Who believes in anti-vaccine conspiracy theories?

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Antivax conspiracy thinking has become a serious public health problem. Vaccine preventable diseases, along with the illness, injury and death that they cause, are making a comeback.

Antivaxxers like to portray themselves as possessors of secret knowledge about vaccines. In truth, they don’t have secret knowledge; they have deficient knowledge. In addition, conspiracy theories are less popular among those with higher levels of education. Yet efforts to fight antivax sentiment with accurate information have been notoriously ineffective. That’s because antivax, like most conspiracy theories, isn’t about the subject of the conspiracy; it’s about the psychology of conspiracy believers.

The typical antivaxxer is someone with limited higher education, low sense of control and low social standing.

Antivaccine conspiracies meet certain specific needs of believers. Inaccurate information can be swept away by accurate information, but unmet psychological needs are, not surprisingly, impervious to accurate information. Hence those charged with keeping the public healthy have an urgent obligation to understand the psychological needs that drive antivax conspiracies.

A new paper in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology by Jan-Willem van Prooijen attempts to describe those needs. The title is Why Education Predicts Decreased Belief in Conspiracy Theories. It is about conspiracy theories in general, not antivax conspiracies in particular, but antivax conspiracies are in many ways paradigmatic.

Van Prooijen writes:

One demographic predictor of belief in conspiracy theories is education level. Various studies revealed that high education levels predict a decreased likelihood that people believe in conspiracy theories. What is unclear, however, is why this relationship emerges. Education is associated with a range of cognitive, emotional, and social outcomes, and hence, there may be multiple underlying processes that explain this relationship. Establishing these underlying processes provides novel insights that may form the basis for future interventions designed to systematically decrease conspiracy beliefs among the population.

He identifies three underlying processes that lead to belief in conspiracy theories: “belief in simple solutions for complex problems, feelings of powerlessness, and subjective social class.”

1. Cognitive complexity:

Education is associated with cognitive complexity, defined here as people’s ability to detect nuances and subtle differences across judgment domains, along with a tendency to consciously reflect on these nuances. People with high cognitive complexity are better equipped to attain high education levels; moreover, education nurtures and develops such complexity.

As H. L. Mencken explained:

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

Van Prooijen notes:

The seemingly articulate nature of some conspiracy theories notwithstanding, these findings are consistent with the assertion that conspiracy beliefs are grounded in a general tendency to embrace relatively simplistic ideas… [C]onspiracy beliefs are strongly associated with a belief in simple solutions for complex societal problems.

Though antivaxxers are not children, their thinking is very childlike: A happened, then B happened; therefore A must have caused B.

2. Control:

People are particularly receptive to conspiracy theories when they lack control, and hence feel powerless. Lacking a sense of control leads to mental sense-making in the form of illusory pattern perception, that is, connecting dots that is not necessarily connected in reality. These sense-making activities are central in belief in conspiracy theories, which are designed to increase understanding of a distressing situation… [P]eople are most likely to believe in conspiracy theories in response to distressing societal events that they cannot control …

In other words, belief in conspiracy theories gives a sense of control to people who otherwise view themselves as powerless. That sense of powerlessness is exacerbated by lack of education:

Throughout an educational trajectory, people learn how to independently solve problems, and they acquire the social skills that are necessary to influence their social environment. It has been noted that, as a consequence, education makes people feel more strongly in control of their life and their social world, thus decreasing feelings of powerlessness …

3. Social standing:

Education influences people’s social standing relative to others, both in objective as well as subjective terms. Education is intimately related with people’s objective social standing in terms of socio-economic status (SES): People with high education are more likely to occupy the relatively privileged positions in society in terms of desirable jobs and high income…

…[F]eelings of societal marginalization are relevant for people’s susceptibility to conspiracy theories. Research indicates that communitarian but marginalized groups within society tend to make sense of the realistic problems that their group faces through assumptions of conspiracy formation (Crocker et al., 1999). In a similar vein, subjective low social class may lead people to blame the psychological or realistic problems that they face (e.g., alienation from the societal elite, unemployment, and relative deprivation) to the existence of malevolent conspiracies.

With these factors we can define the typical antivax conspiracist as someone with limited higher education, low sense of control and low social standing. Those factors cannot be addressed by merely offering accurate information. How can we address them?

Van Prooijen has recommendations for improving children’s critical thinking skills:

… [B]y teaching children analytic thinking skills along with the insight that societal problems often have no simple solutions, by stimulating a sense of control, and by promoting a sense that one is a valued member of society, education is likely to install the mental tools that are needed to approach far-fetched conspiracy theories with a healthy dose of skepticism.

But what about adults? That’s much more difficult because antivax functions for antivaxxers to enhance their sense of control and social standing. That’s why they are constantly parachuting into science websites and Facebook pages and — without any sense of irony — announce that they are going to educate the other readers who are generally far more educated than they.

Since the primary function of antivax for antivaxxers is to bolster their ego, it seems to me that the most effective strategy would be directed against their egos.

It’s been done before, most notably in the cases tobacco smoking and of drinking and driving. Smoking was once seen as sophisticated; now it is viewed as dirty and unhealthy. Smoking used to enhance the egos of those who smoked; it no longer does. Drinking and driving used to be viewed as inevitable and worth boasting about. Spurred in large part by campaigns mounted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and similar organizations, drunk driving went from being viewed as benign to utterly socially unacceptable. Driving while drunk used to have a positive or no impact on ego. Now it is a source of guilt and social opprobrium.

We should embark on a similar “makeover” for anti vaccine advocacy. When refusing to vaccinate is widely viewed as selfish, irresponsible, and the hallmark of being UNeducated, anti-vax advocacy will lose its appeal.

  • Shawna Mathieu

    OK, I’m confused here.

    I know I’ve read here on this site that, looking at the clusters of anti-vax areas in, say, California, the schools with the least number of vaccinated students are in upper middle class areas, which imply the parents have a higher education level, higher income, and higher socioeconomic status.

    Dr. Amy’s pointed out before that a lot of these people have been so insulated from the worries of anyone below their socio-economic class, they’ve gotten an idealized version of things like alternative medicine, natural childbirth, and not vaccinating.

    This article, however, basically says it’s POORER people with LESS education that don’t vaccinate their kids. I can see a case for both, and, well, from the people I’ve seen that were anti-vax, they can fit in either group. Which is it?

    The thing about control, though, works with either case. How many people jump on the anti-vax bandwagon when they have an autistic kid? They don’t have control over what happened to the child and they want to “fix” their child, so they start getting control in other ways, like feeling like they possess “special knowledge” about how things REALLY work, and everyone else is just “sheeple.”

