Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

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160 Responses

  1. Avatar morat20 says:

    The “my child is pure” line is, well, pure gold. What does he think a vaccine is? And he’s a doctor, for Pete’s sake.

    Honestly, that sort of stupid comment deserves a giant hand from heaven to come down and smack him on the back of the head while the earth and sky speak in a single voice, intoning “THINK MCFLY”.Report

  2. Avatar greginak says:

    Are you referring to this quack cardio doc?

    What a loon. His child is “pure.” Yeah sure….and he thinks vaccines cause leukemia…..holy Hottentot!!!!Report

  3. Avatar j r says:

    It is a bit ironic that you are talking about the problems of partisanship, but then choose to uncritically repeat the very partisan political narrative of LGM. I’ve read about this story on a few different outlets and nowhere did I see anything that could be rightly characterized as Christie trying to use this is a wedge issue.

    “It’s more important what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official. I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well. So that’s the balance that the government has to decide.”

    This statement is about as milquetoast and mealy-mouthed as you can get. It sounds much more like a politician trying very hard not to say anything meaningful than like a politician trying to carve out an anti-vaccination position. And everything that he’s said since then is him trying to move back to the respectable pro-vaccination position.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      I didn’t take it as an attempt to be a wedge issue either. At the most I saw it as a shout out to anti-gov folks, but my bet is on it just being Christie and talking without filtering.Report

  4. Avatar Will Truman says:

    While Christie deserves the hell he’s catching for his (initial) stance, I don’t think he’s trying to create a wedge issue or taking Stance B because Obama is taking Stance A. Vaccination isn’t one of those clean-cut right/left partisan or culture war issues. I think that, rather like Obama (and McCain) in 2008, he is either relatively ignorant on the issue and/or doesn’t want to alienate potential voters. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have “clarified” his initial remarks.Report

    • Avatar DRS says:

      There are some issues that the governor of a state had better not be “relatively ignorant” about – and public health is one of them.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Quite right. I should have opened up by saying that the governor deserves the hell that he’s catching.

        It would be great if our elected officials were less ignorant than they often are, but in 2008 the presidential nominees for both of our political parties were still entertaining concern over the alleged autism/vaccination link.Report

    • Avatar morat20 says:

      I’d like to point out that Christie, not a year ago, ordered the quarantine of people over people who had contact with Ebola victims for three weeks — even if these people showed no symptoms, even though patients without symptoms couldn’t transmit Ebola even if they had it.

      I have a hard time believing his statements on this aren’t political, given he was quite happily bringing the iron boot of government down under the guise of ‘public health’ so recently.

      Either that, or he sways in the wind more than Romney.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I personally thing that quarantining people who have been exposed to Ebola for its gestational period makes perfect sense.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I think there is a political angle, or at least may well be, but I don’t think it’s looking for a wedge or anti-Obama issue. His framing doesn’t fit that. I think it’s not wanting to alienate political voters.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        I personally thing that quarantining people who have been exposed to Ebola for its gestational period makes perfect sense.
        So you’re in favor of locking up people in return for no actual results other than ‘people feeling more safe’?

        Because that’s what the Ebola quarantine was. Detention for the appearance of safety, not an actual change in risk.


        Honestly, I think it was part knee-jerk anti-Obama and part “Don’t want to anger voters, CHOICE CHOICE CHOICE”. It’s just, for Christie personally, it was a particularly hypocritical response given his recent actions.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        What about “gestational period” is unclear?Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        What about “gestational period” is unclear?
        None of it.

        What part of “People without actual symptoms of Ebola cannot transmit Ebola” is unclear?

        Like I said, locking them up for three weeks in no way increases public safety. Without symptoms, they couldn’t transmit Ebola anyways. (And even with symptoms, Ebola is hard to transmit until the symptoms worsen — it’s at the end stage, with all the blood, stool, and fluids — that transmissibility is at it’s highest. There’s a reasons nurses kept getting it, but not doctors or random bystanders. Nurses go arm deep cleaning up all those fluids. Doctors…do not.).

        The 21-day quarantine locked up people who were entirely unlikely to HAVE Ebola (it’s hard to catch), for the duration of the time that they couldn’t possibly give it to anyone if they HAD gotten it.

        So like I said — mandatory detention for the appearance of public safety, without actually making the public safer.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        If he’d been going for anti-Obama kneejerk, even a little, he would have said something different than what he said. Something that can’t accurately be described as mealy-mouthed. (See Bachmann, Michelle.)Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        morat – I think the quarantine decision makes sense. The question is not whether they could transmit ebola at the exact moment they were placed in quarantine. The question was whether they were infected with ebola. Given the seriousness of the disease, quarantining them for enough time to determine whether they had ebola or not is a good public health decision.

        If they weren’t quarantined and someone was infected with ebola, they could still develop symptoms and transmit the disease to someone else, couldn’t they? And then you’d have an outbreak, and stopping it would be far more difficult and dangerous than quarantining a few people.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Dr. Crain Spencer returned from West Africa, spent a week in New York doing things like traveling by subway, and then found out he’d been infected with Ebola. Keeping him away from the public for that week would have been sound medical practice.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Keeping him away from the public for that week would have been sound medical practice.
        Only if you think locking up a dozen or so health men in order to make sure you lock up the one guy who can’t give the disease to anyone else is ‘sound medical practice’.

        Seriously, you can’t give anyone Ebola until you’re showing symptoms. And to be really honest, you can’t REALLY give it to someone (ie, have any real chance of passing the disease) until you’re spewing from both ends — on other words, so sick you’re not going anywhere.

        There’s a reason the people that get it tend to be funeral workers, nurses, and doctors who are ALSO doing the job of nurses (ie, doctors in third world countries). If you’re not wrists deep in blood, bile, vomit, or stool from a guy leaking all those fluids in copious, disgusting amounts — you’re not gonna get it.

        There’s a REASON the CDC’s protocol was self-monitoring for temperature. That was sound medical protocol. The quarantine was hysterical “got to be seen doing something!” public PR posturing.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        Morat is right on this one, Mike.

        You quarantine people when they can spread a disease. You can’t spread Ebola until you’re so sick you’re past the stage where you need a hospital, really.

        Quarantine works for prevention when a disease has an incubation period for symptoms, a high rate of infection, *and* a transmission rate exists during that incubation period.

        Ebola has one of those three things, not three of those three things.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        yeah, agreeing with morat on this one. We don’t have the lousiest fucking clue how to deal with Ebola, and if it got loose in this country, for real, we might lose a city or two. But that’s because a single bacterium can transmit the damn disease. And people when they’re barfing get stuff ALLL over the place. It’s a massive logistical headache, and we don’t really have the facilities to deal with such a disease.

        Still, before they’re coughing, barfing or having massive shitstorms, the person is 100% fine to be with anyone. And fever hits FIRST, and is easy to detect.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        There’s a reason the people that get it tend to be funeral workers, nurses, and doctors who are ALSO doing the job of nurses (ie, doctors in third world countries). If you’re not wrists deep in blood, bile, vomit, or stool from a guy leaking all those fluids in copious, disgusting amounts — you’re not gonna get it.

