I have a couple friends best described as “idiots.”
They’re labeled as such, because they believe idiotic things like:
- Chemtrails are real.
- 9/11 was an inside job.
- Vaccinations cause autism.
The last bullet point is a growing bone of contention in America, because sheep like to follow charlatans like “The Food Babe” and her crusade against “toxins.”
I was tagged in a post on Facebook; one of the idiots I know hit me up with the following rhetoric:
According to the CDC, from 2000 to 2012 Measles caused zero deaths in America, while vaccinations killed 108 people. Gee, which option is safer, vaccination, or not? And people call me dumb for not vaccinating…
Bored, and wanting to defend my belief in science over nonsense, I looked up a few facts:
In the 2000s, roughly 4 million babies a year were born in America. So over a 12-year period, that results in 48,000,000 babies. For the sake of fun, say only 35,000,000 of them were vaccinated. Given that in 108 cases something went horrifically wrong and a person died, that awful circumstance happened .000309% of the time.
That means you have a greater chance of getting attacked by a shark or hit by lightning than dying via vaccination. Hell, it absolutely means you have a much more enormous chance of getting in an auto accident before you do having a vaccination reaction.
(My idiot friends who fear vaccinations do indeed get behind the wheel of the much more dangerous automobile. Apparently, they are inconsistent in their statistical fears.)
Ah, “But no one died from measles during that time, and 108 > 0, tough guy!”
Except that according to the CDC, in the year 2000 (say that in a high pitched voice while imagining Conan O’Brien holding a flashlight under his chin, if you must): Measles was considered eradicated in America.
That means not only was no one dying from it, no one was even getting sick because of it. Vaccinations had eliminated the disease, which to a rational person would be cause for celebration.
So, returning to the Facebook post, I wrote my findings and tossed in the snide remark: “Before the year 2000, there weren’t anti-vaccination idiots running around ruining things for everyone…”
The response to that was: “I’m sure there were anti-vaccination people around before 2000.”
And I paused.
The realization hit me like only an “I should have had a V8” moment can.
Of course there were anti-vaccination people around before 2000.
What wasn’t around was the Internet.
At least, not as we know it today.
What a game-changer the Internet has been for dumb people; a tool that can spread misinformation as far and wide as it does porn.
I watched a documentary on the anti-vaccination movement, and every single person began the reason behind their stance with: “I got on Google…”
And therein lies the problem: Google allows people to find arguments to support their beliefs, reality be damned.
Back in the day, if you were dumb, racist, or held any number of erroneous and isolating viewpoints, you probably had a difficult time finding like-minded miscreants to associate with. You had to know a secret handshake, or approach a situation delicately, lest you be branded by the scarlet letter of your ignorance. With the Internet, you can find a community from the safety of your own home.
Now you have anti-vaccination groups, Ted Cruz supporters, Go Fund Me accounts raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for bigoted pizza places, and ISIS successfully using social media to recruit morons. Hell, I even saw window-lickers salivating over a poorly-reasoned anti-David Letterman article posted on the eve of his retirement.
(Naturally, the source of that article was Breitbart. Breitbart: “There’s nothing we can’t be wrong about.”)
The idea there’s “safety in numbers” might be cliché, but it’s true. No one wants to be alone in their beliefs, no matter how misguided they may be.
That means as I type this up, one of my idiot friends is writing their own blog shaming me for not understanding the genius behind Loose Change or Jenny McCarthy.
“Timmel is such a moron… he won’t be protected from the Obama brain waves like I am. My tinfoil hat is powerful!”
Humanity is fucked.