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How do you argue with anti vaxxers?
15 points by garyfirestorm on Aug 18, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 40 comments
Any literature/paper books that will help open someone's eyes?



Ask open-ended questions recursively. People often have a story or experience at the root of their beliefs. Uncovering that root (with your questions) also gives the anti-vaxxer an oppprtunity to ask new questions about why they believe what they believe. Generally, we need new questions to arrive at new answers.


> People often have a story or experience at the root of their beliefs.

This. So many time this!


Unless you actually need to argue with them because, say, you share custody of your child with one, you probably shouldn't bother.

I am neither an anti vaxxer nor pro vax. I get hated on by both camps. Neither side is very rational about this. So, you should probably put this in, say, the same box as religion and try to a) be respectful of their right to live their lives as they see fit and b) avoid the topic.


This is one case where one side 'choice' affects the other side. Thanks to herd immunity the anti vaxxers imperil not only themeselves, but also those that are vaccinated.


That street runs both ways. Your insistence on herd immunity and that they, thus, must get vaccinated also impacts their right to do with their body as they see fit.

I have a medical condition where most people get the flu vax annually. I stopped getting mine because all of the people actually helping me get healthier after doctors basically wrote me off for dead were strongly antivax in opinion. I am not, but I decided to go with skipping my flu vax because these people seemed to know what the hell they were talking about. I have gotten steadily stronger ever since.

I have had people on the internet give me hell for choosing to forego my flu vax on some theory that maybe I would be some danger to their child with respiratory problems, though there was no reason to believe they would ever actually run into me.

I sleep in a tent in the wilderness and I have minimal contact with people. I am not harming anyone and no one is catching my germs. (I also have not had the flu in many years.)

There are ways to handle germ control other than vaccines. I don't know how humanity will sort this question out. But as someone who needs a high degree of control over my body to have any hope of staying well, I think both sides are equally assholish here.


Herd immunity is disease specific and there is no vaccine induced herd immunity for influenza [1]. In your particular case unless you are working with seriously ill (or old people) you are only endangering yourself by not getting vaccinated. For other diseases like pertussis herd immunity is critical to their success.

1. We actually do have an influenza vaccine that would provide herd immunity protection, but our regulatory system is so stuffed that it will never reach the market - this is another rant though.


I am not endangering myself. As I said above, I haven't had the flu in many years. That is prejudice and assumption talking.

I do remote work. Because of my genetic disorder, I have arranged my life to be able to avoid exposure to infection.

The need for herd immunity is posited on the premise that people have no choice but to be crammed together with large groups of unrelated people at school, work, etc. This is a) a very modern idea that did not exist all that long ago and b) not actually a given.


Unless you're suggesting that we all leave the cities and return to nature, it is actually a given for a lot of people.


Remote work is increasingly popular. I pursue it for reasons of germ control, but lots of people prefer remote work for various reasons.

It isn't a given. I spend my days in a large city. I just have freedom to get up and walk away from people coughing and sniffling, an option I did not have at my corporate job.


I don't bother getting flu vaccinations personally - if I get the flu I will deal with it, and feel like shit.

But that isn't the issue I have with anti-vaxxers:

They are against all vaccinations, even for things like fucking polio, smallpox, mumps, and they apply it to children, not themselves. They have the benefit of the vaccine, but decide their child is better off going the maverick route.

Polio is not the flu. You're not going to recover from polio with chicken soup and bed rest.

Do whatever the fuck your want to yourself, but refusing a child medically proven vaccines is child abuse, plain and simple.


Even worse when your unvaccinated child infects my vaccinated child (because vaccines are not perfect and we need herd immunity to make them effective) you have crossed the line from child abuse.

The solution to the problem of anti-vaxxers is simple. If you don't want to vaccinate then you need to take out a massive insurance policy to cover the risks you push onto the community. 99.9% of the anti-vaxxers when faced with a massive bill each year will find some mental contortion to make vaccinating OK.


