Why Americans fall for the anti-vaccination song and dance

Reader rmthunter weighed in in the comments to my earlier post about America’s phobia of science.

After a history of susceptibility to upper resp infections, including the flu, and a couple of really scary episodes with pneumonia, I get vaccinations religiously.

They do vary, not only in effectiveness but in individual reactions — this year’s flu shot had me in bed three hours later, wrapped in quilts and shivering, nose running like a faucet. I slept for eleven hours and was fine.

Last year, I had no reaction to the shot. But I’d rather be sick for a couple of hours than for days, if I’m going to be sick at all.

Look, it's magic! (via Shutterstock.)

Look, it’s magic! (via Shutterstock)

As for the American rejection of science, chalk it up to fundamentalist religion and the right-wing noise machine. Science challenges Scripture because it describes the world as it is, not as God or his interpreters say it’s supposed to be.

The press, which is terrified of the right, is only slightly more reliable than the Internet, which puts it somewhere in the range of Louie Gohmert as far as real information goes.

And science reporting is appalling — I used to read the science section of NYT years ago and scratch my head — it was pretty sketchy, even then. (I don’t know if anything’s changed for the better, but several years ago I read a report that most Americans read at a fifth grade level, which is inexcusable, and which probably has a lot to do with the level of public discourse.)

Americans on the whole don’t seem to be equipped to handle the basic concepts and methods of science, which aren’t really that arcane, because they aren’t taught to think rationally. Even the labeling and information signs at the zoo have been dumbed down.

And now I’m getting depressed just thinking about it.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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