Antivax: Behind the Stupid (and Other Notes)

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Tiassa, Sep 27, 2016.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Perhaps there is some personal satisfaction in it ... er ... okay, fine, yeah, I (ahem!) take it out on people (cough!) from time to time (wheeze!) ... but ... okay, so there's like this old principle of turning bullshit into a teachable moment, or whatever―part of the old "attack the idea, not the person" motto that never really works out since many people often consider accurate descriptions of their behavior some manner of personal attack―but there's also this old song by a Seattle band called Chemistry Set about how "baring your soul is the in thing to do, it's fun and it's easy for the empty-headed fool", and that actually made sense at a time when men were supposed to be having this weird masculine psychological revolution, spending weekends learning to cry and be sensitive together, and all that sort of shit, except it's not really about that but, rather, empty-headed contrarianism is a similarly easy and foolish identity endeavor as well as seeming rather quite the in thing to do.

    Okay, I think it was Chemistry Set. Holy shit, that album is hard to find. I know where there's a vinyl copy, but ... damn. (I did, however, find "Blind Caroline"↱, an awesome little song.)

    At any rate, like any other political issue, the immediate attempt to withdraw to more generic, template-driven frequently asked helpful questions (FAH-Q) territory in order to make a stand more in accord with one's imagined heroic narrative seems obvious, but it's also a mysteriously credible ruse in society of late; perhaps people really have been letting the (ahem!) comment threads and (cough!) bulletin boards (wheeze!) define logic for them. I mean, sure, great, Trump again, you know? But, still, yeah, how did we get to that? Well, he's the candidate of the internet trolls. I used to have this weird joke about how conservative advocates in the discourse were sounding more and more like their internet echoes, and, no, it's not that I'm prophetic, or anything, as it wasn't a particularly difficult observation, but fuck all, mate, these days it seems damn near ubiquitous, and God help you should you catch one of our network news broadcasts because it might actually make you wonder if you really do need to go around pointing things out like I've kind of been picking on some people of late.

    It can get to you if you let it. There are days I'm going through the motions, pointing someone back to their (is there a good flatulence onomatopoeia to fill this space?) error, thinking to myself something or other about how I keep thinking I shouldn't have to make this obvious point.

    But, you know, something about teachable moments. Every once in a while we need to leave short, easy to digest nuggets for future readers to comprehend. And, you know, I mean, fuck, isn't that just kind of grim? It's one thing to get all complicated in order to say something simple, like, you know, it's not like humanity will run extinct without me, but I do wonder how long after me the species has because quite frankly we just don't seem particularly interested in our posterity. The alien anthropologists ... I might dispute with Waters, now; the alien anthropologists won't be logging the only explanation left, but, rather, the one emerging in what records we leave.

    Unfortunately, the mystic I keep on retainer to read cards and scry cyrstals tells me there will still be some confusion because the last period of our existence will create no paper records or other hardcopies, and by virtue of being the simplest of all our electronic records, a database of North Korea's twenty-eight websites will be all that remains of the information superhighway by which we typed and tubed the last generations of our living history. Then again, that wasn't a prophecy of the cards or crystals. That was bong hits and beer over pizza.
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  3. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Ad hominems don't help your case..
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  5. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Ad homs??? No not at all, not in the opinion of any reasonable thinking person, and if it were an adhom, you certainly would be guilty yourself, many times.

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  7. pjdude1219 The biscuit has risen Valued Senior Member

    far more harm as been caused by stupidity than malice
  8. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    They're not stupid. They're really rather smart people. They're just misinformed.
  9. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

    Why do you think that they're "really rather smart"?
  10. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Why do you think they're stupid?

    "Myth #6: “Parents who don’t vaccinate are stupid and uninformed.” Sorry, they’re not.

    Fact: Non-vaccinating parents are often intelligent, very well educated and very well informed – it’s just that it’s nearly always with the wrong information. “We are intuitive risk assessors and weigh the pros and cons of various choices based on how much good they are likely to do, or harm,” said David Ropeik, a former director of risk communication at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. “This isn’t perfectly scientific, of course, and therein lies the problem.” Research has shown that motivated reasoning plays a big role in how individuals respond to threats to their deeply held beliefs. Motivated reasoning is, in plain terms, moving the goal posts, but it’s done to protect a belief system. It’s not about intelligence or education –several studies have found pockets of vaccine refusals among more highly educated communities (though this varies geographically) – but rather about how strongly a person believes something.

