By Erin K Costello
On a daily basis we see and read all kinds of reasons why parents went from pro-vax to anti-vax. Where my fellow pro-vaccine warriors debunk their scientific reasons, and excel at doing this, I can’t help but to be distracted by the reasoning behind this newly adopted belief of dumbfuckery. What drove them to research to begin with? How can they read the same studies as I do but see something entirely different? And how are they able to remain in this alternate reality of theirs?
When an AVer (anti-vaxxer) makes the claim to have discovered the truth about vaccines, it gives the impression they were originally lied to. AVers like to insist their past ignorance was not their fault and must have been orchestrated for nefarious reasons, when in reality it’s only because they never before bothered to learn about the science behind vaccines. There isn’t a thing in life that will maintain our initial impression, good or bad, once we discover more information about the subject at hand. Once we are able to obtain more information, naturally our impressions will change. So, I’m curious, what impressions did they initially have? What information do they believe to be proof of a lie that was missed by all the people who dedicate their lives to the study and practice of science? Why do they believe they were the ones able to find this game changing discovery instead of those specializing in the field? How is it they’ve come to determine their research found something so massive that it contradicts what the world has come to learn and discover about vaccines, immunology, and the scientific method? And why has it never crossed their minds that they could be wrong?
I know first hand that many AVers are in fact intelligent, educated in one or more areas, and come from all walks of life as well as all corners of the globe. However, none of these facts or attributes leave them immune (pun intended) from being wrong. Even Einstein made mistakes or learned at a later point that he was initially wrong. Edison himself admitted to learning 1000 ways how not to do something while each of those 1000 times he started out believing his efforts would prove correct. Anyone who studies science knows that theories will always change or evolve as more information is learned. Yet AVers speak as though their science is settled, or there’s no need to go back to drawing board. Anyone who truly understands science knows that it’s an impossible scenario for any science to become and remain settled, even if they can’t yet imagine the information that could cause this to change. Basically, they're willing and able to accept the possibility of their work being wrong or incomplete based on newly discovered information, before that information is even known. Yet, the AV community will never admit to being wrong, not even while proof is shoved in their faces.
Their inability to admit or hear they could be wrong should always be a red flag to anyone. But what is more troubling is how they believe simply looking things up on-line is sufficient enough to educate someone. Whenever I hear this, I can’t help but to wonder how they know their resources are correct? How they studied their resources? How they tested themselves as well as their science? Who did they have approving their learnings?
What if I were to tell you I had researched heart surgery through years of Google searches and watched hundreds of hours of Youtube videos regarding open heart surgery. Would you then trust me to tend to your heart attack should you ever have one? Would you trust me to perform your double bypass? Would you take my advice concerning your child’s hypothetical heart murmur? No. Of course not.
When someone is not informed on an issue and chooses to study and learn the subject themselves, they are more or less the blind leading the blind through unfamiliar territory. Without an experienced and educated instructor guiding you through, without consistent testing, without completing assignments, and without real life experience through experimentation in a laboratory setting, how can one know if they are studying the correct information, retaining the correct parts of the information, and if they are reaching the correct conclusions? How will they know if their self education falls short of completion? These are questions AVers will not allow themselves to consider. They often act as though they’ve studied all there is to study about vaccines. As far as they’re concerned, their science education is finished. If there’s information they don’t already know, and you insist on telling them this information, you’re told to be either wrong or lying.
The reason why actual scientists find this close-mindedness so dangerous is because science is never settled . Every scientific discovery and breakthrough the world has ever known came off of the works of others, specifically from the scientists before them. Science is and always has been a collaborative effort. There can be one downside to this though. If the work of someone before you was wrong or flawed, your work will be as well. This is why it’s important to know, understand, and trust the data you are using to form your scientific conclusions. Even when you trust your data and believe it to be correct, new information can be learned that reveals the data is not complete or correct. If this can happen to those who do this for a living and spent years understanding their field of science, then surely it’s going to happen to even the most ambitious Google University scholar. Without proper guidance from an expert in the field, how would they know if what they’re paying attention to is factual or flawed? And even if they did know, would they abandon any conclusions formed once realized to have come from false data? Every scientist understands the importance of the scientific method. If a scientist discovers their theory relies on faulty data they will correct the data, reapply the new figures to their hypothesis, and accept the outcome of this action. AVers can’t seem to accomplish the first step of admitting their fault, let alone make corrections. Instead they will argue against the correct data by insisting their conclusion is correct, so therefor their data must be correct as well.
