Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rant About Science and Those Who Ignore It

The Bad Astronomer links to stories of the latest person to attempt the Million Dollar Challenge. I was impressed by how gobsmacked the challenger was that she failed, but not surprised that she managed to convince herself why it didn't work a few days later. It's a shame she didn't want to believe that she's just really good at cold reading and not actually psychic.

I'm not a complete skeptic. I'll allow that psychic abilities could exist. But so far they haven't been proven at all. Just like ghosts, or bigfoot... they could exist, but absolute scientific proof has not been offered, only tantalizing bits and pieces (and in too many cases outright fraud and hoaxes). And, as Phil Plait often points out, people who blindly believe often hurt other people or themselves. No, I'm not a complete skeptic. Heck, I really enjoy Fortean Times... and I'm not always laughing at the writers. But I certainly lean towards skepticism unless you are willing to apply the scientific method.

Since I'm on the subject of anti-science, let's talk about the antivaccine movement. First, if you haven't already, READ THIS. Read the whole thing. Read it? Ok, now you have a tiny inkling of what vaccines are fighting against. Most people my age have NO understanding of what a disease like Polio can do when it ravages an unprotected population. We simply have no concept, nothing to compare it to. Nothing in our experience allows us to appreciate the depths of fear that parents went through, nor the deaths and ruined lives left in the wake of those diseases. And as a result, some people have freely bought into the utterly false notion that vaccines cause more harm than good. They are wrong. Vaccines save many more lives than they injure, and not getting a vaccine doesn't just hurt your own child. It may kill somebody else's child.

I have stated in the past that I don't care if you vaccinate your children, as long as any unvaccinated children are kept away from the ones who have responsible parents who do vaccinate. If the "herd immunity" of a community gets too low, death is the result. Even for parents who did the right thing, and thought they had fully protected their child. So if you do not vaccinate your offspring, please keep them away, FAR AWAY, from any vaccinated kids or kids who haven't had their full vaccination schedule yet. Unvaccinated children should be treated as lepers by the rest of the community. They may carry the disease that will murder another child for whom the vaccination failed.

There is a lie about vaccines, linking them to autism. Vaccines do NOT cause Autism. The initial study that "proved" the fact was a fraud, and no other reputable studies since have been able to prove a link. And not for lack of trying on the part of some researchers. What has been proven is that children die from diseases that are easily preventable when parents succumb to the lies and stop vaccinating their children. Those children die horribly, in pain. But that's ok for Jenny McCarthy ("If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f___ing measles."), who would rather have children die in horrible agony than risk autism (which they won't get from vaccines anyway, so she's full of it).