    In fact, some non-vaccinating parents may be so highly educated that that’s part of the problem. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, has suggested to me previously that non-vaccinating parents with higher incomes and higher education may be used to having control over every other part of their lives so they expect they can “do the research” themselves and have sufficient knowledge to come to a conclusion they perceive to be as valid as that of researchers who have spent years studying vaccines. They fall prey to the Dunning-Kruger effect, mistakenly overestimating their own skills in assessing studies. They would likely not presume to know how to repair their computer without specialized tech knowledge, but they don’t see researching vaccines as requiring specialized knowledge. They see it not as fixing a compute but as researching online what computer to purchase. Call it hubris, but it’s not stupidity.

    Finally, it’s important not to conflate “uninformed” with “misinformed.” Many parents who don’t vaccinate have invested hours and hours into researching vaccines. To call them stupid or uninformed completely misses the problem. They are incredibly well informed – with cherry-picked or misleading information. Don’t believe it? Try this experiment: get into a conversation with a parent who adamantly and vocally does not vaccinate. Ask for evidence. Prepare for an onslaught of links to medical studies that will make your head spin. The problem is that those studies either don’t say what the person thinks they say, are unrepresentative case reports, are poorly conducted, or have never been replicated and confirmed through other research. What they miss is that it’s about the consensus, not about a random assortment of studies tainted by confirmation bias."-----
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2016
  11. pjdude1219 The biscuit has risen Valued Senior Member

    their complete and utter willingness to put others at risk with no concrete proof
  12. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Are you up on all your booster shots? Are all your vaccines up to date? If not you're putting others at risk too.
  13. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Actually, I expect that public service campaign is coming eventually. Most Americans, however, recall a time when health insurance could be hard to get. It will take a while to dig out of that hole.

    So, you know, I don't know, you might want to consider history as it applies to your vapid, contrarian hatred.

    The moral and ethical failure you present, Magical Realist, is a disgrace to the human species.

    You burn any sympathy anyone might have for your human incompetence by being a completely terrible human being. See, the thing is that you're not cute or funny or charming. You're not smart. And even those of us who have connections to magical realism and thus might find common ground with you merely tolerate and endure you.

    I know the petulant urge is strong. It's just that one of these days, people are going to learn to show you the rude indifference you demand, and when you cry because nobody wants to play, nobody will be left to give a damn except maybe to tell you to knock off that worthless, stupid, blubbering racket.

    Are you even capable of writing an affirmative, proper argument?

    The disrespect you show your neighbors is both astounding and unacceptable.

    It is also what your user ID is worth around here. People doubt your intelligence. They doubt your competence. They doubt your general decency.

    And quite frankly, sir, they have good reason.
  14. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Some are stupid. Some are merely misinformed or selfish.
  15. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    We delayed my daughter's vaccination, because her mother objected for reasons that were never quite clear. It has to do with Mama's family, but even that is a confusing mess.

    I have a good doctor, who was my child's doctor, too. Mama objects, I give a look across the office, Doc looks back at me with a half a shadow of a shrug: Good with me, don't worry.

    And then one day Mama didn't make it to the doctor's appointment. With nobody present in person to object, of coursre I signed off on vaccinations. Mama threw a fit and then dropped it.

    Some years later, I heard from her parents that they never did understand why I tried to stop my daughter from being vaccinated. Like I said, it's complicated.

    I don't know if Mama thought her parents were antivax; she was ostensibly opposed to her parents except when she wanted to borrow some weird principle for an identity politic. And, you know, antivax was a sparkling little bauble; she was raised in a Christian sect known paradoxically for the number of progeny who go into either medical professional or medical skeptical fields. And I think what happened is that Gran'ma and Gran'pa discovered that the naturopath in the congregation, the great doctor who will tell you how a fruit-based antioxidant-boosting diet will protect you from Ebola virus, got his kids their damn shots.

    (Every N.D. I have ever known has been at least a little bit bizarre, and generally kind of annoying, to boot, but none abandoned reality entirely, and when anyone with the least bit of medical training and comprehension looks at the epidemiology in our area, antivax isn't so much a statement of keeping our kids healthy but, rather, a declaration that we intend for them to be sick, such that a parent who is remotely a medical professional with a shred of medical professionalism remaining will look at what's happening in our unvaccinated clusters and make the healthy decision.)​

    But antivax reared its head again as my daughter grew; Mama turned out and turned up for a doctor's appointment when our daughter was eleven in order to forestall HPV vaccination.

