Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Narcissism of Anti-Vaxxers

Penn and Teller have a great video that demonstrates quite clearly that you are a lousy parent if you do not vaccinate.

Basically, one is gambling the kid's life (measles, etc) versus the chance of the kid getting autism from the shot (largely imaginary, but let's cede them a small percentage risk).  For the parent, the question is x chance of death for my kid vs y chance of my kid having autism.  How awful is autism that one is willing to prefer a small chance of death?  I don't have any autistic kids but I do have friends who do.  They seem to view autism as something less than a fate worse than death, so I would have to say I would prefer the small chance of autism to the small chance of death.

But there is something else, of course, to add to the mix, as we have seen at Disneyland: that choosing not to vaccinate your kids increases the risks to others that they will catch diseases such as measles.  Is the same true of autism?  If your kid is autistic, does that further the spread of autism?  Unlikely.  Sure, your kid could ultimately have kids, but I am pretty sure the math of contagion would mean that the chance of your kid causing autism to spread is much, much, much smaller than not being vaccinated has on the spread of preventable diseases.

The anti-vaxxers don't seem to care about anyone else but their child.  If other kids are vaccinated, good for the anti-vaxxed kid since it produces herd immunity.  If they don't, well, measles is not that bad, right? Um, wrong.

So, anti-vaxxers are bad at math, bad at risk assessment, and they don't really care about others.  Sure, they promote their flat earth type beliefs because it improves their self-esteem.  It is the height of destructive narcissism to argue that one is doing what is best for one's kid when it is so bad for everyone else.  Many of these anti-vaxxers are folks on the left who think that they are so wonderful and good to the planet in some many ways, but they are actually not.  They are bad people. 

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