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.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | 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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59 Responses to “Why Americans fall for the anti-vaccination song and dance”

  1. UncleBucky says:

    Yeah, I like your reverse of my little rhyme, too!

    It’s better to drop ºF and the rest of English measures in the same way that we should drop Caxton’s medieval spellings. ;o)

  2. UncleBucky says:

    Meh. Most of the world uses SI and you can deal with your longevity, but keep out of my science classrooms with your ºF.

  3. rmthunter says:

    Go ahead — but I should point out, my family is noted for longevity: my father’s 98, and goes swimming every day for a couple of hours, unless it’s too cool — then he bitches and goes walking instead.

  4. UncleBucky says:

    But the media still has to be dragged kicking and screaming to what the rest of the world knows by the early ages:

    30 is hot, 20 is nice, 10 is cool and 0 is ice.

  5. UncleBucky says:

    Do you really want me to reply to that last quip?

  6. rmthunter says:

    Not me — I’m very comfortable with it, since I was taught to think in Fahrenheit for many years before converting to metric was even a fantasy. You can stop using it when I’m dead.

  7. UncleBucky says:

    Mmm, yes, but I’d like for ºF to be dropped like a hot potato.

  8. BillFromDover says:

    Just the other day a teacher sent home an unvaccinated child with a runny nose.

    Good for her as it’s about time science (however imperfect) should trump willful ignorance.

    If ya don’t wish to vaccinate your kids, fine, just keep them away from mine and home-school ’em.

    And when it comes to science, may I suggest a tutor?

  9. Hue-Man says:

    It’s not just Americans. Headline: “Sidney Crosby diagnosed with the mumps
    Penguin’s forward is the 13th NHL player to have illness” http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/sidney-crosby-diagnosed-with-the-mumps-1.2872807

    It’s shameful on two counts; first, these men are supposed to be role models for millions of kids. Second, their employers can’t be happy that these multi-millionaires don’t care enough about their jobs to maintain their vaccinations.

    I can understand pro athletes being skeptical about flu vaccines but on a personal basis, they should know better about mumps: wiki: “Males past puberty who develop mumps have a 15–20 percent risk of orchitis, painful inflammation of the testicles.”

  10. therling says:

    You may be right, but only by half:

    “Natural evolution of a human virus-specific antibody gene repertoire
    by somatic hypermutation requires both hotspot-directed and
    randomly-directed processes.”

  11. rmthunter says:

    I just caught your statement about natural selection and chance: it’s not really a random process — the only random part of it occurs during meiosis, which is when the gene shuffling takes place. Since viruses and bacteria don’t go through meiosis, it’s all about environmental pressures for them, which are not at all random.

  12. margaretpoa says:

    Normally I let idiots like these deniers rant on. In most cases, like the “chemtrail” or “psychic reading” crowds, they are only harming their own credibility but in the case of anti vaxxers and climate change deniers, it’s not just themselves that they are harming. While a proponent of chemtrail theories makes us point and laugh, anti vaxxers could sicken or even kill us by allowing some of the worst diseases that had long plagued mankind to make a comeback. These fucking idiots who are paranoid about “making” their kid autistic through vaccinations weren’t alive during the last whooping cough outbreak and have probably never known a polio victim and have certainly never known a smallpox victim. They would have us return to the bad old days of crippling, deadly illness to in order to “prevent” something that is unpreventable. The rate of autism hasn’t gone up, only the number of diagnoses of autism has increased. We used to use other names for autism spectrum disorders but even if the rate of occurrence has gone up, correlation doesn’t equal causality. This is an issue near and dear to me. If you want to deny science and go around ranting about how the sky is falling, be my guest. But don’t visit your stupidity on me or the rest of humanity because you believe what amounts to a (debunked), internet rumor.