    And they knew. They knew I would show a certain amount of respect to the parental purview of my daughter's mother. And the thing is that we all have a lot of other stuff to worry about with her than antivax.

    But it didn't help when my daughter experienced a potential side effect event the day after seeing the doctor when she was twelve. Well, it wouldn't have mattered at all except this was during their week at a time when we were still trading custody.

    But I also had a weird "mockingbird" moment while everyone was pitching a fit because when the kid hit the deck and twitched, they all just stood around and stared; if it was as scary and awful and prolonged an event as they describe, why the hell did nobody do anything, like make sure she's not swallowing her tongue, or, you know, call an ambulance. And though Mama has some personal problems right now, and despite our tempestuous, fraught relationship, we still have our functioning customs. Mama and I had a discussion among ourselves that involved all of a couple lines of speech and then our couples version of a "dude" argument, involving exasperated looks, shrugs, and other gestures.

    Hell, our daughter knows the score. She might have shown the typical adolescent embarrassment and disgust at the proposition of her sexual activity ("But why condone premarital sex," Gran'pa wonders, "with a vaccine that says, 'Oh, hey! It's safe to be sinful!'") but can only laugh at the prospect that her grandparents forget Gran'pa's obsession with the fact that sexual predators exist ("And I worked in a prison," he explains with nearly petulant satisfaction, "so I know!")

    What is really striking for being someone actually in the middle of it is that much of the family's problems apparently derive from a combination of Christian masculinity, disciplinary head of household fancies, and purity cult within ownership society, all mixed and then hit by an exponent describing "short-man syndrome". That is to say, most of it was driven by a bizarre need to express oneself according to an oppositional identity. Gran'pa is the type of guy you only need to talk to for a short while before he starts repeating his cycles and, depending on the circumstance, contradicting himself. He's one of those terrible perpetual bullshitters who likes to call himself "Silver Fox" and remind everyone how smart he is.

    But watching this crew, and especially him, shift on this, has been strange. In the end, even though we weren't slating doctor visits covertly, or anything, I was pretty much left to get my daughter vaccinated. The HPV vaccine, for instance, came in three stages. Despite all the hullaballoo after it became clear she was getting the shots, nobody moved to stop me. Mama, for her own reasons, skipped out on the subsequent doctor visits when she could have spoken up and disrupted the process.

    That is to say, it was worth it to try to raise hell, but not to actually exercise parental prerogative and stop me.

    I'm uncertain where this experience falls on the spectrum of antivax ideology and practice, but what stands out to me is that it hasn't been about a discredited study pretty much since the first time, years ago, I found myself saying, "Yeah, but that was discredited and withdrawn, you know." That is, I haven't had to say it to them again, and now they're all trying to blame other people for their own beliefs and actions―I mean, literally, claiming it was other people, and not them. And in the end, it would seem that for these people, antivax was only ever a greedy self-empowerment scheme born of a particular family ethic so stubborn you can actually find someone willing to literally argue that two plus two must equal five because it's elitist and offensive to require that it can only equal four. So, right; I don't know where they are on the antivax spectrum, but comparatively, I keep waiting for antivax to transcend the basic generalization that they place their children at risk for the sake of their own personal pride, and that part, at least, is consistent.

    Comparatively, where I clock in on vaccine conscience is like the one year when we had a flu vaccine that was for the prior season's strain, between seventeen and thirty-five percent effective, and recommended for other demographic groups but not mine. Doc says, "Flu vaccine?" I say, "Do I need it?" Doc shrugs and we go on. Doc says, "Flu vaccine?" I say, "I'm working the school this year." He gives me the vaccine. It's not even a matter of conscience to me; seventeen to thirty-five percent? Yeah, you know, if, like my mother, I was in an age group recommended for the vaccine, and was taking children to Mexico during a time when there is a travel advisory about the flu, I would get the goddamn shot. If I'm headed back to the classroom, I'll get the damn shot. But in any normal year, if the professional recommendation does not include me in the demographics, I'm not getting a flu vaccine just because. I'll get that shot for other people, but, no, if I'm not elevating my risk profile or prophylactic necessity, I'm probably not getting a flu shot. And anyone who asks my opinion about anyone else's objection will hear that standard; if one is outside the recommendation and not elevating their risk profile, you're not going to hear me complain.

    And, certainly, there will be some who say I'm cavalier, but in my lifetime, as the need for annual flu vaccination has increased, it's been something of a sideshow. And you don't even have to transfer one incident out to everything else; it's just that after so many years of hearing people say anything, even contradicting themselves from one sentence to the next, it really does sound like abject consumerism. And the whole time, when the question arises, it's easy enough to do what I thought everyone under the sun is supposed to know: I asked my doctor, and he said ... er ... actually, he just shrugs.