Their reluctance to admit they’re wrong could come from several different places depending on the individual, but one place it comes from for all AVers is their personal investment on vaccine safety. For the same reasons why our society doesn’t allow doctors to treat family members, we also shouldn’t entertain the beliefs of AVers. They are led by their emotions, and often admit to being overly passionate about this issue because they have what’s called a “dog in this fight,” the figurative dog being their child or children. The outcome of vaccine studies directly effects their lives, their futures, and their outlook on life and the scientific community.
Another frequent result of their personal research is the existence of corruption and conflicts of interest in government and government agencies. I can’t help but to wonder, was there ever a time in their adult life they believed such corruption didn’t exist or couldn’t exist? I admit I could have just been overly cynical my adult life, but I can’t imagine many people failing to realize such corruption exists to some degree by the time they’re old enough to vote. History alone shows us it exists to some extent, and always exists. However, the fact that history can show us this should also rest their fears about vaccines. No corruption can involve this many people for this long of a time successfully. Every scientist, educator, doctor, health agency, college or university, clinic, laboratory, pharmacist, pharmaceutical company, and regulatory agency both nationally and globally would have to be knowingly lying to the world, and doing so without ever revealing the truth to a loved one, friend, or family member . This also would’ve had to been going on for about a century since vaccines have been widely studied and discovered for about that long. Is there a secret you’ve known in your life that is still to this day a secret? I doubt there is, but if there is I’m willing to bet it’s a secret that only affects yourself, not the world.
The existence of corruption is to be expected in all areas involving humans. This isn’t new or shocking information. This also doesn’t mean the whole institution was/is corrupt. If you have a corrupt family member does that make the family unit as a whole corrupt? Does that make every claim you make, and every action you take to be self serving and at the expense of all others? If even the majority of a family is corrupt does that mean the family forever stays corrupt as family members die and are replaced by new ones? Corruption in any area of life should never be tolerated. Corruption in public service should be considered a high priority crime and treated as such. However it’s mere existence shouldn’t be the sole factor in anyone’s conclusion about an agency, let alone anyone’s conclusion about a medical practice with a century of data behind it’s claims.
Other red flags regarding AV research are their resources. One source they often cite as backing their beliefs about vaccines is VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System). However, the fact they mention VAERS as a source supporting their conclusion, and the fact they rely in it’s existence to prove accusations of malicious activity in the accepted practice of vaccines, leads me back to above mentioned suspicions regarding their self performed “research.” Everyone who is aware of VAERS knows it’s a reporting platform for vaccine reactions. It’s existence does not mean that all reports are true and vaccines are harmful. Anyone can make a claim of any reaction to any vaccine at any time. This leaves way too much room for incorrect information, lies, and faulty data. There are too many variables left open to come to any kind of likely conclusion.
Another resource they mention is NVICP (National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program). They assume that if a court exists for adjudicating vaccine safety, and if there’s a judgment made on behalf of the petitioner, then it proves them to be correct about the dangers of vaccines. They don’t understand how this court works though. NVICP is a civil court, not a criminal court, as each court is different. Any judgments made and compensations ordered are not awarded based on the same criteria of criminal court. The accuser (petitioner) does not have to prove their case beyond all reasonable doubt. They just have to argue that the vaccine could possibly be the cause, or is slightly more likely to be the cause than not be the cause to an adverse event one experienced after being inoculated. To put this in a numerical term, to win in civil court you only have to sway the court to agree that your argument holds a value of 51% or more compared to the opposition’s 49% or less. This does not prove legal or medical liability, and yes, those are two different liabilities with their own set of proofs to be met. One can be legally responsible without being medically to blame, and one can be medically to blame but not legally liable. One does not conclude the other.
They also fail to accept or admit how NVICP’s own data proves their claims to be grossly incorrect. From 1989 to 2013 about 87.4 million children were vaccinated to some degree. During this time 15,548 petitions were filed to NVICP. Of those, 12,566 were adjudicated. Of those, 9,946 were dismissed, and 3,256 were awarded compensation. The percentage of petitions filed against the court to the number of children vaccinated is 0.016%. The percentage of compensations awarded by the court to the number of children vaccinated is 0.003%. According to their own source, vaccines have had a safety rating of 99.997% Which means they are basing their choice regarding vaccinations on the negative 0.003% judgments made in a civil court, and not on the positive 99.997% proven safety rating. What’s so alarming though is if you present them with these figures from their own source they feel compelled to dispute these figures as though they can’t be trusted or are bullshit. This is when every AVer needs to face the strong likelihood that their argument is nothing more than an emotional reaction to act out their anger.
We also constantly see posts assuring readers that measles, mumps, and pertussis are not illnesses to be feared, that they aren’t that big of a deal, even though none of these parents have any experience with these illnesses. They never stop to wonder why it is they don’t fear their kids catching these diseases. This can easily be explained by inexperience. For example: I’m not afraid of volcanoes, hurricanes, or sharks. I am oddly afraid of rabbits though, but this post isn’t about leporiphobia. The likely reason why I don’t fear volcanoes, hurricanes, or sharks is because I live in upstate NY. I’ve never seen a shark in person, been in a hurricane, or had to relocate due to a volcano. Those who have had to face these acts of destruction and predators have a reasonable fear of them to some degree. Also, those who are educated about any of these dangers aren’t suddenly immune (another intended pun) to becoming the next victim. You can be a volcanologist and still reasonably hold a fear of an erupting volcano, you can also still be killed by one. You can be a meteorologist and still hold a healthy respect and fear of hurricanes, and even then you can still be killed in one. You can be a marine biologist and still fear going face to face with a shark, and you can still lose your life to the shark in said face off. My not having a fear of these things does not mean the fear of them isn’t real or shouldn’t be felt by others. Also, you can still be harmed by any of these things in very much the same way as others, regardless of the amount of research you’ve conducted.
Have you ever wondered why this argument even exists to begin with? Why is it that the parental choice on one area regarding health is now a global argument inspiring new laws to be enacted? This is part of what is so frustrating to the rest of the world. Are there other parenting choices that parents feel so compelled with convincing the rest of the world to accept, agree with, and adopt? Is there a movement against the choice to get your child braces, and one that’s actively and aggressively trying to prevent children from receiving braces by convincing other parents they are barbaric and harmful? Even if there was, having crooked teeth doesn’t affect the most vulnerable of us in society so there wouldn’t likely be a global debate about orthodontic practices.
If you choose not to vaccinate then fine, don’t vaccinate. But you can’t say your against mandatory vaccination when your actions prove otherwise. If AV parents existed, but the AV movement didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be this push to convince other parents to stop vaccinating. As a result there would be more vaccinated children, which means there wouldn’t be as many outbreaks or low rates of herd immunity to grab the attention of the State, and ultimately there wouldn’t be the threat of mandatory vaccinations. In other words, the government wouldn’t care about your choice to vaccinate or not. Every time an AVer convinces a parent not to vaccinate, they are effectively risking their own child’s vaccination status by risking their ability to lawfully refuse vaccines for their kids. So why is it that the AV movement exists and it’s goal is to convince every parent out there to stop vaccinating? Their biggest excuse for this movement is to “save all the babies.” But that excuse is bullshit. Don’t for one second believe that the AV movement aggressively combats parents who still vaccinate because they are trying to save all the babies. Let me remind you how every AVer uses the excuse of “why should I set my own child on fire to keep yours warm” as their argument against inoculating their kids to protect other children. This is often followed up with the assertion that their child is their only concern, not anyone else’s child. So I find great difficulty believing their actions against vaccines are on behalf of my children and yours, when their argument against vaccines are also selfishly centered around their kids and only their kids.
To conclude, I can’t even get to the part of this argument that debunks their “science” if the data they have used, the methods they have used, and their understanding of it all is incorrect. I also find their intentions questionable since they are emotionally invested in the outcome. Additionally, I find it unsettling that they claim their emotional investment to be a positive postivie force behind their actions, rather than consider it could be a hindrance. But mostly, I find their behavior to be a bit narcissistic since they claim to be doing this work on behalf of the most vulnerable in society, despite the fact that science shows their actions to be contributing to the vulnerability of those most at risk in society.