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  14. therling says:

    Epidemiologists are fully aware of flu gene mutation. Giving the virus a host in which it can reproduce more frequently creates more opportunity for the virus to mutate. Natural selection is a matter of chance. Providing more chances for the virus is going to change isn’t a very good idea. Furthermore, many people can be sick with the flu virus, but because they are able to fight it off they don’t feel any symptoms. But it still means they can pass off the virus to someone whose immune system isn’t as robust.

  15. krinks says:

    Try mentioning facts that prove AGW a hoax. There the real fun will begin. GMOs being dangerous everyone already knows.

  16. krinks says:

    LOL. People who have done all of these things still push the AGW hoax.
    As for the author where is the proof of the anti-vaccination song and dance? I would think the direct correlation between the number of mandatory childhood vaccines and the rates of autism is proof enough of the contrary.
    As for thinking for yourselves, look at the torture report. It continued under Obama and yet you’ll find not one journalist on the left calling out Obama or a Democrat. Not one. They have their usual blinders on and can’t see past condemning a Republican only. The public can see this which is the they see the left as a sick joke.

  17. James Taylor says:

    little bit similar to ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
    Salina car Dealer

  18. karlInSanDiego says:

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, rmthunter. I think I may have communicated poorly the take-one-for-the-team suggestion. My point was not that people with weak immunity all increase their risk by rolling the dice. It’s that you’re assuming full population vaccination is not encouraging drift and lowering the efficacy of the vaccine for those who need it. I am not making that assumption. For decades, we encouraged only those at risk to get vaccinated. From what you’ve described, you’d fall into that category. Take one for the team was meant to convey that if healthy people forego the vaccine, and take the risk, they will not all get the flu. I don’t vaccinate and haven’t had flu for at least 10 years. Vaccinating me each of those 10 years would have placed me in the immunized or partially immunized category for 10 years, because I’d have the strain that was being vaccinated for that year (or covalent or trivalent).

    The second line of the abstract for this study is the crux of it: “However, antigenic drift is likely to occur in the future in response to increasing population immunity induced by infection or vaccination.”
    more: “This study demonstrates the ability of the A(H1N1)pdm09 virus to undergo rapid antigenic change to evade a low level vaccine response, while remaining fit in a ferret transmission model of immunization and infection.”
    So my takeaway from this study, if I may summarize for those who will read it later, is that the partial immunity that the CDC and others describe when they are stating the partial efficacy of a missed vaccine, is the place where the most antigenic drift was detected. If the vaccine was an exact match, there was little or no pressure for antigenic drift, but vaccinating wrong was shown in the lab to create new distinct strain of virus. Non-vaccinated also did not create drift (the virus remained fit). Again, going back to full population annual vaccination, we could all become major barriers for any given strain to remain fit, and antigenic drift will increase (I’ll let you fill in the exponentially, because it’s too hyperbolic for me to do so).

    As noted above, when Canada describes full inoculation, they claim to have no scientific proof that full inoculation lessens the chances that an individual will get the flu. I know that sounds counter intuitive, because if everyone wasn’t sneezing and breathing flu virus how could it spread? The fact that the studies are not conclusively bearing out that full inoculation is effective, means there is something else going on with the process of full inoculation. It’s why I keep pointing out that you should be really careful not to try and equate influenza to other diseases that we inoculate for once and one vaccine is enough to do it (with occasional boosters for some). Flu IS an annual pandemic (I believe it’s the only one), though epidemiologists choose now to use a different set of terms in flu’s case to differentiate the seasonal pandemic from those which cause greater harm, now labeled simply pandemics.

    So in summary, it is my understanding that full population vaccination is not harmless or effective for protecting the at risk. Instead it is inducing more strains of virus during the season, that would otherwise not be there. If a deadly virus hits, we will all need to vaccinate against it. But vaccinating the healthy population against non-deadly flu is causing more strains of flu, IMO. Furthermore, the indiscriminate association between flu vaccines and all other vaccines in regard to the Anti-vaxing phenomenon, is not scientific, has no basis, and should stop.