        Yes. On top of that, while sanitation during *surgery* has spread to most of the world, sanitation during *funeral prep* has not. Ebola’s recent spread was, in large sense, due to how cultures treat their dead. (On top of how they treat their very ill.)

        In those countries, you had someone dying of ebola, at which point *a family member* would prepare the body for burial like normal. And, of course, get ebola, as would anyone who happened to touch the body. Sure, with government help, you can catch nine out of ten cases of that…and the tenth one has a normal funeral, with their non-sterlized ebola-spreading body laying there, some people touch it, tada, more ebola.

        *That* is what is going on with ebola outbreaks in Africa.

        And breaking a tradition like this, which gets intertwined with respect for the dead and religion, is harder to convince people of than obvious things like ‘People with ebola belong in hospitals’.

        In the US, we essentially can’t have an outbreak of ebola, because of how we treat the sick and the dead, especially those who have contagious diseases.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        how do you quarantine a bacterium? A single bacterium, mind, not just “most of ’em”. It’s a logistical nightmare. We don’t have the facilities to handle a real outbreak (Take a thousand beds, with a thousand vomiting patients. That’s a lot of bacteria). We are probably fine if we catch it while we’re at tens or twenties of patients though.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      It looks like it might be becoming more of a partisan issue.

      I worry about this, because if it does become more and more partisan, more and more people will migrate to the extreme positions in order to separate themselves from Them.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        On further reflection, the mandating of vaccines could easily become more of a partisan issue on ideological grounds. If the pro-mandate side manages to paint anyone who doesn’t support a mandate or supports the allowance of exemptions as anti-vax, then vaccinations could become a partisan issue.

        Maybe. It would still be going against history, the map, and current law.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Yeah, I hope you’re right. Anytime I see something like this becoming a partisan political issue, I begin to worry.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Yeah, I voiced the same concern to Kolohe above. (About if it were to happen, rather than that it will.) The last thing we need is an entrenched, 40% opposition to vaccinations. I think it’ll be easier to deal with when sprinkled among the parties.

        It’s one of those things that makes me think “Man, I live around a lot of people…” and not in a good way. On the other hand, the part of Arapaho I lived in had a vaccination (or lack of vaccination) problem, and there were some pertussis outbreaks.

        Like flouridation, it makes for some weird groupings.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        it goes both ways though. it’s the perfect opportunity for the center-left to hippie punch without repercussion, and maybe even applause. Anti-vaxxers with a Democratic affinity will either genuinely see the error of their ways, or just not simply want to be associated with those Racist Jesusland Tea Partiers. Democratic political candidates will no longer have to humor or suffer the McCarthy wing of their own party, the way they did in 2008.

        In any case, Clinton’s street cred on vaccines goes way back; it was the first (and pretty much the last, due to Hillarycare) policy proposal that she led through the 103rd Congress in her advocacy capacity as first lady, and was successful in reducing differences in vaccination rates, pretty much eliminating them in 10 years.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        With some exceptions. I see that Dr. Ben Carson’s position is that mandatory vaccinations to eliminate preventable diseases takes precedence over the right to choose for your kids.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Obama is pro-vaccination?


    “We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it.” –Barack Obama, Pennsylvania Rally, April 21, 2008.

    I suppose the stuff you can say when you’re running for office and the stuff you can say once you’ve achieved it are two different sets of things.Report

    • Avatar DRS says:

      Or you could conclude that in 7 years he’s realized that he was wrong in 2008. Changing your mind should be encouraged in politicians, not the dig-your-heels-in-come-hell-or-high-water stance that masquerades as high principle.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Indeed. It’s entirely possible that the presidential candidate was relatively ignorant about an important public health issue, and has since revised his stance.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Oh, sure. That’s an option too.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        “Or you could conclude that in 7 years he’s realized that he was wrong in 2008.”


      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        But Eich was different, because he wasn’t just a low level grunt — he was the chief execu…

        Hey, how about them Seahawks!Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        Um, what?

        Lots of people were idiots about same sex marriage in 2008, including more than half of California voters.

        Eich’s sin is that in 2014 he was still anti-gay. And I imagine that most of the other gay posters on this blog would agree with me when I say that I’d be way more upset if Obama was making anti-vax statements today that I ever was about Brendan Eich.Report

    • Avatar trizzlor says:

      It’s pretty freaking deceptive not to stipulate that “this person included” was referring to someone in the crowd, and not to Obama himself.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Is ‘we’ not Obama, is the policy of Moar Science! not the preferred direction of where he would have liked to take the United States government upon election? Has the Science Been Settled in a little under 7 years?

        Or have we always been at war with Eastasia?Report

      • Avatar trizzlor says:

        Obama’s statement is can be interpreted to mean more research is needed in the link between autism and vaccines, or that more research is needed into the increasing autism rate in general. A few months later he was explicitly asked about this by an anti-vaxx blogger, and he said “I am not for selective vaccination, I believe that it will bring back deadly diseases, like polio.” ( http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/09/obama-i-am-not.html ). I don’t see anything mealy-mouthed about that.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor says:


        As usual, the full video of Obama’s response has now been found (http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-02-02/a-closer-look-at-president-obama-s-anti-vaxxer-moment ) and the “this person” part is blatantly misleading. He is definitely wobbly on the vaxx/autism link, but there’s no trace of the argument that loosening vaccine regulation was a preferred policy for the country. And I had forgotten, but this statement actually came before the Wakefield paper was formally declared a fraud, so the idea that the science is more settled now isn’t that crazy.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        He went onto say in so many words that he is for more science and the funding of more science if it’s needed. (His science response is fuzzy, as his first response stunned me for a second). I previously gave his staffer a folder of information on vaccines. The Senator promised me that he would take a look at it.

        We (you, I, Obama, and Clinton) have always been at war with Eastasia.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor says:

        At this point I don’t know what you’re responding to.

        Did Obama campaign as pro-vaccine (as Jaybird Cavuto-marked up top)? Yes, he obviously did. In the instances that he was asked about it he said that vaccines were vitally important, that he is against elective vaccination, and for more science.

        Did Obama support a link between Autism and vaccines as the initial quote misleadingly implies? No he didn’t, he was referring to the parent who asked him the question.

        Did Obama take the opportunity to do some anti-vaxx punching and tell these parents that their beliefs are completely unfounded (as he had done this past week)? No, I guess he didn’t, he used the little patch of common ground on “more science” to dodge that confrontation while still mentioning the importance of vaccines both times. That seems like a far cry from insinuating that he’s not pro-vaccine.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Please don’t see my post as an attack as much as it is an anti-anti-defense of Chubb Rock up there.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        Yes, it is. Jaybird, I expect better from you.

        Although I would also expect better from Obama. Yes, the quote’s from 2008, but issues with the Wakefield study were already known by then:

        Dr. Wakefield…was on the payroll of a group that has launched a lawsuit against manufacturers of the MMR vaccine – at $230 an hour – and his research was going to be the centrepiece of their claim. He patented a measles vaccine that he wanted to replace the MMR shot. (Later, he founded an autism research centre in Texas.) We know this, in large part, because of the diligent work of a single investigative journalist.

