The anti-vaccination craziness

In Ohio, there has been a disturbing rise this year in illnesses like measles that were once thought to have been defeated by vaccination programs. The Daily Show had a good segment about the dangers that the anti-vaccination movement is posing to all of us.

The show seemed to imply that the crazies in this case come from the well-off, educated, and liberal end of the socio-economic spectrum but Kevin Drum points out that this is not the case and that the anti-vaxxers are all over the map politically.

But whatever their other views, the certainty with which these anti-vaxxers seem to believe in their cause, and their dismissal of the scientific consensus in favor of vaccinations, is quite frightening. Nothing will change their minds, it would seem, except the outbreak of a major epidemic or an illness striking their own children.

(This clip aired on June 2, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)


  1. Dunc says

    Nothing will change their minds, it would seem, except the outbreak of a major epidemic or an illness striking their own children.

    I doubt even that would do it. I’ve definitely seen people claiming that vaccination actually spreads these diseases. They’d probably just double-down. Given their propensity for motivated reasoning, there’s no way that they’re going to admit that they were wrong and that they’re directly responsible for the suffering of their own children. They’ll always find some way to blame it on “Big Pharma”.

  2. hyphenman says

    Good morning Mano,

    Science and Math. Math and Science. As an educator these are the two subjects my students have the most problems with. One of the very sad realities of my time at University is that there was a serious number of students in my discipline (Journalism) who chose the program because, of all the alternatives, there was no Math or Science requirement. None.

    Thankfully that changed shortly after I graduated and a reworking of the school added those requirements (and enrollments dropped, I have no idea where those students went, underwater basket weaving perhaps?) but my fellow students are out there, writing and reporting on topics they have no feckin’ idea about.

    I can see that religion and magic thinking contribute to this problem, but I don’t think they are the core issue. I see more of a problem with people who struggled through, or avoided completely, science and math requirements and now delight in flipping those smartypants types the bird.

    On a related note, Gavin Aung Than’s latest poster is awesome.

    Do all you can to make today a good day,


  3. colnago80 says

    Re hyphenman @ #2

    It should be noted that all too many of the lamestream media have made full time science writers, who actually knew something about what they were writing about, redundant so that in today’s media, all too many science stories are written by reporters who have never taken a science course and know f*ck all about the subjects they write about. Together with the he said she said paradigm of journalism these days this has resulted in all manner of phony information being disseminated. It’s particularly true relative to stories about global warming in which members of the 97% who accept the theory are paired off with quacks like Judith Curry or Roy Spencer, or Pat Michaels. In addition, there is the propaganda disseminated by the Koch brothers who are spending 10s of millions of dollars spreading their lies and buying off politicians.

    I don’t know where you live (I have a suspicion that it may be in the UK) but here in the US, we have the spectacle of the House of Representatives, dominated by the teabaggers, passing a bill that prohibits the Defense Department from spending any funds on studies of the implications of global warming for our defense posture. This while recent studies predict that the Naval base at Norfolk, the largest in the continental US, will be several feed under water by the end of the century. As Judge John Jones III would put it, the inanity of it is breathtaking.

  4. hyphenman says

    @ colnago80

    That’s true. You’re absolutely correct.

    And for the record, I’m one of Mano’s neighbors (and fellow blogger/Socrates Cafe participant) here in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.


  5. Mobius says

    I do love the Daily Show.

    Yes, there is a fringe on the Left that is anti-science. But it is a fringe. The anti-science branch on the Right seems to be the mainstream.

    Still, the Daily Show makes a good point that the anti-vaxxers are hurting us all.

    And the anti-vax spokesperson in the clip may be right about her child being healthier…provided the child never ever comes down with any of the diseases the child was not vaccinated against.

    I am old enough to remember (just barely) the wave of vaccinations that were government mandated. I recall two visits to mass vaccinations for polio (IIRC there were three though). And I remember being sick as a dog after my smallpox vaccination. However, that one seemed to have taken so well that I never had any reaction at all to the later vaccinations for smallpox that I was given. Thankfully, in the US, polio and smallpox have disappeared. The anti-vaxxers, though, don’t seem to realize that stopping vaccinations opens the door for their return. Smallpox is potentially deadly. Polio is even worse…potentially deadly AND crippling.

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