I was attending the Center for Inquiry 12th World Congress in Washington last weekend and I happened to catch a re-broadcast of a Larry King show on the "dangers" of vaccinating children. It was an appropriate reminder of the lack of rationalism in our society.
Normally I'm fairly tolerant of people who reject standard medicine. In fact, society might actually benefit when these stupid people are eliminated by succumbing to various diseases. That's what the Darwin awards are for.
But this case is different. These adults are not putting themselves at risk—they are endangering their children.
If you stop vaccinating your children you are putting them at risk for many deadly diseases. Some of your children will die. If everyone stops vaccinating children then millions of children will die. How can anyone in their right mind think that vaccinations are so dangerous that the risk is worth it?
I'm not surprised that movie actors and average citizens are kooks. I am surprised that normally responsible TV networks like CNN contribute to potential child abuse. But I'm absolutely shocked that there are physicians who go along with the kooks.
One of those physicians is Dr. Bernadine Healy who appears in this CNN clip. I was astonished to hear her advocate more studies, lending credibility to the claims that vaccinations cause autism and other diseases. Bernadine Healy is a Republican who was the head of the National Institutes of Health under George H.W. Bush. She was removed when Clinton took over the Presidency in 1993.
Healy's defense of the anti-vaccination movement did not ring true. Her "statistics" didn't sound reasonable to me but I was in no position to refute them directly. Fortunately Orac has taken up the task at Bernadine Healy: Flirting with the anti-vaccine movement. Thanks Orac.
You know we're in trouble when the media and former NIH directors can't tell the difference between science and superstition.
This reminds me of the debate over the fluoridation of water back in the 1950's. There were kooks who warned us that fluoridation was dangerous and that it was a communist plot.