Friday, June 10, 2011

Anti-Vaxers and Grief Predators

I've long wondered how, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, anti-vaccination nonsense continues to hang on with such tenacity.

Then I read this account of a woman's experience attending an anti-vaccination convention, and I figured it out:

Like many wrong ideas that live long past their expiration date, someone's making a buck promulgating the disproved idea that vaccinations are harmful.

And anti-vaccination conventions are example number one. (Books written and speaker fees received by prominent anti-vaxers are example two.) Anti-vax conventions and people associated with them benefit financially when parents are misinformed. And who better to target than people who're hurting and looking for answers, such as the parents of autistic children? Just like psychics and mediums who take money from grieving wives, husbands, and parents of recently lost loved-ones, those pushing the idea that vaccination equals autism are grief predators. They're cashing in on parents who buy their books, buy their alt-meds, and attend their conventions and talks.

One Skeptic's Experience at an anti-vax convention:


Kenny Mahan said...

We'll just ignore the fact the primary researchers who said that in the first place were fully discredited. They then admitted to making it up and publishing it anyhow.

Charles Ryan said...

There is another side to the story; an extenuating circumstance, if you will. In my extended family, we have a baby (now about 7 months old) with a very rare, very hard to diagnose blood disorder. She's been through a zillion tests and a zillion transfusions, and it still hasn't been nailed down and the child is, frankly, at great risk of death. As you can imagine, the emotional strain and turmoil has been intense for the parents and everyone close to them.

Infants get a lot of shots, so it's not too strange that the first symptoms surfaced shortly after a vaccination. And now, in the absence of any other clear cause, you will never, ever, ever, not in a million years, convince some members of my family that it wasn't the vaccine's fault.

Grief makes people irrational. That makes them good targets for predators, but it can lead to the propagation of irrational beliefs even without them.

Bruce Cordell said...

Charles, you make a very good point. This is some fertile ground for disinformation. I bet you're right, Jenny McCarthy believes she's doing the right thing against a conspiracy of western medicine.

But I'm not so sure about Wakefield. Not to mention all the gluten-free vendors and other woo-woo new age mumbo dealers at these conventions.

To extend this even further (beyond vaxers, and say, to those who promulgate that there is "no such thing as anthropomorphic climate change" ..., few people ever think of themselves as the bad guy. Cognitive dissonance sees to that.