Living in a Vacuum

By Geisha Bar

The recent outbreak of measles has brought back that old chestnut, the vax/anti-vax debate. Well I don’t know about you guys, but I am firmly pro-vaccinations, mainly because I’m not stupid. But also because I understand how to think logically and critically instead of just DoInG sOmE rEsEaRcH oN tHe InTeRnEt.

What a lot of anti-vaxxers don’t seem to realise that there is a thing when you live in colonies (as humans do), called herd immunity. Herd immunity is important because there are people who actually cannot get vaccinated due to things like cancer, Chron’s Disease, autoimmune diseases and other things that might result in them having an ultra-lowered immune system. These people rely on herd immunity, so when there are people choosing not to vaccinate, this puts the weaker members of the herd at an elevated risk. It’s also known as a selfish Dick Move.

It’s alarming because a lot of anti-vaxxers really, truly, believe that they are in the right and that they are doing a good thing. This is because they might generally just be stupid enough to think that they are smarter than 99.999% of the world’s medical professionals and biochemists, or it could be just that they are helicopter mommies with not much else to do but believe everything they read on the internet. Sadly, these people are usually trapped into a few cognitive bias traps, which makes it all that much harder to help untangle them from their firmly-held belief. Here are a few of the reasons that anti-vaxxers are so resolutely firm on their ideas:

Confirmation bias: When you favour information that confirms your beliefs; discarding other information. Like thinking that your unvaccinated kids are healthier than vaccinated kids.

Illusory Correlation: Incorrectly believing that there is a correlation between things in order to justify your belief. “More vaccines = increased autism!” Never mind that ALL mental health issues “increased” around that time (which they actually didn’t; it just became more socially acceptable to explore and label these things as actual illnesses.) Trust me. There were just as many people with autism before, they just weren’t diagnosed as such.

Dunning Kruger Effect: Believing that your many hours spent researching something makes your opinion on the subject more valid than that of highly skilled professionals who have spent years and years studying the underlying and scientific factors behind the thing that you have only really skimmed on the surface. However, your perceived hours and hours of time spent researching makes you believe you are superior to them. Even if you are a “fulltime mommy” and they have PhDs and years of experience in that particular field.

Survivorship Bias/Anecdotal Bias: “My aunty got the measles and survived, so it’s fine.” OK, but how about the millions that DID die from it? My uncle smoked all his life and never got lung cancer – his lucky streak doesn’t mean smoking isn’t responsible for a fuckload of deaths.

Neglect of Probability: Disregarding real statistics by saying “vaccinated people can contract and spread disease too!” Yeah, we fucking know that. They are just FAR LESS LIKELY to than unvaccinated people. Go back to primary school and learn about probability.

Omission Bias: When you truly think that the risks associated with vaccinating your kid are higher than the risks associated with not vaccinating your kid and having it contract those diseases.

Anyway. My 2 cents.

Love, Akika xoxoxooxoxoxoxox