Listening to an anti-vaxxer insist they can’t trust science because they know better can make your head explode. More often than not, these aren’t dumb people; many are highly educated and, really, very well meaning. But anti-vaxxism has gotten under their skin like a religion. Or a cult. They embrace this mania with every fiber in their being. Data can’t change their minds. No, they insist, the disease’s cure is worse than the disease. Boy, are they wrong! A vaccination that’ll lay you low for a couple of days is nothing compared to a disease that will kill you dead. The unvaxxed have such an odd way to think; it defies being called “thinking”. Talk about setting yourself up for failure! Here’s a stone cold fact: pathogens love the unvaxxed? Hell, pathogens can’t get enough of them!
Smallpox Laughs At Anti-Vaxxers
In 18th-century Europe, it is estimated that 400,000 people died from the disease per year, and that one-third of all cases of blindness were due to smallpox. Smallpox is estimated to have killed up to 300 million people in the 20th century and around 500 million people in the last 100 years of its existence. Earlier deaths included six European monarchs. As recently as 1967, 15 million cases occurred a year.
When smallpox reached the Americas, it devastated the Native populations far more than European military might or cultural superiority. The pathogen killed as much as ninety percent of the people who called the Americas home before Europeans (and their pathogens) arrived en masse. It only took a handful of Europeans to unleash mass murder upon the locals. By the time European military might landed, the war was over.
Imagine if European pathogens hadn’t wiped out the overwhelming majority of Native Americans. The European attempt to claim the Americas would have died on the vine – along with all the Europeans trying to land here.
Pathogens live very simple, highly focused lives. Their RNA (if they’re a virus) has one imperative: reproduce: make more virus! The only way to do that is to infect a human being – infect their cells.
In essence, a virus sees a human as a living sex hotel. If a virus wants to make more virus, our cells are the perfect place to go. That’s where the virus sets about turning us into them. First, they infiltrate our cells – lying their way in. Then they go after the cell’s genetic structure – using their RNA to turn our DNA into viral RNA. Us into them.
What stops them? Aside from killing them, not much. You definitely can’t reason with one – like anti-vaxxers seem to think. Most anti-vaxxers (after they’ve come to their senses), can’t explain how illogic replaced logic in their heads. All they can say is that it did. For a long patch of time, illogic prevailed.
Though Edward Jenner created the first modern smallpox vaccine in 1796, the Chinese had been inoculating themselves against the pathogen since the 1500’s. Because they understood: vaccinating oneself against a pathogen spared one from the pathogen (or its worst).
We fear pathogens racing through our food supply – killing chickens en masse or wiping out the potato crop. “Before it ended in 1852, the Potato Famine resulted in the death of roughly one million Irish from starvation and related causes, with at least another million forced to leave their homeland as refugees.” The Potato Famine’s cause: a plant disease.
Yeah, pathogens regularly change the course of human history. Why on earthy would anyone want to screw with them?
My Dad And Polio
My dad had polio. He didn’t contract it, he was given it – via a vaccine. Now, that hurts to admit. But, my dad was born in 1929 back when polio was a scourge especially to the young. Lots of smart people set about searching for a vaccine. My dad’s father was a physician. His circle of friends – all physicians including one who was working on his own polio vaccine. He convinced my grandfather to let him inoculate my dad and his brother.
Alas, this guy’s vaccine used live virus (rather than the dead virus used in the Salk vaccine). Instead of protecting my dad and uncle from polio, this vaccine gave them both polio. Unintended consequences suck. My dad lived that every day of his life. His misadventure with vaccines didn’t sour him at all.
When it came time for me and my sisters to get our polio vaccines when we were kids? We got our polio vaccines. When I see what polio did to my dad – not just when he was a kid but throughout his life – I am grateful that the polio virus never had a chance inside me.
Know who loves anti-vaxxers more than anyone else on the planet? Pathogens!