        In 2004, Brian Deer of The Sunday Times published damning evidence about Dr. Wakefield’s ties to the lawsuit, showing that the children in the study were recruited unethically, and exposing other flaws in the published study. As a result of that exposé, Dr. Wakefield was eventually investigated by Britain’s General Medical Council and stripped of his licence to practise because of dishonesty. (The second author, Dr. John Walker-Smith, also lost his licence to practise medicine.) In February, 2010, the original Lancet paper was retracted. Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        When people start saying sizist things, I get defensive.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        Chris Christie’s statements on vaccinations are a subject entirely unrelated to his weight. Attacking Christie for his weight is jerk behaviour, I agree.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Chris Christie’s statements on vaccinations are a subject entirely unrelated to his weight.

        If a skinny guy who looked like he couldn’t finish a burger if you took the first bite for him said something similar and everybody jumped all over you for pointing that out, would you agree with me that sizism might have something to do with it?Report

      • Avatar Dave says:

        Increasing autism rate….that he even went there….


      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        Jaybird, what in the heck?

        Chris Christie (really fat) and Rand Paul (really skinny) are both getting jumped all over for comments on vaccines. Can you come out and say what your point on this is? I feel like it might be an analogy, not really about sizism. But who knows?Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Jay, back when I was in graduate school at DU, in a class on homeland security, and we had the state’s top homeland security guy as a guest speaker, he went around the class and had everyone say something about their ideas for conducting terrorism in Colorado. I suggested a half dozen teams of two, each with a pickup and a couple crates of backfire flares, waiting for one of those hot dry spells in June with a forecast for winds coming down off the Divide at 60 mph out of the west, driving down the right set of back roads and throwing a lit fuse as far as they could into the woods every quarter mile or so. I guessed that if you targeted the beetle-killed areas in particular, you could burn a million acres, easy. That got me a very long, very odd look before he went on to the next person.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Crap, mis-threaded. Could we please have one more level of nesting?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Another line of nesting would make participation in smartphones even more difficult.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I’m sure the whole “what would you do to sow discord in society” discussion would be hella interesting but one of those things that you wouldn’t want done out in the open where children/terrorists (BUT I REPEAT MYSELF) could read it because I’m sure that we all could come up with some really, really good ideas that bad actors would not have otherwise come up with on their own and we might end up with a non-zero number of acts that, on their own, would have done less damage/been more traceable/more preventable or whathaveyou.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        My suggestion is that we come up with some sort of convention for moving nested threads to the bottom. After n replies, move any further replies to the bottom. Not a rule, of course, just a convention.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Nesting discussion moved down here.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      You should see what the research is telling us NOW. Within the past year or two, we’ve got some really hot papers about autism. … I think we have a decent handle on what’s the issue, but proving it is another story. And then prosecuting it…Report

      • Avatar Dave says:


        Do tell…Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Way back when Colorado was on fire all summer (2012, maybe?) there were stories going around facebook that this was the work of arsonists who were planting cans of motor oil in the driest part of the woods and then lighting these impromptu firebombs and walking away.

        Everybody was screaming about how they hoped that whomever was doing this would get shot and so on and so forth. I’m sure you can imagine the outrage.

        As it turns out, those stories were never substantiated.

        I imagine they took off the way they did because they wanted to blame someone malicious rather than someone negligent (or worse, blame nature (or worse, blame decades of poor fire management policy)).

        The whole prosecution of autism reminds me of that. Sometimes, bad things just sort of happen and there’s nobody to sue.

        Daydreaming about having somebody to sue can take the bite off of that truth from time to time, I suppose.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        I’ll just cite the published research.

        Anything else is info I trust from a reliable source. But you shouldn’t believe me, should you?

        The research is pretty solid.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Kimmi, if you know scientists who are talking about the results of small, for the most part (to date) un-replicated studies, only a few of which have been peer reviewed, as if it’s established science, you know absolutely terrible scientists.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        all due respect, but you don’t have access to most of the studies currently being undertaken.
        Hell, there are 100 year old studies that you don’t have access to (no, not about autism) — and may never have access to. Proprietary information’s like that.

        Corporations can put a dollar value to “autism being pinned on something they produce.” It looks suspiciously like those asbesthos claims.

        No big surprise that there’s been substantial pressure to not look at some of this too closely. You’re a researcher, you KNOW that you don’t just run one study. You collect enough data on any given study to write five or six papers, and you just run with the most interesting. Research makes a dandy cover for some real investigating.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        Don’t encourage her.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        all due respect, but you don’t have access to most of the studies currently being undertaken.

        That’s sorta my point, Kim. If you have scientist friends/acquaintances who are reporting such studies to you as though they established some scientific fact, which is how you report them, then your scientists friends/acquaintances are absolutely terrible scientists. It doesn’t matter what I or you have access to — such studies are in need of a great deal of replication, review, and discussion by the scientific community, particularly when we’re talking about problems as difficult as difficult to see correlations between environmental factors and increased incidences of a spectrum of complex, still difficult to fully characterize disorders.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        You’re right, of course, that this is a more difficult problem than simply using Koch’s postulates on a bacterium (something that you might grant as “probably conclusive” without peer replication). Still, in the field of epidemiology, one worries about seeing a large surge in a particular disease’s incidence, particularly one that’s proven so intractable.Report

      • Avatar Dave says:

        Still, in the field of epidemiology, one worries about seeing a large surge in a particular disease’s incidence, particularly one that’s proven so intractable.

        That there has been a surge is a big part of the controversy. People diagnosed on the spectrum today may not have been diagnosed with ASD 30 years ago. It’s very possible that my son could have been one of them. He’s verbal. He can answer questions and can communicate albeit at a very delayed level. The most notable thing is a lack of focus.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        there’s certainly some truth to that (though there’s more truth in “latent genetic stuff” exacerbated by modern times). But what I hear (from researchers) is that it’s pretty clearly an epidemic.

        If we can count diagnosis/misdiagnosis as a potential issue, it might be useful to take a step back, to what we probably have recorded properly — the middle class/upper middle class’s incidence of “developmentally disabled” children. True, that is likely to account for more than just autism (and you have the further confound of learning disabilities). But if your hypothesis is that just autism is increasing… and you can show that “slow” children to upper middle class parents are increasing in incidence. It’s some evidence, at least.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        That there has been a surge is a big part of the controversy. People diagnosed on the spectrum today may not have been diagnosed with ASD 30 years ago.

        I’ve always thought that was an odd controversy. In my book, it’s pretty clear that a) we’re diagnosing more people than we used to, and b) additionally, the amount of autism has gone up.

        And I have to partically, agree with Kimmi. I don’t whether or not ‘air pollution’ is the correct cause (And ‘air pollution’ is pretty vague as a cause), Kimmi seems way too eager to jump on that.

        However, as the article points out, there are a *lot* of chemicals that are being produced, and end up, not just in the air, but in the water and food and everything, that are *known* to cause developmental issues in large-ish amounts, and it seems fairly obvious to me science needs to be (and it is, when anti-vaxxers aren’t disrupting the conversation) looking at what they do in *small* amounts.

