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Health Care, Healthcare, Media, Public Health, Science

How Anti-Vaxxers Sound To Normal People

A new video from Girl Pants Productions perfectly illustrates how anti-vaxxers sound to normal people: crazy, nonsensical, and (sorry) downright stupid.

Anti-vaxxers have become popular objects of ridicule in recent times, and rightfully so — their refusal to vaccinate their children puts others at risk and is responsible for a major measles outbreak that has been ongoing since December. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that outbreak — traceable to Disneyland in California — has spread to at least 147 people in seven states, most of whom were unvaccinated (and those numbers aren’t counting people who’ve gotten measles from other sources this year).

Studies have shown that people with strong anti-vaccine beliefs don’t respond to facts — in fact, they are more likely to believe random online comments over the recommendations of reputable scientific organizations and government agencies — so some people have taken a different tactic: public shaming. Videos like this one from Girl Pants productions, like these from College Humor, Conan O’Brien, and Jimmy Kimmel, use humor to draw out the utter ridiculousness, as well as the selfishness, of the anti-vaxxer stance.

Girl Pants Production’s approach is to leave out the facts and figures about vaccination safety and instead skewer the logic (and by that, I mean “the complete lack of logic”) of anti-vaccination rhetoric. The group researched real claims made by anti-vaccination activists, and just replaced the key words with other objects.

The video shows, for example, a woman, burnt to a crisp, refusing sunblock because “that’s poison for your skin,” referencing a common myth used by anti-vaccination advocates to scare people away from vaccinating:

Anti-Vax 1

And man arguing that he gave up microwaves because his son “became” gay after using one:

Anti-Vax 2

That line is actually based on a claim originally made by Italian scientist Gian Paolo Vanoli who said:

The vaccine is introduced into the child, the child then grows and tries to find its own personality, and if this is inhibited by mercury or other substances present in the vaccine which enter the brain, the child becomes gay.

Some of the other moments are based on events that were reported in the news, like reports of parents throwing “measles parties” to expose their unvaccinated children to the infectious disease:

Anti-Vax 3

Stripped of its pseudo-medical language, the “logic” of the anti-vaccine movement seems even more ludicrous than usual. While the video will make those of us who support vaccination and understand science laugh, it also reveals an ugly truth about anti-vaxxers: that these people, with their paranoia about unspecified “toxins” and their faith in anonymous internet comments, get to make medical decisions that can deeply affect us and our families.

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"Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge." -- Carl Sagan

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