Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Do antivaccers play a social function?

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 24, 2009

I received a comment on my last posting which directed me to a blog entry titled “The Social Function of Vaccine Resistors“, which makes an interesting claim, specifically that the Jenny McCarthy’s and Jim Carrey’s of this world play an important social function that they should be honored for? Puzzling, to say the least.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a Physician Assistant and have had my own kids vaccinated.   Our vaccine system is incredibly safe and is still improving.  But it must always be remembered, that pharmaceuticals only have our best in mind as long as our best entails our purchase of their products and thus they are not to be trusted.

I don’t quite understand the argument here. I do not think for a second that Big Pharma has our best interest in mind. As any and all other corporations out there, it is in the business of making money. That’s its main purpose. It has its, and its shareholders, interest in mind. It’s job is to sell drugs, the point though is that these drugs won’t sell if they do not work. At the end of the day, doctors must prescribe which drugs a patient takes, so that’s why Big Pharma must make its due diligence to ensure that the science is right, or else doctors will not prescribe it’s medicine. This is the checks and balances that make the system work, not crazy anti-vaccine lunatics. And guess what, when Big Pharma goes bad, and do unethical things, it is not the anti-vaccers that expose the wrong doing, not ever! Being vigilant is not the same as making unwarranted statements, endangering people’s lives and spreading misinformation.  We need to be vigilant, yes, but not idiots!

Though these companies also are a huge benefit to our country, to safe guard from their dark side, our society has evolved several checks.  I feel that the vaccine resistors are part of that natural check system and should be honored as such.  Many of the safety checks in our present system exist exactly to appease the errors pointed by earlier resistors.  We never want to make laws to stop the resistors.

First, of course we do not want to make laws to stop the resistors, no one in their right mind would even entertain such a thought. Freedom of speech allows them to say whatever they want, no matter how ridiculous it may be. Secondly, and most importantly, no they do not deserve to be honored at all. You know who deserves to be honored? The scientists carrying out the research to address these crazy lunatics’ screams. They are the safety checks that we need, not Jim Carrey, not Jenny McCarthy. What’s there to honor about someone who refuses to accept the evidence? What’s there to honor about someone who thinks they know more than the scientific establishment, about scientific issues? I do not understand how we can honor ignorance and arrogance in any way?

I think it is wise to realize that though vaccine resistors may make bad decisions and harmed themselves or their loved ones.  Their resistance has helped you.

No they have not! There is nothing beneficial that is coming from the works of the anti-vaccers, no gains to be had whatsoever. These people are a peril to society and we must expose them as much as we can, not give them some medal of honor. Should we honor the flat earthers? The white supremacists? They are to be exposed and ridiculed at every opportunity not honored, and so deserve the anti-vaccers.

So, to answer the question asked in the title: NO, they play no useful social function at all, not anymore than a spreading cancer plays a useful biological function for the organism it has invaded.

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5 Responses

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  1. Sabio said, on April 24, 2009 at 3:05 PM

    Wow, my post got picked-up — they say that is a great way to pick-up readership. Even if I have be racked over the coals, I hope I have pick up one or two commenting-followers in the process. Seems that maybe even your site has served a purpose ! (smile)

    As a note: I actually presented this topic, of all places, at the American Public Health Association a few years ago. I also couldn’t believe that the APHA let me present, but I guess they were trying to fill space.

    My argument is indeed that drug companies want money, but they make it by either persuading us to use their product or by persuading the government to enforce their product upon us. That later ploy is the most nefarious, the former is everyone’s schtick.

    MDs, PAs and NPs (the prescribers) buy into the pressure of Big Pharma whether it be by the psychological dissonance caused dinners and favors or by research articles supported by their money.

    Let’s say that your “idiot” vaccine protesters get enough people irrationally excited, that could mean TV spots, calls to doctor’s offices and unwanted attention. You are wrong in thinking that this has not helped make the safety system we have today and the system that keeps improving because of this “irrational” influence.

