Facts, not Fantasy

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Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Vaccine Tinmes: The worst misconceptions parents of some unvaccinated children hold

The whole reason I put this blog and this web page together is to combat many of the myths (do I dare say outright lies) that are out there.  While it is easy to try to polarize the issues, there are some fundamental flaws in reasoning amongst the anti-vaxers that taint the entire viewpoint from the outset.  The Vaccine Times has a good article on this.  Just a quick intro, and the conclusions:
The other day, as I was catching up on my vaccines Google Alert, I ran across a blog entry titled The Worst Things People Say About Unvaccinated Kids over at a website called Babble. In this article, the author lists what she considers to be the 5 worst things other people, presumably parents of vaccinated children, say about unvaccinated children, and she   provides rebuttals to these assertions.

I am a bit torn about how to properly respond to this entry, as there is some truth to what the author says. For example , she points out that being told that ” I’m a bad parent, I will not be persuaded to see things your way.” This is true. Most parents who have chosen not to vaccinate their kids, whom I have had a chance to have any sort of meaningful interaction with, are not bad parents, but precisely the opposite is true. It is out of what they consider justified caution that they choose not to vaccinate. They are wrong in their analysis of the pros and cons of vaccines, but that does no make them bad parents. And, if your goal is to persuade them to analyze the issue properly, offending them by calling them stupid, idiots, or bad parents is not the way to go. Everyone makes wrong decisions, you and I included. So a little bit of civility and giving the other person the benefit of the doubt is called for, I think.

Having said that, let us look at her list in detail, as these thoughts, in my opinion, are something that a lot of anti-vaccine parents share.
READ THE REST OF THE POST HERE.  And now here is the conclusion:
The article I reviewed here gives us a glimpse into the anti-vaxxer’s mind. It is my opinion that most anti-vaccine proponents share a few charachteristics which include the following:
  • They have convinced themselves that the diseases are harmless, or at the very least that the risk from the disease is much less than the risk from the vaccines.
  • They believe their children are no more likely to catch and spread a disease than vaccinated children.
  • They believe incidence has decreased independent of vaccines.
  • They think that the statistics about the dangers presented by vaccine-preventable diseases are nothing more than fear-mongering.
  • They believe vaccines do not work at preventing these diseases.
These beliefs are wrong and not supported by evidence, however it is clear to see that once one accepts these premises as true, the decision not to vaccinate does follow logically. Their conclusion is wrong, as they are starting with the wrong premises, but they are not stupid or idiots, at least the majority aren’t. They are in most cases just as intelligent, if not more intelligent and educated, than the average person. The only difference between anti-vaccine proponents and pro-healthers is the required standard of evidence. If you really look at it, all disagreements boil down to one question: “What is to be considered acceptable evidence?”

This unfortunately means that it is highly unlikely, if not impossible, to change the mind of an anti-vaccine believer, since in order to do that, you’d have to completely change how they assign weight to evidence, akin to trying to convince a religious person to become an atheist on the basis of rational arguments.

And that is something you and I may not be able to do in the vast majority of cases.

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