        We have to figure out *actual chemicals*.

        I will also note that the amount of cancer has gone up, too, even if you make allowances for ‘People are dying less due to other things.’

        I suspect, when history looks back on this era, it’s going to be ‘the era where we all slowly poisoned ourselves with [insert ten chemicals here that we don’t currently know are poison]’.

        I say that not as any sort of luddite, but as someone who thinks we *really* should just stop assuming that basically all chemicals are harmless in low amount. We already have plenty of example of that biting us in the ass. (Lead, PCBs, DDT, the list goes on and on…and that’s just the stuff that hurts *us*.) There’s a lot of stuff out there we’re producing that *literally never existed before*.

        (And as for vaccines…hey, anti-vaxxers? The idea that mercury-based vaccines could cause mercury poisoning was *reasonable*, if demonstrably wrong. That was a somewhat reasonable theory in 1999. And when everyone switched away from anything to do with mercury *because* of that worry, and levels of autism didn’t change, *and* the study that found a link was retracted…someone who *actually* cared about the cause of autism would switch to carrying about something else.)Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        PLEASE try to be MORE PRECISE.
        The rates of stomach cancer have gone down dramatically. The rates of breast cancer have skyrocketted. Most of the other cancers are pretty “flatline” (pancreatic cancer, say, is a “disease of the elderly” — with more elderly, you get more of it).

        Now, do you want me to post some articles about pseudoestrogens and what they do to children and fish? We’re talking early puberty, in some cases[age 5, for god’s sake!].Report

      • Avatar Dave says:


        there’s certainly some truth to that (though there’s more truth in “latent genetic stuff” exacerbated by modern times). But what I hear (from researchers) is that it’s pretty clearly an epidemic.

        @chris has already addressed this. What I see is you starting with agreement with me yet going to your established opinion based on the views of researchers you allegedly know although that view is not the scientific consensus. Yes, the diagnosed rate has gone up and a lot, but the causes for this are still being debated.

        True, that is likely to account for more than just autism (and you have the further confound of learning disabilities). But if your hypothesis is that just autism is increasing… and you can show that “slow” children to upper middle class parents are increasing in incidence. It’s some evidence, at least.

        My point is that we haven’t reached that conclusion despite your assertions to the contrary.


        However, as the article points out, there are a *lot* of chemicals that are being produced, and end up, not just in the air, but in the water and food and everything, that are *known* to cause developmental issues in large-ish amounts, and it seems fairly obvious to me science needs to be (and it is, when anti-vaxxers aren’t disrupting the conversation) looking at what they do in *small* amounts.

        This is a rare moment. You and I agree on something. While I’m somewhat skeptical that there has been a significance increase in incidence rates (I’d change my mind with the appropriate evidence), I still want scientists to explore the causes of autism.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        just to pull some numbers:

        A five year increase in incidence of 91% is pretty dramatic. While I can certainly buy that 1970’s America has different diagnostic criteria than 1990’s America, you’re going to have to put forth some evidence if you want to say that that particular timeperiod is explainable merely by “better diagnostic criteria”

        Honesty compels me to say that we might just have a poor measure here — I vaguely recall autism getting more funding than other developmental disorders, so… it’s possible numbers are inflating. Sources cited might be useful.

        Judging by the rest of the abstract, I don’t think that they’re being colloquial in calling autism an epidemic. (and yes, that’s just one article).

        Knowing things is as always not collating enough research to prove something. But, if your hypothesis is targeted enough, you’ll find your answers a hell of a lot quicker (a lot of off-the-books research is committed).Report

  6. Avatar dhex says:

    is christie trying to pick up the park slope schmuck vote? that would seem to be a dead river.Report

  7. Avatar zic says:

    I’m with @j-r @tod-kelly and @will-truman here; this is, for many a religious issue, and for some, an issue of their own health, and I think Christie was thinking of those things when he said what he said.

    That said, I think all people with authority/accountability for public safety should really, really stress the importance of vaccinations; in particular, to protect those who cannot be vaccinated because their immune systems are already compromised.

    As to this whole purity argument? I think there actually are some legitimate issues that bleed over into anti-vaxer’s fears, for instance the confluence of antibiotic resistance and bans on documenting animal abuses at industrial farms.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      This is awesomely close to my own view, @zic . I don’t have a problem with Christie saying that there’s a balance between the public health and the private conscience, because I believe there is. I do have a problem with (what strikes me as being) a mealy-mouthed statement about the virtues of vaccinations. His clarifications have helped, but he should have said that in the first place. This is a case where ambiguity is not our friend.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I haven’t read what he said, but, if he wanted my (probably concern trolling) advice, he’s take this as an opportunity to say that politicking is one thing, public safety is another, and when public safety is involved, it’s time to set partisan ideology aside. He has Sandy to back him up, and it would be a relief to a lot of people.

        Politicking included, that relief might prove a huge advantage in the upcoming election, though getting past the Republican primaries might prove a challenge.Report

  8. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Josh Marshall has a good piece here, showing that vaccine isn’t a Right-Left issue — it’s a generational issue. The younger people are, the more likely they are to want make vaccinations non-mandatory.

    Marshall says he thinks “the reality is that society seems to has lost the historical memory of various horrific endemic childhood diseases.” I think this is part of it, but I also think that the internet’s inadvertently teaching younger people that there is no objective data plays a part as well. (But then I would.)Report

    • Avatar morat20 says:

      That’s okay. Measles is already making a counter-argument.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Yeah, but I read on this website that vaccines are what *cause* measles. A lot of the people commenting were agreeing, and they all said they’re doctors.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        You totally misread that. Vaccines cause leukemia, and that makes you susceptible to measles.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        You totally misread that. Vaccines cause leukemia, and that makes you susceptible to measles.

        And measles causes autism! It all makes sense now. (Oddly enough, that one *is* slightly plausible, or at least less obviously absurd. Measles can cause brain damage, and can even kill people via brain damage. Although this has nothing to do with autism as far as anyone can tell.)

        Solution: quarantine everyone with autism. Wait, I mean ebola. Wait, I’ve forgotten what we were talking about again.Report

    • Avatar morat20 says:

      Oh, I missed the leukemia bit the first time.

      How does someone that effing stupid about basic facts manage to not only become, but continue being a doctor?Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      I don’t see it as a left-right issue but it does seem to be very much a socio-economic view. What is interesting about the age issue is that older people aren’t parents anymore. People in their mid-30s are of course parents of young children.

      From what I hear it is socio-economics as well. The areas with anti-vaxx rates tend to be relatively to very wealthy, and of a conspiratorial or anti-establishment kind of politics. The best example of this is that Silicon Valley and San Francisco have high-rates of vaccination while Marin County does not. Schilling can talk more but Marin County has a reputation of being where rich hippies live and it very much as a whole-natural goodness vague vibe that Silicon Valley does not have the patience for.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        If I told someone in the 1960s that future America would be a place where poor people were sick from being too fat while rich people refused to go to doctors because of superstition about what was in the needle, they’d accuse me of ripping off a second-tier Twilight Zone episode.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:




        This article is illuminating in that it shows when the anti-vaccination crowd started. They’ve been around since the late 1980s and I find this revealing:

        “I was probably younger than you—21 years old—living in a liberal little flower burst of a university town. I joined the La Leche League and volunteered at the co-op wearing my son in a sling. There was this group of older, wiser women in hemp blouses and Birkenstocks. They had sweet-smelling homes full of herbs and tinctures; most of them were on kid four or five, their husbands at the university getting postdocs in marine biology or comparative religion. These women took me in, they schooled me in attachment parenting and the family bed, and they warned me about vaccines.

