Another issue I’ve written about frequently is that of anti-vaccination activists, or anti-vaxxers, a special type of science denialist/conspiracy theorist that is far from being harmless.
First, segueing on the previous post about science denial, the excellent Hank Green made a video on his SciShow channel about the reasons why people become anti-vaxxers, presenting an extensive collection of biases they display:
The science of vaccine denial
"Fewer children in the United States are getting vaccinated. That’s bad news for those kids, and also for public health in general. Often, the response is to argue and debate and get angry at people who are we see as making terrible, irrational decisions. Instead of doing that, let’s use science to understand why this is happening in the first place."
Following, two articles try to provide alternatives to deal with the problem; the second, despite the tongue-in-cheek title, also states the dramatic extent of the problem:
The Anti-Vaccine Movement Should Be Ridiculed, Because Shame Works
"I’m here to convince you that the best way to deal with anti-vaxxers is to ridicule their position so much that it’s no longer acceptable to say in polite company that vaccines cause autism. Ridicule is our best option to help stem the tide of dangerous superstition washing over this beautiful, measles-infested country of ours. Because shaming works."
Could we stop the anti-vaxxers if we said measles contains gluten?
"Who, 50 years ago, would ever have imagined we’d need to promise a reward to the person able to persuade wealthy, educated parents to do this small thing for their own children – of whom they seem quite fond – and for those who come into contact with those children, about whom one hopes they’d give a damn.
Yet here we are. There are schools in the wealthiest parts of Los Angeles where the vaccination rate is on a par with that of South Sudan – fashionable tinder boxes of measles waiting to go up. Pertussis (the far-less-fun-than-it-sounds ‘whooping cough’) is making a dramatic comeback."
Finally, let me exercise my schadenfreude a little – this is a story of an anti-vaxxer that made a bet and tried to backpedal, only to be slapped by a judge:
Anti-Vaxxer Bets Scientists $100,000 They Can’t Prove Measles Exists; Anti-Vaxxer Loses $100,000
"In an ironic twist, Lanka probably did achieve his goal of ‘enlightening’ people about the measles. Having become an international laughingstock, he further discredits an anti-vaccination movement that is built on quackery, dodgy sources, and an ignorance of science. The result of this has been a resurgence in the measles across the world – including in countries which had at one point largely eradicated the disease completely like the United States and Germany."
Finally, an excelent resource with a summary of frequent claims of antivaxxers and rebuttals with sources: The Truth About The Evils Of Vaccination.