The Sciences

Antivax people are antivax

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitAug 30, 2009 2:31 PM


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[Note: Many times, when I write about antivax stuff, I get comments that try to sidetrack the issue at hand. For the record, I am a parent myself, my heart goes out to parents of autistic kids, and I went through those very same fears and worries that every parent does. I also understand that a lot of parents listen to antivaxxers and believe in their falsehoods, but my writing is generally not aimed at the parents. It's aimed at the loudest proponents of the antivax movement, the ones instigating those falsehoods, not the ones simply repeating them. In the end this is about the fact that vaccines don't cause autism, and the big mouthpieces of the antivax movement are almost entirely fact-free in their claims. So let's stick with that, Mmmmkay?] I talk about the antivaccination movement quite a bit here, because I happen to have a strong desire to keep babies alive. If we stop vaccinating kids, we'll see a lot of them succumbing to preventable diseases. Preventable, that is, through vaccination. Orac has an interesting take on all this: he points out that at its core, the antivax movement just simply hates vaccinations.

Now, that might seem like a tautology. But it's not, not really. It's actually relevant because the antivax movement must change its story (what we skeptics call "moving the goalposts") every time they are conclusively proven wrong. That happens a lot. When it's pointed out that mercury doesn't cause autism (removing it from vaccines did not lower the autism diagnosis incidence rate), they say vaccines contain squalene, or fetal tissue, or ghosts, or the Loch Ness monster. Of course, when it's shown that autism rates have nothing to do with vaccination, they ignore it, or spin it, or lie about it. In a sense, the loudest proponents stick to their movement the way a racist sticks with their prejudices. You can tear down their specific claims about a particular group of people point by point, but in the end the racist simply hates people in that group. It's not rational, or logical, or reasonable. It just is. And so what Orac is saying is that no matter what, at its core, the antivax movement really hates vaccination. No matter what proof you show them, and no matter how much they squeal that they are "pro-choice", really it's their loathing of vaccinations that drives them. It's an interesting idea, and he may very well be right. We've seen exactly this kind of behavior from many in the antivax crowd, moving from debunked claim to debunked claim, trying to pin anything and everything they can on vaccines, long after the logic trail has petered out. In the end, all they have are empty claims and their own misguided methods. No matter what, they are antivax.

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