        News was just circulating among the all-organic set that the shots were poison and no one I knew was letting their kids be immunized. No one. A few of the women whispered that they were relying on other people to immunize and keep the crowd safe. They understood the theory behind herd immunity. As we sat breastfeeding side by side, my favorite of the women told me that her beloved family doctor didn’t vaccinate his own children. Because most people did, he reasoned, there was no cause to put his kids through the discomfort and infinitesimal risk. Most people, he encouraged to give their kids the shots. But patients who were also friends—like her—he’d tell, she said.

        Back then, the mothers I knew didn’t feel guilty about this. They seemed to feel … smart. Just as they fed their kids better food and provided more stimulating preschool activities than less-engaged moms, they employed every strategy they could to keep their families safe. I wanted to go along, but I couldn’t. It just didn’t feel right.”

        I can feel the Vermont or Davis, CA or Ithaca, NY or any other college town/hippie heaven. It is interesting that the movement started in the early 1980s and it is pretty interesting (in a psychological sense) of who it started among. Very well-educated types who felt that they were smart enough to go against the medical community and/or they were the stubborn hippies who maintained deep distrust against the idea of Western life and medicine. Then it spread to rich people in certain areas and now is a full-blown public health crisis.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        My first experience with the anti-vax crowd was through a chiropractor in the early 90’s. He had pamphlets up all over his office filled with anecdata involving children who were perfectly fine UNTIL 2 HOURS AFTER THE VACCINATION SHOT! THEN THEY DIED!

        There were pictures and everything.

        It was a lot of information in a very short period of time and, I imagine, anybody could have their foundations shaken by seeing pictures of screaming children next to a story of how the child died at the hands of the vaccination needle.

        I suppose that I’m a poor pro-vaccination ally because I’m willing to believe that there is a small confluence of circumstances under which a child who receives a vaccination might, in fact, die as a result of it… it’s just that I know that the rare case of a child dying due to a vaccination imposes a lot lower of a cost on us, as a society, than the likely case of measles, German measles, whooping cough, scarlet fever, polio, smallpox, so on and so forth.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      I find the AAPS thing more disturbing than his actual policy comments.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Full confession: I didn’t know until today that the AAPS was around anymore. I assumed it had been shut down years ago.

        In retrospect, why I would have thought this I cannot begin to guess.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Huh. They were actually loud voices against PPACA. They’d poll their members and send out press releases saying 97% of doctors say they will quit their practice, fire everyone, and burn their medical records if this passesReport

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        For folks who support mandatory vaccination (and I count myself as one), how do we enforce this? Take the kids away and stick them?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        That’s what we do for those that need chemo, but reject the treatmentReport

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        If we don’t want to get the gummint involved with arrests and whatnot, we start making signs in the “Keep Calm And Carry On” vein that say something to the effect of “If You Have Not Been Vaccinated Then You Are Not Welcome Here” and plaster them up in the front doors of every business we can find.

        Come up with a variant sign for churches. “If You Have Not Been Vaccinated You Should Know That Jesus Loves You But You Are Not Welcome Here” or something.

        Put it on shirts. Put it on coffee cups. Get the Baez sisters to make a poster.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @kazzy “For folks who support mandatory vaccination (and I count myself as one), how do we enforce this? Take the kids away and stick them?”

        That’s not the way we currently do it. The way it’s done now is that proof of vaccinations the way through barriers to much of modern society, most obviously public school and 95+% of private schools. These methods don’t get 100% of the population, but you don’t need 100% with vaccination — you just need something really close to it.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @jaybird has it.

        The options are do nothing, which is not cool, highly recommend it, or require it. If you don’t want it required, which means stuff like taking kids from their parents and showing-of-papers to enter public spaces, then some reasonable discussion of highly recommend it and put the responsibility for not vaccinating on those who opt out. Make ’em vaccine carry insurance. That’s the American way.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        From what I’ve read, herd immunity needs about 93-95 percent of the population to be vaccinated to work. So if you have a school where 6-8 percent of the kids are not vaccinated, it can cause a big issue.

        Then of course vaccinated people get Mumps or Measles because they had their last booster shot a long time ago. I am pretty sure that when I went to college, grad school, and law school, I needed to provide proof that I was vaccinated.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        You’ll probably be cited for an ADA/EEO violation with Jaybird’s policy.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @will-truman I did not know this.

        A gajillion years ago when I worked for a medical trade association, they would occasionally come up on my radar, in the same way that something like or DAR or the CPUSA might:They’d flit across your radar and you’d say, “Oh yeah, those guys still exist.”

        The last I ever heard of them was their ravaged “study” that showed the US was about to face a leprosy pandemic thanks to no wall. I think that was a long, long time ago– like at least Bush, but maybe Clinton? (Seriously not remembering.)Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        My support or opposition to mandated vaccinations hinges almost entirely on the “Or what?”

        Along with a concern that the way things are headed, there will be support for “or what?” being something I am not on board with.

        The anti-vaxxers are perfectly positioned to be hated (not just vociferously disagreed with, but hated), which has me concerned.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I’m pretty sure that “MAKE IT ILLEGAL TO NOT BE VACCINATED!” would also run into the occasional ADA/EEO problem, though.

        (Though that would also give nativists a handful of new and fun arguments. “I’m not against illegal immigration! I just want to make certain that everybody who comes here has proven that they’ve been vaccinated! If not at their home country, then by a border agent!”)Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW says:

      He’s a libertarian named after a woman who regarded anything other than pure self-interest as morally wrong. You expected him to say that government should make something mandatory on the basis that benefits society as a whole?

      I don’t like it, but I wouldn’t call it surprising.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Rand Paul wasn’t named after Ayn Rand. Linking’s a pain on mobile, but it’s in his Wikipedia article, with three sources. He says he went by “Randy” until his wife shortened it.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        Honestly? he ought to change his name then.
        I don’t say that lightly (though considering the type of people I associate with, I could see where you would draw that conclusion..)Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        Thanks for the correction. I assumed it was because it’s something I could see Ron Paul doing.Report

  9. Avatar zic says:

    The purity argument anti-vaxers make intrigues me a lot. Two camps. On the left, we see them de-toxing while wearing yoga pants, on the right, shoveling chicken shit and shooting bambi.

    I think my favorite identity-politics demo here are the Seventh Day Adventist, vegetarians who kept the organic food movement alive in the 1980’s and 90’s. They run an awesome food distribution in Maine, serving up some really wholesome vegetarian cuisine and giving huge amounts of it away to hungry people. They’re doing god’s work, and while I don’t share their beliefs, on these things, I’m humbled by their accomplishment; I can completely interpret this as doing’s god’s work, it’s wonderful.

