Anti-Vax Parents Host Parties to Deliberately Expose Children to Diseases.

Some kinds of stupidity have deadly-serious consequences. Anti-vaxxer parents are using Facebook to organize "Pox Parties". The Daily Dot reports, "Facebook pages of anti-vaxxer communities are seeing parents organizing 'old-school 'pox parties' as a means of 'vaccinating' their children without giving them the vaccination. The practice used to be common, until a vaccine for the disease became available in the 1990s. But that hasn't stopped science-denying parents from attempting to arrange pox play dates to infect their children with the virus, which can be deadly.'

Where to begin? Vaccines have saved many millions of lives, and paranoia about them risks encouraging the possibility of a pandemic. Suppose a pandemic starts, a vaccination is rushed into production--and anti-vaxxers refuse it. The pandemic will take off.

Thinking from paranoia leads to a pernicious variety of stupidity--even for intelligent people. People drinking the "vaccines cause autism" kool-aid develop a paranoiac filter encouraging them to select-out scientific studies that don't support the state of mind that's got its grip on them; the filter does admit unsupported "factoids", a mix of cherry-picked, out-of-context facts (which in context do NOT support anti-vaxism), utterly fallacious claims, and mis-interpreted data. Overall there is a tendency to connect dots that have no real connection. Those who set aside the scientific method are prone to selective thinking biased for their psychological comfort zone.

The World Health Organization now reports in its yearly summary of threats to global health that one of the gravest is the growing resistance to vaccination--which they say is as dangerous as Ebola and air pollution.

The apparent increase in autism cases--something often cited by Anti-vaccine proponents--seems likely to have arisen from better and more widespread diagnoses. That is, we're seeing more autism because we're actively looking for it. In addition, parents are more prone to coming forward regarding their autistic children, now that the stigma has sensibly diminished. Supposing it's not just diagnosing more cases--still, any apparent correspondence between the increase in diagnosed autism and the increase in vaccines is purely arbitrary. Numerous other kinds of exposures have increased too, in the same era, even more prevalently: exposure to Round-Up and other glyphosphate weed killers found in lawns and parks and in breakfast cereal is a more likely candidate, if you're looking for an environmental cause, because it's a neurotoxin. Pesticide residues in baby foods is another possibility.

As the New Republic points out, "Overall, the research evidence against the idea that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism is very strong. For example, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at all children born in Denmark from 1991 through 1998 (more than half a million kids). They found no association between vaccination and autism. (Early data suggesting an association between the MMR vaccine and autism proved to be fraudulent.)"

The anti-vaxxer phenomenon seems to be a hybrid of faddism, internet misinformation, and sheer paranoia. Don't succumb to this specialized form of stupidity. Lives are at stake... 

A POX upon your Pox Parties!