Ignorance isn’t limited by political boundaries.
While some anti-science conservatives have been known to deny the facts of climate change, Jon Stewart had another target in mind on a recent show: the generally liberal, upper-middle-class, highly educated parents who make bogus claims about vaccines being dangerous — and put lives at risk by doing so.
Last week on the Daily Show, correspondent Samantha Bee spoke with Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who explained that we’re seeing a resurgence of diseases like measles, mumps, and rubella in coastal progressive enclaves like California, Oregon, and New York. In places like this, thousands of parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children, against all scientific evidence.
“It’s happening in my community?” asks Bee. “People who…. juice?”
Bee also talks with lifestyle blogger and anti-vaxxer Sarah Pope, who gives some classic responses of those who straight-up deny scientific facts based on nothing but their own beliefs.
“You can line up the doctors from here to down the block refuting me, and I’m not going to change my mind,” she said.
Pope says she thinks that the historic decline in diseases like measles and polio couldn’t have been due to vaccines, and instead must have been caused by some other factor, like getting horses off the streets.
Here’s a chart that shows why she’s wrong:
“The good news about vaccines,” says Offit, “is that they’re not a belief system. They’re an evidence-based system.”
Bee went on a mission to see how misinformation about vaccines spreads, from bloggers like Pope to liberal enclaves to celebrities like Jenny McCarthy, who, despite their dangerous and wrong anti-vaxxer beliefs, are given space on national television.
Of course, once people decide they’re going to believe something no matter what the evidence says, it’s hard to change their mind. On her blog, Pope refers to Offit as Dr. Paul “Awful” and claims vaccines are “full of toxins.”
Unfortunately, if these science deniers can’t be convinced any other way, there’s one thing that might get the truth across to them. As Dr. Offit says, “I think, sadly, the only way that this gets better is when we start to see more and more outbreaks.”
Measles cases, by the way, are currently at an 18 year high.
“So there is a cure for science denial,” says Bee. “Once Florida is underwater and we all have polio, it will be better.”
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Watch the whole clip, courtesy of the Daily Show:
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