Last week, I gained some insight into human nature. While Sir Francis Bacon noted that knowledge is power, and Jesus said that the truth will set you free, there are still times when you might regret learning certain things. Or, at least, you might wish that your lesson were not so comprehensive.
I produce content for various other websites, and have a weekly column on an extremely popular site, that covers all sorts of health issues. Over the past few years, these columns have touched on a wide variety of topics, and I would occasionally receive e-mail comments from readers. Nothing, however, would prepare me for the barrage of negativity I received last week.
The piece in question had to do with problems being created by parents, who, for whatever reason, had decided not to vaccinate their children for typical childhood diseases. Measles, for example, is making a comeback in certain regions, and all data points to lack of vaccination as the culprit.
In addition to rehashing some of the concerns raised, we will also analyze how people can be so single-minded, full of dubious “facts,” and maintain astonishing ignorance all at the same time.
Ever since vaccination was developed by Edward Jenner in 1796, some portion of the populace was against the practice. These days, though, with our emphasis on natural cures, you would think that any modality that seeks to develop our natural immune systems would be embraced by nearly everyone. But, then, you would be wrong.
The group most offended by my piece was a small cohort of parents and grandparents of autistic kids, who believe to the very core of their being that their child became autistic because of vaccines. First of all, note how generically I had to state their case. It must be so, since the cohort breaks into sub-groups that will conflate and confuse many other issues. Yet, the sub-groups, even while championing different causes, some which conflict, are still united. I realize that this makes no sense, but that’s the point.
Vaccines are the culprit because:
a) Any vaccine puts too much load on an infant’s immune system, and this causes neurological damage, specifically autism
b) Giving too many vaccines at one time puts too much load on an infant’s immune system, and this causes neurological damage, specifically autism
c) It is not the pathogen in the vaccine that causes the problem. Rather it is the inherent mercury compound, used as a preservative
d) If there is no mercury in the vaccine being considered, then revert back to a or b
e) Not only do they cause autism, they cause Alzheimer’s, despite the decades difference of time of activation, and the vast differences in symptoms
If you were to defend vaccination by mentioning that numerous childhood scourges have been essentially wiped out, they would respond by saying that all of these diseases disappeared because of improved sanitation. Their classic example is scarlet fever, an affliction for which there is no specific vaccination, yet its incidence has dropped off.
They don’t mention that most cases of scarlet fever derived from a previous strep throat infection, in the era before antibiotics were widely used.
When you counter that polio became an epidemic BECAUSE of increased sanitation (natural immunity to the virus that lives on human fecal material began to wane under better sanitation), they simply ignore what you said, don’t lose a beat, and continue on with their script.
Needless to say, exhaustive studies have debunked the mercury and vaccination etiologies. At best, it can be argued that a child already at risk might be pushed over the edge if he received multiple vaccinations over too short a period of time—a practice started by physicians who had observed that parents were not returning for follow-up visits with their kids, who were not getting required injections.
Argue any of these points, and you are a tool of the government or the big pharmaceutical companies. Evidently, the zealots would rather believe in a conspiracy. But why?
Their child is afflicted and there has to be a reason. Certainly, there is a reason, and maybe some day we will understand the etiology of all diseases, and perhaps we will even understand why a particular individual is chosen by fate to be victimized. In reality, that day—if it ever comes—is far off in the future.
Only, our zealots don’t want to be bothered with reality. There is a reason, damn it, and they have found it. Anyone on the other side is truly a threat, since they are attacking their very fragile support system, and must be vilified without mercy.
Forgotten, sadly, is the affected child, who is often denied rational treatment, as the zealots seek out the autism profiteers. Thus, the true believers have created a double victim, all in the name of their cause.