Through the Looking Glass
We highlighted Box Boy Gage's current trip to Ireland and the fact that he was sharing a stage with other flavors of Kook Aid: anti-fluoridation nutbars, anti-vaxxers, and mind-control fruitcakes. Of course, part of the reason we highlighted that was because associating Gage with these other nuts just goes to show what a lunatic he is.
So it was kind of amusing to read this post at a pro-vaccine blog.
It’s official: Wakefield joins the ranks of Truthers, New World Order conspiracists.
Andrew Wakefield is the British doctor whose fraudulent study concluded that vaccinations cause autism.
Anyway it occurred to me that it was a little odd that each of us is using the other's foe to bash our particular opponent. "Look at these crazy people Richard/Andrew is hanging around with now!"
Why is it odd? Well, think about it for a second. I know very little about vaccines and next to nothing about the Wakefield controversy. And I suspect that Seth Mnookin is not an expert on 9-11 Truthers and their claims. We each know in a general sense that the other's opponents are generally discredited, and that's about all we need to know.
So why do we do it? That's the question I pondered last night as I trundled off to bed, and here's what I came up with. Those of us who took logic may remember the Venn Diagram, which is a way of representing groups. For example, here's a very simple Venn Diagram showing Truthers:
As you can see, there is a subset of the overall population who are Truthers. Now let's add the Anti-Vaxxers:
So we have two subsets now of the General Population: Truthers and Anti-Vaxxers. But we really haven't represented things quite correctly here, because now there is a third group: The people who are both Truthers and Anti-Vaxxers. There is overlap between the two groups:
But we're still not done yet. Among the Truthers there is some overlap with the Anti-Vaxxers (light blue area). There are also Truthers who are not Anti-Vaxxers (deeper blue area) but who are not concerned about associating with them. And there's a third group: Truthers who are horrified that their movement is being associated with the Anti-Vaxxer contingent, and realize this discredits them:
As you can see, there is a corresponding contingent of Anti-Vaxxers who are horrified that their cause is being associated with the 9-11 nutjobs.
Of course, we haven't really completed all the possibilities. Rather than Truthers and Anti-Vaxxers, substitute "Potential Truthers" and "Potential Anti-Vaxxers". And you'll then see that there's a subset of Potential Anti-Vaxxers who would be horrified to learn that this cause they're curious about is associated with the blackshirts chanting, "9-11 was an inside job!" Who might pause and realize that it's just another bit of crankery.
And, in essence, that's who Seth's post is aimed at:
Memo to the parents (and the press): The next time someone tells you the MMR vaccine causes autism (or pitches you a story on the “controversy” over the measles vaccine and autism), remember — this is the man whose discredited, debunked research is the source for all of that.