The only thing anti-vaxxers have to fear is fear itself!

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All anti-vaxxers share one very important thing in common.

Wait, let me amend that.

In addition to ignorance of basic science, statistics and logic anti-vaxxers share another important characteristic: they are ruled by fear!

Anti-vaxxers are afraid of anything they don’t understand and they don’t understand vaccines. They have chosen to band together and create an identity around that fear.

Anti-vaxxers are not victims of vaccines, merely victims of their own unreasoning fear.

Sure they tell themselves and others that their community is united by refusal to gullibly accept the assurances of experts, but they easily fall prey the unreasoning and unreasonable fear generated by gullibly accepting warnings from quacks and charlatans.

Imagine if our distant ancestors, the ones that anti-vaxxers believe they are emulating, had behaved in the same fearful manner.

“Fire? OMG, fire is dangerous. People could get burned. There is no way that I am cooking my meat before eating it!”

“Killing animals with spears? What if someone’s aim is off. They could kill me instead of the wild boar. No, I’ll take my chances getting in close and bashing wild animals over the head with my club.”

“Deliberately planting seeds in the ground? You have got to be kidding me! How do we know that the seeds we plant deliberately will grow into plants as safe and nutritious as the ones we gather? They might be poisoned so we better not eat them.”

Or much, much later:

“Sorry, but there is no way I am getting on an airplane. If we were meant to fly, we’d have been born with wings.”

Sounds ridiculous, right? The innovations that make life longer and less arduous today were new and poorly understood once. That made them scary, but being scary is not the same thing as being dangerous. Once people learned more about these innovations, and observed them in action, they embraced them.

Our distant ancestors could be forgiven for fearing innovations since they had no way to understand how they worked. Contemporary anti-vax advocates, in contrast, are ignorant because of their own actions. The knowledge of how vaccines work and their safety is available to anyone who cares to learn. But anti-vaxxers prefer to remain ignorant and afraid; indeed they proudly build their identity around their ignorance and fear.

In his first Inaugural Address, during the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt famously said:

…[T]he only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

Roosevelt was right. Unreasoning fear made the economic disaster worse and more prolonged. Guided by his wise counsel and bolstered by the government programs he created, the economy began to recover and people shook off the debilitating effects of fear.

In truth, the only thing anti-vaxxers have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat against disease into advance!

Unreasoning fear of vaccines and companies that produce them has allowed vaccine preventable diseases to claw back from the edge of extinction. The only effective way to protect ourselves from these diseases is to be guided by the counsel of experts in immunology, microbiology and public health. Only then can we shake off the debilitating effects of the nonsense peddled by the anti-vax movement.

Roosevelt also said this:

Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.

Anti-vaxxers are not victims of vaccines, merely victims of their own unreasoning fear, the result of their ignorance of science and gullible acceptance of the nattering of quacks and charlatans.

  • Me

    The fear is what causes parents who neither anti nor pro to question vaccines. Parents are afraid of all kinds of stuff and this topic is no different. 2/3 of my children got a 105 fever and lethargy after vaccinating. Worrisome and scary though I was told it was rare but OK. Either side of the debate have had their opinions crammed down my throat when I’ve expressed my feelings about how scary it was.

  • mabelcruet

    The thing that annoys me most (amongst all the other things anti-vaxxers annoy me about) is their claim that doctors only spend a couple of hours in all of their training learning about vaccines. It shows a pitiful misunderstanding of what medical education is. Medicine is a 5 year course in the UK, followed by 2 years at a foundation grade, then by several years in specialty training posts (depending on which speciality you go into, these go from approx 4-12 years, at which point you are qualified as a consultant-the equivalent of USA attending docs).

    In the context of learning about vaccinations, we spend months and years studying various aspects of it. We do courses on embryology (including development of the immune system), anatomy (including lymphatics, immune related organs and tissues and how it all fits together), physiology (how it works in health), histology (what the immune tissues look like when healthy), pathology (what can go wrong with the various components of the immune system and how they look when they’ve gone wrong), genetics (how anomalies can affect the development and function of the immune system), haematology (looking at the individual cells that comprise the immune system and learning about healthy vs disease states, including allergies, hypersensitivity and immune dysfunction), microbiology and infectious disease, therapeutics and pharmacology (how drugs impact on the immune system), general medicine (how immune system function varies during life and what diseases it can cause), toxicology (how various toxic substances can affect the body), and finally paediatrics. By the time we get to paediatrics, we have years of basic science behind us, which means that spending half a day learning about the up to date vaccination schedule for infants and children is all we really need to do, because the entire field of study behind vaccination, and the rationale for the vaccination schedules has already been exhaustively taught in the preceding years of study. I think nurses do a similar style of training-we don’t train as ‘today we are doing the immune system’, ‘tomorrow we are looking at stomach ulcers’, ‘Wednesday we are studying measles’. We look at health and ill-health in an integrated way looking at every aspect of the human body from the very beginning of life, and how it operates, and how it can fail. So the lies about doctors only spend a morning learning about vaccinations, or only spend a morning learning about breast feeding, or that chiropracters spend longer learning about muscles and joints than we do-it’s all absolute nonsense.

    Unless you have gone through medical or nursing training yourself, you can’t know how many hours we spend studying various conditions or specialities. It would be like me saying ‘people training to be a chef only spend one day learning how to make puff pastry’. I simply don’t know what goes on in their training, other than they produce some lovely stuff at the end of it (and having never mastered any type of pastry despite multiple attempts, I’m damn sure pastry chefs spend a lot more time than one day on it).

    • demodocus

      It’s like you’ve had half-a-decade of advanced education on biology and all aspects of medicine. Weird.