Appeals to Authority on Vaccinations
There’s two questions I put on the upper right hand corner of this blog – “What do you know?” and “Why do you know it?” Sometimes the answer is That’s an appeal to authority. When the authority is The Bible, or The Church, it’s faith. Nowhere do these questions become more intimate than when a parent is asked – sometimes ordered by law – to vaccinate their children. Indeed, some people are refusing to vaccinate their children and claiming that there is evidence that certain vaccines (or the way they are prepared) are causing cases of autism.
The science says, correctly, that there is no relationship between vaccines and autism. The sociologists (and politicians) say, correctly, that if we allow many children to go unvaccinated, then many more will contract diseases that sometimes have terrible side effects – a far, far riskier proposition than the unsubstantiated links between vaccinations and autism. The parents say, correctly, that the scientists and politicians have been famously wrong many times before about such thing (and point to Thalidomide) and want proof that their child won’t be affected. They also know full well that this proof is impossible to find. What infuriates people is that these parents are correctly judging the odds of their child becoming ill if and only if everyone else’s child is immunized.
In other words, some, like Megan McArdle, are putting these parents to my “What if Everybody Does It?” test, and finding that they fail.
Knowing parasites upon the herd immunity of everyone else, they are increasingly creating clusters of unvaccinated kids who form disease reservoirs where previously eradicated illnesses like measles are making a comeback. Their precious darlings then go on to infect younger children who haven’t had their vaccinations, the immunocompromised, and adults whose immunity has waned.
Will a government who insists that you recycle think twice about forcing you to vaccinate your children against your better judgement and wishes? Probably not. Their first job after all, is to protect society, and not necessarily the individual (and this, by the way, is the most conservative of notions). And if you doubt that, consider that the medical establishment is quick to inject everybody, it seems. From Michelle Malkin:
I’ve written before about my first-hand experience with bully doctors who balked at even the mildest questioning of their early-and-often-shut-up-and-give-me-your-baby-don’t-ask questions vaccine regimens after challenging the wisdom of newborn Hep B immunization in 2004[.]
The above was prompted when a doctor insisted on vaccinating her newborn against Hepatitis B, which is a virus contracted most often through intravenous drug use and sexual contact. Go figure. And it’s the state of Maryland and 39 other states that insist on it. Oh, no, the government is appealing to authority – the medical establishment. The medical establishment has already made up it’s mind, of course (and if very heavily invested in their decision). They’re also right, and have the science to prove it. They’re appealing to authority as well, the authority of the government to maintain the health of its citizens.
Sen. John McCain has, of course, stepped right into the middle of this steaming pile.
Going against the opinion of America’s top public health agencies, John McCain has suggested that autism may be linked to thimerosal, a preservative containing mercury that used to be common in children’s vaccines. “It’s indisputable that autism is on the rise among children,” McCain (pictured) reportedly said while campaigning recently in Texas. “The question is, What’s causing it? And we go back and forth, and there’s strong evidence that indicates that it’s got to do with a preservative in vaccines.”
Perhaps you can tell that I’m firmly on the fence with this one. Because presidential politics is involved, we all have a chance to make a choice on this topic, which is supposed to be a good thingTM. But as I see it, there is no comfortable choice here. Either way, someone, probably a child, will die needlessly. Glenn Reynolds collects e-mails that show I’m not alone on this fence.
The only consolation is that, either way, many others will be alive and healthy at the same time.