    And that's how it goes with us; if Mama had pushed too far in her antivax, I would have looked at Doc and he would have done something else, and we would have just covertly scheduled another visit for when Mama wasn't around. He might let me see him rolling his eyes as Mama recites the bit about letting baby's immune system get stronger before vaccinating, but the kid wasn't daycaring, and if he really wanted me to start, we would have started.

    If I absolutely need my flu vaccine, he won't bother asking. I have a good doctor who I trust. And, you know, for all we're told to ask our doctor, I just don't see why we wouldn't. Even if my reasons are stupid―seriously, it looked and sounded and felt like zombie-eyed consumerism for the longest time―he'll accommodate if reality allows. Do I need my flu vaccine, this year? He looks at my age, the updated charts, my household profile, double checks my travel and work plans, and most years just shrugs. And he already knows, if he thinks I really, really, really need a flu vaccine this year, he won't bother asking, because I have a good doctor who knows his patient trusts his medical assessment.
  16. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Reported for flaming and insults..
  17. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Belief, Consequence, and Reality

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    Not all infections are awesome ... but Pino sure is.

    I did, in fact, recently find occasion to write this↱:

    This is, after all, Immigration and Customs Enforcement; given the health advisories in general about international travel, it seems absurd to suggest that the intended front line contact point for so much of that alleged danger coming into the United States should fail to require immunization.

    There is a reason:

    Health officials in Arizona say the largest current measles outbreak in the United States is in part because some workers at a federal immigration detention center refuse to get vaccinated.

    Authorities have confirmed 22 measles cases in Arizona since late May. They all stem from the Eloy Detention Center, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility managed by the private Corrections Corporation of America.

    Pinal County health director Thomas Schryer said the outbreak likely began with a migrant but that detainees have since been vaccinated. Convincing employees to get vaccinated or show proof of immunity has proven much tougher, he said.

    "And so they're actually the ones that are passing along the measles among each other and then going out into the community," Schryer said.

    The facility includes about 350 CCA employees and an unknown number of ICE staffers, although Schryer estimates it's about 100. ICE doesn't publicly release staffing levels, nor does it require employees to be immunized. There are currently over 1,200 detainees being held at the facility ....

    .... Measles is highly contagious and preventable through vaccines. It was eradicated in the US in 2000. But the past couple of years have seen new cases in large part because of unfounded fears that the vaccination causes autism in children, Schryer said. The symptoms are usually mild but can be deadly in babies, who cannot be immunized until they're a year old ....

    .... In Arizona, health officials are providing free vaccines, sending physicians to the detention center and providing educational outreach to staffers in an effort to contain the measles spread.

    Schryer said officials were considering asking the Arizona governor to declare a state of emergency, although Christ said that might not be necessary.

    Efforts to encourage immunization have been met with resistance in part because some people underestimate the danger of measles, Schryer said. One staffer spent about four days hospitalized after coming down with severe symptoms, he said.


    We are in a time when American society is withdrawing a traditional exemption. Or we could describe it as a number of traditional exemptions. Fundamentally, though, "conscience" seems no longer accepted as a proper justification for endangering others.

    And, you know, I can't tell anyone what's up anywhere else societies are having antivax problems, but in the U.S. there is an accompaniment notion worth observing: If not what I want, then why I say. That is, if you don't give me what I want, then the only reason can be that you are a terrible horrible evil tyrant. To wit, if I say no daughter of mine is gonna marry a nigger, do I also get to go on FOX News and complain about how turr'ble 'tis that lib'rals an' fem'nists call a man a racist jus' for tryin' t'provide for an' protec' his fam'ly?

    Honestly, at the "Main Street" valence, we've heard that sort of thing a lot over the years. We're not calling them bigots because they're patriots; they're not patriots. We're calling them bigots because that's the proper word to describe them according to their attitudes and behaviors.

    And in this? Antivax? It's not a stretch: "We lost friends over it. When they found out Bob refused vaccination, they said we couldn't come to dinner! It was so unreasonable! No reason at all! And here we were looking forward to seeing the baby. How cruel to keep us away from these first months! Those terrible bigots trying to force us to violate our god-given rights!"