    • Azuran

      Well, as explained, this study applies to conspiracy theories in general and not specifically to anti-vaxxers.
      Anti-vaxxers and the whole ‘toxin’ and ‘natural’ crowd does seem to be more a things with women of higher social status than your average conspiracy theory.
      However, we have to keep in mind the large diversity of higher education. While those anti-vaxxers are usually generally at least middle class or higher, and generally have at least slightly over-average education, their education generally isn’t in biology or health care related fields.
      Sure, there are a few notable exception, but the overwhelming majority of all health care providers or those who work in anything remotely related to biology are pro-vaccine.
      While anti-vaxxers generally have higher education than the average, when it comes to real education about health/biology/vaccine, they are uneducated.

  • safeandnatural

    This is why we don’t trust the medical profession. We were once told that smoking was safe and that doctors chose Camel or some other cancerous manufacturer so therefore we should too. Why should we trust doctors who once recommended carcinogenic substances?

    Doctors also used to treat various ailments with mercury and arsenic. So really, anyone who chooses to be selective about what recommendations they take from their doctors are actually doing their ‘due diligence’.

    If I choose not to take anti-inflammatories because they hurt my stomach or give me heart palpitations, does that make me “anti anti-inflammatories”?! Puleeeze! Spare me the lecture!

    • Heidi

      Why should you believe doctors now when they tell you cigarettes cause cancer? I hope you’re doing your due diligence and smoking.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      That’s the best “argument” you can come up with? You think it makes sense to distrust doctors because they’ve occasionally been wrong in the past and instead trust anti-vax advocates who have NEVER been right about anything? Great reasoning skills … NOT!

      • safeandnatural

        Why is the medical profession telling pregnant women to abstain from coffee, alcohol, fish etc yet RECOMMENDING VACCINES which have NOT been tested on pregnant women and are certainly NOT proven safe?! Why are pregnant women given SO much advice about diet, supplements, stay healthy, etc yet PUSHED and BROWBEATEN into taking vaccines with toxic ingredients, viruses/bacteria, etc and which STIMULATE THE IMMUNE SYSTEM which could harm the foetus?! They are being emotionally blackmailed into accepting vaccines because if they don’t THEY ARE CHILD ABUSERS?! The world is mad, insane…..

        • Heidi_storage

          Argh. Read the hundreds of comments on other threads about vaccines. And now let’s shorten the process, shall we?

          You: Neurotoxins! Vaccines didn’t eliminate diseases! There are no RCTs on vaccines! (Sources: NaturalNews, Mercola, whale.to, occasional small, badly-designed studies that don’t say what you think they do.) You then call us sheeple, shills, or some tired cliche, while telling us you’ve done your research and are educated about the subject. VAERS and courts may be brought up.

          Us: The dose makes the poison; vaccines absolutely do eliminate and vastly decrease the incidence of many diseases; vaccines in pregnant women and babies have been extensively studied; the RCT you want would be unethical; vaccines are safe and effective. (Sources: The CDC, NIH, numerous large, well-designed clinical studies.) We make fun of you for trotting out the same old foolishness over and over again.

          Eventually, the thread dies down, maybe after you’ve flounced out a couple of times.

          Why don’t you just go away now and save everyone’s time?

          • safeandnatural

            I note that you cannot answer the question. Where are your peer reviewed, gold standard, double-blind, placebo controlled studies proving that vaccines are safe for pregnant women?

          • Claire Secrist

            You note nothing, you’re just imitating what you think an intellectual argument sounds like. It’s not ethical to do studies on pregnant women. I’m sure your reply to this will prove that you understand bad ethics very well, so in theory, you’d be familiar with the concept.

          • safeandnatural

            Precisely. It is not ethical. Therefore the studies have not been done, ergo it is not proven safe for pregnant women.

          • Claire Secrist

            Yeah you’re an idiot. That’s the kindest possible explanation of such a myopic reply.

          • safeandnatural

            You see, you cannot even discuss this issue intelligently. You cannot answer my comment so therefore you insult me.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            They don’t test *anything* in pregnant women. Because they aren’t evil bastards. However, when it’s been tested in everybody else to virtually no ill effects and it’s a vaccine where the virus has been minced up, then its given to pregnant women. As it is, they only give the TDaP and flu vaccines to pregnant women around here. They’ll save the MMR until after the baby is born, just to be extra safe.

          • safeandnatural

            Perhaps you would like to refer to Nick’s reply to me above, where he quotes about 4 or 5 studies which were conducted on pregnant women? I agree with you that it is evil to do these studies on pregnant women. I cannot fathom the depth of depravity it requires to do such a thing.

          • They do retrospective studies on pregnant women in which they study what the women already did. Does that make you feel better? Actually I don’t care if it does, but there it is.

          • Nick Sanders

            Interesting Catch 22 you’re trying to set up there “We can’t know it’s safe because we haven’t done studies, and we can’t study it because we don’t know if it’s safe”. Too bad for you, you’re wrong about both.

          • Let me know when you discuss something intelligently. You parachuted in here knowing what to expect, then blame us when things happen just the way you expected.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Pertussis is more dangerous. You don’t need a double blind test to tell that, just looking up mortality records from a century ago. Oh right, sanitation or something. Except sanitation still sucks in the slums of Delhi yet thanks to vaccines they have far fewer VPDs than they otherwise would get.

          • safeandnatural

            That’s not a very scientific statement. Pertussis is more dangerous than what? Giving vaccines to pregnant women when it’s not been tested on pregnant women? So we don’t need to do studies on pregnant women to determine it’s safe because you say it’s obvious and that we “don’t need a double-blind test to tell that”? And you are saying ‘anti-vaxxers’ are ignorant?!

            Just look up the cases of AFP after Bill Gates has trampled through India with his OPV and then tell me vaccines have ‘far fewer VPDs’.

          • Sigh. Pertussis is more dangerous than the vaccine. Obviously. Have you no understanding of context?

          • safeandnatural

            Please see my reply to Nick above – if a vaccine produces just under 4% serious adverse effects then this is a very high risk. It translates to 400 women for every 10,000 women. That’s a very high risk I believe.

          • Who?

            What is the risk of death or serious injury from pertussis?

          • <4% does not mean "just under 4%". It can be a lot less than 4%. They just stopped there for whatever reason they documented. You can't get a specific number from a general percentage like that.

            Imprecision at its finest.

          • It … doesn’t? It produces like 1 in a million serious adverse effects. That’s, like, 0.0001%. Nice try, though.

          • Who?

            Would you, as a pregnant woman, participate in such a study, knowing you might get the vaccine?

