Pseudoscience puts everyone in danger
We take modern medicine for granted. It’s something we hardly ever need to think about. The odds of dying of the flu are small; you’re about as likely to die from that as from accidental electrocution. But it wasn’t always this way. Just a few generations ago, before we had the ability to develop vaccines or antibiotics, infant mortality rates were frighteningly high. Children suffering from diabetes would slowly fade to nothingness, their tiny bodies literally starved to death.
The times, though, they have changed. When children are properly immunized, their odds of dying from what were once deadly diseases have dramatically been reduced, so much so that we have begun to underestimate their dangers. Worst still, a small but vocal group is working diligently to actively discourage parents from giving their children vaccines under the mistaken belief they cause autism.
Leading this unthinking and uncritical mob is former Playboy model Jenny McCarthy. Her child is autistic, and like many who believe there is a connection between the MMR vaccine and the neurological disorder, she made the inference simply from her own observation. Because the ideal time to vaccinate (roughly 13 months of age) coincidentally corresponds to the time when symptoms of the disease, a large number of individuals incorrectly assume the two are linked. Their fears and mistrust of medicine actually make them believe the idea the scientific community is purposefully suppressing information linking the vaccine with autism. The truth is no correlation has ever been found.
Take, for instance, this passionate letter author Roald Dahl issued in 1986 (re-issued last month) begging parents to immunize their children. He lost his daughter in 1962 to measles. At the time, there was no vaccine for the disease. Now it’s as easy as making an appointment with your family doctor.
Unsurprisingly, the unthinking masses have been reluctant to vaccinate their children, and as a result, this disease has been on a comeback in Britain. In 2005, there were 76 cases, and 2006 saw an increase to 100. These pale in comparison to this year so far; in Wales alone, the NHS reported the total number of cases so far is 277. A disease that once appeared beaten and downtrodden has come back with a vengeance. The problem lies in the fact that although parents may think it is their choice alone not to immunize their kids, the result is their lack of immunity puts everyone at greater risk.
When Dahl wrote his essay in 1986, 20 kids were dying every year from a highly preventable disease. It looks like the risks have just gotten higher for everyone else thanks to the tireless work of intellectual midgets like Jenny McCarthy and her pet, Jim Carrey. Can you morons all go back to making movies and leaving the job of educating people about health to the professionals? What is it about acting that makes you believe you know enough to be giving counsel to women about the health of their loved ones: was it a cameo on ER or something which made you think that was a good idea?