When self-delusion turns deadly for everyone

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The right wing has its climate change deniers and the left has its anti-vaxers. Regardless of which end of the Red-Blue spectrum they’re on, they have this in common: They don’t believe in science. But there’s a big difference: Climate change deniers are mostly just an embarrassment. Anti-vaxers are harming others.

For me, that’s the tipping point. You can worship a green space bunny and believe that walking backwards reverses time, and I’ll just shake my head, feel a little sad for you, and move on. But when your fantasy thinking starts harming others, particularly children, I am compelled to clear my throat and holler.

Throat clearing now … 3 … 2 … 1 … and we have ignition.

Parents. Get your heads out of your butts and vaccinate your kids. Vaccines don’t cause autism. They just don’t. This is not merely my opinion. This is the position of everything from the World Health Organization to Autism Speaks, and all their associated doctors and scientists.

Or, you can listen to Jenny McCarthy, who has an M.D. in … what … lipstick? She admits that her degree comes from Google University, and if you’re still listening to her beyond that, please stop and question your sanity.

Besides Jenny, the medical resource of choice for anit-vaxers is soccer moms with blogs telling anecdotes. Hey, Mommy Blogger heard of someone who knows someone who read on a blog that this one kid became autistic after getting a measles vaccine! Scientific method, be damned! It must be true!

Case in point: “The Thinking Mom’s Revolution,” which I discovered while becoming acquainted with Larry Wilmore’s “The Nightly Show,” which features rapid-fire, witty banter between guest commentators. On Jan. 27, the topic was measles vaccinations. Among the guests were CBS News medical and health contributor Dr. Holly Phillips, and one Zoey O’Toole, representing The Thinking Mom’s Revolution.

Wilmore, noting that the main study linking vaccinations to autism has been discredited, asked Phillips, “Is that door just completely shut on that?” Her response: “No one ever wants to say never, but it’s just overwhelmingly improbable that there is this link. It’s not my opinion, that’s the opinion of the NIH, the Institutes of Medicine, CDC, World Health Organization, countless autism research organizations. The measles vaccine is not new. It’s not an experimental treatment they’re throwing out there. Hundreds and hundreds of millions of doses have been given and we know that it works.”

OK, that’s a wrap. Next topic.

But no, O’Toole opened her pie-hole in response to Phillips, and out gurgled a babbling stream of nonsense.

“We all want to do what’s best for our children” and “We all want to protect our child.”

Seriously. That was her rebuttal.

Later on, she pounced on the fact that vaccine manufacturers turn a profit, and aha! that proves that measles vaccines cause autism!

Gaahhhh … the stupid … it burns …

Astounded by the sheer idiocy emanating from one mere person who, for reasons I can’t fathom, was propelled to the national stage, I visited “The Thinking Moms’ Revolution” website to investigate their academic, scientific or medical credentials. I found only their “About Us” tab, which said, “The Thinking Moms’ Revolution: What began as a collective journey of stories across the globe from Autism to recovery, and with whatever happens in between; a tight-knit group of parents were drawn to support each other traveling the Autism journey while learning, identifying, laughing, crying, celebrating – experiencing a full spectrum of life and emotions; creating a Revolution along the way, not for the weak, always with hope in sight. We walk together and invite you to join us to do the same.”

Hey, slap an M.D. on that!

Bloggers. They’re going to be the death of us. Literally. People don’t recognize the difference between a blogger and a reporter.

As compared to a news story, a blog is a random, unfiltered spewing of “information” without any editorial control. What’s the big deal about an editor? Plenty. An editor isn’t merely a proofreader. An editor analyzes a story and says, “You need more research” or “Tighten up this paragraph” or “I found an error in your facts,” or maybe, simply, “This is a load of B.S.” A reporter usually has professional journalism credentials or, at the very least, is supervised by an editor who does. A blogger’s credentials are knowing how to turn a computer on and start typing.

It’s comes down to accountability. A blogger has none. S/he can blather on about anything, hit “post” and a thousand people will gulp it down. But read a well-researched NPR piece? Oh, whine and moan, that’s so boring, and the words are so big, and it makes my brain feel all thinky and sad. I’d rather gobble up Dr. Soccer Mom’s mind candy!

Which isn’t to say there aren’t some well-researched, respectable bloggers out there. But before you start gulping down blog chunks whole, check that blogger’s “facts” elsewhere and verify his/her expertise. A “collective journey of stories” is not expertise. It’s a fluffy way of saying ” anecdotal stories that knit a soft, safe, self-congratulatory womb of denial that will reinforce our own beliefs and shield us from reality.”

If you want to take a fool’s journey, fine. But don’t drag your children down the merry path of delusion. Measles kills. Look up the statistics on the CDC or WHO websites. Those are facts, not a collective journey into All-The-Pretty-Unicorns-Will-Protect-My-Child-From-Disease-With-Magic-Rainbow-Glitter-Land.

The anti-vaxers’ shortsightedness is the result of growing up in a measles-free world. They have no memory of disease and death. Why? One word: vaccines. But, thanks to the oxymoronic Thinking Mom’s Revolution and its ilk, diseases we’d defeated are roaring back — whooping cough, mumps and now measles. And here’s the biggest irony of all: the very same parents who aren’t vaccinating their children against deadly diseases are wrapping their kids in bubblewrap and strapping on kneepads and helmets before they walk down the block because they might trip and skin a knee.

It’s beyond “irony.” It’s child abuse.

— Email Debra DeAngelo at debra@wintersexpress.com; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com

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