If there’s one thing almost every rational person can agree on, it’s the fact that vaccines are safe and effective. Just like gravity holding us down firmly to the round Earth, climate change existing, and evolution being real, there’s an overwhelming amount of evidence proving this.
If you don’t believe me here, you can simply look at the data yourself to see the dramatic effect vaccines have had:
We see a trend of more and more cases of Polio as we enter the 1950s. But after the introduction of the Polio vaccine, the rate almost immediately drops to almost nothing.
The same can be said for the MMR vaccine’s effectiveness:
The first licensed measles vaccine became available in 1963, and you can see that it had an immediate effect. An improved version of the vaccine was released in 1968, which dropped the number of deaths from Measles to almost zero within 10 years.
Vaccines for Mumps and Rubella were developed in 1967 and 1969 respectively, and saw similar downward trends in cases/deaths.
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And if that’s not enough, there’s actual research showing how quickly conspiracy theories break down based on how quickly real, actual conspiracies broke down. According to their research, someone from “Big Pharma” who was part of the vaccine conspiracy would have blown the whistle on the whole thing just 3.2 years after the conspiracy started. We’ve had vaccines now for over 60 years, which means the vaccine conspiracy should have broken down over 19 time by now. Occam’s Razor (the notion that the simplest solution is often the correct one) would suggest that this means there isn’t a vaccine conspiracy at all.
But… You’ll notice that little hiccup of Measles deaths in 1990. A closer look at the data reveals a disturbing trend since then.
Vaccines became victims of their own success. A new generation of children grew up into adults who never experienced firsthand or had friends who contracted Polio, Measles, Mumps, etc. And the advent of the internet meant that more people than ever before had access to more information than they could ever possibly consume, which leads to people overestimating their knowledge: the Dunning-Kruger effect.
A recent post from our ‘Cats in Space Quoting Scientists‘ page
A small, but extremely vocal group of people began to think that they understood how their bodies worked better than the doctors who dedicated their lives to studying medicine. Prior to the social media, these people would be the equivalent of the guy I used to walk by every day going to work who was proselytizing without an audience. They shouted into the void and nobody took them seriously. But thanks to social media, these people now have an equal platform.
In a way, it’s like the Streisand Effect. The Streisand Effect is named after Barbara Streisand who attempted to suppress photographs of her home in Malibu, California back in 2003. By doing so, she drew attention to something that likely would have been otherwise ignored by most people. The fact that she made a scene about it actually resulted in it being promoted.
I get messages from fans all the time asking me to share something that was posted on an anti-vaxxer page, and it’s for this very reason that I seldom share them. Most of the time, these posts reach an incredibly small audience and typically stay within the realm of irrelevant, nonsensical screeching. Sharing posts like these only draws more attention to it. People offer their dissent on the original post, which tells the social media algorithms to show the post to more people, and their otherwise pathetically lilliputian reach skyrockets. More often than not, it’s better to advocate for vaccines in a positive manner than to seek out “targets” like these to attack.
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Another consideration to make is the fact that you are extremely unlikely to convince an anti-vaxxer to loosen the clutch on their pearls. You’re probably not going to sway them, and they should never be the intended audience to your comments/posts. You should try to aim for the fence sitters – the people who are only reading the posts, but not commenting. These are the people you will have the greatest impact on and greatest ability to affect.
Facts and logic fail devout anti-vaxxers because much like any other religion, their beliefs are not based in facts. They use their feelings and things that sound right to form their views.
The same logic can be applied to other nonsensical conspiracy theories, like the moon landing conspiracy or the flat Earth conspiracy. To quote Neil deGrasse Tyson:
The fact that there’s a rise of Flat-Earthers is evidence of two things. One, we live in a country that protects free speech. And two, we live in a country with a failed educational system.
… Our system needs to train you not only what to know, but how to think about information and knowledge and evidence. If we don’t have that kind of training, you’d run around believing anything.
That said, there are indeed times when you should engage an anti-vaxxer. Sometimes a good burn is too good to not use.
So, here are 20 of the best times anti-vaxxers were shut down by people on the internet!
20. Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes