Don’t Confuse Me With Facts: When Misinformation Kills

I cringe when I see reports like this, especially in the face of reports of disease/infections resurging in the face of decreased vaccination rates. Polio is basically eradicated because of vaccination. By refusing to vaccinate we risk sicknesses becoming common again that our parents and grandparents prayed for a cure to.


Case in point…America has very few to no cases of diptheria, mumps, rubella, polio etc, after instituting various vaccination discovery and implementation campaigns last century. India is following the same plan – and are now three years without a case of polio! (this is cause for serious celebration) Not only that, but India is now working on eradicating Measles as well.

I understand that some bad batches of vaccines have caused tragic consequences in the past (hasn’t stopped anyone from eating beef, since the Mad Cow thing), and occasionally (very occasionally, look at the research) there are serious side effects, but if anyone looks back to the early 20th century at the numbers of people being killed and debilitated by diseases that are now more or less unknown to children in the western/first world, it seems like the benefits to us as individuals and society outweigh the risks so heavily it’s absurd.

Science & Space

More bad news from the loopy world of the anti-vaccine folks. As TIME reported yesterday, a new study published in Pediatrics found that when parents decide not to vaccinate their children because of worries about the safety of the shots, there may very, very little that can be done to change their minds. The researchers tried four strategies to get through to the naysayers—including showing them pictures of kids with vaccine-preventable diseases and providing them the scientific proof that vaccines are safe and effective. The needle barely budged.

This says much less about vaccines or even parents than it does about the human tendency to cling to—and even fight for—ideas and beliefs that just ain’t so. The anti-vaccine camp has a lot in common with other groups that traffic in tales of conspiracies and coverups and terrible things being done by powerful forces. Like the birthers and the truthers and…

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