September 17, 2016

Vaccinations, "Big Pharma", and Evolution

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

For several months, I've been chomping at the bit to get this article written. There is an addendum below the video.

Is it just my imagination, or has there been a marked increase in anti-vaccination material? (Perhaps they get worked up by anti-vax celebrities and politicians like Donald Trump, Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, Bill Maher, and others.) There are many conspiracy theories linked to vaccinations, and there is a range of intensity, including "governments use vaccines to control the population". This troubles me. No, it actually gets me angry. (There are people who will take any innocuous comment and say that the writer is angry, but in this case, I'm telling you right out of the gate how I feel. I've even "unfriended" people for spreading the stuff.) This will not be a detailed pro-vaccine apologetic, since too many people have their minds made up from emotional appeals and terrible reasoning, but I want to make some statements. Will I influence anyone to change their minds or even slow down and think rationally? That'll be the day. It's worth a shot (shot, get it?) though, so I thought I'd try, even though it will cost me some friends.

Celebrities, lack of logic, hysteria, anecdotal evidence help fuel the anti-vaccination movement. Is "Big Pharma" evil? THINK, people! Do some serious research!
Image credit: Pixabay / dfuhlert
Emotionally-provocative words like "Big Pharma" are added to conspiracy theories to poison the well, and have confused people about whether or not to get vaccinations. It affected me about the flu shot that my doctor recommended, but he persuaded me despite anecdotal "evidence" like the highly-publicized cheerleader's adverse reactions that were later debunked. And yet, I had no hesitation in getting my tetanus booster, because the tetanus infection frightens me, what with being often fatal and all.

Some of the deceptive information involves the claim that vaccines contain additives, like mercury and formaldehyde —

"Whaaaaat? Formaldehyde is used to embalm dead bodies, and you want that injected in you, Cowboy Bob?"

It's true that there are additives in vaccines, but the conspiracists ignore the amounts, chemical compositions and differences, and other places that these "toxins" can be found — you get more of a kind of mercury in a can of tuna than an injection, and more formaldehyde by eating an apple than from a vaccine; your own internal mechanisms makes that stuff!

We can reverse this to show the bad reasoning. How about a nice glass of wine, beer, or shot of rye whiskey? "Don't do that! It contains alcohol! Alcohol is used as a disinfectant, a motorcar fuel additive, solvent, and more. Do you really want that in your body?" This is similar to the faulty reasoning from vaccine opponents, as we have just seen. What I did was withhold pertinent information, especially the fact that there are different kinds of alcohol and different concentrations. The alcohol in your drink is only poison when it's abused.

When people say that "Big Pharma" is withholding cures because they get rich from people staying sick, that really takes the rag off the bush. If you'd study on it for a spell, it's stupid even at surface level. Not only is such an accusation blatantly disparaging of the medical profession as a whole, but implies that the accuser has the ability to know the thoughts and motives of all those people. Add to that the false claim that vaccines cause autism, and the insult level is astonishing. Apparently the ones who say that they went into medical areas because they want to seek cures and help people are all liars, huh? Prove it, Pilgrim.

It's even worse when professing Christians and creationists pass along anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, empty claims, and outright lies. Otherwise intelligent people, even apologists, go in for this. Not only are they disparaging other Christians and creationists in the field, but they are indulging in the same logical fallacies that we call Darwinists out on! Further, they are not using critical thinking (which makes me wonder why I even bother to educate people on logic). Previously, I touched on the appeal to motive fallacy, where people claim to know why medical professionals withhold cures. People who make such claims need to be confronted: how do you know the motives, and where is your supporting evidence?

For that matter, I've seen a combination of the appeal to motive fallacy coupled with the genetic fallacy (reject something because of the source), so my supporting links from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, WebMD, and other sources could be rejected because they come from "Big Pharma" and the US Government, who have all been condemned as evil by those people. Pay attention to the anti-vax crowd and you'll see a whole heap of fallacies.

There has also been an increase in natural this, natural that, natural the other thing. Recently, I've been hearing about refusal to vaccinate because of "natural immunities". (Some Christians have wondered if vaccines are unbiblical. It's fine to wonder, but don't exceed what is written in Scripture, and be careful about who gives you your anti-vaccination information.) I reckon that some of the people who push the strongest for natural remedies and immunities often have a financial interest in selling something "natural". As the saying goes, I'm just saying. In addition, I suggest being careful about your sources, as quite a few anti-vax sites are famous for false information to further their own agenda. Sounds like I'm being fallacious, but I'm saying to use caution. Many diseases have been eliminated or brought under control through vaccination, but none through homeopathy or hysteria.

What could be more natural than eating peanuts? People develop severe allergic reactions to them. How about a bee sting? That's natural, but some people need some chemicals mighty quick or they could die. Did you need surgery or similar procedure? I wonder what kind of anesthesia was used, since the hospital stuff has chemicals. Maybe a few shots of rye helped deaden the pain. But surgery and other life-saving techniques are "unnatural", aren't they? Don't have it. Die naturally and fulfill Darwin's dream of eradicating the weak and unfit in the population. Survival of the fittest and all that. Or you can get sensible.

Yes, some vaccines and medications are expensive. To claim that they are high-priced so the companies can get rich is rooted in ignorance and bias. Those companies employ people with advanced degrees who want to be paid (ever hear of student loans, as well as the desire to make a good living?) They have invested in people, research, testing, submitting for government approval, and more. These take time and expense, and it seems to me that there are people who think it should all be done for free. Maybe some people can donate their time and expertise, but their education probably was not gratis. You also don't hear about medication costs that have gone down over the years, especially after expenses have been recouped by the companies that paid for the research. As for me, I take seven prescriptions, and they have become affordable for the most part.

Is every vaccine safe for everyone on the face of the planet? Don't be ridiculous, I'm not saying that and don't know of anyone who is. There will be bad reactions in some people, just like in every medication. But the exception is not the rule, some people having reactions or bad experiences does not make it logical to condemn all vaccines or the entire medical profession. And for crying out loud, don't be hopping on the anti-vaxxer bandwagon because friends, celebrities and politicians are doing it! Are ya'll going to stop "thinking" with your emotions and listening to false reports, or did I just waste my time again?

Think I sounded less angry than I expected. Perhaps doing some research settled me down; I thought this would take half an hour to write, but it went over three hours. I need a vaccination — I mean, a vacation.

ADDENDUM: Here is some of what I have to deal with. The "reasoning" is just like what I frequently have to endure from professing atheists:

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