>I sleep in a tent in the wilderness and I have minimal contact with people. I am not harming anyone and no one is catching my germs. (I also have not had the flu in many years.)

You're an outlier. You, in your tent out in the woods are not the problem. Thousands or tens of thousands of people sending their non-vaccinated children to schools and living in the same cities as everyone else weakening herd immunity is the problem.

It's not an issue of bodily autonomy versus freedom, it's an issue of bodily autonomy versus the likelihood of mass death.


So I think vaccines are pretty useful, but against the flu? Seems like an overkill to me. I don't sleep in a tent in the wilderness, I live a medium sized city in Europe and I'd wager there's more people who don't get any sort of seasonal shots than people who do. Everything works just fine.


We have a lot of mystery diseases currently that are occurring in large numbers. Autism is just one widespread issue of the modern world. Anti vaxxers believe at least some of these problems are being caused by the widespread use of vaccines.

Given that we don't really know what is causing them, pro vaxxers are not really in a position to argue that vaccines are not part of the problem. But, they do it anyway and are at least as closed minded as they accuse anti vaxxers of being.


>Anti vaxxers believe at least some of these problems are being caused by the widespread use of vaccines.

Great, but people believe a lot of things, so show me some evidence. Believing some vaccines to be harmful is, at least, a defensible (and scientifically testable) position. But that's not the same as believing vaccination as a whole should be avoided. Vaccines do work, and herd immunity is a thing. Even if we didn't truly understand the long-term ramifications of vaccines, we do already understand what happens in their absence.

Pro-vaxxers aren't being closed minded, we just don't want our children to have to worry about whooping cough and polio.


[flagged]


>Your children don't worry about either as they don't know what either is.

Because vaccinations work. Mic drop. Enjoy your little troll account while it lasts, though.


Your argument could use some work. You are basically saying that since we don't know everything, we should just behave as if we knew nothing.


No, that isn't what I am saying at all.

People here are talking to me as if I am an antivaxxer when I have said I am not. Pro vaxxers are just as blind, unthinking and extremist as anti vaxxers.

Both sides disregard valid points on the other side. This is the crux of the problem.

Einstein said that you cannot solve a problem from the same level of thinking that created it. The world is not going to solve this conflict as long as it frames it in extremist either/or terms. The efforts to ramp up the pressure on anti vaxxers to conform merely deepens the conflict. It does not help the matter.


>Einstein said that you cannot solve a problem from the same level of thinking that created it.

Appeal to authority. Also, Einstein wasn't an epidemiologist.

>The efforts to ramp up the pressure on anti vaxxers to conform merely deepens the conflict. It does not help the matter.

This is a serious claim, do you have any evidence to support it? I'd expect countries with culture that emphasizes the collective over the individual to have much lower rates of anti vaxxers, as compared e.g. to the US.

Most of anti vaxxer material I see here in Europe is poorly translated and almost universally originally intended for the anglophone market. The 'higher end products' are written by locals, but still heavily leaning on anglophone sources.


It is not an appeal to authority. It is citing my source.

I don't know what your beef is with me. As far as I can tell, both my comments make the same point: That pro vaxxers are just as extremist and close minded as anti vaxxers.

There are lots of people who have bad reactions to vaccines, who take some vaccines but not others, etc. who are not ideologues on the subject. The medical community has processes for dealing with the reality that some people react badly to vaccines and judgement calls need to be made. Pro vaxxers act like this is not a reality. Both camps are very all or nothing.


What we got here is a failure to communicate.

An appeal to authority is a type of fallacious argument; in attributing the quote to Einstein, your subtext is that his endorsement is your argument. But, of course, context-free quotes from Einstein aren't sufficient evidence of anything.


I've been forgoing the flu vax because of some sort of reaction to it a couple years running - I had never been so extremely sick with flu symptoms (or actual flu, I don't know for sure) then after taking annual flu shots. Now, I skip the flu vax and keep up on all other vaccines - so neither side is happy with me.

