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" Remember the deadly scourge of smallpox, measles, rubella and polio?

Probably not, vaccines virtually wiped them out."

Deadly Ignorance

One of the frustrations I had as a teacher is with students who refused to see the truth even when it is right in front of them.

For example, years ago in one class a student argued that we never went to the moon -- it was all faked.

I didn't ask him where he got his information. I had my suspicion. A few fundamentalist anti-science preachers were saying it never happened.

Among some of those holding fundamentalist religious and political beliefs it was, and still is, praiseworthy to hold to anti-science beliefs.

By now we assume these people have given up on that particular "hoax" and gone to other things, like how vaccinations cause autism and mental retardation. 

That claim was repeatedly made by Rep. Bachmann (R-Minn.) less than two years ago.

Even though reputable doctors widely condemned this view, and studies in England, Canada, Sweden, Australia and the United States showed no relationship, Bachmann got audience applause for her comments.

" The problem for those opposing the shots is the 2013 study showing that Infections with the human papillomavirus tied to cervical cancer fell by more than half in the U.S. after the HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006."

And that figure is based on only about a third of the eligible girls in the U.S. getting shots. Other countries, including such "backward" countries such as Rwanda, have higher HPV vaccination rates than the U.S.

The problem is that Bachmann's bogus views have been widely repeated among segments of the U.S. society, while information showing the dramatic drop in the cervical cancer papillomavirus has been discounted or disbelieved among the same groups.

>>Remember the scourge of smallpox, measles, rubella and polio? Probably not; vaccines virtually wiped them out.

But today the anti-science, anti-vaccine mentality threatens that progress.

Even so, many politicians know that they can gain votes by appealing to ignorance and prejudice. This prejudice also fuels ratings for certain right-wing broadcast pundits.

" The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] reports that the low vaccination rate in the United States means that 50,000 girls alive today will eventually develop fatal cervical cancer, deaths that could have been prevented if the country’s rate had been at 80 percent."

According to a recent journal of the American Medical Association study, the HPV vaccine also helps prevent genital warts, a disease caused by the same virus.

>>Of course, we know that the real reason behind most of the anti-HPV vaccine attitude has more to do with the fear that girls will have unapproved sex -- even though authoritative studies like this one show that the vaccine has no affect on sexual behavior.

But in the minds of many parents the possibility of unapproved sex is a greater threat than cervical cancer.

I wonder how the parents of the thousands of U.S. women who develop cervical cancer as a result of believing this bogus view will explain this to their daughters.


  1. An exanimation at the anti-vaccination movement and its consequences can be found here. (Note: includes R-rated language.)

 

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