Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Anti-vaxxers aren't dumb, just wrong

I agree, anti-vaxxers aren't stupid. They're by and large successful, well-educated, concerned parents. They're not negligent, and accusations that they are only offend them and harden their opposition. 

This article falls short, however, because we must recognize that on the Internet, many "experts" and even people with medical degrees have an ax to grind against established medicine, and they use the vaccine "debate" as a plowshare to sow seeds of distrust of peer-reviewed medical science in general among these smart, concerned parents. These "natural medicine" proponents cultivate that doubt with junk science and flat-out wrong interpretations of cherry-picked scientific studies. (I know, I've taken the time, unlike most readers, to follow some of their citations of studies that don't support the conclusions they say they do). 

Yet when scientific studies contradict natural medicine, the natural medicine proponents say we can't trust it because it's corrupt and "paid for" by Pharma. See, they get to have it both ways.

(Once I responded to a group of anti-vaxxers on Facebook and their leader challenged me to read an FDA label, any label, for all the adverse events that happened during testing, which the FDA requires to be listed, by law. That was the "expert's" aha moment. So I did. And when I pointed out that the FDA nevertheless approved this drug as safe and effective, the expert just said the FDA is corrupted. Having it both ways: case and point.)

The problem isn't that anti-vaxxers are dumb. They're smart. They think they're so smart that their fears and "common sense" can overcome peer-reviewed science; and there is a whole community of anti-science "experts" assuring them they are smart to reject established science.

I will say the natural medicine movement probably does have a lot to teach us about nutrition and preventive medicine (where established medical practice in the U.S. falls way short, due to a lack of attention to it); however, their claims that herbs, food, lifestyle choices, etc. can CURE any illness or PREVENT all infectious disease is unproven and therefore dangerous.

Proponents of natural medicine should find ways to test their hypotheses and publish their results, so that other scientists can attempt to replicate their results. They should rely on the scientific method, not argue that science is one big conspiracy.

Anti-Vaxxers Aren't Stupid
By Emma Green
February 16, 2016 | The Atlantic

URL: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/02/anti-vaxxers-arent-stupid/462864/ 

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