Stop laysplaining vaccination to me!

Female doctor making stop sign with her hand

Pro-tip: Don’t bother telling me what doctors do or don’t learn in medical school; I went to medical school and you didn’t.

Don’t bother telling me how many “unhindered” vaginal births obstetricians have seen; I’m an obstetrician and you’re not.

And for the love of all that is holy, stop laysplaining vaccination to me!

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Your belief you know more than physicians reflects your ignorance of science coupled to your extreme gullibility, fortified by your utter lack of self-awareness.[/pullquote]

What’s laysplaining? It’s my new term for the annnoying behavior of a layperson (typically an anti-vaxxer or alternative health advocate) who “explains” disease, prevention or treatment to a medical professional in a condescending, overconfident, oversimplified and inaccurate way.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but your treasured belief that you know more about vaccination than physicians reflects your ignorance of science coupled to your extreme gullibility, fortified by your utter lack of self-awareness.

You’re like the second grader who having mastered addition and subtraction declares that calculus is a plot by math professors to oppress students. There is no possible way for a second grader to understand the substance, utility and necessity of calculus; he or she must accept the word of those with expertise in higher math.

Similarly, there is no possible way for a layperson — EVEN YOU — to fully understand the substance, utility and necessity of vaccination; most adults, being more mature and self-aware than second graders, understand that they have to accept the word of those with expertise in medicine, immunology and epidemiology.

No, you’re not Galileo or Darwin, who ushered in great paradigm shifts in science and neither are the quacks you follow on Facebook. Both Galileo and Darwin were scientists, fully trained and completely up to date with contemporary scientific literature.

Both were engaged in basic scientific research and made extensive, mind-numbingly detailed observations of the natural world before articulating their theories.

Both PUBLISHED their findings so that other scientists could critique them and potentially reject them.

They didn’t declare the result of their research and expect anyone to blindly accept it. They understood that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and they provided it.

They did not “trust” their intuition and they didn’t expect you to trust yours.

And critically, they didn’t attempt to monetize their findings.

To my knowledge — feel free to correct me — in the entire history of medical science there has never been a lay person who caused a paradigm shift. You’re not going to be the first one and neither is the quack you follow on Facebook.

But wait! Doctors can be wrong, so maybe they’re wrong about vaccination.

Yes, doctors can be wrong, and other doctors — not laypeople — might subsequently correct them.

Prior to the germ theory of disease, doctors were unaware that they could transmit microscopic pathogens from cadavers to live patients. Semmelweis, through careful observation and experimentation, proved they could. Laypeople did not make that discovery, nor did they adopt Semmelweis’ recommendations until the medical profession as a whole had done so.

How about the debacle that was thalidomide? Doctors prescribed it to pregnant women, not understanding that the medication could cross the placenta, and children suffered severe limb defects as a result. But the connection between thalidomide and limb defects was not discovered and explained by laypeople. It was discovered by Frances Kelsey one of the first female physicians (also a pharmacologist) at the FDA.

So don’t tell me how measles was “disappearing” before the vaccine was licensed; I studied epidemiology and you didn’t.

Don’t tell me adjuvants are toxic; I studied both immunology and toxicology and you studied neither.

Don’t tell me that Dr. Bob Sears agrees with you; I read the scientific literature and didn’t see his name accompanying his published findings.

Don’t tell me vaccines “shed” or herd immunity doesn’t exist; I’ve practiced medicine and you haven’t.

Please, please stop laysplaining vaccination to me! You aren’t dazzling me with your knowledge; you’re merely confirming what I knew about you already: you are deeply ignorant of science, thoroughly baffled by statistics, and setting a new standard for both gullibility and lack of insight.