citations for your claims.
No, instead of look it up, provide the information yourself. You’ve made the claim. Back it up.
Tell me, what’s the LD50 for AlP04? What’s the concentration in the average vaccination dose? Are you doing a Food Babe and going the “ooh! scary word! must be bad!” route, or do you actually know the chemical make-up and concentrations of the chemicals in a vaccination? Saying ‘But there’s formaldehyde in it!” isn’t enough? How much is in it? What are the allowable tolerances in the human body for that? That’s the big difference that the Op pointed out – if you mixed up the chemicals listed on a vaccine and injected yourself, you’d probably die. That’s because you’re not a pharmacist and don’t know the first thing about how these are actually made, apart from the ingredients listed on the side.
Still waiting for a reply. Maybe her kid needed it’s latest dose of 100% organic, gluten-free soy milk, or something.
But I’m also indebted to two more commentators. The first posted a link to the wonderful article “What Everyone Gets Wrong About Anti-Vaccine Parents,” which states what I think we all know already – being an anti-vaxxer has nothing to do with the welfare of the children. It’s about the parents’ sense of privilege, their denial of authority – hich really, you’re only allowed to do if you’re 14 and emo, and a misbegotten need to feel “empowered’ – that they’ve “done the research” and that they know best. It’s about ego, not lives. And because of that, lives are at risk.
I’m going to close off this with one of the final comments posted by another commentator on the thread, with which I agree 100%. By all means, don’t vaccinate. But then, don’t complain when society excludes you and your little disease vectors from public spaces, where they put people at risk.
I’ve taken on the anti vac donkeys numerous times. The question is, why bother? The choice should be theirs. But that choice should have a direct consequence. Access to public buildings, schools, transport systems, theatres, stadiums, work places… If you’re not safe to be in a crowd, you don’t get to be in a crowd. Kennels ask to see my dog’s vaccination certificate before they let him stay, for the safety of the other dogs. Why aren’t we as demanding of protection for vulnerable people? I’m glad to see this attitude coming into being at doctor’s surgeries, schools and work places in the States. I hope we follow suit. Leave the muppets the choice, but they feel the consequences of their choice, not others.