            If no, stop whining.

          • Azuran

            Where are your peer reviewed, gold standard, double-blind, placebo controlled studies proving that car seats are safe for babies?

          • Nick Sanders
          • safeandnatural

            Thank you Nick. I had a look at all of the studies and here are my comments:

            1. The numbers – apart from one study – were incredibly small.
            2. The participants were all super healthy and chosen for their likelihood of no pregnancy complications. Yet when the vaccine is introduced to the population, it is given to ALL women, regardless of health status. Therefore, the vaccine has not been investigated in the unhealthy.
            3. In the one study, one of the ‘placebos’ is an Aluminium adjuvanted injection. Hardly a placebo.
            4. All stillborns were swiftly disregarded as being due to the vaccine. This is always the case with these industry-funded or Gates funded studies.
            5. The one study showed a <4% serious adverse effects, meaning that the serious adverse effects were just under 4%. So that is 4 out of every 100 pregnant women, 40 out of every 1000, 400 out of every 10,000 women – and these were healthy women. I couldn't access the paper so I don't know what the 'serious adverse effect' was. The fact that they noted these is significant.

            So let's assess the risk of Tetanus, Pertussis and Diphtheria during pregnancy and see if the risk of the vaccine is worth it?

            I still maintain that to conduct such studies on pregnant women is unethical.

            I note that all of these studies are industry-funded. According to Ben Goldacre's research this is likely to only yield positive results. Industry never publishes studies that would show their product in a negative light.

          • Dr Kitty

            They don’t exist, however Cohort studies could easily be done, as per my post above.

            Would you like to suggest the design of a study?
            Including proposed size of populations in each cohort and what outcomes exactly you might be looking for ?

            You propose that vaccination in pregnancy is harmful- there are easily studied populations available- talk to me about what study you would like to see done.

            Then you can have a think about the design of your follow-up study to prove causation if any statistically different outcomes are identified.

            A study looking at every pregnancy in the UK in 2007 (before routine pertussis vaccination was introduced) and 2015 (after it was), comparing rates of stillbirth, for example, might be feasible to undertake, but would be unlikely to give you data which would prove your hypothesis that pertussis vaccination actually causes stillbirth.

            In the absence of such evidence, and the presence of evidence of reduced morbidity and mortality from Pertussis since introduction of the vaccine, it is regarded as “safe”, on the balance of known risks and benefits.

            Just because you can’t accept that doesn’t mean that the medical community has to agree with you.

        • Dr Kitty

          Are you aware of cohort studies?

          In 2008/9 when I was pregnant with my daughter pregnant women in the UK were not advised to get ‘Flu vaccines or DTPaP boosters.
          Then came H1N1 ‘flu causing the deaths of several pregnant women and neonates and a spike in incidence of pertussis cases resulting in multiple neonatal deaths.
          Now the UK recommends vaccination for both flu and pertussis in pregnancy. My practice has a greater than 95% uptake for both in our pregnant population (we have about 150 births a year).

          I got both vaccines during my pregnancy with my son in 2014/15.

          Comparing babies born in the U.K. in 2009 with comparable babies born in 2015 (like my two) what SPECIFIC evidence of damage would one expect to find?

          How big would both cohorts need to be to detect statistically significant differences for the specific conditions you propose to look for?

          Suppose you found a statistically significant difference, how would you propose to prove causation?

    • Nick Sanders

      We were once told that smoking was safe and that doctors chose Camel or some other cancerous manufacturer so therefore we should too. Why should we trust doctors who once recommended carcinogenic substances?

      Ugh, not the old smoking bullshit again. Doctors never said that shit, advertisements did. If you can’t tell the difference between the two, that’s not the fault of doctors.

      Doctors also used to treat various ailments with mercury and arsenic.

      And hatters used to make felt using mercury, children used to work in coal mines and factories with unshielded machinery, and the streets were filled with horse crap. The past was a horrible place, so what?

      If I choose not to take anti-inflammatories because they hurt my stomach or give me heart palpitations, does that make me “anti anti-inflammatories”?!

      Not taking anti-inflammatories doesn’t make you a health risk to the people around you.

      • safeandnatural

        Neither does being unvaccinated.

        • Nick Sanders
        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I noticed you didn’t address Nick’s points. In particular, his point that you apparently can’t distinguish between doctors and commercials.

          Considering that your whole premise for coming here was that doctors are not trustworthy because they recommended smoking, having that claim refuted pulls out the basis for everything you have, wouldn’t you say?

          Oh, I know, you won’t admit it. You’ll just move on to your next baseless assertion, and then the next and then the next, in a classic Gish gallop.

        • Charybdis

          Really? What about incubation times of a lot of illnesses? That’s the time AFTER you get infected with the disease and BEFORE you start to show symptoms that would cause you to think “I might be getting ill”. You are contagious during that period of time and are going on your merry way, breathing, sneezing, coughing, eating, drinking, touching, etc. all sorts of things. You are being an active disease vector, spreading your germs far and wide. Other people occupy the same space as you do, and you DO NOT KNOW their circumstances. One might have a newborn baby at home who cannot be vaccinated yet. One might be a recipient of an organ transplant and on immune-suppressing drugs to combat rejection. Another might have their spouse undergoing cancer treatment (radiation, chemo, etc) and are immunosuppressed because of the treatment. One might have a genuine, documented allergy to a component of the vaccination, so they CAN’T be vaccinated. Or the person does not seroconvert, either via vaccination or infection (some people get chicken pox more than once, a regular poster here has a child who, despite getting the TDaP vaccine, has had whooping cough several times) and is vulnerable to the disease through no fault of their own.
          So, just how do you justify your myopic, selfish behavior regarding vaccinations and VPD’s?

          • Claire Secrist

            Because anti vaxxers think that people only die of vaccine preventable diseases if they’re inferior genetic specimens, who don’t deserve to live if they can’t live through measles or whooping cough. They don’t care about people who just had bone marrow transplants or children with cancer.

          • Cat

            Yup – I lost track of the number of the visitors in my daughter’s first three months who sent me panic-stricken texts 24 hours later saying “I’m so sorry, it turns out that I’m ill – I really hope I haven’t given your baby anything”. Chillingly, my mother had pertussis a few months before my daughter’s birth. Initially she thought she’d just been working too hard, then that it was a cold. She was in contact with a hell of a lot of people, including kids with weakened immune systems, before she got the diagnosis after her third doctors appointment.

      • Heidi_storage

        Not to mention that doctors aren’t all that crazy about NSAIDs (I assume that’s what she means) because of the gastrointestinal/cardiac issues, whereas they are very enthusiastic about vaccines because they’re safe and effective.

