Time to publicly shame people who are STILL anti-vaccination?

This is something that most of us already knew. Vaccines are safe, effective, and do not cause autism.

Childhood vaccines are safe. Seriously. – CNN.com.

Children should get vaccinated against preventable and potentially deadly diseases. Period.

That’s what a review of more than 20,000 scientific studies on childhood vaccines concludes this week. The review appears in the latest edition of the medical journal Pediatrics.
The evidence strongly suggests that side effects from vaccines are incredibly rare, the study authors said. They found no ties between vaccines and the rising number of children with autism, as a small but vocal group of anti-vaccine activists, including actors Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carey, have said.

Upworthy actually has some neat graphics about the harm ex-Dr. Wakefield has done. Andrew Wakefield was responsible for the terrible study where he extrapolated that the MMR vaccine caused autism. The study was not only retracted but Wakefield was found to have some serious ethical shortcomings, promoted misinformation and was eventually struck off the list of medically licensed doctors. He’s no maverick hero, he’s a failure – something proved over and over again.

Vaccines: The reason we have 103 million FEWER cases of disease | Doubtful News.

Will yet another study that shows vaccines are safe help reduce the misinformation and harm done in society by those that believe otherwise? Maybe. It might get a few more parents off the bandwagon and those who are concerned might finally decide that the anti-vax activism is nonsense. Doctors can use this piece as additional evidence to support the approved vaccination schedule. But there are tons who will not be convinced. They will never be convinced because they don’t rely on science and reason to inform their decisions. They just believe it because it sounds right to them. And they are ignorant about the topic.

Editors commentary:

I try to respect people’s personal beliefs. But this one, in particular, not only hurts children and other disadvantaged individuals but it hurts society. It’s stupid and selfish to be anti-vaccination. It’s high time that anti-vaxxers be ridiculed (Yes, call their position stupid and dangerous right to their face) for this harmful belief. Perhaps only when the anti-vax stance becomes disadventageous to subscribe to in public will it fall out of favor. Like spanking or smoking, these things are frowned upon and come with social costs. I say it’s past time for anti-vaxxers to be seen as persona non grata. It’s worked with the AVN in Australia who are no longer contacted by the media. And actress Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vax views have dogged her and arguably hurt her career. Wakefield’s medical career and reputation was destroyed. When your actions lead to sick kids and a less safe society, you deserve scorn.

  17 comments for “Time to publicly shame people who are STILL anti-vaccination?

  1. Chris Howard
    July 1, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    AMEN!!! 😉

  2. Justin
    July 1, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    From my experience with these people, it seems like the majority enjoy feeling as though understand something the rest of us are ignorant about. Most I’ve talked to seem to think the government is pushing vaccines in order to poison and control us. The reasons tend to vary from person to person. But one thing all the ones I’ve met have in common is how proud and self-righteous they all seem to be in their belief. Most of them also believe HAARP is a wmd type of weather dominator and the government is poisoning us with chemtrails. They are very proud of what “know” and the “research” they have done. I don’t believe this willful ignorance will ever be completely eradicated. I don’t completely understand what causes a person to have this frame of mind about such irrational subjects that have literally no proof, and only quacks and doom spouters as their sources. No matter how much actual information a person like this is given, they always choose to be ignorant of facts. I doubt most would believe the truth if they were the ones to find it. I’m sure some will see the light, but most will just stick with their irrational beliefs, because (in a way) I believe it makes them feel secure. I’ve talked at length with intelligent people whom I’ve known for years about these subjects and why they believe them to be true. It never matters how much proof I can show. They never relent in their beliefs.

  3. chemical
    July 1, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    Good points. Normally I wouldn’t endorse ruthless mockery in order to try to change someone’s mind about something, but I might have to make an exception for anti-vaxxers. These people are completely immune to evidence, think they know better than doctors despite a complete lack of any medical training, and their ideas literally cause public health crises.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s extremely difficult to get anybody to change their mind, especially over the internet. No anti-vaxxer is going to read this forum and think, “You know, maybe vaccines are OK”. Seems like changing your mind about anything is admitting defeat and is a sign of weakness. Yet, since I started reading Doubtful News I’ve changed my mind on a few things, and I don’t consider it a sign of weakness.

  4. July 1, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    That just made my day. 🙂

  5. Travis
    July 1, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    with the name “idoubtit” it seems disingenuous 😉

    Good article, and an amazing collection of pictures and diagrams to show to anti-vax communities. We should probably storm anti-vax youtube pages and link to them 😉 I’ve bookmarked it for later use

    I knew about both of the 500k+ studies but had no idea we’ve studied THAT many children in total

  6. July 1, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    Hi Sharon! Good article.

    Do you happen to have the link to the Pediatrics screening?


  7. Joe Kellett
    July 1, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    I think that the theory of “Cognitive Dissonance” (http://goo.gl/KUvQ9) does a good job of explaining why it’s almost impossible to dislodge people from strongly held beliefs. The theory arose from Leon Festinger’s (http://goo.gl/llkJix) attempt to explain why a certain sect of end-of-worlders (http://goo.gl/M1qjFj) kept their faith despite the World’s repeated refusals to end on time.