    I disagree with their beliefs, and it’s practice in very many ways, including vaccines, which, they say, maim and kill and don’t work. To me, that is sinful and evil. This is doing the devil’s work.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      I don’t believe in purity but it is interesting to note how it comes up. I also don’t believe in the idea of original sin or any kind of fall from grace. People are what we are.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @saul-degraw purity is like sustainability — it’s one of those words that people imbue with meaning, and you never know what the meaning is.

        With vaccines, there are two variants, one is religious, one is health. Both agree the government is misleading people. The Aimish, Christian Scientists, Seventh Day Adventists don’t vaccinate their children because of their religious beliefs. Many vegans, hippies, yoga instructors, whole-foods shopping people avoid vaccines for health, the want to keep their bodies pure. The two groups generally don’t talk to each other if they can help it.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:


        One of my friends knows what sustainability means. 🙂 But then again, that’s his job. And it involves the start and end products of all sorts of chemical processes. You can boil his job down to ‘waste not, want not’.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @morat20 the UME, the Mitchell Center (I got to interview George Mitchell once, called his law office in Boston about a story I was writing about the river I grew up on, with some questions about Ed Muskie, asked to arrange an interview, he called me back 10 minutes later) has established a sustainability program; they’re working at developing standards for as a science. It’s pretty awesome.


    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      My response to the purity anti-vaccination people is that nature in a state of purity can be a very dangerous and dirty state. Cleanliness is part of civilization. I don’t see why so many people get starry-eyed about an Arcadia that never existed.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I worked at Plimoth Plantation, pretending I was Mary Chilton Winslow; a 12-year old passenger on the Mayflower. She watched half her people, including her parents, die the first winter they arrived at a place where most of the people who had lived there had just been wiped out by some disease, probably small pox. They truly don’t know what they’re imagining.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @zic, humans invented soap for a reason. Than again, humans also thought that it would be interesting to make coffee out of beans that went through a civet’s digestive track.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @leeesq equating not washing with not vaccinating your children is kind of insulting, don’t you think? I think most of the people who don’t vaccinate their children probably have perfectly fine grooming standards and probably even wash their hands after they go to the bathroom with soap instead of antibacterial lotion.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @zic, read the second sentence. It was a joke about humanity’s stage relationship with nature, cleanliness, purity, and dirt.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I know it was a joke, @leeesq

        I also understand how a stomach is a fermentation system, and know that coffee beans are like cherries; they have to shed that fruity outside without having it taint the bean and disflavor it. Beans go through quickly, come out whole, and after careful drying, are nice and clean; sanitized by the sun. Those are the kinds of processes of life that make our food grow; I don’t think those coffee beans are much different then organic carrots or potatoes.

        So I didn’t really think it was a funny joke. Mostly, I have a lot of friends (both farmer/evangelical type and hippie type) who don’t vaccinate their children. I want them to. My brother lives with AIDS, my sister was a critical-care nurse in a pediatric ICU, she took care of children dying, often from cancer. I have a good friend who had polio as a child.

        If I go around joking they don’t believe in soap, why should they take anything I have to say seriously? If their one of their kid exposes a pregnant mom to Rubella, her baby may be the person who suffers the consequence of their decision. Soap doesn’t get me anywhere near humor that would explain that; it doesn’t discredit the notions about autism, allergies, active immune systems, organic/pure immunities, detox diets, distrust of government in general that spills into CDC/NIH politics, religious extremism, cults of various sorts, and a host of other things this tangles up with.

        But you’re not going to convince a mother who feeds her kids organic food and sends them to private school and dresses in yoga pants and does yoga every day in these incredibly beautiful places, someone who feels she’s leading a meaningful and connected life, that she’s bad because of soap. And you’re really not going to get very far there if you’re talking to church mom.

        Really, I don’t mind humor, if it illuminates the problem, frickin’ awesome. But that just wasn’t funny. I’d imagine that only certain kinds of soap are acceptable a bigger issue with this crowd; not lack of soap or lack of understanding the importance of cleanliness. It’s wholesome. It’s next to godliness. You’ve got to get vaccinating inside that paradigm of wholesome purity and godliness if you want it to be a social norm.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        Only in puritanical America do we object to humans smelling like… humans.
        Two guesses on what we’d rather they smell like?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        1) Teen Spirit?
        2) Victory?Report

  10. Avatar Kolohe says:

    The Problem of Partisanship, Plague edition

    I’m glad this is starting the generate a clear partisan division – it makes the political choice clearer when it comes to elections. Contrast the Administration’s vs (many of) the presumptive GOP candidates positions now, compared with the mealy mouthed agreement on ‘needs more research’ that all three of Obama, H. Clinton, and McCain espoused in the 2008 election cycle.

    (and contrast that stance 7 years ago with the I’m not a Climate Scientist meme and counter-meme.)Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Nononononononononono… if this becomes a partisan issue, we run the risk of 40% of Americans opposing it before too long.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Like abortion?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I’m not down with “If you don’t like vaccines, then don’t get one” as a cultural norm.

        This may make me a bad Libertarian but mandatory vaccinations is one hell of a camel’s nose. The only arguments I have against them is what it implies about our relationship to the government/society rather than about the ends that mandatory vaccinations are (and will) achieve.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I think it’s always been a partisan issue. Paul, for instance, wants votes from the holy rollers and the pot smokers.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Jay, in addition to “our relationship with the state” issues, there are non-trivial risks that a whole lot of money will be spent on “Mandate our brand new vaccine” lobbying efforts.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I don’t want, like, cops kicking down doors and stuff. I just want people to change their behavior!

        Like with prohibition. Or the drug war.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        People seem OK with the idea of “if you want Federal funding you have to agree to (condition)”, and maybe one of those conditions is vaccinations.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:


        Do you think that if the Republicans came to be the more solicitous party when it comes to anti-vaxxing and the Democrats became more strenuous advocates that there is no moral option but to vaccinate and potentially supportive of mandates, that this would push a group of Republican-leaning (probably independent) parents away from vaccinating?

        How weak-minded does that make out Republican-leaning voters to be? (Not directed to Will:) Say whatever you want about the weak-mindedness of other or all voters; I’ve never heard of a notion about voter behavior that suggests weak-mindedness that is on par with the weak-mindedness that that notion suggests.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Drew, I don’t consider it very likely that it would become a partisan issue, in part because anti-vaccination is such a losing issue. But if it did, and the Democrats became increasingly mandated-vaccinations-no-exceptions and Republicans moved in the other direction (more tolerant of Bachmanns combined with opposition to mandates generally) that minds would be changed and/or formed differently. Not the group you refer to, though (independents leaning GOP) but rock-ribbed Republicans who don’t want to be on the wrong side of the issue (they keep hearing from Republicans that vaccinations are suspect or worse, Democrats want to force everyone to have one, and whose side are you on here anyway?). Those people might actually still vaccinate their own kids, but through social and cultural pressure might convince some on-the-fencers that vaccinations are a bad idea. And a combination of Republicans themselves declining and their convincing others (even people they can’t convince to vote Republican) that vaccinations are bad… and there will be damage done.

