Very, very cranky blog follows. On a topic on which I usually keep my mouth shut.
I just had a smart, informed, loving friend post an anti-vaccination video on Facebook, which popped up on my wall, where I could not unsee it. I normally ignore these things. But this one upset me. It related a story of a family who went to another country – one that is rife with communicable diseases – without vaccinating their children, because they believe in “natural remedies” (yes, so do all the people in that disease-riddled country). Luckily, the children returned safe. Which is being touted as evidence in support of the anti-vaxx nonsense spouted in the video. By someone of whom I now cannot help but think less.
Please, people, if you want to share about anti-vaccinations, or “bananas cure cancer and Big Pharma’s hiding it!”, or any of that stuff, there’s a new setting option where you can share with everyone BUT your friends who know better than this stuff. Like me. You can’t imagine how much respect I lose for you when you share this stuff. I don’t want to unfriend you. Everyone is entitled to their own clutchings at false hope. They’re entitled to believe their own brand of illogical health nonsense spouted by snake-oil-salesmen on sites that are the equivalent of the fraudsters that used to go from town to town selling bottles of “miracle cures” to the gullible public. (At least, of course, until they got run out of town on a rail, and also got largely put out of business by, oh, legitimate/tested/proven sources of medicine).
Oh, crap, now I’ve got going. Darn. I really did want to just ignore this. But I can’t. You want anecdotes? I’ve got ’em – in addition to actual bona fide studies (but for now, let’s just use anecdotes). My first cousins and my friends who predated the Salk vaccine, and contracted polio, versus my cousins and friends who post-date it and…wow, there are none in the latter group. My mother who nearly died from the measles, and her friends who DID die, versus dying parents now (very rare, but becoming more common in districts where people believe in land-of-woo remedies and don’t vaccinate). The death records in my genealogical searches – “death by whooping cough” “typhoid” “diphtheria” – versus the causes of death nowadays (when is the last time your friend lost her baby to scarlet fever – or smallpox?) The number of rabid dogs on the streets of India, where they do not vaccinate, versus the number of rabid dogs we have here (even though dogs get bitten by rabid wild animals every year in North America, fortunately, they’re vaccinated – it’s the first thing the health authorities ask when there’s a dog bite incident: “was it vaccinated?”)
All these anti-vaxx sites are SELLING something. Look who creates them and funds them, and you’ll dig down to someone who’s got some snake oil remedy for sale. Talk about the greed of the mythical “Big Pharma” – as if pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t make a good deal of money from the patenting and sale of remedies (from any source) that actually work and which won’t kill the patient. As if they don’t investigate and test “alternative medicine” – of course they do! They don’t sell them because they almost always DON’T WORK. If something DOES work, then yippee! the researcher/developer gets to patent and sell it. They OWN it.
But it’s not just about the money involved in successful development of medicines. Not only is there big bucks in that, but do you REALLY think that people who run pharmaceutical companies – the scientists – the executives – the doctors – are part of some “conspiracy” to hide working medicine? That they go home at night and chortle over all the people they hurt that day, hiding medicines? Why would they do that? Like, THINK about it. There’s no money in hiding “it”. There’s no benefit to them personally – if there is a cure or a preventative for something, then they are humans, they have families too, they would benefit from it. If “alternatives” work – alternatives, like, oh, willow bark – then eventually they become mainstream (viz. aspirin).
Being careful about what you put in your system and using “home remedies” on your sunburn is one thing. Believing everything that gets shilled on the internet because you think there’s “something strange” about vaccines or that “scientists are hiding the cure for x or y or z” is just foolishness. And NO I’m not going to get into a discussion of this with all the people who are going to shriek indignantly and post more echo-chamber pseudo-science to pitch me their conspiracy theories. I’ve heard all this crap before, and I’m always shocked when I see intelligent people buying into it and spreading it. There’s a lot of us who are just smiling, nodding, and rolling our eyes when our conspiracy-theory friends post another “EATING BAT POO WILL CLEANSE YOUR LIVER!” article, and praying we don’t see the day when smallpox comes back.
Buy all the banana oil you want, but don’t think for a moment that you’re helping humanity or participating in something that’s not 100% crap. Please, when you’re about to “share” about your miracle cure or your conspiracy theory, take an extra second and make your audience “friends, except Diane.” Because when I see stuff like this come up, it DOES make me sick.
And there’s an easy cure for that: keep it to yourself. Thanks.