Anti-Vaxxers Can't Be Reasoned With

How do you talk to a parent who has decided not to vaccinate their child? Some commentators say, "Don't bother."

It's important when writing posts like this to always maintain objectivity. That said, it is objectively dumb not to vaccinate your children. I can't imagine the arduous mental gymnastics one has to go through in order to delude themselves into thinking it's a good idea to swat away humanity's long, long tradition of trying not to die. But alas, we're in the midst of a vaccine scare because people are ill-informed and — well — dumb. Kids all over the country are coming down with illnesses that sound more like afflictions from The Oregon Trail than the year 2015. It's madness.


Kelly Wallace over at CNN has a piece up right now about arguing with anti-vaxxers. She asks: How do you persuade them? Not through reason, that's for sure. Wallace includes plenty of evidence that rational thinking just isn't these folks' forte:

"'The problem is not as simple as just saying let's educate people because I think a lot of these parents have seen the data, have seen the science, and yet they still don't want to vaccinate,' said Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious diseases and public health specialist."

We're talking about obstinance here. Malicious obstinance. And while most folks' instincts (mine included) are to shame anti-vaxxers, that's not necessarily going to make anything better. Wallace spoke to one expert who believes arguing is futile:

"Lori Day, an educational psychologist with over 25 years' experience in the school system, thinks ultimately the only way to get people to vaccinate might be to force the issue. That would be by removing the personal and religious exemptions that allow parents not to vaccinate and still send their children to public and private schools."

The solution here is to not even bother. Anti-vaxxers are posing a legitimate threat to public health. The simple answer is to force them not to be a legitimate threat to public health. And somewhere along the way society needs to get over its odd skepticism of expertise and stop, as Isaac Asimov would say, treating ignorant opinions as if they have equal standing to knowledge based on facts.

Read more at CNN.

Photo credit: gopixa / Shutterstock

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