The Daily Show’s Anti-Vax Inoculation

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June 4 2014 12:11 PM

The Daily Show and the Anti-Vaxxers

dailyshow_vaccines

Y’know, back in May when I said that I had nothing to add to Stephen Colbert’s takedown of anti-vaccine nonsense, I’m glad the folks at The Daily Show didn’t listen.

Because this:

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There’s some truth in this segment; anti-vaxxers tend to be more progressive/liberal. A lot of it goes hand in hand with the idea of being more natural and anti-“Western” medicine, and it's fed by anti-corporate rhetoric (if I had a buck for every time I was accused of being in the pay of Big Pharma ...). There's an overlap in these ideas.

But it isn't as simple as that. Being anti-vax isn't nearly as strongly partisan an issue as, say, evolution and global warming denial, which are almost entirely wholly owned subsidiaries of the Republican Party. In fact, congressional hearings on vaccinations have featured anti-vax beliefs on both sides of the aisle.

All you really need in this case is a denial of overwhelming scientific evidence, and that makes no distinction between parties. You can look to the bizarre conspiracy theories of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.—read this follow-up article for more, too—or the politically expedient beliefs of Michele Bachmann. And while we don't have direct political statistics from them, I'd be willing to bet far-left folks aren't a majority in the Texas megachurch where an anti-vax pastor led her congregation into a measles outbreak.

Yes, anti-vax rhetoric is an equal opportunity reality offender. And, well, we know what happens when we let it go unchecked.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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