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The Weather Channel rains on anti-vaccine parade

March 1st, 2014 · No Comments · Critical thinking, Narrative

Add The Weather Channel to the growing list of media outlets gunning for the anti-vaccine movement.  In “The Dangerous History of Anti-Vaccine Conspiracies”, Jeffrey Kopman forgoes false balance, and instead calls out the fraud, paranoia, and general scientific illiteracy of a movement that recklessly endangers public health. The money quote:

Part of [the movement’s continuation] comes from not fully understanding the science,” said Paul Spearman, MD. “When someone is maybe not well educated in the science, they can latch onto internet based theories of what is going on [that] say the scientific community is trying to mislead you.”

“The ‘conspiracy theory’ that vaccine manufacturers are hiding the truth about MMR and autism is fuelled by parents’ need to know what is causing autism, despite the fact that no large study has replicated Wakefield’s findings,” said Margaret Spoelstra, executive director of Autism Ontario, in a 2010 article published in the journal CMAJ.

The scientific community refers to this type of reaction as “confirmation bias.”

Essentially, vaccines are used as a scapegoat — an explanation for the not yet explainable. Parents believe that vaccines cause autism, and seek out evidence to confirm the idea, often leading to rationalizations that aren’t actually true.

Kopman also fingers the mendacious National Vaccine Information Center and Jenny McCarthy’s Generation Rescue as major purveyors of anti-vaccine propaganda.

Even though several studies have debunked the retracted 1998 Wakefield study, the anti-vaccine movement clings to anecdotal evidence and the logical fallacy that correlation implies causation. For example, the National Vaccine Information Center, an organization dedicated to preventing vaccine injuries through public education states on their website, “At the heart of the debate stand a few courageous physicians whose independent, multi-disciplinary approach to investigating the possible biological mechanisms of vaccine-induced autism is serving as a counterweight to the steadfast denials by infectious disease specialists and government health officials defending current mass vaccination policies.”

The organization — which is linked to Generation Rescue, Jenny McCarthy’s own vaccination awareness organization — also cites a few prominent stories of parents whose children developed health problems after receiving a vaccine.

Can the Cooking Channel be far behind?

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