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The Best Conspiracy Theories Never Die

September 9, 2014
[caption id="attachment_16946" align="alignright" width="225"]Vaccines save lives and prevent serious diseases. Vaccines save lives and prevent serious diseases.[/caption]

The best conspiracy theories never die. They evolve and adapt. They rebuff troublesome facts, plug their ears to common sense and embrace the outliers.

There are no aliens at Area 51, Elvis has left the building, Obama was born in the USA – and Jenny McCarthy’s willfully ignorant anti-vaccine campaign has endangered lives.

Diseases that were largely eradicated in the United States a generation ago—whooping cough, measles, mumps—are returning, in part because nervous parents are skipping their children’s vaccination shots.

A number of vaccination related myths have endured in spite of the fact that the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits. Anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists got especially fired up recently over some highly inaccurate claims lobbed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Check out twitter hashtags #CDCwhistleblower, #CDCfraud, and #CDCPantsOnFire to get a taste of what was going on there.The anti-vax community’s hasty and hyperbolic reaction was once again based on unfounded accusations and tortured data.

If you are interested learning more about this issue from a balanced perspective, I suggest you check out the following two upcoming documentaries.

The first, “Invisible Threat” explores the science of vaccination and how fears and misperceptions have led some parents not to vaccinate their children according to the recommended schedule. If you are in the Washington DC area, you can check out a free screening on Thursday September 18th.

The second is NOVA’s “Vaccines – Calling the Shots.” In typical NOVA fashion, it explore the science behind vaccinations, shows parents wrestling with vaccine-related questions, and sheds light on the risks of opting out. Tune in on September 10th at 9 pm on PBS.