When I looked into it, the thing that bothers me about the flu vaccines vs most other vaccine formulations is that the flu vaccine is basically constructed every year as new from a mixture of flu strains. While they do have safety monitoring systems, and the way of replicating them is the same, the core portion is new. The safety monitoring is basically keep track of reports of side effects and try to detect if too many hit a warning threshhold. So between that, and my past experiences, I pass too.

For the other vaccines, I think I agree with especially school requirements for a standard set of vaccinations. I think that in CA they should go a bit further and limit ratios of students accepted with waivers at individual schools if it brings the numbers below that of needed for herd immunity benefits.

Edit: For the flu shots, it seems from my layman's reading of the literature that their efficacy is low and highly variant compared to other vaccines, enough that there is no consistent herd immunity to be gained from current flu formulations.


I homeschooled my sons. I am fine with schools et al having such requirements, as long as people have options to walk away from that system and make choices like homeschooling. That in no way means that some random stranger on the internet is more qualified than I am to judge what is best for my health.


Depends if that stranger is a doctor.

Also, if it's your children not getting the vaccines, it's their health, not yours.

Chances are you did have vaccinations as a kid.


No, being a doctor on the internet changes nothing. Exchanging a few comments online is no substitute for a medical exam, knowing my medical history, etc. Any doctor that imagines they know what is best for me merely because they are a doctor, without taking a medical history, etc, is a quack and a dangerous person.

I have certainly met such people online. You should be a lot more worried about the behavior of those folks online than about my personal health choices.


Assuming both sides have credibility, there is still a clear choice.

It's clear that vaccination is a successful way of eradicating diseases like measles, smallpox, polio.

It's not so clear whether it causes autism and it's possible that the person doing such research was scapegoated.

But which would you choose? A world with no polio or smallpox, or a world with 2% less autism?


Some people will not make decisions on the basis of "what kind of world do I want to see", but rather the more immediate concern of "is my child going to be disabled?".

Vaccines weren't taken up by the masses because they wanted to eradicate polio for example, but rather because they wanted their children to be safe from it. Parents would gladly vaccinate themselves, even at a risk that they'd get a full infection, just to guarantee that their children would be safe.

The anti-vaxxer issue nowadays is a tragedy of the commons scenario. Every individual who does not vaccinate their child, doesn't give up herd immunity immediately, and (if true) get's to avoid any complications associated with vaccine. They have others bear the costs of herd vaccination, and gain a benefit by defecting.


You seem amazingly invested in making a moral equivalence between the people who save children through vaccination and people who kill them through non-vaccination resulting in epidemics of vaccine-preventable disease.


why has the government given vaccine manufacturers blanket immunity from injuries and deaths attributable to vaccines?


I'd use a technique called Street Epistemology, it does wonders with religious people. There are lots of videos showing people lowering their level of confidence after just a few questions. I recommend watching this trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moApG7z2pkY&feature=youtu.be...


You don't. They're convinced, and you're not going to change their minds.


Don't start with the goal of convincing them. Instead listen and ask for more.


So many brainwashed people out here.. So sad :(


You don't argue with either side. Neither side has a recognition of the other's concerns. If you have close friends that are doctors or even nurses who will be candid with you, you quickly come to the realisation that the range of reactions to any vaccine is dependent on the many factors, including effectiveness of vaccine in each recipient (from totally effective and full immunity to total ineffectiveness and no additional immunity to detrimental effects).

Some people react very badly to the current vaccines and when this is not recognised by those who are pro-vaccination, this just re-enforces the anti-vaccination viewpoint.

As a child I was around others who were infectious with chicken pox, never got sick. But as an adult, I came close to dying from chicken pox that I got off my children. No reaction as a child but near deadly as an adult.