  19. rmthunter says:

    Actually, most building signs I see have temperatures in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. And packaged foods and drinks in grocery stores mostly note weight/volume in metric and whatever it is that we still officially use.

  20. rmthunter says:

    We live in a country where facts and belief are equivalent, except when belief outweighs facts. Just ask Samuel Alito.

  21. rmthunter says:

    I just looked at this comment again after reading naja pallida’s comment above about science reporting: Ping, ping, ping!

    Do I see a cause and effect thing here? Um — yep.

  22. rmthunter says:

    I used to read Scientific American regularly when it was doing solid science reporting — to the extent that I sometimes got lost in the astrophysics articles because I didn’t have the background. The last time I picked up a copy, I didn’t believe it — it had turned into Discover magazine.

  23. rmthunter says:

    That’s an aspect of contracting one of these infections that we haven’t really discussed: the disease is bad enough — the recovery can be just as bad. The first time I had pneumonia, I was in the hospital for two days being pumped full of antibiotics. And then for three weeks I would leave work, stop and rest once on my way to the subway — a block away — and sit on the platform waiting until a train came by where I could be sure of getting a seat — sometimes as long as a half hour — because I simply couldn’t stand all the way home.

  24. rmthunter says:

    What you’re describing is not a change in the process of viruses adapting, but a change in the rapidity with which it happens. I don’t really think that’s an argument for stopping or limiting vaccinations. Vaccination is really nothing more than faking an episode of the flu or whatever else you’re being vaccinated against: if you actually come down with it (and survive), you’re immune to that strain because your body has manufactured those antibodies and has them waiting. Some people have such efficient immune systems that their bodies are ready and waiting — “Bring it on” — and react very quickly to an infection.

    We don’t have pandemics in this country any more, because of vaccination. The only thing that’s come close in living memory is HIV, and that’s largely because no one with a public forum wanted to talk about it — it was about sex and gays. That set research back a couple of decades. (And given the general level of awareness in this country, you might not be surprised at the number of people who still think it’s a “gay” disease — as if a virus is going to pick and choose based on sexual orientation — like that jackass “Pastor” Steven Anderson in Arizona, who said we could have an AIDS-free Christmas if we just kill all the gays. He should take his head out of his Leviticus and visit Africa.)

    As for your last statement — vaccinate the “at-risk” population only — on a practical level, how to you identify them with regard to a specific infection? And frankly, any health worker, or anyone with a conscience, would be horrified at deliberately not vaccinating people against a disease that might prove fatal so they can “take one for the team.” That’s an appalling suggestion.

  25. emjayay says:

    Sorry. I just added up the numbers you quoted for children dying from the flu in an eleven year period. Next time I guess should refer to someone else’s numbers in commenting on your post.

  26. karlInSanDiego says:

    Can you please cite the place where the words “Americans were too dumb” were used, or are you summarizing real knowledge on the change in guidelines? We had been using the same guidelines of at-risk for many years before immunize-all became the rule, correct?

    This has a huge bearing on whether they are seeking herd immunity or are just being lazy to the tune of billions of dollars of unnecessary health care (in addition to the antigen drift that it brings)

  27. karlInSanDiego says:

    Thank you, Mike. Here’s a link from Canada’s National Guideline: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/naci-ccni/flu-grippe-eng.php#v

    Canadian officials also admit on that page within those guidelines, they haven’t studied the science behind that decision:
    “NACI has not reviewed evidence for the benefit of immunizing healthy 5
    to 64 years old at the population level (for example publicly-funding
    influenza vaccine for these groups or for universal programs).
    Additional evidence such as more extensive data on burden of illness,
    cost-effectiveness, programmatic aspects and program objectives should
    be reviewed to better inform decisions at the provincial or local level
    with respect to publicly funding influenza vaccine for healthy 5 to 64
    year olds or implementing universal influenza immunization programs.”

