I’m not that great with updating, even though I keep meaning to. I’m also still trying to nail down an overall theme to this blog, so bear with me. But for now, I’m gonna talk about something that’s on my mind.
One of my hobbies is reading up about and studying conspiracy theories and then studying the various evidence that disproves them. I’ve been interesting in this sort of thing since middle school, when a friend of mine at the time tried to get me into the whole Area 51 thing that was all the rage pre-9/11. I’ll add, without embarrassment, that he got me hook line and sinker. I was in love with the entire idea of the evil government hiding alien remains and top secret technology from the rest of us. It made me feel like I was a part of a secret cabal of people that were ‘in the know.’
I can’t really tell when I fell out of that whole thing, or why, but now the entire thing just strikes me as eminently silly. There are a lot of reasons for this, but paramount is the idea of how we would even get information like that out of a top secret government facility, how that information would then be shared over the internet, and how a government that apparently has no moral standing at all, would fail to eliminate the various people who leak out the incredibly sensitive information that has been spilled out everywhere. This is even more ridiculous when you take in the current news having to do with Julian Assange and Aaron Swartz, where enormous effort, energy and expense will be used to capture, prosecute and punish people for filtering out information that’s not even remotely as reality shattering as the presence of aliens on planet Earth.
And besides, there’s much bigger conspiracy theories out there since I was in seventh grade. Rather than go after the 9/11 Truthers, or those who believe that Sandy Hook was a ‘False Flag’ (False Flags are attacks against a nation’s people by that nation’s government) used to push gun legislation through. As important as those things are, and as much as I do love talking about and researching Creationism, I’m going to devote my time today to the Anti-Vaccers.
The entire idea behind being against vaccines is actually rather old, but the current hysteria centers around a report from Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 report on a connection between autism and vaccines. This stems from the rising rates of autism, that made researchers scramble for an explanation as to why so many more children were diagnosed as autistic in the latter half of the twentieth century than ever before. This report has since been completely discredited, but this has not killed off the conspiracy theory and its die-hard adherents who have caused a rise in previously unheard of childhood preventable diseases from proliferating.
This is what gives my hobby a bit of importance, even if all I can really do is spread awareness to those who are not already converted over to the anti-vaccers. It’s also a rather important part of conspiracy theories as well, being that these ideas do not exist in a vacuum, and they have consequences (http://whatstheharm.net/). Critical thinking is one of the most underutilized skills in America right now, and the costs of it can range from being ripped off because of self-styled psychics, emotional abuse at the hands of people who can do cold readings and other sorts of mediums (some of which are contracted by government agencies, leading tax money to be wasted on frauds and charlatans) to people denying important medicine from their children. It’s this last bit that’s the most important, as it always seems that it’s the children who are harmed when it comes to various groups of adults picking fights with one another, as with the vaccine conspiracies.
A lot of people like myself will talk about how, even if this were true, this would not be reason enough to stop vaccinating people. But I’m going to blow right past that because to even treat the situation as true in a hypothetical situation is to give it too much credence. The fact of the matter is that there are no recorded cases of vaccines causing autism. There have been numerous studies based around this claim, and all of them have come up empty-handed. Of course, vaccines are not one hundred percent safe, because nothing is one hundred percent safe when it comes to medicine. There will always be risk. But to keep your children from medicine because of half-baked ideas like this is nothing short of monstrous.
I’m afraid I really don’t know how to end this blog, aside from just cautioning the people who read this blog to actually study, check out the claims and the people who make them and do a proper evaluation of what’s being claimed before you take medicine away from anyone, but especially kids.