  8. Joe
    July 1, 2014 at 7:16 PM

    Being in possession of The Absolute Truth is indeed highly addictive. I know, I’ve been there.

    I think the thing to remember is that rational skeptical reasoning is completely unnatural. The pre-frontal cortex is a very recent evolutionary addition. We have to overcome instincts arising from lower and more powerful parts of the brain in order to perform rational analysis. Most of the people in the world do not overcome these instincts. Shermer’s TED talk (http://goo.gl/jKvskO) is interesting on this topic.

  9. July 1, 2014 at 8:35 PM

    I’m not so sure “ruthless mockery” will have any effect. Witness the 9/11 Truthers who have been mocked, scorned, endlessly debunked and generally put in their place…but, like a cockroach that survives a seemingly crushing blow from a hard shoe sole, they appear to be alive and moving along. I’ve seen them scurrying around in their native habitats and even have college students who avow that “there could be something to it.”

    No, I think something stronger is called for. Shunning? Extreme disdain? Make them go to a special skeptical version of a “smoker’s corner”?

  10. Fred
    July 1, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    I honestly have no problem with laws being passed that would criminalize this behavior.
    There should also be no religious exemptions allowed. If your religion won’t allow for your
    children to vaccinated, or to receive proper medical treatment, then your children need to
    be taken from you, no ifs, buts or maybes. Children should not be made to suffer because of
    their parent’s psychotic religious delusions, nor their idiotic “scientifical” beliefs.

  11. July 1, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    I’d like to add in my own two cents and say that social media websites need to step up in this fight against this dangerous form of pseudoscience and start removing pages and people that promote anti-vaccination propaganda, as well as block links to websites that promote it. For far to long websites like Facebook and Twitter have been seen as “safe havens” for anti-vaccers and honestly it needs to stop.

  12. Cathy
    July 1, 2014 at 10:58 PM

    I would like to congratulate you and say I think it is actually a sign of great strength to admit you are wrong about something and change you viewpoint.

  13. Paul de Boer
    July 2, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    I think a clear distinction and exemption must be made for those who are not actively anti-vax but are simply citing anti-vax out of naivete and laziness.

    It is important to reduce the effectiveness of active anti-vaxxers by ridiculing them, but I think it has been shown time and again that confronting someone who holds irrational beliefs will only reinforce them.

    I’m extremely pessimistic about converting the anti-vax activists. However, the parents leaning to anti-vax should be shown a calm, rational, and positive pro-vaccination side to counter the irate, conspiracy-laden and defensive anti-vax side.

    Conclusion: Do mock the local homeopath selling Influenzinum. Don’t mock your in laws who don’t get the flu vaccine because “they don’t want to get sick”.

    Shannon, please be careful about calling for such aggression. I don’t feel like the new atheists movement is going to change anyone’s hearts and minds for the better, likely the other way. This seems like a similar tactic. Those who are uninformed will (hopefully just initially) perceive the aggressive side as the enemy. Feelings influence more than facts to the non-skeptical.

  14. Terrence Lee
    July 2, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    I’m not sure that mocking them or shaming them will have the desired effect. What we want is for their children to be safe, and for society to be safe because a large percentage of the population is vaccinated.

    The simple solution is to make vaccination legally mandatory. Your children will be vaccinated against diseases, regardless of your religious, ethical, moral, political, or __________ reasons. If you don’t want your children vaccinated, you have 24 hours to immigrate.

    This is a harsh intrusion into people’s lives, but it is a public health issue. You’re not allowed to spread typhoid fever, or tuberculosis, or scarlet fever because of some sort of “right”. You shouldn’t be allowed to spread measles, mumps, or rubella either.

  15. Lagaya1
    July 2, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    I’m sure you said this as a joke since creating thousand of refugees overnight (particularly children refugees) would be a wee bit harsh, not to mention highly unconstitutional.

  16. Headless Unicorn Guy
    July 14, 2014 at 2:15 AM

    Because the rules of Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory are now in effect.

    Any evidence against The Conspiracy is Disinformation planted by The Conspiracy and thus PROOF of The Conspiracy.

    Lack of evidence for The Conspiracy is PROOF The Conspiracy is so Vast and Powerful they can silence Everyone. (Except the Heroic Lone Conspiracy Theorist, of course.)

    Anyone who doubts the existence of The Conspiracy has shown themselves to be part of The Conspiracy.

    The Dwarfs are for The Dwarfs, and Won’t Be Taken In.

  17. Headless Unicorn Guy
    July 14, 2014 at 2:19 AM

    With both Truthers and Birthers, the fact they’re being “mocked, scorned, and endlessly debunked” actually STRENGTHENS their belief. After all, if they’re wrong, why would The Conspiracy be Persecuting them?

    “Blessed are ye who are persecuted for Righteousness’ sake” holds outside of specifically-religious beliefs, too.

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