It’s hard not to see, in the recent outbreak of measles in Southern California, a symbol for the intellectual and moral failures of our moment. A problem which was not only solvable, but solved, has returned because of stupidity and selfishness. The sanctity of individual choice has trumped the collective safety. Scientists, despite their complete consensus on the matterand it is absolutely complete, without a single dissenting voice that hasn’t been utterly discreditedhave been unable to stop the spread of the idiocy though able to stop the spread of the disease. It’s the kind of situation that generates more despair the more you think about it. If this is how human beings deal with a no-brainer like vaccination, how the hell are we going to deal with global warming?
It’s also the kind of situation where writingthinking, making arguments, trying to persuade peopledoesn’t help. If people are so convinced about the dangers of vaccines that they’re not going to immunize their kids even though a medical professional is standing over them saying “your children might die if you don’t do this,” what the hell can they possibly read that is going to sway them? And it isn’t a particularly interesting argument to make, defending vaccination. What do you say after you’ve said “Everybody who knows what they’re talking about has the same opinion.”
Which is why it was so refreshing to find truly great writing about the anti-vax movement, and in the unlikeliest of places: The customer reviews of the Amazon entry to an anti-vax book for children. The book in question is “Melanie’s Marvelous Measles,” which is pretty much what it sounds like. From the author’s description:
Melanie’s Marvelous Measles was written to educate children on the benefits of having measles and how you can heal from them naturally and successfully. Often today, we are being bombarded with messages from vested interests to fear all diseases in order for someone to sell some potion or vaccine, when, in fact, history shows that in industrialized countries, these diseases are quite benign and, according to natural health sources, beneficial to the body.
Again, there’s really no point arguing with Stephanie Messenger. I mean, if you wanted to you could cite the World Health Organization, and the fact that sixteen people an hour die from measles, but who the hell are they, other than global experts?
The reviewers on Amazon have a found a better way to respond. The most popular:
And closely following it:
What else needs to be said? You can read all the reviews here, and you should. The final joke, however, isn’t in the comments. It’s in the “Customers Who Viewed This Also Viewed” link. The title there? My Parents Open Carry by Brian Jeffs.