Vaccines: Fighting Fear with Information
Diversity of opinion is a mark of any free society. Whenever I hear the latest conspiracy theory, see a commercial for a ghost-investigating “reality” show, or hear the latest quack cure advertised on radio, I remind myself that the spread of wacky fringe ideas is a consequence of liberty. And, though I wish my fellow citizens would develop a bit of skepticism, I wouldn’t want anyone preventing them from hearing, watching or believing all that nonsense.
So it’s a major victory when facts finally win out in the court of public opinion—rare but sweet instances when science scatters away panic, rumor and superstition. This seems to be happening about vaccines. The fact that vaccines are very safe and that they save lives is gaining popular traction. This is very encouraging.
It means that people who believe that organic food has health benefits (it doesn’t) or that vitamin C helps treat colds (it doesn’t) are at least rejecting the fear-mongering of the anti-vaccine movement. A recent article in the Atlantic (link below) is another step in spreading the truth. It’s not long. Please read it.
Of course, none of that matters because the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world in 2012. I better stock up on vitamin C.
(Thanks to my friend, Tom, for pointing me to the Atlantic article.)