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Opening Arguments

Take your best shot

You know I appreciate Rand Paul's libertarian instincts, but this is just stupid:

“I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.”

This is a doctor, offering anecdotal evidence as a substitute for scientifically gathered and studied facts. And he does it in the context of trying to straddle the issue, saying: 1. There should be a public-awareness program so we don't have to go to mandatory vaccinations but, 2) parents have the freedom of choice. The "heard of tragic cases" doesn't exactly add weight to public-awareness part of the equation.

This isn't the time for conservatives and libertarians to throw themselves under the anti-science wagon, since it seems to be mostly the "Prius driving, composting, organic food-eating" crowd that's caught the anti-vaccination fever. (To estimate where the anti-vaxxers might cluster, take out a map "and put a pin wherever there's a Whole Foods.")

Also I think there's a fair amount of entitlement. Not vaccinating your child is basically saying I deserve to rely on the herd immunity that exists in a population. At the most basic level it's saying I believe vaccines are potentially harmful, and I want other people to vaccinate so I don't have to.

If this just risked an outbreak of measles here and there, that would be one thing. But:

Recent outbreaks of measles, whooping cough, and other preventable infections have sickened thousands of children and killed more than a dozen in the United States. Vaccine rates are falling below the level needed to prevent an outbreak in a growing number of communities, including ones with wealthy, educated populations.

The Journal Gazette this morning had a guest column from a Manchester University professor who does a pretty good job of explaining herd immunity, which is created "by a very high rate of immunization and nothing else" and noting that it's a little tricky to calculate the exact innoculation rate needed.

Chris Christie is trying to be cute with the issue, too, seeming to go the Paul route then backtracking. And Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, having in the past been willing "to play a little foosie with the anti-vaxxers" have now come out firmly on the pro-vaccination side. Hillary tweets this:

The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork Let's protect all our kids.

She had to trot out "The science is clear," a variation on the "science is settled" meme the warmist crowd adores. Different issues. You can't really say the science is settled when all you have are computer models that aren't very good at predicinting a complex climate system. You can say the science is clear when you have direct empircal evidence observed over many years involving millions of people.

Ah, politicians. Gotta love 'em.