4 Ways Anti-Vaccine Lies Are Perfectly Designed to Fool Us
Over the years, we at Cracked have come down hard on people who argue against vaccinating children. In our minds, the case for protecting babies from diseases that were practically wiped out years ago is as open and shut as a festering smallpox wound.
On the other hand, the only way to understand the opposition is to put yourself in their locally-sourced, chi-neutral Birkenstocks long enough to make sense of their logic. And the messy truth is that we're ALL capable of making the same kinds of stupid reasoning jumps when pulled in the right wrong direction.
Conspiracies Are How We Justify Tragedy and Confusion
It's easy to believe that anti-vaxxers are just tinfoil-hat-wearers plunking conspiracy narratives while waiting in line to drill their own brains Pi a la mode style, but the truth is a little less cut and dry than that. Human beings are actually so adept at forming bullshit patterns behind omnipresent randomness that scientists created a word for it: "apophenia." It's basically just what we said: finding structure in the structureless. Combine that with how devastatingly hard it is to comprehend that random acts of violence are, in fact, random -- and suddenly we start forming "false flag" operations about every national tragedy that comes along.
"Of course they'd rig it so the Patriots beat Pete Carroll. How else would they suppress the truth."
And while we're just hurling words around: This push into an analytic mindset comes from a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is responsible for emotions like anxiety and post-traumatic stress. This hunk of grey is what kicks the rest of the brain into gear when confronted with tragedy, causing people like the Sandy Hook truthers to start picking apart all the innocent inconsistencies in the story to form some kind of conclusion that isn't just "the world is a sea of cruel happenstance."
That's where anti-vaxxers come into play, as the rise in autism caused people to search for one clear-cut cause while muddling a 1999 decision by the FDA to cut down on mercury in vaccinations (which was done only as a blind precaution). You take those kinds of "better safe than sorry" measures, add some bullshit correlation between the rise in autism and the rise in people getting their kids vaccinated, and suddenly that fear center of the brain can lock onto a target.
It sounds like absolute brain damage to believe that the government is giving kids autism and covering it up, so naturally the next step is to harass and shame them as much as possible, right? Only that's kind of the problem.
Everyone Reacts the Same (Stupid) Way to Pressure
A few years back, two political scientists found that when someone tries to publicly debunk misinformation, the act of doing so actually makes people believe it harder. We humans are so comedically stubborn that we're unable to go back on our convictions, no matter how glaringly wrong they prove to be. The more the world pushes on your beliefs, the more you push back, because who is "the world" to tell you what to believe anyway, man?
"For you maybe."
A weird parallel would be the gun control debate, which (we can't stress enough) is nothing actually like anti-vaxxers, but triggers the same emotional responses about child safety. Since the rise in school shootings, the people advocating for stricter laws are doing so for the same reasons people want to criminally charge people who let their unvaccinated kids go to school. On the flip side: The Second Amendment and the "Opt Out" vaccination laws are there to ensure that we have the power to protect our own kids or refuse what we might perceive as a corrupt government. No one wants to be forced to inject their kids with something, just like no one wants to have their guns confiscated in case the U.S. starts going all Hunger Games on us.
So while one side pushes, the other one pushes back harder -- anti-vaxxers come out to boldly proclaim that they don't give two sorry fucks about the health of other people's rugrats while lawmakers are scrambling to eliminate the Opt Out laws to force people to get their kids vaccinated ... which means that we're eliminating someone's right to refuse a medical procedure because of a small group of stupid people flaunting their dangerous ignorance. Anti-vaxxers are to medical rights what the guy toting an AR-15 into a government building is to gun rights -- by proudly showcasing the stupidest consequence of having that freedom, these people are actually helping to have it taken away.
We Have Reason to Be Suspicious of the Government
The idea that the U.S. would use mandatory vaccinations to push some other, more sinister agenda is as laughable to most people as the idea of Bush orchestrating 9/11 to get us into Iraq. As South Park pointed out, the government simply isn't well-oiled enough to pull off some grand false flag operation. What it is able to do, however, is fuck up in such a splendid way that it intentionally harms its own citizens and then covers it up like a child hiding a dead goldfish under the mattress.
"You flush that down the toilet like the mutant gators the CIA created right now!"
See, the unfortunate reason that conspiracy theories are so hard to shake is that ... well ... sometimes they can be true. The United States government might decide to jizz a cloud of some thought-to-be-harmless microbes over San Francisco in order to test chemical warfare tactics, only to discover the the microbes weren't so harmless after all when 11 people get infections (resulting in one death). Yes. That's a thing that happened back in the 1950s, and it's just one of the many times our government has pulled a Three Stooges act where we were the face receiving the pie. Pies like the two hydrogen fucking bombs the US Air Force accidentally dropped on North Carolina back in 1961. That happened -- the only thing preventing the four-megaton bombs from giving the East Coast a deadly Dutch oven was a single low-voltage switch that could have easily failed.
"If they really failed, then how do you explain there not being an East and West Carolina?"
So sure, those anti-vaxxers are nuts when it comes to their understanding of medicine and reasoning, but only a stupid person would assume the government is 100 percent infallible. Even when we call these events "random," we're still doing a disservice to all the societal issues that can lead to violence in the first place. Our point is that while every tragedy has a cause and method of prevention, the real enemy is was more intangible than some shadowy government figure.
People Need An Enemy
Some of you might be wondering why we would compare anti-vaxxers to truthers and conspiracy theorists. It might seem arbitrary, like if we also lumped climate deniers into the mix. Only it turns out that all those groups actually do intersect a whole lot. As one study found out, people who think there's no good evidence to vaccinate kids also tend to believe in conspiracies, like the moon landing being faked or 9/11 being an inside job. Those same people also tend to believe that climate change isn't a real thing. It's the same goopy pool of people, all reacting to typically tragic news by assuming there's some dark underworking behind it.
"Law of averages! Sooner or later, we'll be right!"
So what's going on here? The answer is pretty obvious when you look at which people believe in which conspiracies. For example, conservatives might be more inclined to think Sandy Hook was a false flag so Obama can take away our guns, while most 9/11 truthers are Democrats who believe that George Bush knew about the attacks beforehand. In other words, we believe the theories that coincide with our already-embedded beliefs. It's called confirmation bias, and it's been around forever.
This is actually why it's so hard to get people to make an effort toward preventing climate change; not because we don't believe it's happening, but rather because it's not a political or tangible enemy that we can snuff out. There's no rogue "Climate Witch" living in some mountaintop palace whom we can simply pitchfork to death -- we have to gradually implement a series of societal changes. That's why it's easier to demonize the people telling us that we have to change than it is to accept the need for change itself. Just like it's easier to assume that the government is causing autism than it is to accept that it comes from a larger array of factors we've yet to pin down.
Or just wait until someone accuses Jenny McCarthy of being the Climate Witch
and watch as it all collapses on itself like a black hole of misinformation.
The anti-vaccination movement is dead wrong; this we're not questioning. But blindly shaming them as smallpox-loving idiots isn't going to help us help them -- instead, we're just falling into the same combative spiral of thinking that was first programmed into humans 600 years ago by Illuminati elders looking to control the world bank using reptilian telepathy. Let's focus on the real enemy.
Dave has a bunch of manifestos he wants you to read, so contact him on Twitter if you want to know the real truth.
Be sure to also check out 5 Paranoid Conspiracy Theories You Won't Believe (Really Happened) and 5 Conspiracy Theories That Are So Dumb They're Brilliant.