    And just above that that they state: “With respect to indirect protection, meaning protection of other groups
    or individuals in contact with the vaccinated individuals, NACI has
    reviewed evidence in school aged children. While some studies showed
    indirect protection, others did not. The decision to include specific
    groups as part of publicly-funded provincial/territorial programs
    depends on multiple factors such as cost-benefit evaluation and other
    programmatic and operational factors, such as shelf-life and
    implementation strategies.”

    When attempting to find Canada’s Flu Policy, there are many stories about Canadian Health Care Workers resisting forced Flu Immunization, including Canadian doctors, so I guess the decision is never unanimous.

  28. Naja pallida says:

    This is why flu vaccines cover multiple strains at a time, and why research is working on an all inclusive vaccine, ie, covers all A-type influenzas, instead of more HN specific vaccines. Most antigenic drift is so subtle it continues to be covered by existing vaccines. The real fear is antigenic shifts, significant changes, generally by passing through other species (pigs, birds, bats, etc).

  29. Naja pallida says:

    One of the main reasons why the US has a blanket policy is that it was determined that Americans were too dumb to understand piecemeal recommendations, and incapable of adequately determining whether they fit into one of the risk groups that should consider vaccination. Combined with the extreme variability in the quality of health care available to people, it was just easier to recommend everyone get vaccinated than try to educate about who is at risk, and who should be discussing it with their doctor.

  30. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    i did read one of your references. I believe I understood most of it. A lot of what you are writing makes sense, but I’m still getting flu vaccinations. Maybe it’s like wearing suspenders with a belt, but I’ll go for it.

  31. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    “Can you name a country outside of the US that encourages vaccination annually against flu across the entire population, including all healthy individuals?”


  32. karlInSanDiego says:

    emjayay, that’s neither accurate (I only showed a series of year, so if you want to be accurate show an average per year, or state how many years) nor a large number in a population of 330 Million people. If you want to participate in scientific debate and not emotional debate, you’ll have to show what percentage are dying or perhaps how many died the first year that confirmative flu tests were given to children who were reported to have died from it. Find that year, and do the same survey across a similar set of years. Exclude atypical lethal pandemics (or include them if it makes the discussion more clear) and show how many died in say 1960s, again refactoring for population size. If you guys aren’t willing to debate using science and critical thinking, yet the argument here is that the stupid lazy people drones are the ones falling for the BS. I participate in this type of debate and I learn a lot. I learn nothing but doublespeak when people crap on others for being stupid.

  33. karlInSanDiego says:

    Sorry, but the thread is about denial of science and Americans putting their fear ahead of their responsibility to understand what science to trust. Your stance appears to be that full vaccination would protect every child from dying of flu. That is categorically wrong, so please spare me the guilt trip. I am working understand the science behind vaccination of flu rather than getting emotional and letting fear or compassion stop us all from discerning right from wrong in public flu vaccination policy. Can you name a country outside of the US that encourages vaccination annually against flu across the entire population, including all healthy individuals? Is it the plurality of countries or and handful? I’d be happy to be proven wrong, that all modern countries have a policy of free flu shots to all citizens.

  34. quax says:

    Since I am German living in Canada I can offer up an international view-point. Generally I find science is covered better in German mainstream media. I.e. Hardly ever find fault with what Spiegel.de writes (which is a general news weekly and site).

    The UK has Brian Cox and seems to be doing OK. Yet, the article that I rip into in my blog entry was actually written by a London based author, and it was put up by both Nature and Scientific American. Now, if even the latter can’t get popular science right then we are in real trouble.

  35. Naja pallida says:

    Mainstream press sources all too often destroy their science reporting the same way they destroy their political reporting, by always assuming there are two sides to every story, and presenting outright fabrications as the counterpoint to reality. It doesn’t matter how many people believe a lie, it should never be presented as a valid argument. For example, you can’t read a news article on vaccination anymore without that same article also mentioning autism – an issue which has been debunked a dozen times by a dozen different scientific sources since it first crept into the public consciousness. Today’s reporting on science is more akin to watching Ancient Aliens on the History channel. The phrase some people believe is all one needs to add to give voice to any nonsense they see fit to add to the conversation. No facts required.

