This post is part of a series of guest posts on GPS by the undergraduate and graduate students in my Science vs. Pseudoscience course. As part of their work for the course, each student had to demonstrate mastery of the skill of “Educating the Public about Pseudoscience.” To that end, each student has to prepare two 1,000ish word posts on a particular pseudoscience topic, as well as run a booth on-campus to help reach people physically about the topic.
Deceitful Doctors in the Anti-Vaccination Movement by Ryan McCall
Medical science and disease prevention has come along way in human history. However, the ignorance of some people in human society is astonishing to me. How people can blatantly disregard scientific fact is beyond comprehension to many, especially when these choices effect their children’s well-being. “Most” parents would agree that they want what is best for their children. They want to protect their children from the dangers of the world and keep them healthy and well. With this being said, some parents do not take the necessary steps to prevent many dangerous diseases and illnesses that can impact their children. They do this by choosing to not get their children vaccinated. Many of these preventable diseases can have disastrous effects on children and families, as well as society as a whole. If you have a strong stomach, then take a visit here to find numerous examples of preventable deaths. The anti-vaccination movement picked up momentum in the late 1990’s and while it has died down somewhat in recent years, there are still supportors that believe that vaccinations are just as dangerous as the diseases themselves. Despite numerous amounts of evidence, some still buy into the nonsense they are fed though celebrities and “doctors” looking to make money.
So why would one not get their child vaccinated? Anti-Vaccination is not actually a new movement, but instead has a long history dating back to the late 18th century. Most people attribute the modern anti-vaccine movement to a British man named Andrew Wakefield. In 1998, he published an article with findings that linked vaccines to autism as well as measles, mumps, and other diseases. This led to an outbreak in panic for many parents and vaccination rates dropped steadily for several years after. Up to an 80% drop in Britain! It was later discovered that Wakefield study was a fraud. Things in his research were not matching up. Other researchers could not replicate his findings and Wakefield received enormous amounts of criticism. Many of Wakefield’s companions dropped their names from the study. Mistakes in research happen, but Wakefield completely ignored the fact that his findings were false. His license was eventually revoked for making sure claims and unethical practices. So you would think that would be the end of the story right? No connections were found; vaccines are good. Life carries on as it did before. BUT NO! While many people were relieved to find the study a fake and Wakefield removed, a small number of people still held onto the findings, which were proven false, and held them like a sacred text!
Even today, in 2013, many people believe that vaccines cause a number of problems for their kids. While any vaccine can carry a risk, the percentage chance is so small that it is outweighed by the benefits the vaccine has for society as a whole. It is good to be concerned with the dangers of anything and people should never believe everything they are told. But people need to do the research for themselves. We live in a time where the media will tell people things that will cause the biggest reactions, whether it be true or not. If people would dig a little deeper for themselves, they would find many studies done confirming the safety of vaccines. They would find articles, such as one that describes there is no link between the measles vaccine and autism. Multiple studies have been done on the safety of vaccines and each has shown so causing factors between vaccines and disorders such as autism. A website called Vaccinate Your Baby has a collection of peer reviewed articles addressing the anti-vaccine movement and research against it. These are clinical trails that that fail to support the idea of anti-vaccines. Still, with information out for people to read there are still supports of the anti-vaccine movement.
The general population tends to accept what they hear as fact, especially when it comes from people with a sense of power or knowledge, such as a man named Russell Blaylock. This man is supporter of the anti-vaccine movement and people seem to listen to him. He is a medical doctor and retired neurosurgeon. Despite his career as a surgeon, he seems to completely ignore the fact that there is strong evidence against anti-vaccination. Blaylock insists that current medical science is not interested in curing and preventing disease, partly because of the large amounts of money to be made in medical care. However, this statement could not be more wrong. Vaccines are one of the leading factors in prevention and disease control. Dr. Blaylock also believes that vaccines should be spread out over a time period and too many at once can cause serve problems, such as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Again, there is no scientific evidence to support this. There is however, evidence to disprove this idea that multiple vaccines cause illness. The swine flu vaccine also found opposition from Blaylock. He stated that the vaccine was more dangerous then the flu itself because the vaccine contained squalene. This is where Dr. Blaylock’s ignorance begins to shine. In the United States, there was no flu vaccine that contained squalene. However, in Britain, flu vaccine does contain a squalene-based adjuvant but out of 22 million vaccinations given out over a 10-year period, there were only a few mild reactions.
Bill Maher is another strong support of the anti-vaccine movement. He claims that the flu vaccine, if taken more then five times, can quadruple one’s chances at developing Alzheimer’s. That’s a pretty big claim. Maher takes his knowledge from a study done by Dr. Hugh Fudenberg, who claimed that five consecutive flu shots could increase your chances of Alzheimer’s by 10! The reason behind this, flu shots contain mercury, which over time causes cognitive dysfunction. Dr. Fudenberg is quite a character. He had his licenses suspended in 1995 due to “unethical practices. He eventually got his license back but now remains “retired” It may also come to no surprise that he worked alongside Andrew Wakefield on the 1998 vaccine-autism study. Bill Maher is also a strong support of Russell Blaylock. Blaylock has also discovered other causes of Alzheimer’s as well as some cures for cancers and sells his “wellness reports” online for just $54 a year! What a bargain…except that there is no evidence for these cures to work.
The anti-vaccine movement is not going anywhere any time soon. Unless people start to shovel through the bullshit that is being fed to them, society will be stuck with the same issues as before. It could be due to a lack of education and critical thinking skills. It could be people not thinking for themselves and believing what they hear. In many cause it can be harmless. But when it comes to anti-vaccines, the effects could be dangerous and downright deadly.