    But, you know, honestly, between the guy who refuses to protect himself for the sake of pride and the baby that I can't otherwise properly protect from that guy, parental duty is unequivocal on this point. And, you know, if Bob and spouse are the kind of people who get it, that they have their conscience and other people have their priorities, well, therein we find the functional, practical discussion. What makes this propostion sound so strange is that I don't recall ever actually achieving that manner of discussion. It's always catechismal-sounding recitation.

    I can't tell anyone what the middle term data surveys will reveal, but it seems to me that if a lot of people are like me, and go to the doctor when we have health insurance in order to make sure we remain healthy, the ACA period―before it breaks completely―should significantly shore up adult immunization rates. A lot of adults just weren't going to the doctor except when they were sick or hurt; it's at the routine checkups that my doctor reviews my medical record in order to make certain I'm up to date on my vaccinations. The idea that I would not, at this point in my life, be vaccinated against measles seems exactly absurd under this circumstance.

    And maybe it's different for other people, but I'm actually required to use my policy at least once a year. Well, okay, it's not actually required that I use the policy, as I can pay for the annual checkup out of pocket if I really want, but I am, by my policy agreement, required to undertake a physical at least once during each calendar year.

    And, yeah, my doctor isn't going to leave any broken planks in my picket fence.

    Can't tell you what it actually means for everyone else, but I'm expecting the middle term ACA data surveys will reflect some substantial improvement in adult immunization rates.

    Sadly, none of this speaks to the underlying question of choosing to subject others to certain risks for the sake of one's own conscience, but when it comes to the question of endangering one's own children for the sake of identity and pride, there really isn't any question why antivaxxers want to change the subject.


    Galvan, Astrid. "Arizona is site of largest current US measles outbreak". The Big Story. 8 July 2016. 29 September 2016.
  18. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    "Adult immunization rates in the United States remain significantly low, falling well below national targets, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    For the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), researchers used data from 2012 National Health Interview Survey to verify the vaccination rates of six different vaccines.

    Although some rates improved slightly since 2011, the report found that many Americans are still neglecting numerous vaccines. In 2012, only 64.2 percent of adults were up-to-date with their tetanus shots, and only 20 percent of adults at high risk for pneumonia had received the pneumococcal vaccine. Additionally, a mere 14.2 percent of adults had received the Tdap vaccination, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis – also known as whooping cough.

    Hepatitis A vaccination coverage was even lower, with only 12.2 percent of adults between the ages of 19 and 49 receiving immunization. Fortunately, vaccination for the human papilloma virus (HPV) increased from 29.5 percent in 2011 to 34.5 percent in 2012, and 20.1 percent of adults received the shingles-fighting herpes zoster vaccine in 2012 – up from 15.8 percent in 2011.

    Given the report’s findings, CDC officials are urging American adults to get vaccinated, in order to reduce the spread of preventable diseases to the elderly and children.

    Furthermore, many health experts believe that poor adherence to vaccination schedules may be to blame for the recent rise in vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S. In 2012, 48,277 cases of whooping cough were reported by the CDC – the highest number of cases reported in the United States since 1955.

    “Vaccination coverage levels among adults are low,” the CDC researchers wrote. “Improvement in adult vaccination is needed to reduce the health consequences of vaccine-preventable diseases among adults and to prevent pertussis morbidity and mortality in infants, who need the protection afforded by the Tdap vaccination during pregnancy recommendation.”

    In the report, the researchers called for better vaccination programs, to more effectively educate potential vaccine recipients and the public, increase access to vaccination services, and remove any barriers to vaccine coverage."====
  19. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    Neglect is also wrong, but understandable. Willful neglect is another matter entirely.
  20. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    It's not willful neglect. They really do believe vaccines can be harmful. And it's no worse than the laziness of adults who don't get vaccinations. Why don't you demonize all them too? Aren't these millions more people endangering babies more than antivaxxers? Ofcourse they are. Hence your hyprocrisy. When its a tiny minority, you villify them. When its a big majority, you excuse it.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2016
  21. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    Because children. Parents have an obligation to learn the current state of science, which is that Andrew Wakefield was wrong. Vaccinated children aren't getting sick from unvaccinated adults.
  22. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    LOL! Vaccinated children aren't getting sick from anyone. Isn't that the point of vaccinations?
  23. billvon Valued Senior Member

    No. One adult who does not get vaccinated is a risk. An anti-vaxxer who convinces ten of her friends to not vaccinate their children is twenty times worse (assuming an average of two kids per household.)

    The harm is caused by unvaccinated people; anti-vaxxers create a lot of them.

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