  36. therling says:

    I know this is only an anecdote, so take it for what it’s worth. A couple of months ago I had bronchitis. Since I live in Oregon, where increasing numbers of parents have forgone vaccines for their kids, there are now outbreaks of whooping couch. As I was coughing my brains out, I couldn’t help suspecting that I could possibly have whooping cough, and that the misery I was going through could last for months. Months. I thought to myself, “kill me now.” Fortunately it was bronchitis, and lasted “only” two weeks. I ran to my GP and got the booster shots.

  37. karlInSanDiego says:

    I agree with everything you say here, and if I understand it correctly in years where we might reach a large 80%+ vaccinated population, the pandemic would never start in the US, also assuming the vaccine matched the correct strain and no antigen drift morphed it between production and the actual season. But the point that I may or may not be overemphasizing is that the antigen drift is magnified when the old virus is exposed to an immune population. As flu takes its natural course, it surges through populations one person to the next, sometimes encountering a host that’s not immunized, sometime finding one that is. Whether you gained your antibodies through vaccination or suffering through the virus until your body produces new antibodies, the net result should be the same, but when flu is subjected to a population that is 75% (for example) immune, the phenomenon exhibited is enhanced drift, ie. more different forms of the virus, than if it works its way through the population as is has for millenia. In the 2008 Chicken study in Mexico, the vaccine became less effective over the course of years with almost complete vaccination, simply because of the antigen drift. Yes it’s evolution, but not like any seen in other diseases we vaccinate against. This didn’t prove vaccinations were bad, but it proved the more you vaccinate, the more strains you have to vaccinate against, thus a comprehensive vaccination program became less effective year over year. If you consider that most will suffer mild symptoms, it may make more sense to vaccinate the at-risk population only, and minimize drift through as people not vaccinated take one for the team. The writers of these studies usually stop short of suggesting stopping of vaccination. Instead you hear them say, we need to fix this characteristic of our vaccination program.

  38. vickif says:


  39. vickif says:

    Tell that to the parents of the children who died. One is too many.

  40. Houndentenor says:

    And then they might question all the other nonsense they are taught, like in their church/temple/mosque.

  41. Houndentenor says:

    That’s what I had to do when I lived in Germany. it’s 10 outside so I need a jacket. Etc. The range of outdoor temps isn’t that great after all.

  42. Houndentenor says:

    One of the podcasts to which I subscribe had on an immunologist to take questions for an entire hour. This needs to happen on a bigger level. There’s so much about vaccines and the immune system that needs to be explained to the public and that would combat a lot of the ignorance out there. Nothing is going to convince most of the anti-vaxxers but people who hear more of that than actual science on a daily basis (which would include me if I didn’t go out of my way to look for real information and not anecdotes and “woo”) can be educated and I think want to be. It also doesn’t help that frauds like Dr Oz are given five hours a week to promote “woo” that they are paid to endorse and make it look like real science/medicine.

  43. Houndentenor says:

    Real science reporting, where it exists, is often quite good. CNN shut down its entire science division a few years ago. It doesn’t even have one! The NY Times used to even have an entire section one day a week with detailed stories on the latest developments in evolutionary biology and cosmology. (When I was reading this weekly it was about the time that we discovered that the expansion of the universe is accelerating and then later discovered that that acceleration is happening in waves. WHOA!) I digress. The people who cover science as a specialty mostly do a great job. The problem is that the station owners, networks and others would rather publish “woo” (pseudo-science) than the real thing. That’s too bad because the things happening in science today are interesting and important in the understanding of our world. Question for international readers: how much science is in the news media where you live?

  44. emjayay says:

    Well, only 1245 kids. No big deal.

