Friday, January 30, 2015

Anti-vaxers are making me cranky!

A handful of semi-random and in some cases minimally supportable thoughts on the anti-vaccination crowd, spurred by our recent measles "outbreak."

  • I suppose there are some folks who haven't heard about measles in so long, they just assume there's no longer such a thing in the world to worry about.  And so they don't.
  • Some people are against vaccinating their children because numbnuts like Michelle Bachmann have convinced them that vaccines cause mental retardation, autism, or whatever.  Unfortunately, too many Americans are simply not scientifically literate enough to evaluate these kinds of statements, and so they simply take whatever the numbnuts say as truth.  This is a failure of our educational system.
  • And then, there's the cultural thing: The US's extreme independence training and accompanying lack of social responsibility.  It is out of this cultural tradition that we get what I call the right-libertarianism of people like Rand Paul, etc.  This folk model tells us that it's not only OK, but "American," to be what any objective observer would call selfish to the point of dysfunction.  Whatever we do–smoke, drive drunk, walk around carrying a gun, not vaccinate our kids, etc–is ok, because how these behaviors affect other people just does not matter.
  • And of course, there's the religion thing.  For some, vaccination is in  defiance of God's Will: if God didn't want children to die from the diseases we vaccinate them against, He wouldn't have created those diseases in the first place.  Who are we to challenge Him?

These are all bad reasons for not vaccinating your children against what are essentially easily preventable diseases.  In a less independence-trained, and more dependence-trained society, people would care more about how what they do affects others.  Unfortunately, we do not live in that kind of society.