        • Roadstergal

          M’boy has osteoarthritis, and his docs have been very careful to work with him to maximize his mobility and minimize intervention – including being clear about the risks of NSAIDs and advising him to take it easy on them.

          • Heidi_storage

            Precisely–doctors aren’t running around screaming “NSAIDs for you! And you! And you!” a la Oprah.

    • “This is why we don’t trust the medical profession.”

      Tell me who this “we” is.

      You don’t speak for me. Watch your ignorant mouth. I’m ill and tired from getting ready to move house and a troll who doesn’t care who she hurts with her unvaccinated kids and low self-esteem needing a boost with “special knowledge” and going against the norms to make herself feel like she is better than others is just the type of fool that needs a lecture. Or a therapist. A real one.

  • safeandnatural

    All medical treatment, including vaccines, is subject to informed consent and everyone has the right to choose their own treatment. Parents have the right to choose what is best for themselves and their family. Vaccines are not risk free. It doesn’t matter how rare adverse events are, vaccines are not safe for everyone.

    Therefore, those who choose to get vaccinated should be allowed to do so and likewise those who choose not to get vaccinated should also be allowed to do so. Those who vaccinate should feel safe with their decision and should not be worried about the unvaccinated.

    I fail to see why those who vaccinate should be concerned about the unvaccinated, since they believe so strongly in the safety and efficacy of their vaccines.

    The mantra that vaccines only work if everybody gets them simply defies logic. Most of a given population is either unvaccinated or the ‘immunity’ conferred by the vaccine has waned. Therefore most adults are completely unvaccinated and therefore cannot contribute to the myth of ‘vaccine herd immunity’.

    Anyone who says we should all get vaccinated to ‘protect those who cannot get vaccinated’ are living in cloud cuckoo land. I for one will not get vaccinated and risk my health (or the health of my children) for someone who is immuno-compromised and who is susceptible to all manner of disease and not just so-called ‘vaccine preventable diseases’.

    Most people who stop vaccinating were once vaccinators but who experienced serious adverse effects themselves or their children experienced serious adverse effects. It has absolutely nothing to do with the level of education or level of wealth.

    Stop spreading lies and disinformation. You are a disgrace to your profession.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Clearly you don’t know much about vaccines if you think the only people who are harmed by the ignorant, unethical decision to withhold vaccines from your children are your children.

      • safeandnatural

        I note that you didn’t answer my reference to the mythical ‘vaccine herd immunity’….. is it because you haven’t got an answer?

        • Nick Sanders

          Rinderpest.

      • safeandnatural

        Your comment makes no sense – my children are certainly NOT harmed by my decision to not vaccinate. Nor are any other children harmed by my decision.

        I found this recently which really sums up the stupidity of ‘vaccine herd immunity’ nicely:

        “A woman accused my unvaxxed children of spreading measles and polio and killing other kids even though they don’t have any of these diseases. My solution?

        I called her husband and told him he needs to be tested for
        gonorrhoea because his wife may have given it to him. He calls her, flips out, accuses her of cheating. She repeatedly says “I didn’t give you gonorrhoea. I don’t have gonorrhoea! How could I possibly give you gonorrhoea if I don’t even have it?”

        Checkmate.”

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          You are a perfect illustration of the Dunning Kruger effect: those who are most ignorant actually think they are “educated.”

          • safeandnatural

            Only those who have lost the argument quote the puerile Dunning Kruger effect.

            I note once again that you cannot answer me.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Why would I bother to argue with you? You are so arrogant that you actually think you know what you are talking about. You won’t listen and you don’t have the educational background to understand even if you did listen. Anti-vaxxers should realize that while their friends in the natural parenting community may be impressed with them, doctors, scientists and public health officials think they are morons.

          • safeandnatural

            Ah, that’s right, only people who are qualified as doctors can possibly understand a history lesson or anything to do with medication and medical treatment. Patients are stupid and must just do as the doctor orders, is that right? And you call ME arrogant?! Geez, but that’s rich!

            So what you are saying is that I have zero right to question you or your opinions and diagnoses? Yes? I must just take my pills as directed like a good little patient?

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            No, I’m not saying anything about questioning me. I’m telling you that you don’t have enough basic knowledge about immunology, science or statistics to even pretend to understand vaccine research. You’ve given me no indications — no educational background, no professional qualifications, no patient care experience, no public health training, no evidence that you’ve read the scientific literature on the topic — to conclude anything other than the fact that you are both ignorant and arrogant.

            I notice you have not been able to come up with a single time in the past 200 years when anti-vaxxers were every right about anything. That’s not surprising. They have the same track record for accuracy as the people who claim they’ve seen UFOs.

          • safeandnatural

            Please see my reply above re the past 200 years.

            So you’ve simply assumed that I’m ignorant?

            I don’t need a medical degree to have common sense or to have an analytical brain. I’m not arrogant at all. I’m simply questioning you and YOU are getting hot under the collar!

            It’s not difficult to read various scientific literature, product inserts, vaccine history, statistics, listen to parents, read legal cases, the list goes on. It’s not difficult to understand that vaccines have caused diseases to shift from childhood to adulthood (causing worse problems in older patients); it’s not difficult to understand that deaths from measles were down 98% from peak when the vaccine (which was not safe) was introduced; it’s not difficult to understand that the diagnostic criteria for polio was changed after the vaccine was introduced, thereby automatically ‘reducing’ the number of polio cases; it’s not difficult to understand that the medical profession refuses to acknowledge ANY vaccine injury, even when the injury occurs within a few hours of the administration of a vaccine.

            You still haven’t explained how vaccine herd immunity works or proven that it works. I’ll accept that you cannot because it is a complete myth. That’s because outbreaks occur in fully vaccinated communities and communities where the coverage is above 95%. This is because vaccines fail. It’s because people react differently to vaccines and some don’t produce an immune reaction. That’s because anti-bodies are not the correct measurement of immunity. It’s also because live vaccines shed the vaccine strain virus and can actually CAUSE an ‘outbreak’.

            Those who support the use of vaccines often cite ‘correlation is not causation’. It works both ways. Just because a vaccine was introduced at the time a disease was naturally declining doesn’t mean that the vaccine can claim responsibility for the decline. Several other diseases ALSO declined at the same rate (or very close) and they did so WITHOUT a vaccine.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            No, you’ve demonstrated that you’re ignorant by babbling nonsense and pretending it is “research.”

            Imagining you’re qualified to discuss vaccine research because you’ve read product inserts is the intellectual equivalent of imagining that you are qualified to be an architect because you’ve read House Beautiful.

