jb… a weblog by Jonathan Buys

A Pox on Anti-Vaxers

Brent Simmons linked to an informational site on the measles outbreak in Washington site on his micro.blog, and mentions how he nearly died from chickenpox when he was a kid. It reminded me of my chickenpox story.

I woke up on my 15th birthday, walked into the bathroom, looked in the mirror, and knew right away something was very wrong. I had red dots all over my body, including my face, which was already in poor condition thanks to the ravages of adolescence. I walked out and showed my mom and she immediately knew what had happened. She sentenced me straight to bed, and for the next week I was sick as a dog. I don’t actually remember a lot of it, but I remember the aftermath. The aftereffects of the chickenpox sores took weeks to fade away, which for my teenage self was worse than the week I spent in bed.

I was older than normal, for my time, to get the chickenpox. The symptoms of the disease tend to get worse with age. I would have given almost anything to have had a vaccine that would have kept me safe, and I’m glad that my kids will never have to experience this particular “right of passage”.

Like the horrid chickenpox sores, anti-vaxers are a symptom of the strange madness that is sweeping the world right now. From moronic flat-earthers to holocaust deniers1, to climate change deniers, conspiracy theorist are having their day. Distrust of institutions, doubting science itself, and a revival of magical thinking are bringing us back to the dark ages of civilization, even as we experience scientific breakthroughs that create a better life for everyone.

My personal theory for all this is that it starts with religion2. Using the best of what we know of scientific methods, we can estimate that the Earth is billions of years old, but a literal interpretation of the Bible shows that all of creation is only a few thousand years old. Since both cannot be simultaneously correct, science becomes the enemy. Making science the enemy leads to a rejection of reason and rational thought itself, which opens a person to be more susceptible to wild conspiracy theories.

It’s wrong. There can only ever be one truth, and when what we see doesn’t line up with what God has told us it simply means we don’t understand one or the other well enough yet. Science isn’t a threat to God. God is not afraid of our questions. Science is the process by which we discover and attempt to understand the building blocks of God.

The science of vaccines is proven. If you care about your children, and the children of those around you, get your kids vaccinated.

  1. See also, scum of the Earth. 

  2. Politics plays a role too, but even then I think the core is religion.