Yet Tetanus vaccines (which I have had at various times) cause me no side effects at all, even though most people I know have a fairly severe pain reaction for a period of time after the injections.

When it is not recognised that there have been manufacturing errors in various vaccines over time or that there are proportion of people who suffer very adverse effects from vaccines (up to and including death), this only goes to strengthened the viewpoint that vaccines are dangerous for those who are against vaccinations.

I have come across various people who know that a specific vaccine would kill them or their children but have the viewpoint that everyone else must get vaccinated so that they (the unvaccinated) would be protected.

Where we should be putting our research is to find some sort of standardised way to pre-test an individual for efficacy or adversity of any specific vaccine.

There is no point giving a vaccine to someone who will have strongly adverse side-effects to it, nor is there any point in giving a vaccine to someone where that vaccine will provide no additional protection to the person. Too often, the excuse of "herd immunity" is used without thought to whether or not this actually true for any specific vaccine. The problem here is that, if the vaccine works and gives you immunity, then what reason are you concerned about that someone else hasn't had their shots, other than passing this disease onto other unvaccinated people.

I don't bother with a flu shot. But if you want it, go for it. I know people who get sick every year after they have had their vaccines for the flu. I know of one fellow did this religiously every year and every year he got sick. After discussing this problem with his doctor, it was suggested that, over a period of three weeks, he get a one third dose. Since then, he hadn't got sick.

Vaccines have made significant inroads into certain diseases that cause a great deal of grief for many in society. But no vaccine is 100% effective and every vaccine will adversely affect some proportion of the population (however small that might be).

Instead of demonising those against vaccinations, maybe, this demonising should be against the companies that push the affordability of drugs and vaccines (and all the other related medical technology) beyond the capability of those who need it most just because they can and it will be most profitable to them to do so.

Most have heard of Martin Shkreli and his antics with drug prices. What many don't realise is that he was just following the general principles of the drug manufacturers, he was just a little too obvious about it.


I have several doctors in my family, some even in public health and what you say is true, yes some people have been harmed by vaccines, and even killed. These are basic facts available to anyone with an internet connection. The manufacturers of the vaccines should be monitored and kept in line, like any manufacturer of medication (or food for that matter). Many of the vaccines that I am familiar with are low cost if not subsidized to the point of free - so I'm not sure that the drug pricing scams you discuss apply here.

The point missing from this discussion is the basic principle that doctors are applying when then recommend vaccination: that the chance of harm from the vaccine is much less than the chance of harm from the disease. Senior citizens, pregnant women and children < 1 yr routinely die from the flu - at rates much greater than the deaths from the flu shot.

Discussing it with a trained medical Doctor is a great idea which I recommend. It must always be remembered that each treatment is a separate experiment and should be monitored accordingly.


^ This.

The crux of the issue is that people who are rabidly pro vax and people who are rabidly anti vax are both equally guilty of disregarding the valid concerns of the other side. This fact means neither is willing to consider a more nuanced discussion concerning when vaccines make sense and when they don't.

Laws in the US generally try to balance the needs of the many versus individual rights. So, for example, if we need to put in a new highway, we don't simply willy nilly throw people out of their homes. There are processes in place for trying to decide where and how to build it with the least impact, then there are processes for compensating them.

We need to figure out how to do the same with vaccines, but that conversation mostly is not happening because most people talking about it are talking in absolutes. And, in their mind, if you aren't for them, you are against them. Thus, no reasonable discussion can be had.

Pro vaxxers and anti vaxxers are equally guilty of ascribing to a one size fits all solution and being extremists. This is why someone like me, who has gotten vaccines for some things but has foregone them for others, is given hell by both sides.


Agreed. But be assured that there are more in the middle ground than there appear on the surface.


Thank you for saying that. I needed to hear that more than I expected.


You don’t.


You don't. You can't argue with crazy. Or as philosopher once put it, you cannot answer questions of value with statements of fact.




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