Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Conspiracy Theorists Part 2

Guess what group discovered that lung cancer was caused by smoking? Or that asbestos in the work place is hazardous to your health? What group of people advocated abstention from alcohol for health reasons? I’ll give you a clue: they invented high-fidelity audio recording, the electron microscope, and many innovations in rockets. They even had the first live television coverage at an Olympic event.

The Nazis.

Yet, despite their deranged beliefs, no one suggests that the link between smoking and lung cancer is unfounded. If OSHA investigates you for asbestos at your place of business, arguing that “The Nazis thought asbestos was harmful and they were a bunch of lunatics,” won’t get you anywhere. And we use live television broadcasting to cover General Conference. The fact that the Nazis had strange and even dangerous beliefs does not change the fact that smoking greatly increases your odds of lung cancer, asbestos causes mesothelioma, alcohol consumption can lead to liver problems, or that hi-fi sound recordings have captured some of the most exquisite music ever composed, and that the electron microscope has helped us see some of the nature’s tiniest creations and rockets have helped us view some of its grandest.

So, just because there are some people who defy logic and ascribe to some of the most wild ideas who also claim that vaccination is a bad thing, does not nullify the research against vaccines. In rhetoric, the idea that you can reject a claim just because some or all people you dislike accept that claim is a logical fallacy called “Guilt By Association”. This argument is also employed (especially by conservative people) against Jenny McCarthy: "Jenny McCarthy was a Playboy centerfold, so anything she says about autism can't be believed!" Well, Sister McCarthy's batting average for recovering a child from autism is better than that of the entire medical establishment. The medical establishment has zero recoveries, whereas Jenny McCarthy has recovered her son from the disorder. (Incidentally, former Playboy Bunny Dr. Polly Matzinger has received a lot of heat for her iconoclastic "Danger Model" of the immune system. She argues that the immune system is driven in large part by the tissues of the body and does not work in isolation. This is fascinating when you consider the facts of vaccination and also the chiropractic view that the immune system is affected by misalignments of the spine which cause the nerves to fire improperly.)

So next time someone tells you that vaccines can’t be harmful because because some proponents of this idea also don’t believe in the moon landing, ask them about their thoughts on lung cancer and smoking!

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