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Vaccination as Heterodoxy
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Apparently Mayim Bialik, Ph.D. neuroscience, is skeptical of vaccination. This just goes to show you that “science education” itself is no guarantee of immunity against acceptance of false propositions. Rather than reason from one proposition to another independently humans operate in an ecology of ideas. Bialik’s general suite of beliefs about mothering and her social milieu make her stance on vaccination rather unsurprising, notwithstanding that she has a doctorate in neuroscience.

I’m mildly familiar with social pressures in regards to vaccination. In some communities on the West coast of the USA which emphasize “consciousness” it is now the dissenting position to accept vaccination as necessary. I myself regularly get flu shots and DPT, and I had no qualms about vaccinating my daughter. On the contrary, I wanted her to be vaccinated. But this is not the default position for many, and over the past six months I’ve seen just how communities of self-reinforcing opinions emerge which deny established science. For someone with a weaker science background I can totally understand why being skeptical of vaccination might be a reasonable decision. Not only is your community validating and encouraging this decision, but there are persons with authority and stature, such as Mayim Bialik, who are also hewing to this position.

Meanwhile, whooping cough is making a comeback. I recall back in the aughts when Americans shook their heads at Thabo Mbeki’s AIDS denialism. But now I can see somewhat how this sort of heterodoxy might flourish and gain traction. The basic logic of herd immunity is simple, but fear for one’s children is a powerful thing.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Science • Tags: Vaccination 
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  1. Apparently Mayim Bialik, Ph.D. neuroscience

    Question: How on Earth does one get a Ph.D in Neuroscience from UCLA without having a single publication??? That’s just pathetic. I am going to assume that her work was worthless and that committee members were swayed by her C celebrity status.

  2. Even Dr. Aafia Siddqui has doctorate degree in neuroscience :

  3. man, I *knew* there’d be some catch to her. People with her “attitude” always have some deal breaker once you finally know their opinions. Thats why i never listen to musicians’ political or scientific opinion as it’ll just ruin their music for me.

  4. Some people are squeamish about needles and that’s okay but they should never have been allowed to rationalize their phobia with scientifically false narratives.

  5. Riaz, Aafia Siddiqui’s PhD was in cognitive neuroscience, but seems to have been more about learning and child development than the hardcore biological side of cognitive neuroscience. Her topic was “separating the components of imitation”

    While studying child development and early learning, she was also writing emails about how the quran tells us not to take Christians and Jews as our friends…You can read more about her graduate work and status as “scientist” here

  6. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Razib Khan said:
    “This just goes to show you that “science education” itself is no guarantee of immunity against acceptance of false propositions. ”

    This is much easier shown by the number of people who believe in science, but also believe in a deity.

    I was disappointed, but not surprised to read about her view on vaccinations, but when you consider the number of otherwise intelligent people who believe complete nonsense, crystals, talking to the dead, ghosts, an all powerful invisible person who loves us and watches everything (EVERYTHING) we do, but never, never, never interferes and say, warns a million people that a tsunami is coming. Run to high ground. Or simply make the bible clear and comprehensive.

    Or how about believing in an all powerful creature, but not believing that humans were able to get to and walk on the moon?

    Humans are funny creatures. We tend to believe the strangest things. But you have to want to use your reasoning skills in order to use your reasoning skills.

    What really peeved me about Mayim Bialik, is she said that everyone is entitled to do what they want to do, in regard to vaccinations. I suggest she doesn’t have the right to put other peoples lives at risk because in at least one area she fails to use her reasoning skills.

    In Canada and many other western countries, if you don’t vaccinate your children, your children are not allowed to go to school. That way they are less likely to murder some poor child who is immune compromised.

    Personally, I think if a child gets sick or dies from a preventable illness because they didn’t get vaccinated, the parents should be charged with child endangerment or murder. The government generally at least tickets stupid parents who don’t put their kids in proper car child seats.
    They should at least do the same for parents who don’t vaccinate their children, especially since they are putting more then their own children at risk.

    Whooping cough is a horrible, horrible way for a child to die. Literally coughing out your own lungs.

  7. Where does she accept a false proposition? The article says, “We are a non-vaccinating family, but I make no claims …”. It is possible that she understands vaccination as well as you do, but simply made a different decision.

  8. My neighborhood in Seattle has the highest rates of vaccination “opt out” in the state of Washington. Unsurprisingly, we also have one of the higher rates of pertussis.

    I don’t often swear in public, but since my family is exposed to these morons on a daily basis, I will occassionally express myself vociferously in pre-school parent meetings, etc.

    These are putatively educated, upper-middle class people. I’m at a loss…

    I really think it comes down to being a couple generations separated from pandemic disease that inoculation addressed in the first place. My guess is that these people look around and say to themselves that this is all a big pharma scam because they don’t know anyone with polio.

    Would love to see a study on these attitudes/beliefs.

  9. elbowspeak – *yes*! I’m just old enough to remember living through a polio epidemic when I was 4 years old. I was playing with a 3 year old friend one day, drinking from the same cup and all the stuff that little kids do, and the next day she was in an iron lung and her family were in quarantine. She survived, but never walked again. I was still a young kid when the first polio vaccine became available, but I couldn’t get that damned needle into my arm fast enough, and all of my classmates felt the same. You only need to live through that terror once.

    People don’t understand balancing risks, and community responsibility. They will continue not to understand until they live through an epidemic. Then maybe they’ll understand.

    The way things are going in the USA and Australia, they won’t have to wait long.

  10. I have a needle phobia, and I still get my vaccinations and my boosters on time. I mean, I get sick when I see an injection, I’ve thrown a 300lb nurse off of me because of a fight-or-flight reaction a needle.

    I STILL get vaccinations.

  11. I just lost a 35 year old friend who died horribly from oral cancer probably caused by the HPV virus. This scared me so much that I immediately had my teenage daughters vaccinated. Some friends of mine have a daughter who is the same age as mine and is likely to be sexually active. I told them to get their daughter vaccinated but they are too deep into the organic mysticism to listen to me. I just don’t get it.

  12. Larry, I made the same decision. My girls got that HPV vaccine.

    I have had far more than the normal number of vaccines, including unusual ones like rabies, TB and yellow fever. The TB vaccine apparently didn’t ‘take’, as I had a TB test a few years ago and didn’t react, so no antibodies.

    The ‘organic mysticism’ you mention I call ‘purity hysteria’. These are people who obsess about about the foods they eat being pure, vegans, those who wash obsessively, use HEPA filters in their homes, only drink bottled water and so forth. Just anecdotal, but they seem to me to form a distinct group. All this is fine for individuals, I don’t mind, except when their choices result in death for others as in the anti-vaccine fanatics.

  13. I think organic mysticism is Natures way of controlling the population. Let the Dunderheads that follow celebrity science from the McCarthys and Biayliks of Hollywood like lemmings off the cliff. Just be sure to stay clear of the. Coughing, hacking, typhoid Mary’s as they collect their Darwin Awards…..

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