I’m not typically a fan of the libertarian magicians Penn and Teller, but when people who preach personal freedom above all else tell anti-vaxxers that they’re idiots, it might finally be time to stand up and take notice.
In the modern world, it’s a rare day that we don’t share the air with strangers, that we don’t touch the same doorknobs and handle the same money. Most days, there’s no problem. In fact, being exposed to strangers’ germs helps us boost our own immune systems, but on an average of about once or twice a year, either a stranger or someone we know passes a virus our way.
Even then, we’re generally lucky. We might feel like warmed over you know what for a few days or even weeks, but we recover. Sometimes, though, the viruses are much, much worse. They can disable us, cause us brain damage or even kill us.
Medical science has given us solutions to many of the worst viruses: vaccines. Just about two generations after Jonas Salk eradicated polio, one of the most devastating diseases in our memory, many Americans have become complacent. While my parents and probably your parents didn’t give it a second thought before having us vaccinated, modern parents are being told, generally by conspiracy theorists and quack doctors, that vaccines are optional and dangerous.
Every single argument that is made by the anti-vaccine crowd has been debunked over and over again. The most common argument is that the thimerosal mercury in the vaccines causes autism. The single study that made that claim was retracted a few years later and has been disproven several times, but that doesn’t stop the anti-vaxxers from quoting it.
Anti-vaxxers take the selfish point of view. They are relying on the kindness of strangers who are responsible parents and who vaccinate their children. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work, as proven by the measles outbreak at Disneyland.
Penn and Teller, while acknowledging that the idea that vaccines cause autism is “bullshit,” decide to go with that argument. They say, okay, let’s say it does cause autism. It’s still stupid not to get your kids vaccinated.
Here’s the video (some potentially offensive language):
And might I add that the idea that polio and other deadly diseases is preferable to autism is truly offensive to autistic people and to their parents.