Thursday, April 21, 2011

Andrew Wakefield: A Hero?

New York Times has a good article about Andrew Wakefiled, the man behind the MMR vaccine scare 13 years ago, and the main cause of the current anti-vaxx movement, failing vaccine rates and returning preventable diseases.

The Crash and Burn of an Autism Guru

Most of the details are fairly well known, but what strikes me the most in the article is the real face of the anti-vaxxers. From my own experience, I saw people almost religiously following convictions that had no base in reality, but who refused to change their minds no matter what arguments were presented to them. If your arguments were too logical and irrefutable, they would turn to ad hominem attacks (either on myself, doctors, "big pharma", the government, take your pick).
Now, check the article:
She narrowed her eyes when she learned that a writer from The New York Times was there to write about Wakefield.

“Be nice to him,” she said, “or we will hurt you.”
or this:
“To our community, Andrew Wakefield is Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ rolled up into one,” says J. B. Handley, co-founder of Generation Rescue, a group that disputes vaccine safety. “He’s a symbol of how all of us feel.”
Such is the anti-vax movement: irrational, "religious", and unconvinced despite mountains of evidence.