Thursday, February 03, 2011 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Liberal parents believe the autism-vaccination link

Paul Nurse, the boss of the Royal Society, recently compared climate skeptics to the people who reject modern medicine, or those who doubt the relationship between HIV and AIDS, and who prefer alternative medicine instead.

I have always thought that this analogy is mostly upside down. Modern medicine is primarily rejected by the people who don't really like or trust applied science and technology, i.e. those who are Luddites who love to romanticize the "life in Nature" that existed before people began to develop their civilization. Those folks are inevitably close to the environmental and other left-wing sentiments.

A particularly explicit example of the distrust in modern medicine is the belief that vaccination causes autism - a claim based on some silly study involving 12 people and a claim that doesn't seem to offer any sensible mechanism to explain the causation. Some pundits superficially suggest that it's the right-wing nutjobs and conservative Christians who believe such things. However, it turns out that it's mostly the liberals, parents who want to educate politically correct children.

There are two main reasons why they're mostly liberals: one of them is the distrust in the modern technology, as described in the previous paragraph. Another one is the left-wing belief that key characteristics of human beings - such as their autistic character or intelligence - are results of the social pressures and various events in their lives rather than innate properties.

Bill Zajc has sent me a link to a very realistic interview with Seth Mnookin (the author of a new book linked on the left) in the Science Magazine:

Why the 'Prius Driving, Composting' Set Fears Vaccines
Mnookin says, and explains why, the refusal to vaccinate their children is concentrated in regions where the Goode families live, drive their Priuses, and do their shopping in Whole Foods. It makes a lot of sense. Of course, the correlation is not 100% but it is pretty high and it goes in the opposite direction than some ad hominem attacks against the "unscientific rightwingers" like to claim.

Just to be sure: I have always hated vaccination and when I was a small schoolkid, I liked to faint a little bit after the act. ;-) Still, I have never really believed it was harmful.

Via Bill Zajc

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reader Tomas said...

Fighting ad hominem attacks and beliefs based on non-rigorous pseudostudies with politically motivated anecdotal evidence does not seem to be the grown-up way of dealing with this. How about we try and take the high road, acknowledge we have a problem, that being the existence of people who refuse to have their kids vaccinated for whatever reasons and try and address this problem by spreading facts? Facts about the relation between vaccination and disease, facts about the lack of relation between vaccination and autism, not facts about supposed correlation between the anti-vaccination "movement" and doing your grocery shopping in Whole Foods.

reader Kendra said...

I looked into the vaccination controversy a few years ago. The impression I got was that there is a third group of parents who brought up issues such as:

Regardless of link with autism, apparently there are limits of mercury mandated for babies and children at certain levels and those mercury-containing vax are often above them, especially when double or triple-dosed.

They feel that this is a result of government programs and mandates - it saves money to give the whole lot to children at once, not to mention the defects inherent in bureaucratic programs - and also doctors who, due to the precautionary principle, don't trust the parents to return for booster shots, which would be the preferred method.

Many, many, would be willing to consider each individual vax on its own merits but resist wholesale administration and, since this is usually not an option, resist being part of the program.

I don't think the Gardasil problem has helped (or is that bogus?)

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Tomas, apologies but I disagree with your basic thesis that "we have a problem".

Whether or not it's a good idea to vaccinate oneself - or his or her children - is up to a personal evaluation of the facts. Some people conclude that they should get vaccinated; others conclude something else. I think that the non-vaccinated people are really not a threat for the vaccinated ones, so they have the freedom to decide not to be vaccinated whatever their reasons are.

I don't think that you're spreading any facts. You're clearly confused about all these matters - you just want to spread the "only allowed opinion". I don't want to have anything to do with it. You are clearly a leftist who doesn't understand the world well but who dreams about everyone's falling in line.

And sorry, I won't be intimidated by you. The observation that this probable myth dominates among the leftists is a very important fact to know, and I think it's important for people to know about this fact, especially given the widespread leftists' lies about the conservative people's being unscientific.

reader bwims said...

Lubos, I do not think your response is fair. I cannot see how Tomas is "obviously" a leftist because of concerns over vaccination, despite the thesis of this article that you have to be a liberal to be worried about vaccinations.

I am not a leftist, but I see that only recently a child in the US was awarded over $1million with $500,000 a year (for life?) to help support her. She became autistic after a vaccination for NINE diseases in a single day. The reason, it was posited was because she had an underlying genetic weakness to do with her mitochondria. Why then, should there not be a similar reason for the triple-vaccine causing autism in children with similar weaknesses? Maybe Wakefield had the wrong answer, but there is still a problem?

I remember back in the 80s that we in the UK were assured by our government that there was "no scientific evidence that British Beef was dangerous". Soon after we could not export it!

I'm surprised that an AGW sceptic such as yourself seems to be so quick to accept the orthodoxy of the triple vaccine peddlers.

Surely, the safest thing, the least likely thing to overtax a small person's immune system is a single vaccine? Why overload it?

PS I AM NOT A LEFTIST. I'm just a parent who is glad that his kids are grown up now and does not have to take the decision, but if I did, I would try as hard as I could to obtain single vaccines.

reader quicksilver said...

Vaccines are 200 years old and civilisation somewhat longer.

We have arrived here with no problems of regeneration of humans until today.

Today we have a huge number of people with disordered brains and no explanation as to why.

Putting in brain destroying chemicals and then telling everyone it was OK to put this in a one day old baby is bizarre.

In France there is government opposition to the Hep B vaccine for anyone but in the USA it is favoured for the one day old infant.

Bizarre, bizarre, bizarre.