  45. rmthunter says:

    What you’re describing is evolution in action. It happens very quickly with viruses because a generation among viruses is — what, a few minutes? And they’re little more than DNA to begin with.

    It’s something we’re going to be faced with no matter what we try to immunize
    against. Influenza just happens to be a very adaptable and persistent example, in part because it is so easily spread.

    Pharmaceutical drugs are a numbers game, to a large extent. A given drug will have the desired effect on most people. There will be side effects, which may
    or may not be deleterious, in a small percentage of people. (I myself seem to exhibit side effects with alarming ease.) The point is that vaccinations are going to have the sought after result — immunization — in a large percentage of the population; there will be a small percentage that are resistant or for whom the side effects are unacceptable. (If I remember correctly from my psych class on drugs, a drug has to prove effective in achieving the desired result in 95% or more of the population to be considered “safe” — without killing the remaining 5%. There is no such thing as a pharmaceutical drug that is 100% effective.) (Keep in mind that vaccines are derived from antibodies to a given strain of infection, meant to kill it or keep it from replicating before it can infect the host; drugs such as the various descendants of penicillin are antibiotics, designed to kill the agent of infection after the infection is present — ideally, without killing the host. However, the same evolutionary process goes on in both areas.) It’s only to be expected that there will be a variation in a given population of viruses that is resistant to those antibodies; that variation then has the space to spread, since the competition has been killed off, until we come up with the next vaccine.

    I doubt very much that you’re calling for a halt to immunizations, but I do think you’re over-emphasizing a natural process as an argument against it.

    As for the anti-vaxxers, they’re screaming about autism and other conditions supposedly induced by vaccines, which is so much BS. That’s a sidebar to any serious discussion of the efficacy of vaccines.

  46. karlInSanDiego says:

    It’s not anti-science to question the efficacy of a vaccine, especially if you acknowledge that flu’s antigenic drifting nature means we never build permanent resistance to it, and we often target one flu as it is shifting to become another. Vaccination against flu exerts selective pressure and that amount of antigenic shift rises as vaccinated population rises (BAD! it’s one reason why we keep chasing the flu instead of irradiating it) as seen here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2603026/figure/F1/
    and explained in the accompanying study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2603026/

    In 2010, another study noticed a nuance about that antigenic drift that shows the drift occurring as the virus passes from an immunized person back to non-immune person, which suggests immunization of children is the secret to combating antigenic drift: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2784927/

    The science is not finished on flu vaccines and they are getting better. But we’re still being told one thing by CDC (flu is a giant risk and is killing people in droves, but vaccination would solve all this) while science is showing that is not the case.

    Flu vaccine found to not affect mortality in the Elderly, which is one of the prime groups we’re told we must build herd immunity to protect: Archives of Internal Medicine – 2005

    Deaths among children caused by flu in the US, horrible yes, but low numbers for sure!

    2003-04 flu season – 152 pediatric flu deaths
    2004-05 flu season – 39 pediatric flu deaths
    2005-06 flu season – 41 pediatric flu deaths
    2006-07 flu season – 68 pediatric flu deaths
    2007-08 flu season – 88 pediatric flu deaths
    2008-09 flu season – 133 pediatric flu deaths
    2009-10 flu season – 282 pediatric flu deaths
    (swine flu pandemic)
    2010-11 flu season – 123 pediatric flu deaths
    2011-12 flu season – 34 pediatric flu deaths
    2012-13 flu season – 171 pediatric flu deaths
    2013-14 flu season – 109 pediatric flu deaths
    2014-15 flu season – 5 pediatric flu deaths
    you can confirm these here: http://gis.cdc.gov/GRASP/Fluview/PedFluDeath.html

    So can we stop lumping flu vaccine into the antivax debate? I’m not claiming the flu shot will make you sick. But there is a distinct possibility vaccinating the whole country is making us sicker with greater variety of flu strains and greater virulence, and some of the science supports that theory as well. It’s too bad the CDC constantly feels the need to fudge numbers about flu by lumping in flu with ILI and then stating the deaths are flu and ILI or pneumonia related.