        Part of the last bit is that I don’t think it’s actually that hard to convince people not to vaccinate. I wrote a post a while back on my own very minor trepidation. Even though I know it doesn’t cause autism and I know that the risks are minimal compared to the rewards, I had a niggling wonder in the back of my mind… “What if everything I ‘know’ is wrong?!” While I don’t think I would personally be moved by a much louder chorus of opposition, I do think that some people would be.Report

  11. Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

    Hat Tip to Lawyers, Guns, and Money.

    Yes, I certainly like having all three in my corner as well.

    Oh, wait, you mean the website. Never mind…Report

  12. Avatar zic says:

    @chris @michael-cain

    My suggestion is that we come up with some sort of convention for moving nested threads to the bottom. After n replies, move any further replies to the bottom. Not a rule, of course, just a convention.

    Like our beloved @kazzy ;s wild and exuberant, “down here?”Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Yeah, the “down here” is great, but we’re gonna need a convention, because @’ing everyone in a subthread could be a pain (for everyone). If everyone knows that, after 10 comments within the last possible layer, take it to/look down to the bottom for further comments, that might help things.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      The issue, it seems to me, is not so much how it nests but that the “Reply” button doesn’t remain at the bottom of the final comment in a thread. Even if we don’t further indent, can’t the “Reply” button remain down there?
      @will-truman Do you know more about this?

      Also, I don’t think I invented the “DOWN HERE”. I’m just the loudest about it.Report

  13. Avatar zic says:

    On Rand Paul:

    First, Ugh:

    “I’ve heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines,” said Paul. “I’m not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they’re a good thing. But I think the parents should have some input. The state doesn’t own your children, parents own their children, and it is an issue of freedom.”

    NOBODY OWNS CHILDREN, not even their parents; that is also an issue of freedom. This is why, sometimes, parents wishes about child rearing are acceptably overruled by the state; because sometimes their guardianship endangers people who they do not own. What is and is not acceptable here should be constantly questioned, too; most particularly the power we give to the state.

    Second: Paul, to be successful as a politician, has to build a coalition of voters; and the identity-politics demographics of that coalition are evangelicals (often antivaxers) and pot smokers (also often antivaxers). Despite his medical background, I wouldn’t expect him to take any other stance. And because of his background, I think his ethics — political vs. medical — should be seriously frisked on this one.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Rand Paul’s position is similar to mine, I guess. My problems with mandatory vaccines are, as I’ve said before, all related to what the implication is to our relationship to the government/society. They aren’t related to how awesome vaccines are.

      And, much like with the Civil Rights Act thing, he spends too much time talking about his theoretical disagreements as if we were discussing these things in a sterile intellectual environment (like this one!) rather than talking about it in a very, very messy situation in the very, very messy real world.

      (He’s going to be good for this kind of scandal for decades, for the record.)Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        Rand Paul’s position is similar to mine, I guess. My problems with mandatory vaccines are, as I’ve said before, all related to what the implication is to our relationship to the government/society.

        I understand the second sentence of that. (Although I suspect you’re completely wrong with the first.) And I agree, a little.

        This touches on a little-considered issue in freedom. We often forget that the government can restrict the freedom of people ‘dangerous to themselves or others’.

        Now, this does seem to be easily abusable, and we should have fairly high standards for ‘danger to themselves’…if someone is doing things that endanger themselves, the question is actually ‘Are they mentally competent enough to understand the danger?’. If so, and it’s legal, well, they get to do it, even if it’s dangerous.

        But setting ‘themselves’ aside as admittedly problematic, and looking just at ‘danger to others’…we have the right to quarantine people with infectious diseases, because they are likely to *spread* infection diseases, harming others. Likewise, we have the right to detain someone that is not mentally competent or is mentally ill, if they tend to hurt other people, not because they are guilty of a ‘crime’ per se, but because they endanger others.

        The question is: Is not getting vaccinated endangering others? It doesn’t quite seem to be, but, then again, the question isn’t ‘should we imprison them forever?’, the question is really ‘should we detain them shortly and give them a shot?’

        The problem is that we don’t quite recognize that middle ground yet, in *most* cases.

        There are, oddly, a few cases we do have a sorta middle ground..think about someone who is getting out of control on airplane in flight. Or, hell, the ability of the police to detain or *taze* someone, without any sort of trial

        Do we, as society, have a right to have people *maybe* breaking a law tased, but not the right to require vaccines? That seems a little odd. Our middle ground seems very confused and poorly defined.

        That said, I object to mandatory vaccines for *different* reason. Namely, that some people legitimately shouldn’t be given vaccines for medical reasons, and I’m at a loss as to how to allow *that* while not allow idiots to skip them. No, having a ‘doctor’ give permission won’t work, because stupid-ass parents will just doctor-shop, and meanwhile there, indeed, borderline cases where parents might disagree with a doctor for *sound* reasons.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Well, dig this: let’s say that I wanted vaccines to be mandatory if you wanted to qualify for public assistance (or for your children to qualify for public assistance).

        Suddenly this conversation has gotten creepy, hasn’t it?

        I mean, we all agree that maybe the government shouldn’t *FORCE* everyone to be vaccinated, right?Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        Well, dig this: let’s say that I wanted vaccines to be mandatory if you wanted to qualify for public assistance (or for your children to qualify for public assistance).

        My entire objection to *that* is basically because of the general discriminatory effect of making stupid specific rules for public assistance.

        Maybe you object to it for other reasons, though.

        I mean, we all agree that maybe the government shouldn’t *FORCE* everyone to be vaccinated, right?

        …erm, no. That is, I agree the government shouldn’t force *everyone* to be vaccinated, but I’d have no problem if it forced *most people* to be, as in, the ones who do not have legitimate medical reasons not to be.

        I.e., I have no problem with requiring small amounts of mandatory discomfort, in order to make, you know, other people (and themselves, but *they* can die if they want. They just can’t kill others.) not die of easily preventable diseases.

        Especially, and this is key, when we’re talking about children, and thus it’s *other people* making the decisions in the first place. If they were adults, it might tip things the other way, but they’re not.

        The problem that is stopping *me* from mandatory vaccines is being able to define ‘legitimate medical reasons not to be vaccinated’, and I don’t see any way to do so that would work.

        The exact same parents refusing to do vaccines are *already* abusing the medical system to get over-diagnoses of disorders and whatnot to get special exceptions for their kids in school. I’m *sure* they can find a doctor who will claim they need a medical exception to vaccines.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        If I recall my history correctly, Typhoid Mary was I fact forcibly imprisoned for a time.

        Whether force is justified to give vaccinations depends pretty much on a value judgment as to how deadly the disease is, versus how valuable the freedom from vaccinations is.

        For me personally measles is a wobbly case for force; nudging and encouragement sure, but it doesn’t appear to me to have the sort of deadly pandemic potential to justify that much force.

        But I’m willing to be persuaded.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        On a purely utilitarian level, we can just ask “how many will die from X? How many will die from getting a vaccination of X?” and just do a quick greater than/lesser than function in your head.