          • safeandnatural

            Ah, but after reading House Beautiful I can decide on which house I would like.

            And I note yet again you don’t answer my points. You really are becoming very predictable.

          • safeandnatural

            And in fact, what you are confirming is that you as the doctor must tell the patient what to do and the patient must comply without questioning anything.

            I’m sure you must really detest the loss of control when patients decide, you know what, I’m not going to take your pharma-funded advice – I’m going to do the complete opposite because I don’t trust what you say anymore.

          • safeandnatural

            BTW, I never pretended anything was ‘research’. I said I had read various areas on vaccines. Don’t put words in my messages….

            It’s the same as me reading up on a drug e.g. anti-inflammatories or ant-acids or any other drug. I can read and I can understand. My goodness, for a doctor you are really, truly insulting!

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Anti-vax has been around for more than 200 years. Here’s an easy request for you. Find a time in the past 200 years where anti-vaxxers were ever right about anything.

          • safeandnatural

            If you research the Leicester rebellion against mandatory small pox vaccination you will soon see that those who refused to be vaccinated (because people were dying from the vaccine) and who used the containment method to reduce deaths from smallpox were actually correct.

          • safeandnatural

            And of course, I wonder why people were against vaccinations for all that length of time? Could it POSSIBLY be because of the DANGERS of vaccines and that people realised they didn’t work?! If vaccines were SO good and safe and effective why do people STILL keep refusing them? Could it POSSIBLY be because children are being HURT and KILLED by vaccines and then the parents simply say ‘no more!!’?

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Why do some people keep refusing them? That’s easy: because they are ignorant clowns such as yourself. Pediatricians vaccinate their children, immunologists vaccinate their children, pharma executives vaccinate their children. Are we suppose to believe you know more than they do?

          • safeandnatural

            But this is my point! You automatically assume that because a patient refuses a treatment that you recommend that they are ignorant clowns! You are so arrogant!

            Just because pediatricians, immunologists and pharma executives vaccinate their children doesn’t mean to say they are correct in doing so.

            That’s absolutely not scientific at all. It simply means they are following the herd.

            If I look at the available information on a particular drug and then decide that it is not for me because the risk for adverse effects is too high, am I an ‘ignorant clown’?

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            No, I don’t assume patients who refuse treatments are ignorant clowns. There are many valid reasons for refusing medical treatments. There are no valid reasons for refusing vaccines absent a doctor’s judgement that a specific vaccine is harmful to a specific child.

            Why are you here? Why are you arguing with me. You are not going to convince me of anything because you don’t know anything.

            Indeed, you are illustrating one of my recent posts about why people believe in quackery: http://www.skepticalob.com/2017/07/who-believes-in-quackery.html

            You have repeatedly invoked the “doctor as deity” straw man.

          • safeandnatural

            How could you ever possibly know that a vaccine could be harmful to a child?

            You’ve just contradicted yourself. It’s OK to refuse a medical treatment but not a vaccine? What is a vaccine if not a medical treatment? Because vaccines are given to healthy individuals it’s far more important for that vaccine to be 100% safe. Which they are not. So a patient should have the right to refuse them.

            This is my whole point and my argument. I’m trying to establish that a patient has the absolute right to refuse vaccination, irrespective of whether you think he/she is educated or not. People have that right.

            Yet again you insult me without even knowing my background. You insult me by saying I believe in ‘quackery’.

            I believe in the right to self-determination and to accept or reject medical advice or treatment. You don’t have the right to force treatment upon anyone – that is coercion, not medicine.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            You know the same way you know if peanuts or tomatos are harmful for a particular child. They get an allergic reaction when they try it. Far more people are allergic to foods than to vaccines. Autism, auto-immune diseases, etc. are not caused by vaccines.
            My children, my spouse, and I are up to date. My kids are hitting all their mile stones at the times. My husband is blind from congenital rubella (german measles) and I’m deaf from scarlet fever. Our personal experiences are as valid as yours. (and yes, i know scarlet fever is not a vpd, but it is a once common childhood illness).
            But you probably think I’m a paid shill and that Bofa, Roadster, Bea, and I are all the same person.

          • safeandnatural

            Vaccines cause allergies. They are listed as adverse effects on the product inserts. Just search on ‘vaccines cause allergies’ and you will even find CDC information on this. Peanut oil was an unlisted ingredient in vaccines and only since then did peanut allergies become dangerously widespread.

            I am sorry that you are deaf from scarlet fever. There was no vaccine for scarlet fever – at least, not one that was safe or used widely.

            The tragedy is that people will die from disease and people will get complications from disease. It is a fact of life. It’s sad, it’s horrible but we cannot prevent it all.

            Auto-immune diseases are now rife. Here is a paper which confirms the link between vaccines and auto-immune disease http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0008382

          • Allergies are listed for every prescription drug! I used to work in pharmaceutical research. If a test subject wasn’t sure the med or vaccine caused the allergy, it still made it into the statistics.

            We’re living longer. We’ll get illnesses no one dreamed of because people died of illnesses we vaccinate for now.

          • Who?

            People have believed stuff that is wrong, and harmful, for centuries, millenia even.

            Religion, anyone?

          • Nick Sanders

            If the earth is SO round, why do people STILL keep insisting it’s flat?

        • You know why your kids don’t have those diseases? There are lots of vaccinated people around them. But your kids are at risk of contracting polio, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis, and/or chicken pox if they were ever exposed to it. They could get exposed to it from international travel, contact with someone who had been overseas, or other unvaccinated people or people who failed to seroconvert who had been exposed to it. Then, your kids threaten everyone around them because they are continuing the spread of those diseases. They could get a baby who is too young for vaccines sick. They could get an old person sick. Vaccines are not 100% effective, so they could get a vaccinated person sick.

          In other words, yes, you not vaccinating your kids hurts them (they are vulnerable to some rather nasty diseases) and everyone around them (if your kids get exposed, they are a threat to everyone around them). Your kids are only safe insofar as they are surrounded by vaccinated people- and thanks to your stupidity, the number of unvaccinated people is growing.

          • safeandnatural

            “Vaccines are not 100% effective”. Nor are they 100% safe. So my children, who are 100% vaccine free, have been exposed to all manner of diseases (from vaccinated children as well as unvaccinated) and have all gone through measles and chicken pox without any problems whatsoever. The children who WERE vaccinated actually came down with chicken pox far WORSE than the unvaccinated. This has been shown to be true, time and time again.

            And how would I know if my children could or could not ‘sero-convert’ (even though that is not proven to be immunity)? How would I know if my children could be harmed by a vaccine? The truth is, we don’t know. And I’m not willing to play Russian Roulette with my children’s lives.