  47. karlInSanDiego says:

    Is anyone in this thread aware of the differences between influenza and the other viruses we vaccinate against? For a bunch of self-proclaimed followers of science, you seem to be barfing up anti-vax rhetoric I see posted on facebook along with loathing of the non-science minded trolls who follow Jenny McCarthy. If you won’t bother to learn about the challenges, history, science and problems behind the seasonal flu vaccine before labeling people who don’t get it, you are the ones lazy with your science. 10,000 antivax memes read, doesn’t make you well informed. Sorry I’m late to the science circle jerk. Did you guys check your biology degrees at the door?

  48. BillFromDover says:

    How sad is it that so many troglodytes believe that the vaccines that have contained outbreaks of:

    Haemophilus Influenza Type B
    Hepatitis A
    Hepatitis B
    Human Papillomavirus (HPV, genital or venereal warts)
    Meningococcal Disease
    Pertussis (Whooping cough)
    Pneumococcal Disease

    to name a few, are no longer necessary because the vaccines have been so effective against outbreaks of:

    Haemophilus Influenza Type B
    Hepatitis A
    Hepatitis B
    Human Papillomavirus (HPV, genital or venereal warts)
    Meningococcal Disease
    Pertussis (Whooping cough)
    Pneumococcal Disease

    as to render these names unrecognizable inside the vocabulary of your average Fox News viewer?

  49. Jim says:

    If you want to have some real fun mention GMOs.

  50. quax says:

    Science reporting sucks. Across the board. It’s why I started blogging to at least provide a bit of a corrective in the areas of my expertise. http://wp.me/p2lHU6-S5

  51. jamesnimmo says:

    I love your rhyming scheme for Celsius.

  52. caphillprof says:

    It’s not just scientific facts, but facts generally that are almost impossible for many Americans tp comprehend.

  53. perljammer says:

    If you think this is just an American phenomenon, you haven’t been paying attention.


  54. nicho says:

    Bingo. That’s the approach. Don’t try to convert celsius to fahrenheit and vice versa. Just think in concepts. They only place you’re interested in exact numbers is in a lab. Otherwise, you just need to know whether to wear a light jacket or a heavy coat.

    I just tell people that in celsius: Zero’s ice, 10 is not, 20’s nice, and 30’s hot. You can figure out the rest. You really don’t need to know that it’s 72.35F.

  55. UncleBucky says:

    I got my flu shot. No prob.

  56. UncleBucky says:

    Yet, in so many ways, IT HAS HAPPENED, except for the gloss of TV news, the media, building temperature signs and of course, in the schools.

    Fix the schools, and the metric problem is solved: DO NOT CONVERT. Simply teach people to think in terms of celsius and SI. Wahhhhh, go the bagguers.

  57. BeccaM says:

    The truly sad thing is people who are supposedly well-educated and/or liberal-progressive are falling for the anti-vaxxer nonsense.

    Ignorance and stupidity is a condition not exclusive to the conservative Luddite right-wing.

    The problem as I see it is that while the conservatives reject science, too many liberals no longer respect it. Especially when it comes down to having to change their minds about something they’ve already decided they don’t want to. So they go out on the Internet and find people who agree with them, and it suddenly becomes a self-reinforcing cycle.

    Nicho raises a great point about the need to teach people to think critically. I’d also add that what’s needed is also to teach people to have an open mind and be willing to change a position if faced with solid, scientific facts.

  58. Indigo says:

    Just toss a comment into an average social gathering to the effect that you’d like us to roll over to the metric system, you’ll hear plenty of reasons why that’s not going to happen.

  59. nicho says:

    If you educate people in science, critical thinking, and problem solving, you start them on the slippery slope toward thinking for themselves. It’s tough to keep people as willing subjects in a dictatorship if they think for themselves.

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