An interesting look at vaccine refusal

Liza Featherstone’s Shot Down. An observation of hers I find particularly poignant (emphasis mine):

As Susan Gregory Thomas documents in Buy Buy Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds, this generation of parents is anxious not to be taken for dupes, yet our skepticism can be superficial and capriciously directed. We are often, as Arthur Allen points out in his new book Vaccine, more willing to believe a random article on the internet than scientists who have spent their lives studying vaccines. Many of us have been oddly credulous about the anti-vaccine activists, some of whom are charlatans who make Merck look like the Boys & Girls Club. In addition to serving the worthy purpose of reminding us that every medical intervention has risks, many of these characters have terrified parents with vaccine fears that are simply ridiculous, in one case evoking the possibility of “brain-eating bugs.”

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13 Responses

  1. I often wonder how we ignore really scary reality in favor of some quacks unsupported theory.

    The current reality is there is an ongoing measles outbreak in Switzerland traced back to a non-vaxing community in a Waldorf/Steiner school.

    “Dr. Peter Strebel, of the World Health Organization, said there is a risk the disease might spread to thousands of soccer fans and teams who come for the 15 international games Switzerland will host during the Euro 2008. ”

    Switzerland is a plane ride away.
    How do you wish that away?

  2. I live in San Diego and I believe the recent measles cases here came from Switzerland – some non-vaxed kids had visited there, and came back with measles.

    There were no medically serious cases here afaik but at least one child (a 10-month-old baby according to the news story) had to be hospitalized. Not every measles case is as easy-peasy as the non-vaxers would have us believe! If I were that 10-month-old’s mother, I’d be furious at these non-vaccinating families.

  3. I know. There was a child on life support as a result of measles when our epidemic broke out last year.

  4. Off-topic, but I have a request: can you address ‘Consensual Living’ and/or ‘Radical Unschooling’? I believe that the psychological and educational literature strongly do not support these parenting/educating methods, but they seem to be very popular on MDC. I put them together because they do seem to go together. There is a lot of hifalutin philosophical language that their proponents use to defend these practices, but as practiced by the MDC’ers they seem to boil down to letting your child do as they please 24/7 and enabling them in their every whim, be it for a 2-yo to have a burrito cooked for them at 3 am or for a 9-yo to play video games instead of going with mom on an errand, necessitating mom to reschedule doctors’ appointments. One poster detailed how she had faked a transcript of her son’s “high school” experienced being radically unschooled, so that he could apply to a college program. She counted video games as all sorts of subjects, and it did not seem like the kid had done much else – he was also too ill to get out of bed most days with some mysterious illness that she was ‘chelating’, but that is another story.

    There are some truly appalling stories on MDC that would be considered child abuse (or neglect at the very least) anywhere else, but since they fit the dogma of AP/NFL or are posted by much-admired MDC posters, they MUST NOT be questioned. The moderation makes sure that dissenting views are severely curtailed.

    It’s really distressing, because the site is so widely read. I think it really does have the power to launch trends, like not vaccinating, which can have devastating real-life results.

    Sorry for such a long comment.

  5. Elizabeth,

    I’ve looked into the subject, but can’t find any stats on the subject of this type of discipline and schooling. While my personal opinion is similar to yours, it’s just my opinion and not based upon facts, just my own experience with kids. So any post I write on the subject would be, quite rightly, construed as a biased rant.

  6. I have a book written by T. Berry Brazelton called “The Irreducible Needs of Children,” which is footnoted with studies, that clearly states that one of children’s “irreducible needs” is the need for limits. I can try to find it and see if there is anything that might help you.

    I’m hardly any kind of expert in these matters, but my understanding is that the consensus among child development and child psychology folks is that limits are essential to a child’s development and mental health. To me, this is strong support for the idea that never setting limits for your child is objectively bad parenting.

  7. Elizabeth, are we reading the same MDC spinoff forum? I read one that just had a big discussion of that radical unschooling woman with the faked transcript.

  8. We just might be! 😉

  9. I’m going to be a big buttinski here: What MDC spinoff forum? 🙂

  10. You have mail. 🙂

  11. I just discovered your blog, and I’m finding it really interesting. I’ve noticed that exact bias among non-vaxers to trust one random internet study rather than years of medical research. While vaccines may not be absolutely perfect, they are sure a lot better than having a baby catch a deadly disease!

  12. Loved reading.


  13. Well said. Thank you.

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