Debate Magazine

You Can't Fix Stupid - and Stupid Kills People

Posted on the 30 May 2014 by Doggone
You can't fix stupid - and stupid kills peopleI frequently point out that conservatives routinely, consistently, persistently, and dogmatically believe things which are factually false, are based on flawed reasoning, and is resistant to the obvious evidence of bad outcomes. 
It is ideologically driven to the exclusion of any objective reality that does not conform to that ideology.
It is a system of beliefs that is stupid, not just annoying stupid, but deadly dangerously stupid.
We see right wing nutters like Alex Jones promote factually false fearmongering about vaccines.  The principle vaccine myth - one that is easily debunked - is about mercury.  Child vaccines do not contain mercury; there are only trace amounts in SOME specific adult vaccines -- and then only in the multi-dose containers.  CLEARLY, the benefits of preventing microbial growth far outweighs any negatives.  There is no link, zero link, between vaccines and side effects wrongly attributed to them, like autism.  People DO risk allergic reactions, but we all face that risk, anytime we do or try something new - our first bee sting, the first time we eat shellfish or peanut butter, etc.
There are far more people impaired or killed by these diseases than are harmed by allergy reactions, which while they can be extreme, are mostly quite mild.
The anti-vaxxers are the modern equivalent of the anti-Fluoridation of our water to prevent cavities as a prophylactic.  Then the right wing nuts, like the John Birchers, insisted -- also without any factual evidence to support it -- that fluoridation in water was a communist plot to promote mind control.
The facts are quite different. From Sciencebasedlife.com:
Fluoridation is generally known as the addition of fluoride to the municipal water supply. However, what most people do not know is that fluoridation can also mean the removal of excess fluoride that occurs naturally in groundwater. Fluoride is a natural component of groundwater, and it occurs naturally everywhere in the world, in varying amounts. The process of fluoridation is to adjust the fluoride content of the water to the most healthful level.
Years of research and testing in different cities and states, conducted by the National Health Service, has determined that one part per million is the ideal proportion, giving a substantial protection from tooth decay, and avoiding dental fluorosis. Ever since then, it has been the standard practice to regulate fluoride levels in municipal water supplies to one part per million. There has been broad scientific and medical consensus for decades that one part per million of fluoride is best for health, and exactly zero rigorously conducted scientific trials that have indicated any sign of danger. For all practical purposes, it is an over-and-done-with issue.

An over-and-done-with issue.  Like anthropogenic climate change.  Like the sciences that support Evolution.  Like the concerns about child vaccinations causing autism because of mercury as a preservative in vaccines.
From the CDC:

What is thimerosal?

Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that has been used for decades in the United States in multi-dose vials (vials containing more than one dose) of some vaccines to prevent the growth of germs, bacteria and fungi, that can contaminate them.

What are preservatives and why are they sometimes used in vaccines?

Preservatives have been used in vaccines for more than 70 years and are added to vaccines to prevent the growth of bacteria or fungi that could possibly make the vaccine in multi-dose vials unsafe. This may occur when a syringe needle enters a vial as a vaccine is being prepared for administration. Contamination by germs in a vaccine could cause serious infections.

Do the 2013-2014 seasonal flu vaccines contain thimerosal?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several formulations of the seasonal flu vaccine, including multi-dose vials and single-dose units. (See Table of Approved Influenza Vaccines for the U.S. 2013–2014 Season.) Since seasonal influenza vaccine is produced in large quantities for annual immunization campaigns, some of the vaccine is produced in multi-dose vials, and contains thimerosal to safeguard against possible contamination of the vial once it is opened.
The single-dose units are made without thimerosal as a preservative because they are intended to be opened and used only once. Additionally, the live-attenuated version of the vaccine (the nasal spray vaccine), is produced in single-dose units and does not contain thimerosal.

Is thimerosal being used in other vaccines?

Since 2001, no new vaccine licensed by FDA for use in children has contained thimerosal as a preservative, and all vaccines routinely recommended by CDC for children younger than 6 years of age have been thimerosal-free, or contain only trace amounts of thimerosal, except for multi-dose formulations of influenza vaccine. The most recent and rigorous scientific research does not support the argument that thimerosal-containing vaccines are harmful. However, CDC and FDA continually evaluate new scientific information about the safety of vaccines.
It is time to prevent the politically insane, the ideologically impaired, from killing people through wilful and deliberate ignorance.
We are seeing daily increases in the results of dangerous climate change patterns -- and people are dying from it, communities are being destroyed by it. Famine and flooding is increasingly forcing populations to flee the places where they live in order to survive, producing chaos and refugee problems, resulting in increasing problems of international instability.
Failures to vaccinate are resulting in resurgent outbreaks of mumps and measles; terrible diseases we have the power and knowledge and technology to eradicate, like polio, continue to ravage our planet.
There is a serious and important reason to have two (or more) political parties, where we MUST give respect and consideration to opposition, and find ways to form a consensus with the opposition. But when we have one side of the political spectrum engage in routine and persistent rejection of fact, of science, of reason and rational thought, and that rejection KILLS people or otherwise seriously harms them (blindness, deafness, etc.), then at some point when reason fails, we need to acknowledge and recognize the failure, and that success is not possible without a factual basis and logical reasoning.
I would argue that just as we do not permit free speech when it comes to yelling fire in a crowded theater without there actually being a fire, that we need to stop allowing people to opt out of vaccinations for their children unless there is a clear and definite medical necessity to do so, like some auto-immune disorder or disease being present. In some communities, the unvaccinated among children born after 2004 is as high as 50%, and growing.
That is going to not only run into the Alex Jones-style anti-government paranoiacs on the right, but run into conflict as well with the religious right wing nuts:
What’s unique about this year's outbreak is that the CDC has finally admitted the spread of this “eliminated” disease is based on religious communities’ philosophical aversion to vaccines and reliance on divine healing through the Word of God. According to the report, 91 percent of the reported cases were in people who were unvaccinated, or didn’t know their vaccination status, and “of those who were unvaccinated, 79 percent had philosophical objections to vaccination.”
These cases began in religious communities, but eventually spread out of them and infected infants who couldn't legally be vaccinated yet. This August, epidemiologists in Texas began investigating the Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas. The megachurch, which believes in faith healing, had become an open breeding ground for measles after a member of the congregation returned from Indonesia and infected 21 people in and around Newark. It was widely reported that Terri Pearsons, the church’s senior pastor, had encouraged her followers to avoid vaccinations at all costs.
Things are even worse in Northern Europe. Since May, there’s been a “large, ongoing measles outbreak” in an orthodox Protestant community in the Netherlands. As of September 5, the Center for Infectious Disease Control in Netherlands had reported some 1,226 cases. Ninety-one percent of those cases were unvaccinated members of orthodox Protestant communities in the country's Bible belt.
I am not arguing for depriving radical conservatives of their rights to Constitutional free speech, or freedom of religion, or of assembly.  And unlike the radical right, who are so unethical and morally compromised that they will deny their opponents the Constitutionally guaranteed right to vote.  Tyranny does not work effectively against stupidity, and it would be a cure as bad if not worse than the problem.
But we MUST stop the definition of our political and moral issues from being defined through denial of fact and objective reality. We need to not care if someone BELIEVES - as in the case before the SCOTUS - that a contraceptive is an abortifacient, when it factually is not. The medical FACT was not argued before the court, because at issue was the rights of religious belief, including the right to ignore or deny factual information justified by religion.
We have to STOP allowing belief and ideology to define our public discourse, our political square IF IT IS NOT FACTUAL. It has no place there.  It belongs in the crazy closet, locked behind a heavy door.


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