    Yes, yes, I know, the phrase I chose “to honor” was provocative. I used it intentionally. I hoped to wake a few into being skeptical of the righteously proclaimed skeptics. I had thought of using names like Jenny McCarthy but thought better. But alas, maybe I should have. I chose the word “honor” to illustrate how we need to resist demonizing and instead analyze and discern the various effect of any movement. I realize that this sort of complexity is demanding, but I think it is healthy.

    When emotions run high, people hear what they want to hear — skeptic or otherwise.

    I wish there had been responses to this post besides mine. It would have been fun to see if anyone had understood my point or if all agreed with your emphatic, marketable simplification.

    • Skepdude said, on April 24, 2009 at 3:43 PM

      That’s great, I wish you luck. I don’t have that many readers myself so I understand how important it is to get linked to, and I hope you do pick up a couple of regular readers because of this.

      Now on to what you say: we’ve heard the Big Pharma conspiracy theories time and time again. If you think they can corrupt every doctor out there to prescribe their products, you may need to use some of those products yourself. Saying that all doctors are either corrupted or stupid to see through the farce is a big charge, you’re gonna have to come up with the goods to back that up.

      Fear mongering does not help, it only causes harm. There is nothing in the efforts of Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey that has done anything but cause harm and force a lot of money to be wasted in unnecessary research, just to confirm what we knew already. Research is necessary; when there is a concern it has to be addressed. Refusing to accept the results of the research though that’s a whole other story. If you don’t see that difference I can’t make it any clearer.

      The anti-vaccine crowd’s movement has been analyzed to death. Their points have been addressed. MMR does not cause autism. Thimerosal does not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. At some point you must give up respecting someone’s dogmatic opinion. At some point no more respect is due. Their movement should be demonized, because nothing good has or will come out of it.

      All they do is sit around, make up a new problem, a new toxin in vaccines and demand more research. Now they seem to be moving toward aluminum! What next? Where do you think all this money to support this research will come from? Is Jim Carrey putting up a few millions of his own to support real studies? I didn’t think so. How much do we spend on people’s delusions before we say enough is enough. What is honorable about putting children at risk and wasting limited research money?

      I don’t think I heard anything that you did not say yourself. If you think I did, please point it out. If you are correct, I will take it back.

      My “emphatic, marketable simplification”? Are you going to accuse me of being in the pocket of Big Pharma next?

      Vaccines are safe because the scientific method was applied to them, not because of the anti-vaccer’s delusions. They had nothing to do with it and they deserve everything they get from the reality based community.

  2. Sabio said, on April 24, 2009 at 4:13 PM

    Just a few fact, I won’t belabor the discussion:

    1986 Vaccine Injury Compensation Act passed
    1988 Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Funded

    Since 1990, >600 million dollars have been awarded in vaccine injury compensation by National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

    Hib taken off market in 1985 for safety and efficacy reasons
    But since improvements, Hib vaccine, cases of Hib disease have declined from 20,000 case to less than a few hundred

    Rotavirus vaccine pulled due to significant adverse reactions

    Diligence exists when consumers are wary.

    • Skepdude said, on April 25, 2009 at 6:32 PM

      Correct about the diligence, except that the anti-vaccers are not being diligent, they are being dogmatic lunatics. There is a big difference between being a diligent consumer and seeing conspiracy in every corner. That latter is called being delusional.

  3. redrabbitslife said, on April 25, 2009 at 5:42 PM

    I suppose the dissonance here is more the point where one picks up the anti-vaxxers. If you consider the folks early on asking for safety studies and reading carefully through the research to find pharma $$$ biases, these people were helpful.

    If you consider the current raving lunatics who wouldn’t know a scientific study if it bit them in the ass, have no training in evidence-based medicine or statistics, and no interest in learning, no, not much use there.

    Physicians try not to be influenced by pharma, by reading the studies carefully and spotting reporting biases, statistical trickery, and number fudging. Thus the current Avandia controversy: with a number needed to harm of 1:34 (present in the study but carefully glossed over), physicians are wondering how it ever got approved in the first place.


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