They Keep Moving The Goalposts

Consider this comment from an anti-vaccine advocate:

You can throw statistics out all you want. Everyone knows that vaccines do not cause autism in every single child or else we would have every child that received vaccines as an autistic person. Autism aside, let’s get the medical field, science and vaccine makers to promote legislation that requires that the full spectrum of adverse events be discussed prior to a doctor giving a vaccine. Why not also take away the shield that is the vaccine injury court and like every other business in the U.S. let the vaccine makers and doctors fend for themselves on defending the lawsuits for each and every vaccine injury. I am an insurance guy, so don’t tell me that you would have too many people claim vaccine injuries who were not really injured. That argument absolutely does not fly! May happen to where a few try to work the system, but not enough to say that all of the vaccine injury reports are lies. I also have many friends in the pharmaceutical industry. ALL of them have their vaccine exemptions for their kids. They say no way they would take the risk, so there is something there. For me, there are too many inconsistencies. Even the IOM didn’t get all the cases studied. Out of 158, I think that they only were able to study 23, so that means 135 were not able to be studied. UCLA and Harvard question the IOM’s latest report. The biggest thing for me is that I know how science and medicine work when there is money involved. I see it every day in one fashion or another. And the simple fact is some things happen, whether science says it is possible or not. Science is not always cutting edge, especially in the US or we would not be so lacking in the mortality rate compared to others. Our kids are just as sick as kids in many third world countries. Science has no answer, but it is happening.

Let’s analyze and deconstruct, shall we?


“Everyone knows that vaccines do not cause autism in every single child or else we would have every child that received vaccines as an autistic person.”
This is true, but that doesn’t stop anti-vaccine groups from working toward a goal where no child is vaccinated. If you read their messages you will clearly see that they want NO vaccines. They are asked what vaccines are safe, and they do not answer that question. So, yes, everyone knows that vaccines do not cause autism in every child, but the flip side to that is NOT that vaccines DO cause autism in some children. The evidence doesn’t point that way. This opening statement is a play on language.

“Autism aside, let’s get the medical field, science and vaccine makers to promote legislation that requires that the full spectrum of adverse events be discussed prior to a doctor giving a vaccine.”
Now, this is from an anti-vaccine person. Anti-vaccine advocates clamor for the government to lay off from mandating vaccines under the mantle of freedom and liberty, claiming that the government should not meddle in the doctor-patient relationship. Yet we have here an anti-vaccine advocate asking for legislation to do just that, mess with the doctor-patient relationship. Of course, this is borne from the conspiracy theory that physicians and other healthcare providers are trying to hide the alleged side effects of vaccines, as we’ll see in a couple of sentences.

“Why not also take away the shield that is the vaccine injury court and like every other business in the U.S. let the vaccine makers and doctors fend for themselves on defending the lawsuits for each and every vaccine injury.”
The vaccine injury court was brought about, in party, by the demands of a well-known anti-vaccine advocate. She hoped that the vaccine injury court, which has a lesser burden of proof than regular civil courts, would give claimants of vaccine injuries more in the way of compensation than a civil court would. Unfortunately for her, the vaccine court bases its decisions – for the most part – on known science. It is that last fact that makes anti-vaccine advocates uncomfortable. They want to go back to civil courts where juries can be picked to be the most misinformed possible so that favorable decisions go their way. Again, they tried it one way, it didn’t work, and so they’re moving the goalposts again.

“I am an insurance guy, so don’t tell me that you would have too many people claim vaccine injuries who were not really injured. That argument absolutely does not fly! May happen to where a few try to work the system, but not enough to say that all of the vaccine injury reports are lies.”
This one is simple to explain. How many vaccine injuries are reported? Thousands, hundreds of thousands? By the commenters own claim, not every vaccinated child is injured. In fact, the reports are low in proportion to the number of children vaccinated. And I’m not saying that the injuries are a fraction. I’m saying they’re a minuscule percentage. Tiny. Small. Far more good comes from vaccines, from seat belts, from helmets. Sure, some people may get hurt when the intervention fails, but that number is incredibly small. As an insurance guy, the commenter should know that the fact that car accidents occur in a day do not mean that a significant proportion of cars are having accidents. Certainly, it’s not a proportion to cause panic, unless you go causing the panic yourself.

“I also have many friends in the pharmaceutical industry. ALL of them have their vaccine exemptions for their kids. They say no way they would take the risk, so there is something there.”
This is one of those biases that are not visible to the biased person but are to those of us who look at the whole equation. My friends are a lot like me. We have similar interests and even political inclinations. After all, we’re friends. Regardless of their profession, they think like I do. This is why this anti-vaccine person has friends who are also anti-vaccine. Note that he doesn’t mention what their role is in the pharmaceutical industry. Do they pack pills in bottles? Are they executives? Do they clean and repair toilets at the world headquarters of Merck? If all of his friends NOT in the pharmaceutical industry DID NOT exempt from vaccination, it would be worth taking into account. But I’m going to bet that the majority of his friends, regardless of their profession, think a lot like him… Probably enough to be anti-vaccine as well.

“The biggest thing for me is that I know how science and medicine work when there is money involved. I see it every day in one fashion or another. And the simple fact is some things happen, whether science says it is possible or not.”
I’ll paraphrase the writer Seth Mnookin for this one. Mr. Mnooking stated in an interview that all the evidence available points to the fact that humans cannot fly. Does that mean that he cannot fly, especially since he hasn’t tried it? Well, no, but he’s not about to jump off a building to check out his curiosity. What I’m getting at is that science doesn’t say if something is possible or not. Science is a process by which we come to understand events that we observe. As a result, these events must have already happened. Further, because these events indeed happened, they must be possible. The other thing that I need to correct in his statement is that it is not science and medicine that are corrupted. It is the practitioners of science and medicine that can be corrupted. Luckily, there are those of us that keep them honest.

“Science is not always cutting edge, especially in the US or we would not be so lacking in the mortality rate compared to others. Our kids are just as sick as kids in many third world countries. Science has no answer, but it is happening.”
Actually, no, it’s not happening. See, the United States measures infant mortality by different standards. Further, there is a very good system for reporting infant deaths. As a result, the infant mortality rate in the US seems to be higher or just as high as the infant mortality rate in third world countries. Think about it. Are all the infant deaths in the Horn of Africa being reported accurately? Are they really?

The take-home message from this deconstructing of an anti-vaccine advocate’s thoughts and opinions is that there will always be one little thing that they will hold on to in order to attack the science of vaccination and those who work to promote and improve on that science. We can give them all sorts of reasonable, well-thought-out arguments on why vaccines are needed, why they’re safe, and why we cannot stop vaccinating… But, if their beliefs are solidified enough, it won’t matter… They’ll find a way to keep on moving the goalposts.

Advertisements