        To my understanding, the science is settled that vaccinations of X are pretty much always smaller than X.

        Of course, Deontology doesn’t rely on Utilitarian maths…Report

  14. Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

    This cartoon is allegedly from 1940:


  15. Avatar DavidTC says:

    Heh, remember when everyone was sure anti-vaxxing was a political issue for the *left*. Way back in the year…2014?

    Without anti-vaxxers, we’ve run out of anti-science BSDI! Someone figure out some anti-science to criticize the left for, stat!Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      I know a guy…
      GMOs, easy ain’t it?Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        Anti-GMO is just the new vegetarianism. (Or, it was. Now anti-gluten is? Next up: anti-water.)

        But, hey, that does work!

        The left: Having dumbass dietary requirements, to the extent of requiring *food be labeled* with that dumbassary. The monsters.
        The right: Unsatisfied with destroying the planet via climate change denialism, now attempting to make anti-vaxxing their issue. (Climate change means our *grandkids* will die. Are we just *giving* up on our kids being killed by anti-science? Hell no!)

        The balance is restored! BSDI is back! Woo!Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Does Portland count as liberal? If so, you can maybe add fluoridated water to GMO.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        As an aside, I love how one presidential candidate with little or no chance of winning the nomination and another candidate who backtracked as fast as he could are representative of “the right” here. I’m looking forward to hearing about how low vaccination rates are in the South because Arkansas is the South.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        As I mentioned elsewhere in the thread, flouridated water is another one of those issues that splits somewhere other than left-right. When I lived in the Mountain West, removing it was an issue in Missoula (liberal), Idaho Falls (conservative), while Bozeman (purple) was talking about adding it.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Yeah, fluoridation is difficult to assign to the left-right spectrum (which is a silly spectrum anyway). In Austin, which is like Portland in many ways (y’all even stole our slogan), the anti-fluoridation candidate in the most recent city council election is a Tenther, anti-tax, pro-life, pro-Alex Jones, a 9/11 truther, anti-renter, and so on. And weird as she is, she’s not unusual among the anti-fluoridation set (and ended up in a runoff, but lost, thank god).

        Anti-GMO folks are not as well aligned with the left-right spectrum either.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        As an aside, I love how one presidential candidate with little or no chance of winning the nomination and another candidate who backtracked as fast as he could are representative of “the right” here.

        I will bet money now that Obama and Clinton have taken hard stances about this, the right will be *all over* this by the 2016 election.

        In Austin, which is like Portland in many ways (y’all even stole our slogan), the anti-fluoridation candidate in the most recent city council election is a Tenther, anti-tax, pro-life, pro-Alex Jones, a 9/11 truther, anti-renter, and so on. And weird as she is, she’s not unusual among the anti-fluoridation set (and ended up in a runoff, but lost, thank god).

        I think we need to recognize, politically, there is ‘crackpot’ axis. And that axis, much like the ‘anarchy/authoritarianism’, completely overrides ‘left/right’ when we get near the ends. A left authoritarian and a right authoritarian want almost identical systems. Same with left anarchists and right anarchists…they want the same system, and just think it will turn out differently.

        Likewise, people far enough on the crackpot axis are almost impossible to tell apart. Conspiracy theories, weird theories about how governments work, truthers, gold bugs, anti-tax, whatever. Left or right doesn’t matter…in fact, most crackpots are all over the map. A notable sign of crackpots is that they often believe multiple things that cannot possible all make sense, far right nonsense and far left nonsense, all glued together.

        The problem to actually worry about is mainstreaming of crackpot stuff. Not so much at the level of the local parties, or even the state parties. A lot of times local parties just go completely off the rails. The national parties, or at least a lot of state parties, that’s where the problem arise.

        The Democrats are good at not doing this, at least for many things. Aka, how the slightest wiff of trutherism makes people toxic. What I am seeing from the Obama/Clinton stuff is that the party leadership has started signaling that starting now, anti-vaxxing is one of those crackpot theories that are pushed back against. (And I freely admit it was *not* one of those things before, and I’m very happy to see it’s been added.) This process will be slow, as always, but it’s started.

        OTOH, Republicans are bad at staying away from crackpottery. And they also have a habit of just randomly taking whatever policy position is opposite the Democrat’s. As I said to Will, I am suspecting, by next election, anti-vaxxing will end up being promoted by some of their candidates. (Or, rather, the ‘middle ground’ of ‘the science isn’t in’.)

        And, as I wrote this, I realized this premise raises the question of what the *other* end of the crackpot axis is. I have a vague thought that, if crackpots think we should worry about erratic and odd things, perhaps the other end is ‘complacency’, aka, the people who think, politically, that nothing matters? (Which are *also* indistinguishable on a left/right axis.)Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Yeah, I’ll take the other side of that bet, unless your threshold for being “all over it” is a failure to support a “No exemptions” policy or the implementation of federal requirements.

        Christie has already made pro-vaccination statements. Rubio and Jindal as well, since this came out. Boehner hasn’t lessened his support.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        Yeah, I’ll take the other side of that bet, unless your threshold for being “all over it” is a failure to support a “No exemptions” policy or the implementation of federal requirements.

        By ‘all over it’, I basically mean pandering. (I’m not really seeing *any* laws, in any direction, at the national level.)

        Basically, at least one candidate says the same sort of statement that Obama is currently being misinterpreted as having said. Some sort of ‘The science isn’t in, and if parents choose to not get vaccines, that’s understandable’ statement. And the other candidates…sorta go along with it, or at least almost none of them object to it.

        And, seriously, I’d love to be wrong. Really, no joke. There’s a lot of dumbass things I’d like Republicans to say because I think they secretly believe them and if they said them aloud they’d get in trouble. *This isn’t one of them*. I’d love for both political parties to just shut this down. Hell, with how the media covers politics, if both parties agree on something, that almost makes it true.

        But the Republican party has both a pandering reflex, and a ‘The Democrats are against it, so I must be for it’ reflex, and put those together, and someone sees a chance to pick up, I dunno, Nevada…

        I guess we will see.Report

      • Avatar trumwill says:

        Given that Ted Cruz is clearly saying that people should vaccinate their kids*, I think I’ve got reason to feel pretty confident in my skepticism here.

        * – He does add that it’s “appropriate” for states to allow religious exemptions. Which brings me back to what standard we’re using. But I’m not seeing a big 2016 issue here.Report

  16. Avatar zic says:

    Stupid rules for government assistance:

    So most public-transit systems rely on government assistance, too. What about entering your local polling place, or going to register your car at the town office or city hall? Why single out impoverished people? One of the demographics for not vaccinating is poverty, but not necessarily poverty of ‘purity,’ so much as just can’t afford the cost, can’t afford the time for the doctor’s visit. I very much doubt the unvaccinated kids at Disney Land would have gotten vaccinations because of an effort that focused on kicking poor people off public assistance if they don’t vaccinate their children.

    And why not recognize that this route — if you want government services, get a vaccine — is just some more of that show-me-your papers shaming we do to poor people while we’re at it?Report

  17. Avatar DRS says:

    Maybe we need to find out what Sheldon Adelson thinks about vaccination, just to settle this until November 2016.Report