            Finally, outbreaks occur in populations where the children are 100% vaccinated. Fact.

            So vaccinated children spread disease. Fact. They can indeed spread disease without contracting it themselves.

            It is foolish to ignore these facts.

            But let’s just say that you are right, let’s imagine just for one amazing moment. Look at the levels of CHRONIC DISEASE amongst children. Allergies (some of which are life-threatening), eczema, seizures, developmental delays, neurological impairments, chronic ear infections, chronic throat infections, constant sickness (colds, ‘flu), digestive disorders and dare I use the word, autism (whatever the cause is).

            My children suffer from none of those issues, as do most unvaccinated children.

            And what about all the diseases for which there are NO vaccines? What about the poor babies, old people, immuno-compromised etc then? There are far more diseases out there than the mild measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox (which they are mild, in healthy children with no nutritional deficiencies).

            No, sorry Feminerd, you can stick to your vaccines and take your risks with them. I will not risk my children for the safety of YOUR children.

          • Who?

            Tell me one thing that is 100% safe. Just one.

          • Mishimoo

            I just love how (paraphrased) “Vaccines aren’t safe, doctors/researchers are liars!” and “The product insert is 100% accurate, read it!” somehow aren’t contradictory statements.

          • Sarah

            Footling breech HBAC.

          • Who?

            And yet those ebil doctors would want to interfere.

            Nacheral all the way to the cemetery, I say!

          • Heidi_storage

            With premature twins.

          • Sarah

            Damn you for one upping me.

          • Heidi_storage

            “I’m not willing to play Russian Roulette with my children’s lives.” Then vaccinate them.

            Curious: What do you think of this story? Do you approve of this mother’s course of action?

            http://www.skepticalob.com/2015/11/heather-dexter-whooping-cough-and-the-clinical-course-of-quackery.html

          • They are really close to 100% safe, and they are much safer than getting pertussis. So, in any cost/benefit analysis, the vaccines win hands-down.

          • Roadstergal

            “Nor are they 100% safe.”

            Please, name something that is 100% safe. Something 100% Safe And Natural that you put inside of your children’s bodies.

          • Heidi_storage

            Kale? No, heavy metals can build up in cruciferous vegetables, not to mention the possibilty of allergies….Water? No, as the old dihydrogen monoxide joke goes, that’s far from 100% safe….

          • Roadstergal

            I honestly could not think of anything that’s as safe as vaccines that one would regularly put into one’s body. No food or liquid nourishment comes close.

        • Nick Sanders
        • Who?

          I wonder why your mythical tale teller just didn’t say wifey had a cold? Couldn’t be that he wanted-assuming he ever existed except in the fevered brain of the teller-to raise a little hell in the marriage in question.

          What a lovely kind of human to be using as an example.

    • Azuran

      Over 99% of doctor and other medical professionals of any kind support vaccine. Does that make ALL of them a disgrace to their profession?

      • safeandnatural

        I note that you didn’t answer my reference to the mythical ‘vaccine herd immunity’…..

        • Azuran

          Herd immunity is not a myth. You are wrong.

          • safeandnatural

            Please prove it?

          • Azuran

            How about you prove that it’s not real?

            Lets face it, you are a deluded idiot who is not open about changing his mind. Nothing anyone could ever show you would change your mind. The evidence for vaccine safety and efficacy, as well as the existence of herd immunity is all out there. But you’d rather believe that you know more than over 99% of doctors, toxicologists, immunologists, epidemiologists and every other kind of scientist out there.

            You are just deluded and I’m not going to waste any more time with you.

          • safeandnatural

            You are deflecting. It’s not for me to disprove it because I’m not trying to foist any drugs on you. You are trying to justify vaccination because you claim that we need ‘herd immunity’. Well, substantiate your claim. Honestly, if you can prove vaccine herd immunity exists, I will accept it.

          • Azuran

            How’s that for herd immunity: Got polio? Or mumps? Or whopping cough? or smallpox?

            The info you seek about herd immunity is everywhere. If you were honest about accepting reality, you’d have properly researched it already.

          • safeandnatural

            That’s definitely not a scientific answer. I am not going to base my judgement on “herd immunity is everywhere”. I have thoroughly read up on this subject and I have concluded that vaccine herd immunity cannot be achieved because vaccines fail and many people do not achieve the required production of antibodies to say that the vaccine is ‘efficacious’.

            Which brings me to my next point is that vaccines are only deemed ‘effective’ if they produce antibodies. The vaccine is not injected into individuals and then the individuals exposed to the virus/bacteria to confirm that they are immune (I obviously understand why this is not done though) so the vaccine is only estimated to be efficacious and not proven.

            There is also continuing research on the immune system – the innate and the humoral – because scientists actually don’t know how the innate immune system works. There are studies showing that people with antibodies from vaccines will contract the disease and people without antibodies DO NOT contract the disease after exposure. So the science is definitely not settled on how our amazing immune system works.

          • Roadstergal

            “Which brings me to my next point is that vaccines are only deemed ‘effective’ if they produce antibodies.”

            Nope. Antibody titer is just one convenient shorthand. There are plenty of other ways to judge the effectiveness, as a response to a vaccine – like a response to the actual pathogen – is multi-pronged and involves many branches of both the innate and adaptive immune systems. Because they rely on each others’ activities to function properly. Your ‘gold standard’ test was actually done with smallpox, but we have better models now.

            “because scientists actually don’t know how the innate immune system works”

            Unless your name happens to be “scientists,” that’s highly inaccurate. Your own lack of understanding does not preclude rather a lot of understanding on the part of others.

          • Lilly de Lure

            In this case I think safeandnatural is using the term “scientists don’t know” when she actually means “scientists don’t say what I want them to say”.

          • We don’t have to, you troll. You are mentally lazy. You cherry-pick internet things that only reinforce your own bias. Try disproving your beliefs if you’re so sure you’re right.

      • safeandnatural

        Actually, yes. They are a disgrace because they never question what they are being taught. In fact, they never question what they are NOT taught. They are not taught about the true history of vaccines or about the ingredients in vaccines. They are not taught how to recognise a vaccine injury; they are not taught that vaccine injuries actually DO occur. They are not told to report vaccine injuries. They never listen to parents when a vaccine injury occurs and when the parent is pleading for help for their injured child. They dismiss parents as neurotic or paranoid and ‘uneducated’ or ‘ignorant’. They belittle parents and call them ‘child abusers’ if they don’t vaccinate.

