Vaccination has greater benefits than breastfeeding; anti-vaxxers’ and lactivists’ heads explode

Stressed buinesswoman

There’s often a lot of backlash to my posts, but the recent post, Vaccination is far more baby friendly than breastfeeding, has drawn a particularly vituperative response.

Consider this tweet from Amandha Dawn Vollmer:


Dr. Amy Tuteur is a well know [sic] evil CUNT that continuously promotes the satanic medical agenda …

Apparently both anti-vaxxers and lactivists are experiencing such profound distress in the form of cognitive dissonance that their heads are exploding.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Coming face to face with the fact that vaccines save far more lives than breastfeeding ever could is mentally excruciating.[/pullquote]

What is cognitive dissonance?

Leon Festinger proposed cognitive dissonance theory, which states that a powerful motive to maintain cognitive consistency can give rise to irrational and sometimes maladaptive behavior.

According to Festinger, we hold many cognitions about the world and ourselves; when they clash, a discrepancy is evoked, resulting in a state of tension known as cognitive dissonance. As the experience of dissonance is unpleasant, we are motivated to reduce or eliminate it, and achieve consonance (i.e. agreement).

Why are anti-vaxxers and lactivists wrestling with such profound cognitive dissonance over the fact that vaccines have far greater health benefits than breastfeeding? It’s because anti-vaxxers and lactivists often share beliefs. They are 100% certain both that vaccines are dangerous and that breastmilk is magically protective.

Coming face to face with the fact that vaccines have saved far more lives than breastfeeding ever could is mentally excruciating.

Although there are some who believe (without any scientific or historical evidence) that vaccines don’t work, the majority of anti-vaxxers acknowledge that vaccines work to save lives from vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs). They assert that the risks of vaccines outweigh the benefits of vaccines. That’s because they fabricate and grossly exaggerate the risks of vaccines and they minimize the benefits on the theory that if they haven’t seen diphtheria/pertussis/polio/etc. then diphtheria/pertussis/polio/etc. are no longer a threat to health.

Most anti-vaxxers extoll the benefits of breastfeeding for “strengthening immunity” and thereby preventing the same diseases that vaccines prevent. They often see breastfeeding as a substitute for vaccination, failing to understand that most maternal antibodies to vaccine preventable diseases are ImmunoglobulinG (IgG) antibodies and are too large to pass in breastmilk. Not only are vaccines better at preventing VPDs, breastfeeding literally CANNOT prevent against most VPDs.

Moreover, most anti-vaxxers believe that breastfeeding should be promoted with all possible public health measures, up to and including pressuring and shaming women into breastfeeding. They view women who can’t or choose not to breastfeed as selfish, ignorant and lazy. If that’s true, and the benefits of vaccination are greater than the benefits of breastfeeding, that makes anti-vaxxers even more selfish, ignorant and lazy, a simply intolerable thought.

Lactivists come at this issue from a slightly different angle. They, too, believe that the benefits of breastfeeding require public health measures to promote breastfeeding by pressure and shaming. That’s why they strongly support The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, which is designed to do just that. But if vaccination has far greater benefits than breastfeeding, their efforts are misplaced. Instead of pressuring women about breastfeeding, we should be pressuring them about vaccination.

In addition, a substantial proportion of lactivists are anti-vaxxers, making the cognitive dissonance particularly debilitating.

That explains the vociferous response accusing me not merely of being empirically wrong but insisting that I am being satanically evil. I have made them feel bad and foolish about their core beliefs regarding vaccination and breastfeeding by showing them how truly incompatible they are with each other.

And that makes me very happy indeed!