I love those fun little internet games. Like when you take your first pet’s name and the street you grew up on, and it’s your stripper name. I’m Duffy Buchanan–kind of a working man’s stripper, I think. Good thing we didn’t have a daughter in 1990. She’d have had to work the pole as Larry Twenty-Ninth.
Got a new one for you: take your first name, your favorite vegetable, and your favorite mammal, and you’ve got your Internet Huckster name. Wouldn’t you buy something from Murr Yam Marmot? No? How about David Avocado Wolfe?
He’s doing quite well, thank you, peddling horseshit plus marketing to willing marks. He says chemtrails are real. He hawks apricot pits for tumors because of a compound in them that might fight cancer if it didn’t dump cyanide in your system first. He claims academic credentials that don’t exist. He’s a raw-food proponent but first came on my radar as a promoter of anti-vaccine memes. Because that’s what we need now.
Gotta state up front, I come from a rah-rah vaccine family. I was swept into the doctor’s office a few seconds after the Salk vaccine came out; I was two, so I don’t remember it, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Dad camped outside the building to be first in line. I do remember the later sugar-cube vaccine and the time I asked “What is polio?” and my sister Margaret burst into tears of joy because I didn’t know. Polio ruined her health from age six on and she finally died of it ten years ago. Polio was eradicated in the United States by 1979. It’s possible it will be eradicated worldwide soon.
Want to freak out some kid crying over an injection? Show ’em your smallpox vaccination scar. That’s a doozy. If you’re younger than 45 you don’t have one. We spanked that disease, we did. My smallpox scar looks a lot like the scar from a huge chicken pox blister on my ankle. I didn’t feel sick with chicken pox, just itchy, and I went to camp with it and promptly infected the whole place. Did worse with measles, second time around: I still sometimes get the nightmare I had when my fever was up around two thousand. I don’t remember the mumps. I was a month old.
Well, anyway, the first time I saw an anti-vax meme I didn’t trust it. Poor spelling, of course, and oh my! Photos of pathetically sick children! Babies hooked up to tubes! Were these children adversely affected by vaccines? Snopes smacked that down in seconds. Turns out it’s pretty easy to come up with pictures of sick children.
I like my science the old-fashioned way. Design studies to prove or disprove a hypothesis. Crunch epidemiological data. Publish in peer-reviewed journals where your results can be challenged or replicated by other educated people in your field.
But Science can’t be trusted, you see. Big Pharma wants babies to be vaccinated against everything because they’re raking in the bucks. Ah, no. In fact vaccines do keep people from getting nice and sick, and they are dramatically less profitable to Big Pharma than other drugs. One reason is the good old government buys most of it and has negotiated the price way down. (It could do that for almost any drug or procedure if we didn’t have a health care system run by insurance companies, but that’s another story.)
Yes, precisely because scientists have long since discredited the supposed link between vaccination and autism, this proves science cannot be trusted. You can take David Avocado “Mushrooms Come From Outer Space” Wolfe’s claims to the bank, but feel free to ignore the scientists, who are clearly just out for money. And while you’re visiting his site, go ahead and shell out $297 for the Zapper, which “delivers positive and negative offset square wave electromagnetic waveforms throughout the body.”
We can’t get enough of conspiracy theories. They make our brains light up. In conspiracy-world, a study linking vaccines to autism is not withdrawn because it was fraudulent, but because it was repressed. It’s good to be skeptical. But don’t forget to apply your skepticism to the memes you’re helping go viral, too. Because critical thinking is the only vaccine for that virus.
By the way, Donald Trump is also an out and proud anti-vaxxer, too, but that doesn’t mean the position has no merit. Wait a minute, it pretty much does.
And there’s this, too. There are a lot of reasons people might create an anti-vax meme and promote it. They might have something to sell. But they might be Russian trolls, too. Not only are they apparently active in trying to undermine public health here, but they are interested in creating as much confusion and division in our population as possible–about anything. And even more, they are interested in stoking distrust in our institutions, especially government and the press and science. The less confidence we have in those, the more easily we can be controlled.
Doctors don’t care about your baby. Global warming is a hoax. Taxes are theft. All politicians are the same, so why bother voting?