        They are not taught how food nourishes the body and the mind and they are not taught what a healthy diet is. The tragedy is that they never question why they can only offer drugs and surgery, instead of including diet and lifestyle advice as options. They never question why their only source of information is the pharma rep. They never question the pharma reps and the data they are presented with. They never search for studies that are independently undertaken (not that there are many these days).

        They automatically think that anyone who questions a doctor is stupid, ignorant, uneducated, of low social standing or believing in ‘conspiracy theories’ or some other equally inane insult. They hurl insults such as “Dr Google” or equally stupid insult that says the parent is stupid because they search the internet looking for answers. Yet those who hurl such insults ALSO use the internet to find information. Double-standards.

        Yet the internet is used by prestigious educational facilities all across the world to educate people via on-line courses, but the moment someone suggests that they found scientific studies on vaccines on the internet that show vaccines can harm and boom! Instant insults and nasty accusations, ranging from casting aspersions about their heritage to “they should be prosecuted and thrown into jail”.

        Parents, children and patients are being thrown out of doctors offices for refusing vaccines and chemotherapy. Whatever happened to the Hippocratic oath?

        Whatever happened to the rights of the patient to have dominion over their own body?

        People who think for themselves these days are ridiculed and vilified.

        So yes, doctors who insult patients and treat them as imbeciles are a total disgrace.

        • momofone

          What’s with all the “they never” statements? Anytime I hear someone speaking in absolutes, I realize that they are not speaking based on evidence but on ideology. You make the assumption that they don’t question. What you are hearing here is that they do, in fact, and that the vast majority of them conclude that it is safer to vaccinate than not.

          I am willing to be that you have no idea what “they” are taught. You are regurgitating what you’ve heard and it shows.

          • Seems someone drank the koolaid by the gallon, to the point of rainbow urine. She has the illusion of knowledge, which is the largest enemy of learning.

        • Azuran

          Seriously, how do you know what doctors are and are not taught? Did you go to med school? Or did you just hear that online? You SERIOUSLY think that doctors are NOT told that vaccine injuries can happen?
          Because I sure was taught ALL those things you pretend doctors are not taught while I was in vet school. So I’m pretty sure that human doctors learn it too.

          • My PCP tells me the flu shot risks when he gives mine every year, and he knows I’m an RN. It takes him 10 sec. as it’s a ritual with us now.

          • Chi

            Exactly. Before I get my annual flu vaccination, not only do I have to sign an informed consent form which details all the risks as well as asking questions that may affect the outcome of the shot (have I been sick lately, am I currently running a fever, am I allergic to eggs or egg products etc), the nurse gives me a run down OF THAT SAME FORM to ensure that I’ve read and understood it all.

            THEN I have to sit in the waiting room for 15-20mins after receiving the shot to ensure a severe allergic reaction doesn’t happen.

            Once I’ve got the all clear I am then sent home with a sheet of paper detailing all possible side effects and that x, y, and z can be dealt with at home by a, b, and c and that if I have 1, 2, or 3 side effects to get my ass back to the practice or to the nearest ER pronto.

            So to say that Drs and nurses aren’t taught what vaccine reactions and side effects look like is complete and utter bullshit.

            The problem is that what anti-vaxxers call vaccine injuries, and what are ACTUAL vaccine injuries are two COMPLETELY separate things. But no amount of scientific data can chip through their aura of righteous knowledge and anecdata. To them, if it happened after the vaccine it MUST be the vaccine that caused it and there’s no convincing them otherwise.

            It’s so completely frustrating.

    • STFU! A tiny infant died recently out here from a preventable illness at 3mo. because someone didn’t know they could infect the baby. Babies too young to be vaccinated, the immunocompromised, etc., can’t be blamed for being the way they are, so the rest of us get vaccinated to protect them, you selfish (insert noun here).

  • doula123

    My youngest is due to have his MMR in the UK…I want him vaccinated, but am confused by all the varying info floating around…if anyone knows of any studies on whether the single vaccines are actually safer than the combined, I’d be grateful! (and yes I am aware the autism thing has been debunked, though you’d be amazed – or maybe you wouldn’t – at how many people still actually believe it.)

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

      https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mmr-vaccine-dispelling-myths/measles-mumps-rubella-mmr-maintaining-uptake-of-vaccine

      https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/delaying-vaccines-increases-risks-with-no-added-benefits/

      “Single vaccines are less safe than MMR because they leave children vulnerable to dangerous diseases for longer. Giving 3 separate doses at spaced out intervals would mean that, after the first injection, the child still has no immunity to the other 2 diseases.”

      “With the combined MMR most children are given good protection by a single dose given at about 12-15 months and protection is virtually complete by dose 2, a pre-school booster to catch children whose first dose didn’t stimulate a full immune response.

      Delaying immunisations by splitting them has a similar effect to reducing the proportion of children immunised. More children are unprotected, increasing the risk to themselves and to other children.

      In the past, when measles and rubella vaccines were used separately, children continued to get measles and babies were born with congenital rubella. When MMR was introduced, measles and congenital rubella were virtually eliminated”

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

      Single doses would mean 6 separate jabs as well. (Since I believe, 2 doses of MMR are recommended for ensuring full immunity.)

  • Christopher Hickie

    I will agree I’ve seen parents refuse vaccines who meet subscribe to these conspiracy theories. However, I’ve come across a lot of parents in my 15+ years of practice who’ve been tricked into not vaccinating by the likes of anti-vaccine doctors like Bob Sears, Jay Gordon and most recently Paul Thomas–all licensed FAAP pediatricians who’ve all profited handsomely openly selling (and speaking on) their anti-vaccine materials (books and DVDs) that are very difficult for individual physicians to refute. State medical boards refuse to discipline these bozos and the AAP refuses to expel them. I’ve honestly given up trying to convince these parents to vaccinate in the exam room and feel deeply for their children. I don’t think vaccine rates will improve (they started dropping again where I live in Arizona this year) until there are more vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks with resultant morbidity and mortality, which is sad, because the state medical board and groups like the AAP could have prevented this early on.

    • Steph858

      I might be inferring incorrectly, but I think the gist of your post was, “If only the AAP would just strike these charlatans off already, we could avert an epidemic tragedy.” I would like to see anti-vax paediatricians disciplined properly too, but I can see the spin the anti-vax crowd would put on such an event already:

      “Hero Doctor Censored!”
      “Struck off for exposing the TRUTH!”
      “This Doctor Knew Too Much … ”

      Etc …

      • Christopher Hickie

        A lot of parents have been gulled into not vaccinating by these quack charlatans who should not be FAAPs and should not have a medical license either. These AV pediatricians are already faux heroes/martyrs/whatever to AVers, and I don’t really care what hard-core AVers think because there is nothing that will ever change their minds. But being able to say to a vaccine-hesitant parent coming in to see me touting “Dr. Bob’s” anti-vaccine book that Sears was expelled from a group of 60,000 pediatricians because he’s a quack could go a long way towards convincing that parent to vaccinate.

  • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

    “When refusing to vaccinate is widely viewed as selfish, irresponsible, and the hallmark of being UNeducated, anti-vax advocacy will lose its appeal.”

    A sign of voting Republican is associated with “low information”, and yet they still keep getting elected. There are always going to be those who want to “stick it to edumacated librul commie elites” by latching onto and venerating dumbness.

    • Sheven

      True, but there are fewer and fewer who associate sticking it to the educated liberals with things like racial segregation or persecution of gay people. Things are only liberal until they become normal.

  • shay simmons

    The most recent one I read (on another Disqus forum) was that Brian Hooker lost his VICP case because Big Pharma forged entries in his child’s medical record.

    Seriously.

    • MI Dawn

      Those darn Big Pharma Ninjas will get you every time…

  • Cody

    “We should embark on a similar “makeover” for anti vaccine advocacy. When refusing to vaccinate is widely viewed as selfish, irresponsible, and the hallmark of being UNeducated, anti-vax advocacy will lose its appeal.”

    How do you accomplish this when many of the anti-vaxxers are affluent white women?

  • Sullivan ThePoop

    Since most antivaxxers are white and at least middle class I am not sure why they would feel marginalized.

  • MI Dawn

    The problem is that you can’t argue with someone who *wants* to believe they have special knowledge. No matter how you try, you fail. I have friends who sincerely believe a vaccine caused their baby to die of SIDS (nearly 2 weeks after the vaccine, by the way). So they refused to vaccinate any of their other children, and treat everything with essential oils, crystals, etc. (They offered to align my chakra which was apparently out of place or something. I declined, since I don’t believe in chakras…which is a symptom of the chakra being misaligned supposedly. I love endless loops.)

    • Zornorph

      I believe in Chakra Kahn.

      • Roadstergal

        I feel for you.

        • Kq

          I think I love you.

    • isfturtle

      The other problem is the way they view information. Any information that contradicts their beliefs is proof that there’s a conspiracy.

  • namaste863

    The problem with conspiracies, any conspiracy, is that they usually involve large numbers of people. And every single one of them has a mouth. For that reason alone, they almost can’t happen, because sooner or later someone is gonna blab.

    • Mel

      The first school I worked at as a teacher had a principal who was misreporting the number of students attending to the state for funding. Essentially, the school was receiving funding for ~400 full-time high school students when enrollment was ~150 full-time students.

      The principal managed to keep that up for about 18 months before it all fell apart when he asked a recent graduate of the school employed as a secretary to forge certain teachers’ signatures. She told her dad about the request who took her to a police station to report that.

      That’s the problem. In spite of a pretty slick set-up – we had ~35 teachers who were working in 6 different programs/funding streams in 5 buildings from 7am-9pm that allowed any questions by staff like “My classes don’t seem to be large enough to support my salary” to be answered with “Well, the Job Corp/Adult ESL/Adult GED program runs a surplus” – the whole thing fell apart because a teenage secretary realized she was being asked to commit forgery/perjury.

      It didn’t help that the staff was more than willing to work with the police to identify falsified attendance records. My lefty-CP letters are quite unique looking and someone was filling in “P” for kids who were absent that were well-formed, rounded and right-slanted.

      I was ready and willing to testify because my students who I had carefully rebuilt trusting relationships with were now being fucked over since the school was going to be closed the next year.

      If kids were dying……yeah. That would fall apart in less than 2 years.

      • Kerlyssa

        they’ll accuse someone of being a shill when said person’s own mother died of x disease. like, millions of people are going to watch their family members die for some conspiracy?

        • Sarah

          That’s because their family members didn’t really die, obv.

    • Young CC Prof

      Real conspiracies have happened, but yeah, if you want to know whether a proposed conspiracy is at all plausible, think about how many people would have to be knowingly involved, and whether there’s enough money involved to possibly pay off all of them. Even if there is a ton of money, the more people who know, the less plausible it is that it could possibly be kept quiet for any length of time.

      If we’re talking about a conspiracy of maybe 5 people, all of whom are getting very rich, I’d be willing to consider it. If it’d take thousands of people, no way.

      • Roadstergal

        That’s one of the primary messages of Voodoo Histories – explaining in a clear way how so many conspiracy theories go completely against how we know people act, how we know the world works.

        The rest of it is about trying to plumb the depths of why people believe in them anyway.

  • Empress of the Iguana People

    It’s a common sense thing. There is no sensible reason why governments, doctors, and the pharmaceutical industry would want to kill or maim a large percentage of the population, especially the part that dominates their fields. But as the cliche goes, common sense isn’t that common.

    • Zornorph

      Well, in the 1980’s, a significant number of people believe that Heavy Metal bands were encouraging their fans to commit suicide. As one of them said, it they were putting hidden commands recorded backwards in their songs it would have been ‘Please buy more of our records.’ My favorite was the one who sued Ozzy for singing ‘I tell you to end your life’ when it was simply a misheard lyric and Ozzy was really singing ‘I tell you to enjoy life’.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        oy. I have a vague memory of this, but I was a kid and I didn’t listen to heavy metal

      • FallsAngel

        There were conspiracy theories about the lyrics of Beatles songs played backwards as well back in the 60s, e.g. “I buried Paul”, meaning Paul McCartney was dead.

      • Charybdis

        Wasn’t a Judas Priest song the thing that kicked that whole thing off?

      • Roadstergal

        I remember listening to an Infinite Monkey Cage episode where they played a bit of Another One Bites The Dust backwards. It was just gibberish. Then he gave us the ‘prime’ of “It’s fun to smoke marijuana,” and now I can’t hear anything else when it’s played backwards.

        Our pattern-seeking brains are something to behold.

      • Someone actually understood Ozzy? I get little more than mumbling. Or screaming.

      • Mishimoo

        The one I heard while growing up in the 90s was: “All secular songs (especially heavy metal) have hidden incantations in them in order to invoke demons, because signing a contract with Satan is the only way to get famous.”

        • Dr Kitty

          My mother went through a religious phase after the death of my sister (I.e most of my early childhood).
          For a while she spent a lot of time with people like that.
          She has significantly mellowed since, thank goodness.
          My dad has always been live and let live when it came to religion.

          I think Harry Potter (which my mum read, and loved) was one of the final straws.

          Also the fact that her children are all at various points on a spectrum of ” Non-observant Jewish->Agnostic-> Humanist” has helped too.