If you want people to believe you, be honest.

Quick post because I saw something in the local paper this morning that bugs the hell out of me. I can’t let it go without writing something, even if it’s only the four of you who read it. Please excuse typos and grammar as I am only going to do a ranty-draft before I hit publish.

Fair warning: I have two children with Autism. At one time, I read every study I could find linking Autism with MMR vaccinations. I also read every study disproving that theory. It was important for me to read the actual studies because scientists suck at math, but not as much as the folks who write summaries. I wish some of those studies were more visible because they are exceptionally easy to understand (e.g. other countries vaccinate on different schedules, but experience the same patterns for diagnosis of Autism as we do in North America). There is no linkage between Autism and MMR.

The science is very, very clear. These vaccinations are perfectly safe and they protect kids, your own kids, other kids and other adults from potentially deadly diseases

Part of this statement from the head of Toronto Public Health (by far the more important part) is true, but part of it isn’t.

And that’s a problem.

People generally don’t believe you when they find out that you aren’t being completely honest. More so in the age of instant information with no quality control. It is human nature to want to prove a liar wrong. People are more likely to believe stuff that is completely bat-shit crazy when you aren’t honest. I might go so far as to suggest that the current ridiculous sizeof the anti-vaxx movement has been caused by well-meaning doctors who hold back information because the little folks don’t need to worry their pretty heads or won’t be able to understand it.

We live in a world where we are told about every possible side effect of every treatment that is pushed on us in commercial media. We know that there may be side effects from taking sleep medication or using smoking-cessation aids. We are told that vaccinations are perfectly safe.

Very few people seem to know what the actual side effects of vaccinations are. There are the common fever, rash, swelling and joint pain. There are the far less common, but not insignificant seizures that may result from MMR or MMRV. Brain damage, coma and death are extremely rare. The vaccinations are much safer than getting the diseases that they protect against.

Here’s something that seems to be overlooked in the hoopla: not all of the people avoiding vaccinations are kooks. Most of them are nice normal people who are afraid. We dismiss their fear as ignorance (as if ignorance is somehow a crime). Seems only fair that they dismiss us back.

Tell them what they really have to be afraid of, so they don’t have to go looking for the bat-shit crazy stuff.

Is it so hard to stop treating people like idiots and tell the truth?




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