Doctors and scientists are not immune to error: Why you should research vaccination for yourself

Sarah Walker |

The mainstream media has been promoting vaccines recently. So I want to demonstrate the importance of researching the safety and effectiveness of vaccines for yourself, rather than simply relying on the assertions of “experts” by discussing the fallacies contained in this article by Dr. Rachael Dunlop, which I’ve seen floating around Facebook: SHARE: 6 things to say when you’re faced with anti-vaccination rhetoric. In it, Dunlop presents six responses to “anti-vaccination rhetoric” that seem to have some merit at first glance. However, her responses are so riddled with logical fallacies and misinformation, they are unlikely to persuade anyone who has studied the problems with vaccines.

Dunlop begins the article by accusing the “anti-vaccination lobby” of “lies and fear-mongering,” and comparing the decision not to vaccinate to “driving drunk or . . . smoking around people who don’t want to breathe in your nicotine.” I discussed this technique, which plays on people’s fear of ridicule to discourage them from researching vaccination or speaking about a decision to forgo vaccines, in an article last week.

Dunlop goes on to provide some scientific-sounding responses to questions about vaccine safety. Unfortunately, because people often are not confident in their ability to understand “science,” many people might be tempted to accept Dunlop’s pro-vaccine assertions without considering whether they are based in fact. But even if you’re shaky on science, it’s obvious that Dunlop’s first point is flawed because her conclusion doesn’t follow from the information she presents. She states that in Japan, the single dose Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine was replaced with separate vaccines for these diseases in 1993, yet the rates of autism in Japan continued to rise. According to Dunlop, this should have been “the final nail in the coffin for the autism/vaccines link.”

Let’s analyze this.

There are many vaccines on the pediatric schedule. So one cannot disprove a causal relationship between vaccines (all of them) and autism by eliminating a single vaccine. And, anyway, Japan did not eliminate vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella. Instead, Japan went from one vaccine aimed at these diseases to multiple vaccines.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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