Recently on my Facebook status I posted the following.
Nathan Hinman I’ve been vaccinated against H1N1 because the science could not be refuted by any of the arguments against it. My immunity will protect those who could not get the shot.
I received more than a few comments but what struck me was the vehemence of the anti-vaccination crowd against my decision. It also highlighted how little some of the people I know do not understand me, and the path that led me to embracing reality.
I was attacked by one individual for getting the vaccine despite not technically being in an “at risk” group myself. With the research I’ve done on vaccination and the virulence of the H1N1 strain I thought it would be irresponsible for me not to. My father has a compromised immune system, my brother is unable to receive the vaccine due to egg allergies, and my nephew is less than a week old. These facts coupled with me working in one of the worst buildings in the city for spreading infectious diseases only reinforced my desire to do my part for herd immunity. I will not apologize for my decision since I sought to protect my loved ones.
It only took a short exchange to expose this individual’s true feelings on vaccines which included all the usual catchphrases like “Big Pharma” and “Mercury”. Imbedded in his new tirade however was an accusation that I was acting like the mormons by calling him on his clear lack of understanding and a blatant contradiction since he has been hounding others on Facebook as well with equally ridiculous arguments.
It appears to me that some people use whatever rationalizations necessary in order to maintain faith and belief in whatever it is that they agree with. Reality or perception? It’s ok, a little shit in the water, or a little shit in the vacccine, that won’t hurt you. BAT GUANO! I’m not disapppointed in your decision and GOD I would hope that youand others don’t resort to god dam shame to guilt others into choosing what you have. This US vs. THEM is absolute crap Nathan. You use the same approach the morg does when it comes to discovering the truth. The Morg conditioned and indoctrinated us to believe that if we didn’t get the right answer, we weren’t sincere enough…not righteous enough…not good enough, not doing it right. You blame decision of those to not get the shot on a lack of understanding. Hmmm…am I now anti-vaccine? Not at all, only critical of the claims being made.
(I changed his name in the above quote but not his words, my FB friends can confirm that. Morg is a combination of mormon and org, a way to stab at scientology used by former mormons.)
Members of a local group of ex-mormons like this commenter have been on the warpath lately with almost a religious zeal against vaccines, water fluoridation, and whatever other conspiracy floats their boat this week. Any dissension with their opinions gets one labelled as acting like a mormon. For those who have read my blog my stance on the church is well known, I have no love for the organization. The accusation that I am acting like them is both infuriating and leaves me wondering if association with such a group is beneficial to my well being. This commenter wasn’t the only one to make the mormon allusion either.
Getting back to the meat of this post though is when the anti-vaxxers go too far. And I found that in the form of another mindless tirade against vaccinations, this time in video format posted by another member of this same group. Watch if you can stomach it.
I couldn’t watch after more than a minute in, this was beyond unacceptable. I’ve known that anti-vaxxers were prone to believing some pretty out there claims, but this one just made me want to puke. Vaccines do not cause Shaken Baby Syndrome! Portraying the man convicted of his child’s aggravated murder as a victim of vaccination was too much for me. This video was a trailer for a movie by Gary Null noted quack and HIV denier. Spreading this utter garbage and fear mongering pushed all the wrong buttons in me and this kind of response shows just the lack of responsibility that I despise in the likes of Jenny McCarthy.
Watergate, thalidomide, USS Liberty, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, Enron…there are plenty of conspiracies that have proven true. Conventional wisdom isn’t always that wise.
I believe the role of skeptics is to preserve the status quo and try to make anything that is outside of the parameters of “accepted wisdom”, seem silly. I think that skeptics are doing a disservice to society by not being skeptical of the themselves and the role that they play. The services of skeptics are required, but I believe skeptics have become lazy. They believe that some things are just too stupid to put any investigation into, so they read the latest debunking webpage and that’s good enough for them. Problem is that a lot of debunking is flawed and can be debunked itself. The skeptic has already decided that something is false and then tries to find evidence to support that belief. That is not real skepticism. I’m skeptical of skeptics.
I understand now that as I post this I am likely alienating those who I’ve previously called friends but so be it. I left the mormon church for different reasons from them, not because I was angry with the church per-se but that the evidence for their claims did not pass muster (though trampling civil rights does get my ire up). Maybe I’m giving up on them but when I see that kind of devotion to such without a single ounce of critical examination I need to walk away. I will continue to focus my efforts on educating those on the fence, but I won’t be wasting my time with the true believers.